Archive for ‘Advice’

January 28, 2013

Why photos of One Direction wont save us from global warming | Environment |

The field of ‘climate communications’ is increasingly well developed, and campaigners spend a lot of time thinking about how to write their messages in a motivating way. But we haven’t seen much to suggest that much thought is given to the images that are used to communicate about climate change.

On of the papers’s authors, Dr Saffron O’Neill from the University of Exeter, told us:

“I don’t think there’s any ‘ideal’ combination of images for engaging people with climate change, as it depends what you are trying to communicate, why you are trying to communicate it, and to whom.

“However, our study does indicate that it’s important to decide first whether you are trying to increase peoples’ sense of saliency (how important they feel climate change is), or their sense of efficacy (whether they feel empowered to act). It appears images may be able to influence one (either saliency or efficacy), but none of the images seemed to be able to do both.”

Why photos of One Direction wont save us from global warming | Environment |

November 5, 2012

Simon Callow on playing real people


“In every one of these [films and plays I was involved in] the author has used the character for his or her own purposes, while staying broadly within the parameters of the truth. In which case one’s primary loyalty is to the play rather than to the person…

[When I played Joe Berke in Mary Barnes] the primary loyalty was still to the event in the theatre…That it had to work in the theatre, otherwise we might as well be reading a book about it, d’you know?

And always, I think, in the theatre, you’re always trying to push towards some kind of archetype, in a character. So you’re not just presenting the man who’s called Joe Berke, as it happens in this, I’m not just presenting the man Joe Berke.

I’m actually presenting the healer who is Joe Berke and the therapeutic process that he’s involved in. Trying to sort of create the essence of that…”

One of the characters I played was a Trades Union official and the way that Joint Stock worked

was that we would go to meet an example of the character that we played.


So my Trades Union official…worked for the …National Union of Mine Workers.  And I spent, you know, two and a half hours with him. And I tape recorded our conversation and then I…sat in front of the group, and they asked me questions in character. And I could only answer from the information that I had acquired from him directly.

And when they’d sort of built up a picture of me, then somebody, it would happen to somebody else, [who] had gone off to meet somebody. Then they’d put me in my character and this other actor and his character together, talking to each other, and so we built it up. But still only using the framework of the facts.

And, of course, the author Barry Keeffe was there all the time and he made notes and sort of…But in the end, of course, his fantasy then took off and so the facts were left quite far behind by then. And you would not at all think that it was a fact based play.


Facts are just information.

I mean we call them facts in the sense of a fact being something which has been proven, but I mean you, you get your stimulation from wherever you can. And personally I…like to spread out my net very, very wide indeed.

And in the end all plays, I think, all plays, all films, fictional films are in the end a sort of a dream. They’re all dreams, they’re sort of dream characters, they’re…They’ve been dreamt by somebody, they’re not ever actually totally naturalistically real, even in what look like extremely naturalistic films. They’re still, they have to have some…They’re, they are poems in a sense.

It’s poetry that we’re dealing with and, whether it’s in verse or not is neither here nor there, it’s, it’s…it’s a sort of…The characters have got to be as much made  up of our unconscious as our conscious, but the difficulty with facts is that they, you know, they’re just the conscious.

But anything that really lives in the theatre has to come from the unconscious.


When I was doing Amadeus…I was stumped, I didn’t know what to do. I was just playing what was written and it…seemed silly, it seemed light and…[sighs]  without substance.

And so then I found a book by Otto Deutsch called  Mozart: A Documentary Biography, and it really contains everything that  anybody ever wrote or said about Mozart in his lifetime.

 And this was, this was my salvation because out of that I pieced together a man who might really have existed. And it was a bit from here and a bit from there and somebody’s memoir, a review of a concert, something  from the archives of the Archbishop of Saltzburg and so on. Bits and pieces that I just put into my stew.


HS: Is there a distinction to be made between impersonation and acting in the factbased work you have done?

SC: Well, of course, it’s very interesting this whole question…Impersonation is a crime, isn’t it? If you impersonate a Chelsea Pensioner until very recently you could have been hanged and  it sort of has a…sort of  overtone of being  suspect, doesn’t it?  Impersonation. Sounds like a sort of cheap trick.

There’s a better word which is ‘personation’.  Becoming a person. But what is implied in your question is that…It’s whether the externals are…Whether there’s a difference between acting which depends on externals, and acting which comes from within, as it were.

Athough, in fact, almost all acting is a combination of the two. But most recently the great American actor Frank Langella played Richard Nixon in a play about Nixon and David Frost, and Frank said, from the beginning, that he wouldn’t impersonate, physically, Nixon. ‘Cos the designers had come along with, you know, rubbery noses and adjusting his hair line, and all the rest of it. He said it was stupid because he never really would look like Nixon. You’d just sort of think, ‘Oh, he’s trying to look like Nixon.’

And…he carried it off triumphantly, you believed that he was Nixon absolutely, and he had nothing by way of make-up whatever [SC emphasis].  So in a sense it was in contradiction of the facts that we have, the visual facts. But he just took right into his brain…

[But] there’s such a thing as a visual fact. If you played Hitler…as a…a tall blonde man, would it be Hitler? You know, I don’t know, maybe it’s…You know, the theatre’s a strange place…the signs, the semiotics of things.”


Verbatim can never be a play because as soon as you start selecting you’re interpreting.

Audience issue – whether they are seeing truth or fiction. If they believe it’s true then stating the facts on stage can be sensational – the actor can be in a position of huge power. But if they don’t entirely recognise it as true then the image may be powerful but it has been received differently than if they were convinced it was true.

August 2, 2012

Jack White on Inspiration

Hard work and the important of limiting yourself to a few options.

June 14, 2012

Guy Talese, The Art of Nonfiction:


When did you realize that you had talent?


Never. All I have is intense curiosity. I have a great deal of interest in other people and, just as importantly, I have the patience to be around them.

About Guy Talese

“Talese occupies the strange position of being both legendary and misunderstood. His innovation was to apply techniques from the craft of fiction to his newspaper and magazine stories, giving them the shape and life of short stories—a style, later referred to as New Journalism, which he originated in his days as a New York Times reporter in the fifties.”

From the Paris Review

June 9, 2012

The thing about smart people…

“The thing about smart people is that they seem like crazy people to dumb people.”

This photo made me smile. But that caption isn’t accurate, especially paired with that picture.

Were the Wright brothers smart? Yeah, I’d bet so. But that’s not what made them first in flight: A lot of hard work and playing around with ideas in pursuit of a seemingly unreasonable goal did. (More on why the Wright brothers succeeded over much more well funded competitors here.)

They were entrepreneurs — and a lot of smart people aren’t. A lot of smart people are afraid to act. They’re much more comfortable in the world of thought and theory.

Further, many smart people are not smart in ways that threaten the status quo. You can be wicked smart at math and no one will think your crazy — just really good at something they don’t know much about.

I understand that the creator of this cartoon needed to be pithy. And it worked: it made me laugh.

An ungainly and more accurate phrase would be: “The thing about smart, driven, creative people who are pushing the boundaries of what is known to be possible…is that they seem like crazy people to dumb people.” But that probably wouldn’t have made me smile.

June 4, 2012

3 Ways Twitter Can Help Performers

Matt Ruby on How Social Media Transforms Standup Comedy Career

From comedian Matt Ruby‘s 18-part interview on Capture Your Flag, three ways Twitter and social media can help performers.

  1. Exposure: “When your a comedian, you go onstage and there’s those people in the room at that moment but that’s it. Comedy is this very evaporating art form where it just disappears. Online stuff is a good way for people to follow you.”
  2. Developing your voice: “If your posting on Twitter a couple times a day for a year you’ll start to have a…voice that is recognizable.”
  3. Testing ideas: “I’ve had things I’ll post on Twitter that I think are just throwaway lines and then it will be retweeted a dozen times in an hour. And it’s like ‘Oh, that is something I should talk about on stage because it’s clearly striking a nerve.’