How to Draw Conclusions

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Hello loyal readers!

Today, I haven’t got anything to complain about (besides scheduling, which is my constant nemesis).  So instead, I am going to show you how to draw conclusions!

Part 1. Know Your Enemy


When we want to draw something, we generally want to draw it well, so that people will know what it is.

ImageCase in point: Jackson Pollock paints the number 28.  Look at that. Perfect 28. Perfect.

So now, we want to look at a conclusion.  What do your conclusions look like?  Take a good look around to find some conclusions near you.  Don’t worry, people know what conclusions look like; you’re a person, you’ll find a conclusion soon enough.

Step 2. Finding Conclusions

Surprisingly enough, conclusions are tough creatures to come by.  I find that they like to be hidden, and often nest in places where one has to extend their arm and stretch out their hand just to access the conclusion.  Should call them reclusions, for that kind of behavior.

All that said, I believe it was Jeff Corwin who once said that all conclusions must be reached.  And he’s a professional animal interviewer, so he would know.

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Its a rugged lifestyle. 

 

Once you’ve reached your conclusions, you’re ready to draw them.  Make sure they stay still, some folks have a hard time with shifty conclusions.

Part 3. Wrapping it Up

Sometimes it helps to wrap up with a conclusion.  I prefer to wrap mine with aluminum foil and then slowly roast them to give them a glazed, semi-cooked texture.  Just ask my friends, they’ll tell you stories of my half-baked conclusions.  

Now you might say, “But Keegan, how are we going a draw a conclusion when its wrapped up in tin?’

to which I answer, ‘foiled, again!’

But seriously, drawing conclusions is much easier once you’ve wrapped them up.  Goodness knows, conclusions put up a good fight, and it’s best to wrap up an argument before drawing your conclusions.

Besides, it’s very hard to draw a conclusion without first having an argument: you’ve got to get your conclusions tired out before they’re ready to be foiled.   I know a lot of people who have already drawn a lot of their own conclusions, and most of those conclusions are very tired.

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unrelated image

 

Part 4.  Where I Draw a Conclusion

Okay, once your conclusions are settled and still, you are definitely ready to draw them.  Make sure you have your #2 pencil, a good heavy piece of drawing paper (or I mean, whatever’s nearby), and your game face.

Now, I recommend that you start with the face…. no, maybe the arms?  Hrmmm….  Alright, I’m trying to get one of these going right now, and even with everything in place, it’s proving kind of difficult.  Just uh… ahem. Hrm. Well.  I guess, ah, overall, I mean, just kinda… I don’t know, put pencil to paper and see what happens.  

There ya go, a definite conclusion.  Kinda sketchy, but hey.  That’s art for ya, right?

Sparkling Reviews for Bones at W+M

art, Theatrical Process

Ellis and Myers as Ruben and Reg, respectively.

Granted, by now this is old news, but it feels good to have wrapped up what felt like a fantastic show!

Anyway, Bones received two very positive reviews from our local student papers.  They can be found at the Dog Street Journal’s website and at that of the Flat Hat.  Many thanks to  Carrie Crow and Ian Goodrum, respectively.

Ellis as Ruben and Murla as Benny in Peter Straughan's Bones

In addition, I wrote an Honors Thesis that tied to the show, and, 100 odd pages and a defense later, my Thesis has been submitted with Honors!  So, I feel pretty good about the process all in all.

I have to say that one of the coolest parts of doing this show was being facebook friended by a young lady who will be performing as Beck in Great Britain.  That is cross-continental communication occuring there!  It just, blows the mind.

Powell as Beck and White as Moon in Peter Straughan's Bones

The final kicker for all of this hard work was the seven BOHICA awards that this show garnered.  BOHICAs are the W&M Theatre version of the Academy Awards, where our peers vote for our accolades.  Bones won, all in the Second Season category: Best Lead Actor, Best Lead Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Ensemble, Best Lighting Design, Best Director, and Best Show.

That said, some thanks are in order.  The cast of this show was comprised of persons who were not only excellent actors, but who were great people with whom I would definitely work again at the drop of a hat.  Their talent and dedication made me look good, while I pretty much got to sit back and enjoy great theatre in the making day after day.  Furthermore, I have to thank my no less dedicated crew, whose long hours, gung-ho attitudes, and incredible expertise helped me make a visually awesome show.

Thank you all for helping me put on such a phenomenal senior directorial!

For those of you who were unable to see the show, check out this awesome video by Silk and Silver Productions!

Commedia Dell’Awesome

Plans, Theatrical Process

So, we just did some commedia dell’ arte research in class today, and I’m on another inspiration trip.  As in, I think I can use some of this for Gondoliers. For those not in the know, I’m going to be directing Sinfonicron Light Opera‘s show this winter, and I’m really looking forward to finding exciting ways of connecting with my cast.  Commedia seems like an excellent model for a lot of character work.

Let’s look at the archetypes and the cast:

Archetypes:

  • Pantalone – an old man with money whose use of Arlecchino gets him into trouble. often fondles his bag of coins, and often beats his servants with a slapstick.
  • Dottore – the old man’s best friend/ rival who is known for long speeches with comical effect.
  • Capitano – a braggart with a huge upward tilting nose and a retracted pelvis, brags about wooing and winning fights, then runs from direct conflict.
  • Zanni – the chorus, a bird like group of servants, driven by baser needs
  • Arlecchino –  a monkey like servant known for his gluttony, given tasks by pantalone which he messes up, leading to the misadventures of commedia.
  • Colombina – arlecchino’s fellow servant who gets him out of tangles – the more sensible servant.
  • Brighella – something like the merchant dealer at the docks, a more dangerous character.
  • Tartaglia – a turtle like stuttering character.
  • Pulcinello – also a more dangerous character, this is the hunchback, who is either smart-playing-stupid or stupid-playing smart.
  • The Enamorati– lovers who are ridiculous for being so into true love (whereas all other characters are humorously driven by their baser needs).

The Gondoliers cast:

  • The Duke of Plaza-Toro
  • Luiz, his attendant
  • Don Alhambra Del Bolero, The Grand Inquisitor
  • The Duchess of Plaza-Toro
  • Casilda, daughter of the Duke & Duchess
  • Marco and Guiseppe
  • Tessa and Gianetta
  • Antonio, Francesco, Giorgio, Annibale
  • Fiametta, Vittoria, Giulia
  • Inez

How do these fit together?

  1. The Duke of Plaza-Toro => Capitano/pulcinello: he is a braggart in the first act, but when he returns, he is a clever conniving friend.
  2. Luiz, his attendant => enamorati/ servant, a lover but also a servant (royal by birth)  mostly he plays into the idea of the lover.
  3. Don Alhambra Del Bolero, The Grand Inquisitor =>Dottore: he has many grand speeches and uses much high faluting language which is often as innaccurate as it is ridiculous.
  4. The Duchess of Plaza-Toro => Brighella: Throughout, she is a conniving character capable of swindle and corruption, and that makes her funny.
  5. Casilda, daughter of the Duke & Duchess => enamorati: she is pretty much also a lover character.
  6. Marco and Guiseppe => zanni (arlecchino?)/enamorati: being lower class and more comic, this duo tries to run a kingdom by doing everyone’s servant duties for them… however, they do so with the best of intentions.
  7. Tessa and Gianetta=> zanni (colombina?)/enamorati: the wives and friends to Marco and Guiseppe, these rather take-charge ladies prove to be the sort of problem sovlers that colombina might embody.
  8. Antonio, Francesco, Giorgio, Annibale => zanni (can be given various characters by type): the gondolieri chorus is pretty much a batch of zanni.
  9. Fiametta, Vittoria, Giulia => zanni (also, characters by type): the contadine chorus likewise is a batch of zanni.
  10. Inez => colombina/ pantalone?  she really does unravel the riddle of the play, but it is also possible that alhambra is her arlecchino, and she in and of herself is pantalone – the foster mother of the king would probably be fairly well off.  probably much more colombina.

Beyond Analysis

My plan with all this is to use these archetypes to help my actors work from the outside in, getting their physical conveyance out and accentuating the comedy of Gondoliers using a traditionally Italian method.  I want my actors to be able to embody their characters and play that comedy, even if it is on a much more subtle level than masked, traditional commedia.

Direction Ideas

Theatre Business

I have two big direction shows coming up in the next few months.

As I look ahead to them, I have a thousand thoughts spinning in my head.  Mostly, I want my actors to get the most out of the experience.  I know my first show will deal a lot more with product (I have 2.5 weeks of rehearsal for it) than with process.  My goals for that show are to have a lot of character work meetings with my actors before the ‘rehearsal’ period starts.

The second show will leave me a month and a week of overall rehearsal time, which is nice, because I want intense but fun rehearsals that, above all, help my actors grow.

I remember the first Second Season I did at the College made me very vulnerable in the process, I had to work like hell to find my character.  But I kept going, and I kept working through technique and character and old habits and reworking over and over.  And time and again, I had these revelations about the character.  And the experience was wonderful.

I want to give that to my actors.  What I think will do it more than anything else is structure.  Art is freeform, it is chaotic and divine and organic.  But it acts as a reaction to structure.  Deadlines, time constraints, and limitations create artisitc impulses and creativity.  Necessity is, after all, the mother of invention.

So, here’s my rehearsal structure for my later show:

Warm Ups: These will always vary day to day depending on problems from the day before, and will bring in a number of excercises to help develop character, technique, and relationships onstage.

Blocking: Give the actors end points, let them go, and fix as time goes on.  Tweak issues and go largely off of character based impulses.  This part will greatly focus on actor technique.

Character: Round tables that will focus on the text: what it says,  what it implies, what could make it say more.  Also, character backstories and histories, using dramaturgical notes for each character to help actors discover more to build on.  Also, excercises that devalue the text in favor of character improv and the character mindset.  This part will focus more on mental and emotional aspects of build.

Vocal Fixes: These will include text based scene and character work, where actors will be asked to bring in focus words, ladders, work on patterns of physical technique layered onto vocal technique with text.

The Three Rehearsal Rule: Scene by Scene: First rehearsal block.  Second Rehearsal Fix (semi off book).  Third Rehearsal Run (Off Book).  This should help actors get off book faster.

Body Fixes: These will be part of warm ups and character work.  What ticks are the actor?  What gestures are the character?  What are the character’s ticks?  Lead points? Relations?  Emotions? Triggers?  Where does the character’s power come from?  Where does the actor’s power come from?  Helping actors differentiate themselves from the character so they can make choices rather than fall into comfortable habits.

For the first show, many of these character elements will be worked on before the rehearsal process so that actors can review themselves before they get into the rather intense rehearsal process.

The first show will also be much more pre-blocked than the second show, of necessity, so character work will have to come before it so that the blocking can flow from work with the actors rather than be imposed on them.

These are just initial acting ideas.  As I work on my thesis for my second show, I’ll have more direction excercises to help the actors build scenes and characters.  I’m really looking forward to directing again. I really like seeing a scene build up from the ground and evolve in ways that are unexpected but still fit in with my overall concept.

What will be excellent in both cases is that the shows will both be comedies.  That means that each show will, of necessity, give off a good vibe.  Of course, comedy, like tragedy, needs a limit.  I’ll need to pick and choose comic and straight bits in each show in order to avoid sloppiness, but I think that will be part of the process with the actors (although doing my homework ahead of time couldn’t hurt)