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Paper-Active

Paper-Active actors! Learn how to perform before you get on stage. It's in there, in your mind and heart -- the acting. If you believe that there's some truth in Stanislavsky System (Method) (you should), all that it takes is to feel and think Acting

If you have read the Pre-Pro Page, you understand that the real pre-production period begins many months/years before. The role or the show has to grow in you. You start your work long before anybody knows about it. Very often you yourself are not aware that you're in Pre-Pro process.

I like the term I gave to it Pre-Pro, because I am talking about something which is beyond profession. Something which naturally demands professionalism and makes you a professional, if you follow the urge to see the show you dream about.
The secret of success is in HOW you think about the future role or show. This is a period before concepts and conceptualization, the most productive (in my experience).... because this is the time when YOU grow. You prepare yourself to meet the future. Oh yes, you do your RESEARCH. You hear something and you crave for specific sounds -- and you collect them. You collect the images, or, maybe, it's the show that collects your thoughts. Listen, if the show you directed didn't change you, it's a bad show. If thinking about the show doesn't make you deeper and better, forget it! You have to be in love with your future, you have wait for the meeting with yourself. Work on yourself, that's why (and how) we do theatre. If theatre can change you, you can change the others. Don't tell me that you don't want to change the world (Chekhov). You have no choice, if you are an artist. You will change the world, if you manage to change yourself. Accept this fact.

...

How to Work with Yourself

You heard many times: Why do you want to direct this play? Why do you want to play this role?

How about -- Why do you want to be in love with this woman?

Sounds silly, doesn't it? They won't ask you, if they can see that you ARE in love.

I want to make sure that you know -- I use the word "love" literally. In my directing class I tell them about my Soviet experience, when I had to fall in love with something impossible -- a play about factory workers who want to increase productivity. Are you smilling? Go ahead, laugh. The fact is that I can't face actors (messengers of the public) without discovering something to be inspired. My friend, if you do it, it's yours, and you have to give life to it. Could it be a monster? Oh, yes, but I had great teachers before me. Eisenstein shot "Battleship `Potemkin'" long before they made "Speed" (a movie about a bus). The topic is nothing, not next to the story. You remember, HOW is WHAT in theatre (art).

So, why do you like this script? Tell me, be simple. It's always something small, single, a detail, which makes all the difference. Don't worry too much about what you DON'T like. Think about the unique. Believe it or not, I never directed Chekhov's four major plays. (Another addition to my waiting wish list). I like the pieces, the flow of drama, but I don't like the "whole thing"! I like this line and that line. I like his monologues. Oh, it's good enough to be attracted! But I don't like his realistic settings (I don't like the experimental "abstract" adaption of Chekhov as well). I have to think about every single property in the scene in order to discover the level of imagery to move further. Table, sofa, chairs? How to make it into a family table with a missing father ("Three Sisters")? An empty chair at the head of the table -- and nobody ever sits in it? No, not enough. What else is in house to indicate the father (Moscow)? Ah, the sofa, that's the real reason, why they never will be in Moscow! What about this sofa? The three of them together, like in a casket (velvet). Dark and deep. Am I talking about lighting? What am I talking about?

I want to see them all the time in front of me -- the sisters. Especially, when they are not on stage! What do I see?

What do you see?

I hope you understand now where the actual directing takes place. Or at least, where it starts.

For full definitions of Comedy (genre) and Comical, you have to go to another book "Playscript Analysis of the Century" -- but the dramatic and comedy acting are different, even from the Method Acting' stand point.
This is what I call "mini-monologue."

We do acting, it doesn't matter, if the monologue is "short" as long as it has the beginnig, the middle and the end (Aristotle). YOUR Actor's Text (must be full) matters!

new-2006

Lady Bracknell

LADY BRACKNELL

Pardon me, you are not engaged to any one. When you do become engaged to some one, I, or your father, should his health permit him, will inform you of the fact. An engagement should come on a young girl as a surprise, pleasant or unpleasant, as the case may be. It is hardly a matter that she could be allowed to arrange for herself . . . And now I have a few questions to put to you, Mr. Worthing. While I am making these inquiries, you, Gwendolen, will wait for me below in the carriage.


Draft One

LADY BRACKNELL

Pardon me,

you are NOT engaged to any one.

When you DO become engaged to some one,

I,

OR your father,

should his health permit him,

WILL inform you of the fact.

An engagement should come on a young girl as a SURPRISE,

pleasant OR unpleasant, as the case may be.

It is hardly a matter that SHE could be allowed to arrange for herself . . .

And now I have a few questions to put to YOU, Mr. Worthing.

While I am making these INQUIRIES,

YOU,

GWENDOLEN,

will wait for ME below in the carriage.

In the CARRIAGE, Gwendolen!

We can use the structuralist theory to examine the pattern of our KEY WORDS: Not, Do, I, Or, Will, Surprise, Or, She, You, Inquiries, You, Gwendolen, Me, Carriage (read it outloud). What do you see? (Of course, this si my take again). I, Me = Will, Do, Or! You, Not, Gwendolen, Carrige!


Summary

In your first draft "actor's text" write in your own directions.

Questions

Homework

See "3 Sisters" scenes and monologues.

Chekhov -- 2006 (farces)

On the Harmful Effects of Tobacco (1886, 1902) (On the Harm of Tobacco)

NYUKHIN: (He enters the stage with great dignity, wearing long side whiskers and worn-out flock coat. He bows majestically to his audience, adjusts his waistcoat, and speaks.)
Ladies and ... so to speak... gentlemen. It was suggested to my wife that I give a public ledture here for charity. Well, if I must, I must. It's all the same to me. I am not a professor and I've never finish the university. And yet, nevertheless, over the past thirty years I have been ruining my health by constant, unceasing examination of matters of strictly scientific nature. I am a man of intellectual curiosity, and, image, at times I write essays on scientific matters -- well, not exactly scientific, but, if you will pardon me, approximately scientific. Just another day I finished a long article entitled: "On the Harmfulness of Certain Insects." My daughters liked it immensely, especially the part about bedbugs. But I just read it over and tore it up. What difference does it make whether such things are written? You still have to have naphtha. We have bedbugs, even in our grand piano... For the subject of my lecture today I have taken, so to speak, the harm done mankind by the use of tobacco. I myself smoke, but my wife told me to lecture on the harmfulness of tobacco, and so what's to be done? Tobacco it is. It's all the same to me; but, ladies and... so to speak gentleman... I urge you to take my lecture with all due seriousness, or something awful may happen. If any of you are afraid of a dry, scientific lecture, cannot stomach that sort of thing, you needdn't listen. You may leave.
(He again adjusts his waistcoat.)
Are there any doctors present? If so, I insist that you listen very carefully, for my lecture will contain much useful information, since tobacco, besides being harmful, contains certain medical properties. For example, if you take a fly and put him in a snuff box, he will die, probably from nervous exhaustion. Tobacco, strictly speaking, is a plant... Yes, I know, when I lecture I blink my right eye. Take no notice. It's simple nervousness. I am a very nervous man, generally speaking. I started blinking years ago, in 1889, to be precise, on September the thirteenth, the very day my wife gave birth to our, so to speak, fourth daughter, Varvara. All my daughters were born on the thirteeth. But... (He looks at his watch.) time at our disposal is strictly limited. I see I have digressed from the subject.
I must tell you, by the way, that my wife runs a boarding school. Well, not exactly a boarding school, but something in the nature of one. Just between us, my wife likes to complain about hard times, but she has put away a little nest egg... some forty or fifty thousand rubles. As for me, I haven't a kopek to my name, not a penny... and, well, what's the use of dwelling on that? At the school, it is my lot to look after the housekeepng. I buy supplies, keep an eye on the servants, keep the books, stitch together the exercise books, exterminate bedbugs, take my wife's little dog for walks, catch mice. Last night, it fell to me to give the cook flour and butter for today's breakfast. Well, to make a long story short, today, when the pancakes were ready, my wife came to the kitchen and said that three students would not be eating pancakes, as they had swollen glands. So it seems we had a few too many pancakes. What to do with them? First my wife ordered them stored away, but then she thought awhile, and she said, "You eat those pancakes, you scarecrow." When she's out of humor, that's what she calls me: "scarecrow," or "viper," or "devil." What sort of devil am I? She's always out of humor. I didn't eat those pancakes; I wolfed them down. I am always hungry. Why yesterday, she gave me no dinner. She says, "What's the use feeding you, you scarecrow..." However... (He looks at his warch.) I have strayed from my subject. Let us continue. But some of you, I'm sure, would rather hear a romance, or a symphony, some aria...
(He sings.)
"We shall not shrink In the heart of battle:
Forward, be strong."
I forgot that comes from... Oh, by the way, I should tell you that at my wife's school, apart from looking after the housekeeping, my duties include teaching mathematics, physics, chemistry, georgraphy, history, solfeggio, literature, and so forth. For dancing, singing, and drawing, my wife charges extra, although the singing and dancing master is yours truly. Our school is located at Dog Alley, number 13. I suppose that's why my life has been so unlucky, living in house number thirteen. All my daughters were born on the thirteenth, I think I told you, and our house has thirteen windows, and, in short, what's the use? Appointments with my wife may be made for any hour, and the school's propectus may be had for thirty kopeks from the porter.
(He takes a few copies out of his pocket.)
Ah, here you see, I've brought a few with me. Thirty kopecs a copy. Would anyone care for one?
(A pause.)
No one? Well, make it twenty kopecs. (Another pause.) What a shame! Yes, house number thirteen. I am a failure. I've grown old and stupid. Here I am, lecturing, and to all appearances enjoying myself, but I tell you I have such an urge to scream at the top of my lungs, to run away to the ends of the earth... There is no one to talk to. I want to weep. What about your daughters, you say, eh? Well, what about them? I try to talk to them, and they only laugh. My wife has seven daughters. Seven. No. Sorry, it's only six. Now, wait, it is seven. Anna, the eldest, is twenty-seven, the youngest is seventeen. Ladies and gentleman:
(He looks around surreptitiously.)
I am miserable: I have become a fool, a nonentity. But then, all in all, you see before you the happiest of fathers. Why shouldn't I be, and who am I to say that I am not? Oh, if you only knew: I have lived with my wife for thirty-three years, and, I can say they are the best years of my life... well, not the best, but aspproximately the best. They have passed, as it were, in a thrice, and, well, to hell with them.
(Again, he looks around surreptitiously.)
I don't think my wife has arrived yet. She is not here. So, I can say what I like. I am afraid... I am terribly afraid when she looks at me. Well, I was talking about our duaghters. They don't get married, probably because they're so shy, and also because men can never get near them. My wife doesn't give parties. She never invites anyone to dinner. She's a stingy, shrewish, ill-tempered old biddy, and that's why no one comes to see us, but... I can tell you confidentially...
(He comes down to the edge of his platform.)
on holidays, my daughters can be seen at the home of their aunt, Natalia, the one who has rheumatism and always wears a yellow dress covered with black spots that look like cockroaches. There you can eat. And if my wife happens not to be looking, then you'll see me...
(He makes a drinking gesture.)
Oh, you'll see I can get tipsy on just one glass. Then I feel so happy and at the same time so sad, it's unimaginable. I think of my yough, and then somehow I long to run away, to clear out. Oh, if you only knew how I long to do it! To run away, to be free of everything, to run without ever looking back... Where? Anywhere, so long as it is away from that vile, mean, cheap life that has made me into a fool, a miserable idiot; to run away from that stupid, petty, hot headed, spiteful, nasty old miser, my wife, who has given me thirty-three years of torment; to run away from the music, the kitchen, my wife's bookkeeping ledgers, all those mundane, trivial affairs... To run away and then stop somewhere far, far away on a hill, and stand there like a tree, a pole, a scarecrow, under the great sky and the still, bright moon, and to forget, simply forget... Oh, how I long to forget! How I long to tear off this flock coat, this coat that I wore thirty-three years ago at my wedding, and that I still wear for lectures for charity!
(He tears off his coat.)
Take that: And that:
(Stamping on the coat.)
I am a poor, shabby, tattered wretch, like the back of this waistcoat. (He turns his back showing his waistcoat.) I ask for nothing. I am better than that. I was young once; I went to the university, I had dreams, I thought of myself as a man, but now... now, I want nothing. Nothing but peace... peace.
(He lloks off stage. Quickly he pick up his flock coat and puts it on.)
She is here. My wife is there in the wings waiting for me. (He looks at his watch.) I see our time is up. If she asks you, please, I beg you, tell her that her scarecrow husband, I mean, the lecturer, me, behaved with dignity. Oh, she is looking at me.
(He resumes his dignity and raises his voice.)
Given that tobacco contains a trrible poison, which I have had the pleasure of describing to you, smoking should at all costs be avoided, and permit me to add my hopes that these observations on the harmfulness of tabacco will have been of some profit to you. And so I conclude. Dixi et animan levavi!*
(He bows majestically, and exits with grand dignity.)
The End
* "I have spoken and relieved my soul." (Latin)

Analysis and presentation in class *

Breakdown and Actor's Text

Notes

Walk-BM
Next: intro
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