Susan Bracken will lead Meisner and Cold Reading at The Actors Centre on 8 October. Here, Susan writes about the workshop which will provide you with a system of what to do the moment you are handed a script, and how to respond quickly and effectively to redirection.
My mother is very fond of the phrase “never assume, or you make an ass out of u and me”. This is especially true whenever you work on a scene. The moment you start to read a script, your mind is trying to get a general sense of what is going on, which leads to unconscious choices and broad assumptions. But we are not in the business of being ‘general’ or ‘broad’ our job is to be ‘specific’ and not to make assumptions.
With that in mind, I think of my class as being about 2 core things:
I have always loved homework (I know!) When you first read the script, what are your thoughts on the relationship you are in, the environment you are in, the tone of the piece, what you want from the other person, what has just happened? Making choices can prove tricky, so we fully explore the value of different choices, we work with your first choice and then try a completely opposite choice, for example: if it is a break-up scene, it is not enough to just break-up with your partner, there must be more to your need, for example, you want to break-up with him/her but have them still think you’re a great guy/girl! This is all about honing your ability to explore specific conscious choices that can support your point of view in advance of getting up to work.
On Your Feet
This is where you move out of your head and into action. Playing with Sanford Meisner’s repetition technique throughout the scene allows actors to connect with their partner, by really listening and responding moment to moment. There is no point doing all that homework and getting up on your feet only to act like your partner isn’t there! You must allow them to affect you and take your attention off yourself. Only then will you stop trying to ‘do’ the scene and let the scene ‘do’ you.
Meisner and Cold Reading runs on Tuesday 8 October. For more information, as well as booking links, please click here.
About Susan Bracken
Susan Bracken is an actress and director. She is co-founder of C Company, a Meisner based ensemble that has tested its work in performance over the last eight years on the London stage. She trained in the Meisner Technique at Act One Studios, Chicago.
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