Most people consider the task of ‘acting’ or ‘performing’ to be to create a sense of realism – to act as a real person and establish the illusion that ‘this is happening right now for the first time’. Stanislavski, and many others like him. This is the traditional view of what it means to be an actor or performer.
Director/ writer/ theatre artist Robert Wilson (along with several other contemporary theatre artists) look to break the theatre away from this sense of the ‘real’ and, in their work, seek to establish a heightened sense of theatricality that, they believe, open the doorway to a more poetic sense of meaning. Highly visual, highly stylized.
But to perform in a work of this genre, an actor cannot apply the kinds of methods that serve the more ‘realistic’ performance of a traditional play. The New York Times interviewed an actor, Helga Davis, who is currently performing in the revival of Wilson and Philip Glass’ operatic work Einstein on the Beach at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Here is the article.
So, most actor’s resumes will include a section at the bottom labeled “special skills” – which are often unique abilities that don’t fit anywhere else in the resume, but might impact casting considerations. Sometimes they are practical skills that might be a part of a particular role (like juggling or playing an instrument), but sometimes they are more like great conversation starters (fire-baton twirling). Playbill.com put up an article that asked 60 actors what their “special skills” are.
I only list playing musical instruments and singing as mine. I can do several dialects, but I’d hate to be asked to prove it on the spot…
Often in our business we get to create what the audience views as magical. This video I believe is an example of that. The character development and artistic creation come together to draw us into caring about this creature/character. I really enjoyed this TED talk and I hope you will like it as well.
Transpositions, the blog of the students of University of St. Andrews’ Institute of Theology, Imagination and the Arts, has been hosting a ‘virtual workshop’ that includes posts from around the world on the topic of “Art in the Church.” It started this past week, but links the the entries already posted are at the main page. Some amazing ideas about the inclusion of the arts within the context of worship. Check it out!
Award-winning actress and solo performer Anna Deavere Smith has taken on the task of being the first Artist-in-Residence at San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral. Smith is known for creating powerful solo performances through doing extensive interviews in research, then assemble a performance of direct quotations from those interviews, taking on the character of the interviewees.
What a great opportunity for the church at large to look at another way that artists can interact with the life of a congregation.
In a recent interview with NPR’s Fresh Aire, actress Meryl Streep discussed the value of opera training she received in her youth, and how it has helped her with her work today, which has been lauded specifically for her ability with accents and vocal transformations. Check out the LA Times article here.
A couple of Broadway productions (Lion King, Mary Poppins) are being sponsored by the Theatre Development Fund (TDF, the organization that runs the discount TKTS booth for Broadway shows) to have performances specifically tailored to be more accessible to audience members with Autism – less harsh sound effects and strobe lighting. Read more about it in this Backstage article.
Terry Teachout wrote an interesting article for the Wall Street Journal discussing the ability of non-believers to create some of the most significant religious art – specifically visual art and music (much of the 20th century literature, he noted, came from people of religious conviction). Lots to consider.
Found a great blog post by Tom Vander Well, a business owner and consultant, talking about 10 ways that being a theatre major prepared him for success. For the parents out there who are wondering how a theatre education can prepare a student in case ‘theatre doesn’t work out,’ read this.