Monthly Archives: April 2016

Top Ten Reasons to Work at a Haunted House

images (21)10. Being a zombie at work is rewarded. So many jobs are imprisonment. So many people are zombies at work and zombies at home, slogging through a job they hate to collapse in front of the TV at night. Their zombie-inspired existence is depressing. Ours is hilarious. We giggle and shake with anticipation of embracing our zombie-ness.

9. There is not a desk in sight. And if there is, it’s covered with rust and body parts to create a horrific office scene that poor 9-5 drones will relate to. If we’re wearing a tie, it’s askew and doubles as a noose.

8. Sarcasm is a technical skill and generously embraced. Wit is rewarded. Skewed perspective is considered a leadership quality. Humor is the order of the day. And all of our creations are born from a severed funny bone.

7. Ideas are welcome. No longer do we have to stay silent and let the boss tell us what to do. We are a team. We are open to expression. We look for the employee that other industries have tossed out.

6. Our world is always changing. The basic goal remains the same… Scare the Beetlejuice out of people. But the method to the madness is in constant flux. There is always more to do, things to create and ideas to explore. The haunt world never sleeps, even at 1:23pm on a Tuesday in February.

5. The dress code rocks. Some of us wear black and hide in the nooks and crannies. Some don their favorite red striped sweater to pay tribute to our recently departed hero. Some have the neatly teased black hair with oh-so-perfect bangs, red lipstick and gnarly tattoos… but whatever we wear. No. One. Cares.

4. We can sleep til noon. We can live during the witching hours. We wake up late to tumble into the hallowed halls and wait for our victims to come giggling up the sidewalk. Then we can come alive with ghoulish gumption before collapsing at the end of the night, sweaty and more than a little satisfied.

3. We witness emotion. Real, raw emotion… on a daily basis. We inspire our guests to scream, laugh, cry, shriek, run, hide and faint. We provide a place where people can escape the boring horrors of daily life and succumb to the thrilling horrors of fantasy while safely in our grasp.

2. We can let our inner freak fly. We flirt, tease and playfully bully our guests. Some of them shriek. Some slip their phone numbers into our rubber-gloved hands. We can embrace that we live on the island of misfit toys. We can celebrate that we are the square peg. And we can finally get the attention we crave. Because behind our monster masks… we need love too.

1. We are home. It might not always be lucrative, but it’s rich with creativity, comradery and innovation. Anything goes. The weirder the better. And no matter how old we get, we will always be kids as long as we are home.

 

5 Essential Physical Warm-Ups

unduhan (37)As performers we want to be present and “in the moment.” That phrase is thrown around a lot, but what I mean by “in the moment” is taking in the information that is currently happening. One way we can encourage this is by opening up our bodies before we get on stage. All performers should do a physical warm-up of some kind before they hit the stage for a performance or speech. Stretching and opening our bodies helps us to shed the accumulated experiences of our day so that we can perform at our best.

Below are 5 warm-ups I always do before a performance. By no means is this list exhaustive, but it’s a good place to begin if you are just starting out as a public speaker or performer. It’s also an effective list if you need to warm-up but are short on time. Most of these exercises are from the Miller Voice Method work that I practice. In all of these exercises I encourage you to breathe in and out of your mouth, which is the most economical and easiest way to breathe. Focus on breathing into your low belly (the area between your navel and hip points.) You want your breath to be flowing easily in and out with no stoppage at the bottom of the exhale or top of the inhale.

  • Jaw massage: I like to begin my warm-ups with this exercise: take both of your hands and clasp them together, bring your thumbs to your right and left side of your jaw and rub into the muscle that is just in front of the jaw hinge. You may find this to be slightly uncomfortable or painful. As a matter of fact, if it isn’t you’re probably not in the right spot. Most of us hold a lot of tension here. This is the last place of holding before “information” leaves our lips and is out in the world. If there’s something we want to say but feel like we can’t or shouldn’t, it often gets “stored” in our jaw muscles. Remember when you’re doing this exercise to release your jaw and breathe in and out of the mouth.
  • Roll down: In a standing position, bend your knees slightly and bring your feet hips-width apart. (This is most likely going to be narrower than you think it should be.) Bring your chin to your chest and then slowly roll down the entire length of your spine, go vertebra by vertebra if possible. When you are completely released in this position take a few deep breaths into your belly and low back. Feel your belly expand and release against your thighs. If you would like to deepen this stretch, clasp opposite elbows and continue to breathe deeply. Stay in this position for about 30 seconds, then slowly roll back up through the spine. If you feel dizzy, put your index finger a foot in front of your face and focus on it until your dizziness subsides.
  • Half-Moon: In a standing position, bring your feet together and clasp your arms above your head. You want your pointer fingers pointing towards the sky. Wiggle your rib-cage up off of your internal organs and feel the space that is created. Staying in this position stretch over to the right side, stretching out the left side of the rib cage. Notice how your ribs expand as you breathe in and release as you breathe out. Remember to keep your body facing toward the opposite wall so you are not collapsing down towards your feet. Repeat this stretch on the opposite side.
  • Hip Opener: Bring your legs a bit wider than hips distance apart. Bend your legs fully so that you are in a squat position. If possible, your toes and heels should be rooted into the floor. Bring your hands into a prayer position between your thighs. Use your forearms to gently press against the inner thighs encouraging a deep stretch. Try to maintain a long spine in this position. Breathe in and out of the mouth, maintaining the pose for 30 seconds to a minute.
  • Tongue Twister: The last thing I like to do before going on stage is tongue-twisters! If I’m pressed for time and can only do one it’s generally going to be “My Sister Sally.” The reason being is that the “s” is the most likely sound to be sloppy in our speech. Having as much clarity as possible with our “s” makes all of our speech more crisp. You can find the full text of “My Sister Sally” in Edith Skinner’s “Speak With Distinction.”

I like the progression of this warm-up because it warms up the whole body: the jaw, the spine, the ribs, the legs and the tongue. All of these exercises are linked by the continuous breath that you maintain throughout the warm-up. Please feel free to ask questions in the comments and also leave any warm-ups that you find useful!

Three Pivotal Figures in 20th Century Performing Arts

unduhan (36)What makes the performing arts so special? While loosely, one might apply the term to any sort of presentation before an audience, critics have historically used the label to separate dance, music, and theater performance from the “static” visual arts. A painter, writer, or photographer can effectively transmit their work and their messages through time and even across significant cultural or linguistic barriers-preserving a moment, a vision, or an idea in a permanent medium. We get perhaps as close as we can to time traveling by looking at a Stieglitz photograph, some lines of Dante, or a cave-painting on an ancient wall, able to see (at least almost) the same thing that the creator did at the moment of inception or execution.

The performing arts, on the other hand, are time-limited. We can’t ever really know what a Shakespeare play was like for the audience, aside from a few well-preserved accounts, and are instead left confronting his plays more as a part of literary history than theater. Nor can we ever know what it might have been like to have witnessed the first performance of Swan Lake at the Bolshoi Theater in 1895. Part of the magic is how they serve as a sort of event or spectacle, a one-of-a-kind occurrence that, even in the age of HD digital recording, can still only exist in full in the memory of those who were there to see it happen.

Especially over the course of the twentieth century, the performing arts have been host to a few particularly significant developments. At the peak of artistic exploration in the post-war period, dancers, playwrights, and musicians used their mediums to respond to a growing need for new forms-the idea that the changing conditions of the world demanded a different sort of art than what had come before. While this drive could be identified in the visual arts as well, it was on stage that the artist could directly confront their audiences with a new way of thinking about things. Here are three key innovators any theater-goer should know about.

Antonin Artuad: A writer, critic, and playwright inspired by the existential writings of Friedrich Nietzsche and Jacques Derrida, Artuad believed that theater for the 21st century must incorporate a sense of life’s harshness in a way that Romantic and Modern forms had been unable to. Emphasizing an embrace of chaos in the face of nihilism and a cross-cultural engagement with a diverse variety of traditional forms, Artuad’s insistence on breaking free of the limits of language and into the unexplored spaces of gesture and sound had a lasting impact on generations of dramatists and performers to come.

Merce Cunningham: While Artuad turned to philosophy and Eastern cultures for inspiration, this dancer and choreographer incorporated elements of chance as a way of embracing the organic chaos of the creative process, incorporating random choices into the compositional process. While some of the outcomes might not be artistically serviceable, incorporating this aleatory element opened the artist up to new & surprising possibilities. Later in life, Cunningham continued to push the limits of the performing arts medium by experimenting with film and motion capture technologies, finding new ways to document and archive these former one-of-a-kind experiences.

John Cage: Cunningham’s lifelong partner, Cage applied the variable aspects of chance to his musical performances, inspired by the ancient Chinese text I Ching, a divination manual known in the West as the Book of Changes. By consulting the patterns and sequences of the manuscript, Cage sought not so much to bring an order to what he saw as the chaos of life, but rather a redirection of attention; an awareness of the natural state of existence. While Cage may be best known for his composition 4’33”-four minutes and thirty-three seconds of silence from a performer sitting at a piano, the performing arts have enjoyed a lasting contribution from his work with unusual instrumentation and innovative use of new recording technology.