Class notes and analysis: Thursday 3/17
Peter Valentino Acting studio
- In the “yes and” improvisation game, avoid questions and using the word” but.” But is a negative connotation and does not make the conversation travel somewhere new, it creates an argument which is the opposite of the “yes and” philosophy.
- Pay attention to all of your conversations in real life, notice how they are casual and often times travel to topics and ideas that were not set out before the conversation started. This is the essence of “yes and,” to listen attentively to your scene partner/fellow human, and respond in specificity to something they have said.
- Don’t ask questions to your scene partner during the “yes and” drill, avoid them at all costs. Scene Study: Observations and Notes
- Respond in real time; notice how a dog’s ears prickle up when they hear a sound, that is an instinctual response which happens natural in real time. As actors, we need to be able to tap into our animal instincts and respond in real time our scene partners in a similar manner. Notice how quick people respond in real life. Don’t forget that the camera tends to slow things down and exploits deficiencies in your performance. Your reaction time is often slower than you think, so be natural and get deeper into the human reality of things.
- The object of acting is listening, it will tell you exactly how you should feel and react in the natural way. Which is how a normal conversation is anyways. Pay close attention in real life.
- No nervous acting, just listen and breathe, then respond in real time. Be open to giving and receiving all energy from your scene partners… a strategy to help with this process is the “yes and” strategy. Everything in acting is a form of “yes and.” They tap your shoulder to comfort you, you “yes’ (acknowledge) then “and” (respond) to their expressive action by nodding or getting up because you can’t go back to that abusive relationship again (imaginative circumstances).
- Be able to think on your feet, casting directors, directors, and everybody in show business wants actors who are adaptable and able to improvise on the spot. Develop yourself.
- Integrate the “yes and” philosophy with your lines and expressive actions in the scene. Keep in construct that “yes and” is the foundation of human interaction and conversation. Unless it is an argument or a fight, yet it is still essentially a form of listening and responding to your scene partner.
- Use the elements of touch. Touch and breath are the two most powerful tools in acting.
- Think, react, and speak with your whole body: the nonverbal integration and strategy. By using nonverbal gestures, it will help you drop into the flow of acting with a natural essence.
- Drop into the playfulness, get into the behavior and love it. You have to believe it, if you don’t, you’re wasting everybody’s time and especially your own. Let go and embrace becoming that person. “Let yourself fade away for a little while, and enjoy taking a vacation to this new character… this new world that is constructed by your vivid imagination.” – Peter Valentino.
- Follow your instincts: the “panting dog” strategy. Use the exercise of the panting dog to get back to your animal instincts. You’ve been bombarded with ideals and suppositions throughout your whole life, disdain these while in the acting space. Film acting is natural acting. We get to natural acting by becoming natural ourselves, which is through the “panting dog” strategy. By panting, we get back to our autonomic stasis, which grounds us in our animal instincts. This strategy must be employed if you want your performance to be as natural as possible.
- Lower your volume to real life. Take notes while you observe human interaction. Every human interactive circumstance is different, so keeping the proximity of your scene in construct is essential.
- Laws of the script: Don’t hold the script with two hands. Don’t read to the script. Don’t rigidify the words. The script is the ground for human conversation. You bring the magic; you bring the natural life to the script. You are an artist; you are an actor. Creativity will pour out of your performance the deeper you go into your instinctive flow.
- Use discovery. Discovery in another terms is “doing the math.” In human conversation we are constantly making discovery. We are always thinking on the spot or “on our feet” in real time. You must discover the world as you act in it, it is the imaginative space that you create; IT IS YOUR WON WORLD. Make it real for you, and believe it. This will get the audience more engaged as they find naturalness more relative to them. Discovery is nothing more than taking a beat for an emotional breath, or a spacious ponder that lets your scene partner and the audience know that this is real life and you are creating the world in your own mind. Express life through the power of discovery. “The more you listen, the more you know what to do” – Peter Valentino
- Study actor generosity: Listening and giving your complete self and energy into your scene and partner. They need to be able to trust you as much as you need to be able to trust them. Acting is the opposite of fighting, actors need to be able to rely upon and work with each other in collaborative efforts to create the beautiful art of natural acting. Don’t be a selfish actor. You will gain more friends in the business and the other actors, directors, and crew will enjoy working with you and will respect you more.
- Real acting should psychologically and internally affect you. Because you have truly tapped into the real emotions and lived through them. Don’t be afraid of going too deep. “Don’t forget, the mask has power.” – Peter Valentino
- Acting is being honest and real through listening and responding within the proximity of the imaginative world.