Last week the lesson was about the way you say your lines. Did you find enough ways to say it? Could you feel the different emotions?
It is an exercise you can practice every day, just like all our exercises. It won't take long. And the good thing is: it is better to repeat often than to do it a long time in a row.
And here is our fifth lesson. This time we give you an exercise about Stanislavski's circles of attention.
Stanislavski developed a powerful exercise for his students to help them better understand and implement the use of concentration on the stage.
Arranging the stage lights in a wide circle, he would ask the actor to concentrate only on the props and set defined within the circle. As the actor became comfortable with this "boundary", the circle of lights would be reduced in diameter, while props and set would remain in place.
Ultimately, the circle would include only the immediate area of space in which the actor was standing, and the actor at this point was asked to concentrate only on whatever he could use on the stage within this limited area. The exercise was invaluable in helping the actor focus his concentration more specifically to an object of attention.
Now for you at home. You probably don't have the light that gives you these circles.
We give you an alternative:
There are 5 focus circles. Put on some music and experience the 5 focus circles. The music will help you discover the differences.
Focus circle one: Your focus is your innerworld. While dancing, nobody would realy notices your moves. But inside you feel it. You don't make eye contact, just take time for yourself. It's like a secret dance.
Focus circle two: Picture yourself in front of a mirror. Look at how you stand and move. Make sure you see yourself in the mirror all the time. Don't loose sight of yourself. Dance, looking at in the mirror this time, and see that you actually move. Not just feel it, you have to see it!
Focus circle three:It is your whole room in which you can move now. The space you can use is larger, you feel more free to move in a still save place. Nobody sees you, use the bigger space!
Focus circle four:Imagine the biggest theatre you know. You are on that stage. With your dancing you want to reach EVERYBODY!! While you move look at the people in the balcony, in front of you, to the left, the right. They are everywhere> make sure they all see you move. You have to be focussed on the whole audience while dancing. Dance as if your life depends on it!
Focus circle five:The final focus is again in this huge theatre and than there is that one person, right in front of you, or sitting on the balcony. Focus on this one person and dance. It is your special dance for him or her. Show it. Let the whole theatre realize that this is the one you are dancing for.
These are the circles. No particular order, just use them all while you dance. It will become a sensual dance, in which people that look at you get the feeling you dance for them. Going back to FC one at a point is like teasing your audience. It will become al play.
An example We found this dutch choclat commercial made in 2008 in which these focus circles are used by the girl:
When the girl uses her microphone you see her switching from between FC 1, 3 and 4. On the table we see 4 and 5. FC 2 is when she literaly looks in the mirror. Try it yourself. This peace of music is great for all this variaty.
Now why is this interesting for an actor?
If you read your lines, sometimes they are thoughts, sometimes memorys, and sometimes you really need to adress the lines to a specific person. All the variety you find in dancing can be found in the lines in your script.
Take a short monoloque and decide which FC you will put on every line. You make these decisions. Now read your lines using these FC's. Try it, and if it doesn't sound great, try another FC. Keep choosing until it feels right. You will be surprised how such a simple choice can make a world of difference in how your lines are received.
In the end of course the given circomstances will influence the choices but it can be a nice way to experiment. And once you get the hang of it, it wil enrich your qualities as an actor.