Tag "acting-actingclasses-kidactors"

Fortune Telling #1

If you don't believe yourself when you are acting, why should anyone else?  Acting Elements

If you don’t believe yourself when you are acting, why should anyone else? Acting Elements



By Gayla Goehl – Assistant Director at Gary Spatz’s The Playground A Young Actors Conservatory.

Imagination building is an important part of learning the craft of on-camera acting.   You might think that all children would be able to use their imagination easily. However, that is not always the case.  At Gary Spatz’s “The Playground” A Young Actor’s Conservatory it is a staple of the curriculum that the students explore their imagination every class. One way we do that is through working on specific exercises to explore imagination building. Now the funny part is that the kids just think we are playing crazy games and having too much fun.  The teachers know that these crazy games are really exercises designed specifically to work on building their imagination. lastdaybeginingchildrensclass

One of these exercises/games that we teach in all the classrooms and for all levels is this extraordinary game that Gary came up with called ‘Emotional Family’.  This is how it works. Four students come to the stage and must ‘Act Out’ their mornings breakfast as if they are a very specific family.  The fun is that no matter what type of family the teacher says you are, you MUST try and explore your imagination and become that type of character!  Sit like them, talk like them; eat a breakfast that they would eat. You get the idea. Then when the teacher calls out another type of family, now you MUST try and use your imagination to become that type of family.  No hesitating. No thinking about what to do. Just try and see if you can be that type of character. There are such crazy families that there is no way to avoid the fun that follows!   Class favorites for this outrageous exercise: Ninja Family, Robot Family, Shy Family, Zombie Family, Loud Family, Quiet Family and Paranoid Family.  However probably the all time favorite family is the Super Old Family (like 112 years old family). Like seen in the photo of this recent last day of a Children’s Beginners Class taught by Emily and Sarah K.   Notice how other classmates have come up behind them to act like the nurses and caregivers for this really old family. Doesn’t it look like all the kids are having fun? Yet the teachers know that they are actually learning!!

Then throughout Beginning Class as well as Advanced Class and the second year program called the Professional Class, we come back to ‘Emotional Family’ to see the growth of each actor in using their imagination.  And finally on the last day of class we play ‘Emotional Family’ again.  It’s a great way to challenge the actors to ask themselves if they can tell how much they have grown in using their imagination. Every single student always says yes!

Learning acting can be fun!!!!  Just use your imagination!!!




By Gayla Goehl

Let’s talk about why it’s so important that The Playground Professional classes have scene work shot on camera while framed in a Close Up. First two definitions.

Close-up: (CU) Camera term for a tight shot of the shoulder and face of the actor.

Sub-Text: The personal thoughts of the character that the actor is thinking.

In this picture you can see that the young girl playing the role of ‘Alex’ is sitting on her mark on the couch and that she is framed in a close up. She is talking to two fellow students who are playing the roles of her parents. You will also see that the other students are able to watch the entire scene on the TV monitor in the classroom. The scenario for the scene is that her parents are telling her that they are getting a divorce and the Father is moving out tonight.


Every student in class that day had the opportunity to play the role of ‘Alex’. They made an entrance, hit their mark, and said their lines. However, it was the thinking and emotional responses of the actor portraying ‘Alex’ that I am looking for.

In a close up, we are so tight on the actors face that if the actor is thinking thoughts that the character of ‘Alex’ would be thinking, then we will be able to see it on the monitor. These thoughts are called Sub-text. Thoughts such as: What is happening? Why is Mom crying? Did Dad just say they are getting a divorce? Where am I going to live? However, if the actor is thinking his or her own personal thoughts such as: What’s my next line? We will be able to see that on the monitor as well. Acting isn’t just saying lines; it is when we are able to see the personal inner thoughts of the character as well.

So in class, everyone get a chance to act out the role. We shoot the performances all in a tight Close-Up. Then we watched them all back. Each student got to really see ‘up close’ how his or her thoughts traveled through the camera lens. As if we could almost hear their thoughts. It’s an awesome exercise.

ARTICLE – Memorization Lessons for Young Actors

Gayla Goehl

Gayla Goehl, Assistant Director

“The Playground” A Young Actors Conservatory

When I mentioned this I was going to write an article about memorization to Gary, a cold chill went down my spine.  When I hear the word ‘memorize’ it zooms me back to one particular moment in my life.  No matter how many plays, musicals, films, commercials, songs and auditions I have memorized over the years, I still think of that moment.

I’m talking about one exact moment when I, live, in front of six hundred people, during the final performance of an original musical (where I had created the role and had done sixty three performances), had just said the last line of the show.  I was about to break into the song telling the man of my dreams (well, the actor portraying the man of my dreams) that I loved him.  The orchestra played the intro.  I was connected to the emotion of love, my heart filled with it.  I was on the verge of tears of happiness. (Remember I was just acting) I looked into his eyes, took a deep breath, and… nothing!  Literally nothing. I couldn’t remember the first word.  I couldn’t remember the second word, or the phrase. Nothing.  I realized that my cue had passed and I had missed my vocal entrance. The orchestra leader quickly covered by vamping to give me time to come in. Still nothing… Not a single word came to me.  My brain was completely empty.  The love of my life (the actor I should have been singing to) suddenly starting singing the song to me. He had heard me sing it so many times that he knew it. My hero!  He sang until, like a flash of lighting, all the lyrics, pitches and nuances came floating back into my head. I picked the song back up and sang for my life. End of show. Applause. Our bows.  Curtain closes.  No one in the audience ever knew what had happened.  However, I was left there stunned.I was twenty-seven.  I had been performing musicals professionally for thirteen years.  I had seen this happen to other performers.  However, it had never happened to me until that moment.

What had happened? Did I not memorize well enough?  Was something wrong with my brain?   Should I see a doctor? I had heard a cough in the audience, had my concentration lapsed?  Was I getting old? Was I finished as an actress?
From that day on, I have been fascinated with memory and memorization.
Let’s define memory.  Dictionary.com states:


Memory (noun) the mental capacity or faculty of retaining and reviving facts,      events, impressions, etc. or recognizing previous experiences.
Memorize (verb) to commit to memory; learn by heart.

So we memorize to store information in our memory.
A vital part of being an actor is the ability to memorize so that you commit the scene or monologue to your memory.  Unfortunately, it can be difficult for young actors to find a good balance learning the technique of memorization. New actors might say any of the following:

  • I memorized all the lines. I’m prepared.
  • I’m not good at memorization, so I didn’t do it.
  • I didn’t have enough time to memorize this week.

In acting, it is important to know that you are not only memorizing lines.  An actor needs to memorize entrances, exits, blocking, activity, sub-text, pacing, timing, hitting their marks, where to look, etc.The list seems endless.

I watch countless students come to class, confident that they have ‘memorized’ the lines.  However, when and actor is performing in front of a class, on-camera, with other actors, they cannot control the other actors or how the scene will go.  And, once an actor adds emotion, the lines often go flying away.  Which, I realize now, is what happened to me on that fateful day.  Once a young actor starts to connect with the emotions in a scene: love, excitement, frustration, confusion, anger; no matter how much they prepare, no matter how much they memorize, lines can be forgotten.

As teachers, we are aware that actors might forget lines during rehearsals and during the filming process. It’s okay.  When an actor is committed to the scenes, really in the moment, really living the life of the character and feeling all the emotions, it’s easy to forget a line.

On the flip side, we expect our students to have properly memorized their homework during the week. Often, I give a young actor a blank sheet of paper when they come into class. They must write down their part of the script, exactly, word for word, including punctuation and capitalization.  This has two benefits.  One, writing down the script is another way for the brain to take in the lines and often, the actor notices words and phrases in a new way when they write them down.  Second, it challenges the actor to make sure they have done their memorization work.  If they forgot a line during class, we know that it’s not because they hadn’t tried.

Every actor has his or her own personal way of memorizing.  I record the whole scene on tape.  I create an image of the place the scene is occurring.  I visualize the people I am talking to.  Chose what I am thinking as the other character talk. Make choices of what I want during the scene. Then I listen back to it.  Creating the whole scene with my mind.  I also memorize while I walk or swimming laps.  Always creating the atmosphere and people in my mind and then running the lines as if it were happening at that moment. (Yes, I realized that some people might think that I am crazy as I walk around Los Angeles talking to myself!)

I also write the entire scene out word-for-word.  I find that really reinforces all the little  connector words that join long sentences like ‘and’, ‘but’ and ‘also’.  Finally, prior to going on set, I see if I can say all my lines backwards, starting with the last word first.

Here are some other methods that might work better for you.

  • Read, Read Read: Read the scene over and over again, until you have a complete understanding of what is going on in the scene.  This can help you logically understand what comes next in the scene.
  • Tape-record Your Lines: You can tape everyone’s lines. You could tape just your lines. You could also tape the cue lines before you speak and leave a blank space for where you are to talk.  (Sarah’s favorite way)
  • Word by Word: You can start at the first word and memorize it. Then the second word, and say them together. Then the third word, say them all together and so on. (Laura’s favorite way)
  • Phrase by Phrase: Similar to word for word, you can learn a short phrase, drill it. Then memorize the next phrase, drill it and add it to the first.
  • Read, Cover, Say, Check: You can read the line, cover up the line and say it out loud, then uncover it and check if you said it correctly.  (Kelli’s favorite way)
  • Write it down: Put your script away and try to write out all your lines. Include punctuation,  emotional words in parentheses that are important to the scenes and all (beats), (pauses) or (then).  Get someone else like a friend or parent to check over you work.  Do it over and over again until you can write it out all correctly.
  • Add Movement: Activity during memorization really helps with overall concentration.  Try walking around and saying your lines out loud.  Jumping rope, kicking a soccer ball, skate boarding, swimming, anything you love to do.  Saying your lines out loud is much more effective than saying them in your head.
  • Visualization: Close your eyes and visual every part of the scene. Visualize your choices:  where you are coming from, where you are going, who do you see there, why you are there,  what you want from the other person, why you want it.  Then say the lines out loud while you are visualizing everything else in your head.
  • Find a partner: Ask your mother, father, sister, brother, or friend. Grandparents are great at this. Find any other person who will practice the scene with you. Have them read the lines with you.  Have them tell you if they notice that you missed a word.

Lot of new ideas to try!

So get out there and start memorizing!

ARTICLE: In Acting, Confidence Comes From Being Prepared

or… Ten Minutes A Day Keeps The Nerves Away

by Gayla Goehl – Assistant Director, Gary Spatz’s The Playground

Being thoroughly prepared for class can boost a young actor’s confidence during class time. Young actors are more likely to be successful in getting prepared when their parents encourage them, help them and offer a positive experience for them to learn their scripts.

  • How long everyday should I have Chloe practice her script?
  • Jason has a photographic memory so he only needs a few minutes to get ready for class, right?
  • Alex knows what she is supposed to do for class, right?


Working on your script at least ten minutes, every day will make a huge difference. Set daily goals on what you are trying to get out of the time you are working with your child on their acting.

Here are a few ways to help your student actors make the best of their study time so that each and every week they can attend class and be as prepared as possible.


Monday: Read scene out loud at least four times. (Gary always tries to makes sure that each student is given two copies of all scenes. The second copy is for a parent, sibling or friend to have a copy and during practice). Pay attention to what your character says, what is being said to your character and any directions, blocking or emotions written that your character needs to know. If you haven’t done it already, ‘highlight’ your lines.
Tuesday: Make choices. On page 5 of the workbook there are a series of questions to ask about the scene. This is called Breaking Down The Scene or Script Analysis. With a pencil, write down the answers to these questions in as much detail as possible, being very specific. Act out the scene again. Should you stand or sit? Do you make an entrance or an exit? How are you feeling throughout the scene? Act out the scene a bunch of different ways.
Wednesday: Memorize. Now that you are very familiar with the scene, try and memorize your lines. Don’t worry if memorization isn’t your strong suit. Remember you are ‘learning’ your lines today.
Thursday: Add Subtext. Subtext is everything you are thinking about that your character is not necessarily willing to say in the scene. With a pencil, write down any subtext you are thinking. Test yourself on the memorization of the lines. Act out the scene some more.
Friday: Review day. Go for a walk, jump rope, help your Mother fold clothes. Any type of fun activity. While you are doing that activity, test yourself and see if you can remember all your lines and choices while you are doing the activity. Did you discover any additional choices or want to change any of your answers from page 5 (See Tuesday), if so, erase and rewrite your choices. Act out the scene again several times. Focus on really ‘believing’ this is happening to you.

Have fun with your child as they learn their script! Always remember, this is about ‘learning’ the craft of acting. In class they might discover new things, make new choices, realize they memorized something wrong. It’s all a part of the process.

PRESS WORTHY – Six of Gayla’s Private Clients Receive Young Artists Awards Nominations

Gayla RyanGayla and Stefanie on set of 'A.N.T.Farm'IMG_1436

Congratulations to all my wonderful clients who have been nominated for the 2011 Young Artist Awards.  I am so happy for each and every one of them!!!

  • Matthew Jacob Wayne in “Wurm”
    – Best Performance in a Short Film.  (10 and under)
  • Brandon Tyler Russell in “Wurm”
    – Best Performance in Short Film (Young Actor)
  • Michelle LaBret in “The Gold Retrievers”
    – Best Performance in a DVD Film (Young Actress)
  • Stefanie Scott  in “Flipped”
    – Best Performance in a Feature Film (Supporting Young Actress)
  • Ryan Newman in “Zeke and Luther”
    – Best Performance in a TV Series, Comedy or Drama
    (Leading Actress)
  • Ryan Newman in “Good Luck Charlie”
    – Best Performance in a TV Series
    (Guest Starring Young Actress 11-15)