Archive for February, 2015

The Realization

Posted in Disentangling Thoughts on Theatre, Got Me Thinkin', Thoughts on Leadership on February 23, 2015 by RobALott

I’ve heard of Shakespearian actors, established and hard-working actors talk about their quest to play King Lear. They work their whole life gaining the experience needed to play King Lear. They audition. They don’t get it. They audition. They don’t get it. Rinse and repeat. Rinse and repeat. All the while playing smaller roles, watching and learning from the gifted actors who have come before. They work and work waiting for the opportunity to play King Lear, meanwhile knowing and confident they have what it takes to play (dramatic pause) King Lear.

Then, finally, they get the call. The call that all that work had been leading up to. The actor knows they can play King Lear, and now, they will have the opportunity to play King Lear.

After they hang up from finding out they’ll be playing King Lear, and then after the minute or two of excitement and affirmation, they have the realization…

Oh, crap. Now I have to play King Lear.

You do have what it takes. You are prepared and your confidence is not unwarranted. Yes, it will be a lot of work, but you are up for the challenge. You raised your hand and you were chosen. Don’t let the necessary work you have yet to do stand in the way of the talent you possess.

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Jason Robert Brown: My Notes

Posted in A Note to Directors, Disentangling Thoughts on Theatre, Got Me Thinkin', Nuts & Bolts Stuff, Quotes on February 16, 2015 by RobALott

On the heels of the cinematic release of The Last Five Years by Jason Robert Brown, I thought I’d share my notes and quotes from his master class on auditioning and performance I took a couple years ago.

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Jason Robert Brown
Notes & Quotes

Enjoy young. You don’t get to do young again later

Generally, if you’re talking to yourself it’s not all that compelling.

Every song is a question. And the answer is “no”.

Don’t be seduced by over singing the song.

You have to make musical choices. Not just acting choices. Both are required.

You can only be who you are now. Not who you were then.

Don’t work too hard. The material is already working. In comedy we call it putting a hat on a hat.

Smug is bad. Never play smug. Smug makes you the bad guy.

In the audition room, I have to believe that you are enough.

If I’m behind the table I’ve got work to do. If you catch my eye, you’ve brought me into the scene.

The music wins first. Start with what’s on the page. Then make choices.

Riffing is most often, usually bad. And those that do it don’t know how bad it is because they are busy riffing.

All you have to do with the sixteen bars is get the call-back.

Don’t play the literal lyric. Play the thought, the idea.

Continue discovering. The more you discover the details the more the song comes alive.

Make the obstacle clear as opposed to sentimental.

“Be the first rate you rather than the second rate anybody else.”

There is a reason they are classics and you’ll never get in trouble for knowing them.

Something you understand, something you embody, something you sing well. That’s your audition piece.

On Taking The Note

Posted in Disentangling Thoughts on Theatre, Got Me Thinkin', Quotes on February 9, 2015 by RobALott

King Solomon, said to be the wisest man who ever lived, wrote these words:

Correct the simple and they won’t get you.
Correct the foolish and they’ll ignore you.
Correct the mocker and they will hate you.
Correct the wise and they will thank you.

(Paraphrased a bit.)

What is your response to correction? What is your response to notes and feedback?

If your response is like that of the simple—as in, you just don’t get it—don’t worry. It’s not your fault. Do take the notes and apply them. You don’t need to understand the correction in order to apply it. It’s up to the one giving the feedback to teach you and help you understand. Experience will eliminate our simple lack of understanding over time.

Is your response like that of the foolish? Do you ignore the feedback? It’s because you know better, right? Yeah. We’ve all shared the stage with someone who ignores their notes and direction. And we know what we think of those artists. Is that who you want to be?

Surely, your response is not like that of the mocker. Surely, you don’t mock the notes and feedback with the rest of the cast in the dressing room away from your stage management and director. And surely you don’t mock the direction you’ve been given when you’re out for drinks with your buddy after rehearsal. Surely you don’t do that. Yeah, I don’t either.

There’s a very real reason why the standard and most acceptable response to a note is simply “Thank you”. It’s respectful. It does not waste time. It does not allow for excuses.

It’s the sign of the wise.

The trick is joining the few, the wise, who are able to truly accept the correction, the note, the direction, and respond with a genuine “Thank you”.

(Proverbs 9 btw)

The Silent Partner

Posted in A Note to Directors, Disentangling Thoughts on Theatre, Nuts & Bolts Stuff, Quotes on February 2, 2015 by RobALott

I shudder whenever someone refers to actors, singers, dancers, or musicians as “The Talent”. As though those are the only jobs that require skill or an understanding of the artistry of theatre.

Spend any time around a theater and you’ll see pretty quickly who runs the show. (Hint: it’s not the directors, designers, or the producers, and it’s certainly not “the talent”.)

The stage manager and production crew – this is the team that makes it all work.

The truly great ones see themselves as fellow artists and they consider their work to be just as based in their skill, talent, and artistry as do those seen on stage.

What’s unfortunate is how thankless their job can be. These artists work hard and consider it all a success when their work goes completely unnoticed by the audience.

When the curtain opens, is the scene it’s opening on sad or suspenseful? If the curtain opens too fast it’ll ruin the mood.

Does the scene end happy and energetic? If the curtain closes too slowly then all momentum will be lost. The artist pulling the curtain understands this and they know the equal importance of their role to play.

They are our silent partners.

As one of my directors once said, “Be kind to your lighting techs, your costumers, and your audio techs. Otherwise, you’ll end up naked in the dark and no one will hear your screams.”