Of Extraterrestrials and Strasberg
I recently completed the Lee Strasberg Method Acting* Introduction course at the Haque Centre of Acting and Creativity, taught by Kamil Haque. Most of the class happened online, because of the circuit breaker measures which came into force after our 2nd class. I'm very glad that we soldiered on (well, it wasn't that hard, I looked forward to every Thursday when we would gather online for class), and went through with this.
* This warrants another post altogether, but for now, read about it here and here.
Our kooky costumey last lesson, triggered by Anthony
Side note: I was actually very productive during the circuit breaker, maybe because the option of in person social gatherings was removed, and I also didn't have to spend any time commuting. Lots of unnecessary things became apparent and were trimmed. However this is counterintuitive, because in the past, I used to have to get out of the house to be creative, to work. I grew up not really liking this house (something to do with the space and aesthetics) and always went out to study. I would even take the bus from one interchange to the other just to study biology on the bus. I loved it especially if it was raining. There was something very soothing in knowing the journey would end at some point, and that I was sheltered. Now, even with the constraint on our mobility, I'm really learning to have a different relationship with constraints, to see them as creative prompts instead.
Back to the acting class. There's so much I could talk about the class, and how it was like to do it online. But one of the key things that was very hard for me was to feel the energy of the other people in the class. It was also harder to work on the live performance aspect of acting, since we had to record many of our rehearsals and performances to prevent spotty internet connections from ruining the performances. However we learn from every experience, and I think we did learn a bit of acting on camera, and also how to channel our energy through a screen to an audience who is also isolated from each other.
My monologue: Rosannah DeLuce from Brilliant Traces, by Cindy Lou Johnson
I chose a monologue that was, from the outset, very challenging to work with. The character speaks of extraterrestrials, which is not often a topic you'd expect people to talk about. I did a lot of research on extraterrestrials and what they often mean when they appear in films or stories. It was a revelation to me when I read Mysterious Skin by Prince Gomolvilas and watched the film subsequently, that people sometimes invented an ET encounter in their minds in response to a trauma (usually has to do with a violation of bodily rights) so great that they minds blocked the experience. They're so hungry for answers but their mind is also telling them that this is a dangerous place to go, and is trying to protect itself, and resists the discovery. Horse Girl on Netflix is a great and accessible example of what I am trying to explain.
In the end, we decided not to go with the trauma interpretation, and a lot of work had to go into creating context so that the monologue could be a standalone performance. Kamil worked with me willingly outside of class time and I'm really grateful for that. Again, we could have moaned about the constraints placed on us by the circuit breaker measures, but doing this online and through a film medium allowed me to be more aware of the differences between acting live, and acting on camera, as well as framing the shots. The piece was shown at an online showcase yesterday with other monologues, and there were about 120 people logged on at one point!
The monologue as I performed it