Quote of the day: on honesty and quality

As always, read the whole post Why They Don’t Come Back (yes, on audiences and theatre) from a newly-discovered US-based blogger.  This is a snippet that resonates with me right now.

I think it’s in our interest to be a lot harder on theatre-making. How many of your friends are working on a bad show right now?  Why are we surprised when the audience is made up of mostly actors’ friends? Why do we profusely thank the audience for coming?  Why does everyone compliment each other on a lackluster show?

Enough with the pity party/circle jerk.  Either try to blow the audience away, or don’t bother.  Be harder on your friends.  Save your glowing praise for work that deserves it. It’ll bolster quality overall, and theatre will gain credibility amongst the unwashed mashes, whose dollars we desperately need.

‘unwashed mashes’ …. the mind boggles!

Quote of the Day: on the actor’s preparation

Read the whole article from Andrew Utter at the Mother of Invention Acting School blog.  The post is a review of a new book on acting by Howard Fine: Fine on Acting – A Vision of the Craft.

* “Your central responsibility as actors is to affect and to be affected by, that is your job.  You must affect someone else, and you must be affected by them.  Any choices you make that disallow that exchange have taken you down a dead-end.”

* “You must have a body that is responsive to you, that is flexible, and you must start to develop yourself physically to be a great actor.  All forms of dance training, martial arts, yoga and especially the Alexander Teachnique are excellent.”

* “The first common mistake that will lead you down a very bad path is judging the character.”

* “Writers are not writing about someone’s mundane life.  They’re writing about the important moments.  When you look at a scene and you don’t see the crisis that character is in, you have taken out what is actable in the scene.”

* “So much is made of the differences between stage acting and television and film acting.  I like to say to my students,  “Would you study the violin for film? Would you learn how to play football for television?”  Of course not, that would be ludicrous.  You learn how to play the violin.  You learn how to play football. You learn how to act.  You learn the craft itself.

* “The goal of preparation is spontaneous life.”

* “A developed mind is part of what will become your range as an actor, which means you have to develop your intellect formally through education, or you have to find a way to do it on your own.  How will you understand what’s going on in a scene, if you have not developed your ability to think?”

What makes a good meeting?

Autumn Light Queen's Park Toowoomba
Image by Dramagirl via Flickr

Stocktaking at the end of the week yesterday, and I realised I had chaired or attended 12 meetings in 5 days. Now I know universities run on meetings, but this seemed a bit excessive. It’s when the stocktaking (aka weekly review) happens that you realise how sensible it is to be as productive as possible. I’m also on something of a one-woman mission to make meetings leaner and more productive; as time poor as we are, we can’t afford to sit around chewing the fat. Far too much fat gets masticated in corridor meetings anyway. OK, so much for the whinge, and it’s fair to say that some of these meetings were very good ones indeed.

IMHO the meetings that do work work around the format that characterises our theatre production meeting: a round-table, “paper production” where the heads of all departments within a production (the show) report on progress, share concerns, prioritise, and map out next actions. It’s chaired by a student Stage Manager, who is learning on the job. Good teaching and good GTD stuff this. Yesterday’s production meeting for a show in the upcoming SiQP Festival (Shakespeare in Queen’s Park Festival) was a model in this regard. Run to time, focussed, and with everyone prepared, we got lots of things through the pipeline and back into the workshop, rehearsal room, and into other meetings (inevitable, but that’s how it goes). So, left the week feeling the week had been a good one meetings-wise.

The other side of the week, and the light side, concerned work during the mornings in the rehearsal room on the show mentioned above, a compilation called Sonnets at Breakfast to be presented in Queen’s Park on March 11 in Toowoomba. Working with the creative energy of actors is a real charge to the system, and it certainly worked to dispel some of the meetings lethargy that had descended on my week.