Saturday, July 26, 2008

Liam Neeson in Beckett's "Eh Joe"

Check out this article about Liam Neeson's perfomance in "Eh Joe", currently playing at Lincoln Center in NYC. Be sure to click on the link to the multi-media slide show....

Click here to read article.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Audition Technique

Many actors are confused about whether or not they should memorize their lines for their TV and Film auditions. One camp says to always be "off book" and another says to barely look at the material so that it stays "fresh". I believe that each audition is different. Sometimes I memorize the text completely, sometimes just sections. Sometimes at a reading I am asked to stay and read for another role so if I am married to the idea of always memorizing I am in big trouble.

I have had a lot of writers, producers, directors and casting people come out and speak to my class about auditioning and they all agree that they don't care at all if an actor has the lines memorized. In fact the writers, who are usually the executive producers on the shows we audition for, always prefer that actors use the script--they want to hear their lines read correctly! What all care deeply about is that the actor bring life to the role. The actor should be as memorized as necessary to accomplish this.

Here is a video I found on YouTube of Hugh Laurie auditioning for House MD. I think it is a great example of an actor using the script while still bringing a full realization of the character.

Click here to see the video.

Note when Mr. Laurie apologizes for his appearance at the beginning of the clip, saying that "things haven't been going well lately". I may be completely wrong here, but I suspect his choice of appearance was quite deliberate. Perfect for the role.

Monday, July 14, 2008

NYC Tango Dancers

One last NYC moment: I was in a clothing shop on 40th street killing time before heading out to see "In The Heights" when a flash of red caught my eye through a window into an adjacent building. I looked closer and saw what appeared to be some kind of kid's ballroom dancing competition. I grabbed a bit of video footage. Enjoy.

Click here to view clip

In The Heights

My last night in NYC I saw the Tony Award winning musical In The Heights. A joyous ending to a fabulous trip.

This play oozed with the guileless enthusiasm of its creator Lin-Manuel Miranda. You could feel the energy walking into the theater. The audience broke out in cheers several times throughout the performance. An invigorating, splendid night of theater!

Click here to see Lin-Manuel Miranda's acceptance speech/rap when he received the Tony for best score. His genuine gratitude and humility is palpable. Inspiring.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

New York City

 I am  in the final day of my NYC vacation. I came here to get inspired and this city never fails me. So far I have seen November by David Mamet, August: Osage County by Tracy Letts and The 39 Steps.  

Each play inspired me in it's own way: November was wonderfully well-executed. Nathan Lane dropped his "Broadway Baby" schtick and delivered an hilarious and smart performance. Laurie Metcalf is a force of nature when she does comedy. She always does some kind of  wacked-out utterly surprising physical movement that astounds me. The 39 Steps was fun and it was pure pleasure to witness the virtuosity of the actors. I love movement-based theatre and the original choreographer of this play was trained in the LeCoq method, something I have always been deeply interested in. But the real stand-out for me was August: Osage County. This play is should be up there with Death of a Salesman  and The Crucible. It is truly an American masterpiece. I can't stop thinking about it. The writing and the performances were sublime. Particularly Amy Morton. She was magnificent. I have no idea why she wasn't nominated for a Tony. She is an amazing actor.  But really everyone was fantastic. I wept at the end, not just because of the subject, but because of being reminded of what a moving experience live theatre can be. Those actors and that particular audience, of which I was a part, shared a few hours together in an intimate and focused way that will never be repeated. That is part of what I love so much about live theatre. It is a living thing. The show is a little different each performance: the audience changes, laughing in a new place, or not laughing at all. The actors change--they are a day or a week or a month older, an actor has had a fight with their spouse hours before the show, or has a cold. Live performance is ephemeral. And when the performance is over there is no record. It burns to ash.

A couple of great NY moments: 

1. On the subway on Monday heading uptown, I glance to my left and see that one of the actors from August is sitting right next to me. Frank Wood. He played Bill Fordham. A wild coincidence since I had seen the show only  the day before.  I struck up a conversation--told him how much I loved the play. Incredibly nice guy and a great actor.

2. At the Met with my good friend Michael Lally. We were walking in a crowd and I was goofing with him and said in a funny voice "Get off my back."  A guy to my right says "You don't want to hang out with me then!" I turned to see a young attractive blind guy smiling at me, one hand grasping a cane and the other on his friends back as he was being guided through the crowd.  We cracked up.