Posts Tagged ‘Acting

06
May
14

Machina – a chat with actor Peter Rasmussen

 

A chat with Actor, Peter Rasmussen…

 

Peter Rasmussen. Image by Nick Morrisey.

 

Peter, tell us about your role in Richard Jordan’s new play, Machina.

Adam is a social media addict and works in the Machina corporation. He revels in the fun and superficial side of life but this hides a deeper insecurity. He is someone who has been deeply misunderstood and has great difficulty creating meaningful relationships. It’s been fascinating exploring his need to connect with someone who means something to him. He also holds a dark secret about David.

 

Did you audition for Director, Catarina Hebbard? How did you prepare for your audition? Did you have to post a pic to Instagram and tweet your interest in the role? Just kidding. But not really.

 

I did audition. I haven’t auditioned in about seven years. Even though I knew most of the people involved it was still scary. My preparation was to discover that main objective of my character and find myself inside it, if that makes sense. Yes, I did Instagram during the Audition. Just kidding. But not really.

 

Can you talk about preparing for the role and what the rehearsal process has been like?

It’s been a challenging process for me but made so much easier by having wonderful people to work with. Richard Jordan’s script is brilliant. Catarina Hebbard creates a wonderful environment to work in. The rest of the cast are fun, open and very hard working.

A lot of the work has been to find how this world works and the fact that no character ever leaves the stage. Although people enter and exit scenes their story continues.

Above all, it’s been a pleasure to be working.

 

How do you learn lines?

Slowly.

Unfortunately, I’m not one of those people who read a script and have it down straight away. I’ve been experimenting with visual techniques of linking images which has been working well. Also, if you know why you are saying something and really understand the script, you can get to a place where saying the next line becomes an inevitable response to the previous line. Most of all, I try and make it fun and exciting for myself, then I remember.

 

What do you look for in the other characters to help you construct your character?

Back in my uni days I was taught to go through the script and see what all the other characters say about your character.

Once we get up on the floor it’s great to experiment with different things, while working with the other actors.

 

How important are relationships on stage? Do you have some hot tips for connecting with other actors?

Listen. Really listen. I know if I let my concentration wander off the other actor, I lose what I’m doing. It’s awful to watch two actors saying lines near each other, without caring what is happening in the other actors. That being said it’s a very hard thing to do. I like to try and get a reaction from the other actors on every line. Provided each action serves the story, this works for me.

 

What else do you teach when you work with actors?

I presume you are talking about my acting classes. I teach acting on Monday and Wednesday evenings at Griffith University Film. It’s been wonderful to teach talented Brisbane actors for the last 2 years. I love to see revisiting performances and we have been coming up with same amazing stuff in class. For anyone who is interested please visit my website.

 

How do you feel about the Australian theatre scene at the moment? How is our film and television industry looking?

 

I am always excited by the amazing talent of Australian Theatre makers and the film and TV industry. I’m excited that people in Brisbane are embracing the arts in a big way. There seems to be more happening that ever before.

 

How versatile do our actors need to be and how do they find good training and good representation?

Actors always need to have a good range. Now, by good range, I mean be able to see and live inside many situations. Actors who do one well will be limited. For instance, actors who get on our soaps either learn how to expand their range and go onto international careers or get stuck in one thing, leave after three years and have no career. We must always expand and grow what we do in order to fit with the unpredictable nature of what roles become available. I highly recommend training in order to stay strong as an actor.

 

As an actor, how important is a public online profile? Should actors be tweeting more often? Which is your favourite social media platform for actors?

As far as I can see, social media is for actors to connect with other people in Film and TV and Theatre generally for unpaid gigs. In terms of higher end things the old systems of Agents and Casting Directors is the major way people get paid work.

I tend to be on Facebook but I understand this is pretty old hat now. I have a twitter account and Instagram is still something I haven’t tried.

 

Do you think we’re less social in real life than we have been in the past? How important are real life connections? Are we missing networking opportunities offline?

As a person approaching 40 I find social networking helps me stay in touch with the people I care about. We can arrange to catch up more easily than ever before. I don’t think I see any less of the people I care about because of social media. Sometimes, I feel the opposite.

 

If I want to hide people have about 10 different ways they can send me a message and that doesn’t include knocking on my door and saying hi. It can be trickier to have that alone time.

 

Machina runs May 8 – 24 2014 at The Loft for La Boite Indie.

 

Peter Rasmussen. Image by Nick Morrisey.

 

 

 

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19
Apr
13

Responsive Performance Training with Leisa Shelton

I’ve added an interview here, which will particularly interest those registered for the workshop. I’m excited to hear from artists who’ll be working with Leisa Shelton TOMORROW at The Judy. Is that YOU? IT COULD BE! THERE ARE STILL A COUPLE OF PLACES REMAINING! Let me know how you go! x

XS Entertainment

A one-day workshop TOMORROW on Saturday April 20th for independent performance makers, offering an introduction to Responsive Performance Training and focussing on generative and practice techniques toward performance outcomes.

 

 

Leisa Shelton

Responsive Performance Practice is a training program developed and led by Leisa Shelton, through years of professional practice within contemporary performance and continuous investigation with many of the world’s leading teachers, directors and innovators.

 

It draws directly from the embodied actor training developed by Etienne Decroux, the rehearsal processes of Pina Bausch via Meryl Tankard, Autonomous Actor training as developed by Lindy Davies, alongside a continuing dialogue with Eastern principles of theatre practice.

 

The teaching is an act of transmission actively focusing on enabling and developing a performer’s intuitive, responsive and articulate awareness of space, those within it and their relationship to the material under investigation. The techniques offer a deeper understanding of…

View original post 1,866 more words

11
Apr
13

Sunshine Coast Meisner Training for Actors

 

Meisner Training is an interdependent series of exercises that build upon one another. The more complex work supports a command of dramatic text.

Now, for the first time, the technique comes to the Sunshine Coast.

 

Starting at 7pm Wednesday April 17th at the Heritage Theatre in Gympie, the program offers actors of all skill-levels an unparalleled opportunity to advance their command of their craft in a fun, friendly and supportive atmosphere. Yes, it’s a Gympie venue. Yes, you should find a way to get there. Why not do a shout out on our Facebook page and find others who will car pool and train with you?

 

To secure your place in the program email  tony@interactyouththeatre.com.au or call 0418 881 063

 

 

Meisner students work on a series of progressively complex exercises to develop an ability to improvise, to access an emotional life, and finally to bring the spontaneity of improvisation and the richness of personal response to text. The technique assumes that by emphasizing “moment-to-moment” spontaneity through communion with other actors, behaviour that is truthful under imaginary circumstances may be generated.

 

Meisner emphasized doing with early training heavily based on actions. The questions “what are you playing?” and “what are you doing?” are frequently asked in class to remind actors to commit themselves to an objective rather than a script. Silence, dialogue, and activity all require the actor to find a purpose for performing the action. By combining the two main tasks of focusing one’s attention on one’s partner and committing to an action, the technique aims to compel an actor into the moment (a common Meisner phrase), while simultaneously propelling him forward with concentrated purpose. The more an actor is able to take in the partner and the partner’s surroundings while performing in character, the more Meisner believed they are able to leave himself or herself alone and “live truthfully.”

 

The most fundamental exercise in Meisner training is called Repetition. Two actors face each other and “repeat” their observations about one another back and forth. An example of such an exchange might be: “You’re smiling.” “I’m smiling.” “You’re smiling!” “Yes, I’m smiling.” Actors are asked to observe and respond to others’ behavior and the subtext therein. If they can “pick up the impulse” — or work spontaneously from how their partner’s behavior affects them — their own behavior will arise directly from the stimulus of the other.

 

 

Later, as the exercise evolves in complexity to include “given circumstances,” “relationships,” actions and obstacles, this skill remains critical. From start to finish — from repetition to rehearsing a lead role — the principles of “listen and respond” and “stay in the moment” are fundamental to the work.

 

As for all Stanislavskian-derived approaches, for a Meisner actor traditional line memorization methods that include vocal inflections or gestures makes no sense. Doing so merely increases the chance the actor will miss a “real moment” in service of a rehearsed habit or line reading. Meisner actors learn lines dry, “by rote,” without inflection, so as not to memorize a line reading. When the line is finally to be delivered, its quality and inflection is derived from the given moment.

 

The improvisatory thrust of the technique should not be misconstrued as permission to wing it or to go unprepared. Meisner training includes extensive work on crafting or preparing a role. As students mature in the work, they get to know themselves and can make use of this self-knowledge by choosing actions compelling to their particular instrument. They “come to life” through informed, provocative choices. Actors prepare emotional responses by “personalizing” and “paraphrasing” material and by using their imagination and “daydreaming” around a play’s events in highly specific ways that they’ve learned are especially evocative to them personally.

 

When circumstances are advanced, this preparation must be accomplished with specificity and depth, or else the actor’s attention simply cannot move away from self and onto the moment. Solid preparation supports the spontaneity, an idea articulated by Martha Graham when she wrote, “I work eight hours a day, every day, so that in the evenings I can improvise.”

 

James Kable

James Kable has been teaching young actors since 1995, when he first started tutoring at QUT. Since then he has taught hundreds of hopefuls the rudiments of the craft. 

 

From 2001 to 2003 he conducted workshops all over Queensland as part of the Queensland Theatre Company’s Regional Partnerships Program and was a regular tutor at the company’s Theatre Residency Week. In 2004 he studied method acting under Martin Barter at the Sanford Meisner Center in Los Angeles and in 2005 he became the inaugural full-time acting teacher at the Lasalle College of the Arts in Singapore. Upon his return to Australia, he began teaching and directing for the Australian Acting Academy.

 

Since 2005 he has been very proud to be an Artistic Associate atZen Zen Zo Physical Theatre Company, tutoring the interns and the core company in aspects of naturalistic acting, using theMeisner technique as a primary teaching tool.

 

As an actor, some of the highlights include the roles of Garcin in Sartre’s No Exit, Barney in Summer of the Seventeenth DollOliver in As You Like It and Jimmy Porter in Look Back in Anger, all at La BoiteHe has played Verlaine in Total Eclipse, Mortimer in Marlowe’s Edward II, created the role of Nick in the world premiere of Stephen Sewell’s Frightened Heart, Fallen Soul, done both Theseusand Oberon in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, played Pozzo in Polymorphic’s Matilda Award winning Waiting for Godot, done a double-act as a transvestite and an SS captain in Bent and filled the title role in Self. Since the turn of the century, James has performed to critical acclaim as Dave No-Name in Alive at Williamstown Pier and as Hercules’s doomed stepfather Amphitryon in Mad Hercules. In 2008 he played Governor Arthur Phillip and John Wisehammer in the Gold Coast Little Theatre’s production ofTimberlake Wertenbaker’s Our Country’s Good, directed by Jennifer Flowers. Last year saw his acting debut for Zen Zen Zo, playing both Alonso and Affogato in a Matilda Award winning production of The Tempest.

 

His directorial debut was a Matilda Award winning production of Sam Shepard’s Fool for Love, at La Boite in 1989. His millenial version of Shepard’s rock musical The Tooth of Crime was one of the critical and box office successes of 1995 and in 1996 he directed Vena Cava’s inaugural production, Stephen Sewell’s ferocious political satire/black comedy/rock musical Anger’s Love. He revisitedFool for Love for Hattrick Theatre in 1997. Since then he has gone on to direct several productions for QUT, for the Queensland Theatre Company and a futuristic Faust for the Corrugated Company. In 2006 he directed three plays for Lasalle-SIA College of the Arts: Edward Bond‘s The Tin Can People, Stephen Sewell’sDreams In An Empty City and David Henry Hwang’s Golden Child

 

 

01
Nov
12

Welcome to Los Angeles! Tara Jade tells all!

This month we welcome Tara Jade, who will be giving us a glimpse, as part of a regular series, into life as an Aussie actor.

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to find out what Tara Jade does to make it – not fake it – as an actor.

First stop? LA!

Tara Jade recently returned home to Brisbane after a stint in La La Land as an actor.

Living, training, trying to work…Tara Jade tells all!

My name is Tara Jade and I went to LA for a life-changing adventure.  In Australia I always had a problem in allowing myself to be an actor.  My mother instilled great Australian values in me – get an education, get a good job, find a husband, buy a house and have some kids.  This, however, was not the story of my parents.  They were performers themselves, so the stage is in my blood and I was born with a dream to be an actor that just wouldn’t die.  I tried to be a good girl and do what Mummy said.  I got a University degree, I had (several) ‘good’ jobs and I was about to buy a second business to “invest in my future” when I suddenly realised one very important thing… I wasn’t happy.  In fact the only time I was happy was when I was acting.  So instead of living the sensible life my parents envisioned I sold my business, bought a plane ticket and took the biggest (and best) step of my life.  I landed in LA with two suitcases, no contacts and one heck of a lot of drive and now, five months on, I have embraced my essence and started my quest to be a working actress in Hollywood. The days are long, the challenges numerous and the roads are…well, traffic-jammed, but this adventure is never dull and I would love to take you with me as I follow my dream.

Welcome to LA!

When I cleared customs and finally walked outside of LAX, the vision that awaited me was not what I was expecting.  The day was dark and overcast, the cab drivers were non-English speaking (which was strangely familiar) and everything looked like a movie… a movie set in Detroit, Chicago or Watdoyacallit? Minnesota. Wasn’t LA supposed to be glitz, glamour, palm trees and year-round sun?  June Gloom, this year beginning mid April, is a couple of weeks of Queensland winter that happens at the end of spring.  It mostly consists of overcast mornings, maximum temperatures in the low 20’s (oC) and drizzle…

Welcome to LA! 

I got to my apartment, a sublet from an American Comedienne and could have literally been anywhere.  I looked around and thought, “This is Hollywood?”  Where are Kanye West and Kim Kardashian?  The first thing I noticed when walking around Hollywood and West Hollywood were the streets.  Dirty, dirty streets that smelt of urine! Whilst the streets aren’t filled with litter or debris, everything does seem to be covered in a layer of grime.  The second thing I noticed were the homeless people.  As an Australian who grew up in Brisbane and was literally leaving the nest for the very first time, this was a relatively new concept for me.  Yes, they are everywhere, yes they smell, yes they come in all different shapes, sizes, races and genders but believe me they all share one thing in common: they are not shy about asking for money.  Walking down a single street in Hollywood you can encounter between five and ten homeless people all asking for change.  The reality is, you can’t help them all and you’ll probably have mixed feelings about this, but they are as much a part of this town as the smog…

Welcome to LA!

I had dreamt of coming to America since I was ten years old so I spent my first week being a tourist and seeing the sights.  Everything seems smaller in reality than you think it will be.  Hollywood Boulevard to Santa Monica Pier and every tacky (and awesome) spectacle in between is very different to how it appears on TV.  It took me about a month to find an apartment, buy a car and settle in, which is about double what I had envisaged and harder than I thought.

My top two pieces of advice are to rent a car when you get there, even if it’s just until you decide whether to buy one or rent one long-term; and take your time so you find the right car and the right roommates.  Craigslist and the Aussies in LA Facebook page can help you with finding a sublet and a car, but buyer beware, get a mechanic to check out the auto before you hand over any money and take your time to find the right vehicle.  A lot of people in this town are out to make a buck and I learnt the hard way…

Welcome to LA!

The next challenge to contend with is what I like to call “the Visa situation.”  Whenever you meet a group of Aussie actors in LA, the conversation will eventually arrive at visa types, immigration lawyers, deal memos and sponsors.  It is crucial to understand the rules of your Visa.  For information on the different visa types, eligibility requirements and regulations go to www.travel.state.gov and www.cbp.gov  These two sites should give you everything you need to start lodging your visa application. But let’s cut straight to the nitty gritty: the O-1 or, as I like to think of it, the Holy Grail of visa categories for actors coming to the US (aside from winning the Greencard lottery of course).  An O-1 is a visa for “aliens with extraordinary ability or achievement in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, or extraordinary achievements in the motion picture and television field.”  It is the only way you are allowed to work as an artist in the United States and can last from one to three years depending on the project you are working on or ultimately the strength of your application.

In order to attain this visa type you must fulfil at least three out of six categories, be sponsored by an agent or manager and have a strong deal memo (contract) that will keep you employed for the length of visa you are applying for.  It requires a mountain of paperwork, a tonne of lawyer’s fees, a lot of networking and a hope and a prayer.  But isn’t it worth it if you’re one step closer to chasing your dream of making it big in Hollywood?  Hell Yeah!

A word of caution: if you are on an O-1, you are not legally permitted to work in any other forms of employment.  So that joke about being a waitress/actress is unfortunately not relevant for Aussies as it is illegal to work outside your field.  This includes other jobs in the arts.  If your Visa is for acting, I’m afraid you can only act, so it is important to come over with plenty of savings to see you through.  Just another hoop to jump through on your magical journey of acting in film and television…

Welcome to LA!

So you’re settled.  You found an apartment, bought a car, have the visa situation under control and are ready to take over Tinsel Town!  Better get yourself into a decent acting class, get new headshots, update your reel, work on your accent and find an agent!  Where to start?  Well the truth is, there is no right way.  Unless you are coming over here with significant Australian credits and already have a manager or agent lined up, the first place I’d recommend is the acting class.  This will give you a chance to network with other actors, get referrals for agents and start to make friends in this lonely city.  There are many, many choices in Los Angeles; some good, some bad and some just plain ugly!  The best advice is to get recommendations from colleagues and teachers at home and audit as many classes as you can.

It doesn’t matter if someone is renowned for helping you book auditions or if someone else helped win an Oscar for Halle Berry, this is one of those things where you will just have to go with your gut.  Personally, I chose the Margie Haber Studio, where they teach you to stop acting and start living the life of the character.  No, this is not method acting, but a process of taking you out of your head and turning you into a real person who has conversations instead of an actor who does scenes.  Their specialties include scene breakdown, audition technique and cold-reading.

Auditioning in LA is worlds away from auditioning in Australia.  In America, you do not have to memorize your lines for a first audition and Margie has a phrase technique that teaches you to use the page; concentrating your preparation time on character, relationships and environment.   This studio gets my vote for being an extremely practical class where you work on-camera every week, learn in easily digestible chunks, are taught by working actors and meet really nice artists – not easy in a town where actors (especially the women) are intrinsically bitchy! But the choices are endless and this may not be what you need so do your research and try before you buy.  Decisions, decisions…

Welcome to LA!

Tara Jade

23
Jul
12

Brisbane Arts Theatre Drama Festival Results

Well, that was a big weekend! I adjudicated the Brisbane Arts Theatre’s 24th Annual Drama Festival. You will see the results below and, when I have a moment and I’ve posted last week’s reviews for my intrepid reviewers, Meredith and Michelle, I’ll post my comments, which I talked through before presenting the awards last night. Apparently this is slightly unusual? I thought it was important to provide some specific feedback for each group and, as a performer myself, I know the value of contextualising the feedback another company receives. We all slip into the same bad habits sometimes and it’s a great reminder – especially when everybody has enjoyed all of the plays – to talk through each production. Companies will, of course, also receive electronic copies of the comments that apply specifically to their production. I saw lots of nodding heads and smiling faces as I was going through my notes but even so, I reminded the players that my opinion is only one opinion and, as we well know, I have my critics too!

I’m super impressed with the overall standard at this year’s Brisbane Arts Theatre Drama Festival and I look forward to the next opportunity that I have to see so much theatre in the one place, over just one weekend (17th – 19th August at Buderim Memorial Hall), at the Sunshine Coast Theatre Festival. If you’re up for it, come for the weekend (a Festival Pass will set you back just $35). If you’re around for the following Saturday (25th August at Lind Lane Theatre) come and support our Youth Theatre Festival. Keep an eye out soon for our upcoming TVC on local Channel 7.

We’re absolutely delighted to welcome our Sunshine Coast adjudicator for this year, Kate Foy.

There are other festivals happening in the meantime (Beenleigh? Sandgate?). Check out the Facebook group (thank you, John McMahon, for your kind words over there!), or the host theatre company websites for details.

Congratulations to everybody involved in the wonderful productions at Brisbane Arts! Next up for Brisbane Arts Theatre is an improvised show, created by one of our winners, Natalie Bochenski and Impro MafiaCritical Hit, an off-the-cuff fantasy comedy, in which the audience makes up the rules!

To the team at Brisbane Arts Theatre, congratulations on a successful, enjoyable festival and thanks again for having me!

P.S. Girls, I wore leggings and a drape top from blackmilkclothing.com and my amazing array of teas included Coconut Chai, Rose with French Vanilla and Italian Almond!

Youth Awards:

Best Actor
Daniel Taylor (Gossip)

Best Supporting Actor
Myles van Ryan (Mack in Gossip)

Best Actress
Aleisha Deryk (Jill in Humpty)

Best Supporting Actress
Tegan MacDonald (Mary Mary & Old Mother Hubbard in Humpty)

BestDirector
Amy Ingram and Natalie Trust (Gossip)

Best Play
Gossip

Second best play
Whatever Happened to Humpty

Third best play
The Pirate Game

Best Backstage Conduct

Fractal Theatre Company (The Pirate Game)

Adjudicator’s Awards
1. Dominic Stevenson (Captain Blackheart in The Pirate Game)
2. Kai Stevenson (Short John in The Pirate Game)
3. Archie Horneman-Wren (the Guard in The Pirate Game)
4. Finn Riodan (Old King Cole in Whatever happened to Humpty?)
5. Isobel Rose (Phoebe in Gossip)

YouthLeadershipAward
Fractal Theatre Company

 

Open Awards

Best Actor – Drama
Ben Dyson (Who the Fuck is Erica Price)

Best Actor – Comedy
Reagan Warner (Level 12)

Best Supporting Actor
Mark Lucas

Best Actress – Drama
Susan O’Toole

Best Actress – Comedy
Anna McMahon

Best Supporting Actress
Kate Cullen

Best Director
Shirley Lucas

Best Play
Narcissistica

Second Best Play
Who the Fuck is Erica Price?

Third Best Play
Downsize

Best Australian Script
Who the Fuck is Erica Price?

by Sarah Brill

Most Creative Set Design
Level 12

Best Backstage Conduct

Golden Glove Productions (Level 12)

Adjudicator’s Awards
1. Elodie Boal (Writer, Performer: Crush)
2. Sarah McMahon (Writer, Performer: I’m a Pisces, He’s an Asshole)
3. Karen Peart (Performer: All For the Nation)
4. Alison Kerr (Dir: Who the Fuck is Erica Price?)
5. Natalie Bochenski (Writer, Director & Performer: Downsize)

Special mentions to:

Kirsty, Shirley and Michelle (Narcissistica)

David Breen (Freedom)

Sue Sewell (Still Life)

Downstage Theatre Company (Cut!)

 

Level 12 Golden Glove Productions

Congratulations to the cast and crew of Level 12 which performed at Brisbane Arts this weekend. Reagan Warner won Best Actor in a Comedy and the team won Best Backstage Conduct- nice work Reagan and team! And a very special award went to Nick Beck for his set creation of the elevator in Level 12, winning Most Creative Set Design! We asked Nick if he could design an elevator frame that could beset up in 10min., striked in 5min., fit onto 9 different stages and be collapsable enough to be packed into a Toyota Yaris. We asked, and he created! Well done Nick! Nick and Bronte Salmond also added some extra supports to the set this year to make it even more safe and sturdy than it already was. Thank you for your creativity, generosity and design work. And just to make this award even more special, this is the Jo Peirce Memorial Shield, our beloved friend and mentor who we are sure was watching us from her seat all weekend. We said the show was for you Jo xx 

– Kate Beck Golden Glove Productions

 

21
Mar
12

The Laramie Project – thoughts

Thoughts from Elizabeth Best, Cast Member of The Laramie Project at Nash Theatre, New Farm.

I still vividly remember how I felt the first time I saw The Laramie Project and heard Matthew Shepard’s tragic story for the first time about 8 years ago. Matt was only 21 years old where he was savagely beaten and left for dead tied to a fence in small town Laramie, Wyoming, in the USA. He suffered this horrendous attack at the hands of two other kids, and he was singled out because he was gay. I remember feeling shocked that anyone could do something like that to another human being, feeling sad that a young life was cut short and feeling hopeful that pieces of theatre like this could bring about change.


So naturally, when I heard Nash was doing Laramie, I jumped at the chance to actually be IN the show that had so captivated me all those years ago.

What is most fascinating to me is that the show is verbatim theatre, which means that the words spoken on stage are taken directly from interviews, court transcripts and other found texts; Laramie Project isn’t just based on a true story, it IS the true story – every single word of it. Moises Kaufman and the members of the Tectonic Theatre Project made six trips to Laramie over the course of a year and a half in the aftermath of the beating and during the trial of the two young men accused of killing Shepard. They conducted more than 200 interviews with the people of the town. They have constructed a deeply moving theatrical experience from these interviews and their own experiences.

Laramie is a show that takes a lot of work: eight actors share more than 60 roles, ranging from local bartenders, to judges, to the perpetrators themselves. My 12 characters include a Wyoming waitress, a lesbian university professor, the girlfriend of the perpetrator and the wife of a homophobic baptist minister. With this in mind, research was a huge part of my process in this show; I needed to know who these people were, where they came from, and where they ended up once the play finished. Then with that information, I needed to figure out how the heck I was going to differentiate between them all! Luckily, some of the characters came from different regions which meant different accents, then the personalities of the characters lent themselves to different voice timbres and, of course, the physicality that comes from the whopping age differences: my youngest character is 21 and my oldest is in her late 50s. And with so many characters, it’s so easy to slip into caricature, which is something I wanted to avoid. That is where the research helped and knowing that these people were real and that their stories continued on after the final words of the play.

The Laramie Project is a show that conveys an important message and shows us the human condition in its many forms; it shows frailty, weakness, hatred, brutality, caring, compassion and most of all, hope. The fact that it is a true story  – Matthew’s story – instilled in me a need to do these people and this story justice and, as one of the Laramie characters Father Roger Schmidt says, to “say it right. You need to do your best to say it correct.”

BOOK NOW

Thursday – Saturday @ 7.30pm

Nash Theatre

Merthyr Uniting Church

52 Merthyr Road, New Farm

15
Mar
12

a bad year for tomatoes

A Bad Year for Tomatoes

A Comedy by John Patrick

Lind Lane Theatre

14.02.12 – 24.03.12

After being in show business all her life, Myra Marlowe (Leona Kirby) is tired of pretending to be somebody else. She throws in the Hollywood Hilton towel and moves to more modest lodgings in the mountains. Only her agent knows where she is. She takes up gardening and begins writing her autobiography. She doesn’t get very far when the small-minded, small town folk interrupt her work and her new, quiet life with their petty gossip and trussed up dramas. Her seemingly brilliant plan to rid the place of pests and turkeys fails miserably. Her tricks and her true identity are revealed in the end.

Patrick wrote a farce (he also wrote wonderful screenplays, for which he is better known, including High Society and Three Coins in a Fountain). A farce is generally recognised as a humorous play in which the plot depends upon the skillful exploitation of a situation rather than upon any development of character. Well, despite the caricatures working in the first instance, there was little to no evidence of character development here so on that point, Lind Lane can enjoy some small measure of success. However, there is also, sadly, little to no skill demonstrated in terms of plot execution and the management of basic staging, pace and comic timing. A couple of the actors even appear uneasy on stage. This could be preview night nerves but, frankly, I’m getting sick of making excuses for some local performers (and directors). Sometimes, a more humble approach to the craft will do wonders. If you’re in it just for fun and you have no interest in becoming a more accomplished performer, make sure the rest of your cast know that before tech week, when it’s not too late to replace you, and skip this next paragraph…

RANTRANTRANTRANTRANTRANTRANTRANTRANTRANTRANTRANTRANTRANTRANTRANTRANTRANTRANT

It’s time some of you started asking questions of the people whose opinions you value (as opposed to those friends who tell you, “You were AWESOME!”). That might count me out. Whatever. If some of you ever realise that I (and other coaches, teachers and directors on the coast) know a little of what I’m (we’re) talking about, give me (or somebody else) a call and we can do some work together before you look, again, like a nervous, under-rehearsed, under-prepared beginner amateur. Seriously. Think about it. The same applies in retail, hospitality, education and business and you will have noticed that, especially in business, more and more speakers, salespeople, managers – people who want to be taken seriously by their audience – are engaging the services of acting coaches. Very smart. What the good coaches will do is stop you “acting” because we can see your efforts from the back row of the theatre and, damn, it’s painful! Sitting in the audience, we don’t want to see you struggling. We want to see you enjoying what you’re doing! Particularly in a comedy, it makes perfect sense! Think again and we’ll use a sporting analogy. If you want to play tennis with a few friends, you go hire a court and hit a ball around. If you want to be a good tennis player, the best, most confident tennis player you can be, ready for all sorts of play and ready to start enjoying the game on a whole new level, you hire a coach. By all means, if it’s what you want, you keep hitting that ball around with a few friends who are also after some fun times. But don’t expect me to tell you, “You were AWESOME!” at the end of the match. Okay? Okay.

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So what happens when a farce isn’t funny? A good half of the preview audience and Director, Margaret McDonald, probably can’t answer that. The play was well received by its first audience and, apparently, there was “lots of laughter” during final rehearsals. So despite my misgivings, and counting on Lind Lane’s usual patronage, I think this cast can pretty safely assume they have a sell-out season on their hands.

During the opening ten minutes of A Bad Year for Tomatoes, I thought that perhaps if I could bear to sit through Leona Kirby saving it the way she started out doing, the production wouldn’t be so bad. She has her moments, as does Lea-anne Grevett (one scene particularly, a highlight for me, although completely OTT, is well executed, as Grevett tip-toes back and forth between the bottom of the stairs and the telephone, giving us – at last – a glimpse of some lovely natural comic ability) and Errol Morrison, who plays to the hilt, the dumb(er) wood-chopping, trespassing, over-friendly freak. At the thirty-minute mark, when the cringe-worthy neighbour, Cora (Deb Mills) returns for a second visit, I was hoping wondering if we were getting close to the end yet.

There is a particular demographic who will love this play to pieces. Clearly, I am well out of it. Older members of the preview audience chortled, snorted and upon leaving the theatre happily noted, “Well that was good, wasn’t it?” I smiled and nodded. Sometimes smiling and nodding is the best I can manage after a show. Sometimes, the less said the better. I’ve said too much already. I’m disappointed. I sincerely hope you won’t be.

If you see a lot of theatre, you can probably not feel too bad about missing A Bad Year for Tomatoes. If you don’t get out much, it could be your cup of tea. The production elements are fine (we can see how hard this company works to get great sets and costumes in front of us). In any case, let me know what you think. I don’t mind being proven wrong and I certainly hope you can tell me that that you enjoyed a faster, funnier performance than that which I had to sit through.




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