Ideas & Inspiration

Offbeat Directing 8: The Comfort Zone

[caption id="attachment_1288" align="aligncenter" width="800"]Get a good game going to loosen up the the 'comfort barriers' Get a good game going to loosen up the the 'comfort barriers'[/caption] Also in this series: Offbeat Directing 1: The Vision Quest Offbeat Directing 2: Understanding the Script Offbeat Directing 3: Dreaming and Planning Offbeat Directing 4: What Does the Director Do? Offbeat Directing 5: Trial by Audition Offbeat Directing 6: The First Awkward Read Through Offbeat Directing 7a: Who Does What? Offbeat Directing 7b: Early Rehearsals and Cunning Plans Offbeat Directing 7c: Your Design Team Offbeat Directing 7d: Infrastructure! Ah .. the comfort zone. The place where most actors will stay unless pressed to break out. It's that safe place where you walk in a way that feels ok, talk in your own voice or one you're familiar with, interact with other actors in a non-threatening manner. It's a safe, comfortable place to be. But it isn't ever enough. Whenever you start to feel slightly embarrassed, uncomfortable, vulnerable or just plain scared, that's when you're breaking the comfort barrier. And this is good! Analogy: Your body is remarkable. Your brain has a memory of every muscle you possess and knows exactly how far that muscle can stretch. When it reaches the stretch barrier your brain says 'no, that's quite enough stretching, thank you, this is where I'm staying.' Pretty clever, keeps you safe. It bases this limitation on factors like how much you use the muscle and physical and emotional truama that have affected the area. You have a 'range' of movement that becomes normal for you. If you want to go beyond it, you'll have to practise and reset the brain/muscle controlled barrier. So when you decide to take up yoga (for example) or any other stretching exercise, you have to repeatedly work on stretching your 'normal' range of movement until it is gradually increased. If you only do this once a week your progress will be very slow. The more you practise, the more you change. Now think of theatre. (more…)

By Barbara, ago
Ideas & Inspiration

The Noble Art of Observation and the Power of Silence

[caption id="attachment_926" align="aligncenter" width="800"]Director sitting nicely, brain engaged and keeping quiet (for now) Director sitting nicely, brain engaged and keeping quiet (for now)[/caption] Listening and watching (in a positive way) are very underrated. In a previous 'life' I was a therapist (remedial massage mostly) and I spent many years teaching others how to assess the varying conditions of their clients. Listen, watch and, in the case of a physical therapy, get your hands on (but even then you are listening with your hands). In theatre, observation is everything - but not just in theatre. The same applies if you just want to help a friend. Watch .. listen. Where are they? (more…)

By Barbara, ago
Ideas & Inspiration

Elegant Scene Changes – Using a Revolve

[caption id="attachment_510" align="alignleft" width="800"]IMG_1819 The set for Beauty & the Beast used 3 revolves![/caption] Confession: I HATE scene changes. That moment when everything comes to a standstill, the magic disappears, the lights go dim and people in black clothes start whoosing around the stage moving bits of the set on and off. I hate it even more if the tabs (curtains) are closed to disguise the event, cutting the audience out altogther (as if we don't know what's going on). Then, after the scene change break, it starts up again and we try to pick up the thread. I will do almost anything to avoid that scenario - I will not have scene changes if I'm directing. I will not have people in black infiltrating the production.... (more…)

By Barbara, ago
Ideas & Inspiration

Art and Inspiration ..

[caption id="attachment_455" align="alignleft" width="350"]Art Installation at Croft Castle by Rebecca Farkas Rather cool Art Installation at Croft Castle by Rebecca Farkas[/caption] Inspiration is a funny thing. It arrives without warning, disappears without trace when you think you're on a roll and just occasionally it really surprises you by jumping out of a dark corner and shouting 'here I am come and get me' before running off into a cupboard and locking the door. At least .. I think that's inspiration. Equally it may also apply to many other things, including bottles of expensive champagne. However, one Tuesday afternoon we threw caution and computers to one side and wandered off to have a bit of a jolly at Croft Castle in Herefordshire (very close to where we live in fact). We were reliably informed that there was a contemporary art exhibition created by various artists-in-residence at the castle over the past year, so we went to be amazed and inspired by a combination of old (castle), history (all the things in it, around it and of it) and art. If inspiration is a funny thing then art is completely hysterical. It seems that anything passes for 'art' and it's all up to the individual to connect with it and be amazed, inspired, amused, impressed - or however it takes you. If you find yourself staring blankly at something that just bypasses all your available processes for comprehension and appreciation, then just move on. No doubt to someone else it will be wonderful. We did a fair bit of moving on to be honest. I think I like the idea that whatever I'm engaging with will transport me to another place and allow me, just for a moment, to get a glimpse of something I've never seen before. Theatre, of course, can be brilliant at that because it works with so many senses at once. [caption id="attachment_471" align="alignleft" width="224"]Rebecca Farkas again .. in the slate store Now we're finding keys .. this is good[/caption] In the graveyard next to the Castle Chapel they had made metal frames to represent gravestones that weren't there anymore. I stared blankly wondering why they had chosen to mark out old graves in that way. (more…)

By Barbara, ago
Ideas & Inspiration

What Inspiration?

[caption id="attachment_308" align="alignnone" width="500"]Brian de Bergerac  provides inspiration for Henry's story in 'Nuts' Brian de Bergerac provides inspiration for Henry's story in 'Nuts'[/caption] I just sat down at my computer, I looked at the blog wondering what I might write tonight and casually clicked on the category 'inspiration' (next to 'soapbox'). It seemed like the right thing to do. The page I landed on announced 'page or resource not found', which amused me a great deal (I considered leaving it like that forever). So true ..... Then I started typing and a bit further down the page than I am now I did something inexplicable with the shift key and another unknown key in a fateful combination which produced a strange result. I won't go into detail, it was far to traumatic, but happily it resolved itself by deleting everything I had written. Damn you shift key! One minute inspiration appears to emerge from its hiding place and the next it's been 'shifted' elsewhere. I'm now saving the draft every other word ... I don't trust the shift key (shifty jokes are tugging away here, but I'm resisting them bravely - you should thank me for that). (more…)

By Barbara, ago
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