Episode 16 – Local Theatre Training with George Nelson

There is an opinion held by many that a degree in theatre is not useful. If you ended up with a business degree instead, local theatre offers a training ground. For people hungry for the experience offered through college programs, there are good reasons to get a theatre degree.

Just like science and engineering programs, a College of Drama offers access to resources not generally available to working artists. Local theatres may not have the funding many universities do. A college theatre student is expected to learn about more than stage acting. Students learn to use industrial sewing machines. They have access to practice rooms with pianos, and performance spaces with ready audiences. Students hang lights from catwalks, work with mixers and light boards, use power tools, and build and paint big sets. They get to work with vocal and acting coaches, and well-known directors. They study dance and stage combat. And some even have circus performance training. If you think that’s a waste of time, you may be reading the wrong blog.

Performing artists are modern storytellers and storytellers are the keepers of culture. Without them, our cultures crumble and disappear. In communities all over the world, local theatres offer a place where storytellers can get a solid start.

George in the Theatre
George is in the House

Episode 16 features the coolest guy on the planet, my husband, George Nelson. George and I talk about getting performing arts experience in local theatre. We mention Hank the Cowdog, Heller Theatre, and community theatre in general. The links in this blog allow you to dive a little deeper.

Hank the Cowdog Performed Live as a Radio Play in a TRM (a professional local theatre)
George Nelson in Hank the Cowdog

Be sure to listen until the end of the interview for Concise Advice from the Interview, and Words of Wisdom from George.  If you’re not yet a Performing Arts Lab subscriber, find a platform and subscribe to SallyPAL! You’ll find me on Acast, Blubrry, GooglePlay, iTunes, Overcast, PlayerFM, Pocketcasts, Stitcher, TuneIn, and, of course, my host platform, Podbean, where the podcast will be a featured show the week of November 27!

With your help, SallyPAL is in the top performing arts podcasts on Player FM this week! Thanks to everyone sharing the blog and the podcast. If you sign up for the mailing list, you’ll get a free insert for your Creator’s Notebook. It’s a list of people you’ll need to help you produce your show along with some great links to more in-depth information.

Episode 15 – Risky Venues with Michael Wright

Actor-Director-Playwright Michael Wright and I explore risky venues. We chat about finding your creative voice. We also talk about taking a chance with your writing and staging your original work.

Michael and I discuss how to draw an audience into your world.

Actor-Director-Writer-Spoken Word Artist-& teacher, Michael Wright
University of Tulsa Professor Michael Wright is a live performance specialist

University of Tulsa professor Michael Wright is a theatre director, actor, teacher, and playwright. His theatrical work plays with form, audience interaction, and uncommon theatre venues. Michael authored Playwriting in Process, Playwriting Master Class, and Sensory Writing for Stage and Screen. He received awards for his work as a teacher of playwriting from the Association for Theatre in Higher Education and the Kennedy Center.

During the podcast, you’ll hear us talk about the Tulsa Artists’ Coalition Gallery. We also mention Playwright David Blakely. David currently serves as the Playwright in Residence for Tulsa’s Heller Theatre. I’ll feature David in a later episode.

Michael and I reminisced about Sam Shepherd and his play True West (which he saw at Steppenwolf). Michael also mentioned the WomenWorks program for female playwrights in graduate school. I didn’t include links to that program as you must be selected for it. If you are a woman in grad school, talk to your playwriting professor. Mention the University of Tulsa playwriting competition for graduate women playwrights, WomenWorks.

Be sure to listen until the end of the interview for Concise Advice from the Interview. Stay until the end for Words of Wisdom from George. I sometimes even include my bloopers.

SallyPAL can now be found on Acast, Blubrry, GooglePlay, and iTunes. I’m also on Overcast, PlayerFM, Pocketcasts, Stitcher, TuneIn, and, of course, my host platform, Podbean. Check out Podbean the week of November 27 when Podbean features the SallyPAL podcast!

If you sign up for the mailing list, you’ll get a free insert for your creator’s notebook. It’s a list of people you’ll need to help you produce your show along with some great links to more in-depth information.


Episode 14 – Comedy Improv Lessons for Life with Angie Mitchell

Why I started SallyPAL: Comedy improv is one way to strut your originality on stage. That’s what I did for many years. My group struggled to find places to perform. As a result, we performed in some pretty weird locations including someone’s house, a Shakespeare festival, and a drag show runway. But we learned how to produce original work for the stage by trying new things. We also made a lot of mistakes. This got me thinking about all the other people with amazing ideas but little support or know-how. Our voices can and should be heard. And that’s why I started SallyPAL. If you want to learn more about why I started Sally’s Performing Arts Lab, check out this page and sign up for a free Production Notebook insert.

In episode 14, I interview my friend and fellow improv-er, Angie Mitchell. Angie mothers a six-year-old daughter while she teaches school  and rehearses a couple of times a week. She also teaches improv and performs two or three times a month. You can hear Angie’s multiple characters online on Stories of The Century.  The Spontaniacs! podcast takes an improvisational old-timey sounding radio serial and sets it in the fictional and impossibly tall Century Building. Angie created dozens of characters for the podcast and live shows, and has performed with The Spontaniacs! for nearly 10 years.

If you’re in the Tulsa area you can see The Spontaniacs! live at the pH House at 306 Phoenix. An evening with The Spontaniacs! contains a hilarious mix of long and short form comedy all made up on the spot. While it almost seems scripted, shows are completely improvised in the moment. For show dates check out Spontaniacsimprov.com.

Be sure to listen until the end of the interview for Concise Advice from the Interview, and Words of Wisdom from George.

Episode 13 – Authentic Writer Voice with Sheila Black

About Sally and the Performing Arts Lab

Authentic Writing
Episode 13 features an interview with Sheila Black. Sheila is a published poet and writing professor. She’s been teaching creative writing for over 20 years. While teaching, Sheila continues to practice her craft. This allows her to nurture new writers, and kick butt when necessary.

Teaching from the Heart
In fact, Sheila spends most of her time writing. She also spends time with her students in college classrooms and writing workshops. Sheila’s curriculum encourages students to write authentically and discover their voice. She also encourages her students to perform their own work. The feedback from a live audience promotes more authentic writing.

Writing from the Heart
If you’re in the Tulsa area, sign up for Sheila Black’s writing intensive: Writing from the Heart. This 5-week creative writing workshop encourages authentic expression. The workshop meets from 6-7:30pm every Thursday evening and starts September 21. To find out more, contact Sheila at semanticsblack@yahoo.com.

Bonus Material
After my conversation with Sheila, you’ll hear Concise Advice from the Interview. And if you wait until the end, you’ll hear Words of Wisdom from George. Stick around after the show for the flubs. They’re authentic. Now go create something brilliant!

Let Go and Let Godot
I am a writer, and most of my writing is written for performance. This is a type of writing that can be pretty scary. When I think about a room full of people listening to my words, it can get in the way of authentic expression. As a result, I might try writing to please an imaginary future audience.

Start Small
It helps to let go of my fear if I start small. Maybe I can start by reading aloud to myself. I can probably find a supportive friend who is willing to listen to a few pages. After that, I might even have a reading of the work with friends at my house. When I’ve gotten over pleasing other people, finally, I can get down to authentic writing. That is, writing from my heart and not from my ego or my brain. Save the editing for later. For now, sit down and write!