Friday, March 15, 2013

Wipe Your Feet at the Door

Stage actors have to work well with others.  That is an absolute.  Nowhere more than the theater do actors have to work as a team.  If you are making a movie you might shoot for 10 minutes and then stay in your dressing room for hours waiting for your next shot.  If you make a mistake, it is re-shot, no one has to save you.  Stage actors spend weeks in rehearsal and sometimes years in production, there is no room for bad behavior here.  That does not mean it doesn't happen, but well trained stage actors know the rules and will try to put their personal "stuff" aside and work well with the director, other actors, and the crew.

Why is teamwork so much more important on the stage?  Other than the fact that bad, disrespectful, behavior is something that should never be tolerated, on the stage you may need the actor who you have disrespected.  That actor may just have to save your ass if you drop a prop, forget a line, something breaks, the list goes on and on.  One of the reasons we love live theater is that it is such a challenge.  One never knows what is going to happen on stage at any given moment.  Working as a team the actors bring a show to life and meet all challenges.

The following suggestions are from "A Practical Handbook for the Actor" by Melissa Bruder, etal.

Though conflict is the essence of drama, it is the bane of productivity; therefore keep the following virtues ever before you:

1:  Humility, so that when someone corrects you, you will not be offended
2:  Generosity, so that when someone errs, you do not condemn, but forgive.
3:  Consideration, so that when someone believes something, you do not denounce that belief.
4:  Tact, so that when you believe something, you know the proper place, manner, and time to         
 present  that belief.
5:  NEVER direct another actor or even tell another actor that they are wrong.  You may not like the choices but it is not your business to direct.  Only the director may do that.  "Backstage" directing is so destructive to a production that I cannot stress enough the importance of not doing it.
6:  NEVER be a diva.  You are just not that important and there are tons of good actors out there who would love to take your place.  If you make a fuss because you can't get exactly what you want, you only create resentment among the cast and crew.
7 :  Wipe your feet at the door coming into the theater and leaving the theater.  Any "stuff" that is going on in your life has to be put aside the minute you enter the theater so that you can concentrate on the production.  Emotional stuff that happens on stage should be left on stage.  Don't take your role home with you and act it out on your family and friends.
8:  ALWAYS obey to the letter the stage manager and the crew.  They are there to make you look good on stage and they get none of the glory.  They also know much more about the technical workings of the stage, props, etc than you do and you want them on your side at all times.

Production can be fun and rewarding if everyone involved just remembers the Golden Rule so make sure that you are one of the truly professional actors who follow these guidelines.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Committing 100% to Your Choice

I am trying to get in the habit of blogging about acting regularily.  I have not been at it since August and am almost ashamed of myself.

Last night in acting class we were talking about how difficult it is to commit 100 percent to your character and your choices.  It is especially hard if you don't have a director or coach. It is not only beginning actors that feel internally that they have "gone over the edge" only to have a director or coach ask for more.  Two years ago I almost argued with someone who was coaching me to give more and more, but I trusted him, and when I finally got there it felt so good that I knew it was right.

Why is it so hard?  Actors who are trained or in training know the dangers of OVERACTING.  The dreaded feeling that you are "hamming it up" or "chewing the scenery."  What is the first response to feeling that you are overacting?  Pull back your character!  When I coach or direct and I tell an actor to take it up a notch or two, they have to put their trust in me because they cannot see what they are doing.  They can't really even see it if it is filmed, it is best to have someone directing you if you are a director/actor. When you are vulnerable, putting your faith in another person can be hard.  No one wants to make a fool of themselves in front of others.

Once you have gotten to know your character and know what your character wants, it is time to decide the best way to get what you want.  Many actors do great up to this point. 

Next is the DELIVERY!  You must deliver your character with urgency, energy, commitment, intensity, and focus.  If you don't, the character will come across vague and vagueness kills good performance.

Frequently, when I tell actors to "take it up a notch", they will just get louder.  It is a common misconception that loudness equals intensity. That is not necessarily the case.  As you are rehearsing, take each line and make it mean something.  Know how you are feeling and what you want.  Then act upon the information.  Put 100 percent into that action and make sure that you are 100 percent in communication with your other actors. Don't be afraid to take it over the edge and let your director or coach pull you back.  Actors who are afraid of going to far rarely do.

On stage, nothing is more fun and rewarding than fully committing to your character.  Have fun!

Saturday, August 18, 2012


 Auditions for Rabbit Hole are coming up Aug 27th followed by the auditions for the family theater show, Mulan, at PCA.  I thought I would list a few of the things that make a difference when I am looking at actors during an audition. 

       respect to the director and the staff.  (no costumes!)
 2    READ THE SCRIPT!! ( don't laugh, you would be surprised at how many people don't read the 
       entire script before they get up in front of me.) If you are auditioning with original material, read 
       carefully the sides you are given. Get to know as much about the character as you can.
 5    MAKE SOME CHOICES ABOUT THE CHARACTER.  These choices may not be
       the ones you will make if you get the part, but they will tell the director that you can,
       at the very least, make choices.
       OTHERWISE.  For example: Don’t make the choice that the character is sarcastic in
       a scene only to drop the sarcasm half way through the scene. This is especially true if 
       you are using an accent to audition. Hint: I would rather NOT hear an accent unless I have  
       specifically stated that I want one.  I will cast a good actor without an accent and get accent   
       coaching for that actor during the rehearsal process but I will not cast an actor who auditions 
       with a bad accent and can't maintain it for the entire audition.
       Don’t get so tied into your choice that you cannot do what the director asks of you.
 8   STAND STILL!!  Unless you are moving with purpose, don’t fidget!!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

"Rabbit Hole"

I have had many people telling me that they want to work on "Rabbit Hole" if they don't get cast.  If you want to work on the show please come to the audition and talk to me.

We at PCA have such a hard time with our volunteer program.  The problem is ours and we are trying to find a simple way to rectify it.  Our problem is that we get volunteer applications and don't really have a need for that particular volunteer at the moment so they tend to fall between the cracks.
Here is what I want to suggest to anyone who wants to volunteer at the theater.  First fill out the form, then look up the shows that are coming up and either contact the director yourself (yes, a little scary but none of us bite and I think that every one of us would welcome the call) or come to the first night of audition and talk to the director in person.  It is an imperfect system but right now it is a sure fire way that you are going to get your feet wet in the theater.

Volunteers need to realize up front that working on a show is a HUGE commitment.  It involves rehearsals and attending every show.  There are a few jobs that might not involve quite as much time; the costumers sometimes need people who sew to alter or make costumes. Normal makeup and hair don't really join a show until dress rehearsals start (artistic and period hair and makeup is a much longer commitment and usually takes some expertise in that field).  People who gather props as well as the ones who build and paint the set can do that in advance and not have to be at each show, but the majority of the jobs require that you be at EVERY SHOW AND REHEARSAL!  I have seen people's eyes glaze over when I tell them this.  We are all a little nuts and if you have the theater bug bad enough to do what we do for the love of the craft then please join us!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

As you all know, I am casting David Linsey-Abaire's "Rabbit Hole" on August 27th with call backs only on August 28th.

I have been asked a lot of questions about my vision for this show.  At the back of the play, Linsey-Abaire states that one should avoid over-sentimentality when directing this play.  It is a sad play but should not be done with histrionics or it will flatten out and become a bad movie of the week.   No extra crying unless the script calls for it, no embracing or holding of hands.

It is very rewarding to me, as a director, that I already had this in mind before I came to the author's note.  This play is such an honest representation of the grieving process, and is so beautifully written, that even though the material is difficult, I fell in love with it. The humor in RH is the thing that makes it bearable and it is the thing that makes life bearable after the death of a loved one. I think RH represents the importance of family - whether you are blood related or just not.  After all, a family is a circle of friends who love you.  Love and laughter make grief bearable.  PERIOD.   

The characters in this play love and respect each other.  There are moments when they get angry at each other, but they are not caustic.  Even Becca's anger at Nat is tempered with caring and love.
That is all I want to say about the characters.  I would like you to come up with your own interpretation, remembering that these characters are real - don't overact them.  If we don't let the audience in on the love and caring of this family they will leave the theater.

Hope to see lots and lots of you at audition:)

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Rabbit Hole auditions

David Lindsay-Abaire's poignent play, "Rabbit Hole" is going to be cast on Augst 27th and 28th and will open at PCA on Oct. 4th.
I was touched by this play and although the material is considered dark, I think it portrays the resilence of the human spirit with humor and love.  I am really excited about directing it.

Needs:  3 women - 40's, 30's, 60's.
             1 man - 40's
             1 17 year old male.