Sunday, February 28, 2010

AND THE WINNER IS...

Rose McCauley is the winner of Cara Putman's book,
DEADLY EXPOSURE!
Rob and Rachel liked a lot of the suggestions
from all of you and had a few suggestions of their own
with respect to some of the ideas.
They would be happy to interact with anyone
who has questions about their character
development. Feel free to comment, ask
questions, or just sound off!
Congrats again to Rose McCauley!
Some suggested reading for
character development.
Story by Robet McKee
A Challenge for the Actor by Uta Hagan
Audition by Michael Shurtleff
An Actor Prepares by Constantin Stanislavski
AND A SPECIAL THANKS TO ROB AND RACHEL!
If you have any questions for our guests, feel free
to go to their theatre company site and leave
a message for Rob or Rachel:
www.uncoveredtheatre.com/

Friday, February 26, 2010

And the Winner is . . .

Well, you'll just have to wait a couple more days.
I'll be seeing the dynamic duo tomorrow
and will let them pick the winner.
SO DON'T GO AWAY !

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Now it's Your Turn/Fiction and Theatre Part III

Now, it's your turn. A few of you have let me know how you make
your characters come alive, but let's have an interactive lesson.
How do you, reader, research your character so that
he or she is a real person, not merely a
character in a book--or on the stage?

Plug your answer in here: show us your genius,
your ability, or make up a bunch of hooey
and impress us anyway!!!

Leave a comment between now and Wednesday and have a chance
to win a signed copy of:
CARA PUTMAN'S book,
DEADLY EXPOSURE!
And without my telling you, I'll bet you can guess this
book includes reference to:
THEATRE! OF COURSE!
So drop by, tell a friend to drop by, and most importantly leave
a comment. I will ask Rob or Rachel to pick their favorite
suggestion (no names will be attached, so they can't cheat!)
And whoever they pick will receive a copy of Cara's book.
Who will win?
THE SUSPENSE IS KILLING ME!

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/

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Fiction and Theatre Part I.



Interview with Rachel Arbaugh
Originally from Michigan, Rachel is finishing her
degree in Theatre at Regent University in Virginia.

As an actor, when you first get a part, how do you prepare for it?

I first read the script over and over. Then I do a play analysis and a character analysis, pretty much filling out a series of questions that makes me reflect on the character’s past and current situation.

You once showed me a journal that you
used to get ready for your part as Jo March.
What was the purpose of the journal?


I actually copy and cut up my script and glue the script to one side, leaving the other side open for notes and pictures. I find pictures online that help get me into the mind of the character for certain situations. When Beth died, I needed an immediate and emotional reaction in rehearsal and sometimes the scenes were rehearsed out of order, making it hard to build emotion. It’s also hard to get to a high emotional level when you are literally reading your scene; this way I could look at an image that would immediately get me there. I also knew that actor wasn’t really dying, so it helped me feel a real emotion. As an actor you still have to live in the moment even though you already know the future. For that scene, I found pictures and artwork of sisters. Some paintings that really spoke to me were of people dying in their beds with someone at their side. I had pictures of babies, of sisters, one was a little girl looking into her sister’s bassinet. To get me where I had to be, I needed to have old memories as part of the current situation, so looking at “her” as a baby, then her as my dying sister really helped.

That’s perfect because as writers, we have
to somehow create a past for our characters in much
the same way. Can you give me an example of another
memory you created for that part?


All the sisters and Laurie would play tag and hide and go seek before and during some rehearsals. That way we could bond as a family. It’s easy to do what’s in the script, but in order to create a relationship that’s fun and playful, you have to do things that actually get you there. (I should say also say that these emotional connections need to be done in a safe way, so you still know that you are you and your character is your character. You always have to be careful not to get “too” connected to your scene partner. You must know where to emotionally stop.)

One of my readers mentioned setting an object next to
her computer to make her think of her character.
Have you ever done that?


When I was in, As It Is In Heaven, a show about the Shakers by Arlene Hutton, the little girl my character was raising got taken away by her dad. Throughout the whole show, my character was sewing a ragdoll, and it’s something my character always had with her. And the audience didn’t know what it was for, but it was a connection I was able to make with the little girl. My character gave it to the little girl when her dad took her away. It was an emotional connection that was tangible; I could actually hold it and look at it. For me it was a representation of the little girl, allowing me to build emotion throughout the show. I endowed that object with emotion, so that anytime I looked at it, I would remember “my” little girl and have an emotional response.

In writing, there are a few main themes that are
repeated over and over, much like re-cycled characters.
We try and make the characters fresh in each novel.
How so with a character on stage?


It’s always different with everyone. You will always bring something different because you are you and no one else can bring that to the character. You will always have your past and your world view. Everything that makes you—you, will be in your character. And that’s something no one else could ever play the same. You also have a script in which the author has givens for you. These are things that make that character a unique person. So between the author and the actor, a lot of thought is put into that character. And like I said, you put yourself into it.

From an actor’s point of view, what would you ask of
a playwright to help in your role? Help your character
have a multi-dimensional character?


Please don’t stereotype your characters! No one is just good or just bad. And don’t judge your character, because we, as actors, are told never to judge our characters. We play them in the moment and don’t judge their actions. You wouldn’t want to say, “That’s not something I would do, so it’s bad.” If you do that, you’ll have labeled that character instead of making her a real person. Please give us conflict, decisions should never be easy. So I’d say, “Nothing is black and white, nobody is or all good or all bad, and people do things for a reason”.

To finish, if you had a chance to play a character. What kind would you pick?

I want a chance to play a character with depth. But, of course, it’s up to the actor to make whatever part they get, the best they can be. Again, I wouldn’t want to judge a character before I even started.

How does your faith affect the way you view a
character or your decision to take on a part?


It has everything to do with it. Not in what I choose per se’, but how I go about it. You always have to ask yourself, “What is the story that needs be told and how can I do justice to it?” If there is a message that needs to be told, or a story that I believe needs to be relayed, I am a servant to that message, whether I initially “like” that part or not. You play the part that you have to because you believe that God will ultimately use you. If you have faith in God you must have faith in all aspects of servitude. It’s not ever about us, and that’s what we have to remember. When people refuse to do something or play a certain role, it’s mostly about themselves, they are selfishly saying that they don’t want people to judge them. (Though I’ll say, it’s not always the case, it’s just often the case.)