Coaching

BGB Interview: Caitlin FitzGerald

Posted by BGB on May 07, 2014  /   Posted in Actors, agents, Agents and Managers, All Categories, Artistry, Auditioning, BGB Mag, Classes, Coaching, Community, Movies, Rejection, Television

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Amidst a cast of talented newcomers and reliable stalwarts, actress, Caitlin FitzGerald has emerged as an undisputed standout on Showtime’s hit drama, ‘Masters of Sex’. That’s because the luminous performer imbues her character – the elegant if confined Mrs. Libby Masters – with such grit and grace, that one can’t help but connect with this woman’s powerful emotional journey.

Recently, FitzGerald took a break from filming the show’s highly-anticipated second season to chat with MoS casting director and BGB Studio co-founder, Risa Bramon Garcia about her challenging role, how she handles escalating expectations, and of course, her love of acting. 

In one word, how do you feel right now?

“Anticipatory.”

No doubt, about the upcoming Season Two… What are your hopes for the show in its sophomore year?

“I hope (that) we continue to ask compelling and difficult questions about sex and its ramifications, and that the characters get to be ever-increasingly complex. Also, that we get to do it for many seasons to come.”

Where would you say is the point at which you leave off and the character of Libby begins?

“I think the game of trying to discern where an actor ends and a role begins is an easy one- when something doesn’t feel truthful as you watch it, chances are the actor is at a distance from their character. The trick comes in trying to tease out how to relate to all of the colors of your character’s life. At least I think so currently. Check back in with me in a few years and I might have a totally different opinion, as it’s ever evolving.”

How did getting this role change you as an actor?

“If you’re lucky – as an actor – every role changes you, I think. I’ve learned a lot from Libby. This is also my first experience following a single character through multiple seasons of a show and it’s really interesting to think about how to keep from taking anything for granted and to continually invest in discovering different dimensions of her.”

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What is the audition process like now for you?

“I hate auditioning. I wish I could say I am one of those actors who just “loves any chance to act.” I’m not. At least not as far as audition acting goes. It feels really artificial to me to sit in a tiny room on a folding chair and act with a reader who is often not an actor and try to make something happen. It just feels contrived to me and not like a good or collaborative space in which to explore. I also get really nervous which is funny because I don’t usually get very nervous when I am actually doing the job. I want to say at every audition:  This may suck, but if you hire me I will make you proud. But this may suck.”

How do you prepare then?

“I try to be completely off-book first and foremost. One of my best acting teachers says that you can’t do two things at once: you can’t be reading your lines and also trying to act. I also think if there is a prayer of connecting with the reader through the haze of nerves, it can only happen if I know my lines backwards and forwards. And then I try to figure out how to connect with the material in a way that moves me deeply enough to propel the scene and the character. I also warm up before every audition and in LA I try to sing really loudly in the car all the way there.”

You mention an acting teacher…  Have you trained formally?

“I’ve been acting since I was a little kid and did my 10,000 hours doing plays like crazy growing up. Then I went to NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts where I trained at the Stella Adler studio. I also spent a semester studying Shakespeare at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London

Do you still take classes? If so, how do they serve you?

“I try to always be acting and if I’m not working, I am usually in a class of some kind. Currently, I’m really interested in the physical side of (the craft) and how to access character and emotion through the body. To that end I work with an amazing voice teacher named Susan Main and am doing Alexander work whenever I can.”

Other ways you keep yourself primed when you’re not working?

“I’m also a member of two amazing companies in New York that keep me inspired and working. One is the Barefoot Theater Company, which is a terrific theater company dedicated to new work, who also recently helped produce a short film that I wrote and directed. And I’m a member of the Actors Center Workshop Company, which runs classes with incredible teachers for professional actors.”

Can you talk about your work as a writer/director/producer?

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“I’ve made a couple of film projects with a great group of friends… One is a feature film that I co-wrote and acted in called ‘Like the Water’ that can be seen at  www.seedandspark.com, and the other was the aforementioned short which I am in the final stages of post-production on.”

“I think all actors should be ‘hyphenates’ and get curious and excited about making their own work and collaborating. It’s important and empowering to remember that we are artists no matter who is saying yes or no to us. I’m really excited to continue to make my own work and collaborate with my favorite people.”

Describe the feelings you’ve had about your career up until now… What kept you going through disappointment/slow times/wanting a role?

“I have had all the feelings that every actor has about their career- disappointment, excitement, joy, depression, despair, elation, pride, satisfaction, etc. But what has kept me going (is the fact that) I like to create my own work, even if that means simply getting together with a group of friends to read a play.

“It’s also valuable for me to (see) other people’s work because it allows me to recognize the community of artists that exists in the world. This can be going to the theater, listening to music, seeing art, reading books, and so on. It can even be watching a talented friend cook a really good meal. Whatever makes me feel excited about living in the world and continuing to tell its stories.”

What brings you the most satisfaction as an actor? 

“Oh there are so many things!… I really get off on being scared of something and doing it anyway. This could be a streak of masochism but I like it a lot. I would also say (that) I’m satisfied when I feel like something I have done has reached or touched someone else, or even started an interesting conversation. That’s when it all feels worthwhile and even, dare I say, valuable.”

With so much anxiety and frustration out there, what would you say to young/new/any actors auditioning or even trying to get an audition?

“Really figure out why you want to be an actor. Get down deep into that question and then let the answer inform the way you move through this business. It’s really easy to get caught up in a lot of nonsense that has nothing to do with why you wanted to act in the first place, and so I’ve found it useful to keep coming back to the “why.”

“The “why” is usually beyond ego too, so it makes it easier to let go of disappointment or feeling like you aren’t young enough, pretty enough, talented enough- all the ways our egos torment us about how we don’t measure up. If you focus on the “why” you can rise above a lot of that shit and get back to giving the world the singularity and brilliance of who you are and why you love this work. And that makes everything better for all of us.”

THE RESULTS ARE IN!

Posted by admin on July 29, 2013  /   Posted in Actors, Auditioning, Coaching

photocontestwinner THE RESULTS ARE IN!

 

CONGRATULATIONS Sally Levi! Winner of our “An Actor Prepares” Photo Contest! We loved her interpretation of our theme.

Stay tuned for more contests and more chances to win coaching by our very own Risa Bramon Garcia or Steve Braun!

BGB’s “An Actor Prepares” PHOTO CONTEST

Posted by admin on July 22, 2013  /   Posted in Actors, Artistry, Auditioning, Coaching

We are starting our very FIRST contest, with an amazing prize of a 20 minute acting or career coaching session by Steve Braun or Risa Bramon Garcia being given away at the end of the week! bgb contest smaller 1024x770 BGBs An Actor Prepares PHOTO CONTEST

Oh the places your sides go! We know as actors you prepare all over this town and even this world. So show us your favorite place to prepare! Upload a picture of your sides in your unique preparation element. We are looking for some creative and fun photos, so don’t hold back!

ENTER TO WIN HERE.

https://apps.facebook.com/easypromos/promotions/99828

What Young Girls Can Teach Us About Acting

Posted by admin on July 08, 2013  /   Posted in Actors, Artistry, Coaching, Community, Teenagers, Television, Wellbeing

Recently, while listening to Patt Morrison on our local NPR station, our thoughts turned to actors. Not surprising really, most things make us think of actors. The topic was a recent study on puberty. The study suggested that, for reasons that are still unclear, girls are reaching puberty earlier than ever. Like, sometimes as young as seven or eight years old. While everyone on the panel agreed that early onset puberty brought with it a number of negative health risks, one guest offered insight into the psychological effects of early puberty that relate to our work as actors.

Creepy 200x300 What Young Girls Can Teach Us About ActingThe thing about puberty is that many of the physical manifestations of puberty occur before menstruation and the internal feelings of sexual desire. That means a young girl’s outward appearance changes before her brain becomes sexual and she desires sexual behavior. But in a society that takes every opportunity to sexualize young women, these young girls learn that their bodies elicit a response from the people around them. The bat of an eye, the movement of their hips, etc. Advertising, TV, and movies reinforce the notion that if they act a certain way, they’ll get a specific reaction from the men and boys they encounter. Even though they don’t feel internal sexual desire, they know that their bodies are having an effect on the audience around them. At a very early age girls, learn to equate sexuality with performance. The focus is on how they are affecting the audience with sexual movement and behavior even though, in one panelist’s words, “They aren’t developmentally able to connect that to authentic, erotic feeling.” It’s a performance without a truthful connection. Sound familiar? In a nutshell, they’re focused on asking, “What does the audience want of me?” and then trying to give the audience what it wants, before asking, “What do I want?” And they don’t know what they want because their internal biology hasn’t caught up with their outward appearance and the way in which they are sexualized by clothing companies, cosmetic companies, TV shows, and so on.

The tragedy is that left unchecked, young girls who equate sexuality with performance turn into women who equate sexuality with performance, and an entire lifetime can pass by without those women asking the question, “What do I really want?” They never discover or express their unique sexual voice because the focus of sexual behavior is always on the audience and the performance they believe the audience demands.

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Actors do something similar. We can be so focused on getting the industry to pay attention to us and validate us that we ignore our own voice. When we open the email from the agent and read the sides we’ll first ask ourselves, “What do they want?” or “What can I do to make them pick me?” rather than, “Where do these moments live in me?” and “How do I feel about the world of this play?” Instead of bringing our unique artistry to the world of the play, we ignore our own voice and put the focus on trying to please someone else. The result is that often times we offer an audition or performance that’s not connected to our truth. We put on. We act. We want what they can give us so badly (and the validation and money that come with it) that we do everything we can to focus on the audience and control their response. And when we do that we quiet our own voice and we shirk our duty to add our unique voice to the narrative. And it is our duty as artists in society.

Now, of course it’s not all about you. You don’t get to impose your point of view on a script and change the tone or, indeed, the story itself. You have to hit their notes and honor the vision of the writer and the director. But why not do that with your own unique voice? If the director says, “be sad,” then be your sad and do the work of having it come from a place of connected truth. Actors often go so far in the other direction – desperate to do whatever it takes to make them love us – that we give up our power, our creative voice, and offer a version of what we think sad might look like to them.

At a certain level in the business, being a pleaser won’t cut it. If you want them to put millions of dollars of their pilot or feature film money on your shoulders, you need to show up with artistry. And artistry comes with a strong creative voice, the ability to take creative risks, and bringing your unique point of view to the world of the play. And that takes guts. But as the great Brené Brown says, “Authenticity is a choice and a practice.” It’s up to you. Unlike that 8-year-old kid who isn’t developmentally able to connect to her authentic feeling, you are perfectly capable of being truthful. You’re perfectly capable of making strong, active choices born of a moment you allowed yourself to create. So do it! Come to class. Do the work. Hone your voice. Be an artist!

Hyper-focus on the audience breeds a performance that is not connected to your authentic feelings. Start by discovering what, if anything, moves you about the scene. What bold, truthful choices would you make if the audience weren’t watching? Discover where it lives in you, then ask yourself how your voice might vibrate with what you think they want to hear.

- Risa and Steve

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View this article on Backstage.

 

Older Teen Workshop Collage

Posted by admin on July 26, 2012  /   Posted in Actors, Artistry, Classes, Coaching, Teenagers

This week we are having a blast with our younger teens! But we wanted to pay homage to the older teens that did beautiful work last week, so here is a photo collage to give a glimpse into that world…

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Soon to come are some lovely photos of our younger teens! Stay tuned!

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