Sunday, July 12, 2015

Whatever happened to CLASS?

By now,  you've probably read something about Patti LuPone and the cell phone incident.

If you haven't,  just Google it and read many accounts.  One of my favorites is from the Huffington Post.

Now, anybody who knows me, knows I love my iPhone.   I use it regularly for business,  and personal use.  It is rarely not close by.  My electronic devices are crucial to how I run my business.


When I am in a waiting room,  or in the theatre, or in other places of public space,  I TURN IT OFF.  

What has happened to our theatre goers and why is Patti LuPone getting the blame, or at least the headline?

Frankly,  I salute her for making the statements she has made.  It's about time.  But she shouldn't have to.

What's wrong with people?

What happened to knowing how to behave in different social situations?

Going to the theatre,  has become an extension of someone's personal living room.  The respect, the sanctity,  and the accessibility seem so lost on society.  And the willingness of the theatre staff from the top to deal with this lack of respect,  seems non-existent.


It is so easy to then make this issue about Patti LuPone.  It is not.  It is about YOU - the person who talks through a movie when you aren't the only one in the theatre;  it is about YOU - the person who sits in live theatre and texts or checks Facebook during the show;  it is about YOU - the person who talks at a table or the bar loudly enough while someone is singing on stage.

It's also about YOU - the person who came to the theatre with said talker/texter - who doesn't tell your companion to shut up or turn it off;  It's also about YOU - the usher, the theatre manager, the security - who doesn't simply take the device and escort said offender out the door.

Let's not confuse this shall we?

If people start being held accountable for their actions perhaps this has a chance.  Why do the performers have to be the ones who end up saying something?

Why is it so hard to learn to behave appropriately depending on the venue?

If you are at the theatre,  why aren't you paying attention to what's going on, on stage?  If you are bored, leave.  Some of us pay a lot of money on tickets and we didn't do that to hear you chat, sing along, or see your screen light up every 3 seconds beside us.

What I am always amazed by,  is the indignation by the offending party when you say something!  (And trust me, I SAY something!) That stunned disbelief that someone would actually tell them to stop in public space from doing something that is offensive.

Whether it's Madonna texting during Hamilton at the Public,  or the twit teenager who tried to plug his phone in to charge it on the set of Hand of God,  it is behavior that needs to stop.

So,  we know Patti LuPone said something,  stopped the show and read the riot act.  Now, who was the woman who was using her phone?  We need to know the names of these people.  They can't stay anonymous.  Playbill tracked down the idiot at Hand of God and we know who he is.  We know who Madonna is.   These people need to be exposed.  Why?  Because when your name is suddenly revealed, if you really REALLY believe you weren't doing anything wrong,  it won't bother you will it?

The theatre is a place where we go to be entertained, to be challenged,  to be changed;  The beauty and mystery of theatre is that we can be in the same place with many others - all strangers - and still experience something magical and unique.

That possibility of magic,  that promise of awareness,  that incredible mystery of the human experience needs to be honored.  It needs to be given the respect it rightfully deserves.  It deserves your undivided attention,  your willingness to invest,  and your respect.

Your living room,  your ordinary,  your shopping bags,  your conversations,  your cell phone - have NO place in the theatre.

YOU are welcome:  your curiosity,  your eagerness,  your attention,  your spirit,  your laughter, your tears,  your energy!

Leave the rest of it on the street or at coat check. 

The theatre is sanctuary for many;  it is a place of hushed expectation;  it is a place that comes alive with language and song and creates magic in the places in between. 

Even if you have no idea what that means,  but still want to go to be entertained,  you can still learn to respect the space you have entered. 

So, start paying attention to where you are.  Speak up if someone beside isn't.  Don't let an actor who has work to do have to break 4th wall in order to make a larger point.

If you are at the theatre,  BE THERE.  Trust me,  when you power your cell phone back on,  it'll still be there!  And then you can actually discuss the EXPERIENCE of the theatre for real via social media and text on your phone,  after you have actually had the experience!

Saturday, July 4, 2015

What a photo can reveal without your consent!

happy 4th of July to all American readers!

As I continue to work on physical therapy I am always amazed at breath and alignment.

Each must be so tangible and available to us just to move through our lives,  but even more so as singers and actors.

This has been an insistent and visceral theme in my world and of late,  even more so.

As singers,  we have to constantly stay in the NOW to discover how that breath and alignment is working with us,  not against us. 

One of those discoveries can be through a photograph.

Many singers and actors use photos to promote themselves - through websites, submissions, on social media and the like.   Head shots are one thing,  and "performance" shots are quite another.

These performance shots can be very revealing.  I am talking more about you in concert,  you walking onto stage,  you taking a bow,  you being YOU,  not playing a character in a production.

The importance of physical behavior is captured in that instant for all to see. 

Are you aware of what it reveals?  Are you willing to see it as it is,  and then make the adjustments necessary to improve upon it?

Many singers and actors are unaware of how they come across in a room or in a photo.  They simply put the photo up, not realizing that the subliminal response can be just as important as their head shot.

This doesn't mean you can't use the shot:  it means that you need to examine WHY and if necessary, crop the photo to exude only what you wish to be shown.

This demands a great deal of objectivity and not wishful thinking.  This requires you to ask bigger questions of yourself and the professionals you trust to give you the truth and what you need to hear,  not what you want to hear.

A photograph can reveal a professionalism that you embody - or it can reveal an amateurism that prevents you from being heard.  Wouldn't you want someone looking at a performance photo to say "I'm intrigued,  call her/him in!" 

Lately,  I have been seeing too many "amateur" looking performance photos.  You can do better than that;  you ARE better than that!

Use the photos that POP professionally and aren't just "good enough".  If you feel like they are "meh",  trust me, the business isn't going to give them more than a glance.

Energy READS.

If it's a full length photo - are your knees locked?  Is your stance too wide? Is your stance too closed in?  All these reek amateur.

What about your torso? 

Is your chest sucken?  Are you sitting on your solar plexus?  This is an apologetic stance.

Is your chest too high? Is your sternum and ribcage locked?  This often reads as bitchy and defensive.  (P.S.  This was MY M.O btw...I am not immune to these issues either!)

Are you leading with your stomach?  Completely unengaged?  This reads as you don't care. 

If you don't care,  why should they?

What are your arms doing?  What about those pesky hands?

Are you using a mic or mic-less?  If holding a mic,  are you comfortable with it? 

There is a reason to practice with your hair brush in front of you mirror you know...!!!!

Are your eyes open?  Is there something being said there?  Is there passion or fire or engagement?

The photos that encourage someone to enter are the ones that engage fully,  and create an EASE with the body, not a rigidity.

Some of you may ask for examples.  I can't use photos of people and embarrass them so if you want some feedback on yours,  ask me!  Or ask someone you trust who works with you regularly.

Don't forget,  in this day of photo shop you can crop crop crop!  Maybe your face is engaged and your hands are engaged, but your lower body is locked.  Crop it out.  Doesn't mean you can use it!  Just know HOW to use effectively!

In the meantime,  keep exploring and staying present in your body and your breath as you move through your day.  Keep integrating the two;  Sometimes practice without singing - just using the body through a song or aria.  Guide your intentions with your breath.  Make them authentic by making them conscious so they have an opportunity to find an honest spontaneity!

Let your photos reveal something about you that is more than professional or amateur.  Let it give the viewer pause;  and want to know more and HEAR more!