Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Acting Workshop Day 3

Where to begin, loyal blog readers, where to begin?

I think the fairest place to begin is to reiterate a sentiment I have expressed previously in regards to this class; there is nothing intrinsically wrong about what we do, and I am certain it helps a great many people that are new to the craft.

That being said, however, I am sad to report that I am not getting as much as most people might, for several reasons which I will get into. But first an update...

I received the entire play on Thursday, via email. But, as the instructor explained in a separate email, I would no longer be doing a scene from Proof, but rather Doubt. Having not read either play, I didn't mind the change.

However, after three solid days of trying to reach my scene partner via email, it became clear that her and I would not be meeting a single time until class. I learned tonight that he computer died, and she had to work. My view on that, as it is in all such situations is that there are a hundred billion computers in the world, and that finding access to one to check one's email when doing a scene with someone really is not that difficult. I would have preferred this is what my scene partner had done, but she didn't and there is little use lamenting over that fact now.

As a result, we were the least prepared for the class tonight. But the class had changed to no longer require us to do the scene. It was converted to a class tutorial of sorts, wherein each group would run their scene with the methods discussed here previously. Because my scene was the least prepared, (we had not met once ever), we had to start with the basic method. The same one I hated from last week...the close reading. Wherein I must pause after each sentence, and sometimes several times during a sentence, so I can deliver the words while maintaining locked eye contact with my partner, who cannot deliver her line until she has checked the group, and established eye contact with me. Which I often forgot to supply, because I was busy looking down at my script to see what my next line was.

I despise this exercise. It breaks any semblance of rhythm I have going into a scene, and I said as much. (I rarely speak in the class, actually, but I was becoming quite frustrated with this activity.)

In short, the instructor does not want any of us to worry about doing things well, or looking for motivation, or creating a character or basically any of the things I do as an actor. He wants it to be poor right now, because all he wants us to do is practice looking into the eyes of our partner, and delivering the lines. "To make sure you hand it off, and that they receive it", as he said.

The problem is, I like to give real lines, and receive real lines, not automated regurgitation from a page, I realize that nothing is perfect the first time, but I would rather fall short while attempting to actually perform. Like Olivier, I went to go as far as I can go from the very first read through, and build on it from there. But in class, it's all about doing these small, tedious tasks for the sake of adjusting to these small tactics when we perform. Again, I am sure this is helpful to many, but to me, I think I am too set in the way I was trained to get a lot of use out of this. I NEED to give a character life, or I am just wasting time. But I was told by doing this I can give the character greater life.

The came the Q&A from the instructor. Here is where the obvious difference between his acting philosophy and my own became very apparent. He would pepper each of us with questions about the character we played,(objective, motivation, what did you have for breakfast, what is the back story). Which is fine, except we were required to answer AS the character. In other words, when asking me, "How long have you been a priest", I would have to say "I've been a priest for five years."

This was very awkward for me, because I have always made a very specific point to NOT refer to characters I play in the first person. I have always felt it is crucial to keep the separation, especially during early rehearsals. When things are still being discovered. "I think my character does this, or that", I will say when I talk with a director or a scene partner. I prefer, and find proper, that distance. Ty must be on control of the process, and Ty will talk for hours about back story, character motivation and such. But it felt very unnerving to answer those questions with "I". I disagree that such things help everyone get into character better, and in fact I have often cautioned against doing that. If it works for you, okay, I will not wrong it for someone who uses it. But I never do, and do not like being forced to do so, as though it were more appropriate.

To the instructor, it's ok to be wrong in what we do this early, and to change our minds. In this I agree with him, but to enjoy the idea of being wrong for it's own sake, I do not like. An exploration of character is great, but to give it the false conviction of "I" takes away an objective discussion. The concepts of not knowing yet, or still thinking it over are eliminated for the actor.

That brings up another aspect of approach that I fervently dislike in these classes. The idea how to know when you are motivated. For the instructor, every single motivation can be boiled down to the same three or four. Love, for instance.

"Why are you doing this? Ok, but what is the purpose of that? And if that happens what are you achieving? and why do you want to achieve that?"

Like breaking down matter into the elements, these question are designed to get an actor to acknowledge the overarching reason why his character exists. Except the problem is that we do not live life breaking things down in that fashion. There are gray areas and changing motivations, and specific circumstances that apply in their own right. To make things to broad is to remove their significance. Their power. After all, we could all say, on some reptilian level, that our motivation for being here is to be alive. To eat, sleep, take care of our bodies. Live. Yet, as the primordial desire to not allow our own death enough to build a theatrical motivation?

To me, no way, to the instructor, basically.

For one of the other scenes, having broken down one character's motivation (a nun) down to "Obtaining salvation", the instructor insisted that the actress must now use that idea in every thing she did on stage. The way she walked. The way she picked up a pen. The way she tied her shoe. Each mundane action specifically geared toward one meta-purpose...obtain salvation through Christ.

This to me is very problematic, because I simply cannot buy that a person's over all life encompassing purpose is the direct impetus for everything they do any given day, or for that matter everything they want. If my overall purpose in life is to find love, can I really conclude that the fact I had bologna tonight instead of turkey be motivated by that desire to be loved by people?? Could i truly express such a cosmically broad motivation to each and every action I take on stage? I myself could not, nor would I want to.

I embrace the FEELINGS of a character, and try to invoke them in a performance. And because people often feel things that they do not understand, there are gray areas in life. Or there are neutrality. We can be lukewarm, or confused, or uncertain. And if I find a character I am playing should feel those things, I use that and move forward. But the instructor insists that to do so is to allow a performance to fall apart because it has no backbone. The cure? Make every single moment be about the obtainment of your life's purpose. How is that communicated?

"By rehearsing over and over and over again until something looks right," we were told.

To me, this consigns success to Chance. Making a performance beholden to a roll of the dice. I think people are more creative than that. And I for one need to be, when I perform.

I felt the same constriction when he instructed one group to choose of each and every moment of a scene is "good or bad". Nothing can be neutral. A character that literally got up to answer a knock at the door was asked if hearing a knock was good or bad. She found it to be neutral, as in fact, I would have in the same situation. But she was forced to choose between one or the other, because we were told that it is only by responding to the good or bad in every moment that clear choices for an actor can be made.

Again I had to cringe at this notion. Sometimes a cigar is in fact just a cigar. To see each and everything as anything else is for me, to run the risk over thinking every line, every step, every moment of a scene or play. That has already begun to happen in this class, as I have mentioned here, and I find over thinking to be just as counterproductive sometimes as being unprepared. I need the visceral to combine with the labor. In this class, I cannot.

So, as odd as it sounds, the class today manged to be both too personal, (with the first person Q&A) and too shallow (no gray areas, everything you say eat sleep breath and do on stage is specifically so your character can attain his life's purpose) for me. I stress once more that I do not dismiss these approaches as illegitimate or wrong. But they do run counter to my training and evolution as an actor.

The part I do in fact take exception to is the notion that a performance suffers in the absence of these approaches. I have a hard time accepting that with any approach and any instructor. (Which is why I have always been a very firm advocate of a "No Method" approach to acting. See my very first month of writing this blog.) Whatever works in the situation should be used, and whatever works for a person is just great...for them. But it is unfair to conclude that the same goals of emotional connection, familiarity of character, and interaction on deep levels with cast mates cannot be obtained save for one way. I have never been, no shall I ever be, a theatrical monotheist.

We meet again in just under two weeks. (Due to 3 or 4 last minute scheduling changes for the class that had to be made.) Hopefully my partner and I will be able to meet and run through some of these exercises. (She got more out of them than I did.) In the very least I have to find a way to not find them distracting before we put on the piece. But I have a true fear that i will never be able to micromanage every last step, blink and sniffle in my scene, or any scene I shall do. I bring characters to life, and in so doing, embrace feelings an ambiguities. As dedicated as I am and have always been to my craft, I admit I don't always know why my characters blink when they do. Sometimes, they just do. So I won't be able to defend every choice I will make in this scene as I know I will be called upon to do.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Acting Workshop, Day Two

The second night of the weekly workshop had it's ups and downs for me.

To begin with, due tot he unexpectedly long commute of the instructor the class did not begin until well after 8, or about 40 minutes late. The suggestion has been made to make the starting time later. I am in agreement with that solution.

As for the class itself, we each were to bring in an object of personal significance. We sat in a circle, (there are about 12 of us), as were slowly instructed to do such things as look at the object, pick it up, weigh it in our hands, feel it, smell it, even "taste it if you dare". (I didn't dare.) This process was repeated for an imaginary version of said object.

Finally we would pass the object to our left, and take the object of the person to our right. We were then instructed, just as slowly, to do the very same thing with this object. Duplicates and all. At the end of which the object was passed to the left again.

This was done for each object in our group, until we got our own object back. This part of class took just about 45 minutes. After which we shared with the group what the object was, and why it was important to us. At which point we were instructed to look at our objects once again. To examine them from all sides, to weigh them, smell them...the whole thing repeated itself all over again, taken just over an additional half an hour I would guess.

The object of the exercise was clear to me; to both pay very specific attention to the details of an object and what it invokes in our minds, and compare to same after we have the story behind said object. Infusing something with back story to give it more potency.

A legitimate goal. A legitimate method. In my view an unnecessary length of time. All told we spent just over half of the three hour allotted time on the objects. For me I was beginning to get numb with the process of examination, and though the same point could have been made by merely switching objects with one other person.

The next exercise was similar in goal, if I understood it properly. The instructor recreated, in as much detail as he could, his living room, there in the green room of the theatre. By moving furniture, and having things represent his own furnishes, as broad facsimile of his own living room came into shape. (Brought alive by his descriptions of his room.)

He then took questions about his living room, (our group providing more than he had ever been asked during the exercise.) All told this took half an hour. One of the other students then did the same thing, this time recreating her kitchen. When she was done, it was announced that the normal next step of trying to repeat, word for word and step for step the previous 15 minutes of the class would be done away with in the interest of time. The point would have been, it was explained, to use the same mental patterns we had seen in creating the rooms to do it all over again. By becoming aware of the patterns we used to watch the rooms being built, and the patterns used by the two "builders" we could recreate the previous 15 minutes of the class with a surprising amount of detail, had we attempted to do so.

I personally did not get very much from this exercise, as I found myself spending more time on figuring out what the "secret" was. It may even be an element to my way of thinking that hinders me in this class; trying to determine what the twist is on any given exercise. Be that as it may I did not personally care for that one.

Then I was called up to read a two page scene with someone I have known several years. This was a very distracting and unpleasant experience for me, because of all of the very specific rules involved; memorizing a line before looking into my partner's eyes and delivering it. Having to share one script between the two of us. (Something I always get lost in doing no matter how closely I pay attention.) The goal was to, in theory, make sure each of us was giving, truly giving, a line to the other one, and making it a part of what was going on, and a part of our motivation. I failed to do this, however because as I said, there were too many unproductive distractions for my mode of thinking and rehearsing.

I feel these tactics may be more useful to someone brand new to acting. But I have been studying the craft for ten years this very month, and some of it felt like an attempt to reinvent the wheel. I obtain those goals when I am comfortable and permitted my own methods. But making use of these methods did not, at least on the night, blend very well with my mindset. I had a similar reaction to the concept of throwing a t-shirt to my scene partner at the end of every line delivered. (Still sharing a single script mind you, making it virtually impossible to know when my next line was.)

I must stress that I find nothing intrinsically unacceptable in these methods. nor do I believe I am beyond learning, or else I would not have bothered to take this workshop. I am however suggesting that the methods, as employed on the evening, were very counter-intuitive to my previous training and practices, and as such, felt like an encumbrance to me.

Then scene assignments were made. He assigned us characters, scenes and partners. No scripts were available, so as of yet, I do not know what my scene will be, only that it will be from the play Proof. The scenes are to be emailed to us in the coming days.

This concerns me, however, because much to my shock, we are expected to be off book and ready to deliver these scenes by the very next class! (just over 5 days from now.) During which time he wants each group of scene partners to work on the methods I described above on at least five separate occasions.

I'm a very committed actor, and I work hard and what I do. But having a scene cold to off book in five days, using methods I am not familiar with, and not knowing if schedules or commutes will allow five meeting with my scene partner, (whom I have never met before this class) feel very daunting to me. The instructor says that doing it this way, (the way it is done at Yale and many professional programs as he mentioned) will make memorizing very fast and simple. I cannot of course comment on that until I actually engage in it with my scene partner.

I have yet, as I said, to receive my scene. So I have my homework cut out for me, for certain this week. Once he sends us the script via email, I must read the whole play, study my scene, make time for 5 meetings with my partner, and find a space in which to practice, (we are not allowed to use the actual theatre), and be off book by Monday. (This may be lifted if the class needs more time.) Either way, much must be done.

And you know exactly where to go to find my progress on same; right here at AOB.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Acting Workshop, Day One

My apologies for writing this a few days late, friends. But I Have had many writing projects going of late, and this one got bumped a few times.

As I said in a previous post, I am currently enrolled in an 8 week adult acting intensive with Pat Diamond, director of the Yale Summer Drama Program.

I think the fairest way to go about blogging my thoughts on this is to take each session one at a time. That may seem obvious, but I mean that I don't think it would be right or practical to try to ascertain my thought son the whole program. I'd rather share what I thought of any given night.

Monday was the opener. Like many openings of anything I was not 100% at ease. I knew a few people there, thank the heavens, but most people I did not know. Some had little or no acting experience. (Which surprised me, as I thought the workshop would attracted mostly experienced actors.)

Mr. Diamond is a nice man, and clearly knows about theatre. I did like some of his philosophies about approaching a play or a character. However, very little of our first session was spent actually talking. Most of the time was spend playing games and doing exercises.

The games were designed to exercise, if you will, the various parts of the brain that also must be honed to be a successful actor. As I said, I agreed with most of what the instructor said an actor needed to be able to master. However, for my particular brain pattern, I do not think I got much from the games. I did not enjoy them after a while.

The games were in many ways a challenge. They involved staying calm, being in the moment, concentrating, memory, and doing multiple things at once.

Sound like a certain craft we all know and love?

And yet for me, such games tend to fluster me. I get tense when I play such games, and often give myself a headache. That was the case on Monday, and in one of the few comments I made to the class, (I often don't say much in such circumstances), I mentioned that I was having a problem with the activities because they lacked context in my mind.

Not that they lacked merit, but for me, I need a theatrical purpose towards which I can strive in order to bring out my skills. Juggling three mental tasks at once just for the sake of doing so, or for the sake of building mental muscle is not something on which I thrive. And my lack luster performance in the mind games proved that point. Which in turn led me to feel less connected and less involved to the group, not more so.

Confusion entertains some people. It does not entertain me, and I found myself confused by the games more often than not. I prefer discussions of character and scene. Breaking down what an individual actor should do, or is trying to do. I am a very verbal acting student in some ways. But Monday was not a very verbal evening.

Overall then, I would say Monday was a case of getting acquainted with new people, which is never easy, while compounded by being put on the spot with games of this kind, which made it even less easy.

Next week holds promise for interesting things, as we have all been asked to bring an object small enough to fit in our hands. Something that holds value to us. I already know what I am bringing. But you, as well as the class, will have to wait until next week to find out.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

How I would do it.

I mentioned last week that I would post a sort of informal plan, or set of ideas as to how to start a theatre company. A specific type of theatre company. That is what I am getting into today.

Please note that none of these ideas are revolutionary. They are done to varying degrees all the time all around the country. And of course this is not the only way to start a theatre company. There are many different approaches, and like a buffet one takes and leaves what suits one most. In my view, the following methods and attitudes could be more successful than others for people that think like me. But it of course depends on what your goals and realities are. Which is a good place to start this brainstorm.

Goals and Realities

Anything that I would start, and probably anything that you would start, would be very limited by budget. So let’s say right off the top that my ideas pertain to those with little or no budget to invest in such an endeavor. The independently wealthy can do virtually anything they want in the arts. That is the reality. So let us move on to goals.

I have said many times on this blog before, any theatre endeavor should be performance/actor oriented. The mission of a community theatre company is not to turn a profit. (Which is why most are registered as non-profit organizations.) Nor should its mission be to become an influence peddler in its community, or to become the one and only destination for the arts in any given area. Nor is it to try to have the most toys that people will come to play with. I think any and all of these things too quickly become the goal of those who start a theatre company, and care should be exercised in not allowing that to happen.

I say the true mission of a community theatre is to, surprise, bring the magic, culture, fun, and potency of live theatre to the community at large. Whichever community that happens to be. This means to make it accessible to be viewed by the community, and participated in by the community. Everyday people with a passion giving something to other everyday people, and in so doing, increasing an interest in the company, and in the arts as a whole. That is the broad goal of a company I would start.

The Players

But “community” is only half of the term. “Theatre” is the other half. As mentioned, good theatre starts with the right actors. The “right” actors are those who love what they are doing, and remain committed to it, and to the mission of theatre as a whole, regardless of shortcomings they may run into. Actors who dig deep within themselves to pull out stories, characters, emotions, speeches, etc, that will make the production they are engaged in memorable for both those in it, and those who see it.

That dedication cannot be effected by lack of budgets, toys, fame, props or such. Those things may or may not be there any given time. But the human factor always is, and that is what I would base a new theatre company on. Human capital and passion. The “right” actors.

Notice I said “right” and not “excellent”. Here is where I differ from many theatre companies. It can’t be 100% about talent and ability on stage. I advocate instead a people based, passion oriented approach to theatre, and I’d screen those interested in joining the company, or any given play of same, for that passion to bringing theatre to life, regardless of the other accoutrement that may be available. Visceral, people based theatre. Not that I would ignore talent and ability. But I will admit that all things being equal, or even a bit less than equal, passion and attitude would for me trump pure talent. When people are in love with what they do, they can be led to wonderful things. Find that love, first and foremost, and you will have half the work completed.

Whether or not the right actors should be found on a play by play casting basis, or cast as a stable company of players I imagine is not quite as important, though I personally see the benefits of a stable company of players that casts outside of its circle when needed.


So, you have you group of dedicated actors. What should they perform? A lot of modern theatre is fantastic stuff. And with royalties a lot of it is expensive stuff. This is all well and good if your theatre can afford those royalties. But as I mentioned I am coming at this from the low-budget side of the spectrum. And where does that put us in regards to content?

Forget about scrounging around to find enough money to do a modern show for a limited run. Some would argue that even doing one night of a show that is the flavor of the week will get your company noticed more quickly, and lead to bigger and brighter things. “You have to fill the seats at first,” they will say.

Yes, you do have to fill the seats at some point. That is why you are in theatre. But the more your company presents to the public, the more chances there are for seats to be filled. And if you have no money to invest in royalties, you might limit how much you can present. Or how well.

Allow me to introduce you to the wonderful, uplifting, budget saving world of the public domain. Used books stores are stuffed with plays that belong to the public now. Why cash strapped companies do not make more use of such resources is mind boggling.

What a glorious thing the public domain can be! Shakespeare. Moliere. Sophocles. The music of Gilbert and Sullivan. Not to mention countless lesser known, or even forgotten playwrights from long ago that can be brought back to life by you and your actors. Not one dime has to be paid to anybody anywhere in order to put on any of these type of productions, yet it doesn’t happen much.

Yes, I admit, you will see the same 3 or 4 Shakespeare plays done at community theatres over and over again, but did you ever see the Town Players tackle Richard II? Or even Henry V?

Shakespeare still gets off easy, though. When was the last time a local playhouse did anything by Marlowe? Now I am sure it has happened, but not often, and I’ve been told why.

“Those plays are too hard to follow,” I hear directors say, “Too archaic. They will be lost on a modern audience.”

First, way to condescend to a modern audience. If something is good, people who enjoy it will come. And people understand more than they are given credit for. But put that aside and consider that if you think an older play may be harder to follow…adapt it!

An even better aspect of doing work in the public domain is that it can be altered, adapted, or edited for length without penalty. Change the order of a few scenes. Cut a line. ADD a line, it makes no difference. You are not out to be a scholar here. You are out to form a company and to move people. To interest them in drama. Do what you need or want to do with such a piece, and call it an adaptation. Then perform it. For FREE.

But Where?

So, you find the right actors, and you give obscure public domain plays a try. You still need a venue, don’t you?

It is a loaded question. Yes, it is obvious performers need a venue in which to perform. But that does not mean they need their OWN venue. Finding a venue tends to be what sinks most companies before they get started, and I am declaring hear and now that it need not be this way.

To start a company quickly and efficiently on a budget, I propose to forgo the search for a venue of one’s own. At least for a few years. Instead, concentrate your efforts on finding a suitable space in which to rehearse. Many productions engage in half of their rehearsals or more in a space other than that in which they will be performing. All one needs to rehearse is enough room to block the scenes. No need for audience space, and no real need for back stage. Just a place where there is room to run scenes, and work out kinks. Such space is far easier to come by than adequate performance space. A garage can work. So, I would secure a reliable rehearsal space, and make that the HQ for a new company. A place to convene and perfect whatever public domain show you are working on at any given time.

Performing? I have not forgotten that.

Towns and cities of various sizes all have certain types of buildings. Rec centers. Community parks. Churches. Gymnasiums. Once in a great while sturdy and safe empty buildings that are currently between leases. Performances and ceremonies take place in these buildings all of the time. The key therefore is to find those that would be adequate for a performance, and take it on the road. Be a traveling company. At least at first.

Get someone in your company (with passion for the theatre of course) that is good with phones and marketing. Those who talk up things really well, and like to negotiate. Have them scour a 30 mile radius for different venues that could work for a one night only performance and try to secure same. Some may have to be rented. Others may belong to groups that will invite you to perform in their venue for free, if you do not charge admission. Or if you agree to split admission prices with them. The point is, if you rehearse and block a show in such a way that it can be performed in any number of generic spaces, you can take that show to several venues all over your area. Get to a new venue early and run the blocking, and you are all set.

Even if you contact 50 places and only 5 or so say yes, that’s about as many performances as two weekends would be in a traditional company anyway. Plus, given that each show will be in a different community, word of mouth can spread twice as fast. (If you give them something worth talking about.) If you are well received, the same groups will be more likely to let you return the following year.

Maybe you can find a semi-permanent venue in this fashion. But even if not, you get the benefits of a traveling show, which are under appreciated by those who put toys ahead of quality acting and story telling. Who wouldn't want to combine acting with road tripping?

“Traveling is the most expensive type of theatre there is,” I have been told. “It’s cost prohibitive.”

That is true once again, only if you are more in love with the trappings and glamor of complex theatre than you are with acting and producing memorable performance based productions. It is true if you try to take your show across the nation, instead of say, across your state, or part of your state. Again, set a radius here.

And as far as the difficulty of moving a production, you have the power to stage your plays with a minimum set. With minimum costumes. Few props. None, if you see fit. When you have total creative control over a play, (which you do when it is public domain) you can pare it down as much as you need or want to. If you don’t want your modern take on “Antigone” to have fancy costumes, don’t have them. Put everybody in black. Nobody said your Merry Wives of Windsor has to have furniture.The possibilities are endless. The point is the expense of a road show decreases in direct proportion to the decrease in the extra stuff you need to put on a great show. (Another reason for truly dedicated performers.)

You therefore have reduced your expenses to things like gas and rental. Tolls, depending on where you are going. Maybe some advanced advertising in the town you are going to. Just keep it simple.

Admission may make up some of the costs. But you may not be able to charge admission in some venues, and indeed it may be advisable to not do so, for a while, until word of mouth spreads. Get people into what you are doing by letting them see it for free in their own town. Then let them ask about following you elsewhere.

On a side note, don’t be so elitist as to ignore the value of pre-recorded music, if you want to tackle a musical. Many guffaw at the idea of singing with canned music, and would never attend a show without a live orchestra. Let them stay home. Live orchestras are great, but not practical in certain venues. And certainly not for a fledgling traveling company. But if you have a good sound person that can rig speakers through which to play music to sing to, go for it. People love to come see musicals, and companies love musicals that have no royalties. The folks in the next town should walk away remembering how great the voices sounded, and how delightful the characters were to them, not “they should have had a live orchestra.

General Considerations

Then there are other general considerations. Such as how many shows to do. If you are a summer company, then picking one for the year, having your actors in place at the start of summer, and rehearsing while your marketing person gets to work on finding venues is a way to go. If you have people with freer schedules, you could perhaps do a show on a rolling basis for a few months. Pick a show, keep in rehearsal until a venue is found and then performing it. Doing pick up rehearsals between visits to different venues. Or if you are lucky you can do more than one show a year. Those to me are specific details that are best worked out with the individual company. My suggestions would apply regardless.


I think the gist of what I am saying has become clear. I advocate a theatre company that is modest in it’s beginnings, but built around highly dedicated actors that are committed to performing and moving audiences at almost all costs. I advocate having the courage to breath new life into older, less known works, and making them unique to the group performing them. I advocate setting aside the temptation to take over a building as soon as possible in favor of taking a brand of quality theatre all over the area that people will remember and talk about long after you the company has packed up and gone home.

I certainly advocate love for the art.

This sort of company does require a specific type of work. It is an unconventional approach that is not for everyone. But finding a venue, securing royalties, having fundraisers and spreading the word about a new more traditional theatre company is also hard work, if it is to be done right. Given that, I would rather focus most of my efforts on the show, and the actors, than on anything else. If that leads to something else like recognition, fame, or money with which to buy a permanent home, so be it. Yet those things should not be the goal of a company. Great performing should be.

Laurence Olivier said that it wasn’t the number of rehearsals of a play that mattered, but how long it has been in your heart. It may be the best thing he ever said about this world of theatre. And it is on that concept I would build a theatre company if I were to do so.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Hiatus Breaker

So, loyal blog readers, it has been exactly a month since I last posted here on the blog. I apologize, but as you know, sometimes there are periods of time with no theatre activity. (I know, what a tragedy that is.)

But I wanted to update.

To begin with, starting in two weeks, I will be taking an 8 week adult intensive acting class with Patrick Diamond. He is a professional actor and director, and will be teaching the class at the Full Circle Theater Company. (About which I have written many times here on the blog.) I know that some friends of mine will also be taking the class, but beyond that, I have no idea what to truly expect. I will however be posting of my adventures and perceptions of same when that time comes, of course. Check back here for details as that adventure begins.

This comes after I decided to not try out for two shows I had been considering. One of them was just too far away. I like the theatre, and it is in fact where I participated in the staged reading last October, which I wrote about in detail here on the blog at that time. But the drive is over an hour, and while I am sure one day I will appear in something there, I think it will have to be something very appealing, or at least be directed by someone I am particularly fond of working with.

The other show, "The Merchant of Venice", I opted out of because I wasn't quite ready to jump right back into that type of Shakespeare right after Romeo and Juliet. By that I mean that Romeo and Juliet is not a favorite of mine, and neither is Merchant, though it had some good moments. If it had been one of my favorite Bard plays, i would have probably done so.

And yes, I confess, as per my own advice here on the blog I SHOULD have auditioning, just for the experience of being exposed to a company I have never done anything with before. Shame on me, indeed. I hope YOU do not follow my example! Yet schedules were part of it too...I may be starting a new job in the fall, and was not sure how the hours would match up. Better to be in a new job a while before you start to spring the, "I do alot of community acting and need some time off" trick on an employer. So, I will wait and see what, if anything that yields.

I am making efforts to post more opinion pieces here on the blog, but sometimes it is slow going. I have my column over at showbizradio.net, (which I know all of you also read), so that sometimes take material away. But once my autumn gets settled in, I am going to try to post more topical things during my times without a play.

As I said though, the advanced acting class will provide thought provoking material for me to write about for at least 8 weeks. So, first things first. Do come back starting around the 14th of this month, to be a part of all of that.

I also have a few ideas I want to post in a separate entry, probably sometime this week, so don't miss that either. The topic: The ideal way to start a new theatre company.