AACTFest 2015 Workshops

AACT stands for American Association of Community Theatre.  This terrific national organization holds two biennial gatherings (AACTFest) on alternate years.  In even years, it’s an international festival (this past June, in Florida), wherein amateur companies from all over the world are invited to bring their productions.  In odd years, it’s national, with select companies performing (usually about a dozen plays are staged at each festival).

In addition, workshops are given each year, aimed at various types of artists.  I am pleased and excited to announce that the AACT has selected me to give two of them at the 2015 Festival, which will be held in Grand Rapids, Michigan, from June 23 to June 28.  There are many reasons to attend the festival outside of my two workshops, but if you do come to the Festival, I hope you’ll stop by one of my workshops and say hi!

Playing the Verbs:  

The most-visited posts on my blog and the search terms used to get to them are about acting beats and how to play verbs.  Beats and Verbs are rehearsal concepts that many community theater actors don’t know how to use.  This workshop introduces the “how” in clear and simple terms, and gives actors a new way to think about their characters, one which lends greater dramatic impact and believability to their performances.

Great acting happens when you play the verbs, not the adjectives and adverbs.  How do you move from playing “I’m angry”, “My character is a silly person”, and “She is making me impatient in this scene” to something that is verb-based and much more compelling to watch?  We’ll examine how to choose the strongest verbs and then make the tricky leap to how to rehearse differently to take advantage of your great choices.  This is a hands-on, practical workshop — come prepared to play!

Blocking:  Creating a More Interesting Visual Presentation

Not every community theater director knows how to block a play to maximize dramatic impact and comedic effect and, even more importantly, to simply hold the audience’s attention.  Blocking the play is a creative opportunity too many directors miss, but it’s not that hard.  Blocking the play well is the single easiest and most impactful thing a director can do to improve the production.  There are some basic guidelines any director can use to create a more interesting visual presentation, and I share them all in this workshop.

The easiest way to improve the quality of a production is through good, creative blocking.  The stage directions in the script are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to blocking a play.   All comedy is physical, and most dramatic moments usually are physical as well.  We’ll discuss the difference between movement and activities; how to mine the script for hidden opportunities to add movement; how to heighten dramatic impact with your blocking; why blocking is not just for blocking rehearsals; and how to help your actors discover better performances through movement.

While the first workshop is primarily aimed at actors and the second at directors, the truth is that both artists can probably learn something from each of them.  Directors who understand acting verbs can help actors to a better performance, and actors who understand the principles of blocking will find that it helps to unlock their own creativity, not to mention speeds the blocking process.

I am so honored to be given this opportunity.  Stay tuned for more information about when my workshops will be held, as well as more information about AACTFest 2015!

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