Archive for the ‘Acting’ Category

Sub(text) theatre

Posted: February 9, 2011 in Acting, Technology

If anyone is reading this, they will know most of the show.  Here, for example is the Sub(text) portion of the show.

the basic concept for this is that technology can enhance a performance.  Like Pop-up Videos from the early 1990s, people can receive texts that fill in supplemental information about the performance.  Different feeds can be created for cast notes, author notes, costume notes, historical context, ect.  For example, one person watching the Brick/Big Daddy scene from Cat on a Hot Tin Roof can receive texts about the fabric that Big Daddy’s suit is made of,while another can get more information about Big Daddy’s cancer and the prognosis in that era, while still a third can find out how this scene was challenging to memorize from the actor playing Brick.

It’s important to note that these texts, sent to phones on vibrate, are not specifically designed for the first time viewer, but rather for the repeat customer. Audience members can return to watch the show with new information that increases their enjoyment.  They get to select the texts they receive and can turn off the phone at any time.

Of course, eventually this can create a whole sub-genre of theatre where writers create specifically for the technology.  In example…



Project Cast: Assemble!!

Posted: February 4, 2011 in Acting, iPad

I have my cast for my project.

Hamlet and Puppet #1: Kevin Blake.  He was the first guy I asked.  His knowledge of Shakepeare and improv made it a no brainer.

Man 1 and Puppet #2: Kurt Scholler.  One of the best improvisers I know (and I do know a lot), what set him apart from some other choices I could make is that he has a very distinctive voice.  This will play very well with the puppet segment and allow for both visual and vocal differentiation in the two characters.

Woman #1: Whitney Avalon.  A remarkable performer, I almost hate to waste her talents on such a small scene.  Having said that, I’m pulling this favor because she is so great and reliable. We’ve done a lot of projects together and I know what I’m getting.  Plus, I may have her sing…

Ghost (Head): David Heath.  I could have tried to cast someone out of New York or London for a real impressive demonstration.  The problem is I don’t know anyone there who could play the role, so I’d have to cast blindly and trust that they would be in front of their computer on time and knowing how to work teh internets.  I don’t need that kind of risk; with this presentation I’m already juggling flaming angry monkey while riding a unicycle on a high wire.  So instead, I picked great friend who is a member of the Lamb’s Players Theatre in San Diego.  Dave has performed hundreds of roles over the years and couldn’t be nicer or more down to Earth.  When I told him what he’d be doing he laughed for a good 30 seconds then said, “Sure Mike, I’m in.”  His level of accountability is beyond reproach.

Ghost (body): Katie Brost.  The original plan was to have Kurt play the body of Hamlet’s Father.  He’s a large, imposing guy and it would play well in the scene.  But Kurt isn’t a movement guy and the decision was mainly for conservation of talent.  Today as I was jogging (And thinking about the project) it hit me: Katie Brost.  Katie is one of my best friends in the program. She’s also incredibly bright and knows as much about theatre as most of the professors teaching us.  Additionally, she’s a big fan of Meyerhold and his Biomechanics.  This could be a great experience for her if she played the body.  She also lives in San Diego, so her and Dave could actually rehearse together.  This would really transform my idea of the Ghost’s body from mere;y being a semi-static pedestal for the ipad-head, to a moving living form that moves in tandem with the words.  As an added bonus, when the role is over and we reveal the “he” to be a “She”, it will be one more surprise for the audience and further proof of the flexibility of the transactor.

I’m not sure I could have picked a better combination of actors for my presentation.  Of course, with that comes my one huge fear: that one or more of them will land a job on that night.  A TV gig can pay $1,000 and a commercial more than $20,000 for one day’s work. It’s a hard sell to convince them to “book out” for the evening.  I will press them to do this, but if something comes up and they still get cast, I can’t hold them to stay.  At that juncture, I don’t quite know what my options are, but I do need a contingent plan.  Time for more jogging I guess…


Posted: January 26, 2011 in Acting, Rehearsal

I need to cast my presentation.  Here’s all the roles I have (so far)

Host = Me

Puppets = 2 males

Sub(text) = 1 Male, 1 female

Hamlet scene = 2 males

That would make 6 plus me.  Having said that, I know I can consolidate several of the roles.  So the real cast looks like this:

Male #1: Puppet #1, Sub(text)

Male #2: Puppet #2, Hamlet

Female: Sub(text)

Male #3: Ghost in Hamlet

This is an awesome 33% reduction of cast.  It also allows me to approach some of my more talented friends with an offer that goes beyond doing one small part.

As far as casting, I have decided to use professional actors.  The hardest role will be the Ghost.  I can find actors to play the role, but I want to have this actor skype in their performance.  Optimally this would happen on the East Coast, preferably a New York Shakespeare actor.  This would demonstrate my idea of virtual actors.  This actor could play the role on both coasts on the same night.

The biggest hurdles to this is tech savvy and reliability.  If they or whomever is helping them can’t work the video chat, then we could all be staring at a lot of system preference windows.  If they they aren’t reliable, then I might have a great video feed, with no actor.

I have some casting ideas, but I need to lock them down before I go wide on it.  More to come.

Professional Versus Student

Posted: January 23, 2011 in Acting

For my presentation I am faced with a dilemma.  I’m going to need actors to demonstrate the various technologies I want to introduce to the theatre world.  My choices are audition actors from the CSUN theatre department, call on some of my professional actor friends for a favor or a combination of the two.

Casting CSUN actors feels like the collegial, earnest choice.  Give the younger generation a chance to show off what they are already familiar with while they get to work with an actor who’s been acting linger than they’ve been alive.  As a  bonus, they know where the theatre is and could probably attend more rehearsals.

On the other hand, using my professional friends means that I don’t have to worry about the quality of acting.  These are world class improvisers and actors and they will only enhance the final product with their brilliance.  I probably won’t get them to more than 2 or 3 rehearsals at the most, but they won’t need it.  By using them I instantly make my show better.

At first I was leaning toward using students.  There is nothing that can prove a concept better than it working with people who aren’t experts at it.  That’s not a slight, it’s just an observation that these actors are students who are learning the craft.  But after thinking about it more, I realized that with all the technology I’m juggling during the show, I can’t worry about a 18 year old actor struggling with their lines.  I need to have some parts of my presentation locked down solid.

So I think I’m taking the low road and getting high level talent.  If the internet goes down, they will be my back-up generators of comedy and entertainment.

The New Year

Posted: January 7, 2011 in Acting, Graduation, Technology

Here’s some of the things I am now focusing on, now that the new year is upon me:

iPad theatre: See if I can get some broadway actors on New York and an hollywood actor to perform via iPad mask skype.  Need to research a good scene.

Rear-screen projection idea:  It’s an old technology, but with projector screens, broadband and CG, it could be amazing.  Some ideas:

  • Have an actor rear screened into a scene.  What about the ghost from Hamlet?
  • Virtual sets.  You can have sets that instantly change to new ones.  Or they can pivot around the room or characters can walk down halls.
  • A show in New York can have a real time Los Angeles sun setting sequence with an actor in the background.

Working on QR codes.  These little boxes can be read by smartphones and have links or info.

Need to get one of my tech friends suckered interested in this project.

Have reached out to SCVNGR for assistance with the game theory part of the show.  They have graciously agreed to upgrade my free account.  Thanks, y’all!