News & Updates

The Artist and Arts Marketing

November 6, 2017

Over and again, the mistaken intellectualism and hackneyed fad: “Artists disrupt.” 

In my email this morning, yet another production so marketed.   Revolutionaries destroy.   Artists, traditionally in Western civilization, discover and express that which is Beautiful and True.  Very often, that which can not be seen or heard or witnessed without heightened aesthetic discernment.   This is the realm of the Artist.   Many claim to be Artists: few are!  

An Artist is a constructive presence in the world, operating aesthetically, whose contribution is a benefit to the consciousness of the audience who is capable of heightened awareness: which is, in my experience, much of mankind.

George Carlin and the Mastery of “Delivery”

October 21, 2017

“Delivery” refers to technique, but this artfulness makes or breaks the audience’s reception of what’s delivered.  Take, for example, a master of delivery like George Carlin.   

Strip his routine of its masterful delivery and what are we left with?  Rather than guffaw-inducing comedy, we discover his fundamental malevolence towards mankind, his misanthropy, his incorrigible pessimism and destructive nihilism.  

When I, after 3 decades of laughing with him, suddenly realized the core of his pernicious intent, his delivery failed to persuade me any longer.  I realized the deception in which he was engaged.  Contrast comedians like Laurel and Hardy…

One must insist upon the quality of the ideas conveyed, not merely the perfection of technique that convey them.  

Rubric

October 5, 2017

If, as an Artist, everyone likes what you do, you are surely doing something wrong.

If, as a Performer, everyone likes what you do, you are surely doing something right.

Auditions: A Perspective

October 4, 2017

Many performers (and not just youngsters) I hear emphasize “rejection.” I auditioned. I was rejected. How does one cope with rejection, etc?  Nonsense! 

You, I — we are looking for partners in performance. For those whose talents, skills, ambitions and direction correspond in some significant way.

The audition is the opportunity to gauge the quality of the fit. It is not a confirmation of your ability (or lack of it). Unless, of course, you are focused on bolstering your own esteem of yourself. But that has nothing to do with the work at hand: remove it from your consciousness post-haste.

In a production I auditioned for, casting had narrowed it to a handful of candidates, including me; I was not hired. My audition had been excellent: I know myself after all.  So what were they looking for?  I went to see the production. It was, in a word, vile.  I saw what they did with the actor who had been hired and was grateful to have been passed over for the role.   Yes is good and no is also good.

Turn your sights to the work, to demonstrating to the potential partner in performance what you can contribute. Is there a fertile field you both can till, so to speak, together, cooperatively, in accord with both your visions of the work?  Finding that is your our goal.

Classical Language Redux

October 3, 2017

Classical language is yet our language.  Do you see it?

“I have to say, yet cannot speak
The thing that I would gladly say
My heart is strong, though tongue be weak
Yet I will speak it, as I may
And if I speak not as I ought
Blame but the error of my thought.”
 

— J. Willobie, Avisa (1594)

Welles on Character Acting and Personality

September 21, 2017

For decades, I have found Orson Welles to be as complex and as essential as any of the great creative souls of the 20th century.   This excerpt from Cahiers du Cinéma, No. 84, June 1958, reveals the profundity of his own self-knowledge and its revelatory, yet disguising, nature upon screen.

You know, in the old classic French theater, there were always some actors who played kings and others who did not. I’m one of those who played kings. I have to be, because of my personality. So naturally, I always play the role of leaders, men of some unusual breath: I always need to be bigger than life. It’s a fault of my nature. So it’s not unnecessary to believe there’s anything ambiguous about my interpretation. It’s my personality that’s responsible, not my intentions. It’s very serious for an artist, a creator to be at the same time and actor. He runs a grave risk of being misunderstood. Because my own personality intrudes between what I say and what you hear; and a great part of the mystery, the confusion, of the interest, and all you can find in the characters I play comes from my own personality and not from what I say.

This excerpt, Comito, Terry, ed., Touch of Evil: Orson Welles, Director, p. 205.

American Readings of Classical English Language Works — Some Ideas

September 15, 2017

Classical language is yet our language. Centuries have past since what we consider classical was contemporary. And yet, the aesthetic discoveries made by Western civilization, which represent our common tradition, provide us with many opportunities to delight in them, whether poetic beauty or dramatic engagement.

This is the first in a series of video readings of brief segments of the classical language. I’ve read this poem in its entirety for you in a conversational, modern American style. One can say, readily, that this is neither the dialect nor the style in which the poem was written. One question to ask, when reading any work, is this: what did the author intend? Does one take a liberty to read this poem aloud in the modern tongue? And conversationally, without reference to the meter?

The Undertaking, published in 1633, was written by John Donne. The speaker has discovered a woman of rare virtues, worthy of his greatest love and admiration. He must, however, love her in secret (as she presumably must love him in return) because the men of these times will not allow that such a love is commendable.

A good discussion of the work may be found here: online-literature.com/forums/showthread.php?35367-What-does-Donne-s-quot-Undertaking-quot-signify-!

The first two videos in my series on American readings of classical English language works pose several questions: 

How might (or ought) an American performer read aloud the classical English language, when it was written to be voiced in a dialect long unspoken?  

Is a conversational American reading persuasive for a modern audience?  

What about meter?  Is a work of definite meter, intended to convey a musical rhythm undergirding the meaning, more persuasive when so read?

In the first video, I’ve read John Donne’s, The Undertaking (1633), in a conversational American cadence.  

In the second video, I’ve read the same poem while closely adhering to the meter.  I’ve not approximated the dialect scholars believe readers of the early 17th century would have expected.

Which do you think is more persuasive?  

Post-Harvey Houston, I’m Back in Business

September 2, 2017

Yesterday, I reassembled my voice studio (post-Harvey) and I’m back in business. Frankly, I don’t think it has ever sounded better. (My video studio, used for film auditions, was less laborious to reassemble, but that’s up, too.)

My primary mic is an MP47 MKII vacuum tube condenser microphone made in Nashville by Gene Lawson. I put that through a Millenia TD-1 Class A Recording Channel, then through a secret vintage analog component, finally into a Fireface UC 36-Channel, 24-Bit/192kHz USB High Speed Audio interface.

Within an hour of setting up, I had surprise followed upon by surprise: two commercial scripts requesting auditions, one for a major league sports organization. So, whereas a week prior I thought I might be out of the game for weeks, here I am back in.

Roger Scruton on Beauty and Desecration

August 10, 2017

I post this especially for younger artists (in film, the drama, music) who are friends of mine. You’ll know who you are.
 
My hope is that my contemporaries will also find this talk as valuable as I do. I agree with it premises and its conclusions: they echo mine, being, in fact, foundational ideas in my life.
 
I’ll tease you to listen with this quote from the talk: “What is the point of drawing the second mustache on the Mona Lisa?” I hope you’ll be patient with it and not click away after 30 seconds, such is our habit now online. I suspect you will see it all differently after you’ve listened.
 

Beiruti English — Revisiting Rawi Hage’s DeNiro’s Game

August 5, 2017

Some years ago, I recorded a Rawi Hage’s, DeNiro’s Game, in a Beiruti English accent. The print version had won the 2008 IMPAC International Literary Award — it is a wonderful work that moved and impressed me — and I was honored when Audible asked me to read the audiobook version of the title.
 
For several weeks, I studied the accent with the help of two supremely intelligent and encouraging Yale grad students, both of whom had grown up in Beirut, one Christian, the other Muslim. Since that time, I have, never having visited Beirut, felt a strong kinship to the city, without ever knowing why exactly. Perhaps it is simply romance.
 
And then, today, I was reminded of that once again reading this article written by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, and how history is driven down to in the details, well beyond the shallow, pernicious parlance of the modern day.
 
https://medium.com/@nntaleb/when-did-lebanese-christians-start-speaking-french-771603969932