Archive Page 2

08
Aug
16

Drag in Theatre and Performance

What is the definition of Drag? According to Wikipedia it is as follows:

A drag queen is a person, usually male, who dresses in drag and often acts with exaggerated femininity and in feminine gender roles. Often they will exaggerate certain characteristics such as make-up and eyelashes for comic, dramatic or satirical effect. While drag is very much associated with gay men and gay culture, there are drag artists of all sexualities. There are many kinds of drag artists and they vary greatly in dedication, from professionals who have starred in films to people who just try it once, or those who simply prefer clothing and makeup that is usually worn by the opposite sex in their culture. Drag queens can vary widely by class and culture. Other drag performers include drag kings, women who perform in male roles and attire, faux queens, who are women who dress in an exaggerated style to emulate drag queens, and faux kings, who are men who dress to impersonate drag kings.

 

Do we consider cross -dressing in the theatre (plays and operas) as a form of Drag? I do not; to me drag is about creating your own persona and making something out of scratch not filling a role requirement in a some one else’s work.

Now to look at this question I am also not going to include ancient temple cross dressing priests or those who lived as the other gender that is another topic. Drag as performance is what I want to discuss and how we define it, and what it does. The world of what has been referred to in several ways as Drag or female impersonators. This tradition goes back to music hall days and has as many stars both renowned and infamous like Fanny and Stella who went on trail before Oscar Wilde and went on to continue their stage career after being acquitted.

This kept up through the 50s and 60s with clubs featuring “acts” Finoccho’s, Club My oh My and many others most performers would sing and dance, before the world of lip-syncing arrived

. https://youtu.be/W6EsOPozjdk

There is a lot written about the history of the art form, and yes I do consider it to be an art form.

 

The idea of a man shedding his power in a male dominated society and culture to dawn the manners and appearance of the opposite gender one that is viewed as weaker and less than is in fact an act of empowerment for them, we see this time and time again. Is it less for Drag Kings who are emulating the ways and manners of men? It’s possible as we view a man’s sexuality very differently than we view women’s sexuality. The rules for men are still fixed in the binary system. As to how doing drag affects the performer from everything we are told by these performers and artists they feel complete in a way they hadn’t before, as gender expression and playing with the binary system weather or not that’s what they are doing intentionally its what’s happening. The role of drag within the community has also changed as the fight for equality has shifted to conform to the hetro- normative model.

 

Drag queens, fems and non – conforming queer folk historically have been in the forefront of the fight for equality, they are not the queers who sit politely and ask permission as we look to our history it’s the drag community that started the riots in New York and San Francisco. It is this fight surrounding drag and gender identity within the community that continues the discussions of Hetro and Homo normative and how drag is viewed within our own community, how we wish to be perceived, and the idea of there no longer being room for non- conforming.

 

In drag the performer has the permission to say and do almost anything they want. It gives them a platform to tease and to say things they never would say (for the most part) to anyone who is in the line of fire.

 

Drag is a transformation; it is also a form of art where your body is your canvas. It has gone from presenting as the other sex to high performance art.

We go from the performative with in bars and nightclubs to the Ball culture of the 80s and 90s. More and more Drag queens and Kings are pushing the boundaries taking bigger risks and squewing our idea of what gender is suppose to resemble, sound like, and act like.

Looking at Rupaul and his sheer force of will, the first drag queen to be the face of a cosmetic, and liquor add campaign he has had several iterations of talk shows and now a game show on top of Drag Race.

With the sudo mainstreaming of RuPual’s Drag race I wonder what is the affect this show has had on the drag culture? We look to the contestants who have taken the crown; we see performers in the traditional sense with Del Rio, Jinx, and Bob the Drag working in the mainstream of classic entertainment singing and stand up. The first pushing of the boundaries of what we consider to be proper drag with Sharon Needles, and a gender bending Violet who strips down to practically nothing and is clearly male and yet clearly not all at once.

https://youtu.be/l_w7wTn-WYs

 

Drag is not a conformative art form. So it will be interesting to see if the real mainstream culture will try to co -opt it and just how that will go.

 

The reaction to faux Queens has been interesting and hostile in some cases. Can women be drag Queens?

https://youtu.be/VJYaq_XnjaQ

 

In the spirit of Drag I think absolutely women can do drag the very nature, culture and history support it. I am curious as to what is spawning the hostility? Why is it a threat?

Women pushing boundaries within and commenting on femininity can be act of defiance so I’m all for it and clearly it pushes buttons that’s what is at the heart of drag.

 

Drag is a performance art, one that makes you question what the boundaries of gender are, and should we have boundaries surrounding gender in the first place?

 

The spirit and world of drag has influenced theatre and has taken from theatre. How can we, as theatre makers, take more of this on in how we present theatre? The courage and risk taking is at the heart of drag and it is this that we should be bringing back into theatre. We have fallen into a complacency that does little service to the audience and the work. We need to make bigger choices and have the courage to stand behind them.

 

 

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27
Apr
16

Pennsylvania Ballet and the role of artistic director in dance

So recently in the news is the story of Pennsylvania Ballet and their new Artistic director Angel Corella. He has fired (let’s not quibble about dancers on contract, in ballet there is an assumption that dancers will stay with their contracted company) 12 artists. Five more are walking or being pushed. This is nearly half of a company that only employs 43 dance artists. If a dancer is not having their contract renewed, it is vital to give them notice earlier rather than later so the artist can look for a new position before seasons start.

 

Corella, according to The Inquirer has used the following excuses for his actions:

 

The reasons Corella gave that contracts were not renewed included: Dancers were not chosen by choreographers for new ballets; dancers were able to dance only certain styles; dancers had trouble adjusting to the new leadership; dancers were of a height that made partnering a challenge.

http://www.philly.com/philly/entertainm

 

“It’s always a difficult process for everyone” when contracts are not renewed, Corella said. “It’s the hardest part of being an artistic director.”

http://www.philly.com/philly/entertainment/arts/20160426_Pennsylvania_Ballet_to_leave_or_be_let_go.html#p0oJkygEbXqe5YMr.99

 

As an artistic director you are hired to come in and work with an existing company, if it isn’t something that you have built from scratch you are stepping into a pre-existing culture of work and relationships. Artistic Directors must realize that the people there are there because they also love the company and what they do. They are brought in for change and growth, and to bring fresh eyes to the work and company.

 

Corella’s statements about the “process” ring quite shallow when you look at the actual size of the company and the ease with which his ‘issues’ could have been addressed.

 

First off “dancers were not chosen by choreographers.” Well, as a freelance choreographer I have to work with who is in the room. I should have access to the entire company but that is what I have to work with. If you cannot rise to that challenge what are you doing in the business? Do you think every company is ABT? If your work has been picked up by a company you think cannot do the work you have the right to say no, if you don’t it is your job to get the work out of these artists. Grow up and do what you have been commissioned to do.

 

Next “dancers weren’t able to dance a certain style and the heights made partnering a challenge.” You are also a dancer and now the head of a company. Your challenge is to bring the company to a new level. I understand the ballet aesthetic varies from school to school, but this is the company you have been brought into. These dancers have been faithful to the company and deserve a chance to learn as artists and, more importantly, these are the artists you knew were there when you took the contract.

 

This reminds me of the debacle of Oakland Ballet. That company grew out of nothing. The dancers body shapes were not the standard, which allowed them to do early work such as The Green Table and Nijinsky’s Rights of Spring with an authenticity few companies, could claim. The dancers were incredibly loyal and it was their efforts when the company was in turmoil that kept the company afloat. The new artistic director was a disaster. She caused rifts and fired many of the dancers who had helped keep the company alive. She tanked the company in a very short time, and the board did nothing to stop her. She tried and failed to make Oakland Ballet something it was never intended to be and in so doing destroyed what she was brought in to shepherd. That company is on the mend, but has a great way to go.

 

Ballet companies are little fiefdoms. Most look on the dancer as a cog not an artist unless they are principals and even then it’s not always a win for the artist. The companies and boards refer to them as artists when it suits them. The culture of ballet is old, hierarchical, and hasn’t really changed in quite some time. Smaller boutique troupes, can be run quite differently. Ballet receives major funding from the state and big grants organizations and donors in the US and elsewhere. This means money is always there on some level to explore and reshape, not just hack and slash. The problem with this type of funding of tradition is no one is building tutu ballets anymore. The vast majority of new choreographers are rooted in contemporary movement. The dancer/artist today must be versatile, adaptable, and versed in as many styles as possible. This occurs far more in European companies than in the US.

 

Audiences for this medium are also changing. Many don’t want to be danced at, they want to feel a connection to the performer or at least be acknowledged by the performer. How ballet is performed is in need of change. It is this change that Mr. Corella could have addressed with his new company. He could have challenged them to step up to the task at hand. This appears to have been too difficult for him, so like a little tyrant he is destroying to build something out of the ashes.

 

“Angel’s stock answer is that certain people haven’t been on board,”

http://www.philly.com/philly/entertainment/arts/20160426_Pennsylvania_Ballet_to_leave_or_be_le

 

Your job as artistic director is to communicate as best you can and to build with the artists in the room. The days of Balanchine are hopefully on their way out. You build in his way at your peril. Opera and ballet are striving to remain relevant in an arts world that sees them more and more as performance that is for a certain class of people. Ballet has several advantages: there are training facilities everywhere, there is a huge sense of romance connected to it, and the skill required is high. Ballet dancers are seen as athletes, but should also be seen as artists with a voice. The same is true of opera but opera does not have the same saturation as dance.

 

Some amazing things are happening in both of these mediums, but change is hard and challenging. The money that these industries rely on is being challenged by more contemporary art forms that speak to a 21st century generation.

 

I wish the dancers/artist leaving the company all the best and I hope that Mr. Corella will learn something from this, but I doubt it.

30
Mar
16

Pina Bausch Café Müller (1978) and The Rite of Spring (1975)

Pina along with Merce Cunningham, Martha Graham and others laid the ground- work for many artists who followed. This isn’t to say their work is easy, or as potent as it was when it was first made, however they paved the road that many artists travel now.

 

A topic of discussion among my colleagues and I has been about theory and its practical application in theatre and dance. The audience shouldn’t have to know your theory to be able to understand or get something out of the work. As I watched Pina’s company perform the other night I realized that we have retreated from the thinking audience. Work should challenge the viewer, make them think, question and debate what they have seen. Most mainstream work long ago stopped asking larger questions of their audiences and choosing instead simply to entertain. This is part of the function but not the only one. A balanced season or performance will catch you out, make you consider something you hadn’t thought to question.

 

If, however, you are driven by theory and think your audience should know this theory to get everything they need to out of your work, you will play to empty houses. The early artist of contemporary/modern movement didn’t always work with theory but with a visceral idea that others later built a theory around.

 

So as I sat in the audience for the New Zealand Festival’s big event, I was surrounded by people of a certain age (ticket prices were quite high). They came to see art with a capital A. So Pina has become mainstream. Something that would have seemed impossible when she was first starting out. Müller left them somewhat bewildered, although during the interval people had questions “what did it mean?” was one and “what did you think?” was the other.

 

The work itself uses the Café her parents ran when she was growing up as a jumping off place. It is not an easy work to experience. Watching it however, I saw the roots of other works by other artists. Pina opened a door for them, took the big risk and in so doing shaped the form of things to come. Bowie and Almodóvar both credit her as a large influence on certain works of their own. A segment of Müller appears in “Talk to Her” Almodóvar’s film with similar themes as that Pina addresses in her work.

 

Rites of Spring

There are many iterations of this work by many choreographers, each with their own take on what Stravinsky was trying to provoke or illustrate with his score. As a dancer I have had the opportunity to dance the original choreography by Nijinsky. It was one of the most difficult pieces of music I have ever moved to. Of the many versions I have seen Pina’s is the pinnacle. There is a sense of danger in the work that I seldom experience in dance any more. The movement echoes the score as it drives to the ending, leaving the one woman who has been chosen to move in a solo that at times cannot match the score. Will they kill her? Eat her? Rape her? All of the above? You really don’t know, and just as you are about to find out the work is over.

This work has more structure and more recognizable dance movement then much of her other work, and was received with loud cheers and applause. Justly so, it is a break-neck work that never really stops to take a breath.

23
Feb
16

Carol, Tangerine and queer cinema

Carol is a visually sumptuous film that captures the New York of the fifties. It’s on the verge of ‘something coming’, but still steeped in the fifties formality. Todd Haynes’ direction isn’t heavy handed, he gives the actors room to fill moments, the dialogue is sparse but so much is clearly said.

 

I like the film for many reasons the sheer beauty of it, the fact that it’s an unapologetic queer story, and that it isn’t trying to do too much. We follow the characters as each makes major changes in their lives; in the end the world is full of possibilities.

 

When I look at Carol I see a film intrinsically different from Brokeback Mountain. There was nothing new in Brokeback, the acting was beautiful the cinematography breath taking, but in the end Hollywood sings the same old tune, two men fall in love, act on it, so of course one of them has to die. There was nothing ground-breaking other than it came from a big studio and big names worked on it.

 

Carol, based on a book by a queer woman and directed by a queer man, unashamedly tells the story of two women and has a feeling of self-ownership and hope.

Unlike so much coming out the big studios these days Carol is a thinking person’s film, it’s not a big story, but it is an important one. The director was in charge and was given room to work; the result is a film that will last much longer than most of what’s running out there.

 

Tangerine

This is a list of firsts, filmed by Sean S Baker on an IPhone 5 it is the first “fictional” movie filmed in the US where we have trans actors playing trans people. This may not be pleasant to watch, but is a real situation for female to male transsexuals out there living on the street or just getting by. It doesn’t judge. It puts you in an unknown world that we would usually avoid at all costs. It isn’t for everyone, but there is a wonderful raw quality to the work. The acting isn’t groundbreaking but in most cases honest, the world they occupy is limited and has its borders, as well as being broken. The sound track is pulled together by a quilt of indie musicians, some only 17.

 

It will be interesting to see what he makes next.

 

With trans folk being in the media so much right now with Orange is the New Black, The Danish Girl, About Ray, and Transparent, we have many depictions some honest, some romanticized, some missing the mark. With all of this comes a constantly repeating question: who should play these roles?

 

As a queer artist I am torn on the question of whether queer actors should be first in line for the roles. On the rare occasion we see queer people playing queer characters on screen we see a depth that is sometimes missing from other performances. Am I reading too much into this? Quite possibly it’s hard to judge. Looking at Ben Whishaw, for instance, in London Spy there is a visceral connection to the understanding of the relationship.

 

With trans roles I want to see a trans performer bring something only they can viscerally know to the work. An example of this is the French film Wild Side. The film cast Stephanie Michelini as the lead portraying a trans women living in Paris. There is something mesmerizing about her performance in the quiet looks and silent moments, her sense of exhaustion and her non-apologetic decision to live her life as she does. Filmed in 2004 you see immediately how far we have to go to catch up with this kind of filmmaking. Living as a queer man, just like living as a queer woman or trans has its own history and has informed us in ways straight people do not experience.

 

On the other hand, as a theatre maker I want to see the character not the performer. It shouldn’t matter who the actor is sexually “in real life”, it is the actor’s portrayal of the given role that is important. This is the current argument amongst artists in the field today. We are all human, we all experience joy and sorrow, we should be able to portray any character without the actor’s personal orientation being brought into question.

 

In a perfect world that is true, I have no doubt that the straight and non-trans actors working in these roles are striving to be as authentic as they can be.

 

We don’t live or work in a perfect world. Hollywood and American media especially have no idea how to break out of stereotypes and poor writing choices, not only with queer characters but with pretty much any minority character depicted on small and big screen. What’s even more disturbing is that they don’t see there is a problem. One has only to look at the merchandizing for the Star Wars film to see that they are clearly out of touch with the public of 2016.

 

We still hear the argument that those who are out will never get work. We see less of this in the music industry. At present more and more recording artists are coming out, and making videos that depict their sexuality without apology. As musicians they are their work so a sense of authenticity and acknowledgement of who they are can only help as they create their own brand.

 

For actors, and especially, let’s be clear, male actors, the fear that being out is a career killer is still quite real. In other parts of the world this is not necessarily an issue, they do the work and get on with it. I don’t want an actor to sacrifice their career just to be out, but I would love to see more queer actors demanding a more adult approach to the work and how we are portrayed.

 

It is here the American movie industry is years behind Europe and the independent scene not only on what is produced and who portrays whom, but how the films are viewed. I will acknowledge that HBO and Showtime have made great strides in this area.

 

Do I think it is different for women than it is for men? Yes I do. We have a different view of women’s sexuality as a culture. Women have been objectified and marginalized within the arts world as well as all walks of life. How a woman looks and dresses, does she wear make-up, all the mundane sexist crap that women deal with daily. This is changing, but very, very slowly. A woman’s sexuality isn’t seen as her own, it is about the straight male gaze and she has little agency. A man’s expression of his orientation reflects directly on how he is viewed as a man. People see queerness as a feminized weakness, he is somehow soft. These are not manly qualities in the western cultural view. This too is being challenged and rightly so.

 

All of this is going on within the discussion of who gets to play gay on screen. So the conversation isn’t an easy one or one that has a clear answer. As a director I want an actor who is right for the role. If it’s a queer role I will do my best to cast a queer actor because there is less to translate. Do I think straight cannot play queer? Not at all. Desire, passion, and love do not know boundaries in the real world. Would I want to see an actor labeled and unemployed because the powers that be don’t think the audience will buy a queer man playing straight? It’s been happening for a long time you just didn’t know about it.

 

At the end of the day for me no matter who the actor is, did they treat the subject with respect and integrity? Is it a three dimensional character or a flat one-dimensional stereotype?

 

These are the battles still being fought.

 

 

 

 

 

12
Feb
16

Angels in America can it play today?

So a local theatre Company Town Hall Theatre in Lafayette CA will be performing the cycle very soon. They are the first repertory company in the Bay Area to put this on in a while, not counting college productions. The last one was the ill-fated ACT production that was a misfire on all counts.

I find the work to be one of the best plays of my generation not only because the themes speak to my own life but also because it covers so much of who we are and what drives the country, the good and the bad. Never do I feel preached at, talked down to. The play expects me to be a thinking audience member, it doesn’t distract me with flashy musical numbers or heart felt ballads it hits me with the truth of human longing. It is us, at our best and our worst. It lives in a world where dreams and hallucinations cross the line into our own world and inform us of what we are seeking. The writing and style are clear and the thrust of the work makes us look at the world we inhabit with all the politics and religion and humanity with love and humor. The plays never pull us away from the real human struggle of desire, longing, and most of all hope.

Having lived through what was one of the seminal experiences of my generation as a queer man the AIDS epidemic, the work stands as a monument to the fallen and a glimmer of hope of who we could be.

My own history with the play is big in its own way, I saw the first production of the first play at the National Theatre in London. Sitting next to a young French tourist on one side of me with a group of American tourists who had been bused in on the ground floor the whole thing was a bit surreal.

When I got back to the States my mate called me to tell me part two was playing in LA and to get my butt down there ASAP we had to know what happened.

After that went with a good friend in NYC and saw the cycle there, with a lot of the original cast.

Then it was mounted at ACT much later and not very well. Then of course the film, which I still have some issues with but on the whole like. So I have seen it in many forms and iterations and each time the writing stands strong.

Does the work still hold up in the year 2016? Having a Black president didn’t destroy racism in this country; neither did the right to marry dispel homophobia. These events have magnified what we like to try to ignore and even hide; we still have a long way to go. As long as people feel the need to stay in the closet to guard their safety and their place at work, or go to a church that thinks they are less than human because of who they love, then we will still see the truth in the character of Joe Pitt.

I feel this work along with many others opened the door for queer theatre and how we are represented onstage. The themes are so much bigger than gay or straight; they tackle how we navigate, how we live, and what we do to cope. It is, at its heart, an American play.

In todays theatre world it is hard to know what will work, what will audiences take on? We think that we must make things shorter, flashier the list goes on. We forget Nicholas Nickleby, Angels in America, The Shores of Utopia, Pride and Prejudice, the Norman Conquests all are two or three play cycles. The audience came and more importantly they came back to see what happened. As we try to connect with audiences we need to build work that speaks to what we are living through or experiencing now, how does theatre reflect our life and our struggles? Angels still holds itself up in that regard. Town Hall and its Artistic Director Joel Roster have shown an incredible leap of faith in the work and the craft and it has paid off if you are in the area I urge you to attend.

 

 

15
Jan
16

Why I’m not watching the Oscars again this year

Why I’m not watching the Oscars again this year

Last year with the amazing travesty of the non- nomination for Ava DuVernay director of Selma (it appears the film directed its self) I had, had enough.

I remember very fondly the Oscars of the past going to parties, hosting one or two parties on my own, rooting for your favorite film. Now as a mature theatre practitioner I can no longer really join in with enthusiasm.

This year again seems to be the straight, white boys pat on the back club. We are rewarding business as usual instead of championing new filmmakers and new voices.

Yes several of the films nominated have tackled large issues, The Big Short, Spot Light are good examples, missing from best picture list Carol, Straight out of Compton, Beast of no nation, and The Lobster. Nothing blows up in Carol or The Lobster so I can see why little boys have trouble watching it. Carol also has very little to do with men, and its about two women so I can see also where Hollywood would rather nominate The Danish Girl a film that misrepresents two queer people in a relationship when one decides to transition, (for those who haven’t seen it that isn’t the story they are telling.)

 

I love a good blockbuster don’t get me wrong they inhabit a big part of why we go to the movies, but it isn’t the only voice. We are not rewarding thinking films, original films, we are lifting up the status quo and frankly it’s really boring. We hear complaints about ratings of the Oscars well try giving films that really pushed us, made us think, covered non white issues, weren’t made for the adolescent straight boy of 15-25, and you might be surprised as to who tunes in.

 

Tangerine got nothing. A low budget work filmed on an IPhone has done very well and addresses a trans world with real trans people that’s something we don’t want to see or acknowledge .It also sports an amazing score written for the film. 45 Years deals with an older couple addresses their love and emotions and realize that even people in there 60s and 70s still have an emotional and erotic life, one nomination for best actress.

 

The actor nominations were a little odd; Michael Fassbender for Steve Jobs not Macbeth, apparently Stalone was the only actor worth mentioning in Creed, Missing Idris Elba in Beasts of No Nation. Everyone seems to be claiming its DeCaprio’s year, well I hope not because he leaves me cold. I know many who find him appealing I just don’t see it. He plays one note and not very well. Matt Damon’s behavior off screen has unfortunately soured me on anything he is doing on screen.

 

I am a massive Cate Blanchett fan but the film is really about Rooney Mara character so the nomination should have either been the other way around, or put them both up for best actress. Lilly Tomlin in Grandma anyone?

 

As far as design goes Furry Road, Star Wars, were feasts, but so was Crimson Peak, and Macbeth.

Huge strides have been made in the last few years with digital capture and the actors face and body being used as a base to animate character. When do we start to acknowledge the work of Andy Serkis and the people working within the special effects world trying to bring a more three dimensional authentic character to the screen?

 

Documentaries lets talk about the ones we didn’t want to touch, the ones we should all be hearing about, Going Clear the documentary about Scientology and The Hunting Ground a documentary about rape on our college campus, The Mask you live in a documentary about how boys struggle with the narrow view of masculinity in American culture.

So in short the work that is up is mostly white men saving us from something or braving the wilderness or what ever. They say it’s a cowboy town and the last few years have been proof of that. For me this year I will be cheering for digital awards and design as I have friends working in these fields. But I will read the results online rather than tune in to a show, and an award that has again missed the mark.

 

My list of a few films to see from last year

Carol

Tangerine

Macbeth

45 Years

Straight out of Compton

The Lobster

Suffragette

The second Mother

Ex Machina

Dope

Mad Max Furry Road

The Dark Horse

What we do in the Shadows

Beast of no nation

Documentaries

Going Clear

Hunting Ground

The Mask you live in

Deep Web

The True Cost

07
Dec
15

Training

 

Why are American actors not getting cast in major films and TV? How is it that they are put aside for Australian, UK and New Zealand actors? What is not happening in their training?

 

This is the question that has been driving me for a while. It’s not that I think they’re not being taught well, but what is the focus? Are they taught to have the rigor of practice that we are seeing from our over seas competition?

 

Basic technical skills like working and drilling dialect is a case in point. Here our counterparts outstrip us; Revenge, Hannibal, Fringe all had non-American born protagonists but you wouldn’t know it to listen to them. There are many reasons why we are falling behind. The movie industry is seen as something that many can do and requires no skill. How often have you heard ‘you look amazing you should do film.’ Yes, it’s still happening. The untrained actor in the US wants fame but doesn’t want to work for it.

 

Actors are athletes in their own way. The body is their instrument, their physical presence that they rely on. So it makes sense skills that need to be drilled work on voice and body. I’m not talking about the actors who gain weight or starve themselves for a role that is a whole other conversation. I’m talking about drilling lines, knowing the script, keeping yourself in performance condition. As actors, we are our own canvas; we must hone the physical skills and intellectual skills to be able to work in our field. Skills such as portraying emotions, knowing how to break this down in a physical way. What is my breath doing? How is my voice affected? What is my physical stance? Actors must be able to portray emotions whether or not they feel it.

 

The introduction of the American method has kept us behind twenty years in the field. This is my opinion, and one that is shared by others in the industry. We train people to give themselves therapy on stage and to take everything as personal. Turning everything inward. I find it far more interesting to see how others inform you and how you react to what is in front of you.

 

Yes, these are generalizations but we have to start somewhere. On returning from his tour of US schools and universities, Christian Penny, head of Toi Whakaari in New Zealand, found students unable to take on larger questions without it becoming a personal attack on them. We need tougher skins, we need to be able to drop offers that are not taken up and move on, without grieving for the brilliant idea or offer that didn’t fit or work. To be able to hold our own when challenged, to separate from the work, it really isn’t all about you.

 

I’m not asking you to all be super men and women, but be in shape what ever your shape is. Make sure you can endure a day of rehearsal and shooting. Stop being precious about your offers. Make them and keep them coming. Drill your skill set, voice and diction, breath control, movement. These are your tools. Know how to use them and be ready to.

The face of theatre is changing and we are not keeping up. There is a movement of mixed training and media that cross disciplines. Companies like Knee High, Complicite, and DV8 physical theatre are leading the way.

 

I will leave you with this quote from Michael Fassbender

 

“Tiger Woods is Tiger Woods because he practiced that fucking swing 100 times a day. Why should acting be any different? It’s just boring repetition, and through that, I find things start to break down, and you start to find the nuances, all the interesting little details.”

 




RSS notes 4 stage blog

  • Boys in the band revival February 5, 2018
    The announcement of the revival of Boys in the Band featuring Jim Parsons, Zachary Quinto, Matt Bomer, and Andrew Rannells. Co-stars will include Robin de Jesus, Brian Hutchison, Michael Benjamin Washington and Tuc Watkins. Joe Mantello at the Booth Theatre will direct the 50th anniversary production. In the YouTube video promo bellow they speak of the work […]
  • Working in the world of Faire December 5, 2017
    Currently I’m working at the Great Dickens Faire in San Francisco CA. I am with the beverage department and will understudy Fred, Scrooge’s nephew in a Christmas Carol. Before I talk about what I have learned let’s look at a little history. My introduction to Faire came in the seventh grade when we had a […]
  • The State of Queer Film September 5, 2017
    The history of queer film and characters can be traced back to and before the Haze code as we have seen in the documentary The Celluloid Closet. In many ways we have progressed from these early portrayals and in many ways we have not.   Television has actually led the way with how we see […]
  • Interpretation July 10, 2017
        So I have responded to two blogs on this subject and felt like I needed to hash things out on my own turf. The subject has come up regarding several different productions and plays that I have either seen or directed myself. First I want to address two Shakespeare works that Jeremy Cole […]
  • Pride June 23, 2017
    As this is actually Pride month I want to reflect on the state of the community, because some ugly truths are surfacing and we need not only to address them but also to grow up a wee bit. I promise to go back to writing about the theatre but this feels too important.   The […]
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