[U3]: Task 1 – Primary Research

 19/09/2016 Producing, Lynn Whitehead – Producer

She talked about how hard it is to be the producer of a show. You have got to do a budget about everything that you need and sometimes getting a lighting designer is a luxury. It is a whole lot of complicated thinking about what job you can cramp into other jobs as in the director could also do lighting design and maybe the set designer can also be the costume designer. It gets fun, but it’s also quite depressing when you’re just under the budget and you need that just one tiny little bit of money and those arts council people won’t supply you with a budget to perform your show which would definitely sell out the box office. The arts council is where you can fill out a form, send it to them and with luck get a loan to produce your show, or whatever it is you’re putting on. There is just a whole lot to pay for, you have to pay for marketing, for actors and all the other people who constitute the show, you need to pay rehearsal space, rent out the venue and more! So, before you can start paying these things with the ticket money, you have to find other ways to get the money, like grants or sponsorships. We learned about the various kinds of jobs you can have in the acting industry from fly-man and steward to artistic director and everything in between. We had to play a game to see if we knew what each job title did. We got most of them correct but to be honest there were a lot of similar names that did different things and a lot of them I just didn’t recognize. Image on the left shows what we thought would be the correct answer; image on the right portrays what we got right (left bunch of papers) and what we got wrong (right bunch of papers).

After that game we had to pretend we were organizing a show and the group of people we were with were all producers and we would have to make this show work. As visible in the paper below, there’s a lot of counting and there’s a lot of things we want but also a lot of things we won’t be able to afford.

 

19/09/2016 Casting/Producing Tim Welton – Actor/Director

He went to RADA, had auditions for agents there and that’s how you would be put out there for auditions in a more easy way. Through your agent. After speaking a bit about how actors become actors and meet people and how he switched to being a director after a while. We did an activity where we were given an actor/actress, in our case it was Anna Campkin. On the paper it showed how that person was physically, it showed past experiences and it showed what skills they had.

After observing the actors we were given a bit and discussing whether their pictures were all the same and whether they have a lot of experience or not, talking about their skills and what role we thought this person could play, we move on to a task of having to assign our actor to a role.

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However, if the actor does not meet any of these criteria, we would not cast them at all. Best advice is to put everything as true as possible because once you do get an audition and you’re not the way you said you would be, you will have just wasted everyone’s time. Anna Campkin could potentially be Linda if Anna’s playing age would be a bit higher. But apart from that she could fit in quite alright.

19/09/2016 Playwriting, Danusia Iwaszko – Playwright

She gave really sound advice about everything we asked and she had really good knowledge of what a writer should do in what circumstance. She works at writing for 5 hours a day, if i’m not mistaken. It’s 90% perspiration and only 10% inspiration. You must work hard at doing whatever you want to do because just waiting for those inspiration moments will not be enough. She also mentioned that she was an actor at RADA before becoming a playwright. So either one of us actors could still become a playwright, just like her. There were quite a few things that were said by her in this little time that we had that are worth a mention. We might be inspired by other people, but we won’t copy because we all got our own fingerprint. Meaning that whatever we do that we recreate, we will always make it slightly to our liking. Danusia also did a bit of TV but she gave up on that, and that is really curious because that is my dream, I would never give up TV for actual theatre. She did though. She gave up TV for theatre because theatre is a live show. It’s much more lively than a TV show where you would hear “cut” a thousand times. There was a lot of advice for aspiring writers, for example: know your characters. Have a massive biography on each of your characters, if you don’t know where they come from, what they did, you can’t know how they act and what they would say. If you want to start writing, write for something you love. When you’re out of ideas just go sleep. And the best advice for any type of writer is: Finish it. Finish what you started, no matter how small it is. Don’t leave story sketches just lying around. Lastly, something for all of us who will definitely struggle with this. Do not give up freelance after a short amount of time. Do freelance for at least a couple of years. Give it a chance, don’t just dismiss it after 3 months.

20/09/16 Producing, Paul Schofield – Musical Director

All I knew before was that Paul was our choir teacher, now I know that he has written and performed in cruise ships. He was given the task of creating something that would entertain the people. something that is about 50 minutes long and that can be performed on a ship. So, he gave us the same task and we had to come up with an idea for a musical that the director would definitely like. We came up with a man who loved to play the saxophone since he was a kid. His mother was against it and told him to get a real job, while his father was supportive of the idea but he left home because he couldn’t bare the mom. The man quits playing the saxophone and becomes a butcher. After nearly 40 years he decides to pickup the saxophone again and play one last song. Something that he would create. He then dies in a horrible car accident. After his death the song he wrote becomes one of the most famous songs in the world.

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Some problems that were mentioned for ours were: How will we know when it’s a time skip? And the person can’t be completely different can they? We would also not be using many actors or dancers. I think what could be done is the main character would put on a grey haired wig to go from youngish to old and to go from teenager to young adult we could either have a smaller person star before or we could portray the feeling with lights and clothing. As for the fact that we won’t be using all of the dancers and actors given to us, well, we can always use them either for the next one or as some really minor parts like butcher’s co-worker.

21/09/16 Performing, Erica Dupuy – Stand up Comedy

She told us of how she came to be where she is now and how she got into stand up (which she didn’t even want to do, because she thought she wasn’t funny). Afterwards she explained what stand up really is and what it consists of. As you might expect, stand up comedy is not improvised that much, it’s actually very much scripted and made to look like you’re telling it for the first time. We spoke about the 3 legged stool of stand up comedy again: material, persona and status. Material can be very simple to find, just something that has the consent of majority as being a thing (example: high end fashion is ridiculous), but you have to choose your audience correctly. Persona is what defines the style of your comedy. If you’re shy and nervous maybe your comedy is mostly joking about yourself. If you’re good looking you will joke about how all the ladies come to you, etc. While status defines the relationship you have with the audience. If you’re high status you will treat your audience as inferiors and generally just mock them; If you’re medium status you will be the kind of person everyone relates to, and someone that they just want to be friends with; If you’re low status you will be sorry to be there on stage and that the audience doesn’t have someone of a high status instead, that’s the kind of attitude of a low status comedian.

We discussed why is it that there are less women in stand up comedy than men. Out of the top 20 best earning stand up comedians in UK only one (number 9) is a woman. Why is that? There were many reasons that were put out, some of them said it was because: women had a softer approach to humour, women are preconceived to be less funnier than men, there is (or used to be, supposedly it is now split in half) more men in the audience than women, and more. But all of this also comes with a positive: women have a bigger chance of a job, because they are women and some places now require there to be at least one woman in the midst of all comedian men.

In the end you need to ask yourself “what do they do that i like?” or “why is it that this is funny?”. If you can answer these questions you will improve your chances of being a good stand up comedian because you will know what is funny. And you must remember that, just like Erica, you might want to be doing theatre now but in a few years when you are actually acting in it, that can still lead to stand up comedy!

22/09/16, Performing/Producing, Gem Skii – Touring Company Director

Starting the day off in the theatre we met Gem Skii, and alongside her her technician: Lauren. In very quick games, about a minute or two long, we discussed some stuff we had already talked about before. But firstly in little groups we talked about why we are doing this. Some great answer came about which I could relate to a lot. For example: We do it for the love, we do it to please other people, we do it because it’s fun. Had I spoken I would’ve probably said “I do it because it’s what I think I can do best”. Seconds later we had to come up with a budget for a show that was travelling for 2 months. We came up with some ideas but when discussing they were quickly said, I think we could have thought a little harder and thought a little more outside the box. For the budget you need to account for the following things:

  • Accommodation
  • Travel
  • Venue Booking
  • Sets, props, costume/technical equipment
  • Talent – actors, MD, techies, musicians, sound and lighting directors, etc
  • Rehearsal space
  • Marketing
  • Food

So that’s a lot of things to account for, and it might not even be all of them. Now, depending on the size of everything you might pay a lot less for talent which in turn you’ll pay less for everything else but the bigger the show the more you have to pay for each thing.

We then quickly had to discuss how to get the money for all this. Because you can only get ticket money after you’ve done the show and you can only do the show if you have money to do it. So it is a dilemma but there are ways:

  • Sponsorship (Brand)
  • Grants – arts council, lottery
  • Alumni
  • Outside shows
  • Busking
  • Crowd funding
  • Patronage
  • Event
  • Social media

If you eventually start getting money from all of these then you are alright in terms of money to put on a good show that will earn you some cash.

And here are the Golden Rules of small scale touring:

  1. Do it for the love
  2. No half measures
  3. USP – Diversify
  4. Bullet points for funding applications
  5. Don’t be deluded, only 1% get somewhere
  6. Prepare for sacrifice: Judge your success by what you had to give up
  7. Wear many hats, spin many plates
  8. Plates shatter, learn from it
  9. Always strive and improve
  10. Patrons, work your network
  11. Believe in yourself
  12. Be brave!

Overall, this whole session with Gem was so much learning and so much fun later on in the night when we saw Joan, Babs and Sheila too performed by her. I was reminded of a lot of things that are important and I got slightly depressed but then inspired by the “Don’t be deluded, only 1% make it”. This just means i have to strive harder to be in that 1%.

22/09/16, Working, Lynn Whitehead – Other jobs

We talked about everything that we can do alongside acting. As acting is a freelance job most of the time you must do something alongside it or else you will starve and live in the streets… unless you’re Brad Pitt. Some great job opportunities were mentioned, and I am planning to hopefully get a job as soon as possible while in college to help me pay my things because the bursary is taking quite long. Personally out of all those jobs that were mentioned, I am most probably going to end up doing either agency work, working at some place like Starbucks or McDonald’s or, my very dangerous option, which is the triple freelance danger. I will be a freelance actor, a freelance masseur and a freelance IT. Which is the equivalent of going all in before river on poker.

22/09/16, Performing, Hannah Schofield – Voice acting

We listened to voice reels by Amy Pemberton and Richard Ridings. Amy’s voice reel had videos in it and we could see that she has done voice acting for all kinds of things, from commercials to video games. Richard’s voice reel was just him saying some things and doing slight variations of his voice. After watching those we had to create our own commercial for whichever product we chose to advertise and use our voice acting skills. We did an advertisement for toothpaste, more specifically for toothpro extreme ultra maximus, which is specifically designed to reduce gum and teeth pain. I voice acted the doctor with a kind of soothing low voice. I think I could’ve done my voice a lot better, it was alright but if we had a few more minutes I think I could’ve landed a nicer and more soothing low voice than the one that was played. If we had found a quiet and non-echo place sooner would’ve also made our work better. As someone who is interested in voice acting as a career option this was nice because I didn’t really know we had to do a voice reel. And just as an opinion on voice reels, I think they should be just your voice and no video, because the video distracts you from listening to what the actual voice is… but then again a video along with it gives a more specific example of what you could do.

23/09/16, Performing, Birgitta Kenyon – Cabaret Artist

Birgitta came to talk about herself and her career of being a cabaret artist. At first she really wanted to be one of those people who play the piano on stage and that is all. So she studied how to play the piano. But eventually she ended up doing a lot more. She had regular term choir, and she taught people how to sing; she writes songs and musicals; she was a musical director for a pantomime; she does funeral and wedding singing for people she never met; she writes songs for prisoners as therapy and currently she’s a cabaret artist who’s persona’s name is Fred. So she has done a lot in terms of anything that is related to music but she’s also an actress. When she left college she knew less about the world than us; she knew nothing about tax, nothing about business in general. But she made it to where she is now and all of that without ever having an agent. She went looking for things herself, she did all of her research and she made it to where she is now by being motivated. There was a point in her life where she realized she could do what she wanted after her divorce. She started a choir with some people and she did not get paid but along the years everyone grew and now it is an actual great choir and they do get paid. Currently she’s mainly a cabaret artist but she does everything else as well because she can’t stay doing one thing for too long or she will get bored. First off cabaret shows usually have a master of ceremonies who is the host of the show. Cabaret artist seems like something I could be as well. It sounds almost as if you’re a stand up comedian. In cabaret shows you find your own persona and create your own show. It is really what you make it to be. And the most fun part is that you get to interact with your audience, so it is really quite a bit of improvisation as well because it depends on what your audience would end up doing. Her advice to us for when we’re looking for things to be in is to use facebook. Facebook is one of the greatest tools of the recent generation according to her because we just need to be in people’s minds and they will remember us when they’re looking for people to hire. We just need to like things, comment and join groups. As long as we’re making ourselves seen we have a lot more chances. And anyone who plays an instrument is ahead of everyone else in the game because an instrument is such a useful tool to get yourself a job, as many others have already said.

23/09/16, Modelling, Hannah Schofield – Modelling

Hannah was a model and she told us that she luckily had teachers who supported her decision of staying off from school for a while to do modelling. She did modelling around the ages of 14-19. She has been on quite a few magazines and some even as the front cover. It’s all impressive, but it’s even more impressive when you know that she had to get rejected tons of times before she could get accepted. And when pictures of the shoot were lying around you have to take them and use them for your portfolio. The more you do, the more you’re recognized and those pictures are free high quality pictures that were probably not all going to get used. From what she said anyone could be a model. There is even a special modelling group you can apply to where it’s for people who have weird or peculiar faces. Sometimes you just need a regular not too good looking bloke to model. And sometimes it’s not even about your looks but about how your hands look, or how your feet look. There is so much to model for and you don’t need to be gorgeous to do it.

23/09/16, Production, The Students – Researched Area

The Edinburgh Fringe Festival

I thought this was the best group presentation not including ours in the list. I could gather more information about it than any other, either because some other groups were speaking too fast or because their powerpoint didn’t have enough information or because they didn’t even have a powerpoint presentation or because it was uninteresting and had too much irrelevant information. But this one I think was pretty good as i gathered that this is a performing festival for anyone if you register for it. It was founded in 1947 and got bigger and bigger starting off with 200 performances and last year having done over 50,000.

The National Theatre

They said we didn’t have to take notes if I recall correctly but I never got anything as a replacement for that. Thankfully I took slight notes and know that the current artistic director is Rufus Norris and that The National Theatre has 3 separate auditoriums. Olivier, Lyttelton and Dorfman Theatre in order of largest to smallest.

Perfect Pitch

It is non-profit theatre company made of amateurs. They have had productions all over the world including but not limited to: Mexico, California, Korea.

Actor Musicianship

Firstly they said that the people who are actors musicians are all one step ahead of normal actors. Famous people who are actor musicians were mentioned and talked about. Some extremely famous people are actor musicians like Johnny Depp and William Shakespeare.

Unknown group

I wasn’t able to understand what this group was talking about at all. I couldn’t even catch what the their theme was. I could have paid more attention, but it was hard to concentrate because they didn’t seem interested at all when talking and there was no powerpoint presentation to follow along with them.

Showstopper the Improvised Musical

They are a group of improvisers who spend a lot of time practicing. They do a lot of workshops and are extremely focused on improvisation. They have done over 700 musicals and all of them unique as they are all improvised.

 

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3 thoughts on “[U3]: Task 1 – Primary Research”

  1. Task 1 – Primary Research
    This is a very high standard piece of work, well done. You were obviously paying really close attention to the speakers and have noted what new information you have learned along the way and how it might be useful to you. Your writing is clear and to the point and you’ve illustrated the work well with photographs.

    Like

  2. Just one little correction – Gem Skii’s show is titled ‘Joan, Babs and Shelagh Too’. Shelagh is after Shelagh Delaney the playwright. Her first name is not spelt Sheila.

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  3. The final part of this page, about the other students presentations, would work better as part of Task 2 as it ties on with the secondary research task. A good record though and clear about how some groups had not taken the task seriously.

    Like

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