Khaos

Archive for the 'Acting' Category

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang – Auditions!

Friday, October 5th, 2018

I will be directing Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, as the season finale, for Tokyo International Players.  The production will run from May 16-19, 2019 at Theater Sun-Mall in Shinjuku.  I’m nervous and excited about the production.  And the auditions are happening in November!

Working on Shakespeare

Thursday, September 13th, 2018

This summer I performed my first Shakespeare soliloquy.  In my quest to learn more about theatre I decided to attend a course on “Acting Shakespeare” at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.  It was hard for me to pick a speech to learn as Shakespeare’s work is very well known and that comes with lots of expectations about the performance.  I really didn’t think my first attempt should be Lady Macbeth or Hamlet.  I also found it hard to find a female role that I connected with, so I picked a man, Berowne, from Love’s Labour’s Lost.

It was much more like acting through song than I was expecting.  I often tell singers, in musicals, that they need to find the reason why they start singing, and with the soliloquy I have to find a reason why I’m going to start talking to myself.  Of course, you aren’t really talking to yourself, you are talking to and connecting with the audience.  And that is just like a good solo song performance.  It was also physically challenging and I felt quite unfit.   It requires a lot of energy to perform heightened text, to be real but not natural.  You have to work hard to get across the meaning of the text with your voice and body, as many people struggle to understand Shakespeare.

I have been working on many different aspects of theatre, some of which I have no interest to try again, but I enjoyed Shakespeare.  The words are beautiful, the stories are timeless, and since the works are in the public domain there is a lot of scope to be creative.

All the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances; And one man in his time plays many parts. — Jaques, As You Like It

Back in Town

Saturday, September 1st, 2018

I do like to get back home, but it will take me a while to adjust to the climate and the time zone.  Today my brain is fuzzy, but I’ve started to work on my plans for next season.  My life now revolves around our theatre season which, after a summer break in August, is back with a vengeance.

In the coming months I will be working on the music for Tokyo Theatre for Children’s (TTFC) Big Bad Musical, TIP’s production of the Good Person of Szechwan, and TIP Youth’s two musicals.  I’ll also be performing in the TTFC show.  The first rehearsal is tomorrow, so I had better try to get to sleep before 4am.  The joys of jet lag.

August Study

Sunday, August 12th, 2018

I have escaped the unbearable heat of Tokyo for the much cooler weather of Northern Europe.  It is 14 C (57F) in Glasgow this morning.  Thankfully I am staying close to where I will be studying Shakespeare, so I should cope with the cold.  In preparation for the course I have been learning a 3 minute monologue from Love’s Labour’s Lost.  The language is tricky, but hopefully I’ll be able to recite it tomorrow morning.  Acting it will take quite a bit longer.

Come on then; I will swear to study so,

To know the thing I am forbid to know;

— Love’s Labour’s Lost

Songs for a New World – Finished Production

Monday, June 25th, 2018

I can never work out what I feel when a production ends.  It’s one of the questions I get asked, “how do you feel?”, “how to you think the show went?”, “are you pleased?”.  But at the end of a performance I feel exhausted and flat.  All the energy and focus I have for the stage must drain me and leave me devoid of any recognizable emotion.

This was a difficult show for me as I was both directing and performing.  These are two incredibly different jobs and it’s hard to jump between them in rehearsal.  There were times I was so engrossed with one of the cast members performances that I completely forgot that I had the next song to sing.  I also needed help from other directors with my performance as you can’t see yourself on stage and I wanted to make sure that I had outside opinions that I could trust.

There were other difficult aspects of the show.  The music is technically challenging and each song is a different story sung by different characters.  There is very little time to prepare to be the next character for either the actor or the audience.  The change in musical styles is also a challenge.  Their harmonies are complex and the discords at times felt impossible to get right, but in the end we had a show that sounded beautiful.  I was also concerned about over singing, as some of the gospel style songs in the songs can end up sounding like a vocal competition and I didn’t want that.

The cast were amazing.  People say that a lot about their shows, but I was very fortunate to have so many professional singers and performers involved with the show.  My production team also made sure that things ran smoothly and I’m incredibly grateful for all their work.  There is a lot of focus on directors and actors, but there are so many other aspects to theatre that are required for a show.

Congratulations and thank you for a stunning Opening Night! You and your outstanding cast filled the theater with beauty, passion, joy, spirit, tears, reflection, sensuality, playfulness, awe…and also hilarity and hoots and hollers! A brilliant mix of all things human. — Rachel Walzer

 

Amazing Journey

Saturday, May 26th, 2018

Last Sunday night we finished working on The Who’s Tommy.  It’s hard to say “goodbye” to a show that we have been working on for half a year. My post-show blues haven’t been too bad, since I am still working on another show, but I do miss the Tommy team and cast.

Every show I work on gives me the opportunity to learn new skills and to improve the skills I have.  The role of Assistant Director is an odd one as the job changes depending on the director.  I find it hard to articulate what I did in this role, other than to say that I was there to support the director and to fill in any gaps in the production team.  I was also the Vocal Director so spent many rehearsals teaching music.  The show is almost entirely sung-through, with music that is more complex than most people would expect from a rock-opera.

It will take me while to fully process my thoughts on the experience, but for now I’m grateful that I got the opportunity.

What About the Boy? Photo Credit: Rodger Sono

Songs for a New World – June 2018

Tuesday, May 1st, 2018

Last night we had our first vocal rehearsal for my June production of Jason Robert Brown’s Songs for a New World.  It was wonderful.  The cast are talented and I will admit that I did a little jump for joy the when we managed to sing through the opening of the show for the first time.  It’s going to be stressful but I’m never happy without a little stress in my life.

Youth Theatre

Wednesday, April 18th, 2018

I have just finished working on TIP Youth for this season.  Production week is always hard work, but it was certainly worth it to see the children perform on stage.  They had so much energy and joy.  I’m also very fortunate in that I really like the team that puts together TIP Youth and would happily work with them on future projects.

I have two more shows that I’m working on before the end of June, The Who’s Tommy, and Songs for a New World.  After that I’m hoping I can take a break in the summer and maybe do some more studying before the next season begins.

TIP Youth – Season 8

Wednesday, March 28th, 2018

For the past sixth months I have been working as music director of TIP Youth.  It’s getting close to production week and I’m excited to see these shows once we get into the theatre.  They look great in rehearsal but there is no doubt that the addition of a set, lights, and costume, will add magic to the show.

The Who’s Tommy

Tuesday, March 27th, 2018

I’m currently part of the production team of Tokyo International Players The Who’s Tommy, which runs from the 17th May to the 20th May.

The Who’s Tommy is a rock musical based on The Who’s 1969 rock opera Tommy.  I’m not a big fan of The Who, but the music is growing on me.  I really do like Eyesight To The Blind and I imagine by the time the show is on stage that I’ll love the music.  In rehearsal we work with a brilliant pianist, but it’s going to be great the first time we got to rehearse with the band as guitar music can sound rather boring on a piano.

I’m enjoying the challenge of teaching the music.  It sounds different from the traditional musicals I usually work on, but it’s every bit as complicated.  There are some great harmonies in the show and at least one piece has 13 different vocal parts.  The main issue with the number of vocal parts is that quite a few of the songs have to be sung in strict time, and that doesn’t seem very rock ‘n roll to some of the cast.

As part of the process we’ve been learning more about music of the era.  Last week we got to meet Morgan Fisher, who had toured with The Who, and it was fascinating hearing his stories and listening to him play keyboards.