Trick or Treat

Trick or Treat

Trick or Treat

TRICK or TREAT
Let your Inner Cast come out to play!
Tool from “Awakening the Actor Within” 

 

As we advance toward Halloween, we feel our spirits begin to awaken like peacocks or showgirls parading for the world to see. As we prepare for those costume parties, haunted houses and even trick or treating, we feel the naughty side of our souls kick in. As we pick out colorful wardrobes and try on outragous wigs, some playful pieces of us come out of hiding. We reveal particles of ourselves. We share with the world characters that we hide during our day to day lives.

 

 

 

I enjoy watching the transformation of people during this time, as actors showcase their “inner cast” in full glory.  Whether it’s a vampire, a nurse, a cowboy, a filmmaker or a hooker, the reins of our imaginations take hold.  This is a fun time to explore your “Inner cast” members and give them a name, a wardrobe and determine what role they play in your life. I remember an acting teacher once said, “Happy Halloweenie, your costume is the REAL you!” Well, that was funny because I was dressed in Oliivia Newton-John drag. HA! Little did I know I would one day play, Bette Davis, Judy Garland, Liza Minnelli, Karen Carpenter and Bette Midler in the drag shows I created “Legends and Bridge” & “Divanalysis.”  I even played the transgender Joanne in “Come Back to the 5 & Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean.” This was strange to me as that teacher was right. I did dress up and play larger than life women. LOL

 

 

 

 

 

 

But this exercise of finding your “Inner Cast” is more than mere “dress up.” The exercise of defining your cast of internal characters can help you find out “who is running the show” and “who you need to LET run the show!” They are archetypes of your creative spirit. Part of your own mythic journey in the movie of your life. Or theater of your life. It’s unmasking them that is sometimes the sticking point.

 

 

 

We are afraid of 2 things: 1) owning our power and 2) being the “bad guy.”

 

 

I have 2 conflicting characters who dwell in me: one is “Orphan Boy” (a sensitive weakling like Oliver Twist) and the other is “Dude” (a ruthless, Hollywood A-hole type). And the two of them often put up a fight as to how my show is run.  Orphan Boy tends to wish to run and hide, while Dude wants to put everyone down and stab them in the back.  But I usually fall somewhere in the middle as I negotiate between these opposing fellas.

 

 

 

Everyone has these types of characters and everything in between!  They can help us in our lives and in our acting!  We can adopt a personae around them. They can help us confront the bully. They can help us bolster our sagging depressed energies by adopting some personality.  The most important element is to have FUN with them. Create with them.

 

 

 

Your inner cast members can also be used at those quick auditions as you can easliy adopt one of them instead of creating a full characctrer from scratch.  Or you can create a character based around one of them and use the “I remember…” writing exercise to create a one person show or Tik Tock videos.

 

 

 

So, Name YOURS.

 

 

 

Task: Name 5 “inner cast” and give them a wardrobe.
How do the help you? How do they hamper you?

 

 

 

Task: Dress up as one of your “Inner Cast”
Task: Make paper dolls based on your “Inner Cast”

Task: Do the following monologue as one of your “Inner Cast”  

“I Want”
Acting Practice Monologue

(The NOUN to be filled in will be the character you are playing: mother, brother, waitress, director, student, priest, etc.)

I don’t know why you expect so much. What more do you want? What else can I do? I’m here. I’m here with you. What else can I do that I’m not doing? What is it? I can’t make it out. You don’t tell me yet—you want. You want. But I don’t know what it is that you want. What is it? Do you want it? Do you? You don’t know what it is I’m talking about, do you? You don’t, do you? And yet you sit there and you want, you want, you want. And I stand here, and I don’t know what it is that you want. I stand here, don’t I? At least I’m here. I’m here with you. Look? See? Your (FILL IN NOUN) is here.

Right here, see? Two arms, two legs, and only one head just like everybody else. Yet you want. I feel that tug in you. Where do you want me? What do you want of me? Backward and forward, you want!
That’s what you wanted? That’s all you wanted. Cry? That’s too easy. You can’t get out of it that way. It’s another trick to get me off track. I’m going to find out if it takes me the rest of my life. I’m going to find out what it is you want. Do you hear me? I’m going to find out if it takes me the rest of my life, the rest of my life.

 

 

 

 

Stephen Foster

Stephen Foster

Author of "Awakening the Actor Within"

Wayne’s World UK Interview

Wayne’s World UK Interview

Wayne’s World UK Interview

I hope you are safe and surviving these wild and crazy times.  It’s been a struggle for sure.  I wanted to share a little good news. My screenplays have been winning awards and My Missing Year has been Optioned!

You can read all about it in this interview with Wayne Devlin from Manchester, England.  

I’d like to introduce you to my good friend C. Stephen Foster, a multi-award winning actor and writer of film and theatre. He also teaches a course based on his best selling book “Awakening the Actor Within.”

Stephen lives in Hollywood and divides his time between acting and writing. I have a copy of his book and in my opinion it should be in every actor’s tool box.  I asked Stephen where the idea for the book came from and here is what he had to say.

“The original idea of the book came from using the unblocking tools in “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron.

I was a frustrated, blocked actor toiling away at Tower Records. I had been an actor in college and become blocked when I couldn’t get cast. I wasn’t auditioning or taking classes, but I was writing reviews for plays and CDs for a small paper. After reading that book, I had a series of “lucky breaks”, created a show with my friend Scott Wilkerson called “Divanalysis” and that is where the seed of the book came from. I originally wanted to call the book “Dr. Theatre” because I discovered the healing properties of practicing acting.”

What feedback have you had from your book?

“The actors who use the tools, say they love my no-nonsense approach to the craft of acting and the tactics I use to keep them unblocked. The feedback is always, “You helped me discover ME and my talent!” I love to hear actors find their true acting voices”.

If you’d like a copy of “Awakening the Actor Within” you can find it on Amazon.

Stephen has won, along with his partner Chuck Pelletier, over 50 awards. They won 24 for their film “That’s Opportunity Knocking” which is available on Amazon.

Stephen won five best supporting acting awards. This past year he has won eight screenplay awards for “My Missing Year.”
The screenplay for this has been optioned by Yarn Spinner Entertainment.

He has also won awards for his screenplays “Pyramid Scheme” and “Clubbed!” which he hopes to get turned into films.

 With your busy schedule what do you do to relax?

 “I love travelling to the UK, France and Amsterdam with Chuck. I like really odd quiet stuff: museums, castles, pubs, paintings, books, libraries. Since so much of my life is public. I have a habit of “over-working” and find it hard to relax.

I enjoy film festivals because we get the best of both worlds: we can work and play at the same time”.

Stephen is a genuinely nice man with huge talent that he shares willingly with anyone who wants to learn. His book is the inspiration that actors need to remain focussed and unblocked in order to pursue their acting goals. I can’t recommend it enough.

I’d like to thank Stephen for chatting to me and wish him every success for the future.

 

 

 

Stephen Foster

Stephen Foster

Author of "Awakening the Actor Within"

Outsmarting the Dbags!

Outsmarting the Dbags!

Outsmarting the Dbags!

Outsmarting the Douchebags

 


That’s It! I Quit!

 This might seem snarky. This may seem petty, but it’s the first step in healing our acting wounds. 

Let’s begin with discouragement. (I know, ouch!) How do we comeback after we fail? When we give a shitty audition? Our agent drops us? When the film we are the lead in goes belly up?
We become frightened, angry, discouraged, and we quit. It’s true. We do. This is a very difficult profession filled with “impossible” odds, fierce competition, and it takes incredible courage to keep at it.

Often, it takes many, many discouraging moments to develop enough ego strength to demand all the attention to move center stage and claim that glory. There are many reasons to stop acting. I know, actors are supposed to have tough skins and be able to bounce off any and all discouragement, but that is not always the case. I wish I had that kind of power, ego-based energy, but most times, I have to be nudged along.

I recently talked to a friend who was “crushed” because the show she was auditioning for was “pre-cast,” and she did not get the part she had her heart set on. She was ruined and said she actually threw her headshots away and was going to get a “real” job”! I understood her pain. I also gave her a dose of “never give up!” I said, “You take those headshots out of the trash and you go to any audition you can find.” Well, she took my advice and the next week she was cast in a better part! The task I ask you to do now is write out some  iscouraging moments.

Just getting them in writing helps lesson their power over you.

This is a two-part exercise to dig up our pain, air it and find reasons to keep moving forward.

Complete the following sentences ten times:
I quit acting because_______________________.
What did your list look like?

1. I quit acting because I didn’t make any money at it.
2. I quit acting because my agent dropped me.
3. I quit acting because I got bad reviews.
4. I quit acting because I didn’t like the acting teacher.
5. I quit acting because I was criticized by my friend.
6. I quit acting because I didn’t get cast in the role that was mine.
7. I quit acting because my parents didn’t support me.
8. I quit acting because I grew too old.
9. I quit acting because I needed to make a real living.
10. I quit acting because I didn’t believe in my talent.

Let’s look at the list! Does your list look a bit like the one above? We all have something of the same list, I’m sure. Discouragement is hard. Often, we don’t acknowledge our pain, and it becomes bitter scar tissue that we ignore and believe we can forget about. What happens is we stop believing and we shut off our creativity, and our lives become difficult & depressed. We stop trying and we let the douchebags win! (I mean that in the nicest way! ) 

The trick is to repair our broken bones and start walking once more. This does not happen overnight. I’ll repeat (for the impatient ones): This does not happen overnight! It’s important to be gentle and kind with yourself. We think we must get tough and mean with ourselves and criticize ourselves and just “get with it,” but this only creates more anger, fear, guilt, and frustration. So I urge you to go steady and slow until you rebuild your courage backup. Take it from me, there will be setbacks. There will be times when you
want to throw in the towel, but we now know enough to not! Right? Good. Acting was once our passion and it can be again over time. With small and delicate steps, we’ll piece you back together again.
Often, we forget that we are actors at all! We forget the game and we stop playing. If we’ve been damaged, hurt, and shamed, we stall out on the side of the road.
We let small things stop us!

Now let’s make another list. A POWER list!
Finish the following ten times:
I still want to act because________________________

1. I still want to act because I want to make money.
2. I still want to act because I want to be on Broadway.
3. I still want to act because I want to be on a sitcom.
4. I still want to act because I’m damned good at it.
5. I still want to act because my parents don’t want me to.
6. I still want to act because I know I can make it.
7. I still want to act because I’m cute.
8. I still want to act because it beats the day job.
9. I still want to act because that acting teacher was wrong.
10. I still want to act because I deserve a home in Malibu.
Did your list kind of look like mine? Good. See, we’re starting to find motivation again. This is fire, or at least smoke. Where there is smoke, there is fire. Now we just need to throw some firewood on. We need to get the sparks flying again.

Stephen Foster

Stephen Foster

Author of "Awakening the Actor Within"

5 basic acting blocks

5 basic acting blocks

5 basic acting blocks

 No actor likes to be blocked! We don’t always know we are blocked until we are suddenly NOT acting.  This is nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed by.  Acting blocks are NOT mysterious and usually stem from some type of trauma or abuse to our acting career. We are often chided with “It’s just the business…” or “get thicker skin..” as if we can just “get over it!” Actors are extremely sensitive and even psychic in nature and what appears as the nature of the beast (not booking a job, an abusive director, a horrible review, a competitive friend, a belittling teacher, a horrible audition…) can insult us so much that we stop trying. It’s identifying the root of the trouble that can be challenging and even frustrating. We don’t like to admit when we’ve been wounded.  These blocks can be from internal or external circumstances, but they STOP the acting process.  When we start digging into what actually happened to us, we can begin to heal. There are 5 main blocks that challenge each actor and I have put them on the table for examination.

With this FB live lecture and companion PDF study course, I identify 5 major acting blocks and offer a solution for each one.

 
Here is a list of the topics covered:

Toxic People
Money
Self-worth/Self Esteem
Jealousy
Networking

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stephen Foster

Stephen Foster

Author of "Awakening the Actor Within"

Where is MY career?

Where is MY career?

Where is MY career?

Where is MY Career?
How to go from where you are to where you want to go in your acting career!
It’s easy to get overwhelmed, confused and angry when facing the acting world, but these 10 pointers will help you to stay focused and sharp. Get out your notebook and get cracking! 
Watch the video and complete the exercises!

10 points to mapping out your acting career taken from “Awakening the Actor Within” by award-winning actor/writer Stephen Foster

1. Name your ACTING goal

2. Where are you now?

3. Where do you WANT to go?

4. Pick a role model

5. Create a treasure map

6. 10 Actions to take

7. Find a Master Mind buddy

8. 10 RISKS you could take

9. Protect your dream

10. Take ONE daily action

Stephen Foster

Stephen Foster

Author of "Awakening the Actor Within"

Dedication, Focus, Risk & Reward

Dedication, Focus, Risk & Reward

Dedication, Focus, Risk & Reward

“Whatever you think you can do or believe you can do, begin it! Action has magic, grace, and power in it!” ― Goethe

After a series of defeats: a series of acting projects I was involved in had not panned out, my new agent dropped me, and I had to get a “day job” to stay afloat.  As an actor, these things are par for the course, they say, but to me defeat is defeat no matter how you slice it or view it. As actors we know when we are down for the count. We can feel it in our moods of disappointment and our waves of sorrow.  But my motto is always, “Never give up,” and I soldiered on!  I showed up at the “day gig” thinking, “How am I going to get my acting back again?!”  Truly “blocked” once more, WTF?

These outside factors can and do stop actors. That’s why in chapter one of the workbook, I ask point blank, “The reason I stopped acting, is….” There is always something that “happens” to actors that “blocks” them or prevents them from moving ahead.

I knew that I did NOT want to go through another round with an agent who didn’t understand me and sent me out on leprechaun and elf auditions. I’m five feet tall, you do the math!

As fate would have it, a co-worker said, “There is this company called Film Freeway where you can submit to film festivals for FREE! I’m submitting MY short film!”  Well, those were the magic words that turned my ship around!

We (my partner writer/director Chuck Pelletier and myself) took our short film “That’s Opportunity Knocking” which was sitting on a shelf gathering dust, and I IMMEDIATELY dedicated myself to submitting to film festivals. I bought books, I did research, created a PR campaign, and made the submission rounds. I had a “hunch” it would lead to something great, but NOT without hard work! I found a great quote in The Complete Filmmaker’s Guide to Film Festivals that inspired me: “The real work begins AFTER the film is in the can!” Which is great advice for actors who believe once they film something their work is completed. Hardly! I wish!

I started with a handful of festivals I had attended for other films and was rejected by them all. So much for, “It’s who you know!” But I kept submitting, and knocking on doors! Rejection, Rejection, Rejection! We finally got into some indie film festivals and then it all started to be “magic.” We started to WIN awards: Best Comedy, Best Director, Best Ensemble Performance, Best Comedy Scene. We were on a roll, and we stuck with it!

After you’ve done the work, and you’ve committed 100%, the Universe rewards you all over the place. Doors start to fly open, opportunities seem to come out of the blue. But it’s not “out of the blue!” or luck or anything of the sort. It’s called synchronicity, it’s called law of attraction, it’s called like attracts like.  My partner Chuck Pelletier and I travelled all over the USA and Europe promoting our little baby film. We went to London, France, Amsterdam and Warsaw! Vacationing while working.

During the first 2 years, the film got accolades, great reviews, awards then, suddenly, I started to get nominated and winning best supporting actor awards! I found myself stepping up to podiums to give acceptance speeches for my work.  I was finally able to be seen in my acting and it opened many new doors for my career. Many other filmmakers wanted to use me for their projects! In total we won 24 awards and 5 of them were mine for acting!
This encouraged me to look at other projects I had buried (screenplays, plays, web series, videos) and to unearth them and put them back into circulation with a new determination to NOT stop!

So, if you find yourself stuck or blocked, do some digging, “What blocked me? Who blocked me? What happened?” and immediately get to work on ONE thing! One project that stalled you and see if you can mend it, fix it and get some mileage out of it.  I bet you can!  I know you can. “Never give up!”

Stephen Foster

Stephen Foster

Author of "Awakening the Actor Within"

YOU at Auditions!

YOU at Auditions!

YOU at Auditions!

“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost.” ― Martha Graham

When I first meet actors, I ask them a very unassuming question, “What are your 5 favorite films?” I listen to their answers. I then ask them, “What is your favorite childhood book?” I once again listen for the response. Why do I engage in this line of questions? I do it as a science experiment. I want to determine 2 things: what makes a performer “tick” and what “gold” the actor is carrying. I call this the “Vein of Gold” and I outline it in my acting course Awakening the Actor Within.

As the writer of the musical The Green Room and an acting teacher, I’ve witnessed thousands of auditions and like many have tried to analyze what works and what doesn’t work. There is no one magic formula or recipe to make you “book” an audition. There is no ONE monologue or song that will guarantee you a callback or a booking, but there are things I’ve noticed: actors not choosing material that suits them and not committing to the material they’ve chosen. This is a BIG challenge. How do you choose material that is right for you? How do you have confidence in your material?

This comes down to the line of questioning I laid out earlier: What is your “vein of gold?” What is your brand? (I know actors HATE this! “What am I? a box of Frosted Flakes?”) What are you selling when you walk in the room? All of these questions must be answered because when you go into an audition “THEY” are looking for 2 things:

1. Are you right for this role in THIS production?

2. Who are you as a person? (Will you get along with others or be trouble?)

So as an actor at an audition, you are peddling yourself the moment you enter the space (and in the hallway outside). Talent is a large factor but so is knowing yourself as a performer. You don’t want to be girl #782 singing “Defying Gravity” from Wicked or boy #283 crooning “One Song, Glory” from Rent. You don’t want to trot out the Blanche monologue from Streetcar Named Desire if you are 23 years old. If you are 52 years old, you don’t want to audition for You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown. Are there exceptions to this rule? Yes, if you make a strong and bold, committed choice.

One of the BEST auditions I ever saw was at a workshop and a comedic actress nearing 40 brought in “Dance 10, Looks 3” from A Chorus Line! Now this song has been sung to death, but this actress sang it and had us rolling in the aisles. This audition worked because it was the contrast between the character who gets plastic surgery and the plain Jane who was singing it. I would have cast her in a heartbeat because the actress had imagination and knew how to poke fun at herself and was 100% committed to the material. This would have been just another girl singing “Dance 10, Looks 3” if she had been a hot babe.

You want to select unusual and SPECIFIC character material. You want to project what your mission is at the audition: What ROLE am I aiming for and how do I want them to see ME? (If you are funny, tell a joke! If you are serious, be more professional.) I’ve seen so many actors come in the room with talent and zero personality. I’ve witnessed actors killed by less than, ambiguous material. Woody Allen says, “Casting is 90% of the director’s job.” I’ve cast poorly and lived to regret it! I’ve cast the right people, and it’s been an enchanted journey.

As performers, look for material that inspires and stimulates you. Choose material that says something about the role you want and the personality you are bringing in the room. Dig, hunt, scratch, and claw until you find the BEST material for YOU and don’t wait until the week before the audition to start hunting for that material. That is another reason the audition fails: actors wait until DAYS before an audition to learn their material when they should have done it weeks ago. They go into the room shaking with “Will I remember the words?!” instead of going into the room 100% memorized and full of self-confidence. When a director sees an actor “searching” for his lines, they are most likely NOT going to cast YOU! So, get that stuff nailed down: Who am I? What am I great at? What roles am I best suited for? Who am I showing them at THIS audition? Your package is your selling feature. You are like Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman you have to know YOUR territory. You are a traveling salesman selling yourself. You have to know the YOU that you are peddling.

 

Stephen Foster

Stephen Foster

Author of "Awakening the Actor Within"

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