Archive for March, 2008

March 31 – Waiting to Get-it.

Posted in Acting, actor, Theatre with tags , , , , , , on March 31, 2008 by actingchick

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So this Saturday I saw another play. Two in one week. I feel so…hmmm, well, I am not sure what the word is I am looking for, but maybe I should start hanging out in coffee shops, and maybe I find one of my old berets. Ah berets, where have you gone? Fashion is fickle and cruel.

Artsy and intellectual I guess is what I mean. I have hardly watched any TV at all this week. Now I just have to read a book and I’m set.

I saw Waiting for Godot, the famous samuel Beckett play. It was being put on by Theatre Black Dog at the Balagan Theatre on Capitol Hill. The director and three of the cast memebers were people who were in my Personal Clown class at Freehold.

I have to say I think they did an OK job. This is a hard play to do for experienced actors, and the cast ranged in experience from this was their first play, to having a handful of plays under their belts.

Now I have to say if I they were not in the play, I wouldn’t have gone and seen it. I remember watching the play in high school on video. I thought it was tedious and didn’t make sense. Now that I’m an adult, I thought perhaps I had missed something, being younger and all, perhaps some underlying message had escaped my youthful naivete.

Nope. I still found it tedious and it still didn’t make sense. I could see now where there was deliberate interplay of dialogue. And I sensed the tediousness was inteded to replicate what the characters were feeling. If so, it worked.

Act 1 – The characters are waiting for Godot to show up, who of course doesn’t show. A couple of other people in the form of a landowner and his slave show up for a bit then leave. Act 2 – Repeat the first day with some variations in Groundhog Day-like fashion. (Maybe Bill Murray and Dan Akroyd as Vladimir and Estragon would have worked better for me – Waiting for the Blues Brothers)

At least Bill Murray in Groundhog Day had a problem to solve. He wanted to get out of his situation, and finally did after many tries. Vladimir and Estragon just keep waiting. They talk about leaving but don’t. Entropy I suppose is one of the points of the play.

I sort of feel like I do when I see dance. I always feel like I am supposed to “get” it. People dance and wave their arms around, leap this way, roll on each other and the floor, and that is supposed to be symbolic of European opression of the female archetype in post-modern cranial fragmentation.

So on the one hand want to wear my beret and sit in my Coffee House of Intellectuality (take that Starbucks), but on the other hand I feel like if I do that I should “get” Waiting for Godot (or modern dance for that matter), and I don’t.

Maybe that’s why berets went out of style.

March 28 – Anne Frank

Posted in Acting, actor, Theatre with tags , , , , on March 28, 2008 by actingchick

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I don’t have much to comment on with my own acting stuff because I am on break from classes for another week or so. And the rest of my life isn’t particularly interesting, so there is no point in boring the three people who read this blog with that.

Instead I will talk about the play I saw last night, The Diary of Anne Frank at the Intiman Theatre. Now I have to say I wouldn’t have normally gone to see this play. I read the book in high school; I know how the story ends, and it’s a bit of a downer.

Still I decided to go see it because it had one of my acting instructors in it. The incredible Amy Thone, who was playing Mrs. Frank. I actually haven’t seen most of my teachers perform. I am sort of going on faith that they actually know what they are doing. As it turned out, Amy confirmed my suspicions that she does indeed know what she is doing.

The play deals with the period of two years of hiding that the Franks and the other people (whose names I can’t remember right at the moment) did from the Nazi’s during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. Basically the story of eight people stuck in a tiny space for two years under the threat of imminent death if they were discovered.

When I told people I was going to see the play, they all asked me if I knew that Anne Frank was played by Lucy DeVito, Danny DeVito’s daughter. Actually no I didn’t, at least until they told me. Now often when one hears that the offspring of famous actors are giving acting a go, there is some hesitation felt, maybe a little eye rolling. Oh, did Daddy/Mommy get them this job? Are they going to be any good? Did the theatre decide they needed a name and this is what they could get? Etc.

So I was very happy to find that Lucy DeVito blows those stereotypes out of the water. She can act, and act good. She must be in her twenties, but she was very believable as a 14 year old girl. Some of this is the fact that she is short (she does take after her dad in that respect), but mostly it was the energy she radiated and the physicality with which she moved.

The play actually had a lot of laughs in it, which was a relief. Though I read the book in high school I don’t remember the details, just that they hid, they got found out, then they were sent of to concentration camps, and ended up dead. Still I found my self tearing up at various points, and definitely got some tears at the end.

I don’t know if the performances were that good, I mean, they were good, but were they that good? Or was it the associated reality that this actually happened, and the realization of the horror that these people went through for all those years, and then to know they, with the exception of Anne Frank’s father, didn’t make it.

In either, or both cases, when the house lights went up there were quite a few people wiping their eyes and sniffling. It is probably the most moving theatre I’ve seen in a long time. Not that I go to the theatre that much (I am trying to go more), but there you go.

Watching Amy Thone was interesting as well. At first I saw her and not Mrs. Frank, and I am sure this is because I know her and I was waiting for her to blow me away. She did win the Stranger Genius Award after all. But she played Mrs. Frank quietly and reservedly as Mrs. Frank allegedly was, and by the end had morphed from my acting teacher into Mrs. Frank.

I’d say if you have the opportunity to go see it before it ends, do so. It’s a good show mixed with smatterings of hope, humor, and laughter. Still, if you are an easy crier like myself, I recommend a few tissues tucked in the coat pocket.

March 19 – New Digs.

Posted in Acting, actor, Theatre with tags , , , on March 19, 2008 by actingchick

Acting school is on break, so I am pretty much out of acting things to write about. My school Freehold Theater is moving, so that’s some news, mostly for them, but I suppose a bit for me.

They are moving from Capitol Hill to Belltown. The building they had been housed in for the past 16 years was sold, so they had to relocate because the rents are going up. So they found a place in Belltown at 2222 Second Avenue, Second Floor. At least the address is easy to remember.

When I heard they were moving I was hoping it would be to somewhere else on Capitol Hill, or maybe closer to my house in the U-District, but no. I guess when you need a space with a theater in it, your choices are limited. This new place has a theater in it, although it is smaller. I haven’t seen it, but hopefully you don’t have to walk across the stage to get out of there, like you did at Freehold’s old space.

Now if you are not familiar with these neighborhoods they are not all that far apart. Maybe two miles apart. So the distance is not that much greater than what I drive now. The problem I think is going to be parking. Belltown is known for its nightclubs and restaurants, and drunken homeless people. In the evenings, when I have class, I fear it is going to be hard to park.

Not that Capitol Hill was easy to park either, it is also known for its nigthclubs and restaurants and, yes, for its drunken homeless people, but you also got frequent drunken drag queens to brighten things up.

I guess I hate change. At least I knew the secret places to look for parking, and had developed strategies for Capitol Hill, that will now have to be revised for the new hood. I am sure I will survive, and maybe even like it. It’s just going to take some getting used to.

Mar 14 – In Review

Posted in Acting, actor, Theatre with tags , , , on March 14, 2008 by actingchick

So my voice class is over. In the last class we reviewed the different exercises we went through for each of the body parts, so we could make a list of the ones we liked best so we could keep practicing. We started with the lips, face in general, jaw, tongue, soft palate, neck, shoulders, spine, ribs, stomach, hips and legs. Yes all that is involved when you speak, or should be.

We then ran through our monologues again. This time we were to pick what we wanted to work on, or specifically get out of our monologues. Before the goal was assigned to us, and we tried to do whatever that was that day. I went back to what seemed to work the best for me, and that was the switching up the speeds and depth of breathing during the monologue.

I thought I would try and do it like I had the time before when that was the emphasis for the monologue. I had started out with slow and small, then moved to fast and small, then ended with big and slow breaths.

This time it was different, I started out the same, but I must have changed almost line to line. It just sort of happened. I was thinking I should be doing fast and small here, because this is where I did it last time, but then I started doing something else. But that’s OK I guess, because as my teachers keep saying to me I have to follow my impulse and commit.

So it was totally different, but I think it was the best I have done it. My teacher did say it was the most alive she had seen it. I’ll take that.

Now what I have to do is keep practicing my vocal exercises. They are hard to do, but I guess that’s why we have to practice them. I have been looking for a CD of some exercises that I could follow along with, but I haven’t seemed to really find anything quite like what I want, but I’ll keep looking.

I want to have at least some improvement by the time i get to my Voice Over class next month. want to get the most out of it that I can. It will be fun.

Mar 11 – Breathe.

Posted in Acting, actor, Theatre with tags , , on March 11, 2008 by actingchick

Acting school is winding down.  My last Voice class is tomorrow, and my last Stage Combat class is Saturday.  Then I have a break until mid-April.  What am I going to do with myself?

I think Voice has been good for me.  If not only for pointing out to me how much work I need in this area.  It is hard to breathe and talk at the same time.  OK, it actually isn’t, unless you have to say your words that you didn’t come up with in front of people who are staring at you. Oh, and do it in a way that doesn’t fry your vocal chords.

I am going to take Voice Over next quarter, and I this will help me continue my voice training.  I am interested in doing that kind of work because it pays, and you don’t have to be a sexy supermodel.  Plus, it sounds fun.

I have to keep working on my monologue.  It is getting better each time, but still needs work.  The breathing definitely helps.  Last time in class we said our monologues while trying at least two of the following breath patterns.  Slow and Small(shallow), Fast and Small, Slow and Big(Deep), Fast and Big.

It was amazing how just trying to breathe in one of those patterns and then speaking through it changed the emotional content of what you were saying.  It was very interesting to watch.  Everyones’ monologues improved a lot just from trying that.

It is pretty hard to do, but I can see where more practice would make it easier.  It adds a lot of dynamic.  I will also be doing another play this next quarter so I am looking forward to putting this to use there.  The more practice the better.

Mar 7 – S is for Ribs.

Posted in Acting, actor, Theatre with tags , , , , on March 7, 2008 by actingchick

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In Voice class the other night we worked on expanding our ribs.  Three hours expanding your ribs, how often do you do that?

First of all we had a sub for the first part of class. Our teacher had a meeting to be at so we had him watching over us and leading us through first part of our rib-expanding journey.

I think his name was Andy, but I could be wrong, still I am going to call him that anyway.  Andy was really cool, and it sounds like he might teach at Freehold.  I would like to take a class from him.

We started off the rib expansion process by putting our hands on our sides at the bottom of the ribcage, touching the short ribs.  Then we would breath in and try to make them expand.  This is harder than you think.  We should be able to move them, but a lot of us have developed patterns of breathing that don’t move the ribs, or the belly, which is where you get the most bang for your breathing buck.

We then laid on our backs on our yoga mats (yes, now I own a yoga mat), and breathed in, again trying to expand the low ribs outward, then exhaled slowly with a sssssss sound like a hissing snake.  With our backs on the floor our ribs couldn’t move that way, so you got more expansion (if you were getting any expansion in the first place).

We did that for several minutes.  A room full of people laying on their backs, holding on to their short ribs, hissing like snakes.  That was just to give you a visual. Moving on now.

We then rolled on to one side.  This stopped the movement of whatever side you were on and increased the movement of the top side ribs. More hissing. Then we moved onto the other side.  More hissing.

Then we got on our knees, folded ourselves in half, and laid our bellies on our thighs and our head on the floor, kowtow position.  Let me tell you this certainly isolates the breathing to the back.  I am getting over a cold, so my sinuses didn’t appreciate it much, but I soldiered along hissing with the rest.

Then we moved to the back again to relax from that position. Then we stood up again and I do have to say that after all that hissing and rib isolation, my ribs were moving outward more in the standing position.  Are they moving that way now?  No. But then you are supposed to practice this.  It’s like dance or karate.  You have to do it over and over until it becomes second nature.

The reason for all this?  To learn to maximize your breathing capacity so that when you need to project on stage you have the air to do it, and depending on how you are breathing you change the quality of your voice.  The idea then being that you can make conscious decisions about the quality of sound to fit your character.  Complicated and difficult.  Practice, practice, practissssssssssssssssssssssssssss.

March 4 – Just another brick in the wall.

Posted in Acting, actor, Theatre with tags , , , on March 4, 2008 by actingchick

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I’ve already gone on about all the reasons I haven’t posted lately on my other blog, so I won’t go on about it here too.

Things are chugging along methodically in the acting world. The two classes I am currently taking are more about the craft and less about “art”. Not that there is not art in the doing, but they are technique classes first and foremost.

Stage Combat is about how to safely wave pointed metal sticks around without injuring yourself, your stage mate(s), and the inanimate objects in the immediate area, all while looking like your sole purpose is to do the opposite. The art comes is in telling the story of the fight: Why is it happening? What is at stake?. Who is the winner? Who is the loser? The craft is how do you do that without getting your eye poked out by a pointy metal stick.

In Voice class the art would be how you use your voice to again tell the story, blah blah blah. The craft is how to do that with out frying your vocal chords while you try and reach the people in the cheap seats, and then do that 7 times a week for 6 to 8 weeks.

So I have been trying to do that. It is a bit like stacking bricks. Someone hands you a brick, you put it in your stack. The teacher says, here is way to relax your abdominal muscles, so that your breath can more easily support the voice. OK, I’ll take that, and stack in with my pile of how to relax the jaw, how to balance your weight to reduce tension, etc, etc. Another brick on the pile.

Right now my stack of bricks isn’t particularly organized. There are varying shapes and colors, and sizes of bricks. And I certainly haven’t built anything out of it yet. It looks rather like my desk, or the floor of my closet. Oh, thanks, hmmm… I don’t know quite what to do with that yet, so I’ll put it here for now.

The quarter will be over mid-March. The next quarter starts up at the end of April. I have already picked out my classes. Time to dust off the ol’ credit card.

I am going to take Rehearsal and Performance. I’ve actually taken this class before a year ago. In the class you do a whole play, and perform it in front of actual people. I think it will be a whole new experience now that I am a year “older” in my acting training. I’ve gone through the fiery pit of Clown, through the blender of Movement, I’ve had some Shakespeare, I’ll have had some voice training and combat training. It’s sort of a new me. And of course it will be a new play, so I am looking forward to it. Plus I get to show off in front of a crowd. Terrifying, yet exhilarating.

The next class will be Voice Over. It’s the same teacher that I have for Voice this quarter. This is geared for doing more commercial work, for commercials, industrial training videos, film, tv, radio and the like. This is one of those things I think is valuable for actually making money. Theater is nice, but how often does it pay good. I’m not above doing annoying car insurance commercials for the radio, or whatever to make some money. Really. I put numbers into spreadsheets and sort mail. It’s a step up in my book.

The third class will be Stage Combat part III. More of the same type of thing to finish off the series. More bricks for my pile. I am looking forward to it.