Notes from my year at Conti

The 9 Big Character Q’s

  1. Who am I?
    1. Name
    2. Age
    3. Family
    4. Things I like / don’t like
    5. What is your daily routine
    6. Religion
    7. Education
    8. Who do I love and hate?
    9. What’s my immediate social influences
  2. What time is it?
    1. What season?
    2. When is it in history/future?
    3. What time of day?
  3. Where am I?
    1. Immediate surroundings
    2. Further surroundings
  4. What surrounds me?
    1. Nature
    2. Objects
    3. People
  5. What are my given circumstances?
    1. What has just happened?
    2. Where have I just come from?
  6. What is my relationship to:
    1. Other characters
    2. Surroundings
    3. Status within this place
  8. What is in my way (obstacles)
  9. What do I do to get what I want?

Tips and Tricks

  • Words are an actor’s business
  • Research always better done physically – museums libraries etc
  • research is allows our imagination to expand, knowledge is never useless
  • NEVER let go of your objective
  • **keep research folder and keep those creative juju flowing**
  • ISIC card get you discounted theatre
  • Geffrye museum good for english interiors
  • BAPAM – counciling
  • objectives should not clash with super objectives – if do (very rare) what does that say about character
  • Space circles how big is mine and characters
  • Circles of concentration – stanislav light things (an actor prepares look up again)


Units – when the story turns the corner, if there is a change or decision, can be large of small

Super Objectives –  What they want from their core, overall throughout life

Observations / Diaries

[22/9/16] Voice: Today I learned to be brutally honest with myself and to believe in my own ability. Experience does not equal talent. NEVER judge myself to others. Health in general affects your voice and must be looked after. READ EVERYTHING AND ANYTHING.

[28/9/16] Contextual studies: We looked into why we wanted to acr and i found that hard. What is a successful actor? I came to the conclusion that to have a happy life in this industry you must have personal goals, short and long term, to keep pushing towards your personal idea of success. I think i found out i want to create as a supreme goal, to be creative, constantly pushing ideas and messages and comments – to explore humanity through performance.

  • People get angry as a stage of grief because they can not control what is happening or has happened

[21/10/16] Movement: I am hyper aware of my jaw tension but Vincent (guest alexander technique practitioner) gave me the direction lengthening and widening in shoulders. I need to work on opening my chest. I find meditation pose still very painful.


Stage directions can come for text or pentameter.

Iambic Pentameter –

  • 5 feet 10 syllables
  • Female end gives lighter, airy end to a line


Shakey wrote in this verse because it was closest to the natural speech rhythms and so it was easiest to to remember like song lyrics and as it imitated the heartbeat rhythm.

Levels of importance based on meter:  (from low class to extreme heightened emotion)

Prose -> Iambic -> Rhyme -> Sonnets

All acting cues will be in text!

The are as many emotions as sentences

The reason the thought doesn’t end at the end of each verse line is because in regular speech we may pause in the sentence but stay on the same though.

ALWAYS know your line endings and use them.

Semicolons = on rush, gear change to the next level (try running whilst saying it)

Colons = slow down to make it clearer (try talking as if to  small child)

Exercises for Shakespeare and other texts

  1. Tennis ball – throw and catch to find stresses of iambic (also works with tissue – this is good for finding the stresses when ImPen runs over two characters lines)
  2. Walking your speech – Walk in iambic, change direction on verse line ends, stop on full stops, jump on commas, star jump on an exclamation, lung on a semi colon, jump and lung on a full colon, step back and hold hands up with question mark, slide on hyphens.
    1. Then without iambic. Then walk in main road of the speech and find the laybys of thought spitting out of the main road and back in
  3. 1 step per thought, forward or back, other person stationary -Play with pace -Speaker stationary, other moves if you make them -Both can move
  4. Work in the 3 plains, low, high and wide -Move through methodically and unconnected to text and see how it shifts -Then use to complement text
  5. With monologues/ asides/ interesting explorations for relationship with scene partner: talk to a void/hole or different objects of different size shape consistency, see how this changes the delivery


Solfege hand signs –

Do = fist

Ray = forwards slash

Mi = horizontal hand

Fa = thumbs down

Sol = flat palm towards self

La = relaxed C/N

Ti = index finger pointing up at 45 degree

Pentatonic Scale – Do/Re/Mi/So/La

Notes –

4 beats semi breve – whole note – circle

2 beats minim – half note – circle and stalk

1 beat crotchet  – quarter note – filled circle with stem

½ beat quaver – eighth note – filled circle with stem and tail

¼ beat semiquaver – sixth note – filled circle with stem and two tails

A dot after a not increases note by a ½ of the original length

A tie bring two notes together – no break in sound

When approaching a text, scene or monologue, make a list of questions and facts. Try to answer the questions.

Sighing don’t do it unless its purposeful

To build internal energy up fast, place want on wall or hard surface and push it


ASK QUESTIONS as much as you need

Find your USP unique selling point USE IT

To Look Up

The Factory theatre group

Monologue Slam


5 parts of the spine:

  1. Cervical
  2. Thoraic
  3. Lumbar
  4. Sacrum
  5. Cocksics

Movement sequences:

Start layed on back, arm to the side -Hand reaches across chest to fold body over -Lift the arm that reached and opposite leg with head, hold  -Unfold and repeat opposite

Downward dog – lift leg – press up – leg at 90 to side -scoop up and extend back again – child’s pose – repeat on other side

Jaw bone – Mandible

Collarbone – Clavicle

Knobbly bit on the back of your skull – Exciplate

In Between ribs – intercostal muscles

Spot at the bottom of rib join – sternum

From the sternum up – Thorax

And below diaphragm – Abdominal

Thorax and abdominal – torso

Lateral crossy muscles over abs – ??? obliques??

Guts – viscera

Pleura lining – covers lungs and also around whole chest, makes movement easier because of its viscous quality


Voical porgression

  • Semi supine
  • foetal
  • meditation
  • frog
  • folded leaf
  • neutral


Most important is the SCHWA as in ‘umbrellA’ as it’s the most centrally placed vowel

Diphthongs – touch vowels to signify

Voiced = vibration

Unvoiced = aspirated



  • Director, has vision of how the message should be told
  • Associate director, in venue,mainly only on a show if it tours, second in demand, must be in the know. Kind of flexible title/job
  • Assistant director, very thankless, coffee runner, kind of a silent learning role and spare pair of hands
  • Supernumeraries, extra work in stage not proper salary
  • Revival director, paint by numbers recreation of a production

When putting on a production:

Why put on a play?

What do i bring to the table?

Why put it on now?

How does it respond/relate to to the culture?

Starting a company:

  • Why do it?
    • Make work for you and others in the arts
    • Keep creativity flowing
    • Be able to have full creative control
    • Fit around your own time
    • Make a name for yourself in comp to get more work individually
    • Fill an unfulfilled niche

eg . usp=use all natural materials garden of eden esque, circus? Acro? SKIN BARE “Using flesh and blood only, we strip our theatre back to the bare bones and back to the water and mud of the earth. Presenting the purest moments of drama in the mess of urban life”


How to generate ideas

  • Magic box – what’s in the box? If the box was a portal where’d it go?
  • ‘The uses of’ game – list as many uses for a brick for example as out there and nonsensical as you’d like, choose one you like and roll with it
  • 5 things that make me angry/sad/happy – anything you can connect passionately too you’re more likely to see through until the end
  • FREE WRITE! Tru do this everyday it’s great for mindfulness as well as creativity and finding a subconscious drive to write about
  • Happiest/angriest/saddest memories – take an object from the memory, like the aux cable of lotte’s car when we skipped college listened to the slaves in the car and got ice cream
  • Newspapers – some cracking stories there

Building a character

Questions to ask:-

  • Name?
  • Nickname?
  • Hair colour?
  • Eye colour?
  • Facial features?
  • Birth mark? Where?
  • Scare? How acquired?
  • Where born?
  • Where is ‘home’?
  • Where do they go when angry?
  • What is their biggest fear?
  • Do they have a secret?
  • What makes them laugh?
  • Been in love?
  • Heartbroken?
  • What’s in their fridge?
  • What’s on their bedroom floor?
  • Whats under their bed?
  • What’s in their bin?
  • What are their feet like?
  • In a spring clean what do they keep and chuck out?
  • What memories have stuck in their heads?
  • They are going on a night out, where to? Who with?

10 Big Q’s from script editor John York

  1. Who’s story is it?
  2. What does the character need?
  3. ??
  4. What do they want?
  5. What obstacle is in there way?
  6. What is the stakes?
  7. Why do we care?
  8. What do they learn?
  9. How/why does that happen?
  10. How does it end?

Acting for stage is like an operation with a scalpel. Acting for screen is an operation with a lazer (Michael Caine)C

Create your own method. Don’t depend slavishly on mine make something that will work for you but keep breaking traditions, I bed you (Stan the man himself)


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