Saturday, January 13, 2018

Memo From the RTC: Cry Me a River - Once Upon This Island, Lion King, Set Building, Acting Updates

Published in The WAVE - Jan. 12, 2018

Memo From the RTC: Cry Me a River - Once Upon This Island, Lion King, Set Building, Acting Updates
By Norm Scott

Have you ever wondered how stage actors can cry or express other emotions so convincingly, on cue, at every performance? At last Sunday’s RTC acting class teacher Frank Caiati explored the techniques and before long there was a whole lot of tearing up and outright crying as Frank took us through an extended process of using an emotional incident in our lives to trigger the reaction when students read various pieces written by others in the class. In one of Frank’s other classes I did a scene where I played the Henry Fonda role from On Golden Pond with a young lady who took the part of the daughter, played by Jane Fonda. In every rehearsal when we came to a line where I hurt her, she broke into tears – I mean really started to cry, making me feel like crap. “How did you do that so easily,” I asked her? “I had a real issue with my dad and just recall that and tap into it.” That is acting.

Since I’m not a real actor, I didn’t want the stress of getting too emotional on a Sunday morning before I had a bagel so I tamped down my emotions and just focused on being hungry. (Is that an emotion?) I asked Frank why an actor can’t just prick his finger with a pin and draw some blood whenever he wanted to cry? I guess I was missing the point of the exercise, though I did tell him that if he wanted me to play someone getting constantly pissed off I was his man since there would be no acting involved. People seem to be really enjoying the class and rising to the occasion, leading me to think that with a great director like Frank, anyone can act. Frank by the way will be directing View From the Bridge at the RTC next September, when we can finally expect it to get warm.

Once Upon This Island, a production by the Young People’s Workshop with the pre-teens at the Rockaway Theatre Company is perking along. February 2,3,9, 10 at 7PM. Matinees February 4,10,11 at 2PM. Ticket Prices: $10.00. For Reservations: Call RTC Hotline @ 718-374-6400. Or email The Lion King, with the teens is set for these dates: March 1,2,3,8,9,18 at 7PM. Matinees March 3,4,10,11 at 2PM

In the meantime, Tony Homsey’s  Sunday theater set building class has been building the sets for both shows. A large 12 foot wide staircase is up, 8 foot gates have been built, and a large sun and some clouds have been cut out with a jigsaw, with a lot more to come over the next few weeks. This is turning out to be a great idea as the usual crew hasn’t had to work at all during the week. Some of the students may end up joining the regulars and we may start doing Sunday morning building sessions for upcoming adult shows so the students get to practice their skills. Building sets is not like working on your house, though the skills are applicable. Like Tony says, “if they can’t see it from the Belt Parkway, don’t worry about it.” Almost all sets are built to last a few weeks before coming down. So we have to build them with the thought that is must also be fairly easy to take apart, though safety is primary, especially since there are so many young kids involved. But then again kids are smaller and lighter than adults.

After the acting and set building classes, Rich Louis-Pierre runs his sound design class, which I am not taking this time. But it seems to be going very well.

Sundays are not a day of rest at the RTC.

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