SHOJAI & STEELE PLAYS OFFERS WORKSHOPS
Amy Shojai and Frank Steele have frequently taught theater workshops both on the local and national level (Texas Thespian Festival, national Junior Thespian Festival and others). They are happy to consider bringing one or more of their fun sessions to your middle school, high school, college or theater.
This is a list of some of their more popular sessions. Each typically runs about an hour. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss availability and fees for individual sessions or day-long workshops.
SHOJAI & STEELE PLAYS will present several workshops (flagged with a * below) at the upcoming TEXAS THESPIAN FESTIVAL Nov. 21-23, 2019. Come say hello!
LICENSE TO BE OBNOXIOUS: CREATING MEMORABLE CHARACTERS. Wigs, accents, props, postures, background and attitudes—go beyond learning the lines, and get the dang book out of your hands! Free your imagination to get out of your way, look beyond the expected, and get OBNOXIOUS. Does she have a cold or cough? Does he have a goose-honk laugh? Bring your favorite character scene, and let’s stand your character on his or her head (maybe literally!).
A GOOD ACTOR IS A GOOD THIEF. This topic relates too how actors of all ages need to watch, imitate, copy, and understand human characteristics. How do we most effectively use what we’ve “borrowed” from others? We’ll discuss it.
*KAMIKAZE COURAGE: GET YOUR “BRAVE” ON FOR SCENE STUDY. Don’t be afraid. Do what you have to do to get the part! Do you want the part badly enough? Do you? Well, we’ll find out. *** Students have a very short monolog to perform. We’ll work and re-work your skills to perfection.
*DAREDEVIL ACTING. Character descriptions—the “breakdown”—rarely provides much beyond a name and age. Don’t fall into the trap of making “easy” choices—character development means taking chances! Maybe Grandma is an ex-beauty queen with great dance moves? Or Prince looks handsome but thinks he’s a toad inside? How do unexpected concepts change and enrich acting choices? This session inspires you to go behind the ordinary, and be a daredevil to reach the extraordinary!
NO-EXCUSE SUCCESS & WHY WHINING WON’T WORK. Don’t come to me with excuses! A study as to why the show must go on, and what you need to do to get the job done.
*ACT UP. ACT OUT. ACT RIGHT! HOW TO WIN THE PART (NO MATTER WHAT!) Do what you have to do to get the part you want! A study of what is required and what’s necessary to beat out other actors for that “plum roll.” How do I make sure I’m the one noticed in the audition process.
READY FOR YOUR CLOSE-UP? ACTING FOR THE CAMERA: You’ve been on stage in every play offered. You don’t have to think twice about upstage, downstage, stage right or stage fright, and your vocal coach grins when your voice rattles the rafters. The audience loves you, and you love that applause–but how do you transition to acting for the camera? It’s exactly the same (only different!) and this session provides the all the must knows for successful on-camera audition and performance. Find out what to expect when you get that audition, how to prepare and what to do once you get there–and what NOT to do! These mock-audition sessions will offer hands on practice for students to learn if the lights-camera-action life appeals to them. The workshop also will offer tips for students in plays who will appear on local TV to promote those appearances.
FOR ACTORS & DIRECTORS
*TALK DIRTY TO ME! Choosing plays with meaty topics often includes !@#$%&!^%# language not considered appropriate for school productions by the administration or (gasp!) the parents or kids themselves. “Sanitizing” the script seems reasonable—until copyright comes into play. This session addresses the issue with ways to handle language challenges—including some unique out-of-the-@#$%^!!!-box suggestions for keeping the dialogue/story flavor intact without the nasty aroma!
WE’RE NOT BABIES. This topic relates to how middle school kids are thought of (often) as little kids; therefore, drama materials chosen for them, by the teacher, will often bolster the perception that the middle school actor has limited capabilities. Explore how this perception is wrong, and the middle school actor is capable of much more.
*IT TAKES A VILLAGE: TEAM BUILDING FOR SUCCESS. We’re all in this together! Learn how no one in the production is more important than anyone else. Jobs have responsibility. Work as a team, and you’ll have a better show. This discussion deals with what it takes to mount a successful show, and how every single person involved interacts with every other person. From the curtain puller to the person who sweeps up, we’re all part of the show.
ARE YOU READY FOR SHOW-BIZ, AND IS SHOW-BIZ READY FOR YOU? As a young actor, do you have an agent? Are you getting work? Are you taking classes? Do you work in an actors support group? Is your ego getting in the way of good performing? Let’s talk about it. I mean it….Let’s talk about it!
ACTING AIN’T FOR SISSIES! What an actor has to go through and endure for theater., and why it’s worth it! We’ll discuss the real differences between the two, and there are vast differences, believe me. We’ll talk about what it takes to sustain as an an actor, and what it takes to sustain as a star.
*DON’T WASTE YOUR BREATH: BE HEARD WITHOUT SHOUTING. If the audience can’t hear or understand you, GET OFF THE STAGE! Mic technology is great but turns some actors and singers into wimps. And when tech-stuff goes ker-flooey will your lines and song be heard? This session teaches how to PROJECT and ENUNCIATE whether saying lines or singing lyrics. Take the WIMP out of acting (even when whispering) in this fun session!
*DON’T MAKE ME CRY–I SUCK AT SINGING. You’re an actor. How do you do what’s necessary to sell yourself, your acting, and your singing (even if you’re not a singer).
*SING BAD TO SELL YOUR SONG! Maybe you sound great—or maybe you sing like a rusty hinge. Either one can work but in the world of Musical Theater, often it’s the Rusty Hinge singer who brings down the house! Learn basics of song interpretation, how to leverage your individual vocal chops, and blow away the nay-sayers (especially yourself!). This fun session gives everyone permission to “sing bad” for the glory of the show.
PAUSE FOR APPLAUSE: THE POWER OF SILENCE. Take a pause and steal the show, guaranteed! How pauses, double takes, having a moment on stage, and certain “looks’ will make you a star.
SPECIAL THEATER CHALLENGES
STAGE HOG 101: THE BAD, THE UGLY & THE GREAT! How to upstage everyone else, and make it work! Making YOU the one the audience watches without ruining everyone else’s performance.
*OINK-OINK! HOW TO BBQ THAT STAGE-HOG. Every theater has ‘em…but how do you manage upstaging hams? We’ll discuss the advantages of being a “generous” performer, and how to stop Bacon-Blitz from stealing the spotlight. This session helps students and directors get a handle on identifying the problem and fostering generosity onstage and off.
*WRONG TYPE? GET CAST ANYWAY. The part calls for an actor six feet tall. I’m only five feet, two. How do I get the part? We’ll study how physical characteristics go out the window if you’re prepared for your job.
*DO YOU FIT THE SUIT? FIGHTING TYPE CASTING. How do you sell yourself for that “PERFECT ROLE” role when you’re the wrong size/age/whatever? Character descriptions—the “breakdown”—often are very specific while others leave much to the actor or director’s imagination. Both can create challenges. This session turns casting the “usual suspects” on its head, to not only expand the talent pool but to bring the unexpected to life on stage. We’ll discuss the challenges of casting, and how to cast against “type” in ways that bring audiences to standing ovations!
*THE USUAL SUSPECTS? FIGHTING FAVORITISM IN CASTING. The director keeps casting her son. How can I get chosen over him? This is more common than you think. We’ll study just how you can convince the director that you’re the one, not “Sonny Boy!”
SCRIPTING NEKKID: Use Playwriting Techniques to Hone Character, Dialogue & Story: Learn how to take a script from concept to production in this fun session. Scripts strip bare the playwright’s idea. No frilly exposition, dialogue tags or inner thoughts clothe the story. Instead, the playwright relies on dialogue and/or lyrics to define character and drive the plot in a mere 60-120 pages, confined to a finite space and at the mercy of actor/director interpretation. In this session, students learn the basics of writing plays. Find out the nuts and bolts about what works, the challenges involved, and personal experience examples (the good, the bizarre and the awesome). Topics covered include: *Play format (how many pages, how many acts, music or not, stage directions, character breakdowns, lighting, sound cues, etc) *Path to Production: Staged readings, table reads, workshopping, producing, submission, self-licensing *Copyright, ASCAP (for music), etc. *How to Collaborate (without killing each other!) *Students may bring/read 1-2 pages of their own original script for critique (pending time constraints) (Powerpoint with audio to share music examples preferred but not required)
PREPARING FOR “STRAYS, THE MUSICAL“
ACTING LIKE CATS AND DOGS, Theater scripts today commonly include animals or pets as sidekicks to humans—or as characters telling their own stories. Whether your production is aimed at kids or adults, aims for realism or fantasy, animal characters add texture, emotion and a unique viewpoint. Learn how we’ve effectively used dog/cat “viewpoint” characters in both fiction and plays, what to consider when creating a furry character, pet peeves that derail your work, and how to create a furry pick-of-the-litterati. We’ll do a little reading, a little singing, maybe a little tail wagging, hissing and howling in this fun session! (Powerpoint with audio to share music examples preferred but not required)