Monday, 28 February 2011

"Inspiring Wisdom For The Play": a letter

The high school drama director I work with in Uka asked me to share some words of wisdom from my own experience acting with the drama kids.  Here's what I wrote,:

Hiya, actors!  I wish I could be there with you, but I'm having my own adventures here on furlough.  I'll see you in July (assuming I get my visa...).  Here are some things I thought about while being in my own show this semester, which closed last night (!!), and I thought I'd share.
The magic and communication and energy and meaning in a performance isn't in the script or in your acting.  It happens in that alchemical mix between one particular audience and your particular performance each show.  When it works it's so live and so heady!  I'm a bit high for days after a great performance.  (And last night's was really great, viscerally great.)
Take care of your fellow actors--part of the energy that can happen in theatre is because of true kindness and camaraderie between the cast and crew.  This includes being generous onstage by paying attention  and getting your lines right!    After you learn them, keep on reviewing them before every performance or you're lost.  Get your mind in the game and review your lines and your cues before EVERY performance.  It also includes praying for people, in groups and alone, when you think to.  It also includes not gossiping backstage, and always obeying the director.  Be your best self backstage, and it pays off in the performance--it's part of the unquantifiable magic of this complex creation that draws spiritual and creative energy from every part.  That's why every actor and ever crew is important because you can either poison or bless everyone.
Give energy to others on stage.  Try out new things and don't get stuck in a rut.  Pay attention to what's going on around you, not just to when you speak, and be in the moment (which you can't do if you don't know your lines!).  Touch other people, move around, figure out how your character feels about the others, and then let it SHOW in a big way on your face and your body as well as your voice.  (In fact, here's a dare--let your character find one or two more times to physically touch another actor on stage and see how it gives away more emotion and communication in your performance.  Go ahead, I dare you!  Give each other permission!)
Try out a different vocal pitch and rhythm than your speaking voice for your character.  The part I just played had a lot more of the angry desperate energy it needed when I pitched my voice near the top of my range instead of in my usual speaking voice.
Overlap the ends of other people's sentences so you sound like you're real people talking and not actors saying lines (badly)...
Remember that Mrs F and I love you!
See you soon,
Donna Smith
p.s. Partying with actors beats partying with anyone else.  That's all I have to say about that.

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