The Pelican Workshop

There are many ways to put together workshops to meet your theater’s particular needs.  The Pelican Workshop is named after the workshop design used for The Pelican Players in Florida.  I can give this workshop as written, or tweak it further to meet your needs.  This is a six-hour workshop (not including lunch).

Open Door Scene Work (90 minutes):  This is the beginning of learning how to really stay in the moment.  This is life-changing stuff.

Really connecting with the other actors in the scene, receiving what they “send” you and reacting to it and ONLY it, is some of the hardest stuff we do as actors, but it’s the stuff that slays an audience.  Actually, it’s not really the hardest stuff – it just seems like the hardest stuff.  I’ll give you a different way of thinking about it that will change how you think about acting.

I’ll help you identify when you’re really connected and when you aren’t.  Once you know the difference, it’s easier to know what’s working when I’m not there to tell you.  We’ll continue to practice it in our other work throughout the rest of the day, too.

Break (10 minutes)

Stage Movement – The Basics (30 minutes):  Good blocking maximizes the fun, improves the storytelling, and often unlocks your best acting.  It’s the simplest way to make dramatic improvements in both the quality of the acting and the audience’s enjoyment of the production.  I’ll introduce you to some of the most important concepts involved in both blocking and stage business.  Top of the list:  how emotion drives movement, and how to tap into that.

Introduction to Acting Beats & Verbs (30 minutes):  The difference between great acting and not-so-great acting is whether you play the adjectives or the verbs.  We all start by playing the adjectives, and it’s a big mind shift to play the verbs.  But once you make that shift, you’ll never go back!  The dramatic power is in the verbs!

We’ll start by exploring the Big Verbs for characters in well-known plays, so you can begin to shift your thinking.  Then we’ll go through a scene I have marked for you to see how it breaks into “beats” and what verbs go with each beat.  Little Verbs, or the verbs for each beat, are all about tactics – how you’ll get what it is you want (the Big Verbs).

Preparing the Scene (20 minutes):  Now it’s time to break into pairs.  I’ll give each pair a short scene (about two pages).  You’ll read the scene together and identify the beats.  Then you’ll find verbs for each beat.  I’ll be available to help you if you get stuck!

Lunch (50 minutes)

Rehearsal (30 minutes):  Now that you have your verbs, you can rehearse.  Add movement where you can, but don’t worry too much about it if it doesn’t come easily.  Right now, it’s all about playing your verbs.

Scene Work (150 minutes, including one 10 minute break):  Now it’s time to see what you’ve done!  We’ll run them and talk about your experiences with the verbs, and also explore ways in which movement adds to the performance of the scene.  You’ll learn not just from your own scene, but by watching each other work.  I’ll send you home with copies of each scene, so that you can think about the verbs for each scene once the workshop is over.


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