beccaelizabeth (beccaelizabeth) wrote,
beccaelizabeth
beccaelizabeth

Drama, Lessons

I dreamt I was in a classroom with a bunch of younger actors who had been cast in a thing that was not in fact written yet. There was a lady on the phone who had organised it all. She continued to be on the phone for some minutes after we had assembled. We started to get bored. So I challenge-asked the actors, five minutes, where/how/what does your character feel when they're anxious? And they thought this was daft, because they didn't have anything resembling a script yet, how could they know that? But I gave them bits of paper and some of them sat down to fill it in.

The youngest was bored and had started writing up an advert for them to star in. They were like twelve and hadn't done episodic drama yet, a little advert was more what they knew. So when phone lady hung up they saw it and shoved it across the table to me and told me to say stuff about it. And, having a handy cultural studies degree, I could. But it did interfere with me telling the other why I'd askes the anxiety thing. And we still lacked a script, which, being the only writer in the room, was probably going to be on me to fix. But I could start by talking theory about this advert, so I started mentally assembling books.

And then I woke up but like really enthused about all the jumping off points for a lesson in there. Enthusiastic about teaching it, even, to a room full of interested people, but not too full.

The anxiety thing was because if they've not been told anything yet then they'll probably start with their own anxiety habits. Or if not they'll start with a bunch of physical things and I can tweak their focus with a second ask. Because I remember an actor at a convention explaining the first time he was filmed doing acting in school they watched the video back and he spent the entire play swinging his arm. Because nervous. It came out in this one unconscious habit that could have looked like a quite confident move if it only happened the once but that somehow unconsciously kept going like a pendulum. Swinging his arm, all play. So asking the actors what their bodies would be doing if they were anxious, that'll get them defensive, but asking how they'd deliberately articulate that for their characters, first thought, five minutes go, that'll get them unfiltered. And then they can be more consciously aware of exactly that stuff, and if they're getting it layered over what they intended to do.

I felt smart. That was a teaching moment of smart. That my dream made up.

And then the cultural studies stuff about advertising can launch off into my whole discipline, and business stuff like demographics and budget and product placement, and the whole art of desire. You have to get the audience to want. Maybe not a particular consumable, but something about your production. Tuning desire is the whole underpinning of how to get a decent audience going.

And we were designing whatever we were going to film from scratch, so we could start with the demographics of the cast, and from there figure out who it could be classically expected to appeal to, and then what their concerns might be, and then what tensions there were in their lives and goals, and then what genre we could use to express that. Like starting out saying high school is hell, is going to be very compelling to high schoolers.

So now I'm all full of energy to not only design this random show but also use it all as teaching moments for cultural studies. Like waking up wanting to be a teacher. And I know that'll wear off by daylight, mostly, but it's also just realising there's quite a lot of stuff I did on my degree that I miss because outside academia people don't get into much depth. I mean fandom meta does/used to, but not much theoretical depth mostly. And I miss it. And I quite liked thinking thinky thoughts about drama. And I'd like to again, if it could be the sort I controlled what I actually had to focus on, and I could leave out all the triggery stuff.

Which is quite a lot to wake up realising, really.

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