trusting the actor

I'm in London and yesterday I had the great pleasure of meeting Brian Astbury. Brian co-founded South Africa’s first non-racial theatre and arts centre, The Space. In the 1970’s The Space produced theatre, dance and exhibitions which broke apartheid taboos while also winning critical acclaim abroad. After relocating to London, Brian went onto teach in some of the UK's best drama schools and headed the pioneering project, Arts Threshold.

Over the years, in his quest to understand actors and acting, Brian developed a series of exercises that he uses in his teaching. Recently, at the request of past students, Brian put these together in his book, Trusting the Actor. Part diary, part text, Trusting the Actor is an acting book like none other and a must read for all actors.

"If you think this book is just going to be about ‘acting’ you would be very wrong…
Brian Astbury could easily have titled this excellent book ‘Everything you need to know about Acting’ and even then not have come close to describing it’s worth
."  Stephen Moyer (True Blood)
"An idiosyncratic, challenging and practical guide to the craft of acting." Richard E. Grant

I got to spend about two hours with Brian and over multiple coffees he shared some extraordinary life stories with me. It was a pleasure to meet him.

To buy his book. To follow Brian on Twitter.

sceggs invalid reading

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Today I visited SCEGGS Darlinghurst where drama teacher Vivienne Rodda is directing my play The Invalid Rehearsal.  With a cast of 10, which includes three boys from Cranbrook and Sydney Grammar, we had the first cast reading of the play.

Today I visited SCEGGS Darlinghurst where drama teacher Vivienne Rodda is directing my play The Invalid Rehearsal.  With a cast of 10, which includes three boys from Cranbrook and Sydney Grammar, we had the first cast reading of the play.

The Invalid Rehearsal was originally written for and performed by the National Institute of Dramatic Art's Drama Studio in 2010.  It is one of the three short plays I'm publishing this year.  The Invalid Rehearsal, Beth and Grounded will be available mid 2012 in a single volume, GRIT: 3 Plays for Teenagers.

Head of Drama Inga Scarlett said she was so excited to read The Invalid Rehearsal and believes it will work really well at SCEGGS.  It will be performed on the 26th and 27th July.  Good luck to Vivienne and the cast - I can't wait to see the results and look forward to popping in along the way.
I'm pictured with Vivienne Rodda, director The Invalid Rehearsal.

congratulations rhys

Congratulations Rhys Keir!  Rhys is continuing his acting journey at Actors' Centre Australia, ACA.  I recently coached Rhys on his drama school auditions.  Throughout a handful of sessions we worked up a few monologues including Biff from Death of a Salesman and Mark Antony from Julius Caesar.  Rhys was successful on his first audition for ACA and he begins soon on the two and a half year course.  I wish you every success Rhys!

congratulations brooke

Congratulations Brooke McElligott!  Brooke is continuing her acting journey at the Victorian College of Arts, VCA.  I met Brooke in my Bundaberg workshop earlier this year and it was clear she was a talented young actor.  Because of distance I wasn't able to coach her with her auditions for Australia's top drama schools so I mentored her through the process.  I met with her a couple of times and also her parents to discuss options.  It was then I recommended she include VCA in her audition list, as she hadn't thus far.  I'm thrilled she did - her audition, which was her first for VCA gained herself a place at the prestigious institution and she's off to Melbourne soon to begin a great adventure!

grounded

Over the last three years I've been the core tutor of NIDA's Drama Studio - a one year course for teen actors.  Each year I have written and directed their end of year performances.  This year has been my last in this role and I've finished with my third short play for young actors, Grounded.

Grounded has a cast 7 female and 5 male characters.  It begins with a group of girls heading off into the bush to have a party that none of their parents know about.  The play deals with the ramifications of doing so.  It performed at NIDA's Parade Studio on Sunday 11th and was a great success.  The students felt it was a unique opportunity to play people their own age but in circumstances quite far from their own experience.

Grounded will be published along with Beth (2009) and The Invalid Rehearsal (2010) in a book of my short plays. The book will be published by Creative State and available for schools in 2012 - watch this space!

40 years of youth theatre

The Bundaberg Players, which has been operating since 1950, have been running a youth theatre group for 40 years and it's time to celebrate!  The celebrations have taken place over the last four days.  They began with a series of workshops in musical theatre, improvisation, acting and screen acting.  All of the workshops were run by past members of the youth theatre who have gone on to work in the arts: Rebecca Hutchins, Adam Williams, Trevor Green, Colin Thrupp, myself and Trevor Hunter.  The festivities ended with a dinner, performances by present youth theatre members and a puppet show by David Hamilton.

It was great to return to where I got my first acting role as Louis Leonowens in the King and I some thirty years ago and I also got to catch up with some old friends.  The youth theatre productions produced over the years include Man of Steel, King Macbee and the Walking Trees, Sheerluck Holmes, Pinocchio, Bugsy Malone and The Dracular Spectacular.

plc readings

I had the unique opportunity of hearing two of my plays read by a group of students from Pymble Ladies College and Knox Grammar.  Tamara Sweetman, drama teacher at PLC organised the readings.  The two plays were Beth and The Invalid Rehearsal.  I wrote and directed the plays for NIDA's Drama Studio in 2009 and 2010 and as I'm publishing them for schools in 2012, I jumped at the chance to hear them once again before a final rewrite.  It was not only good the hear the plays but to get both Tamara's and the students' feedback.  I benefitted greatly from their feedback and questions and the plays have both improved immensely.  Thank you to to the students and especially Tammara for organising the reading.

If you'd like to be kept up to date about the release of the book of short plays, contact me.

hsc drama monologues

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Individual Performance

20 Original Scripts for HSC Drama

Written by Paul Caesar

Individual Performance contains 20 scripts.  The scripts are written specifically for HSC Drama students and meet the criteria of the Individual Project: Performance assessment

  1. performance skills
  2. character development and sustainability
  3. dramatic structure and coherence.

The 20 original scripts draw on both real stories and fictitious characters.  12 scripts are written as female characters and 8 as male, but some can easily be adapted to change the gender.

Dramatic roles, comic roles -Individual Performance has it all for HSC and high school drama students looking for solo performances pieces.

Script Titles:

Deing Julia, Beast, Nyami, Heart Ache, Jacinta, Adopted, The Wish, Crash, Away from home, Queen Kayla, Bridezilla, Gran Elda, Troup, Impatient, Rich, A.J., Cop That, Bewildered, Humpty Dumpty and Stage Fright.

the invalid rehearsal

I'm currently directing a short play I wrote for NIDA's Drama Studio - The Invalid Rehearsal.  It is a combination of Molière's The Rehearsal at Versailles and The Imaginary Invalid.  The Rehearsal at Versailles is a short play Molière wrote to perform for King Louis XIV about Molière and his actors putting on a play for King Louis XIV.  I've then written a second act in which... I won't give it away but will say it's a lot of fun.  The Invalid Rehearsal has a cast of 10 and performs this Sunday 12 December at NIDA at 12:15 and 3pm.  If you're interested in seeing The Invalid Rehearsal contact me.

where it all began

On Saturday 28th of July I returned to the Bundaberg Players.  I first joined the Players' Youth Theatre in 1982 and received the Junior Oscar for my first ever performance - Louis Leonowens, Anna's son in the musical, The King and I.
It was great to revisit my old "home" and especially to pass on some of what I've learnt since by running an acting workshop whilst there.  Shirley Halpin participated in the workshop.  Shirley was one of my first theatre tutors almost thirty years ago.  She said, "I'm here because you can never stop learning about acting and the theatre and I just love sharing so much."  I know I learnt that from her.  I caught up with my friend Nigel Dick.  Like Shirley, Nigel was a Youth Theatre tutor back then.  He is now the president of the Players.  I acted many times with Rebecca Hutchins who popped in for a visit and now has her own drama and dance school in Bundaberg.  Like me, Rebecca very much enjoys passing on her knowledge and skills to aspiring actors and those who love theatre.  The Playhouse is a remarkable theatre and well worth a visit when in Bundy.

ip dramaturg

I've just returned from Adelaide where I spent the last week with my good friend and dramaturg on my book Individual Performance, Nicholas Garsden.  Nick and I studied acting at NIDA and have remained great friends since.  We spent the week working through the IP scripts and I have to say, bringing Nick on board was a stroke of genius.  Nick's insight to the characters and how best to increase the drama in each of their stories was exceptional.  Those who buy the book will benefit greatly from his input.  Thanks Nick.

ip @ drama nsw

IP is coming!  That is, my book Individual Performance, 20 Original Scripts for HSC Drama.  Today was not so much the launch but the first public announcement that the book is coming.  I attended Drama NSW's Annual Conference with a stall promoting the book and my drama workshop services for schools.  The book will be available in October, at the beginning of fourth term, just in time for the new HSC students in search for great stories to perform in their IP assessments.

12 scripts are being written as female characters and 8 as males but some are easily adapted to the opposite gender.  The response to the book was overwhelming - everyone who saw it put their name down to be informed of its release.  It seems teachers are desperate for good scripts to pass on to their students.

To be notified of its release in October, email me with your details at paul@creativestate.com.au

vca

Congratulations to Olivia Monticciolo who is continuing her acting journey as a student at Melbourne's prestigious Victorian College of the Arts, VCA.  I coached Olivia in preparation for her auditions and I'm thrilled to say she got into her school of choice.  Olivia has taken the leap, as many of us have, and relocated to pursue her dreams.  I wish you every success Olivia and hope it's everything you want it to be. x

"Paul Caesar's ability to understand an actor and their 'own' method when working with a piece is amazing. He works with the tools the actor instinctively uses, rather than implanting his own methods as a base. In doing this he is quick to discover key blockages the actor may have. He certainly did with me when we were preparing my drama school auditions. Once discovering these blocks he did not shy away from the problem, but attacked them carefully and tactfully so I was able to feel comfortable, and work through any difficulties. He really goes out of his way to support his students and nurture their growth as an actor. Not only was working with Paul a resourceful experience for the audition process, but also his knowledge of current productions and theatre history takes the worth of his coaching to the ultimate level. I am very thankful that I met Paul Caesar and look forward to working with him in the future." Olivia Monticciolo VCA 2010
Links by VCA.  Images - recent VCA productions.

beth success

My short play Beth premiered at NIDA on the 13th December with two performances that day, it was a great success.  My anti-bullying script hit home with audiences - we got multiple reports of people actually crying in the audience.  I knew we would have an impact on the audience, reducing them to tears?, great!  One lady came up to me after the show and said, "I'm in education.  That was extraordinary, you have to get that out there!"  And so I will.  In 2010 I'm writing a book targeting HSC students and also hope to publish and sell the two scripts I've written especially for school student: Beth is one and Redemption the other.  Both have been produced and performed at the National Institute of Dramatic Art.  If you're interested in more information about the scripts, don't hesitate to contact me.  Happy 2010 to all.

beth

Over the last couple of months I've written a short play, Beth, for my NIDA Drama Studio students (I head up the Drama Studio, a one year course of Sundays for 15-17 year olds).  With a class of 1 male and 7 females I decided to set the play in an all girls school, with our only male playing the teachers and parents of the female students.  The play deals with bullying and the ramifications that result.  I was horrified by the true stories I found when researching the piece so decided I wouldn't hold back - it has ended up quite dark.  I'm directing the production which will perform on Sunday 13th December in NIDA's Parade Studio.

redemption 08

Over the last two days I spent many hours in a dark performance space at the National Institute of Dramatic Art, all leading up to the performance of a production I wrote and directed - Redemption, Through the eyes of Shakespeare.  I wrote this exploration as a student performance piece in 2005, when I directed it's first production.  The text contains segments of Shakespeare's best plays and links them together with a revolving chorus who like many of Shakespeare's characters, speak in iambic-pentametre.  I submitted the text to NIDA and a new production was confirmed for late 2008.

The 2008 cast included 21 actors from NIDA's Drama Studio and was rehearsed on Sundays over a 9 week period.  It was a great success with many of the cast getting their mouths around the words of Shakespeare for their very first time.  The production was stage managed by Lisa Gormley, an actor in her second year of study at NIDA (we'll be seeing a lot of her in the future) and lit by Matt Tunchon, a graduate of NIDA's Technical Production course.  This was my NIDA directorial debut and I look forward to many more.

Fortunately I was able to fine tune the text a little as rehearsals progressed as I'm looking to publish the text making it available to schools and production companies - one of my goals for 2009.

bundaberg players incorporated

Last week I returned to where it all began: the Bundaberg Players Incorporated.  Prior to my acting studies at NIDA I was involved with the 'Players' for eight years, acting in almost 20 productions and working behind the scenes in many more (see here).  It was during that time that I developed a passion for theatre and really learnt how to act: I am forever indebted to the 'Players'.

I was fortunate to attend a rehearsal for their upcoming pantomime, Aladdin.  I haven't been involved in a pantomime since my studies at NIDA and I must confess, I was a little jealous watching the cast have such fun rehearsing.  Some faces from my past were there including Graham Lister who really is one of the best Dames ever to grace the stage and the 'Players' president, Nigel Dick (pictured in this years performance of Oklahoma).  Nigel was one of my tutors when I was in the Youth Theatre over 20 years ago.  He's a true friend and a great director with a body of acting and directing work any professional would envy.

Image and link by BPI.

redemption

In 2005 I wrote and directed a production, Redemption: Through the eyes of Shakespeare.  It was performed in a small community hall in the hills district of Sydney with a cast of 20 students aged 13 to 17.  I'm pleased to say I am getting a second stab at directing my own work, this time at the National Institute of Dramatic Art.  21 students of NIDA's Drama Studio will rehearse on Sundays during October and November for an early December performance.  This is a project close to my own heart...

'On 11 September 2001,  19 Islamist terrorists affiliated with al-Qaeda coordinated suicide attacks upon the United States killing 2,974 innocent people.

On 12 October 2002, various members of Jemaah Islamiyah, a violent Islamist group detonated 3 bombs in a Balinese tourist district killing 202 innocent people and injuring a further 209 people.

Redemption: Through the eyes of Shakespeare was my response.'

Note: As I finished the first draft of Redemption: Through the eyes of Shakespeare, on 7 July 2005 British Islamist extremists detonated a series of coordinated bomb blasts that hit London's public transport system killing 52 innocent people and injuring a further 700 people.

As we rehearsed the original production of Redemption: Through the eyes of Shakespeare, on 1 October 2005, bombs exploded at two sites in south Bali killing twenty innocent people and injuring a further 129 people.

the marquise d'o

In 1992 I had the pleasure of being directed by Simon Eine in my NIDA graduation play Image d' Moliere.  Simon is an 'Honarary Associate' (having 44 years of service as an actor and director) of the Comedie Francaise, France's oldest theatre company established in 1680.  Recently on my travels in Paris I caught up with Simon and had the great privilege of seeing him in La Marquise d'O.  At an age when most have been retired from their profession for ten years, Simon is still a powerhouse on the stage, with a voice and the physique of someone half his age.

La Marquise d'O (based on Heinrich von Kleist's book) is the story of a Marquise trying to deal with a pregnancy she can't explain.  It is a harsh story but the most beautifully told story I've ever seen on stage.  I could not understand a word of the french drama but was mesmerised from start to finish.  I've not seen such disciplined performances anywhere in the world; the actors' physicality was intense and their hearts immense as they jumped from addressing the audience directly in the telling of this amazing story, and slipping back into the action as they played their role in the drama.

themarquised'oOne scene I found particularly emotional as tears formed in mine own eye: Simon as the Colonel and father of the Marquise has just found out how his daughter has become pregnant and appearing up stage, he makes his way toward the audience with his face in a handkerchief, all the while releasing the most howling wails of sorrow.  The Colonel and the Marquise embrace ending with the Colonel sitting, with his adult child on his lap and stroking her hair as though she'd returned to her youth (pictured). 

I consider myself privileged to have experienced this incredible production: the story amazing, the telling sensational, the cast incredible.  Thanks for the honour Simon.

La Marquise d'O
Directed by Lukas Hemleb
Cast: Lucas Anglarès, Francine Bergé, Simon Eine, Cécile Garcia-Fogel, Brontis Jodorowsky with pianist Stéphanos Thomopoulos.

something wicked this way comes

Recently in London I saw Alex, a one man show featuring Robert Bathurst from Cold Feet; Dealers Choice, a hilarious comedy on addiction to gambling and the most amazing production of Macbeth I've ever seen (at the West End's Gielgud Theatre).

Patrick Stewart starred as Macbeth, Kate Fleetwood as Lady Macbeth and they were joined by an incredible cast.  Patrick makes playing Shakespeare look easy, he seems to do very little but so so much at the same time: he has an enormous presence on stage.  The production is staged with so much clarity and emotional punch: the set is a cross between a bleak royal kitchen and a hospital; the witches make sense in a modern time, Stalin's Russia, as they appear a cross between maids and nurses.

The ending of director Rupert Goold's first half is a spine chilling climax taking you to the edge of your seat and literally standing the hair on the back of your neck: the banquet at which Banquo appears as a ghost is staged through Macbeth's eyes, so we actually see the blood-gouted horror.  After interval, the banquet is seen again through the eyes of the other guests: Macbeth appears to be screaming at thin air.

Images from this amazing production linger in my mind: clearly the best Shakespeare I've ever seen.  If only this wickedness would come this way, so Australian audiences could see it.

Links by IMDB.  Image by Chichester Festival Theatre.