Khaos

Archive for the 'Acting' Category

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.

Improv Stories

Tuesday, October 4th, 2016

We were playing a game that involves one person trying to tell a story, while their partner prompts them with random words that they have to incorporate into that story.  It was my first ever improv exercise and I was paired with the teacher.  He started his story and the first word I gave him was “rain”.  He skillfully told a story but after a while he stopped and said to me “you really should provide words quicker”.  I was puzzled as he had never used my word in the story and I was only supposed to provide a new word when the old one was used.  Turns out he thought I said “ring”.  I forget sometimes that my accent is uncommon and that in Northern Ireland “rain” could sound as if it has two syllables and not the one the rest of the world claims it has.

Improv Workshops

Monday, October 3rd, 2016

I have been attending weekly improv workshops, run by Tokyo Comedy Store, since I got back to Japan in August.  Improv is not something I find easy.  Performing, without preparation, can feel horrifying.  I do enjoy some of the games, and the people who attend are incredibly helpful and welcoming, but I think it’s going to take me a while to get used to the concept.

Something Wicked This Way Comes

Saturday, October 1st, 2016

Marty is going to be on stage for the first time in years.  He has a small part in Tokyo International Players production of Macbeth, which opens on October 13th.  I will be helping out with costumes and wardrobe, so hopefully I’ll still get a chance to watch the play.

I did see a scene, between Lady Macbeth and Macbeth, acted out last night at the Improvazilla Mainstage Show and it was excellent.

Marty, about to fight with a big stick.

Marty, at rehearsal, about to fight with a big stick.

Acting Problems

Monday, September 26th, 2016

I messed up badly in rehearsal tonight.  I was singing a love song.  It’s a poignant song about lovers who thought that they would be better apart, but have come to the conclusion that they want to be together.  It doesn’t work if you burst out laughing when your scene partner looks at you.  We didn’t manage any type of sincere love, hopefully it will go better next time.

 

Big River

Thursday, May 5th, 2016

I have been busy rehearsing as part of the ensemble cast of Big River.  The musical opens on the 19th May, so not long to wait now.  The city is getting warmer and I am finding it hard dancing in layers of clothing in hot rooms.  It will be hot on stage, so I will just have to get used to it.  I am so glad that during the performance each dance only happens once, unlike rehearsal where the point is to keep doing them until they are right.

It’s been fascinating doing theatre work again as technology has changed so many things.  Now rehearsals are organised with web-based project management tools.  Nearly every cast member is carrying a device capable of recording the rehearsal.  Choreography steps are videoed so you can review them at home.  There are apps to help you run lines.  And microphones are everywhere.  I’m not completely thrilled about the microphones, as it changes vocal technique, but I love most of the other changes.  Now if we just had air conditioners that didn’t dry out the throat…

 

Southern Accent

Friday, January 15th, 2016

I’ve just finished watching “Gone with the Wind”.  I’m sure I’ve seen it before but I was still surprised that it’s even longer than the extended version of “Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring”.   I’m not sure what I make of the movie but I was watching if for the accents.  I need to change my accent for a musical I’m taking part in.  I don’t know how to do that.  I know that my voice changes, depending on who I am talking to and what I’m doing, so it’s not like I can’t change it at all.  I can also change it when I’m singing, but I find it hard to do deliberately when I’m talking.  I also feel incredibly silly, which is something I’m going to need to get over.

I need to use a Southern accent, and unfortunately not a Southern Irish one.  The musical takes place in 1840 somewhere in Missouri.  Since there aren’t recordings I’m watching period movies set in the South.  The accents sound fake so I’m also listening to modern Southern accents, as even that would be much better than my own.

I also need to change the register that I speak in.  My usual speaking voice is not light and feminine.  At the minute I sound more like Kevin Spacey in “House of Cards” than I sound like Scarlett O’Hara.  I’m trying to find something slightly higher than my usual voice that doesn’t make me feel like Mickey Mouse.  It’s going to be a challenge!

Next up – “Driving Miss Daisy”.