Khaos

Archive for the 'Acting' Category

Sketch Writing Workshop

Friday, September 1st, 2017

Last night I attended a 3 hour sketch writing workshop,  run by DUVAL, an improv and sketch comedy duo made up of Bex Marsh and Eddie Mujica. It’s been a long time since I have written a sketch, but I am interested in using improv to improve my writing.  We started the workshop with some simple “yes, and…” improv games to get us used to agreeing with suggestions and extending them.  It’s incredibly easy to have self-doubt when writing and to spend so much time editing yourself that nothing ever gets written.  Using these exercises we just went with whatever idea we came up with and saw how far we could run with it.

We spent time discussing sources for ideas, identifying the premise and game of a scene, and ways in which to heighten the game.  We also discussed pitfalls such as not being able to start, cliches, low-hanging fruit, and imitating others.

I’m glad I was able to attend.  I have so many evening and weekends rehearsals that it’s become difficult for me to attend workshops.  I’m enjoying my rehearsals, but it’s nice to get the chance to do something a little different.

 

Still Rehearsing

Thursday, August 31st, 2017

I’m working on the part of Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd.  I don’t have a good process for learning lines of dialogue and find it easier to learn songs.  It’s easy enough to find recordings of songs and I have made a playlist of all my songs, and a rehearsal track playlist.  I was alarmed to see that the songs I’m involved in take about an hour.  That’s a lot of singing.

I have been trying various things to learn the dialogue lines.  I record them, listen to them, write them, recite them, and oddly at times I dream them.  Every morning I wake up with the lines or a song stuck in my head.  I have until the 17th September to be off-book so I need make sure I work on this every day.

Tonight we begin the fight choreography.  Should be interesting finding out how Sweeney is going to throw me in the oven.

 

Difficult Music

Monday, July 17th, 2017

I’ve spent the weekend running vocal rehearsals for TIP’s upcoming production of Sweeney Todd.  Although I had listened to many different recordings of this musical there are still songs that I’m not overly familiar with.  “The Letter”, sung by the Quintet, is really beautiful and I wish that is was heard more.  And even the songs I know well are difficult because of the discordant harmonies and contrapuntal phrases.

I both love and hate the complexity of the musical.  It is difficult to teach and at times I feel that it is overly precise.  The are places where each bar of music is in a different time signature and I would have preferred if some of this expressive writing could have been left for the performer to interpret.  And then there are the are the places where each part has a different time signature for the same bar… I had never seen that before in a score.

My Latest Musical Challenge

Sweeney Todd!

Friday, June 30th, 2017

I’ve been cast as Mrs Lovett in Tokyo International Player’s production of Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. I love Sondheim and I’m thrilled to get the opportunity to sing in the musical.

The Diary of Anne Frank – Director’s Talk

Sunday, June 4th, 2017

After the Saturday matinee performance of Tokyo International Players production of The Diary of Anne Frank, the director, Jonah Hagans, gave a short talk on the play and took questions from the audience.

The Diary of Anne Frank – Thoughts on the Production

Thursday, May 25th, 2017

I finished working on TIP‘s production of The Diary of Anne Frank on Sunday night.   I feel a little lost without the show as it took over my life, particularly during the last couple of weeks.  Although I have been involved in other shows this was the first time I got to see every aspect of putting together a production.  There is a surprising amount of work involved and whilst I have been thinking of directing I’m a little daunted by just how many things a director is expected to do.

As well as assisting the director I got to paint the set, sew, knit, crochet, sing, waltz, and help make props.  I was fascinated by the props.  Some of the things on set look so life-like yet I know that they were put together with things like plastic garbage bins and old food cartons.  I loved the set.  There is something magical about seeing it come to life on a blank stage.

The Diary of Anne Frank – Photo Credit: John Matthews

I’m incredibly glad that I was given the opportunity to work on the production.  I worked with an experienced director, Jonah Hagans, who was willing to teach and put up with my lack of experience.  I worked with so many people including sound and lighting experts, a Tony nominated set designer, the most supportive theatre liaison, and a stage manager who has become a friend.  The cast were amazing at telling the story and still managed to bring me to tears during performances even though I had seen every rehearsal.  It is a story worth telling and I believe we told it well.

“It’s a wonder I haven’t abandoned all my ideals, they seem so absurd and impractical. Yet I cling to them because I still believe, in spite of everything, people are truly good at heart.”

Anne Frank – The Diary of Anne Frank

Theatre Work

Wednesday, March 1st, 2017

I’ve a busy few months coming up.  I’ve agreed to be assistant director for TIP’s May production of The Diary of Anne Frank.  This is my first time as an assistant director and I’m enjoying the challenge.  It is a heartbreaking play, but a story that is worth telling and feels horribly relevant at the minute.

Flyer for The Diary of Anne Frank

Flyer for The Diary of Anne Frank

February Music

Monday, February 6th, 2017

I’ve been trying to find a musical that I would like to direct.  This is much harder than I expected.  First I have to rule out all the musicals I’d actually like to sing, as I wouldn’t get to do that if I was directing. This isn’t that many musicals as I’m well aware that I can’t sing male roles or female roles that I’m too old for.  People have suggested that I sing male roles but there are strict rules when you get the rights to the show and you can’t just decide to change the gender of a character.  I was thrilled to read recently that Stephen Sondheim had agreed to change the gender of the lead character in Company.

Then there are all the musicals I can’t get the rights to do – anything really that’s currently on Broadway or the West End.  Then you have to rule out the musicals that are currently playing in Tokyo, as I won’t get the rights to those – ruling out things like West Side Story, The Sound of Music, Rent, and Kinky Boots.  And any musical that’s being done by a amateur group or smaller theatre in Japan as there are rules as to often a musical can be played in one region.

Then there all the musicals that are male dominant, as I’m not convinced I would find the cast.  It seems that more women are auditioning for the roles in amateur theatre here. I also like female voices, so don’t know if I really want to put on a show like “Newsies” which has something like 24 male roles and only 2 female ones.

Then there is the problem with cast size.  I really liked musicals like “Once” – not that the rights are available yet – but if the cast is too small it’s difficult to sell tickets. I really do hope I find inspiration soon.

I am planning on being involved in a production of “Songs for a New World” this year.  But I still need to find a theatre and dates before I try to acquire the rights.  It’s not easy to book a theatre in Tokyo, as many of them need booked more than a year in advance, but I’m hopeful that one of the smaller ones will be free in June.

More Musical Improv

Monday, January 30th, 2017

Yesterday, I attended a workshop taught by Keng-Sam Chane Chick Té.  We worked on creating scenes, with a musician, that were entirely physical, using no speech.  I found this quite difficult but I did enjoy how it helped to create connections between the players.  It requires a lot of concentration on the other players if you need to work out what sort of scene you are creating together if you can’t talk about it.  The incidental music that the pianist played also helped us find the emotional context of the scenes.  It was quite different than the other musical improv that I have done, as I was not creating music.  Some of it did end up like dance, and at one point I managed to bruise myself by colliding with another player I was performing with.

I started attended improv classes in the hope that it would improve my acting.  Now I’m starting to attend them as I’m enjoying improv as an art form.

Musical Theatre Improvisation

Monday, January 16th, 2017

I decided to start my 2017 with a 5 day intensive training course.  I had seen a couple of improvised musicals created on stage in Tokyo by Tokyo Comedy Store, and I was curious about the skills needed to do this.  When I saw that Showstoppers, who are an award winning improv group, were teaching these skills in London I was really keen to go and try it.

This was a step-up in complexity compared to the improv classes I normally attend.  We did create the plot, characters, dialogues, and scenes in the moment, but we also added song and dance.  This course also involved long-form improv, which was new for me, as I have been learning short-form improv.

The goal of the course was to learn how to create a 30 minute musical on stage in front of an audience.  Learning how to create improvised songs with choreography involved lots of listening to the pianist and your fellow players.  When it works it looks like magic, when it doesn’t it can be very clumsy and awkward.  But by the end of the week we had gotten very good at listening to each other and also at being clear in what we planned to do next.

The highlights of the week were creating lovely duets, creating my first improvised solo song, and getting to play Alice in Wonderland in a 30 minute musical.