Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Distracted

Artists Repertory Theatre **Photo credit: Jason Sipe**
April 14 - May 24, 2009

Review by peanutduck


Embarrassing, even insulting, for longstanding company to pawn off this on audience. Already strictly a live-action guide to living with ADD, Distracted is further devaluated as direction snatches at cheap laughs through caricature, stereotype, simultaneously mocking script and own production; these actors are sorely misused. P.S., cast a racially-mixed child.

67 comments:

peanutduck said...

This article bears timely relation to production.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

while does a good job in this show, the "theatrical god"
BS that keeps popping up, was old about 10 posts ago and actually does leif a disservice.
it looks like a plant rather than earnest praise.
we get it -- you are obsessed and you think you are funny.
trust me, funny you are not.

followspot said...

As noted, the "theatrical god" thread always gets out of hand, so it'll be nixed from now on...

Anonymous said...

Is it just me? I am so tired of seeing Norby (not the judge) in everything in town. Talk about your overexposure.
Mira

Anonymous said...

i guess he works cheap and knows his lines.

Heals said...

The personal attacks here are pathetic. It just wreaks of envy and hatred. If it's personal, leave it personal and private... if you have a critique of the show and not a personal attack fine. Grow up. If you had guts you wouldn't post as anonymous.

Melissa said...

Thank you Heals, well said.

Seriously, personal attacks on an individual are way out of line... take a breathe and show some respect for your fellow artists.

Melissa Whitney

Anonymous said...

so HEALS is that your real name, or are you being annonymous?
is it really your belief that one has to feel hate or envy to be weary of seeing the same actor in 5 shows a year?
i do not agree with that accusation at all.
i don't think hate and envy have anything to do with it.
for some maybe, but i don't think you can be so cocksure that the poster was motivated by those feelings.
i think you are overreacting.
noble, but a bit misguided in this case.

Anonymous said...

a personal attack is when you write something like:
this actor is stupid, unattractive,
can't act and i've heard they are an asshole.
saying that you are bored seeing them in what seems to be every show is not a personal attack.
it is called AN OPINION.
and this is where we share our
OPINIONS.

Ben Waterhouse said...

Am I the only person who finds it a teensy bit ironic that the same anonymous commenters who want to string up the PCS administration for casting 50% out-of-town actors are bored by seeing the same local actor in "five shows a year?"

theresa said...

You are not the only person to find the irony.

Anonymous said...

ben, what makes you say they are the same people?
not sure i track that reasoning.
surely it is not because all their names are spelled:
"anonymous"
?

and no, there is no irony even if it were true --- seeing an actor everywhere you turn, especially if the roles are not totally dissimilar, is not something you want in your evening out.

Brian said...

Really?

Because for me, seeing Mr. Norby's name in a cast list makes me MORE likely to go see the show, since I know he's, well, good.

And heck, I say that as someone who auditioned against him for this particular role.

'Tis hardly an insult to lose a role to someone like him.

-Brian Allard

Joe Healy said...

Heals = Joe Healy ~ and to think that I thought I was so well known that people would recognize my nickname!

I know it's an age old practice to write under 'anonymous' or pseudonyms, but the comments by the anonymous posters smell (or stink) of non-impartiality or more like personal vendettas.

We like and hope that there is support for local artists. In Portland, most theatre patrons and actors know of or know personally those appearing in theatre around town. The sheer number of theatres per capita in Portland give actors the chance to work at several venues over the course of the year. If that's over-exposed bring it on!

Anonymous said...

personal vendettas?
in portland theatre?
tosh!

Anonymous said...

heals- impartiality is not the game in commentary. wouldn't this be a dull blog indeed if we all posted fair and balanced polemics which carefully outlined all possible viewpoints on the subject?you are not impartial in your comments so why are you casting aspersions on the anons? are you a little dim perhaps? or maybe you're blinded by devotion to your friend the handsome, highly gifted and excellent stage actor Lief Norby?

followspot said...

Let's steer this discussion to show...

Anonymous said...

"wouldn't this be a dull blog indeed if we all posted fair and balanced polemics which carefully outlined all possible viewpoints on the subject?"

i love that.
that is right on the money.

Chris T. said...

OK, I'm going out on a limb. I actually liked this show. I found it thought-provoking, sharp and funny.

I thought Sarah Lucht, Jennifer Rowe, Brenda Phillips, and yes, Leif Norby, were standouts. Lucht for her terse, staccato, hypertense hilarity. Rowe for her heartbreaking authenticity and vulnerability. Phillips for differentiating her characters successfully, making them all have a distinct presence. Norby for anchoring and centering the ensemble by giving his character strength and transparency of emotion.

I also thought Steve Rathje was wonderful -- his vocal work from off-stage was precise and set the scenes admirably, and his honest abandon at the end was uplifting. It didn't bother me that he appeared Caucasian. (Maybe because I know a girl with mixed race parents who has blonde hair and green eyes, like her dad.)

I was disappointed in Kimberly Howard's interpretation of the mother, however. Ms. Howard has a great look and angelic face, but she seemed to be struggling with her lines in several places. Her recitation of the prayer seemed stilted and unnatural, even when she wasn't being interuppted. My impression was that, instead of focusing on her character's heart and search for emotional stability, she seemed to focus on the mania of the character's existence. That seemed a mistake, since the mania of existence received enough emphasis through the script, pace, and a/v elements of the set alone.

I would be curious to see this show again with a different interpretation of the mother. If anyone out there has seen a production elsewhere, please let me know how the mother was played? Was it different? Did it change the feeling of the show?

Overall, I thought the show was well worth seeing. It was an emotional roller-coaster, but it seemed that Loomis meant it to be.

Anonymous said...

i think leif gets hired cuz he is a good actor and a nice guy.
that goes a long way --- but for the wrong reasons.
insecure directors gravitate towards actors who will not challenge them.
they gain power but they lose what would have been brought to the table by a more "artistic temperament"

Scott said...

I'm not sure if you're insulting Leif or insecure directors, Anonymous 4/27/2009 01:08:00 PM.

Speaking as an insecure director on every project on which I've ever worked, I was thrilled to work with Leif on GRACE because he's a good actor and nice AND smart AND gracious AND hard working AND insecure (like the best of them). Even though I was asking him to do things that pushed him out of his comfort zone, he never said "no" or gave excuses. Instead he tried and failed and tried some more and failed some more but eventually got where the show needed him to be. I'd work with him again in a heartbeat.

And if you're tired of seeing Leif on stages, there are about 140 other shows produced in this town during the year. Take your pick!

And for those of you who continually blast Leif, I can only assume you've never worked with him. Because if you had, it would never occur to you to open your pie-holes.

Anonymous said...

you single opinion is noted.
some of us have a different experience.
as for the piehole remark, that, i believe speaks for itself.
volumes.

Anonymous said...

Well, I personally LOVE mr norby, and I am not ashamed to say it!
However, "Scott" what I guess the poster was saying is that there are actors out there, whom perhaps you have not cast before, nor even met, that would not try and fail, thus consuming so much rehearsal of your time, but rather would succeed before your earliest expectations.
Then, you see, the show can rise BEYOND your dreams for it, because of the simple fact that you thus have MORE time to explore it.
Put that in you piehole, dude.

Anonymous said...

Give me a break. If you're not failing once in a while as an actor, you're not taking enough chances.

Anonymous said...

give ME a break.
that is clap trap cliche times 10.
just act.
be good.
go home.

Anonymous said...

now we're cookin'.

does it need trial and error or meticulous planning and execution to be great? the process i mean. hell yes! but when? and how much of each? who knows? use only when needed i guess. but, fo sho' now and now and now we serve and serve - or at least we try to.

right?

Your Mom said...

I dunno.

But no matter how good you are at the audition, if that's the same performance I see after weeks of rehearsal, I'm not going to be impressed.

You never get it "right" the first time.

That's just lazy.

Anonymous said...

dear mom.
hitting the wine again?
no one said anything remotely like what you are saying.
not even close.
not even far.
not even.
bottoms up!

Your Mom said...

Dear Anonymous:

I present, for your consideration:

"there are actors out there, whom perhaps you have not cast before, nor even met, that would not try and fail, thus consuming so much rehearsal of your time, but rather would succeed before your earliest expectations."

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

"But no matter how good you are at the audition, if that's the same performance I see after weeks of rehearsal, I'm not going to be impressed."

i don't see where this follows the thread.
i don't see where anyone states that an actor should not grow after the audition.

i trust that most actors do the work needed before the first rehearsal starts. that is when the big choices are made.

at least that is how it was when i was trained. that is how us good old boys do it.

On your mom's side. said...

Really? You do the work before the first rehearsal?

Then what the heck do you DO in rehearsal??

And what do you do if you get there with all your pre-first-rehearsal preparation and it turns out the director doesn't agree with you?

The rehearsals are where you DO the work. With the director. You try things. You play. You try other things. When something works, you keep it. When it doesn't (ie, you fail), you don't.

If an actor came into the first rehearsal thinking all his work was "done" I imagine I'd be one annoyed director.

Workin in rehearsal. said...

What is this work you do at home anyway? Memorizing lines, maybe, but you can't work on the blocking. Or the connection with the other actors. Or exploring the text with the director. Or...

Anonymous said...

Folks, you have to be as smart as the previous poster.
As one such poster, I can tell you that by "home work" the poster undoubtedly means mental prep.
OF COURSE he/she does not mean blocking or connecting with the cast, conferring with the director.

Have ya'll heard of character background? Deciding what music the character likes; what their bedroom looks like; what they like to eat; what color their favorite underwear is; how they feel about their family; what was their first job; do they like to be on top; what part of their body they wash first; favorite color; political preference; best and worst memory; religion if any; pet's name; schooling; best vacation; fave movie.....and on.

i also try to find a person in my own life who best represents one of the characters in the play that I may have a scene with. then, if i need to, i can imagine that real person as i rehearse the scene.

now let me say this before you rush to your keyboards:
no, when i do shakespeare, i do not choose a favorite movie -- they did not exist -- and second, let us skip the selfrighteous indignation part of the reaction to the above.
it is so boring.
if you want to discuss theatre and acting, please do so.
any insult you may take from my musings are likely due to some need you have to assume i am speaking about you.
i am not.

i am simply attempting to clarify what another poster has addressed.
And the beauty of all this prep is that no matter what the director wants from you, it all works to help you find the charater.
You sound so very, very green.
You seem to want to impose your apparently limited view of acting on someone else.
it is so insecure of you.
just relax will ya?

let a fellow actor wax on about their methodology without getting into a sophomoric debate about right and wrong.
let your brother be.
let it be.
geez.

Anonymous said...

yeah.
and what about dialect work, if needed or researching the country of the character's origin?
is it a period piece? what do you know about the time period in question?
stanislovsky tells this wonderful story about an actor who took an entire day to choose his character's hat.
then of course there is the other extreme -- wlm h macy claims that research is BS --- that everything you need is in the script.
what it comes down to is that everyone has their own progression in the journey to a fully realized performance.
who are we to question that personal journey?
i believe the impetus for this "argument" was someone suggested that a prepared actor will allow the director to explore the play more than an unprepared one.
and certainly there is nothing wrong with that point of view -- as long as, as an actor you are willing to abandon anything that does not fit in with the director's vision.
as a director i can add that the more the actor has for me to weigh, the better.
who knows, it may be the spark for an entire new take on the moment, the scene or the play.

Anonymous said...

Actually, the impetus for this discussion was the assertation that a good actor would not "try and fail" they would simply succeed.

Anonymous said...

"Have ya'll heard of character background? Deciding what music the character likes; what their bedroom looks like; what they like to eat; what color their favorite underwear is; how they feel about their family; what was their first job; do they like to be on top; what part of their body they wash first; favorite color; political preference; best and worst memory; religion if any; pet's name; schooling; best vacation; fave movie.....and on."

Meh. Busywork that won't help you be truthful in the moment. It will just clutter your head and get between you and the actual PLAY.

Anonymous said...

In the seventies in Boston there were two hockey players on the Bruins, Derek Snaderson and Bobby Orr, who couldn't have been more different in their preparation for the game.

Orr was a fanatic. He he didn't smoke or drink, he went to ballet class for balance and strength, he skated endless wind sprints and drilled his puck handling for hours every practice. Pre-game he would warm-up and stretch every muscle and joint for hours and he held himself back from any contact with the other players to avoid anything that might upset his concentration.

Sanderson usually showed up late or absent to practice and was generally half-drunk when he did attend. Sometimes he would even be late to games. This guy was such a wild hair that he smoked on the bench during games!

They both have Stanley Cup rings and are in the Hall of Fame.

Anonymous said...

EXACTLY.
to each his own.
(though i always thought it was "wild hare")

As to post above that one: OMG
call it bizee work all you want.
but don't be so naive.
there is no "distraction" when on stage due to background work.
if anything it gives one more confidence to totally focus on the task at hand, knowing that you have explored every nook of the character possible.

Even if it is just a psychological trick, it certainly works for a lot of actors.
why so dismissive?
no one is making you do it!
chill.
do it your own way.
it's all good.

but resist the defensive tendency to protect and trumpet your own method by putting down someone else's.
that just makes you look intolerant and self precious.

and i disagree. i don't think the original thread said anyhting about "not failing" in rehearsal.
i don't see that at all.
but even so, surely, the odds are that if you do more prep, you will probably fail less, or at least less severly.
i am not quite sure that anything one does in rehearsals can be termed a "failure" anyway.
it is just a rehearsal.

Anonymous said...

This is where it said something about not failing:

"However, "Scott" what I guess the poster was saying is that there are actors out there, whom perhaps you have not cast before, nor even met, that would not try and fail, thus consuming so much rehearsal of your time, but rather would succeed before your earliest expectations."

Anonymous said...

will you grant that there are many levels of success?
and that one can succeed from the outset and then simply succeed more and more and more?
will you grant that?

Anonymous said...

No.

Because that's just being lazy.

Anonymous said...

i am fairly sure you do not understand the question.
i am speaking of succeeding at a higher level.
the question is perhaps a bt esoteric for you.
A) i am simply calling what you call failure, success, but with room to grow.
B) i am saying that there really is no such thing as failure, as you label it. it is all progress on the trail to success.
i really think you are a little bit stuck.
i don't think i can help you.

Anonymous said...

"There is no spoon." - Neo, The MatrixNo such thing as failure? Succeeding at a higher level?

If I set out to jump the Grand Canyon, and I fall into it, crash and die, I don't learn from it. That's failure. Other people may learn from it, but I still failed. I'm sure my parents won't see the "higher level" in it.

Maybe you don't acknowledge failure in your life; maybe you are that rose-tinted, spiritual and optimistic. Good for you. But failure is real. Failure is a farther end of the spectrum that makes success that much more sweet.

Frankly, I think if you don't know true failure, your successes aren't going to mean as much.

Anonymous said...

nobody dies in theatre.

splattworks said...

On occasion, the audience does.

Anonymous said...

Didnt some guy almost get killed when he forgot to check his prop recently?

Anonymous said...

Here is the thing about saying "failure"
is part of the theatre.
I don't buy it.
e.g. In basketball, you either make the basket or you don't.
There is no gray area there.
In the arts, it is ALL gray area.
In dance, the leap was spectacular, but perhaps he could have lept higher.
Did he fail or succeed?
In song, the note was awesome, but could it have been even more intense?
Did she fail or succeed?
In theatre, the scene was wonderful.
But could it have been more focused or more natural?
Was it a failure or was it a success?
There is no record of it to go back and scrutinize later.
The audience has had their experience and they go home.
There is no "final score" that goes in the record books.
Furthermore the word failure is mutable.
"Moby Dick" arguably the most revered American novel to date by scholars, was a complete and total failure by every measure upon its release.
Rejected totally, the author never knew of its idolization in later years.
So what is pronounced a failure by the powers of the day, is not always so.
The difference of course between a novel and a live event such as theatre, is that there is no chance for revisionism later on.
So again, I say to whomever it was that insists that "failure" is needed to claw one's way into "success" --- I don't agree.
I don't agree because live art is not a win or lose proposition.
It is what it is, and it gets everyone talking or it does not.
But it will always get someone talking.
Is that a success or a failure or a gray area?
There is no basketball and there is no hoop.

Anonymous said...

The "failure" would occur in the rehearsal process, and it would happen when an actor makes a choice. the bolder the choice the bigger the potential for failure.

As a hypothetical. scene calls for an actor to be sad. Actor decides that this character processes sadness by masking their feelings and decides to laugh through the scene. Director decides that although a strong (maybe even a brilliant choice) it doesn't work in context and asks actor to cry instead. The actor has "failed" in a sense but the play improves because of it. The actor learns a little more about the director's vision, the director learns more about how the actor perceives the character, and the moment in question becomes defined.

"Failure" is a part of the process.

Anonymous said...

This is indeed an interesting conversation. I have directed a few plays. I have even acted in a few. I think success and failure play a part in art...at least they do for me. I believe in the art of failure. I love when collaboration collides with creativity and the result is beautiful failure...it means there has been some risk involved. I like the risk taking in the room. What are the stakes and how do we raise them? Are we telling the story to it's full potential? Are we considerate of every detail?
Theatre is never perfect, though I personally have striven to attain it...I always fail, and sometimes it doesn't matter because the failure is a success.
Perhaps failure and success are subjective...like a play...or a performance.
At the end of the day, I just feel blessed that I get to do what I love.
Antonio Sonera

Anonymous said...

"Director decides that although a strong (maybe even a brilliant choice) it doesn't work in context and asks actor to cry instead. The actor has "failed" in a sense but the play improves because of it."

it is all a matter of semantics at this point -- i would not label it a failure at all but a building block.

as for reaching for "perfection"
there simply is no such thing in the world of art.
unless you allow that things are perfect by virtue of their flaws.

Anonymous said...

There may be no perfection, but there can be reaching for it. I know you agree with this, but your comment was written in such a way that it could be read differently . . . as are too many comments on this blog.

Anonymous said...

Hey, I'm just happy that Wade McCollum has moved on from Portland. I was VERY tired of seeing HIM in every show! Very overrated. AND, I even worked with him on 2 shows.

Anonymous said...

Wow.

Whoever you are, I hope I never work with YOU on a show.

You're like some kind of traitor.

Anonymous said...

You probably already have! I work a lot in this town.

Anonymous said...

Better keep safe behind that anonymous then, or that might change.

Anonymous said...

previuos anon-

this is WHY we post anon. why YOU just did!

most people in this town argue their points so moronically.

you deserve each other.

asta

Anonymous said...

No, you aren't paying attention.

I never said that wasn't why we all post anonymously. Of course it is.

I was just pointing out that Anon 7:28 is not a very good castmate, and that if people knew that, he/she wouldn't work as often as he/she claims to do.

Anonymous said...

and just what exactly is a good cast mate? is it someone who never has a wicked thought about a fellow cast mate or director? or for that matter boyfriend or sibling or even a person we're tryng to help?

we all have these thoughts and i am paying attention. you on the other hand seem afraid of something. maybe its fear of letting your ugly side play.

i believe its our ugly side, the darker thoughts that you object to, that provides the contrast necessary for a fully formed characterization.

Anonymous said...

well said

Anonymous said...

Wow...95% of these posts really don't talk about this show at all.

Anonymous said...

well that says something about the show then doesn't it?

Anonymous said...

There is a pretty big difference between having a wicked thought and airing that thought in a public forum while hiding behind a cloak of anonymity.

Just judgin'.

Anonymous said...

i guess what it comes down to is this:
when we agree with someone, we really don't care if we agree 100% with their choice of forum.
when we don't agree, we will get a hernia trying to point out all the things they did "wrong"
let it rest dude.
let it go.

Anonymous said...

I have nothing against the actor personally, but I just thought that the caricature of the woman with OCD was slightly insulting. I just say this because I have and am medicated for OCD myself. I just found it distasteful because it seemed as if the "disorder" was played out for the purpose of getting laughs rather than being portrayed in a more accurate way.

Just a thought.

Anonymous said...

Sorry what did you all say????
I was "DISTRACTED"

Mel