“Screen Acting Course”
Term 1 – Course Descriptions – Arrival Week: Prepare for Journey
Students prepare mentally and physically for the rigorous year ahead. They learn to open up to the possibilities for acting by exploring core concepts, such as trust and play. This is the first time many come face-to-face with the camera lens, delve into text analysis, create an improvised project, dance, breathe as a performer, and learn to work as part of an ensemble.
Acting: Ready and Responsible
Along with the discovery that students themselves are the most important part of every character they play, this class focuses on building self-awareness through trust and play exercises. Instructors stress honesty in engaging and committing to others. Students discover the difference that through text analysis makes to their work and also participate in improvisation and partnering exercises. They explore the basic acting skills and tools, learn the actor’s vocabulary, and begin to assume responsibility for their own creative growth.
Camera: Objective in Performance
Students learn that authenticity in pursuit of scene objectives is the key to success when acting for the camera. Relaxation and spontaneity of body and voice are as essential to a film set as any technical demands. Students have the opportunity to enhance these abilities through improvisation and filmed exercises that are reviewed in class. They also practice the technical demands of a professional film set, and gain hands-on training with equipment as well as set safety, protocol, and etiquette. The on-camera improvisations also supplement and improve students’ text analysis skills. This course culminates with a transition to teleplays exploring classic single-camera shooting and the actor’s relationship to the camera.
Performance Studies – 1
Great acting involves the successful evaluation of dynamics and finesse in performance. The craft of an actor begins and is sustained through being an engaged audience member. You will learn how to appreciate, dissect, evaluate and discuss the work of actors and film-makers at the top of their field. You will participate in group viewings and discussion of a selection of specially curated film and television classics, oddities and art, and prepare for each session by researching elements of each film and/or acting performance; readying yourself for the passionate discussion following each viewing. Term One begins cultivating your awareness so you can see the direct lines that are drawn from acting we study on screen and your own daily studies as an actor, challenging you as a student to become as great as the artists you admire.
Movement 1: Your Body
A heightened awareness is necessary to develop the actor’s body. Drawing from North American, European, and Asian actor training methodologies, students explore movement exercises, improvisation, games, and techniques. Utilizing a spirit of discovery and openness, they learn to inhabit their bodies more fully. This occurs through working deeply with alignment, breath, release, and neutral exercises. Once exposed to a range of movement for the actor, students interact, play, and explore unison movement – developing sensitivity to the energy of the group using periphery vision and listening. The course helps students build rhythmic acuity, a sense of timing, and coordination.
Speech: The Basics
Students engage with the basics of speech and phonation; the mechanical movements required for sound creation. They explore, anatomy, vowels, consonants, operative words, and learn the International Phonetic Alphabet symbols. Along with practicing articulation, energy, and support for sound, they also learn the muscularity of the spoken word and the power of language. Students gain the ability to identify key components of speech and sound, freely articulating a piece of poetry by the end of the course.
Voice: Breath, Body, Voice
Each student’s instrument consists of their breath, body, voice; along with their imagination, impulse, expression, and soul. To be able to be expressive and present as an actor, students need to be in a healthy and exciting relationship with themselves, especially their voice. A student’s voice can be characterized as the muscle of their soul. This course is the first step in students’ journeys towards developing the courage and trust necessary to risk exploring a new relationship with their instruments, to support self-discovery in moving beyond existing physical and vocal habits, patterns, preconceived beliefs, and fears that may prevent them from reaching acting goals in this industry.
Improvisation: Character and Spontaneity
Improvisation is the only performing art where each student is fully responsible for all aspects of their work. Those who can improvise well are the most valued actors on any set because they complete every take, regardless of accidents and mistakes. The improvising actor makes discoveries whereby non-improvising actor may struggle. Through a series of exercises, conducted in pairs and groups, students explore the building blocks of character, as well as complementary actions and reactions. They learn how to use physical punctuation to create an interesting performance, how to share focus with other actors dynamically in a scene, and how to play with the cultural rules of social behaviour and expectations to generate comedy. Through practice, each student develops a heightened awareness of their scene partner(s), the circumstances of a scene, and ability to generate laughter effortlessly.
Rehearsal Studio 1
The Rehearsal Lab is a mentored time for self-directed preparation as well as rehearsals. It is designed to encourage and exercise the self-motivated work an actor must pursue: how to prepare for an audition, a scene, a class, or a gig. Each student’s discipline and focus as an actor develop through practice as they work on projects, scripts, and auditions that need to be prepared and rehearsed for class. While some of this work happens individually or in groups, students meet in a “home room/studio area” environment at the start of each Rehearsal Studio and sign in to the worksheet with the work explored in the lab/given time.
Term 2 – “Course Descriptions”
Acting: Scene Study
Students discover how to put the actor’s basic skills and tools to work by creating a dynamic and powerful scene for presentation. They use the skills acquired in the previous term to delve more deeply into creating an honest and authentic character. This course highlights how students can express themselves with confidence and serve their stories truthfully. They assume responsibility for their own creative growth and begin to follow impulse to discover surprises in honesty and engaged partnering. Through improvisation, acting exercises, research, and rehearsal techniques, students prepare and present a scene for evaluation at the end of the course. Performing for a larger audience at the end of term offers an opportunity to experience what a live audience does to the acting process.
This course illustrates the potential of physical communication and the heightened awareness required to develop a resonant and responsive actor’s body. Expanding upon the work students have dedicated to movement, they explore the use of rhythm in character creation and scene analysis. The focus is on spatial awareness, investigating the myriad uses of space and its impact on the body and relationships. Each student learns a variety of ways to adapt their physicality and create characters that prepare them for a range of stage and screen roles.