I/Mmature Student. 6. Great actors (and bitchin’)

Great acting is awesome. Great actors are also equally awesome. I was making some jokes about the craft the other day and would just like to clear up that I hold great acting with the same level of reverence as I hold the music of Bowie or the comedy of Hicks. I cracked a joke about Tom Cruise the other day and yet one of the finest pieces of screen acting I’ve ever witnessed is in Mission Impossible 3 where he has to first bargain, then beg for the life of his wife and ends the scene (later in the film) with silent utter devastation. All of this being played off the equally formidable, magnificent and tragic Philip Seymour Hoffman Here it is below…

 

How good is that? Now go watch the rest.

I had an acting lecture today. It was awesome. The lecturer was awesome. We were even entertained to an excellent piece of story telling within the lecture that was informative, engaging and at times hilarious. As I said. Actors are awesome. People that lecture in acting are awesome too. Is this all sounding just a bit too positive for my regular style of blog? Ah well maybe I’ve another point to make.

A more typical start to such a blog from me might go…The Actor…I am a tool. But I didn’t do that because this is a less humour based blog.

As a comedian I often encounter a common response from people. They often think whatever I am engaging in, from a chat about the weather to a discussion on Europe that it I come to it from a point of cynicism and scorn. This in itself shows a lack of understanding of what comedy does. Yes comedians can bring that to the table. But we also bring waves of empathy, joy, surrealism, tension and celebration. That’s right. We do spend as much time celebrating the foibles of humanity as we do laughing at them. Awesome.

Last week I had a meet with the second and third year drama and script students and it was put to me that we should try to engage and socialise with those studying more performance based pathways as they sometimes worry the “writers area wee bit up themselves.” I was informed there’s a karaoke night where all groups let their hair down. I in turn wrote a humour based blog about this. See here…

https://johnscottcomedy.com/2016/09/18/immature-student-3/

Now you could read this as, “Could you possibly go make a tit of yourself so the actors can feel better about themselves.” As if I comedian would be so cynical. You can also read it as., “We all have a great time together at that perfect social leveller karaoke.”

It’s hugely important to me to be accepted by performance pathways as I hope to participate in at as well. Hey we work in a trade founded in insecurity. Awesome.

In todays lecture we were shown an excellent clip of Marlon Brando being interviewed quite aggressively by Dick Cavett.  This isn’t unusual of Cavett he often had a confrontational style. He puts to Brando the question, “Why do you down grade acting as a profession.” And I think Brando deals with it beautifully. You see, as things unfold it’s actually Dick Cavett who is trying to bring grandeur, mystery and greatness to the art form while Brando tries (and succeeds) to demystify it and generally get across the point that acting is for all and not just for those with some kind of mystical elite powers.

The discussion starts around 5.40 in  clip number 3 and ends in clip 4…

 

How awesome is Brando.

Also today as groups we engaged in a brief exercise in displaying 6 emotions of acting. My groups was awe. What? Did you think I was repeating that word endlessly without reason? Hey, I write. We love our tricks. So as a group we were to arrive at an expression of awe by committee. Here’s what unfolded.

ME.              Is awe wide eyed?

ACTRESS.  Right so what are we going for here? Realism or Panto.

ME.             Is there perhaps a slackening of the face?

ACTRESS. So you want us to look bored.

So as you can see I was dismissed by the lass fairly abruptly. We’re back to those insecurities again aren’t we? Here’s the first image that came up on Googling awe…

awe

I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions.

So in this situation I think we had a wee bit of a reversal of “The writers are a bit up themselves.” Panic not. I can accept such things. As I say we’re an art form founded on insecurity. Buuuut…I will issue a warning. I wont accept such dismissiveness as things unfold. Confront, challenge, debate but don’t dismiss. Maybe I’ll develop a three strikes and you’re out system. Or two verbal warnings then a written. Or perhaps I’ll word it in the styleeee of da great bard,

“Yo! Should I unclasp this tongue, from which spits acid so potent it doth sear beyond bone and skin to thy very soul . Your word and clatter shall be scattered. Like a gasp within a hurricane…Bitches.” 

All we’re saying is…a bit manners please.

I/Mmature Student 5. Getting ahead of myself.

A CONVERSATION.

ME. OK besides how awesome Mathew Mcconaughey is (especially in Killer Joe.) How far has everyone got with Macbeth?

STUDENT 1.   I’ve finished it.

ME.                  Fuck off! Ooh Mrs Swoty knickers.

STUDENT 2. Shit! Were we to read Macbeth?

ME.                  Ah now I like this guy. Don’t panic I think we only really have to have got most of it down come Thursday. So did you read it with the notes and everything? It took me over two hours to get through the introductory notes in the copy I’ve got.

STUDENT 1.  Yes, notes and everything.

ME.                  Hmmmmnn….Your edition is probably simpler than mine. What with you being foreign and that.   (this last statement was recognised as the joke it was)

So we settled down to proper study this week. I’ve been hammering writing exercises and putting in reading hours all over the weekend…only to discover today that I didn’t need to do all that until this week commenced. So I turned up with a handful of work today which isn’t due until next Monday. This is no bad thing as  I intend to enter a playwriting competition  later this week so probably best to be ahead of the curve. On another note there was one wee bit of reviewing work we were supposed to have ready today and I was the only one who’d done it. So who’s Mrs Swoty Knickers now? I imagine this also explains why STUDENT 1 had more time than me for reading. Am I starting to sound competitive here?

On another note completely…isn’t Tim Farron an utter tit? I would take the trouble to write more about him if people actually had any idea who it is I’m talking about. Bottom of the class Tim. I’ve never seen such a fake/contrived bit of public speaking since Stuart Hall was due up in court. He says he’s got two major political policies. I’m assuming they’re Mr Wing and Mr Prayer.

https://www.northumbria.ac.uk/

 

 

I/Mmature Student. 2. Fellow writers. Macbeth.

Ok now that I’m getting the first insights into what the workload is going to be like at Northumbria Uni with my studies of Drama and Script I’m beginning to realise this blog may be a place where I come for a wee break to relax and recharge. I’ve no problem with said work load…but yep we’re going to be busy.

Much to my delight I finally met my fellow writers today.  A great eclectic bunch from India, Latvia, Gateshead and other such exotic places. There are 6 of us but if you include Richard Stockwell our course tutor there will be 7 of us in the room at any given time. That’s a good number, both lucky and magnificent. Obviously Richard is the Yul Brynner leader type. One of my classmates Holly is a Bowie fanatic (there is no other type of Bowie fan) so she’s obviously dead smart/cool/old fashioned. I imagine over the next three years the pair of us will manage to put the other five off The Great Dame David for the rest of their days.

I’m absolutely delighted with the tiny size of our group. Compared to the more common class sizes we can have a lot more feedback and attention provided to our developing skills.

For our first classes we’ve to read The Coen brothers introduction to Fargo. I know, how cool is that. This is my homework! Plus we’ve to read/reread Macbeth. I’m not massively versed in Shakespeare but that is the one play of his I’m pretty familiar with. I’ve got a copy of it in the house somewhere  along with the notes. However as a bit of a cheat I’ve also just downloaded the latest film version staring Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard and err…me. Honest I was a member of the English army that invade Scotland. I would be gobsmacked if I can pick myself out as I wore a hood over my head for the days shoot. Possibly a good thing as my many friends in the SNP might find my role that day a wee bit hard to stomach. The shoot that day was pretty rough as we spent most of our time up a massive hill or in a bog in Northumbria at the start of February in sideways rain. Most of us spent most of the day slipping and falling on our arses. At one point I was heard to say in my broad Scots accent, “Ahm no sure if this invasion of Scotland is such a good idea. I think someone’s going to get seriously injured here.” Whether this adlib has made the final cut remains to be seen. I’m not so sure improvising is encouraged when doing the Great Bard.

https://www.northumbria.ac.uk/

macbeth-1
Is this a dagger I see before me… I’d imagine so mate. We’re in Glasgow.

 

 

I/Mature Student. 1. Northumbria Uni. 1st impressions.

It’s enrolment week at Northumbria university. As I’m starting a degree in Drama and Script writing I’ve been advised to start a blog or keep a diary of my thoughts and experiences. It’s nice when you’re ahead of the curve.  So far I’ve only been picking up my student ID and been to a chat on the Library.

For a Uni that used to be a polytechnic Northumbria sits high on academic leagues.  The Library stands among the equal top 8 in the UK and yes that’s alongside the Oxbridge toffs. Having lived in Newcastle for 13 years this doesn’t surprise me. As a city with limited resources the Geordies are adept at looking after their own. They’ve thrown much effort into their newest centre for academic excellence and it’s nice to see so many working class kids being able to throw up two fingers to the supposedly more established Newcastle University which is just across the road. Did one of them produce the touchscreen  phone or I-Pad? No that was someone from my Uni, ta very much.