Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Acting 101: The use of yelling on stage

This blog is for all actors, directors, wanna be actors and directors and anyone who is interested in improving their performances. I have been noticing some classic acting mistakes out there and would like to share so helpful tips to improve the oveall level of "the craft" in our fair city. I will choose a topic area every now and then and offer up the advice that my dear acting teacher at Boston University, Jack Axelrod, gave to his students. Todays topic as you may have guessed has to do with the use of yelling on stage. Good ol' Jack used to wisely tell use young actors and actresses (I believe in gender distinction) that real people do not always yell when they are angry, agitated or upset. In fact many people will not raise their voice in a public situation at all. Jack used to say that it is more fun to discover the richness of a character and share it with the audience than to make knee jerk assumptions that becuase they are angry or excited they should yell. So why is it on stage actors (now I will use this genetically) almost always choose to yell as a character? I have a theory on that and you may take it or leave it and that is fine- it is simply my opinion and only one explanation: 1. bad acting habit that has been allowed to flourish or 2. If you are in theater chances are that you grew up in a disfunctional family- this is nothing to be ashamed of as many the most interesting artists throughout history grew up in dysfunctinal families and one learns excellent coping and acting skills in this environment, but I digress- in dysfunctional families often times there is a lot of yelling and high volume conversation. We use our experience of the dysfunctional family in our thoughts about how to portray a character sometimes rather than really exploring that character and how they might react to something. I am not saying that there should be no yelling on stage ever. That is rediculous. Some people do yell - just not as many as portrayed as characters on Richmond area stages.

Jack used to say also that if a scene starts at the yelling phase it has nowhere to go. Imagine the energy of a scene has a scale from one to ten. If you begin at nine or ten you have nowhere to go. I could give you ample examples of this classic mistake but I will not embarrass anyone- just be mindful of this and think about it when rehersing and developing your work.

One other thing you all should know about the yelling on stage thing- audiences tune out the words if there is too much yelling therefore lots of good script may be lost due to too much volume. Jackie Kennedy Onasis knew that the best way to get someone to listen to you is to speak in a low voice. You might want to use this trick with your characters sometimes.

OK- now that that is off my chest.... Today is Arther Miller's Birthday- have fun celebrating it.

See you at the theater!


Anonymous said...

Acting advice? Dysfunctional families? You are embarrassing yourself and clearly know little about this art form. Stop the madness. Please come back to us, Dave.

Anonymous said...

Mary, thanks for sharing "so helpful tips to improve the oveall level of "the craft" in our fair city." I think you and Dave might want to focus on improving the writing on this fair blog -- spellcheck much? -- before dispensing with acting advice in an effort to raise the bar in Richmond.

Anonymous said...

Writing 101: The use of typos, misspellings, run-on sentences and unintelligible ramblings on the page. Give me a break.

Thespis' Little Helper said...

Wow guys. Doesn't it seem a little petty to get pissed off and then comment on forgetting to use spell check. One of my favorite things about this blog is that it incites conversation, discussion, and debate. This is not the first time that someone has just started going off on someones spelling errors when they were pissed off about the content of a post. Can't we be a bit more productive and actually start a discussion (whether disagreeing or agreeing) about the actual content of the post and the thoughts/opinions Mary has put out there?

Anonymous said...

Mary's opinions are not only wrong but they are negative and they are offensive and they promote a bad stereotype about actors. I have nothing to discuss with her.
Sorry Thespis' little helper. She should know there are consequences to her actions. I don't believe sticking up for my craft is being petty.

Thespis' Little Helper said...

So, I'll start (since I so adamantly wanted the discussion to relate to the post).

First off (and hopefully Mary won't hate me), I think it's difficult, if not impossible, for any of us to accept acting advice from layperson. Also, I don't know that it's really merited.

That aside, however, I think most of us have probably heard this advice from our acting teachers before, perhaps early on in our training (at least I did and it seemed to be pretty standard and commonplace guidance). Angry (in my opinion as an actor and director) is the easiest and least interesting emotion to "play" onstage. Even then anger (point for Mary) doesn't always lead to yelling, but sometimes manifests itself in other ways...

I had a really great director or teacher one time (I don't remember who or which) tell me that what's really interesting is to find what caused that anger. Anger never starts as such. It begins as hurt or pain or frustration or confusion or uncertainty or...
I found that really fascinating and incredibly helpful and to be quite true.

So there are my "unanonymous" thoughts.

Thespis' Little Helper said...

I don't think Mary intended for anything to be offensive in her remarks, even though they obviously are.

I also don't think berating someone's grammar and/or spelling can be called sticking up for one's craft.

It doesn't really need to be a discussion with her either.

I think it promotes an interesting discussion among all of us.

I mean, really, who of us has reached the pinnacle of our craft? We are all, at least we should be, striving to learn more, to be more, to...what-have-you.

I'll let it rest now...I've put my thoughts there and will try greatly to resist continuing. :)

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

This is a different anonymous...
You're right, helper, berating someone's grammar and/or spelling is not sticking up for one's craft. But Ms B's post falls in the "living in glass houses" category. If you are a writer, you check your spelling and typos.

Anonymous said...

Way to go Mary--- Wow, Actors sure are a prickly bunch, aren't they --- a little bit of criticism and they begin by attacking the messenger and not the message. Until your entry this blog was nothing but an annoying love fest --- "aren't us actors just wonderful." The depth of criticism reached no further than that of a 2d grade teacher directing the Christmas pageant.
And --- your comments are accurate about the yelling and such-- most local actors have made their stock in trade on being the loudest one in the room.

Keep up the good work. If the other persons who left notes would just read and absorb rather than attack the messenger, it might actually do some good.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to offer a thread to what seems like disparate reactions to Mary's post. All the comments on content and grammar stem from the same source of disappointment
When one writes as a critic, one writes from an assumed perspective of expertise, so like it or not the standards are higher for Mary. This is the only reason that anyone would care to read or respond to any of her content around theatre (because unfortunately she is in a position where her one voice will have influence over others).
So there is an expectation that her writing should be insightful or provocative, but not careless. Her carelessness comes in two forms here: as a "theatre expert" she should be expected to know better than to make casual and sweeping generalizations regarding acting technique ("you most likely come from a dysfunctional family if you yell onstage"); more importantly, if you are a professional writer hired to editorialize on theatre, you should be expected to write well, spell correctly and understand that is not in your (or Style's) best interest to reveal your ignorance by misspelling Arthur Miller's name incorrectly.

I say to my theatre peers: be outraged, be polite but firm, be vocal, and enjoy the opportunity that a blog affords us--to have our voices heard too.

Anonymous said...

It's a blog, not a term paper, so who really cares about typos and run-on sentences? However, I suppose you're fair game when you offer Acting 101 tips to people with theatre degrees (and I'll bet most of your readers have one) and then ignore the tools of your own craft.

So, would anyone like to discuss yelling onstage? I don't, but I suppose there might be someone who is interested in this subject.

Anonymous said...

Hey Mary.. I like your anonymous posting where you congratulate yourself for rising about a "2d" teacher level. It's an occupational hazard that as a writer you betray your identity in your writing style, even when cloaked in convenient anonymity.

oneeyeddog said...

Dave, come look! All hell's breaking loose!

Robinitaface said...

Sorry to keep on it, Thespis, but I'm trying to help you make it a conversation! Love!

I'm just curious as to whether this post was triggered from somewhere. Was there a particular show, Mary, that you saw that led you to express this opinion? I'm not asking you to call anyone out - it just seems like you've randomly decided to make a broad generalization of Richmond actors...many of whom have taken the time to get college-level educations to study their craft. You'd be surprised to find how many of them actually have Master's degrees in the area - education far beyond Acting:101.

Direction can also play a part in how an actor reads a line. But that's another post entirely.

You're right. It may seem that many artists do come from dysfunctional families in some fashion. Turning to the art form is probably how the artist was/is able to begin coping with some of that dysfunction, and expressing themselves in ways that they may not be able to in the "real world." However, I would recommend being a little more sensitive when telling people how to put their "dysfunctional emotions" out there for your entertainment. Judging from recent reviews, you've been entertained by many.

You certainly make valid points. No one wants to see a one-note performance. I certainly hope no one wants to GIVE a one-note performance. But I think I'm speaking for those anonymous commentators (I could be very wrong) when I say this post seemed like a slap in the face, out of the blue, and like the doctor being given job instruction from the hospital janitor***. Yeah, they're at the hospital everyday, they know every hallway of the building, they hear the medical terms, they move the medical equipment around - but does that really qualify them to tell the doctor how to do treat a heart patient?

Many times as actors, we do forget about some people who are very important in the storytelling process. The audience. We are telling the story to them, so if they're not buying it, we're obviously doing something wrong. But if something isn't working for you as an audience member, trust us , the actors, to know how to fix it. You call your mechanic when your car is busted, but don't tell him how to fix it, right? Same principle. Trust us that we know how to do our jobs. We'll make it work.

***No offense intended to any custodial staff anywhere.***

Anonymous said...

This blog post was kind of condescending...

Anonymous said...

Considering that most plays are not about functional families, it is an amusing if flawed insight that there is a preponderance of dysfunctional behavior (yelling) displayed by theatrical characters. Drama often focuses on extreme emotional behavior, and unlike film, requires volume. It does not excuse poor acting or easy choices, but it might explain why you are seeing so much yelling onstage. I'd be curious to earn if "Stuart Little" suffered from the same pitfall because, if it did not, the "fault" might lie in the type of plays you are seeing, and not the skill or intention of actors who perform them

Scott Wichmann said...

I think that some folks need to lighten up a little bit. Why be so threatened by a constructive comment on a blog post?? Let's start a productive discussion-- Like Billy and others have suggested-- and not belittle other people for expressing an opinion.

I'll take a cue from what Mary is saying, that ultimately actors can sometimes forget what our actual, real, in-the-moment personal behavioral patterns are-- and switch to a sort of 'default' behavior when acting in scenes or rehearsals.

I can only use myself as an example, but sometimes when blocking a confrontational scene, as an actor my first impulse may be to 'close the distance' and get right up in someone's grill (Like I was barbecuing!!) and yell, when in the same real life circumstance, I would probably not make that same choice. And there's infinitely more interesting things at work there when I don't always make that choice-- sometimes (it varies from play to play) it is interesting to approach something new, to try a different tactic. To "Go the other way" with it.

Good directors have usually said to me-- "Thank You. NEXT!!"

No, sorry-- Good directors have usually said to me "Why don't you keep your distance?? Or "Why not try to regain your composure here??"


"Could you not milk the laugh line and stop the play for 45 Minutes??"

I think part of it has to do with the freedom that one is given within the circumstances of a play. Using myself as an example again: As a young male actor, I was drawn to David Mamet-- at first because of the license it gave me to spit out cleverly-written profanity-laced barbs with no consequences!!

In the circumstance of a scene, one has been given a certain freedom to behave in a different way, and it's exciting. But that's not what it's all about, and that's the trap.

Sometimes, however, there are purely acoustic considerations, such as what type of space are you playing in, How close to the audience are you, etc. That have to be overcome. While One person in the audience is cringing at the decibel level, there's a lady in row f seat 6 who "Can't hear so good."

Technically speaking, I find that the best way to split the difference is to overly-enunciate consonants. They cut through bad acoustic spaces, outdoor drama stages, parallel dimesnsions, and everywhere in-between. Good consonant pronunciation will never let you down.

Best to all-- do great work and let's keep this discussion going in a civil and productive manner.

...and Go Sox.

Scott Wichmann said...

I'm sorry, I meant to write Parallel Dimensions-- lest I, too, get pounced upon by the spell-check Junta.

Dave T said...

Always good to hear from you, Scott and Robin. Thank you both for your civility and your honesty.

I must admit that I was going to end my succeeding post with: "On a (slightly) less tense subject: how about those Indians?" :->

Robinitaface said...

Scottie. i love you. Thank you for making points that I wanted to make previously, but my comment was already running very long. I was trying to bridge the gap between Mary's post, those who were obviously putt off by it, and BC's valiant attempt to bring things back to discussion. I hope I didn't offend people further.

Le Synge Bleu said...

i found both the post and the reaction to it a little bit funny, to be quite honest. but in no way was i offended by either...i think as artists, no matter what type, we do benefit from not taking ourselves too seriously as to get ruffled by what i actually found to be not-so-incidiary comments on a blog post. i've read worse, i've heard worse, and lord knows i've certainly said worse. much much worse. i've given horrendously scathing reviews to productions i've seen (all in ny, and all on what is now a hidden blog so don't bother searching for this) on my personal blog. why? because that was my blog, my space, and my opinion. mary is completely entitled to the same. if we can't shrug it off and laugh, what are we doing in this business anyway, really? would you react the same way were it a random audience member's blog?

Robinitaface said...

Miss Bleu, you are quite right. and I'm glad there are those of us (Mary included) who are not afraid to attach their name to their opinions...abrasive as they may come across.

I've definitely been on the side of a dissenting opinion, and been raked over the coals for it - but at least I spoke my mind...however I DID try to provide some context for said opinion. I also tried to make sure it was an informed one.

So I guess, while Mary has every right to her opinion, her idea of a "Here's What Ticks Me Off About Richmond Theatre" feature should probably be aborted.

Anonymous said...

First time I ever read a blog and find responses rather circuitous, making me kinda dizzy. "Course I am a bit anyway," I giddily offer, trying to complete the circuit. Or is it "circle"?
Oh well, being an actor (correction- actress) a little dizzy can go a long way in character idiosyncrasies.

Frank Creasy said...

Man - I am WAY behind on this one, obviously! What am I, number 25 here? Well, just in case anyone decides to scroll down this's my pissant contribution.

I hadn't really noticed, Mary, the yelling thing myself. Maybe it's because I see more shows when I'm not in a show, and I've been lucky enough to be in a few this year (my wife Carol refers to herself as "the widow Creasy" or "a theatre widow"), so I've missed out on seeing some great shows, and you might be referring to some of those performances - dunno. But I'm constantly looking for ways to improve what I do. I try to take my craft seriously (if you'll allow me the use of that tired phrase as it applies to acting), without taking MYSELF too seriously - capiche? And I first try to honor the playwright's intention of the scene (or "the situation" or "the given circumstances" if you prefer), and how I perceive the playwright's intention of my character and his relationship to the other characters, seen or unseen. I try to understand what the playwright was thinking when he wrote this story. And then I begin to consider how I can bring that to life like no one else can do, because no one else is me (not saying that to be immodest, just to point out that every human has their own unique look, personality, experiences and imagination).

So then that gets us to whether or not a character, who is ME in that situation, should actually yell or not. I do work to put it into the context of that conversation the characters are having - I don't work towards "Here's the moment I yell" or "Here's the moment I laugh or cry" or whatever...I hope to listen and respond from that character's view of the world and what's happening to them in that situation, in that conversation. I've found when I do that, it comes off much more honest, much more real than "blah blah blah MY LINE - NOW I YELL CAUSE I'M ANGRY"! That works for some folks, but it's not what I aim for...I'm not always successful, I know. But I hope that my genuine portrayal of a human responding in a moment to another human's words and actions creates a VERY real human connection with the audience. I really think THAT is what people come to see in the theatre.

But Scott, you're right - hit those consonants, baby!

I've rambled, sorry if it didn't make sense. At least it was HONEST! (Did you feel it too???)

Scott Wichmann said...

Hey Frank, welcome!!

You know, guys, I just re-read Mary's initial post again, and very early on she explicitly states: "I have a theory on that and you may take it or leave it and that is fine- it is simply my opinion and only one explanation"

Those of you who subsequently (and anonymously)jumped down Mary's throat about her comments may want to re-acquaint yourselves with that particular passage, ya bunch of Over-reactionary cowards...

Just a helpful hint for future blog -trollers who anonymously lob verbal salvos without actually fully reading what was stated in the first place. It's cheap and petulant. Expect to be called out on it in the future.

I found much of what Mary said to be right on target, constructive, fundamental, and absolutely none of it offended me. If it did, I sure as hell would use my name in my response, but again, that's just me.

Sorry if I'm riled up again-- I guess it's a New England thing!! I looked at Boston U very seriously when I was in High School. GREAT program.-- I also Got accepted to Emerson, but chose Wagner because of the proximity to NY.

I'm such a sellout.

Thank you, Mary and Dave, for facilitating and contributing to the discussion. Have a great night everyone. You too, ANONYMOUS.

Dave T said...

Scott, a sell-out...and a suck-up!?!? :->

I've been generally impressed with how people have responded, even with some of the more pointed anonymous posts. If you trawl the political blogs (which I believe you do Mr Wichmann), you'll see vitriol of all kinds spewed. It's got me wondering whether I should pick another topic that would further shake up this "annoying love fest" (still chuckling over that one, must add to the list of George Carlin's contradictory phrases like "jumbo shrimp"). Hmmm....

Robinitaface said...

Dave - I DO hope you use the term "trawl" to mean that there are many political blogs through which to sift (See, Grammar Police? I didn't even dangle my preposition!). I wouldn't *dare* believe you would think that those of us who read the political blogs are trolling the along bottom of the blogosphere. ;-)

Goodnight, Guys!

Anonymous said...

Scott, you're so right (and congratulations on your lack of anonymity). The actors who are subject to Mary's reviews should certainly reveal themselves to Mary if they have a dissenting opinion (rather than the same opinion that you share with Mary because you're so much more enlighted than the rest of us). By all means let's further blur the lines between the world of the critic and the world of the performer, which would clearly encourage objectivity in her writing.

Someone characterized this pre-Mary blog as a theatre love fest. Now it has become a love fest between Scott and Mary. I prefer the former.

But to Synge's point, if I don't like the blog, I don't have to read it. So I won't. I will find another blog dedicated to those who CREATE theatre and which is not authored by those who project their own dysfunction in the guise of amateur psychoanalysis of the performers.
If I want another dose of her perspective from her seat on the aise, I will wait until it has been subjected to editiorial staff at Style.

As Mary says, "See you at the theatre"... but not at this blog.

Anonymous said...

Thank you anonymous. My thoughts exactly. See you at the theatre. But not here.

Anonymous said...

Yes, in acting 101 I learned about not yelling. But in Grad School, I spent several semesters rolling around the floor and screaming. For credit. Perhaps teaching theory posits that an actor just has to learn how to not yell before they can learn how to yell. I'm both slightly offended by the post and slightly amused by the outraged commentary.

I was also tempted to submit in all caps.

Anonymous said...

I am very amused at Jennifer Franks temptation to submit in all caps.

Flying Buttress said...

To join this conversation I challenged myself to find humor in it that somehow supports both sides of the discussion.

Here is my offering

Be sure to look at both sides of the product.

Anonymous said...

Robert, the back of the shirt is awesome!

Anonymous said...

Flying Buttress - I am laughing my Dysfunctional ass off. I am ordering this right now!

Flying Buttress said...

"Heal through Humor"...that's my motto. (it also includes "Scald with Sarcasm"...but I'll save that one for a less turbulent discussion thread

Robinitaface said...

I just wet my pants.

Scott Wichmann said...

Hey anonymous, I never said I was 'So much more enlightened' than anyone here. What I'm saying is, if you have a problem, attach your name to your comments. You'll find that you're likely to be more honest and truthful, not less. And I'm sorry to expand on this, but it's funny as hell to see ANOTHER 'Anonymous' say:

"yeah, my thoughts exactly, anonymous, you hit the nail on the head. Let's get the heck out of here. These people have no business discussing anything about anything that I'm involved in!! I'm outraged!! I hope they don't talk about 'Ghostwriting 101' next, 'cuz I'll be so mad...anyways, I'll see you at the theatre."

Now How the hell are you people gonna meet up at the theatre?? How do you signal one another?? What do you guys look like?? I'm imagining the generic outline of men and women with the floating head that we see on street signs and public restrooms. Am I close?? Do you have theatre conversations that look like the two facial silhouetttes putting words together on THE ELECTRIC COMPANY?? All hushed tones and two-syllables?? If so, then We've GOTTA hang out,'cuz I love that show!!

...And what do you do, normally, if you don't like something?? Do you put on a halloween costume in order to properly express your opinion so no one comments on you in the next show you do?? WANH. Stop acting like you just got slapped with a white glove and now something has been tarnished, besmirched or taken away from you. It was one woman's opinion. She attached her name to her comments. You didn't. Conclusion: You're lame.

And you know something else?? I've disagreed publicly with plenty of friends, colleagues, critics and others on subjects ranging from politics to sports to theatre-- and I always do so by name, because I stand behind the things I say, evin iff I spill thm wrung.

If I disagreed with Mary I'd have signed my name, no matter what show I was going to do next that she was going to review blah blah blah.

Funny side-note: Most recently, I got into it with Boston sports columnist Dan Shaughnessy over his pre-emptive statement that the Sox were 'Done.' I got an email back from him this morning!! (And, we're not done, btw.)

The other cool thing whic you must have discovered about writing 'Aonymously,' MR/Mrs./ms. Anon, is that you can be extra nasty without fear of being called out personally for it. The funny thing is, anonymous, we probably know each other and have (or will) worked together and really like each other. I would hate for our anonymous relationship to be anonymously tarnished over all this anonymous-ness.

Perhaps when the dust clears, we can go out on a date, just you and me, Anonymous. We'll listen to my vinyl copy of the Beatles 'Nowhere man', then we'll get tickets to see the unknown comic or something. It'll be great. We won't sit together--to preserve your anonymity-- But we'll be working on putting our internet-chat based relationship back on track.

Btw, if you're a super-hero, then you're probably under a lot of stress, In which case I totally understand everything you wrote... But then again, lots of superheroes come from dysfunctional families-- Oh shoot, touchy subject, right, I forgot. We don't want to go down that road again.

You're right, Anonymous, this IS a love fest. It's me loving the opportunity to pick apart your tepid, nitpicky whining. Y'all come back now y'hear??

...See you at the theatre!!

Anonymous said...

Scott, I'm calling the Tony committee this afternoon and asking them to create a new category for you - "Best Monologue Created from Posting On A Blog", for which you surely will win! :)

I want to know how to obtain one of those t-shirts. Are they for real, or just a mock-up?

Anonymous said...

They are real because I just ordered one. Cut and paste the link and go from there.

Le Synge Bleu said...

wow, anonymous, carrying around all that anger must be a heavy load to bear. i'm so sorry that you take yourself so seriously. truly. i hope that you can find happiness at whatever new blog you happen upon - i have a number of links to blogs of people that CREATE theatre as you've said, and more than happy to share them. but keep in mind that wherever you go in the blogosphere, it will still be one person's opinion, and until you can learn to not take things so personally, my guess is that you will find frustration at every twist and turn.

flying butress, you made me pee in my prego pants. i love your perma tongue in cheek manner. that is my lovefest to you.

scottie, you also totes rocked my day. more wet pants there, and a giant smile.

Dave T said...

Wow – I clearly need to quit my full-time gig so I can blog 9 to 5; this is where the action is!

I find it interesting that both “anon” and Scott have adopted Robert’s “Scald through Sarcasm” strategy. Makes for entertaining reading. I won’t try to derail your anti-Anonymity train, Scott, because it seems like it might take a truckload of C4 to do so at this point. But I will add these points into the stew:

--> I received separate emails from three of the anonymous comment-ers and I can understand their desire to post anonymously. While including their identity might have added interesting twists to the discussion, I respect their concern about possible personal and professional repercussions. Rest assured, you do know some of these people, Scott, and maybe they’re not superheroes, but they aren’t bad people either. If they weren’t comfortable posting with a name attached, should they have kept their cowardly mouths shut? Maybe, but if they had, there would have been less interesting stuff to talk about.

--> Identity on the internet is a squirrelly issue anyway. Just because I post a comment as “Kevin Kline” doesn’t mean I ever made out with Jamie Lee Curtis (a boy can dream…). In this “new media age,” it’s harder to judge something based solely on who is supposed to have written it. In my opinion, that makes the actual content of what is said more important. And, with that in mind, I believe there were some interesting, entertaining and valid points expressed by the “anons” out there in cyberspace. Would I have preferred that they post with a name attached? Yes. Do I hold them in contempt solely because they chose to remain anonymous. No.

Maybe I’m sensitive to this point because, as some of you know, I used to write my reviews under a pseudonym, which was essentially a form of anonymity. There were valid professional and personal reasons for me to do so (though, if I were to list them, perhaps they would be shot down…)

I can almost feel the blow-back building as I write this. Let me have it, y’all.

Robinitaface said...

The thing is, Dave, no is going to let you "Have it" because, despite your relationships with theatre professionals in Richmond, you still seem to write with a level of objectivity.

If you were to write a review that simply stated, "I think it sucked," I doubt anyone would take you seriously. You attempt to include what works for you as an audience member - and what doesn't. You also resist the temptation to suggest who might have had one too many of their drink of choice (which you probably know) at the cast party the night before.

Anonymity: Why is it that people in this business take part in telling such wonderful stories about overcoming adversity, damn the man, etc - but we so scared to attach our own name to our own opinion for fear of retribution?

Anonymous said...

I wish there was a way to require commentors to establish a consistent identity here. I don't use blogger, but it seems like that's not an option. That would avoid the Anonymous 2.3 vs. Anonymous 9.0 confusion. And lead to some interesting gossip. ("I've figured out who Winky Binky Boo is! It has to be. . . shhh!") I don't always use my actual name on the internet for various reasons, but I stay consistent where I do participate. Here, where the subject matter is theatre in my hometown, I'm certainly going to use my real name. Wait. Ok. My real stage name. It is an interesting discussion, isn't it.

Anonymous said...


Scott Wichmann said...

"Rest assured, you do know some of these people, Scott, and maybe they’re not superheroes, but they aren’t bad people either. If they weren’t comfortable posting with a name attached, should they have kept their cowardly mouths shut?"

Dave, I never said they were bad people. In fact, the shots lobbed by these people behind the shield of anonymity belie the real-world class they no doubt display at work, home and the community on a daily basis. If these 'anonymous' folks (Is it 'folks??' How many?? Meh.) are so concerned about the horribly presumptuous and offensive content of Mary's posting, why post anonymous shots, and then e-mail you with their concerns?? Why not simply e-mail you with their concerns?? It's infantile.

What I'm REALLY annoyed with has less to do with what Mary said or the content of the anonymous posts-- It's the simple fact that people won't stand by what they say. Using the anonymity blanket gives you a license to be more nasty and spew more vitriol than you normally would, while avoiding the threat of any challenges to what you've just expressed. It's comfy.

That's textbook cowardice, wouldn't you say??

I'm sorry, my mummenschantz-esque theatre silhouettes, but this is where we disagree-- I have very little respect for that type of behavior.

I'll give an example of personal relationships, full disclosure, professionalism, and divergent opinions: Me and Andrew Hamm. We argue about everything, all the time. He has posted thoughts on everything from politics to actor training, and we get in a verbal sparring match at least twice a month. Sometimes we get so angry with one another that we both scream and holler at the top of our lungs. But I deeply respect both him and his work. I'll say it again: I disagree with a lot of people about a wide range of things, (Dave, you & I have different views on China which we have discussed at length) but I'm confident enough in both myself and the quality of the work I do to speak my mind clearly, even if I end up being wrong.

Isn't that what we should ask of ourselves?? To speak truthfully from the heart?? Oh, I forgot, from the other thread-- Idealism is sooo impractical. We only see folks with that kind of courage in... Oh, whaddya call 'em?? Oh yeah.


Robinitaface said...

Preach on, Scottie! Amen, Brother Love!

Anonymous said...

One love...

Can we call this a dead horse now?


Anonymous said...

Nobody is gonna read down this far, and I agree that we should drop this whole argument...BUT, not without me putting in my 2 cents...first off, spell check it merely helpful for us readers to understand what the blogger is trying to communicate. Second, I think that yelling is something that should build and come naturally. Actors just need to think of how they would react naturally in a situation. If "yelling" is something that fits the character description and heightens the tension in a scene, then I say "yell!". I understand Mary's wish in wanting to communicate this little tidbit of advice with us, however it was written in sort of an offensive way...I think that the content bugged us not so much as the way it was written. Well, hopefully everybody has forgotten about this by now...but I know the blogger's intentions were pure.

Dave T said...

I hear you, brother Wichmann, but also think you're being a bit disingenuous by equating your relationship with Andrew and a Richmond theater person's relationship with a theater reviewer. Mary and I have the means to have some -- though how much in actuality is debateable -- influence on an actor's, producer's or director's professional life here. We can play a significant role in determining whether a story gets written or a show even gets reviewed, at least for Style. You may be comfortable enough with your relationship with me and Mary and your place in the Richmond theater galaxy to say what you will and let the chips fall where they may. Others might not be.

Of course, now I feel that I'm arguing a point so finely that I'm contradicting my own feelings. It would have been my hope that everyone who was riled up could have posted non-anonymously. But I don't feel that anyone was being "infantile." I would have gone with "professionally cautious" and perhaps they could have just kept their thoughts to themselves. But if everyone willing to post just agreed with Mary, we'd be in annoying love fest territory again, wouldn't we?

With that, I'm all for declaring this particular horse dog food. Though if you want to get the final word in, Scott, go for it.

It looks like the Tribe is going down tonight. The Sox live to see another day... Sweet dreams, Scottie and all you other theater peeps.

Anonymous said...

Mary, please learn the meaning of generic vs. genetic. You can do better.

Andrew Hamm said...

Anonymous said...

Mary, please learn the meaning of generic vs. genetic. You can do better.

Now, see, that's exactly what Scott's talking about. That's not constructive criticism. Constructive criticism would be the same text in email format. Posting the above, anonymously, is a way to get a dig in, intentionally calling attention to an error from the protective shield of anonymity. I'm with the Wich-man. That's just cowardly, and it's beneath the level of almost every Richmond theatre artist I know. In fact, just about every "anonymous" posting uses language designed to hurt or embarrass, language which I feel certain would be substantially different with a real name on it.

I sometimes post on a great website called the Home Theater Forum. I've been a member for almost a decade, and my brother Phil was an administrator for a time. One of the requirements for membership (which is free) is that your screen name must be some variation of your real name. If you use a fake name, your account wuill be denied or deleted. As a result, the HTF has by far the most civil and intelligent internet forum discussion on any topic that I have ever participated in.

If you're not willing to put your name with what you're going to say, you probably shouldn't be saying it. If you're concerned about your reputation and career, rephrase it so you don't have anything to worry about.

And for the record, Scott and I actually agree about a lot of things; it's just not very interesting to blog about the stuff you agree on. That would make it, I don't know, a love fest of some kind.

Finally, I'd like to point out that "T" is right next to "R" on the keyboard, making "genetic" a likely typo for "generic" that spell-check would miss entirely.

And go freakin Sox.

Andrew Hamm said...

Oh, incidentally, Mary was probably turned onto this subject by Richard II, which has, in the interest of full disclosure, quite a lot of medieval honor-related histrionics. You got a problem with it? Talk to the playwright.


Anonymous said...

Shhhhhhh...let's move on from this. It just keeps going around in circles anyway. I say this even though I have been thoroughly entertained by all the comments written. Maybe I'm not taking it seriously enough. But, of all the serious things going on right now...this just isn't high on the list for me. But, Dave, wow, at least people are talking...alot.
So a big YAY for free speech and all that jazz!

I can't wait to order my t-shirt!

Love, and peace to all. (Corny, maybe, but heartfelt.)

Anonymous said...

I just ordered my shirt. Can hardly wait to wear it to an opening.

Anonymous said...

Holy crap batman! I go out of town for three days and look what I missed. Man, the HR conference was soooo boring compared to this!

Mary, all I can say is welcome aboard baby...we are a passionate bunch are we not?