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Thread: Actor training

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  1. Default Actor training 
    #1
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    Feb 2010
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    S Wisconsin
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    Hi, this has probably been gone over, but are there any videos available for actor training. We have all volunteer people (this is a non-profit fund raiser) and would like to see if we can give the actors some tips.

    Thanks
     

  2. Default  
    #2
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    Aug 2012
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    Oklahoma City, OK
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    I know I have said this before and some will probably get tired of it, but I'm a huge fan of getting a drama arts teacher from a college or high school to help with this. They always seem motivated to help. Just a thought...

    Ryan
     

  3. Default  
    #3
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    Mar 2010
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    Connecticut
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    Allen Hopps has some great DVD's, I'm using clips from them in a smaller and shorter video presentation for our actors in addition to just hands on practicing and talking about what I have done before

    I couldn't disagree more about a drama teacher or drama student. I have had NOTHING but poor experiences with the "theatrical" people, they get TOO into it and don't keep a sense of time, they don't realize that most actors interact with patrons for 1-5 seconds. So I really am against letting any drama teachers/students/enthusiasts into my attraction....they don't study horror or scares they study and rehearse Annie, and sing and perform for a long period of time. I personally went to a performing arts school for 6 years and then a medical based school for high school and now I'm half college student and half haunt owner, and I have a lot of friends in the drama department at my university but not a single one is acting in my haunt, because it isn't what they're trained for, haunt acting goes against most typical and educational based theorems of acting. Now, if your drama teacher is a drama teacher who happens to love Halloween and understands that all of his training and teaching doesn't really work in the haunt world, than he could be an asset, but I've yet to find a drama teacher or student who is something other than, well....drama.
     

  4. Default  
    #4
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    Dec 2011
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    613
    Quote Originally Posted by screamforadream View Post
    Allen Hopps has some great DVD's, I'm using clips from them in a smaller and shorter video presentation for our actors in addition to just hands on practicing and talking about what I have done before
    This is how brilliant Allen is. Here is Allen's "String Theory" exercise.



    Imagine two hours of this kind of brilliant insight. That's just one of his DVD's, and he has two of them. That's four hours total. That should definitely get you and your cast and crew off to a good start.

    Quote Originally Posted by screamforadream View Post
    I couldn't disagree more about a drama teacher or drama student. I have had NOTHING but poor experiences with the "theatrical" people, they get TOO into it and don't keep a sense of time, they don't realize that most actors interact with patrons for 1-5 seconds. So I really am against letting any drama teachers/students/enthusiasts into my attraction....they don't study horror or scares; they study and rehearse Annie, and sing and perform for a long period of time. I personally went to a performing arts school for 6 years and then a medical based school for high school and now I'm half college student and half haunt owner, and I have a lot of friends in the drama department at my university but not a single one is acting in my haunt, because it isn't what they're trained for, haunt acting goes against most typical and educational based theorems of acting. Now, if your drama teacher is a drama teacher who happens to love Halloween and understands that all of his training and teaching doesn't really work in the haunt world, than he could be an asset, but I've yet to find a drama teacher or student who is something other than, well....drama.
    You also run into what you might call "Junior Shakespeare" syndrome. You give the actor a two to three word line that basically amounts to some form of "boo" (which has worked successfully for that character they're playing, season after season), and they suddenly think they are channeling the Bard, and start writing their own soliloquy.

    For instance, a simple and effective line like "I can taste your scent" turns into "I am the Zombie Witch King of Angmar from the Ninth Plane of Hell and I am here to steal your soul and cast it into the Abysmal Eternal Abyss of Sorry where you will be trapped in your Shadow Self and will live forever in the Eternity of Eternal Torment . . ." and what the freak are you talking about!?! What the hell happened to "Boo" or "Grrrrr" or "I taste your scent"!?!

    I have seen crap like that happen so often it's pathetic. I'm not saying it's reserved for drama types, but it is paramount that whoever you cast knows that we are depending on body language and few lines at best. We're talking a few seconds of interaction at best. A bit more in some spots perhaps. But we aren't doing soliloquies or vignettes, unless you are doing some kind of old school haunt from 20 years ago.

    Additionally, even just breaking the fourth wall can throw most thespian types for a serious loop. And in our situation, we aren't really breaking the fourth wall as much as there is no fourth wall to break to even begin with! Also, the prospect of potentially being physically assaulted by our audience is also a new one on most drama types. You're not getting a strong, stirring reaction from an audience member in the twelfth row; you are getting a strong, stirring reaction from an audience member 12 inches away from you.

    That is a very different head-space to operate in.

    C.
    Last edited by BrotherMysterio; 08-14-2012 at 11:39 PM.
     

  5. Default  
    #5
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  6. Default  
    #6
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    Aug 2012
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    Oklahoma City, OK
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    Quote Originally Posted by screamforadream View Post
    Allen Hopps has some great DVD's, I'm using clips from them in a smaller and shorter video presentation for our actors in addition to just hands on practicing and talking about what I have done before

    I couldn't disagree more about a drama teacher or drama student. I have had NOTHING but poor experiences with the "theatrical" people, they get TOO into it and don't keep a sense of time, they don't realize that most actors interact with patrons for 1-5 seconds. So I really am against letting any drama teachers/students/enthusiasts into my attraction....they don't study horror or scares they study and rehearse Annie, and sing and perform for a long period of time. I personally went to a performing arts school for 6 years and then a medical based school for high school and now I'm half college student and half haunt owner, and I have a lot of friends in the drama department at my university but not a single one is acting in my haunt, because it isn't what they're trained for, haunt acting goes against most typical and educational based theorems of acting. Now, if your drama teacher is a drama teacher who happens to love Halloween and understands that all of his training and teaching doesn't really work in the haunt world, than he could be an asset, but I've yet to find a drama teacher or student who is something other than, well....drama.

    I guess I have had good luck with the ones I have used...
     

  7. Default  
    #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    S Wisconsin
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    50
    Thanks Allen,
    I thought you had them but was not sure. Now just have to convince them it is worth it, sometimes others in a non profit can be pretty pig headed (and im not talking about a mask they are wearing)
     

  8. Default  
    #8
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    Apr 2009
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    Near Charlotte NC
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    Of course there is something to be said for bringing in someone who actually does train actors at haunted attractions across the country and let them put on an actors workshop at your location. If only there were some people like that who frequent this board.* Hmmm...

    www.rabidbadger.biz



    *Allen Hopps, Katie Lane, myself and a few more frequent this board...
     

  9. Default  
    #9
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    Aug 2012
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    DFW, Texas
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    I'm not the first to mention it, but yes, Allen's training DVDs are superb. I've personally attended several of his classes and they are fine tuned to get your people "in the zone" for establishing a character and getting scares- in a timely manner. Worth checking out.
     

  10. Default  
    #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
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    613
    Quote Originally Posted by Haunter View Post
    I guess I have had good luck with the ones I have used...
    You have, indeed, and if it works for you, keep doing it. I think what Scream and I were referring to was perhaps the flip-side of that coin. Not saying that drama types can't be effective, but it is definitely a caveat-emptor, buyer-beware situation, and not a off-the-shelf, turnkey solution to one's haunt casting needs.

    I remember when I did cast directing at that one haunt and they were going to do Spanish nights to support a Spanish charity at a church downtown. I thought it sounded great, they had a Spanish speaking cast, and a cast director who brought the cast by the haunt a few times and then they would go off somewhere, where ostensibly they did training, separate from our group. I only met this other casting director once, she didn't say much, seemed somewhat aloof and self-important, and then that was basically it until a few weeks before opening. Well, they come in for a test run or dress rehearsal, if you will. They ran thru makeup, took their places, and I do a walk thru.

    "Shocked" really isn't the word for it. "Pole-axed", "dumbstruck", "flabbergasted", "horrified", they might get closer to the mark. Remember, we had worked out the scares for each room and scene. Nothing too language intensive that wouldn't translate to Spanish from English, or anything like that, but we had specific scares worked out that would work regardless of language. What we got instead was 10-15 people, one per scene, in cheesy clown make-up (that looked like some kid's mom scrawled it on at the last moment), and each of them, down to a one, just stood there and then lunged forward a foot and said "boo" as I rounded each corner. That's what two months of work produced.

    I was wondering what the hell happened for two months. What the hell did this lady do for two months while she was supposed to be training the cast. Right then and there I canceled the whole duel cast thing, combined both casts, and said we weren't doing any special nights or different languages, and we'll just be open when we're open. Charity proceeds from one night goes to one charity, and charity proceeds from the other night goes to the other.

    "Caveat-Emptor", indeed.

    C.
     

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