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Adventures In Acting - Relaxation!

This month's collection of acting-related thoughts and feelings:


Actor gets ready to performr
And ACTION! - Just relax!


"Drag your thoughts away from your troubles... by the ears, by the heels, or any other way you can manage it."

Mark Twain - Writer of "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer"


Relaxation - In Acting:


Annoying isn't it?

People usually tell you to relax just before something stressful is about to happen.

In the case of being on screen it's often said just before the director or 1st AD shouts "ACTION!"

side note:

The Finnish word used instead of "Action" translates to something like "Be my guest", Much less stress inducing!.

Maybe a more useful thing to be told before the camera starts recording or the curtain goes up is "remember we are all just playing".

We can take the situation seriously but ultimately let's keep things in perspective here.

I received a beautifully written testimonial recently from Doreen Margret Ndagire which reminded me the importance of relaxation in our acting.

She writes:

"Softening up beforehand enables us to take things personally"

So true! how can we truly listen and respond if we are so tense and stressed?

As an actor it is often hard to fully relax when there is so much we could/should be doing for our careers but for your own mental health I hope you have found a way to relax fully.

Walking, Drawing, Playing an instrument, Woodwork, Meditation, Martial arts, Poetry, Juggling, Photography, Cooking, Gardening, Golf.

Whatever it is, Stop being an "Actor" for a bit.




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What's my motivation?

This month's scene is chosen by my good friend James Payton.

Some know him as Frank Longbottom from Harry Potter, some know him as Hitler in "Monuments men" and "Captain America" amongst other epic performances, but to me he is just James (the thoroughly talented and funny thespian).

Check out James' instagram here

Follow all his acting shenanigans, including the upcoming "Who is James Payton?" documentary here

He has chosen a scene from the 1941 film "Sullivan's Travels" by Preston Sturges .

James says about the film:

'For me, Preston Sturges is a master whose work is still relevant today.

Sullivan's Travels being a prime example.

Lest we forget we are entertainers, and are there to serve the audience, not ourselves.

To know where we came from as actors, is to know where we're going. Study history'

He chose this scene because...

"It's a cracking scene not just because of the actors handling of the dialogue but because of the technical elements. How many cuts did you spot? None but there was plenty of movement from the camera (presumably on a dolly), and plenty of movement from the actors.

Older movies often get criticised for the theatrical staging but watch as the actors move, circle the action, as the camera moves in time with them. You don't get that in the theatre. Every audience member has a different view of the action. I think the idea of theatricality comes from the fact that this scene plays in one take, rather than multiple set ups, then multiple takes used by the editor. It's pacy, zippy, funny, and has a point to make. It also leads us into the story to come. Not to even mention the 'Oh Brother, Where Art Though' reference. This is where it comes from. The Coens knew that.

The latter film is in a very similar style to Sullivan's Travels, and in knowing that, knowing how to play that, you can set yourself up to get these types of parts. Not everything is present day, not everything is based in the current style of 'reality'. Naturally some things lend themselves to that style but lest we forget the things that don't.

The staging of the scene draws you in because there are no cuts. It lets the dialogue play. It let's the actors play. It's naturalistic in movement but there is also plenty of cheating for the camera going on. It's a dance."

Click on the video link below and then check my short interpretation underneath:

(Please be advised this scene contains mentions of corpses and derogatory comments about the state of Pittsburgh, sorry)

It is too easy to see an "old" film scene and believe that the acting performances contain nothing relevant to today's "modern" style actor, yet there are some real basic elements that remain and I hope will remain even when the influence of visual media combines with AI and alternative ways of consuming content.

We can concentrate on Joel McCrea's performance in this scene as he is the main protagonist and has the more interesting journey, taking nothing away from Robert Warwick as Mr. LeBrand and Porter Hall as Mr. Hadrian the studio execs but they are classic rich white men with strong opinions and Joel as John L. Sullivan is doing most of the heavy lifting and hand waving.

From here forth Joel McCrea shall be known as "MC Joel"

Those hands!

MC Joel is really letting us know he means business!

They all play the situation for real here which is what gives the scene it's comical energy, it's the individual points of view plus a little desperation where necessary.

The earnestness and passion of MC Joel as he tries to sway the stuck up "suits" is of a high quality and i'm guessing a pre determined amped up emotional state to fit the journey of the scene.

His mission to communicate his own artistic integrity against the seemingly rigid cooperate brick wall of the money men is increasingly frustrating but he does use many tools to attempt to have his way:





Until eventually succumbing to the fact that this a battle he cannot win.

Capatalism 1 - MC Joel 0

We see the light dim in Mc Joel as the "What do you you know about trouble?" argument arises, this is where his passion is beaten out of him, the majestic hands are pocketed and his voice is noticeably defeated.

We get to see his gradual disillusionment with the realities of the film industry and the realisation that creating meaningful art in Hollywood might demand compromises.

When analysing any scene, try to find what is fundamentally different for your character by the end of that scene, if the writing is good, it will be there.

(and always have a little sex in it)

Have a short scene you want to see simply analysed?

Click below to send link to scene:


Any acting related news or questions email me:

Thanks for your attention - stay playful people.



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