ASSIGNMENT 1 – “WATCHING SOMEONE ” (ALSO KNOWN AS: CAMCORDER)

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Hi everyone! It was good meeting all of you in the Acting 101 class.

There are TWO PARTS to this week’s assignment:

  1. DO THE “WATCHING SOMEONE” EXERCISE BELOW. If you don’t have enough real people nearby to watch due to coronavirus restrictions, it’s fine to watch someone on TV. But don’t choose an actor. PART 2 is to memorize the script excerpt below.

“WATCHING SOMEONE”

  1. For this exercise, choose someone to watch and then watch them for a short time (i.e., between 30 seconds and a minute), without them realizing they are being watched. (No, I’m not asking you to stalk someone! Just watch them for a little while.)

    The person you’re watching might be a friend, family member, coworker, or stranger. They can be of any age and either gender.  You might watch him or her engaging in some common activity, such as:

  1. watching T.V.
  2. talking on the phone
  3. taking out the garbage
  4. working on the job
  5. eating breakfast
  6. flirting
  7. arguing
  8. making a meal
  9. reading a book
  10. getting ready to leave for work

… or some other everyday activity. Look at how he or she walks, stands, talks, gestures. (Knees together? Legs apart? Loud, abrasive voice? Soft, slow speech?) (Just watch and try to take in the person’s mannerisms and ways of expressing himself or herself.)

Imagine that you’re filming them with a camcorder, recording what they’re doing so that you can play it back later.


After watching the person for a minute, do your best to re-create what you saw the person do.  Practice a few times, seeing how close you can come. Stand like the person was standing, gesture like they were gesturing. The goal is to recreate exactly what you saw him or her do and say. You don’t have to “mime” it silently; if they were talking, go ahead and say what you heard them say, in as close to their voice as you can.

You can do this exercise with or without props. If they were talking on their phone, for example, you could use your own phone as a prop or pantomime one.


PART 2: WATCH A VIDEO, THEN MEMORIZE A SCENE

  • First read the MEMORIZATION TIPS below
  • Then WATCH THE VIDEO BELOW.
  • It has more tips to help with memorization.
  • THEN memorize the script (located below)


MEMORIZATION TIPS!


REMINDER: HOW TO MEMORIZE DIALOGUE

  • If you decide to pursue acting, you’ll need to learn to memorize accurately.
  • Using a memorization method will help.
  • This is the method I recommend.
  • Read it over before memorizing this week’s script:

  1. First, read the script over a few times to get a basic understanding of it.
  2. Next, read the script aloud once or twice. This can help you get a better sense of its internal rhythms (where the natural “breaks” in it would be.)
  3. Then, break the script down into small chunks.  Don’t try to memorize the whole script all at once.  Memorize EACH SMALL CHUNK at a time, then add the next chunk to it.
  4. Set aside a time, or times, to practice it, and mark them on your calendar. Even for a short script like this, I recommend setting aside least two 1-hour time blocks to practice it.
  5. Remember that our goal as actors is to memorize the exact words, not an approximate version. (“Put the glasses in the cupboard” is not the same as, “Be sure to put the glasses in cupboard.”)
  6. The method I recommend that you start with is to SAY THE WORDS ALOUD, writing down the FIRST LETTER of every word as you say them.
  7. Then try “reading” the words from the letters you wrote down.
  8. Then say them from memory.
  9. Then read them again from the letters you wrote down.
  10. If you forget any words, bo back to #6 again, writing down the first letter as you say the words aloud.
  11. Be sure to put in punctuation just like you would if you were writing complete sentences. For example, the line: “Honey, have you seen my shoes? They’re not in the closet.” would read as: “H, h y s m s?  T n i t c.”
  12. AFTER you have done the “one letter/one word” method to learn the basics, I recommend making an audio recording of the script, and playing it over and over. There are several ways you can do this:
    1. You might RECORD THE ENTIRE SCRIPT, and listen to it over and over
    2. Or, you could just RECORD YOUR CUES and a silent space on the recording during which your character would reply.
    3. An even better method is to record YOUR CUES, then leave a silent space for your character to answer, then record your character’s answer at the end of the blank space. This gives you immediate feedback on whether you’ve spoken the words accurately.
  13. AFTER memorizing it, practice saying it with different emotions, so you don’t get locked into just one emotional approach.
  14. Also practice MOVING AROUND THE ROOM while saying the lines, doing things like moving items or doing housework.
  15. Meeting with other actors (or students) to run lines before a performance is also a good idea. Some students arrange to come early to class to run lines. Others arrange to rehearse over the phone or by skype.
  16. This video has a good summary of the “one letter-one word” method:


  • THE SCRIPT TO MEMORIZE: BLAIR – JAMEY SCENE. Be sure to memorize the entire scene, not just the part we did in class.

MEMORIZE THIS SCRIPT:


  • AFTER reading the above information and watching the video,  memorize the script below.
  • Normally I would just ask you to memorize one character. But this one is so short, it’ll be easier just to memorize both.

  1. THE SCRIPT TO MEMORIZE: BLAIR – JAMEY SCENE

MORE MEMORIZATION TIPS:

1. Break the script down into chunks. Learn this part first:


JAMIE
Good morning.

BLAIR
Good morning.

JAMIE
How do you feel?

BLAIR
Great.

JAMIE
I’m sure.


THEN MEMORIZE THIS PART:

BLAIR
What do you want for breakfast?

JAMIE
Whatever.

BLAIR
I’ll fix you some scrambled eggs.

JAMIE
Fine.


Practice BOTH parts above till you can say them accurately. Then memorize the last part:

BLAIR
You going to work this morning?

JAMIE
Have to.

BLAIR
Oh.

JAMIE
Do you want me to stay home?

BLAIR
It’s up to you.

JAMIE
Can’t.

BLAIR
Like I said — it’s up to you.


5.  After breaking the script down into chunks, practice EACH chunk separately till you’ve learned it, then move on to the next four or five lines.

6. Repetition (This is basic: repeat the words over and over until you have them down.)

7. Run lines with a friend. Ask a friend or classmate to read your cues. Ask them to correct you if your words are wrong.


CLICK TO DOWNLOAD: BLAIR – JAMEY SCENE

“WHAT IS THIS SCENE ABOUT?”  

You’ll notice that the scene could be interpreted in a number of different ways.  The scene as written doesn’t give very much information about the characters or what’s going on with them — are they husband and wife? Brother and sister? Mother and son? Do they love each other? Hate each other?  We have no way of knowing from the script.  Since you don’t know, feel free to speculate, but don’t worry about it.  We’ll work on the character relationships in class AFTER we get memorization down.

This is deliberate, because the focus (for this exercise is on learning the words accurately, then interpreting them in a number of different ways.  At this point I would just focus on memorizing the words, and not worry too much about who the characters are or what the scene is about; we’ll work on those elements in class.

Learn the words as accurately as you can. If you’re rehearsing it, it’s fine to explore different character possibilities, but try not to get too locked in on them as the character relationships may change when we perform it in class.

 


 

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P.P.S. Some students have emailed to ask if they can see examples of my films.  You can see some of them on this page. To see shorts made in “Let’s Make a Movie” class: click here

  • Feature-length movies by Nils Osmar: click here
  • To see my IMDB (Internet Movie Database) page: click here

 

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