To The Director That Made Me Love Theater Again

To The Director That Made Me Love Theater Again

Thank you just doesn't cut it.

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Bucyrus Ohio, where I grew up, hasn't ever been a super conducive environment to create art of any kind. But knowing that never prevent me from trying. As soon as I was able, I started getting involved in my school's theatre productions and that's when it became clear to me just how poorly our arts were funded. We didn't have proper lighting equipment, our sets were just the same pieces of plywood painted over again and again and again and I'm thoroughly convinced that the last time we bought a new can of paint was sometime circa-1990. Nevertheless, I was never happier than when I was on stage.

Until my Sophomore year that is, when our drama department put on a particularly trying production of Edgar Lee Masters's "Spoon River Anthology." After that show, for many different reasons, the magic of the theater was lost for me. I even went as far as to say I wouldn't do theater ever again for the rest of my high school career.

Then, in comes a new director.

As I've told her before, I had no intentions of auditioning for another show for the remainder of high school. I just couldn't help my curiosity on the day of auditions and I found myself back in the auditorium just to see who they got to replace our former director. I was met with the bright, smiling face of a woman who seemed eager to get things rolling. She introduced herself as Lindsey Rowland and something about the kindness and energy she was radiating made me pick up the sides and audition. (Which, by far was one of the best decisions I had ever made.)

I was cast as Mrs. Savage in our production of 'The Curious Savage' soon after the auditions and we got to work! Working with Lindsey Rowland-Now Lindsey Funtik was an experience like no other. She took the time to ask us questions that were vital to the performance, we dove deep into character motivations, their thoughts, their feelings and experiences, all things I had never done before. It had been read the script and do the show up and to this point. I had never worked with anyone who had ever asked the question of "Why" with so much genuine interest. The simple act of wanting to really know about our characters and the world around them made me a much more developed actor and I am forever thankful to her for teaching me how to create better-developed art.

But more than teaching me invaluable skills that have helped me to become a better actor and director, I want to say thank you for being one of the kindest, genuine, most caring and hard-working women I've ever known. I know everyone says that their friends are the hardest workers they know but in the case of Lindsey Funtik, it's true. I've never known anyone as dedicated as her. The amount of times we sat in the auditorium until the wee hours of the night talking about staging, sets, lighting and everything else just speaks to that.

But most impressive to me was the way that she could conduct herself with nothing but kindness and genuine feelings no matter the kind of things she was going through or how well things were or weren't going that day. She always made sure that we had a positive, accepting, affirming space to simply be, and beyond all of the theatrical skills she taught me, it is that that I am most thankful for. She rekindled my love for theater and I can't thank her enough!

I know thank you doesn't cut it but thank you, Lindsey! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

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The Differences Between Live Theatre And Film

Film actors and stage actors aren't really that different... are they?
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Everyone has seen a movie and knows how amazing they can be. Theatre can also be amazing, just in different ways. Live theatre and film are similar in some respects but they are very different art forms. Theatre is familiar, larger than life, and lacking in special effects, whereas film has new material, less dramatic and obvious acting, and can be edited to show anything that is needed. Theatre and film are both visual art forms containing actors portraying characters, have scripts, and are widely appreciated, but they are not meant for the same place or people.

The biggest difference between live theatre and film is the location of the audience. On stage, the audience is far off and as they must be able to see and hear a performance to enjoy it, performers must act for the back row. This creates a larger than life performance which only works onstage. Whereas in films, the camera can always see you and the microphone can always hear you. Therefore, you do not have to act so over-the-top. Instead, doing less than you would in real life would be better. In fact, David Patrick Green states in his article, "The 3 Major Differences Between Stage and Screen Acting," that “reality is less enhanced when a camera and microphone become involved. In fact, due to camera-work, score, lighting, and other effects, it is sometimes better to do less than you would in real life because so many things are augmenting your performance.” In theatre, projection of your voice is a constant need, whereas in film you could whisper and the microphone would pick it up. Lloyd Kremer states in his article, "Theatre for the Film Actor," “Theatre is also much more demanding of the various vocal disciplines: volume, projection, and enunciation. In film work, many of these concerns are relegated to the Sound Man.”

Theatre is familiar in that the roles being portrayed have most likely been portrayed several times before, and the characters are very well known by the audience and the actors. Whereas in film, the characters with rare exceptions are being created for the first time. This makes portraying a movie character much easier than portraying a character in a play or musical. Green also states in his article, “the audience and critics will compare you to past versions of the same show. Because many stage characters have been played over and over, there is only so much leeway an audience will accept before they start to complain.” For instance, if Hamlet came onstage and said “To be, or to not be,” the audience would be enraged that you dared mess up a famous line of Shakespeare. Whereas in film, if you mess up a line the only people who will know are you and the people on set with you. Theatre is also familiar in that it gives actors plenty of time to get acquainted with their characters with rehearsal, but with film, that is not the case. As Eugene states in his article, "Stage vs. Screen: What's the Big Difference?" “...you will receive very little, if any, rehearsal time. Depending on the size of the role, you may not receive any direction. Films hire actors under the assumption that they will come to set performance-ready.”

Theatre and film are also very different in writing. Plays are written and then directors get ahold of the play script and adapt it to fit their stage and actors and sometimes even give it a bit of a modernized twist, whereas the screenplay for a film can be in revision as the acting is happening. For television shows, the scripts are written as the show is happening and the actors can get the script revisions while they are filming, whereas in theatre, the script is already written and no major revisions can really be made. In plays, every character has a description and it is the director’s job to decide how they want to interpret that onstage, whereas, in film, the director more or less makes up the character’s description. Lenore DeKoven says in the chapter “Directing: The Similarities and Differences between Film and Theatre” of her book, "Changing Direction: A Practical Approach to Directing Actors in Film and Theatre", that “...the director’s work calls for an overview of the material and an awareness of the throughline and outlines for each character…”

Live theatre is very unpredictable. Anything can happen when you are onstage and it is an actor’s job to just roll with whatever happens and keep going. After all, “the show must go on.” Julia Kelso shows in her article, "Theatre vs Film: What’s the Difference?" many different things that could go wrong, such as “...an actor completely forgetting a line, a prop being misplaced, or that one stubborn section of the set breaking in the middle of a monologue.” On camera, you can redo the same scene as many times as you like, so you never have to worry about forgetting a line or tripping over something on the set.

Live theatre and film are very different art forms, meant for different audiences, yet both are essential to an actor and having experience in both often helps better your acting. Theatre is familiar to people, while film is brand new. Plays are written and then adapted, while screenplays are adapted while they are being written, and theatre is unpredictable and actors have to be flexible and willing to work through whatever happens, whereas with film, you get as many chances as you need for things to be perfect.
Cover Image Credit: henry edwards 2, now here this respectively

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My Top 10 Musical Songs For Boosting Any Mood

Break a leg!

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I was exposed to the world of theater early in life as one of my older cousins was very active in the musical theater community. I grew up watching her perform in a multitude of different roles such as Annie in "Annie," Elle Woods in "Legally Blonde," and the kangaroo in "Seussical the Musical." This exposure to show tunes at such a young age sparked my love of the genre. Now, when I'm studying or working, I like to put on the soundtrack of one of the musicals I've watched a million times (such as "Les Mis" or "Mamma Mia") so I can focus on my work while still listening to music.

My years of obsessing over musicals have to lead me to find some pretty awesome songs, these are some of my favorites.

"Take A Chance On Me" from Mamma Mia.

"Mamma Mia" is one of my all-time favorite musicals and this song is one of the reasons why. The song is sung by my favorite character, Rosie, while she tries to seduce one of Sophie's potential fathers, Bill after Donna and Sam get married. It is a fun loving song which leaves the audience in tears from laughing so hard.

"Dead Girl Walking (Reprise)" from Heathers.

This song is one of the final songs in "Heathers the Musical." The premise of the song is a bit more hard-hitting than "Take a Chance On Me." In this song, the main character, Veronica, has faked her own suicide and has come back to school to confront her psychotic ex-boyfriend, J.D. to stop him from blowing up the entire school. It's a pretty intense song but has amazing lyrics and rhythm.

"Ireland" from Legally Blonde The Musical.

This song confronts the subject of broken dreams. It is sung by my favorite character, Paulette, as she recounts her dreams of finding someone to love. She is trying to comfort the main character, Elle after she tries to dye her hair brown to impress her ex-boyfriend. I think the song is super important because it establishes the relationship between Paulette and Elle. It also shows the caring nature of Paulette.

"Everything I Know" from In The Heights.

"In The Heights" is a super cool musical written by Lin-Manuel Miranda about a group of Hispanic-Americans living in Washington Heights in NYC. "Everything I Know" is sung by the character, Nina, after her Abuela dies. It's a very emotional song that made me cry the first time I listened to it, but it's beautifully written.

"Empty Chairs At Empty Tables" from Les Misérables.

Speaking of emotional, "Empty Chairs At Empty Tables" is another song that made me cry the first time I listened to it. The song is sung by Marius a few days after the battle where he's the only one of his friends to survive. He goes back to the cafe where they would meet before to grieve and reminisce the loss of his friends. The song is a haunting reminder of the real-life cost of war.

"It Takes Two" from Hairspray.

"It Takes Two" is a song from the musical, "Hairspray." Link is the character who sings it and it's just a fun song about how a man needs a woman to complete him. While the premise is a little sexist, it's a fun song that is super catchy and fun to sing along to.

"There! Right! There!" from Legally Blonde The Musical.

This song is another fun one to sing along to. It takes place in the courtroom while the group of lawyers and law students examine a witness who they aren't sure is straight or gay. The lyrics of the song are hilarious and it's fun to sing a long to with a couple of friends as different parts. If you're looking for a fun chorus song to sing with a couple of friends, this is the song for you.

"When He Sees Me" from Waitress.

"When He Sees Me" is a song from the musical "Waitress." It's sung by the character, Dawn, while she expresses her insecurity with regards to going on a blind date. The way the character sings the song is super fun, however, there are serious tones of insecurity in the chorus when she sings, "Is what if when he sees me, what if he doesn't like it? What if he runs the other way and I can't hide from it? What happens then? If when he knows me, he's only disappointed? What if I give myself away, to only get it given back? I couldn't live with that."

"One Day More" from Les Misérables.

"One Day More" may well be my favorite song out of this list. It's sung by the entire cast of Les Mis at the end of the first act and foreshadows the tragedy of the second act. Each of the members of the main cast has some type of solo where they express their hopes for the next day. However, it's clear that not all characters will get their happy ending which adds to the intensity of this astonishing song.

"She Used To Be Mine" from Waitress.

This is another emotional song for my list. This is a song is sung by Jenna, a young waitress, as she looks back at her life before she was in an abusive relationship with her husband and before she found out she was pregnant. She feels as though she has lost all hope in life and how she thought her life would turn out so much different than how it did.

These are just ten of my favorite songs from musicals. To be honest, I usually have two to three songs from each musical that I'll listen to on repeat, so it was difficult to narrow down my list. Whether you enjoy show tunes or you hate them, I'm sure they'll be one song from this list you'll enjoy!

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