“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

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Acting Coach Larry Moss Does Not Need a Buffoonery Workshop..

Okay… it’s a long title but it needs to be said.

I have just spent three amazing days auditing, witnessing, observing, absorbing, laughing, crying, taking notes, processing, confirming, squirming, cheer-leading, supporting, holding my breath, thinking and agreeing at the Larry Moss Workshop by Vancouver Acting School.

Larry Moss workshop held at The Rio Theatre Vancouver
Larry Moss workshop held at The Rio Theatre Vancouver

No,  Larry Moss, well known American acting coach, does not need to find his inner bouffon. He has it well intact as he was brutally, and winkingly (a made up Trilby word) truthful, like a bouffon loves to be, with each and every actor who was brave enough to perform a scene for him to critique.

And, he did.

Mr. Moss did not let one person off the hook. And, it wasn’t because he prances around with an ego to show off his expertise and tremendous experience. No… he does it because he cares deeply, very deeply about actors and their unseen potential.

He pushed, prodded, swore, bullied, encouraged, inspired, threatened, and did whatever it took to break through an actor’s carefully placed mask to get to their raw truth.

“It’s all about the story!” “Fall in love with the writing!” “If the writer wrote it, we want to hear it!” “Grow up to the writer.” “It’s about telling the story, all about the story.” “Script analysis… good actors are good detectives!”

Held at the spacious Rio Theatre in Vancouver, actors were forced to find their theatre voice – a challenge for many since a minimalist style of film acting, “faux naturalism”,  has become a sad epidemic, according to Larry Moss. “Narcissism is killing our work as artists.” “You’re all being geared for TV and it will eat you alive.” “Be brilliant in the theatre and the films will find you.”

Actors were made to do push ups, stamp the stage, scream, and shout, dance, and hold their hands to their ribs while doing their lines in order to find a grounded voice. Over and over again we witnessed breakthroughs, after breakthroughs, and wonderful gems proving this type of work is necessary. (it also affirmed the work I do with my buffoonery acting students)

On the last day, I recognized a part of myself  in a certain actor, and took  his work he did with Larry to my heart. Very quickly I found myself in tears,  tugging down my hat, relating to his difficulty of letting go of control and trusting the idea, the text, and not being afraid of vulnerability.

Yet, if I look back at some recent work, I have let go. I have gone into the deep end, but I know I could go even deeper.

Much deeper.

Other actors shed tears, as well, after their work with Larry was over. “How do you feel?” “I’m lost.” “No, you’re not lost, you’re getting found.” He leans forward, “All tears are because you now know what you didn’t know.” “… a nervous breakTHROUGH…”

He looks out at us. “Isn’t it funny, acting helps us rip down our defenses and be more human.”

The three-day session equaled a roller coaster of emotions, confirmations, and inspiration. I have to thank Kirsten Clarkson from the Vancouver Acting School for giving the gift of Larry Moss to our acting community.

We needed it.

Larry Moss & Kirsten Clarkson
Larry Moss & Kirsten Clarkson

“Choose something beyond your wildest dreams… dare to be great.” Larry Moss.

(Subsequent posts will contain more about the workshop as there is much to discuss… stay tuned..)

World Theatre Day…and more!

Today marks World Theatre Day, and it also marks exactly one year since I started this blog. Despite being here a year, I still feel like a newbie who desires to write more frequently, and explore more (hopefully that feeling will last forever).

In the meantime, I would like to wish you all a very Happy World Theatre Day.  I wish this day had the same buzz as the Olympics, but, unfortunately we live in a world where sport accomplishments seem to rise to the top, long before artistic ones. I guess it’s a number game.

However, I didn’t show up to my blog today to rant. I came here to celebrate theatre, and honour the spectacle, the liveness, the unexpected, the truth, the mistakes, the improvisation, the courage of the story, of the actors, and of the support behind the scenes.

Theatre has been in my life since I was 17 when I first got involved with costumes at the Charlottetown Festival in Prince Edward Island. I eventually became a dresser and the joke was always that “one of the performers had fallen” and “Trilby had to go on”. In my imagination, I would burst out of my dowdy pinafore and conveniently have a sequined outfit underneath. I was READY!

That scenario didn’t happen, but I did end up taking the place of one of the clowns in the children’s clown show where I was also doing the lights and audio. And, I loved it. The performing seed was planted.

My journey was seriously launched at Le Conservatoire d’Art Dramatique, in Quebec City, where I studied acting, en Francais, for three years.

Outside le théâtre du Conservatoire
Outside le théâtre du Conservatoire

Since graduation (many moons ago), I have played with lots of actors, told lots of stories in both languages, had funny things happen (remember your mustache drifting off your face, Dan?), had scary moments (oh..it’s awful to have a blank on opening night!), and had a lot of fun.

Earlier this year I was fortunate to have directed “The Memory of Water” by Shelagh Stephenson and I truly enjoyed the creative adventure. This evening, appropriately, the cast and crew are celebrating our journey together.

Cast & Crew of "The Memory of Water"
Cast & Crew of "The Memory of Water"

So, today, I dedicate World Theatre Day to them, our experience, and to all those who continue to dare to write plays, mount plays, act in plays, tour with plays, renovate old theatres, and to the audiences who continue to appreciate witnessing live theatre.

Merci, et, célébronskeep celebrating theatre! Vive Le Théâtre!

Saving The Santa Monica Playhouse!

Just recently we were in Los Angeles doing some “biz” stuff, and had the pleasure of spending some time at the Santa Monica Playhouse, Santa Monica, my favourite area of LA. Peter D. Marshall and I spent a Saturday at the Playhouse at their Main Stage having a little “Meet ‘n Greet”.

When you arrive at the Playhouse, you have no idea what awaits. You walk into a magical cave, a funky old building with doors hiding performance spaces, a European flavoured courtyard, and a vibe of valued history.

Part of the courtyard

Evelyn Rudie, and Chris DeCarlo are wonderful people who have been running the Playhouse since 1973. The Playhouse, itself, has been producing, non-stop for 49 years and is headed to its 50th, if all goes well. Since Evelyn and Chris have been co-artistic directing, the Playhouse has been honoured with over 250 awards and commendations, and has presented 500 classic, contemporary, and original productions!

Evelyn Rudie and me

Things are somewhat challenging for them at the moment (who isn’t having problems in the arts?), and they have started a “Save The Playhouse” campaign to get them to the end of this year.

After, seeing this intimate treasure with its maze of lovely spaces, and a main stage drenched in theatrical vibes of a historical nature, I promised I would see if I could get a bit more of the world to know about them. And with that exposure, maybe some help would come through.

Entrance to the Main Stage

I could be criticized for not writing about something that is more local, but these days, my world feels quite global, and a theatre in need is a THEATRE in need. And, besides, I just like these guys, a lot, and it’s my blog!

And this isn’t just any theatre.

Co-Artistic Director, Chris DeCarlo, a Viet Nam veteran, said that his experiences convinced him that his mandate was to put the human back in humanity. “All of us at the Playhouse want to make a dramatic difference in our world.”

I hope they continue, because as I strolled on the boards of their “Main Stage”, I dared to speak a few words of my one-woman show I’m developing, and it felt good!

If you would like to investigate further, please see their website, and if you feel moved to contribute to their continued success, don’t hesitate (there’s a “donate” button on their site). They are super, and the kids who study there think so too!

(By the way, Evelyn Rudie was the youngest actress to ever receive a Hollywood Star on the Walk of Fame….wow! 🙂 )

Save the Playhouse!

The Art of Listening…?

I was in grade 8. It was lunchtime. Hanging out in the classroom with my friends, I was eating my tuna and pickled onion sandwich (home made onions by my Mom) and launching into a story.

I can’t remember the story now, but I do remember suddenly noticing one of my friends completely interrupt me to talk about something. I was incensed. I stopped talking. Eventually, all of my friends noticed my silence. The girl who had interrupted told me to continue.

I refused. I dug in my heels and point blankly refused. “You weren’t listening, so I’m not going to tell you the rest.” And, I didn’t.

When I was even younger and hanging out with adults a fair bit (I was an only child) I used to ponder the magic of these big people. As I watched and listened to them, I marveled at how they could talk and listen at the same time, since their voices were often all going at once.  As a kid, I concluded that you gained an extra sense when you became an adult enabling you to listen and speak simultaneously.

Nope!

Listening. Hearing. Empathizing. Sympathizing. Understanding. Relating. Connecting.

In recent rehearsals for a play, our director would remind us to listen, really truly listen to the others. This advice was always valuable as it pushed a sort of “refresh” button. Anticipating the delivery of your lines and your fellow actors’ lines kills the life in a scene.

In performance, you must hear, and speak the text as if for the first time. If you trust your listening skills, the interpretation will then reveal fresh nuances . The result is a greatly satisfying experience for both the audience and the actor.

In real life, ineffective listening shows up chronically.

Wandering eyes, vacant looks, the chest rising with a breath that is ready to interrupt with their own thoughts that are quickly formulating in their head, or a polite nod, are all clear indicators of an unsuccessful listener. And, they never ask questions. (The good ones do the opposite!)

In business, truly listening to a potential client, and being curious about their needs will most likely be more effective than constantly “pitching” them. I know most of us get annoyed at those badly scripted phone calls from large companies trying to sell us something.

The other day I had one of those calls. At breakneck speed, a guy assumed he had what I wanted and pitched me over and over, using statements like “I want you to..” “You need this..” “I will sign you up today…”. He most certainly was not listening to me as an individual with unique needs.

I stopped him and suggested, gently, that his company should change their tactics to ask what the potential customer would actually like before they assumed they knew best! Their business would most likely improve!

Today, we communicate frequently via the social media (Facebook, twitter, etc..)  where some “interesting” listening is occurring. Some people seem to think that constantly giving people information is a “social” action.

In my mind, being social usually entails listening, conversing, and possibly mutually creating deeper value. The  successful internet socialites shine and are a great example.

What do you think?

What is your best or worst listening experience, and your best or worst “being listened to” experience? I challenge you to observe those around you, and yourself as the art of listening unfolds. I will join you in this venture… honest!

Let me know how it goes.

(Oh, and by the way… one of the most important listening skills to develop is listening to yourself, your instincts, your ideas, your dreams, your loves, your questions, and your ponderings.)

And, for your listening pleasure…..

Permission To Play… reviving your inner kid!

When I was little, I didn’t want to grow up. The grown up world looked terribly serious and my instincts told me sub-consciously that there would be a drastic change.

One day when we were kids hanging out in the back shed lighting matches for fun (no we didn’t burn the place down), my little girlfriend told me that she couldn’t wait to get married and have kids. Wow. I thought she was nuts. I felt no rush nor desire for the same. None.

Now, gazillions of years later I know what my childhood instincts were telling me. There was going to be a lot less play in the grown up world and a lot more problems to solve. I just knew.

The other day on my walk, I watched an impish mix of  adults and kids playing soccer with abandon. It made me grin and I knew that nothing else could be on their minds. Too busy playing, they were in the elusive “now” where all the great contemporary gurus are telling us to be. (have you read Eckart Tolle’s book “The Power of Now”?) The soccer game was a perfect example.

Silly us adults frolicking for fun.. imagine!
Silly us adults frolicking for fun.. imagine!

Theatre, stage work offers this opportunity for me and I believe my journey to this world was an honest trek from childhood. I needed to keep playing. It felt like air, a serious necessity. Being a character on a stage, in a situation, with a live audience, if you are sincere with your work, will keep you divinely present.

When we get to witness, as an audience, a truly connected, compelling, and riveting performance in theatre we are privy to the players in the now. There is clarity and presence. And a strange truth.

To get to some of these great moments, I believe play is of the utmost importance. En Francais acting is called “l’art de jeu” – the art of playing. If we allow our grown up tightness to breathe and expand, we have an opportunity to experience extraordinary unexpected times.

We need to have the chance to discover and explore. I guess that is why I turned to Le Bouffon as a tool to get us all to our playful selves, and discover some gems in our work.

Bouffons in their element! Adults gone.
Bouffons in their element! Adults gone.

“It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child” Pablo Picasso

This idea of play translates beyond the theatre, musical and artistic world.

Who isn’t more productive when we have permission to laugh, or play in our working environment? A boss who reprimands employees who dare to enjoy themselves at work risks stymieing the worker and ironically losing productivity.

When I worked as a costumer in the film industry, I had a favourite designer who had a great sense of humour. We developed a wacky reputation as laughter frequently burst out of “that crazy wardrobe truck”! That laughter got us through the immense work and long grueling hours much more easily.

How is play in your grown up life? What do you do to nurture yourself in your working world? I’m curious. Do you have a situation to share where play proved to be the answer?

Despite my strong will to play, I still write to myself as much as to you, when I say that play is imperative. My bouffon students have heard me say, “I wish I could take my workshop!” as I watch them play wholeheartedly, forgetting about their adult masks, and discovering the sacred pleasure of the now. Their results? A freedom of expression that leads them to more.

I dare to wish that for everyone.

“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” George Bernard Shaw