SallyPAL

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I’M ON VACATION!

Hi Friend! I've been on a short vacation. I'll be back with regular episodes next week. You can look forward to my interviews with "Swim Pretty" author Jenny Kokai who writes about mermaid culture and pretty white women who smile while doing difficult athletic performances under water.

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You'll hear the founder of the Parsnip Ship podcast, Iyvon Edebiri, whose brave idea to post live performances of new plays in a New York theatre is taking off in a big way.

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I also interviewed poet and social activist Deborah Hunter whose work with the homeless and mentally ill has led to several moving original live performances.

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And I spoke with choreographer, filmmaker, dancer, and director Charly Wenzel. Charly works with Teresa Fellion's Body Stories in New York. Her work combining dance and virtual reality filming is groundbreaking.

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I look forward to sharing all this and more over the coming weeks. Be my PAL and join me in this storytelling adventure!

 

A. Rey Pamatmat and an Opportunity to Lead

Hi Friend, I decided to take an episode of SallyPAL, the podcast I created, to share some thoughts about creating original work for a live audience and why it’s important. I’m your SallyPAL podcast host, Sally Adams. Every week I talk about creating original work for a live audience. Send an email anytime to Sally@sallypal.com. Your ideas keep great conversations coming.

Check out sallypal.com/join for a cool free theatre resource. You can be a Sally pal just by joining. There are other good reasons to join like theatre cartoons, inside scoop on fresh productions, and being part of a larger creator community.

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I read a great article this morning that was a transcription of a speech by Playwright A. Rey Pamatmat. I include a link to the speech in my blog and show notes. In it Pamatmat describes his experience as an excluded person based on a number of things. He is part Asian, homosexual, and an artist. During his speech to a Humana Festival audience he says, “the things other people believed were limiting me—my ethnicity, my queerness, my open lack of shame about both—were actually the things that liberated me and made my artistic life possible.” That phrase alone speaks to why I started making my podcast.

As a long time arts teacher in K-12 schools, I found the kids who gravitated toward my classes had something to say. I believe everyone has something to say, but there are those (and this is strictly anecdotal) who have things they need to say. Furthermore, when it comes to people who are excluded from various parts of society, these kids have things to say that the rest of us need to hear. It’s why I continue my own drumbeat to create fresh work that sees the light of day. Because, as A. Rey Pamatmat says quite eloquently, teachers can, subject… students to bigoted systems, possibly for the first time in their lives or… teach them about bigoted systems and how to handle them. The former shows them (and their peers witnessing their treatment) how to perpetuate bigotry when they’re leaders in the field themselves, while the latter gives them and their peers strategies for navigating and maybe even eliminating these challenges.”

This profound message comes in a time when many of us who regularly and thoughtlessly experience privilege see the conversations for equality on social media and wring our hands. We don’t know how to respond. And I’m not just talking about responding to LGBTQIA or issues of racial inequality. It’s not even a conversation about women versus men; or, the uphill battle people with disabilities face every day whether you use a wheelchair and can’t sit close enough to the stage to see the actors or you have an invisible disability that forces you to sit quietly while mental illness is misrepresented on stage. And we rarely even consider the frustration fat people feel when they can find few representatives in the theatre who aren’t punchlines.

The message for all of us working in performing arts is this: We have an opportunity to lead. We can lead each other in respectful conversations about our differences and what we each have to contribute to human culture. We can lead our audiences to a deeper understanding of humanity and oneness. We can lead our students and young artists to develop tools to handle and combat bigotry and perhaps even to eliminate it. And we should all be leading each other toward an understanding that each of us deserves dignity, respect and love.

For those of us who already enjoy access to audiences and opportunity, we have a responsibility to do some homework. Research ideas. Talk to people who struggle with your characters’ obstacles. Create work that celebrates difference. See shows about otherness and be open to conversations for equality.

This is probably where I should chastise my fellow artists who experience privilege and don’t participate in the battle to eliminate intolerance. But I am not a fan of the double negative. Fighting a “not” as in, “I hate the haters” is not nearly as powerful as living in the daily possibility for fairness. Mother Theresa once said, “I was once asked why I don't participate in anti-war demonstrations. I said that I will never do that, but as soon as you have a pro-peace rally, I'll be there.” 

I am not suggesting that we all stop speaking out against prejudice. What I am suggesting is that we, as artists, begin to see our role as leaders. We should never gloss over the shameful behavior we see. But within that moment when you, as an artist, flip on the light and expose malice, injustice, hatred, and their subtler cousins you can make a difference. Lead your audience through the difficulties humans face through your storytelling ability. Create empathy in your audience members for the characters on stage.

I really encourage you to either read or watch Pamatmat’s speech because he is saying things we need to hear with the fluency of an artist. But more than needing to hear these things, we need to seek out these messages for the artistic growth they inspire. And finally, we need these messages for the social revolution they encourage that will ultimately bring peace and make us all better people.

Think of the exclusion of people who are different this way: Let’s say you’ve got this bank account and people pay you with direct deposit. You get paid mostly in American dollars. But every once in a while someone pays you with money from another country, Canadian dollars, Euros, or even Yen. Even though your bank accepts all of these denominations, you decide you don’t want to be paid that way so you tell all of these customers to pay American or forget it. We have lost a great number of important ideas because we don’t want to accept different denominations of currency. We are poorer for it.

There are a couple of things I often say on this podcast. One is that the audience is your last collaborator, the other is that stories create culture. If we, as artists, are not happy with the current state of the culture in which we live, then, by God, we have the most powerful tools ever created to change it. We tell stories. Stories create culture. Culture makes us who we are. 

Check out the blog, SallyPAL.com, for articles and podcast episodes. You, too, can be a SallyPAL. Sign up for a FREE Creator’s Notebook insert at SallyPAL.com/join. Next week come back to the podcast to hear my interview with Jenny Kokai, author of Swim Pretty: Aquatic Spectacles and the Performance of Race, Gender, and Nature. 

Thank you for following, sharing, subscribing, reviewing, joining, & thank you for listening. If you’re downloading and listening on your drive to work, or falling asleep to my whining and opining like my sister does, let me know you’re out there.

Storytelling through plays, dance performances, opera, concerts and other types of expression is the most important thing we do as a culture. That’s why I encourage you to share your stories because you’re the only one with your particular point of view. And SallyPAL is here with resources, encouragement, and a growing community of storytellers. I want to help you tell your stories… All the stories ever expressed once lived only in someone’s imagination. Now, go create, collaborate and elevate the culture! 

 

 

 

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Episode 41 – Stage Managing Immersive Opera with Cynthia Hennon Marino

Hi Friend, welcome to the blog and show notes for Episode 41 of Sally’s Performing Arts Lab Podcast. On Episode 41, my awesome guest is Stage Manager Cynthia Hennon Marino

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Her work with the ground-breaking immersive-devised opera, The Wreck, is just one of the things we discuss.

 

I’m your SallyPAL podcast host, Sally Adams. And every week I talk to people about creating original work for a live audience. Send an email anytime to Sally@sallypal.com. Because your ideas keep great conversations coming every week.

 

Check out sallypal.com/join for a cool free theatre resource called the Creator’s Notebook. You can also be a Sally ‘pal’ just by joining. There are other good reasons to join. Members get theatre cartoons, inside scoop on fresh productions, and entry into a larger creator community.

 

Stage Manager Cynthia Hennon Marino hit the ground running after getting an MFA in Stage Management from the College-Conservatory of Music. She went to New York and got hired almost immediately. She became a production assistant on the Broadway production of Equus starring Richard Griffiths and Daniel Radcliffe in 2008.

 

Cindy's journey started when she and her identical twin, Stacy Hennon Stone, did props for the musical Anything Goes their freshmen year of high school. The two now host a podcast called Twins Talk Theatre. The show is a series of great convos about working backstage.

 

Twin_Theatre_Geeks_Cindy_and_Stacy.pngSister Stacy is a professional technical director in Long Beach, California. But neither twin planned on becoming a theatre professional. Cindy started by pursuing a degree in math. Stacy started in the business school. But theatre has powerful magnetic pull.

 

Each Hennon sister graduated from a different college with a theatre degree. Cindy’s sister headed to Southern California. Cindy followed when she found work with Palos Verdes Performing Arts.

 

Cindy and I talk about Long Beach Opera, the opera, Nixon in China, the LA opera, Hopscotch, and Portland Opera. She currently stage manages the opera, Faust, with the Oregon company. This latest venture features 3-D projections based on the work of sculptor John Frame.

 

The projections and projection mapping are a collaboration among designers Frame, Vita Tzykun, David Adam Moore, and Duane Schuler. It’s received a lot of attention from a previous reveal with Lyric opera in Chicago. Opera Wire called this production “a visual feast for the ages.”

 

But Portland’s production isn’t the most progressive thing Cindy’s done this year. In March, she and a small contingent with Opera Omaha embarked on a rare journey. The work they created is unique.

 

The_Wreck_Opera_Omaha_Spring_2018.jpgThe Wreck is an immersive devised opera created in only 10 days. The Wreck borrows music and other bits from Slavik mythology and mermaid folklore. It features the writings of Anne Sexton, Alice Walker, and Adrienne Rich. It also floats on the music of Donizetti, Schubert, and Von Bingen. Ukrainian composer Mariana Sadovska adds new music creating an eclectic, otherwordly piece set in Omaha… sort of.

 

I know you’re going to enjoy what Cynthia has to say about stage managing and opera. There’s plenty of fresh ideas in the world of live opera performance. I can’t wait to see what she does next. Be sure and listen until the end of the interview for Concise Advice from the Interview, and Words of Wisdom from George.

 

Concise Advice from the Interview

7) Stage manage a show as opposed to a genre of theatre

6) Help the designers make a safe working environment for the performers

5) Focus on the show and focus on the people and everything else will fall into place

4) Go see opera!

3) Use physical cues to show you are open to a conversation

2) Experiment and have fun!

1) Think outside of the box

 

Thank you for following, sharing, subscribing, reviewing and joining. And thank you for listening. Download the SallyPAL podcast and listen on your drive to work. Or fall asleep to my recitatives like my sister does. Just be sure to let me know you’re out there.

 

Storytelling through plays, dances, opera, and other types of performances is the most important thing we do as a culture. That’s why I encourage you to share your stories. You’re the only one with your particular point of view. And SallyPAL is here with resources, encouragement, and a growing community of storytellers.

 

I want to help you tell your stories. All the stories ever expressed once lived only in someone’s imagination. Now… Think outside the box!

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Show UpDate and a Chance to Contribute

Hi Friend!

Darian Silvers is a multi-talented young man on a mission to change performing arts. He has been accepted to a summer Julliard program for young adults who plan to use art and collaborative skills to contribute to their home communities. The problem is funding. We can work together to fulfill Darian's goal to bring theatre arts to rural communities. Please join me in funding Darian Silvers' goal! https://www.gofundme.com/get-darian-to-juliard

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Here’s Darian’s message:

 

Hello lovely supporters, thank you so much for visiting my page.

I was one of 50 applicants across the nation to be accepted into the Artist as Citizen Conference at Julliard this June.  All I need is a little financial help for the conference and the plane ticket! If you know me, you know I'm a local director, artist, and fashion designer working in Houston.  

The AAC Conference teaches lessons on artistry, entrepreneurship, and activism. I've often considered myself a multi-faceted artist who hasn't quite found his niche, but this conference gives me the opportunity to marry my love of telling stories with my passion for helping people who need it . Any amount is a huge help!

 

https://sallypal.podbean.com/mf/web/syumuk/Darian_Silvers.pdf

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Episode 40 –Writer’s Block and Refueling the Creative Tank

Creative Blocks are nothing new to writers. Creators struggle from time to time with the problem of how to start or finish a work of storytelling.

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In my interview with Emile Adams, we talk about all the things having to do with writer's block and refueling the creative tank. Here are some resources we discussed that I want to highlight: The middle school club Emile mentioned was called Writer’s Block. It was an after-school creative writing group started by Mrs. Suzy Griffin and students at Edison Middle School in Tulsa, Oklahoma. There were also shout-outs to Tim Long and Jerome Johnson from LoJoWERKz, Stephen Schwartz who wrote the musical version of Wicked, poet Sheila Black, Emile’s brother, playwright Will Inman, and their culturally savvy uncles in New York.

The “finishing the hat” reference Emile made comes from the lyric of a song from Stephen Sondheim’s musical, Sunday in the Park with George. It is also the title of a book by Sondheim about writing lyrics for the stage. For practicing writing stories in general, Emile and Beckett are both fan fiction writers. They also are familiar with Twitch and “Let’s Plays” which are mentioned during the podcast.

We talked about Emile’s dark family comedy, I Wish You Actually Liked Me (and other familial impossibilities). There were mentions of several resources including NaNoWriMo or National Novel Writer’s Month. We talked about art video games as well as some of her favorite games from the last 20 years up including Chop Suey, Brave, A Story About my Uncle, Bird Story, Undertale, Pharoah, and What Is A Belly Button? Finally, Emile encouraged everyone to travel. For her cross-country trip, Emile used AtlasObscura.com which led her to the fascinating Weeki Wachee Mermaids show in northern Florida.

If you listen to the podcast be sure and listen until the end of the interview for Concise Advice from the Interview, and Words of Wisdom from George.

Also, in case you are interested, here’s Emile’s Adams Mai Tai recipe from the podcast:
2 oz dark rum
2 oz pineapple juice
1 oz orange liqueur
2 oz ginger ale
Splash of juice from the maraschino cherry jar
Garnish with a chunk of pineapple and a maraschino cherry

Concise Advice from the Interview is where I share bits of advice from my guests. Here are 12 bits from playwright and author, Emile Adams:
12)Always have something to work on that excites you
11) Give yourself “mulling time”
10) A good idea won’t leave you
9) Have someone in your life with whom you can share your ideas
8) Fan Fiction and journaling can be good ways to get ideas out of your head
7) Wait a month before your first pass at editing your work
6) Treat your unfinished work as an exercise rather than a failure
5) Enjoy someone else’s creativity to fill your creative tank
4) Re-experience your own creativity. Distance will help you see it in a new light
3) Travel somewhere weird, do weird stuff
2) Don’t work on one thing for months and months and months
1) Feed your creative bits

Check out the blog, SallyPAL.com, for articles and podcast episodes. You can be a “Sally PAL” by signing up for a FREE Creator’s Notebook insert at SallyPAL.com/join. Thank you for following, sharing, subscribing, reviewing, joining, & thank you for listening.

If you are downloading and listening on your drive to work, or falling asleep to my Internet musings like my sister does, let me know you’re out there. I want you to share your stories. Storytelling through plays, dances, music, and other types of performances is the most important thing we do as a culture. That’s why I encourage you to share your stories because you’re the only one with your particular point of view. SallyPAL is here with resources, encouragement, and a growing community of storytellers. All the stories ever expressed once lived only in someone’s imagination. Now… Go feed your creative bits!

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Ep 40 UPDATE - Writers Block and Fueling the Tank with Writer Emile Adams

Mom and Emile Bowling for Ideas

Bowling for Inspiration with Sally & Emile

Rest assured, SallyPALs, Episode 40 is coming! My daughter, author Emile Adams, and I discuss creative blocks and fueling the creative tank. It's a fun and informative episode. If you're having trouble getting started on a project, have stopped after a strong start, or suffer with Creator's Exhaustion, we've got a podcast episode that will get you back on track. I'm still editing so, bear with me!

Episode 40 coming next week!

No SallyPAL podcast this week. Hope you can hold out a few more days for Episode 40!

Episode 39 – From Okmulgee to the Big Time with LoJoWERKz Tim Long and Jerome Johnson

Hi Friend, Welcome to Episode 39 of Sally’s Performing Arts Lab Podcast. Today you’ll hear my long-awaited talk with the multi-talented founders of LoJoWerkz, Tim Long and Jerome Johnson. I’m Sally Adams, your SallyPAL podcast host.

Every week I talk to people like the LojoWERKz team about creating original work for a live audience. We talk about practical matters such as finding a great stage manager, scheduling for a show, and booking the right venue. My guests and I also explore social issues such as "open writing" and inclusion, women's voices, and celebrating "otherness". Check out the show notes on the blog to get links to the things we talk about and see photos of my guests. Send an email anytime to Sally@sallypal.com. Your ideas keep great conversations coming every week.

Check out sallypal.com/join for a cool free theatre resource. It’s never too late to sign up and have access to the Creator’s Notebook. I’m interested in knowing what creators need as a performing arts resource. If there are things you want included in the Creator’s Notebook, let me know by sending an email to sally@sallypal.com. I read them all. Be sure and listen until the end of the interview for Concise Advice from the Interview, and Words of Wisdom from George.

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LoJoWERKz Graphic Arts Version of Jerome and Tim at Work

LoJoWERKz Tim Long and Jerome Johnson met in 1991 at Okmulgee High School in Oklahoma when Tim was a young substitute teacher doing music and art on the side and Jerome was a high school kid into street dancing. Today the pair form the foundation of LoJoWERKz productions. The innovative stage and screen entertainment company blends hip-hop culture with traditional genres and has garnered some very high level attention. Tim’s companion art label, TuTchT IMAGING, creates graphic art featuring models of color.

Before collaborating on their first full book musical, A Song of Greenwood, in the late 1990s, the two LojoWERKz founders collaborated on projects for the church they both attended. Higher Dimensions Church in Tulsa, led by Carlton Pearson, encouraged the pair’s creative expression and led to a working partnership.

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The Cast of "Roofless" from the 2016 Table Reading

LoJoWERKz' current project, Roofless, started as a dance concert directed by the inimitable Tyrone Wilkerson for American Theatre Company in Tulsa. They worked the Roofless script into a full-blown musical and were awarded a place in 2004 into the ASCAP Foundation/Disney Musical Theatre Workshop. When they were accepted, Michael Kerker, Director of Musical Theatre for ASCAP, told them Wicked composer Stephen Schwartz was really impressed by their work.

Tim and Jerome have been mentored by Kerker and Schwartz since 2004. In 2005 they won the Harold Arlen Musical Theatre Award. Since that time the show has been called “groundbreaking”, “genius”, and “the future of the musical” by people who know what they’re talking about.

Tim has a background in film. He’s a 1988 graduate of the famously innovative CalArts.  And he and Jerome have been working on a new approach Roofless. They gave SallyPAL an exclusive reveal of what’s next for this amazing show and it’s going to expand the musical form on many levels.

Tim and Jerome already have some experience creating a blend of new and old they both love. In the short film HotFoot, Jerome choreographs famous hip-hop dance artist Lil Buck in a silent movie that also features Jerome’s eight-year-old son Sage.

I’ve followed Lojowerkz for a few years and it’s really great to see this pair experiencing the success they deserve. They're just good people and there’s more ahead for both of these extraordinarily talented friends. They talk about a lot of exciting new things happening in the worlds of musical theatre, film, and hip-hop, including Lin Manuel Miranda’s works, In the Heights and Hamilton, and the work of artists like Lil Buck. You’ll hear Jerome’s son, Sage, in the background. Also, his wife, Tyff, makes a brief appearance.

If you listen to the podcast, be sure and listen until the end of the interview for Concise Advice from the Interview, and Words of Wisdom from George.

Concise Advice from the Interview:

9) Being an outsider can be an advantage. Use it.

8) Keep moving forward and surround yourself with smart people, you’ll eventually get where you need to go.

7) Listen to critique for the grain of truth but take advice from people who know what they’re doing.

6) Don’t try to reshape what you have to fit the marketplace, but do get in the system to get to the caliber of advice you need.

5) Submit your work once it’s performance ready.

4) Get into legitimate circles to hone your voice and your craft.

3) A great idea won’t leave you.

2) Know your voice.

1) Keep putting your foot on the gas and go.

Check out the blog, SallyPAL.com, for articles and podcast episodes. You, too, can be a SallyPAL. Sign up for a FREE Creator’s Notebook insert at SallyPAL.com/join. Thank you for following, sharing, subscribing, reviewing, joining, & thank you for listening. Thanks to Hannah for emailing me, it was awesome to hear from you!

If you’re downloading and listening on your drive to work, or falling asleep to my doobadooba fubar like my sister does, let me know you’re out there. You need to share your stories. Storytelling through plays, dances, music, and other types of performances is the most important thing we do as a culture. I encourage you to share your stories because you’re the only one with your particular point of view. And SallyPAL is here with resources, encouragement, and a growing community of storytellers. All the stories ever expressed once lived only in someone’s imagination. Now, keep putting your foot on the gas and go!

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Episode 38 - Venues

Hi Friend, Welcome to Episode 38 of Sally’s Performing Arts Lab Podcast Show Notes and Blog. You've got your show. You've got your team. You might even have a few set pieces and costumes. But you have nowhere to perform. Today, I talk venues!

I’m your SallyPAL podcast host, Sally Adams. Every week I talk to people about creating original work for a live audience. Send an email anytime to Sally@sallypal.com. Your ideas keep great conversations coming every week.

Check out sallypal.com/join for a cool free theatre resource. It’s never too late to sign up to have access to the Creator’s Notebook inserts. I’m interested in knowing what creators need as a performing arts resource. If there are things you want included in the Creator’s Notebook, let me know by sending an email to Sally@sallypal.com! I read them all… Be sure and listen until the end of the interview for Words of Wisdom from George.

Finding a venue is one of the trickiest areas for the performing artist. We often think about venues as a place with a stage and lighting and seats for an audience. But there are so many other options. In fact, today it’s even possible to create a virtual venue. But we'll start with bricks and mortar.

When looking around for a space where you can invite an audience into an area to see a performance, you need a couple of things: Space to perform, and space for an audience to experience the performance. Traditionally, this is known as seating. But, of course, there are plenty of examples of shows with no actual seats for an audience. This could be anything from bringing their own seats as they would at a performance in a local park, or rave seating like Fuerza Bruta in New York where the audience stands and moves around for the entire show. You’ve probably seen live bands perform for dancing audiences.

For now let’s concentrate on the type of show where you're trying to tell a story to an audience and you want the audience to be focused on the story. This could be improv, dance, a play, an opera, you get the idea. When considering venues, there are two important things to consider with a story show: 1) Is the space appropriate to the production’s size? 2) Can every audience member see and hear the performance adequately?

Let’s address the first question. “Is the space appropriate to the production’s size?” There are performances where the performers outnumber audience members even when there’s a full house. This happens sometimes with children’s plays and dance recitals. Every family needs a ticket to see the kids perform. This is a pretty good problem to have. If you’re worried about the size of the venue and whether it will be adequate for the size of the audience, look around for local options. Churches and schools who rent auditoriums to large groups for fairly reasonable rates. Museums, libraries, and universities will sometimes fill the gap with large lecture halls and recital spaces.

More often than not, the problem isn’t having too big an audience, but having an audience that barely fills the front row. In a space is built for all-school assemblies it’s hard to enjoy a small show. A friend of mine who teaches at a public school in Tulsa, Oklahoma was able to solve this problem. A cavernous auditorium will swallow a small audience of parents and friends. My friend created seating on the actual stage. She then closed the main curtain. This created a space where the audience sat on three sides of a make-shift stage in the center of an enormous main stage. It kept the performance intimate. And the audience was able to enjoy the show without the gulf of separation many older school buildings have.

Other solutions include arranging for a show in a large room of someone’s home, or a backyard stage is an option. Many coffee houses and brew pubs have small performance areas. You can often find galleries, and dance studios that will open their doors to a performance group. There are plenty of basement theaters in big cities including New York and Chicago. As a member of an improv troupe I’ve had some great experiences performing in a yoga studio. There are so many options, it’s sometimes a matter of matching the venue to the performance.

In 2015, the avant-garde opera company the Industry staged it’s new opera, Hopscotch, in 24 cars on the roads of Los Angeles. Audience members were chauffeured in limos where scenes from the opera took place both in the cars and in parking lots. The company performed 24 live chapters over the course of 90 minutes. Tickets were naturally limited, so cameras and mics in each limo allowed director Yuval Sharon to live-stream the action to a central hub. Using 24 screens in the round, the public could watch the opera for free. Granted, this is a pretty expensive and technically challenging idea.

We can start to see options for performances that would allow for unusual venues that enhance, rather than detract from, the performance. Get creative, look around your community. What’s available? What environment enhances your story? I once saw an opera by Henry Mollicone titled, The Face on the Barroom Floor performed in a bar. Bars are noisy, as you can imagine. But like all venues, there are positives and negatives.

The second consideration regarding a venue is “Can every audience member see and hear the performance adequately?” This question can be broken down into three parts: 1) Do the site lines allow for every member of the audience to see the show? 2) Is the lighting adequate? 3) Can the audience hear and understand the show? (I mean, of course, can text and lyrics be understood not whether the ideas are too esoteric.)

Let’s talk about site lines first. By site lines, I mean: Is there an unobstructed line of site between each member of the audience and the area you want them to see? You might also include consideration for areas you do not want them to see. These include back stage, the mechanics for onstage effects, or the venue’s bathroom door.

Check the site lines by parking yourself in various areas where an audience member might sit and actually see things from that perspective. You don’t necessarily have to sit in every seat to determine if site lines are good. But you know that if there’s a pillar in the middle of your seating area, you want to avoid putting someone behind it. This actually happened to me when I saw Dreamgirls on Broadway. I guess a cheaper ticket in this case meant sitting behind the pillar that held up the balcony section. I spent the entire show leaning left and right and getting friendly with my neighbors.

You definitely don’t want the audience distracted by things like bathrooms and exit signs. It's really annoying when exit doors open onto brightly lit hallways during a performance. It’s important to give your audience some guidelines. I often say in this podcast that your audience is the final collaborator. Give them parameters so they can be engaged as collaborators. Remind audience members before each performance to turn off cell phones, and thank them for coming.

If your audience is new to live theatre, remind them that the actors are also live human beings engaged in telling a story. I’ve seen people take flash photos of dancers leaping and held my breath waiting for the dancers to land safely. Those announcements concerning flash photography are important for many reasons, including your performers’ safety. Once you have site lines and site line distractions managed, make sure the performance area is well-lit.

There is a big challenge when setting up for an audience. That is, lighting the show so that the audience can see it. This is where traditional theatre venues have an advantage.

Most theatrical spaces are already set up with stage lighting. If not, there are a lot of ways to light a stage from the super cheap to the hyper expensive. If you’re on a tight budget, a church or school venue may have lighting available for you to use on the cheap. they can sometimes even provide a lighting person. You can usually expect to pay your lighting person for rehearsals and performances.

There are also companies that rent out lights. And lighting professionals who, for a price, will go to your venue, set up lights, teach you how to operate their lighting system, and retrieve the lights when you're done. Prices vary, but you can go and look at prices online or even talk to someone local about the costs specific to your needs. The lighting for a one man show is usually much less complicated than the lighting for a full cast musical. You might also consider asking organizations if they already have lighting for their venues.

Sometimes parks departments have warehouses where they’ve stored lighting for years along with the holiday decorations. Sometimes they may not even know what they have. My husband, George, likes to say, “If you don't ask, you don't get.” So it never hurts to ask if the venue has lighting equipment. Always have the equipment checked out by a knowledgeable person. Fire hazards are real in the theatre world. If you’re working on a shoestring budget, consider a daytime performance in a mall or small park.

Another thing you might ask about at a venue is sound equipment. This is a little trickier when you're working on an outdoor stage. Poor sound at an outdoor event can send audiences running for their cars, and it’s tough to adjust for the outdoors. Again, the people who provide your lighting may also have sound equipment.

In Tulsa, a sound company I've worked with many times called Lone Wolf Audio provides professional guidance along with top notch equipment. The prices are reasonable, and they won’t make you feel like an idiot when you need to learn how to use the equipment. Matt will talk to you about your show’s sound and make sure you have what you need. Ask around in your community. The best technical people may not be the most expensive. You'll be able to get recommendations just like you do for hotels or doctors.

In 2013, my daughter, Emile, put together her first production outside of high school at the Equality Center in Tulsa. The closest thing to a play they had done up to that point was a drag show. They basically gave her a low set price for the venue and set her loose in the small warehouse. She got a good deal from Lone Wolf Audio and Matt, the owner, came to set up her lighting. The space was small enough and the actors were loud enough to be able to perform without sound equipment. After rehearsing the show in our house for a few weeks, she moved the play to the Equality Center Warehouse. There the actors set up the stage and rehearsed for a week before performing for a full house. I hear the Equality Center now has a permanent black box theater.

Knowing your space and what you can do in that space can be helpful. Many performance groups have a theatre or studio home where they can perform. But your home venue may not be perfect for every show you produce. If you have a venue available at a price you can afford but your show is not appropriate to that space, consider trading with someone who has a home space perfect for you show. It’s a great way to cross-pollinate your audiences and develop professional contacts and courtesies. We’ve been able to share costumes, sets, equipment, venues and even staff members at various locations.

There’s a relatively new type of venue gaining a foothold in the world of live performance and that’s the digital venue. Watching a live performance on a screen has been around since the early days of television when you could watch nearly everything live. There’s something Homeric about the experience of sharing an event performed live. Just ask 103.4 million Super Bowl fans. And while I understand there is a difference between being in the same room with the performers and watching them on a screen, you are, at least, still sharing the moment.

A few years ago I downloaded an app called Periscope so I could stop at a truck stop while traveling with my daughter, Emile, and we could watch a scene from her brother, Will’s, play performed live at a New York theatre. The connection was iffy, and the camera work was not great, but it was a thrill to be sitting in the middle of Nevada in a parking lot watching a live New York performance.

Today there are options like FaceBook Live, Life On Air, Livestream, Periscope Producer, Roomsapp.live, Snapchat Live Stories, Streamup, Stringwire, Twitter Live, UStream, YouNow, and YouTube Live and especially for live casting theatre, there are Crowdcast and HowlRound. But almost any platform works. Keep in mind, permission is still necessary for live streaming anything or anyone. If you don’t have permission from the creators and performers, you don’t get to live stream or record the show on any platform.

I hope this podcast helps to kick start your search for the perfect venue. Speaking of kick start, in addition to places online to find live streaming options, you’ll also find ways to fund your projects. I’ll go into some detail in another episode. But, just as there are uncommon venue options, there are also some funding options to consider when creating your event. 

I hope you'll check out the blog, SallyPAL.com, for articles and podcast episodes. You, too, can be a SallyPAL. Sign up for a FREE Creator’s Notebook insert at SallyPAL.com/join.
Thank you for following, sharing, subscribing, reviewing, joining, & thank you for listening. Thanks to Hannah for emailing me, it was awesome to hear from you!

If you’re downloading and listening on your drive to work, or falling asleep to my Homeric form like my sister does, let me know you’re out there. I want you to pursue your dream and share your stories. Storytelling through plays, dances, music, and other types of performances is the most important thing we do as a culture. That’s why I encourage you to share your stories because you’re the only one with your particular point of view. And SallyPAL is here with resources, encouragement, and a growing community of storytellers. I want to help you tell your stories. All the stories ever expressed once lived only in someone’s imagination… Now… Go find a venue!

 

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Episode 37 - SallyPAL Clip Show 1

My oldest child, Sarah, and her fiancé, Classic Dan agreed to open the first SallyPAL clip show. This episode features bits of the first 18 SallyPAL podcasts. And I’ll share the second 18 in the next clip show. You’ll hear about the value of reinventing work, and creating new performances with open casting options. We also talk about acknowledging the audience and making choices before and during shows. We also discuss pushing through obstacles to make something new and fresh! The show features Emile Adams, Steve Barker, Sheila Black, Daniel Bowers, Jana Hunter, Will Inman, Angie Mitchell, George Nelson, Nicole Perry, Darian Silvers, Lisa Stefanic, Wes Vrooman, Lisa Wilson, Michael Wright, and Nicole Zimmerer. You'll hear about the trend toward inclusion in performing arts as well as the frustration with outdated theatre practices. I know you’ll enjoy hearing these moments again. I invite you to revisit the episodes. I’ve included a show breakdown that lists the times you can find various guests in this clip show episode. That way, you can skip around and listen to the parts you’re most interested in hearing.

Show Breakdown:

Mom1.jpg
Darian & Will take a Selfie with Sally

Will Inman and Darian Silvers had some things to say in Episode 2 about why it’s important to reinvent existing works. They also mention why storytellers need to collaborate. You’ll hear them share about “Animal Farm”. This version of an existing show is a revamped musical performed in Houston in 2017.

(2:33-Will) Reinventing the Work; (3:50-Darian) Making Something New; (4:17-Darian&Will) Collaborating

 

clip show 2
Daniel at The Folger with the Bard

In Episode 3, Daniel Bowers highlights the fun and excitement of building a reality on stage.

(6:29) Telling a Story on Stage; (7:31)  Building a Reality on Stage

clip show3
Emile, Becket, and Sally Talk about Theatre

Emile Adams confirms that feeling in Episode 4 while discussing her original play, “Fever Dream”.

(8:08) When the Lights Come up on Your Show

clip show 4
TV Writer Jana Sees a Funny World

Jana Hunter is the executive producer with her husband Mitch of the ABC show, “The Middle”. In Episode 10 she talks about storytelling to a broad audience.

(8:45) Storytelling to a TV Audience;In

clip show 5
Angie and The Spontaniacs!

In Episode 14 Angie Mitchell expresses the fun of developing new forms or games in improvisational comedy.
(10:34) Developing new Forms
(10:34) Developing new Forms

clip show 6
George Considers Character

In Episode 16 George Nelson echoes the feeling of creating original characters for both practical and profound reasons.

(11:49) Creating Characters

In Episode 14 Angie Mitchell talks about pushing through her early improv failures. And Jana Hunter from Episode 10 talks about the value of HER improv training with LA’s Groundlings.

(12:48-Angie) Pushing through Failure; (4:05-Jana) Creating Stories on the Fly and Being Comfortable in Your Skin

clip show 7
Wes Has High Hopes and High Expectations

Wes Vrooman in Episode 6 believes telling stories is important. Also, he points out, a new crop of storytellers seems ready to tell stories in exciting ways.

(15:10) Young People Telling New Stories

clip show 8
Lisa Contemplates Educational Theatre

Lisa Stefanic in Episode 8, George Nelson in Episode 16, and Daniel Bowers in Episode 3 encourage actors and directors. They advise artists to be flexible and create characters and stories that resonate with audiences.

Episode 8 (16:52- Lisa) Be Flexible

Episode 16 (17:17-George) Play Characters That Resonate

Episode 3 (18:02-Daniel) Buy in to the Story’s Truth

clip show 8 Nicole's Truth

Nicole Perry from Episode 11 ponders the impact of a dancer portraying the truth of a character.

(19:05) Do Characters Affect Your Spirit? and Being Seen

Wes Vrooman in Episode 6 introduces a conversation for inclusion. It is echoed by Lisa Wilson in Episode 7.

(20:03-Wes) Plays with Options; (20:41-Lisa) Importance of Representation

clip show 9
Nicole Fights for her Rights

Nicole Zimmerer from Episode 9 opens the conversation up to include physically disabled actors and storytellers. While Nicole Perry from Episode 11 zeroes in on the reality of body-based casting.

(21:37-Nicole Z) First Wheelchair Actor on Broadway; (21:51-Nicole Z) Disabled Characters Played by Disabled Actors; (22:35-Nicole P) Body Based Casting

In Episode 6, Wes Vrooman expands on his earlier comments. He also encourages storytellers to get out there and tell their stories.

(23:39) Relatable Stories Need to Be Told 

clip show 9
Sheila Loves Words

Sheila Black from Episode 13 and Michael Wright from Episode 15 both caution writers to set aside worries that don’t have anything to do with the expression of the work.

clip show 11
Michael Values Story

(24:53-Sheila) Don’t Worry about Perfection; (26:13-Michael) Audiences Experience Stories not Themes

In Episode 10, Jana Hunter shares some memorable advice she got about how best to create with an ensemble.

(27:35) Collaborating: “Be nice and Contribute”

clip show 13
Steve's Big Advice

Also, in Episode 17, Steve Barker gives the best possible advice.

(28:07) Write, write, write!

 

clip show 13
Lisa Supports Women Playwrights

In Episode 7, Lisa Wilson sums up the value of storytelling.

(29:01) Storytelling Is Culture

In Episode 2, Will Inman points out that an audience is always the final collaborator.

(30:35) A Live Audience Is the Reason to Do Theatre

I hope you enjoy the SallyPAL clip show. You might find an artist who piques your interest. Episodes are available on most podcast platforms. Check out the blog, SallyPAL.com, for articles and also show notes. You, too, can be a Sally PAL! Sign up for a FREE Creator’s Notebook insert at SallyPAL.com/join. Thank you for following, sharing, subscribing, reviewing, and joining. And, by the way, thank you for listening.

If you download and listen on your drive to work, or fall asleep while listening to my NPR-inspired narration like my sister does, let me know you’re out there. Storytelling through plays, dances, music, and other types of performances is the most important thing we do as a culture. That’s why I want YOU to share YOUR stories because you’re the only one with your particular point of view. Also, SallyPAL is here with resources, encouragement, and a growing community of storytellers. I want to help you share your truth. All the stories ever expressed once lived only in someone’s imagination. Now… go tell someone who you are!

 

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