THE CONVERSATION EXERCISE
The Advance Workshop is focused on LISTENING skills and finding the IMPULSE to speak. Here is an example of one of the exercises from this class. It has been adapted from exercises developed by American acting teacher Sanford Meisner.
It is an exercise for two actors.
It’s called ‘The Conversation Exercise”.
The rules are simple but strict …
Standard Rehearsal Room assessments apply. The conversation must be believable and it must deliver a story – that’s the ultimate goal.
NOW HAVE A LOOK AT TWO ACTORS TRYING THIS EXERCISE IN A CLASS.
The actors are TIM CLARKE and CECILY HEARN.
WHAT’S GOOD ABOUT THE WAY TIM AND CECILY DO THIS EXERCISE?
(REMEMBER: Actors have to learn to do exercises. The best plan is to learn the exercise first and once that is achieved see what has been discovered about acting process.)
YOU CAN NOW RE-VIEW THE SAME EXERCISE WITH NOTES ADDED …
IF YOU LIKE YOU CAN NOW VIEW TIM & CECILY RECREATING THE IMPROVISATION THEY HAVE JUST PERFORMED.
THIS IS THE SECOND PHASE OF THIS EXERCISE -
PHASE 1: Improvise a ‘conversation’ that has a clear purpose and a clear ending
PHASE 2: Re-create the conversation. This doesn’t mean copy the detail but it does mean that:
COPING WITH A RUMBLING STOMACH
TIM and CECILY managed this exercise extremely well. In the middle of the scene Tim’s stomach unexpectedly announced its presence in a rather rowdy way.
Usually, actors would drop out of the scene laughing loudly at a time like this but these two included the rumbling tummy in their conversation. Both actors realistically allowed this interruption to divert them for a moment but neither allowed this event to change the planned outcome of the conversation. Very impressive work.
See what you think!
Actors need to be able to turn the unexpected into a bonus without it changing the story outcome. It is moments like this that can be magical – for these opportunities give the actor the opportunity to be as close to ‘real’ as they can ever be. The moment of the rumbling tummy can never ever happen exactly like that again. Any actor that passes up the chance to include the unexpected in a scene is missing a great opportunity to shine.
TIM and CECILY have done a great job with this exercise.
They have –
Any actor who can include all those elements in their performance will look good.
IF YOU WISH TO WATCH THE SCENE AGAIN, IN THIS VERSION, SOME NOTES HAVE BEEN ADDED.
ACTORS WHO MASTER THIS EXERCISE BECOME MUCH MORE RELAXED ABOUT THEIR ACTING – THEY ALSO BECOME MUCH MORE CONSISTENT AND BELIEVABLE.
THE EXERCISE IS DEVELOPED IN A VARIETY OF WAYS THROUGHOUT THE ADVANCED WORKSHOP. IT IS APPLIED TO SCRIPTED SCENES AND IN TIME BECOMES AN INVALUABLE TOOL FOR THE ACTOR.
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