Public Speaking Starts with “Pub”  Because It Should Be As Fun As Drinking. (Responsibly!)

Public Speaking Starts with “Pub” Because It Should Be As Fun As Drinking. (Responsibly!)

In the article “I CAN’T WRITE!”  – Yes You Can! (Tip #1: Stop Saying That!) I started with the premise that if you are among the lucky majority of people who can speak, then the truth is that you can also write, and if you want to – or need to! – then there are some very simple steps you can take that will greatly enhance your ability to do so. I was tempted to begin this article with virtually the same argument: If you can speak to one person then you can speak to a roomful of people. But then I remembered a fundamental difference between people who avoid writing and those who avoid public speaking; the former usually do not like the task, whereas the latter are often terrified of it. So what follows are a few tips that I hope can help you stave off the terror and become such a comfortable public speaker that you may even come to enjoy the process. Tip #1 – Determine a specific, meaningful outcome, and then commit to it fully. You don’t need a dictionary to know that self-conscious means being conscious of oneself. But I assure you that this placement of your thoughts and energy is the number one thing working against you as a speaker, so you must turn your attention, instead, outside yourself. An actor must choose to pursue an objective that is grounded in his scene partner in order to be fully alive and in the moment on stage; as a speaker you must do the same. Ask yourself, “What is it that I want...
Making Friends with Monologues

Making Friends with Monologues

If you wanted to frighten a group of actors with something they’d find ghastly and dreadful, you could turn to vampires, zombies, or ghosts. Or you could just tell them to prepare a monologue audition. For actors, it seems, monologues and zombies have much in common: You hear a lot about them, but they are remarkably hard to find; it’s not exactly clear what to do with them if you do happen to stumble upon one; and they’re awful and scary, so it’s best to avoid them altogether if at all possible. That all sounds about right to me when it comes to the undead, but not so much when it comes to monologues. In fact, if you have any thoughts at all about pursuing an acting career, you might as well decide right now to make friends with them – monologues, not the undead – because I assure you they exist, I promise you they can be managed, and you can bet your bottom dollar that they can’t be avoided. So, to your question, “How and where do I find monologues and what do I do with them once I have them?” I offer the following answers… There are no shortage of books and websites designed to deliver the perfect monologue right into your hands. DO NOT USE THEM! (Actually you can use them, but not as you might expect. We’ll get to that point last.) You know those pills they advertise late at night that promise to help you lose 20 pounds in a day or two without making any changes to your diet? Monologue books are...
Race, Oscar, Race!

Race, Oscar, Race!

There has been quite a stir in entertainment news lately as one influential actor after another tweets, or posts, their outrage at the lily-white list of Best Actor contenders that was revealed during last week’s Oscar nomination announcements. In short order the morning news show hosts and afternoon talk show divas weighed in, adding to the fray and bolstering the online grumbling with a loud and growing number of sound bites, all of which set about fanning ever so swiftly the fires of righteous indignation. That got me to thinking. It got me to thinking about the capricious way that Oscar has been behaving for a number of years now and how his wanton behavior is tarnishing his once good name. And that got me to thinking about this true, perhaps unpopular point: Oscar slights are not a race issue so much as they are an only-the-mighty-can-win issue, and while it might be a good thing to shed some light on the inequity, I don’t think it’s a good thing to do it in the name of racial inequity. Look, anyone who still thinks the Oscars are an accurate measure of the past year’s best work in film is entirely ingenuous. Everyone knows why the big tent-pole pictures – you know, the ones the studios count on to garner Oscar buzz and bring home the gold – are not released until December. And anyone who’s ever picked up a BackStage or Variety after New Year’s Eve knows that a full-on publicity attack in the form of full-page ads lies waiting inside. “For Your Consideration…” Small budget? Small chance. No...
Dear n+1 Magazine Hartford Critic

Dear n+1 Magazine Hartford Critic

Like the proverbial accident that one can’t turn away from, I read every word of n+1′s Hartford, Connecticut article despite my disgust. I was simultaneously struck by the deftness with which it was written and the relentlessness with which it railed. So many words poured out for the seemingly single purpose of painting an utterly despairing picture! Why, I wondered. Still, after so many futile months spent trying to find a home into which my family and I can settle, I thought, “Disaster averted. Pack the bags. Get out quick!” Thank you, author, for saving me from making an egregious mistake. But time, of course, ushers in clearheaded thinking, if you allow it. And I did. I am not from Hartford, as the author claims to be. In fact I have only lived in this city for just over a year, but even as a recent transplant, when the dust of this essay settled I was offended to the core by the unyielding, unending, and untrue invective that it proffers. I have no interest in reviewing, much less debating, each vilification, point by point. But I will say this: I am surprised that this city has not crumbled under the weight of an oppressive negative energy that infects it from within and without. This article is just one more block on the ever-growing Jenga pile. Never have I seen so many people revel in the perceived – and predicted! – failure of the hometown, seemingly oblivious to the fact that as they revel in those failures they are rooting against themselves. Even now, as the turmoil of the stadium project...
Thoughts for the Aspiring Performer That Are Practical, Kind, and True

Thoughts for the Aspiring Performer That Are Practical, Kind, and True

First published on LinkedIn Pulse A fanciful dreamer can imagine a life as a performer, but it takes a bold inclination to make it happen. I myself was that way bent at a very early age, and as an acting teacher and coach I have traveled alongside countless students as they have embarked on the same path. But while performing hopefuls often trumpet their red-hot passion, as if that is somehow qualification enough for the job, the truth is that all the desire, yearning, and passion in the world are nowhere near sufficient to help anyone successfully negotiate the incessant and varied demands that a life in the arts places on you. If simply reading that disheartens or discourages you, then you must seriously reevaluate your career goals. If, on the other hand, you are already well prepared to stare down the obstacles you will face as you pursue that goal, then what follows will shed some light on what to expect and what you can do to enhance your chances of success. First: Don’t be a sparkler! Dreaming of a life as an actor, dancer, singer, comedian can be intoxicating, and fill your head with unreal expectations and glorified notions of what your life might be. When I opened my first acting studio, I was continually thrilled and invigorated by the ardently passionate students that came through my door. Some of them were fiercely determined and set to work like industrious ants. But many were less substance than show. Like 4th of July sparklers, they burned hot and bright for awhile, crackling loudly about being “all in” for...