Unless you’ve been on another planet, you know La La Land, the award winning film musical that brings singing and dancing back to the screen. Since the vibrant and grand MGM musicals, this powerful form of expression has long been a part of the movies and it is truly wonderful to see this style of film on the main stage being celebrated once again. I grew up watching the golden oldies like Singin’ In The Rain, South Pacific, and anything Rodgers & Hammerstein, so it’s super exciting to see the modern take on the genre.
After a tape was put in front of US agents, Australian actor Ben O’Toole began making trips to Los Angeles. A 2011 WAAPA graduate and an already working film, television, and theatre actor in Australia, Ben felt unsure about the decision to make the move. However, in Feb 2016, after shooting Hacksaw Ridge, and with a big push from his US agents, he finally did it. He gave himself five weeks to get seen and go to auditions. A year later Ben has three US feature films under his belt., including Everybody Loves Somebody, a romantic comedy with Ben starring alongside Karla Souza, currently showing in US cinemas.
In my latest addition to the L.A Survival Guide, Ben discusses nerves, last minute auditions, finding inspiration in LA, and why it should always be about the work.
“Ill fares the race which fails to salute the arts with the reverence and delight which are their due.”
– Winston Churchill.
It was 1938 when Winston Churchill spoke these sentiments; the world was approaching a war that Britain would engage in for national survival. Yet, even on the brink of a shattering historic episode, one of the most powerful men in the world recognised the importance of the arts in defining it’s time and empowering it’s people.
Storytelling is fundamental to the preservation of civilisation; it reinforces a nation’s cultural and social interest, cultivating historical events which otherwise would dissolve with time. With each brush stroke and penned word, citizenries are enlightened to the melody of the times and the narrative of the creative visionary is ignited.
“It’s not just about the actors, the directors or your own team. Everyone is making this show happen and good working relationships are so important.”
Theatre, film, and TV bring imaginative worlds to life, transporting us through the magic of so many unseen creative hearts and minds. We so often celebrate actors, the ‘front-men/women’ of a production’s colossal galleon that is, in fact, sailed, steered, and charted by so many other (often unsung) talented artists: craftspeople and specialists. The very visual artistic screen and stage mediums owe much to their intricately styled and detailed costuming (evident in the jarring response we so often have to seeing, say, a watch on a Roman solider’s arm, instantly pulling us out of the world’s verisimilitude).
If you are one of these talented people who work so tirelessly behind the scenes to enrich our senses (and make actors’ lives so much easier), then we salute you! Or if, perhaps, you are an actor (or other creative) fascinated by the beautiful, tumbling world of silks, tapestries, scratchy old hessian sacks, gold, beading, and embroidery, then Casting Networks Australia is delighted to bring you these 5 Top Tips for Working in Costume with the gorgeous and talented Fern McCauley, actress and purveyor of costumes to the stars, who has worked on some of the UK’s best screen and stage projects.
“The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.” – Aristotle
It is only the beginning of 2017 and already humanity has witnessed both division and unity. We have watched the greatest super power of the free world change leadership, initiating a global movement, which has ignited the voices of the most influential people in the world. Their purpose alone empowers and motivates communities to develop ideas and engage in creativity.
The arts, much like civilization, is beautiful like that. With the stroke of imagination, the gift of a voice, and the power of character, we have the freedom to create work that echoes life’s gravities and the depths of the human soul. Things are never what they seem and the artist who benevolently portrays the boldest of parts with conviction is a powerful source.
Graduating from NIDA (National Institute of Dramatic Art) in 2000, Socratis Otto has become a household name amongst Australian audiences. With his striking features and smouldering curiosity he has birthed some of the most distinguished roles to date on the Australian Stage, TV, and Film arena.
In mid 2014, I packed my bags and left my lovely, happy life in Sydney to move to Los Angeles to further pursue acting. I had lived there briefly in 2011. My then US agent sent me out for castings and meetings, and I had retained one resounding feeling towards the cement city of LA—distain.
After this short visit in 2011, I returned to Sydney determined to continue with my lovely life, however I could not shake the feeling that if I didn’t suck it up and officially make the move to LA, I was going to regret it. So three years later I finally did it, somewhat begrudgingly, filled with a sense of naivety and very little cash. I found a crappy apartment in the worst part of Hollywood and hoped for the best. Two and a half years later, I’m still considered a newbie in Los Angeles, and I still learn about this town and industry every day.
There are, however, two things I can say with total certainty—moving to LA to act has been personally and professionally the hardest, most challenging experience of my life, and without doubt, the best and most rewarding one. People talk a lot of smack about LA, but if you’re considering the big move from the beautiful shores of Australia because you feel there is something here for you, then I urge you to take the risk.
Here are a few tips and tricks I learnt along the way.
London is undoubtedly theatre-lovers’ heaven—production variety, volume ,and quality are simply unrivaled. Londoners embrace theatre with the same enthusiasm and with as much gusto as Sydneysiders do brunch. Despite long work commutes, sky-high living costs, damp, dark, short days, and the exhausting, overcrowded daily battle, Londoners still find time for theatre. On any given evening, Leicester Square is packed with a throng of theatre-goers and shouting discount ticket sellers, Soho Theatre Bar is bursting at the seams, while away from the West-End, fringe theatres and pub venues spill out onto the footpaths, awash with the young blooded of theatre’s pumping pulse.
So you—stage-loving actor—land ready to tackle this wonderful world. You are British agentless, but with your hard-yakka Australian work ethic are confident that you can apply the same nouse to make it happen on the London stage.
Where to start?
Hello! Hope you are all feeling motivated and back on track after a healthy, happy January!
The Suzuki Method of Actor Training is known for its rigorous physical performance style and intense, imaginatively rich works.
Shy founded the company, comprised of nine actors to investigate highly rigorous and disciplined ensemble performance-making.
ALY: What drew you to the Suzuki Method of Actor Training (SMAT)?
SHY MAGSALIN: I was initially drawn to the rigour and the discipline. The extreme energy and physical exertion gave me a completely chaotic experience in a very strict format. I was highly strung and very temperamental when I younger, so the training was initially a good container for all those fiery, erratic emotions. More interestingly, what’s kept me doing it for 10 years is the training’s intricate, imaginative work that I’ve been able to apply to all different types performances over the years. That’s the stuff I’m always keen to explore.
“The power of imagination makes us infinite.”
Despite being in the relative spring-time of his career, producer Robin Rayner has already gained a reputation as both one of the most sought-after and best-liked members of the UK theatre industry.
Robin’s work spans the stage’s most grandiose heights (as of this month, he is the Associate General Manager of the prestigious Olivier Awards) to its most intimate, providing a platform for bold new work through his production company TREMers and a voice for independent artists by way of the provocative showcase Political Pageantry.
“To create something (however large or small) is a wonderful thing—to excite and inspire, contagious.”
Together with TREMers co-founder Tom O’Brien (currently Resident Director of West End hit Half a Sixpence), Robin seems to have mastered the art of theatre production and its delicate demands of successfully gaining Arts Council Funding, receiving 5-star reviews and multiple award nominations.
“Groundbreaking theatrical productions can be created through spoken word and the power of imagination.”
This is my favourite time of the year. Some people live for December—they love the carols in the shops, the Christmas lights, the parties, and the buzzy lead up to the holidays. Me, I adore January! The renewed zest with which we examine our health, dreams, and relationships excites and drives me. It’s like being given that new notebook that is pristinely blank and waiting for you to create whatever you desire on its pages!! (Am I the only one to get excited about a visit to Officeworks?!)
Self-evaluation and goal setting should not be confined only to the start of the year, but it feels great start a new cycle off with fresh intentions, goals, and loads of hope and determination. I take an hour and write down everything I’d like for my year to hold, where I’d like to be, and what I’d like to release, etc. I encourage you to do the same!
On the other side of things, I definitely enjoyed myself over the holiday season and will be looking at getting my body back to tip top shape for the upcoming year as quickly as possible. It is imperative as actors to be ready to go always.
Check out my tips and the Bust your Butt workout vlog below.