Saturday, November 18, 2006


Much is said about cast chemistry. If I may be so bold, most of it is said by people who truly know little to nothing about the concept. They will watch a performance they enjoy, and give “cast chemistry” the credit, even if this is not the main reason the show was a success. Sometimes a show succeeds despite the fact that cast chemistry is in fact, quite lacking.

If that is possible, does that mean that oft talked about chemistry is not required?

Like many things in the performing arts, it varies with the circumstances. Two actors playing a happily married couple might benefit from chemistry more than two performers in a show who only exchange one or two lines of antagonistic dialogue together.

On the whole though, does it matter?

Many would say that if the actors on stage are good enough, it should not matter what kind of personal relationship they have with each other off stage. Indeed, colleagues of mine have argued that if you are really good, you should be able to convince an audience that your character is madly in love with the character of an actor you despise. This is for themost part true. (They say Vivian Vance and William Frawley, the Mertzes on “I Love Lucy” could not stand one another.) That is why, of course they call it acting.

Yet to me, no matter how good a performance may be between two people with no personal chemistry, there is always a transcendent quality to a performance between two people that do in fact have a healthy relationship backstage as well. This does not mean that one should strive to become the best friend of anyone they ever play a scene with. It does however mean that no matter how good you are, you will present a better performance to the audience’s subconscious, if you and your cast mates have established at least a cordial friendship. (Though the deeper the friendship and trust, the better off you will be, short of on-set romances which I have discouraged before.)

I maintain this is true even for performers playing antagonistic characters. Two people who hate each other in real life may be able to draw on some fraction of their real feelings in a Stanislovsky sort of way, and hence present some fireworks for a while. Fundamentally, however, it is all about trust and comfort. If you are comfortable with and trust your fellow performers in a scene, it will bring out the best in both of you. Most performers that despise each other as they perform will eventually just appear phony.

In sum, while warmth between you and your castmates is not a required element, I maintain that it is a very useful, and at times magical tool which adds that “little something extra” to a performance and show. The something may not be able to be quantified, but audiences, and you, will both feel an increased depth to your theatrical experience if is it there.

Monday, November 13, 2006

What I Did Not Do

Sometimes an update in a blog log this consists of what I opted out of. In this case, it was a local community audition I contemplated for a week or so, but decided against.

The Fredericktowne Players, based on nearby Frederick, Maryland, had auditions a few days ago for "Amadeus". I have never worked with the FTP before, though I have tried out for them previously to no avail.

They have a slightly different philosophy on community theatre than I do. Not that this is evil, but I prefer a different approach most of the time. However, given that Amadeus was advertised as having many smaller roles, I thought perhaps I would take the chance with the FTP again. My hope was that the resume I have built since last auditioning for them, and the experience I have gained would have made at least a small part in a huge cast more likely. I have been meaning to branch out into other local theatres, after all.

But I decided that the holiday season is not the time to be getting used to whole new rules, new people, and new locations, etc. Too much to get used to at a time of year when there is a lot going on in the emotional department anyway.

I adore being in the Christmas oriented productions at my current home base, The Old Opera House. I am familiar with the place and the people. It is like a Christmas party almost once you get down to tech week. But as I mentioned before, I did not try out for the OOH's Christmas offering this year.

Perhaps if it had been a play that I was enamored with, I might have thought otherwise. But Amadeus, while a good show, is not one of those I chomp at the bit to be a part of. So, I opted out for now.

I did check the shows FTP was doing for the rest of the year. But they are doing a show that another local theatre did only months ago. In fact in the last year, I am noticing that there is quite a bit of repeating going on with the local theatres. The OOH is usually out of the main fray of that, but there seems to be a lot of the same shows making the rounds of late. Whether or not it is intentional I cannot say.

So there you have it. The only Mozart I will be dealing with in the next few weeks will be my own collection of his music.

Thursday, November 09, 2006


I am still here, loyal blog readers. The world of politics has kept me busy the last week or so, plus I have been lining up articles and also interviews, (as promised) for upcoming issues of Always Off Book.

Please bear with me as I work on this line up of new material. Once the dust settles with some other things, I should be back to more consistent posting. (Probably starting with tomorrow's advice article.)

As always, stay tuned. It's going to pick up between now and the end of the year.

My thanks to all of you, those who reply, and those anonymous types.