In the morning, we started out with yoga poses and making sounds. It was terrific. Then we spent some time laughing, crying, calling and screaming. All of which were done to find the physical response to the different sounds and to find healthy ways to do things that you have to do on stage when you need to. There’s not always time to go into Method Acting to conjure up the right mood for a good laugh, a good cry, or screaming your brains out. You have to know how to do it when the director asks for it and when the role calls for it. And be able to repeat it as needed.
In the afternoon, we discussed the prior day’s master class with Broadway music director David Chase. Joan gave us a comprehensive list of things we (and our students) need to know:
Rules for auditions:
- Be not only on time, but a little ahead of time. CALL if you’ll even be two minutes late! Respect one another’s time. The theater is a team. Communication and promptness is essential.
- Never go into a rehearsal (or any official activity) with gum in your mouth.
- The way you take notes is important. Don’t make excuses. Take responsibility.
- Respect the articulation required for different styles. Musical theater requires greater attention to consonants.
- Do your research – who is your character singing to? Where is he/she from?
- Be easy to get along with.
- The decision is often made within the first 30 seconds of entering the room BEFORE YOU EVEN SING. How you enter the room, look at the pianist, look at the panel, relate to the pianist… you can blow it before you even sing.
- How you react to suggestions in an audition plays a large part in whether or not you will get cast.
- Have your slate prepared: “I am X and I’ll be singing Y.” Be flexible enough to go with the format established by the house/panel for whom you are singing.
- Gestures – they must seem organic and natural (again, depending on the style – there may be some stylistic stock gestures). Some people had the same gesture happening over and over and over…. and it meant nothing.
- Movement should not be done for its own stake. Emotion is a response to action.
- Tell a story. An actor needs to want something. What do you want??? And make it immediate and specific.
- It’s not what the actor feels; it’s what the audience feels as a result of what the actor does.
- Don’t settle into the character too quickly. Find the flexibility to be able to go with what the moment brings. (Or what they ask for – “Night and Day” as a serial killer? OK!*)
- Phrasing – find the operative words and phrases
- Cuts didn’t show anything. There should be a beginning, a middle and an end.
- Commit to what you’re saying.The words can’t be a vehicle for your great sound. It has to be more than just that.
- The actor who listens on stage is the most interesting actor on stage. Not necessarily the one who is speaking.
I am so glad I did this post-certification workshop and Jeanie’s seminar the next day (today) – which I’ll write about tomorrow.
*David Chase DID ask a young man singing “Night and Day” to try it as a serial killer. It was weird – but it was effective. When the guy sang it straight the first time, it was not particularly impressive. When he sang it the second time, it had an edge to it – and I suddenly visualized him as Jud in Oklahoma! Now, I can’t recommend someone should go in with that song in that style – but it might be an interesting exercise when you’re working through various interpretations!