A playwright I work with recently asked me what I do when I’m not doing theater-related work. I actually blushed and said “more theater-related stuff.” Why did I blush? I thought that made me sound uninteresting in the moment. The truth is that I geek out to music, theater, tv, film, history, anthropology as a hobbyist pretty much full time. I can’t turn it off.
But can I tell you something more? I believe a love of “the breakdown” gives you a healthy perspective and a decided edge. Now, I did grow up in a family of voracious readers and history buffs, and that makes doing research on my various current and future and hoped-for projects fun and easy for me–I realize that’s not the case for everyone. But if you are paying attention you will extract your own defining acting/singing/composing/directing/consulting philosophies from going to class (ABCY- always be in class, y’all!), listening to interviews, watching live performances, following media critics you admire, and consuming media: podcasts, interviews, performances, and documentaries. On the other side of learning “how” is such a world of “wherefore”, of style and technique and type and history, an artist’s Canaan…I feel nearly euphoric thinking of all the layers that go into a fully fleshed piece of theater art. And the learning never ends. Isn’t that marvelous!
So, as promised, here are Four Ways to Become a Better Actor For Free in Your Spare Time (by Being a Geek).
Any aspiring writer, director, composer, actor, singer would glean insight and inspiration from objectively breaking down successful AND unsuccessful performances. Here are some of my current favorite sources for free “edu-tainment”:
1.) OBSESSED! with Seth Rudetsky.
If you are a musical theater person and you are not watching Seth’s stuff, I don’t know what to say. You are missing out on a major font of MT intelligentsia.
2.) Breaking Down the Riffs with Natalie Weiss.
Sounding like a diva is oh so mathematical and I love every second of this kind of work!
3.) Pop Culture Happy Hour Podcast, hosted by Linda Holmes.
Easiest way to describe this easy-to-listen-to podcast: “four of your smart theater/film/tv/music/book/comic book friends get together to talk about what works and what doesn’t work in current media, as well as to geek out about their ‘favorite thing this week’.” I never miss an episode-you can get it on your favorite podcast platform or on the WNYC app.
Bonus: I’m also THE BIGGEST FAN of one of the show’s frequent guests, author and critic Glen Weldon, who can be
stalked followed @ghweldon.
4.) Game of Thrones Analysis, by New Rockstars.
Their Season 6, Episode 10 breakdown in particular is a must-see for composer/directors (note: there are spoilers in their breakdowns). I completely lost my mind when I heard the music score in S6 E10, and I didn’t have anyone to talk to about it except these guys!