An Act of The Divine

Somehow I decided pursue my dream in the theater arts. To prepare for this, I resolved to dance consistently for about two years before starting on my training as an actor. In the book, Acting – First Six Lessons by Richard Boleslavsky, it is advised that one has to pursue dance/rhythmic gymnastics as majority of acting depends on the actor’s ability to control their body movement by the usage of relaxation and letting go of tension.
Needless to say, realistic acting is a dying art, especially now with digital effects and animation in a fast food fast social media culture. To put in time and dedication to a craft is not a common occurrence this advanced age of artificial intelligence. There is no direct extrinsic rewards as an actor, in fact, majority of it would depend on luck and opportunity by being at the right place at the right time.
Sometimes I ponder if I am letting go of more lucrative opportunities by pursuing an art that not many may actually appreciate, as most realistic plays are run in small Off-Broadway theaters with 50 seats or less, as Broadway is now running mostly cartoon Disney or movie franchises. Or if I would ever get on big screen and be taken seriously as an Asian actress instead of playing an exotic or comedic part.
I would say, real acting is when you actually don’t know if the person is acting or not. The moment you can tell the person is acting, it is a sign of a bad actor. It’s an invisible craft of masquerades. But I believe the best actors, are the most authentic human beings in real life. They are not liars, or con artists, but true pure artists with their souls intact, which they have declined for it to be traded with the devil, or sins, or distractions.
That the training of an actor is one of the highest elevated crafts a human being could aspire for in the perfection of god. It is a the total artistry on all levels – body, mind and soul, body movements and voice.
For to touch another person’s soul is an act of the divine indeed.

Scene Study – Penny Dreadful – Ives meets Dorian Gray

Scene Study Observations
1. They are speaking slower on screen as compared to real life and emphasizing their consonants.
2. They are stretching the sounds of words as they perform actions (stroking the flower, smelling the flowers).
3. 4 mins screen time = 2 – 4 pages of script
4. Breathing can be heard on close up shots
5. There is no need for exaggerated stage movements, it is naturalistic everyday movements and mostly eye movements by reacting/listening to scene partner.
6. 3 different locations in 4 minutes
7. Naturalistic movement during pauses, or walking to next scene. They are always constantly moving. There is no “still” frame.
8. Most likely they are wearing microphones to film an outdoor scene.
9. The emotions in the voice of the actors drive the story line of the scene, and the subtext is based on not actually what they are saying, but the hidden connotations beneath their words.
10. The viewers have to guess their intentions towards each other, and how their relationship evolves as they discover “plants” but actually, the scene is about discovering each other preferences.
11. He gives a “laugh” when he says “no one has ever accused me of being useful before.” The laugh is not scripted, it is a direct response to her accusations. The emotion of the actor has to come off the page, and into the scene smoothly based on what actually would be the natural reaction of how people talk in real life, but the screenwriter will not dictate on script what the emotion is as it is open to interpretation by the actor.
12. My conclusion is such that, if any two actors are given the same script it will be played out differently based on their interpretation of the text, their scene partner reactions, and their overall dynamics and most importantly, the viewer notices two distinctive characteristics of the actors on screen – body movement and speech.
13. Maybe directors love to cast dancers and singers, or triple threats on screen due to the need for natural movement and natural speech quality. The male actor (Reeve Carney) was professional singer.

To give up acting is to give up life

Some people are born fighters, or entrepreneurs, or dancers, or musicians. In ten years of teaching and directing actors, I have seen maybe 3 or 4 truly gifted actors, who simply can’t do anything else in life. Like me. We do it because we HAVE to. We have no choice. To give up acting would be to give up life.

Jerome Pride, Actor at Actors and Actresses (1991-present)
I find this statement fundamentally true to who I am. As much as I had denied who I am – which is – an actress – it continues to haunt me in all my dreams and visions. In fact, I am truly alive when I am on stage. I feel safe and secure in the surrounds of a theater. I can literally live in the confines of a theater, and breathe, eat and sleep in it.

In fact, I have a crazy idea to turn my room into a black box. Which is to buy full length black velvet curtains on all four walls and enclose the room into an amphitheater. I would be sleeping, living and breathing in my theater room, and be truly where I want to be.

Sometimes when I dance, I close my eyes and imagine the new reality that unfolds – like the ballroom dance scene from Anastasia. That I am a long lost princess, searching for her place in this world. Reality, as we know it, is dull and a routine. It is in our minds, where our deepest fantasies reside, that we can summon our imagination to bring forth these new realities.

I love living many lives, and being many different personas. That’s why I write stories. I write novels. I write to express my fantastical creations. But actually, I truly want to act on stage.

An actor is a dancer and vocalist in one. It is the ultimate artistry of using the human body as an instrument. That’s why I continue to work on my craft, to dream about my highest self, my potential… of who I can be.

As I work towards unleashing who I can be, I am happy and content to have chosen this life and calling.

Opinion Paper on Acting: Concentration

For an acting class assignment, we have to write an opinion paper for each chapter of the book, Acting: The First Six Lessons by Richard Boleslawski. These are my thoughts after reading the first chapter. I will update my assignment on my blog weekly for the remaining chapters.

The First Lesson: Concentration

“Theater is a great mystery… the dream of perfection and the dream of eternal.”

To dedicate one life to the art of theatre is to give one mind body and soul to their artistry. Creation seems from within once the actor masters his instrument. Only then, he can be one with the universe. That leaves an everlasting impression with the audience, for he has told the story of his soul through the portrayal of his role.

There are certain actors that I remember till today although I had watched them enact in plays from years ago. One is the phantom in the Phantom of the Opera in Las Vegas (2011). When he crawled on stage towards the ending after losing the love of his life, something deep resonated with me.

The story of his life penetrated my pores and moved me into tears. Tears of pity, not for myself, but for the pain I had inflicted on others due to my callousness. When the sequel of the phantom was released, I bought the tickets to Love Never Dies immediately. The power of the actor made me do things that I would otherwise not have the courage to do in my life. He gave me the strength to believe in myself and mend my errors. . That’s the mystery of theatre. You never know how watching a play could move you to do unimaginable things.

Acting is not about exaggeration, or being dramatic to a something that is not actually there. In fact, it is the total opposite. It is about real life. The actors are enacting scripts we play out daily in our encounters with others. They give us answers and clues on what we should do next. They help our subconsciousness mend and repair itself. They help us to grow and become greater than who we are.

“Acting is the life of the human soul receiving it’s birth through art.”

I believe that performance art has this element of creation through the act of live performance. Unfortunately, the modern media and digital effects of movies and MTV’s had reduced real acting into a series of cuts and digital enhancements that the realism is lost. Now, the trend is towards a flaky pop culture that is temporary and fleeting like a one night stand with no sustainable long-term value and easily forgettable after a drunk night out.

To create something lasting, impactful and soulful requires hard work and dedication to the craft and as the acting bible says, “to possess talent is to possess an art.”

It requires one to not have an ego or do it for self-gratification but more so on giving one up to their craft with an intensity that requires full concentration on their “part.”

I don’t think theatre is for everyone neither it is play or fun. In fact, I believe it requires sacrifice and the surrender of one’s soul. It requires one to submit to their craft, at the expense of everything else that may come in the way of their artistry. It may mean long hours, sleepless nights and forsake Christmas or time with loved ones.

Acting requires ultimate surrender and that is what separates the greats from the good.