jueves, 29 de agosto de 2013

"American Dreams and an Elephant," a delightful jab at the American Dream by Dennis Weisbrot

Donkeys and Elephants certainly occupy as much of the “American Dream” as the stripped flag you always see in Holywood movies, McDonald’s hamburger joints, coca-cola, apple pie, basball, free enterprize, free enterprize, enterprize which is supposed to be free, wars, military interventions in far-away countries, the stock market, Maryland Monroe, gigantic computers, Disneyland, expensive private hospitals, and big Simpson like homes with bright green grass lawns.

Dennis Weisbrot’s “American dreams and an elephant,” an entertaining stab at some of the untouchable corner stones of U.S. society, skillfully directed by David Maler, had its baptism before an appreciative “porteño” audience last night at the “El Tinglado” theater in Buenos Aires City.

Oh. If your English is not top notch you can test your Spanish reading skills with the subtitles projected above the heads of the actors onto a screen where you may also see some typical episodes of life in the U.S.A., or if your English is great but your Spanish is time scarred you might want to check out the translations...

There are four stories to choose from, all nicely exaggerated, sometimes shamefully and deliberately blown up, although the attentive spectator might detect a bit of bitter-sweetness in the situations—acted out with refined and detailed concern for theatrical art.

There’s Daniel, the easy going patriotic flag waving taxi driver. And the information agency willing to give each customer one piece of “useless information,” the only provider that does not even pretend to dish out real information. A female customer, appropriately attired in a T-Shirt proclaiming that “less is more” gets things messed up when she suggests the agent might give out two pieces of useless information...Wannabe, poor soul, is on the outlook for respect in the most quirky ways, and a blithe worrywort hung up on putting into practice the guidelines of a book on how to make friends and...

The tongue-in-cheek humor is a door opener to what appears to be a search for identity in the urban jungle, the collateral effects of the consumer society, the persistent flag waving patriotism that knaws its way into every knick and cranny and the (not so) lingering after tastes of war. ( In fact, once again the military-industrial complex is beating the drums for yet another military intervention, this time in Siria.) Anyway, there’s miss Statue of Liberty armed with a powerful flashlight and designated to try to outshine her namesake...

The situations are clear, the acting meticulous, the voices tweaked just enough to use the voice as a gag in the characterizations and singer Mara Meter, appropriately dressed in a long silky red night gown to croon her honey sweet melodies between each skit.

(A fluffy pink elephant remains on stage during the whole performance, however we lack  the sine qua non to determine its symbolic meaning: the elephant stands for Republican (conservative) while the donkey represents the (liberal?) Democrats.)

Wednesdays at 8pm, the Tinglado theater, Mario Bravo 948. Tickets: 4863 1188. 


Elenco: Guillermo Jáuregui, David Maler y Mara Meter
Escenografía: Shaina Cohen
Asistente de escenografía: Carolina Acevedo
Vestuario: Sophie Lloyd
Iluminación: Sebastián Crasso
Fotografía: Arturo Dickson
Asistente de fotografía: Mariana Rubio
Diseño gráfico: Máximo D’Oleo

Sonido: Alejandra Vergel
Producción  Ejecutiva: Teresa Gloria Abdala
Comunicación: Maruchi Frometa
Asistencia de dirección: Lía Briones
Dirección David Maler

DAVID MALER (sobre la Obra)
Cuando leí la obra por primera vez  pensé “esta todo ahí”, entera enfrente de mi. La esencia estaba ahí, ante mis ojos, transparente y genuina.  American Dreams and an elephant es una crítica fuerte a los Estados Unidos y lo que conocemos como el “Sueño Americano”, pero no critica desde un lugar común, sino desde adentro hacia fuera ya que nuestro increíble dramaturgo, Dennis Weisbrot, es de E.E.U.U., cosa que aporta una serie de factores muy interesantes. Una crítica sobre la cultura,  pero con cierto cariño que uno lleva por su tierra natal, sin importar lo lejos o desencantado que esté con ella. Evidenciamos fallas, pero nos encariñamos con los personajes, los vemos nadando contra la corriente en un mar sin fin, pero nunca dándose por vencidos. Frente a la distribución masiva de información, la globalización, la alienación. Sociedades que cada vez más nos fuerzan a vivir en una ilusión. La necesidad de justificar nuestras acciones ante otros.  Pero no martillamos las fallas, dándole un peso insoportable, sino que nos reímos de ellas. Nos deja un sabor agri-dulce, pero salimos con una sonrisa. Nos es más soportable ver lo insoportable a través de este cristal. Un humor filoso, de precisión quirúrgica.
Fueron estos los factores que me capturaron de la obra. Mi trabajo es tratar de dejar todos los elementos lo mas abiertos posibles, no cerrar la obra del todo, no dejarla concretada  invitando a que uno vuelque su propio significado y lo interprete.
Notas y acreditaciones:

Jimena López 15.5.703.3975

lunes, 26 de agosto de 2013

Dario Fo's advice on the use of the voice

How we project our voice to the audience is an essential aspect of acting. Here is some advice on the subject from Italian actor Dario Fo, 1997 Nobel Prize for Literature. There are certainly many diverse  voice techniques used by different schools of acting. However, in "The Tricks of the Trade" Fo generously explains his ideas, based on his own vast acting experience:

"The most important thing is to learn to project the voice, to articulate and form words in the most intelligible way possible. The organ on which one has to push so as to produce crisp resonance is the abdomen. It is essential to stretch the solar plexus like a drum skin, and to undertake expercises to achieve this aim, so that sounds of the lowest possible tonality can be obtained. Acting with the chest voice or from the abdomen prevents the voice from going hoarse, because the vocal chords, which are a matching pair, produce a series of shorter, slower vibrations when creating deep tones and the reist of the so-called abrasive whip-effect (when the two rub one against the other, with disastrous consequences) is avoided. In addition, the lower tones of voice make a bigger impact on the listener. It is a common mistake to believe that raising the pitch or going into falsetto helps projection, when exactly the opposite is the case. Pressure on the abdomen with the emission of deeper sounds is the most effective means of throwing the voice furthest."

Fo also give some ideas concerning technique:

"The key to success lies in letting the breath out very slowly, without undue pressure; in other words, no more than is needed to project the voice the required distance. Never believe that an almighty release of breath is required for an expression of great vocal power. This is one of the most common mistakes of amateur dramatic societies. Resonance is determined principally by the pressure that is brought to bear on the abdomen and on all the muscles of the vocal apparatus, that is, the muscles of the oesophagus, of the glottis and the epiglottis as well as those of the velum, the back-palatal zone."


"It is control and not the quantity of air expelled, that determines power and produces efficient voice projection. Another essential trick of the trade is the method that allow the talker to take in rapid gulps of air while talking, without having to stop to open his mouth. To be more precise, I should correct the expression I have just used. Rather than a trick of the trade, it is a technique that must be acquired by practice, an exercise involving the use of the nose (assuming it is not blocked by a cold). It is important to use this technique sparingly, and often it will be better to breathe quite naturally, drawing attention to the fact rather than attempting to disguise it."

sábado, 24 de agosto de 2013

The Princess and her servant a tale of melancholic love by Charles Gonzalez

Once upon a time there was a young beautiful princess who was supposed to get married. Everyone in  the kingdom was invited to ask for her hand. The richest and most powerful men went one by one to see her offering their money, land or troops to provide her with protection. But there was also a very poor servant called Charles who was secretely in love with her. 

One day all of the pretenders were ordered to visit her during a dinner party  in her majestic garden. Charles mingled among the rich pretenders. None of the rich men suspected that he was also a pretender. When it was his turn to talk with the princess, he said:

 "My dear princess, I always have been in love with you. But I don't have anything to offer you except a sacrifice. I shall remain in front of your window for one hundred days, but with  the clothes I now wear and nothing to eat nor drink; only the rain to satisfy my thurst."

The princess couldn't believe what she had heard but after meditating for a few minutes said: 

"I accept your sacrifice. If you carry it out I promise to be your wife." 

That evening she opened her window and saw Charles sitting in the garden staring up at her. As time passed Charles became weaker and weaker, however every evening at sunset he could make out the image of the princess in the balcony window. She would smile approvingly. On the 99th day everyone in the kingdom went to the pallace to celebrate the future marriage between the servant and the princess. 

To everyone's surprise, just an hour before the 100 days were up, Charles left the garden. The princess was shocked and everyone began to exchange views concerning why the servant had left just before finishing his promise. 

Many days later a child saw Charles walking on a lonely country road, far from the pallace. 

"Why did you abandon your sacrifice just before finishing it?" he asked. 

Charles replied: "She never showed compassion for my sacrifice. I was waiting for her to tell me that she would marry me even if I didn't complete the 100 day wait. So I felt she didn't deserve my love."


miércoles, 21 de agosto de 2013

Sarah Bernhardt (1844-1923) "The Art of the Theatre"

There are many ways of acting, diverse notions concerning how the actor should move on stage, how she should use her body, her voice, whether the an actor should reproduce reality, distort it, play with it or use it to subvert standarized or stereotyped notions of the world we live in. Although Sarah Bernhardt believed in a natural acting technique, in "The Art of the Theatre" she also gave us some important clues concerning what bad acting is:

"An actor cannot be natural unless he really has power to project his personality. He must in a way forget himself, and divest himself of his proper attributes in order to assume those of his part. He must forget the emotion of the moment, the joy or the sorrow born of the events of the day...

"If the actor retains his mode of living, of  thinking and of behaving throughout the manifold characters that he successively impersonates, he cannot feel the passions of these characters; and, unless he can enter into the feelings of his heroes, however violent they may be, however cruel and vindictive they may seem, he will never be anything but a bad actor.  Coldness will be his portion, and not the impetuous ardor which carries away an audience and which is the hallmark of genius. If he does not really feel the anguish of the betrayed lover or of the dishonored father, if he does not temporarily escape from the dullness of his existence in order to throw himself wholeheartedly into the most acute crisies, he will move nobody. How can he convince another of his emotion, of the sincerity of his passions, if he is unable to convince himself to the point of actually becoming the character that he has to impersonate?"

Although Sarah speaks from her own vast experience, she does so in the context of the historical period that influenced her life. We believe that acting should and must include a strong dosis of mental control over the emotions. Otherwise, except for very talented persons such as Sarah Bernhardt, the danger is to fall into psychological role play. The mind must act as the actor's guide; his body and voice the tools of his/her trade.

Theatre and Acting before the Camera

  1. You can do it! If you want to. It is absolutely incredible what we can do if we put mind and body together, directed towards a well defined goal. That's what the actor has to do and it is also a great way to improve your language skills, while at the same time learning acting and creative techniques. The workshop is called "theatre and acting before the camera. "
  2. We meet Saturdays from 3 to 7pm at Mendoza 2444, in Buenos Aires City. The only requirement: at least an intermediate command of English. 
  3. We start out with breathing and voice drills, then do improvisations and drama games before working on scripts. There are two, at present: "An Inspector Calls," by Priestly and "Zoo Story," by Albee.
  4. If you are interested, please send us a mail to stageandcamera@gmail.com /hopalfred@gmail.com or call 4342 3588. The monthly fee is $350. If you want you can take a trial class for $50.
  5. The workshop coach is Alfred Hopkins, U.S. born drama and English teacher, assisted by Kiran Sharbis.
  6. We will put on a show towards the end of the year, including theatre and the skits we are filming.
  7. You can do it! We hope to see you soon!

Have you ever?

Have you ever dried your wet silky skin
                  in a dream of lost memories?
 Have you ever eaten hot slices of life,
                  chewing every piece with gusty pleasure?
 Have you ever thought your thoughts
as enclosed in electronic memories:
      bits and pieces
      flashing moments
      mashed potatoes
      unopened condoms
      unbrushed teeth
      a succulent sucker
      stuck in your memory cell?

Have you ever, have you ever?
      tell me softly
      tell me on the wind
      tell me in the burning sun
      tell me in the light of the night
      tell me with your sweet head cast upon your memory pillow.
Have you ever forgotten to remember?
lost in the broken cave, alone, abandoned, in love
       eating chestnut experiences
       reading his eyes
       writing her whispers
       stretching your soul
       beyond the earth, beyond, beyond...
       to yonder spark: that spark, that awesome spark
Have you? Have you? Have you? Have you? You have?

martes, 13 de agosto de 2013

Richard Boleslavsky: "Spiritual Concentration"

           What should an actor do to concentrate and to relax at the same time? Richard Boleslavsky (1889-1937) was a Polish born actor and exponent of the Moscow Art Theatre who believed in something he called "Spiritual Concentration," the ability to say to your feelings: "Stop and fill my entire being." He was convinced that this faculty can be developed and trained as much as one can train the human body. As a consequence, he developed a series of exercises aimed at enhancing inner concentration. 

          First, he asserted, the actor should concentrate his/her thoughts on each separate group of muscles, bringing them from the state of tension into one of relaxation.

          Second: "The verifying of your muscles in the sense of supplying them only with the necessary amount of strength during ther performance of the following exercises: walking, sitting down, the lifting up of different articles from the floor, taking down of same from a high shelf, pointing at different things, calling, greeting, lighting a cigarette, the handing of a burning match to someone while a third person tries to blow it out, kicking with your foot articles of a different weight, lacing a shoe, any physical exercise, hollowed by complete rest, the taking of an intricate position followed by an immediate relaxation of all the muscles with its natural result--the fall of the body, the giving of a blow, the defense from a real or imaginary blow.

"In doing all these exercises you must follow exclusively the example of nature and perform them in a high spirit and in a joyous frame of mind. You must understand as well that the relaxation of you muscles does not mean by any means their weakening. You must train your muscles every day without making it a meaningless series of physical exercises. Each of your muscles must understand the reason for its particular training."

True. A pianist practices every day. So does a singer, a sportsman. The actor's tool is his body. Some of our body functions are automatic--the beating of the heart, our breath. Others are learned: riding a bycycle, walking, dancing. We must develop the ability to tell our mind to send to each of our muscles the energy needed to perform each task we do in the process of a role-play or show. We do this intentionally in the exercises so that when we act we can send the precise amount of energy needed to express  the emotional state required in each segment of the play we are performing.