Posts filed under 'Classes'

New course: Intro to Acting in English

We’re starting a new course for Czechs or other non-native English speakers who would like to work on their acting skills in English. We’ll be covering accent and phrasing in English, text analysis, as well as truthfully working in the moment. If you’re interested in the class, you can find more information on the pragueplayhouse website or on facebook. The course will run 10 weeks. If you’re interested, you can send me an email at brian@pragueplayhouse.com with your acting CV and a headshot or recent picture. There will also be an audition in English to determine the appropriate level of English for the class as a whole. The deadline for applying for the class is April 10, 2010.

April 2nd, 2010

Risk, Passion and Imagination

Today’s discussion in both the day class as well as the evening class centered around the concepts of Risk, Passion and Imagination. The three ideas came up in the context of doing Meisner exercises and how they relate to actual work. Lately in the class, people have been feeling like the exercises are pretty divorced from the work. The main thing to remember is that these exercises are kind of like finger exercises on a piano: they form the backbone of any more complex work; they are the framework that holds the artistry together.

While I wouldn’t necessarily apply a Meisner exercise directly to a problem in working with a text (although it’s perfectly legitimate to do so, even with early work like repetition and activities), the underlying concepts that those exercises are training — listening and attention for repetition, the reality of doing for activities — are directly applicable to working with a text in the “real world”.

The idea of Risk, Passion and Imagination also plays a part in the training.

Risk, or the willingness to try and fail, is absolutely essential in art — or any worthwhile endeavor, for that matter. Too often I see exercises where the students, for fear of looking stupid, not knowing for sure that something is going to work, or the fear of going into the unknown or scary place inside themselves, limit themselves in their experience. The desire to stay in a safe place, a known place is death to an artist. By using the activities and repetition with a thought towards risking (risking being vulnerable to the other person, risking showing weakness, risking bringing something really meaningful or on the edge of what you’d think is safe), students can start to gain the habits that will serve them very well in front of a camera or on the stage, where people pay good money to take these “risks”. By practicing risking in a safe environment, both in class and in rehearsals for class, students can learn that only through risk can they really achieve greatness.

Passion is another way of saying bringing meaning to the work. Lately, especially now towards the end of the school year, I see that passion for the work has waned. The thing that really differentiates actors from each other, aside from physical type, is the passioned opinion. To an actor, who is going to face a mountain of rejection, cultivating a sense of passion and purpose is a huge benefit. I would much rather work with a mediocre actor who attacks the work with a passion than an extremely gifted and indifferent actor. So much of our work is perseverance and survival. It is our passion that will sustain us through the hard times. It is our passion that will wow audiences and move them to tears or anger. The worst thing an actor can be is indifferent or apathetic. The process of doing the beginning work can be used to instill a passion in us: a passion for the other person, a passion for what we are doing in the moment. With that passion, what happens in the moment is never boring. Without it, I’d just as soon go home.

The last concept we discussed today was Imagination. It seems silly to say that imagination is needed in our work. It seems obvious. Yet we are so obsessed with the Truth or “what I would really do in that situation” that we lose sight of the imaginary situation that could move us. Working on your imagination and especially imaginary circumstances is something that can be really fun. Look around you the next time you go out. Who doesn’t have fantasies about the people that are around? Indulge those fantasies. See how they develop and how they affect you. Is the guy standing next to you a millionaire? What if he was? What if he just offered you a ton of money to do something you always wanted to do? It is so easy to deny that we could ever believe in such a thing, but that is what we are called on to do every time we work! These early exercises are an invitation to say “Yes!” Try out what it would be like to believe in something outrageous. Work on strengthening that imaginative muscle. It will pay big dividends down the road when you have to imagine an entire set while you’re working on a green screen.

March 30th, 2010

Nancy Bishop Acting Workshop: Secrets from the Casting Couch

Nancy Bishop, Casting Director author of “Secrets from the Casting Couch,” offers film acting and audition seminars in Prague

DAY 1 (March 27): SCREEN ACTING TECHNIQUE CLASS: Actors participate in a series of practical exercises that develop effective methods for screen acting. Material covered will include learning how to calibrate a performance for close-up vs. wide shot, playing an inner monologue, playing reaction shots and playing in the eyes. All participants will receive a free copy of “Secrets from the Casting Couch.”

DAY 2 (March 28): AUDITION TECHNIQUE CLASS. This class will target specific strategies for casting, including cold reading skills, and audition technique. Actors will also do a casting session on camera with coaching from Nancy. All participants will get a free copy of “Secrets from the Casting Couch.”

About Nancy: Emmy-award nominated, American Casting Director, Nancy Bishop, has cast over sixty American and British films, from her base in Prague. She has cast for major feature films including Roman Polanski’s Oliver Twist, Hellboy, Bourne Identity, and the recently released Wanted and Prince Caspian. She has been teaching casting workshops throughout Europe, the UK, and the US, and the head of the Acting for Film Department at the Prague Film. She is a member of The Casting Society of America, and the International Network of Casting Directors.

About the Secrets from the Casting Couch: Why is it that so many good actors don’t perform well at castings? Secrets from the Casting Couch gives practical advice for actors, written from a casting director’s point of view, teaching the craft of film auditioning in front of camera. It shows how actors can work with today’s internet technologies to book roles and features advice and actual exercises that achieve results in the casting studio.

Details:

FILM ACTING MASTER CLASS

Time: 11:00AM – 17:00PM

Date: Sat, 27 March, 2010.

Cost: 2500kc or 100 EUR, including copy of book, “Secrets from the Casting Couch”,

AUDITION TECHNIQUE CLASS:

Time: 11:00AM – 17:00PM

Date: Sunday, 28 March, 2010.

Cost: 2500kc or 100 EUR, including copy of “Secrets from the Casting Couch”

DISCOUNT COST FOR BOTH CLASSES, including book: 4500kc or 175 EUR

To register please send photo and CV to: workshops@nancybishopcasting.com

March 12th, 2010

Meisner Acting Class Blog on losing control

Hi everyone!

I’m Boris Wilke and member of the Prague Playhouse Meisner acting group. I blog about our class activities.

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This blog entry is closely related to my last one on keeping face. Brian has been telling us repeatedly to let go off control. The reaction to one’s respective partner should come “like hiccups”, involuntarily, instinctually.

Meisner’s main credo was “fuck polite”.

Politeness always gets in my way! Let’s say, the person in front of me smells from their mouth. See?! I’m being polite again! I wanted to say: If they stink from their mouth, I fail to tell them, for example. I suppress my instinct. Shame on me!

As an interesting note aside: “To stink from one’s mouth” is the direct, i.e. German, way to say it. The cowardly polite Anglos talk about “bad breath” or “mouth odor”. That sucks! In the English language there seem to be either euphemisms or four-letter-expletives. Where is the zone of truthful naming it, nailing it – so to speak – in between those two extremes?

“You have bad breath…” “I have bad breath?” “You have bad breath…” That’s as boring as a cold potato! Go get yourselves a life, people!

It is: “You reek from your mouth like a cow out of its ass!” Where is the fuck, the shit, the damn, the cunt, huh? None of that! And still, this is painfully truthful!

God! That gets me going!


Why are we like this?

I, for one, know that I am absolutely scared of total defeat. And total defeat is a possibility if one “drops one’s bowels onto the stage”. In the past people have been sneering at me, belittling me, pointing their finger at me laughing because of my openness. They called me naive, immature, nasty, weird. They deemed themselves superior and took it out on me by ignoring me, bad-mouthing me, excluding me, cursing me, even hitting me.

The worst thing was, when they let me feel like a weirdo.

I got to nurture my inferiority complexes big time.

I still knew, deep inside, that they sensed somehow I was giving them a gift: my true self. I gave them my heart. But instead of being happy and thankful about it, they dropped it on the floor and trampled on it, just because what was not to be, could not be. And love simply was not an option for them. So they destroyed it, even before it really reached them.

They made me feel like shit – asocial, useless, deranged, ugly, geeky, clumsy – even presumptuous!

Most of those fuckers, I would refuse to touch even with a ten-foot-pole. But they mistook my love for a fumbling pass.

And then I closed myself off. I kept my gob smack shut and pretended to play along. I smiled and went through the moves as well as I was able to. I started to hold back – and later ration – the love I had to give.

I know, some of you will react to my liberal and free – yes: liberated! – use of the word love by putting me down like this: “How dare he say he was loving! He thinks he’s better than us – what does he call us? – «fuckers»?”

But I am talking about my past. This hell started in kindergarten. If this applies to you – yes! – then shame on you for letting innocent, lovely people run into your ready and open knives – for subjecting them to social suicide, just because they were being bold enough – no! They simply dared – to be themselves!!! You let them suffer for their refusal to play by the rules of make believe and cheapskate charades that kids and certainly teenagers create around themselves to spread fear and misery. And all that, because you were even more scared of showing your true colors than we were.

Why?

I have been asking myself this so many times: What do people have to hide that they think they’d rather die than tell us? In class of late, we have been hearing stories like: “My step-mother laughed at my singing in public. I used to love singing. But I’ve hated my voice ever since and never sung out loud again!” or: “Just a few days after my arrival at our new home, my uncle and my father drove with me to a soccer field. And I was supposed to train with the local kids. They were playing in a way that reminded me of urban warfare – so tough! I was scared stiff and refused to get out of the car. But instead of understanding me, my elders were disappointed with me and made me feel like a total loser! They were actually ashamed of me and let me suffer for it, too!”

These stories are lovely in that they talk about true anguish and failure. They make the people who tell them human and amiable. All Tarantino-style bragadero bullshit you hear from so many people “in the business” is just so bloody lame. Yeah, Warren Beatty had sex with over 12,000 women – or was it inflatable dolls?

Who cares? Thinking about it: What do stories like this tell us about their creators? Why did they have to go to such extremes? How wretched must they be, really? Poor things!

True stories about what we feel deeply about – oftentimes it is shame and defeat – are harder to tell than those overblown success stories from the media. But the more of these truly intimate tales we hear the more we come to realize that what we thought was unique in us and dreadfully shameful, is commonplace among our peers. Even murder and incest are aspects of the human condition everybody has to deal with in some way.

Telling these stories is therapy without a therapist – self-healing, so to speak.

So what keeps us from letting go off control? It’s ancient events, the memories of which we buried deep inside, thinking if we ever unearth them we will die of embarrassment and/or shame.

How will we be able to “spill our guts”, as Brian calls it, though, if we get spooked by these ghosts from the distant past? They are just figments of our imagination, really. But they will keep on haunting us, if we don’t finally address them by dragging them out in the open and facing them in broad daylight. What seems like powerful wraiths while rummaging around in the bowels of our subconscious will turn out to be a puny puff of fog fading faster into the air and with way less smell than a real fart you let.

I have seen so many class members give in to self-generated fear. They refused to go back to class due to their reluctance to lift up their carpets and chase those pesky little ghosts from the past out. I am afraid that to this day they keep them roaming inside like gas moving up and down one’s intestines. A simple fart can give you a bad bout of colic, you know? I’m sure even the Queen of England has been told time and again by her doctors to rather create a stir among her subjects by breaking wind than keeping the little buggers inside.

And I think while it would be nice of us to expose our shit from the past to the scrutinizing light of day in class, we are free to use other ways to do it. Therapy is an option. But that takes time and money. Writing a journal about it is free and quite powerful – for the ones who can relate to that. Meditation is fine; so is yoga – even sport! Talking to one’s best friend can do the trick as well.

But done it must be! The sooner we realize that, the better off we are, i.e. the faster we can let ourselves go, the more truthful and in the moment we become. Remember: Meisner training is getting us prepared to act. And to me acting is the best thing in the world!

Yes, we can become instinctual. Yes, our reactions can leap out of us like a cough or a hiccup: wild, loud and ugly! That really is beautiful – and true!

We just have to let go off control.

So let’s do it! Just do it!

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General stuff:

Our acting class consists of some twelve new and not so new active members, who meet every Monday and Wednesday from 6.30 pm to about 9.30 at the Prague Film School. We do Meisner. And the Meisner-technique really rocks!

If you want to connect with your inmost feelings, expressing them freely in an acting environment and thus getting to know yourself better and better, feel free to join us! If you do, be prepared for some serious thrills!

There will be no class from the second week of February on until the end of the month. It will resume in March!

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About the author:


I am Boris Wilke, a German expat in Prague.

I am a writer at large and have been studying Meisner since January 2008. If any of you know of any kind of acting work that befits a laddish, tall 41-year-old, please leave a note!

1 comment January 30th, 2010

Meisner Acting Class Blog on how bad keeping face is for our work

Hi everyone!

I’m Boris Wilke and member of the Prague Playhouse Meisner acting group. I blog about our class activities.

*********

Wow! 2010 is still a baby. But so much has happened already. Class, for one, has started with a couple of surprises: Members who I thought would certainly stay left and others joined us.

I’d like to wish everyone who cares to read this a happy new year full of pleasant surprises!

A friend of mine really had the mendacity to ask me: “Why surprises?”

Well, gurl! Get this: Life is change. And change lacks predictability, you fool! Period!

If you live a life where everything is predictable, you’re stuck. And that equals death, really.

Last Monday our two new class members had their first moments of truth in the wondrous ways of the Meisner technique. Brian stopped them both short early in their exercises and asked them about why they failed to connect with their respective partners.

One was held up with listening to his own voice, which he hates. The other felt it hard to concentrate and squirmed because he wanted very badly to know what would come next. Both preferred to stay in the realm of the predictable instead of letting go of control in order to experience a surprise, be it lovely or scary, tearful or filled with laughter.

Both looked constipated and stressed, had blushed blotched cheeks and sad eyes. They looked surprisingly unremarkable, like most folks you can see every day in the trams and subways of Prague. They remained on the dead side of things – stuck, grey and wretched.

They kept face.

Click on the “CLASSES” button above and then choose “ACTING FOR PROFESSIONALS” to read more about the class itself and where we meet!

Click on “(more…)” below to read more about keeping face.

Coming to class I saw a girl in high heels stumble on a sidewalk near St. Vencelslav Square. A vast amount of snow rushed down from a roof above and missed her by a mere 20 cm, when it hit the ground with a muffled thud. The woman failed to even turn around. She fought off the pleasant surprise of having missed being turned into a walking snowman by a split-second when this very pleasant surprise knocked on her front door with a jackhammer. She failed to let in this magical instant that a less-dead person would have spent leaping, whooping and yelping out with wide eyes and genuine laughter of gladness. This walking corpse wasted the moment.

She kept face.

Now Brian is constantly telling us that class is a sacred space where we must lay down every armour that protects us against the avalanches of every day life in order to grow. Keeping face there is anathema.

But we keep on keeping face. Why?

Mark Wakeling said during his seminar in November that doing Meisner is an act of love. Love, in my view, is part of the universe. It’s there. We can use it or leave it. We can expand in it or ignore it. Like space it has three dimensions. While space is formed by width, length and breadth, love consists of trust, truth and freedom.

We Meisner students need to become friends in order to develop the trust needed to switch off all defense mechanisms. We also have to trust ourselves when we decide it is OK to trust the other class members.

We need to see each other more often for rehearsals outside of class, so we get to know one another better. Knowledge and truth are two aspects of the same thing. And truth is one of the things we’re after when doing Meisner.

And we need to grant each other the freedom to be who we really are. Freedom is another ingredient of the Meisner technique, namely the freedom to let go of control.

I must admit that I have my qualms about certain members of class. I am afraid of them. I fail to trust them enough. I find them hostile or bland. And I feel it’s reciprocal.

All that has to go!

How else can we really develop the skills needed to live truthfully in the moment under imaginary circumstances, Meisner’s axiom of his technique?

I wish this year to be truly magical in that it will let us Meisner students witness a real conversion from slinking actor-wanna-bees with furtive eyes and the word fear written on our foreheads to fully self-accepting, loving Meisner Meisters with a spring in our step and courage and openness written all over us in giant letters that make us stand out from the grey face-keeping masses.

Keeping face is for losers.

Expanding in trust, truth and freedom, the three dimensions of love, will make us truly remarkable.

And being truly remarkable is what makes us successful actors.

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General stuff:

Our acting class consists of some twelve new and not so new active members, who meet every Monday and Wednesday from 6.30 pm to about 9.30 at the Prague Film School. We do Meisner. And the Meisner-technique really rocks!

If you want to connect with your inmost feelings, expressing them freely in an acting environment and thus getting to know yourself better and better, feel free to join us! If you do, be prepared for some serious thrills!

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About the author:


I am Boris Wilke, a German expat in Prague.

I am a writer at large and have been studying Meisner since January 2008. If any of you know of any kind of acting work that befits a laddish, tall 40-year-old, please leave a note!

January 20th, 2010

Acting class is starting up Jan 11!

For everyone who is interested in working on their acting, the Prague Playhouse acting class for professionals is starting up again January 11th. You can read more about the class here.

Since Mark Wakeling from the Actor’s Temple in London came to do a workshop with the class in November, we have considerably deepened and strengthened our sense of truth. The approach is much more of a therapeutic approach to looking at why we block our feelings about things. It is a real eye opener to see people who you think you know start to reveal who they really are underneath all of the pressure and expectations that society puts on them. It has really inspired the class to learn more about themselves and by watching other class members go through the process, develop a real sense of humanity: we are all human underneath, no matter what we look like!

The take away for new students is that this class has become much more serious about the craft. It is not a place for hobbyists any more. I am considering starting classes that are more for casual actors as well as classes for people who are not confident with their English. If you’re interested in one of these classes, please write to me at brian@pragueplayhouse.com.

January 7th, 2010

Meisner Acting Class Blog on Paradigm Shift

Hi everyone!

I’m Boris Wilke and member of the Prague Playhouse Meisner acting group. I blog about our class activities.

This entry is about the paradigm shift that is happening right now with our take on the Meisner technique and how that is leaving us dazed and confused at the moment.

Click on the “CLASSES” button above and then choose “ACTING FOR PROFESSIONALS” to read more about the class itself and where we meet!

The weekend seminar with god-like Marc Wakeling from the “Actor’s Temple” in London shed so much light on us mere acting mortals that we are left blinded and dumb-struck. How are we ever going to live up to this high a standard?

What seemed truthful and in the moment only a week ago, now seems utterly fake and stuck in past experiences or future expectations.

All of us, Brian included, are limping along like war veterans. And I glimpsed a fellow acting pal, when they jotted down the note: “Lies! All lies!

What the fu*k happened?

I am as confused as everyone. And we just learned six days ago that confusion is a filter which we put between us and the awful, painful or embarrassing truth. We are so used to hiding that truth from others and even from ourselves that we are mostly ignorant of it and stumble into it like one might hit a wall or a lamp-post in the pitch dark.

So we were busy avoiding the truth when resuming class on Monday and Wednesday – of course!

We had yelling fits that locked us into ourselves. We called imaginary behavior that made us feel alien to ourselves. We kept certain calls to ourselves because we didn’t know which ones are still OK and which have become “no-no’s”.

Being in this and watching it made me feel awkward, sad, blocked. I fell asleep once. Well, I was a fly in a jar of black molasses – drowning in sticky goo – in the middle of class! Another time I had a knot in my throat, the size of a brick. Then I there was anger building up in me like in a pressure cooker.

I felt awful.

It almost made me miss what happened: One class member admitted to loving another. One member called him/herself an asshole and meant it. He/she then went on about his/her former live as a crook. One shared their fear of being considered homosexual if they opened up completely. And there were only four people, who exercised in these past two classes at all. Things this intense have never been addressed before!

So despite the feeling of being lost, this is a change so big, I dare call it a paradigm shift!

I talked to my brother about this, who is a counselor. He is trained to use, what he calls “the inner team”. When a conflict or a problem needs to be solved and people come to him for counsel, he asks them for the voices they hear in their head. Each distinct voice belongs to what he calls the “team players” within you. One might want to dash forward and attack the problem head-on. One would rather back-off. Yet another one might want to mediate between the other two. And a fourth “team player” might want to inform themselves further before doing anything. This has nothing to do with a split personality or bipolarity. If you pay attention to yourself you can hear these different voices, too, when solving a problem.

My brother’s work is to help the person align their various “team players”, so they start to cooperate and really act as a team. The different voices are assigned different tasks. And this creates the synergy needed to go ahead and solve the problem. As my brother told me this, I was just wondering what that might have to do with our quandary, when he said something that utterly amazed me:

“I think a good actor has the ability to give a large number of these ‘team players’ free reign and to purify them. That enables the actor to have this amazing range of possible behavior. People will admire them, because they ask themselves: ‘How can a single person be a pedophile serial killer in one movie and a loving caring father in the next, all totally convincingly?'”

“Wow! That is so true!”, I blurted out. Then it dawned on me what this means for us seemingly clueless Meisner folks out in the dark. It means we actually are on the right track.

Yes, we need to make a leap of faith to dare look at the suppressed feelings inside of us that trouble us so. But for that to happen, certain things have to grow first that hopefully the weekend seminar has sown: For one, we need to have more trust in our fellow class members. Who can “spill their guts”, as Marc Wakeling called it, if they are afraid other class members might use the info against them later on? This building of trust needs time. Everyone has to show, they really dedicate themselves to this work now completely so that we start to form a community of true equals, of acting peers – more so! – of acting friends. Wakeling said this work is a true sign of love: In its pure form it means to accept your partner fully and unconditionally. And that is the definition of love. But to achieve that the sneers at anything that appears to be homosexual have to vanish along with the silly urge to compete. If this seems to be all “guy’s stuff” then listen up girls! You need to stop being so fu*king polite!

Brian said at one point to one of the above mentioned people during their exercise: “So you might appear queer. Is that a bad thing?” There came a halting, muffled “no”. Fine! But only when that “no” becomes a “NO!!!” and comes straight from the heart will we know the paradigm shift has actually passed over from wishful thinking into reality.

Then we can start to help build the “team players” in our respective partner by letting him or her try out those “players” freely without prejudice or pride on our part.

This prospect is worth all our painful bumping into hidden blocked feelings that we are experiencing now. And as with all things that are hard to do: Once we overcome them, the going will be so smooth.

We will be awesomely smug (and deliriously happy) with the knowledge that we actually made it through the dark!

I am loving it – even now!

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General stuff:

Our acting class consists of some fifteen new and not so new active members, who meet every Monday and Wednesday from 6.30 pm to about 8.30. We do Meisner. And the Meisner-technique really rocks!

If you want to connect with your inmost feelings, expressing them freely in an acting environment and thus getting to know yourself better and better, feel free to join us! If you do, be prepared for some serious thrills!

Beware! This quarter will close on Monday, December 7th 2009. The new quarter will resume either on the first or second Monday in the new year of 2010. Brian will keep you informed!

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About the author:


I am Boris Wilke, a German expat in Prague.

I am a writer at large and have been studying Meisner since January 2008. If any of you know of any kind of acting work that befits a laddish, tall 40-year-old, please leave a note!

December 4th, 2009

Meisner Acting Class Blog about the weekend workshop with Mark Wakeling from the “Actors’ Temple” in London

Hi everyone!

I’m Boris Wilke and member of the Prague Playhouse Meisner acting group. I blog about our class activities.

In this entry I will shut up for once and let Mark Wakeling speak. His workshop (November 28 and 29, 2009) in the attic of the Prague Film School was a life changing experience. After that “Meisner earthquake” the lame exercises we’ve been doing lately in and out of class just don’t cut it any more!

Click on the “CLASSES” button above and then choose “ACTING FOR PROFESSIONALS” to read more about the class itself and where we meet!

This is some of Mark’s wisdom:

To act means to do.

Apart form violence there are no rules.

The intellectual mind switches on when preparing for the acting. The emotional mind switches on when acting.

We’re animals in our impulsive state. And acting means being in our impulsive state.

The only two pure feelings are joy and grief.

More Mark Wakeling quotes:

The seed of the craft of acting is the reality of doing.

We tend to think that the aim of the repetition exercise is “getting it right”. That is irrelevant, though.

What we need to do is to put all our attention on our partner and off ourselves.

The faith to put all your attention on your partner is something that takes about 20 years to build.

Ultimately there is no Meisner technique apart from putting all of your attention on your partner and accepting them the way they are.

Love is acceptance. Thus acting is the most loving experience.

The only thing that exists is the doing it.

Be in the moment! Use all your senses!

Holding hands is a valid form of connection.

Be in the exercise from the very moment it starts. No preparing for it!

Acting is the most perfect way of really living your life. Look at it as a way of being yourself!

The most loving thing is to be brutally honest with your partner. The most terrible thing is to be polite to them.

Be prepared to go in the exercise with everything you got – with the risk of falling flat on your face.

Get into the exercise with a warrior spirit, like being in a battle for life and death.

All the problems you have, are imaginary. Everything that’s holding you back is not real!

Be yourself! The moment you hold back, you’re denying your partner an experience.  You can be 100% you! That is welcomed, even embraced!

Notice how your partner is instead of protecting them from it!

Go all the way! Don’t be the dumbed-down polite little version of yourself that you were deformed into by society! This is all or nothing!

Have an experience other than you’re used to!

You can’t get “good” at the repetition exercise: You can only get honest. It’s as simple as that. Then it’s unique every moment –  a deeply profound experience.

You either commit to it 100% or you better not bother doing it at all!

What is real, is what’s happening right now. Everything else is not real.

We spend most of our lives, living in an unreal state. We worry about stuff that’s over or yet to come.

The personas we have developed to protect ourselves are not real.

The genius of the repetition exercise is that it makes you real.

Nobody cares! No offense meant! So you can let it all out in order to unlock yourself. If you “clear the decks” then you have this wonderful range.

Getting connected is effortless. You just have to use your senses.

You actually help your partner by being ruthlessly honest. There is nothing you can’t say. An actor has to muster the courage to face up with what is really happening.

Every time you say something is another moment. Go further with it. Pursue the moment! Go after your call until you get something!

Fighting one another might be interesting to watch. But it is not real. Anger is an unnecessary state. It’s just avoiding to acknowledge the sadness one really feels deep down.

Being yourself is about being yourself completely.

Avoid falling into an “emotional trap”! When you start to have a strong feeling, don’t retreat into yourself! Keep on placing all of your attention on your partner!  Acting is not about getting emotional.

Nothing needs to happen. Just connect with your partner!

Who are we? It’s what we are feeling right now.

Trying to control your feelings is a problem.

Be pathetic and weak! Yeah! That takes real courage!

Hypersensitivity is a good thing. Doing this work properly will make you notice a pin dropping. And it should!

Putting all your attention on your partner means becoming unselfconscious.

In acting positive thinking is limiting. You need to be ready for bad things as well. Be truthful! You might be ugly. You might be terrible. But that’s great! Where else can you let everything out?

Be normal with each other! Just name it as it is! But be there for one another! Being in the moment is absolutely fine. It’s perfect!

There is no “I don’t know”!

We are only confused about things we don’t want to admit.

All that matters is your opinion, right now!

To pretend to be someone else to other people than you are, is really horrible! It’s insane to deny yourself!

Meisner work is not therapy. You only do it because you want to be an actor. This is not a game.

Showing that we’re all the same underneath is the actor’s job.

***

Mark came all the way from London to teach us because he truly believes that the way acting is generally perceived must change. He’s doing everything to make this change happen. And so should we!

Let me finish by a thing Brian said: “There is so much work ahead of us!”

Oh yes, it is! And that’s great!

**********************

General stuff:

Our acting class consists of some fifteen new and not so new active members, who meet every Monday and Wednesday from 6.30 pm to about 8.30. We do Meisner. And the Meisner-technique really rocks!

If you want to connect with your inmost feelings, expressing them freely in an acting environment and thus getting to know yourself better and better, feel free to join us! If you do, be prepared for some serious thrills!

+++

 

About the author:


I am Boris Wilke, a German expat in Prague.

I am a writer at large and have been studying Meisner since January 2008. If any of you know of any kind of acting work that befits a laddish, tall 40-year-old, please leave a note!

November 29th, 2009

Meisner Acting Class Blog on Perseverance

Hi everyone!

I’m Boris Wilke and member of the Prague Playhouse Meisner acting group. I blog about our class activities.

This entry is about how we Meisner students must be ready to invest a lot of time and energy in this work, if we want to succeed as professional actors.

Click on the “CLASSES” button above and then choose “ACTING FOR PROFESSIONALS” to read more about the class itself and where we meet!

I’ve had a “run” of “doors” and “activities” lately. I mean, they worked. And that was due to a large part to the fact that I have been investing roughly one hour per day in this work for about two months now. However, I’ve made the experience that as soon as I quit being serious about it, I encounter difficulties. And the exercise blows up in my face.

You can ask any professional who uses his whole body as an instrument, from sports- and stuntpeople via dancers and pantomimes to us actors that as soon as they take their skills for granted, those very skills are bound to fail them. “Go slack and you’ll crack!”, might be the catch phrase to that. Besides they will tell you, just as musicians would, that one mere hour of work is laughable and will not get you anywhere. Still, in my case, one hour of work each day, made a huge difference.

But what would my progress be, if I dedicated two hours a day to this work? And how much do I have to progress in order to really be able to convey to directors that I have crossed the line and have become professional – that they can rely on me?

If I knew the answer, I’d be a fortune-teller. But one thing is clear: If one wants to be taken seriously in the world of acting, one has to persevere.

I wrote about auditions and how useless they seem to newbies, as they won’t get the role anyway. (I certainly failed to get into “True West”. And I wasn’t even invited to audition for – now I’ll name the stupid title – “A Couple of Poor Polish-Speaking Romanians”! How much does that suck? Huh?!)

I wrote about how Meisner work is to acting only what push-ups are to a tennis player: It’s just one specific kind of exercise, by no means the whole thing!

I alluded to the importance of being known to people and how impossible it is to get known without acting experience. (Why did I not even get invited to the above mentioned play? Am I Robert de Niro? See!!!)

Trying to become a professional actor in Prague has the air of a vicious cycle. It seems futile.

So what is the use of all this?

If I had to seriously ask myself that question, I’d better quit – and yesterday at that!

The Meisner technique is a powerful means to get connected to your partner and to live truthfully under imaginary circumstances. Both are paramount to acting. None of the two are acting, though. Acting happens on stage. Acting happens after one wins an audition. Acting happens when one gets a script in hand, a whole script, not just a scene! Acting is (going to be) awesome!

How can one make sure to get a chance one day? How can one push for success?

My answer is: I don’t know.

“Nobody knows anything!”, is a famous saying in the art world. So how could I know?

And now what?

I say: Get to work! Get someone to rehearse with you – quick! Double-check the next exercise for Meisner class to make sure it’s good and strong! If you’re “only” repeating still, get out there, in a tram or park: Look at people, animals, trees, houses, objects, weather formations – what have you – and practice having an opinion about everything! Sharpen your senses by looking closely and paying attention to minute details! Watch movies! Go to the theater! Get inspired by books! Start a journal! Do pottery! Walk barefoot, even in winter! Do whatever it takes to nurture your inner child!

What it is, only you will be able to tell. But do it! Do it every day! Do it for its own sake! I gave enough reasons why we are all likely to fail at becoming rich and famous. But we may. And one thing is sure: If we don’t try it, over and over again and claw to it with the resolve of a chess master and the energy of a supernova, we will most probably fail.

What if it were all about doing the Meisner work and just the Meisner work? What if we just stopped worrying about it? What if looking out for the next step and taking it, would be enough?

Seen from that angle perseverance is feasible. It’s the keeping at it that counts. And I believe with all my heart that good will come of that perseverance. What good it’ll be, only time will tell. And father temps keeps us in the dark about his plans.

So let’s just keep on keeping on! All else will follow suit.

**********************

General stuff:

Our acting class consists of some fifteen new and not so new active members, who meet every Monday and Wednesday from 6.30 pm to about 8.30. We do Meisner. And the Meisner-technique really rocks!

If you want to connect with your inmost feelings, expressing them freely in an acting environment and thus getting to know yourself better and better, feel free to join us! If you do, be prepared for some serious thrills!

+++

 

About the author:


I am Boris Wilke, a German expat in Prague.

I am a writer at large and have been studying Meisner since January 2008. If any of you know of any kind of acting work that befits a laddish, tall 40-year-old, please leave a note!

November 24th, 2009

Meisner Acting Class Blog on Auditions

Hi everyone!

I’m Boris Wilke and member of the Prague Playhouse Meisner acting group. I blog about our class activities.

This entry is about how the Meisner technique can help you win auditions or at least make them a fun experience.

Click on the “CLASSES” button above and then choose “ACTING FOR PROFESSIONALS” to read more about the class itself and where we meet!

Brian just put up a new post here about auditions for a play. I won’t tell you what it is: It has too foolish a title. Anyway, they are looking for English-speaking actors of all ages and types and of both sexes. Click here to read for yourself!

Since there are very few opportunities for acting work for English-speakers in Prague in general, and this year, due to the financial crisis, in particular, all of a sudden, all of the Prague-based actors and actresses will swoop down on this like vultures – me included. They will most likely be way more experienced than you and me, of course more beautiful. And they will be ready to do almost anything to get on the ticket. After all it will be a paid job. They will probably even resort to showing off various body parts or bribe the jury with innuendo, cigarettes and/or Hašlerky (Czech cough drops).

Surely the roles really have already been distributed informally to hand-picked folk well-acquainted with the director. This audition might be just a must-do event to cover the scam.

So why should I go and make a complete fool of myself in the first place? I have no fuddling chance!

Or do I? This is, when Meisner comes in:

First of all, even in the most jaded of worlds there sometimes is a need for types that the pool of cronies a director has at their disposal just fails to cover. They might be deliberately hunting for someone ugly, lanky, overweight or sickly – in short: you – or me at that! Who knows?

Then you need to take into account that despite the fact that one always seems to see the same faces, over and over again, in productions in Prague, even the most pushy and well-connected actors and actresses don’t manage to get into everything. It is because even the most jaded of directors might actually want to grab hold of some new talent they can boss around and impose their will upon. Do you know for sure, if the game is really set already? Maybe the director is sick and tired of the same faces that make it into his or her plays. A cynic would say: “Maybe they want someone new to shag with.” No matter, how you look at it: Variety is a real option here and your chance to get in! Strut your stuff! Show you are different! That might get you the part!

Thirdly and most importantly one should go to auditions for the auditions’ sake. Meisner teaches to be in the moment. An audition is a string of very scary and exciting moments, moments one usually doesn’t have in one’s everyday tedious life of routines and rut. Auditions can be fun, if you choose to look at them that way. I, for my part, love them. I revel in the challenge they present. I love to put my courage to test. I love to see how I fare.

And while doing auditions, rare as they might be after all, one starts to progress, i.e. to get better.

Meisner wants us to take in everything, the environment as well as the partner in front of you. If your partner is the scary director him- or herself, who reads a part from the script with a yawn and a stutter – and you struggle to connect with them while reading your own part, it is very hard to take in the environment: the smell and the lights of the place and the people who share it with you. But how can you shine and thus wow the director when you are all concentrated on the text before you, a mere pent-up focal point rather than an amazing multi-dimensional fluid entity? I recognized that I free more and more resources for being in the moment and available to the director’s needs on the spot, the more I go to auditions. Many non-Meisner-trained actors resort to acting-routine such as shouting, miming and gesturing in exaggerated ways. If the director gets excited about these tricks, you are not his or her candidate, anyway. Then again, if you are exactly the type she or he is craving for, you might get the role despite your lack of mechanical stagecraft. And then it is up to you to incorporate as much Meisner-work into your role as possible. But that’s a different story…

As with Meisner exercises it’s the work you do before an audition that gets you into the target zone. Since it is part of the set-up that you very often just cannot prepare for an audition, it is all the more important to bring acting experience of all sorts. And that is, why more experienced actors and actresses have a better chance to get the role.

I know that is a paradox. You as a fledgling actor or actress can only work through that paradox by getting experience. Going to auditions – against all odds – is one way to gain it.

I can only say: Do it! And do it over and over again! It will pay off eventually!

**********************

General stuff:

Our acting class consists of some fifteen new and not so new active members, who meet every Monday and Wednesday from 6.30 pm to about 8.30. We do Meisner. And the Meisner-technique really rocks!

If you want to connect with your inmost feelings, expressing them freely in an acting environment and thus getting to know yourself better and better, feel free to join us! If you do, be prepared for some serious thrills!

+++

 

About the author:


I am Boris Wilke, a German expat in Prague.

I am a writer at large and have been studying Meisner since January 2008. If any of you know of any kind of acting work that befits a laddish, tall 40-year-old, please leave a note!

November 3rd, 2009

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