Physical Truthfulness on Camera
Written by Peter Machen on Tuesday 1st Sept
The camera. That all seeing, unforgiving beast that stares at us impassively while we squirm and writhe internally, hoping against hope that we haven’t just won a gurning competition. Take after take, trying to do less, trying to find the infinitesimal “do nothing” mantra inside of ourselves so that we give the camera exactly what it wants.
It’s funny that we accept that on stage we need a physical awareness and that we should be able to access this physicality to either enhance our performance or help us create character. Yet on camera it is often neglected because we associate the word physical with big.
Not so. Physical processes can give us an awareness of our bodies so that we can mark the subtlest of changes. They can also give us profound insights into our emotional lives, which can be useful when doing an emotionally draining scene.
Working on camera, at the beginning, can be daunting and if you are working with a director more interested in the technical side of things than performance you really must have a notion of how you use yourself physically. This isn’t to say that any acting on camera can be reduced to just a series of physical actions, but we cannot separate our bodies and ourselves.
The more aware and connected we are to our physical selves, and aware of the relationship of the emotional and the physical, the more truthful we can be as actors.
Peter Machen is one of ASC’s collaborators during our Empowering the Actor Season at The Actors Centre. Peter trained at the Arden School of Theatre where he discovered his love of all things physical. He was Artistic Director, and co founder, of negativequity, a touring theatre company that created highly visual theatre with a strong movement style. In 2005 he landed in London and continued to act, write, teach and be a movement coordinater. To date, he has worked in theatre, TV and Film and in recent years has helped set up Seahorse Film, where he works as a writer, script developer and movement consultant.
Peter Machen’s workshop Empowering the Actor: Actions Speak Louder Than Words is on Thursday 24th Sept at 2.30-5.30pm at The Actors Centre. More info here
To Tweet or Not to Tweet
Written By Rory Hawkins on Tuesday 11th August
Social Media today is what the News Bulletin was to the 20th Century, only now you can choose what you want to keep up to date with, almost anywhere in the world, with the click of a button and a glance at your phone. Its the most current form of information & news and often live. Its how I follow what my friends/idols are working on and are passionate about, current trends and issues, not to mention the latest gossip, also providing my followers with an excellent platform and network to do the same.
But I think we are so busy putting information out there hot off the press that it’s easy to not consider the consequences and impacts before we tweet, post or share. Does the world really need to know what you ate today? Or how you felt about the “crazy” sitting next to you on the tube? Or that yet again you’re running late to an audition or rehearsal due to the infamous #Tubestrike? I mean, we can all agree that TFL & #Nationfail are the bane of existence when living in London…
My point is, in an ocean of information how can we keep it clean, professional and to the point. What do you want to tell the world about your life, career and ideas? Careless tweets can cause damage, and once its out there it’s almost impossible to truly erase.
So I pose the question…To Tweet or Not to Tweet?
Join me at my workshop, as part of the ASC’s season “Empowering the Actor”, To Tweet or Not to Tweet. We’ll explore how to organise, maintain & promote yourself and your brand on social media along with tips for efficient self-management of content, advice on self-taping, editing & sharing short clips such as auditions/showreels.
Posted by Melissa Knatchbull on Tues 28th July at 9am
As one of the resident writers of the ASC, I’m running a couple of interactive writing workshops (more info below!) as part of our summer programme at the Actor’s Centre, aimed at Empowering the Actor. Having just led one of them last week, I was struck (again) by how much the creative process is, to coin a cliche, collaborative. It sounds obvious, I know but writers often believe they need to be lonesome creatures, guarding their head space ferociously in an attic. Their ideas, sometimes magnificent stories of humanity, exist in isolation, getting lost in the quagmire of daily existence unless they are written down. Even then they are often forgotten in a drawer or on a lap top, as the crippling paralysis of self doubt takes over. But when ideas are shared, somehow they become matter and their shortcomings, given the respect of being an integral early stage of character growth and story development, gives the writer confidence. I have come to the conclusion that creating a collective, safe space to ‘fail’, is the first step in the creative’s process of self-forgiveness and therefore, productivity.
My safe place is the ASC and I have the privilege of being able to hot seat my characters with our actors on a regular basis. I find it extremely helpful and, thinking others would too, incorporated the hot seating process into the workshop. Characters merely sketched, once handed over to actors, have their own ideas, mannerisms, attitude and behaviour, which often takes one down a heretofore unknown path, when they meet the unexpected. I’ve had a few lightbulb moments and I’ve scrapped some characters too, formerly thought as indispensable, after a good session of hot seating. Characters periodically surprise, even infuriate as they find their voice and refuse to fit into a tidy three act paradigm, instead dancing to their own tune. Getting feedback, seeing what you’ve created in your head come alive at an early stage can sometimes save months of indecision, it can set you on the right track before you’ve set your character in stone. It’s fun, and social; the perfect antidote to the serious but necessary isolating head jam of plotting and structure – that’s often a time when I think cleaning out a drawerful of dirty socks is preferable.
Hot seating is just part of a collaborative process which inspires creativity at the ASC. Next month, we are leading a workshop called Writing Dynamic Scenes, when the writers will see their scenes come to life as they direct actors in the scenes they’ve written on camera. I’m looking forward to seeing how this next dimension will develop the creative process of both writers and actors. There’ll be some surprises to be sure. So if you’re a lonesome creative in the mood to play, come and join us.
P.S. Our next workshop coming up at The Actors Centre is:
Empowering the ACTOR: Writing a Dynamic Scene
August 7, 14
Keywords: SCREENWRITING | CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT | IMPRO | INTERACTIVE FEEDBACK
WHAT IS IT? An interactive course for actors and writers of all levels. Bring character profiles of two dynamic contrasting characters, either ones you have written or are inspired by.
HOW WILL IT WORK? On day one we will analyse what a scene is by viewing existing film clippings. We will look at a scene’s purpose and its structure. In the afternoon you will write a scene to incorporate structure, character, conflict, suspense, dialogue, subtext, twists and status. On day two you will be working with actors from the Actors Screen Collective who will have learnt the scene you have written. You will be given the opportunity to direct and film your scene and see it come alive. Please bring paper, pens and an open mind!
WHAT DO YOU GET OUT OF IT? You will learn how to write a three page scene from scratch, discover why they can be so hard to write and find ways to overcome any difficulties you might face. Members of the ASC will guide and support you in the artistic and collaborative process of directing, shooting and creating your scene.
→ Melissa has a masters degree in screenwriting from the London College of Communication. She has four scripts in development and has many acting credits to her name including Four Weddings and a Funeral and Mission Impossible.