RDS7: Young & Hungry, developing artists.

Posted on October 21, 2014 by Basement

I’ve always thought, pretentious as it may sound, that there is a difference between an actor who is a performer and an actor who is an artist. I can appreciate an actor who is a performer because to be an exciting and empathetic presence on stage is no small feat, but I have a preference towards actors who are artists. I have lots of theories on what makes that difference, though I won’t bore you or annoy you with that here. What I will say is that Young & Hungry is the kind of festival that develops young performers into artists.

Before I take you down this rabbit trail I just have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed Second Afterlife; it was clever and relevant and fun and the actors did an excellent job. However, I am about to spend this blog focused on, Uncle Minotaur. When the play ended I had a lot of things that I wanted to write down about it, but mostly I wanted to walk up to one of those young actors and ask, “Do you realize how lucky you are to have been involved with a show like this?” You see, I would ask because this show wasn’t written for every seat to have a butt in it. It wasn’t written with lots of likeable/relatable characters, the heroes weren’t true heroes, and the plot wasn’t laid out in any kind of predictable pattern. This was a show that could lose an audience member, one that could have people walking out not quite sure about what they just watched. There was risk to it… would the audience buy into giant birds made of laundry baskets and cartoon sized taps? Would they emotionally embrace the girl with the big glasses and still care for her even after she ripped her own eyeball out and bled all over the white bathtub, the same one they were asked to accept as an operating table? Would they leave the theatre at peace with the fact that at the end there was no neatly wrapped resolution?

Uncle Minotaur, is the kind of show that an actor has to pour into without the expectation of applause or accolades. Acting in a show like that takes a performer and asks them to go against everything that a natural performer seeks to do, to please, wow, amaze, and easily connect with their audience. This is the kind of play that you might have to explain to your mom, dad, and best friend. These are the kind of roles (looking at you mean girls) that people might not get the depth of, but you still have to “live believably in imaginary circumstances (Meisner).” It (Uncle Minotaur) is the kind of play that forces a performer to look much deeper then their blocking, character outlines, and lines. The kind of play that forces the performer to put a little more trust in the audience to go with them. The performers have to invest deeper into it, understand it, make it their own, and seek out the meaning of every part. If they don’t do this then they won’t connect with their audience and even more so in a play of strange constructs, this is key. If they (the performers) do, do this, then they will become artists in the piece.

Well done, Young & Hungry! Thank you for giving the next generation of theatre greats the opportunity to learn, to develop, to be challenged, and to share their talents with Auckland. I can’t wait to see what next year holds.

-DG

Row D Seat 7 is a blog written by Dawn Glover. Dawn studied acting at Purdue University (USA) earning her Masters of Fine Arts in Performance. She has worked professionally as an actor and singer throughout The States and made Auckland her new home almost two years ago. She is one of the founders of Navi Collaborative and is actively interested in theatre for social change, experimental works, and performance art.