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 22 of
Performing Arts Lab
Spoken Word Artist
I’m your host, Sally Adams, and every Monday evening, I talk to people about making original work for the stage. Subscribe to SallyPAL on iTunes, Google Play, Podbean and many other podcast platforms. Leave comments, give me a review, or send an email to Sally@sallypal.com. Your ideas keep great conversations coming every Monday evening. Thanks so much to those of you who continue to share. Thanks to Connie, Steve, Jeremy, Pat, Emile, George, Vicki, and all of you who are taking the time to spread the word.
Don’t forget about the FREEBIES on sallypal.com/join. You can still get your 20-page free original theatre resource. It’s a glossary of live performance support you’ll need for your original work. It’s useful, entertaining, and there are places to scribble your show’s notes on the pages.
Today’s episode features an amazing young artist, David KoloKolo. David is a senior in the accounting program at George Washington University in Washington DC. He’s like many serious-minded young men about to embark on a career in the corporate world. But just under the surface is a passionate, thoughtful, poetic soul. David received recognition as a spoken word artist through the Louder Than A Bomb (LTAB) program in Tulsa, Oklahoma. David is a musician who draws energy and inspiration from his Christian faith. He grew up listening to Bill Gaither Gospel and Hill Song Gospel as well as rock and hip-hop. Although his poetry is not always filled with religious images, his walk as a believer is all-encompassing. David’s non-judgmental approach to his art and his life is nothing short of inspiring. I want to share a poem he wrote and performed that really moved me. Here’s a link to David KoloKolo’s spoken word piece, Anthology of Apologies.
I’m includingConcise Advice from the Interview. This is a short version of tips from this week’s SallyPAL podcast guest. Here are David KoloKolo’s 5 great bits of advice:
5 As you grow as an artist, pay attention to your technique.
4 Art is communal even if you create in solitude.
3 Sharing digitally is a legitimate way to create a communal experience.
2 Share your whole self with your community.
And the number 1 piece of advice from spoken word artist David KoloKolo?
Worship can bind together all the areas of your life including your art.
Thank you for sharing, subscribing, reviewing, joining, and really and truly, thank you for listening. I want you to pursue your dream to have your original work on the stage in front of a live audience. It’s scary, but I’ll be here with advice, encouragement, and a growing community of people like us. If you like SallyPAL, a new podcast goes out every Monday evening!
Remember: All the performances you’ve seen on stage once lived only in someone’s imagination…
Now it’s your turn!
Every Monday evening I talk to people about making original work for the stage. Episode 20 features dancer, choreographer, and teacher, Kerrie King from Northern High School in Greensboro North Carolina.
Kerrie is a firecracker of an artist. She has more enthusiasm than a kid on the way to Disneyworld. She is encouraging, creative, and full of amazing ideas. Kerrie has been the dance teacher at Northern High School in Greensboro, North Carolina for several years. Her students have far exceeded anyone’s expectations for a public-school dance program.
Kerrie pushes her students to do more than simply dance. She drives them to create. Every student in her ever-growing program (there are nearly 100 students) stretches to develop original movement. Student dancers create thoughtful and innovative choreography. This interactive style of teaching is important. Kids get to use their bodies in positive ways. The Love Your Body Week event is part of a push toward inclusion in performing arts.
Kids who worry about miniscule weight gains and barely visible perfection in the world of dance may not maintain that enthusiasm for long. We’ve all seen little kids dancing their hearts out on YouTube or Facebook. Some of our own tiny family members dance for the joy of it. It’s great to see teachers encouraging a return to that joyful self-expression. Young people who love to dance will gain technique as they progress because they are inspired. It’s one reason Kerrie’s dance program is bursting at the seams. Let’s all work to love our own bodies as an example for the young people we love.
If you’re not a Performing Arts Lab subscriber, find a platform and subscribe to SallyPAL! I’m on a bunch of podcast platforms including Podbean where SallyPAL will be a featured show during Thanksgiving week! Leave comments, give me a review or send an email to Sally@sallypal.com. Your ideas keep great conversations coming every Monday evening.
If you want to get in on newly created FREEBIES go to sallypal.com/join and sign up to get FREE downloadable (and fun) performing arts postcards, workbook inserts with useful links, and the starter pages for your Creator’s Notebook. Right now, you can get a 20-page free theatre resource. It’s a glossary of jobs you might need people to do for your show. It’s useful, entertaining, and you can do your pop quizzes right out of the pages. I’ll build on it every month to help you build your show.
Concise Advice from the Interview, a short version of tips from my guest, Kerrie King. Here are 10 great bits of advice:
10 – You don’t have to fit into a mold to be a dancer. It’s okay to be who you are.
9 – Your body differences are your creative strengths. Work with them.
8 – Everything in your dance piece must have purpose.
7 – Take positive strides to make your world a better place.
6 – To offer a new perspective, reach beyond the edge of the stage.
5 – Be true to yourself.
4 – Get lots of feedback.
3 – You don’t always have to take every piece of advice you are offered.
2 – Educate your audience and help them understand your work.
1 – Love Your Body
Next week SallyPAL the podcast will feature an interview with pianist, conductor, teacher, and actor Jeremy Stevens. We talk about expressing stories through music. Check out the blog, SallyPAL.com, for articles and podcast episodes, and to sign up for a FREE Creator’s Notebook insert.
Thank you so much for sharing, subscribing, reviewing, joining, and especially, thank you for listening. I encourage you to pursue your dream to have your original work on the stage in front of a live audience. It’s scary, but I’ll be here with advice, encouragement, and a growing community of people like us.
If you like SallyPAL, a new podcast goes out every Monday evening. Thanks again for listening, I’m Sally and this is the SallyPAL blog. The P-A-L in PAL stands for Performing Arts Lab.
Remember: All the performances you’ve seen on stage once lived only in someone’s imagination… Now it’s your turn! I want to help you learn to create original shows for a live audience… Let’s do it together!
Writing Good TV Comedy
There’s a wonderful stage play by Neil Simon titled, Laughter on the 23rd Floor. Simon loosely based the play on his years writing for Your Show of Shows starring Sid Caesar. The play takes place during television’ youth in the mid 1950’s. Real-life writers, Mel Brooks, Larry Gelbart, and Carl Reiner inspired some of the characters in the play. Many, including Woody Allen, went on to have superstar writing careers. Unlike most shows of the era, Your Show of Shows hired a woman, Lucille Kallen, to be part of the writing staff. Caesar later hired Selma Diamond for Your Show of Shows as well as a later program, The Caesar Hour. A pair of women in a the male dominated field writing good TV comedy, Kallen and Diamond were rare for their time.
Very Funny Women
Although my SallyPAL guest in Episode 10 works with a lot of very funny women, she admits times haven’t changed as much as many women writers would prefer. The Middle‘s creators, Eileen Heisler and DeAnn Heline, have fairly thick resumes for writing good TV comedy. But there are still a majority of mainstream shows dominated by men. Due to a huge number of new TV outlets like HBO, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, iTunes, Crackle, and many others, there’s been a surge in the number of women writers. Outlets are hungry for new material and women comedy writers are ready. The new landscape could also make room for other types of diversity.
It’s surprising in 2017 to see so much pushback for writing good TV comedy. Women writers have proved their worth time and again. Statistically, we know diversity on the small screen draws new viewers rather than repels them. And, as my husband likes to point out, it’s just easier to tell characters apart if they don’t all look alike.
Women Are Funny When They’re Pregnant, Right?
As for Neil Simon’s very funny play, no real diversity is called for. In a cast featuring eight writers, only one is a woman. And she spends Act II wearing a pregnant belly. Women are funny when they’re pregnant, right? What may have escaped notice is that funny women are funny with and without the belly. What Neil Simon reveals about the golden age of writing good TV comedy is it was mostly written by white men. Imagine how much shinier that golden age would have been with all the outliers included. It might even have impacted the way we view our shared history. Instead of a homogenized version of TV America, we could be remembering a more realistic, diverse, and funnier version.
Now when the mainstream refuses to improve TV diversity, we have places to go. If we stop using TV as background noise and more carefully choose the stories we invite into our homes, maybe we can encourage the TV gods to make more shows like The Middle.As we push past our addiction to TV pablum, we can demand more funny women on and off screen.
I interviewed the hilarious Jana Hunter for Episode 10 of SallyPAL. She’s made her own mark writing good TV comedy for nearly 30 years. With her husband and writing partner, Mitch Hunter, Jana has written and produced The Drew Carey Show, According to Jim, Roommates, Gary Unmarried, and Notes From the Underbelly. For the last nine years, Jana and Mitch have been executive producers for The Middle on ABC.
Jana and I talk about making it as a TV comedy writer. We explore what she loves about The Middle as the show winds to a close. Jana also gives some great writerly advice. Be sure to listen until the end for Concise Advice from the Interview, and Words of Wisdom from George. And, as always, share the podcast!
Physical Difference Diversity is something performing arts can address in creative ways. There are examples of diversity stories on Broadway from the tragic transgender rock opera, “Hedwig and the Angry Inch”, and the complex family story, “FunHome”, to the racially diverse, “Hamilton”, and the Deaf West Theatre company’s production of “Spring Awakenings”. Diversity has come to mean racial diversity. There’s no doubt we need more people of color on stage. But maybe that’s just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Playwriting for physical difference is one way to chip away at the diversity problem.
Actors in Wheelchairs
One thing we don’t see on stage is actors who use wheelchairs off stage. This year was the Broadway debut of a wheelchair bound performer. Ali Stoker won her role with a killer audition. Her physical difference didn’t deter producers from casting her. And yet there are very few areas of diversity so overlooked. There are characters with physical differences; “Wicked”, “The Glass Menagerie”, “Children of a Lesser God”. Yet, as “New York Times” critic Neil Genzlinger notes, “it remains a rare occurrence, and as a result Broadway remains unrepresentative of the full range of humanity.” The problem with Ali Stoker’s debut is not that she is singing, dancing, and ASL signing lyrics from a wheelchair. The problem is that it happened just this year. After over 150 years of Broadway performances, producers finally decided it was time for wheelchair bound actors to play wheelchair bound characters.
While many call Stoker’s wheelchair debut “inspirational”, all the artist with a disability really wants is an equal opportunity. As audience members, we must support shows that feature a wide range of physical difference. Diversity on stage is both reflective and cutting edge. Over 20% of Americans has a disability. So why are we uncomfortable with disability on stage? Diversity is our strength. If hiding our differences makes us weak, it seems like embracing our physical differences makes us strong.
Nicole Z Nicole Zimmerer is a playwright, and actor. In addition, she’s an advocate for casting people with physical differences. Nicole has been writing and producing plays most of her life. She recently graduated from the University of Houston Playwriting and Dramaturgy program and will study playwriting as a graduate student at Carnegie Mellon in the fall. Nicole and I talk about her beginnings, the Kennedy Center performance of her one act play, “Falling with Grace”, and her recent full-length play, “Thicker Than Honey”. Finally, we discuss her fight to represent artists in wheelchairs through playwriting. As a result of living with Cerebral Palsy, Nicole understands how it feels to speak up for her rights. Finally, she’s being heard.
Extras on SallyPAL
Be sure to listen until the end for Concise Advice from the Interview. I have 5 great bits of advice from the beautiful, funny, fiery, and talented, Nicole Z. Don’t miss Words of Wisdom from George.
Birthing the Crone
You will often hear women (and men) bemoaning the lack of meaty roles for women in film, TV, and on stage. I agree, yet I do so with a caveat: Meaty roles for women written by women are different from the meaty women’s roles written by men. This is not to suggest in any way that men are unable to write for women. My son is a damned good playwright who writes women’s roles with great sensitivity and insight. Yet, much as an elevator stop in the sub basement, performing your own work written from your unique perspective reveals new mysteries.
A Writer Observes
Writing a play about someone else’s life experience seems like a tough job. It’s especially hard when writing for more than one character. Consequently, the writer’s own experience gets spread like peanut butter over every character. This character speaks from your high school point of view. And this character says things you wanted to say to your grandmother but didn’t get the chance. And this character speaks from the feelings wrapped around a moment of deep embarrassment, or grief, or shock. The payoff comes because we improve our skills of observation. Lisa Wilson embodies this skill.
Birthing the Crone
I interview actor, director, playwright, and University of Tulsa Women’s Studies professor, Lisa Wilson. Lisa acts as playwright, performer, director, and producer of her own work. As a result, she shares her observations with a live audience. It sets her work apart from the performances of actors depicting lives written by other playwrights. Because Lisa so richly embodies the character based on her own life, you forget you’re watching a play.
Lisa Wilson – Old Crone with a New Voice
Furthermore, Lisa is a recipient of the prestigious Jingle Feldman Individual Artist Award for her original one-woman show, “Only Four People Know About This”. “Birthing the Crone” is the second play in a series titled, “The Crone Chronicles”. Lisa based the series on her experiences of aging and loss with some hilarious and vulnerable insights. Finally, we talk about women’s voices and the effect of life’s changes on the artistic process.
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.