“On a First Name Basis”

Take an upper echelon, self absorbed (until today) writer, and his clever, under appreciated housekeeper and throw in some expensive bottles of booze. The result? A wonky waltz of intellectual and emotional discovery.

When writer, David, insists on them using first names and crossing boundaries, the awkward fun begins. Especially as he didn’t even know her first name. After twenty eight years of service.

C_FK06mUAAASyEn.jpg large

First Impressions Theatre has once again Continue reading ““On a First Name Basis””

Always … Patsy Cline

I went to the opening night of “Always…Patsy Cline” because I knew my friend had a good role in the show and I enjoy supporting the company First Impressions Theatre as they’re pretty special people. As the lights dimmed, I leaned over to my friend and whispered, “I hate country music”. He whispered back, “You’re in the wrong place”. I settled in, despite my attitude.

Well… that attitude… Continue reading “Always … Patsy Cline”

Fringe Onsite…. Vancouver International Fringe Festival

A bridge, a grassy knoll, a big pond, trees, stumps with blankets, odd bits and pieces not normally found in this context, a curiosity, and a sense of mystery all added up to a rehearsal I witnessed two days prior to the opening of site specific show “Relapse” by And The Other Leg Theatreof Vancouver.

The Site of “Relapse”…. Fringe Onsite show

It is one of many onsite shows inspired by all the nooks and crannies of Granville Island, mentored by Kendra Fanconi, the Producing Artistic Director of the Only Animal, and the Fringe’s Executive Director, David Jordan. In 2011, the Only Animal began its exploration of onsite creations and for this year’s Fringe has collaborated with 14 companies to produce the onsite line-up. Each company began their journey into the unknown by attending workshops April.

It’s now opening time, and so far we are blessed with the promise of good weather. After seeing photographer/actor/creator Chara Berk  and clown/actor/creator Kaeridwyn Newman’s gritty piece the other evening, I will pray for warm weather until closing night. And, that’s all I’m saying! See it…

Years ago, I recall the mysterious, titillating, almost religious sensation after I rose at 4:00 a.m. to drive to Two Jack Lake near Banff, Alberta to see the site specific piece “Princess of the Stars”. It was 1985 and I was working at the Banff Centre in costumes. People shook their heads at this “crazy” outdoor project based on Native myths that would commence with the dawn.

Well… it was a beautifully haunting experience that has remained with me: musical instruments and voices singing from across the lake, the respectful silence as we were ushered in the dark to our spots on the grass, winged creatures being canoed through the mist, and the big wolf.

The “crazy” idea was met with mixed feelings, but I can attest that being on location while creations simultaneously unfold can be very exciting. How will nature and man interfere and create an extra dimension. What gems may appear? The expected unexpected will occur keeping us on our toes.

Knowing that, I encourage you to take in some of the Fringe Onsite, and maybe even the same show more than once. Challenge yourself to see what will happen to you. What reactions you might have.

I mean, isn’t that why we go to theatre?

Break legENDS everyone at the Vancouver International Fringe Festival from September 6-16. See you out there!

Vive le theatre!

(Also writing for Greater Vancouver Professional Theatre Alliance)

My Solo World Theatre Day Mission…

Today March 27 World Theatre Day celebrates it’s 50th anniversary with a succinct & pertinent speech by John Malkovich. Fifty years….. It’s amazing that fifty years later there are so many people who still aren’t aware of this celebration.

I took it on as a mission today to make sure that a whole bunch of people would become enlightened by a simple gesture. I made my sign. Put on my runners and a smile. Then hit the streets with no fanfare.

Me and my World Theatre Day message
Me and my World Theatre Day message

It worked! One person CAN make a difference.

I had conversations about theatre, plays, musicals, husbands who won’t go, time that doesn’t allow, people who loved theatre in Europe, good memories, the politics (especially recently) and I even made some play suggestions that were received positively. I We all laughed. I felt happy as I brought smiles to people….(isn’t that sort of live theatre?) Some cars honked and the drivers gave me the thumbs up.

Now, back at home I feel good that I stirred up a little bit in my quiet community. The dry cleaning man said, “Why isn’t there a parade?” Well… maybe next year, I’ll instigate a parade!

You in?

Here are some people I met who didn’t know about WTD (except one…guess who?)

The local librarian at the West Vancouver Library
The local librarian at the West Vancouver Library

Ginnie & Doris who love theatre! (gave good life tips too!)
Ginnie & Doris who love theatre! (gave good life tips too!)

At our local cafe "Cafe Trafiq"
At our local cafe "Cafe Trafiq"

Our favourite local Iranian store
Our favourite local Iranian store

Our Friday night sushi place
Our Friday night sushi place

This guy wants a World Theatre Day parade!
This guy wants a World Theatre Day parade!

Love small hardware stores!
Love the small hardware stores!

These gals were such fun. It's the middle one's birthday, too!
These gals were such fun. It's the middle one's birthday, too!

Happy West Van busdriver!
Happy West Van busdriver!

Family supporting the arts.
Family supporting the arts

World Theatre on the beach!
World Theatre on the beach!

I dedicate this World Theatre Day to those who continue to make theatre despite the trials & tribulations, and this world of high technology. Vive Le Theatre… Nous allons continuer!

(did you guess the one person who knew about World Theatre Day?)

Blogging for Greater Vancouver Professional Theatre Alliance

I’m BACK! Good grief… I have never had such a busy start to a year. But, I’m not complaining! It’s all been very creative. Buffoonery workshops, a conference, teaching, scene study, a film shoot (more on that), and writing, but, alas, not here.

At the end of 2011, I accepted to become an official blogger for the Greater Vancouver Professional Theatre Alliance and amidst all the yummy creative chaos of January I managed to see some theatre and also do some writing. I’d like to share my recent posts with you here, if you would like to read them.

Vive Le Bouffon

It’s the love scene in “All’s Well That Ends Well” by Shakespeare. I’m playing the boy. My partner is playing the girl. And, we’re both bouffons. The production is en Francais and we’re having a ball mocking this scene, as bouffons do. Ce n’est qu’un plaisir!

I come off stage for my next change, back into a “normal” character and realize how free I feel. I also realize that my devilish inner voice that taunts me, tells me I’m not good enough, has been flushed into the outer world. Nowhere near me.

Read the rest of the article on GVPTA’s blog

On The Topic of Rehearsing

Last Saturday evening I went to witness the current VanArts (formerly the William Davis Centre) acting students’ presentation of their “rehearsal project” taught by Dave Mott and Daniel Martin. Since I had also taught this group, I wanted to support their first public appearance. The 10 students were guided through the play “The Hologram Theory” by Jessica Goldberg. The goal of this class is to teach the students how to rehearse effectively.

Effectively – just what is that?

Read the rest of the article on GVPTA’s blog

Traces… Their Truth?

Brush strokes, tattoos, video testimonials, life scars, legacies….. These are a few of the traces I pondered after watching Théâtre la Seizième’s original production “Traces”, directed (& created by) Craig Holzschuh and Anita Rochon, with collaboration by Gilles Poulin-Denis, (stage manager, Noa Anatot; set design: Julie Marten; lighting: Jeremy Baxter; music, Steve Charles; video, Corwin Ferguson) recently on at Studio 16 in Vancouver.

Coming from a family of artists – father, painter & potter – mother, fibre artist, I was always aware of the marks they were leaving in the world. I was in admiration of their visual contribution that will remain long after they are gone. It made me wonder about my contribution.

Read the rest of the article on GVPTA’s blog

The EveryDay as Drama: “El Pasado Es Un Animal Grotesco”

This January has been unusually busy. Therefore, I didn’t get to see as many shows during the PuSH Festival as I had dreamed of doing, but I was fortunate to witness “El Pasado..” by Mariano Pensotti. Ironically, unbeknownst to me, the only show I saw last year at the PuSH was by the same author, “La Marea” on the street in Gastown. In hindsight, I can certainly see a similar energy, style and observation of everyday life.

Everyday life – something we don’t necessarily see as dramatic, theatrical fodder to present. In the filmmaking world, Alfred Hitchcock quoted: “Drama is life with the dull bits cut out”. When I hear that, I suspect the “dull bits” are what occurs in the everyday, the quotidian, that aren’t featured in dramatic story telling. How many scenes do you see people scratching off their to-do list, changing the toilet paper, clearing the fog off the mirror after a shower, washing their coffee pot, ironing, writing a note, humping a pillow…..

Read the rest…. well, you get it now! HERE

Feel free to share any of your thoughts…. Would love to hear them.

Halloween Memories….

Little witchy Trilby!

Happy Halloween Everyone!

As a little girl, I LOVED Halloween! It was my favourite time of year. I guess that’s why I ended up in the performance arts. Dressing up, being something else, make believe, PLAYING…. all such fun things to do as a kid.

As an adult, we tend to let go of our playful tendencies as the worries of the quotidian life creep in and take over. But, this doesn’t serve us well.

Playing is just as important, and relevant, no matter what that inner voice tells you – (“you look silly”, “this isn’t serious enough”, “playing is for kids only”)!

I would love to hear about your great Halloween memories, what were some of your costumes, and adventures?

Even if you are not going to dress up this year, how can you find a way to celebrate the kid in you?

 

Dialect Coaching: recommendations for actors & filmmakers…

A few weeks ago I asked a question on twitter regarding challenges you encounter surrounding your work and what a good situation would be.  I had some interesting answers but one in particular was impassioned.

Pamela Vanderway is a dialect coach and obviously has great avidity for her chosen work. I asked her if I could post her valuable response on my blog, and she agreed.

Voila:

“Trilby, you had asked me what the ideal scenario is for film projects when it comes to requiring actors to work in a dialect other than their own.  Each project will have special requirements, but in general here’s what really works well:

The ideal scenario re: employing a dialect coach  (aka dialect consultant) for film is to hire a supervising dialect consultant at the same time all of the department heads are hired — well ahead of actual production.

This consultant analyzes the script, alerting the director of dialect and language challenges (which can occur even when the script is written so as to require a General American dialect for each character since many box office sweethearts don’t naturally sport a General American dialect.)

The supervising coach (working with the director and sometimes the film’s star and/or even that star’s personal dialect coach) assembles custom recorded dialect materials that actors can emulate in order to enhance the story being told.

During this process special attention is paid to the many factors that influence the dialects of every character that will be seen on screen (such as place of birth, education, religion, affluence, family groupings, physical impediments etc.).

The supervising coach then assists the casting director during the casting process by attending auditions and helping the CD and producers determine which actors will most likely be able to deliver an accurate, consistent and integrated dialect in time for the shoot. The idea here is to cast actors who don’t need much or any coaching on set, as usually by the time the production gets around to casting the secondary and tertiary characters the shooting schedule is looming large!

The high profile actors who have been attached from the beginning of the project tend to succeed best when given 6 to 8 weeks to master and integrate a dialect. Because they are typically cast early on, they usually have that time available if everyone is ‘on it’ and gets them the materials and daily coaching they need. (The actors you tend to see winning awards prepare this early even when the production companies don’t follow an ideal course of action.)

Depending on the size of the cast, the number of locations and the preference of the director and the high profile actors involved, the supervising coach either coaches all the actors themselves (being present basically wherever/whenever the director is present for dialogue shots and in actor trailers/make-up trailers etc. working with actors in between). Or instead this supervising coach may coordinate a crew of coaches, keeping everyone on the same page in order to best serve the director’s vision and the story.

The supervising coach (and any coaches they supervise) also may provide detailed notes of dialect mismatches for editors to keep in mind as they edit, or the coach may be asked to watch a rough cut and indicate where ADR (looping) may be required due to dialect mismatches. The goal of course is zero dialect-generated ADR.”

Thank you, Pamela for discussing the importance of dialect coaching within the context of film production. As we have witnessed, as actors, and filmmakers, the better prepared we are prior to shooting the better quality the final project. If we are rushed on set, and ill-prepared, the important details, such as a dialect, will suffer and therefore decrease the credibility of the performance. As a result, the audience will not believe or empathize with the characters. Not a good situation!

Enjoy browsing through Pamela’s website for more tips and information regarding dialect coaching.

And… a little tidbit of my favourite actress (Meryl Streep) with all her dialects!

“Buffoonery Acting Workshops” Goes To Victoria, B.C.

I’m excited to announce that Buffoonery is headed to Victoria! This workshop is primarily for actors or for people who would like to explore the acting profession.

Buffoonery Goes To Victoria BC
Buffoonery Goes To Victoria BC

I will be leading the 1 1/2 day workshop Saturday, February 12 and Sunday, February 13. The attractive Victoria location where the workshop will be held is The Church of Truth (I thought, very appropriate!) The hours are from 9:30-5:30 on Saturday, and from 1:30 to 5:30 on Sunday.

You will be taken through a series of exercises that will comfortably bring you to the bouffon work. At this point, we chase you out of your comfort zone and introduce you to YOU! .. Or, at least your own bouffon. Based on Jacques LeCoq‘s bouffon work, my workshop helps you develop a great tool for your rehearsals, auditions, and every day life!

Bouffon Class!

There will be an hour lunch break on Saturday, and you are welcome to bring a lunch or explore the restaurants in the area.

If you want to explore your creative self, have fun, and gain confidence, please join us! (class is limited to 15 participants) To book this workshop, click here . If you’d like to “meet” me, click here. Or, call.. 604-922-3744

Read more about “Buffoonery Acting Workshops

“Buffooning: taught by Trilby is one of the most innovative methods of layering any actor’s character. It is a must for any serious actor who wishes to further hone their craft and honour themselves as both a person and an actor. SOOOO MUCH FUN!” Charlene Luedke, Vancouver, Canada

Acting and The Physical Life…

Out of your head and into your body”.

When I heard American Acting Coach, Larry Moss emphatically state these words, during the recent Vancouver Acting School workshop, I felt a knowing thrill dash through my body. It’s the motto I constantly preach in my Buffoonery Acting Workshops – and it’s even imprinted on my business card!

Obviously, we still need our head but lately, the body seems to be a neglected tool in the practice of acting as was made evident during the workshop. Actor after actor was ordered by Larry Moss to commit more to the script and physicalize their process.

“Stamp your feet, and say your lines, stamp harder!”

“Do push-ups, feel your feet on the floor, ground your breath, pretend you’re a dog (isn’t your character dog-like?).

“Deliver your lines like a hyena.” “Sing your text!”

“Show me five ways you could sit in that chair.”

It was exciting and rewarding when actors dared to respond and venture into unfamiliar territory and frustrating if they resisted. You could see bodies awaken as they risked leaving their comfort zone (I call it the “safe zone”) and into brave action. Stories, scripts came to life.

It’s not about you! It’s about the story.” A simple gesture can illustrate an important story point. “It’s hot, really hot. Wipe your neck. Hike up your dress. Do something!” When the actor released her control and dove into the temperature of the play, more surprising moments naturally followed.

Larry Moss certainly affirmed the importance of connecting to the physical. “Watch Meryl Streep, Daniel Day Lewis, Dustin Hoffman without sound and watch how they tell a story through the physical.” “Find the physical that tells the story that the verbal doesn’t.

My goal when I teach my buffoonery acting workshops is to get the actor way out of their physical comfort zone and get them to know themselves. My Porsche analogy explains it well. Let’s say you drive a Porsche but you drive it only downtown. You know it can go really fast but you don’t really know what it feels like. One day you go to the desert where it is safe and you put “pedal to the metal”. You sit up straight, hold onto the wheel like never before and you grasp the power of your car. You return to the city and continue to drive your Porsche, but now, you are different. You are at one with your machine. You have an alternate, connected energy about you.

This is exactly what happens once you find your bouffon. You go to an extreme in play, and in text, and then return to your normal self, and “normal” acting. The great by-product of this process is discovering unexpected sub-text in the monologue/scene exercises, leaving the actor with a terrific audition or rehearsal tool.

Buffooning Romeo & Juliet... guess who's Juliet?
Buffooning Romeo & Juliet... guess who's Juliet?

Chapter ten in Larry Moss’s book “The Intent to Live” goes into more depth on the subject of the physical life. He gives us specific examples of the story taken to another level because of an actor’s physical choice. “When your body’s lost, look for a choice…this is your talent.”

The Intent to Live
The Intent to Live by Larry Moss

Once again I thank Larry Moss for getting things moving, and re-confirming the work I do with actors. When I excitedly chatted with him about his work and my relationship to it via “Le Bouffon” his eyes lit up and he said, “Bless you for doing this work.”

Merci, Monsieur Moss…. I am honoured…

Thank you again to Vancouver Acting School for bringing a Master among us!