WINNING YOUR ACTING AUDITIONS! presents 50 original monologues written by Larry, rich with passion, urgency, high stakes and circumstances every young actor can really sink their teeth into.
This book is appropriate for college and high school acting students.
Stay tuned for exciting news about the online portion of the book and a national acting competition for teen actors!
"Robert M. Pirsig said:
"It is not good to talk about Zen, because Zen is nothingness... If you talk about it, you are always lying, and if you don't talk about it, no one knows it is there.”
The powerful message here for actors in training is that words can not capture the emotional/spiritual space that you occupy when you strive towards this thing I call True Acting. And yet, we continue to describe it, reflect on it and point to it as a reminder of the direction we must aim the arrow.
And so, the description is this... You must shift yourself so completely out of the way that you become an empty vessel from which the character can speak through. Rather than thinking of acting as a putting on of masks, I am saying that it is an unmasking of oneself to reveal the character that was waiting there all along.
This reminds me of two wonderful quotes from the Tao Te Ching:
"We shape clay into a pot, but it is the emptiness inside that holds whatever we want."
"We hammer wood for a house, but it is the inner space that makes it livable."
And so you work on your craft and you work and you work and if the particular training you are following is one of great value, it is leading you towards an inner flash of lightning, an unexpected, unplanned and unforced state of total freedom, total expression, total availability and unrestricted responsiveness. Now, all “technique” disappears, there is no effort, no tension. And what remains? YOU. You actually doing. You actually living. Nothing more and nothing less."
Ensō (circle) is a sacred symbol in the Zen school of Buddhism and is one of the most common subjects of Japanese calligraphy, even though it is a symbol and not a character. You may hear it called the Circle of Enlightenment or the Infinity Circle and ensō would actually translate as Mutual Circle or Circle of Togetherness.
Ensō symbolizes many more things including: strength, elegance, the universe, single mindedness, the state of mind of the artist at the moment of creation and the acceptance of imperfection as perfect. It also represents the oneness of life and all things contained within it, the spirit of harmonious cooperation, personal development and refinement of character, the visible and the invisible, absolute fullness in emptiness, simplicity, completeness, endlessness, perfect harmony, the circle of infinity and the cyclical nature of existence.
Creation of an ensō symbolizes a moment in time in the life of the artist when the mind is free to simply let the spirit create through the physical body. Ensō is a fascinating expression of individuality as expressed by variations in ink tones, brushstroke thickness, shape of the circle and even the positioning of the single point where the circle begins and ends. The ensō reveals the expressive movement and character of the artist’s spirit and leaves the creator fully exposed at one particular moment in time.
This is a Zen symbol of the absolute, the true nature of existence, the duality within life and the imperfection of all things. It is a symbol that combines the visible and the hidden, the simple and the profound, the empty and the full. The very imperfections and contours of the ensō, which must be painted by human hand rather than constructed as a mathematically correct circle, make the ensō a manifestation of perfection. It is perfect just as it is, even in all its imperfection. Ensō suggests to the student to stop striving for perfection and allow the universe to be as it is. Abandon the idea that there is a one size fits all path that ends at some specific point, place or time. When you believe that you have arrived at some final destination on your path, ensō reminds you to start again exactly at the point where you are now and to embrace and enjoy your unique experiences on life’s journey.
"Shoshin (初心) is a concept in Zen Buddhism meaning "beginner's mind". It refers to having an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions when studying a subject, even when studying at an advanced level, just as a beginner in that subject would. I love what Zen Master Shunryo Suzuki said...
“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.”
One of the unfortunate, fear based attitudes, that arises in groups of students who have studied for a bit of time, is one of “I all ready know” which immediately collapses the great potential for new discovery and makes learning impossible. It is a retreat into a self-protectiveness that they brought into class in the very beginning, which they may have put aside for a time, but as the work becomes increasingly demanding, they retreat into once again like an ostrich putting its head into the sand. The other part of the underpinnings here is the need to look good to their classmates and to the beginning students, which translates into a casual approach to the work and a subtle arrogance which says, “I am above, I am better than…” Like a virus, this attitude can quickly infect the community and powerfully undermine the work.
One of the things I communicate to my students, in many ways and from many angles, is that you must care more than anyone in the room. This begins as a practice in the classroom, in your rehearsals and then must extend outwards into the classroom of life. It begins... with beginners mind."
Erika Lebby has joined the True Acting Institute as our programming production manager.
Erika is currently a senior Theatre Major with an Acting Emphasis at Willamette University where she works as a Student Recruiter for the Theatre Department. Originally from Las Vegas, Nevada, she was recently the intern for the Meisner Certificate Training Program for the True Acting Institute held in Salem, Oregon.
Erika has studied at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts, American Conservatory Theatre, and The New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts. Erika plans on moving to New York City once she graduates to pursue a career in acting.
"I want to talk intimately today to all of you who are in acting class or thinking about beginning one and give you an urgent matter to reflect on…
Recently, a person I met while traveling described a sales seminar she had just attended for a multi-level marketing business she had been trying to grow for a few years. She was suffering over the fact that the people she had been trying sign on as new members of her “team” were either not showing up to the business meetings they had scheduled with her or they were simply not taking a serious look at the money making opportunity she was offering to them. At the seminar, this woman had shared her frustration in one of the training sessions and that the trainer, a very successful higher-up in the company, responded in this way. “Do you have an actual invitation from these people to ask them to join you?” I asked this woman how she interpreted what the trainer said. She told me, “Well, the trainer suggested that I was trying to get these people to sign up without first having a relationship with them. He said that I needed to first, be interested in them.” This woman also shared that this was an absolute revelation to her and something she never considered.
None of this surprised me. We can all relate to the experience of dealing with salespeople who unleash their old, practiced and by rote sales tactics on us in order to get us to buy something from them we don't actually want or to get us to pay for a service we don’t actually need. It is clear that they have no actual interest in us whatsoever, as winning is key.
I believe this is how many people enter into relationships, with their own agenda, without a deep interest in the other and in an attempt to win. I can say for sure that in this interpersonal soil, there is absolutely no chance in this world for authentic relationship to grow.
Now if this is the sweeping truth in our world, do you really think that the acting classroom will be any different? Interesting dilemma as the art of acting is an art of authentic relationship. It is really very simple: no true relationship = no true acting.
Of course, many acting students come with a deep desire to learn and grow. A second group come with something else, they come with the unswerving commitment to work hard even when the challenges of the work become more difficult then they imagined possible. And then there is a third group…
Fortunately for me, the majority of the students who attend my training programs, are in a third group of students. These students come with that deep desire to achieve excellence, they have that fortitude to work hard in the midst of frustrations and personal suffering and there is something else - they do it all with a keen and true interest in the well being of the others in the group. In fact, this group of students care as much about the well being of their partners as they do about their own.
I have worked with groups for years now and with thousands of acting students. I want you to know two things and I want to be very clear.
First. I have always seen the most profound growth in the students who are members of that third group, isn’t that interesting? Listen closely! It is the student who has the ability to get their attention off of themselves and to give their “rapt” attention to the others in the room that I have witnessed experiencing the ultimate joy of fulfilling the gifts and talents the universe has blessed them with. These are the people I have seen go to the ultimate places in the art of acting, venturing into the great unknown where creation is actually possible. This goes against the grain, as many students are so wrapped up in their own psychological drama and their continual worries about “making it” that the room around them and the lessons of the present moment do not exist for them; they drift off easily, they can’t really “see” the work that’s happening in the exercises, they don’t appreciate the struggles and the triumphs of the others in class and they create tremendous distractions for the students who choose to play a role in their drama.
Second. The problematic students are vary glad to pull you down with them. You will have to make a choice and it may not always be easy. But if you understand what "winning" actually means, if you really grasp that the source of all aliveness and joy is “over there” in the others, there is a simple phrase from the 12 step groups you may find useful in your studies, “Stick with the Winners.” Look towards the others who live in that third group for inspiration, practice giving them your interest and your attention. Listen very carefully and you will discover that there are students in the room who have an authentic need to make a very big difference on this planet through their art and who strive relentlessly, every day, every class, in every exercise, to fulfill that need. Align yourself with them."
After an extensive national search, True Acting Institute has hired filmmaker Dustin Whitaker as head of cinematography for our new True Acting Institute Filmmaking Division! Dustin will serve as Director of Photography and Video Editor on our many upcoming video projects.
Dustin and his wife Erin, are owners of Down the Beanstalk Productions located in Eugene, Oregon.
Dustin is currently shooting and editing our first documentary on our summer Meisner Training Program. We have been looking at the dailies and the footage is simply thrilling.
Dustin's first assignment was to shoot testimonials from our Part One students. Here's a taste!
"This morning, I read a lesson from the wonderful teacher, Pema Chodron and I thought of you dear readers and your interest in this thing I am calling "True Acting." It has become clear to me over the years of working and teaching that the most resistant barrier to great acting is not an acting issue at all, it is a human one. Pema says it in this way, “...to remain open to the present groundless moment, to a direct, unarmored participation with our experience. We are certainly not being asked to trust that everything is going to be all right. Moving in the direction of nothing to hold on to is daring. We will not initially experience it as a thrilling, alive, wonderful way to be. How many of us feel ready to interrupt our habitual patterns, our almost instinctual ways of getting comfortable?”
How simple and profound these words, “Moving in the direction of nothing left to hold on to.” This reminds me of something I heard Rudolf Nureyev say many years ago. He told our group that right before every performance, he would work himself out to the point of exhaustion and then, in the performance of the dance, he would have nothing left to hang on to and he would SOAR!” Yes! And that is exactly the point, to soar in your acting!
This is the thing... to move beyond your old, habitual ways of being, to shift the frozen, stuck, protective armor of the mind to the side so that your creative self can function. My friends, this is no small matter and will demand a complete commitment and a relentless pursuit.
The DESIRE to enter this particular domain, the land of “nothing left to hang on to” is something no one can give to you - not your mother, not your teacher, not your guru - and only you know if it is of true interest to you. But I can tell you clearly, until an actor walks that ground, his work will remain pedestrian and uninspired."
from the desk of sarah reed
My name is Sarah Reed and I am the Assistant to the Director here at True Acting Institute. I am thrilled to bring you the latest news from our activities around the world! Please contact me via the contact page, I'd love to hear from you!