Assignment 2 – Acting 103

Your assignment for this week has several parts. Be sure to scroll down so that you see them all.

Part 1: Watch someone

The first part is to watch someone for a short time, without them realizing you’re doing so. The person you’re watching might be a friend, family member, co-worker, or stranger. You might watch someone at work, at home, on the street, in a store. They don’t have to be doing anything unusual; you might watch them engaging in some common activity, such as:

  1. preparing a meal
  2. talking on phone
  3. taking out the garbage
  4. standing and talking with someone
  5. eating breakfast
  6. working a crossword puzzle
  7. putting on a coat, getting ready for work
  8. or some other ordinary, everyday activity.

Don’t just watch, but pay attention and take in as many attributes as you can.  Notice how the person stands, gestures, moves.  If they’re sitting, are their legs apart or together? Ankles crossed?  What’s happening with her hands?  Also listen to what they’re saying (if you can hear any words). Notice the inflection in their voice, the tempo and energy.  Try standing in the same way they’re standing while you’re watching, if you can do it without being noticed, to get a feeling of what life is like in that person’s body.

Don’t stalk the person you’re watching 😉. Just watch them surreptitiously for a couple of minutes.

Part 2: Then practice recreating what you saw

Later, when you’re alone, “become the person you were watching” and recreate their actions.  If their actions consisted of sitting down at the kitchen table, grunting, scratching their nose, coughing, and reading a newspaper, do that.  If they were talking on the phone while pacing and gesturing, do that.  Whatever you saw them doing, make an effort to recreate it, allowing yourself to “become them” for the duration of the exercise.  If they were talking, practice their words too. (The exercise doesn’t have to be silent.)

Try recreating their actions twice.  The first time you do so, you may want to use real props.  If they were reading a newspaper, use a real newspaper.   If they were eating ice cream, use a real bowl with real ice cream in your re-enactment (the first time). Pay attention to the sense impressions of the experience: What does the spoon feel like in your hand?  What does the ice cream taste like?    What does it feel like in your mouth, and as you swallow it?  

Have fun with the exercise, and go easy on yourself if you don’t immediately feel able to recreate their actions as accurately as you would like. Just do it as well as you can, and have fun with it.  You may need to do the exercise several times to get the hang of it. The value is in the effort, as much as in the external results.

For bonus points, if you have time, watch a second person and practice recreating what you saw both of them do. Choose someone who’s a bit different from the first person you watched.

Then watch a few (short) videos:

    Video 1: Alien Side Story

    In this short which I made for a competition during Covid, I’m playing two characters. The short was comedic, so the acting style, and the differences between the characters, are larger than life:

    … and this one...

    In this video, I was aiming for a more naturalistic style of acting, and aiming to create more subtle distinctions between the characters; one is more domineering, one is more submissive.

    … and this video…

    Here’s a clip from a show called Orphan Black in which streetwise Sarah meets suburban mom Alison (both played by the same actor). Pay attention to the choices the actor is making to portray two very different characters with an underlying connection (they are clones of the same woman):

    … and this one…

    Also from Orphan Black. What makes Krystal different from Sarah or Allison?

    … and this one

    Sarah meets Cosima

    Similar Posts