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Episode 36 - Storytelling in Plays with David Blakely

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David Blakely encourages storytelling for all the right reasons... and some nefarious ones... Hi Friend, Welcome to the blog and show notes for Episode 36 of Sally’s Performing Arts Lab Podcast, "Storytelling in Plays".  Today, I talk with HTC’s Playwright in Residence, David Blakely. Every week on the SallyPAL podcast I talk to people about original storytelling 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 for access to the Creator’s Notebook. I want to know what you need as a performing arts storytelling resource. If there are things you want in the Creator’s Notebook, let me know by sending an email to Sally@sallypal.com! I read them all. If you're listening 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.

I’ve known David Blakely since I was 15 years old. I was a theatre club member at Tulsa Memorial High School. (Shout out to my Masque & Gavel buddies). In the intervening years, David got a law degree from Duke University, and an MFA from the University of Iowa. Now, 40 years later, David is the playwright in residence for Tulsa’s only all-original works company, Heller Theatre (or HTC). He's also a playwriting professor at Rogers State University. David Blakely is a prolific playwright with performances of his works in various locations around the country at any one time.

Most recently, David's been in rehearsal at HTC for his one act, “Four Ways to Die”. The play is based on Dennis McAuliffe’s 1990 nonfiction, “The Deaths of Sybil Bolton”. “Four Ways to Die” follows a journalist uncovering what exactly happened to his grandmother during the systematic reign of terror that killed dozens of Osage people in the 1920s. The play features Steve Barker from Episode 17.  The play can be seen at the Tulsa Nightingale Theatre April 6 & 7, and April 13 & 14, 2018 at 7:30pm. For information on this and other original works of storytelling, as well as the Second Sunday Serials, visit HellerTheatreCo.com. We discussed David’s work, “For Your Examination” in which he and his co-writer, Anna Hudson, gathered monologues from homeless Oklahomans.

We also talked about Francis Ford Coppola, Samuel Beckett, PDQ Bach, and "Oh! Calcutta!" In addition, we mentioned Ernie Kovaks, and Saturday Night Live. And we talked about language including the use of American Sign Language in theatre. We also discussed Will Inman’s play, "The Lesbian Exhibit". Storytelling was at the heart of our conversation. 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.

Today's Concise Advice from the Interview  includes nine bits of advice from my SallyPAL podcast guest, playwright David Blakely.

9) Nurture storytellers

8) When appropriate, ask those you mentor to give you advice for your work

7) Don’t be afraid to try new things

6) You have a vision and a voice and it’s important to discover it

5) You need to get the audience’s attention to tell the story

4) Get inspired by supporting young artists

3) Allow the subject matter to dictate the form of your work

2) Mine situations in stories for all their potential

1) Allow your characters to face complicated issues. Write the tough scenes

Check out the blog, SallyPAL.com, for articles and podcast episodes. And 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!

I want you to pursue your dream 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 write the tough scene!

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Playwright David Blakely

Playwright David Blakely will be on the podcast Monday, March 19! I spent two days in New York and didn't record a single interview! I did, however, shop for wedding dresses with my oldest daughter and ate lunch at a Swedish coffee place called Fika and dinner at a Japanese-Mexican fusion restaurant called Mamasushi. Robin Sokoloff at Town Stages, I promise to come see you on my next trip! This one was fast and furious. Power outage at home meant no working in the podcast tonight so, rather than posting Thursday this week, I'll hold off and post next Monday. Shout out to Hannah for the emails! I loved hearing from you and knowing that one of my younger daughter's best buds from middle school is listening to the show! Emile, Pat, George, Steve, and all my SallyPALs, hang in there and I'll have a great interview up for you in a few days!

 

Episode 35 - Responding to Criticism

Welcome to the blog and show notes for Episode 34 of Sally's Performing Arts Lab Podcast. No interview today. Just me and some thoughts about criticism and collaboration... Oh, and some new music! Every week I talk to people about creating original work for a live audience. Send an email anytime to Sally@sallypal.com. You're my podcast collaborator. As always Concise Advice and Words of Wisdom from George are near the end of the podcast episode.

I recently posted an episode of SallyPAL on "Fear of Failure and the Imposter Syndrome". A couple of things came up the following week that made me realize I needed to do a show on seeking and responding to criticism. First I should point out that I have not always been very good at either seeking or responding to criticism.

Today I want to introduce a new way of thinking about it. Lately, I've started to recognize that critique can be really useful. When you get critique that you know is useful you're not always sure it's worth the effort to make the suggested improvements. You might accept that the appraisal is accurate and you've actually considered making a change to the work based on the unsolicited advice. But you balk because of the work involved in making the changes. When someone else notices the problem that you decided wasn't really all that noticeable, it's kind of a bummer. Now you have an opportunity to address the problem… or you can be annoyed that someone noticed the problem you thought wasn't noticeable, and take it out on the person offering the evaluation.

Here's a thought: Criticism is a contribution to your project. Rather than see your critic as someone who's slamming you, think of that person as a collaborator attempting to make a contribution to the work. A collaborator wouldn't say anything at all if they didn't feel they had something helpful to say. If you see your critics as collaborators, you can change how you respond to criticism. Sometimes all there is to say is, "Thank you," or "I appreciate you noticing that." But sometimes what a critic says will cut you to the quick. If your knee-jerk reaction is negative it could be because the criticism is accurate and that's a tough pill to swallow. I'll give you a couple of examples from my own experience, one from a couple of decades ago and one more recent example.

Back in the days when I was writing a lot of one act plays, I had several pieces accepted into a local festival. I was invited to participate in workshopping the plays. The director was someone I really admired. I was an actor writing on the side but I didn't really think of myself as a playwright at the time. But the company had accepted four of my plays.

I got a lot of good suggestions for changes from both actors and the director. Instead of really looking at these suggestions and considering how they would change the work, I ran home, made the changes and returned the next day with the suggestions incorporated into the script verbatim. I spent no time asking myself, "Is this what I want for my work… Is the suggestion valuable enough to make the change to the script?" The people making suggestions seemed to have a lot of confidence… and I… did not. After this happened four or five times, the director gave me some pretty good advice. He said, "Sally, when I offer a critique, I want to have a dialogue with you. I'm not telling you to go home and change the script. You have to decide if the change is right for your work."

My lack of confidence was weakening my work. I didn't put any thought into the changes. I wasn't thinking, "This is a really good idea, I'm going to look and see if it works for the story I'm telling." Look, everyone will have ideas for ways to improve your work, but only you have the original vision. If you become an automaton taking all suggestions and making changes without considering their impact on the story you set out to tell, the work will suffer. It doesn't mean you can't take suggestions. Many of the suggestions I got actually did improve the scripts.

The automatic acceptance of any and all criticism is no healthier than the creator who accepts no criticism declaring, "It's my work, dammit, and you can't tell me what to do with it!" Dismissing criticism out of hand is not much different than the automatic acceptance method. When someone suggests a change, let your mind rest on the idea of the change rather than the specific suggestion. It may be that the suggested change doesn't really work but the need to address the section is valid. Rather than assume the person who wants to improve your work is trying to control it, it's possible they see something you are missing. Step back from the piece and look objectively. Could an improvement be made?

I always like to say I'll try anything once. If it doesn't improve the work, at least I've tried it and it might provide a springboard to an even better idea. Something else you might consider is your opinion of the critic. Even jerks can have good ideas once in a while. The best people can have terrible ideas and, occasionally, the biggest jerks can save a production. One of my favorite questions is, "Does this change serve the story?" Know what story you're telling and make sure everything in it serves that thread.

A more recent example of criticism that I didn't really want to hear happened last week. Rather than being oppressive, it was surprisingly healthy. The person who offered the critique is my sister and she's just an awesome human being so I'm more likely to listen to what she says. As she's carefully offering her suggestion, I'm thinking quietly about it. (Remember my story about taking suggestions without thinking?)

In this case, my sister noticed my silence and may have assumed I wasn't receiving the criticism well. In fact, her ideas were really good. Here's what she suggested. On my podcast, I have a section (if you listen regularly, you'll be familiar with it). It's the section where I say… "It's time now for Concise Advice from the Interview." She began by telling me what she liked about the section. This is a really great technique when you want to offer criticism. Since she's a teacher, she has some experience with this method.

My sister said she likes that I take a pared down version of the advice people give over the course of the interview and put it in its own little section. As she's sharing this, she pointed out that a podcast is a more intimate experience for the listener than it is for me as the producer. I am aware that I might be speaking to several thousand people while the listener is rarely listening to more than one or two people. What she said is that the announcement for Concise Advice from the Interview was a little loud, even jarring. She called it "theatrical". No surprise since that's my background. My first thought was, "But I like that bit!" and, "I don't want to change anything," and "What if other people like it?" or the less compelling, "What if other people are used to it?"

After 37 episodes I still haven't received any real criticism or even suggestions aside from Beck's idea to add Concise Advice (a really good suggestion, by the way, Beckett). That echo-ee section where I announce Concise Advice from the Interview is part of the recipe for the show. It's like the date nut bread recipe where you add caraway seeds despite the fact that you and everyone else who politely eats the bread hates caraway seeds. What if you keep the recipe the same and just leave the caraway seeds out?

After talking to my sister, I agreed that Concise Advice from the Interview could be more intimate, could be a little quieter, I could do it differently. I could even change the title. Then I started thinking, "what if I changed it just because my sister suggested I change it? What if there are a bunch of other people who like the way I'm doing it?" Well, maybe there are, but I haven't heard from any of them.

The opinion that should matter most is not the opinion of a true fan out there in the world, or even the opinion of my sister. The opinion that matters most is mine. How do I feel about the criticism, and even more importantly, is it valuable to the work? The announcement for Concise Advice from the Interview might be jarring to someone who actually listens to the podcast (she admits, of course, that she listens to it as she's falling asleep at night).

What I realized when listening to my sister's advice is that the podcast may be an intimate experience for many listeners. Maybe I need to pay attention to getting my sound levels consistent (I've been struggling with my sound levels for months).

About making my podcast more intimate, I thought, "What if I spoke to just one person and that person is you? You and I could have a one-to-one exchange." This led me to another thought: I could improve how I use social media and make the show more accessible. An obvious way I could improve is for you to reach out to me. I do read my emails. It's easy to do because I don't get very many. I have thousands of people listening to the podcast but not very many are interacting with me.

You and I… we're collaborators. Some of your suggestions could show up in the podcast. Concise Advice from the Interview was a suggestion from Beckett Adelman. I love that he was listening and proposed putting advice from the podcast interviews into their own section. It's one of my favorite parts of the podcast along with Words of Wisdom from George (which might have been my daughter's idea).

Your ideas will get noticed. I want to collaborate with you on the creative project that is this podcast called SallyPAL. While I'm working to improve the podcast, I'm doing other things like creating a small recording space where I can smooth out my sound levels and not have to deal with things like the dog snoring and the washing machine running in the background. I'm working on smoothing out that AM radio voice I get when I've had too much caffeine. I'm committed to doing the best work I can do, but I need your input to know how the podcast is occurring for you. Are you getting useful information? Are you entertained?

This is an episode about dealing with criticism. But it's also an episode about collaborating. I think the two go hand in hand. If you're a creator, your collaborators have to be free to express their opinions. When you're directing or stage managing an original work, it can be downright dangerous to say anything to the creator for fear of upsetting them.

Creators, we get upset for three reasons. The first is: "I intended to do things a certain way and I wasn't able to make it happen." The second is: "I didn't communicate my idea the way I intended. I failed to express the pictures in my head and the sounds in my brain." The third and final reason for me to be upset with the work is this: "Things didn't turn out the way I expected them to. When someone on the team tells me, "This isn't what I thought it would be," and they echo the thoughts I've been having that make me feel embarrassed and uncomfortable, it's frustrating."

When you're upset it's the perfect time to stop… breathe in… recognize the downward spiral… count to ten if you have to… and do not take out your frustration on the messenger. As soon as you do, that person begins to shut down and they'll stop sharing. And you're no longer collaborating. The work will suffer if you're not open to hearing suggestions. But after hearing those ideas, don't assume everything everyone says is golden and you must immediately change the work. When you assume everybody knows better than you, the work suffers because you shut down.

The best response you can possibly have to criticism that will encourage self-expression and collaboration is to 1)stop, 2)hear the criticism, 3)process it in the moment or, if you can't process it in the moment, let your collaborator know you appreciate their suggestions and tell them you need time to process and you'll talk with them about it later. 4)After that, take the time to process the critique.

If criticism is upsetting, ask yourself, "Why is the thing this person has said to me so upsetting?" or "What is it that bothers me about this criticism?" You might find that you have decided their assessment is about you as a person and not about how to improve your work.

Don't assume changes are necessary because someone offered an idea. Sometimes the answer can be, "I've considered your idea but I've decided to stay with the original version." Or you might say, "I've thought about your suggestion and I'm going to make a change. I'm not doing exactly what you suggested, but your idea produced another solution." Finally, you might say, "I thought about your suggestion and I love it. I really appreciate that you're sensitive enough to the piece to tell me when you think it's not working. I'm going to implement your suggestion."

Looking at criticism as an attack on your character is a sure way to shut down the creative process and enter the downward spiral. If, however, you can hear even the harsh criticisms as contributions to the work while maintaining your artistic vision, then you've got a place to stand. You can say, "This is not about me, or my personality, or my character flaws; this is about the creative process.

You might help a person on your team know how best to communicate when they have a criticism. Some people have a way that sets teeth on edge. I've been tempted to reject a critique because I didn't like the way it was delivered. See if you can distinguish between the critique and the delivery. Once you can tell what's useful, you'll be able to have great conversations with your collaborators.

You can be vulnerable with your team. It's okay to admit to them that you may be anxious while reassuring them that you want their input. You can actually say, "I'm feeling vulnerable about the work. It's an original piece and I don't know if it's actually any good." You can request critiques in private, or suggest critiques be in writing. You can even make them anonymous.

Being honest and being an adult can actually bring a collaborative team closer together and foster compassion while improving the art. Keep it light. I used to tell students to take the work seriously but not to take themselves seriously. Laugh as much as possible. It's a great tension reliever. If you're a creator taking a step toward producing your work, you are strong enough to deal with criticism like a grown up. Have faith and be gentle with yourself and your collaborators.

The art comes first. It will have a life of its own separate from its creator. You must be willing to allow your work to grow and become the best it can be. I am so excited for you to produce your art and to have a chance to experience the joy of creating and collaborating. You are growing as an artist and so is your work. Embrace moments of vulnerability because, trust me, those are moments of brilliance. Listen to criticism and welcome collaborators. Accept what's useful and set aside what's not. I wish you all the best and I know you're going to have a great collaborative process.

Check out the blog, SallyPAL.com, for articles and podcast episodes. You are part of the momentum that's building. 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. I want you to get your work on the stage in front of a live audience. SallyPAL is here with resources, encouragement, and a growing community of people like us. I'm Sally and this is Sally's Performing Arts Lab.

Next week I'll be talking with playwright David Blakely. I hope you like the new music and you'll listen again. Send your suggestions… and your critiques to Sally@SallyPAL.com.

If you're downloading and listening on your drive to work, or falling asleep to my verses and choruses like my sister does, let me know. I want to collaborate with you… All the performances you've seen on stage once lived only in someone's imagination… Now… go collaborate!

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PIVOT Time!

PIVOT

Hi Friend!

I'm taking this week to upgrade and update some of my apps and equipment. I am also looking to make some changes in the podcast format. I will keep Concise Advice and Words of Wisdom from George, but I'll be adding a bonus track from another work (either a podcast in development or a new song or performing arts piece). I'll also start sharing ideas for the "arts incubator" I've been talking about with friends for over a decade. I will still have interviews with creators and other performing arts peeps, but I will be changing the music and some other things. I'm still not sure if anyone will like the new do, but if we're talking creativity, I've got to take a risk now and then, right? I'll talk atcha the first Monday in March 2018. Be sure to tune in. My first interview of the upgrade will be March 11 with playwright David Blakely! 

Stay Tuned!

Sally

Episode 34 – Tackling Fear of Failure and Impostor Syndrome

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Hi Friend, Welcome to Episode 34 of Sally’s Performing Arts Lab Podcast. Today, my husband, George, my daughter, Emile, and I discuss fear of failure and Impostor Syndrome.

I’m your 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 Monday evening.

Check out sallypal.com/join for the free 20-page theatre resource. Creator’s Notebook Insert #2 on scheduling will soon be available. In the meantime, you can listen to Episode 31 if you want an in-depth convo about scheduling for your production. 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. Do you need more   information about venues? Do you want to know how to put butts in seats on the cheap? Would you like to connect with other creators? Do you need more practical tips? 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… challenge me. Be sure and listen until the end of the interview for Concise Advice from the Interview, and Words of Wisdom from George.

Fear of failure can be barely noticeable or paralyzing. For artists in the world of performance, the fear of failing can overpower the drive to perform. Some great ideas and performances languish in hiding because an artist can’t seem to get their work on the stage. The artist who succeeds in getting the work in front of an audience may struggle with another roadblock to full expression: Impostor Syndrome. Impostor Syndrome is defined as, “a collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist despite evident success.”

The term Impostor Syndrome was coined in 1978 by clinical psychologists Pauline R. Clance and Suzanne A. Imes. According to a study out of Georgia State University, a third of successful adults believe that they don’t deserve to be where they are. Feelings of success are often overshadowed by the feeling that you are a fraud and anyone who says otherwise doesn’t know enough to recognize your incompetence.

A few weeks ago, I asked performing artists to share what they saw as roadblocks to mounting a successful production of original work. I expected to see things like, “finding a venue,” “funding a show” and “putting butts in seats.” While these received honorable mentions, the overriding responses were, “fear of failure” and “Impostor Syndrome”. I distinguish between these two although they have a lot in common. Fear of failure usually keeps you from acting. While Impostor Syndrome means you took an action but you can’t believe your success is anything more than accidental.

I’m currently reading a book given to me by my daughter Emile’s fiancé, Beckett. The book is titled The Art of Possibility. Written by Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander, it exposes the assumptions on which fear of failure and Impostor Syndrome are based.

As a longtime drama teacher I was never a big fan of arts competitions. I love arts festivals, performances, and sharing programs. But competitions where the work of one group of artists is measured against the work of another group of artists to determine which group is “the best” strikes me as sending the wrong message. It’s a version of sports competition based on opinions rather than objective measurements.

Many of us believe competitions are a necessary evil to inspire student artists to push their work to a higher level. But the arts competition model is flawed and the Zanders explain why: “All the manifestations of the world of measurement – the winning and losing, the gaining of acceptance and the threatened rejection, the raised hopes and the dash into despair – are all based on a single assumption that is hidden from our awareness. The assumption is that life is about staying alive and making it through – surviving in a world of scarcity and peril.” This is where the book begins. The world we live in every day does not position anyone to reach their potential. For most of us, the opposite occurs.

The book, The Art of Possibility, goes into detail describing ways to break free from the competition construct. One quote stood out for me. It’s a quote from Agnes DeMille’s book, Martha: The Life and Work of Martha Graham. In it, DeMille quotes Graham as saying, “There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action. And because there is only one you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.”

This conversation is touched on from time to time in other interviews I’ve recorded. Pat Hobbs in Episode 32 talks about imperfect perfection. He says that giving yourself freedom to make mistakes can take your performance to a whole new level. Vanessa Adams, in Episode 28 knows that being vulnerable as an artist has risks and can feel dangerous. But that authenticity can help audience members connect both to the work and to each other. Emile Adams, in Episode 31, revealed that she doesn’t attend rehearsals of her own works to avoid what she calls “backseat directing” and trying to control the expression of the work.

During the conversation I mentioned the off-Broadway production of Peter and the Starcatcherzzzz. The actual title is, Peter and the Starcatcher. It’s singular… there’s only one Starcatcher. The show is now closed but it was amazing.

We also mentioned the amazing Hamilton by Lin Manuael-please-be-on-my-podcast-Miranda. None of us thinks Hamilton is garbage. In fact, Emile and I have been a bit obsessed with the show. But even Miranda admits the early days of creating the show had challenges. And just as I have no evidence of crappy versions of Hamilton, I have no proof that Eric Clapton didn’t start out as a guitar god at age twelve. It’s just that teaching middle school students for over a decade, I can guess that he didn’t start out playing Layla or Tears in Heaven the way he does now.

When it comes to creating art for an audience, we all must start somewhere or we don’t start. Today, my husband George, my daughter, Emile, and I explored fear of failure and Impostor Syndrome. 

Concise Advice from the Interview is a short version of tips on dealing with fear of failure and Impostor Syndrome. Here are 9 important bits of advice.

9) You can do this - Don’t be afraid to give it a try

8) Learn to motivate your self

7) There’s nothing about “downward spiral” thinking that’s useful.

6) You can write garbage or you can write nothing. Writing garbage means you’re still writing

5) Bragging and Sharing Your Work are not the same thing

4) To get to the place where you can create an amazing thing, you MUST create some garbage along the way

3) You won’t learn if you can’t fail

2) Let go of being technically perfect and your work will connect with an audience

1) When someone compliments your work… Just say, “Thank you”

Check out the blog, SallyPAL.com, for articles and podcast episodes. You can be part of the momentum that’s building. Keep an eye out for social media opportunities to share with the SallyPAL community. I want this podcast to give you tools to defeat your fears and share your unique artistic expressions. “If you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost.”

The show notes include links to some of the things talked about today. Use the links as a springboard to launch your work. And, as always, thank you for following, sharing, subscribing, reviewing, joining, & thank you for listening. I want you to pursue your dream to have your work on the stage in front of a live audience. It’s scary, but SallyPAL is here with resources, encouragement, and a growing community of people like us.

If you like SallyPAL and want to see the show continue, go to iTunes and leave a review. Also, tell your friends! Word of mouth is the only way to know about SallyPAL. Thanks to Steve, Vicki, Emile, George, Pat, Julie, Beckett, and all of you who’ve been sharing SallyPAL. The art we put on the stage really does make a difference.  I want to help you create original shows for a live audience… All the performances you’ve seen on any stage once lived only in someone’s imagination… Now...keep that channel open!

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Episode 33 – NYC TOWN Stages with Robin Sokoloff

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In Episode 33 of Sally’s Performing Arts Lab Podcast I talk with New York Venue innovator, entrepreneur Robin Sokoloff of TOWN Stages. In my world, Robin Sokoloff is a pretty big deal! I’m 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 Monday evening. Check out sallypal.com/join for the free 20-page theatre resource. Creator’s Notebook Insert #2 (on scheduling) will soon be available. In the meantime, you can listen to Episode 31 if you want an depth convo about scheduling for your production.

It’s never too late to sign up and have access to the Creator’s Notebook inserts. I’m interested in knowing what creators need as a performing arts resource. Do you need more information about venues? Do you want to know how to put butts in seats and on the cheap? Would you like to connect with other creators? Do you need more practical tips? Do you want to know how to manage the “imposter syndrome” most of us deal with? 

Be sure and listen until the end of the interview for Concise Advice from the Interview, and a special Words of Wisdom from my fitness instructor, Gerald.

TOWN Stages is a state-of-the-art, flexible performance and event space that can support the entire lifecycle of New York’s hallmark industries. Robin Sokoloff is an arts warrior on the leading edge of a new female-driven cultural arts institution and venue space. With a stunning 9,000 square foot storefront facility, TOWN provides world-class cultural experiences and opportunities for all:  from civic to corporate, tech to theater.

Robin’s vision has come to life in TOWN, a home to a Fellowship Program for artists, entrepreneurs, writers, content creators, movers, shakers, and makers of all kinds. 

In partnership with Sokoloff Arts (501c3), the program is part residency, part incubator, and part home base: offering the ultimate creative freedom to grow. An application-based program, the Fellowship offers access to shared spaces, rehearsal/performance/event subsidies, and an opportunity to be a part of a shared creative community, working together under one roof.

Robin is the Founder & Executive Director of TOWN Stages. She’s a lifelong dancer, theater professional, and activist: Passionate about building platforms for women and minority voices. As Executive Director of Loft227, Robin created a home for New York City’s best and brightest artists and innovators from March 2012 to March 2017; seeing nearly 70,000 in her doors in under 5 years, while supporting close to 900 innovative works and small business owners.

I reached out to Robin through her publicist and she made time to have a really great conversation. I know you’re going to love Robin and want to support this exciting new venture she and her team are creating. If you want to know more, visit www.townstages.com. Also during the interview I mentioned playwright Nicole Zimmerer. To hear that interview look for Episode 9 – Get Physical with Playwright Nicole Z.

Concise Advice from the Interview is a short version of tips from Arts Incuvator, Robin Sokoloff. Here are 9 important bits of advice. 

9) Produce your own work in a leased space using the Robinhood funding model charging more for non-artistic events to subsidize arts events

8) Prove you believe in your work by investing your own time and resources

7) As an artist, the tyranny of positivity should not keep you from expressing areas of need in your community

6) Make your voice heard through social media

5) Imposter syndrome happens to everybody. Stop hiding out and push through your fear. There is an audience for your ideas

4) People will tell you ‘no’. Your commitment to your vision must be louder than the ‘no’s

3) Write a bullet list that includes:
Why you do what you do
Who does it serve?
What brought you to it?
Keep it in your head and start talking about it

2) Build a team of people with a variety of talents and strategies who believe in your vision

1) Stand up for what is right

Check out the blog, SallyPAL.com, for articles and podcast episodes. You can be part of the momentum that’s building. 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. I want you to pursue your dream to have your work on the stage in front of a live audience. It’s scary, but SallyPAL is here with resources, encouragement, and a growing community of people like us. I’m Sally and this is SallyPAL (the P-A-L in PAL stands for Performing Arts Lab).

If you’re downloading and listening on your drive to work, or falling asleep to my passionate diatribes like my sister does, let me know you’re out there. I want to help you create original shows for a live audience… All the performances you’ve seen on stage once lived only in someone’s imagination… Now… Stand up for what is right! 

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TOWN Stages tomorrow

New SallyPAL podcast comes out tomorrow featuring Robin Sokolosky of TOWN Stages in NYC! She's awesome and worth the wait!

 

Episode 32 – Creating a Cabaret Career with Pat Hobbs

Hi Friend,I’m your podcast host, Sally Adams. Every week I talk to people about creating original work for a live audience. Welcome to Episode 32 of Sally’s Performing Arts Lab Podcast. Today, I’ll talk with musical theatre performer and Tulsa cabaret producer Pat Hobbs. Send an email anytime to Sally@sallypal.com. Your ideas keep great conversations coming every Monday evening.

Check out sallypal.com/join for the free 20-page theatre resource. I’ll soon have Creator’s Notebook Insert #2 on scheduling available. In the meantime, you can listen to last week’s show (episode 31) about scheduling for your production. 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. Do you need more information about venues? Do you want to know how to put butts in seats on the cheap? Would you like to connect with other creators? Do you need more practical tips? Do you want to know how to manage the “imposter syndrome” most of us deal with? 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… I really do. Be sure and listen until the end of the interview for Concise Advice from the Interview, and Words of Wisdom from George.

Pat_Hobbs.jpgPat Hobbs is old school. He always says "please" and "thank you". My grandmother might have said, "He’s generous to a fault". Pat is a longtime player in the musical theatre scene in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He’s played the Tin Man, the Governor of Texas, a shady lawyer, a drag queen, a wealthy socialite, and a 2-bit gangster. But Pat’s favorite role is that of song stylist. He has a love of the American songbook that opened doors to the cabaret stage. Pat has recently created several cabarets just to have an excuse to sing his favorite songs. His shows became sold-out events. Pat has a long list of fans including me. You can find out more about his shows on his website, https://www.wpathobbs.com/ He’s used cabarets to showcase new talent and support his favorite causes. Although he retired from his 9-5, Pat Hobbs is hardly retired. He and his husband John and their two westies lead very busy and musical lives. John is also a musical theatre performer.

Because he loves old-school jazz and musical theatre, Pat works hard to interpret numbers with authenticity. He mentioned a story about cabaret singer Marilyn Maye on CBS Sunday Morning. Here’s the link to the story: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/marilyn-maye-proudly-old-school/ 

On Saturday, February 10, from 6 - 10pm, Pat is producing a new cabaret show called “Spectrums of Love.” The show celebrates the official opening of the new Lynn Riggs Black Box Theatre at OkEQ (Oklahomans for Equality) at 621 East 4th, in the East Village of Tulsa, Oklahoma. For more information, visit www.okeq.org

Here are few clips from Pat’s cabaret performances: https://vimeo.com/249609929

Concise Advice from the Interview is a short version of tips from Cabaret King, Pat Hobbs. Here are 5 important bits of advice.

5) When deciding on songs for your cabaret show, make a list with 3 columns; column 1 is songs you absolutely have to sing, column 2 is your alternate numbers, and column 3 is songs you love that you might have to save for a later show.  

4) Let an audience see your authentic self

3) Share your experience by mentoring the next generation of performers

2) Give yourself permission to make mistakes

1) Live in gratitude

 

 

Check out the blog, SallyPAL.com, for articles and podcast episodes. You can be part of the momentum that’s building. 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. I want you to pursue your dream to have your work on the stage in front of a live audience. It’s scary, but SallyPAL is here with resources, encouragement, and a growing community of people like us. I’m Sally and this is SallyPAL (the P-A-L in PAL stands for Performing Arts Lab).

 

If you’re downloading and listening on your drive to work, or falling asleep to my gum flapping jibber jabber like my sister does, let me know you’re out there. I want to help you create original shows for a live audience… All the performances you’ve seen on stage once lived only in someone’s imagination… Now it's YOUR turn!

 

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Episode 31 – Creator’s Notebook #2 – Scheduling Your Show

Welcome to Episode 31 of Sally’s Performing Arts Lab Podcast. Today, playwright-director (and my daughter) Emile Adams and I will go over the soon-to-be-available Part Two of your Creator’s Notebook, Scheduling Your Show. We may also be joined by Em’s fiancé, Beckett Adelman, who has a lot of experience as a stage manager, costumer, actor, and theatre groupie. 2018012895151703_2.jpg

I’m your 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 Monday evening.Check out sallypal.com/join for the free 20-page theatre resource. Next week, those of you who have already signed up for the free resources will get the scheduling info we’re going over today. It’s never too late to sign up but you may not get access to the first insert after February 15. I’m interested in knowing what creators need as a performing arts resource. Do you need more information about venues? Do you want to know how to put butts in seats on the cheap? Would you like to connect with other creators? Do you need more practical tips? Do you want to know how to manage the “imposter syndrome” most of us deal with? 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… not kidding… I really do… read them… all..

In this Episode, Emile and I will go over the basics of scheduling. Because we both have theatre backgrounds, a lot of our information relates to plays. Be sure and listen until the end of the interview for Concise Advice from the Interview, and Words of Wisdom from George.  

Today Concise Advice from the Interview is a short version of tips from the Creator’s Notebook Insert #2 – Scheduling Your Show. Here are 7 important bits of advice.

7. Plan for long hours during the week of performance, also known as Tech Week or Hell Week

6. Get a schedule on the books and stick to it

5. Build at least 3 “to be announced” dates (or TBA dates) into the schedule

4. Get into the performance space as soon as you can

3. Get a reliable stage manager who can hold people accountable to the schedule

2. Mondays are Dark days which means a theatre rehearsal space will generally be closed

1.Days you don’t have a rehearsal space are days to use an alternate space

Check out the blog, SallyPAL.com, for articles and podcast episodes. You can be part of the momentum that’s building. 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. I want you to pursue your dream to have your work on the stage in front of a live audience. It’s scary, but SallyPAL is here with resources, encouragement, and a growing community of people like us. I’m Sally and this is SallyPAL (the P-A-L in PAL stands for Performing Arts Lab).

If you’re downloading and listening on your drive to work, or falling asleep to my Moriarty-like machinations like my sister does, let me know you’re out there. I want to help you create original shows for a live audience… All the performances you’ve seen on stage once lived only in someone’s imagination… Now… Go schedule some rehearsals!

 

 

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Episode 30 – Monday Through Friday Fest with Bry Liggins

Hi Friend, Welcome to Episode 30 of Sally’s Performing Arts Lab Podcast.  Today I talk with Chicago’s Monday Through Friday Festival founder, Bry Liggins.

Bry.jpg

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 Monday evening.

Check out sallypal.com/join for the free 20-page theatre resource. It’s a glossary of live performance support you’ll need for your show. I’m working on another performing arts insert and I’m interested in knowing what creators need as a performing arts resource. Do you need more information about venues? Do you want to know how to put butts in seats on the cheap? Would you like to connect with other creators? Do you need more practical tips? 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… Every. Single. One.

In this Episode you’ll hear my guest, Bry Liggins, share about a new Chicago arts festival, the Monday Through Friday Fest. Bry started out in Tulsa, Oklahoma at Holland Hall School as the shy kid in the back row. It wasn’t too long before she became a regular member of the performing arts groups as a lead actor and slam poet. Bry has a background in film, theatre, music, and spoken word. As a Louder Than A Bomb participant, Bry traveled to Chicago where she fell in love with the arts scene. We talked a little bit about the LTAB spoken word event where she and another SallyPAL guest, David KoloKolo performed original work.

While studying filmmaking at Columbia College in Chicago, Bry volunteered for the multi-day Chicago International Movies and Music Festival also known as CIMMFest. Bry quickly rose to Festival Manager and started to see career options. Since graduating, she’s declared 2018, “The Year of Bry”. M-F Fest is her shot at creating opportunities for artists that connect them to resources while showcasing their work. If you want to get in on the ground floor of the M-Ffest, contact Bry Liggins at bry@m-ffest.org. The website www.m-ffest.org should be up by the end of the month. 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 is a short version of tips from my guest, M-F Fest Founder, Bry Liggins. Here are 10 important bits of advice.

10 You must depend on other people to help you pursue your dreams. Don’t be afraid of collaboration.

9 To meet artists, use social media, attend local college events, or go to solo shows. Meet artists after performances to let them know you’re interested in supporting them and collaborating.

8 Starting a festival is a little like throwing a party. Starting small gives your event room to grow.

7 When you are discouraged at the success of others, turn it around and see if you can be inspired by their success and use it to propel you forward.

6 Mistakes are encouraged. You gotta fail in order to grow.

5 All art is subjective. Failure and success are as well. You are the one who evaluates all of it.

4 Start small and build from there.

3 Planning a festival or other arts event is like planning a party.

2 Be inclusive and welcoming. You’ll make friends.

1 You have the tools. You have friends. You have a room. Just do it. 

Check out the blog, SallyPAL.com, for articles and podcast episodes. You can be part of the momentum that’s building. 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. I want you to pursue your dream to have your work on the stage in front of a live audience. It’s scary, but SallyPAL is here with resources, encouragement, and a growing community of people like us. 

If you’re downloading and listening on your drive to work, or falling asleep to my late night noodling like my sister does, let me know you’re out there. I want to help you create original shows for a live audience… All the performances you’ve seen on stage once lived only in someone’s imagination… Now… Just do It!.

 

 

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