On Feb. 27, Tulsa Theatre, in partnership with the Thomas K. McKeon Center for Creativity (C4C), presented the “I Can’t Act” workshop.
Travis Guillory, education and community outreach coordinator for Theatre Tulsa, began the workshop by explaining how Theatre Tulsa is one of the longest running community theater groups in the nation, currently celebrating its 100th season. Guillory produced, directed, choreographed, or performed in more than 80 theatrical productions, including directing and/or choreographing Theatre Tulsa’s youth productions of “Les Misérables,” “The Wizard of Oz,” “Frozen,” “Chicago,” and Theatre Tulsa’s “The Drowsy Chaperone.”
A huge part of the workshop was stripping down the fundamentals of acting and then practicing those fundamentals. In an interview, Guillory stated, “Since the whole idea of the “I Can’t” workshop series is to bring in people who have never experienced something… and I didn’t want to over-complicate it…I wanted to strip acting down to the basics. You’re usually given a character, and your job is to transform into that character using your voice, body, and mind.”
In the workshop, Guillory introduced the participants to the definition of acting: “Acting is creating truthful characters through an understanding of human nature and psychology.”
Guillory, in his expressive and gesticulating mannerisms, began the workshop by asking participants to portray sadness using their bodies. After the participants slouched, and dropped their heads down, he asked them to portray happiness.
Guillory said, “The whole room just lit up…We put our shoulders back, smiled a little bit…”
He prompted the participants to notice the physicality of portraying an emotion and character. The participants then played around with portraying anger. Guillory prompted the students to practice their skills by walking around the room and emoting situations such as “a dog dying,” “getting a new dog,” “you find your dog did a big doo-doo on your new carpet.”
Throughout the workshop, Guillory talked about the importance of being in tune with your emotions in both personal life and acting. Throughout the similar exercise where students had to act out “running late,” Guillory showed how acting is also a creative exercise in going beyond the script and figuring out in what way the character would be running late.
Guillory introduced the three Ps of voice: Projection, Pronunciation, and Personification. To practice the concepts, the participants would say each line monotone, and later changed up their voice when given a new situation.
In the partner activity, Guillory talked about character fundamentals: Goal, Obstacle, Tactic and Expectation (GOTE). Two volunteers would be given a piece of dialogue and some emotions or situations to act out.
During the activity, he made the joke, “There are two people, I can’t guarantee you’ll walk out of here as: Meryl Streep or Shakespeare.” This exercise was to help the first timers feel more open standing in front of their peers and trying something new.
Lastly, the workshop ended with a “Create a Character” activity, where students filled in the blanks of their characters’ GOTE.
Overall, Guillory said, “I feel like the workshop had great participation. It’s always a little nerve-wracking to get up in front of people, but the participants were eager and willing to engage with the material, and that made the workshop successful.”
Currently, Guillory is directing and choreographing Kinky Boots, which can be viewed at the Tulsa Performing Arts Center (PAC) the last weekend of April and the first weekend of May. The tickets can be found at the Theatre Tulsa Website, or PAC Website.
To learn more about the Center for Creativity (C4C) programs, visit the C4C website.
If you would like to be a volunteer at one of Theatre Tulsa’s productions, fill out the Theatre Tulsa Volunteer Contact Form.