Tag Archives: Teaching

Is it ever enough…?

This time of year is a tough time, for a lot of people. Students are prepping for and taking exams. Teachers are prepping their report cards. Everyone is getting ready for the new semester. Award shows are gearing up to evaluate the work of some of the performing arts and if you started a New Year’s Resolution… by now you probably have had a lapse or given up completely on that resolve. At least, I would have, if I did that sort of thing. I gave up years ago.

But as I come to the close of this semester, I get to enjoy the final efforts of my students in their performances. It can be a really fulfilling time for all of us, even if they don’t quite realize their full potential. I’ve had the privilege of watching them progress through the semester, and I hope, I’ve given some good pointers along the way to stimulate improvement in their skills and creative process.

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Today, I had the joyful experience of hearing my vocal students perform their final pieces. We had an excellent artist in our accompanist Marque Smith, and the students definitely benefited from having him there to play for them. The selections they chose for their exam songs were almost exclusively from the world of Musical Theatre and they were all very high quality choices. This, by itself, was a pleasure to listen to for the course of almost 2 hours. Their support for one another was delightful and each of the students rose to the occasion and have all improved over the course of this semester.

Just to tantalize you, some of the selections were:

Memories, Steps of the Palace, You Don’t Know This Man, Nothing, Don’t Rain On My Parade, Burn and many more beautiful pieces.

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Regardless of how well they did and how beautifully they progressed this year, I can’t help feeling that it wasn’t enough, that I could have done more. I have these kinds of thoughts every semester with every class. I have these kinds of thoughts with every show and with every project. Sometimes, I even have this kind of thought when I make dinner.

I’m sure I’m not alone. The end of anything is tough – semester, year, show, job… whatever. I guess we are supposed to wonder if we did enough. Maybe that’s the point.

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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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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The end of one… the overlap of the other!

This winter/spring has been intense. Intense with work and commitments all over the place. It’s funny how that can happen – the fall was empty and almost dull and the next season was incredibly packed. So packed in fact that was never any moment when only one project was on my plate.

January began with Sullivan & Gilbert, auditions, first rehearsals and all of those trials and tribulations. If you’ve been following this blog, then you will have read some of those stories. At the same time was Little Mermaid with OKTC, auditions, rehearsals and the show – all between January and March Break – INTENSE. And, if that were not enough, at the same time was Under Milk Wood. My commitment there was a little less intense, but it was another commitment that resolved at the beginning of March – my report to the board and the finishing up of all the finances took a little longer, but that was due to other commitments and my prioritization of them.

So in March, you’d think that life became easier, but no….. Auditions for Avenue Q, rehearsals, and such for that have been ongoing and I’ve been attending as often as possible, which is less than I’d like. With the end of Little Mermaid came the preparations for our Fringe Production: [They Fight!]. That just ended last weekend and we’ve already got a revival planned for July 3rd. Very busy and very challenging, but also very, very fun! If you missed it during the Fringe, I invite you to join us.

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All this while teaching and trying to maintain any of my own personal projects that I’d like to continue. For example, I’ve not drawn a thing, in months. I’m looking forward to getting out the sketch book again this summer and seeing what I can create, even if it is just for me. Maybe I’ll share a few with you folks.

Balance is off somewhere in this plan. It wasn’t really my plan, but I did go along with it. It’s been a great ride, let me tell you, but I’m definitely looking forward to the opening of Avenue Q and the summer where I can be a spectator, if only for a few months.

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4 Weeks! You rehearse and rehearse!

Here I am again… spending my evening in a darkened theatre preparing for an opening.

My job as the director is almost complete, but the final stretch is the busiest with all the tiny details coming together. It’s frustrating and exhilarating and you always wonder if it will ever come together. But somehow it always does – “it’s a mystery.”

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In Kiss Me, Kate! a musical adaptation of Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew the cast sings of their nerves before the show opens.

Four weeks! You rehearse and rehearse…

Three weeks! And it couldn’t be worse…

One week! Will it every be right…

And out of the hat is that big first night!

So… soon it will be first night. Very soon. There’s always nerves involved and there’s always something that you wonder if it will ever work or ever conform to your vision, but time will march on no matter what efforts you may make to the contrary. So you do the best you can and you spend all your free time with your team and your cast and crew to get every last detail perfect. Each show has it’s own particular hurdles, be they technical or artistic and no matter what, you cross your fingers that the efforts of your team will be fully recognized.

Perhaps that’s why I feel the need to attend almost every performance of the shows I direct. I get so connected to the entire project and feel the need to morally support it right through to the end. I suppose if I directed shows that lasted a whole lot longer, I wouldn’t attend all the performances, but here in my community, most shows run for about 8 performances, maybe 10 and it’s over before you feel it’s even started. You’ve got to make the most of it.

That’s a good life lesson, don’t you think? Making the most of something because you know it isn’t going to last – no matter how hard you try.

How to “stay professional” when kids make you laugh…

Laughter the best medicine

I think it’s impossible. I do. Plus, I think it’s a waste of time. Kids are funny.

Like today… we’ve got a special event that’s pulled a number of folks out of the class, so we’ve chosen to watch High School Musical – it is a music class and they are singing along, so it’s all good. But at least one of them knows every word and is saying all the lines with the film. They are singing along and enjoying the character relationships. “Everyone loves a good jazz square…” I mean really – how cute is that?

What I mean is, people are funny, aren’t they? And laughter is the best thing to help you through your day. So, why should we have to be “serious” around students all the time?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m very rarely serious when it comes to my students. We play all day – it’s a great job. But I know some folks who are never NOT serious when it comes to their job. And I think a little play time is necessary.

It keeps you young.

Just sayin’.

To sum up… What makes the best…? (Part 10)

Good people. That’s what you need more than anything is good people who are willing to give their time to a project. Then you got to let them run with it! Give them the tools to succeed, support them and believe in them.

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This community of theatre we work in is so accepting, so dynamic and so very, very rewarding. Take a chance on a new role in theatre. Push yourself to succeed and then give someone near you a push as well. You’ll never know what you can accomplish until you try.

The theatre needs you. It needs you to perform, to produce, to create, to direct, to sew, to dance, to sing, to sell, and most importantly, it needs you to attend and support the creative efforts of your community. So get out there and get involved. You won’t be sorry.

Share these with your friends and get them to join you in your love of theatre – they won’t be sorry either.

Part 10=People

Part 9=Actors http://www.theloversthedreamersandyou.com/what-makes-the-best-part-9/

Part 8=Directors http://www.theloversthedreamersandyou.com/what-makes-the-best-part-8/

Part 7=Music Directors http://www.theloversthedreamersandyou.com/what-makes-the-best-part-7/

Part 6=Choreographers http://www.theloversthedreamersandyou.com/what-makes-the-best-part-6/

Part 5=Lighting Designers http://www.theloversthedreamersandyou.com/what-makes-the-best-part-5/

Part 4=Costume Designers http://www.theloversthedreamersandyou.com/what-makes-the-best-part-4/

Part 3=Set Designers http://www.theloversthedreamersandyou.com/what-makes-the-best-part-3/

Part 2=Stage Managers http://www.theloversthedreamersandyou.com/what-makes-the-best-part-2/

Part 1=Producers http://www.theloversthedreamersandyou.com/what-makes-the-best/

What makes the best….? (Part 2)

Stage Managers are so vital to the success of a show. As many of you dear readers know, we have a little phrase we use to honour our regular Stage Manager, “No Joe, No Show!” And that literally came from the fact that without our talented and organized and discpilined SM, we wouldn’t have a show. But how do you know if you’ve got a good one or not? Or if the show you are watching had a good one? That can be tough, actually.

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It’s tough because if the show has a really good SM, then it’s likely you wouldn’t give the job another thought. Many young actors shy away from the responsibility of SM, some for their knowledge of what the job entails, but many for their lack of knowledge of the importance of the role. If anyone ever wishes to direct, then I say, they must first Stage Manage.

A good SM is disciplined, organized and creative. They know how to put their bible of the show together and how to keep track of all the minutia of details that can make or break a rehearsal. An exceptional SM has their binder ready before first rehearsal with media release forms, health and safety forms, extra copies of first rehearsal schedules, contact lists and whatever else might be necessary to answer questions and keep everyone on track.

A good SM can keep the cast AND the crew in line – this includes the Director. So, and exceptional SM has the respect and admiration of the director. They can work well together and the SM knows that if they call a halt to rehearsal for whatever reason, the Director will understand that it was for the good of the show and not meant as a slight to anyone involved. An exceptional SM will be that moderator, note-taker and interpreter of the Director’s vision. Often Directors and Actors (and other creators as a matter of fact) will get caught up in their creation and what they are trying to say or do – so caught up in fact that they may need a translator. If your SM is really good and has been really paying attention, then they already know what you are trying to say even before you say it. And they help make it happen.

In the end, the show belongs to the Stage Manager. It won’t happen without them. No calls are given, no audience is admitted and no curtain goes up without them. You hand over the keys and they control the destiny of the show, so find a good one, nuture them – and while you’re at it… find another one, because the really good ones get snapped up fast!!!

Do you want that kind of responsibility and knowledge of a show??? Then get out there and join a production to learn what it takes to be a Stage Manager!

Rainbows are miracles

I hate my drive to work.

I don’t think that’s a secret. I love what I do – teaching is great, but any commute to work that is in excess of 20 minutes is too much for me. It is part of the reason we left the big city for London, Ontario – we didn’t like the commute and since it isn’t something I chose, per se, I find it difficult and exhausting.

Today was particularly challenging. The roads were icy, the traffic was wanting to go brisk and it was quite windy. Now, in order to afford this commute, I had to exchange my beautiful Cool Vanilla PT Cruiser, (which I adored), for a deisel smart car. Now, don’t get me wrong, I like the smart, but it’s no Cruiser and it’s certainly not Cool Vanilla AND in the wind on an open road, it does get batted around a bit. So, this morning was a little tough. Makes it even harder to enjoy the drive.

To make it more bearable, I listen to… what else? Muppets. This helps, for the most part. Today, with the ice and the wind though, I was finding it a little tough to concentrate on Kermie and the gang, until in the distance – on my route and directly in my line of sight… a rainbow appeared. A vertical rainbow that seemed to be rising out of the road and approximately located over my destination. Now, I certainly didn’t try to take a photo while driving, (even though I wanted to do so), but it looked something like this one found on flickr…

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That helped immensely. I couldn’t really believe my eyes at first because it was so faint and I figured I was wishing it into being, but during the commute it became brighter and more focused until I was about 10 or so minutes from my destination, and by this time parallel with it and of course the sun was brighter and higher… then it vanished. I so wanted it to be bathing my school in glorious light, but perhaps that’s too much to ask. However, I will say that today, I was very, very grateful for that particular rainbow phenomenon.

(do doo dee doo do)

The Stages of Theatre – Part 2

So, auditions are complete and rehearsals are beginning. All that trepidation, all those questions that pile up at every rehearsal, “what’s my character?” “what will the set be like?” “when will we be learning this number/blocking that scene?” “who’s looking after this?!?!” It never ends and it never ceases to amaze.

By a few weeks in to rehearsals, hopefully, you are hitting your stride. As a cast or crew member, you’ve found your place in the production, there’s a vibe going through the rehearsals and things are humming along. It really is one of the best parts, isn’t it? The process – the creation… hopefully one of the main reasons you’ve taken on the project. Otherwise why not go make something else, right?

We are still in the beginning of our theatre year – the “Dark Monday” of our theatrical run and a pile of great shows are just, or almost about to, burst onto the London scene. It’s impossible to fit them all in to your schedule, (even though some with Beat Magazing and the Brickendens give it a good go!), but it sure is exciting to be part of the whole creative potpourri.