Monday afternoon, winter has fully engulfed the city again, and Ciara is conjuring up her own ice storm in the form of a monologue about a wife’s frustration with her husband. Jeff, the target of the frozen blast, sits with his back facing the class. Ciara finishes with a familiar ultimatum: change or leave.
“What attracted you to this monologue?” Cay asks.
“Ummm, it reminds me of my own marriage?” The joke triggers a long laugh from the class.
“You and everyone else who has ever been in a relationship,” Cay teases back.
“I’m just kidding…but you know, some of the things she talks about, I can relate.”
“Great” Cay nods, “I can see that. And you know who he is to you?”
“And you can find that in Jeff?”
“Good. What I’m observing right now is that it’s all a little bit one note. And I think that’s an acting habit that doesn’t have to be. Do you feel that?”
Now it’s Ciara’s turn to nod. “I do.”
“I want you to treat everything you say to him as fact, and I want you to try to tease an answer out of him. Easy, easy now, just as a mechanical device, tease an answer out of him.”
Ciara lays into Jeff again, only this time with the specific objective of teasing out a response. When she finishes this time Cay asks her if she found anything.
“I did” says Ciara, “a lot of things.”
“Good. All I asked you to do was try to work to get that answer from him, and that forced you to slow down.”
The idea of pursuing an objective comes up again in Jeff’s own scene with Lauren from the play “Closer”. In it a couple is staying in a hotel the night before leaving on a surprise trip that Lauren’s character has planned for Jeff’s.
After a quick discussion post first run, Cay asks them to take the beginning beat again. Jeff sets himself up with a book on the couch-turned-bed and Lauren disappears behind the screen that is acting as their hotel bathroom (A major bonus of blogging is observing the ways others use class furniture for my own scenes…acting is stealing). After a moment Lauren makes walks around the screen and climbs into bed with Jeff. She lays her head on his chest.
Jeff puts his book aside, “Again? We have to be up at six.”
She backs off. “How can one man be so endlessly disappointing?”
Cay pauses the scene. “See there? You gave up too easily.”
“He pulled away,” Lauren says.
“Make him want you. Don’t give up so easy.”
They reset once more. This time when Lauren comes in she is much more insistent. she rubs against him, places her head on his shoulder, her sole objective to get his attention. Jeff is forced to put the book down and deal with her persistence and this time his next line comes out of an honest and real attempt to deal with her attack.
“How can one man be so endlessly disappointing?”
“It’s part of my charm! Where are we going?”
Now it’s Jeff’s turn to be on the offensive. She refuses to answer his question so he resorts to tickling her. The first time through this moment went by quickly, but this time Lauren is much more resistant. She fights against his attack, almost looks like she is going to give up, but then Cay jumps in.
“Don’t give in! Make him chase you!” she orders.
Lauren escapes to the end of the bed, but Jeff catches her there and pins her. Now she has no choice: she is forced to reveal her secret.
“New York!” She squeals through the laugher.
After another beat Cay cuts the scene off. “That was good. When you have an objective you don’t drop it until you’ve got what you wanted or it changes. Don’t drop it and don’t just let it fizzle out!”
Fred said something similar in Drill a few months back that I found recently in an old notebook.
“Always, always, always finish the moment. Always finish an action. Always finish the scene. If you don’t the audience will know.”