Hilliard native, Otterbein graduate has role in `First Man’

Cory Michael Smith
Cory Michael Smith plays astronaut Roger Chaffee; also has a leading role in indie film `1985′
Which is better for an actor’s career — to have a small role in a big-budget, nationally distributed film, or to play the lead role in an independent, limited-release film?
Cory Michael Smith soon will find out.
The Hilliard native and Otterbein University graduate plays astronaut Roger Chaffee in “First Man,” the new movie out today about the space program in general and Neil Armstrong (played by Ryan Gosling) in particular.
In two weeks, the film “1985” will have a limited release in 12 cities (not Columbus). In it, Smith plays Adrian, a closeted gay man during the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s who comes home to live with his conservative parents.
At the same time, he is wrapping up filming of the television series “Gotham,” in which he plays Edward Nygma (the Riddler). The series, which represented Smith’s first big career break, will conclude with its fifth and final season in the spring of 2019.
“It’s a really exciting time for me,” Smith said Thursday from his New York City home.

Don’t End Your Audition on the Last Word By Aaron Marcus

Many actors believe that when they say or hear the last word in the sides, the audition is over. But this is not a smart way to audition. Rather, actors should always audition in a way that helps the casting director and director believe they’re watching the scene take place during the actual shoot.
Although you’re not on set, you need to make your read as convincing and realistic as possible.
When the people in the room love your audition and then you abruptly end the scene on the last word of the sides, it takes people out of the moment of enjoying the read, possibly even making them feel uncomfortable. It’s a bit of a jolt, a similar effect to jumps into an ice-cold lake.
So instead of ending your audition where the words end on the page, consider the following. 
A powerful song will allow you to feel specific or multiple emotions. If the song moves you, it will also take you out of reality for a few minutes. It’s a wonderful and powerful feeling and experience. As such, it’s rare to hear a song end abruptly since the artist generally wants to gently ease you through this powerful moment and smoothly bring you back to reality by having the song fade out. 
It allows you to hang onto those emotions for a little bit longer and let them linger. This is exactly what you want to do at every audition.
I recently had an audition where, after having a complicated and disturbing conversation, the other character in the scene says, “Goodbye, I’ll see you tomorrow,” and walks out of the room. After the reader said the last words, I turned my head slightly, enough so it looked like I was following him walk out the door and thinking about our conversation, and then ended the scene.
This choice gave the scene closure. It also allowed the casting director and director to see how I was affected by the conversation. It was a nice, smooth way to ending the audition. (You can watch a short video of the technique here.)
By adding a second or two to the end of the scene, you calmly ease your way out of the audition. Just like a great song that has moved you and allowed you to stay in the moment by gently fading out, this technique allows those watching your audition the opportunity to feel your character—even after the scene is over.

Craft Notes by Ed Hooks

Scene from “Black Panther”
RE-IMAGINING CONFLICT
The word "conflict" has a different meaning for actors than it does for normal people. If you Google "conflict definition" you'll get dozens of links, any of which will provide some variation on this, from Answers.com:
1. A state of open, often prolonged fighting; a battle or war.
2. A state of disharmony between incompatible or antithetical persons, ideas, or interests; a clash.
It is perfectly understandable that non-actors would therefore think of conflict as something undesirable. That is why you will also find many links if you Google "conflict resolution." There are entire companies devoted to nothing other than resolving conflict between two parties.  If a married couple has conflict, they go to a family counselor in order to eliminate it.  If conflict were a dog, normal people would be wagging their fingers at him, saying sternly, "No, Conflict! Bad Conflict!"
But actors are not normal. There are numerous differences, and the one I want to focus on here is the way an actor uses that word "conflict." For an actor, "conflict" is synonymous with "obstacle." It might imply a fistfight or argument, but it can also apply to something positive. You can, for instance, be in conflict about whether to vacation in Paris or Rome. You can be in conflict about whether to order from the dessert menu Mom's Apple Pie or the Sinfully Delicious Chocolate Cake.
"Conflicts" and "obstacles" are essential elements of theatrical reality. Regular reality is what you have at the mall or grocery store. In regular reality, we see 100 percent of everything.  People are not often willing to pay $50 for a seat to watch others shopping for groceries. Theatrical reality, by contrast, is compressed in time and space. It has form. The writer is showing the part of reality that best helps tell his story. Shakespeare did not elect to have a scene in which Romeo and Juliet are relaxing at the beach. He chose the balcony scene because that was a transitional moment for the young couple.
For an actor, "conflict" and "obstacle" are just parts of the equation of acting.  An actor plays an action in pursuit of an objective - while overcoming an obstacle. The obstacle is largely what makes the moment theatrical. A director could make a theatrical moment out of grocery shopping if he released a skunk into aisle three. Without the skunk, we have shoppers playing actions (shopping) in pursuit of an objective (food for dinner), but there is no obvious conflict. Add that skunk, and the scene just might be worth paying $50 to watch.
But an "obstacle" or "conflict" does not have to be the equivalent of a skunk on the loose.  Maybe you are out on your fifth date with someone you feel awfully happy to be with. Should this relationship be intimate? Will intimacy ruin it? Will he still love me in the morning? That is conflict, too.
There are only three possible kinds of "conflict"/"obstacle":
1. Conflict with self. ("Will he still love me in the morning?")
2. Conflict with situation. (Trinculo is afraid of a looming storm in The Tempest.)
3. Conflict with another person. ("Give me your money. I have a gun.")
At least one of those should be present whenever an actor is acting.  You can have more than one simultaneously, but it is not an option to have none of them.  If there is no "conflict" or "obstacle" present, it is an acting error.
Another way to look at this is to consider a scene to be a negotiation. Any negotiation implies conflict of some kind.  You can negotiate with yourself ("Chocolate Cake or Apple Pie?"), with your situation ("It is snowing, and my winter coat is at the cleaners"), or with another person ("I will jump if you will, too").  Playwright David Mamet gave a talk to a group of writers in New York some years back, and he said, "A scene is a negotiation.  If you write a scene and cannot name the negotiation, the scene cannot be fixed. Tear it up and write another scene." This is also true for an actor, except that she does not have the option of tearing the script up. Even if you are given a scene that clearly has no conflict in it, which is extremely common with supporting roles on television shows, you have to find a way to add some. Just keep in mind the part about conflict not having to be negative. Since you used to be a normal person, it is not all that easy to hang onto this new use of the word.
Ideally, if we could freeze-frame actors on stage and ask each of them what he is doing, the actor should be able to answer the question in terms of action, objective and obstacle. Even if a character is standing there doing nothing but listening to the other fellow's monologue, he must still have action, objective and obstacle. Acting has almost nothing to do with words. The one that is listening may be choosing places to interrupt the monologue - and then deciding not to do it. That is what we mean when we refer to "active listening." When you listen, you are actually doing something. Listening is not simply an absence of talking. Harold Pinter understood this better than most, and it is a key to appreciating the famous pauses in his plays.
Many new actors today are taught to be "real," spontaneous, emotional and "honest."  All of that is good stuff, but those qualities by themselves are not enough. Acting is doing something. Once again: Acting has form.  It is Action in pursuit of an Objective while overcoming an Obstacle. You play an action until something happens to make you play a different action. And, yes, you should be doing all of that honestly, spontaneously and for real.

BOOK OF THE MONTH - Sanford Meisner on Acting

Sanford Meisner on Acting


Sanford Meisner was one of the best known and beloved teachers of acting in the country. This book follows one of his acting classes for fifteen months, beginning with the most rudimentary exercises and ending with affecting and polished scenes from contemporary American plays. Written in collaboration with Dennis Longwell, it is essential reading for beginning and professional actors alike. Throughout these pages Meisner is a delight—always empathizing with his students and urging them onward, provoking emotion, laughter, and growing technical mastery from his charges.