A Christmas Blog
December 21, 2012
As this is the Christmas season, I have been watching many christmas movies. While watching Irving Berlins White Christmas I was reminded that old movies had a tendancy to film scenes in one take. It's something that people make a big deal of if it happens in more modern film or television. The big deal that is made is because "if just one actor makes a mistake, the whole scene has to be redone".
I think that we are so used to getting second chances that we don't rehears perfection enough. We have a tendancy to rehearse tll its holding together. Be it a piece of theatre or a student learning a piece of music on the piano. We are loosing the ability to repeat things that we can do.
I am constantly reminded of a quote I heard some time ago. "an amateur rehearses till they get it right. A professional rehearses till they can't get it wrong."
When you are producing a piece of live theatre, there are no second chances. We should always rehears to a point where the cast can't get it wrong. No matter how much they complain. That repetition is what seperates the mediocre...
repetition, white christmas
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To stand or not to stand, that is the question.
December 14, 2012
How much do we need to do to get an audience to stand?
If you are in an audience, what has to happen on stage to make you stand?
On Broadway it is expected that every performance will get a standing ovation. I am one of those people who will only stand up if it is deserved. When I (and the people I was with) made the bold decision not to stand at the end of a production last time we were in New York, it was noticed by the cast on stage and the dance captain, obviously annoyed, was indicating to us that we should be standing. Fortunately this expectation has not yet become the case in Australia.
If we expect a standing ovation for merely being there, what response from an audience are we then able to use as a gauge of an extraordinary performance?
If I am involved in a production I love to see people standing as an appreciation of what has been created in front of them. However I don't want anyone to feel that they have to stand up. I would much prefer them being moved to stand.
Go See a Show
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Issues to Assets
December 7, 2012
Some years ago I bought an office worth of furniture from Ikea. This in itself has no significance other than the fact that I walked in with all of the measurements of the room, bought the shelf/cupboard units and desk, got it all out to the car park...
The one element I had forgotten to take into account was the size of my car. At the time I was driving a small convertible. Fortunately I was able to open the roof and drive with all of the boxes hanging out the back of the car.
I had planned all of the things that need to be planned when trying to get furniture to fit in a room. But there was just one element that I had forgotten to plan for. This happens a lot in the theatre. We plan for every element that we can think of. Unfortunately there are always things that are missed or change once we hit the stage.
The mark of a good director or producer is not their ability to get a piece on stage without problems but their ability to deal with issues that arise.
I directed a production that required one of the...
ikea, issues to assets, plan
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Are they getting it?
November 30, 2012
Musical theatre is about the story. As vital as it is to have good music and energetic dancing, in the end if the story isn't conveyed the rest is arbitrary.
if you are an educator trying to get a point across, you have the chance to see the vacant expression on your students faces. You then have the opportunity to change your tact or angle of approach to the topic at hand until you see that all important "Aha!" expression that lets you know that they get it.
Unfortunately with a piece of rehearsed theatre you don't have a chance to shift what is happening on stage according to the expressions or response of the audience. So you need to think about where they are most likely to be. This is the point where a large number of "arty" directors fall down. They present pieces in a way that they assume will make people think and question. Unfortunately the usual outcome is an audience that are bewildered or feel stupid because they didn't get it.
The closest thing a director has to "sitting on your audiences shoulder" is the directors notes in the program. Unfortunately most people don't read this...
arty directors, sit on your audiences shoulder
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Who is your audience?
November 23, 2012
Since I have been blogging I have noticed that I am even more addicted to reading blogs... Or did I start this blog because I was already reading a number of theatre and marketing blogs religiously?
It makes me see the relationship between audience and performer. If you were to survey your audience, I think you will find that your biggest fans are also practitioners. The people who perform in your shows make up a large portion of the audience for other shows.
So why is it that so many companies perform at the same time as others around them. Surely it is in everybodies best interest to spread performance dates out so that the biggest fans of theatre can actually see some theatre. This was really driven home to me last night. I was in the audience for a musical on one of my rare nights off. Sitting there I realised that I haven't actually attended a musical June.
If you are looking for an audience, all you need to do is find the people who are too busy to go and find a way to make their attendance possible.
Go See a Show!
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Etiquette or out dated rules
November 16, 2012
Today there was a news report of someone in the balcony of the Broadway play "Grace", gradually leaned over the balcony and vomited on the audience in the prime orchestra seats below.
We all understand that this is poor theatre etiquette. If a play is so bad you need to vomit, leave!
It got me thinking about theatre etiquette. There have been many reports of actors stopping and reprimanding the audience, or at least publicly complaining about audience memnbers who ignore the expectations. Pattie LaPone was quite vocal a couple of years ago about audience eating during a performance with their noisy wrappers. There was the performance of "A Steady Rain" where Hugh Jackman broke character, turned to the audience upon the constant ringing of a mobile phone and said "Do you want to get it, grab it, I don't care, grab it, grab your phone, doesn't matter" to the offending audience member.
I could go on.
I speak to so many groups that don't enforce or even teach basic theatre etiquette to their performers because they are worried that it will come across as being too many rules that will "turn young people away from theatre". The problem...
a steady rain, grace, hugh jackman, pattie lapone, theatre etiquette
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Why we do what we do... Part 2
November 9, 2012
Recently I played in the pit for a production of Les Miserables. From the audience reaction I believe it to have been quite a successful production, though I couldn't see any of it... It did sound beautiful.
There was nothing particularly different about this performance. As always the only audience we could see was the front row. Through the season the orchestra had kept themselves entertained by trying to pick which audience members would cry.
Throughout the production I had been hearing stories of children coming in to see the show and audience members I know being worried that they would just make noise or be bored. After all it is a fairly heavy show. This turned out not to be the case.
On this particular performance there was an 8 year old girl sitting in the front row. I happened to look up during the curtain call to see the largest smile take over her face. She was obviously overwhelmed with the beauty and joy of the piece that she had just sat through. It was one of the most beautiful things I have ever witnessed in a theatre.
I was reminded why we do what we do. I was...
les miserables, little girl
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Why we do what we do
November 2, 2012
I have borrowed this weeks blog post from a leter that one of my facebook friends posted a few days back. I'm sure you won't mind.
The following was published in the latest issue of The Dramatist (a journal for members of the Dramatists Guild).
Life in the arts is tough but it’s all worth it to know how it affects people. My guess this is the tip of iceberg.
First there was a not
e written by Stephen Sondheim:
For those who wonder why we do what we do, I offer in evidence the following letter, written to the Cincinnati Playhouse by a man who won a pair of seats there in a promotional contest for John Doyle’s production of Merrily We Roll Along. Paste it on your bathroom mirror to read whenever you lose heart. -STEPHEN SONDHEIM
To just say thank you for the tickets to last night’s play could not convey my gratitude for the evening we had. I am not good with words or expressing myself but feel I need to let you know what your generosity in donating the tickets meant to my wife and me. When I received your email saying I had won...
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What does your audience expect?
October 26, 2012
Earlier this week i stumbled across a review of "A Chorus Line" in Perth. The reviewer had only good things to say about the production. Though he spent most of his typing space talking about the audience.
I personally have no experience of the theatre scene in Perth but he was suggesting that most of the audience had gone to this show expecting another "Wicked" or "Miss Saigon". Unfortunately no matter how good "A Chorus Line" is, it just simply can't deliver a spectacle.
This led me to believe that we don't know our audience.
If people go to a show for the first time, what are they expecting?
Do they know that "into the Woods" has a second act and it isn't time to go home at interval?
The understanding of therse expectations needs to be considered at all levels of theatre. I would suggest that if the reviewers statements are accurate, "A Chorus Line" won't last very long in Perth. So how do we deal with it. Do we just keep doing big spectacular shows, that will satisfy the audience expectation? Or do we find a way to train our audience to appreciate understated stagings?
I think it,...
a chorus line, expectations, into the woods, marketing, mis saigon, sweeney todd, wicked
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Do I Care Enough?
October 19, 2012
A few weeks ago a friend raised the question of not caring enough about the characters in a musical to be able to sit through their sad ballad. An audience needs to be able to connect or at least empathize with the characters in order to be able to go on the emotional journey that the director and cast are trying to take them on.
I have been reminded of this by going to a production meeting for a show that I have been pondering for the last three months. The rest of the team are fresh to the project and I could see that their involvement in the production was no where near at the level of enthusiasm that i hit them with. You can't help but vomit all of the information at them when that valve is released.
As a director, or any production team member, it is so important to remember that your audience has no more than three hours (including interval) to take the journey that you have been developing for months. Will an audience be able to love your character if they don't do anything to enamour the audience at the beginning. Is your character...
audience, director, emotional journey, production team
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