March 12th, 2012
03:33 PM ET
At South By Southwest in Austin, the bulk of my time has been spent downstairs at the CNN SXSW Grill, working in a dark, cement-walled basement. (I’ve grown fond of my captors – they give me Sun Chips and Diet Coke.)
But I do have a platinum SXSW badge hanging from my neck, which allows me access to various panels and events at the interactive/music/film festival.
Sunday afternoon, I decided to actually put this undeserved badge to use and casually strolled into the convention center with the goal of taking in a panel. Any panel. I was literally looking for an open door and a chair.
As I walked rather aimlessly through the halls searching for said open door and chair, I overheard a festival volunteer call out, “Room 18 is this way!”
When I got there, I checked out the schedule of events outside the door:
12:30 PM Jeffrey Tambor’s Acting Workshop
I'll admit that I didn't recognize the name - but a quick Interweb search revealed that he’s the guy from "Arrested Development." Score! He was somebody!
Tambor soon took the stage, joined by two budding actors – a woman and man. For the next hour, these actors passionately acted out a simple scene for the audience while an affable Tambor told them how much he hated their performances.
The scene began with the male actor repeatedly saying “No,” and his companion taking the side of “Yes.” Deep stuff.
Tambor observed their acting and challenged them to think differently – to try the scene as a comedy, as a tragedy, and even as a musical. He asked them to use funny voices, to over-act, to try it with an accent. With each attempt, the scene became more interesting.
The moral was to make mistakes - to be brave.
The female actor, Tambor said, needed to grow stronger and louder. This is when he asked her to channel her father. We learned that his name is Jim – or as Tambor put it, “Three-hundred-pound [blanking-blanking] Jim!”
It works! Tambor has transformed her into a booming Goliath, powerful and intense.
His final instructions to her before the question and answer session: Go home, write "[blanking-blanking] JIM” on a piece of paper, leave it on your desk and look at it every day.
He then suggested that we all need to channel a little blanking-blanking Jim.
I'm not a budding actor, but I did take his advice. So when this blanking-blanking Jim got up and walked out of Room 18, I decided I'd go back to my dungeon workspace in the basement of the CNN SXSW Grill and boldly confront my captors. I would stand up and make my demands!
We need more Sun Chips and Diet Coke.
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