The Actor's Workshop of Ithaca
Big City Training, Small Town Attention

Course Materials

Semester 1

Independent Activity

The Reality of Doing

The Activity - REAL
Give yourself a time limit of twenty (20) minutes.
Choose an activity that can be done within that time with difficulty.
Choose an activity that can be done within the confines of the classroom or stage.

The Difficulty - REAL
The difficulty of the activity must be real or concrete and not imagined. In other words, do not pretend to be unable to something that you are able to do within the time allotted 

The Preceding Circumstance or Pre-Circumstance - IMAGINARY
Create an imaginary circumstance in which to do this activity. This is the one circumstance without which there would be no need to do the activity.
Although the circumstance is imaginary, it is always you who is doing the activity; if you are not a pilot in real life, do not “pretend” to be a pilot while doing your activity 

The Urgency - IMAGINARY
The reason you have to do the activity
To determine the urgency of the activity, ask yourself, “What is at stake if...
a) I complete the task?”
b) I fail?”
Play the “Why?” - “Because...” game and try to hit a nerve within yourself

Acting is doing and here are a few of the do’s and don’ts according to Meisner: 

  • Always be specific.
  • Every little moment has a meaning all its own.
  • Stay in the moment.
  • Live fully - moment to moment - that is reality.
  • Listen, observe, really look and concentrate.
  • Don’t do anything until something happens to make you do it.
  • Act before you think - your instincts are more honest than your thoughts.
  • There is no such thing as genial charm. 
  • An ounce of behavior is worth a pound of words.
  • There is no such thing as nothing.
  • Silence can say a lot - it can also cover up a magnitude of sins.
  • Don’t take anything for granted.
  • A treasure from Shaw in reference to Duse, “Behind every broad stroke there was a human idea.”
  • Find in yourself those things human which are universal.