Craig Noel
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I thought it might be interesting to ask some of the nominees for Craig Noel Awards for their best advice. Am so glad I did.

Steve Gunderson, Featured Performance in a Play, Male. “The late Will Roberson told me to ‘take the note.’ Often, when my inner voice feels resistant to a particular adjustment by a director, I hear this snappy little reminder in my head. For me, it’s gold. Just go with the note — incorporate it and embrace it, and then it can be up for discussion, not before.”

Eileen Bowman, Featured Performance in a Musical, Female. “Some thoughts that have helped me: We as actors are in the business of ‘making magic,’ and every performance should feel like your first. There is always someone in that audience seeing a show for the first time, and someone seeing a show for the last time.”

Antonio TJ Johnson, Featured Performance in a Play, Male. “That’s easy: ‘feel the pain.’ Joe Powers and Sean Murray told me that at a very important time in my career. They may not remember, but I do. Also, I heard Robert Duval say the most important trait in an actor is vulnerability. I tell young actors these all the time.”

Linda Libby, Featured Performance in a Play, Female. “Keep going! When you don’t get the part, or make a mistake, or hear something that might hurt your feelings. More specifically, when we rehearsed The Women with Anne Bogart, I had an epiphany. Everything clicked. I wanted to stop and talk about it. But she saw the flinch the moment after and blurted ‘keep going!’ Now I look eagerly ahead for what genius might come along in the next moment.”

Steven Lone, Lead Performance in a Play, Male. “I’ve pieced these mottos and advice together from several acting professors and directors: always be present; play the truth; and never ever care about anybody out there ‘liking’ you.”

Yolanda Franklin, Featured Performance in a Play, Female. “My gifted acting coach, DJ Sullivan, taught me it’s always about my character’s relationship to the other characters, and it’s never just the words, it’s what’s not being said (subtext). Ion Theatre’s bold directors, Claudio Raygoza and Glenn Paris, taught me to find the writer’s true tone, timing, and intention by honoring all the punctuation and beats first — BEFORE adding the nuances and” — she laughs — “magical acting powers.”

Miles Anderson, Lead Performance in a Play, Male. “The most impactful director in my life and someone I worked for many times was Trevor Nunn. He taught me that the best actors and directors eschew ego. True humility in the rehearsal room allows the character to come to life. My other best piece of advice was from my wife Bella Merlin (actress and Stanislavsky exponent) who has revolutionized my work with her insistence that deep text analysis is the key to igniting the imagination.”

Sylvia M’Lafi Thompson, Lead Performance in a Play, Female. “Oddly enough, one of the greatest pieces of acting advice I ever received came from my father. His having come here from the West Indies made him a fanatic for pronunciation, articulation, and projection. His stern reminder – “if you can’t be understood or heard, you don’t exist” – stays with and continues to serve me to this day.”

Kandis Chappell, Featured Performance in a Play, Female. “Craig Noel taught me to go to the end of the line. Choose one, maybe two, words to stress, and get to the end of the thought. We were rehearsing an Ayckbourn play and he said, ‘I want you all to listen to Kandis. She goes to the end of the line. She can’t act, but she goes to the end of the line.’ Lord how I miss him!”

Jefferson Mays, Lead Performance in a Musical, Male. “At the risk of dropping a famous name rather clamorously, I met Lillian Gish when I was in college. I was having lunch with my Grandmother and she happened to be at the table next to ours. At the end of the meal I was introduced and my Grandmother mentioned my interest in theater. Lillian Gish turned her still astonishingly enormous, blue and limpid eyes upon me, clasped my hand and said, ‘Young man, don’t watch other actors, watch people.’ I’ve been stalking people around the streets of Manhattan ever since.”

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shirleyberan Jan. 21, 2014 @ 9:27 p.m.

I like "authentically, soulfully reacting to the character your playing opposite". Oh, I said that.


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