Friday, August 31, 2007
This is my New Favorite Band That I Just Found Out About. Their sound is a throwback to lost 60's AM pop, with a little experimental whatevah thrown in for good measure. Sometimes he sings, sometimes she does. The lyrics are great, check out in particular "When the Party Ends". Some other great song titles include "We Can't Work It Out", "You Work All Weekend", "No Good With Secrets", "Dialtone", and "When You Got to New York." The album to start with is "Every Night." They have a new album coming out AND they're coming to SF in the fall. Yippee!
Posted by Andrew Wood Acting Studio at 8:11 AM
Thursday, August 30, 2007
This article from the New York Times talks about the recent legislative backlash agains wearing your jeans low. Officials are arguing that it's indecent. Well, whatever you think about that, it does make the point that what you are wearing MATTERS, particularly if you are an actor. The article talks about how wearing the baggy pants is sometimes a statement of disrespect for the Man. It also briefly recounts the history of the zoot suit, the uniform of urban minorities in the US in the mid-twentieth century. During WWII wearers of zoot suits were actually the victims of riots in L.A. Who knew that Rodney King happened before it happened?
Anyway, given all of this, I have to say that the relectance of students to go to the thrift store and find themselves some appropriate rehearsal clothes for the characters is thrown into sharp relief. I spend precious time in class speaking to this issue, and send Group Posts about it as well, and it's still not unusual for people to show up to class to do their scene in their street clothes. I see this as symptomatic of a largely unconscious reluctance to transform, to take up someone else's PART. This unconscious reluctance is the actor's spiritual public enemy number one. We have to be ruthless with, and give no quarter to, this nasty demon who tempts us into the doldrums of inaction and "I've already thought about it/dealt with it." Fortune, as a wise man once said, favors the bold!
Posted by Andrew Wood Acting Studio at 10:24 AM
Sunday, August 26, 2007
I am happy to report that longtime Mother of Inventioner Cassie Powell will be playing Viola in the California Shakespeare Festival's touring production of Twelfth Night. The show will tour to schools thoughout California. AND it's a musical production, and Cassie landed the role with NO prior musical experience or training. This means that for the next year Cassie's primary income will come from acting! Right on, Cassie!
Posted by Andrew Wood Acting Studio at 10:15 PM
Saturday, August 25, 2007
"I've been to a marvelous party; I couldn't have liked it more."
Tonight, I joined longtime Mother of Inventioners Cassie Powell and Larry Guth in Sausalito for a surprise party for their classmate and former scene partner Dawn Scott, who is heading off to Denver to the National Theater Conservatory to embark on her acting MFA there. It's a FANTASTIC deal because all of her tuition is paid, and she gets a stipend. An MFA program that doesn't leave you enmired in debt! What a concept! She will be studying with a longtime student of Earl Gister's, one of my teachers at Yale. She is also going to be taking a class in TRAPEZE! As if Dawn could possibly be MORE fabulous than she already is, but if there is a way, I guess Dawn on a trapeze would be it. Anyway, the party was great to be a part of, because people from every corner of Dawn's multifarious life were present, at a beautiful waterside restaurant, where we got to watch the sun set on our beautiful city, and smile for the last time in a long while on our friend as she leaves to walk the road of happy destiny. We are all with you Dawn!
Posted by Andrew Wood Acting Studio at 11:10 PM
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
This is the site of the truly awesome Miranda July, an art world sensation/filmmaker/actor. Maybe you caught her movie Me and You and Everyone We Know, a couple of years ago. If so: ))<>(( If not, it's definitely worth a look. On her website, she has all of these assignments that you can do, to sort of get your creativity, introspection, and self-expression on, such as interview someone who has experienced war, or write a press release for an everyday event, or take a picture of what's under your bed. I saw her do a kind of show at Yerba Buena a couple of years ago (Cassie Powell took me to it), and it was something that, in the words of the Smiths, I won't forget too soon.
Posted by Andrew Wood Acting Studio at 10:20 AM
Acting Can Save the World!
Acting Teacher Speaks to Acting as a Road to Spiritual Development for Everyone
The failures of the world, at many levels, stem from the inability of people to step back from their own point of view and look momentarily at a situation from the point of view of another. Acting challenges people to do precisely that, argues acting teacher, actor, director and Yale Drama School alum Andrew Utter. To play a role is, first and foremost, Utter says, to be able to see and connect with why a character finds it necessary to do what it is he or she actually does. Utter found this notion to be so compelling that he named his San Francisco acting studio the Mother of Invention Acting School (www.utteracting.com), necessity being, according to Plato, the mother of invention. Utter will be speaking at 7:30 on Monday, September 10th at Ft Mason, room D100, on the distinctive benefits of acting as a spiritual path. The talk is free and open to the public.
In addition to asking people to be able to change perspective, acting challenges practitioners to develop many other qualities and abilities widely associated with spiritual life: transformation, courage, adaptation, absorption, stamina, possibility, vitality, joie de vivre, vulnerability, and imagination. Acting is also unique in that it depends on both introversion and extroversion: actors have to be able to look inward to get at what makes people tick, but they also have to be able to manifest outwardly what they learn by looking inwards. These faculties are invaluable to everyone, no matter what their daily life asks of them, so Utter asserts that the pursuit of acting can be of great benefit to people in all walks of life. "It's about getting your truth on, and someone else's, at the same time," he quips. "It's not just for actors anymore!"
Andrew Utter holds an MFA from the Yale School of Drama's directing program. He recently appeared at the Magic Theater in the world premier of Chantal Bilodeau's play Pleasure and Pain. He has worked, in various capacities at Yale Repertory Theater, Manhattan Class Company, Syracuse Stage, and Mabou Mines New York, among others.
Posted by Andrew Wood Acting Studio at 9:24 AM
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
I am very eager to announce a free public talk I will be giving on Acting as a Spiritual Path. It will be held on September 10, 2007, at Fort Mason, room C205 at 7:30 PM. You will be able to gaze out the window at a view of the GG Bridge as I entice you to survey the landscape of challenge and growth that the path of acting affords. Topics will include at least some of the following: transformation, adaptation, absorption, stamina, possibility, vitality, joie de vivre, vulnerability, imagination, and that most hackneyed of acting class cliches, connection, which I will try to breathe some new life into. I hope you will join me.
Sunday, August 12, 2007
I had a coffee date with a guy who does a lot of Pilates, and Pilates is something that I am always encouraging students to do, because it is all about learning to engage the core abdominal muscles strongly and keep the rest of the body expanded and open simultaneously, a skill that is at the core of great acting. This guy was wearing these shoes that looked a little like some kind of platform sneakers, and it turned out they were special shoes, called MBT (Masai Barefoot Technology) shoes, designed with a curve in the sole. The effect of this is to force the person wearing them to use their abdominal muscles to stabilize themselves. Strengthening the core in this manner is sure to build the actor's capability to release their vital energy onto their partner, and provide for more commanding performances. You may be able to find these with a google search, or you can drop me a line at email@example.com and I can send you info on where you can get them.
A related point is that when I talk to my students about choosing rehearsal clothes for their scene, I urge them to pay special attention to the choice of shoes. Shoes often define the physical relationship to the floor and the comportment of the spine, and everything else, really, follows form this, so it is a decision to give careful thought to.
Posted by Andrew Wood Acting Studio at 12:35 PM
Friday, August 03, 2007
My new neighborhood hangout, ok, my office, is a charming little place in Hayes Valley called Cafe La Vie. The folks that work there are the nicest baristas I've ever met, the WiFi is free, the vibe is hella-hip, what more can you ask for? They have regular exhibitions of artwork there, and currently they have one by a guy who makes daguerrotypes. Daguerrotypes are the ancestors of photographs. Producing dagguerotypes is a technique that originated in the nineteenth century (pioneered by a Mr. Daguerre, among others). The guy who has produced this d-types, Eric Mertens, is showing some striking landscapes and portraits of contemporary subjects in a way that makes them feel like they belong in the nineteenth century and our time simultaneously. The cafe alone is well worth a visit, and this exhibition is someting to catch. Take a look.
Posted by Andrew Wood Acting Studio at 9:47 PM
I was walking on Market St last night and I passed a storefront. I immediately recognized the vibe emerging from it to be that of a gallery opening. I looked more closely and realized that this must be the opening of the Altered Barbie show, for which I had seen postcards at my favorite local haunt, Cafe La Vie. I was on my way somewhere, so I didn't get to go in, but what I saw in the front display windows looked like it would be worth revisiting...Barbie with lots of burning-man like body mods and apparel. The card shows Barbie wearing a tutu, striking a balletic pose, but with a birdcage for a head. Rene Magritte would be proud. And there's plenty of altered Ken as well, so there's something for everyone. 1554 Market is what I saw, and postcard says there is also something at 580 Hayes at Laguna. Checkit.
Posted by Andrew Wood Acting Studio at 10:01 AM