Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Cause and Effect with Captain Joe

Continuing my musing on the Effect I want to have on people. The Effect I want NPT to have on the world.  This weekend we took an impromptu trip to Boothbay, Maine.  Perfect weather and a really enjoyable trip.  Part of the allure was that the hotel had a "package" deal of: 2 dinners, 2 breakfasts, 2 nights stay and a sailing trip for one very low price.

When we got there we found that it was a new thing they were trying (I am a big fan of "packaging" for theatre's too) and that they were ironing out the kinks.  One kink was that they had not actually told the captain of the Lazy Jack, Capt. Joe, that they were offering this!  

He was very gracious and took us out on a two hour cruise even though we were his only passengers for that time!  Of course I asked him tons of questions about his business and his experience as a captain. He was a terrific sailor (his ship is a Schooner with four sails) and I found out he actually used to be a record producer in California and then Nashville!  We spoke about the entertainment business for a bit and then about his current business.

Even though our hotel had not cleared the "packaging" with him, he was all for it and recognized the good business sense of the concept.  He said he had tried that with a few other places as well because he has competition from other Schooners and larger cruise vessels for the tourists.  He has to make all his money in the four months that Boothbay operates as a tourist attraction.

Here is where my theatre comparison comes in.  Like a hard core actor who is proud of the craft they have developed, Capt. Joe is an amazing sailor. He really knows his craft.  Perhaps the effect he hopes to have on his customers is that they see what a great ship he has and how good he is at what he does. Also he hopes to make money.   I jokingly suggested that he use an unemployed actor in the area to dress up like a sexy pirate with fishnet stockings and serve "grog" on the trips. Pirates are hot.  Or hire an unemployed singer to sing karaoke tunes that have the theme of "water" or "sailing".  Lead a fun sing-a-long on the trips.

We laughed, but I was kind of serious.  My point was that if he wants to blow away his competition, being the "best sailor in the harbor" is not the advertising to do that.  He might think of it as pandering to the masses, but if he made a bit of a concession to "spectacle" or "pizzazz" they might board his ship more often and then he could show off his skill, and his amazing boat.

Back to theatre.  I know we actors want to prove we are great at our craft.  Theaters want to prove they are producing the most artistic shows.  But we have to make a concession to the idea of "where is our audience's head".  They are staying home and watching, The Voice, American Idol, Dancing with the Stars, The Real Housewives of.... and on and on.  I don't love those shows (well, I do love Dancing with the Stars) but I realize that for some folks who don't know much about singing or dancing, it has at least gotten them interested in it.

Then as the HAND OFF to the real artists who do this in REAL theaters we have to make a bit of a bridge for the masses to come our way.  We have to help them transition with some pomp and circumstance to get them to our actual shows and out of their living rooms.  If that means employing a sexy pirate girl :) just to get them to our ship, then fine, hire a sexy pirate girl...or boy... since it's mostly women buying tickets for shows.

I don't see this as "giving in" or betraying our art. I see this as finding and audience and understanding that they need education.  We educators realize that you sometimes have to meet your students where they are.  With what they already love and pay money for.

Meet them there and then guide them gently over to the "real art".  That is the Effect I want to have on people and that I want NPT to have on others.

Ultimately I want them to experience the effect that real theatre can have on them.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Cause and Effect

 I never thought I would be quoting Jim Carey but I saw a link on Facebook http://www.mobiledia.com/news/199433.html with the title “What Jim Carey explains in 1 minute will change your life forever. Seriously.”  

I had to click on that.

While not a huge fan of his comedic style, I watched his commencement address to graduates at Maharishi University with growing admiration.  The jewel I took away was “your most valuable commodity is the effect you have on others”.

I mused on that during my walk to the beach with Gracie today and I will be honest that I am in what Seth Godin calls “The Dip”.  A bit stuck.  I was feeling sorry for myself, a bit down, stalled.   And that is silly because good things are happening. Things are moving forward…but we always want them to be further ahead than they are.  

Then I realized, I was thinking about the effect my life was having on me, as opposed to the effect my career, NPT, my teaching was having on others. 

I feel as though I take direction well, so I started by noticing simple things on my walk with Gracie today concerning the “effect” I have on others.  I acknowledged that the effect I have on Gracie when I am scratching her chin is that her back leg thumps too.  When I smiled at the older gentleman pruning his bushes as we walked by he smiled back. 

Then I transferred the cause and effect thinking to part of my career.

My teaching: The effect I want to have on my students is not just to teach them technically how to sing, but also to keep showing them how the real world of theatre works. The entrepreneurial side of the business. The effect I want to have on them is that they enter that world well-armed and ready psychologically.  Nurtured, yes.  But not pampered. Inspired to do their best work, but also tough-skinned.  I realized if I am thinking of the effect on myself in this I would only be nice and sweet and relatively uncritical so that they think highly of me.  But if I really want to have a positive and lasting effect, I have to be honest and diligent in my teaching. Yes and tough. 

My career:  It’s so easy to say as an actor that you had an effect because you made the audience feel, cry, laugh.  That’s good!  Is it enough for me? I guess not because I have always taught and performed.  There needed to be more even than that or I guess I would not have started NPT. 

Ah and now we come to the crux of my cause and effect thinking.  The reason for my musing.  The reason I am stuck.  What “effect” do I want NPT to have on others? 

In total honesty, it’s easy to get lost in the ego of this.  What effect does starting NPT have on me?  What effect does it have on my career? We are at a huge jumping off point now and it’s not just my own career, it’s an entire nonprofit with a board that believes in this project, and donors and other performers and, and, and!

I started NPT with a huge vision. I have it written down. I know others believe in it. It could be as simple as remembering the effect the arts have on those in need I guess and then applying it to a whole community. 

The little neighbor girl I gave flute lessons to years ago who had lymphoma.  It was the only thing that would get her to move her swollen little fingers.  The kids at After School at the Klein who feel inspired beyond their immediate inner-city surroundings to do more with their lives because of an arts class. 

I need to make this post a, "To be continued...." as I keep my mantra "The Effect you want to have on others".....on the world....

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

It's not about you!

Great Blog today by Seth Godin. I love how he uses artist examples. Shun The Non-Believers! is my new motto.

It's not about you-Seth Godin

Right in the front row, not four feet from Christian McBride, was every performer's bĂȘte noire. I don't know why she came to the Blue Note, maybe it was to make her date happy. But she was yawning, checking her watch, looking around the room, fiddling with this and that, doing everything except being engaged in the music.
McBride seemed to be too professional and too experienced to get brought down by her disrespect and disengagement. Here's what he knew: It wasn't about him, it wasn't about the music, it wasn't a response to what he was creating.
Haters gonna hate.
Shun the non-believers.
Do your work, your best work, the work that matters to you. For some people, you can say, "hey, it's not for you." That's okay. If you try to delight the undelightable, you've made yourself miserable for no reason.
It's sort of silly to make yourself miserable, but at least you ought to reserve it for times when you have a good reason.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Producing the Tony Awards

The article below is from the NY times following the Tony Awards 2014.  I thought it was one of the best produced Tonys I have seen in a while. Also I don't agree with this article that the movie stuff was put in to deny who we are I think it was done to draw in more folks who don't KNOW who we are. I totally didn't mind the rap. I thought it was creative and while there were awkward white people moments during it, I still thought it was done well. 

I find that I am now watching this show with more "producer" eyes now. Not just of the various shows, but of the awards show as a whole. It flowed and was fast paced. You can't say that of all award shows.

Also the speeches were heartfelt and real.  I am always so proud of our hardworking colleagues in theatre. They deserve respect and credit for the time and effort they put into their craft.

A special shout out to Christine Dwyer who looked so relaxed and comfortable on stage.  I noted the extreme closeup they gave her while she sang and she looked good on camera as well.  There were an extraordinary amount of great female singers I thought this year.  And a mixture of styles and types of shows.

All in all, I thought it was very well done. The only awkward part for me, the time I ducked my head a bit so I wouldn't "see", was the Clint Eastwood presentation.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Summer Triple Threat Classes at The Klein/NPT

EXCITED to announce:

NPT/Klein Summer Triple Threat Workshops! For all Ages including ADULTS! 

(Priority will be given to students who sign up for 4 week session in a discipline. Then we will allow single class-takers to fill in if space allows)

Please respond asap to info@nptheatre.org with your interest and contact information 
or call 646-342-3200 with questions. 

Vocal solos and NY Auditions 
with Kristin Huffman   6-8pm

Tuesdays starting July 8th - 4 week session= $240 0R $60 per class
(priority give to those who sign up for 4 weeks)

Executive Director of the professional theatre company, The New Paradigm Theatre (www.nptheatre.org), Kristin Huffman appeared in the Tony award winning Broadway musical by Stephen Sondheim-"Company" in which she played the leading role of “Sarah” as well as flute, sax and piccolo. A sought after International Master Class teacher and vocal competition judge, Kristin will work with you on your audition pieces (musical theatre, pop, rock etc) with a professional accompanist to ready you for the stage and audition room. Feedback also provided on the “business” including resumes, networking protocol, rep book review etc.

Acting/Scene Study  
with Jodi Stevens  6-8pm

Wednesday starting July 7th - 4 week session=$220 or $55 per class
(priority give to those who sign up for 4 weeks)

Busy theatre, TV and film performer Jodi Stevens (Broadway: Jekyll and Hyde, Urban Cowboy. TV: Sex in the City, Central Park West) works with you in this audition prep, Scene Study and Monologue class. This is simply your best opportunity to flex your acting muscles and refine your craft. In this acting class students take all of their technique and harness it for performance. It is a weekly workout where actors test their performance abilities in a safe and playful environment. Through working on scenes and monologues of various genres, the actors discover their strengths and weaknesses. Because class size is restricted, each actor works in every class. You may bring your own material or the teacher can recommend pieces for you.


Mondays starting July 9th - 4 week session=$100 or $25 per class (priority give to those who sign up for 4 weeks)

Hip Hop Tap Dance is an excitingly different form of Tap Dance; it is very rhythmic and allows the dancer to be free and creative .  Tiffany Wilson (seen on television shows such as Showtime at The Apollo and 106 & Park) has trained, performed, choreographed and taught in various settings including academic institutions, community centers, and other dance facilities. During the Hip Hop Tap sessions the individuals will learn to Tap Dance while incorporating Hip Hop Music and they will explore basic elements of Tap and Hip Hop Dance including: stretching, toning, coordination, body awareness, building self-confidence, and some Tap terminology. Students will begin to understand group dynamics in terms of being a cohesive unit. Together, the instructor and students will focus on individual and group presentations as well as different exercises that will aid the student’s development and sharpen their own creativity as a performing artist.