Schofie

Posts Tagged ‘hamlet’

ACTING: | The Basics

In On Acting, Uncategorized on August 27, 2014 at 5:36 pm

I am not here to insult your intelligence. We have a broad readership here at the Green Room, and I know some of you reading are veteran actors – the makeup and limelight are no stranger to you. But others of you are only just starting out. And as far as I’m concerned, I feel we all need to have a foundation of terminology from which we can understand each other. If we are to discuss acting, we must first define it.  As I addressed in the previous article, that definition has been evolving for everyone in different ways for thousands of years. I am not claiming to have unlocked the depths of the meaning of the term “acting.” Therefore, we shall be evolving our own working definition of acting throughout the course of this series.

I am a huge fan of simplifying things. Maybe to a fault. But I want this series to be insanely practical. To that end, we are going to boil away all the crap that we are not ready for yet, strip away the cliche’s and preconceptions that are misguiding us, and find the skeleton beneath all that fleshy acting theory.

 

So, Google is awesome. I’m not trying to be scholarly here. I just want to get you thinking. I want a discussion to evolve. And I know you know this stuff. But take a moment and read Google’s attempt to define our craft.

ACT| V. 1.) take action; do something. 2.) behave in the way specified.

N. 1.) a thing done; a deed. 2.) a pretense

 

ACTION| N. 1.) the fact or process of doing something, typically to achieve an aim. 2.) a thing done; an act.

 

ACTOR| N. 1.) a person whose profession is acting on the stage, in movies, or on television. 2.) a person who behaves in a way that is not genuine. 3.) a participant in an action or process.

 

ACTING| N. 1.) the art or occupation of performing in plays, movies, or television productions.

ADJ. 1.) temporarily doing the duties of another person.

Obviously these are all terms we would expect to be associated with the craft of acting. No one is surprised here, right? I didn’t think so. But I bet some of you are a little intimidated by acting. Some of you have found yourselves in a role and you just didn’t know what to do to make it “click.” If you have ever been frustrated on stage, set, or in rehearsal, then I always recommend taking a moment to step back from what you are doing, and ask yourself – “What am I doing?”

Did you ask yourself? Ask it again. What are you doing? Now look at those definitions again. What words do you see perforating each and every definition? What are you doing? – “DO,” “DONE,” “DOING.” Also, “TAKE,” and “BEHAVE.” These terms each imply action. They imply activity. They imply “acting.” Not helpful yet? Seem circular? It is a bit. Hang in there.

Stop acting. Start doing. Get this ideal image of what an actor is out of your head. Are you alive? Are you breathing? Can you move and speak? You are the ideal actor already. The ideal actor is capable of action. Anyone can act. I’m not the first person to say that, either. Get over it. Go do it.

Is this inspiring to you? Liberating, maybe? Not satisfying to you? Frustrating, even? Consider the celebrity whose performances you cherish the most. The only difference between them and you is the status “celebrity.” But “actor?” They share that status with you. You are equals.

Don’t believe me? Let’s examine the actor’s inventory, shall we? Every actor has 4 things. Really, every person possesses them too – well, at least 3 of the 4.

1.) MIND | You can think, right? You can reason, and you can understand. You can study. You can grasp ideas – take them apart and put them back together. You can do basic math. You can hear, and taste, and see, and smell, and touch, and your brain can process that stuff, right? You obviously can read, and even despite my slaughterings of the English language! Congratulations.

You might say, “Yeah, but I’m not very introspective.” Or “I don’t do logic so good.” Or “I hate working my brain, I’d rather go for a run!” If you say those things then SHUT UP. You’re missing the point. The point is you are an intelligent being – and probably more so than you give yourself credit for. Heck, compared to some of the air-heads in Hollywood you might be a freakin’ Einstein. Some of you know you’re rock solid in this category, if so – good for you. Go read another book – or the next category….

mind maze

2.) BODY | Limbs. All the physical senses. A voice. Eyes. A face. I’m not talking about body type’s distinguishing characteristics that determine whether or not you get a specific roll. I’m talking about your flesh and blood person that an audience can see and hear. Especially concerning you live-performance actors – your body is perhaps your greatest asset.

If that is the case, then sure, there are a lot of implications that go along with that. We will delve into them in greater detail later, but here are few things to consider. You got to be healthy. You got to be physically active. I’m not saying you have to be Michael Phelps, but your life should not be completely characterized by activities that require sitting. You got to care what you look like – at least a little. I’m not saying you have to be a Victoria Secret or Calvin Klein model, but you should know what you look good in. You should practice things like basic hygiene. You should learn how to breath and how to take care of your voice…… Okay, so we will spend a lot of time on that one in the future. If you remember nothing out of this paragraph remember this – and basic hygiene – seriously, wash your socks now and again.

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3.) SPIRIT | Okay, so this could get weird, new-agey, and super unhelpful really fast, so i’ll be brief. When we come back to this, we will go into much greater detail. This is sorta what I mean by Spirit. Spirit is characterized by some of the following key terms: Will, Drive, Commitment, Passion, Ingenuity, Creativity, Ethic, Imagination, Inspiration. We will have a pep talk later, but basically, to be good at acting, you have to want it. You have to pursue it relentlessly. These key aspects of your person go deeper than your brain. They are beyond logic and more powerful than reason. They are your Spirit.

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4.) TEXT | This last one is broader than you think. And I don’t mean to be vague, cause we’ll discuss it more in the future. It’s not necessarily words on a page, though often it is. The text of performance is the rich matter that you develop into an artistic form. The potter’s text is his play. The painter’s text is his paint. The musician’s text are his notes. The writer’s text are his words. So what is the actor’s text? It’s life. Ever hear someone speak of an actor “Wow, they really brought that character to life for me!” or ” His performance was just real.” These are indications that an actor understands their text. Some people might say,”Hamlet is just words on a page.” But I would say, the character Hamlet, or any part you may play are words on page, but if he stays there, no acting has taken place. No life has been given. So, what does this mean? How is this remotely helpful? We’ll talk about that more in the future. But for now, just know that you are in the business of life.

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So, have you done a self inventory yet? Every body has the first three. An actor with a job has the 4th. This is your acting skeleton. These are the muscles you need to exercise. You should be empowered to know that you have the same tools any award winning celebrity ever had to do what they do. And what do those actors “do”? They do things. You can to.

Everybody needs to sharpen these tools, and we all can be better. Actors, which tool do you think you need to develop more? Comment and let us know your thoughts.

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by j.d.schofield

Schofie on Acting?

In On Acting on August 13, 2014 at 3:17 pm

So…. Actors have been around since the beginning of time. Even if you credit them Greeks with the origins of what we might consider traditional acting – you’re talking 534 B.C. or earlier. Thousands of years. Millions upon millions of flesh-and-blood persons have taken up the mantel of performance between then and now. And now, in an age where performance related media and live performance is historically more  accessible than it has ever been, it seems everyone is an actor. If you don’t consider yourself an actor, you probably have at least done it once. If you never have, you may have considered it. If you never have considered it, you still can’t avoid how greatly your life is affected by actors. They’re in the shows you watch, the features you love, the plays you attend, and the commercials that drive you nuts. They’re on the side of the street waving signs to get your taxes done for free. They’re on the corner of 5th and Main in black-and-white mime attire. They’re in the museum bringing Hammurabi and Abe Lincoln to life.

So, if we have thousands of years of acting tradition, theory, and history – and so many of us are actors today, why are we all so confused about how to do it? If there is anything I have learned after academically studying theatre for the last 8 years, and actively performing in productions in a broad range of functions, it’s that no-body really knows what they are doing. Everybody has ideas, theories, and their own little comfortable method that works for them. Some are dogmatic, others pragmatic, some are systematic, while others are enthusiastic and spastic. And that is fun to say really fast, by the way.

It’s just that acting is such a hard thing to quantify. Traditionally, we can identify an actor. But that’s because we see him in his element. His venue. He’s in my Tv, he’s on the stage before me. He’s behind the glass at the museum exhibit. But what is it he does? How does he do it? You ask any two acting celebrities how it is they do what they do, it is likely they will have two completely different answers.

I am still working out my own thoughts on the matter. I have some strong opinions. I don’t know that I can claim that they are exclusively correct. But I do have my ideas – like anybody else.

This is hopefully the first in a series of thoughts on the craft – my thoughts, others thoughts, stolen and borrowed thoughts. Now that I am done with school, and I am actively performing in the real world, I am starting to actually read those dusty books I hastily skimmed during my Graduate work. So roll up your sleeves, actors, we’re about to get nerdy….

 

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David Tennant in Hamlet in 2008.

 

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1920475_10152073790794983_1207531938_n ~by j.d. schofield

“He called me a Fishmonger”

In Updates on June 19, 2013 at 3:53 pm

a summery summary

Happy summer from the Green Room! I know it’s been an incredibly long time since we’ve had a chat, you and I. At least a month and a half I’d say. But I think you can agree that we’ve had a pretty successful three-month-run here at the Green Room!  We are growing, and gaining readers, and expanding our scope with each new month. This all because of you! Bless your face.

I wanted to drop in and let you know what has been happening, and what is going to happen in the months to come. With summer upon us, the Green Room Staff have been flung to the far reaches of the Globe. This of course makes for difficult collaboration. But it also means we have been seeing more shows in different places all over the U.S.! With that in mind, the posts may come a bit slower, but the range of discussion should ultimately be deeper, better informed, and well connected.

I cannot speak for all of our staff (they have not all told me their incredible stories yet), but I can let you know what has been going on for myself of late. Last time we posted, we heard from our very own Jessica Bowers about the successful production of Dreams of Sonya. But so much happened around and after that time which we just weren’t able to talk about. So I shall attempt to encapsulate it all below.

yeah, I used encapsulate in a sentence

yeah, I used encapsulate in a sentence

When Your Life Goes Off Script

I said this post was about me, so I have to be honest. I didn’t see this production. I wanted to. I was excited for it. But, alas, I could not. I bring it up here because there are some great things to say about it without even seeing it. This was produced by the Senior Girls at BJU. It was not for academic credit, and was independently organized and produced. For those of our readers who have participated in any academic theatre programs, you can imagine how busy that last semester can be – mostly because you have done it – or will do it in the near future. So to produce a show of your own initiative and see it through to fruition takes guts during this time. I respect that.

Recently I had the pleasure of being the marketing director for an original production that took an incredible amount of collaboration and work to pull off – I know what kind of blood, sweat, and tears go into something like this. And I have always said that where there are no opportunities, you can create your own! So I want to congratulate the Senior Girls, (who have since graduated), on a reportedly successful production, and apologize for my unavoidable absence.

an awesome poster. no question.

an awesome poster. no question.

MADCAP THEATRE

Now, this portion is not meant to blow my own horn, because frankly, I had little to do with its success. But in early January, myself and a colleague of mine, Micah Thompson, founded a new organization – MADCAP THEATRE. The group specializes in improvisational acting and performance. To begin, we created MADCAP UNIVERSITY to train and teach improv. We started out with about 15 students who stuck with us for 6 weeks of intense training and truckloads of fun. At the end of the period we had a small show to commemorate the class’s glowing success.

Throughout this process, I had the opportunity to develop some of my skills as an educator, and had the joyous privilege of seeing these talented people grow into stronger performers. They all came from diverse backgrounds. Some were musicians, some were businessmen, some were teachers, and they all came together to collaborate on honing their life skills. This served as a powerful reminder to me how theatre is and always has been about community. It was such a joy to see so many people come together for a unified purpose.

Murder Mystery Mayhem for the win!

Murder Mystery Mayhem for the win!

Macbeth

Throughout this last year I feel like I have been regaining my sea-legs as an actor. That is to say, taking a year off from acting did me no favors. I have had the privilege to participate in several productions since then, but most recently I have played the role of Lennox in the Classic Players production of Macbeth. I love the play, don’t get me wrong, but when I learned of my new role, I had to ask my self – “Who is Lennox again?” After digging out my old “Shakespeare Unabridged” I rediscovered the minor character.

This was fantastic. The role was small, but that actually served to my advantage. Shakespeare is a horse of a different colour, and it’s not exactly like riding a bike. The brevity of my role gave me the opportunity to reacquaint myself with the Bard, and slowly digest the character without needing to feel any great pressure to perform. I was able to take ownership of Lennox, and by the time of performance, I was able to simply enjoy the artistic process of giving him life.

Thrilling tragedians since 1606!

Thrilling tragedians since 1606!

Hamlet

Feast or famine. I don’t touch Shakespeare for two years, and then suddenly I’m saturated with it. I’m not complaining.  I love Shakespeare, and Hamlet is hands down my favorite play. Ever. That’s why when I attended the Upstate Shakespeare Festival’s production of Hamlet I went in with low expectations. I did this for various reasons. First, I don’t like to be disappointed because I’m too critical. I like to enjoy myself, and give people the benefit of the doubt in the process. Second, It was a free production, open to the public, and performed out of doors in a public park. This told me it would have to be a filtered down version of the timeless master piece, and not too long so as too appease the masses. Not that it has to be this way – I just had a sneaking suspicion.

With all of that said, Shakespeare in the Park 2013 was a success as far as Hamlet is concerned. I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I do have my criticisms, but it wasn’t trying to be the next RSC production of destiny. I think it tried to make this archaic text accessible to most anyone, and for the most part, it mostly did. I was able to look past the low production values (which are secondary anyway, in my opinion) and attach myself to the characters in new and entertaining ways.

A nice pate on their poster.

A nice pate on their poster.

Comedy of Errors²

A great play. (also by Shakespeare) I love this play. It’s fun. It’s light. It’s entertaining, and incredibly hilarious. What’s perhaps hilarious about this summer is the error* so many companies are making by producing the same play at the same time! (*see what I did there?) I have the privilege of playing one of the principle roles in a production by The Greenville Shakespeare Company, and our very own Lindsay Morgan is performing a similar role in the Upstate Shakespeare Festival’s production of the same play! As if to add insult to injury, The Public Theatre in NYC is currently in the midst of their production of Comedy as well! So apparently everyone is doing it. Therefore you all have no excuse to not see a production of Comedy of Errors  this summer! Click here to see details about the GSC show. Click here to see details about the USF show.

I have no words.

I have no words.

Support Local Theatre

I look forward to the fall when all our staff are back in one place, but in the mean time, I hope you are all keeping an eye out for shows near you! Now more than ever local theatre groups need your help to keep creating and growing. Remember they do it for you. I’m not asking you to take an exam, or go for a run, or eat your broccoli. I’m asking you to go to a play. C’mon, how hard can it be? You know you want to!

Stay posted for our future articles! We love you, readers! Happy Summer!

 

By Johnathan SchofieldDSC_0260-2