Hot on the heels of the free Hollywood Helper: Broadway Buddy, a neat lines-learning app for the iPhone that I wrote about some time ago, here’s Rehearsal from Sotto Voce Film+Works. It’s also iPad ready! Continue reading “Rehearsal: a new lines-learning app for the iPhone”
I’m not all that keen on the name of this handy little iPhone app: ‘Hollywood Helper – Broadway Buddy’ – yuk! ‘Lines Coach’ is plain, but it might well have served for an application that helps you to learn lines without your script, and which also understands how most actors work with pencil and paper. HH/BB also takes a familar approach to lines-learning as action through intention. Despite my quibbles on the name, I like it very much and suspect that an acting coach worked with the developers to bring it to the iPhone. The nice people who make this little iPhone app thought I might like to take it for a spin, and so I did. Here’s my take on it, with a recommendation.
HH/BB downloads as do all iPhone apps directly from the iTunes Store. It’s free – that’s the first of the nice things about it. It comes pre-loaded with Shakespeare’s ‘Twelfth Night’ as a .txt file so you can play around for a while to get used to the features. When the time comes to upload the script you’re working on you will need to convert the pages of your script to .txt format, presumably by scanning them or converting from another digital file format like .doc. This is easily done on your computer. Uploading is done via WiFi. Detailed instructions are here.
Once you upload, the way you use the app is straightforward and fairly intuitive. Check the screen shots above. The home screen contains two clickable buttons ‘Script’ and ‘Setup.’ You will want to click on Setup and choose the character to rehearse by typing in the name. HH/BB will ask you whether you want to search for the name as ‘ALL CAPS’ or ‘as-is.’ ALLCAPS is the default formatting of character in most scripts, while ‘as is’ would reference any mentions of the name. This could be handy if you wish to see what other characters are saying about you, or to find your character mentioned in any stage directions, or, of course if your character is not referenced in block caps.
You then choose to work in Learn or Rehearse mode. In Learn, you get the pages of the script with your character’s lines highlighted; in Rehearse, your character’s lines are blocked out but you can see the rest. You tap on the blocked section for a ‘hint’ – a word, phrase etc., similar to the way a good DSM will shout out a key phrase to jog an actor when s/he is off book.
The Setup screen also has a myVerbs clickable button that gives you a preloaded alphabetical listing of verbs. You can add as many as you like to the list. Verbs is a very useful feature for actors who like to think in terms of their lines as action-playing. Look at a lot of actors’ scripts and you will often see a verb in the margin e.g., ‘assert’ or ‘blame.’ This feature comes in handy when you are working on script – HH/BB replicates this feature – more on this below.
There are a couple of other buttons on the home screen for Setup: ‘jump to start of script’ or ‘end of script’. This is useful if you have an entire playtext loaded up. Of course, the screens scroll as you would expect on an iPhone. The other button is ‘Change Script’ – if you are working on a couple of scripts, for example, and want to switch.
Now you’re set up you can tap on ‘Script’ on the home screen and start learning or rehearsing.
Two excellent little features in both modes are the ‘prev’ and ‘next’ buttons which appear in the right margin of the screen – tapping either of these takes you to the next or previous bit of text for your character. The other really useful feature is the ‘subtxt’ button. Tap ‘subtxt’ and a green box opens up; tap this and the iPhone keyboard appears. You can now type in a phrase to summarise or perhaps to paraphrase a piece of text. Tap the mainscreen when finished and the keyboard disappears; the subtext remains. Nice! Actors familiar with Jack Poggi’s approach to text-learning in The Monologue Workshop will find this useful. Type in the summary phrase or word for the text using subtxt. By then using the prev and next features you can scroll through the script and get an outline of the ‘spine’ of the scene’s action – really helpful as part of the lines/action learning in a scene.
You will also see the ‘verb’ button in the screen’s right margin. Tap this and your listing of verbs appears. Scroll to select the one that fits your chosen action-intention for the particular piece of text, tap it, save and it will appear in red the text margin, as it might if you had written it in to your script. You can, of course, change it later on as you work on and refine your lines-learning.
HH/BB is very useful, very portable, and just the thing to show how terribly, terribly cool you are in the rehearsal room, on the bus, over coffee etc. Both thumbs up.
You know the old saying, ‘It never rains, but it pours’? Well, I’ve had one of those weeks … nice and slow for ages and suddenly, a bloggy downpour. At times during the week I found myself flipping backwards and forwards from one blog to another whilst fielding emails, telephone, and Skype calls from clients and collaborators. Oh the idiocy of multitasking! Continue reading “Creating a super-mobile conference blog”
If you’re a regular here, then you’ll know that Groundling loves software, apps, services, and devices that are well designed, and which optimise productivity and simplify communications. If you use a Word Press blog, then you are going to love a really clever plugin which I’ve just installed on a couple of my blogs today. It’s called WPtouch – subtitled ‘the sexiest mobile plugin on earth’ – my emphasis here. Never thought I’d see a plugin called sexy … however … . The ‘touch’ part refers to the way WPtouch operates on a mobile device, whether iPhone, iTouch or Blackberry as well as a whole lot of other smart phones. There’s no doubt that the market penetration of these devices is on the up, and that then trend will continue. Amongst other advantages that pocket computers-that-also-do-calls aka smartphones have for bloggers, is that your posts have suddenly become far more available. They can now be accessed on the go, and with this particular plug-in it’s faster to load, and much, much easier to read.
After you install WPtouch, and when a visitor accesses your website via a phone, they are provided with the choice of your blog’s regular theme or one that looks and operates just like a compact mobile phone app – the touch part. WPtouch is very easy to upload via the WP plugin page. Just search for WPtouch, download, and follow the really excellent installation instructions. Under the ‘Advanced Options’ section on the WPtouch plugin page, ensure that you tick the box ‘1st time visitors will see Mobile Theme.’ You might also like to tick the box ‘Enable WPtouch exclusive mode’ – the drop down pane beside each check box explains what all of this means far better than I could – as instructions should.
Once you’ve completed the comprehensive set up of what you want your page to show and to look like on the phone – yes you can customise it very easily – try it out on your own mobile. Point your phone’s browser to your website’s URL. After it loads, scroll to the bottom of the page, and you’ll see the Mobile Theme button which will be set at Off. Flick it to On, and it will reload the mobile version.
Ready to try it? Get all the documentation, FAQs and download the latest version at the WPtouch homepage brought to you by the Brave New Code folks.
Oh, and it was also recommended by the inestimable Mr Stephen Fry. His site runs WPtouch, and I have to confess that I have long been an out and out fan girl of the big fella. Who could resist this (more than slightly tongue in cheek) endorsement by the self-confessed “British Actor, Writer, Lord of Dance, Prince of Swimwear & Blogger” – his bio on Twitter. Yes you can follow him @stephenfry and he follows me back. Meanwhile, give WPtouch a spin and see what you think.
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Yesterday or today (depending on your time-zone) is the second World Wide Photo Walk Day, the brainchild of photographer Scott Kelby. You can read all about it at the homesite for the event. Some of us signed up for a walk through our city Toowoomba in south-east Queensland, Australia. What really appealed to me was the idea of a whole lot of people taking photographs of a chosen location on the one day – the coverage, the coverage! Of course, there’s the social aspect of such an event, and the chance to get out into the crisp, winter air and hunt out locations that you rarely see as you whizz around in your busy life. We chose to shoot the back lanes and rarely seen corners of the city. What also appealed to me was the opportunity to cover the event using social media. Here’s how I tackled it. Continue reading “Social media: covering an event”
When the first generation iPod came out in 2001, I immediately saw its potential as a tool for learning in Higher Ed, and especially in my field, theatre. I was one of the first, via a loaner from AUC (Apple University Consortium in Australia) to take it for a test drive and report on the results in the actor-training program which I headed at the time. I had to prise it away from students’ hands when the time came to give it back to Apple. Apart from the wonder of light-weight, portable music – something we take for granted these days, but was less common 9 years ago – the obvious application to lines-learning as well as dialect acquisition was obvious.
Now we have the iPhone and the iPod Touch with a slew of apps that grow by the hundreds on a daily basis, and, of course, there are several voice recorder apps that are useful for taking notes, lines-learning and dialect drilling. One that I have used for a while is called Recorder – plain and simple, but it does the job of recording your speech and playing it back. You can append text notes, and pause and resume, and choose from lower and higher quality sound for recording – I’d recommend always choose higher quality. There is wifi syncing built in to Recorder, so you can also upload the files to your computer for later reference. There are other recording apps, and you might want to check out the listings in the iTunes Store; just type in ‘audio recorder’ in the search pane. The iPhone 3GS has a voice recorder built in; I can only assume the sound quality will be high. There is also a video on board the 3GS – now that could be very useful for recording rehearsal notes; I’m thinking choreography for dance or fights.
Some other apps you might find useful: the complete works of Shakespeare. It’s searchable and need I say, enormously useful even if you are just hunting for a quote, or learning a sonnet a day as you commute – a good practice, as Laurence Olivier noted. I can also highly recommend Open Culture which has links through to free books, poetry and plays. You might also want to grab Love Art: National Gallery of London to feed the imagination. There is excellent commentary on some of the National’s great paintings – gorgeously rendered on the iPhone screen. Just type in Shakespeare, Open Culture and Love Art in the iPhone Apps section of the iTunes Store, and download. All free!
But, apart from any one of the many Twitter iPhone apps, perhaps one of the most important is Urban Spoon, which will find and rate coffee shops, cafés and restaurants in your vicinity. Highly recommended. Urban Spoon is also free; again, just type in Urban Spoon in the search pane in the iTunes Store.
Now if only there was only an iPhone app to turn on my electric blanket as I drive home from the theatre on a winter’s night.
PS It’s not an app, but a great tool. I subscribe to the American Theatre Wing’s Working in the Theatre vodcast, and download it to my iPhone. Looks and sounds great.