Scene Study

How to Find Clues in a TV & Film Audition Scene

While there are many ways to break down a TV & film audition scene, I want to walk you through a few quick and easy things to spot, circle and focus in on that will help unlock the scene for you and provide a roadmap for how to play it.

When you see the words, butifandokorsowhich or what, notice them, focus on them and circle or highlight them. Why? When you see these words, think of them as gear changers in the scene and indicators of how the writer is having the characters think. These words unintentionally provide insight into how we should speak. They are like the green lights and stop signs of our language and when we pay particular attention to them on the page, they give us a road map to what is actually being said by a character in the scene. It is an easy way to help ground yourself when you are trying to break down the scene.

The red lights, or stop signs in the scene, are but, if, and, ok, or, so, which or what. Make sure that you see them and don’t run through them.Ask yourself why the character is saying but or agreeing with the word ok or giving options with the word or and adding to his thoughts with the word and. Don’t minimize these words. By slowing down and paying attention to them, you can unlock clues in how the scene can be played and what it might be about.

Let’s take a film audition scene: I have changed the character names and the words a little to protect the rights of the scene, but this is from an actual script.

INT: Squad room/ police station

Detective: We’ve canvassed every house with a view of the mountain. No one saw the man with the hacker or saw David with the hacker.

Jennie: Which doesn’t mean John Redford did the murder.

Detective: No. But why wouldn’t he mention it when we spoke to him. Did he really not remember or did he choose to lie. And do we think the money and drugs in the car are connected.

Notice the words I have mentioned in the above excerpt of the scene. Highlight these words and focus on them very closely. We have an idea of how the Detective is specifically thinking by the way he uses or in the first line. No one saw the hacker or David with the hacker, which obviously is very important to him because the word or acts to emphasize to his point.

READ: "How to Make the Most Interesting Choice in a Scene"

Jennie disagrees with the Detective and says not so fast when she uses the word which as a way of defending John Redford: Which doesn’t mean John Redford did the murder. The Detective then confirms his point of view by using the word But in his last line, confirming that he thinks John Redford is guilty because he never mentioned anything to him when they spoke to him: No. But why wouldn’t he mention it when….

By focusing on these words, we notice conflict and intentions in the scene by the two characters. And now we can use our imaginations as actors in making a choice in how we want to play the scene. Making a choice, not making the right choice because making a choice is always more important than making the right choice.

Another big clue is always the word sorry, because when a character says sorry, that is an immediate beat change or transition in the scene. You have to play the scene differently immediately after you hear or say sorry or an apology. The behavior in the scene can’t be the same as it was before you said it or heard it. That wouldn’t make sense in life or in acting!

These may be easier to pick up in a two- or three-page film & TV scene, but they can also apply to a theatre scene. In a film & TV audition scene, you have less words on the page and so they pop more, but they definitely are there in theatre scenes. Take a look at the second scene in Streetcar Named Desire when Stanley questions Blanche on the sell of Belle Reve.

Easy Tips to Unlock a TV & Film Audition Scene

  • Circle all but, if, and, ok, or, so, which or whats in the scene.

  • Circle all questions and all forms of apologies in the scene.

  • Ask yourself what the POV might be for each character in the scene because the use of these words.

  • Always behave differently in the scene once you say or hear an apology. It will show that you are listening.

  • Make a choice on what you have deduced and don’t second guess it. Making a choice is more important than making the right choice.


How to Make the Most Interesting Choice in a Scene

As two of my former acting teachers, Jonathan Silverstein and Carl Forsman, used to suggest: Finding the positive choice in a scene is the most helpful and interesting choice you can make. Always look for the agreement in the scene; it wins the day. 

It is always more dramatic if you need, or use, the other actor in the scene. Use them to help you win the agreement that would best help your character achieve his needs.

As actors, we like playing the pain in the scene, we like to suffer, and I’m as guilty of this as anyone. However, what helps the scene the most, and us of course, is when we try to solve the problem in the scene. Given the option, most actors will pick fighting on stage because it’s easier and less vulnerable. Loving is always harder and more vulnerable in life, so why should it not be for the stage?

The moment you work for the agreement in the sceneyou give yourself an objective—something to work towards. You begin to use yourself and your imagination in the scene. You almost have to because now you’re working towards the goal and not playing a general mood or emotional state.

It’s a much stronger choice when you work hard for the friendship in the scene, even when it’s apparent that the two characters hate each other. Remember, it’s useless to argue for the sake of arguing. As in life and on stage, you always get more with sugar that you do with vinegar.

It’s a more interesting choice, and scene, if:

  • A con man is trying to befriend an officer with charm instead of trying to be tough and mean.
  • A wife, whose husband has left her for a younger women, behaves sweetly and kindly towards him instead of yelling and being angry.
  • Two lonely and depressed people act as if they are enjoying each other’s company because they want to stop feeling lonely, rather than acting lonely and depressed.

What a lot of us will want to do is play the end in the scene at the beginning so that we can show we are “acting” in the scene. Instead, play the opposite in the scene and look for the conflict or problem and try to solve it. 

On camera, this is even more critical that you look for the agreement in the scene and don’t play the end the whole way through. It ruins the pictures in the story and makes it difficult to edit. You have to see a change in the relationship in the scene and you do that though the pictures you create. 

All scenes have to have a change, and if you play the end of the scene at the beginning, you don’t have that change. Playing the love in the scene, looking for the agreement, helps you create that dramatic transition in the scene, and on camera, gives editors and the director something to cut and edit. 

Don’t look for the fight. Next time you get a scene where the two characters are either yelling at each other, don’t go for the obvious choice (hate and anger). Instead, look for the love between the characters. Try to get the agreement from the other actor you’re in trouble with. 

Here are two questions you can use to help you win your next scene:What would success look like for me in the scene? Then, how can I achieve that success? Then use yourself as you would in real life to try to win that objective. Remember, you get more with sugar than you do with vinegar.

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The 2 Most Important Acting Questions to Ask in a Scene

Acting Blog or Actors

The 2 Most Important Acting Questions to Ask in a Scene

I believe that the two most important questions you must ask yourself when breaking down a scene or a monologue are: 
“What does the character want?” and 
“Why do they want it?” 
If you can always start by answering these two important questions then you are 90 percent towards success in the scene. 
By answering these questions you will be more grounded in your work, more truthful and more importantly, more confident. The answers don't have to be perfect, and in many cases you make up the why, but all that matters is that it makes sense with the circumstances of the story and that it exists for you. If it exists for you, it will exist for the audience. 

This is true for any scene, whatever the medium, and no matter how big or small. And once the ‘what’ and ‘why’ of the the scene are answered, the ‘how’ takes care of itself. You will know how to fight for what you want once you know what it is you are fighting for, and why you are fighting for it.  
Check out the rest of the article at Backstage

My first day in Kathleen Turner's Master Acting Class!

Kathleen Turner's Master Acting Class

My first day in Kathleen Turner’s acting class was great. I happened to be a few minutes late to class because of the subway and ended up taking the last seat next to her, two minutes late only! I have to admit, it was a bit surreal sitting next to Kathleen (as she likes to be called) and thinking to myself, "man when I was 12 watching Romancing in the Stone, what a boy crush I had on her." The scene with her and Michael Douglas as the mudslide propelled them through the jungle and ended with him landing between was pretty hot. What a beautiful pair of legs!

Working with her as an actor was incredible. She's smart, an excellent director, and is an incredible listener. What I find most refreshing is her passion for theatre and the craft of acting. I believe all great actors have it. Alec Baldwin has it and she definitely has it. They both share the same desire, as do I, and that is a desire for truth within each scene. It is my mission as an actor.

Her biggest direction she gave, and repeats continuously in class, is to make sure that our movement always supports the text. To show a physical change for every transition and to look for movement to separate and identify those transitions. There are always at least three transitions in every speech or scene. Simply stated, but you can define them as your beginning, middle, and end. When you add movement to your transitions, it helps finding and communicating them a lot easier.

  • For example: This is one subject, I'll move or sit here and when the subject changes, I'll move again. 

It adds variety and surprise to the scene. And as my good friend, director Stephen Jobes, has told me probably million times, "surprise is the spice of life and acting Douglas. Actors must vary their fight".
 It also shows thought process in the character and forces you to make choices as an actor. And she says "that is why we play the game."

How I marked my speech. Val from "Orpheus Descending" by Tennessee William.

  • My Wish/Want: To find life in this dead country. To find freedom for the first time in my life. To find something of value in my life. - Could that be why his name is Val? : -) 
  • Why? If I don't find it, I’ll have to go back to the life that is worthless and meaning less to me. Back to doing the things that are killing me. I'll probably end up dead if I go back. 

Kathleen Turner acting class

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An Actors Job is to Practice!

actors acting blog

Actors Job is to Practice

This past weekend I saw a film that inspired me and re-enforced my beliefs as an actor. The movie is "Jiro Dreams of Sushi" The film centers around a Japanese word Shokunin - an individual who embodies the artisan spirit of the relentless pursuit of perfection through his craft. It is the craftsman’s spirit.

In order to be the best in your field, to reach the top of your craft, you MUST practice, practice and practice so more. "How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, Practice." Once you decide on your occupation, you have to immerse yourself in your work. You have to fall in love with your work and never complain about your job. You must dedicate your life to mastering your skills as an actor and let that be the secret to your success.

Since I have grown more experienced as an actor, the more I practice, the more I keep coming back to simplest of choices to help me obtain success in my work. What I want in the scene and Why I want it? Why is that so important to my character?  

A Quote from the film- Ultimate simplicity leads to Purity. 

And simplicity comes only from practice. Personally, for me, I have noticed that when I work on monologues three to four times a month and work on two or three scenes in front of the camera a month, I book more work and feel more comfortable in front of auditors and in the audition room. When I practice more, I get faster with my craft. I am able to learn my lines quicker and I am able to see my character's wants and needs more easily.

Dancers practice, singers sing, artist paint and actors also need to practice. You can never practice enough and never be satisfied. Always trying to look ahead and improve your skills. I believe it was casting director Jay Binger in the film "Every Little Step" who said, the way you get to Broadway is by giving a Broadway audition!

Always, look ahead and about yourself and try to improv yourself. Love your craft so much, that becomes the goal. The spirit of Shokunin!

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Acting Workshop

This past weekend me and some of my friends (incredibly talent group of actors) got together in our acting workshop to work on our craft and sharpen our skills.  We were led by my good friend and talented director Stephen Jobes. We worked on scenes from Pinter,Williams, Albee and Shanley and the work was moving, funny and incredibly inspiring!

As actors, the one thing that we have complete control over is how sharp we keep our craft. You never know when the right audition is going to come along and if you are not ready, have not been practicing and sharpening your choices as an actor, the odds are stacked against you.

Under Conditions of Stress, you do what you learned under training!

80% of the value of an audition, scene or play can be distilled to 20% of the choices you make as an actor. What does that mean? Well, there many tools you can use as an actor to help obtain success but if you focus on the two most important questions, WHAT YOU WANT and WHY YOU WANT IT, success is easier to obtain. The Pareto rule states that 80% of all events are caused by 20% of the causes, I find this holds true in acting as well. The law in universal to everything in life.

What is that we some desperately want in the scene? Why we so desperately want it? By focusing on these two basic questions, we keep things simple and uncomplicated for ourselves. As an actor you can only really do one thing at a time so if you know what you are doing and why you are doing it, our choices are stronger and cleaner. The more complicated and scattered your thoughts, the more unmanageable the task is in the scene. Keep it simple and focused.

When fighting for what your characters WANTS, remember that your character is ENORMOUSLY RIGHT ALWAYS!

Moment to Moment Acting - Monolouges

Working with my friends (Nadia, Kaylin and Annie) in our acting workshop last week, an interesting thing helped to really raise our monologues to a deeper level. 
Watch your target and react off of your target!  Moment to Moment Acting
A quote from my friend Nadia from a book she is reading. 

"A useful principle for the actor is that there is no such thing as a description. Pure description simply doesn't exist. What may claim to be a passive description is in fact always an active attempt to change a perception."

Working moment to moment can be a bit challenging sometimes as you are usually acting to a wall or a blank space, i.e, monologues.  But are you?   
You aways cast someone and be as specific as possible when doing your piece to someone because you are doing it to someone and not to a wall.  Like an old lady, someone you know really well or someone you saw walking down the street the other day that you thought was very attractive or just crazy guy on the corner of 23rd and 8th avenue who you think you can help or change. What will put you in the most trouble?   
But that is not enough?  You must watch and notice your target. What are you trying to communicate or get from them and how is that person reacting to what you are doing or telling them on each line. 

Going Moment to Moment in your acting  
And always remember that :
  • PROBABILITY is more interesting than POSSIBILITY. 
  • What is the agreement that you are trying to get and what is the best way of getting that agreement?

Every Scene needs to CHANGE!

I had an audition for a feature film and I was only given one page as my side. Nine times out of ten the roles I read for TV and film are either villains or hit man type of characters. So the role I was reading for the film "Tacoma" was again a killer.

As I prepared the scene, I started to lean on some old and bad habits like not doing any homework and not asking any questions, i.e What and WHY? Just razzling and dazzling what I think they want.

When I worked on the scene, I knew something didn't feel right. And as I taped myself and played it back, it started to pop out at me. NOTHING IS CHANGING in the scene. And the moment I started to ask the questions What and WHY? The scene started to get more depth, levels and the beats became clearer.

Plot line of the scene:
Laura is a driven real estate agent who lives and works with her mother. Her friend is brutally murdered ( by me ) in a short-sale scam gone bad. I am at the house of the girl I just killed when Laura comes over. And the WHY I crafted is that if this girls suspects that something is gong wrong, then I could lose everything I have worked so hard on. Like picking the house, picking the girl to kill,getting rid of the body and now trying to fudge all the papers so that it looks legit. And my boss is type of guy that will cut my fingers off so it is very clear that I need (WANT) this bitch to leave and keep her mouth shut now. It's life and death for me.

How do I do this? By charming her in the beginning (positive fight) then when she does not get the hint to leave and even starts to connect the dots, then I intimidate her and threaten her with malice.  This is the change in the scene!, and on camera, the scene came alive. I looked like someone so much more deseperate and much more threatening. 
When preparing a scene, ask yourself what needs to change in the scene then you immediately begin asking all the right questions like What, Why? and what would success look like for my character in this scene. 

Summary: Every scene does not end where it begins. Something must change!

Alec Baldwin notes on Acting

These are some notes that I learned from working with Alec Baldwin in his scene study class in 2008. I was accepted into his scene study class and had the privilege to study with him for three summers. He is an excellent teacher. He teaches by fire and I like it a lot. I always like to know when I suck and when I don't.

My two favorite notes of advice he gave to us were:

  1.  "You better be good, dam good because this business demands it" And
  2.  "If you can't remember your lines, don't worry, YOUR FIRED!"

Some of his notes:

  • You can not give everything an equivalence of value. 
  • Look at the lines that are hard to say for your character. Every character has them. 
  • Must show vulnerability in a scene.
  • If there is a beat, a pause, that means the character is thinking something. What? Make a choice!
  • Make choices as an actor, as real people do. 
  • When do you talk to yourself and when do you talk to other people?
  • More important to be real than loud. 
  • Keep your body and voice in shape! It is mandatory. 

Wynn Handman notes on Rehearsal

Wynn Handman on Rehearsal

These are few acting notes for rehearsals from Wynn Handman. I thought they would be worth sharing.

  • In rehearsals work on the essence of where the scene peels off for your character. The scene that gives the essence of the play is where you should be working on. 
  • Look at the culture and background from where your character comes from
  • AN OUNCE OF BEHAVIOR IS WORTH A POUND OF WORDS. Rehearsal is for discovery. 
  • Always rehearse by doing it, it’s the only way you get any thing out of rehearsals. Really do it. 
  • Make it real for yourself and you’ll make it real for the audiences.
  • Look at the culture and background from where your character comes from. 

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SOLVE THE PROBLEM in the scene!

The more you solve the problem in the scene the better the scene will go for you.

  • Keep fighting towards the common ground.  
  • Take every opportunity you can to solve the problem and get your agreement from the other character in the scene. 
  • Get the audience to think and feel that there is a chance for the scene to work out.  Even in O'Neal, there has to be glimmer of hope. 

Boy Gets Girl by Rebecca Gilman

I was working on "Boy Gets Girl" by Rebecca Gilman with Jonathan Silverstein. In the scene, my character Tony is on a second date with Theresa and he is trying super hard to get her to like him desperately.  In a certain speech he talks about pasties that his mother used to make him as a boy and how incredible they were. He then proceeds to ask the girl, "do you know what pasties are? ,  she says yes.

I took the answer as a huge disappointment, playing a touch of self pity ( MISTAKE as self pity does not work in life or on stage) that I couldn't impress her.

The scene really took off for me when I took her answer as a HUGE YES! This is the girl for me because she knows what pasties are, just like my mom did.  Solving the agreement and trying to get her closer to me and the common ground, which serve my need.

Why? because if my character doesn't get this Theresa to like and go out with him, the TROUBLE will be that he will be alone for the rest of his life and worst yet, that he will be letting down his mother that he can't be the man that she wants him to be. I crafted that his mother is planning a dinner for him and is expecting and demanding Tony to bring a girl to the dinner.   I should mention that my character is a stalker.

He has to get the girl and he needs to take advantage of every opportunity to charm her and get her to agree with him so that he can SOLVE HIS PROBLEM.

Some great questions to ask:

  • How can I get through the other character to get what I WANT? 
  • What's my problem in the scene? 


THE MOMENT BEFORE - "Audition", by Michael Shurtleff

It's true that every acting scene has a beginning, middle, and end. But for the character, there's no such thing. So you've got to create a moment before. What was the character doing, thinking, and feeling right before the scene started.

SUMMARY: What was the character doing, thinking, and feeling RIGHT BEFORE THE SCENE STARTS!

See the discussion here on Linkedin:

Why love in a scene is a must for Actors

Why love in a scene is a must for ActorsSaw Pinter's THE CARETAKER at BAM the other night. Handsome production. Pryce was great. But the dull shrug that Cox chose for Aston left his character outside the relationship; turned him dumbly withdrawn rather than with a slow curiosity.

Without curiosity, there's no reason for him to bring Jenkins home, strive, after all, for some sort of friendship after the terrible electirc shock treatment, even if with a tramp. Cox's choice left Pryce, especially in the first act, to fill the air. The menace, then, that Hassell's Mick is meant to bring into the play, becomes stilted -- there is no budding friendship for him to break up. He become aberrantly mean, only odd. Lots of pathos & tenderness, sadness in the evening, swipes of humor. Lots of good acting. But no danger, no heartache longing, but for Pryce's Jenkins, none of the twisted possesive stalemate that undercuts the lives of the brothers. 
Another moment in theater where the love in therelationships must be clear, come first, before all else, before any thought of style or mood.

Auditioning: Forgiveness a Suitable Action in the Scene

Auditioning!  Is Forgiveness a suitable action to take in the scene? YES!
Notes by Director Stephen Jobes  if you have not work this man. DO! Clear Want's and Why's
Your discovery/ decision to pour your fight into your scene partner is excellent, Douglas. A View from the Bridge, a play of such large energy (Brantley puts it on the scale of a Greek Tragedy) can only be contained if actors are fiercely engaged. As often as not, the answer to all that puzzles an actor is found not by going inward but by seeking love outward, in another. “We must love one another or die,” writes Auden. Back in the mid-70’s when helping Michael Shurtleff (along with a couple dozen actors) put together his Corner Loft Theater, we hung a placard behind his small table: The Ten Guideposts (there were only ten at the time) Above them all, however, was the question, “Where is the love in the scene?” Start with love.You are also wise, Douglas, to kill the distracting self-conscious of wanting an audience/ auditor to like you. Self-consciousness is a leprosy that eats at all that is right in good work. Pour yourself into your scene partner.The leap you took, suggesting Eddie seeks not only love from Beatrice but forgiveness, is more a reflection, I think, of your generosity than of Miller’s intentions. As you speak of forgiveness in this fashion, you seem to use it as a way of opening your heart. Great. Such open-heartedness & generosity makes you more available to yourself & crucially to your partner. Even if bossy & full of swagger edged with anger he is seeking a renewed connection with Beatrice.Yet, as I read the scene, Eddie comes in pleased that he’s got the Feds after the Italians. He’s feeling not like a rat but proud. He’s going to finally get his home back the way he wants it. He can now get his wife back on track, telling her outright, “This is my house.” “I want my respect!” “I do what I feel like doin’ or what I don’t feel like doin’.”He also now gets Rodolpho out & Catherine back in tow so that he can continue the attenuated / perverse love he has (denied having) for her. It’s been clear throughout the show & Beatrice, toward the end of the play says it outright, when she confronts Eddie saying it’s not Marco on his hands & knees Eddie wants. “You want somethin’ else, Eddie, and you can never have her!”Eddie, it seems, wants to be king of the mountain again at all costs & his hamaratia (what the Greeks called the unwieldy pride that brought on a hero’s ruin) brings about his death in the end, when he still is unrepentant demanding Marco fall to his knees. It doesn’t seem to me that Eddie has an epiphany that might lead him to forgiveness; rather he seems a tragic figure defeated.The richness of your spirit, Douglas, to bring in a more vulnerable, openhearted opposite to the storming Eddie humanizes him, keeps him from being a mere brute. You offer the kind of rich soul that Anthony LaPagilia brought to Eddie opposite Allison Janney’s Beatrice back in the ‘90’s, a remarkable production directed by Michael Mayer for the Roundabout.Your interest in forgiveness still stirs my mind. It’s a kind of “undoing,” it seems, one person to the next, calling oneself out to decry great wrong. Forgiveness is a wonderful action for clearing the ravaged ruins, wherever they may be, so new growth can take place. New love, unexpected new freedom. When we spoke about it working here on 15th Street, I failed to take in the need for that clearing & was too ready, I think, to warn you away from beseeching that might turn into a negative fight. I was wrong. Forgiveness to clear sight & create fresh possibility is a wonderful tool humanly & theatrically.

Raising the STAKES in a scene!

Raising the STAKES in a scene! 

Experience: Rehearsing "Time Stand Sill" for a showing at the Barrow Group Theatre; my scene partner Kaylin Clinton came up with the idea that we do the scene as if a bomb was about to go off and we need to get to the resolution before it does.Learning: Two things I found that the exercise did for us.One- It increased energy during the rehearsal which is always good when you have been rehearsing a lot or when nrgy is just down. And it helped discover new moments in the scene that perhaps you were glossing over.The key, I think, is not acting like chaos is about to happen but just to Act As If you need to get to an answer immediately before something bad happens.

Note from Director Stephen Jobes on Raising the Stakes!Learning: 

Yes, the richnness of life in the face of death clarifies the time. A great decision especially for that play.Bernie Siegel in Love, Medicine, & Miracles, mentions, "Bored with life? Imagine you have a week to live; then you'll know what you love." Also, a heart breaking moment in the opening of Harvey Fierstein's Torchsong, "Oh, I've loved. I've loved a lot... I've just never loved enough." For a scene to have stakes, an actor must not only care, care a lot, but care enough. Care enough to fight, cross boundaries, for what you want/need.Sometimes, it seems, actors bring in a full heart of genuine emotion. On it own, it's not enough. Unless an actor pours that emotion into their scene partner, makes their partner suffer the consequence of their fight, it fails to be dramatic -- it's only emotion. Checking between partners becomes sharper; discoveries become fresh & original to each moment.

Use Your Scene Partner and Don't Stop Asking

Use Your Scene Partner and Don't Stop Asking
"A View from the Bridge" by Arthur Miller - Use your scene partner and don't stop asking.A View from the Bridge by Arthur MillerLearning: Use your scene partner to get what you need. What is the agreement that you need and WHY?Scene: At the point in the scene when Eddie comes back into the house after he has called the Immigration departure and turn Rudolpho and Marko in. This goes against everything that he stands for. He not a man any more. He has broken the word to himself, to his wife and to the entire neighborhood.He needs Beatrice to love him and most importantly to FORGIVE him for what he has just done. He doesn't tell her in the scene but that is exactly what he needs because he knows the truth will come out soon, any minute now. He has done the UNTHINKABLE. Acted like a rat!My experience: I was working on the scene in class and the scene went really really well every time. It took off for me and my scene partner. Why? I feel that we both used each other to find the solution. Sometimes as an actor you go into a scene with the idea what you want your performance to be liked and many times, that is when you get in trouble. I asked my WHAT I needed and WHY and used my scene partner to help me get what I desperately needed which was again forgivenessAs an actor, if you go into the scene needing to get your partner on your side so you can be forgiven for the unthinkable it will leave you more open to let the scene play you. You use more of YOURSELF.You can still let the anger and frustration come through in the scene but its the love and the charm that gets you what you need. And don’t stop asking your scene partner for the agreement.It is so easy to break away in the scene in self pity. DON’T. Keep going after what you want from her or him. Keep ASKING!The potion in a strong scene is a little bit of demand, a little bit of anger but a lot of love and charm.

MONOLOGUE TIP: Stay in the moment

MONOLOGUE TIP: Stay in the moment.

Monologue tip from Karen Kohlhaas www.monologueaudition.comUnder the pressure of an audition - which often alters our sense of time - it is easy to "pop" quickly out of a monologue. This can destroy the effect of the whole audition, and will definitely feel abrupt and jarring to your auditors because it gives them no moment to process what they have just seen. In your rehearsals, practice staying in your story, playing your intention for a full count of three at the end (slightly quicker for comedy is okay). And then slowly float your eyes from your focus point to the eyes of your auditors, smile, and say a sincere thank you. Drill this with a partner. Do it for each other so that you can feel from the auditors' side how important it is that the actor "stays in" for those moments at the end. You will see how much staying in helps the auditors feel the impact of the story, and how it makes the actor seem strong and confident about the performance.

The Want in the Scene

SCENE STUDY: The Want in the SceneWorking with director Stephen Jobes hon how to craft the WANT in a scene more clearly.  I was working on a piece from Kingdom of Earth and Glass Menagerie.Kingdom of Earth by Tennessee WilliamsThe character Chicken is basically asking for forgiveness.  I WANT FORGIVENESS but what makes it even clearer is the WHY, why do you want forgiveness.  Chicken is giving a speech of how hard life is and that man has to be hard in order to survive. "I think life just plain don't care about the weak. A man and his life had to be made of the same stuff or one will break and the one that breaks, won't be life"So I had crafted a clear WANT but did not really have the WHY. So what Stephen and I ended up crafting was that I had to kill my son because he was not strong enough or man enough to be in this world. And I am asking for forgiveness from my wife. The piece completely came alive and immediately gave me variety.

  • WHY? So that my wife will understand why I murdered my son, he's not man enough and the world only accepts men.

Another key thing to remember in Forgiveness is to never play self pity because as in life, we hate to see it, especially on stage. Always fight for forgiveness, don't surrender it.  Much more dramatic on stage. Glass Menagerie by Tennessee WilliamsTom's last speech which is always tricky because you really never know to whom you are speaking. It is up to us as actors to craft it to make really for the audience.Tom was another speech that if you wanted, you could craft the I WANT as I WANT FORGIVENESS which is what I did. But I crafted that I wanted forgiveness from myself. My WHY was because I needed to be free so that I could pursue my dreams.And as always acting is like a pin ball machine in that once you get going on the right track, other things start to come alive and connect you to the speech. As Wynn Handman says, get's in your gut. Specifics from your personal life and your dream begin to affect you and begin to marinate into your work.  Which is what I think acting is, the ability to created a sense of truth and reality of the world your character is living in for the audience.

  • WHY? So that I can be free to pursue the life I want.

Robert Kaflin Play Reading: The Diamond Cutter

Slowing down in play readings
My second play performing with Robert Kaflin and the second time I played a German character with a German accent.  Play readings I find are hard in that you are kind of not walking and not running. Meaning you are on your feet almost like in a full production but you still have your script in your hand and usually have had only one day of rehearsal, maybe two.  So this makes it hard to really bring out your character intentions because your trying to act but your not really off books so at times you lose yourself technically in the script. Your like stuck between both worlds.
So I have found it is best to fully memorize what you have trouble saying and then use the script with what you feel more comfortable with. Your brain usually is able to perform more freely with what it is more comfortable with and your memory is even stronger.   It also helps to have a very kind and gifted director like Robert Kaflin.
And always,  listen to your instincts! Your body knows and if you have an idea, share it with the director, playwright and producer.  And slow down so that you don't trip over dialougue as acting sometimes can be like a huge dance in your mouth especially when doing a difficult accent like German. All ees gooot!