Archive for March, 2009

Scarlett Johansson

Posted in Commentary on March 25, 2009 by eoinohannrachain

I saw this on an excellent new site called culch.ie

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It’s a very engaging little film!

We’re shows a completely different side to Scarlett Johansson than in her films. So often she plays characters who are moody or neurotic and ultimately come across as a bit dull. I’ve often thought that Hollywood doesn’t know what to do with Scarlett Johansson and now maybe this silent short can inspire them.

I’d be very interested to see her in a more fun role playing some of the characters on show above. Think she’d do very well out of a fun, quirky performance.

Different Models of Production

Posted in Commentary on March 24, 2009 by eoinohannrachain

With all the talk of Theatre hubs these days it could well be time to look at different models of production, and that is exactly what will happen in the Ark next Wednesday, April 1st.

I’m hoping to get along – time allowing – and I’ll report back if I make it. Otherwise, maybe one of you would like to report back to me if I don’t? 😛

Seriously though, if anyone does have a report on this or any other theatre/film related events I’d be more than happy to post them on the blog and get the information out to a wider audience. Send them on to clinicproductions@gmail.com

Speaking at the event will be William Galinsky (from our very own Cork Midsummer Festival), Dee Kinahan (Tall Tales), Kate McGrath (Fuel Theatre London), Lynne Parker (Rough Magic), and David Parnell (The Arts Council – I’m sure many people will be very interested to hear what he has to say about Theatre Hubs)

Date: Wednesday 1 April 2009
Time 3.00 sharp.
Venue: The Ark, A Cultural Centre for Children, Temple Bar

Theatre Forum meet The Arts Council

Posted in Commentary on March 24, 2009 by eoinohannrachain

Representatives from Theatre Forum had a meeting with The Arts Council at the start of March, and the report is on the Theatre Forum website.

I was particularly interested in this part;

By early May a new draft theatre plan will be published. The Arts Council feels the model currently used for funding needs to be re-imagined. Among the areas looked at will be production hubs and production companies. Theatre Forum stressed the need for a rounded policy which would take into account not just the need to safeguard the larger companies, but also a coherent regional policy, a wide breath of work for audiences; how a further cut in production would affect venues and their audiences. We offered to put some ideas in writing in the next few weeks in advance of the draft being published.

There will be a consultation with the whole sector as soon as the draft theatre policy is published. Quite how that will work e.g. small focus groups/written responses will be decided shortly.

I’ve heard a lot of alarmed talk about these Theatre Hubs in Dublin, but I’m going to keep an open mind for now. There is a lot I’d like to see changed about the Irish Theatre Industry so let’s give them a chance and see what they suggest. May will certainly be interesting!

The whole thing is only 3 pages long so take a look for yourself. You can download it here.

Podcasting in Filmbase

Posted in Commentary on March 24, 2009 by eoinohannrachain

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Podcasting is something that has interested me for a while, but I’ve never had the time to look into it properly. Filmbase are hosting a free information session next Wednesday, the 1st of April, for anyone who is interested to learn more. Unfortunately I have a clash in my time-table so it looks like the mysteries of Podcasting will allude me for another while.

Anyone who can should go along! They’ll cover;

– What is podcasting?
– Trends in the use of podcasting by artists: how music and video is being distributed online by bands.
– Trends in the use of podcasting by teachers: learning online using podcasting, with specific reference to online post production tutorials for filmmakers.
– Trends in the use of podcasting by organisations such as art galleries and film festivals.
– Online distribution methods for podcasts.
– Technical aspects of podcast distribution & preparing content for the web.

If anyone reading this does go, I’d be interested in hearing a bit about it if you wouldn’t mind adding a comment below or emailing me at clinicproductions@gmail.com

Thanks!

Abbey Theatre feel the need for new writing!

Posted in Commentary on March 18, 2009 by eoinohannrachain

The Abbey Theatre got a pretty hard time at the Writing Contemporary Ireland workshop/seminar last week. And rightly so! I was, however, encouraged to see this on Theatre Forum today.

The Abbey Theatre Literary Department is to present two exciting new writing initiatives in 2009.

The first of these, is the Abbey’s New Playwrights Programme, an 11-month programme built to support 6 talented, emerging playwrights.

The selected participants will partake in a series of workshops and talks with international and Abbey writers, directors, actors and designers. They will also undertake workshops with Abbey staff members on voice-work, language, composition and play structure. The participants will have a special opportunity to watch rehearsals, see behind-the-scenes of new plays commissioned by the national theatre and attend opening nights. In this way they will gain access to a knowledge of theatre and the breadth of collaborative work that goes into staging a play which they wouldn’t be able to access anywhere else in Ireland. Those taking part are not obliged to develop a play during the programme, however, the literary department will offer dramaturgical support throughout the eleven months. The participants of this year’s programme are Aidan Harney, Lisa Keogh, Shona McCarthy, Jody O’Neill, Neil Sharpson and Lisa Tierney Keogh. All of these writers were specially invited to participate in the programme by the Literary Department with three of the playwrights coming to the department’s attention through the Abbey’s unsolicited manuscript process.

To date they have had a workshop with dramaturg Graham Whybrow, they will be doing another one with Tim Crouch at the end of March; they’ve also met forinformal discussions with Marina Carr and Sam Shepard and have been attending dress rehearsals for Abbey plays.

The second initiative from the Abbey’s Literary Department takes place during the week of 15 June. Six 20 minute plays have been commissioned from female writers under the theme of ‘The Fairer Sex’. Those writers are Rosemary Jenkinson, Claire Kilroy, Deirdre Kinahan, Lisa McGee, Elaine Murphy and Ursula Rani Sarma.

The Fairer Sex was mentioned at the seminar and I was aware of the New Playwrights Programme already but it is still an encouraging update and I thought it was worth sharing.

When I see The Abbey producing a play by Aidan Harney, Lisa Keogh, Shona McCarthy, Jody O’Neill, Neil Sharpson or Lisa Tierney Keogh, or a full-length play by Rosemary Jenkinson, Claire Kilroy, Deirdre Kinahan, Lisa McGee, Elaine Murphy or Ursula Rani Sarma, I’ll get really excited!

I’ve posted more or less the same thing on the Writing Contemporary Ireland Blog. Go check it out! Worth keeping an eye on, especially for writers.

Create Writing Contemporary Ireland

Posted in Commentary on March 18, 2009 by eoinohannrachain

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I attended a Writing Contemporary Ireland workshop held in Filmbase, hosted by Create in association with Filmbase, last Wednesday, the 11th of March. The workshop itself was co-hosted by Mark O’Halloran and Madani Younis.

The day ran from 10:00-15:00, and reminded me of the seminar’s we had back when I was studying Theatre and Film & TV in UWA Aberystywth. Seminar’s are one of the things I miss most about my time studying so to be in a room full of writers talking about writing can only be a good thing.

Overall, I felt that we spent too much time talking about the need to include the various ethnic groups that make up contemporary Ireland and not enough time talking about what contemporary Ireland is or the Irish involvement in it.

I have great difficulty in identifying what it is that separates contemporary Ireland from say contemporary Britain or contemporary America, and yet I can immediately identify which one I am looking at on Film or TV.

My issues around the Irish involvement in the representation of contemporary Ireland is that on screen in particular contemporary Ireland seems to be contemporary Dublin. Given that most of the writers were Dublin based I would have been very interested to hear their thoughts on this matter.

Madani did give us a very interesting break down of the devising work that he does with Freedom Studios. While I was delighted to hear about his work and have been looking at opportunities to produce some devised work myself, I felt we strayed away from the issue of contemporary Ireland.

As a follow up to this workshop, Create have set up a blog where we can continue to discuss the issues addressed. Perhaps I will do a post about my thoughts on contemporary Ireland soon.

Actioning In Acting

Posted in The Acting Initiative on March 7, 2009 by eoinohannrachain

During our recent Acting Initiative sessions we looked at actioning in acting. One of the first things we discovered was that the term actioning is hard to pin down, as different practitioners mean different things when they use it.

After much discussion on the merits of a few interpretations we came upon some common ground and got on our feet to work on a section from Brian Friel’s Philadelphia, Here I Come!

At it’s simplest, actioning is best described, in this article about Max Stafford-Clark, as “breaking up the text into sections, the actor has to find a transitive verb to accompany each individual action.”

Stafford-Clark is one of the modern director’s most associated with the use of actioning, and he is referenced again in A Student’s Guide to AS Drama and Theatre Studies by Robert Lowe and Philip Rush.

Here, the authors reference Stafford-Clark’s book Letters To George, in which he outlines a rehearsal technique based on actioning the text.

Firstly, he starts his rehearsals with a script, with the actors sitting around a table (remember that he’s already asked them to undertake key research activities to inform their understanding of the play and their roles within it). The focus is on the text and breaking it down to understand what is behind what the characters say.

In our group not everyone had read Philadelphia so it limited what we could achieve in our experiment with actioning, but also tested the usefulness of the process. I was given the task of actioning Madge, as she was the most guarded character in the scene and it was felt a knowledge of the play would be required. I had read the play previously and I do not think it would have been possible to action Madge’s lines correctly without having read it. Other actors in our group, however, did manage to get the true intentions of their characters without reading the play. This in itself was an interesting discovery about actioning.

I am a firm believer that attempting to action a scene before you have read and studied the full play, while not useless, only leads to you having to action the scene all over again at a later date. What our work did show though, is that actioning the scene, to the best of your abilities, at whatever stage, creates a performance that is interesting to watch.

So, how do you action a scene? In his essay Interior Action – Acting on Impulse, Andrew Garrison sets it up nicely;

Actions makes use of physically active verbs on a beat-by-beat basis to chart the interaction between characters. If you’ve ever felt like bad news felt like “a punch in the stomach” or an insult was a “slap in the face,” – or you’ve ever felt the warm caress of a sincere compliment or let a joke “tickle” you, you’ve had experience with Interior Action. Even without physical contact, the impact of the intention sent and received, is powerful and tangible.

What Garrison refers to as physically active verbs are commonly referred to as transitive verbs. This article said it best;

…it helps to think of a transitive verb action as something which can be done to somebody and one way to analyse whether a verb is transitive is to ask yourself “Could I be made to feel that?”[emboldening by Eoin]– so, for example, one can be made to feel threatened, inspired, devastated etc [1]– and this observation helps explain why TC thinks actioning is a useful acting tool: basically speaking, human beings can be thought of as continuously attempting to affect the state of other human beings on a more or less continuous basis, whether we consciously process this or not.

In my own experiences of actioning the emphasis placed on the other character(s) produces more giving performances, where the actors are listening to each other more attentively.

The above article goes on to say “a useful transitive verb does not have to be literal – verbs like “shatter”. “pin”and “illuminate” are useful precisely because they operate on a metaphorical level and can serve as a springboard for the imagination.”

I do not necessarily agree with that. I started out that way in my actioning of Philadelphia, but when I forced myself to take the time required to find the right word that fit with both the “Could I be made to feel that?” rule and the notion of doing something to the other character, I found a much clearer understanding of Madge’s intentions. I always tried to place the verb in a sentence I {transitive verb} you.

List of Transitive Verbs

List of Transitive Verbs

One of the actors brought in a good list of verbs, that together with a thesaurus was all I needed. Click on the image to drag and drop a larger version onto your desktop.

After testing out the benefits of actioning on our section of Philadelphia there was some debate about the need to action every beat of every play. A lot of people felt that it was not necessary as you would understand what was going on for the majority of the script. I find it hard to argue with them, but in doing the actioning of Philadelphia I made an interesting discovery.

Having read the play before I thought I knew what Madge’s intention were, and for the most part I did. However, when I actioned her lines I found that I developed a much clearer understanding than I had without actioning. While the actioning would not change the intention it would certainly make it easier to play.

Following on from this work I cannot argue with someone who says every line of every play should be actioned either!

Like most things in acting it comes down to individual choice. Just like the perfect transitive verb for me is not the perfect one for the next actor, the benefits of actioning will vary from actor to actor. I would recommend erring on the side of caution though. It is a lot of work to action an entire play. Don’t let that put you off. Try it and see if you reap enough benefits to warrant making it your normal practice as an actor.

*After writing this post I came across a book called Actions: The Actors Thesaurus which looks like it would be useful to anyone exploring actioning.

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“As actors…if we´re not accessing and allowing our own instinctive and unique behavior to come to the surface unhindered, un-judged and uncensored, we run the risk of stifling the very source of our own creativity.” Andy Garrison