acting 101: #5 scene acting – figuring a character’s story

Today’s tip is regarding your character preparation in scene play. There are some simple questions to go over when preparing. The tricky part is to keep those background information that you thoughtfully put together in mind and playing towards them but still being able to react to what your acting partner(s) offer(s) you.

Before entering a scene, you have to prepare your character’s story. These questions help you figure out a background story if not already being directed in the script:

  • Where does your character come from? Mentally and physically. What does she/he think? What has she/he experienced before entering the scene?
  • Where is your character within the scene? What is the setting? Be careful how “far” you look, imagine walls or a specific environment. Move accurately for given space/place.
  • Where does your character want the situation to lead? What outcome does your character hope for (if any)? Your reactions should be conform to your answers.

Rehearsing with your acting partner(s) to fully understand their intepretations of their own characters as well as yours is key to an harmonious scene play. Give input and take input. Act and react, but don’t lose focus of the background questions above.

Scene play is so much fun — you can fully apply everything you learn playing a scene. Enjoy practicing 🙂

-your tiny woman in a giant world

A poem: Spring, you with the beautiful soul

Spring, you — with the beautiful soul, take me in a state of admiration every time you come back into my life. Admiration over the beauty of nature. The singing birds, the blooming flowers, the shining green leaves of the trees. Your air is so pure, pure of life and full of the smell of positive change.

Spring, you make our hearts beat a happier rhythm. You warm our souls with yours. And your soul, oh your soul, is so good. The only plan you follow is for us to be active and healthy and happy. For our animals to come out and play.

Spring, we breath you in, see you with widely opened eyes. We watch you consciously. We would not want to miss the tiniest glance of beauty you offer us. Stay with us for as long as you can. Until you joy- and playfully have transformed us to feel as alive as can be. Until you tickled every bright color possible out of this lively powerful planet.

In return, we cherish and admire you. Your wonderful being will have nothing but our perfect appreciation. Every time you see us smile, feel our kisses coming your way, staying with you as our symbol of gratitude.

-your tiny woman in a giant world

acting 101: #4 pay attention to your surroundings

In times of smartphones, non-stop connectedness and social media information overload, most of us stare at our phones to bridge time gaps. Me, I try to eliminate this habit whenever possible by setting offline time episodes (even days) and taking along a book wherever I go. Initially, spare time is well used and a dependancy on my smartphone to spend time is restricted. Especially when you are an actor/actress, paying attention to your surroundings can be of huge benefit for your imagination when creating a character.

You can take so much inspiration out of other people’s behavior/movements and the way they speak. Be observant, take in the impressions of your environment. Not only the people, but also watch actively everything there is to be found around you. Attentiveness makes your eyes come alive, it gives your eyes expression. The more you see, the more your imaginational skills grow and develop.

See consciously and experience how much there really is to be inspired by.

-your tiny woman in a giant world

We Heart Cookies: Double Chocolate Chip Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies

3If there is a sweet treat, barely someone can resist, it’s chocolate chip oatmeal cookies. Crunchy or chewy, does not matter. The combination of rustic oats and sweet chocolate is mouth-watering and can only be topped with a fruity component: cranberries that is. When I discovered this recipe a few years ago, I did not know these cookies would become not only my but everybody’s all-time favorite cookies. Literally everyone who knows the true promise of these cookies, becomes a huge fan: family, friends, boyfriend, collegues, gym buddies, friends at acting class — all ages, all kinds of different people.

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Great thing about the recipe is that you can vary the ingredients as you like: maybe you prefer nuts over cranberries or only milk chocolate chips? Feel free to try out new variations! They turn out to be delicious either way. To tell you a little secret: every time someone (besides my mother) asked me for the recipe, I kept it a secret. But today is the day I will no longer hold back on giving out the best chocolate chip oatmeal cookies ever.

This is why I happily share my recipe with you.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (soft) butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tsps vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • about 1 tsp salt
  • 3 cups oats
  • about 3/4 cup dark chocolate chips
  • about 3/4 cup white chocolate chips
  • about 3/4 cup dried cranberries

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F (165°C).
  2. Cream together the butter and sugars until smooth. Add the eggs and vanilla extract and stir until well combined.
  3. Add flour, baking soda, salt and oats, chocolate chips and cranberries to the creamy mixture and mix until well combined.
  4. Forming balls with an ice-cream scroop, place the cookies on a baking sheet. You do not need to flatten them.
  5. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes.
  6. When you take the cookies out to cool on a wire rack, be careful: they might be soft, but they will become firm once cooled off.

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Enjoy pure deliciousness with a cup of jo and tell me how you like them. x

-your tiny woman in a giant world

 

P. S.: This recipe is an adaption of Panthera’s recipe on allrecipes.com.

acting 101: #3 mirroring exercise

Mirroring is a great exercise for not only working on your visual sense and your attentive concentration, but also on getting to know your acting partner and be attuned to one another. You can gain a lot of information about a person through his/her movements and choice of movements.

Here is how mirroring works:

  • Stand in front of your partner in one to two metres distance.
  • Look each other in the eyes throughout the whole exercise. This is very important to really connect.
  • One of you starts moving slowly, the other one follows his/her lead. Be careful to mirror your partner’s movements precisely, never losing eye contact and also mimicking imitating his/her facial expressions.
  • Change the lead.
  • When you change who is leading again, become a little faster.
  • Take turns, becoming for fluent. The goal is not to make visible to observers who of you is leading and who is mirroring. Exact instant replication of your movements and facial expressions.

If you have done this exercise before, you know what a difference it makes in your acting with your partner and how you improve your mirroring from turn to turn. If you are new to this exercise: you will love it! Have much fun mirroring!

-your tiny woman in a giant world

TheBalancedLife.Com: 21 Days of Pilates challenge by Robin

Update: If you read this after the actual start of the challenge, do not worry: All videos are online on Robin’s YouTube Channel, but only until the end of the challenge! 🙂 Did you do any of her workouts? Do you love them as much as I do?

Just now, on my daily visit to Our Body Book, I found out about the 21 Days of Pilates challenge by Robin from The Balanced Life and registered right away. A fun way to add to my regular workout routine, spicing things up and getting an extra challenge on.

The concept is fairly easy:

STARTING TODAY, there will be daily 10-minutes Pilates workout videos by Robin that are absolutely free. So you might want to go over her website and register right now 🙂

I find Pilates a great workout to strengthen my body, especially building up and improving core muscles. You don’t need weights, just your own body and a mat. You can pick your own time and place and just go for it. I am excited to participate in the challenge and expand my daily workout sessions to an extra 10 minutes. Are you too in? If so, you’re very welcome to share your workout results with me!

-your tiny woman in a giant world

spotlight on morning routines — take 2

This following notion is take 2 (the beauty of seasonal morning routines) on morning routines. Also see take 1 (the impact of morning routines on us).

The beauty of mornings is one of a kind. The seasons define our morning routines. Seasons decide what we’ll have for breakfast and where we’ll sit having breakfast. They make for our level of motivation when looking out the window. Seasons influence our choice of music. And seasons very much determine our perception of our environment. In strong nostalgia of past summers, I’d like to share with you one of my last year’s summer morning routines.

My alarm does not have to go off — the beautiful rays of sunlight that shine through my window into my room, warming my face, wake me up gently. The pleasant anticipation of a bright and sunshiny day get me out of bed and clear the need of pushing “snooze”. My thoughts are filled with beachy memories and happy ideas. Tiptoe-ing to the window, opening it and taking in — with all my senses — everything summer offers on this beautiful morning:

I hear the birds tweeting to one another, sharing their laughter.
I feel the mild air and sunshine on my skin, making me feel alive.
I smell the flowers, growing my longing to finally step outside.
I see the green leaves that dance in the light wind, gratitude pulsing inside me.
Is there a thing more perfect than this very moment?

Is there? The conscious gratitude of the “here and now” fills me with great contentment. I get dressed (a light shirt and jeans shorts are all I need today), get ready, smile into the bathroom mirror and dance my way downstairs. Before I head to the kitchen, I take a moment and get on the patio, take a deep breath, stretch, smell the flowers.

The kitchen is my go-to-place on sunny mornings like this. The kitchen window is where the sun goes up. I prepare my breakfast: I slice a watermelon and goat cheese into pieces and place them on a plate and pour over a little honey. The colors on the plate speak for themselves: pink, gold and white. Nature’s treasure. The combination of the freshness of the waterlemon, the creaminess of the goat cheese and the sweetness of the honey creates a culinary delight. With the bitterness of my cup of black coffee on top, it is the best light breakfast to have. Sitting by the kitchen table on the chair, crossed-legged, I enjoy the peace with nothing but the birds singing in the background.

With my spare half an hour left before I need to leave for work, I hop on my bike and cruise around the neighborhood. Enjoying the wind blowing through my hair as I gain momentum, and the sights of colorful gardens that make me smile, I breathe freely.

Grabbing my tote bag with all the necessities for the day ahead as well as my workout bag, I head to my car and head off to the first destination. Driving with my windows down on the country road, I sing along the Mamma Mia! soundtrack, dancing and loving the day.

What does a summer morning routine of yours look like?

-your tiny woman in a giant world

acting 101: #2 warming up methods I

Before starting to play a scene, you should warm up. There are multiple methods to make your face and eyes be more awake and to really be more expressive. Especially in camera acting, your facial expression is crucial. The camera sees everything. Here is an easy tip for your face to come to life and ready to play:

I don’t think this method has a name (if it does, please inform me about it), so in my head, I call it “the mouse and the bear”-technique.

First, you make your face really really small — like the face of a mouse –, wrinkling, pressing your eyes together and while trying to pout, also pressing your lips firmly together. Hold for a few seconds.

Then — in the attempt to look like a giant scary bear –, make your face as big as it goes: widen your eyes, open your mouth as much as possible, widen the alar wings of your nose and make your eyebrows go up. Hold for a few seconds.

Repeat a few times.

-your tiny woman in a giant world

spotlight on morning routines — take 1

This following notion is take 1 (the impact of morning routines on us) of 2 (the beauty of seasonal morning routines).

Recently, I have been philosophizing about how different the unique ways are through which we all view tiny aspects of life — these tiny aspects ultimately sum up to define our world view. I find that we have to mix up actions and activities within certain areas of our lives from time to time in order to freshen up this world view and reconsider opinions we have to ultimately have a wiser and more educated, experienced and most of all relaxed perspective on everything. This said, there is a special impact morning routines have on us, don’t you think?

Morning routines: a repetitive scheme of actions and thoughts

6.30 am. The alarm goes off. In my head the actions after my getting out of bed are playing precisely. Before we make our ways out of bed in the morning, we instantly go over the next steps. The way we start into the day, the things we do morning in morning out, we do through a repetitive scheme. A repetitive scheme not only of actions but also thoughts. Special drinks we insist on in the morning — like coffee, smoothies or green tea. Our preferences regarding breakfast: oatmeal, pancakes or no breakfast at all (I do not recommend that, it’s healthier to have breakfast — a nutrient-rich breakfast fuels your body with energy)? Turning on the news while having breakfast or watching your favorite YouTube videos (my current morning obsession: Late Night with Seth Meyers’ “A Closer Look” — this format is so incredibly funny and intelligent!)?

The impact of morning routines on us

Everyone takes different input through different actions in the morning. This input through actions makes us think specific thoughts. Surely, our thoughts do not exclusively develop through the activities and extrinsic content that we take in. But thoughts do not only derive from ourselves either. So switching up our morning routines from time to time is a great way to break through a creative blockages or just overcoming a phase in which you feel unchallenged or feel the need of freshness in your mind.

Alternative morning routines

One method to gaining a new perspective is by following new routines, like doing things differently in the morning. Here is a collection of ideas for your new morning routine from me for you.

  • The Mindful Routine: Om your way into the day.
    • Yoga/meditation/stretching on a mat in the biggest room available in your apartment/house upon awaking, with instrumental meditation music in the background
    • get ready
    • breakfast: Matcha tea and rice cakes with cashew cream and superfood toppings (honey, goji berries, chia seeds, nuts, cinnamon), fruit bowl
    • breakfast location: whatever room looks at the sunrise, create a cozy corner
    • read a book alongside your breakfast or write something down, whatever crosses your mind or whatever thought you are involved with that very moment
  • The Wild Routine: Dance your way into the day.
    • turn funky music on
    • get ready dancing (contemporary, ballet moves, jazz, hip hop or whatever moves you feel like doing) your way through every day of your home
    • prepare breakfast, still dancing
    • breakfast: healthy oatmeal cookies with nuts, dried fruits and a smoothie
    • breakfast location:  whatever room looks at the streets or the sunrise
    • watch funny videos or read funny lines alongside having breakfast
  • The Intellectual Routine: Inform your way into the day.
    • stretch upon awaking
    • turn on a documentary channel or news (TV or radio)
    • get ready listening
    • breakfast: brown bread with almond butter or cream cheese and superfood toppings (honey, goji berries, chia seeds, nuts, cinnamon), or jelly, cappuccino with coconut milk
    • breakfast location: kitchen
    • read the paper alongside having breakfast

Switch up your morning routines and have a new look at the world from a different angle, it will brighten up your worldview. Do not miss my upcoming notion on the beauty of seasonal morning routines next week.

Have a weekend full of fresh & fun perceptions x

-your tiny woman in a giant world

acting 101: #1 loving your instrument

In the art of acting, your body is your instrument. Before you can use your body as means to an end — which is embodying a character –, you need to feel good about yourself first and also be able to move freely and comfortably. So there are two aspects that you have to be aware of:

  1. What your body can accomplish physically.
  2. How you feel in your body.

If one or the other does not apply “free” as an answer, there is a limitation in your capability of playing a character freely. You will not be able to go into a character, the way you could otherwise.

Make your body strong and healthy

Besides the body being an instrument for actors/actresses, the human body is a machine that carries us through our whole life. In order for the body to function properly, we have to nourish and move it. So it won’t rust in and let us down. Our bodies and us, we practice the greatest sort of teamwork ever. If you are nice to yourself, your body will appreciate it in making your life a healthy one to live. When your body enables you to move freely and in a wide range of motions , providing for enough air when you move wildly and powering you when you need the physical strength, you will never stop caring for your body. You will learn the difference it makes. And you will not want to miss it ever again.

  • move every single day: cardio and strength training; even if it is only stretching for 20 minutes and walking distances faster than usual
  • eat clean, nutrients-rich food, don’t skip meals
Live in the body you feel good in

Putting the health and fitness aspect — which is a must — aside, there is also the aspect of loving the body that you live in. In acting, you have to play lots of characters or scenes that may not be your favorite ones to play. Being in peace with your body helps a whole lot in order to improvize more independently and in a free-of-guard kind of sense. Realizing the former point (making your body strong and healthy) will be the core of loving your body. This love, you must practice regularly. Don’t start taking your body for granted. Never stop loving what the teamwork between you and your body accomplishes and be proud. All this will show in your acting capabilities. You will be more risk-taking, more innovative and free in your acting.

Love your instrument!! x

-your tiny woman in a giant world