Posts Tagged ‘Process



23
Mar
10

The Extra Rehearsal

It seems this rehearsal period is almost at an end and you still don’t know very much about how it’s been going, do you? Well, it’s been going great, thanks! Oh. Well, what I mean is, that I sort of expected, as you did too no doubt, that there would be a bit of drama off stage as well as on. There almost always is. What’s live theatre without a bit of drama, after all? But in actual fact, we have had comparatively very little drama. I know! How refreshing! Indeed, the focus has been, at each and every rehearsal, on the scene work itself and how to get a better result from just those involved in the short time allowed.

It may seem to some of you, especially if the theatre is not something you are involved in beyond being an audience member, that this is a very strange thing to be making a point about. I think it has been a major point of difference to the success of this production. We have not had company members sitting idle at rehearsals and thus, we have avoided all sorts of petty conversations and criticisms that one has, sadly, and come to expect in community/amateur theatre. Of course it takes all sorts. We are lucky that the sort of people drawn to this show are those who are able to listen to each other and respond accordingly, generously and supportively; feeling the shifts in energy and compensating for somebody being a bit down on themselves or somebody else having had a hard day at work or a horrid day at home. These are the sort of people with whom I would like to keep producing great theatre. These are also the people I’m proud to count amongst my friends.

After a tough tech week, during which we allowed the crew to come in and take over the theatre, previously having claimed it as our own, we can see now that we do, indeed, have a great show. Last night’s rehearsal tied some loose ends together (quite literally- wait to see the ribbon put to good use) and we had our film makers, Simon and Evita, backstage with us, capturing those candid conversations, preparations and the interesting/scary/revelatory moments just before and after the usual (or unusual) entrances and exits. Fascinating stuff. Only I hope I didn’t say anything really stupid in the dressing room. Other than encountering, for the first time ever, difficulties with my make up – the pancake took a dislike to me and refused to adhere – oh and being thrown to the floor rather more viciously than usual and sustaining injuries to a foot and an elbow during the scene with Shane (what WERE you on, Shane?!), I think I did okay. I think we can achieve some clever edits there. As we say, we’ll fix it in post.

So anyway, tonight was never going to be a night off, as some had hoped. We scheduled an extra rehearsal some time ago, in order to get what we needed on film. Here’s the drill, just so you know what we are up to as you make your Milo and head off to bed with a good book:

  • 6:30pm call for 7:30pm curtain
  • wide shot of the entire show. This means we run the show as per usual. The shot will be from the bio box.
  • medium shot of the entire show. This means we run the show a second time. The shot will be from the stalls.

Hahahahaha! I will just say, there are just the stalls at Noosa Arts Theatre. It’s a teeny, tiny, lovely little theatre of around 100 seats…

hope you’ve booked!

  • Close Ups and reversals. This means that, sometime close to midnight no doubt, after extra tea, coffee, chocolate, miso and a few more cigarettes than are really needed (Sam…) we will be running each scene several times to capture various aspects of character, relationship and story. And some really good out-takes I’m guessing, for the special features!

This is the real film part, friends. The part where we do take after take after take, to make sure we have everything we need for the doco. I don’t mind it. Actually, I hate the camera but I don’t mind being filmed by it, you know? This is the part that we can still control a little. After tonight we have an audience. La Ronde previews tomorrow night and opens on Thursday night. Tonight we can still manipulate the telling of the story to a greater degree than once we have that live (and mostly unforgiving) audience in front of us. We can’t go back and do something again if we are not happy with it. Oh, the thrill of live theatre!

I guess I will sleep at the end of April. Whatever.

It was always our intention to film the show in HD (that’s High Def, High Definition, folks. Don’t worry, I will learn the lingo with you) and capture the creative process on the little hand held camcorder. I love this whole rough-as-guts thing while we work and then we reveal the all-shiny-and-new look for the performance. It’s a message about the façade of the theatre. The façade of life! No, no, not really, we’ve not talked about that at all; I just threw that in…

It’s true though: most audiences don’t really care what came before. They are interested in the product. Of course, social media and access to all manner of blogs and reviews online as well as programs like Inside the Actors Studio and the special features on every DVD have, perhaps a little insidiously, been educating our audiences to expect more. I do believe this to be a good thing. THIS IS A GOOD THING, PEOPLE! It is part of what we aim to do with La Ronde.

Sam (the director, if you’ve only just joined us…Hi!) has said all along that he wanted to offer a number of challenges to actors AND audiences. And part of the point of filming what comes before, is to pull back the curtain (yes, sorry, look, I can’t believe I said that either) on how the product is created, helping to foster the audiences’ interest in the performing arts and thereby, garnering their SUPPORT FOR THE ARTS. I know. Sigh. It’s been done before. But never like this! Oh. Yes, it has and I think I have already referred to the brilliant insight that is In the Company of Actors and (yes, this old chestnut) The Making of Miss Saigon. I’m sure there are others out there but these two documentaries in particular, have inspired us and influenced our approach to this show, as serious work – to be continued – in community theatre.

Once we’ve shared this little show with the Sunshine Coast we intend to take it to…well, who knows where? I hope you will find us…there…and I hope some of you will come along for the ride.

21
Mar
10

The Husband and The Wife

The sanctity of marriage.

A wife may wonder

…and never dare to ask.

A husband demands an answer, a response, validation and appreciation.

A wife yearns…and never mentions.

A wife seeks validation elsewhere.


…women amongst themselves…


A wife may wander…


La Ronde

Noosa Arts Theatre, Noosaville:

March 25th, March 26th, 27th and April 1st, 2nd, 3rd at 7:30pm

Sunday March 28th at 2pm

(07) 5449 9343 or http://www.noosaartstheatre.org.au

Cafe e1 (Europe on 1st), Mooloolaba:

April 9th , April 10th, April 16th and April 17th

Cafe Europe on 1st, First Ave, Mooloolaba (07) 5477 6288

– champagne, supper and show for just $60-

$5 from every ticket sold at Mooloolaba goes to the Cindy McKenzie Breast Cancer Foundation. Thank you for helping us to support the wonderful work they do.

20
Mar
10

The Soldier and The Maid

The power of a man.

To conquer, to control, to take everything; leaving nothing of a soul.

Not a sound, not a breath of confidence or control.

No thought for tomorrow.

There’s only tonight. There’s only now.

Power for now and tomorrow…begin again.

La Ronde

Noosa Arts Theatre, Noosaville:

March 25th, March 26th, 27th and April 1st, 2nd, 3rd at 7:30pm

Sunday March 28th at 2pm

(07) 5449 9343 or http://www.noosaartstheatre.org.au

Cafe e1 (Europe on 1st), Mooloolaba:

April 9th , April 10th, April 16th and April 17th

Cafe Europe on 1st, First Ave, Mooloolaba (07) 5477 6288

– champagne, supper and show for just $60-

$5 from every ticket sold at Mooloolaba goes to the Cindy McKenzie Breast Cancer Foundation. Thank you for helping us to support the wonderful work they do.


03
Mar
10

Directing La Ronde

I thought it was time for a proper little chat with the Director, Sam Coward. He wasn’t hard to find. He was watching SYTYCD in the next room.

We have coffee. It’s all good. GO!

So. Sam. Why La Ronde?

Sam: I felt it was time to challenge audiences and actors. First and foremost a performer, I’ve recently become frustrated…disenchanted with what performing is all about. I have seen too many 2-dimensional characters on Sunshine Coast stages. I wanted to give those performers the chance to stretch their legs.

Is La Ronde doing that?

Yes. The plan to stretch audiences and actors is working, well; it’s clearly working for the actors at this stage anyway. We will see about audiences.

Performers have suddenly found themselves immersed in a process of self-discovery and have had to really trust in their director from Day 1. These particular aspects of acting may be new to some Sunshine Coast performers!  Their vulnerabilities are in my hands. They may not have been asked to take such enormous risks before now. La Ronde presents very different challenges for different performers. We have characters who are driven by the words they utter and characters without any dialogue at all. And by introducing nudity, the actors have all had to step out of their comfort zones, bare some flesh and feel completely comfortable with that pretty quickly. Some more quickly than others. I have cast bold performers who each have their own style and approach to acting…and I’ve challenged them on those things. I’ll give you an example. Without giving too much away, Nathan (The Poet) is being stretched as a performer. He is working hard to feel comfortable with his nakedness and with his pretty hot encounter with Kay (The Girl)…this on top of learning lines and determining objectives. More so than getting those mechanics of the character’s actions happening, it’s mostly the mental, emotional process as an actor; coming to terms with such confronting, challenging demands. He is seeing some great results come from a creative process that is entirely new to him.

As Director, how do you feel about your approach to this workshop-style process?

I was well-prepared and I prepared well, those who I knew would be involved. There were a few initial discussions about why we’re doing La Ronde. My reasons, explanations and justifications about the direction and the vision allowed the actors to accept what I was trying to do. And then, after a bit of talking, they had to just jump in and get the clothes off and feel that first shock/slap of embarrassment and get on with the job.

As Director, how have you  helped support/guide the actors getting past that initial point of fear?

Some actors needed to remove some layers sooner and some have waited for me to tell them, “Ok, now let’s get the gear off!” As a director, I was a bit green in terms of shaping the sex scenes and initially, for two of the girls, I turned the lights down and lit some candles and let them listen to the mood music…and it backfired because it set a really romantic mood and the girls started feeling really uncomfortable and wondering what I wanted to see and they started really fondling each other and then got really weirded out! So then we put the ugly lights back on and debriefed and choreographed the entire scene. It was the third party directing their sequence of steps, relinquishing them of all personal responsibility. Sometimes we forget that the actors are vulnerable and they are real people. In this case, the sequence became their safety net.

What about your original vision for the show? Is it being realised? If so, what is it that is helping to bring it to fruition?

The vision is being realised, with enhancements. The original plan was to workshop a textually out-dated, thematically and contextually current play with competent practitioners who had the ability to work in this particular way. People are happy to be working with a director who has had a clear vision from the outset and has some idea about how to manifest it.

With everybody onboard, the actors were able to adopt what I wanted, in terms of mood and relationships and find new ways to improve/develop their scenes. Each scene has the potential to be spectacular. Remember, each actor only has two scenes so, as actors, each has the opportunity to really shine in this show. The actors have all taken on board the direction (and the overall vision) and extended themselves beyond it. We’ve truly seen that. Some more than others. Some performers have been happy to let me lead. Some have been more forthright about their opinions on things. Let’s use Kay and Nathan for another example. Kay and Nathan were originally directed to play their scene in a soppy, romantic way and then it ended with a blow job. My bad…Kay suggested that if they were in love and a romantic mood had already been established, it would involve more than just a blow job. She felt comfortable to discuss this and consequently the result is far superior. This has been an integral part of the process; the negotiation and give and take between actors and director.

Tell us a little more about the rehearsal process.

There were always some intentional applications in terms of process, however; some things have been stumbled upon quite by accident. For example, by not giving Tim (The Judge) a complete script until this week, we’ve taken his focus away from the text. He was a script-driven actor and wanted the text committed to memory prior to the rehearsal period. He spoke to me about it. I didn’t want to see that kind of judge. The potential for any actor who works purely from a script is that the text is used as a crutch and the character is created from the page alone, rather than making it an internal process and letting us see a bit more of the actor himself. The workshop atmosphere of rehearsals to this point has allowed the actors a greater degree of freedom: time and space to play, which is often not afforded (or entrusted) to them.

You obviously have a great deal of faith in your cast. In the context of working with Sunshine Coast actors, what have you discovered during the process so far?

The audition was impressive (I only wanted one, no call-backs, it was quite an intuitive thing), in terms of the discovery of a broad cross-section of people all willing to go on the same journey. I’m very matter of fact about it. The coast has always had these people, this talent, here, in little pockets; they come out of the woodwork whenever there’s something interesting happening and it shouldn’t ever be a huge surprise to see them. It’s not often that something more interesting happens and these performers get the chance to present themselves in a truly honest and open manner, ready for anything the director might have for them. And look, this may not be the best vehicle to showcase the extent of everyone’s talent anyway.

What I mean is, we weren’t aiming to please with this show. We’re not pandering to the performers or to the theatre going public here. We’re hoping to put on some different theatre, which will evoke responses about people’s own sexual activities and experiences. Everyone will be able to relate to someone in this show. It may not have been the type of entertainment they wanted to see this year (it’s not a toe-tapping, colourful musical) but not all theatre is nice. The comical, uplifting, light-hearted entertainment has a place – go see Avenue Q – but we’re telling extremely intimate stories here, we’re sharing secrets if you like, putting out some challenging messages and there are many layered, contrasting and complex emotions involved with that, without a song or even an interval to give you a break. It’s relentless. And that’s a very human thing. Sometimes there are just no stops.

So what does the director want out of all this?

I want acknowledgement…that you can do something that may not be publicly or socially loved and gushed about by the industry or by the public but that you can be respected, not only for being bold and taking risks but also for being able to pull off some high class entertainment. I want this to grow me as a director and enhance my reputation as a creative professional.

And what of the life span of La Ronde?

Who knows? I really don’t know. That’s for next time…over more, much more, coffee.

As a producer, director or performer, Sam has worked for the past fifteen years in the business. On both stage and screen, Sam has experienced all facets of production. In 1999, with appx $250,000.00 of self generated corporate and private funding, Sam staged in a warehouse in Warana, Lloyd Webber’s classic, Jesus Christ Superstar, which broke all records for attendance at a Sunshine Coast production.

Shout! The Legend of The Wild One, in 2008, marked Sam as a bold, inspired Director. In close collaboration with The Events Centre, Caloundra, Sam re-cast, re-structured and re-directed this major musical production in just 8 weeks, achieving a successful artistic outcome.

Sam is currently the Co-Director of XS Entertainment, which will establish a functional network of Sunshine Coast artists and produce film and theatrical productions, utilising new media and local resources.