Hi Friend, Welcome to my blog with show notes for Episode 26 of Sally’s Performing Arts Lab Podcast. Every week I talk to people about making original work for a live audience. This week on the podcast, you’ll hear an uplifting conversation about getting your artistic 2nd wind. Lager & Tea is the poetry+music pair from Tulsa Oklahoma that features my friend Frank Gallagher and his daughter Mercy Teague.
Many people listening in Tulsa might know Frank as a regular theatre director for Heller Theatre and Clark Youth Theatre among others. He’s changed direction as he and his daughter, award-winning published poet, Mercy Teague, have joined forces to create new works for live audiences. I’ve included YouTube links in the show notes. These early performances give a peek inside the fantastic family collaboration that people in Tulsa are talking about. The poetry alone is worth your time. And Frank’s guitar counterpart is beautifully realized. The best part for me is that Frank is so eloquent about the artistic 2nd wind he’s having through making performance art with his accomplished progeny.
If you like what Frank and Mercy are putting out there on YouTube, subscribe to their channel. It doesn’t cost you a dime and it lets artists like Lager & Tea know what they’re doing is reaching people. When your work goes up, we’ll post a link so you can share with the SallyPAL community. Be inspired and be willing to inspire others to start fresh or get an artistic 2nd wind.
CONCISE ADVICE FROM THE INTERVIEW
10 Don’t be afraid to try something new.
9 Try something you always wanted to do that you never did.
8 Don’t sit and watch TV in your retirement.
7 Pick up the instrument you played in High School.
6 You are made to be a creator.
5 Art is not as satisfying unless you can give it your best (not someone else’s best).
4 Doing something new at 65 is exciting.
3 Your art is a gift you can give to others.
2 Seek out opportunities to share your original work.
1 Find something to do!
Listen until the end for Concise Advice from the Interview, and Words of Wisdom from George. This week, George’s wisdom is a quote attributed to everyone from Gabi Peralez to Paulo Coelho to John Lennon to Ed Sheeran. Suffice it to say, the quote is almost certainly folk wisdom that bears repeating. “Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.”
Leave comments. Give a review. Or send an email to Sally@sallypal.com. Your ideas keep great conversations coming every Monday evening. Thanks for sharing the podcast and the blog. (If you haven’t had a chance to share, the share buttons are over there ⇐ to the left of the post. There’s also a free 20-page theatre resource. You get this amazing, funny, original, really useful, and well-organized resource by sharing your first name and email. That’s it! Nothing to it. Name, email, and no sharing. I never share emails because I find it so completely annoying when other people share my email. The free glossary of live performance support is something you will want. You can punch holes in it and slip it inside your creator’s notebook binder. The rest of your production team will be so jealous.
Sign up for a FREE Creator’s Notebook insert at SallyPAL.com/join. And now there’s an iTunes link in the sidebar⇒ to my CD that has the song Stop for a Minute. You hear pieces of the song during the podcast. Now you can listen to the whole thing. The album is available for download on CDBaby.
Thank you for sharing, subscribing, reviewing, joining, & thank you for listening. I want you to pursue your dream to have original work on the stage in front of a live audience. It’s scary, but I’m 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 the podcast and listening on your drive to work, or falling asleep to my hoop-dee-doo 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… Find something to do!
Episode 25 of Sally’s Performing Arts Lab Podcast features Teresa Fellion whose new show, rose walk green ice, at Danspace Project, 131 E. 10th Street, NY, premieres this week! December 7-9, 2017 at 8pm. Tickets are $22 in advance ($25 at the door)
Just commit and get the tickets now. They’re available at danspaceproject.org, or by calling TheaterMania/OvationTix at (866) 811-4111.
Teresa’s new work, rose walk green ice, is the culmination of work begun with Home and Agawam that explores self-awareness within communal bonds. During the show, audience members will find they each become more aware and appreciative of their complete self and the people around them.
Performances with Teresa’s very well reviewed, highly physical company of dancers include immersive humor and emotion, and live musicians. Teresa’s resume is too long to include here. But she’s taught for The Ross School, The Ailey school, and many others, and choreographed for dozens of organizations and events around the world. Teresa and her company are on the leading edge of performing arts creation and I think you’re going to enjoy hearing what she says on the podcast about the creative process.
Concise Advice from the Interview
5 No one style of dance is inherently better than another
4 Bring collaborators into the process as soon as you can
3 Listen to yourself and don’t over define your style
2 Give your audience a shared experience
1 Be brave
Sign up for a FREE Creator’s Notebook insert at SallyPAL.com/join. And for the person who asked, there’s an iTunes link in the sidebar to my CD with the song, Stop for a Minute, that you hear during the podcast.
Thank you for sharing, subscribing, reviewing, joining, & thank you for listening. I want you to pursue your dream to have original work on the stage in front of a live audience. It’s scary, but I’m here with resources, encouragement, and a growing community of people like us.
Episode 17 of the SallyPAL podcast features Steve Barker, beer and booze professional, and a terrific actor who originated the role of Drover in the musical, Hank the Cowdogby David Blakely (based on the books by John R. Erickson) and produced by Tulsa Repertory Musicals.
Steve is currently performing in a new play by Bruce Dean Willis titled Time for Chocolate. The play opens October 6, 2017 and you can purchase your tickets to this exciting original work at www.hellertheatreco.com. The play has metaphysical debates, fight scenes, historical riddles, bawdy rhymes, and of course, mushroom laced hallucinogenic chocolate (no beer and booze) and it all takes place among the Aztecs. Heller Theatre is working in conjunction with Tulsa Latino Theater.
Steve and I didn’t just talk about beer and booze. I did, however, ask him to name what beer and booze went with what playwright. We
Steve has a lot of talent packed into his 6’5″ frame. Most of the time he has to work around his job schedule to be an actor. He is the evening manager of a high end liquor store where he gives advice and offers suggestions on beer and booze. In fact, Steve started a YouTube channel where he talks about beer. He combines his wonderful way of describing the brews he reviews with years of experience in the field. The videos are fun and informative. ThinkinBoutDrinkin is worth a look.
Steve and I also talked about Heller Theatre Company in Tulsa. After 30 years on the scene, Heller Theatre announced this year that is is committing to producing all original work. The group has also hired a resident playwright. That’s where Hank the Cowdog creator David Blakely steps in. This is a thrilling leap of faith for Heller. As Steve and I discussed, producing new work is exciting, but it’s a tough sell. Many theatre goers would prefer to see something they know about or that has a recognizable title. For new works, this doesn’t always happen.
I encourage you to go see all kinds of live performances. But I especially want to encourage the support of new work. New work doesn’t mean it’s set in the modern world, either. The new show this month at Heller by Bruce Dean Willis takes place in ancient Mexico among the Aztecs. There are new works by dance companies, choirs, symphonies, local bands, and, yes, theatre companies. The cool thing about seeing a world premier is that you are the first audience to be part of that work. The final collaborator of a new work is still a collaborator. You influence the work just by being there. I encourage everyone reading SallyPAL.com the blog and listening to SallyPAL the podcast to go see something new. Be the first. If you like it, tell everyone to go see it. You are not simply seeing a show, you are supporting the creation of new work.
Be sure to listen until the end of the interview for Concise Advice from the Interview, and Words of Wisdom from George.
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.
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.
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.
Arts Educators Empower the Next Generation
Arts educators bear a special responsibility. They must provide feedback that opens young artists to take creative risks. At the same time they teach technical aspects that are hard to master. For teachers, lifting up while calming down can be challenging but rewarding. When students reach college they have some ideas of their own. They also have some performance habits, both good and bad.
Pitfalls for an Arts Educator
To be an arts educator in a college setting you must be relevant. That means practicing your art while teaching classes. This is always a good idea. But it comes with pitfalls. For a performing artist it means your students will see your work. That can be scary. Students are often supportive. But they can also be very judgemental. If you are not confident in your work, you could lose status as an arts educator. Lisa Stefanic is a working artist and an arts educator. When Lisa is in the classroom, she brings her vast knowledge of what actually works (and doesn’t work) on the stage. When students see her work outside the classroom, it’s clear she knows what she is talking about.
Arts Educator Lisa Stefanic
Today’s episode of SallyPAL is an interview with actor, director, arts educator, and acting coach, Lisa Stefanic. If you’re a fan of Weird Al Yankovich, you may remember her as Phyllis, the Wheel of Fish contestant in his feature length movie, “UHF”. Lisa has performed in or directed more shows than could fit on a resume. She has starred in several original shows. She also teams up with her husband, Vern Stefanic, to help students create new works. We talk about teaching, developing new talent, making old shows new again, and a variety rehearsal techniques.
But Wait… There’s More!
Be sure to listen until the end for Concise Advice from the Interview and Words of Wisdom from George.
Diversity on Stage
SallyPAL this week features a fantastic conversation about diversity on stage with rising star, Weston Vrooman. I explored the topic of diversity with Wes (one of my favorite people). We share a lot of the same ideals for the theater. Wes and I both recognize the need to broaden casting choices with more Open Casting.
What is Diversity?
When the topic of “diversity” comes up it probably veers toward race. While a critical piece of the conversation, it provides only a part of something bigger and more exciting. We have a long way to go when it comes to diversifying the performing arts. This applies to play production in particular. Producers and directors do a fairly good job with age difference. They offer less diversity of race and sex. Gender seems somewhat complicated for many of us. Body type and physical barriers present the biggest elephants in the room.
Body Diversity in Theatre
When we attend a play, we usually see beautiful people on stage. In musical theatre, arguments get made that physical demands draw a particular (fit) body type. And theatre companies turn down actors time and again for not “looking the role”. What does it even mean to look the role of an “everyperson”?
Exclusion and Diversity
Beyond the argument for doing away with exclusionary practices in casting, we must look at adopting true otherness on stage. That is the easiest way to move forward in the art. Decades of excluding some of the most talented performers have left us with a rather bland array of professional actors. We must begin to encourage new voices, and embrace the “other”. When we highlight the need for the artists who have been relegated to the sidelines, we can begin an age of artistic expression and expansion that will impact society in ways we cannot fathom.
Listen to Episode 3 – Student Performers with Daniel Bowers
Shakespearean Moments As the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) comes under fire and the conversation for saving the arts in schools pops up on social media yet again, I want to introduce you to Daniel Bowers. Daniel is a well-rounded kid with a hunger for performing. He sings in choir, he acts on the stage. It would not surprise me to see him take up tap dancing. Despite being a 6’4” 15-year-old football player, Daniel speaks as eloquently on acting as any acting coach. He credits his stage experience with building confidence, making friends, learning how to solve problems under pressure, and developing an appetite for working with a diverse group of people creating a big collaborative work from the ground up. These all seem like the things we would want kids to learn to succeed in life, never mind having a career as an actor. I met Daniel when he entered 6th grade at the school where I taught theater arts. He seemed to be a quiet kid but there was a lot going on in that busy brain. In addition to being an avid reader, Daniel is interested in history, languages, and making people laugh with the cast of characters living in his head. He auditioned for Alice in Wonderland. After landing a small role, he set about creating a character that stole the show. Without mugging, or ad libbing, Daniel did something adult actors occasionally miss. He took what was on the page along with a small bit of directing, and he created a memorable moment within the context of a story. I have directed Daniel in two other plays and it has always been a joy. The last show, Juliet Rescue, was a new piece written by my son, Will Inman (episode 2) and me. Daniel played “Young Will Shakespeare”. He eagerly took on the role and, while speaking in the Bard’s style, he created several hilarious moments that added warmth to the play. When I retired from teaching a year ago, I told him to come visit me in Virginia and I would take him to the Folger Library in Washington DC. It is the foremost Shakespearean library in the world. Daniel and his mom took me up on my offer and we spent quite some time learning about the collection at the Folger. I can imagine Daniel on stage there one day. But for now, I am thrilled to have seen him savor another kind of Shakespearean moment. There are lots of kids who benefit from performance experience. They are girls and boys, shy and outspoken, theatre nerds and athletes, straight-A students and strugglers, and everyone in between. They are a generation of leaders and innovators. And we want them all to have Daniel’s confidence. I hope you will enjoy Episode 3 of SallyPAL with Daniel Bowers.
Listen to Episode 3 – Student Performers with Daniel Bowers
Listen to Episode 3 – Student Performers with Daniel Bowers https://sallypal.podbean.com/mf/web/sgeydf/Ep_3_Student_Performers_with_Daniel_Bowers.mp3
The Final Collaborator
No matter how you define it, performing arts are collaborative. “But Sally, what if I have a one-man show I wrote, directed, and produced?” Unless you are performing for the shadows in your basement, even your one-man show will include at least one or two other collaborators. Your audience could be described as ‘the final collaborator’. Unlike stories told in the movies, on tv, or via the internet, a live performance assumes a live audience. Referring to a ‘dead’ audience simply means the audience isn’t noticeably responding to the performance. A live or lively audience is laughing, clapping, gasping, leaning forward, or otherwise exhibiting signs of participating in the moment. When audience members are emotionally engaged for the duration of a performance, they collaborate with performers in subtle ways. The academic term for this is suspension of disbelief. The illusion becomes real so long as the audience allows. A performer, director, or designer who ignores the value an audience brings to a live performance is in real danger of producing a lackluster show. Whether or not your audience members know it, they provide the final collaborative effort of an ever evolving medium. Listen to Episode 2 – Team Building
Listen to Episode 2 – Team Building
Will Inman In 2013, Will Inman’s one-act play, Bad Days, was selected for a staged reading at the Kennedy Center as part of the VSA student playwright competition. Will’s plays have received a variety of writing awards and productions including the Rogers State University Original Recipe retrospective, and the Writopia Labs Comedy Playwriting Festival selected by David Letterman’s writing staff, both in 2014. In 2015 His play, Lesbian Exhibit, was featured as part of his hometown’s Fringe Festival. Lesbian Exhibit also received a staged reading in February at Rogers State University and a portion of that play was performed at Torrent Theatre in New York City in the Fall of 2016. Will starts his senior year in the University of Houston playwriting program in the fall of 2017. Listen to Episode 2 – Team Building
Darian Silvers Darian Silvers is a native Houstonian who comes to directing through his work as a dancer/choreographer. He has performed on stage as an actor/dancer in the Houston area for the last 16 years. He recently directed a staged reading of the new opera, North Pond, at MATCH-Midtown Arts & Theater Center in Houston. Darian will direct Legally Blond and Little Shop of Horrors in the Adirondacks during the summer of 2017. Listen to Episode 2 – Team Building
Blog Post – What’s in Your Way?
I had an enlightening conversation today with my friend Sheila about how I have been avoiding putting my podcast out into the world. I already had the first episode fully produced. But I have been second guessing myself daily until I finally went back and listened with people whose opinions I trust. That’s all it took. They didn’t even have to say anything. Just the act of listening to the podcast with my husband and daughter gave me fresh ears to hear what was missing. That is not to say Episode 1 is the most fabulous podcast ever made. I assure you, it is not. It is, however, the start of something I anticipate will improve as I learn and grow with your suggestions. It’s like that with original work, isn’t it? When you first write an idea into a document, or try dance steps alone in your kitchen, or sing some song phrase into your phone, you are not quite ready to share it. Or you struggle to make your partner or your mom (or your kid) understand what you’re creating. A few key strokes, dance steps, or musical notes later you might be ready to share. When you share, if you want your work to grow, you must start by finding someone who a) validates you as an artist, b) understands the value of constructive criticism, and c) is given the go-ahead (by you) to give an honest reaction. Most of the time you don’t even need to hear what they think, it will become clear what needs to be done as soon as you reveal this early draft. But your audience of one or two may still want to talk about what they noticed. When you allow people to express opinions about a work of art you are never suggesting that every idea expressed will be incorporated into your work. That would be silly. Allowing another person to share an opinion about something precious to you is the beginning of collaboration. To be able to hear what other people think about the work, your ego must step out of the way. Take what you can use, disregard the rest and thank all your critics for their opinions. Thank them with genuine gratitude. I promise, this gets easier to do after some practice. Don’t be confused about comments made about your art. A person commenting on your work is not critiquing your character. Listen for the contribution to the art. Sometimes, the most ridiculous ideas can lead to sublime finished work. Listen to Episode 1 of SallyPAL the Podcast