Sunday, April 28, 2019


introductions - what's your name? Where are you from? And what would you like to do for work if money were no object?

in chronological order

Played Ron Paul in Ron Paul the Musical, a Cameron Ford Production at Gorilla Tango Theater.

Shift-Faced at Gorilla Tango Theater, Wrote, Produced, Starred in.

Bloody Haymarket at Chicago's Irish-American Heritage Center. Wrote, Co-Directed, played multiple roles. for projection view from 59 minutes.

Played Tim Allgood in Palm Springs Canyon Theater's Production of Noises Off.

The Show with Jeremiah Fishberg and Mort Finklestein at Suzie's Bar and Grill, Wrote Starred in.

Director of Upstairs the Musical, performed at Pride Arts Center Chicago.

The Character Assassination of Donald Trump, co-wrote, co-produced, starred in. Put on at Collaberation Theater Chicago.

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Warm up exercise:


Also, the sides of the stage are called the wings.

Blocking is movement around the stage, similar to choreography which involves dance. Blocking is the planned physical motions of actors that aid the storyline, convey the subtext of the dialogue, and help focus the audience's attention. It's a collaborative process between the director and the actors, that emphasizes what the characters might naturally do in any given situation. In major theatrical productions, every movement, or lack of movement, on stage originates with this planning process, including the proximity of the actors to other actors.

Movement and Power

Moving to or from different parts of a stage results in more powerful or less powerful movements. A movement that approaches the audience expresses power, while a movement away from the audience expresses weakness. Similarly, a horizontal motion towards the center of the stage expresses more power. Conversely, a horizontal motion away from the center expresses less power. Performers use their understanding of movements and power to add emphasis to strong statements or important plot actions. They can also express weakness or a low point in a character's experience. Given the strong or weak aspects of body language, it becomes clear how actors, even without dialogue, can tell an entire story through motion.

Take this short scene from Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo for instance, how would you block it. Work with a partner.


 A well-appointed office with a large window looking out upon 
 a busy shipyard. There are a couple of models of modern 
 freighters in glass cases, but more important, on the walls 
 are many framed prints and posters and maps relating to early 
 California history; some from the Mexican days, many from 
 the Gold Rush days, many of San Francisco in the Seventies 
 and Eighties. Behind the desk sits Gavin Elster, a man about 
 Scottie's age, huskily built, slightly balding, with cool, 
 watchful eyes. He is beautifully tailored, and gives the 
 sense of a man who relishes money and knows how to use it.  
 He sits quietly watching Scottie, who stands staring out the 
 window at the activity of the shipyard. After a long moment:

  How'd you get into the shipbuilding 
  business, Gavin?

  I married into it.

 Scottie shoots him a small surprised smile of approval at 
 his frankness, then looks out the window again.

  Interesting business.

  No, to be honest, I find it dull.

  You don't have to do it for a living.

  No. But one assumes obligations. My 
  wife's family is all gone; someone 
  has to look after her interest. Her 
  father's partner runs the company 
  yard in the East -- Baltimore -- so 
  I decided as long as I had to work 
  at it, I'd come back here. I've always 
  liked it here.

  How long have you been back?

  Almost a year.

  And you like it.

  San Francisco's changed. The things 
  a that spell San Francisco to me are 
  disappearing fast.

   Scottie smiles at the old prints on the wall.

  Like all this.

  I'd like to have lived here then. 
  The color and excitement... the 
  power...  the freedom.

 Though he does not stress the word, the way be lingers softly 
 on the word "Freedom" makes Scottie look over at him again.  
 Elster looks up and smiles companionably.

  Shouldn't you be sitting down?

  No, I'm all right.

  I was sorry to read about that thing 
  in the papers.
   (No answer)
  And you've quit the force.
   (Scottie nods)
  A permanent physical disability?

  No, Acrophobia isn't a crippling 
  thing. It just means I can't climb 
  steep stairs or go to high places, 
  like the bar at the Top-of-the-Mark.
  But --
   (Shrugs and smiles)
  -- there are plenty of street-level 
  bars In this town.

 Elster considers the top of his desk for a moment, then looks 

  Would you like a drink now?

  No... no, thanks. A bit early in the 
  day for spirits.
  Well, I guess that about covers 
  everything, doesn't it? I never 
  married; I don't see much of the 
  "old college gang"; I'm a retired 
  detective -- and you're in the 
  shipbuilding business.
  What's on your mind, Gavin?

 A moment, then Elster rises from the desk casually, wanders 
 across the room, looks out the window, gets out a handkerchief 
 and blows his nose prosaically, finally turns and regards 
 Scottie coolly and directly for a long moment.

  I asked you to come up here, Scottie, 
  knowing that you had quit detective 
  works, but I wondered whether you 
  would go back on the job -- as a 
  special favor to me.

 Scottie looks at him questioningly.

  I want you to follow my wife.

 Scottie does not change expression, and yet one can sense 
 the feeling of anti-climax within him, and the almost 
 imperceptible small cynical smile deep behind his eyes.

  Not what you think. We're very happily 


  I'm afraid some harm may come to 

  From whom?

  Someone dead.

 Scottie waits.

  Scottie, do you believe that someone 
  out of the past, someone dead, can 
  enter and take possession of a living 


  If I told you I believe that his 
  happened to my wife, what would you 

  I'd say you'd better take her to the 
  nearest psychiatrist, psychologist, 
  neurologist, psychoanalyst, or plain 
  family doctor. And have him check 
  you both.

  Then you're of no use to me. I'm 
  sorry I wasted your time. Thank you 
  for coming in, Scottie.

 Scottie rises to go, awkwardly, puzzled, a bit apologetic.

  I didn't mean to be that rough.

  No, it sounds idiotic, I know. And 
  you're still the hard-headed Scot, 
  aren't you? Always were. Do you think 
  I'm making it up?


  I'm not making it up. I wouldn't 
  know how. She'll be talking to me 
  about something, nothing at all, and 
  suddenly the words fade into silence 
  and a cloud comes into her eyes and 
  they go blank... and she is somewhere 
  else, away from me... someone I don't 
  know. I call to her and she doesn't 
  hear. And then with a long sigh she 
  is back, and looks at me brightly, 
  and doesn't know she's been away... 
  can't tell me where... or why...

  How often does this happen?

  More and more in the past few weeks.  
  And she wanders. God knows where she 
  wanders. I followed her one day.

  Where'd she go?

 Elster almost ignores the question as he looks back to the 

  Watched her come out of the apartment, 
  someone I didn't know... walking in 
  a different way... holding her head 
  in a way I didn't know; and get into 
  her car, and drive out to...
   (He smiles grimly)
  Golden Gate Park. Five miles. She 
  sat on a bench at the edge of the 
  lake and stared across the water to 
  the old pillars that stand an the 
  far shore, the Portals of the Past. 
  Sat there a long time, not moving... 
  and I had to leave, to got to the 
  office. That evening, when I came 
  home, I asked what she'd done all 
  day. She said she'd driven to Golden 
  Gate Park and sat by the lake. That's 


  The speedometer of her car showed 
  she had driven 94 miles that day. 
  Where did she go?
  I have to know, Scottie. Where she 
  goes and what she does, before I got 
  involved with doctors.

  Have you talked to the doctors at 

  Yes, but carefully. I'd want to know 
  more before committing her to that 
  kind of care.
  Scottie --

  I can get you a firm of private eyes 
  to follow her for you. They're 
  dependable, good boys --

   (Breaking in)
  I want you.

  It's not my line.

  Scottie, I need a friend!  Someone I 
  can trust! I'm in a panic about this!

 Long pause.

  How can I see her, to know her?

  We're going to an opening at the 
  opera tonight. We'll dine at Ernie's 
  first.  Which is easier?


  All right.
  You won't know what to look for at 
  first, Scottie. Even I, who know her 
  so well, cannot tell, sometimes, 
  when the change has begun. She looks 
  so lovely and normal...

Here's how it was done...

Additionally, it's important to plant your foot on stage so there is no temptation to turn and hide from the audience unless it's for dramatic effect.

When speaking about film, blocking is important as well as camera placement and framing the subjects.

Assignment: create a short video using one of these prompts or your own ideas...

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Often a problem for actors is projection, or using their voice so the audience can hear them. The key is speaking from your diaphragm (just above your stomach).


Breath Control and Projection are critical skills for an actor, but they’re just as critical for drama teachers. The trick is to speak loudly and project without yelling. We often tell our students to project, but what about us? Think about how many times you have to raise your voice in a day. Do you project or do you yell?
Why do we need to project instead of yell?
Yelling uses vocal cords, which can get damaged if overused. Projection uses breath from the diaphragm and uses air to create the volume you want.
How do I know if I’m yelling or projecting?
If your diaphragm is not doing the work of creating volume, your vocal cords are – something has to do the work. If you keep yelling, your throat will start to feel sore. Projection has a depth to the sound. It tends to have a slightly deeper pitch and a rounder, more complex sound. Yelling sounds flat with a higher pitch.
How do I learn to project my voice?
Breathing from the diaphragm is key to learning how to project. The ‘ha’ exercise is one that works very well to practice. You take a big breath in – expanding your lungs down and your abdomen out – and then you force all that air out on a “ha.” This exercise is built for projection. You are using all your air at once on one sound so you can force that sound out and be really loud with it. Using that much air sends your sound out far and that’s what you’re trying to do.

Exercise: Visualization Technique
We can also use visualization to improve our projection. Since we are trying to get our sound to travel away from us, it can help to pick a spot on the wall opposite us and visualize your sound hitting that spot on the wall. It will let you focus on how far you want your sound to go.
1. Find several different-sized spaces. It might be a large room in which you can stand close, and then further away from a wall.
2. Find something to say. It might be a random sentence.
3. Stand close to the wall (or in a small space) and speak. Ask yourself:
a) Does the sound echo back? You should hear some echo, but not too much – enough to ensure you are being heard but not overly loud.
4. Once you have determined how loud you need to be in the space you’re in, look at how much air you use to speak at that volume. Keep track of how big of a breath you take in and how much air you let out.
5. Practice saying your phrase over and over until you’re sure you know how much air you need to be heard in the size space that you’re in.
6. Then, you move to a bigger space and repeat the exercise.
Soon yelling will be a thing of the past! 
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You don't want to end up like Christopher Walken in Peter Pan Live ...

Here's a good article from Chicago Stage Actors

Tricks for remembering your lines from the New York Film Academy:

1. Write your lines out.
Screenshot 2017-07-10 14.19.06
Try writing your lines out by hand — do not type them. This method works well for long scenes with speeches. Writing your lines out by hand forces your mind to connect to the action of writing the lines down and seeing the lines. Make sure you focus on writing your lines out and your lines only. It will let you focus on you without having the distraction of other actors’ lines.
2. Run lines with someone.
Screenshot 2017-07-10 14.22.20
Running lines with a partner is one of the most well-known methods for memorizing lines. The key is to run lines with another actor — not your friend from down the street. Running lines with another actor holds you accountable. Allow the person to coach you and read stage direction to you. During the first run, you’ll want to listen to the words and absorb the script.
If you can’t find someone to help you run lines, try using the app Rehearsal 2. While the app is $19.99, it allows you to highlight lines in the app, record other characters’ lines, and use it as a teleprompter.
3. Quiz yourself.
Screenshot 2017-07-10 14.21.18
Use a scrap piece of paper to cover up everything but the one line you are trying to memorize. Continue to read the same line over and over again. Once you feel comfortable, try reciting the line without looking at it. If you can, move on to the next line and start the process over again.
4. Go for a walk or take a nap.
Screenshot 2017-07-10 14.25.34
In an article published by “Chicago Tribune,” Cindy Gold of Northwestern University suggests that after looking at lines, it is helpful to either go for a walk or take a nap. While you rest, the information your brain just processed moves from short-term memory to long-term recall, where you will be able to recall things easier. Also, when you walk, you are exercising muscles and that helps with memorization.
5. Use a mnemonic device.
You can use a mnemonic device to help you remember your lines. Try writing down the first letter of every word in your lines. When you look at those letters, it will help jog your memory and you’ll remember your line a bit easier. Think of the mnemonic device as a short cut.
6. Learn the cue lines.
Screenshot 2017-07-10 14.20.09
Not only should you learn your lines, but you should learn your cue lines as well — these are the lines that lead into yours. By knowing the cue lines, you will be more prompt and you’ll be able to deliver your lines in a timely fashion.
Or here's another good site:
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Finally into the nuts and bolts of what we will be doing in this class...
The Play That Goes Wrong is a play within a play and one of the hottest plays running right now.


The Play That Goes Wrong begins before the curtain has even been raised, as the audience are present while the Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society prepare to stage their new production – the 1920s murder mystery 'Murder at Haversham Manor'. However the set is not yet complete and there is no time to finish it off…..the show must go on!
With a murder (and a moving corpse) established from the beginning, the murder mystery gets into full flow. However, the props start to disappear, actors go missing and the set begins to collapse around, and often on, the cast. Mayhem ensues, the acting gets worse, and the set becomes increasingly dangerous, but the company struggle on regardless. The question is whether any of the cast and crew will remain standing, or conscious, by the final curtain?!

And here are the characters:
Part Size
Vocal Part
We need to decide leads, understudies and set design/construction.
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P.S. Lam Nguyen is worth checking out!

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