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February 22, 2012 - Image 11

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2012-02-22

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IM Wensdy Fbuay22 S01 / h Saemn

Wednes0ay February3B

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atmosphere that surrounds the initial audi- what works for you. You have to ask your- "Little Women," during which he and his
tions. self, 'Do I start from an internal place and co-star (and roommate) attempted to recre-
Once accepted, students can finally bring the character out, or do I start from ate the context of the relationship between
settle into their new friendships and new an external place and internalize what I the lovelorn Theodore and his love interest,
responsibilities as students. Chief among learn from that?'" Josephine, who rejects his marriage pro-
these responsibilities is the development To facilitate the process of internaliz- posal in the play.
of characterization skills, or the ability to ing a character's external place, students "You only get to see two scenes develop-
fit into the shoes of a character whose per- are first required to draw up a character ing Theodore and Josephine's relationship,
sona may be vastly different from that of biography, in which they outline a charac- so we had to develop the relationship off-
the actor. ter's backstory, traits, goals and the stakes stage so it would translate to the perfor-
MT&D Prof. Mark Madama describes attached to those goals. They're then mance," Sparks said.
the department's methodology as a medley expected to conduct thorough research
of several formal acting schools, including outside of class to learn more about the his- o han auditon
those of Constantin Stanislavski, Sanford torical context of the play, themaerssQ
Meisner, Michael Chekhov and other prom- a character from that period and locale
inent theorists. According to Madams, might exude, and other factors essential to at a JYTv. l rk
many of these methods were "bastardized" effecting a truthful onstage performance.
when they were imported to the United The University's Musical Theatre th
States and used for stage, TV and film act- department distinguishes itself from other ater, yo r ext
ing, so Madama said the department favors musical theatre programs in that it is not a
a combination of the most effective ele- conversatory, which Madama considers "a jobnmay be based
ments of these theories over a distinctive huge plus."
focus on one or two. "Instead of singing, dancing and act- o th on
The most prominent methods used ing all day, students have an education in oi[.thLoeLin t
today were derived from a parent method the humanities to draw from," Madama
first conceived by Stanislavski in the 1910s. explained. "They're provided with a list of you nspend that
Observing his students' responses to vari- supplementary readings for their charac-
ous techniques, Stanislavski fine-tuned his ter, and they often implement that sort of room B ut at a
method until it evolved into a distinct "sys- research in their role."
tem." The sources don't always have to be tex- college aud,., n
Among the most prominent aspects tual, though. Plenty of students get creativeCG
of this system is the "magic if" method, when researching roles, exceeding the
* wherein actors ask themselves hypotheti- expectations of their teachers to find the that one minute
cal questions in order to hone in on their niche that will engender the most accurate
characters' overall persona. representation. When Tamaren got a spot
"Students are taught to look at the in the department's upcoming production the
actions of a character, usually stated in an of "Chicago," she went to extra lengths to
objective - what they want, specifically, research the persona of her Hungarian next jour years of
what they want from another character, or character, the Hunyak.
what they want another character to do," "I'm actually meeting with a Hungar- yourlife
Wagner said. ian woman from the area," Tamaren said.
Though he remains a respected figure "She's going to be teaching me about the -Mark Ayesh, MT&D alum
in acting theory, Stanislavski's system was language and culture."
eventually revised by other acting instruc- Other approaches to character immer-
tors who thought his concepts were too sion often entail physical adaptation, The two went for walks and spent time
dogmatic to gain widespread appeal. The whereby actors behave or speak like their together away from modern creature com-
hodgepodge of variable techniques most character on and off the stage. forts to recreate the context of the couples'
used today - collectively known as method "Last year, when we did 'Brigadoon,' we relationship.
acting - emerged in response to the mul- all had to speak in an accent," Tamaren Sparks concluded, "For me, it's really a
titude of approaches actors take when they said. "Eventually, we got so comfortable combination of getting familiar with the
deconstruct a character. with the roles that we started speaking the historical elements and developing rela-
"When I first read into a character, I like same way outside of class, all the time." tionships with your fellow actors. Then
-, to try them on for a bit - see how they walk, MT&D senior Joel Sparks fondly recalled you can fit those relationships into the time
see how they talk, and then let it grow from his preparation for the role of Theodore period the play's set in and make it convinc-
there," Baidoo said. "You really find out Laurence in last December's production of ing."

Absorption of a role often includes
immersion in the troubled psyche of a fic-
tional character, which can prove exhaust-
ing for actors.
To embody the role of the emaciated
insomniac Trevor Reznik in "The Machin-
ist," Christian Bale stuck to a bare-bones
diet that atrophied his body so rapidly, he
weighed only 121 pounds by the time film-
ing was completed. Immediately after, he
was cast as Bruce Wayne in Christopher
Nolan's "Batman" series and gained more
than 100 pounds in six months to meet a
tight production deadline.
And though the immersive experiences
of students majoring in musical theatre
aren't extreme enough to put life or limb in
jeopardy, they can occasionally bring out an
actor's dark side.
"When you live with a character for two
months, it's hard not to get close to them,"
Tamaren said. "When I played Ivy in'Bare:
A Pop Opera,' it was hard to leave rehears-
als feeling happy or normal - you get so
invested in it."
Uncertainty: The Results
The diverse roles the University's musi-
cal theatre students fill maximize their
chances of stepping onto the Broadway
stage - but graduation isn't the end of the
learning process.
Every May, the department's seniors
showcase their work for the University
community in Ann Arbor and for agents
and casting directors in New York City.
But there are no post-graduate guarantees,
even for graduates of such an esteemed pro-
Actors - even supremely educated
ones - still face major obstacles. Roles are
scarce, typecasting is rampant and there's
no guarantee of continuous work.
"You'll move to New York and meet peo-
ple who have incredible amounts of train-
ing at very prestigious schools, but when
it comes down to it, it's all about what the
casting directors are looking for," Ayesh
"The school can't get you the job, but it
can teach you how to be confident in your
character's shoes so you're best prepared
for the caestin cal when t he time comes,"
he added.

tweets of the week
#Jeremy Lin
Justin Bieber
Heard Lin was killin it in NY today. Dude is like the
NEVER SAY NEVER of bball. Lovin it.
Bill Simmons s s
Fake trade: LeBron and wade to the Knicks for Jeremy
Lin, who says no?
20 Fe b
Tas Melas V: M ct
Oh, now I get it Jeremy Lin's in a contract year.
19 Feb
Brad Wollack ~c;BradV/ollack
Is it too late for Jeremy Lin to enter the presidential

sounding like a bit of a ponce
[status update] by jordan rochelson
What was your favorite movie growing up?
I'm going to sound like a bit of a ponce, but it was the
Jean Cocteau "Beauty and the Beast," "La Belle et Ia
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where
you you go?
The south of France. I'm a bit of a Francophile.
Who did you idolize growing up?
Nijinsky, the Russian ballet dancer who was dead long
before I was born.
What do you like to do in Ann Arbor?
I like to cycle out of Ann Arbor

a week of daily stories


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