Cuts Cuts Cuts…

To whom it might (or might not) concern,

I’m going to get straight to it; what are you doing to the arts?!

I have so much I want to say on this, but I will keep it brief and to the point (as much as possible)

I understand that savings need to be made somehow, somewhere and that you can’t please everyone… however…

“Phasing out art grants, saving £433,000 by 2020”

Cutting 100% of funding to the arts is a very destructive move. How can you expect the industry to survive a blow that brutal?! That’s not saving, that’s scoring out one of the UK’s most valued industries. Have you considered how much of the economy is supported by companies, individuals, organisations and work that comes from the artists you have decided to cut free?

It is not just about the work you see on the “surface”; the show, the gallery, the concert, the final design, the performance… it is about people’s livelihoods, their identity, their family and their community.

I would argue that, although you appear to be saving £433,000 – the thriving Arts culture in Bath… may not be around to continue to draw tourists to these areas, and support the local community. I suggest that this saving is short-sighted. Yes, you don’t give that money away, but equally you do not get a return on the investment in the culture of your town/city.

If you review the funding you have awarded even just 2016/17 you have stipulated yourselves that the projects will achieve “economic impact in the city” [See here] and – in the case of the Arts at the Heart of the Royal United Hospital, that project will “contribute to staff training and development, activities that enhance the healing environment and contribute to improving therapeutic outcomes.”

For some people, the Arts are a saving grace, they have a significant positive impact on mental health. See this article as just one example: http://www.insideoutcommunity.com/arts-mental-health/the-case-for-arts-and-mental-health/  In your own words, the projects you fund may use “arts activity to promote health and wellbeing.” [See here]

In summary – I fail to see how cutting 100% of the funding to the Arts is a step forward. I believe the Arts are at the heart of our society here in the UK, whether that be in the form of spectacular performances and galleries that attract visitors from all over the globe; or employing hundreds of thousands of people across the country; or workshops/lessons/courses that are solely created to help vulnerable people in our communities – and everything in-between.

Some other views on cuts to the Arts:
http://theatrebath.co.uk
https://www.thestage.co.uk
http://www.bathchronicle.co.uk

Some Audition Advice from Dee Cannon

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Just started reading this one, I am only about 30 pages in and already found it both informative and very reassuring.

Her opinion on how monologues should be approached for auditions is very simple and makes a whole lot of sense. She gives some great advice on how to make the most of the limited time you have leading up to an audition/if you find yourself in a sight-reading situation.

Whether you are a complete beginner, or someone who is well practiced – the first section of this book is very encouraging with regards to auditions.

So I would say, if you are nervous about a Drama School audition, your first ever professional audition, or you want to see if there is another way to approach your next one – give this a read.

I am sure there is going to be a lot of good stuff in the rest of Dee Cannon’s book. I will keep you posted. Until then, here is a useful extract on choosing the right monologue:

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Improvisation

I go to a local improv group on Thursday evenings, the workshop consists of short-form improvisation games and exercises. This is just a short post to explain a couple of the games we played which were new to me – in case they are of use to anyone else…

1. Convergence

  • This was one of the warm up exercises we did as a group.

2. Pillars

  • One of the ‘scene’ games we ran through a couple of times.

This one turned out to be a really nice way to break beginners into the idea of saying the first thing that comes to their mind, because they didn’t then have to deal with whatever came out – the other actors did! It made it less daunting for a first go.

Meisner – On Acting

BOOK: Sanford Meisner – On Acting

Sanford Meisner & Dennis Longwell

Firstly I want to say that I really enjoyed this book!

I can really recommend it, even just as way to understand where he was coming from with his exercises and ideas. It also made me to reflect on my own thoughts about what acting is, and how to achieve the best I can in the roles I play.

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“[acting is…] living truthfully in imagined circumstances” [P15]

“The playwright gives you what to say. Your job as an actor is to fill the role with life” [P49]

“The definition of acting is the reality of doing” [P24]

It is hard to put into words, to really get to the bottom of what acting is – is it ‘pretending’ or is it ‘living’? What is a ‘character’ if you are ‘living truthfully’ from your own impulses and instincts? I enjoyed reading about how his students grappled with his concepts of character and truth, because at times they seemed contradictory.

There is a wonderful analogy of the relationship between text and emotion. Where he describes the text as a canoe which is taken down the river [emotion] and how the journey the canoe [text] takes is ultimately at the will of the river. [P115]

He talks about never coming into a scene empty [without emotion/intension] and that preparation in order to do this is key to a truthful performance.

‘Cry, then talk. Don’t talk and then expect to cry’ [P199-200]

He writes about the important difference between showing emotion and feeling it and how that impacts you as an actor and you relationship with the audience. [p84] His driving force seemed to me to be all about living a truth on stage – ultimately giving the audience no choice but to be taken in by you (believe in you) and to be carried along with the story/characters’ journey. It reminded me of something David Mamet says in his book ‘True or False’, that if an audience can see you don’t mean what you say or what you do then they feel that they are being lied to, instantly alienating them from the whole experience.

I would have liked him to have written more about why and how he believes ‘emotion memory’ can be less effective than ‘imagined memory’ – I understand how both can be effective in their own way, but he seemed to think the imagined could be even more powerful, I would interested to know why.

All-in-all I really like this book and I will read it a second time, because I’m sure I’ll find something new!