Broadway Teachers Workshop: Day 1
Updated: Jul 8, 2020
Not everything about no international travel has been bad. Many more conferences have moved to being virtual so that I can now study from my sofa. This week I am virtually attending the Broadway Teachers Workshop. This is their 20th year and the conference was amended so that the focus would be on teaching the arts remotely. The shift to teaching and rehearsing online has been difficult and having the opportunity to find ways to do this so that sparks creativity is very welcome.
The sessions are being recorded so I don't have to stay up all night to see watch them as it begins at midnight in Tokyo. I did watch the first half live, and then watched the second half this afternoon. One thing I have found is that while it's great that the videos are available for a number of weeks that it is better for me to watch the material as soon as possible and to treat it as if I am actually attending a conference.
The day started with director Peter Flynn talking about how we was managing to effectively coach online. It was fascinating watching two students work on Anne Bogart's viewpoints in their homes as it would never have occurred to me to get anyone to try this. It was also captivating watching him direct the students in a scene from The Crucible and seeing the students make use of the space they had and the screen. I do love getting the opportunity to see other directors work as it's unusual to see other practitioners outside productions that I am working on.
I enjoyed listening to Daniel Brodie talk about theatre projections as this is something we are starting to use. The talk wasn't really about something that you could use during virtual performances, but I was happy to hear an expert talk about the subject and to see examples of innovative ways that the technology is being used. Stacey Weingarten's talk on puppetry was full of really interesting examples of puppets being used and made me excited about the visual story telling possibilities for the puppets that are part of the Cinderella script that I will hopefully resume directing again next spring.
The day ended with an interview with Stephen Schwartz and it was lovely listening to him talk about how he learned his craft. He told a story about how he would go to the library and get the lyrics of a show he didn't know and then write his own tunes to the songs. Then he would listen to the cast albums and see what the composers had done, which is a wonderful way to learn. He also talked about his theatre education and how learning acting, even though he was not good at it, really helped him know what he needed to do in order to direct actors and to write for them.
Schwartz also gave advice on auditioning. He pointed out that it is different than giving a performance and that you need to know what you are good at and to really play to your strengths. Bring the things that are special to you, the things that make you unique. He also said that he wanted people to be relaxed and that he was rooting for every person who came in to the room to succeed.
A very enjoyable start to the week!