Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Mary Jo Dugaw

Mary Jo has credits that would take up three of four posts. Musical Theatre (Village, 5th Ave); Classical  (concerts, with symphonies). You name it - She's probably done it.


Recording: Yes - Yes and Yes. Find out if it's Tape or CD

Gender: Girl.

Piano Skills: She plays a wonderful lesson. Encourages you to find a coach to actually "prep" for the audition (i.e.  Listen to the accompaniment) - but plays well enough to run through it with you at her space.

Style: Specializes in techniques that apply to all styles of music from classical to popular. I will tell you from personal experience she teaches the mix in a clear, understandable way making it easy to make the translation from head to body.

Reputation vs. Isolationist: The woman is amazing. Back in my 20s when I thought I knew how to sing ( I had classical training after all!)
I was touring kid shows. If you have never led the glamorous life of touring kid shows - let me give a quick peek. No mics. Bad venues - Mostly gyms. The kids - were actually wonderful because I was lucky enough to be doing material by Brian Willis when I was with Seattle Public Theatre and by Bruce Monroe when I toured with the 5th Avenue.
So - clear picture - GYMS. Hard to be heard. I kept losing my voice. I was terrified, desperate and - terrified. (cue angel voices -now). She fixed me! She referred me to a specialist who assured me I did not have Nodes. Did I mention I was terrified? She then proceed to teach my everything I know about saving my voice while I speak - not just sing. She also solidified and increased my understanding of Mixing through the Psaggio (aka - your break). I am not the only one who has had this amazing experience.

Location: Eastside, Metropolitan area. So - when I took with her she was located solely in North Bend. BEAUTIFUL home and studio in the home. North Bend just became too far for me with my schedule.

Prices:  http://www.maryjodugaw.com/  Check her website for more info on cost and specific location
Mary Jo Dugaw - Savior (by my definition - not hers!) Sent me to a specialist to make sure I did not have the dreaded Nodes - I didn't. Then taught me how to speak - not just sing - correctly. Sublime.
Amazing teacher. If you are struggling at all with glitches in the voice or mastering the mix Mary Jo is a wonderful fit. If you are just looking for some great solid technique - Great fit!

Next Post: Kim Maguire also and Eastside Teacher!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Jeff Caldwell - New York

Jeff Caldwell was the go to Music Director here in Seattle....Until he abandoned us-- Oh - I mean made a career choice and moved to New York.

Seriously...He is amazing and Seattle misses him. For those of you thinking of going to New York or already there -Let's talk about Jeff.


Recording: Yes, he does encourage it - I don't know if you bring your own or if he provides a machine. I suspect you should bring a device.

Gender: Well he is a boy.

Piano Skills: He is amazing. Plays everything, knows everything, sight reads well. He is amazing! Truly and excellent pianist.

Style: Specializes in legit technique, crossover coaching, and actors who sing. Because he regularly plays Broadway auditions he has a great sense of what goes on in the audition room.

Reputation vs. Isolationist: In my eh hem..Youth..I had a hard time hearing my register in comparison to boy registers. Jeff encouraged me to seek out a female teacher. At the same time he also taught me how to listen to his register and figure out where mine was in relationship to his. I did both. Yeah - Jeff and I go WAY back! So, I believe in seeing both genders - but as I said before - personal choice!

Location: New York based. best way to reach him - email! tomjeff1115@hotmail.com

Prices: New York prices are much higher than ours. Jeff's are really reasonable for NYC. $80.00 plus room rental but - he does negotiate-sliding scale. Ask.

I love this man. I still use some of the imagery he taught me after 20 years. The oblong Christmas Tree Ornament is still a fave! If you are NY - look him up!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Last minute shopping ideas

Well that time is here - Holiday celebrations -and last minute shopping. Ok - All my shopping was done December 10th and the following ideas may or may not have been things I bought for my loved ones.

 Something for New York on Boxing day - Jeff Caldwell! To tide you over: Last minute shopping ideas

Finishing the Hat - Mr. Sondheim

Patty LuPone's New Book


Last year - a wonderful release by Julie Andrews about her life. If you like audio books - she reads it!


Have a wonderful Holiday everyone! Talk to you on Boxing Day!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Ann Evans Zavada

There are a lot of teachers out there. I mentioned that I would be highlighting several over the next week. All of the voice teachers I will be talking about are ones I have worked with in some capacity. Either as a fellow teacher, fellow actor, or as a student. Often - all three!


Let us begin


Ann Evans Zavada

Ann has been my primary Musical Theatre, Belt technique teacher and Song Choice go to Gal (yeah - I made that title up) for 7 years. So I have a lot of personal experience as a student with Ann.

Ann is located in North Seattle. Her studio is an offshoot of her home. Spacious but not overly so, comfortable and beautiful.

Ann plays piano. Now, you'll have to ask her how proficient she thinks she is. I think she's pretty decent! Ann plays well enough to accompany me on audition pieces. She plays for lessons. Ann sometimes hires outside accompanist for special events.

Ann has a great little device that allows you to walk out with a CD of your lesson. Bring your own blank CD.

Ann holds cabaret's about once (sometimes twice) a year for her students to perform. A "showcase" of sorts. 


As I mentioned above Ann specializes in Musical Theatre and Belt Technique. Ann teaches you how to Belt safely and when not to belt.   I learned a lot from the way she teaches the Belt technique. I mix when I have the option but if I want to Belt safely I do so because of my work with Ann. She works every piece of music you are preparing to help you navigate those choices and execute them within the song.


Her library and musical knowledge of the cannon is extensive and impressive!


She's not a guru  (but has decent following!) Ann brings in guests on occasion. I have worked with Micheal Lavine and Terrance Mann out of her studio. They were incredible workshops. Check those guys out! Ann has a lot of students - Proffesionals and college bound.


You may contact an via email at annevansz@hotmail.com

What's New Wednesday! Shoshanna Bean

It's the Holidays! Solstice, Hanukka(Chanukah), Kwanzaa, Christmas! New Year around the corner. So there is a PLETHORA of holiday outings and events. What about those college students home for a visit wanting to keep their skills sharp, Professionals looking to keep their skills sharp or those who took vacation in hopes of finding non-traditional events.
Seattle has the answer! I want to highlight one event and pre-promote next week's event.


Shoshanna Bean is coming to Seattle!  (picture from Shoshanna's FB fan page photo credit Matthew Murphy)

She's doing a one day Master Class and Vocal Interpretation of Song . Although the performance slots are full, there are still observation slots available. Click on the Master Class link for more details!

For those of you who don't know - Shoshanna took over for Idina Menzel after she left Wicked and made a lasting mark on the Broadway community. She is originally from Olympia, Washington. A kicking voice and beautiful spirit, this class is going to be amazing! If you have a chance to go - do it! Check out her website- check out her voice - If you don't know who she is you are missing out!

New Voices 10 - The Best of New Voices - is next week's "What's New Wednesday" post - I mention it now because tickets fly!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Voice Teachers

So the next couple of days I will be focusing on Voice Teachers. There are voice teachers, there are audition coaches, there are voice teachers who also coach.
So - Why do you need one?

Did I mention technique? You need it. Period. Singing is a skill and an art. It's also a sport. Vocal calisthenics are part of my voice lessons. You need these amazing exercises that Voice Teachers... teach and guide you through in order to make singing a challenging song look and SOUND easy.

Say - A challenging song like "It's a Privilege to Pee" From Urinetown. It has the range of a goose. Low to very, very high. Maneuvering all that - singing high, low and through your Pissagio - Don't know what that means? A voice teacher does!

Choosing a voice teacher is incredibly personal but here are just a few things to consider.

Recording: Most voice teachers have some sort of recording device to record your lesson. This means you can use those wonderful exercises for years to come. It also means you can evaluate how you sound, how you thought you sounded etc. Most teachers WANT you to record. I believe it's an invaluable part of the process.

Gender: Some men only want to work with men, Women only want women or men only want women or... you get the idea. It's a personal choice.

Piano Skills: Some teachers play piano really well, others hire accompanists. Both are fine.

Style: Do they know the musical theatre cannon? If not that is ok - just know that you will need a coach when you prepare for auditions. Classicaly trained teachers have wonderful technique - but may not know how to teach a musical theatre sound. This is a different sound than classical. However, many of the techniques that keep your voice safe are the same. Some Teachers do both.
Belt  - Make sure the teacher is telling you how to keep your voice safe.
Mix - This is invaluable to get the psaggio. Also has a sound that is very similiar to belting.

Training: What is their background? Their training? Find out.

Reputation vs. Isolationist: Are they a guru? Do they think they are the only one that can help you? If so - Run. Do you know any of their students? What do they have to say about them? Look for that good Reputation.

Location: Close or 50 miles away. May or may not be important to you. Time is money and gas is expensive these days. But if they're worth it...

Prices: In Seattle anywhere from $50.00 - $65.00 is reasonable. If it is more than that -well one of two things. They are REALLY specialized in what they teach and in HIGH demand or they aren't on the up and up. Refer to Rep/Isolationist. Ask around. Check their rep.

"Chemistry...yeah Chemistry" - No matter how good they are - you need to have a click -Proffesional or Personal - hopefully both. BUT - don't go with someone who is not qualified just because you like them.

Throughout the week I will be posting local voice teachers and information about them and how to contact them.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Do you sing?

Do you sing? Most people answer yes. In the shower, with the radio in the car. So my next question is - Are you a singer?

If you are a singer you have technique, you at least work on being able to read music, perhaps you sight sing (if not - work on that!) you may have been in a choir, you take voice lessons.

I have met a lot of young actors who love musicals. The American Musical has made a huge comeback. Wicked, Next To Normal, American Idiot (hate it or love it!) just to name a few have drawn in a whole new generation of Musical Theatre Fans. Ten years ago you could count on your hands the number of Universities that had legitimate B.F.A's in Musical Theatre. Now - close your eyes, open the directory of schools and point - they are everywhere.

It doesn't mean they are all good - but that's another post!

Because of this love and enthusiasm for the material a lot of people want to do musical theatre. Well then -get some training. Why?

Technique. Your voice will not get through the run of a show if you do not have technique. You will lose your voice, you won't sound as good night to night - you will hurt yourself - the list goes on. The voice is an instrument. You wouldn't pick up a trumpet for the first time a couple days before an audition. So why would you do that if you're a singer?

 Some quick bullet points that we will explore in more detail in later posts!

  • Find a Voice Teacher
  • Practice Everyday
  • Speak Well - don't gutter out.
  • Limit Caffeine and Alcohol (moderation!)
  • Drink Water. Make it a habit
  • Get enough sleep
  • Protect your voice.
Your voice is your instrument. Treat it with respect.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Musical Theatre Audition

The Musical Theatre Audition
Let me first say – have you read the fundamentals I posted earlier in this blog? Yes – Good! No – after you read this run on sentence – Stop – go read them- come back. Are back? Let us begin.
Auditioning for a musical is the same as any other audition with a few more elements thrown in. Singing and Dancing. Here is the thing. Singing is not just about sounding pretty. It is, or it should be, about acting the song.  Dancing is about – well – I’ll leave that to the experts (guest bloggers) but for me – it’s about doing the best I can and trying really hard to get them to look at my face – not the rest of my body! Over the next couple of posts we are going to talk about choosing an audition song. We will talk about ballads vs. up tempo, how to organize your book, how many books you should have, acting a song, where to find music, voice lessons etc.
We will also have some discussions and posts from some Music Directors, Choreographers and maybe a couple surprise visits!
In the mean time, keep singing. I hear Carols are hot right now! ;0

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Problem with Auditioning

Getting cast. Ok. Well. It's not really a problem "It's not a problem it's a challenge - it's what I wanted..." (L5Y). I know I haven't been posting. When you get cast, and you work, and you have friends and you have a spouse - well - I know EXCUSES! But I'm back! I have noticed from the traffic reports that the good ol basics are getting used so YAY! We are moving into Musical Theatre Auditions. Having recently been cast in some musicals - I'll pass on what I knew before going in - and what I know now. "And I know things now many wonderful things" (Into The Woods). I'm excited to jump into this world with you. It's one of my faves! Joining us at some point will be some more guest bloggers - Zach Ortz, Tammis Doyle and many more!

What's been in the way?  I just finished playing Matron Mama Morton in Chicago. This week I was cast as the Drowsy Chaperon in - you guessed it - The Drowsy Chaperon.  Learning to balance my writing life with my acting life - well - I'm here to tell you that "I'm not going" (Dream Girls). So my commitment to you - at least 3 posts a week.I hope you will continue to check back.

Happy Holidays! Talk to you next week!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Dennis Schebetta -Playwright - Guest Blogger

I am SO Lucky - which means you are SO LUCKY! Thank you Dennis. These are words to live by my friends!

BIO:
Dennis Schebetta is an actor/director and award-winning playwright whose monologues can be found in the series Audition Arsenal published by Smith & Kraus.  He writes about the creative life on www.fightingthevoid.blogspot.com. 


Without further ado (drumroll please) - Mr. Dennis Schebetta

5 Tips for the Auditioning Actor (from a playwright)

As a playwright and actor, I’m honored to have had many talented performers elevate my writing to new heights (like say, Detta, for example). Actors are inspiring, courageous and interesting people. They work damn hard and deserve every curtain call they get.

However…

There’s nothing worse for a playwright than to spend three hours agonizing over getting a certain phrase just right only to hear an actor butcher the words in three seconds.

Don’t get us wrong.  We love actors and we love to write for them.  We want you to be brilliant which is we try to help you even when you don’t know it.  Shakespeare was a master at giving acting help via his lines.  A line like, “Out, damned spot, out I say!” only gives one good option for physicality and delivery.  Okay, obvious example, but he did have other subversive methods.  And he isn’t the only one.  All playwrights, Shakespeare or not, give hints that can help guide your choices.  Great actors find them.  Do you?

To help you, here are five useful tips from a playwright to keep in mind when you’re looking at your audition monologue or scene:

1)     Use the words.  First off--Get thee to a voice & speech teacher! One thing playwrights hate (and directors, too) are mumbling actors that can’t project without screaming and don’t know how to use the words effectively.  Playwrights love the sound of words and so should you.  Find a vocal coach (not just for singing), and work that muscle every day.  The audience comes to HEAR theatre as much as see it and good playwrights know this.  (And yes, we can tell if you’ve had training or not; literally, once you open your mouth.) With training, you can really use the consonants and vowels.  Play the language as much at the intention.  If your character says “I’m leaving”, then don’t rush through it with “I’mleavin…”.  Take your time (just like Detta said with your introduction of your own name).  Think of the text like poetry.  Use any alliteration, especially if you’re working with comedy, as well as any repetition. Find any words that are simply fun and luxurious to say.
2)     Find the beat. Poetry is as much about rhythm as it is about content (“iambic pentamer” is really just musical notation).  Playwrights use words as musical notes and are always conscious of rhythm.  Think David Mamet or Sarah Ruhl.  In some ways it defines the writer’s voice, but playwrights also use rhythm to indicate emotional states. Short and choppy can mean someone in a hurry, or angry—its quick and to the point.  Long sentences may indicate something more contemplative or that the character has more power or status than the other.  Or, we may alternate the rhythm.  If you were to set your monologue to a beat, what would it be?  Snap your fingers and play around.  Also, pay attention if suddenly your character switches rhythm mid-stream—something revelatory might be happening.
3)     Use the location. Location will often inform the situation (aka “given circumstances”).  A break up scene in an apartment is different than at a big birthday party.  Let us see how the given circumstances affect you in the scene. People are territorial and we will use different words depending on where we are—the playwright chose those words based on that location, not because it’s a neutral state (like the audition room).  Also, playwrights love to set things in public places (at least I do) because it raises the stakes.  Do you know how many times I’ve seen Edward Albee’s Zoo Story and not once ever saw behavior that reflected the setting of Central Park?  So, how does the environment & setting affect your character’s choices?  How does it affect what your character wants?
4)    Find the arc.  Playwrights focus on three areas when writing and rewriting and that’s the beginning of a play, the middle scene (usually the juiciest or toughest), and the ending.  In everything we write, long or short, we strive for a beautiful arc (yes, even with sentences).  The first priority for us is the ending—we want to make the audience gasp (mentally or literally).  Same for a scene or monologue—that last beat or moment maybe won’t make an audience gasp, but should have impact.  What’s the importance of the last line and how does it move the story forward?  This does not mean play the ending at the top of your scene, because the next thing playwrights focus on is the beginning.  That should be as dramatically different from the ending as possible.  This creates an arc, taking our characters on a journey from A to B.  If your character isn’t going from A to B, why are we watching you?  We also like to get the audience’s attention with something that might startle them.  We don’t ease into things and neither should you.  After that, we find some good stuff for the middle.  In your monologue, you might find a funny joke or meaty revelation that creates a 180-degree turn.  You might even find the rhythm changing.  Take a look at your monologue—it’s likely these moments are already in the text.  This arc idea also applies to sentence structure.  Maybe not all writers are so anal, but I’ll rewrite a sentence several times, jostling the same words around to see the difference of affect and power in word order.  Ask yourself why the playwright starts or ends the line with that word.  Playwrights tend to put words with the most impact at the end of a line. This is why directors often give the note, “take the end of the line up.” 
5)     Find the love.  Michael Shurtleff’s book AUDITION has the best piece of advice for actors ever and that’s to look for what the characters love.  Before you do that, think of what the playwright loves. Rarely do playwrights devote months or years of our life writing a character we hate.  We may be in love with their wit, their ambition, their flaws, or just because they are reflections of our own self (or completely different).  If you figure out why the playwright loves them, you might love them, too.  And directors have a knack for knowing when actors love what they’re working on.


Of course, each playwright has different strengths and weaknesses (we’re not all Shakespeare) and so I have one additional tip: Ignore everything I’ve just told you. 

No, seriously.  Playwrights have large egos because they spend a lot of time alone imagining entire worlds that they control.  Commit to your choices, even if it seems to contradict the playwright.  Playwrights can be wrong even about their own work and the smart ones will admit when an actor has made a unique discovery.

So surprise us.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Callback-Part 2- Bold Choices

Sometimes you only have one shot. One chance to read, one chance to sing, one chance to dance. Make the most of of it. How do you do that?
  • First - What is your objective? Always first and foremost what do you want?
  • How are you going to get it? Tactics! These will lead you to bold choices.
  • MAKE A BOLD CHOICE - go for it!
  • Has the director given you any direction? Told you what she's going for?
    • If yes - do it - try to give her/him what they want
    • If no- it's up to you. They want to see you interpret the role. If you've done your research this is easier - because you have already thought of choices, maybe even tried them out. At home, while you prepping. Read previous blog posts. Just saying.
  • Listen to your scene partner
  • React to your scene partner
  • Give to your scene partner
  • Take from your scene partner - what they are giving you.
  • Remember when it's not just about you, the scene is better.
  • When you are pursing an objective, the scene is better.
  • Don't push
  • Have fun.
Have you made a strong, definitive, bold choice rooted in emotional honesty? Then no matter what the outcome - you just had a good callback!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Callback-Part 1- You get to perform today!

The Callback - Part 1

I thought this was appropriate today since - I have a call back today! I'll be Dancing, Singing and Reading for Matron Mama Mortan in Chicago. So - I'll share with you what I did between my original audition and today.
  • Listened to Chicago once all the way through. I know the show - or I would have listened a lot more
  • Listened to Mama's songs
  • Sang through Mama's songs
  • Read the script.  Read through all Mama's scenes a couple of times, a couple of different ways with different objectives. OUTLOUD!
  • Read scenes with somone else, got their feedback, tried it on for size, kept some ideas, threw other's away.
  • Came up with questions - if given the opportunity - to ask at the callback
This morning - I got up early, Drank water, started warming up, ate a good breakfast with some protein, drank coffee - drank more water to make up for the coffee, stretched out, practiced the few dance moves I know, warmed up my voice a little more. Petted the dog.

Now - I will hop into the shower, get dressed for the dance call, take a change of clothes for after the dance call, make sure I have water - lots of it! Pack some protien and BREATH.

The most important thing I can do today and that anyone can do at a callback - after you've done your research of course - is to have fun. Even if I never get to perform the role for an audience with this company - I do today. TODAY I am Mama Morton - TODAY I have a captive audience. TODAY I get to have fun - act, sing, dance PLAY, try different things with different people. TODAY I get to do what I love - Perform. That was true with my original audition and it is true today. If one starts looking at auditions as performance opportunities - the audition process becomes a lot easier. 

HAVE FUN! You get to perform today!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Know Your Material-Beyond Memorization

Know your Material!

Do not memorize your monologue the night before the audition. Know your monologue backwards and forwards. Now - this does not mean - know-your-monologue-so-you-can-do- it- the-exact-same-way- every -time-therefore-I-can't-do-it-any-other-way. Refer to Hedda Example.

If the director has time they may ask you to try something new - Hedda as a cheerleader. Or they may ask you to start from a particular section and do it again. Maybe with no change. Focus on your objective and your tactic. However if you've only ever done the monologue from the beginning AND if you've only ever done it one way - this request will not be easy - even if that haven't given you a direction.

So - when memorizing a piece:
  • don't always start from the beginning
  • try singing it
  • do it with different "voices"
  • Say it out loud - not just in your head
  • have people talk to you while you are trying to do the monologue
  • do it in a park where there are distractions (um - if it is appropriate...)
  • have friends try to distract you
  • Say it out loud
  • do it with t.v., radio, dog in the room, playing with the cat
  • Move your body while you speak out loud
  • Did I mention SPEAK OUT LOUD - not just in your head!
 Let the words live in your body. In other words really KNOW the piece. Don't just memorize it.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Don't be rude

A friend of mine who is a Producer/Director was recently holding auditions. He was producing this particular show but decided to hang around the auditions, not in the audition room. A guy came in who had changed his appointment but showed up at his "original" time. The producer tried to engage this actor in conversation saying - "Have I seen you somewhere before?" The actor replied -"I don't know, have you?" When the guy came out of the audition room he said "she wanted a character analysis" and stormed out. Producer found out the director had asked "who is your character talking to? He answered "I don't know, I don't have time for this shit" - and left.

2 morals of this story:
1st- know your character, know who you are talking to and be ready to answer questions!
THEN -
 I tell my Hedda Gabler example in every audition class I teach.
         In an audition if a director ask you to play Hedda Gabler like a cheerleader - DO IT. They are just trying to see if you can take direction. 99.9 % of them do not believe Hedda is a cheerleader!

2nd - Don't be rude. Answer questions politely, make conversation if someone engages you, and as long as it is a reasonable request -  do what your asked! (Not resonable -don't jump off buildings or take your clothes off in front of a camera in some "producer's" basement!  )

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Do-over

If you had ONE audition you could do over what would it be and why?
Was it wonderful, horrible, one small thing you would change or would you change everything - GO!

Prepare for the Unexpected.

The Smart Thing is to Prepare for the Unexpected
Sometimes – it’s the little things that throw you. Don’t let them.
Let’s pretend shall we?
So you have your monologues – Musical theatre – even though we haven’t gone over song choice- let’s say you have a song
You’ve done all the work you need to do on your pieces. You’ve practiced your slate. Everyone knows you are” Judy ­­_Peters” not “Juiceypotter”
Practice your pieces in different orders.
·         Song first – then monologue
·          Monologue then song.
·         Doing three pieces – there are a variety of orders – do that.
·         Practice your transitions
·         Take into account that you have to communicate with your accompanist during your time on stage.
You may get to your audition and in your head you have planned – song first then monologue. Let’s say the accompanist says – Why don’t you do your monologue first – that will give me time to look over the – Key Changes, Your Marks, I don’t know this song – whatever. What do you say? YES of course! Why – because in your head you are ready for this scenario. It doesn’t throw you – because you are
Prepared and Expect the Unexpected!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Off The Grid

Off the gird for a couple of days. While I'm gone - check out the amazing Dennis Schebetta. Truly one of my favorite playwrights. I love his writing. Read just the first couple lines of one blog entry you'll be hooked - and inspired! See you Monday!


http://fightingthevoid.blogspot.com/

Practice Your Slate

Practice your Slate


Although were not “In The Room” yet – we will be soon – it’s never too early to start practicing your slate.

What’s a Slate? Glad you asked.

Greeting, Your Name, Your pieces

Greeting – take your pick – Good morning, hello, good afternoon – etc

Your name. It’s your name. You know it really well. But they DON’T – Slow down.

Enunciate.

Put a space between your first and your last name. Don’t run it together like it’s one word.

Bradetta Vines not Bradettavines

Start practicing now.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Vacaction is Over!

Vacation is over!

Well -almost! Posting starts again on Tuesday. Have you started following publically yet? If not - you should. This month - Guest Blogger Dennis Schebetta, Interviews with local directors and input from many music directors! See you on the boards!

Also - local actor Shanga Parker was just in Leverage - check it out!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Short Tip - Perseverance

My Vacation blog continues….


Robin Goodrin Nordli is one of my favorite OSF’s Actresses. I saw her do Hedda Gabler the best Hedda EVER. The next night she did a smaller role in Present Laughter. She walked in – back to the audience dropped her coat revealing a plunging backline. If that wasn’t amazing enough every member of the audience could tell what her objective was. She is an amazing, nuanced actress. She has played Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing, Rosalind in As You Like It, Oliva and Viola in 12th Night, Queen Margaret in Henry 6 part 1-3 and on and on. All of these at OSF.

There is a short article about her in the Oregon Shakespeare Festival souvenir program. She auditioned NINE times before OSF hired her. That's NINE YEARS of auditioning.

If at once you don’t succeed, try, try again.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Vacation Audition?

Ok - Sometimes when you are on vacation - you could schedule an audition - or two! I call that a working vacation. You might also update your blog.....

So - I am on vacation! The next full audition post will happen on my return (Active Audition Book Part II). For now - when I have a chance I will post links and updates about theatre.
We are headed to The Oregon Shakespeare Festival. We are seeing Pride & Prejudice and She Loves Me (musically directed by the Wonderful Darcy Danielson!)

Check out the link. The Festival is amazing!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Active Audition Book

Active Audition Book


Your audition book is different from your “storage book”. Your storage book is just that – a place where you store material. My monologue storage book looks like this

Front panel – Clear so I can slip in the title page and a different color binder than my Active Audition Book .

Title Page – Bradetta’s Audition Material –( Name this anything you want – except Active Audition Book).

  • 1st Tab – Comic 
    • divided classic and modern - in all 5 sections
  •  2nd Tab – Dramatic 
  • 3rd Tab – Serio-comic
  •  4th Tab – cross gender 
  • 5th Tab – for others
These may be monos I liked, grabbed, stuck in, noted the source and forget about until I am looking for something specific. I don't know exactly what I have in storage until I look through it.
I have a separate storage book for Music. I copy the entire song and note somewhere in the book the source especially if the music was hard to come by.

I do the same tabs – My title pages says Audition Songs – it’s the same color binder as the other storage – because these stay in the house I don’t panic about confusing them

My Active Audition book I don't divide these into classic/modern monologues- beacuse I know them, I'm familair with all. They are Monologues are  that: -
  • I know cold and after a focus exercise I could do right now – Performance Level
– I currently have 8 of those 

  •  I could do if I ran through it in my head a couple of times – Performance Level -
– I currently have 6 of those

  •  I have done my work, I have memorized them – I may have even done them before in an audition but I need to look it over, remind myself who the character is, maybe go over a couple lines I have forgotten- Performance level – IF I HAD TO
- I have 6 of these

  • Monologues I want to use in the future – I don’t have them memorized, I have read the play, I have started character worked – they are nowhere near performance level -
-I have 6 of those –

The tabs are thus – Performance Level – Take A Moment – Take Two Moments - Soon

This shorthand works for me - do what works for you.

That is my monologue book. We’ll talk about songs in another post. Here is also what I keep in my Active book before the tabs start- Blank sheets of Audition Reflections, This includes a Mileage Log. I also have a pocket for any parking receipts or any other expenses I might have encountered on my outing. I do this later part for tax purposes. Take a look at the Audition Reflections. After I fill them out I put these in a three ring binder named – you guessed it – Audition Reflections.

More on that in the next post!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Seeing shows-finding material

(Links are included this post - click and have fun!)

Well - due to the URL confusion I have not been able to Post Building Your Book just yet. So some quick advice on finding new material other than Read Read Read - is SEE SEE SEE

This weekend I am seeing 3 of the 6 Village Original Shows. Over the past two weeks I have seen Ruined at Intiman, Man of LaMacha at Taproot, Yankee Diner at ACT and the new play WOOF! by Y York still in the workshop phase.

I have seen some great theatre over the past two weeks. Ruined has some great scenes for you KCACTF lookers - Yankee Diner has some great Men's monos - read them to make sure they are not M&Ms. I am pretty sure there are Active and M&Ms. WOOF! has a pleathera of material. In Your Eyes has wonderful material for teenagers. Some of these may be hard to get a hold of because they are so new. There are ways however...but this is a short post!Yeah that was a teaser! Have a lovely Sunday and SEE A SHOW!

So - SEE SHOWS!!!

Friday, August 13, 2010

THIS IS THE RIGHT BLOG

THIS IS THE RIGHT BLOG

In more ways than one - don't you think?

Hello - So although I feel confident in sharing audition tips with you - blogging has been - well let's call it an adventure! There was an URL problem with the orginal blog - all fixed now - please - Follow, Follow, Follow.....SING IT!

This is the correct blog! By Monday - it will look like the old one - but you have to re-follow. Please, please do so!

Thanks everyone!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Choosing a Monologue Part 4: The Right Fit - a long one folks!


So now you know what to look for in a monologue. It should be:
  • An active monologue
  • Have a clear objective

  • Have the opportunity for different tactics so you can pursue you objective (and show off your versatility in a short performance!)
The above is just the tip of the iceberg. We'll talk more about Working the Monologue a little later. Right now – you have a piece and you are searching for more. It meets the above requirements. Let's add some more to that above bullet point list.

 What are you auditioning for? A General (Like Theatre Puget Sound General Auditions), a theatre season, a specific show, or a college? 
For all of these auditions – Do your research! Know what you are auditioning for. This helps you choose your monologue – or two. If you are singing it helps you choose your song.

 The General Audition – Multiple theatres.
These are my favorite. You get to pick a monologue or two that show you off. This/these should be a monologue(s) that play to your strengths. Are you funny? Find a great comic piece. Do you excel at Shakespeare – great! Quirky, lovable, dramatic, vulnerable? Great! Find a piece that serves this purpose. The world is your oyster!
The Season Audition
Let's say a local musical theatre company is holding their season auditions. Their season is Damn Yankees, Guys and Dolls, and The Sound of Music. Choose something by one of the writers from these shows if possible BUT – not from one of these shows. Do not walk in with A Jason Robert Brown song. I might also suggest a comic piece. You could do drama – but David Mamet or dropping the F bomb throughout the monologue (um yes Mamet and F bomb do go together –quite often) is probably not a good choice to audition for this particular season. If you can't find something from another show by the playwright, lyricist or composer try to find something similar to the shows you are auditioning for. Do your research! KNOW the material you are auditioning for.

 With the season audition you may become a little more specific in your selection. The Non-Musical Theatre Company A has announced their season. 
Eleemosynary by Lee Blessing, Doubt by John Patrick Shanley, Trust by Stephen Dietz and Spike Heels by Theresa Rebeck - Some of my favorite playwrights and favorite plays – I am so lucky! J

There are many character clumps I could make but I'll focus on the young women for this post. Don't worry above 30 year old gals and all guys – I'll get to you eventually.

 Eleemosynary has a teenage girl – smart, quirky, different; Doubt a young 20 something nun, Trust a 20 year old hip, sexy funny gal, and Spike Heels a 20 something girl with very little education – but street smart. These are all different young women that if you fall into the age category you may be called back. So how do you choose a piece?
Research – read the plays. Identify the character type in which you are normally cast.

  • Pick a monologue from another play that has a similar character

  • Hopefully the character has similar objectives, vulnerabilities or other character traits.

  • If  you get to do two monologues - pick two very different pieces that show your range – if you have that range! If not – stick to what shows you off the best.

  • If you don't have the range to play all these women then get some more training so you can increase your range – but I digress….
A Specific Show

When I am auditioning for a particular role I do the same thing I listed in the research section under Season Audition above. I pick a monologue or a song that is similar to the role I think I may be cast in. This can be tricky. Theatre is subjective. You have no idea how a director sees a certain character. But you can make an educated guess. That is about all you can do. So make a choice, make it big and go for it. See if the director has written anything or done an interview that may give you clues to what she/ he is thinking about this particular show. Don't trust gossip.

 Personal example: 
I was 23 and way too young for any of the roles I thought I might be considered for "Type" wise in Falsettos by William Finn at The Group Theatre. At that time I didn't feel I had the vocal range to play the character that I was probably old enough for. Still…I wanted to audition. I was in love with the show. In my dream world I wanted to play Doctor Charlotte. I picked a monologue from another show. The character was a lesbian, more on the butch side. That is how I saw Doc Charlotte. I picked a song that felt like Trina who is a housewife that has lost her husband – to another man. She also discovers new love during the course of the play. I picked a section of the song Life Story from Closer Than Ever. The character in this song has also lost her husband but to another, younger, woman. She has also discovered new love – a lot. So I did the song – with two small twists. There was a lyric that referred to a young male lovers and one that referred to being 49. Now – I did and always have looked older than my age- but I was 23! Not 30 something and now where near 49. So I was breaking the age range rule – but new I felt older than my actual age. I changed the lyric to reflect young female lovers, even though it was a Trina feeling song regarding circumstance and objective. I changed 49 to 39. I was told by the director that I could not have chosen better pieces. In his words "they were perfect".  In my mind I was way too young to play Dr. Charlotte or Trina– but he called me back. He cast me as the understudy for Doctor Charlotte – I went on – it was an amazing experience.

Now – I could have talked myself out of auditioning. I could have stopped myself from choosing pieces with any sort of direction or specificity in mind. If I had – the seed would not have been planted in his head that I could play older. Or maybe he decided Doc Charlotte didn't need to be much older than I felt. Who knows?  Also – he was casting other shows in the area that year. This gave him an opportunity to see me audition. I was also planting ME as a seed in his head!

 Help your auditor. Help them see what you THINK they may be looking for. You might be wrong-  but – If you have picked strong pieces that you do well – that is ok. In the end auditors are looking for actors who know how to act, great to work with and take direction well. The first audition should show them that you are a Great Actor!
Alright- I recommend you try to find pieces in your age range or type range….obviously I broke that "Guideline" More on that later! Onto the end of this blog post!
College Auditions

 I teach at the college level. I have coached High School and Transfer students for over 10 years when they are preparing for their college auditions. There is so much information for this section that there are blogs and websites dedicated to only this. I teach a workshops, I coach privately – contact me if you are interested. Although I will post more info on this subject, for now and to keep it short I will say:

  1.  Look at the requirements the school publishes

  2. Follow the requirements the school publishes
This is the most important thing you can do. It kills me how many people fudge or want to fudge the requirements the school requests. Just Say NO! If they want a song written after 1960 do not do one written in 1959. Just don't do it! You get the idea.


Tomorrow: Building Your Book

Monday, August 9, 2010

Choosing a Monologue Part 3: What's The Quick and Easy Way To Find A Monolouge?

What is the quick and easy way to find a great Monologue?

There isn’t one. Ok – there might be one –if happen to know an amazing playwright, who writes plays that happen to have amazing monologues in them. As much as I’d like to claim Dennis Schebetta as my private playwright….sigh…I have to share him with all of you.

The best way to find great monologues is to READ PLAYS. Skim them if you have to. Look for chunks of text – paragraphs to start. They are out there. Keep reading (plays...and this post!)

Sometimes you can “Piece” a monologue together. This can be tricky.*note below.

The following is an example of piecing:

Original Text:

Queen Christina

(lots more text before )….. I am allowed to bring forth in unimaginable pain, a vegetable a dwarf, a monster or if I’m supremely fortunate – another creature such as myself.

Oxenstierna

Ordinary women do this daily.

QC

I am not ordinary! If there is one thing you have taught me since the moment I could hear it is the specialness of me! (lots more texts after this)

The Piecing

Queen Christina

(lots more text before )….. I am allowed to bring forth in unimaginable pain, a vegetable a dwarf, a monster or if I’m supremely fortunate – another creature such as myself. Now, ordinary women do this daily. But I am not ordinary! If there is one thing you have taught me since the moment I could hear it is the specialness of me! (lots more texts after this)

I added two words to make the transition. Sometimes you can cut a line. Example – there may be one or two words from another character like “What?” but the monologue makes since if the character you are looking at just keeps going.

On the permanent pages you will find a list of playwrights. I love the work of these playwrights’s. These plays are a good place to start. I don’t guarantee you will find a great monologue – but it’s a good bet that some of you will find one you are drawn to and that works for you.Not to mention - it's time well spent. Did I mention they have written plays I LOVE! I am sure there are wonderful playwrights I have left out – please feel free to comment and add your own to this list!

*Disclaimer – when you piece a monologue you may be changing the playwright’s words. If you do this try not to change the playwright’s intent. Some playwright’s would be totally fine with this for auditions – some not so much. Most – not in the room. I say this with great respect knowing and loving many playwrights.

Choosing a Monolgue Part 2. Why an Active Monologue?

Why an Active Monologue?

Simply put and active monologue has an active objective. You -the character -want something right now. This means that -right now- you are pursuing an objective, varying your tactics and hopefully your stakes are high. That is what you want to show an auditor. You know how to make e a choice, you know how to go after it. Hopefully you know more than one way to pursue what you want. If it’s a good monologue it may have more than one objective and it DEFINILTY has more than one tactic.

I only recommend using a memory monologue when you are auditioning for a play that uses memory storytelling as the main modality. i.e. The Exonerated, Juvie, Runawys, A Chorus Line, The Weir, Still Life etc. The objectives in story monologues are not always clear, they are more about telling a story and sometimes you reveal your main intent at the end of the monologue. Memory monologues can also become self-indulgent – but let’s save that for another post!

This doesn’t mean M&Ms don’t elicit emotions. They are often entertaining and moving. Paul’s monologue in A Chorus Line is one of the most powerful moments of theatre I’ve experienced. Ruined has several memory storytelling moments that brought me to tears. In my opinion they are better suited for performance, not for auditioning.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Choosing a Monologue Part 1 -Active vs. Memory

Choosing a Monologue Part 1

If you don’t have one already now is the time to get a three ring binder. Start Building Your Audition Book.

The audition determines the type of monologue and the length. Read the requirements and follow them! If it says prepare a 2 minute monologue don’t walk in with a 2 minute and 15 second monologue. If they ask for comic piece don’t walk in with a dramatic one. If they ask for a Modern piece don’t bring in Shakespeare. But...."Let's start at the very beginning..."

I give examples of published work below. I have not included the entire text but I have provided enough information for you to find the text if you so desire.

Find an Active Monologue – this means a monologue that happens in the now not a Memory Monologue. A Memory Monologue (or M&M) is when you are telling a story, something that happened in the past.

Examples:

An M&M might start something like this:

When I was a little girl I went into the abandoned coal mine. At first everything was fine but then I went deeper and there was a big bang. Everything came tumbling down…

Below is a couple of lines from The play “Lardo Weeping” by Terry Galloway

Dinah has a monologue that begins:

“There was only one time in my life…. –and ends- …..just not quite ruthless.

This is an M&M

An Active Monologue (AM) might start something like this:

I don’t understand you. I give and I give but you know what, I’m through giving. Get out. Right now! Go into the bedroom, pack your bags and get out! No – don’t talk. You know why? Because I’m through listening!

Below is a couple of lines from The play “Four Corners” by Wendkos and Bond

The character Jimmy has a monologue that begins:

Look, you know how dogs begin to look like their owners….. -and ends - ….couldn’t I turn into her?

This is an AM.

Before you Auditon

Before You Audition

If you are an adult reading this blog and you have never done a show or taken a class –

Get Thee To a Class. I’m not saying you have to have a four year degree before you audition, but take a class and acclimate yourself to the world of theatre.

Learn the basic vocabulary. Get some experience under your belt, find your sea legs – insert metaphor here – but get some experience. You are entering a competitive field. Raw talent is great and if you have it – Yay! Talent will only get you so far. Hard work, determination, being prepared, being easy to work with and knowing your business is what gets you the job after the first job. The story’s of being discovered walking your dog (David Boreanez from Buffy, Angel and Bones) are FEW and FAR between.

There are techniques, skills, basic vocabulary, knowledge and plain old stamina – way more than this blog post has room for – that will help you in your pursuit of becoming an Actor. Take a class and then audition for one of the many amazing smaller or community theatres we have in Seattle (or your local theatre!). I have posted links to some local places to take class and Theatre Puget Sound that posts classes, auditions etc.

Be smart when signing up for a class. Is it a studio that’s been around a while, a new group with some hot new teachers? Just ask around and make sure some people know who they are. Even better, find someone who has had experience with them. Check out their website or blog.

If you live in a small community and you are just out to have some fun – audition. See what happens. Some people – David Mamet among them – believe you should only do shows. He feels this is how you learn the craft of theatre. I do not believe that is the best way and definitley NOT the ONLY way. Will it help? Yes. Will you get better every show you do? Yes. But class affords you time to personally examine habits, chose when and when not to use them, explore techniques and grow into a more versitale actor. But if you’re just out to have fun – go for it! Ok – enough about that!

For my students and others who have a bit of theatrical experience head to Choosing a Monologue!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Professional, College Auditions, Educational settings

As you begin your audition journey you will notice different requirements for different auditions. This is why you create an *Audition Book with options.

Being prepared is your strongest asset in every setting.

As I post Tips I will differentiate between settings when necessary. Feel free to ask questions about your specific situation.

*Denotes coming or published post

Introduction - How to use this blog

When I tell people I’m an actress and that I teach theatre a burning question inevitably finds a place in our conversation: How does one audition?

This blog shares my personal knowledge and experience with the audition process in the Seattle area. Please read my short philosophy before you dive in and start to comment.

Check the Archives. The titles will guide you.

Theatre is subjective. Therefore, everything I say is right- and wrong - for someone.

However, I have had a lot of experiences with a lot of directors, producers, actors and musicians. Although I will never (never say never) say there is an "industry standard" (see my post on that!) I would say there are some practices and guidlines that 95% of the theatre community follow. I will share these practices within each section from Choosing a Monologue to Walking into the Audition Room.

Enjoy and may you find success. When you do – I am more than happy to accept my 10%! J Serioulsy, I would love to hear how you are doing and what helps the most! Please post.

Happy Auditioning!