The Purinton Primer: The Actor’s Exam

Originally, I was planning to make this week’s post a reflection on the teachings of Konstantin Stanislavski. It would have been a look at the merits and demerits of his approaches to acting and a commentary on the writing style through which he chooses to convey these ideas. And yes, it would have been hilarious.

Konstantin, you party animal.

Unfortunately, you’re going to have to wait until my next post to read this fascinating material. I hope you’re excited.

The reason that post will have to wait is that, like most of you, I am focused on my workload over finals week, and I have a lot of work this week. (My last final is tomorrow at 9:30 a.m.) In no way does this make me unique. The campus is abuzz with studious and stressed students. What does make me a bit more unusual is that this is one of my first final weeks where I’ve actually felt that I had a lot of work.

I’ll pause so you can give me the finger.

The reasoning behind my customary lack of work is simple — it’s not that I take easy classes, it’s that I’m a drama major. Now I am going to clear up a common misconception: drama classes are difficult. You have to constantly meet outside of class to rehearse and you are presenting creative work in front of your peers on a regular basis. It’s a different kind of work than subjects in the sciences, but it is hard work nonetheless.

Hi ho, hi ho, it's off to rehearsal we go.

But the work that we do is usually done before finals week. It’s kind of hard to take a final exam on, for example, acting. What would the exam even be like?

Question 1: Your character is angry. What do you do?

A) Yell your lines.

B) Run from the stage, screaming incoherently.

C) Attack your scene partner.

D) Weep uncontrollably.

E) All of the above.

Or what about an exam for a director?

Question 1: Which of the following is useful when you’re giving notes to an actor?

A) Telling them to do exactly what they’re doing, only better.

B) Communicating notes only through meaningful, and predominantly skeptical, glances.

C) Firing the whole cast and declaring that you’ll do a one-man performance of the show.

D) Weeping uncontrollably.

E) All of the above.

And, one more question because this is fun for me. This time for a lighting designer.

Question 1: How do you make a scene INTENSE?!

A) Lots of red lights.

B) Lots of red strobe lights.

C) Lots of red strobe laser lights.

D) Weep uncontrollably.

E) All of the above.

Disclaimer: I know nothing about lighting design.

Because these tests are clearly too ridiculous to actually work, we usually have to give performances and occasionally write papers, but this is all done before finals week. The last two weeks of classes, therefore, are pretty much hell designed by theater people (which would probably include a lot of Andrew Lloyd Weber music). But after classes are over, while the Bookstore is giving away free coffee to a zombie-lookalike student body, all the drama majors frolic in the fields celebrating their free time.

This semester, however, I am taking History of the Western Theatre. A great class, but one that requires us to actually do work. As in take an exam and write two papers. So, rather than the customary frolicking, I have to take a new approach to finals week. I’ve considered many options, but have finally settled on how I’m going to attack this newfound work.

The answer is D) Weep uncontrollably.

3 responses

  1. Pingback: The Purinton Primer: Stanislavski and Friends « The Thrill

  2. Pingback: The Purinton Primer: On The Faithful Shepherdess and H.P. Lovecraft « The Thrill

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