As one of my favorite university professors was fond of saying, we are all actors of the "physical theatre." One of the key things which distinguishes live theatre from film, television and other entertainments is the co-existence of the artist and audience's bodies within a defined space. And as video content becomes increasingly more accessible, we have a responsibility as theatre artists to take that comparative advantage - the immediate physicality of our medium - and push it to the extreme. Even in the context of so-called "realism" it is ultimately through the deliberate manipulation of the actor's body, his vocal instrument and less audible motor functions that meaning is created, stories are told and resonance is achieved. Therefore, it behooves all actors to train an care for their bodies with as much diligence and intentionality as an "artist of the physical theatre."
Here are 3 skills which I believe all actors should learn in order to stay competitive in this increasingly physical world of live theatre...
For the past two years, one of my primary sources of income and insight has been coaching young children and their parents through the process of developing basic loco-motor skills. Basically I teach kids how to stand, how to walk, how to jump. As the children are learning harder skills like walking, jumping, or stepping up stairs, one of the most common mistakes I see parents make is to pull their children up by the hands or wrists.
Why is this a big deal? Studies have shown that the joints and ligaments in a child's body are not fully formed until the age of two, well after most children have begun to walk. Therefore, pulling a child by the wrists poses a risk of injury to the child's wrists, elbows, shoulders. That is why experts recommend holding your child at the waist or upper torso... under the arms.
This experience has taught me something huge about teaching in general.
Tomorrow night I am looking forward to FLICfest, where I will be performing in four brand new pieces from The Ume Group's growing repertoire of short works:
A Clown Kappore
Date: January 31, 2013
It's almost the start of a brand New Year! Therefore, I've decided to take this opportunity to do a statistical check-up on the success of my blog, which I started less than a year ago this May. Using an awesome tool called Google Analytics, I was able to find out which of my posts had the highest number of page views. I've taken the liberty of sharing that data, plus a few observations I made below.
Top Blog Posts
Here are my top blog posts for 2012 (by total page views):
People often say, "I can't dance." That's when I tell them they're wrong... I believe that everyone can dance. In fact, everyone can dance beautifully with an open mind and just a little bit of practice.
I grew up in a family of actors in the post-Sondheim era of musical theatre. So while I didn't have a lot of practice, my level of exposure and standards for dance were pretty high. I danced a little when I was young, but not really all that much. In acting school I took a year of jazz, tap, ballet, and modern classes, but they always frustrated me. I could never get the technique just right. Then I discovered butoh, the dance of the everyman, the dance that resists professionalization, the dance that YOU are doing RIGHT NOW if you can only become aware of it.
Here's how in 6 easy steps (adapted from the Subbody Butoh method):
Nestled in the foothills of the Himalayan mountains in the Himachal province of India, there is a school of dance. This school is called the Subbody Butoh Institute. Here students are asked to open themselves in some rather strange and unusual ways for the betterment of their dance. One of these ways pertains specifically to "Human Relationships" and may actually be useful to everyone on the planet!
I have found in my personal butoh practice, striving to live openly and sensitively to the beauty and pain of the world around me, that many amazing opportunities have presented themselves precisely because of my intentional work on this particular gateway.
If you've followed my blog for any amount of time, you know that I am a huge fan of "ensemble theatre." I ascribe the majority of my success as a producer and theatre artist to the relationships I have with others better and braver than myself. Therefore, I know firsthand how human relationships can change who we are and how we make art.
However, having a free and open "Human Relationship Channel" can create amazing opportunities for everyone! Here are three:
As Nolan Kennedy said when I interviewed him in October, "the ensemble theatre movement is not new thing." In fact, people have been writing about techniques for fostering a sense of ensemble among a company of actors for decades.
Here are 7 awesome books on ensemble theatre, which I have come across in the course of my research….
If you saw my recent interview with ensemble theatre practitioner Nolan Kennedy, you may have learned some very interesting things about the nature of ensemble. That's assuming, however, that you sat through all 30 minutes and 9 seconds of my poorly-edited video recording. So, for greater ease-of-accessibility, here is a more user-friendly "Viewer's Digest" version of what I learned while talking to Nolan.
According to Nolan, ensemble exists when...
Can an "ensemble" include designers and technical people?
And here’s why...
Three weeks ago, I felt that familiar “sense of ensemble” when…
…during technical rehearsals for a play that I was producing, I got naked and rolled around in brown paint.
Why did I get naked and roll around in brown paint? – you ask.
One word… momentum.
Mo Geiger and I have been working on a particular play, Butoh Electra for the last three years. She is a designer… and a gifted one at that, someone whom I have been utterly blessed to know and with whom collaboration comes like cake.