Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Stage One - Make 'Em Laugh

Evan Casey gets to the point of comedy.
Signature Theatre's Stage One 2014 Workshop got off to a quick start yesterday as our 15 students met one another and their instructors for the first time. With acting, dancing, and vocal training crammed into every days schedule, these bright and talented young people will  be working very hard over the course of the next two weeks. We can't wait to see what kind of steps they take on their artistic journies as we work with them this summer.

One of changes to this year's format with the Stage One is the inclusion of daily master classes taught by DC area theatre practitioners. These master classes will vary greatly in terms of topic and structure as the instructors come from very different parts of the performance world. ( Be sure to stay tuned to the Education Blog to get the inside scoop on who and what the Stage One students are working with and on.) 

Stage One students listen as
Evan tells them the ins and outs
of comedy.
To get the master class ball rolling, we  thought it might be a great idea to start things off on a lighter note with one of our favorite performers, Evan Casey. Evan is a DC area actor and teacher and has appeared at Signature Theatre in Company, Really Really, The Hollow, The Boy Detective Fails, Urinetown, Ten Unknowns and Allegro. Evan has performed heavily in the Washington DC area at such theatres as The Kennedy Center, Ford's Theatre, Olney Theatre, Studio Theatre, Shakespeare Theatre, Round House Theatre, Rep Stage and Theatre of the First Amendment among many others. Evan trained at Catholic University and the London Dramatic Academy and has taught extensively throughout the area.

Evan takes a moment to field a few questions.
One of the many areas in which Evan excells is comedy (This man knows how to make an audience laugh.) Throughout his master class Evan discussed and explored the concepts of comedy with the Stage One students and what differentiates comedy from a straight drama. In comedy, the stakes are higher than drama. This is because emotions are elevated and the shifts in emotions more drastic. This often leads to comedic moments because the needs of the character are great and others responses to their actions are larger than life at times. 

Other major concepts that Evan discussed with the students were the importance of specificty, clarity, and hyper awareness in comedy. The jokes and lines are written on the page in a certain way for a certain reason. A comma or period is placed in a sentence to break up a moment or insert a pause so a joke has time to land or to misdirect an audience. Evan highlighted these concepts by showing clips of Abbott & Costello's "Who's On First?", Seinfeld's "Marine Biologist" and Sweeney Todd's "A Little Priest". These clips all demonstrate these important tennants of comedy and how they are indespensible when it comes to making an audience laugh. We were so lucky to have Evan join us for the afternoon and cannot wait to see what some of the other instructors have in store for us over the coming two weeks.

On Twitter? Follow Stage One at #SigStageOne. 


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