The ACTion COLLECTIVE: ACT V, scene i - Physical Character

It seems strange to write about last night's workshop; I suppose because I led it, but that doesn't actually make any sense: I write here all the time about my own work, The Action Collective is something of which I am one of two founders and last night was a great start to incorporating workshops into our regular schedule of events. It went well, the new (to us) space was perfect (replete with five-flight walk-up warm-up) and I was duly (and unsurprisingly) impressed with the work that each attendee cranked out of it. Perhaps what's tripping me up about it is that even though this was our fifth event, neither Andrew nor I actually led the previous ones. We kind of try to set up a mechanism for each evening, and we nudge it along and try to set people at ease, but in that this was our first workshop I really functioned as a leader. And I guess I feel a little odd reviewing myself at this time. I plea the fifth, regardless of whether or not it actually applies to my circumstances.

So instead, I'll bare my plans and schemes. Below is the outline I prepared for the workshop (apologies for the lack of indentation; I have wrestled with Blogger, and I have definitively lost). I wish I had some photographs or video as well, but alas, I am not a multitasker. You should take me to task, though, Dear Reader. Read it. Agree, disagree, let me know what confuses, and what you want more information about. I've led many a workshop in my time, but they're normally for amateur or inexperienced actors (occasionally, for non-actors) and the real challenge this time was to tackle similar material in a way that would be helpful and entertaining for experienced performers. I think it was helpful. I'm less assured about the entertainment value, but I was tremendously entertained by their work, so: Yay me!

Act V, scene i Lesson Plan

There are two basic situations of physical character creation -- characters created from cues in a script or other supporting material, and those created from scratch and/or in improvisation. The key priorities these have in common are:
  1. Distinguishing physical characteristics of character from physical characteristics of actor.
  2. Creating physical characteristics that enhance the story.
  3. Living through the characteristics, as opposed to demonstrating them.

In this workshop we will aim to learn and share methods of creating and distinguishing physical choices for a character, refining those choices to serve the larger picture, and incorporating those choices into instinctive behavior.

I. Introduction
A. Introductions all around
B. Introduce AC, Jeff & Andrew
C. Introduce ACT V & scene i
1. Goals
2. My background
D. Introduce Megan
II. Warm-Up
A. Megan's Yoga (15 minutes)
III. Groundwork - Distinguishing the Choices
A. Review viewpoints grid
B. Teach "active neutral"
C. Request "neutralizing" techniques
IV. Scratch/Improv. Techniques
*. Request improv. techniques
A. Body centers
B. Appetites
C. Animals?
V. Script Techniques
A. Introduce Laban vocabulary
1. Body
2. Shape
3. Space
4. Effort
a. space - direct/indirect
b. weight - strong/light
c. time - sudden/sustained
d. flow - bound/free
B. Text analysis in relation to Laban
1. Adjectives about character
2. Verbs & nouns by character
3. Rhythm and pace experimentation
4. Word from a hat
C. Request script techniques
VI. Unification
A. Practice, practice, practice
B. Respect the space/mask
C. Externalize the inner-work
1. Passing impulse
2. Props
3. Passing ball
VII. Wrap-Up/Discussion