Saturday, February 13, 2010

Fiction and Theatre Part II


Rob Arbaugh
Rob Arbaugh is originally from Michigan.
He is an actor, director, teacher, fight choreographer
and designer. Rob is finishing his MFA in Acting
degree at Regent University this May. He and other graduates
have already started a theatre company that
will be moving to Chicago next fall.


Rob, you once told me how a director has to look at the stage and “see” a picture. As writers, we have to help the reader “see” the picture in his/her mind’s eye. How do you do it on stage?

First, as I’m directing, I’ll see in my head what I think
a scene should look like. The whole play picture,
they become stills, each individual picture and then
I let that go and let the actor do whatever. Meld my
overall picture with their individual pictures to see
what I have to get. But then you have to let the actors
flow to be able to create themselves.
As a director, I let the world of the actor play into the story.

That’s interesting because as writers,
our characters often
take off, so to speak, and turn
into personalities we never expected.

It’s the same with an actor’s character, seeing what the actor will
bring to the table. It’s a collaborative process.

Sort of like the writer and character working together to create a “real” person. Our characters often seem to have minds of their own, like your actors.

After this first step, I watch everything I’m creating
and make sure every moment and every thing
is grounded in reality. In other words,
don’t create a picture just for the sake of the picture on the stage.

It’s easy for a writer to get caught up in that and
put in an action just for the sake of the character
doing something during dialogue.
When a crit partner tells us, we need some
action here, it’s easy to want to
just fill in. And sometimes that doesn’t
move the story along at all.

Well, I had a professor once say, if you start with the phrase,
“Wouldn’t it be cool to…” then it’s probably not too
brilliant an idea because you’re doing something
just to be cool. “Oh, I’ve always wanted to do this.”
Whether it fits or not.

So there has to be a reason for every action/reaction
on stage just like in a book?

Yes.

Why did you choose the expression “a picture”?

Because a picture is used to reflect life back to people.
So they can see life in a mirror. And take the message
to instill it in their own lives. The picture grounds them
in reality. A springboard for self-reflection.

I guess that’s similar to readers seeing themselves
on the pages of the book. We can have reality
reflected back or the suspension of reality
for a while, but still,we want to see ourselves
in the characters. Okay, I realize scripts aren’t
filled with description,but what piece of advice
would you offer from the director’s point
of view to help us make our readers
see what we want them to see?

I think from the directing side of things that you have
to present real people, not characters.
“Characters” are a misconception in theatre or any
aspect of the arts. One of the biggest mistakes is that
you play a mood or character stereotype.
When you do, what you have becomes a
two-dimensional object instead of being real.
As a director and actor, you have to become a child
of psychology, a student of human nature.
I can imagine that would help the writer as well.
As a director, my job is to
bring a script from page to stage.
I have actors to help me. For the writer, it should
be the same thing. When I read a character in a book
going through situations, I tend to cast the roles in my head.

How does your faith impact what you do?

I am faith-filled so everything I do is Christian.
But truthfully it all comes down to speaking truth.
God is truth, and whether the truth comes
from a believer or a non-believer, truth still comes from God.
Sometimes in the strangest places.

Rob, thanks so much for taking time from your schedule.
I know finishing this year has you really multi-tasking
to complete your degree. Do you mind if I
shamelessly let you promote
your site for Uncovered Theatre Company?

Not at all. Just want to say as artists, our whole goal in
our company is to create art that helps people
self examine. I can send that same charge
to writers; stories shouldn’t be in vain, just like
shows on the stage.
Be passionate about what you’re writing.
Visit us at: http://www.uncoveredtheatre.com/

15 comments:

  1. I love how he believes theatre and writing shouldn't be just entertaining, but revealing something we're passionate about. Such great advice!

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  2. Glad you enjoyed it Eileen. He is very passionate in his beliefs. I especially liked when he said, I am faith-filled, so every I do is Christian. Says a lot about the messages he puts out there, whether they are secular or inspirational. When we're coming from the right direction, the right message still gets through.

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  3. Nicely done! This is a great topic. Very enjoyable!

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  4. This is excellent, Linda. You're so right; you and I were thinking along the same lines. I hope you don't mind if I link my blog entry to yours. Thanks!

    Because of Christ,
    Sharon

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  5. Great minds, huh? Glad you stopped by, this is topic that really intrigues me.

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  6. Thanks for the great interview, Linda.

    I'm passing along a Sunshine Award to you today. Stop by my blog to pick it up!

    therehastobeabeginning.blogspot.com

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  7. Wow, that's awesome!
    There were so many great tidbits in this interview. I know I'm guilty of sticking in an action just to have something there. I need to work on that.
    Fascinating stuff, Linda! Thanks. :-)

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  8. Don't feel bad, I am too. I have a habit of, "Oh, that would be good" without thinking too much about whether or not my character would even do something like that. Yeah, this was a great lesson.

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  9. Again, thank you for an insightful interview. Makes me think about what kind of action my character is doing and if it is needed!

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  10. Oops. That bit about putting an action with dialogue because our crit partners (or, in my case, members of my writers' group) say it needs it? Guilty. At least it gives me something to work on.

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  11. Me too. Welcome aboard, I'll be visiting today. See you there!

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  12. Love the "wouldn't it be cool too..." advice. That is so true. Sometimes I have to remember to only keep in what moves the story along. Loved the interview. Great Job!

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  13. Loved the interview. I really like his take on characters and action and how we need to watch so the character isn't two dimensional.

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  14. A great blog to help with delving into your - and your character psyche is:
    http://charactertherapist.blogspot.com/
    Eye-opening....
    Lisa

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  15. Thanks, Lisa, this looks like a great site.

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