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Archive for the ‘OSSD Acting Class’ Category

Second Class, Level 3 – Tactics

In OSSD Acting Class on April 24, 2011 at 9:21 pm

Zoinks, late with the posting this week!  And no excuse to speak of…or does laziness count as an excuse in the swingin’ 21st century?  Let’s just say it does.  Now Claradippity, and I’ll get started with the tale of class number two over at the OSSD.

Chugging along with our level 3 course centering, for the time being, on monologues, we managed an even four students in class this week…myself, Catherine, Rachel and Vanessa, back from a bout of the illness.  As per last week’s instructions, we each had to have a monologue picked out by this week (Canadian, contemporary, and a few other criteria).  I’d settled on a bit from the 2005 Summerworks show THE FILE by Greg Nelson (later reworked into the ’06 GCTC show THE FALL, as it turns out).  Found it in a collection of two-handers I picked up, and the character seemed like a close enough fit to me to give it a go.  Got off-book quick enough…funny thing, it turns out I can get off-book on a monologue pretty damn quick.  On a lark, I tried to see how much I could remember of the bit from ODD JOBS Brie gave me last class, and to my surprise, I still ‘membered the whole thing.  Not bad for 45 minutes of work, eh?

Anyhoo.  Brie gave us all a little warm-up time at the top of class, which we used only sort-of incompetently (we’re new!), before he came in to watch us monologue it up for him.  I went first, and only forgot to breath half the time, otherwise at least getting all the words out.  Vanessa followed with a piece from Michel Tremblay, then Catherine with her bit from Sharon Pollock’s DOC, and finally Rachel with even more Tremblay, who officially won the most-popular playwright in class award for this week.

After, we round-tabled it and explained what we could about our character and why we chose what we did, asked a few questions, basically hashed things out.  Then it was on to a few diff’rent games for the remainder of class…the first one had us pairing up, alternately shouting two nonsense-words at one another (see if you can find them, cleverly hidden in this post!), one meaning ‘go away’, the other meaning ‘come here’.  One person said the word, the other person’s job was to absolutely NOT do the thing being asked.  This was followed by a more wordy variation with a few different scenarios (fighting over a single seat at the theatre, or the last pot in a lifeboat).  They seemed at times like excercises in futility, but what Brie intended was for us to observe the various tactics we tried using to get what we wanted in each situation.  Everyone wants something, he pointed out, and pretty much always.

Which led into our assignment for next week…to go over our plays again, and again, and unearth everything we can about the characters from the text, and find out just what the hell it is they WANT in those monologues, and how they’re going about trying to get it.  A daunting and fun task…I’ve already given mine a good once-over, and really need to schedule another pass in before class.

Oh, and remember to breath.  That would help also.  Now Beekbokkachoy, you mob, I’ve got tea to drink and another post to write once I put this one to bed.  Peace, love and soul,

The Visitor (and Winston)

First Class, Level 3 – Return of the Audition

In OSSD Acting Class on April 14, 2011 at 9:05 pm

So after a lengthy, early spring break between semesters (or 1 week, however you want to count it) it was time to haul ass back to class at the Ottawa School of Speech and Drama.  It’s level 3, kids, the end of the ‘Get Into the Act’ road.    This time, it was promised we would cover monologues (about 1 week too late for ME, but whatevah) and scenes.  At last, the meat of the theatrical matter!  I had a hearty repast and zipped down to the school, somewhat lamenting the fact I would no longer enjoy my pre-class chats with Boss Barry Karp, who isn’t teaching a class this time around.  But I WAS pleased to see our two-time sub from level 1 Mary Harvey (who I FINALLY remembered I saw on stage in Tototoo’s KILT last year) geting set for her Improv class.  Very tempting now to take that next time around, she was a perfect delight.

Soon enough fellow returning classmates Catherine and Rachel showed up (our two other L3 peeps, Julie and Vanessa, were out for this week’s class, sadly), along with Big Cheese brie barker, and we settled right back into our usual space for some big-time acting lessonry.  We sat down in a…let’s call it a ‘circle’, shall we?  And Brie handed us our assignments.

Wait, time out.  Assignments?  On paper?  Damn, this is starting to smell like SCHOOL after all this time.  And sure enough, on each page was a short monologue that Brie had hand-picked for each of us.  It was about 7:15.  He smiled, and said he’d be back in one hour for our auditions.  Yes, we had 1 hour to commit these pieces to memory as best we could (tho were WERE still allowed to reference the sheet at all times) and perform them.  It was audition time.  AGAIN.

FUCK.  I only just got over my jitters from last week’s ACTUAL audition (scroll back a few posts for the harrowing tale, if you dare).  But what the heck…I had to admit, I was pretty stoked to be getting another go at this.  So I picked a corner, grabbed my sheet, and started speed-practicing.My monologue was from something called ODD JOBS by Frank Maher, and was about a drunken worker raging at the world.  Brie knows me so well.

We were disturbingly quiet in that room as we ran our lines…something Brie had specifically warned us against, but shyness got the better of us.  After an hour he returned, set up our viewing chairs/gauntlet of judgement, and we dove right into it.  Catherine got tagged first, and did very nice with a piece from Sharon Pollock’s DOC.  I was the middle man, and did my best with my bit…once again, I think I tried to be too demonstrative with my performance (did I learn NOTHING from Kenner G??), although I was TOTALLY almost off-book.  Which made me a little proudsome.  Rachel got the final call, and despite being kinda nervous (I relate, I relate) got through her piece, I think from a play called…nope, nope, I forget.  It was fun, though.

We all just sat around after that, discussing pros and cons of how it went, just dissecting the experience.  We all rather fully understood by the end of it how valuable it would have been to practice these things out loud, and I’ll sure try harder to do THAT next time.  More homework after that (aww!), in the form of an assignment to track down and start working on a NEW monologue (or even the one we did that class) for NEXT class, with a few addendums.  I spent the better part of today out and about, loading up on Canadian plays (one of the addendums was that it had to be a Canuck piece),  and I think I’ve got a good selection to work from.  Now to power-read for the next few days and make a choice.   I thought of just using the one from class, or even the piece I did at last week’s audition, but no.  It feels like more fun if I start from scratch.

So there’s level 1, off and running.  An intimate class, to be sure, but that’s probably for the best given what we’re doing.  I’m pretty excited for the next few weeks,  you bet.  Vanessa, Julie, Brie said he’d e-mail you the specs for the assignment, but if ya want any more info or help, gimme a shout!  And FYI, the Rideau Chapters has a small but useful section of Canadian plays, with a very decent amount by women writers.  So there’s that.  And the library, I’m told, if you’re into that ‘socialism’ thing.

Awright, I’m out!  Got plays to read, lines to run, and hair to tease.  Peace, love and soul, fellow thespians,

The Visitor (and Winston)

Final Class, Level 2 – Steve at Last

In OSSD Acting Class on April 7, 2011 at 9:16 pm

We’re finally here.  Two weeks late thanks to snow and sickness, but we made it, almost all of us (except for Andrea who we sadly lost to a scheduling conflict, boo) to the end of Get Into The Act level 2 at OSSD.  And as it was the day after my very first audition (yes, a post will be coming, relax), I certainly needed some classroom fun to chill out with.  Fortunately, Brie provided that for us in spades by challenging us last week to show up dressed as our character.  So, I spent the better part of the day (after re-upping for level 3) getting into character, as it were.  Haircut, props, temporary tattoos even…brothers and sisters, I went to TOWN for this one.

Almost sad, really, that I got so easily upstaged at the top of class…but then again, we ALL Did.  Turns out the best performance for this final class wouldn’t even come from one of the students.  Let me set the scene for a moment, if you please…Way back in the very first class of level 2, Brie called the roll for the first time.  Everyone was present, except for one person on the list…Steve.  And as the weeks wore on, Brie kept calling the roll, and Steve never showed.  He was like our phantom mascot who we regularly joked about, wondering who the Hell he was and why he never even showed up once.

Last night, he showed up.  Right as we’re all asembling for class, this quiet dude shows up, asks if this is Brie’s class, and identifies himself as Steve.  We’re all blown away, Brie no less.  After informing Steve that this is, in fact, the LAST class, he runs out to the office to see if something can be worked out for this guy, somehow.  At which point, Sasha lets us in on it…’Steve’ is, in fact, her boyfriend Dmitri and she’s been plotting this for weeks.  It was BEAUTIFUL.  In fact, while Brie was out checking with the office, Dmitri just took off.  So some of the girls concocted a story for Brie about how ‘Steve’ freaked out and stormed out, and I think the Big cheese was actually a little upset about it all.  But no one broke.  The gag held on.  It was, really, rather epic.   Sasha, you get major points for that one.

When the Steve furor died down enough, we actually got on with what we were there for, our final day together at fictional Picton Place.  I was happy that everyone showed up in costume, and especially that everyone was back for the last class.  Brie wanted us to work, this last time, on changing some of the status/power balances that had arisen amongst the residents and staff, and he helped out with some fun suggestions.  It all got started with a grant to-do at the Perch (tended by yours truly, Peter Crowley) at which Brad the owner drunkenly announced that Trudy was getting the Community-person of the Year award for her charitable works.  Oddly, this still didn’t endear anyone to Trudy.  Especially Carol, who rather drunkenly shouted out some nasty things about Trudy right there at the party and ended up getting fired/quitting.  It was all quite dramatic.

Somehow, though, Carol managed to parlay that scene into actually getting a promotion as Debra’s new assistant!  Smooth work, , even if she did let it go to her head and try and give Peter shit about some ‘missing’ bottles of wine.  As if.  And..

…you know what?  We just had a whole heap of fun with it.  Sorry, I’m just boring myself with the blow-by-blow playback this week, so I’ll just say that everything turned out AWESOME for Peter (Catherine and I rode off into the sunset together in a surprise twist ending), and then it was time for graduation night drinks at Whispers!

And yes, we did finally let Brie in on the Steve gag, as Dmitri was waiting for us all there ahead of time.  Brie was mightily impressed at being so ably punk’d by his own students, and we all had some drinks and tasty nachos over some good chatter.  Brie told us about his work with Sanitas, who have an upcoming show at the OSSD on the 23rd.  And we all tried to figure out if there were even going to be enough of us signed up to make level 3 happen….I think as of this writing we’re one short still.  Anyone want to join up for some scene and monologue work with Brie and several squinky students like myself?  There’s still time!

But not much, as level 3 starts NEXT WEEK, the result of our being 2 weeks behind.  Which is fine, fine by me.  No place I’d rather be, really.  And after my audition, it’s safe to say I could sure use the practice (post is coming!).  Peace, love and soul (especially you Brie, Catherine, Vanessa, Stefan, Rachel, Daria, Julie, Sasha, Andrea, and yes, even Steve),

The Visitor (and Winston)

Ninth Class, Level 2 – Sex on the Beach

In OSSD Acting Class on March 31, 2011 at 1:33 pm

Spent a fairly calm and relaxed day off yester, enjoying some much-needed sunshine, getting a delicious Ada’s breakfast into my battered frame, and of course, reading some comix.  I may or may not have had a lingering, day-long headache from some overindulgence after a long week of drudgery the previous evening, but that’s neither here nor there (nor, again, here).  No, what’s here is that, being Wednesday, it was time yet again for my level 2 acting class at the Ottawa School of Speech and Drama, and as you can see, this time I wasn’t going to wait the better part of a week to actually write the post.

Got there foolish early as is my wont, ran into my previous coach Barry Karp, and took the opportunity to press him for tips on my upcoming audition with the talented, intelligent and stunningly beautiful Nadine Thornhill (hell no, I ain’t above sucking up!  I’m terrible, and need all the help I can get).  The Boss gave me a good pointer or two before it was time to head off to what would be the penultimate class of our second level, with big cheese Brie Barker.  Continuing his full-on dressup antics, Brie came in cowboy regalia and grilled us on why we would make good cowhands.  It turns out that many of us would not.

A distressingly small-ish class today (Stefan! Vanessa! Rachel!  Wherefore wert thou?), but we managed. warming up with a few rounds of keep-the ball(s)-in-the-air, before moving straight on in to our now-familiar digs at Picton Place.  Aside from myself, there was Sasha, Catherine, Daria and Julie.  And, in keeping with the last post, I’ll let head bartender Peter Crowley fill you in on what happened next:

-Interesting night.  Slow all evening, and then right before I was going to close Dahlia, a particularly easygoing resident, stopped by for a drink.  Then, and this surprised me, Carol showed up and joined her.  It was rather nice seeing Carol relax for once…except that then I had to practically shove them out the door later on.  Had a certain rendezvous that I very much needed to hit across town.  I think Carol understood, and Dahlia was almost asleep.  It all worked out.   Good times.

– Having agreed to do some modelling for Dahlia, I met her the next day in the hobby room (my first time there…very cute) and made myself available for…well, whatever she had planned.  Emma offered some tips, and we ended up going with a sort of saucy, yoga-themed pose.  Carol poked her head in and looked amusingly flustered (and pretty green…I may have made those drinks a little strong for her the night before) before continuing on her rounds.

– So THAT’S Trudy.  I’ve been hearing so much, and now I’ve had a faceful of her  Yikes.  Dahlia finished her painting (VERY nice work), and asked if she could hang it behind the bar.   Debra’s away for the week having some procedure done, so I made the call.  All the questionable bits ARE covered, after all.  But then this lady Trudy strolled in like she owned the place and acted like she’d seen a ghost.  Demanded I take it down, etc.  I did, at least for the duration of her visit.  Which, it turns out, was an attempt on her part to ‘borrow’ a few bottles of Chardonnay for her dinner party.  I explained very calmly that that would violate our liquor licence, but she was having none of it.  Finally stormed out in a huff…I get the impression she’s a lady who’s used to getting her way.  Well, not today.

– Hoo boy.  That was unpleasant.  Just got royally reamed out by Doug, the owner of Picton Place.  Seems miss Trudy has some bucks floating around, and Doug makes a very efficient attack dog when she doth command it.  He laid into myself AND Carol, who Trudy got into shit by claiming she was drunk on the job. Complete BS, but we both sat there and took it.  This sucks.

– Shaking right now. As if Doug’s faux-tough guy routine wasn’t enough, NOW I’m getting attitude from Dahlia.  I get ordered to take the painting down or lose my job, and apparently that makes ME the bad guy in her eyes.  She starts spouting off about what a powerful gallery owner she is, how it’s really HER who pays my salary, and I’d better put that painting back up right now or else.  Like she’s going to give me a new job if Doug fires me over this?  Right.  Good gig or no, I’m not putting up with treatment like this for much longer.  Fuck this shit.

Ow!  Peter, chill the fuck out, all right, you’re only an imaginary construct!  Geez.  But you’ll definitely wanna be here for the climactic finale next week, and that goes double for our missing classmates this week!  Here’s some important info for you kids…Brie has challenged us (and I TOTALLY called this!) to come to the final class dressed AS our character.  Hair, clothes, whatever, go nuts!  Don’t make me be the only one, right? Also, those of us who are planning on re-upping for level 3 should do so ASAP…they need at least 6 of us to give it a go, and there’s literally no break between the end of 2 and the start of 3 thanks to our 2 weeks off.  And remember, drinks after class next week.  Don’t even TRY and weasel out of it.

That’s it for this week…I’m off for pancakes with the gorgeous and brilliant Queen Nadine (I’m serious, I have no shame), then maybe another shot of UNDER MILK WOOD tonite out at Shenkman.  If you haven’t gone already, GO.  It’s one of my fav’rits so far this year.  Tomorrow nite I’ll be doing THE MIDDLE PLACE at GCTC, and then…shit, I don’t know.  Gotta check me schedule!  So much stuff, so little life.  Peace, love and soul,

The Visitor (and Winston)

Eighth Class, Level 2 – In Peter’s Words

In OSSD Acting Class on March 29, 2011 at 12:34 am

Right, right, I haven’t done the class post yet.  I know, it’s been DAYS.   We’re almost at the NEXT class, and I have no particularly good excuse.  The dog ate my homework..?
I was having one of my moods that last wednesday, I have to say.  I was downright motherfucking GRIM all day.  to the extent that, honestly, I was thinking of skipping.  Seriously.  And there was no good reason for this mood, it was just there.  Like the American Embassy in the Market, looming like a great iron and concrete gaol over all the goodness in the world.  I had a mood like shitty architecture.

Somehow, I hauled my ass out to the OSSD, hoping that maybe my beloved class could rouse me out of my terrible funk.  Especially since my #1 galpal Catherine would be back from her vacation this time ’round.  So I went.  and I hoped.

And of course I was right.

Seeing my coaches Brie Barker and Barry Karp ALWAYS brings some joy to my heart, and when the gang started pouring in, all felt well again.  Sure, Stefan and Julie were missing this time ’round, and we’re sadly not going to have Andrea and her powerful presence anymore due to a scheduling conflict (all the best, Andrea!  You wuz awesome!), but it was still my peeps.  We all took our seats, and big cheese Brie took roll via the persona of a Rogers tech support operator, requiring a bit of improvising to get thru.  It was his way of working out the frustration of a day spent ON tech support, with his problem yet unresolved.  Suddenly my own problems didn’t seem too bad.

With our tech-roll completed, we warmed up briefly with a quick game of on-the-spot scenes, wandering thru the space as Brie would shout out locations, and we had to fill them with the sorts who might logically be there.  And as he rightly pointed out afterwards, the scenes always seemed to even themselves out.  Like, when he shouted ‘Bank’, we didn’t all become tellers, it was spaced nicely.  A couple tellers, a manager, some customers.  We found our balance.  It’s the plate game from level one in a different costume.

After that, we jumped right back into Picton Place.  The fictional locale where all our constructed character’s adventures take place, and where my own lovely lad, Peter Crowley, is head bartender at rooftop bar The Perch.  I’d love to tell you all about Trudy, the new tenant who’s causing no end of ruffled feathers (played with characteristic brilliance by Catherine Mills, yo), but Peter sadly did not meet her, and  feel obliged to constrict myself to the information HE acquired, in keeping with the spirit of the thing.  So what’s new with Peter?  Let’s check out a few of his own blog entries:

– Interesting day at work. Started off well enough, lovely Emma stopped by for her usual glass of red wine, when Debra sideswiped me.  She said someone was complaining that I’d been keeping a dirty bar?  Which, aside from being horseshit, is a problem with understaffing on busy nights if anything.  I hate gossipy nonsense like that.  I’m keeping my ears open, for sure.

– Just back from a meeting with Debra.  Myself and Carol formed something of a united front, presenting our case for being allowed to use the Picton facilities in our spare time (I have my eye on the gym, Carol seems keen on the hobby room).  Deb seemed open to it, and promised to raise it at the next tenant’s meeting.  Fingers crossed.

– Success!  Just had a chat with Emma and Annabelle (I’m getting very good at making her drink now…I’ve officially named it ‘The Anna Bella’), and they told me that Deb had okayed our request to use the house facilities.  As if that wasn’t good enough news, Emma mentioned that she was opening up a yoga facility down the road.  When I told her about my experience teaching yoga in the past, she all but offered me a job!  The money at the Perch is good, but this might be more up my alley.  VERY interesting.

– Just bumped into Carol on the way in to work.  She hadn’t heard about our request getting the thumbs up, so I enlightened her.  She was pleased, but pointed out a new notice to me about ‘public drunkenness’ by tenants.  I immediately thought if I had overserved anyone at the Perch, and I’m sure I haven’t.  Wonder if it’s the same little tale-telling gossip from before..?  We’ll see.  I wondered if it was that John character, who seemed a little off.  Carol then told me he’d threatened to SUE her for something!  I had to run, but I have GOT to hear the rest of that story.  Too crazy.

…Thanks, Peter.  I was getting tired of writing this shit.  And looking forward to what goes on with you (and the rest of the gang) next time out.  And SO jazzed to hear that almost all of us are planning on re-upping for level 3 (once again taught by gentleman Brie Barker, yay!).  So thanks, class, for raising my flagging spirits.  I’ll never doubt you again.  Peace, love and soul,

The Visitor (and Winston)

Seventh Class, Level 2 – the Perch at Picton Place

In OSSD Acting Class on March 17, 2011 at 2:29 pm

We’re lurching madly towards the end of level 2 classes, and things are getting exponentially more interesting and scary.  I creaked my way on in, still mighty tender following the Hot Sauciness of Alix Sideris and her movement workshop on the weekend.  I felt a slight twinge of shameful glee that Barry Karp wasn’t teaching this semester…he likes to push the physical side of theatre, and I didn’t think my battered frame could take it this day.  I DID run into him, and Brie Barker, outside, trying to figure out which one of them had the keys to open up…the whole OSSD building was shut down for March Break.  I was just about ready to call dibs on the rooftop for an outdoor class, when Brie managed to get us inside.  That would do too, I suppose.

Catherine was still away on vacation (Boo!), and Andrea and Justin were likewise un-present, so that left myself, Rachel, Stefan, Julie, Vanessa, Daria and Sasha for today’s installment.  Brie nearly killed us all right off the bat with his ridiculously funny Euro-dance instructor character, taking the roll.  Dude be knowing some funny, yo.

After settling down and warming up with a quick round of soccer (why not?), and then segued into a long standing wish of mine…we were finally going to play questions!  For those of you not in the know, THIS is what Questions looks like:

Or at least, that’s what Questions looks like when competent people engage in it.  Apparently when I do it, it looks rather like watching a tall, gangly dork stammer for five seconds and then slink away in utter defeat without uttering a single.  Fucking.  Question.

TWICE.

I was rather mortified.  So long I’d been wanting to try this out, and it turns out I’m a talentless schmuck.  And yes, welcome to my first crisis of faith in acting class.  I expect it will be the first of many.  Brie sent us out of the room for a moment to set some things up, and let me wallow in my failure (a specialty of mine…although I DID get over it, actually).  When we came back in, Brie made us pick something out of a bag…a little something for the characters we’ve been building over the semester.  Once we did, he put us in position around out little makeshift set he’d arranged, and made the announcement…it was time to start playing.

Our ‘set’ was a rooftop bar called the Perch, in a condo called Picton Place.  Some of us were tenants there, some of us work there.  And it’s where we’re going to be for the remainder of our classes, working up our characters, interacting, and getting socially dynamic and all.  We got directed through a few diff’rent scenes with diff’rent combinations of characters, Brie encouraging us to write down everything we learned about not only OUR characters, but the ones we interacted with.  With that in mind, here’s the lowdown on my own contribution:
Peter Crowley is the head bartender at the Perch, lives out in Orleans and has been in Ottawa for 5 years now.  Before that he spent 5 years in Cape Breton, and before that was in Toronto.  He has served in the military, and has distinctly left-leaning political views.  Works for Debra, the property manager, and thinks Carol the Doorwoman has a very logical way of thinking.  Some guests he has interacted with are Emma, a Californian who lives in a unit on the 7th floor, enjoys red wine and shares his disdain for the Bush family.  Annabelle, another tenant, has a favourite drink (Cranberry, sparkling water, and lime on ice), which another tenant, a mr. Johnny Parsons, also seems to enjoy.  It’s a great bar, he loves his job, and would like to move a little closer (he even wouldn’t mind a unit in the condo itself, if he could afford it)

We sat around and kibbitzed about what we learned afterwards, what challenged us, and I think we were all feeling pretty pumped/scared.  I’m very much looking forward to getting to know Peter a little better, interacting more with the staff and tenants, and maybe getting out from behind that bar of mine from time to time.  But, hey, duty calls, right?
Oh, and I’m TOTALLY up for a rematch of Questions.  I WILL be avenged.  Peace, love and soul,

The Visitor (and Winston)

PS  I totally haven’t yet mentioned the OTTAWA THEATRE CONFIDENTIAL PODCAST, but now that they’ve gone and mentioned me, I feel bad for letting them beat me to the punch.  So, give’er a listen, because Tania Levy, Heather-Marie and Tweedy old Snowdon know themselves some stuffs about their theatre goings-on, a lot more than yours truly.  And check out ep 4 for an embarrassing story about me.  Yay. 🙂

Sixth Class, Level 2 – the Chicken and the Atom Bomb

In OSSD Acting Class on March 10, 2011 at 5:11 am

Turning into an odd week, theatre-wise…I ended up missing a show I’d been planning on last night, and may end up missing another one (at least for this week) tomorrow night.  With all apologies, but I just found out the freaking ZOOBOMBS are hitting the Dominion tomorrow night.  Oh yea…I’m hitting that.

But still not giving up on my raison d’etre, no sir…After all, today was wednesday, my OSSD acting class day, and consequently my fav’rit day of the week.  After a fine day of buying discount Doctor Who dvd’s and Secret-Fringe-Projecting (nothing to see here, move along…), I moseyed on over to Picton Ave. for this week’s installment.  And I admit right off to one spot of concern…Catherine mentioned last week that she’d be missing this class AND next week for a vacation.  And that makes me sad, because…well, I dig ALL my cohorts and all, but…but Catherine’s my GIRL, y’know?  She’s just terribly, terribly awesome, and I love her to bits, and it makes me sad she won’t be here for two whole weeks.  There. I said it.

Moving on!  As class was about to begin it looked for a few minutes like Stefan and me were the only ones willing to brave the modest snowfall that had started up, but another five showed up just after 7 (Sasha, Vanessa, Julie, Daria and Rachel) and we were on our way.  With a slow, steady intro indeed from Big Cheese Brie Barker, involving us all telling him our fav’rit Authours (I went with Tom Robbins, tho Grant Morrison or Robert Anton Wilson might have been more honest), we got things underway.

First we warmed up with another game of keeping-the-ball-in-the-air, this time with a real honest to gosh ball, which it turns out only makes Sasha that much more dangerous (no, Sasha, NO!).  We all emerged unscathed happily, and moved on to a new thing, which was one of the next two things I’m about to mention.  Sorry, sometimes the exact order of things eludes my enfeebled memory.  What I DO remember is Brie telling us all to act like chickens.  Just that, just BE chickens.  And that an atom bomb was going off in one minute.  Seriously, if you DON’T get instructions like this from your teacher..?  You’re in the wrong course.  Trust me.

After (or possibly before) the Chicken experiment, we hit a personal geek-squee high for me in this semester.  We played an Improv game Brie called ‘Should Have Said’, but that I recognized as ‘New Choice’ from several of my recent visitations to CRUSH IMPROV at the Elmdale.  Finally, I would get to try one of the games I’d actually seen on stage, by the likes of Brad McNeil, Cari Leslie, Tim Anderson..!  Intimidating, but I was eager to give it my best go.  Myself and Stefan stepped up first and got into it as a Bank Teller and customer, and I dare say we acquitted ourselves pretty well.  I called an imaginary manager over, Stefan asked me for my phone number, and people seemed to be laughing not completely in a pitying manner.  Thumbs up.

The Coach bade us then get into character, the ones we’ve been slowly building over the course of the semester, whilst he reset the room for a new twist.  We did so, and had the highlight of the class when Sasha saw her reflection in a mirror and TOTALLY freaked out.  It was seriously awesome.  Thanks, Sasha.  You’re a trooper.

As poor Sasha recovered from her fright, Brie finished his work, resetting the classroom into a makeshift Starbucks set.  We were all to simply enter, order, and mill about as regular customers…but in our characters.  After all these weeks, we were finaly going to set about the business of simply being our characters.  Also, I think, known as acting.  Which, as a lot of the readers of this blog already know, is harder than it looks.  My turn to find out.

I struggled more than a bit, I’ll admit…trying to keep my guy ‘centered’ in the head is messing with me.  Sometimes he comes off as intellectual, other times neurotic, and I’m not sure I’m really ‘getting’ him at all, at all.  And getting the ‘talks loud and fast’ bit down without coming off as cartoony is tricky too.  I keep having to remind myself that loud does not mean shouting, and fast doesn’t mean Blurr from Transformers.

Blue isn't even my colour...!

Once Starbucks closed, we came back for a final set of scenes, done in twos.  I started off (I notice I’m volunteering to go up more and more), and Brie walked the both of us through a scenario, music and all, each of us occupying one half of the stage.  They were perfectly ordinary scenes…Myself and Daria started hings off with a waking-up scene, making coffee, having cereal, staring out the window.  On the surface, it’s not the stuff legends are made of, but God is in the details, folks.  And that’s what we were doing…the details.  the everyday, ordinary blah that makes up the entity known as YOU.  Or, in this case, our characters.

We had an uneven number of participants in class today, so I jumped in for a second go-round at the end, because why the Hell not?  Sasha and I finished the excercize as our characters playing hooky from work (and a little online chess), before downing some wine, cleaning the window, and…and the fact that it sounds so boring was exactly the fucking challenge.  And even though I had a tremendous amount of fun with it, and could have carried on all night with these scenes, I’m really not sure I’m DOING it right. Do you ever..?  Don’t answer that.

We ended with a super-special assignment, carried out before we left..the act of actually NAMING our characters, done by secret ballots handed right to Brie.  We’re sworn to secrecy for now, so I can’t tell you what I came up with for my guy yet, but let’s hope it works out.  I’d like to get to know him.  Maybe next week.  And UNTIL that time, I hope you lot will wish me luck in finding out what whatsisname is, in fact, all about.  Shit, I hope he’s cool.  Peace, love and soul,

The Visitor (and Winston)

Fifth Class, Level 2 – Bunny, Bunny, Bunny…

In OSSD Acting Class on March 3, 2011 at 4:30 am

So I was GOING to blog about how terrible a mood I’ve been in for the past few weeks?  All this dark stuff about self-destruction and suicidal thoughts and all that cool stuff…?  Only THEN I realized that, as of tonight, I had something like four new blogposts I was now officially due to write and post.  So, fuck all that depressing jazz, kids, we just don’t have time for it!  Let’s all put on the same Runaways album as me…

Queens of Noise, 1977, Bitches!

…and get straight to the good stuff.  And top of the goodies list today is, new class at the OSSD!  Which is awesome, because we missed last weeks class (and I know you did too, gentle readers) on account of Big Cheese Brie Barker coming down with a bad case of being really sick, which sucks.  Being sick SUCKS.  But happily, he seems all weller now, and he greeted us (just a small selection today…myself, Catherine, Vanessa, Sasha, Andrea and Julie) in torn jeans and Leafs jersey, taking the roll by making us shout out our fav’rit Hockey team (not the Sens!) and fav’rit band.  I picked the Detroit Red Wings on account of some old-time Bob Probert luv, and the Ramones, because they’re the Ramones.

We all loosened up with a game of…whatever you call batting a paper ball up in the air.  IS that a game?  Whatever, we did it, and had a few good runs, even IF Sasha kept trying to spike it (no, Sasha, NO!).  Then it was on to the quite amusing theatrical game ‘Bunny’.  One person gets pointed to, makes like a bunny, while the people to his/her sides make like the bunny’s ears.  The designated ‘bunny’ does his/her bunny bit ’til pointing to a new victim.  ‘Elephant’ was then added to the mix, then ‘Charlie’s Angels’ (don’t ask), and then, finally…anything.  We got some good mileage out of ‘anything’, let me tell you.  Then on to a rousing round of ‘Mister So and So’, an improv based game.  Me and Sasha started things off as a security guard at a mall and a concerned dad.  Then Brie sent someone in, and I had to designate who they were (in a ‘Mr.So and So’ fashion’ and leave the scene. And so forth.  I made Vanessa Miss Talks-too-loud and split first, and watched the fun.   I later re-entered the scene, with Brie himself making me ‘Mister Incontinent’, which I think I pulled off in true Oscar-worthy fashion.  My interactions with Juvenile Delinquent and Miss Equestrian are the stuff of legend, I tell ye!

Brie then split us up into pairs, and instructed us to just have a regular conversation.  Not exactly my forte, but Sasha and I started on a decent palaver about restaurants, until Brie stopped us and instructed us to resume convo, but speaking softly.  Which we did…until he switched us again, this time to loud.  And THEN to one soft, the other loud.  It got a little tricky.  We then switched into diff’rent pairs, and did the same thing, this time alternating between fast speech and slow.  Methinks Messr.Barker is going somewheres with all of this…

And I was right (kind of a surprise, but it happens sometimes).  Today’s focus on speech rate and volume was the next aspect we were to integrate into our evolving character.  W did a quick batch of improv scenes with Brie assigning us rate and volume at random…I did one with Vanessa as a Chiropracter (me)  and his new patient (her)…it actually turned out really cool and funny because Vanessa got ‘Acupuncture’ stuck in her head instead of Chiropracter and we had to do a good back and forth about it. I was doing it loud and fast as instructed, and tried to keep the guy nice…it was hard, as I later found out.

When we regrouped after a short break to do more scenes, this time trying to be in FULL character (ie: using all the characteristics we’ve assembled over the last 5 classes), I found that the voice thing was doing all the leading in scenes.  One with Catherine as a husband and wife at the Baseball Hall of Fame, then with Andrea at a Bathhouse in Russia (Sasha’s weird idea), both of my characters immediately morphed into the same loud, brash asshole.  And it don’t HAVE to be that way, even tho my voice choices ended up as loud and fast.  But we all agreed (and Brie several times stressed) that what we’re being asked to do is NOT easy…it’s hard, and that’s as it should be.  After all, being good at ANYthing is, and should be, hard work.  Anyone can be a SHITTY plumber.

Anyhow, I think I’m missing at last one thing from tonight, one scene, SOMEthing, but it’s not coming to me.  At any rate, I’ve got some practicing to do if I’m gonna keep all this stuff in my head for next time around.  Oh, and before I close for the evening, shoutout to Julie, because…well, why not?  Hi Julie!

That’s all for tonite…two or three new posts coming tomorrow, and a busy week coming up.  Depression break is OVER, yo.  Peace, love and soul

The Visitor (and Winston)

Fourth Class, Level 2 – Beat Yourself to Death

In OSSD Acting Class on February 18, 2011 at 4:53 am

I’d had a rough night of it the eve before class this week, I won’t lie.  Oh, the play I saw, THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST, was a god-damn delight, ’tis true.  But, as is often the case with borderline manic-depressives like myself, things took a dark turn by the time I got home, and I hadn’t really eaten, and the bottle of Jameson’s was right THERE…

It was a rough day, too.  And I was practically falling asleep when I realized I had to run out of the place to make it to class at OSSD on time (stopping for an emergency RedBull to wake up along the way), but I made it just the same.  Oh, I was woozy, scattered, fresh scars clearly visible (rough night, like I said), but acting class waits for no man.  And I’m…not…no man…that analogy fell apart.  Where was I..?

Right, class!  Big cheese Brie Barker greeted us (as I now presume to be the norm, but I’m not making any bets) in character, this time switching from his previous week’s tuxedoed gentleman to a British punk, impressing us with a taster of his new song, ‘Pope on a Rope’. He called the roll, asking each of us to reply with the name of our own punk song.  Mine was ‘beat yourself to death’, something I’ve given a peculiar amount of thought to recently.  Because that’s the kind of upbeat cat I am.

We turned a circle then for a quick game of ZIP (a sort of improv/acting version of dodgeball), then tried it while moving, which was a tricky challenge. Then Brie immediately had us all take on an animal…I chose cat, ’cause I have Winston on the brain.  Then, we did another.  Then ANOTHER.   All while moving around the room, sometimes interacting with our fellow ‘animals’…I had a tricky time as a fish, let me tell you.  Afterwards, Brie asked us where our ‘centers’ were…our head, chest, stomach, genitals (snickering in class) or anus (even more snickering).  I went two anus,one chest…where do cats and fish lead, if not from their butts?  I ask you.

We did a couple scenes each then, improv-stylee, one using a whole animal physicality from our previous excercizes, one only using a specific center.   I thought my monkey-physic Bathroom buddy take with Rachel was a winner, tho my Anus-driven pilot’s lounge scene with Catherine (my fav’rit partner, I’ll admit it) had me wondering…just how does one lead from one’s anus? Pffft.

We did a quick break (which was great, because as grotesquely hungover as I was, I think I was sweating through my wallet by this point in the evening), then back for some impromptu lottery action…we had to draw from a hat to pick a center for our continuously building ‘character’.  I picked genitals…and then, like, the next 5 people did too.  So, we had to do a few redraws just to ensure our whole class wasn’t genital-crazy…I ended up as ‘head’ centered, which was not quite as hilarious, but just as challenging.

We did another quick round of scenes with our new centers…me and Stefan did a try as Lifeguard and concerned Father, which started out fine and ended up in inappropriate laughter.  I blame myself.  We finished the class in a circle, giving our thoughts on the night’s lessons and feeding off one another, and it was just a good way to end.  I passed on a couple offers of rides home to do some walking, because I needed some cool night air to finally clear my head (also, the cheeseburger platter at the Carleton).  It was a good class.  And I can’t wait til next one.  Peace, love and soul,

The Visitor (and Winston)

Third Class, Level 2 – Heavy

In OSSD Acting Class on February 10, 2011 at 6:07 pm

We had a snow day last week.  Ordinarily, when your school gets closed from a blizzard, it’s cause for joyous celebration and wild, toboggan-fuelled orgies.  Not so, however, when you actually LOVE your schoolwork, as if you take an acting class, you probably do.  So I was a bit bummed out when we got the word last week that the doors would be dark, and we would all have to find something productive to do with our lives for one night.

Well, fuck that.  Thank God we’re back this week, last Wednesday SUCKED.  This one, however…this one kicked all sorts of ass.  Check it out…after the good times at IPHEGENIE EN TAURIDE the previous night (seen it yet?  You really should), I got to have a coffee date Wednesday lunch with the wondrous Natalie Joy, Fringe Mastermind and all-around supergal.  We had swell palaver, about theatre and Buffy comic books and other important things, AND a super-special secret something coming up that I, in Natalie’s infinite graciousness, get to partake in.  No details from me yet, but I’m so excited I could power a small fictional city.

That should do nicely.

With that pep under my belt, I practically sprinted back to the Ottawa School of Speech and Drama for the return of classes, and was rewarded for my enthusiasm with coach Brie Barker greeting us all in full-on formal wear, because that’s how the big cheese ROLLS, yo.  Pretty much a full compliment of students tonite, the mythical ‘Steve’ on the roll notwithstanding.  We each answered the headcount with our spiffy new spy names (I chose Scooby, because I’m a little kid apparently), then formed a circle and began walking in place.  Brie would ask us where we were headed, and we had to think something up pdq.  And again, and AGAIN…today, as Brie explained to us with a gentlemanly grin, was all about impulses.

We then settled into an improv challenge, two of us at a time with the rest of the class watching, and given a very sparse character/scenario setup.  The big trick was…it wasn’t supposed to be funny.  Everyone always thinks of Improv as something that’s necessarily supposed to be a laugh riot no matter what…it’s just sort of burned into our popular consciousness.  Personally, I blame these guys.

Brie urged us not to worry about trying to sneak in the jokey twist or what not…he literally gave us permission to be dull.  And as odd as that sounds, it really felt like it helped me a lot.  Many times now, when given a choice up there, I’ve opted for the somewhat loud, wacky approach.  I think it feel safer, somehow…like, if there’s a chance you’re going to get laughed at, you might as well be trying to be funny, right?

But once we got the greenlight to just…BE, it was wonderful.  I did about four mini-scenes over the class, and at least three of them I felt really good about.  Me and Catherine played out a Mother and Son on an awkward train voyage…we tried it once from ourselves, then got restarted with instructions to swap physicalities with one another.  ie, my loose, sprawled out slacker son had to switch with Catherine’s proper, upright Mom.  And suddenly, even with the exact same dialogue (more or less), it’s a hippy-dippy, free-spirit earth Mother and her son, Rain Man.  Kinda mind blowing how little it took to totally change the scene.

We had a small break, chatted amongst ourselves, and then dove right back into it with a walking exercize.  We had to decide what kind of walker we were…the kind who ‘plowed’ through the air, the kind who more ‘floated’, or one who simply ‘flies’.  Oddly, I was the lone person who chose flying as their default.

You mean not EVERYONE pretends to be Superman when they're alone?

We then had to switch to one of the other options, and add that to our slowly growing character repertoire.  I picked ‘plowing’, and was immediately struck with a very heavy sense of gravity.  That really informed the rest of the mini-improvs we did that class, from a somewhat comical tale of two competing divers trying to outboast one another, to me and the big cheese himself as a patient and therapist.  The extra gravity I was feeling just made my characters feel extra serious, sombre even.  I couldn’t help it.

I had a great time in this class, maybe my fav’rit Brie class so far (my fav’rit Barry Karp class was when we got to do the seven stages of movement with the masks on…fuckin’ magic, mon).  And my fav’rit part OF this great class..?
Actors.  When Brie called us up to perform, he didn’t ask for ‘students’.  He called for actors.  He meant US.  And I loved it.  I think I want more people to call me that someday.  Yes.  Yes, I sincerely do.

Well, shit.  Now I’m screwed.  Peace, love and soul, you lot,

The Visitor (and Winston)

PS:  Hope to see some of you out at Evolution Theatre‘s LITTLE MARTYRS tonight at Arts Courts.  It’s gonna be faboo!