Real Live Theater

Archive for the ‘Editor’s Note’ Category

What is your primary relationship to theater?

In Editor's Note, Who's watching? on May 8, 2009 at 4:21 pm

Editor’s Note

The world of theater is not unlike a circus family. Everyone involved in a circus needs to lend a hand to erect the big top, feed the elephants and be able to fill in for a clown, juggler or lion tamer if needed, but everyone has their specialty. What is your theater specialty? What is your primary relationship to theater?

Thank you for participating.

Cheryl Itamura is the Founder and Editor in Chief of Real Live Theater.

Other articles by Cheryl Itamura include:


How old were you when you first attended a live theater performance?

In An Invitation for You, Editor's Note, Who's watching? on March 14, 2009 at 5:22 am

Editors Note

During a discussion today about summer theater workshops for little kids, the question came up: how old were you when you first attended a live theater performance? The answers varied widely of course, and included everything from “[going to see] a simple production of Little Red Riding Hood during a field trip in kindergarten” to, “[going to see] Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods at age fifty”.

What is your answer?

Please take a moment to participate in the brief survey below, and if you would like to share your memories of your first live theater experience, please scroll down to the very, very bottom of this article and click on the red ‘Comment’ button to post your comment.

Thank you for your participation!

Cheryl Itamura is the Founder and Editor in Chief of Real Live Theater.

Other articles by Cheryl Itamura include:

The Mystery of the Unidentifiable, Invisible Actor with Two Left Feet

In Editor's Note on February 28, 2009 at 7:46 pm

Editor’s Note

Mystery photo by ThomasTroy

Mystery photo by ThomasTroy

Help me.

These two words are at the heart of my two cents worth of advise to anyone out there in the world who would like to get cast in a show.

If you are an actor, you may be thinking, “Help you what?”

If you are a director, an artistic director, a casting director or production manager, you may be thinking, “Yes, please help!”

If you are none of the above, consider this an insight into the world of theater and read on anyway, if for no other reason but to store the information in your brain to be disbursed at some later time during a conversation you may someday find yourself engaged in about casting shows.

What I need help with is to solve the auditors’ dilemma*.

The Auditors’ Dilemma

I attended a huge audition at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre a few weeks ago as an auditor at which I amassed a mountain of actors’ photos, headshots which are at present, piled all around me. I am sorting them: men go in this stack, women go in that stack and children go in the little stack on the corner of my desk. Some of the headshots have resumes printed neatly on the back (best), others have resumes stapled on (acceptable), others have resumes precariously paper-clipped on (less desirable) and others are missing resumes altogether (frightening). I search though the pile for the missing resumes and cannot locate them. I check again and to my dismay they are nowhere to be found. Some of these resume-less headshots have the names of the actors printed on the front, others do not. The resume-less headshots that do not have names on the front get thrown out.

Pretty face. No name. Unidentifiable. Goodbye.

Of the resume-less headshots that have the names of the actors printed on the front, I go to Google, type in their name and hit enter. If the actor has a website (agency page or personal), great! I can at least glean resume and contact information from there, print it out and staple it to the headshot myself for future reference. If I cannot easily find resume and contact information on a website or if actors have nothing but a Facebook or LinkedIn or YouTube or Tribe or Classmates or Plaxo or Twitter or some other cool new social networking tool presence where I cannot easily obtain the actors resume, email address (to send an email with an invitation to audition for a role) and phone number (to call and make a casting offer) I may not want to bother spending any more of my time doing detective work searching for contact information for these invisible actors who apparently do not want to be invited to auditions nor be offered any roles. If they did, their information would be readily available to those who need it.

Handsome features. No email. No phone number. Goodbye.

As for the complete headshots and resumes remaining in the three stacks of men, women and children, they will be sorted further, categorized and cataloged by age, type and any array of other attributes including Shakespeare experience, musicals, dramas and special skills.

Which brings me to dancing.

Please, if you are an actor, help me cast you:

  1. Please make sure your resume is securely attached to your headshot and that your name is printed on the front of your headshot. Also make sure your email address and phone number (or that of your agent) are included on your resume.
  2. Please get a website that includes your phone number, email address, resume and some additional photos of yourself. Be sure to keep your website  updated if you change your email address or phone number. (I might have a headshot and resume of yours from two or three years ago. If you have changed your email address or phone number since then I need an easy way to find your new email address or phone number so I can contact you.)
  3. Please take dance classes, any kind of dance classes. Tap. Ballet. Jazz. Anything. I see you can act. I hear you can sing, but what I want and don’t seem to be able to find enough of these days, are actors that can move interestingly across the stage and do a swing-dance-hip-hop-tango-till-the-lights-come-up-good-old-fashioned-boogie-woogie-cha-cha-simple-yet-elegant-waltz if called upon to.

While is is imperative to find great and appropriate monologues, and it is important to practice your monologues and songs to perfection, and while you may even enlist the assistance of an audition coach to help you prepare for your audition, remember the auditor’s dilemma and remember to help me.

Thanks.

*Having just had a discussion on this topic with Denise Stevenson from KZST at the press reception for La Cage Aux Folles at 6th Street Playhouse, and having just finished reading and thoroughly enjoying Michael Pollan’s Omnivore’s Dilemma, I decided to relay excerpts from my own experiences surrounding the basics of casting from the perspective of the auditor in this article. I adopted Michael’s theme of “the dilemma” and thus The Auditors’ Dilemma is born. Now on to In Defense of Food.

Cheryl Itamura is the Founder and Editor in Chief of Real Live Theater.

Other articles by Cheryl Itamura include:

Theater vs. Theatre: food for more thought

In An Invitation for You, Editor's Note, Who's watching? on February 8, 2009 at 11:47 pm

Editor’s Note

Question

Food for More Thought

It seems as though everyone has a valid reason for choosing either theatER or theatRE to spell, well, to spell theatER or theatRE, usually based on: the context in which the word is being used; the country in or continent on which it is being used; which respected figure of some authority or expertise is consulted; and whether Wikipedia or some other dictionary is the reference guide of choice. 

In the case of Real Live Theater, the ‘er’ version was selected over the ‘re’ version simply for practical purposes — we wanted people to find us on the internet. In our attempt to discover which spelling people would most likely search for us under, we devised a survey, groundbreaking for its use of exceptionally low-to-no technology: we distributed paper towels and pens randomly around a crowed room and verbally instructed people simply to write ‘real live theater/theatre’ on the towels, without any further explanation or debate, and without any mention of the spelling variations to choose from. In fact, the participants were not so much as even informed why they were being asked to participate in this exercise. When all twenty-five paper towels were collected and the results were tallied, it was revealed with great astonishment, that ‘real live theater’ (the ‘er’ version) was written on all twenty-five paper towels. With the announcement of the final results, RealLiveTheatER.ORG was born, but the larger debate still raged on: when is theatER appropriate and when is theatRE appropriate to use?

We have looked though our lists of theaters (or theatres, as the case may be) and have discovered that roughly half of those on our lists use the ‘er’ version and half use the ‘re’ spelling.

In the theatER camp we find Alternative Theater Ensemble, Novato Theater Company, Theater Rhinoceros, Orpheum Theater, Gershwin Theater, Cinnabar Theater, Pegasus Theater Company, Roustabout Theater, Sonoma County Repertory Theater, theater4, id Theater, Boston Conservatory Theater, Open Circle Theater, College of Marin Theater Arts Department, The Kennedy Center Theater and North Bay Theater Group, among others.

In ther theatRE camp we find Magic Theatre, Actors Theatre of San Francisco, Goodman Theatre, The New Conservatory Theatre Center, Traveling Jewish Theatre, Porchlight Theatre Company, Marin Theatre Company, Mendocino Theatre Company, Ukiah Players Theatre, Willits Community Theatre, Benicia Old Town Theatre Group, Summer Repertory Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre and Theatre Bay Area, among others.

Please take a moment to complete the simple one-question survey below and let us know which spelling you use.

If you would like to share your reasons for choosing one spelling or the other, or would like to elaborate on the appropriate circumstances in which to use either spelling, please click the red ‘Comment’ button below and share your thoughts with us. (Click here to see previously submitted comments on this subject.)

Cheryl Itamura is the Founder and Editor in Chief of Real Live Theater.

Welcome to Real Live Theater (or Theatre)

In An Invitation for You, Editor's Note on January 1, 2009 at 5:18 pm

Editor’s Note

Welcome photo by Frank van den Bergh

Welcome photo by Frank van den Bergh

Here are five frequently asked questions that people ask about Real Live Theater and the answers.

Q: What is http://www.RealLiveTheater.ORG?

A: RealLiveTheater.ORG is the online magazine of Real Live Theater. It includes thoughtful interviews, insightful articles, news, video clips, and links to theater related blogs and websites.

Real Live Theater is dedicated to connecting people to live theater all around the planet.

Real Live Theater is based in Northern California.

(More about Real Live Theater is available here.)

Q: Does Real Live Theater have a mission statement?

A: Yes.

The mission of Real Live Theater is: to bring awareness of real, live theater as a means of communication, entertainment, and human interaction to an audience yearning for living, breathing creative experiences; to stimulate interest in theater as a worthwhile pursuit, an investment worthy of time, energy and resources; to encourage the endeavors of current and future theater artists and audiences of all ages toward keeping real, live theater real and alive.

Q: Who is Real Live Theater for?

Real Live Theater is for everyone who has attended or may ever attend any play, musical, opera, ballet, circus, improv or comedy club show, school skit, backyard puppet show, guerrilla performance on a busy street or in a crowded subway tunnel, or any other live theater performance anywhere, at any time during their lives.

Q: How is Real Live Theater different?

While many excellent theater periodicals exist — American Theater, Theatre Bay Area magazine, DramaBiz magazine and Theatre Design & Technology for example – most are industry publications geared toward a readership that already works inside the theater industry (i.e. directors, actors, designers, technicians, students).

Real Live Theater, on the other hand offers an invitation to the population of the world at large to peek through the windows of live theater to see, hear and understand what goes on inside the world of live theater. We also leave the door wide open with a welcome mat at the door for anyone who might want to come inside to watch a show, take a class, start a new career, apply their craft, audition or volunteer.

(More about getting involved in theater is available here.)

Many national and local newspapers, websites and blogs exist that are wonderful resources for reviews, calendar listings, audition callboards and industry job listings.

Rather than reinventing the wheel trying to post all those listings ourselves when they already exist somewhere else, Real Live Theater instead seeks out the best newspapers, websites and blogs that provide calendar listings, audition call boards and industry job listings. We publish links worth visiting and highlight our favorites in featured articles.

As for reviews, Real Live Theater encourages everyone to get up, go out and experience real, live theater as often as possible and write their own reviews.

“…the free, exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world.” – John Steinbeck in East of Eden

Q: How can I support Real Live Theater?

A: The second best way is to tell all of your friends, family, co-workers, neighbors, students and teachers about http://www.RealLiveTheater.ORG, and visit us again and again — each week Real Live Theater features something new. The very best way to support real, live theater is to get up, go out and experience real, live theater at a theater, opera house, circus tent, improv or comedy club, school auditorium, community center, amphitheater, backyard, busy street or subway station near you.

(More about experiencing real, live theater is available here.)

Cheryl Itamura is the Founder and Editor in Chief of Real Live Theater.

A baker’s perspective on theater (or theatre) and a recipe for Chocolate Chip Cookies

In Editor's Note on November 30, 2008 at 6:33 pm

Editor’s Note

Both begin as an idea born of experience, imagination, and a desire to create a result to delight the senses which may be consumed with pleasure.

The ingredients play out in the mind of the baker. The recipe is written down, tried and if successful the cookies and cakes and pies and muffins are shared and the recipes are given to others to recreate. The next baker may: choose to substitute Turbinado sugar for both sugars; use ground Tahitian vanilla bean paste instead of the liquid sort; prefer King Arthur’s Baking Flour over any other brand; delight in using pecans rather than their more bitter cousins, walnuts; and use farm fresh eggs from a neighbor’s chickens whenever available, so that the results may vary in subtle ways, but the recipe essentially remains the same.

Photo of Chocolate Chip Cookies by YinYang

Photo of Chocolate Chip Cookies by YinYang

Chocolate Chip Cookies

1/2 pound butter

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

2 1/4 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup chopped walnuts

2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips

Let butter sit in a big bowl at room temperature until it becomes soft. Mix in both sugars until smooth. Mix in eggs and vanilla until creamy in texture. In a separate bowl mix together flour, salt, baking soda and nuts. Add the dry mixture to the other bowl. Stir in the chocolate chips. Drop by heaping teaspoonfuls onto a non-stick cookie sheet. Bake at 375° for 8 to 10 minutes. (Times may vary depending on your oven, ingredients used, desired softness vs. crunchiness, altitude and attitude.) Makes 4 dozen cookies.

The elements play out in the mind of the playwright. The idea is written down, tried and if successful the plays and musicals and monologues and conceptual pieces are shared and the manuscripts are given to others to recreate. The next director may: choose to substitute a tough neighborhood in New York for a romantic city in Italy; like the idea of a sister-in-law-to-be instead of an old trusted nurse; prefer turf wars with knives and bats to actual sword fighting; delight in the setting of a basketball court instead of a family crypt; and utilize a great deal of fancy footwork and some jazzy syncopated tunes, so that the results may vary in subtle ways, but the play remains essentially the same.

The next time you bake, feel free to use whichever ingredients you choose to. Make up your own recipe. Chocolate Chip cookies or Shakespeare. Be creative. After all, you are the baker.

Cheryl Itamura is the Founder and Editor in Chief of Real Live Theater.

What do the San Francsico Opera, Jimmy Buffett and a dead cat have to do with theater (or theatre)?

In Editor's Note on November 18, 2008 at 3:53 am

Editor’s Note

Margarita photo by Ivan & Monika

Margarita photo by Ivan & Monika

In an earlier episode of my life I was an Implementation Consultant in the field of human resources database systems. As such, I worked for three international companies over a span of 15 years, and to this day I still don’t really understand how I got into that line of work in the first place.

At one point during the course of my career as an Implementation Consultant I found myself working on a year-and-a-half long project for the San Francisco Opera, backstage, in the administrative offices, spending most of my time in meetings with people discussing such things as: mainframe applications; ancient COBOL programming; how much supernumeraries get paid; which benefits are taxable for which types of taxes; and the amount of extra pay performers are required, by the various unions, to get paid for appearing naked on stage wearing nothing but body paint or having to transport their own tuba to and from performances on BART. Fascinating stuff. Really. The most interesting part of working there, I found — aside from being invited to sit in the directors box on more than one occasion, thus having the opportunity to do the ‘queenly wave’ to the masses staring up at the box from down below – was listening to live opera every single day, as the entire office area backstage, on all floors was rigged with a speaker system such that rehearsals and performances happening on the stage could be heard in every corner of the building by everyone. Heaven!

During this same period of my life I was invited by some friends to attend a Jimmy Buffett concert at a huge ice hockey arena. Not knowing anything about Jimmy Buffet, his music or his fan base, I dressed myself all in black and planned for an evening of music, of some sort. Needless to say, I stuck out like a sore thumb, or more accurately like the lone “person in black” among 17,496 Margaritaville fans. I was the only one who wasn’t wearing a colorful plastic Hawaiian lei with shorts, a tank top, sunglasses, a grass hat and flip flops. My bad. I didn’t know, but I loved being there in those seats to the rear of the stage, looking at Jimmy Buffett and his band from behind, just the same.

Then my cat died. My sweet, loving, white, fluffy, Himalayan cat with the smooshed-in face up and died on me. It was a very sad day when I had him cremated.

But what, if anything does the San Franicisco Opera, Jimmy Buffett and a dead cat have to do with theater you might ask? Well the answer is e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g, at least to me it does.

You see, working all those weeks and months at the Opera House made me realize there were a lot of people doing something much more fun with their days, every day, than I was, and they were getting paid to do something they loved, body paint and all. And the view I had from those seats at the ice arena from behind the stage allowed me to view the other half of the ice arena — it was the same view that the people on stage had of the audience – and it made me realize that I would much, much rather be on the stage, or at least a vital part of the production, rather than just sitting in my arena seat tapping my toes and clapping. And the dead cat, well the dead cat reminded me that life is short and that if there is anything I want to do, I should just go ahead and do it, because I’ve got just one shot at life and there is no coming back from a pile of ashes to give it a second try.

So, after I finished the project at the Opera House, I quit my job and headed into the world of lights, sounds, auditions, music, stage managing, dancing, singing, acting, and production managing, and while there is still much computer work to do here, I think I’ll stay. It’s not Margaritaville, and I like it.

Cheryl Itamura is the Founder and Editor in Chief of Real Live Theater.

Theater (or theatre) as Communication, Entertainment and Social Interaction in the 3-D World

In Editor's Note on November 15, 2008 at 4:38 pm

Editor’s Note

Talking Bubbles photo by Sirin Buse

Talking Bubbles photo by Sirin Buse

“Real, live theater. You know, the kind of theater where actors perform plays and musicals live, on a stage.”

I find myself saying these phrases a lot these days.

Upon meeting someone for the first time, the course of polite conversation always, ultimately seems to turn to, “So, what is it that you do?”

To which I answer, “I’m in theater.”

To which they often reply with uncertainty, “Uh, a movie theater?”.

The “Uh” of their uncertainty seems almost always to stem from the combination of their instant identification with movie trailers, movie advertisements, movies they’ve gone to see, and a vision of the megaopolis movie theater complex in their neighborhood that they regularly drive past during their commutes to work or to school or to both, and some cloud of remembrance of some other type of theater they vaguely recall from their far distant past. It is because of this hazy memory they are are unsure if “movie theater” is the correct guess.

When I correct them with my reply, flint rubs steel and there is a spark. The spark may be of: a play at church or at school in which they played some small part as a child; watching friends or their children or their grandchildren sing and dance across the stage in Guys and Dolls or Grease or more recently in High School Musical in, well, a high school musical production; or of a long buried desire to sing or dance or act on stage that was never fully ignited. Everyone, it seems has some story to recall and sadly, too often the existence of theater in their consciousness is referred to in past tense.

During the present technological times the preferred method of most of the world’s communication, entertainment and social interaction funnels through electronic devises and is delivered at a time of convenience to the sender and is received at a time of convenience to the end user, in the privacy of their own homes, laps, hands or offices usually via a two-dimensional rectangular screen that comes in varying sizes, sometimes with earphones or speakers attached. Fast. Reliable. Generic. Often bad. Sometimes good. Occasionally great. But where in this electronic age is real human interaction? Why is the need for privacy encouraged, pursued and prized to the point of creating a society of socially inept individuals? When does actual, not virtual human contact come into play?

We are distracted from our need for human contact as new services emerge that allow us to send and receive an ever-increasing number of voicemails, emails, text messages and an endless stream of hot, new products enable us to download endless hours, days and years, albeit more than a lifetime’s worth of information and entertainment to enjoy in the luxury of our own self-imposed solitary confinement. We are blinded to the fact that isolation is marketed to us as a most desirable situation and is highly encouraged in order to boost the sales of more and more gadgets.

Don’t get me wrong. I do understand the benefits of electronic communication, on-line entertainment and virtual social interaction — after all I am using an electronic device to write this to you and you are receiving it on your two-dimensional screen, all the while people have been sending me voicemails, emails and text messages for goodness sake! – however, I also understand the power of: attending a convention or conference to listen to and witness a live speaker move an audience; partaking in an engagement or celebration where food and drink is shared; real hands touching briefly in formal acknowledgment or in casual appreciation of each other; watching (or participating in) a live performance; and evidencing first-hand the ability of human effort to warrant a standing ovation.

Real, live theater is communication, entertainment and social interaction in the three-dimensional world. A three-dimensional world that must be reclaimed and nurtured in order to maintain our humanity set against the dimension reductionist marketing movements of our day. (What’s next – devices that reduce us all to a one-dimensional existence? We will all end but as a small dot on a globe somewhere in a far flung corner of the universe, but perhaps that is all we are anyway. It’s almost too much to fathom.)

[Applause] to you for your interest in balancing your two-dimensional and three-dimensional worlds.

I hope you take a moment to communicate with a friend and invite them to see a show, be entertained, enjoy the human interaction between the artists and the audience, then applaud yourself for being a part of the three-dimensional world of real, live theater.

Bravo!

Cheryl Itamura is the Founder and Editor in Chief of Real Live Theater.

Real Live Theater (or theatre) is alive!

In Editor's Note on November 13, 2008 at 6:19 am

Editor’s Note

World Egg photo by Alexsl

World Egg photo by Alexsl

The mission of Real Live Theater is: to bring awareness of real, live theater as a means of communication, entertainment, and human interaction to an audience yearning for living, breathing creative experiences; to stimulate interest in theater as a worthwhile pursuit, an investment worthy of time, energy and resources; to encourage the endeavors of current and future theater artists and audiences of all ages toward keeping real, live theater real and alive.

Real Live Theater is dedicated to introducing new audiences and re-introducing experienced audiences to theater through insightful articles and providing information to create bridges by which audiences can learn about artists and theaters.

Real Live Theater stimulates interest in theater as a worthwhile pursuit, an investment worthy of time, energy and resources through thoughtful interviews with industry professionals, students, and supporters of theater.

Real Live Theater seeks out and provides useful information to theater artists and audience groups to demonstrate theater is for everyone to enjoy.

Cheryl Itamura is the Founder and Editor in Chief of Real Live Theater.