Friday, September 23, 2011

Cold Reading


A cold reading is when someone auditioning reads from a script with no prior preparation. As you can imagine, this is likely to be a nerve wracking experience, One in which you could possibly be so nervous about not studying the script beforehand that you don't do as well as you know you are capable of. I am taking a Cold Reading acting class.
I have only been to one session out of four so far but I experienced the nerves which I imagine an actor feels when giving a cold read. I did not do well this past session and that is an honest assessment of myself. I don't want to feel like I did well when I did not. I know that I am not at the same level as anyone in this particular class because I am just beginning. I don't want to say I did well, but I do want to keep my confidence up by remembering that I am a beginner and that it is okay not to be as good. I think I was nervous mostly because I didn't want to feel in the way of progress, as if I did not deserve to be there as much as everyone else. My extreme desire to do well led to extreme nerves which I could not calm enough to think clearly.
My goal is to get over these nerves by preparation and so I gave myself an assignment for this week. I am writing down actions and then writing down physical actions that go along with them. I will tell you why. In class we were taught that an actor should act with actions and not emotions. Certain emotions go with action. Therefore, you will act more honestly if you decide on an action or goal that the character is trying to achieve rather than an emotion they are trying to portray. You don't want to be "angry" which is an emotion, you want to be "ignoring" which is an action. You will then turn your back or do whatever comes naturally when you are ignoring. It will be more dynamic because you can only go so far with "angry." There are so many things that "angry" can be a result of or result in. We also learned that if you pick an action for the end of a script (monologues are what we are concentrating on and I find those very hard) then your action at the beginning should be as far as possible from the end action. So, if you are ignoring in the end, you should have started out listening.
One of the most interesting things I was made to think about was that you should look at the words for clues (because the words never lie) but that the words can be made to coincide with your action. Basically, words can mean almost anything when said a certain way in a certain context. I love playing with words so I have thought about word and context and word and emphasis a lot, but not related it to word and action and context before. Here is an example of interpreting an action and it changing the meaning of a phrase.:
Phrase:
"Oh yeah"
Actions:
Reminiscing (said softly, your hand on your cheek).
Remembering (said with a high note at the end, snapping your fingers)
Climaxing (well, I won't describe it)
Distancing (said monotone, lifting your chin)
Ignoring (said Staccato, with your back turned)
Agreeing (said drawn out, with your eyes wide open)
I have been trying to really concentrate on what goes along with actions. What do people do when they are trying to achieve a short-term goal? What emotions are they displaying? What physical actions are they doing? When you aren't in the moment, it can be hard to think of. That is what happened to me in my acting class. I was overwhelmed with information and desire and I could barely get "breathe deep" out of my head to pick an action, to analyze my script and then perform it (and we were given 15 minutes in which I used part of to go to the bathroom). Also, I was mainly trying to concentrate on "pulling words" from the script which is what we had been practicing and which I had improved on. So, examining the script in a limited time threw me. Hopefully these exercises will help. I just find it fascinating though and that is why I want to do this. It is all so fascinating to me.
So, different instances in my life led to me not being able to pursue it until now, but I have loved it ever since I was the fourth commandment in my Children's Choir production of "Angels Aware", it grew as I was on my Youth Drama Team, and as I had my first experience with the mechanics and tactics in a semester of college-Acting 1310- I realized it was still there. Now I am acting on it!

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