The ACTion COLLECTIVE: ACT II - A Tale of Two Screens


On Monday Andrew Elliott and I hosted the second ACTion Collective event and, despite some initial concerns about the responses we received to the invitations, it turned out to be even more rewarding and fun than the first event. It looks like we can learn after all!

We had about a dozen in attendance, which means we would have had more than for our first, had not a few unfortunate last-minute cancellations come our way (wash your hands and sneeze into your elbows, kids). Of that group, nearly half were new attendees, either folks we'd invited before who couldn't make ACT I, or "second generation" ACTors, who were invited by folks who were in attendance for ACT I. (We like the word "ACT.") This time around, the scenes were much shorter, and pulled from draft film and television scripts. We changed the names and such to help camouflage the sources somewhat, gave everyone about twenty minutes to rehearse, then presented them. We also had a gimmick for deciding who went next, granting whomever could guess a given movie quote the power to choose the next group to perform. This worked remarkably well in a number of ways, but perhaps the best result was that we had time to do two rounds' worth -- and fortunately, Andrew and I had prepared enough scripts for this.

ACT II really acquired the feeling of a party as the evening progressed; the good kind, the kind where you not only know almost everyone, but you're also really glad to have a chance to reconnect with them. We served drinks and small food again, and there were groups of two or three who knew one another to begin with, but the atmosphere didn't really develop until everyone had watched and done a little work. Then there developed a sense of gamesmanship, and play, and the simple enthusiasm for exploration that comes of exploring together. It was great. By the end we were gently ribbing one another over our respective abilities (or lack thereof) for celebrity imitation, and laughing aloud at impromptu pratfalls. Oh yeah: And I got to see some seriously cool acting.

It really was a tremendous time and, in addition to that stand-alone reason to feel encouraged to continue, it resulted in a lot of specific clarifications in what The ACTion Collective's ever-evolving mission statement and function should be. There was definitely a spirit created by the room that I found myself wanting more of, a sense of play that encouraged more work and more risk-taking. This is a very important aspect of creating good work, yet it is an oft neglected one as well when it comes to the rehearsal process. It's definitely a component of our ambition with this project, to provide fellow actors with more of what they need. It may seem odd to non-actors that we sometimes need to be reminded of how much fun what we do can be, but I think this is true of almost any work. And acting, in addition to being play, is most definitely work.

Now Andrew and I are feverishly collaborating to come up with a best-of-both-worlds event for December, and I am excited by the prospects. It's a somewhat dodgy time, what with being between holidays and during prime party season, so attendance may be a problem. No work is ever wasted, however. Especially when you're having a good time doing it.
 
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