A very nice Wall Street Journal article about the unique quality of the live experience – sometimes, it’s in the spontaneous response of the audience…
Alumni Scott Gaines (’11, B.A. Theatre Performance) recently appeared in the We Happy Few production of Shakespeare’s The Tempest in the Metro DC area. The review of the production contained the following comment:
“Britt Duff’s Miranda was interesting, and a take on the character that I found unexpected. Duff’s chemistry with Scott Gaines’s Ferdinand is wonderful to behold. Gaines’s understanding of the language and the way he plays physically with this role is wonderful.”
Congratulations, Scott – keep up the great work!
With the opening of the show this week, we wanted to share a couple of photos of the construction work in process…
And a few of the work in the costume shop…
We’ve put a lot of time and energy into the preparation of this show, and we can’t wait to share it with audiences over the next two weeks! Come out and see the show if you can!
As we are preparing for our upcoming musical “The Drunkard”, we have been making our own back drop. Some of our students have done similar work but for most of those involved it is new.
The finished size of the drop is 30 feet wide and 15 feet tall. Over the past several days we have been prepping it for painting, which should start tonight. Before it could be painted however, three pieces of 10 foot wide fabric had to be sewn together and than the entire drop needed to be starched. After the starching process we were able to hem the top, and add in our hemp for suport, as well as add in our pipe pocket at the bottom so it will hang correctly. And now for several more days of action to get the finished product that we are looking for.
What does it mean to be an artist?
I’ve been asking myself this question, in various forms, for most of my life. It’s a question that bears repetition because there are so many possible answers, and my own personal answer sometimes changes. When I first began creating, the question wasn’t clearly formulated and the answer was simple: Joy! As I grew older and awareness of economic realities intruded, the questions became How can I be an artist? and Should I even try?
For a year or two, I chose not to be an artist. Oh, I still dabbled in this and that, but I wasn’t wholly or even halfheartedly invested. It was a dark and boring time.
When I recommitted myself, I felt such a deep sense of relief. I was spending my time the way I was supposed to again. I was focusing on what was important again.
Perhaps that relief, that sense of purpose, is part of what it means to be an artist.
We can judge our artistic success on so many levels:
1. Financial: how much money we make, can we make a living as an artist
2. Recognition/acclaim: receiving opportunities, reviews, awards
3. Size of audience: how many people experience what we are doing
4. Growth as an artist: how we are improving and/or taking risks as an artist
5. Producing a piece or performance that works the way we wished it to
But perhaps being an artist doesn’t have so much to do with traditional success. Some of the most lauded artists labored in obscurity in their lifetimes. Many famous writers self published their own work. Vincent Van Gogh, Jane Austen, Emily Dickinson, Jan Vermeer, Franz Schubert, Henry David Thoreau.
If money and fame are of less importance, then what does it mean to be an artist? It means we create. It means we dream. It means we explore the fundamental question of what it means to be human: what it means to be conscious, what it means to experience emotions because of a painting or a symphony or a poem or a novel, what it means to have the capability for empathy. The exploration is inherently of value, regardless of the outcomes.
Stephen King said, “Life isn’t a support system for art. It’s the other way around.” Art supports life; it creates meaning, some semblance of order created from the complications of existence. It takes us outside of ourselves and pushes us more deeply inside of ourselves. It raises as many questions as it provides answers.
Being an artist, then, is about more than a job or a career. Being an artist becomes a state of mind.
And the seven-year-old me was right after all. What else does it mean to be an artist? Joy!
We are pleased to announce that over this Christmas season, we have been overseeing the installation of a new lighting grid – a significant investment in the safety and ease of work for our lighting crews and future productions. Check out Inter-America Stage’s website and see a video on their SkyDeck system.
Crews continue to work to complete the installation – safety kickplates and handrails, two stair units (a spiral set near the theatre entrance, and a straight set backstage near our costume shop door), a ladder by our tech booth, and plenty of final adjustments to be made before completion.
Here’s the link to a great documentary video from the 1960′s talking about being a stagehand. 50 years later, it’s surprising how similar it is to today – especially with larger productions touring the United States (the film shows people working on the original tour of My Fair Lady).
We often talk about how many jobs there are backstage – this shows those people in action.
This is from an article written by casting director Amy Jo Berman:
Yes, I’m writing about why you DIDN’T get the part. Yes, even though your audition was amazing and you were totally on your game and you lit up the room with creative acting genius, you still might not get the part. I know, I know…you’re probably thinking, but Amy, you are always so positive. Why are you talking about something negative?
First, it’s not negative to understand why you didn’t get a job because it will free your mind of all that monkey-mind chatter that happens when you find out you didn’t get it. Second, and this is the important part so pay attention, it doesn’t matter. By the end of this article, I hope you understand that.
Since this is one of the most frequently asked questions I receive and the one that hangs you up the most and twists you into knots as an actor and a creative being, let’s get into it.
Based on my years and years of experience as a casting director in film and television, these are some of the reasons you didn’t get the part.
1. You’re too tall.
2. You’re too short.
3. You’re too pretty.
4. You’re not pretty enough.
5. You’re too fat.
6. You’re too thin.
7. You’re too blonde.
8. You’re not blonde enough.
9. You’re too old.
10. You’re too young.
11. You’re too serious.
12. You’re too funny.
13. You look too much like the lead.
14. You don’t look enough like the lead.
15. You’re taller than the lead.
16. You’re shorter than the lead.
17. You remind the producer of his sister, and he hates his sister.
18. You are too ethnic.
19. You are not ethnic enough.
20. You were the first one to read that day.
21. You were the last one to read that day.
22. You’re more like the best friend than the lead.
23. You’re more of a lead than the best friend.
24. You’re too character-y.
25. You’re not character-y enough.
26. You look like the director’s wife and he had a fight with his wife right before he left the house this morning.
Okay, this is a small sample of the some of the reasons you didn’t get the part. Have you heard any of these after one of your non-bookings? Can you tell what the one common thread is among this small sampling of reasons?
None of these are within your control. NONE.
Yes, of course there are many other things that are within your control and we will definitely get into those in a future article. But these are the ones that drive you crazy. Right?
What you must understand is that your only job in an audition is to do your best work. Everything else is not up to you. The role you are reading for is one piece of an entire jigsaw puzzle. It must fit with the rest of the puzzle or the puzzle won’t work. The casting director, producer, and director are fitting pieces of the puzzle together all day long. Your only job is to be the best “piece” you can be. Whether your edges fit in the slot for that piece is not up to you.
Just go to your audition. Do your best and let it go. If you’re good, they will remember you. And the next time you hear one of those things, remember these words, let a knowing smile creep over your face, and go enjoy your day!
In the echoing words of Oscar Wilde “Art can make life”, I concede this truth especially when it comes to the power of theatre. On stage whether metaphorically or literally we, the audience watch life unfurl onstage. we capture moments of pure truth that touch our soul. I believe theatre has the power to change our perspective; it has the power to show us new forms and if we let it has the power to open up our minds.
I have often found that many people don’t understand how scenic painting works. The fact that we can make a bare stage look like anything we want with the right brushes, rollers, or other tools seems like a foreign concept to some. I think part of this is a lack of understanding of what a scenic artist does. We don’t just make it up as we go along.
There are specific tools that we can use, and certain types of paint that work better than others. But knowing all the different tools and paints that are available to use is half the battle. Knowing the differences between paint and glaze, or a regular brush and a chip brush. To most a paint brush is a paint brush, and a sponge is just something you use in the kitchen sink. However, a sponge to a scenic artist, is also something that you can use to make stone come alive with dimension, to add depth to something that looks flat, or to age a piece of furniture. The list of things a scenic artist can do with any given tool is long; and depending on what job needs to be done will determine what tools will be use. Sometimes those tools will vary depending on what paint is being use. So again, one of the most important things to remember, is to have a good basic understanding of what is used when it comes to scenic painting.
The Educational Theatre Association has put together a great list of what is required for Painting The Scene. The article goes in depth into the different tools and paint that are used, as well as multiple different techniques that can be done with the brushes that you have at your disposal. It is an great resource and you should save it for future reference.
So the next time you pick up a paint brush remember that it can be used for something other than just slapping paint onto something.