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University of California Los Angeles Theater Question

University of California Los Angeles Theater Question

Question Description

I’m working on a theater multi-part question and need guidance to help me understand better.

This should be like a journal you keep for your character you are creating, do not write as if you’re trying to say what you think I want you to say, this is your own personal creation. Again, it should be like YOUR CHARACTER’S DIARY! Take risks, go to the dark and dirty places your character goes, remember there is nothing politically correct about the personal choices characters make – be completely flushed out and real. You are playing the part, no one else will have your monologue. Take RISKS and Go THERE! Just memorizing your lines does not mean you are acting, you have to fill it with real-life choices. Be specific and HAVE FUN! Must write a paragraph minimum for EACH question!

ATTACHED IS THE SCRIPT WHERE YOU WILL FIND CHARACTERS





  1. Relationship
  • Creating a relationship is the heart of acting
  • What is your relationship with the other character in the scene?
  • Facts are never enough, they help you begin – help you create the relationship
  • Once you have the fact, you are ready to explore how you feel about the other character; either the one spoken to or spoken about
  • Ask questions about your emotional attitude towards this person – Do you love him, hate him, resent him, how much, do you want to help him, what do you want from him, ect…?
  • The fact of a relationship has no value to the actor unless it leads him/her to explore the feeling in the relationship NOW – the now is the imperative question you must ask
  • You must commit 1000%
  1. Conflict, What are you fighting for?
  • Without conflict, there is no scene
  • What do you WANT in this scene?
  • Instead of using goals or motivations, use what are you fighting for?
  • It will keep you active and at the moment, without causing you to give up
  • Always have a positive want(motivation) – it’s more forceful, stronger, and will serve you in a more emotional way than a negative choice
  • It makes the stakes higher
  • How, then, do you achieve balance if everyone is there pitching hard for what they’re fighting for? Through relationship. Through the give and take and consideration of other characters, through your sensitivity to their reactions towards what you’re fighting for- through increased awareness of others and how you affect them and how they affect you; a heightening of the awareness you have in life toward other people
  • Maximum conflict is what you should be looking for. Who is interfering with your getting what you are fighting for? Do battle with her, fight her, woo her, charm her, revile her. Find as many ways as you can to go about getting what you are fighting for.
  • The more ways you find – them more interesting your performance will be
  • The actor must find out what the basic fight is in every character in every scene
  1. The Moment Before
  • Every scene you will ever act begins in the middle, and it is up to you, the actor, to provide what comes before.
  • This is true if you do a scene at the beginning of a play, middle, or end. Something always precedes what you are doing – the moment before
  • Be prepared in auditions, do your homework prior – it usually takes actors most of the reading to get warmed up. By the time they are, they’ve lost the attention of the auditors
  • Never does an actor need the moment before more desperately than in the audition situation
  • In order to create the moment before the actor will have to go back 10-20 years in the life of the character
  • Actors tend to generalize. Be specific! The more specific, focused you are the moment before, the better the entire scene will go
  • It requires important emotional commitment – you have to go there. Not just in your mind – you got to walk on ready to fight for what you want (substitution, etc…)
  • The first impression is the strongest impression left on the auditors. When an actor comes on stage in a performance, the first impression he makes is a lasting one on the audience. It had better be an impressive one
  • The moment before must be strong, meaty, and full; it’s got to give the actor something to feed on throughout the scene
  1. Humor
  • Humor is not a joke
  • It is the attitude toward being alive without which long ago you would have jumped off the empire state bldg.
  • Humor is not being funny
  • It is the exchange between people that makes it possible for us to get through our day
  • Humor exists even in the humorless. It is in every scene, just as in every situation in life.
  • Actors tend to take the humor out of scenes to make it dramatic – but that is the core reason that makes acting un-lifelike
  • Actors will say “how can I find humor in this scene? It’s very serious!” For the exact same reason, one would be driven to find humor in the same situation in life: because it is deadly serious and human beings cannot bear all that heavyweight, they alleviate the burden by humor
  • The heavier the situation the more humor we need
  • A lot of actors do this instinctively – but if it’s not there then the actor must make a conscious effort a find it (scripted or unscripted)
  • Humorless acting is the deadliest kind: its the hallmark of soap opera performing
  • You’ll find it in all the stars you admire
  1. Opposites
  • Whatever you decide is your motivation in a scene, the opposite of that is also true and should be in it
  • Like in life, we live with opposites – sometimes you hate the person you love ( a parent and a child). If there is a great need for someone there’s also resentment towards them because of your need for them.
  • It is the actor’s creation of opposites that develops conflict, and therefore drama, and therefore interest
  • For some reason, actors are fond of bringing on stage the resolution of a conflict, which is tidy and dead, rather than the conflict itself, which is exciting
  • This has to do with us being trained in life to avoid conflict, run from confrontations, make our painful lives as easy as we can for ourselves. But it is the process of dealing with pain the actor must put on the stage, not the fact of having solved it.
  • The more extreme the opposite the actor chooses for a scene, the more everything in between is likely to occur instinctively, naturally, without the actor having to consider the choices.
  • There are opposites in every scene. The actor will have to dig. The playwright may well have implied them under the surface of the character and not have written them into the dialogue at all ( subtext)
  1. Discoveries
  • Every scene is filled with discoveries, things that happen for the first time. No matter how many times it has happened in the past, there is something new about this experience, this moment.
  • It makes it active – we the audience will experience it with you
  • The discoveries may be about the other character, or about oneself, or someone offstage, or about the situation now or the situation as it existed ten years ago and how the effects the now
  • The more discoveries you make in a scene- the less you rely on “we do this every day” – the more interesting the scene will be
  • It’s hard to bring vitality and life to routine, but they are difficult to escape when you have the excitement of discoveries
  • Take nothing for granted; make an emotional discovery as often as you can find one in a scene – ask yourself what is knew
  • Actors need to work from real-life situations, not literary or character concepts. Most often the discoveries aren’t written on the surface of the script, the actor will have to dig into the subtext to find them. They come out of the actor’s own life questions
  1. Communication and Competition
  • Communication
  • Acting is communicating
  • It is not enough for the actor to feel if that feeling is not being communicated
  • It takes two to communicate. The sender and the receiver. The receiver has to acknowledge the message by sending a reply back to the sender, thus completing the circle before communication has taken place. It’s a cycle
  • You can not go forward without the cycle being completed – cause then you’re just talking and neither of you is in the moment
  • LISTEN to one another – what was just said, how did that make you feel, what are you going to do about it? It is much more than just exchanging words.
  • Receiving the feelings of another is even harder than sending out feelings of your own. It requires sensitivity, a heightened awareness of another person, investment of real caring; otherwise, why will you undertake the formidable task of opening yourself up to true communication?
  • Granted in life we’re not always talking to people but at them, and rarely do we listen- we just want to get our point across.
  • Feel the need to listen for selfish reasons
  • Communication is the desire to change the person to whom you communicating
  • Competition
  • All dramatic relationships are competitive; there’s a lot of resistance.
  • There are two points of view with which an actor should execute each scene (a) I am right and you are wrong (b) You should change from being the way you are to the way I think you should be
  • No games are any fun unless the participants are competing
  • We compete for everything: to tell the funniest story, to be considered the most truthful or sincere, the prettiest, the sexiest, the most reliable. We compete for enough food, for jobs, for love, affection, friends, and lovers. There isn’t anything for which we don’t compete.
  • Competition is healthy, it’s life
  • A good actor is the one who competes, willingly, and enjoys the competition
  1. Importance
  • Plays are written about the most important moments in people’s lives, not about their everyday humdrumness. If that was the case who would leave home to go and pay they ridiculous prices to watch a play
  • Raise the stakes: make it a Life or Death situation
  • The truth is not enough, if it is neither dramatic, interesting nor unique – it must be invested with sufficient emotion to make it important
  • It is important for an actor to realize that what he/she must use in their acting is the opposite of what he/she has been trained in life to seek. Peacefulness and the avoidance of trouble won’t help them in their acting. It is just the opposite they must seek
  • Important does not necessarily mean significant to others. It means emotionally important to you at this moment. We make trivial things important to us in the moment, even if we forget them the next day.
  • Make the stakes in each scene as high as you can. Look for maximum importance. Add importance, if you don’t – no one will be listening
  1. Find The Event
  • Actors frequently get so involved with character and feelings, with the subjective life of the character, that they forget about what is happening in the play. What is happening in the events of the play
  • The actor’s job is to create the events of the play
  • What are events? Events are of many natures. An event can be a change. That is the strongest kind of event. It can be a confrontation – and for every confrontation, there is always a result, a consequence for the actor to present. An event can be a climax, which is a major turning point in the lives of the characters.
  • Change can be overt or hidden, clear and outright and obvious, or subtle and obscure. Either way, the actor must keep a sharp lookout for the changes in a scene, for there can be many.
  • The more chances you create, the more alive the scene is
  • You must ask yourselves, “What happens in this scene? What are the changes?” and then you must work to create those changes. Something must happen, some change must be effected. If the playwright fails to provide it then the actor must.
  • Actors get so wrapped up in the creation of behavior that they frequently overlook what happens in the scene. Behavior is not enough unless he couples it with the forward progressive motion that comes with the creation of events. If you make nothing happen in a scene, it soon dies
  • Events can be psychological, such as the exchange of power between two characters. The more that is made into action, the more effective the reading. It is entirely up to the actors how action-filled an event can be
  1. Place
  • Most readings take place on a bare stage, which is not the most useful environment for an actor. It’s up to you to create a place, and it’s well worth doing, for it will help you immeasurably in creating a reality for your reading
  • Since you are free to choose any place you wish, in which to do this reading, it would be best to choose a place you know well. A real place from your real life, so that you don’t have to waste time on being a set designer, but will immediately know where the door is and where the sofa is and where the table and chairs are.
  • Once you have chosen the place, and see it clearly then you must look for how it makes you feel. The feeling is most important. That is what will elevate your place into emotional value
  • Question for the actor to ask: Where does this take place? How can I get mileage out of using the place in creating what I’m fighting for in this relationship? Geographical, literal place isn’t important, as long as you get the emotional use from it
  1. Game Playing & Role Playing
  • When we play games it is for real, when we take on different roles, it is sincere conduct, for it is a way of dealing with reality, not avoiding it. Don’t be fooled by the title – In class I play the role of the teacher, you play the role of the student – at a party, we all play the role of peer …
  • It helps an actor to ask him/herself in each scene: What is the game I am playing in this situation? What role do I assume in order to best play this game? The answer depends on the circumstance: what people want from you, what you want from them, what you are offering, and what you expect. Ask what the stakes are, what are you playing for. But don’t get the idea that you will therefore be unreal or insincere. Games are real; roles are necessary to deal with reality.
  • What’s the value of knowing this? Answer: If you play the role of son to your parents, you don’t play that role with your girlfriend: What would she want with a son? She wants a lover. So you play that role because it is the role she wants from you. But you don’t play it insincerely, since you love her. It is a role and it is for real.
  • Every relationship we have demanded a different role, in order to be successfully fulfilled. Every situation we are in is a game with different rules. All real. All meaningful to us. The rules of the game tell us how to act in a life situation, don’t they? So they also tell actors how to “act.”
  • Always choose to do the role you play well: there’s always room in the scene to show conflict, events, opposites
  1. Mystery and Secret
  • After you’ve done all the eleven guideposts in your preparation for your audition, then add to it what you don’t know
  • The most fascinating acting always has a quality of mystery to it.
  • Think of some of the questions man has pondered since the beginning of time: What is love? Is there a God? Is there life after death? No matter how much science finds out, we never know the answers to these questions. They eternally remain mysteries to us. So it is with any relationship you create: No matter how much we know about the other person, there is always something going in that other heart and that other head that we don’t know but can only ponder. And no matter how we explain ourselves to someone else, no matter how open we are, there is always still something inexplicable, something hidden and unknown in us, too
  • Add to your audition this wonderment about what is going on inside of you. These are feelings, mysterious feelings, that cannot be verbalized and cannot be explained. But they can be felt and therefore they can be added to your audition
  • Always have a secret for your character and tell no one – this will help create the mystery

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