Welcome to the B. Blog! What's happening right now with me will ALL be seen here. Upcoming performances, auditions, any and everything to do with my journey as a professional actress.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Auditioning and DVDs

Okay, it’s one thing to perform a role on film that’s MEANT for film, but it’s super difficult to execute a piece traditionally meant for the stage on film. What am I talking about? I am talking about sending in an audition DVD for a theatre company.

I love technology! There were a few theatre company internships that I wanted to apply for but I couldn’t make out to their auditions. I mean some were in KY and CA and I just didn’t have enough time to put in time off at my job or set up flight plans…so thank God for technology and understanding theatre companies. A few companies that I was interested in gave me the option to submit a DVD of my work rather than fly out there just for an audition.

Building a DVD
First thing is first, choose pieces that truly represent your strengths, your range, and your drive. This part wasn’t too hard for me, I must admit. I had spent the whole semester preparing certain audition pieces, so this was the easiest part. Next, you need to figure out how are you going to film it. Using your webcam or a simple camcorder, just make sure it is clear and professional. In my case, I was extremely blessed to have awesome friends WITH awesome equipment and they filmed one stellar audition DVD for me. But it’s as simple as using a good camera, finding a program to build your DVD, and burn one.
  • Give a proper, fun introduction...I mean just like a regular audition
  • Use contrasting pieces; not necessarily humorous and dramatic, but emotionally contrasting as well
***Note: Make sure you use a professional looking DVD label on the front of your DVD

Treat It like a Regular Audition
So just because it’s on film doesn’t mean you should turn off any of your audition etiquette. The cool thing about filming is if you flub up, uh….cut let’s do that take again! LOL But yeah remember to dress nice, articulate, and overall just be you.

"It’s crazy in the past I have been ridiculed for being too “professional” at an audition. Not fake…no the words they used weren’t ‘fake’ but…too professional.  And I must admit to this day, I have no clue what that means. What I do think it could mean is that they already have an impression of me before I started speaking. Based off what I am wearing or how I walk or whatever…that being said as long as you KNOW yourself, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise."

 Below is an example of one my audition monologues. You can see more of them on my YouTube Channel!

What's Next?

Graduation May 2011
The big, dreaded question every recent graduate faces… What’s next? So now that I have graduated from college, I have been looking into finding strong and challenging apprenticeship/internship programs that will keep me on track and focused for the next year or so. Yes…I could just go up into New York or out to L.A. and just jump into the swing of things but…that’s not me. I like stability and being at my personal best before venturing too far out.

Nevertheless, I started my quest for apprenticeships/internships by going to the Actors’ Equity Association website and selecting EMC Candidates and Programs and printed out the entire list. Basically, I want to get my equity card and in order to do so I have to either hopefully get cast in a equity theatre house production as a non-union or find a theatre that offers a EMC candidate program and start earning equity points.

So after I printed out the list, I notated two things to myself:
  •           Where?
  •         What does it offer?

Location was a huge factor for me. I decided to contact programs that were in KY, VA, DC, MD, PA, NY, GA, FL, and CA. Why…uuhhh because it was my preference. (smiles)

What does it Offer?
(Here comes the research and time to use those highlighters)
You are researching to find out the following:
  • What type of program do they offer? (Apprenticeship, internship, fellowship, etc.)
  • What is the program’s focus? (Acting, Tech, Administrative)
  • How long is the program?
  • Is there a stipend?
  • Is housing provided?

Most of this information is available on their theatre company’s website; however sometimes it isn’t. So shooting them an email will do the trick.

         Start by googling the theatre company. This way you can see their main website, read reviews, etc. Once you find out the information you want and need, create a spreadsheet to document your findings. On the printed out EMC list, highlight which programs are definite YESs, NOs, and MAYBEs. I used yellow for my YESs, blue for NOs, and pink for MAYBEs. This is so you won’t repeat yourself. Trust me, the list can get quite confusing and time consuming…

Contacting the Company

  • See if they have an application
  • Email or mail them a nice cover letter stating your interest in their program and ask if they offer a program in your field of choice.

Out of the hundreds of theatres listed on the EMC program list, I emailed oh…about 30! And sent actual postal mail to 9. In response, I’ve gotten a lot of “we’ve already chosen our interns” or “we don’t offer a program in your field”. However, I’ve gotten two nibbles: The Actor’s Express in Atlanta and The Black Rep Theatre in St. Louis!

I will keep you posted…

Sunday, May 1, 2011

To Cry or Not to Cry....- Emotional Connectivity

'So can you cry on cue? Or... oh you're an actor, so can cry on the spot, right?
Uh...NEGATIVE! I'm not a switch. I am human. LOL. But we get that a lot as actors. Crying, building up emotion, instant anger, all that is a challenge in itself. Tears are a result housing up emotions and finally releasing them. Yes, there are many actors that can turn on the "water works" with the snap of a finger and I say "more power to you!" :) But for those we are like me who cannot, hopefully this blog can assist you.

So how do you connect emotionally to something you have never dealt with before? Well, there are two methods that I choose to explore: Emotional Recall & Substitution.

Scenario: You are on stage/on a movie set and you have a scene that deals with a murder tat has taken place. The murder was of a little girl around the age of 2 or 3. 

Now hopefully you've never committed a murder or had to witness one, yet we have all seen plenty of news stories about it. Or know someone who has a tragedic story they've told you, and one way or another they have effected you. It may make you angry or bring you to tears; whatever it may be it caused you to be effected 'emotionally'.

Emotional Recall

Courtesy of Old Dominion Theatre from "Persephone Wept"
I've been using this for years to access the emotional region of my characters. Other words for it is 'sense memory' or 'affective memory'. Basically, internally you are trying to recall the sensation from a traumatic, emotional event rather than the emotions themselves. It's a lot safer if you ask me. As for in our scenario, I would use a news story that I seen in the past and the feeling I got from watching the families be so hurt over losing their child. On a more personal note, I remember teaching a class and we took a field trip to the mall and one of the kids that was in my group went missing. DON'T WORRY...only for like 3 secs but it felt like hours! My body was in shock and was panicked. So for the scenario above I "recall" that emotion of feeling fear and substitute that into the scene.

Courtesy of Old Dominion University from "Fragments"

This is a new one for me and I found that it works best for film actors. Basically, it's similar to the concept of Emotional Recall except instead of actually trying to recall a particular or specific moment to gave an emotional reaction, you simply substitution something else in. For example, remember the student I lost at the mall? Well, I would use him as my emotional stimulus RATHER than the feelings I felt. Got it? Like I said the two are VERY similar.

I was first introduced to this technique last summer while I was taking Tasha Smith's Actor's Workshop in DC. Check out the link to see more about it.

Facts about Emotional Recall and Substitution

·      Emotional Recall was a term coined by Lee Strasberg for his "Method" Acting. However, Stanislavski was the first to develop such a technique. He called it "Affective Memory". 

·      Affective Memory was first used at the Moscow Art Theatre

·      One of the first plays to showcase this technique was Uncle Vanya by Anton Chekhov

·      Substitution is based off Stella Adler's technique of Substitution.

·      Substitution also stems of from the roots of Method Acting 

·      Her version of the Method is based on the idea that actors should conjure up emotions not by using their personal memories, but by using the scene's given circumstances. 

For more information about Emotional Recall and Subsitution, reseach the follwing: Stanislavski, Lee Strasberg, or Stella Alder.

Works Cited

Adler, Stella, and Howard Kissel. The Art of Acting. Applause Theatre & Cinema  Books,  2000. Print.
Osnes, Beth. Acting: an International Encyclopedia. Abc-Clio Inc, 2001. Print
Rotté, Joanna. Acting with Adler. Amadeus Press, 2000. Print.
Strasberg, Lee, and Evangeline Morphos. A Dream of Passion: the Development of  the Method. Plume,       
       1988. Print.