Saturday, February 19, 2011

"Honey, I've got an idea!"

Friday, February 18, 2011

RSA Animate - Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us

This is a really interesting piece, and helps make it clear why we have to constantly strive to think beyond "plot objectives" in thinking about what motivates characters.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

How Can You Resist?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

"If' I'm gonna die for a word...'s gonna be MY word, and my word is...


(with apologies to Stanley Kubrick)

Uranium Madhouse is having a Balderdash Night benefit! Click the link below for details and information, and please join us!

Balderdash Game Night!
Saturday, Feb 26, 2011

Friday, February 11, 2011

auditions for Conversation Storm at Uranium Madhouse!

Uranium Madhouse announces auditions for Conversation Storm, by Rick Burkhardt. Burkhardt is the co-creator of Three Pianos, which recently ran to great acclaim at New York Theater Workshop.

Wall Street Journal Review of Three Pianos
New York Times Review of Three Pianos

Conversation Storm was awarded the Best New Play award at the San Francisco Fringe Festival in 2007. Our production will be a Los Angeles premiere.

This will be the inaugural production of new LA theater company Uranium Madhouse. It will run for three weekends starting June 9 at the El Centro Theater in Hollywood. Directed by Andrew Utter, MFA, Yale School of Drama, Founder, Mother of Invention Acting School

Project Synopsis: Conversation Storm reunites three friends in a quiet café after a 20-year separation. The friends quickly resume their old custom of parry and riposte in an examination of the question of torture. As they talk, an intricate game evolves, entailing time loops and role-playing. They imagine the unimaginable, save Manhattan, fail Manhattan, conjure atrocities, salvage humanity and try to get a glass of water from an inattentive waiter, all while attempting to answer the question, “Are people fungible?”

3 males, mid-30?s.

Auditions will be held March 5 and 6 at the Cornerstone Theater in downtown LA.

The sides are here.

To submit for the roles, go to . The roles are Hugh, Godfrey and Alec.

If you are not on LA Casting and would like to submit, please email

the latest from Uranium Madhouse

Sunday, February 06, 2011

your entity theory is showing

In my post above all else, I raved about Josh Waitzkin's remarkable book The Art of Learning. I promised more posts on it, but with all I have been doing for Uranium Madhouse, I haven't gotten around to it. Now I'm getting around to it.

Before I go on, I'll mention that I have added The Art of Learning to my course syllabus, and my students are loving it as much as I did. I can't recommend it highly enough.

So one of the first important distinctions Waitzkin makes is between different theories of intelligence. We all have a theory of intelligence, that is, a picture of what our mind is and how it faces challenges. Here he is on the two types:

Children who are "entity theorists" -- that is, kids who have been influenced by their parents and teachers to think in this manner -- are prone to use language like "I am smart at this" and to attribute their success or failure to an ingrained and unalterable level of ability. They see their overall intelligence or skill level at a certain thing to be a fixed entity, a thing that cannot evolve. Incremental theorists, who have picked up a different modality of learning-- let's call them learning theorists -- are more prone to describe their results with sentences like "I got it because I worked very hard for it" or "I should have tried harder." A child with a learning theory of intelligence tends to sense that with hard work, difficult material can be grasped -- step by step, incrementally, the novice can become the master.

Waitzkin goes on to cite a study by developmental psychologists that beautifully illustrates the hold that these theories of intelligence has over the minds of learners:

a group of children was interviewed and then each child was noted as having either an entity or a learning theory of intelligence. All the children were then given a series of easy math problems, which they all solved correctly. Then, all the children were given some very hard problems to solve-- problems that were too difficult for them. It was clear that the learning theorists were excited by the challenge, while the entity theorists were dismayed. Comments would range from "Oh boy, now I'm really gonna have to try hard" to "I'm not smart enough for this." Everyone got those problems wrong-- but evidently the experience of being challenged had very different effects. What is most interesting is the third phase of this experiment: all the children were once again given easy problems to solve. Nearly all of the learning theorists breezed right through the easy material, but the entity theorists had been too dispirited by the inability to solve the hard problems that many of them foundered through the easy stuff. Their self-confidence had been destroyed.

Readers of this blog know that this is what I believe. I have said as much on more than one occasion, such as this one. So listen carefully actors: if you have ever asked anyone if you are "talented", you have an entity theory of learning to act. You think that acting ability is something innate, that you either "have" or you don't. You need to reconsider this. Learning to act really well is a long haul, I don't care who you are. It's like becoming a black belt in a martial art or an internationally competitive chess player. So you need to embrace an ethos that promotes resilience, as the rejections and the disappointments will come, to coin a phrase, not single spies, but in battalions.

So get your mind ready.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Uranium Madhouse Advisory Board Member #7-- Matthew McCray

I am very excited to announce the latest addition to the Uranium Madhouse Advisory Board, Matthew McCray, artistic director of the acclaimed Son of Semele Ensemble here in Los Angeles.

Matthew McCray is the Founding Artistic Director of Son of Semele Ensemble. A multi-faceted artist in many theatrical disciplines, Matthew enjoys working professionally throughout the year as a producer, director, performer, musical director, composer and teacher of theatre. Originally from Fort Collins, Colorado, he moved to California in 1994 to attend Chapman University. After earning a BFA in Theatre Performance and a minor in Vocal Music from Chapman in 1998, he moved to Los Angeles. He currently resides in Eagle Rock, California.

In 2004, Matthew was featured on the cover of American Theatre Magazine for his work with SOSE. As a director Matthew's work includes both original and published work. Most recently, his 2006 production of Iphigenia (A Rave Fable) received six LA Weekly Award nominations and Matthew received an award for his work as the Video Deisgner. Other directing work includes his own original plays A Few Moments Behind The Mask, Earthlings and Amended which premiered in REDCAT's Studio Festival, as well as Animal Farm, the west coast premiere of Back Story, a workshop production of What The Moon Saw by Stephanie Fleischmann and most recently a workshop production at CalArts of Lear's Wild Rose by Sibyl O’Malley. Matthew is currently collaborating with Center Theatre Group to assist in producing the yearlong festival of work by Suzan-Lori Parks called 365 Days / 365 Plays.

In 1999 Matthew created a theatre program for children in Newport Beach called Musical Theatre Playground (MTP) that produces reduced musicals and Shakespearean plays with child actors (K-6). As the program's sole producer, adaptor and director, Matthew has presented over 30 productions, inspiring countless children to become theatre-goers and theatre-makers. Now in his 8th year of producing and directing for MTP, Matthew's earlier MTP cast members have gone on to specialty high schools for the performing arts to continue their studies in the theatre.

Matthew has appeared on the stage, as well as in film, television and commercials. His credits include the experimental stage of REDCAT as well as nationally-recognized musical theatre organizations REPRISE! and Musical Theatre West. For Son of Semele Ensemble his acting credits include the role of Abraham in The Mysteries, the role of Boxer in the Los Angeles Stage Alliance Ovation Award-nominated cast of Animal Farm, Jacob in the NAACP Theatre Award nominated cast of The Tower and Paul Antonelli in Film is Evil: Radio is Good. His television work includes the recurring role of Jasper on the Emmy Award-winning television show Will & Grace, Boston Legal and, most recently, a pilot called The Cure. He has also been seen and heard singing in a Discover Card commercial, and in 2003 he carried a supporting role in the independent film The Commission, starring Martin Sheen, Edward Asner and Martin Landau. Matthew is a member of Actors' Equity Association and the Screen Actors Guild.

Matthew has authored three plays: Amended which premiered at REDCAT's Studio Festival in 2004; Earthlings which Son of Semele Ensemble premiered in Los Angeles in 2001; and, A Few Moments Behind The Mask which premiered in 1998 at Chapman University. His musical writing includes choral work, musical scores and incidental music for the theatre. His two published choral works for voice and piano are When We Two Parted, published in 1995 with Twin Elm Publishing, and The Paper Reeds By The Brooks, published in 1998 with National Music Publishing. When We Two Parted was performed by The Choral Project in Santa Cruz and San Jose in 2004. In 1996 his musical anthology of Lewis Carroll poetry was added into a theatre work about Alice Liddell, subsequently performed at Chapman University. Additionally, in 1998 he directed a complete evening of his choral compositions, also at Chapman.

Matthew currently teaches Musical Theatre at Chapman University. Other teaching credits include a performance workshop at California Lutheran University, as well as private singing instruction at Pacific School of Music and the Arts. Last year Matthew was asked to join a panel at California Institute of the Arts to speak with students about the formation of ensemble theatre companies.

Welcome Matthew!

what Ari's been up to

Two-time Mother of Inventioner Ari Kanamori is winding up work on an indie feature, Falling Uphill, in which he played the starring role. The Kickstarter video below has some footage of Ari at work on the film. Congratulations Ari, looking forward to seeing it!

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Cris D'Annunzio on The Office tonight!

Mother of Inventioner Cris D'Annunzio taped an episode of The Office a couple months back, and the episode is airing tonight.

Congratulations Cris!

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