Acting for Screenwriters and Directors: Less Is More—How to Talk the Talk

Open—Fall

One of the biggest stumbling blocks for evolving directors and screenwriters is the inability to achieve the performance envisioned on the page or on the set. It is lost in translation. How does a screenwriter write clear, concise, actable action and dialogue that can be transformed from the page to the performance? How does a director create trust with performers and find a language with which to communicate among a variety of actors, acting styles, and temperaments? Performers are emotional, volatile, highly creative beings. To create the performance that you desire as a screenwriter and/or director, you need to develop a succinct shorthand language that is not confusing, condescending, or incomprehensible. The best way to understand the world of the actor is to live within it. By exploring acting skills, you will better understand the world of the performer. Beginning with a series of rigorous physical, sensory, and emotional exercises, students will develop a basic understanding of the craft of acting. Students will work on spontaneity, substitution, focus, listening, reacting, subtext, objectives, action, and outcome. Students will be assigned contemporary film scripts to read and discuss. In addition to the texts, students will explore the historical and political underpinnings of the scripts and films. We will then extract scenes to work on as actors, memorizing and creating the personal inner life of the characters based on your own life experiences. Students will have the opportunity to direct peers in scenes to be rendered on video; edited scenes will then be critiqued to help the emerging screenwriter and director build a foundation of skills. Students will be required to keep a weekly journal of the journey, as well as to deliver a final conference project.