A few weeks ago, I shared some personal thoughts and opinions about acting, performing and auditioning. I wrote the column because folks often share with me a hidden desire to get up on stage and test their ability; I thought sharing bits of my prior experiences from the business-of-show, might in some way help them. Not sure how the column was received by the "lay" actor public, but I did hear from the artistic director of a well-known area theater group. He told me he agreed with the thoughts and methods I shared in the piece. His comments left me no choice than to think the acting-tip column was worth the time. Hence the following "test speech" for you tentative, but future thespians, to work on-at your leisure.
The speech below can be performed fast, slow, shouted, screamed, played in full-on turkey apparatus, a pilgrim suit, a wheelchair, a wading pool, or on top of an R.V. It can be sung, signed, or spoken in Japanese.
The list of ways you can present this turkey piece is endless; each of those ways can work. But if I were you, before I'd rent the turkey outfit from the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade folks, I'd start by simply reading the piece over, and over, and over, until any natural ability you have surfaces, allowing you to illuminate the words without using gimmicks or tricks.
I wrote the bit below to be performed on a radio show. If, as you read it, you think it's boring and lacking and pointless... you're probably right.
Don't give up. The key thing is that if you put enough time in with a piece-even one that reads blah-you'll find it will come to life through you, especially if you have any ability at all and even if you have no ability whatsoever. All you have to do is put the time in, approach it with simplicity, and be patient. The words won't let you down.
Future actors, I leave you this piece because it worked extremely well when read on the radio by someone with no more ability than any of you. That's me.
It's not an easy piece to make work, but give it a shot. I suggest you buy a set of turkey pepper and salt shakers, and after this year's Thanksgiving meal prayer, place the male turkey front and center, and let fly with your rendition of-
Steve the Inconsolable Pepper Shaker:
"I'm Steve, the male, and the pepper, of the male and female salt and peppershakers.
"Better looking than she is, Salt. My tail feathers are all fanned out like a bloomin' onion. I look good on the table-better 'n Salt. Yet, every Thanksgiving when Aunt Elma asks which is the salt and which is the pepper, the genius humans at the table say "The pepper is the one with the tail feathers fanned, the pretty one, the female." The male is the better-looking turkey.
"And, and humans, we fly. We ain't transcontinental, but we can get to where we wanna get, when we wanna get there, no further, no sooner, which is noble. Yet you genius humans think we don't fly-ahh!
"And what's with this: you calling bad movies turkeys? And you call tourists turkeys? And beef hamburgers aren't good enough, you gotta make turkey burgers now? And let's see, pepperoni, meatball, sausage, nowhere near enough meat for our pizza, throw some turkey on it. And the last time someone called you Butterball-did that make you happy? And talk about flustered, the liberals got it so they don't shoot amphetamines in to us anymore, which is a downer; how'd you like it if every time you have what seems like might be a perfect sneeze comin', (do sneeze action with gobble on end of it) you gobble and ruin it?
"And by the way, humans, Jimmy cracked corn and you don't care? I care humans. I care.
"Happy Thanksgiving when it comes roun, have fun over-consuming, and remember, the pepper is the male turkey - the better looking, the gorgeous one-I'm the pepper, she's not the pepper, wouldn't you like to be the pepper too? I wouldn't recommend it."
Rusty DeWees tours Vermont and Northern New York with his act "The Logger." His column appears weekly. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Listen for The Logger, Rusty DeWees, Thursdays at 7:40 on the Big Station, 98.9 WOKO or visit his website at www.thelogger.com