Wednesday, October 5

Performing Arts

Forget The Camera

Performing Arts
Good actors know how to put all their attention on an object outside of themselves and block out any and all distractions. In doing so they are able to work spontaneously on a moment to moment, impulse to impulse basis. They are able to "play" with an absence of self-consciousness. They know that their actions are reactions to how they are being affected by the other person. To achieve this "privacy" in a "public" situation they have to learn how to open up. Availability, susceptibility, vulnerability are necessary elements of the best acting. intellectual, pre-determined responses suggests that the actor is not "listening" to the other person, which leads to flat or over-the-top responses.A story about the late Stanley Kubrick comes to mind. Kubrick a NY native, was born in the Bronx. As ...

Need Or Love: The Driving Force In Art

Performing Arts
The journey for the artist is by no means an easy one. In the majority of cases time, energy, tenacity, hard work, and talent are not necessarily a recipe for success. All too often achieving even a modicum of success is elusive, and yet many artists persist in spite of the overwhelming odds.So what is it in the artist's nature that allows them to persevere, knowing they will have to endure a seemingly endless stream of criticism and rejection? How do they maintain a positive outlook in a world inundated with nay sayers, cynics, abusive personalities, and the like? Clearly there is no simplistic explanation as we are dealing with the human condition.When I have asked people over the years why they want to act, the most common response I get is, "Because I love it." That is certainly a legi...

MY Two Cents – For What It’s Worth

Performing Arts
Acting is one of the most difficult professions in the world. Chances are you didn't need me to tell you that but for those unfamiliar with the challenges and hurdles that aspiring actors must face I thought I would put it out there as a reminder.Many young actors have come to me over the years with a misconception regarding the demands of this profession. Some have received encouragement from family and friends that tell them that they "have what it takes" to make it. This may or may not be true. But in many cases the aspiring actor does not understand what it takes to make it in this highly competitive profession. I am not suggesting that I have the answers but at the very least I may be able to shed some light on the subject.Anger is a part of all of us but in excess it is a destructive...

Choose Your Own Path

Performing Arts
My father, "Pop", as my bother and I called him, was more than a bit of a ham. For him any time was a good time to perform so as a young man he decided to try his hand as a Vaudeville song and dance man. Performing was in his blood and although success is never guaranteed he was destined to do something that afforded him the opportunity to "show off". Vaudeville was where it began.My paternal grandfather was a Russian immigrant who amassed a great fortune in the construction business. When the Great Depression hit in 1929, his cache was wiped out instantaneously. My father, like his 5 brothers had worked in my grandfather's business at one time or another. When tragedy struck he left New York and headed for whatever opportunities he might discover in sunny Los Angeles. With no collateral b...

Life Happens While You’re Making Other Plans

Performing Arts
Madeline Kahn was a special actor and by all accounts a wonderful person. She had that special something that made her light shine brightly in comedic and dramatic roles alike. Her performances never fail to delight and I continue to enjoy them no matter how often I see them.While channel surfing on my TV one night I had the good fortune to stumble upon an episode of The American Theatre Wing in which she was a appearing along with a panel of theatre and film actors. At one point in the show the moderator asked each of the guests to recall how they got their start in the business. True to form Ms. Kahn's tale delighted both audience and peers as she recounted her rib-tickling tale.According to Ms. Kahn, as a High School student she enrolled in a drama class. If my memory serves me correctl...

London’s West End and the Invasion of British Actors

Performing Arts
London has a long and rich history of theater that dates back to late 1500s. It is now widely considered the theater capital of the world, even surpassing New York City. London's West End has something for everyone, and it is no longer just catering to the aristocratic upper class. And it is not just the West End, as the Southbank of London as well as other areas around the country has their theater venues, with the Globe Theatre highlighting Southwark.Such an extensive theater background obviously has been a breeding ground for great acting talent. I personally have done some acting in London and can attest to the fact that the acting talent there is amazing. There are so many venues these actors can develop their craft that it is a huge industry. So with the number of actors that have gr...

Talent Is Not Always Enough

Performing Arts
Born in Port Arthur, Texas, Janis Joplin was endowed with immense innate talent. As a teenager her excess weight and severe acne condition made her an easy target for ridicule. The harsh jibes of her peers delivered crushing blow after crushing blow to an already fragile ego. Joplin never developed the coping mechanisms to handle the verbal abuse that plagued her during her teens and went on to haunt her as an adult.She began singing in high school and went on to become one of the great blues singers of her time. But her allergic reaction to criticism and her insatiable, virtually obsessive need for approval led to drug and alcohol abuse. Southern comfort, heroin, uppers, downers, speed, methamphetamine were among the cures she sought when sinking into the depths of despair. Sex was anothe...

Dance Innovation: The Relationship Between Video and Dance

Performing Arts
When one hears the word innovation, what comes to mind? Something technologically savvy? Cutting-edge? Each industry has its share of innovative ideas and works. In relation to the dance world, what is considered innovative? There are revolutionary choreography, dance techniques, products, approaches to movement, and endless other examples. More specifically, it is undeniable that digital film is a major contributor to the avant-garde advances in the dance industry, and most importantly, for the birth of dance on camera. The collaboration of dance and film has changed the dance industry for years to come, and such hybrid art form has taken the language of movement to a heightened, innovative level.Ever since the inception of photography and motion studies, performances have been staged for...

Preparation Is Key

Performing Arts
Like Sanford Meisner, Stella Adler said that acting and doing are the same. Ms Adler, an original member of "The Group Theatre" (1931-40) honed her acting skills for many years and went on to become one of the greatest acting teachers in the history of American theater. Her father Jacob Adler, founder of the Yiddish Theater, had a major impact on both Stella and her brother Luther, also a member of "The Group" and a fine actor in his own right. Jacob Adler instilled in both son and daughter a reverence for the theater and its role in society. Ms. Adler learned a great deal from her father and brought his wisdom and teachings to "The Group", where she acted and taught for almost ten years.Ms. Adler said, "Where you are is who you are.", and "Your talent is in your choices." The question is ...

What’s Polite Got To Do With It?

Performing Arts
From the moment we come into this world we are given a set of rules that we are expected to live by. We are told what is acceptable and unacceptable, appropriate and inappropriate. We are expected to act respectfully and comport ourselves with dignity in a restaurant, theatre, church, temple, school, family gathering, et al. We are taught to "think" before we speak.The rules that have evolved over time are necessary if we are to maintain and be a part of a civilized society. We cannot become slaves to our impulses lest we return to the Stone Age. For actors however, as far as their craft is concerned, the reverse is true. To be effective on stage or in front of the camera actors must strip away the "civilized" routine and replace it with impulsive, thoughtless behavior. They must be fully ...