Monday 29 August 2011

Working that muscle

Lately, I've been working hard on piecing myself back together. Getting new headshots done and the prospect of a workshop with a really awesome actress and coach at the end of next month certainly helped.

But my acting muscle feels a bit stiff, so I've finally also been more active about what I, despite next to no time or space to myself, can do to get back and stay in shape. There must be something I can do and even if it's only for ten minutes a day!

So, I've been doing a bit of thinking and a lot of reading and found some great ideas for daily exercises that I want to share here and then dive in full steam myself today. It's a bit of a rough list yet, so I'd love to hear what you guys do on a daily basis to help you stay in shape and grow!

Daily Exercises

Voice exercises: Exercises on the floor on your back morning and night, start with a voiceless hissing sound, then a voiced humming sound, and then a voiced sighing sound, the latter two sliding up and down your range. To loosen your yaw and aid your articulation: tongue-twisters!

Cold reading: Work the same text a few times and challenge yourself with finding a new read each time. Get sides from, the library or read the paper out loud!

Read out loud: 10-15 minutes every day.

Emotional content work: When cold reading or reading out loud incorporate emotional content work. Decide on a number  of emotions and then practice cold reading while living into and evoking those emotions, trying to transition smoothly between them.  

Learning lines: Use different techniques on the same text to see how each feels. Try the same technique on a modern and a classic text and see if it works the same way.

Make your piece physical: Say a line; move a body part. Then repeat a few times until you are speaking and moving at the same time. Singing works as well!

Personal work: Practice exercises like having a conversation with your fears, writing a letter to someone telling them that you love/forgive/despise them.

Camera audition skills: To practice focusing on your reading/scene partner pick a specific spot to focus on while doing your cold reading or even while having a phone call! You can also use your own reflection in the bathroom mirror. Use it as your focus spot or to study what you face does, how it changes, if you have any ticks.

Accent days: Pick an accent and speak only in that accent all day, with the exception of important business meetings/phone calls and auditions.

Action: Pick a simple physical action to perform. Pick a physicality. Imagine a high-stakes situation, including relationships, in which you need to finish your action within 5 minutes. Set a timer and don’t stop until it goes off or the action is finished. You can do this while doing housework!

Visualisation - objects: Sit or lie down in a comfortable position, either in a chair or on a mat on the floor. Breathe deeply and feel yourself relax with each exhalation. Imagine a specific object from your home—something you see every day, like your coffee mug, toothbrush or cereal bowl. Recreate the item in detail, sense by sense. First visualize it in as much detail as possible. Then focus on how the object would feel in your hands. Then imagine what it tastes like, what it smells like. Then focus on what you hear when you are holding the object. (If you want to work on sense memory use an object that holds a strong emotional memory or just work on your visualization skills with any object.)

Visualisation - worlds: Learn a short text, then using visioning, free-associating or whatever else works for you, create the world the character lives in. Say the text with your eyes closed, envisioning this world. Then do it again with your eyes open, tracing yourself around the room, seeing what the character sees.

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