Tag Archives: drama

Glasses Off: 4 Delightful Fine Arts Sites

No matter what kind of art your heart revels in, you can turn to the Internet, much as I do, for both inspiration and information. Whether you dance from your heart or sing from your soul, paint or sculpt with all your energy, or bring characters to life from your mind, here are four sites you’ll enjoy browsing:

Do you make art? You can make your own free art website here, and explore others’ websites to find kindred spirits!

Musicians and music lovers of all sorts will enjoy this site, which allows you to discover music you might like based on a specified mood.

DanceSpirit Magazine
Learn what’s happening in the world of dance, from dance tutorials to health information and getting a dance job.

This site is a great links resource for learning more about drama/theater–it lists sites about theater history, stagecraft, the acting industry, and much more!

Being a Newb at Art: Not a Bad Thing

Most people look at newbies or people who are new to something, negatively. Newbies are seen as lacking knowledge, always needing help, and not worth the time of experienced people. This most certainly goes for artistic pursuits; many times, I’ve seen experienced artists of every type look down on the “newbs” in their field, as if they have no talent or aren’t worth even talking to.

But, in my opinion, being a “newb” at something doesn’t mean you won’t have any talent for it. In fact, I’ve found that instead of my own newbish-ness getting in the way of learning more, I feel freer to explore whatever I’m trying to learn. I’m not yet so “experienced” that I’m locked into thinking a certain way or always doing things a certain way. Creatively speaking, being a newb can actually be more fun and more enlightening.

Newbs Have More Fun! (And Make Better Art)

Why do I say that being a newb is more creative and enlightening? Because as artists, as creative people, we can get sucked into the trap of “creating what other people like” or “creating art that sells” instead of “creating what we want.” We can easily fall for doing things the way other people have done them, just because the other people were successful and we want to be successful, too.

The bad thing about following the crowd in this way is that it can kill your desire to do art for yourself, as I have found out with my novel and my webdesign. Try to please others too often and for too long, and you end up completely dissatisfied with your soulless work.

But allowing yourself to be a newb, or getting back to a newb state of mind, can free you from this constrained thinking, and thus get you back into creating what makes you happy and what expresses your thinking the best. For example:

  1. Visual Art: Being an art newb means you can paint, draw, sketch, and/or sculpt any way you please; you aren’t constrained by the “laws of the Masters” or what’s currently avant-garde.
  2. Music: Being a music newb means you can put chords and melodies together according to what sounds good to YOU, not what sounds good to some dusty expert, or even what other musicians think.
  3. Dance: Being a dance newb means you can try out different poses and motions without worrying that it’s not part of a “traditional” dance routine, and without trying to do moves that you physically can’t do yet.
  4. Drama/Theater: Being a drama/theater newb means you are free to play any kind of role you want and explore many different characters without being typecast yet.

Creativity is All About “Thinking Outside the Box”–Why Put Your Art in a Box, Then?

In essence, being a “newb” at art means that you’re still defining your style, still exploring your art, and still having fun with it. The moment you lose that sense of wonder and exploration for your art is the moment the artistic sense in you wilts, in my opinion. See: my novel, and my increasing difficulty with writing it because I’m afraid nobody will “like it enough.” As soon as that fear crept in, writing slowed to a crawl for me.

But it is possible to get your “newb groove” back, as I have written about recently. Just allow yourself to experience art the way you used to, allow yourself to be childlike and “newbish” all over again. You’d be surprised how well this works! After all, yours truly just wrote a new page in her novel. 🙂

No Drama Queen, Just a Theater Dabbler

This week, I thought I’d write a little creative anecdote instead of my usual “creative advice column”-style post. It’s all about drama–theater drama, not emotional drama. 😉

Acting as a Creative Impulse

Bringing a character to life is just as creative as other art forms–you have to make this character feel real, human, believable. You have to make the audience believe you ARE this person; the best actors make you love them or hate them even off-screen and out of character, just because of the character you saw them play last.

The skill with which an actor does this comes partially from knowing the lines and knowing the actions, and partially from the actor’s imagination, imagining how someone would look and sound doing these actions and saying these lines. And we instinctively know good, believable acting when we see it!

My Small Contributions to Drama

Though I’ve never been a complete theater buff, I have done some minor roles in local productions here and there, mainly during high school and early college. I’ve done enough to know that I may not be a show-stopper (my disabilities and clumsiness keep me from that), but I do seem to do comedy pretty well. (My life is full of pratfalls and epic verbal fails…maybe that’s where I got the practice. LOL)

Experiences On the Stage

I’ve played a random assortment of supporting characters (a friendly old biddy, a young schemer, a couple of motherly types), and pretty much any role is cool with me–I actually like to play supporting characters more than leading characters; less pressure, and sometimes you get funnier lines because you’re the comic relief.

I’m more easygoing about my role, mainly because I enjoy taking roles that other people don’t like to play. But it’s also because I’ve acted alongside some supreme prima donnas who wouldn’t take less than the leading lady’s role (there’s at least one in every production, it seems). People like that make the whole set tense!

I prefer to keep my out-of-character acting out to a minimum, though I will admit that long hours of rehearsal on flat, painful feet make my tongue a little sharper than usual. Physical endurance? What’s that? 😛 That’s one reason I’m not in major dramas; my body just doesn’t care for the tedious bits of rehearsal (of course, all done while standing in one place for what feels like hours).

I’ve been lucky, however, that in all of the productions I’ve been in, there has been time after rehearsals for me to rest–professional actors are not so fortunate always! I’ve also been blessed that most of the local actors I’ve worked with have been fairly sweet individuals, barring a few who thought too much of themselves. Generally, I have been part of convivial and companionate casts who truly cared about each other; a rarity, from what I’ve heard from others who are more experienced in theater.

Backstage: Character Prep Work

One of my trademarks in acting is that I flesh out my characters before I play them–I tend to go home on the first night after receiving the script, and extrapolate the character out from the dialogue and actions into a full-blown short story. It’s something like an autobiography for the character.

Once I do that, I have a much better and easier time playing the character because I “know where they’re coming from,” so to speak. (I’m not sure if this falls solidly into much-maligned “method acting” or not, but it sure works for me. I just act better when I can find something to empathize with in the character–even if she is a crazy villain. :D)

I like to flesh out characters because I want my acting to be the best it can be for the sake of the whole production. When people don’t care about their characters and are bored with the lines, it shows, and it really brings the rest of the scene down. Populating the scene with a well-acted “supportive character” can often help the other members of the scene get more excited (and deliver better performances of their own).

Onstage Helping? Yes, it’s Possible!

I also like being able to keep tabs of others’ lines as well as my own (thanks to God for the good memory I have), just in case one of them forgets a line; I am pretty good at ad-libbing in a reminder line if I have to.

I remember in high school, one very young, very frightened fellow student I worked with in one production forgot her entire semi-monologue in one scene during the performance. There was a very tense, gut-wrenching, eternity of a second, and then I prompted her with a question that rephrased the first sentence of her speech. She recovered enough to say the speech, and I was so happy for her I accidentally complimented her onstage with an emphatic “GOOD!” The audience got a huge laugh out of my reaction, and we carried on. The teacher later told me that I had done well (and even made her laugh).

This is part of the excitement of acting–being able to help out and make the production good, or react and recover from gaffes. Like the time I completely bungled my whole dance routine up because I literally got off on the wrong foot–since I was playing a granny, I waved my arms about and shouted to my dance partner, “Lordy, sonny boy, don’t drag me ’round this ole dance floor like a dead fish!” Much, MUCH LOL followed–I don’t think anybody kept a straight face! Stories like this make for great after-party anecdotes; afterwards, you can all laugh about how you made it through despite the fails.

Ever Tried Acting for Yourself?

I’d like to hear from my fellow actors out there–anybody ever done any off-off-off-Broadway stuff, or gotten write-ups in the local paper? ^_^ It’d be fun to hear from some actual famous people!

And even if you haven’t acted much before, have you ever tried your hand (or voice) at it? It’s a lot of fun, if you’ve never experienced it. 🙂

Poems: Kernels of Art

I absolutely love the flexibility of poems; they’re like jars of emotion, containing poignant reveries, painful wounds, and powerful joys. But beyond this humble art form’s ability to adapt to any emotional range, it can also inspire the other forms of art (both performance and exhibition) to their highest expressions. Surprisingly, poetry can touch all other forms of art in the following ways:

What Poems Can Do

  • They can become songs by simply attaching a fitting melody and chord progression to the words
  • They can spark photography, paintings, or drawings; the imagery in a poem can lead a visual artist to create what he or she has “seen” in her mind from the poet’s words
  • They can imply a dance rhythm with word choice and stressed beats; a simple recitation can be done as a rhythm piece alongside interpretive movement
  • They can create a theatrical scene in the reader’s mind; the pathos in a poem can be expressed again through dialogue, or if the poem is itself a dialogue or monologue, it can be directly translated to the stage
  • They can inspire a longer work of fiction or non-fiction; a simple ten-line poem can create a character strong enough to warrant more writing about

I love this about poetry–it creates a sort of network between art forms. It’s fluid, malleable, and yet strong enough to support just about anything you put into it, which makes it both approachable for newbies and versatile for experienced creators.

So, have you ever tried your hand at poetry? If you haven’t, now is a great time to try!