Acting class: Liam Neeson

Acting class: Liam Neeson

In my drama class, I use videos to demonstrate how great actors use principles of acting and it almost turns into a master class. While there are many differences between being on the screen and being live on stage, they are great master classes.

I find Rickey Gervais’s webseries Life’s Too Short – like a mine for these master classes on comedy. My middle school children are trying to work on comedy and improvisation. We are beginners at this, and I find that hte hardest to practice is the first and second rule of Improv

  1. Accepting the gift.
  2. Going with the attitude of Yes And!

Quiet often our own personal remarks short ended and end the scene, or worse – lead no where. Liam Neeson is a great example of this.

This whole sketch is full of pregnant pauses. In comedy, a pregnant pause is a technique of comic timing used to accentuate a comedy element. David Letterman (whom I love) has perfected the act of pregnant pause. In this, Ricky Gervais has used it to show discomfort as a character.

Liam shows how even a good improv actor can be dragged down if the basic ideas of improv are not followed.

In class:

  1. Talk to the students about the two rules of improv theatre
  2. Watch the sketch
  3. Discuss the different elements of comedy and identify them
  4. Ask students to identify what elements of improv are being used in the sketch.
  5. How is Liam resisting improvisation.
  6. Discuss what we do to take the story forward or not.

Have a look.

Writing history plays + who is an audience

Writing a history play is really hard.  I am going around in circles writing this play for my standard 05 class. The task is to write about the advent of the Aryans into India.

I have made two big attempts – finished two versions of the play. Version 01 I have left as it were, because it is the story of a boy and his life and does not give an integrated view of the human history behind the advent of the Aryans. Bhimak and his friends, very much like Swamy and His friends. Bhimak and His friends is a story from  So began play 02. I sit at it daily for about an hour at work or home, and I keep looking at the lines sometimes with great dissatisfaction, and so within play two, there are 4 versions. Argh! this is killing me.

Research and reference to the second play comes with the books that are age appropriate for children such as Roshan Dahal’s A history of India for children and Sunita Pant Bansal’s History of India, not to mention the several other spaces on the internet where I have made pit stops. But the information, leaves me asking questions, about the Harappans and the Aryans, I have fallen in love with people Dasyus. Where did they go off to when the Aryans came?

Research leads me on to interesting books like the Story of Sarasvati, and the Aryans (myth and Archeology) by R K Dhavalikar.

So today:

In class 02, we discussed WHO IS AN AUDIENCE?  WHAT IS AUDIENCE ETIQUETTE? Most interesting. How do you go from being a passive observant of an act to actually helping the actor develop his storytelling? Unfortunately, audience memebers in class and sometimes in a theatre audience members go yak yak yak. Our classrooms are not new to this trend. So today, we had a conversation about this trend. What can the audience do while the person acts and how can we use this in their own play?

What next?

WRITE, WRITE , WRITE, WRITE WRITE, and copious amounts of tea!  How awesome is this opportunity!!