I think that to be an artist, one must have a clear idea of who they are and what they strike to create. Heres my version of an Artist Statement/Manifesto...
I am an actor and a singer that focuses in specific, in-depth characterization mainly focusing in theatrical bodies of work (ranging from the classics like Shakespeare, to musical theater, to contemporary drama). I firmly believe in a queering of the classics and yearn to always bring a modern relevance to the work I produce. I make specific and precise choices in crafting a character topically understanding first the scholarly/literary meaning of the work/character before any other juncture in the process. Honing in on my close-reading and analysis skills I have accrued in my time as an English Major (doubling in Theater), I first understand the text and character through a literary lense, tracking the motifs, noting the symbolism, and threading dramaturgical insight into a piece (historical context, gender/race studies) before I actually begin the work of “creating” a character. I then, with that foundation, using different bodily positions, mannerisms, idiosyncratic gesticulation in conjunction with specific vocal choices build a character I believe coincides with the flat, two-dimensional character on the page. Each character I perform, yes to some extent is a facet of myself, but I try to create a specific and unique for each performance.
I draw inspiration from a multiplicity of people/artists around me. First of all, when I'm in a show, I am always inspired by my fellow cast members in the heart/tenacity they bring into the room and am secure that they feel the same way about me. Secondly, I raw inspiration from my very supportive network of family and friends who have continued to support my artistry into my early adulthood; I would not be the kind of artist-human I am today without them. I also heavily draw inspiration from my (past and present) theatrical mentors, especially at Davis. I also believe that knowledge of what is happening in the field is essential to maintaining good artistry, I try to read as many (new and classic) plays as I can and keep up to date on various productions or trends ebbing and flowing in the local/national/international theater community.
For each role (for example, Queen Elizabeth in Shakespeare’s Richard III) I first to start with the text-work. I filled out my objections, noted the motifs, tracked the symbolism/themes throughout each script and especially did my diligence to map out the diction/meter/figurative tropes within the iambic pentameter. I then started, in rehearsal, my embodied practice of “outside-in”. I picked specific choices in how this character stood/walked/their pace/what part of the body they lead with. I start this by thinking about the spine: how does this person hold themselves? For Elizabeth, I chose the chest, fully upright proud spinal alignment (come on, she is a Queen after all). I break this down into two specific categories, pace and voice.
For Elizabeth, I chose slow, slow strides when she’s at court- she’s in control. She controls time-space. She moves like a panther. Her hands flow like in water, in a finger-pyramid- always thinking about the next move. She’s like pure steel onstage, she can change the temperature of a room with just one glance or gesture. I needed to find that energy.
Voice proved to be one of the more challenging aspects of this role Specifically, 1. Finding the right voice for these characters and 2. Maintaining proper vocal health throughout both processes. For Elizabeth, I decided the really control my voice- spitting out consonants and wailing during the lamentation scenes. I had to be very conscience of maintaining good vocal technique for both. And from this outside place and text work I could delve into the psyche of this (and other) character(s).
I make theater because theater allows me to tap into the collective human soul and extent beyond myself through the mode of storytelling.
My manifesto on theater is that: theater engenders empathy. I am a firm believer that theater can bridge communities and heal. I want my art to accomplish that cultivation of empathy and breaking down of the barriers between people. I want my art to rather than be decisive, to instead bridge people together, even though my own personhood (me being a cisgender, white male) is a binary I hope that my art crosses binaries and brings heart and empathy to a group of people larger than myself. Having a live person onstage is a transcendent experience, engendering empathy- I strive hard so that my art accomplishes that goal.