National Theatre marketing is hip like 1980

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And I had planned on blogging all day today.

London’s National Theatre is hosting Steppenwolf’s runaway hit August: Osage County right now, and they have added an interactive feature to their promotional site: a A:OC version of Pac-Man. It’s the exact game that we all remember so fondly, except that you control the drug-addled head of Deanna Dunagan, and get chased by various members of her character’s family. Click the screaming head of Violet Weston above to put to bed any chances of being productive today.

PuSh Festival puts out call for volunteers

Whoa, immersed as I have been in our latest production, I totally forgot that the magnificent PuSh International Performing Arts Festival is coming up fast. Get ready for it, Vancouver.

PuSh is much more than an annual cultural feast for Vancouver: it is a broker of international partnerships, a meeting place for creative minds, a showcase of Canada’s best and an incubator of brilliant new work.

From the official site

This is a signature Vancouver cultural event; theatre, dance, music and hybrid art forms comprise the festival, featuring local, national and international artists. It’s a pretty big deal. Plank Magazine talks about it here.

This year’s PuSh runs from January 20 to February 8, 2009. They have just put the call out for volunteers to help with front of house, hospitality, program distribution, transportation etc…for more information and to access the volunteer registration form, click it here.

Click here to check out the lineup. It looks awesome, as usual. You can dig the festival’s blog here.

Salt-N-Pepa will unfortunately not be performing at the Festival.

Why theatre will never die

After a brief absence to put his company on the rails, Matt Slaybaugh of Theatreforte returns to the theatre blogoshere with a bang. Yesterday he quoted Simon McBurney on naturalism in the theatre, in a piece that is simply the best articulated essay on the uniqueness of the form that I think I’ve ever read. It speaks to why it only works in space shared between players and observers. And also why theatre should never, ever, be put to film. It’s a splendid treatise, for me it’s one of those pieces of ephemera that float around the internet that you wish you’d written. A sampling…

In the end the only question in the theatre is: How does the play become alive? In fact, theatre only exists in the mind of the audience – it does not exist on stage, or in a play. It only exists because the audience brings it alive.

Everyone thought theatre would die with the appearance of cinema, just as everyone thought painting would die with the appearance of photography. But all photography did was to liberate painting to be itself.

[…] That’s why theatre can’t work on video. It’s an imaginative act on the part of the audience. And that is theatre’s appeal, that’s why it continues.

Please click here to read the full piece from McBurney. Then click here to meet Slay, face to face. The theatrosphere rules.

This one goes to eleven: Victoria Bidewell

Last week I dealt with my post-play post-partum by going to see somebody else’s work: In the Boom Boom Room, David Rabe’s 1970s risk-taking opus about the wide-eyed, determined young go-go dancer Chrissy. In this roll Victoria owns the Studio 16 stage, and if you missed it, they’re holding over December 3, 4 and 5.

Victoria graduated with a BA from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, then studied at the British American Drama Academy in Oxford, England with Sir Ben Kingsley and Alan Rickman. (I know. Whoa.) She has also studied with Larry Moss and the California improv group The Groundlings. She balances theatre with a burgeoning TV/film career.

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1. In one word, describe your present condition.

Grateful.

2. Using as many words as you need, describe the present condition of the Vancouver theatre scene.

The Vancouver Theatre scene is heating up! There’s always a show or two or three going on, and many of my fellow actors are always involved in them, so it’s great! So many talented actors in this town, it’s amazing!

3. How well did your academic training prepare you for the business of working as a stage actor?

I was trained mostly for the stage so I was pretty well prepared, as for film and television, not so much, but I’m working on it.

4. What, if any, is the most striking difference between the American and British Academy training techniques?

I would say, I learned a lot about voice in England, voice, voice, voice! The rhythym of the lines, the poetry of the words, and so on and so forth. The teachers were different as well. In the States, I was there for a lot longer, we covered more avenues, as in dance, musical theatre, and film, and definitely more contemporary theatre. In England, it was all about Shakespeare.

5. What, for you, is the perfectly balanced acting career?

Working in film and television and having the means to produce and act in plays.

6. What’s your best piece of advice to someone contemplating becoming an actor?

Get ready to struggle and enjoy it!

7. What type of content gets you out to watch theatre?

Great writing and seeing my colleagues work never fails.

8. Which 3 actors, living or dead, would you like to have drinks with, and why?

Marlon Brando, because of his life history, the people he knew and his fearless acting style. Al Pacino, because he’s so passionate and it would probably be incredibly influential, and Meryl Streep, because she is amazing and totally sassy in person, probably so much fun to hang out with.

9. What appealed to you about In the Boom Boom Room?

I love the part of Chrissy, she is the best character I’ll ever play. She is beautiful, her drive to be a better human being despite all her set backs, she is never a victim. The play in itself is amazing, David Rabe’s words, every single one of them, are so specific and moving, I can’t wait to say them every night. I also saw one of the plays Jennifer Copping directed, The Big Funk, and was blown away and dying to work with her, so when I saw she was directing In the Boom Boom Room, I had to be involved.

10. What are your top 3 theatre reads?

I love Suddenly Last Summer by Tennessee Williams (anything by him really), Bus Stop by William Inge, and The Goddess by Paddy Chayevsky, it was a movie, but there is a play version and it’s brilliant!

11. What’s next?

I’ve signed onto a pilot called Hiccups written and directed by Brent Butt from Corner Gas, It’s hilarious, he did such an amazing job, so when it gets picked up, I will be focused on that, and will then produce my first play and hopefully get Jennifer Copping to direct it, if she’s not too busy.

The Art of the Business 11 – What??!? I need another photo shoot?

"Business-y" photo of Rebecca by Pink Monkey StudiosLast month, I wrote a post on the importance of having a good publicity photo. This month, I talk about the importance of having a good production photo.

But, you say, photo shoots are expensive and time-consuming. Can’t I get away with just one?

Nope, sorry, not gonna do it. Here’s why:

1. You need production photos for your archives. You never know when you might need archive photos: for your website, grant applications, etc.

2. If you were lucky enough to get preview coverage, you must have different photos to acccompany your review. Newspapers generally don’t like to run the same photos that they ran for previews, and they generally like to run photos that are from the show, with the actual set, costumes, lights, props and actors.

Usually, these shoots take place during the final dress rehearsal, so the photographer can flit around and take the pictures without disturbing the audience. Alternatively, some people schedule it for the break between two-show days. The earlier the better–if you have dalies reviewing your show, you’ll need them pretty quickly, so that’s why most people go with the final dress rehearsal option.

Here’s one last tip for you (thanks to Simon for this one): most of the indie companies I work for don’t have the ability to upload their photos to a website for the press to download, which is what the big companies do. Flickr doesn’t work, because it won’t let you upload the size of photos you need to for publication. Photo Bucket is an excellent alternative. Allows you to store your high-res photos, all you have to do is email the URL to the press.

Here are some examples:

This is the publicity photo for Metamorphoses (image Pink Monkey Studios):
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This was one of the production photos:

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This was the publicity image for Exit Commander Kitty:
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And here is a production photo:
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Bone in Her Teeth by Leaky Heaven Circus has some of the best photos I have ever seen:

Publicity:
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Production:
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And my all time favorite:
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Rebecca is a contributing columnist and founder of Rebecca Coleman Marketing and Media Relations, a Vancouver PR company. She blogs at artofthebiz.com and twitters under rebeccacoleman.