Friday May 24, 2013
David Mamet is an expert perturber. Within ninety minutes he unnerves his audience, giving couples something to argue about on the way home. I've listened to supposed soul mates debate to the verge of relationship meltdown, all because of the sexual harassment issues presented in Mamet's play, Oleanna. Likewise, in other plays such as Speed the Plow, the audience is never quite sure which character is right and which character is wrong. Or perhaps we are meant to be perturbed by all of the characters, as we are with the unethical batch of salesmen in Glengarry Glen Ross. By the end of David Mamet's 2009 drama Race, we meet several manipulative characters, all of whom will leave the audience with something to think and something to argue about.
Race is a seemingly simple four-person play. Jack Lawson (white, mid 40s) and Henry Brown (black, mid 40s) are attorneys of a burgeoning law firm. Charles Strickland (white, mid 40s) a prominent business man, has been charged with rape. The woman accusing him is black; the lawyers realize that the case will be all the more difficult because race will be a central issue throughout the trial. The men expect Susan, a new attorney with the firm (black, early 20s) to help determine whether or not they should accept Strickland as their client, but Susan has other plans in mind.
Learn more about the characters and themes in David Mamet's controversial drama.
Wednesday May 22, 2013
This Saturday, my cast will be presenting a world premiere version of The Little Mermaid, in front of a crowd of demanding ten-year-olds and their hopeful grandparents. No pressure. At least, there's no pressure for me. I will be backstage pulling curtains up and down. However, some of my actors might very well be sweating bullets and taking a few last glances at the script before they go on stage to present their characters to the world for the very first time.
Opening night can be a very daunting experience, especially if the rehearsal process has been rocky. However, there's good news for actors who felt that the dress rehearsal stunk. (At least it's good news if you are a superstitious actor.) According to a long-held theater philosophy, if you have a bad dress rehearsal, that means you'll have a terrific opening night! Learn more about this long-cherished superstition.
Saturday May 18, 2013
For some actors, the biggest challenge is not how to cry on cue, but how to laugh on command. When you think about it, laughter is pretty darn strange. It's a spontaneous, often subconscious reaction to social situations. Typically, we laugh more when we are around others. We might only exhibit when by ourselves watching a funny movie on television. However, if we were to watch the same film with a large audience, we let loose the belly laughs.
The sounds of laughter are similar no matter what country you are visiting. Most laughter consists of H-sounds: Ha, ho, hee. Other bursts of laughter might contain vowel sounds. Believe it or not, there's an entire field of science dedicated to the study of laughter and its physical effects. It's called gelotology. (I would have thought that would be the name for Jello Science. Sorry, I couldn't help myself.)
Learning about the mental and physical aspects of laughter can help actors become more adept at producing laughs on cue. Learn more acting tip on how to create realistic laughter for your characters.
Thursday May 16, 2013
We've all been there. Sitting at the theater. Mesmerized by the brilliant actors. Caught up in an incredible story. Then, all of a sudden, we hear that ring tone. Maybe it's that familiar marimba sound. Maybe it's a funky hip-hop jam. Maybe it's just a good, old-fashioned ring. Whatever the sound, it's annoying, not just to the audience but to the actors on stage. For those of us who always remember to turn off our cell phones before the curtain goes up, you'll get a kick out of this story:
While trying to watch the musical Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812, Journalist / critic Kevin Williamson was so distracted by a rude theater goer who refused to put away her i-phone. After being insulted by the woman, Williamson finally grabbed the phone and flung it across the room. A bit of chaos ensued, which you can read about in detail in this article featured on the Gothamist. The incident reminds me of another cell-phone atrocity which happened when Hugh Jackman was performing an intense role in the play, A Steady Rain. Find out how Mr. Jackman responded!