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[rocky] Professionalism killed the Rocky star - Transience Divine
May 22nd, 2007
01:48 am

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[rocky] Professionalism killed the Rocky star
There was a fantastic discussion at the Rocky party about the state of the cast. The vocal consensus was this:

There's an undercurrent of over-professionalism at the show. In small but definite ways, the drive for professionalism stifles some of the fun of the show and makes working at it a chore. Because the show isn't as much fun, it isn't as good, and the audience has noticed. Both directors, theater 3, and Acid's absence were blamed for these problems.

It's so tough to disentangle real harmful effects from nostalgia. So, tell me: do you agree? Have we gained the world and lost our soul (or raised the bar and broken our backs)? The drive for screen accuracy can push us to do better, but if it drives out jokes and connecting with the audience-- if our performance just duplicates the film-- do we want it? The cast members used to work up the audience waiting outside before the show. Does anyone do that now? We have such a great group, and we can fix these problems, but maybe not without big changes.

Feel free to post anonymously or email me separately.

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From:suitboyskin
Date:May 22nd, 2007 10:39 am (UTC)
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You raise an interesting set of questions and while, I'll bite and put in my 2 cents worth I also can't speak for anybody but myself.

While I'll be the first to say that I've always found FBC to be a little on the anal side when it comes to screen accuracy I don't think that aspect of the cast's culture is the root cause for any of the "vibe" problems that people are noticing. Now I'm not complaining about the screen accuracy compulsion. It's a perfectly valid way of doing Rocky and has been a part of the FBC culture for quite some time. I just learned Rocky in different environments that weren't as married to the notion of screen accuracy as FBC is. Not saying that one way's better than the other, just different. I raise the point simply because I've known some people to be rubbed the wrong way by the sort of "overprofessionalism" that you describe in your post, however, I don't think that it figures into the "feel" of the show right now simply because that aspect of FBC culture has existed long before theatre 3, our current cast/crews, etc.

I think one of the things that's so frustrating about people's problems with the show right now is that most of them are problems of that sort of vague, nebulous ultimately personal nature which are by their very definition, hard to put one's finger on. It's not really a question of moving back to theatre 4 and watching things go back to the way they were or the like. One of the problems with big, evolving groups like FBC is that there is a turnover rate, people do come and go and sometimes groups of people click and sometime they don't.

For my own part I had one major grievance with the show which, to peoples' credit, has been addressed, but the rest of my issues with the show remain hard to identify or articulate. This is why my time with FBC grows short but I try very hard to not bitch excessively much about the show at large because, much like with your discussion, I really can't say just what it is about the show that's not working for me. I'm curious to hear that others are experiencing a similar sense of ennui about the show though. I'd be interested to see what results, if any this post gets.

(by-the-by, I apologize wholeheartedly for any glaring spelling, grammatical, words-actually-making-sense-in-that-order, sorts of errors that may have occurred in this response. I write this at 6:45 AM after a particularly gruelling overnight shift at work and I'm simply too lazy/exhausted to proofread)
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From:jrising
Date:May 22nd, 2007 02:11 pm (UTC)
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I don't think screen accuracy alone is the culprit. FBC has held itself to a high standard there, and it really does have impressive results. But I think there can be real trade-offs between screen accuracy and putting on a fun show, both for ourselves and for the audience.

Someone said that the standard used to be that if you weren't doing a joke or playing with the audience then you should be screen accurate. But now people are so worried about getting yelled at that they never feel like they always have to stick to the screen.

FBC is always evolving, and we can't get stuck in some idea of how things used to be, because it was only that thing to those people. The person who started the discussion was an alum who's naturally going to feel less of the good vibe in the show.

At the same time, it's even more of a problem *because* of the turnover. An undercurrent that's making the vibe worse is taken as the status quo by new members who don't know better. I fully believe in our cast's ability to get past these problems, but only if we recognize them.
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From:g_w_s
Date:May 22nd, 2007 12:16 pm (UTC)
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Perhaps I'm just an anal type (!), but FBC's screen accuracy is impressive. I always pay attention to it and marvel.

Frank's exaggerated facial expressions and swagger (Bethany in particular), Crim that really cracks me up, those times that Magenta looks to be getting a bit friskier than normal, absolutely crazy Rocky (Acid was the first I saw) - those characters in particular make it fun for me. Some nights are better than others - when I'm already very tired and I have a hard time staying awake, I know it's not as good as it can be, because there are times when I have been even MORE tired, but my ear-to-ear grins have kept me focused. Little changes, like sawing at Dr Scott's head during the dinner scene - and watching the actors play with it - consistently make it more entertaining. I'm a fan of parody - and if ever there was a film to be mocked..

Themes are fun. Gender benders, strap on some unexpected dildos, wear hero costumes, whatever. Inside jokes, not as much. April 1st is still my favorite show. Audience participation is what MAKES this show - and much of the audience would be thrilled to help out in some way. Pull an audience member in to play Eddie for the dinner scene, and make the dining a bit more.. interactive? (Could be a little theatre des vampires..)

If there are actors that are getting bored with their parts, I honestly think they should yield to someone who isn't. If most people are bored, then the directors should step in and tweak the show into a new direction. I'm not exposed to a lot of the personalities or inner communication of the cast and crew, but the people I've observed certainly seem to have a lot more fun when they are being silly. You can be silly and professional at the same time - it's all part of your roles as entertainers.

What isn't the problem? I don't think that which theater you are in should matter - I bet you guys could do a show in the middle of the woods and still make it look good. Being accurate in terms of blocking, gestures, and lip-syncing does not detract from the experience (and for those in my camp, it is a good thing). Being well organized as a cast and crew, recognizing that you have well-defined roles as entertainers (for the benefit of the participants as well as the audience), and making the show flow smoothly require a degree of professionalism - those will NOT kill rocky, but make it a better show for all involved. Being a good entertainer means having fun AND being professional about it. Not everyone can do it.
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From:jrising
Date:May 22nd, 2007 02:12 pm (UTC)
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Lots of people do. I'm sure he doesn't mean to have that effect... but if it is him, then we just need a new director.
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From:catullus_5
Date:May 22nd, 2007 01:59 pm (UTC)
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First of all, some people have more issues with the show than others, and if the guy you get feedback from is someone who's left the show, you're much more likely to hear the bad side of things than the good. So take the feedback with a grain of salt.

Screen accuracy is in no way incompatible with having a good time and giving the audience a good time. For instance, no one tells Frank that he/she can't spray a water bottle over the curtain because that's not what's on the screen. No one tells Twinkie he can't act out a Dr. Strangelove reference because the real Dr. Scott doesn't do so. That kind of tomfoolery is great, and the audience loves it, and I've never gotten the impression it was frowned upon, as long as the movie doesn't become one endless string of gags. Screen accuracy is what you do the REST of the time. When you're not taking liberties, you ought to know all your stuff, like which hand to hold your prop in. Screen accuracy is a good thing. For the audience, it's the difference between paying money for a live Rocky cast, and paying money to see a bunch of punks goofing off. We don't have to be Nazis about it, but we should have high standards.

I think a performer's satisfaction and an audience's satisfaction contribute to each other. Yes, the audience has more fun when we have more fun, but it works the other way too. Are our crowds smaller than they should be? To what extent is that the luck of the draw, and to what extent is there something we could be doing about it? The claim that audience members are staying away chiefly because of low cast morale being evident on stage is, IMHO, a tad overblown. Last week, for instance, there was no shortage of performers and techies who (it appeared to me) were thrilled as always to be there. Not all, but most. Besides, it's not as simple as "the audience has sucked ever since X left the show" or "since Y took over" or "since Z didn't get cast" or "since Q started doing preshows." Frankly, giving back the ability to dance the Time Warp in an aisle, as the good Lord intended, would probably have a much stronger effect on the audience.

Not that there aren't a few beloved cast members who I wish would return. And I'm sure I'm not alone on this one. There are indeed ways in which morale could be higher, and that's one of them. For another example, costume techies (and many actors) miss having the basement. But concrete, identifiable solutions are few. I think those issues we may have are too vague and complicated to fix with a checklist of changes. But I don't think they're as severe as was claimed at the party, either.
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From:d_day
Date:May 22nd, 2007 02:24 pm (UTC)
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Well put.
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From:d_day
Date:May 22nd, 2007 02:33 pm (UTC)
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I have way too much to say on this and my thoughts are to disorganized to possibly post them here. It will have to wait till this weekend.

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From:kjcitygirl
Date:May 22nd, 2007 04:44 pm (UTC)
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ok ... here's my 2 cents worth ...

i think everyone has been feeling a tightening on playing around, but i'm not sure if it's a horrendous thing. i think screen accuracy is a very important trait to have - because if you don't know what's going on and you're fucking around all the time, then your performance sucks. knowing your part inside and out is what allows one to have great joking moments on stage because you know where the timing should be, and you know how to maneuver your way in and out of the horsing around.

i think that during auditions, everyone should try to be as accurate as possible so as not to mess up the other actors (this does not mean that there are absolutely no jokes permitted, but insert my above screen accuracy comment) - and since we now don't know when our specific audition night is, i would hope people would be respectful of their fellow cast mates and really put forth a great effort so as to showcase everyone's talents.

one other think i think needs to happen is for people to really think about their characters, and think of their character traits - each week we really make our characters our own, we live them and embody them and there is no way for each casts' performance, nor each actors' performance to carry the same feelings and traits - if our cast really gets into character and interjects their own take of what's going on on the screen i think that will really spice things up - Magenta doesn't have that many lines, but if you were to watch my performance of the character you will see that I hardly ever am not doing someting whether it be physically or facially to try and seduce the audience - i would hope that our audience pays attention to all the characters and not those just in the spot light - i think we should be constantly searching for what our character would be doing at any point in time and using that to really make an interesting performance

i might have more, but i'm at work and don't have the capacity to really fully develop my thoughts ... but food for thought ..

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From:mals13
Date:May 22nd, 2007 06:46 pm (UTC)
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"i think that during auditions, everyone should try to be as accurate as possible so as not to mess up the other actors"

yeah, honestly, i feel like people forgot that the show two weeks ago was an audition show and there was a lot of horsing around. Personally, I got distracted a couple of times, and while my timing was still on, i was pissed at myself for letting that happen while I was worried that I was being watched closely.

"Magenta doesn't have that many lines, but if you were to watch my performance of the character you will see that I hardly ever am not doing someting whether it be physically or facially to try and seduce the audience - i would hope that our audience pays attention to all the characters and not those just in the spot light - i think we should be constantly searching for what our character would be doing at any point in time and using that to really make an interesting performance"

Yeah, i completely agree with you. I feel like I am always in character even if I'm off screen/out of spotlight, but since the light is on others, people eyes go that way. I wonder if these little off screen/in character moments are ever noticed by the people who need to make decisions. (refer to my other response to twink)
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From:jdub0014
Date:May 23rd, 2007 12:20 am (UTC)
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It's so tough to disentangle real harmful effects from nostalgia. So, tell me: do you agree?

Yes.

And on a separate note, personally I have always felt encouraged by Gary, Diana, Alex, etc. to have fun with my character. Granted I play the probably the goofiest character in the movie, but I find all the "higher-ups" very approachable and useful.

I love FBC and what it has become. There has been a real surge of younger generation newer cast and crew members over the past few years, and I wonder if that's what's causing some of the disappointment and unhappiness for other cast members. If that's the case, it's something I can completely understand because I too am skeptical of and territorial around new cast members (even though I've only been there for a year and a half) and I could see myself feeling an element of longing for "the good old days."

I feel like I'm living my "good old days" at FBC right now, so I'm just trying to enjoy it. And I really hope that I can be like Alex, Ruthie, Diana, Jon, etc. and stick around through inevitable changes over the years and remain happy with FBC, more or less.

So there's my input.
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From:jrising
Date:May 23rd, 2007 04:52 am (UTC)
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It's great to hear this. I love FBC, and I'm so happy to be part of it, and it feels incredibly vibrant and active right now, and I know I'm always going to remember these times. I don't want my bringing these things up to be construed as complaining. I do feel like there's something uneasy in the air, but I hope that our surge and energy will jostle things up, and maybe help everyone have a share of good old days.
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From:smurf24
Date:May 23rd, 2007 02:00 am (UTC)
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I'm not sure where to put this, so I'll just stick it on the end. I don't think the problem is with professionalism or screen accuracy or the directors. I think the problem is the cliquiness (sp?). I love Rocky. I love being head of costumes. My crew rocks and I am proud to say that we almost never get complained about. I feel pretty comfortable in my little niche at Rocky. That said, I feel very uncomfortable with a bunch of people who are at Rocky. But I ignore them because they are not the essence of Rocky. I think what has changed the most since I've joined is that people used to post plans on the list or on LJ and invite everyone. Now, I keep hearing about things after the fact and feeling less included. Which is fine, but I know that for me personally, it is making me want to take more nights off and find other ways to spend some of my Saturdays.

I used to be so excited to go to Rocky every week. I used to go to every party. But then, the dynamic changed and I felt disconnected from the majority of the people at Rocky. Don't get me wrong, there are still plenty of people I love at Rocky, but sometimes the cliquiness just leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
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From:asavitzk
Date:May 23rd, 2007 02:43 am (UTC)
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Wow, so much to say but I guess it can easily be summed up as "and thus the circle continues."

There are always discussions about the cast "in general" and they are usually about how things have changed for the worse. I remember these conversations back in 1994 when I joined and people were talking about how great things used to be. Am I saying this because I don't think people should care? Of course not, I'm just trying to give a bit of perspective.

Has the audience shrunk? A bit, yes. But honestly it's been happening everywhere around the country as the DVD/Video/TV-Showings have drawn people out of our seats. That trend will continue but we've got a good core of regulars plus a regular rotation of virgins and as long as we don't start to outright suck, that will continue as well. All I worry about is making sure we get enough people that management will still want to show it.

Screen accuracy/professionalism is the main thing that sets us apart from other area casts. Notice I did not say that other casts suck and we're the best. We're not. But we're the best at *our style* of Rocky and that style is outright professionalism. We have the best props, costumes, lights, and yes, screen accuracy. If you're screen accurate and then change something to be funny, then it's funny. If you're just fucking around and change something to be funny, nobody will notice anything other than the fact that you've been fucking around.

I like Twinkie's A/B accuracy ideas but I feel it necessary to note that the full accuracy is what we at FBC should strive for - that's our "thing". True, most won't notice if Brad uses the proper hand to put into his pocket at just the right time, but that guy playing Brad will know and will (or should) feel a sense of pride when he gets it just right. Plus, who's to say who in the audience won't be looking past him at the screen at just that moment and think "hey, he didn't move his hand right". I doubt he'd think "hey, he moved his hand just right" because you tend not to notice perfection unless you're looking for it, but imperfection usually jumps out at you.

Do I think Gary is a problem? Sometimes. And sometimes I think I'm a problem and sometimes I think Jon is a problem and sometimes I think JD is a problem and sometimes I think a techie who joined 2 weeks ago is a problem. Everyone has their moments where they cause problems and everyone has their moments when they contribute greatness. No one person is responsible for all the problems though it does fall on a few shoulders to minimize those problems - mainly my shoulders. And as I've said countless times before, if people don't come to me with problems and hopefully answers, nothing can be done about it. Talk all you want at a party but unless I'm there and can be engaged in the conversation, or at least be told the details later on, how much good can really come out of it other than validating the participants' "oh woe is me" attitude?

Getting back to the over-professionalism and having no fun - I really do have to disagree (again). First of all, though they are rare, we do have special nights every once in a while (and if we did them more often they wouldn't be special). I think people had fun during the evil bearded rocky night - I know I did and I know others did as well because they told me. I also know we can have fun being professionals because that's what we do every time we do an outside show. We wouldn't get hired back to so many places if we weren't professionals there yet at the same time we have alot of fun (both during and after the shows).

A professional, screen-accurate show is fun. Trust me.

I wonder how many will email or post anonymously to Jimmy yet won't do that for me.
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From:jrising
Date:May 23rd, 2007 05:25 am (UTC)
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I want to take the comments from this discussion and bring them to you and Gary. I don't want this discussion to replace talking to you, but if it's another forum for collecting people's thoughts and encouraging discussion, it can't be a bad thing.

I, for one, don't want the professionalism or the screen accuracy to go away, because they are fun. But they need to come out of taking pride in the show-- they need to be an expression of our pride, and I worry that recently they're more motivated by you than us. The same is true for "our style". FBC is fantastically professional, and that's wonderful, but it becomes over-professional when that style is imposed on us. Professionalism isn't going to go away from loosening that expectation, which currently (in small ways) shares the worst of being globally disconnecting and too-close-for-comfort scrutinizing.

Nor do I think there's any danger of FBC becoming just like any other cast. We don't need a "thing" in order to set ourselves apart. We need to be connected as a cast, and connect with the audience, and they'll see what we bring to the show. We don't need a micro-manager; we need a champion.
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From:asavitzk
Date:May 23rd, 2007 02:48 am (UTC)
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Oh yeah, and I'm on the fence about the different preshow TW every month. Someone convince me.
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From:mals13
Date:May 23rd, 2007 03:04 am (UTC)
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I can say that since I don't get to perform the preshow timewarp that often, it kills me to not know what to expect when it comes down to showtime. I feel awkward not really knowing the rhythm of the song or if the chorus beats have changed, etc. And that's from the stage point of view.
Looking at it from the audience pov, I feel like they all just kind of look at each other, wondering what's going on, sit back down and watch us make fools of ourselves. They don't do callbacks and they barely participate. I don't know if you saw my earlier post, but it really does hurt the morale of the crowd, both on stage and off.
Honestly, I like the idea of variety, but I feel like we should be more selective of which songs we choose to play...one night it's the Beach Boys (most awkward song ever) and another night it's the Roxy version. I think the song should always be an upbeat version that we can keep the audience involved in.
Also, we should have ample warning the week before the new song is played, maybe send a message and a copy of the song to the list, so people who want to be "professional" can actually rehearse the new song and look like they know what they're doing the night they perform. We are a cast full of people who need constant reminders, so just assuming that they should know we have a new song coming up and to go and check the castonly site is maybe a little too much to expect all the time.
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From:myselftheliar
Date:May 23rd, 2007 03:10 am (UTC)
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Hey Jimmy, this is Amy, Alex had a link to this post and I wanted to add my commentary.

I think that being screen accurate is very, very important. We are, above all things, a shadow cast. The very definition of a shadow cast is to mirror and mimick the actions of the screen. It's the very base idea of what we strive to do, the very principal of having a Rocky Horror performance. Yes, we take this show and make it our own via the little things and theme nights and such. But over all, we are MEANT to imitate the screen 100%. That's what makes FBC so fantastic- that we do what we do and we do it so well.

I personally LOVE theater 3. It has made props 100x more fun by providing a real backstage area. I also feel much more connected to the audience and that we have a real "stage" area instead of just the front of a theater. I am very happy to be in theater 3 and do hope we remain there.

And while I like Acid as a person, I have to admit that again, from a technical standpoint... his departure has made things easier. I can recall several, SEVERAL occasions of having to physically shove him on stage at the right time, stop him from moving or misplacing a prop or keep him from leaving his cue (Halloween 05 comes to mind, I had to literally beg him not to crawl away backstage during creaton scene). I do miss him, and I mean no offense by this, but there comes a time when one's havok on a show can only be taken so much. Yes, FBC is meant for happy funtimes but not at the expense of the show's quality.

I am proud to be a part of FBC. It is something I look forward to every week and take very seriously, especially now that I have the position of a crewhead. I am honored that I have this responsibility and want to do my best at providing 100% screen accuracy. And yes, this can be stressful at times and lead to less fun-having than I'd like. But the pride I take in my work outshadows that by quite a bit.

At a bit under 3 years time at the show, I am by far still a newbie, so it is difficult for me to comment on "The way things were" but from what I have experienced, I have to say that NOW is the greatest time I have had at Rocky and I wouldn't trade it for anything.

I try and do everything I can to help, be it props or helping security with pat-downs, to going to preshow meetings to make sure I know cues. I'm always ready and willing to do a trixie on less than a days notice and am even, though grudgingly so, willing to jump in on a preshow if necessary. What more could I be doing for the show? I love it, and love being there. And if that isn't the case for other people, then perhaps it is time for them to move on.

Whew. that was a mouthful.
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From:myselftheliar
Date:May 23rd, 2007 03:24 am (UTC)
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And now for part II of my post:

Ways to improve things.

I think the first way things at the show can improve is if people would TAKE A MOMENT TO STEP OUTSIDE THEIR CLIQUES AND CIRCLES. It really irks me that some people won't give others the time of day. I know people will be quick to say this isn't the case, but it verymuch is. Especially now that I am in a position where I *need* to speak to more people, it really boggles me how I have been blown off so easily by some. I think there needs to be a LOT more communication at the show and less after-party politics involved. Not everyone can go to afterparties and bond and have these conversations about things. I wish it weren't the case, but more and more I've seen people drift into what can only be described as high school cafeteria politics, and I think that for the health of the show it has to stop. We are one cohesive unit. We are Full Body Cast. I don't care who your ex boyfriend is or who you flirted with at a party or how drunk you were or X Y or Z. I care that your cue is next and you need to do something about it. I care that there's a prop or a setup that needs to get done, and if someone is too busy gossiping backstage to do their job, there's a problem. I think that the gossip and clicqueyness is a major morale dimmer and something that is eroding away at the cohesive fabric of FBC.

The second thing that needs to change is the US vs THEM mentality. This kind of goes to my first point but yeah, the directors arent there to hurt us. Alex and Gary and whomever else are there to help and guide the cast. If they make a rule (say, no leaving during the show) it isn't out of spite or to ruin our fun, it's because it is necessary and has been made necessary by neglectful actions. I remember in the other theater everyone bitching and moaning about no smoking by the back door. It wasn't to inconvience anyone! It was because people's loud voices would carry to the audience and distract them. If Tracy shushes people backstage, it isn't because she doesn't want them having fun, it's because they're being too loud. I don't understand this mentality that the directors are huge spoilsports. I come to the show to DO A GOOD JOB AND FULFIL MY ROLE first, and hang out SECOND. Yes, this is a volunteer theater but even so, it is still theater. It is still a show, first and foremost.

And finally, what can improve the show? Action. Action instead of complaint. One of the reasons I enjoy being at FBC so damn much is because I look forward to spending time with everyone else on props. We work so well together with really minimal problems. Why? Because if anyone ever has a problem, we talk about it and do something rather than just letting stuff fester and making passive-aggressive blatherings. Things are going really, really well, and I like to think it is because, above all else, we RESPECT each other. And that's something that has to be important for the show in general. If we show respect toward the other actors, crews, etc, we will all have a better time.

If you RESPECT being at the show, you will want to do a good job. You will know the proper time and place for a joke. You will know when to be serious and when it is appropriate to deviate from the screen and be funny. Because you're taking it seriously. SERIOUSLY is not a bad word. And it doesn't mean ANTI-FUN. It just means that you take pride in what you do. You can be taking things seriously AND playing a joke or deliberately flubbing something. It isn't mutually exclusive.


I look forward to the day when posts like this are moot and we're all just being raving lunatics about how awesome everything is. Indeed.
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From:jrising
Date:May 24th, 2007 07:32 am (UTC)
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As for cliques, I've definitely seen them be a problem for the proper functioning of the show. However what's acting like a clique is also just a reflection of the natural social connections people have outside the show. I don't know how these can be balanced, but I think we can find a way for them to not be in conflict, because the show is such a great opportunity to step outside those circles. Um, and don't think there's much after-party politicking, or you'd hear more about it.

The cast vs. directors mentality is another problem, and I think you're exactly right about why it shouldn't exist. But I think in part that perception is partly a result of Alex and Gary's approach to directing. There are some ways in which a clear division is important, but if it's causing an us vs. them-ness, than it's gone too far. I think FBC is a community of volunteers, before it's a show.

Finally, ditto on your comments on action, respect, seriousness, and pride. Well said.
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From:turtle9
Date:May 23rd, 2007 03:53 am (UTC)
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I know that I have not been at the show for a long time and have not been active with the show in any means. However, the cliques that Adrienne talks about is and has always been at the show, but had never affected the show like it did when I was there. The cliques where mostly for the after parties, not who got on stage or who could get away with what. When I was head of costumes, I wanted to fire someone from my crew. But I was not allowed to and told that she had to stay on my crew so that she could learn her part. Part of being on a crew was to help the crew not sit around a watch the movie to get screen accurate.

One person does not change the show, but many people do. In the past few years, you have had people that had been apart of the show leave for one reason or another. This will change the show, the feeling of the crew, and how the show is run.

I know that this is rambling and might not make sense, but it is late and I am tired.
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From:asavitzk
Date:May 23rd, 2007 03:58 am (UTC)
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Who told you to keep someone you didn't want? I don't recall that but it may just be because I'm old now
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From:just_al
Date:May 23rd, 2007 04:26 am (UTC)
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For anyone reading this thread who doesn't know me, allow myself to introduce.... myself

I saw Rocky in Harvard Square for the first time in 1987. Early February, dog assed cold and the cast nearly sold out theatre 1. Never been before only had seen the time warp on MTV once or twice but got dragged by friends and the whole experience just SUCKED ME IN HARD.

Between the audience participation (including the rice, squirt guns etc), and the semi naked women I was hooked, but what REALLY stood out was that the actors were literally the mirror image of the screen. It was totally freaky.

I was still in highschool so I went when I could which wasn't often until the next year when I graduated and I had joined the cast on Halloween 1988.

The cast was ran by one person, no preshow coordinator, and no other authority figure except a technical director who just basically made sure that the very, very small tech crew had their shit setup on time and the right things happened without the tekkies getting under foot.

That person was Mimi and damn at times did I hate her. I was just trying to have fun, contribute and hopefully get laid and if I fucked up at ALL she just LOWERED THE BOOM.

After a while though, I never fucked up and I was so invested with pride in what the cast accomplished that I was ready to lower the boom, not that I had one, on anyone who fucked up or worst, phoned in a show.

See, back then, we believed we were the best rocky cast in the country. Not because we were superior, not because we were better actors and tekkies, but simply because we wanted to put on the best show in the country and we were wiling to do what it took to make that happen.

Mimi in her heyday was the best director to ever step foot in the harvard square theatre, but eventually she lost her way and was forced out.

Directors came and went after that. But the standard that was set by Mimi and the people who followed her leadership remained.

I have been a tekkie at the show, headed up lights, played 2 different parts and even directed so I've seen a bit of it all.

When I was on lights we took great pride in being a better crew than props. Props took pride in being a better crew than lights (but they were wrong)

The actors took pride in their screen accuracy and their costumes but also brought CHARACTER to their performances. Just take a look at Arthur the next time you see him play brad and you will see a consumate professional who is still having a GREAT TIME and entertaining the shit out of the audience.

As a director I was the one who instituted rolling auditions. I took a lot of shit from my friends for the results from time to time. It was worth it however because we had KICKASSED actors on stage.

When I joined the show, all the props fit in a steamer trunk and the "lights" fit in 2 stolen milk crates and that included the floor lights and extension cords.

The Full Body Cast has come a long way since then. People come and, yes, people go, but the attitude and the professionalism remain. You can be professional and have fun. Hell, putting on the best show you can to give the best product to your consumers should be fun or why are you doing it for free?

I've rambled quite a bit, but maybe I made a point in there somewhere. Maybe I should try to go to sleep.
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From:jrising
Date:May 24th, 2007 07:52 am (UTC)
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This was great to read. I'd heard about that time in FBC's history before, but never in that detail.

Based on people's comments, I'm convinced that professionalism alone is not the problem at all. Being professional should mean taking pride in doing everything possible to put on a good show.

I think one difference is that we don't consider ourselves the best in the country any more, although I've never seen better. But because that's the perception, we aren't shooting for the sky in our effort, so we end up focusing on what won't lower the boom on our heads.
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From:overstim
Date:May 23rd, 2007 04:39 am (UTC)
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Its really amusing and facinating how the same arguments get brought up year after year, but in hindsight, it really has never been as bad as people always made it out to be.

I dont see the issue being screen accuracy vs non screen accuracy at all. the issue is profesisonalism and desire. People who are professional and who really want to be there and who rehearse and have a passion will, almost always, be more screen accurate as a result, AND inhabit their charcater, which is what it takes to break from the blocking and still be funny and in character.

Some actors have been very ridgid about screen accuracy and had NO personality, and they sucked. SOme people have been very funny and outgoing and wild but had no professionalism, and they sucked and caused others around them to suck. When things get TOO away from screen accuray and people stop staying on their tes, things snowball and decline downhill VERY rapidly. ive been to some TERRIBLE shows. Shows that made me want to walk out.

Others have been able to take things seriously but not too seriously, and accurate but not TOO accurately, and they have really shined.

I really havent noticed a problem with the audience, or when I have, it was never because of the show. Audiences always ebb and flow. Even the worst shows have great audiences sometimes, and the best shows and awful audiences.

now, the preshows on the other hand, and kinf of sucked for a LONG time. I havent seen a preshow that looked finished and solid other than halloween, other than the big crazy dance numbers, but those because theyve been done over and over and over. Simple and funny and easy to undestand seems to have gone extinct.
[User Picture]
From:falcongirl
Date:May 23rd, 2007 02:36 pm (UTC)

An audience's perspective.

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To the OP: You probably don't know me. Unless you were around 10 years ago when I was hanging out at Rocky every weekend, you probably would not recognize me if you saw me, but to give you the background: I was a member of the audience - never staff - for over four years, from 1995 - 2000. I went every Saturday and then Sunday when they started doing back to backs.

I have to agree with Alex K. It's the vibe from the actors that makes the show. For me, watching a bunch of people fuck around doing things that are not on screen, that are possibly references to other movies I haven't watched or jokes that, not being on cast, I'm not part of, was a big turnoff. When the live show deviated too much from the one on screen, I wound up bored out of my mind and taking a nap in row 5. I don't go to Rocky to see the movie - I've seen the movie so many times I can recite the lines and callbacks in my sleep. I go to watch a bunch of non-professional actors do their best to look like pro. When that happens, it's magic, and would catch my attention and keep me awake and participating. I don't mind the mistakes or the humor used to smooth over a mistake, because I realize that you're not pro and shit happens, and I'd rather see someone patch it and go on than burst into tears and go dramaqueen themselves offstage.

When the actors are letter perfect but wooden, it makes me want to slap them and the director - Rocky changes cast frequently, trust me - the audience will put up with mistakes, but wooden, bored-looking acting makes me wonder why that person is up there. If you don't want to be there, if you can't put aside whatever your personal angst is for the night and do your best to make the show fun for the audience, get the fuck off the stage and have your understudy/backup/alternate do it. When the actors pay no attention to the script and want to primadonna and ham it up, that actually pisses me off because it distracts me from watching everyone.

You're entertainers - your job is to entertain. It's a job you don't get paid to do, so being volunteers, one would assume that you signed up to do it because you want to. The show's goal is to put on a really good live version of the movie. That's the goal you're supposed to be working toward. If that isn't your personal goal, you're in the wrong show, because that's what FBC has been about for many, many years and in general, they're damn good at it.

TW in the aisle, leaders in the audience to help get the callbacks going, bags of shit to throw, water being pitched on those in the front few rows - that's all fun and entertaining and engaging for the audience, but that's not what people go there to see. We go to see the show. Too much lately, people have been whining about how "the show" is declining, audiences are dropping off, etc. "The show" is declining because a bigger effort isn't being made to work as a group to make it better. Actors are bitching about directors - honestly, they've bitched about every director, EVER, and whining that they can't do their own thing without realizing that's why there's a director at all. People are bitching and becoming mulish and stupid over changed aspects of the show instead of working as a group to make that aspect work with the show. Everyone has a different idea of what a pre-show should be, and people vote with their feet about the ideas they don't like instead of sharing the toys on that particular playground. Too many people are whining about how good "it used to be" instead of even looking at how far it's come or how good it is now. Everyone wants to go backward, nobody wants to go forward.

My $.02.
-Tara
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