Ted Brunetti’s Seminar – Prepare to Work, Not Audition!

July saw CCMT bring international actor, coach, director and master raconteur, Ted Brunetti, all the way from the United States (New York via Los Angeles) to present another outstanding CCMT Focus workshop for our local actors (professional and amateur).

Anyone with the energy to present a seminar for 3.5 hours without a break (and preceded by a one hour Industry Panel) has my utmost admiration – and to say Ted Brunetti has energy is an understatement! He has that particular energy associated with NYC – and heaps of it! - and a very clear passion for sharing his love of his profession yet remains a humble, giving human being.

He took us through the lessons he has learnt from some of the most celebrated teachers, performers, directors, casting agents, producers and fellow actors he has been fortunate (and clearly very talented!) to work with.  The likes of Uta Hagen, Stephen O’Flaherty, Whoopi Goldberg, Robert de Niro and many, many others. These insights will, Ted told us, form the foundation of a book he is writing.

His premise was that auditioning IS working – every audition should be approached as an opportunity to work in the role you are there to play on that day. Arrive as that character and fully engage, having fully prepared – then move on to the next one, knowing you’ve given it everything you could on that day. You MAY get the opportunity to work that character further, if you were great on the day and were what the director was seeking, but whatever the outcome, you have been given the opportunity to play that role on that day and to be seen by those present.  You are a working actor!

Ted described, with wonderful humour, energy and enthusiasm, the need to be professionally aware and flexible. He spoke extensively of being professionally responsible – some memorable quotes (his words say it far better than mine!):

  • work to find a grounded sense of yourself as an actor -offer who you are (no one teaches you how to be successful and stay grounded).
  • enjoy the audition process - de Niro loves auditioning -only time you get to do the role the way you want to!, though must be open and flexible.
  • Do not go into a room hoping to be ‘given’ the role – they have already given the role and a specific start time.
  • be informed/professionally aware- get clues from script, watch show if it’s on, look at directors, production company’s past shows…
  • separate celebrity from acting - the day to day stuff is acting – don’t conflate the two.
  • Meryl Streep’s class all got the same information but they didn’t all do with it what she did!
  • Never audition! Audition is a noun not a verb. Good actors don’t audition. Your job is to act – athletes don’t ‘Olympic’!.
  • Do not look to ‘get’ anything. It is your turn to give. Defy them not to cast you. Establish yourself as a bringer, someone they can count on for top quality work. Fulfil their needs, not yours.
  • This business is a relationship-building job. Goal is to do Good Work! Your turn will come if you bring the goods. They do not have the role to give you, they have money. You bring the role! In the room, you (actors) know the most about acting.
  • Film/tape the character, the human in life. Be the Human! Do not tape an audition. Assume you’re in a really low budget movie. You are in the scene – live it and all the people in it, do CGI acting in their room.
  • Never say “Ted Brunetti – I’m reading for Romeo” – say,” Ted Brunetti – Romeo!” It puts you in touch with the part. Otherwise you’re connecting to the business part of your job, not the role. Have a humble confidence entering the room.
  • ‘Readers’ are people you’re working with. Most valuable thing in room is connections with others there, not what’s on the page. They’re your partners, not readers.
  • Practice is the doing of it! Divers don’t think about what they’ll do when they get to the Olympics – every dive is doing the work. Must put it in your body!
  • The moment you set/plan an impulse, you kill it. Set your work so you’re available to having impulses as the character. These will vary every time you’re ‘in the moment’. Be sure to consider all the senses. Do not plan your thoughts! If you’re going to kiss someone, don’t plan the kiss! You can’t play a feeling. It’s the result of something else.
  • The camera is your most intimate scene partner. Accept it and let it go. Be no more freaked out by it than a swimmer is of water.
  • When working, it matters most what the other character is thinking of you, not the business people in the room. Play the scene! Do the work! Own the role!  Take the job – don’t ask for it – by taking care of the other person you are doing it with.
  • You don’t eat recipes – you don’t eat the script! Script = recipe. You must know how to cook it, know variables. Do not tell with an attitude/create recipe with feeling! Learn the meaning first then you will need the words. Needs and wants first, then the words. They gave you the words – they’re listening for something else.
  • You must give yourself permission to fail – through failure we find the new! Be someone you’d want on your team. Giving your partner what she needs to be Juliet automatically begins giving you your Romeo.
  • Always have the character’s ego take precedence over the actor’s ego while working!
  • Always play your ‘A’ game – bring 100% of your talent, knowledge & skills to everything you do. Do ‘A’ level work. Be in life! Be informed!
  • Drive is number 1 thing for acting, it’s not talent. Won’t succeed without drive. Fuel your drive by getting out there acting.
  • Navigate and manage the 2 worlds of the job – business and creative. You must take the work personally – NEVER take the business personally!
  • It’s not a ‘really big audition’ – they’re all the same! Avoid self-indulgence, self-consciousness and sentimentality.

Feedback has been unanimous that this was a wonderful evening and many described it as the most valuable workshop they had ever attended.

THANK YOU, Ted! What an experience – invaluable and stimulating! We truly wish you every success with “The Bronx Tale” on Broadway and hope it won’t be too long before we can entice you back to NZ for another superb night of celebrating the passion of professional performance!

The CCMT Focus programme will continue to provide unique opportunities over coming months for participants to learn from some of the industry’s best, both local and international, so make sure you don’t miss out!

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Posted: Sunday 18 September 2016