the day to day of a professional actor in the San Francisco Bay Area

mostly the day to day of a professional actor in the San Francisco Bay Area, but also the home of the Counting Actors Project

Friday, July 20, 2012

Not Hamlet

Quick! Someone buy me this book!

An essay in the Guardian UK by Janet Suzman shows me that this 1960's LAMDA grad w/RSC & film credits as well as a Dame of the British Empire has been thinking about this topic for a long time. 

A few choice quotes from the article:

What I am struck by – as I write in my new book, Not Hamlet, about the frail position of women in drama – is that none of the women are awarded interiority in nearly the same measure as the male characters.

Women have never been, perhaps never will never be, autonomous creatures, unshackled. Even Shakespeare ducked giving their thoughts extended airtime, as if listening to women was not quite worth it.


And here's a description of the book.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Roundtables from the Hollywood Reporter

For a while now, the Hollywood Reporter has been putting up group video interviews of actors during awards season.  Since Emmy noms are soon, they've just done a set with tv actors.  There are four interviews, roughly an hour each in length, separated into comedy and drama and men and women. 

I found gems in each of these interviews - ranging from Juliana Margulies' recommendation of an app for script work to Johnny Galecki reminiscing about the Roseanne set to Martha Plimpton and the comedy women talking about the intersection of female and comedy to the overall humility coming off of Kiefer Sutherland.

You can watch them at these links:

Comedy Women Roundtable
Comedy Men Roundtable
Drama Women Roundtable
Drama Men Roundtable

Let me know what you think! (I first found this via the website/blog Daily Actor)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

On Making It Interesting

At a recent audition for an indie film, while I was using my prep time, I overheard two other actors discussing the sides.  One had decided to give the character a British accent.  Why?  She wanted to 'make it more interesting.'

Hoo boy!

I don't know how much research this actor had done, but the emails from the casting director had included a link to a website with more info for the film. From looking at that website, it was a pretty good guess that the characters they were casting at this session were at best, supporting characters, and probably in reality more like under-5's.  Characters who were not the focus of the story.  Characters who were there so that the leads had someone to talk to while they revealed major plot points, grew and changed emotionally, etc. 

Not characters who the viewer of the film was supposed to think 'that character is so interesting - I want to know more about her.'

I'm not saying these characters shouldn't be well-rounded, fully fleshed out, have an inner life.  Of course that's true.  But it behooves the actor to know why the character is there, what function the character has in the story, and to let that knowledge inform the choices.

Don't be funny if your character is the straight man.  Don't take focus when your character's function is to give focus to the lead. 

Figure out your job, and do it.  If you trust yourself with that, it's gonna be interesting.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Couple o' books!

I've been meaning to write about these two books for a while.  I've had them both out from the library for about 6 weeks, and I'm getting all sorts of great new ideas from them, as well as ideas that I already had, but that were buried under the daily dreck. 

Jason Womack's Your Best Just Got Better has a super motivational title that might be a little off-putting for your inner cynic.  However, from the first exercise in the book, which asks you to write down your ideal day (take 15 minutes and try it), this book had me examining my habits and routines and rearranging priorities.

The Firestarter Sessions by Danielle LaPorte does one of my least favorite things in books.  ALL OF A SUDDEN, ONE SENTENCE WILL BE IN VERY LARGE TYPE. And then it will go back to regular size.  However, many of her points are really spot on, and again, lots of great things to think about, write about, talk about if you're ready to take a deeper look at your systems, priorities, etc.  

Both Jason and Danielle are online and offer newsletters, free downloads, blogging.  Here's a link to Danielle's 'workbook o'fire'  which offers most of the exercises from her book, without the typeface changing size too often. 

BTW, both of these books were referenced in the monthly newsletter of Colleen Wainwright, aka The Communicatrix.  Colleen is a former actor and TV ad copywriter who is now in the business of helping creative people talk effectively about what they do.  Her monthly insightful email is definitely not inbox clutter. Get that here.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Mixed Relief: A benefit for The Actors Fund on July 23

I'm so excited to be playing one of my personal heroes, Hallie Flanagan, the head of the 1930's Federal Theater Project in this staged reading.  Mixed Relief is a play about government funding and women artists, and uses interview and verbatim text to tell its story.

The project is produced by the Bay Area Advisory Committee (BAAC) of Actors' Equity, as a benefit for The Actors' Fund.  It's also a featured event of Laborfest, the Bay Area's annual July programming commemorating the General Strike of 1934, and the history of organized labor in the Bay.

The reading will take place at the Lorraine Hansberry Theater on July 23 at 7:30pm.  Equity has a little more info here.

A Facebook invite to the event is here.  To reserve a seat, call 1-877- 232-1913 Box # 874, and leave a message.  

Hope to see you on the 23rd!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Counting Actors June 2012

This project began in June 2011 and is now officially 1 year old!  To date, we've counted 138 Bay Area shows.  To learn more about the project, including a link to a list of prior posts in this series, go here.

12 Shows Counted:
MTC/God of Carnage (male translator not credited below)
Palo Alto Players/Lieutenant of Inishmore
Theatre Rhino/100 Saints You Should Know
Crowded Fire/Good Goods (this project featured an entirely female production team, with the exception of the set builder)
Cal Shakes/Tempest (small cast concept on this show {9 actors total} meant that most roles were doubled, and women played Caliban, Antonio, Sebastian, Boatswain, Ariel)
SF Playhouse/Reunion
Magic/Bruja (cast on this show includes 4 boys doublecast to play Medea and Jason's sons)
Tides Theater/5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche (2 men are credited as writers on this show, but recognition also given in script to 6 women who participated in improvisatory exercises around the creation of this show in Chicago)
Symmetry/Emilie (gender parity onstage is part of this company's mission statement)
Pear Avenue/Mrs. Warren's Profession
Berkeley Rep/Black and Blue Boys, Broken Men (the writer of this piece is also the actor in this piece.  She portrays multiple characters, almost all of them men and boys)
SF Playhouse/Behanding in Spokane

The Stats:
8 male directors, 4 female directors
8 male writers, 5 female writers
68 total actors, 39 male, 29 female
26 union actors, 42 non-union actors
14 union men, 12 union women
62 local actors, 6 non-local

The Counting Actors project is now officially one year old! Thank you to all who have been sharing these posts with their friends and colleagues and using this information and carrying along the conversation about this issue. 

Thanks especially this month to those who have contributed stats: Rosie Hallett, Sasha Hnatkovich, Phoebe Moyer, Tiffany Cothran, Susan Shay, Lily Tung Crystal, Carol Lashof, and Arwen Anderson.

I'll post stats for July between August 1st and August 5th.  If you see a show or are working on a show with performances in July, please go here to learn how to submit the statistics.