Archive for July, 2011

Tim Crouch on “How Not To Act”

You are an actor who has just been told by her director to "stop overacting".

One of the nice perks of working at Pixar (did I mention I work at Pixar? I don’t usually bring it up, since it rarely has anything to do with my blog) is a constant stream of classes, speakers, and first run movies that are available to employees at no cost. Last week, hosted by the Emeryville Center for the Arts, writer/performer Tim Crouch gave an introduction to the driving ideas behind his work, work that I’ve been completely unfamiliar with, but, as it turns out, is very much in line with my own aesthetic.

Crouch takes issue with what is largely accepted as the craft of “acting”. The punching bag he uses for this presentation is Howard Schatz’s twee coffee table tome “In Character: Actors Acting“, or, more accurately, “Actors Mugging”. Despite the largely celebratory reviews, Crouch quite rightly believes that this is only acting in the most impoverished sense of the word. For each photo, the subject is given a brief description of a situation, and then, using only their face, “act” that scenario. Hardly a promising setup, though beautifully photographed, the results are so gratuitously on the nose that the smilie at the end of this sentence feels like a more genuine expression of feeling. 🙂

One by one, Crouch would project these schmacting heads onto the main Pixar screen and read aloud the sentence that informed this particular ‘performance’, each absurdly specific and kinda stupid, possible candidates for this year’s Bulwer-Lytton prize. But Crouch has an insight… if you read a different sentence from the one that triggered the image, boom! All of a sudden, it’s INTERESTING. There’s confusion, ambiguity, and you as an audience member are forced to wonder… why? Read the rest of this entry →


Jul 2011

So THOSE are the cellists in my neighborhood…

Joan Jeanrenaud (Hank Dutt's-eye-view)

Look at that! Original Kronos Quartet cellist (and #Violagate White Knight) Joan Jeanrenaud is performing a concert to benefit my neighborhood library. Specifically, it’s a fundraiser to replace the somewhat dated mural on the library with a more modern piece of wall art. Of course, this being San Francisco, replacing that mural is no simple affair, and local blog, Bernalwood, has a fascinating account of the small neighborhood drama that such an endeavor engenders.

I think I knew that JJ was a fellow Bernal Heights resident, but I don’t think I’ve seen her around much in the neighborhood. Maybe because I spend too much time in the Mission…


Jul 2011

The real reason I’m in theater…

It’s not the applause. It’s not the artistic satisfaction. And it’s certainly not the payday.

It’s the facial hair.

More importantly, it’s the “get out of shaving that ridiculous beard off despite your wife’s desperate protestations free” card that I get with each show. Honestly, the directors don’t even ask me to grow facial hair. I just try to figure out what I can get away with, grow it, then I walk through the Mission (or Williamsburg, depending on which coast I’m on) and soak in the jealous gazes of the hipsters with their disapproving girlfriends in tow.

So… theater. It’s the key to having both ridiculous facial hair AND a significant other.

And now, for your amusement, a gallery of regrettable facial hair, with no regrets.

John Philip Sousa in "Oh Mr Sousa"

Henry Mosher in "Emmeline"

Carl Magnus in "A Little Night Music" excuse here. It's just me.


Jul 2011