In my college directing class, a fellow student once said (in response to a question of what directors need to do to get a performance out of an actor),
"My high school teacher told me that being actor is being willing to stab your soul on stage in front of everyone day after day after day."
In response to this, our directing teacher (the absolutely incredible Wendy Dann) said,
"Well be careful now, don't get cute with it, and certainly don't get romantic about it. Actors have a wonderful job, one that they are blessed to live every day and to be a part of, but it is a job. It is no more important than anyone else's, in theatre, or outside."
This was a very important moment for me. You see I love my job. I love everything about what I do. I wake up in the morning and I am proud to say that I am an actor. I am proud to say I am a member of the theatre community However in my experience, there is a love and praise for actors, but that love, and those praises are not extended to the millions of other members of the theatre community, the ones who aren't going out on stage every night. This offends me. There is an entire side of the theatre community that is happy to let themselves go unappreciated, and under-loved by most, and they do so with a smile, and with a passion for their job that I can only respect and feel admiration for.
During my time in a BFA Musical Theatre program, I was so surprised to see this problem perpetuating itself as soon as people arrived as freshmen. There were many who treated BFA Performance majors like they had a right to the school that the other theatre majors did not. I made it my mission to have the class of 2012 be a true community, with cross communication and love across majors, and I am proud to say that I was not the only one who worked hard at this goal. Our class worked as a whole to break this stereotype, and we truly loved each other, regardless of major, regardless of theatrical position, regardless of intended career goals. We came together as a community, not as a group of segregated theatre artists.
Cute animal slapping photos are funny
“It’s okay, just slap me. I don’t mind.”
Those words strike fear into the heart of every fight director I know.
Right now there is a trend that I have been seeing, one which might be called an attempt at "realism" in theatre, or more likely a money-saving attempt by a theater company to cut the "staged" part out of staged combat moments. In other words, when it comes time to slap someone on stage, directors, actors, producers, choreographers, whoever are becoming more and more comfortable with really doing it.
I have met very few fight directors who approve of this measure, so my only way of justifying it is to say that theaters are less and less willing to hire a fight director for a show. A notion that I get suspicious about especially at Equity theaters where they are required to do so. Often I find the director is trained, or even "trained" and does it for his or herself. Now I'm not one to doubt the abilities of someone, but as a fight director, I will simply say this: I hope you're the Michael Bennett of staged combat if you're going to play that card.
So when I see a show, and I know it contains a fight of some kind, and there is no one listed as “fight director” or “choreographer” or whatever in the program? I know there is something rotten in Denmark. Why is it that when an actor says “It’s okay, just slap me” the director goes, “GREAT!” and the fight director’s job is no longer needed? Worse, however, is when the director says, “Oh just slap them, it’s one slap.” There is literally no other non-violent profession in this country where a boss can say that and have it be okay. I am trained extensively to tell you that it’s not okay, that there is a ton that can go wrong. I’m not saying that every real slap is going to injure an actor. I’d say that 95% of the time, it will all be fine, maybe even 99%. But do you really want to take that 1-5% chance every time you put your show on its feet in front of an audience?
Before you answer that, let me just give you a couple of examples, they are extreme, but they are relevant.
Well it's about that time, eh chaps? My Fair Lady is coming to a close, only 6 shows left and one of our wonderful cast members (John Little) is leaving us early to go do Oliver Twist at the Shakespeare Theatre of NJ. His understudy will be great but it feels like the end of a great thing. I don't tend to get nostalgic about shows, I think what's magical about them is that they run, and the they close, and they live in people's memories, for good or bad, forever. This one, though, deserves to keep going. Every review we've had, every post-show comment has been that this show is one of Merry-Go-Round's greatest accomplishments. Everything about this show from the ground up is perfect. So this one ending is more bittersweet. I love that all shows come to an end, but this one deserves to be seen by more people before it goes.
Yes, I am moving on to another classic at another phenomenal theater, and I can not wait to get started on Of Thee I Sing at the Theater at Monmouth, but I will miss the Merry-Go-Round, dearly. If you are in the upstate NY region, please come see our show, you won't regret it.
Within the next 20 days everything changes for me. I move to NYC to start my life there, I become car-less for the first time since I was 15, and I begin truly trying to make it in this crazy CRAZY industry.
I can not wait.
For now, I hope I get chances to be a part of productions as special as this one for years and years to come. Oh and if you're a broadway producer? You should move this production to the great white way;) I'm just saying.
Burt and Me has just wrapped up its first weekend and the responses have been great! We've had all sorts of people (who generally don't come to the theatre) coming out to the Hackmatack Playhouse to experience the music of Burt Bacharach and Hal David like never before! The cast and crew of this wonderful little show have been working super hard to make sure that the show is fun and carefree and that everyone will have a good time! It seems that the hard work has paid off! We received our first review the other day from Tourist News here in Southern Maine, and the full page spread agrees, Burt and Me is a must-see show this summer!
To read the full review click here
So if you're in the New England area and want to come have a great, feel-good time with the wonderful music of Burt Bacharach and Hal David, then come on down to the Hackmatack Playhouse Wednesday-Saturday at 8pm. We also have a Thursday matinee at 2pm. There's only one weekend left, so don't regret missing this fantastic show!
I'm almost done with Ithaca College, and that means I only have one thing left to do before the big day - Showcase. As I've posted before on here, Ithaca takes the senior performance majors to NYC and rents a theatre for us to showcase ourselves in front of casting directors, agents, managers, and other industry professionals. Hopefully out of this, myself and many of my unbelievably talented classmates will jump start our careers. To learn more about my classmates, and the showcase itself, please visit The Ithaca Showcase Website. Any industry professionals you can forward that to, the class of 2012 would REALLY appreciate it.
I'm sitting on the bus now, sort of sitting back and reflecting on the next two-three weeks, and a little anxious at how daunting it all seems. Luckily I don't have to ride this bus and face it alone, I got on a bus in Binghamtom, and two of my lovely classmates were on it!
It's a bit scary knowing that tomorrow could help make my career. It won't break it, that I know, but absolutely could help give me a jump start into this crazy profession. After that I head back to Ithaca, graduate this weekend, pack up my house and take it all to my dad's in Allentown, drive back to Ithaca, collect two of my friends and drive to New London New Hampshire, then drop them off and head to Maine. In Maine I'll be helping my Mom move, and performing in Hackmatack Playhouse's production of Burt and Me. I then jump back in my car and head to Auburn NY to do Merry-Go-Round Playhouse's production of My Fair Lady, and then it's off to the races. I move to New York and I start my life. It's strange knowing that within the next year I'll be truly trying to be a successful actor. It's one thing to go to school for it and imagine it, but actually doing it is a completely different, scary story.
But for now, I sit on this bus and focus on tomorrow. I sit in the wonder of the talent of my classmates, and revel in the class of 2012. No matter what happens, I know that we are about to take the world by storm, we will make waves, and we will successfully reach the places we are destined to go. I love each and every member of the Ithaca College Theatre Arts Class of 2012 so much, and if you guys read this, I can't wait to make this journey alongside you.
~ Ned Donovan
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Hey everyone! We're into the second week of performances for the Theatre Arts Department's production of Working! We've been getting some really great responses to the show, including one man saying to myself and Katie Peters:
"I've been coming to these shows for 15 years, and if this wasn't the best one, it was damn near the top."
However the first two media reviews are out, so I thought I'd share them with you all! The first is in the student newspaper, The Ithacan written by Freshman Drama major Lisa Purrone:
Read the review here!
The second is from one of the local papers, The Ithaca Journal, written by correspondent Barbara Adams:
Read the review here!
Give them a read, and if you're in Ithaca, please come see the show! We have shows tonight (4/5), tomorrow (4/7) at 8pm, and two shows on saturday (4/8) at 2 and 8pm. Tickets can be reserved at the box office (207) 274-3224, or at www.ithacaevents.com.
Thanks to all those who have supported us and to the reviewers for such nice words!
So as I announced a couple of weeks back, I've been cast in Ithaca College's Main Stage production of Working by Stephen Schwartz and some others. I will be playing Frank Decker, Conrad Swibel, Charlie Blossom, and a few other characters as well. We've been in rehearsal for three weeks now, and things are going great! We ran Act 1 last night, and have probably 90% of the show blocked! I can't wait to get this thing on its feet, the design team has done an amazing job bringing these characters to life and I really think it's going to be a remarkable production. For tickets, you can visit www.ithacaevents.com or www.ithaca.edu/theatre. The show goes up the last week in March/first week in April and runs for two weekends with a day off on Monday. Tickets are going fast, so pick them up soon!
Hope all is well with everyone, this semester is flying right along and before I know it, I'll be gradumacating and trying to assemble myself in the real world!
Thanks for sticking by me to all who do, your support means more to me than you could possibly know!
It's so interesting watch the creation of "type" in this business. In terms of casting, my casting has been a bit skewed from my type due to my abilities as a Staged Combatant. I find myself getting cast a lot as a bruiser, because I can also choreograph the fight. Through those casting, my resume has pushed me in one direction that my acting style doesn't generally match, and what has been so interesting in the last year, has been to find the happy medium. As I've readapted my "type" I've found myself saying goodbye to things that I have been holding on to. For one, I less and less find myself being considered for the younger roles (Damn that Irish receding hairline) unless it's a charactery role, such as The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee and speaking of charactery...I find myself being considered in a charactery way. Between my work on How I Learned to Drive and many callbacks for The 39 Steps, I have found myself working to explore this side of my type but be careful not to eliminate the solid foundation that Ithaca has given me.
Then the honest questions begin. Do I like the type that I'm being made out to be, and if not, how can I change it? What do I need to do to be the person that I want people to see me as. Is there a way? It's hard to know, but it is something fun to explore. Rather than explore type in reverse, I'm finding myself being pulled towards a type that I don't always love, and am really enjoying exploring aspects of myself that I don't like, and could change to be more who I want to be. What I've found is as I become comfortable with these new adaptations of my traits, is that people have started to see me in new types? I've begun to morph between character types and my auditions, callbacks, and castings have been truer to me, and more honest towards what I would like to be seen as.
I'm not a person who believes too much in type. However directors know what they want, and so there will be predetermined "types" for every show that actors go into. What I've loved exploring, is how my type, and my actual personality slide together to to create the kind of person that I truly would like to be seen as.
Whew, the week of auditions is over! It all started this time last week, when the senior BFA Performance majors had to audition for our showcase in May. After spending all of break going over materials, I sang a Michael Bublé song, a duet from Edges with John Gardner, a monlogue from Five Days to Friday by John Patrick, and a scene from Kiss Kiss Bang Bang with Danny Bristoll.
I'm still waiting to hear from the faculty about how they felt those pieces went, however there was no time to breathe, because the next day Main Stage callbacks began. Over the course of the week, whoever auditioned for the shows this semester would trek to Dillingham to find out their callback list for the night, pick up their sides, go to classes, learn their sides, and then later in the evening come back and take part in callbacks until 10 or 11 at night. This happened every night, culminating in the cast lists being posted friday morning. I have been fortunate enough to have been cast in Ithaca College's Main Stage production of Working by Stephen Schwartz as Frank Decker along with a variety of other roles. I'll be getting to sing my favorite song in the show, "Brother Trucker" which is very exciting! Our choreographer, Mary Corsaro, is very excited about this casting because it means she can force me to be an Indianapolis Colts fan, which will take a great deal of acting on my part.
Speaking of football, I am gearing up for this weekend! My housemate John (same John from above) is a die hard Giants fan, and the Tom Brady vs. Eli Manning talk is just going crazy right now. We're throwing a super bowl party at our house which will probably culminate in too much beer, too many wings, a very possible game of Fireball Island, and of course one of us heartbroken. I'm banking on him, since I already got my knock around courtesy of the Giants in the Super Bowl. It's their time. Plus Tom Brady is out for vengeance, and Eli Manning is too gooberish to fight back.
I find myself hilarious, and I use this blog to stroke my own ego. Thanks for indulging me.