Tag Archives: Creativity

Have to keep going… or I’ll stop.

Here I am “knee deep” in the summer break, (as they say), and I’m looking for the next activity. I really want a real break, I do. I really want to stop, smell the flowers, garden, clean up, all that good stuff (and slow down on things), but I’m already starting to think about the future.

I don’t think it can be helped. I think it is a plague of those who are perpetually creative, or those who strive to be perpetually creative.

Once an idea is out of the brain, the vacuum is something abhorrent. Something we NEED to correct. We either need to create something new, or learn something new or PLAN to learn something new.

This is where I am now – and I regularly find myself here. I never know exactly what to do with this phase, how to deal with it or how best to channel the “energy”, (if you can even call it that).

There are projects looming in the distance, for sure, but in the mean time, the idle brain starts to worry and plot and fuss and fret about what to work on in the mean time.

I don’t know what you do – but I enjoy travelling, cleaning (if the mood suits), drawing and rewatching favourite shows that have inspired me in the past.

What about you? What do you do when this strange feeling strikes?

And STILL more things that will happen at rehearsal…

The score won’t match…

When doing a MUSICAL…. or even a Play with Music… I promise you that whatever they have said in the script or written in the score – IF there IS a score… will not match any of the following…

a) the CD

b) the current script

c) the director’s vision

e) all of the above

Add to that… the cd won’t match…anything. Frequently it is a concept CD and that means it is very, VERY different from the production you are doing. The production that got altered before Broadway, before the Tour, after the Tour and before the release to amateur companies. It will be extremely different. Don’t count on it – in fact… the best advice is don’t use it. At best it is a basic, simple reference. Move on.

The script will NOT make sense… why would it? I mean, you paid for it, so it should… but believe me, it won’t. There will be typos for sure, but then there will also be ridiculous stage directions – that can only be done on MASSIVE Broadway budgets – and even then they are probably stupid stage directions, so Ignore them and do your own thing. Aside from that… there will be lines attributed to the wrong character or a missing character or someone you didn’t know was in the show… (seriously… ALL of these have happened in shows for which I have paid royalties to perform “their script word for word”) There may EVEN be stage directions that appear as dialogue… yup.

$h!t will be missing… Like a song you expected… or a character in the description list will be missing from the show… or an ENTIRE scene.. yup, once a script went from scene 7 to 9. We all wondered “What happened in Scene 8?”

Here’s the thing…. you roll with the punches, you do what is necessary to create your vision, you IGNORE the stage directions – and if possible, get your cast to ignore them as well and you make the best show you can. Even if it means you have to tweak a few things. Tweak away and get that show done!

 

Things that will happen during the rehearsal process…

When you start a show, you have happy thoughts about the final product… how the show will be a HUGE hit, the tickets will be selling like hotcakes, (why do hotcakes sell so fast anyway?), and the cast and crew will be ready to go on tour for the rest of their lives.

But here’s the thing… stuff happens. It always does.

Some of it you can deal with, but much of it you cannot. You just have to be ready for it because “it” will happen. So, what do you do?

Well, first off… you need to know what might happen, so here’s a few ideas of what you can expect.

First of all… the cast you begin with is likely not going to be the cast who will finish. Someone will get sick, get married, be transferred, get a new job, get another show, move out of town, or just be disgruntled with the production and leave. It will happen. There is probably no way to be prepared for it, but you need to know that it will happen and often with the actor that you don’t expect to lose. Audition, choose the best, treat them well and cross your fingers that nothing happens in their life to mess up the process. But be ready – cause it will.

Secondly… people will get sick. They will have conflicts with the schedule – sometimes many more than you ever thought possible – or they’ll have something big happen in their life and it will mess up your schedule. Just be ready – that’s all you can do. It isn’t their fault. They didn’t make this happen. They’d probably rather be at rehearsal than dealing with pneumonia or going to a funeral or visiting emergency. Stay calm and trust the theatre gods that they are on your side.

Third… you are going to get tired. No matter your plan, no matter how well you manage the other parts of your life – YOU – the stage manager, the director – whatever you are, are completely human and susceptible to fatigue. It will happen. Be good to yourself and take the time you need to recover because you are useless to the show if you get sick or can’t function.

That’s the big deal, right? Staying on top of things. So be ready. Get yourself psyched so that you are ready for the challenges of the process – cause it is totally worth it.

I promise.

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How to recover from the audition… Cause you have to bounce back.

When you’ve made it through the auditions, the callbacks, perhaps another round of callbacks and maybe a surprise where they ask you to read something you weren’t expecting… you then have to reflect on the process – and you will, because you won’t be able to stop thinking about it. (You’re thinking about it now, aren’t you?)

First of all, you need to feel proud of what you accomplished, no matter the outcome. Maybe you’ve been successful and got the “part of your dreams”, or maybe you got offered a different role, or perhaps you are still waiting to hear, (that’s the worst), or the final option… we know what that one is, of course. Regardless, you’ve got to congratulate yourself. I mean it. Do it now. Give yourself a pat on the back, the audition process is one of the most difficult things you can do and you need to recognize that you did something many people never do. So, go ahead, I’ll wait.

Good. Do that for yourself regularly – because when you audition, you get a show, (or not) and then, eventually, the show is over, so you know what? You audition again. So you have to put yourself through that again. You will get better at it, each time – it all takes practice. Keep it up, keep working on the audition process and remember to congratulate yourself every time you manage to make it through another audition. Find something good in the process or you won’t keep going. And that’s the most important thing, to keep going.

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Some thoughts for people holding auditions… (make your job easier)

Auditions are HARD!!! For EVERYONE!!!

People always think about the folks up there showing they can sing, dance, act or whatever… but it is just as hard and nerve-wracking for the people who are casting the show – the ones who supposedly, “hold all the cards!” It isn’t easier on that side of the table at all!

Here’s a few tidbits of advice from my experiences….

1) TELL PEOPLE!!! What’s the point of auditions if no one knows you are having them? You need a lot of people for any show – even a simple little two hander. You want choice, right? You want selection? You want word of mouth? TELL PEOPLE! Don’t hold secret auditions. Don’t have them on a tough weekend, like a holiday or when the super sale at the mall starts… pick a good time – far enough in the future and PROMOTE IT!

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2) Tell people what the show IS! Sure it might have a title they recognize, but maybe it is a different version, or maybe you are planning to set it post-apocolyptic, (please don’t), or maybe you want TWICE as many actors as normal… if you don’t TELL THEM…. they won’t come.

3) Hold the auditions at convenient times. Evenings and Weekends work for community theatre – and make sure to mix that up. Don’t do just a weekend or just the evenings. Give people multiple chances to get out to see you. You need them, don’t you?

4) DON’T hold the auditions too far away from the show. You are only hurting yourself. If your show is in December, seriously, what is the point of auditions in January? So much can happen to people in between the time of the audition and when rehearsals start. Heck, they might even forget they are in your show! About 4-5 months before your show is fine, with rehearsals starting shortly after you cast it – but remember, if they don’t know about it, it doesn’t matter when you hold the auditions.

5) TELL THEM WHAT YOU WANT TO SEE!!! If it is singing – tell them what style. Provide examples if you can. Do they need to dance? Tell them. Be ready to teach that. Do you want a monologue? Comedy routine? Improv sessions? Don’t be afraid to shake it up and do something different – just be ready to answer their questions – cause they’ll have them!

6) Make your requests make sense for the show. Don’t ask for a WICKED inspired power ballad if you are doing a Shakespeare, and if the show is comedic, what IS the point of a classical monologue? Seriously, know what you are looking for when you prepare that audition statement.

7) Sit down with your team and discuss your dream cast. When I say dream cast – I mean it. Dream big! Who would you cast from all time of all the famous actors you and your team know? Build that EPIC cast list, (with options) and know what it is you are hoping to see walk through that door. Be ready though – cause it just might! OR – even more exciting – something you didn’t expect will show up and knock your socks off!!! Be ready for that.

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8) Prepare your banter. Know what you plan to say to each candidate and be ready with that. Have questions. Read their sheets/resumes/questionnaires. They took the time to come out and fill out those forms, have something you’d like to know about them. Be curious. Be genuinely interested in them because they are genuinely interested in you and your project. It’s the least you can do.

9) Be ready for the hard decisions. Here’s where it gets tough. The person you thought would really “bring it” might not. The unexpected will happen. Be prepared with challenges for your actors so you can know who is really going to deliver and make the project exactly what you want it to be. Don’t waste their time. They are there, working in front of you and delivering their level best. Challenge them. Have the callback materials ready – KNOW what you want to see. Then have the guts to make the tough decision and stick by it. Whatever happens. It isn’t easy. Art is never easy.

10) This should really be the FIRST thing you do… and I shouldn’t even have to put it here, but I do, cause you’d be surprised…. READ THE SCRIPT. Read it again. And then read it a third time. Make sure EVERYONE on your team has a copy. And do your best to give them time to read it. Discuss it. Have questions ready. Solve problems with it before you even audition. And if, for some strange reason, you don’t have the script and you are heading into auditions… what are you doing? Wait. Get the script. Read it. It’s the only way to be certain you are ready for the project and your people who are investing their time are also ready.

These are just a FEW tips. Do you have more? Mention them in the comments below.

Podcast #17 with Special Guests Ceris Thomas & Kerry Hishon!

Well here we are again….

Life gets busy and takes us away from things we’d like to share with you, our listeners. But today, Kerry Hishon and I are here to talk about things that inspire us, things that we love and the struggle to keep those things going when life gets busy.

Since you last heard from us the team has done a variety of exciting things… We’ve directed and performed in a bunch of shows, made puppets, created art, some of us moved house, just a whole bunch of creative things that kept us from this creative thing.

But we love doing the podcast so much, so we are back again and we have a plan in place to keep us coming back… so we are hoping that you will continue to tune in and tell us what you think.

We’ve missed you. See you soon.

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Miss Piggy’s Water Ballet

Miss Piggy’s beauty is undeniable. Mostly because, if you deny it, you get hurt by the Pig. But in this sequence, she really imagines a most elaborate showcase of her beauty. An Esther Williams inspired Water Ballet that would put any old Hollywood producer to great shame.

Frank Oz commented on the shooting of this sequence…

“The water ballet scene with Miss Piggy was really wonderful. I was under the water for a week. I had three days of scuba training and then down I went. Having them swim for the first time really was exciting!” Source: Muppet Wikia – http://muppet.wikia.com/wiki/The_Great_Muppet_Caper

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This whole dream sequence is one of my favourites. I think it stems from the fact that Miss Piggy is fantasizing about everyone’s love for her. It’s all about her. The way it should be.

It all starts with Piggy having to replace a model in the swimsuit section of a fashion show. Perfectly plausible, right? Of course right. Especially when she’s being set up for a frame job by the major criminals of the caper – but you’ll need to watch the whole film for those details.

So, the incandescent Pig enters the stage, (much to the chagrin of the designer and her boss, Lady Holiday), but the crowd goes wild. Hog wild! (sorry, I had to…) Or at least that’s what we are led to believe. That’s one of the great things about Miss Piggy’s fantasies, we are never sure what IS real and what is imagined by the Pig. But her confidence in her fantasy is such that we see what the Divine Swine imagines the world feels about her – and then, we end up feeling that way about her. Talk about the power of suggestion!

Happiness, Miss Piggy

One Caress, Miss Piggy

All the world ever wanted way YOU! A dream come true….

What ensues is an elaborate water ballet, that you just have to witness to truly appreciate. I think my favourite moment is the insert of Kermit and Charles Grodin who are “apparently” fighting over her affections. The true tenor of Kermit’s voice gets me every time.

And then…. and then…. well, it ends badly for our heroine. And we see the crowd jump to their feet – not in adoration, but concern. So, I’m always thinking… how much can this gal cram into her imagination in a matter of seconds? It’s pretty amazing what goes on in that brain. At what point did they stand? And where does that actually fit in her fantasy sequence?

Ah, who cares? Watch it. It’s awesome.

Check out the design of her swimming costume…. I need personal designers… Anyone? Anyone? Beuller?

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Miss Piggy’s Dream Sequence(s): First in a series

Miss Piggy has a tradition of grand dream sequences. Perhaps because her life is a dream? Or because she lives in a dream world? Who cares, really? What’s important is that she has the most fascinating fantasy life. And I’d like to explore that a bit.

Let’s start this series with her first, and possibly most romantic fantasy sequence in film, from The Muppet Movie (1979).

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This is the elaborate dream sequence that is accompanied by her phenomenal love song: Never Before, Never Again, written by Paul Williams and Kenny Ascher. She has just won the Ms Bogen County Beauty Pageant and as she begins her acceptance speech, she happens to spy within the vast crowd the Frog of her Destiny – Kermit the…. Her eyes sparkle with adoration and she begins. Big intake of breath and…

Never before….. have two souls joined so freely and so fast…

She launches into the world of her fantasy where she and her Frog are placed in romantic locales and situations. They harken back to great love stories and show us that the Pig has a really vivid imagination. First off, they are running through a meadow towards each other. Piggy tosses aside her basket of wildflowers to run to Kermit. They wrap each other in a warm embrace and then continue travelling in the direction she was going. Kermit is only slightly perplexed at their momentum. The soft focus only adds to the dewy romanticism of their situation.

Next up, the Frog and Pig spend an afternoon on a pond. Rowboat, parasol and period clothing to match the mood. Kermit decides to remove his stand-up collar blue striped shirt, etc. to go for a dip when they pause near a secluded waterfall and Piggy, in her eyelet gown, watches. I gather she didn’t want to swim this time – she saves that for another dream sequence.

Next, Piggy and Kermit have a chance meeting in the fog under a lamppost. She is swathed in furs and he is in his classic trench coat. Simple and evocative. It’s about 14 seconds of film, but it says so much.

Finally, we see them running through another field. They are near a stream or lake. Piggy is complete in her “wench” attire with mop cap and stays, and Kermit is dashing in his poet shirt. They end their joyful romp by snuggling down under the shade of a tree with flowers for their bed. It is the epitome of romance.

The capper to this fantasy is another one of their many wedding sequences. Miss Piggy has had many gowns in her time – and is sure to have more, but this one is a statement in lovely delicacy. Drops of lace surround her pretty porcine face and the flowers are soft pink and white. Kermit looks splendid in his cravat and top hat as they are whisked away on her imagined honeymoon. The details of their getaway are splendid with rice tossed in the air, ribbons and cans and shoes tied to the car and the licence plate reading “I DO 2″.

This sequence really stands the test of time, even though the original impact of the humour may have softened over the years, (much like the soft focus of the filming), it still punctuates and describes their relationship and really sets the standard by which all dream sequences should be judged – whether they include Miss Piggy or some other starlet.

It also serves to give ideas for romantic locations and rendesvous. Go for a run in a meadow – it’s free and you will enjoy it, if the Frog and the Pig are any judge at all.

I don’t know if the message is that we are all supposed to have such a rich fantasy life, or if our fantasies should be as detailed as hers, or if the message is rather, stay focused on your goal and one day it will come to you. She’s still working on snaring that Frog! As we look at other dream sequences, we may discover overt and covert themes. One thing I do know, is the Pig demands an extensive and beautiful wardrobe. So, I’m asking designers out there, why aren’t there lines of clothing for the rest of us that match this quality?

Check it out for yourself at the link below, and imagine, like I do, how much fun it must have to been to write, create, film and edit that sequence?

 

 

10 Ways to Reinvigorate Your Creativity! – Guest Blog from Kerry Hishon!!!

The members of TLTDAY have been going in a variety of directions lately and we had to arrange our schedules so we could even find a chance to meet and re-connect, (and even then one member messed up the schedule!). But as a team, we are hoping to reinvigorate our podcast and blog with some new themes and ideas in 2014. So, what is a better way to get the ball rolling than to have a guest blog – from the delightful Kerry Hishon? Read on to see what her suggestions are for reinvigoration…. maybe we’ll even put some ideas to use!

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10 Ways to Reinvigorate Your Creativity

 

It’s January, it’s cold and crummy outside, and you’re feeling uninspired.  What’s a creative person to do?  Shake things up, of course!  If you’re feeling the January blahs, take a look at this list!

 

  1. Have fun in the snow.  Don’t let snow bum you out.  Like the song says… “Do you wanna build a snowman?”  Help a neighbour shovel out their driveway, or make a fort with your friends.  Or draw happy faces with the snow on peoples’ cars!  Fresh air will get your muscles moving and your brain thinking!
  2. Immerse yourself in culture.  Go see a show or a movie, check out a museum, hit up a concert.  Just get out and get inspired!
  3. Plan a creative get-together.  Arrange a time to spend time with some of your most creative friends and go get some food and drinks.  Leave the cell phones at home.
  4. Revisit a childhood hobby.  Colour in a colouring book.  Make friendship bracelets.  Finger paint.  Let yourself reminisce about the good old days.
  5. Get out and about.  Go for a walk or a bike ride.  Spend some time in nature.  Bring your camera and take photos of interesting things you see.
  6. Rest.  You may be feeling burnt out – take some time for yourself and take a nap!
  7. Take a class.  Is there something you’ve been dying to try?  Find a class and sign up!  Painting, trapeze, modern dance, Cantonese cooking… there’s something for everyone!
  8. Mix things up.  If you’re a costume designer, try volunteering to run lights on the next show. Are you an amazing ASM?  Try making props!  Are you an actor extraordinaire?  Perhaps you’d enjoy being an assistant director!
  9. Do something mundane.  Sometimes people get the best ideas when they are doing a seemingly mindless task.  Clean the bathroom, cook some soup, sort and de-clutter your craft room.  Side benefit: you’ve done something productive!
  10. Make a list of everything you like.  No holds barred.  Teddy bears, professional wrestling, yellow roses, sailing, dubstep music, fuzzy blankets.  Now take the list, cut out each item into small strips, throw them in a hat, and pick out three.  Figure out how to combine them in a ridiculous way: a professional wrestler goes sailing with his childhood teddy bear.  Now you have the start of a play, story, drawing, improv situation, song… even if it doesn’t work out, you’ve at least written created something!

PuppetFest @ The Palace

Tonight was our first foray into a puppet centric event at The Palace Theatre here in London, Ontario.

I don’t know about everyone else, but I had a great time. So many lovely people came to the theatre to make a puppet and to watch puppetry on our big screen. It was a really special evening.

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I know the youngest person there was 3, and with some assistance, she made 2 puppets. I’m not going to guess the top age of our guests, but I know we had folks of every category in the theatre and I know that everyone there was definitely young at heart.

There was a young man there, who was so very intent on his creations. He made his own stuff, no matter what. And no matter what, all of his stuff was inspired by Jim Henson’s creations. This young man hasn’t made it to double digits in age yet, but he knows all the shows that Henson ever created, all the guest stars and the performers who are behind, (or underneath) our famous felt friends. He regularly visits fan sites and I watched him draw a Kermit and Piggy and turn them into wonderful shadow puppets within 10 minutes and then perform them against our walls of the lobby. He stayed to enjoy our screening of Being Elmo and was thrilled to watch the show. His mother saw a lot of her son in the explanation of Kevin Clash’s determination to create. I could see it in his eyes and hear it in his voice. This young man will create something wonderful in his lifetime and it will have been largely inspired by the work of Jim Henson.

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Another guest happened to be a designer for the new video game of My Muppet Show. It was great to meet him and share with him some of my enjoyment of his creation. He painstakingly worked on his puppet creation and had come prepared with more materials as he knew exactly what he wanted to make – just like our determined fan above. If you’ve not seen his work yet on this great app – then pull out your smart phone and start playing. It’s a great fun, free app!

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/my-muppets-show/id618376844?mt=8

We only have two more nights of our celebration of puppets, and I sincerely hope that we are financially successful enough to put together something similar next year. It is quite clear that the fans are out there. And I was so honoured to meet them.