iO’s Craig Cackowski (Quartet) normally teaches the bulk of Level 4 classes. Right now, he’s off being awesome in film and tv. So we had even more instructors to choose from! One of the Level 4 classes is being taught by iO Performer and Instructor Brian O’Connell (Dr. God). I have the pleasure of taking this class, and bringing you as much as I can interpret from my last few pages of hurried note-taking. I present you with a few of my favorite BOC Nuggets of Wisdom, courtesy of iO West, Level 4, and Brian O’Connell.
A Helpful Note: Level 4 at iO focuses on advanced scene work. Thus far, that has meant taking all the small details of any given scene: body language, object work, dialogue, game, stage work, transitions, editing, call backs, emotional and character commitment, breathing— and digging in ten times deeper. It’s amazing and so freeing.
- Characters should be an inch wide, and a mile deep. Thus, play off the little information that you have for your character so far, and keep digging deeper and deeper into their history, habits and eccentricities.
- Additionally, commit emotionally to every character and scene.
- It’s better to have an ocean that fits in your pocket than a planet sized scene.
- Try using own word instead of six for what you’re saying. Make your statements poignant, don’t overexplain.
- Let there be a MacGuffin in your scenes if need be, but let it just be that. Focus on the relationships in the scene, not the objects.
Mac·Guf·fin - noun \mə-ˈgə-fən\ : an object, event, or character in a film or story that serves to set and keep the plot in motion despite usually lacking intrinsic importance.
Example: The briefcase in Pulp Fiction.
- Scenes always have to do with the 5 things revolving around The Human Condition:
- Social Structure
- Keep in mind:
- Who am I?
- Who are you?
- How do I feel about myself?
- How do I feel about you?
- What is it about these 2 people that will make them live unhappy and unfulfilled?
- Why would I watch this?
- Where are we?
- What are we doing?
The quote I hear most often from Brian is “You are not allowed to use this art form to feel bad about yourself.” Which tells you a bit of what kind of instructor he is, and probably what kind of neurotic student I am. In any case, you can see Brian perform at io with teams Dr. God and The Armando Show. He also performs and teaches at the Miles Stroth Workshop located at The Complex.
By Maria Oviedo