Saturday, October 30, 2010

Uranium Madhouse Advisory Board member #4: Karim Javeri

I am very pleased to announce the fourth member of the Uranium Madhouse Advisory Board, Karim Javeri:

Karim Javeri is based in London, UK and is Director and Project Manager at Public Value Consulting Limited. His work focuses on advisory and consultancy services to the nonprofit and social enterprise sector. In the past he has conducted research for the Bank of England through the London School of Economics and recently completed a dissertation on performance measurement in the public sector. He holds a Masters of Public Administration from the London School of Economics in Public and Economic Policy.

Before moving to the United Kingdom, Karim lived in Canada and held various service delivery and leadership positions in nonprofit organizations in Toronto. He has Bachelor of Social Work degree from McGill University and a BA from the University of Pennsylvania.

Karim joins David Chambers, Dr. Amir Eshel and Elisa Carlson on the Advisory Board for Uranium Madhouse, the theater company I am forming in Los Angeles

Welcome Karim!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Uranium Madhouse working logo

Here is what I am looking at for the logo for Uranium Madhouse, the theater company I am founding. With much gratitude to Seth Ernsdorf of Ernsdorf Design

Monday, October 25, 2010

Uranium Madhouse Advisory Board Member #3: Elisa Carlson

I am thrilled to announce that Elisa Carlson, who has worked as a voice and speech coach at the Guthrie and other major regional theaters and is a graduate of the stellar MFA acting program at the University of Delaware, has agreed to join David Chambers and Dr. Amir Eshel on the Advisory Board for Uranium Madhouse, the theater company I am forming in Los Angeles.

Here is more about Elisa:

Elisa Carlson was on the Artistic Staff of the Guthrie Theater for eight years where she coached voice, speech and text for 31 productions. Other coaching credits include multiple productions Off-Broadway and at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, The Children’s Theater, Alliance Theatre and Georgia Shakespeare.

Elisa has a special interest in new plays, having coached world premieres of plays by Tony Kushner, Kia Corthron and Ellen McLaughlin, among many others, and the premiere of the Michael Korie/Ricky Ian Gordon opera The Grapes of Wrath. Her acting credits include the Guthrie, The Shakespeare Theater and the Alliance. She has performed internationally with companies in Finland, Germany, Greece and The National Theatre of Cyprus.

Film credits include acting in and coaching text for Campbell Scott’s film of Hamlet starring Blair Brown. She was dialect and foreign language coach for the feature film Sweet Land starring Alan Cumming, winner of the 2006 Independent Spirit Award for Best First Feature, and created language for the multiple award-winning short Ana’s Playground.

Elisa has B.F.A. in acting from Florida State and an M.F.A in acting from the University of Delaware's Professional Theatre Training Program. She recently moved home to Atlanta and is a Resident Director and Associate Professor at the Gainesville Theatre Alliance.

Welcome Elisa!

Uranium Madhouse Advisory Board member #2: Dr. Amir Eshel

I am pleased to announce that Stanford professor Dr. Amir Eshel has accepted my invitation to join the Uranium Madhouse Advisory Board.

A little about Amir:

Amir Eshel is Charles Michael Chair in Jewish History and Culture, a Professor of German Studies and Comparative Literature, and Director of The Europe Center at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University. His research focuses on German culture, comparative literature, and German-Jewish history and culture from the Enlightenment to the present. He is currently working on a book about the poetic figuration of historical narratives, and he is also involved in an interdisciplinary project on urban space in Berlin. At Stanford, he has taught courses on German Jewish literature, literature of the Holocaust, modern German poetry and the contemporary German novel.

Before joining the Stanford faculty in 1998 as an assistant professor of German studies, he taught at the Universitat Hamburg (Germany). He is a member of the American Comparative Literature Association, the Association of Jewish studies, the German Studies Association and the Modern Language Association. In 2002 he received the Award for Distinguished Teaching from Stanford University's dean of the School of Humanities and Sciences. He received an MA and PhD in German literature, both from the Universitat Hamburg. He speaks Hebrew, German and English, and has a good knowledge of Yiddish and French.

Amir was a reader on my dissertation on Thomas Bernhard at Stanford, and a tremendous source of guidance and support during that project. I look forward to continuing to work with him on this new venture.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

some thoughts on The Social Network

Jesse Eisenberg, who played the lead in The Social Network, is a smart actor. He's also a good actor. He embodied the fierce intelligence and determination his role seemed to ask for admirably. Is he a great actor? He may be one day, but he's not there yet.

Why do I say that? Consider the final scene (SPOILER ALERT). The Zuckerberg character is apparently preoccupied, deeply troubled even, about the question of whether or not he is, in fact, an asshole. He asserts to the concerned junior lawyer who hangs around to cluck over him that he is not an asshole, and her rejoinder (more on that below) is an apparent answer to that question. Trouble is, by this point, I had long since ceased to care about the condition of Mark Zuckerberg's soul. The story had been absorbing, engrossing even, but I found myself totally apathetic to the question of whether deep down, Mark Zuckerberg was a good guy or not.

Perhaps the fault for this does not lie with Eisenberg alone, but I think if he as an actor had found a way to care about the people he was eventually to betray, his remorse upon betraying them would have been more real, and, as a result, more palpable. As it was, he seemed troubled, but anguished? Not remotely. Jesse Eisenberg will have to try to hit that mark another time.

If I had to guess, I would speculate that Eisenberg made a judgment, consciously or not, about Zuckerberg that he was "uncaring", so it was hard for him to see that these relationships really meant something to him.

As for the movie itself? It was watchable enough. It did stay with me for a day or two. But I don't think it really showed us anything new. We know about the dangers of ambition and of failing to keep it real when you succeed. And we know people do ass things in their early twenties. (oh how we know...)

And about that ending: Zuckerberg says something to the lawyer like "I'm not an asshole!" and she says something like: "I know you're not. You're just working really hard to be one."

This reminded me more than a little of the last lines of Howard Korder's 1988 play Boys' Life:

Carla: You're not the worst man in the world.
Jack: I'm not, huh?
Carla: No you're not. I'm afraid you're just not. (Pause) But you'd like to be...

Just sayin'.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

more congratulations!

Two-time Mother of Inventioner Tyne Gaudielle has been cast in a play called Mom at the Ark Theater Company, Los Angeles.

In her own words:

I wanted to let you know that I went on an audition recently for a new play. Right before the audition I kept thinking about what you had said, about staying fully extended, at all times, in the moment, even while the other person is talking. Well, it must have helped me, because I got the part. :)

Congratulations Tyne! Can't wait to see the show!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Uranium Madhouse gets its first Advisory Board Member: meet David Chambers

I am very pleased to announce that a mentor of mine from Yale, David Chambers, has agreed to serve on the Advisory Board of Uranium Madhouse, the theater company I am forming.

David Chambers, an
South Coast Rep Associate Artist, is a director,
teacher, writer and producer whose
work has been seen On and Off-Broadway
and at major theatres throughout
the United States. He directed Broadway
premieres of Christopher Durang’s
A History of the American Film and
Howard Korder’s Search and Destroy,
a play which originated at South Coast Rep and for
which Mr. Chambers received a New
York Drama Desk nomination for best
director. Mr. Chambers has served as
director at such theatres as The New
York Shakespeare Festival, Washington’s
Arena Stage (Producer 1979-81
seasons), the Yale Repertory Theatre
and the Guthrie, among others. He is
currently a professor of acting and directing
at the Yale School of Drama
where among other duties he produced
The Meyerhold Project, a collaboration
with the Saint Petersburg Academy of
Theatre Arts in Russia which has performed
in Europe and the U.S. He also
directed South Coast Rep’s Bosoms and Neglect,
The Hollow Lands, Tartuffe, Private
, Old Times, A Mess of Plays by
Chris Durang
, The Misanthrope,
Hedda Gabler, The Miser, Going for
, Kiss of the Spider Woman and
Twelfth Night, productions which have
won numerous Drama-Logue and L.A.
Drama Critics Circle Awards. He lives
in Portland and Vinalhaven, Maine
with his wife Christine Vincent and son
Dima. His daughter Jessica lives and
works in the Bay Area.

Southpark does Inception

(If you are on Facebook and don't see a video below, click the headline above to go to my blog.)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Angela Hahn books a role in an indie feature

Two-time SF Mother of Inventioner Angela Hahn just got a role in an independent feature film. And she found that her skills from class were a major help in preparing her audition, as she writes below:

The film is a low budget, feature length film by local film maker Dante Oliviero called Ozu. He describes it as a "horror/thriller" but without a lot of blood and guts. It's about a girl who thinks she's being followed by a ghost and turns to a ghost hunter for help. It's written in "the spirit of Rashomon", from 4 different characters' perspectives..and it's up to the audience to decipher the "real story". In any event, I wanted to audition for the role of one of the detectives...but he had everyone use the same scene for the audition, which was a scene between Catherine, the girl who thinks she's being followed, and the ghost hunter. He thought this scene would give him an idea of everyone's acting ability.
Initially, I was a little disappointed that I couldn't read "as the detective" and was worried that I wouldn't be able to play "the scared girl" who thinks she's being followed. Even though I had very little information about the character and the story, I approached it in the way that I have learned in your the best of my ability, I developed a "Who Am I?" for my character, what were the given circumstances, what had happened immediately before the scene, where do I live, where does the scene take place, what time is it, etc, and I really tried to personalize what it felt like to think I'm being followed/stalked. I also worked on developing the relationship with the other character in the scene, what was my objective, what do I need from the other character. During the audition, I reminded myself to "throw the ball" and try to receive what was coming at me. After the audition, the director commented that he could really tell that I had "done my homework and created a backstory for the character and the scene." About a week later, the director called to let me know I got the role as the detective.

Congratulations Angela! Sounds like a FABULOUS project!

Monday, October 18, 2010

listening to liars

NPR did an interesting piece this morning about a Stanford University psychology study of thousands of corporate earnings calls, and found that there are patterns in the way the CEOs discussed their companies fortunes when they were later proven to be lying. For example:

[One researcher] says lying executives tend to overuse words like "we" and "our team" when they talk about their company. They avoid saying "I."

She says there's a reason for that: "If I'm saying 'I' or 'me' or 'mine,' I'm showing my ownership of the statement, so psychologically I'm showing I'm responsible for what I'm saying."

Useful to know if you are canvassing CEOs, but it's interesting for actors because this sort of precise attention to the nuances of language is essential for finding our way into a character's psyche. Ludwig Wittgenstein observed that any child of 12 is a virtuousic user of her native language: she is capable of making distinctions and expressing herself with the level of nuance that we associate with virtuouusic performers of music. In these nuances, we reveal ourselves constantly, so by paying careful attention to the precise way in which characters express themselves, we have one of our best hopes of finding out who they really are.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

the tallest tale of them all

I have sung the praises of Ira Glass, the creator of This American Life , before on this blog. I never get tired of his fastidious, fascinating mind.

This particular story
is an incredible yarn about a hedge fund that seemingly single-handedly inflamed the recent financial crisis.

Actors can learn a lot from Ira's determination to understand what happened, and why.

Friday, October 15, 2010

the actor as Renaissance man

An interesting NPR piece on James Franco and his many...interests.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

I'm just sayin'

(If you don't see a video below, click the headline above to go to my blog)

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

It's Tuesday, so Travis must be in a Belgian film festival

This festival.

In this movie.

Congratulations Travis!

Real Time Web Analytics Clicky Web Analytics