Thursday, 21 February 2013

Scene Rehearsal Night


The venue for our rehearsal tonight was Esplanade - Theatre on the Bay  (aka the Durians). It seems like an appropriate place for us to rehearse. As I walked through their basement, I saw groups of young artists rehearsing various dances, as well as roller skaters doing their things. I knew then I finally got to the right place after another re-run of a long running (by foot) episode called Lost in Singapore, starring yours truly (hopeless).

Theatre on the Bay - Roof Top
Theatre on the Bay - Roof Top, before the rain
Seems like that the Durians not only providing theatres for professional performances, it also provides ample of spaces for budding performers to practise their arts. People before cars. Nice move.

Most members of the cast were already gathered at the roof top when yours-truly-late arrived. At least, I wasn't Johnny-come-latest.

I reckon that we were asked to rehearse here so that we could get used to perform in public.

Every actor (non gender specific) needs to overcome their shyness in public as well as able to focus on your performance without being distracted by background noises.

Crowd of theatre goers regularly walked past the rooftop, casting curious glances our way. I had to say it didn't bother me at all or gave it much thought. I imagine, no I know, I would be much more self-conscious if I was some 20 years younger. I likely wouldn't able to pluck up enough spunk to sign up for this kinda thing. We grow thicker (darker, baggier and coarser) skin as we age.

Script rehearsal for the boardroom scene
Rehearsing the script of the Boardroom Scene on the roof top before the rain came

I missed out the acting class that took place on last weekend. Michael - our casting director and acting coach - was nice enough to ask me to come tonight to make up for my absence from the class.

I'm cast for the role of Salesman 4, and he has only a single dialogue (with 4 lines. Should that be counted as 4 dialogues?) Actually it's more like a monologue as Salesman 4 isn't talking to other character(s), but to the camera.

I'm actually glad that I only have one dialogue as a starter. This is enough for me for now to experience the entire film making process whether I deliver 1 or 100 lines. In fact, doing less gives me more time to observe, and absorb the whole experience.

This is my goal: to participate in the process of film making up close and personal. In any case, this is a step up when comparing to my film extra roles in the past.

Having said that, this is both a single dialogue as well as a scene with only myself in it. This is more like, no this is, a TV commercial. I'm supposed to sell Singapore Zoo to the audience in this scene.

I was given the script tonight, after spending 5 mins of reading it, I was ready to flesh it out with Michael. As part of the coaching, Michael asked me to deliver the lines in various different characterisations of the Salesman 4. While it's only a few lines, after only 15 mins or so (maybe shorter, it's just seems that long) of delivering the line, it was quite exhausting. All that walking (about 40 mins) of getting there (because I got lost a few turns) helped to rise my adrenalin for the job. I guess an actor (dare I call myself that?) can always make use of things that happening to them. Some of it could be counter productive, of course.

The different characterisations of the role suggests that my role have different possibilities. I will read the script with a magnifying glass (literally and figuratively) to work out the best characterisation I should adopt to reflect the intention of the script.

Ok, I'm going to rehearse my lines until it internalises. That's the biggest single thing I've learnt tonight regarding acting.

There's something happened tonight - a break through - that worth popping a champagne, but I didn't realise until some days later. Even though I said my skin thickens with age. That is, my stage fright problem would pose no problem, in general. Having said that, when I recall the experience in my 1st casting call, I was washed over by a sudden surge of nerves in the begining of the casting session. Although I had managed to overcome it as the casting progressed, it was there throughout the session.

I recalled one such public speaking in my 2nd year uni in a communication course where I had to present a 10 mins talk in front of the class of about 40 students. My hearts raced like the pistons of a formulae 1 engine, and cold sweat oozed out of my palms, and so I unconsciously hid it in my pockets. My feet was so weak from stage fright, I had to sort of half sitting half leaning on a table. The lecturer gave us appraisals afterwards. She commented that my performance was good because of my relaxed manner. The relax manner that came from my leaning on the table and my hands in my pockets to combat my apprehension. Man, I fooled her! A communication lecturer who had totally misread my boy language. I guess even then I was a good actor without even know it!

Ali MacGraw appeared to have a time of her life sitting on the bike's crowbar, which is quite a pain in the butt. That's also what I call good acting on the part of Ali MacGraw.

I didn't break a sweat - cold sweat that is - during my rehearsal tonight. And the environment that I had to perform under were far more challenging, thus implying far greater jitter than my 1st casting call. In the casting session, I did it in a closed room with only few people, but tonight, I did it in public with far more people looked on. But I had absolutely not a single butterfly in my stomach. Not even a flea.

So why was the heebie jeebies I felt in my 1st casting call simply vanished without a trace? I could think of 4 reasons.

1. I know the people better by now, and feel closer to them, and so results in a relaxed environment. You may be nervous speaking in front of a group of strangers in public, but never with friends.
2. I believe physical condition also plays a part. You handle stress less well when you're less well. Make sense, isn't it? I had a common cold in my 1st casting call.
3. I took the casting a bit too much to heart. Thus increased the stress level, and lowered performance.
4. I was unprepared mentally. This lowered confidence, thus increased stress level.

It's not simply disappeared. Whatever the reason, this new found confidence is going to be a start of a beautiful life-long friendship.

One thing above all else that this movie making process gives me is that after decades of watching movies, I could now watching it from a very different perspectives and greater appreciation. No bull. I found myself watching actors delivering their lines, as well as various other technical aspects more intently than ever before.

One would be less quick to be critical and yell out at the TV screen with things like, "This guy can't act!" One would be more likely doing things like, "How is this scene could be done better?" It adds a new dimension to movie watching (not that I was totally oblivious to this before). Viewing it from these angles, even the most boring movie becomes an exciting analysis in movie making.

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