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!
Episode 21 lands on the Interwebs the day before Halloween 2017. No tricks, but I do have a treat for you. Check out this really great interview with the incredibly versatile and talented music guru Jeremy Stevens.
I’m Sally Adams, host of Sally’s Performing Arts Lab podcast (SallyPAL). Every Monday evening I talk to people about making original works of music, theatre, and dance for the stage.
If you’re not a SallyPAL subscriber, find a platform (iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, Podbean, etc.) and subscribe! SallyPAL will be featured on Podbean during Thanksgiving week.
Leave comments and give me a review! iTunes reviews are especially helpful. You can even send an email to me at Sally@sallypal.com. Your ideas keep great conversations about music and other performing arts coming every Monday evening.
On sallypal.com/join you can get a FREE 20-page theatre resource. It’s a glossary of jobs you might need people to do for your show. It’s useful and entertaining. You can even do your pop quizzes right off the pages. I’ll keep building on it every month while you build your show.
Episode 21 of SallyPAL features Tulsa pianist, choral conductor, teacher, and actor Jeremy Stevens. During the podcast, Jeremy shares the Rachel’s Challenge list.
Named for Rachel Joy Scott, the first person killed in the Columbine High School shooting in 1999, the list of actions called, “Rachel’s Challenge” is based on her personal writings. The program that grew from the list works with schools to reduce harassment, bullying, and violence.
Concise Advice from the Interview is a short version of tips from my guest. Today I have 5 great bits of advice from musician, Jeremy Stevens:
5 Keep going even when things get tough.
4 A creative journey never fully stops.
3 Don’t hesitate to refine your path through questioning.
2 It’s okay for the musician to pause because the music continues.
And the number 1 piece of advice from choral conductor Jeremy Stevens? Find your passion and pursue it!
Next week you’ll hear an interview with spoken word artist and GWU student, David Kolo.
Thank you for sharing, subscribing, reviewing, and joining. And especially, thank you for listening. I encourage you to pursue your dream. You can have your original work on the stage in front of a live audience. It’s scary. So SallyPAL will 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! I want to help you create original shows for a live audience… Let’s do it together!
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!
Episode 19 features artist and art teacher, Jan Butler. Jan is a former collaborator and my forever friend. Jan’s background is in 2D, and 3D art, as well as puppeteering. She works with students in stop motion animation, graphic novels, pottery, mask making AND she teaches kids all about monarch butterfly migration and supports the butterfly population in Northeastern Oklahoma. On top of all that, Jan is a member of the Tulsa Oratorio Chorus and a consummate gardener.
Be sure to listen until the end of the interview for Concise Advice from the Interview, and Words of Wisdom from George.
If you haven’t signed up for the SallyPAL freebies like theatre comics, super helpful links and articles, and the awesome cool sections of your Creator’s Notebook, you can sign up on SallyPAL.com/join to get your 20-page free theatre resource. It’s useful, entertaining, and you can do your pop quizzes right out of these pages. We’ll keep building on it every month.
Concise Advice from the Interview:
Here are 10 bits of advice from visual artist Jan Butler for all artists.
10 Layer your learning to build on what you already know
9 Think bigger than the moment you’re doing your art
8 Focus on the story you want to tell
7 Feed and nurture your inner artist
6 For children to feel they can express something in different ways is really important
5 Getting to experience something through different senses before it becomes academic really makes learning stick
4 The opportunity to work at something and fail without being judged for it is really important
3 As a teacher, you can be creative and free to be an artist for you instead of for people who purchase your work
2 Be open and search for new experience for both you and your students to keep it fresh
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.