All the World's a Stage Message Board

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All the World's a Stage Message Board

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1sycoraxpine Primeira Mensagem
Jul 26, 2006, 2:41pm

Isn't it strange that at the moment our "Most commonly shared books" list contain only one drama, Travesties. :)

A couple of weeks ago I saw Stoppard's new play, Rock 'N' Roll. While not among his best, it had an astonishing central performance by Rufus Sewell (who, conincidentally, was the original Septimus in Arcadia)...

2annabethblue
Jul 27, 2006, 3:58pm

I've recently been introduced to Urinetown: The Musical. Wonderfully funny and interesting!

3sycoraxpine
Jul 31, 2006, 8:38am

I am interested to hear what the nature of everyone's interest in drama is. Are you spectators? Readers? Actors? Designers? Directors? Producers? Playwrights? Several of the above? None?

Also, do you prefer reading plays or watching them?

How do you think that reading a play differs from other reading experiences?

What is your favorite play or playwright? What is your favorite that you have discovered (either seen or read) this year?

4annabethblue
Jul 31, 2006, 6:25pm

Well, I certainly am a reader. :) I'm also an avid spectator...especially when I'm in a new town/country...got check out the culture! I am an actor, but I only do it occassionally. I do enjoy it a lot. I've actually been in more productions as a musician - whether on stage (fiddler on the roof and a few murder mysteries (killer violinists!)) or in the pit orchestra.

It depends on the play, I think...and the production. I enjoy reading Shakespeare...but watching it can be brutal, if the production isn't well done.

I think sometimes, seeing a play can feel a little more constrained - whereas, while reading, my imagination can take me to huge open spaces and places! :) But, the live performance is really exhilarating too.

I don't know if I have a favorite...I'll have to think about that. :)

Although, sometimes, dinner theater (I've done many murder mystery dinner theater shows) is really fun. Everyone is involved...the audience really gets into the stories.

But, I wonder...why do they always cast me as the murderer??? hmmm....

5grunin
Jul 31, 2006, 6:58pm

I was intensively involved in theatre for about a decade (writing & performing), so I've got lots of plays on hand. When I see something new I almost always pick up the script afterwards.

This is the opposite of seeing a movie, where I always try to read the book before.

Currently looking forward to seeing Mother Courage in Central Park. I've never seen it before.

6sycoraxpine
Ago 1, 2006, 8:55pm

Isn't that a strange thing, grunin? My grandparents are insistent on reading any play (or at least something about the play) before they go to see it, but I would always prefer to be surprised. On the other hand, I try heartily to avoid (like you) seeing a film if there is even a possibility that it might "ruin" the book... even if I have already read the book and don't want my vision of the fictional world spoiled.

On the other hand, this might partially be accounted for by the fact that fewer plays than films are adaptations of novels, and it is the rare person who insists on reading the screenplay before going to see a film.

7dtostilane Primeira Mensagem
Ago 1, 2006, 11:46pm

Hi - and thanks for the invitation to join.
I'm a Sound and Lighting Designer, and also a Technical Director. My grad degree just says Technical Director/Lighting Designer - because there really weren't any Sound Design degree programs back then, (ahem, never mind when ) but Sound has been my main focus (no pun intended) for many years. For the last 24 years I have been teaching at Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, where I am the Chair of the Performance Production department. My students (undergraduate only) earn BFA degrees in Lighting, Sound, Scenic, or Costume design, Technical Direction, or Stage Management.

I enjoy both reading and watching/participating - though as a designer, when I read I tend to try to read as if the play were being performed so that I can get a sense of the rythmic structure. My favorite moment in the process is often the first read-through when I get to hear the actors voices for the first time, though I dearly love the moment in the tech rehearsal process when we turn the corner from making it work to feeling it working. That and the moment when you sense how the first preview audience is connecting to the production.

Hmm, I think I partially answered the third question as part of the answer to the second - I read much fiction as escape, allowing it to flow around me as the story develops and letting myself drift into the world of the story to some extent. With a play, I'm about to work on, I have a pattern of approach I try to follow. First, as a technical director or a designer, one needs to avoid the trap of seeing the detail first - so for a first reading I make a point to have no paper or pencil handy, and in the best of all possible situations, to be someplace where I can read aloud to myself (without worrying about being committed to an institution ). I want that first experience to include human pace, and I do think about what the characters are doing physically - though I try very hard to avoid most of the stage directions. My preference is to put the play away for a day or two after this, and let it percolate in the background. Then usually I do another similar reading, with more attention to stage directions. Then a third with paper and pencil thinking about specifics related to the area I'm designing. Then it's time to chat with my colleagues on the production and compare thoughts, particularly of course, the director.

If it's a play I'm not immediately working on - I still try to do the reading at a performing pace whenever I have time, and I still try to avoid too heavy a focus on stage directions.

Favorite play or playwright - well, Tom Stoppard of course, Arthur Miller, Naomi Iizuka, Athol Fugard - gee - I guess that it is really a moving target - maybe whatever I'm working on at the moment. Favorites that I've discovered by reading this year would include Naomi Iizuka's "36 Views", Stoppard's "The God of Hell", and most recently Miller's "Resurrection Blues".

Well - I do ramble on, don't I!

Dave

8ScribblyPrimate Primeira Mensagem
Ago 3, 2006, 4:04pm

It's so nice to see people who don't get a blank look when you mention Stoppard.

Hi! I'm a playwright.

9lilithcat
Ago 3, 2006, 5:19pm

I am interested to hear what the nature of everyone's interest in drama is. Are you spectators? Readers? Actors? Designers? Directors? Producers? Playwrights? Several of the above? None?

I'm a spectator. I've been playgoing since I was a kid, and have never stopped! There are those who would say I am an actor as well, since I'm a trial lawyer! The courtroom is often compared with the stage, and with good reason, I think.

Also, do you prefer reading plays or watching them?

Watching them! That's how they are meant to be enjoyed. Though if I can't, I'll read them.

How do you think that reading a play differs from other reading experiences?

When I read a play, I always find myself wanting to read it aloud, something that's rare (though it does happen) with other books.

What is your favorite play or playwright? What is your favorite that you have discovered (either seen or read) this year?

Well, aside from Shakespeare and the other "classics" - Regina Taylor and Mary Zimmerman. I've just been looking over my journal, and I can't say that I've discovered any new favorites. But I loved Zimmerman's recent production of Pericles as well as a very minimalist production of Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie.

10Eloise Primeira Mensagem
Ago 7, 2006, 1:01pm

Hi , thanks for the invite to join the group. I did a Theatre Studies degree in the early nineties and enjoy occasional trips to the theatre but mainly prefer reading plays now - perhaps due to too many painful productions as a student when it seemed as though the performance was never going to end!

My favourite playwrights are firmly in the past - I have an obsession for the Restoration period and love playwrights like William Wycherley and Aphra Behn. One of the things that drew me to the Restoration period was the number of incredibly talented women writing for the theatre like Behn.

I've been quite shocked when cataloguing my books here to see just how many books on theatre and play texts I have but it's encouraging me to reread some forgotten favourites like Georg Buchner.

I don't find reading a play a greatly different experience from reading novels, but that's probably because I dramatise novels as I read them (and usually cast them too!)

11MissLizzy Primeira Mensagem
Ago 7, 2006, 1:28pm

Do I have to pick just one? :) Well, I guess first and foremost, I am an actor--have wanted to be one since the age of 14. But I am also a spectator and a reader, because I love to see others perform (okay, and critique them...), and I'm a huge bookworm, wanting to know what all's out there. I have to work on designs as well as build sets as part of my major, and directing is fun, but really tough. As for playwriting...well, let's just say that's not my forte.

I honestly think it differs from person to person. When a play is performed, it's pretty much up to the director as to what makes it into the show, and what gets cut. When you read the actual script, you get to see the exact staging and wording that the playwright wanted. But of course it's always a bit easier to see a play than visualize it.

The biggest difference between reading a play and reading a novel or a book is the stage directions. Every move of the characters is written down in italics, which somewhat limits the reader in their own "staging" of the scenes. With a book, each reader can imagine the characters doing totally different things; with a script, if one chooses to read the blocking, he/she is more limited in his/her imagining the scene.

Hm...although his works are a bit dense, I really enjoy Bertolt Brecht. I was recently in a production of Galileo, and I loved his use of the wandering minstrel characters as a sort of modern comentary on what's going on in the play. But above all, my favorite play is The Miracle Worker by Gibson--it shows that even the people that are placed in the darkest rooms by fortune and fate, can be led into the light by a person who loves them and knows that they are worth saving. -MissLizzy

12morydd
Ago 7, 2006, 1:54pm

I'm a theater technician. That's how I pay my rent and buy my books. :)

That said... I actually dislike musicals, and hate reading scripts. If a script is good, it needs to be performed to be appreciated. If a script isn't good, well... it just isn't good.

I love watching plays though. (As well as dance and opera)

13sycoraxpine
Ago 7, 2006, 2:02pm

I too love Wycherley and Behn, Eloise! I was once in a DISASTROUS production of The Country Wife, but I have to say that my favorites for the two playwrights are the little known (but recently performed by the RSC) Love in a Wood and The Rover.

14WhimsyWinx
Editado: Ago 10, 2006, 9:30am

Great group!

I used to be involved with Tech Theatre in high school and my local theatre. I really enjoyed the whole process of making something from nothing. I currently enjoy going to the theatre for that reason alone, to see the set, and the costumes.
My 14yo daughter just started her freshman year at a local performing arts high school majoring in musical theatre. So I am spending a lot of time pulling monologues, helping with accents, and speech patterns, movement, and singing. So after a long hiatus from theatre I find myself knee deep again.
My first recollection of theatre was my parents taking me to Detroit (I think) to see Shenandoah, sometime in the mid to late 70's. I believe I was between 5 and 8. I don't remember the plot, or the actors, but the SET, and one song! That was when I caught the bug.
I prefer to watch plays, but now read them more then I care to, and it's not such a chore anymore. I don't really have a favorite playwright. Earlier this year while selecting monologues with my daughter I discovered William Mastrosimone. She performed a monologue from Shivaree that was stunning, for her admittance audition. I am eager to see Shivaree performed, and hope some local theatre does it soon. Funny how Shivaree is almost a reworked variation of Butterflies are Free.
Does anyone have any great books on theatre, monologues, acting techniques, songbooks for auditions to share? We currently have Great Monologues for Young Actors by Craig Slaight, we're looking for Vol I, and How to Audition for the Musical Theatre: A Step-By-Step Guide to Effective Preparation, and Auditioning: An Actor-Friendly Guide. I know there are many songbooks, but they aren't in the stores in our area, and therefore hard to pick out over the internet when we shop.

15grunin
Editado: Ago 12, 2006, 12:39pm

If there are any New Yorkers here, this is just a reminder that the New York Fringe Festival has started.

I saw a surprisingly good (and very funny) play called Girl Scouts of America last night. Surprising because the level of writing, direction, and acting were all well above the usual Festival average.

This is not a spam, I don't know any of these people, etc.

16ScribblyPrimate
Ago 14, 2006, 11:23am

I'm not familiar with the NY Fringe. Looks like a great festval, though.

17bookishbunny
Set 11, 2006, 11:56am

I'm an actor, though not a professional yet. It's been a busy two years since I started acting again. Although I live in a small town, I know several people who make their living in theater. I hope to work my way in.