How to Act “Realistically”

My latest YouTube video is another video about acting ‘realistically’. In this video, I say I’ve compiled four simple tips that will help us to act as realistically as possible on screen. Having said this, there are way more tips than this. Also, when I talk about acting ‘realistically’, I’m talking about acting like a natural human being in real life would act. As I’ve written about in a previous blog post (and mentioned in a previous video), acting realistically is a bit of a contradiction because acting is not at all realistic. You can, however, act in a realist way, or a naturalist way, but I digress. Basically: we all know what we mean by acting realistically.

Continue reading

Olivier Messiaen: Quatuor pour la Fin du Temps

I’ve made an online lecture that discusses the compositional technique of Olivier Messiaen with reference to his quartet: Quatuor pour la Fin du Temps (Quartet for the End of Time) for clarinet, piano, violin and ’cello. In this lecture, I discuss his use of ‘modes of limited transposition’; ‘isorhythms’, ‘non-retrogradable rhythms’, and ‘reductive rhythm’. This blog post features as a supplement to the lecture, which you can find on my YouTube channel.

Olivier Messiaen

First, some contextual background: who was Olivier Messiaen? He was born in 1908 in Avignon, France. His father was a translator of English (especially Shakespeare), and his mother was a poet. Messiaen taught himself piano and wrote The Lady of Shalott after Tennyson’s poem (here, he is already demonstrating extra-musical influences). He attended the Paris Conservatoire in 1919 until 1930. There, he studied piano, organ, percussion and composition (and history). Messiaen also learned about Greek rhythms from Marcel Dupré, and discovered a table of 120 Indian ‘deci-talas’ listed by Sharngadeva (these are rhythms of the Indian provinces). Knowing all this is important for understanding his works post-1935 (including Quatuor pour la Fin du Temps).

Continue reading

Museum für Moderne Kunst

I once made a video about my experiences at the Museum für Moderne Kunst (Museum of Modern Art, or MMK for short) in Frankfurt, Germany. You can view this on my YouTube channel (although it’s one of my first videos and not very good). Here is a blog post about the experience that can accompany that online video or vice versa.

First, my time in the museum was a thought-provoking experience. I found the works forced me to connect with my own thoughts and encounter the world in ways I probably wouldn’t have done otherwise (in that moment). Or, at least, they encouraged me to acknowledge those thoughts. Some of the works that stayed with me were the films that were on display, as well as an interactive artwork, and an artist I discovered whose work I’ll have to read more about.

Continue reading

Realistic Camera Acting

I’ve just released a tutorial on my YouTube channel about realistic camera acting. Basically, I’ve compiled 4 simple tips that will help us to act as realistically as possible on screen. In other words, how to act like a natural human being in real life would act. I elaborate on the term ‘realistic’ because, of course, acting realistically is a bit of a contradiction: acting is not at all realistic. You can, however, act in a realist way, or a naturalist way, but I digress. We all know what we mean by acting realistically: it tends to be the question people ask when they want to know how to act: it’s basically about being believable.

My first tip is to don’t show it, think it: you’re not supposed to look like you’re acting. A lot of aspiring actors, when they first get in front of the camera, get all worried about showing that their character is thinking and feeling certain things. We don’t act like this in real life, so why do we act like this in front of the camera? You’ve got to trust that the camera will pick up those thoughts and feelings that your character is having. Basically, don’t worry about “showing” it to the camera. Just have that thought behind the eyes: think those things the character is thinking (as much as is possible of course). Acting is the only profession where the goal is to encourage the viewer to forget you’re an actor. For instance, we don’t look at a painting and go, !wow, that painting is so good, I forgot Picasso was a painter for a moment there.” But for acting, that’s the goal: to make your performance feel real so that the audience can get lost in the story, can suspend their disbelief, can find cathartic release, can ultimately forget they’re watching actors playing make-believe (Brecht would have something to say about this, but we’ll talk about this another time).

Continue reading

Polskie Radio / Polish Radio

Tonight, my piece ‘We Lived in the Gaps Between the Stories.’, performed by accordionist Ryszard Lubieniecki, will be played on Polish radio:
[translation]: “[…] a presentation of the music of young generation composers gathered around the Łódź scene of Musica Privata. “Seeds” is the title of Ryszard Lubieniecki’s debut album. We will listen to works by Mateusz Śmigasiewicz and Alannah Marie today.”
Continue reading

Brecht: MOTHER COURAGE AND HER CHILDREN

Being a composer and an actor, I love both music and acting and often the two are interlinked. Here’s a blog-post discussion about Bertolt Brecht’s MOTHER COURAGE AND HER CHILDREN, and also some of Brecht’s techniques. I actually discussed Brecht and some of his techniques in my PhD on avant garde music. This is how strongly Acting and Music are interlinked. It’s all art! (Don’t quote me on that).

Brecht in Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre

I went to see Brecht’s MOTHER COURAGE AND HER CHILDREN in the Royal Exchange theatre in Manchester. It’s a beautiful building: as soon as you walk in, you’re greeted by high impressive ceilings and pillars and archways (and that’s just the lobby area!) The main stage is circular, and the audience are seated around it in tiers. The stage’s floor rotates. This allows every audience member to see various parts of the show without the actors having their backs towards the audience throughout a whole play. It’s always interesting seeing how the performers and directors and stage design team and so on navigate it. As a side note, I went to see Beckett’s HAPPY DAYS in this theatre. If you’ve seen it, you’ll be aware that the main actor must be buried in a mound of earth throughout the whole play. When this was performed in the Royal Exchange theatre, they had the mound of earth rotating slowly and continuously throughout the whole performance.

Continue reading

Ian Pace in Huddersfield

I am pleased to announce that Ian Pace will be performing my Progress always comes late  (2017) for solo piano. This piece was composed as a birthday present for Ian Pace on his fiftieth birthday. More information about this can be found here and here.

This particular upcoming concert will feature works by Charles Ives, Walter Zimmermann, Marc Yeats, Lauren Redhead, Eleri Angharad Pound, Alistair Zaldua, and Michael Finnissy. More information about the concert and how to book can be found here.

The following is some information about the concert which can also be found on the University of Huddersfield’s website. Continue reading