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MOVEMENT AND DIALOGUE:


Concentrate on specificity of all elements of actions: sound, movement, and direction of energy. Also concentrate on keeping the rhythm of the exercises quick to avoid the opportunity for judgment and thinking. Just doing. EXPERIENCE!

Version 1:
Standing in a circle. Each actor performs a spontaneous, short (one-two seconds), specific action of sound and movement. The energy of this action is directed across the circle towards one of the others, who then imitates it, and instantly performs a new one, passing it across to another and so on.

Version 2:
The new twist is that each person is required to remember his/her own first action. The sound for each person's action was his/her own name. Instead of coming up with a new action each time, each person repeated his/her very first action after imitating the action that is passed. This reinforces reacting to something spontaneous without letting the spontaneity make you forget your line.

Version 3:
Each actor performs a specific yet meaningless motion using the entire body during each of his/her lines of a memorized scene for 2. During the scene partner's lines, the actor not speaking imitates the partner's motion, each time putting a period on the imitation before changing over to his/her next new motion over the next line.

This reinforces spontaneity in a scene. The performers are forced to both create and react to spontaneity by 1. having to move spontaneously during each line - therefore creating, and 2. having to imitate the spontaneous motions of their partners - therefore reacting.

Version 4:
The new requirement is to react to the scene partner's motions without imitating them, but rather with original movement. Therefore, all the movement is new and original.

Version 5:
The actors begin to adjust their movement so that it aids them in communicating their dialogue and feelings. Make sure the movement is meaningful, not just flapping arms. Both actors are still moving whether speaking or reacting to what is happening.

Version 6:
Once the actors get comfortable with Version 5, the scene is performed with movement only. NO SPEAKING OF ANY KIND. The leader and audience follow along. The leader may pause the scene if appropriate to check in with performers or audience to make sure everyone is on the same line.

EXPLANATION:

This set of exercises is about getting away from the words, out of the mind and into the body. It is also about keeping the body alive in each moment of a scene. An actor can often become self-conscious and tighten up the body. This inhibits the instinctual ability to be in the moment, which makes things look unnatural, forced, confusing, boring, etc.

When preparing for a scene, many actors will make choices based solely on how they THINK they SHOULD play the scene. All decisions on the exchanges - emotional, physical, tonal, rhythmic - are made before the scene is even read with another actor. How often do we get this luxury in life? NEVER! How many times have you "decided" how you were going to tell someone something and it actually happened exactly that way? - no interruptions, no unanticipated feelings, etc.

Real conversation, by nature, is spontaneous. It is a moment-by-moment, multi-participant activity. Words are the thing in life that we are the most accustomed to reacting to spontaneously. In every day conversation, everything else - undertone, subtext, body language, physicality - takes a second seat. In most cases of acting, we do not have the luxury of being spontaneous with our choice of words. We know which words will be used, and the order they will be used in. Therefore, as actors, we must train ourselves to communicate spontaneously with everything EXCEPT the words. EVERY SINGLE THING EXCEPT THE WORDS HAS POTENTIAL FOR SPONTANEITY IN A SCENE. The words are the ONLY things that don't happen in the moment. But, it is our job to make them look as if they are.

These exercises help us focus on what is happening in the moment. They exaggerate the body as a tool of communication. We use them to "work out" our "muscles" of observation, physical communication, and creativity. The more we do them, the better we get at reacting to spontaneous stimuli, and the better we get at using our bodies to communicate. They are not something we "get right" and move on from.

They also help us break through our need to constantly evaluate our performance. Performing and reacting to ridiculous motions moves the focus off of self and onto our scene partners - where it should be! These are the things we want to take with us into our actual performances from the exercises. On another level, these exercises are a good test to see how well a scene is memorized. If the preparation included deciding what to do in each moment, we will likely get lost and forget lines.

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