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.
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!
Photo by Danny Bristoll
(fac·to·tum | \ fak-ˈtō-təm) noun - a person having many diverse activities or responsibilities
I find myself hilarious, and I use this blog to stroke my own ego. Thanks for indulging me.