Oral interp and Christmas

I have several aging relatives who I want to do something more than just send them holiday cards. I know that with aging eyes, it isn’t always easy to read and sometimes they would like to something holiday-like than watch another rerun of “It’s a Wonderful Life.” So I have taken to reading Christmas and Hanukah stories they can listen to.

Here is a sample of a light-hearted story taken from William Dean Howells and written around 1900. It’s called “Christmas Every Day.” I hope you enjoy my Christmas present to them. And to you.

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What’s happening this summer?

It is already June, and I am soooo behind. My goal for this summer was to publish four handbooks, charging very little for them, so you could have a kind of road map to how a more productive and active summer than might be usual for those of you who just want to chill out for a few months.

Handbooks for the summer on Kindle

So how am I doing? I do have two handbooks finished and published in the Kindle bookstore. Two more scheduled now for late summer, but I take heart that maybe they won’t be so late after all because one of them is about what you can do to prepare for fall, whether you are in school still or not.

In case there is still time for performing arts career direction, even though you might already be immersed in summer activities, here they are:

You can check them out by following the links to my Kindle bookshelf.

Online Theatre Repertory

What is it that has made these handbooks so late? Yes, I do live within walking distance of the beach, but at my age, sun is not my friend. No, I have been indoors, at this computer, writing original dialogue for what I call podcasts, but which are audio versions of theatre repertory. The dialogue ties together pieces and cuttings from novels and short stories, poems, plays, and essays around a theme. This next podcast is about the Summer Olympics in Rio. George wants to go to Rio. Martha, his wife, just laughs at him, knowing he expects the Girl from Ipanema will materialize on the beaches there.

I bet none of you know who the heck that is. Ask someone older.

So the podcast involves finding a theme, then finding and cutting pieces we can use (without infringing on copyright), rehearsing with me directing and acting, and teaching what I know about the techniques of oral interpretation of literature. Then we record it all and edit the recordings,

We’ve done three so far. You can catch the latest on www.theatrefollies.com.

I am also preparing a workshop for my community theatre on how to do Readers Theatre, a form of theatre I really enjoy because it makes good use of the voice.  It will be ready this fall and I plan to make it available online. You teachers out there may want to check it out on www.theatreowl.com.

If this issue sounds like a pitch to sell, or as the Car Talk brothers call it, “shameless commerce,” it is. Lots have gone into these projects and I would like to know that maybe some of it is useful or instructive, or merely entertaining for you.

All of this is going on in what are the hottest and most humid days and nights of the Florida seasons. But no sweat! I’m doing theatre!

What are you doing?

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Podcasts for everyone

There is this not-so-diverse group, all with some interest and experience in theatre, that meets once every two months to put together a program of pieces centered roughly around a theme. We perform it, radio style. Oral interpretation of literature, we used to call it. This time, we found poetry and prose around spring and the garden as a metaphor for our lives. Some of it is serious, such as a few short poems and a cutting from a garden diary. Otherwise, we lighten it up with things like Mark Twain’s Diary of Adam and Eve and snippy snippets from Dorothy Parker.

The thing is, I like theatre. That means plays. No plays in this spring podcast edition.

I have never liked working with people, with groups. Team sports wouldn’t have been for me. I am a tennis type. Even better, just let me play solitaire and I’d be happy. Hence, I don’t mind writing. Writing is usually a solitary endeavor. Until, however, you get other people involved for, say, reading the play you just wrote. The dilemma is, then, how in the world did I get involved in theatre? Theatre always involves… people.

So my latest strategy is not to argue for plays. Someone in my four-person group wants poems? Great. Someone else wants an essay or a short story? Have at it! I want a play! Too bad for me.

But I am subtly getting a play in anyway. I am writing it. I devised a married couple, George and Martha, (not THAT married couple!) who tie the literature and pieces together through a brief look at their own lives. Theatre! (I hope.)

I am going to continue this idea. I am going to keep developing these two, until the podcasts become web series with these two and a few more characters at the heart of it.

Stay tuned! Meanwhile, check out “Growing Pains,” the podcast.

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Theatre Follies Radio Repertory

My friends and I want to create new theatre based on traditional theatre. How do we do that? Obvious answer is to form a kind of community theatre, maybe find a barn to convert and hold performances there.

No, Mickey and Judy, we don’t want to get into bricks and mortar and all the shenanigans that go with that. We want to concentrate on content and performing. Why not use the latest technology? Supposedly we can all be artists and content providers on the Internet. Why not podcasts?

What kind of theatre?

I especially admire theatre repertory, where an ensemble of performers and performing artists work together to produce a season of work. Back in the day, I worked at Center Stage in Baltimore. They hired actors for the season, not just one play, and granted the so-called stars always had the lead, you could also see them in a supporting role. Everyone learned from each other and the acting was always outstanding.

The SAG awards have a category, not of Best Picture, but Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama/Comedy Series for television and Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture. Some independent movie companies also tend to use the same actors in different movies. Christopher Guest does this and we came to expect to see old favorites in different roles. This is the closest movies get to repertory.

Television is beginning to try on the repertory concept. ABC’s American Crime takes ensemble performance one step closer to repertory. Leading actors in one season become different characters in a new story line in the next season.

Repertory online is what I and my merry band of players admire and aspire to. And so on to Theatre Follies Radio Repertory, a way to produce theatre, oral interpretation of literature, readers theatre, and other theatrical forms in a digital way without having to maintain a building and to be able to play all sorts of parts, some the lead, most not. I call it a podcast, but it is more like radio productions than live interviews and entertainments. We’ve beefed up the whole experience with an accompanying website that gives background about the material we use, why we picked it, and why we think you’d like to hear it.

What’s next?

I see this as just a beginning. The plan is to do something more, better, whatever, with each podcast we do. To get better, more innovative, more relevant. That’s the goal.

For you theatre people, let this be something you and your friends can do. Maybe video is more your speed. Whatever the form, try making your own troupe of performers, you retired people or you high schools or college students. Try it and let us know how your company is progressing.

Here’s the link to Theatre Follies Radio Repertory. Let us know what you think. Use the comments box on this site (here), or on our Facebook page.

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Podcasting for the arts

We all know what it’s like to want to talk about your current passion with someone who shares the same, or nearly the same likes and points of view. Naturally, you won’t always be able to find that perfect audience. And so it is with me. I know you’re out there, those of you who love the theatre and want some kind of in depth discussions and not necessarily the same old stuff about “How to Act” or “How to be a Stage Manager.” Maybe you want some kind of variety. I know I want to talk about all sorts of things having to do with the performing arts and thought of podcasting.

So here I am, looking for someone to talk to, and guess what? It’s going to be you. This reading may be the start of future podcasts about the technique and pure joy of reading aloud. Oral interpretation of literature, it’s called more formally.

First on the oral interpretation list, is a reading of Dylan Thomas’ A Child’s Christmas in Wales, read by an accomplished reader, Pauline Rodick, and me, Mary Turner. We tried to come up with a good, educational reason why we decided to record it, but in the end, it boiled down to:

  1. We both like the piece very much.
  2. We like how the words flow when read aloud.
  3. This is the sort of thing we want to hear during the Holidays.Childstree1

See what you think.

Happy Holidays!

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