Acting

Are you an Artist?

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Artist (n): someone who creates things with great skill and imagination.

Why did you start performing? What's your reason for continuing? 

Was it the rush of adrenaline that swept through every part of your being after being on stage, leaving you with an addicting high? So much so that like a drug, you had to keep going back for more for fear of getting withdrawals?

Is it the desire to feel wanted? Does it give you something that your life outside of performing can't give you? Does the glorification of your creativity and seeing people appreciate you and your art fuel your ego?

Is it a cathartic way to heal your wounds? Is it a way for you to escape the real world, your troubles, your anxieties and inhabit another's world?

Or, was it the fulfillment of unleashing your thoughts, emotions, imagination or life story through your art? The unwavering, persistent need to create and curate art, all for the sake of creative fulfillment?

Or all or part of the above?

Personally, it's a way for me to process my wounds, escape as well as a medium for me to unleash my thoughts, feelings, emotions, etc through my art. The unrelenting need to create. Theatre is, in part, therapy for me. It has been since the I was young. I may write a blog on that at some point. I have discussed it briefly in a few media interviews. But, when I feel it's the right time, I'll divulge a little more as to why theatre and creating art is therapudic for me.

The reason I decided to write this blog is because of a conversation I had with a fellow artist while I was filming earlier this week. For those who haven't been following my Instagram or Facebook stories, I was on set last week for a TV show (I can't divulge what yet but I will later in the year) and I was chatting with one of the performers back stage as we were getting into make-up/costume. This particular performer works full time as a performer (which is pretty rare in NZ) and we chatted about his background and skimmed over the milestones that allowed him to get to the place he is at now. He corrected me when I referred to him as an actor, he said "no, I am an artist". 

David Bowie. Artist Unknown.

David Bowie. Artist Unknown.

I stopped to think about this for a second. It resonated with me. I apologized and rectified my statement. We then got talking about why we are artists and not just actors or performers. 

Basically, what we discussed was the following. An artist has an undying need to create. Let's look at it this way: An artist, despite their profession, whether they're an actor/actress, dancer, singer, comedian, etc will find ways outside the conventional or given circumstances to make art. They may take on roles handed to them and have the ability to be creative in the way they flesh them out, but they also make a priority of creating their own projects, collaborating with other artists (often from other creative professions) to further extend their creative abilities and do not limit themselves to what is handed to them. They want to make art, for whatever personal or impersonal reasons that may be. The need is great and overwhelming and once one project is done, another must take it's place or the artist will feel unfulfilled. 

Artists are the ones who don't wait for a circumstance that art can be projected into to present itself. They're ambitious, they've got a go-getter attitude and will unwaveringly follow their desire and need to bring fourth their thoughts, feelings, manifestations into a real, tangible thing. 

The other important thing about artists is this. Artists are true to themselves. Yes, we've all had to sell our soul to the man every once in a while, creating acts or doing something which doesn't spark our creative soul for the sake of money, for example. BUT, the majority of the time (especially for personal projects) the artist will create something for themselves and a manner that is true to their style, taste, etc.

Lady Gaga. Art from Twitter @MusicNotDaBling

Lady Gaga. Art from Twitter @MusicNotDaBling

Yes, yes... it is important to consider your audience, as dependent on whether a piece is a film piece, or a performance piece, you need to keep in mind the demographic, whether it aligns with your brand, etc. BUT... your art should represent you and come from your heart. You can always tell a superficial act from one lead from the inner musings of the creative mind.

When people come to watch an act, they want two things: to be entertained and to be moved. Aligning with the principles of Stanislavsky (see my previous blog post on this here) if the artist feels the emotion and thinks the thoughts truthfully, the audience will feel it. If the artist feels joy, truly feels it, so will their audience. An example - we all know that one person who is like a dead weight when they walk into the room, a "Negative Nancy", per say. The negativity of the person will flow through the room like smoke, circling and winding it's way through the room from the ground up until all are consumed by it. We're emotive beings, and we have this incredible ability to feel. We can flip this on it's head and like the "Negative Nancy" we all have that friend who is full of energy and radiates happiness. It's like their very presence ignites a spark of positivity and lightness to anyone within a 6m radius. These types of people are consumed by their emotions, whether positive or negative, and we can feel it. The same goes for when you're on stage. Bottom line, if you're emotionally connected to what your performing, whether it be pure joy of loving being in the moment, or whether it's emotion attached to a political statement, message, etc you're trying to get across, so long as it's conveyed in a way the audience can process and understand it, they'll feel it and get it. 

Marina Abramović. Performing her public performance art piece 'Rhythm 0' in 1974. Photographer unknown.

Marina Abramović. Performing her public performance art piece 'Rhythm 0' in 1974. Photographer unknown.

The other very important defining factor in being an artist is this. The artist is in a state of constant change. They evolve, develop and grow. They allow themselves to be fluid and non conforming. They do not put a full stop at the end of their creativity. Yes, they may close the book on a project, but they'll be in relentless pursuit of the next one. An example is Lady Gaga. From when Gaga first debuted on the scene (note: she was performing LONG before we all knew of her in the mainstream) to now, she's gone through significant changes, which we can see with every album released. The "Born this Way" era, the current "Joanne" era, etc. Be sure to watch her documentary about creating her album "Joanne" called 'Five Foot Two" (see the trailer here). Bowie is another excellent example - who, like Gaga, transformed it seemed thoughout the progession of his musical journey, The "Mod" stage, the "Ziggy Stardust" era, the "Aladdin Sane" era, the "Diamond Dogs" era, etc. Another person is Christina Aguilera (see this video about her upcoming album here - it's truthful and pulls at the heart strings because you can hear it's sincerity). Another artist who I have huge admiration for his Marina Abramović. The true definition of performance artist. Her most incredible piece of art I have studied is her public performance of her work 'Rhythm 0' in 1974, which you can see pictured above. If you do not know her, please go and Google her now.

Now, another note. No artists are the same. Some go through rapid changes and some may only evolve once. You cannot compare your journey as an artist to anyone else. It's like life - if we went around comparing ourselves to everyone, we'd get a bit depressed, wouldn't we? Your journey, your path is your own. So long as you are being true to what you feel you need to express and your vision, that's what matters. 

Are you an artist?

#SECRETPROJECT REVEALED

Gary Krumbert. Photo by James Yang with HMUA by Yolanda Bartram.

Gary Krumbert. Photo by James Yang with HMUA by Yolanda Bartram.

Hello Lovelies! 

Sorry - I know, I know... I'm late to the game again when it comes to my blogs. I admit it. It's just difficult trying to find the time to fit it in!

SO... something exciting that happened exactly a week ago is my #SECRETPROJECT Reveal Video launched! Yippie! 

THANK YOU to everyone who has shared, liked and commented on it, whether on social media or on the YouTube video itself. 

Haven't seen it? Why, let me take the hassle out of consulting the Google machine by popping the video in below.

The reveal of the #SECRETPROJECT - A collaborative effort between Performing Artist/Curator/Director Nat Hugill, Videographer/Photographer James Yang and Make-up/SFX/Body Painter Yolanda Bartram of BodyFX. MUSIC: Taylor Swift's - "Ready for it". Note that we do not own this song. All rights and copyrights are of that of the artist.
Spanish Half & Half. Photo by James Yang with MUA & Body Paint by Yolanda Bartram of BodyFX.

Spanish Half & Half. Photo by James Yang with MUA & Body Paint by Yolanda Bartram of BodyFX.

As the caption of the video describes, this was a collaborative effort between myself, Videographer/Photographer James Yang and HMUA/SFX/Body Painter Yolanda Bartram of BodyFX

Be sure to give a like or a comment if you enjoy it! 

What I thought may be fun and informative was to give you a bit of insight as to how this came about and what actually happened on the day. 

  • If you haven't had a lookie though my Youtube Channel, I have a video on there from about 5 years ago now that was another collaborative effort called 'Let's Make a Date - Middle Earth Edition' I collaborated with Jocelen Janon, Yolanda Bartram of BodyFX, Brian Lowe and Samuel Wheeler of Nocturnal 3D to make it happen. It was super fun to make and I decided it had been a long time overdue, so I'd better get my A into G and make another one! But, what to do?
  • I know my strengths lie in inhabiting various characters, so I knew that would be an integral part of it. But I was unsure what to actually make. In 2013, when I was bored at home one day, I decided to do a video which mashed up a bunch of my characters into one video, and what linked them was a song. The song was Britney Spears 'Work B*tch'. Here's the video if you'd like to have a gander. I always felt like it had so much potential, but only having two lamps as my fill lights and using my phone as a camera, it wasn't exactly up to a professional standard (but fun none-the-less). 
  • So.. then it dawned on me. Why not do a newer version of the character mash-up to a different song, incorporating a few new looks and having the song as a running narrative? I had the idea on the back burner for a while, and it wasn't until I listened to Taylor Swift's 'Ready for It' the "EUREKA!" moment happened. It was then when I heard the song that it spured me into action of making it a reality.
  • I'm a very visual person and knew the exact aesthetic and style I wanted the video to be shot in (which is what you see in the video) basically very Terry Richardson/Helmut Newtonesque with a plain white background so the characters/looks were the main focus. 
  • Having worked with James Yang before, I knew his style and I knew he could pull this off as his work is exemplary. Having also worked with Yolanda many times before, I knew I could trust her to deliver on the looks front, she's a wizard I swear! 
  • I pitched my idea to them and they were both on board. YAY! Now to the hard part.. what looks, what characters? How do they interact?
  • When choosing looks and characters, I wanted relationships to be established, contrasts in personalities to be defined and for the looks/characters to actually relate to the song I'm lip-syncing to. Basically, everything had to work together to create a cohesive whole. 
  • After much brainstorming, reading song analysis' of 'Ready for It" I came up with the following: Bowie style look who plays it cool (think Bowie circa 1970's Diamond Dogs era) who works against my persona Lilly Loca. Lilly sings the lyrics about a man who is a bit of a heart breaker and plays it cool, and Bowie is that person. Then there's Penny Royalty (the bio queen character - watch this space, I have plans for her!) and my well established character Gary Krumbert. Gary is the dweeby, dorky, geeky and endearing fellow, who provides a nice contract to Bowie (who is everything Gary isn't). Penny Royalty - in simple terms - is a psychotic Stepford Wife style character who becomes obsessed (and perhaps a bit too openly aroused) by Gary. As the video progresses, you see Penny getting more and more crazed, frustrated and tense with Gary being pretty blinded by it all until the end. Poor Gary. The final look is the half and half Spanish look. Each "half" plays off each other; the over-confident, brave and boisterous matador with the infatuated and love struck senorita. 
  • I styled each look - with help from Dolly DeStory who provided the green dress you see Penny Royalty wearing as well as Kita Mean who provided her wig. 
  • On the day, we shot at Kingsize Studios and shot all 5 looks one after the other. First we started with Bowie, then Gary, moved to Lilly, breaked for lunch, moved to Penny and then finally did the half and half look. We did have one more look we were going for - but we ran out of time - which was a full body glitter look using BodyFX's Bio Glitter.
  • With each look/character, we'd shoot the video first, then photos. Make-up took usually half an hour between looks and then we'd be straight back in front of the camera again - no rest for the wicked! 

I hope that's been an insightful wee look into the shoot! Plus, I hope you've enjoyed the photos! 

To finish, here's one last one of Penny Royalty and the Spanish Half & Half look we haven't released yet and some other wonderful photos from the release.

Love, 

Lilly x

Penny Royalty (with photo of Gary Krumbert taken by Brian Lowe). Photo by James Yang with MUA by Yolanda Bartram. 

Penny Royalty (with photo of Gary Krumbert taken by Brian Lowe). Photo by James Yang with MUA by Yolanda Bartram. 

Spanish Half & Half. Photo by James Yang with MUA by Yolanda Bartram. 

Spanish Half & Half. Photo by James Yang with MUA by Yolanda Bartram. 

Lilly Loca. Photo by James Yang with MUA by Yolanda Bartram. 

Lilly Loca. Photo by James Yang with MUA by Yolanda Bartram. 

BOWIE. Photo by James Yang with MUA by Yolanda Bartram. 

BOWIE. Photo by James Yang with MUA by Yolanda Bartram. 

Penny Royalty. Photo by James Yang with MUA by Yolanda Bartram. 

Penny Royalty. Photo by James Yang with MUA by Yolanda Bartram. 

Samsung Galaxy S9 Launch

Hello Everyone! 

I am so sorry I have been so busy the past month, it's actually been insane. I've had prolonged glitter crash since Press Play finished (that's coming up as my next blog post - it was buck wild!) and I'm just starting to find my feet again. Self care, etc...

The purpose of this blog is to let you in on the amazing experience I had presenting the worlds first five second launch event for the Samsung Galaxy S9. It all happened so quickly - I literally got a call from my agent the Wednesday before asking if I was keen and available for an MC/presenting job, did a quick audition tape and BOOM - got the casting all within about 24 hours. Then that Friday and Saturday I spent filming and taking photos with the A team Yolanda Bartram, James Yang and Vola Tile for my #secretproject (which I will also be updating you about in another blog post) and then Sunday I had to go to a meeting with the producers and get wardrobe sorted, all the while trying to learn a script off by heart. 

Monday I had another wardrobe fitting and then Tuesday I was at the set (which was The Cloud) working with the amazing cast and crew on the event, plus rehearing. Honestly, the amount of work that went into this launch was incredible. Let me break it down for you...

  • We had 5 installations set up. 
  • The purpose of each installation was to showcase a particular feature of the S9.
  • The giant martini glass showcased the waterproof shell of the S9
  • The jelly's and icing sugar (which I was physically involved in) helped to showcase the quality of the slow-motion camera (which shoots at 960 FPS) and it's outstanding low light features thanks to the dual aperture camera lens. 
  • The presentation of the S9 showcased its slim-line design, infinity screen
  • The entertainment station of dancers from ID Dance Crew showcased the amazing slow-motion quality of the S9. 
  • Lastly, the final station was of cameras pointed to the audience, so we could capture their reactions of the event.
  • Each installation had 5 S9's rigged around them so that they could capture everything that happened in each station, as well as the crowd, for the launch event. So 25 S9's in total.
  • Each station was timed to work in perfect syncronicity with the S9's, music, etc.
  • A technical crew of over 30 people worked on this to make it all happen.
  • The footage you see in the videos below was all taken at the launch. 
  • My role was to welcome everyone, inform them about the features, be a part of one of the installations (see if you can spot me!) and explain what they'd just witnessed. Also to fill time while the crew rendered and collated all of the footage off the S9's.

So rather than me tell you more about it - watch the below videos. 

This first video shows you the launch and then the video that was shown in real time to everyone at the event.

This second film is a behind the scenes look which features yours truly and Director James Solomon from Flying Fish Films. 

Amazing, huh? 

I'm so happy and blessed I got to be a part of something so awesome. Thank you to my agents Human Agency as well as Flying Fish and Colenzo BBDO for having me on board and trusting in my ablities to help make this such a success.

ALSO, NEWS: I've decided I'm going to have a website dedicated to acting and presenting, as it doesn't really link well with my burlesque stuff. Stay tuned as I'll be launching it in the next month. 

Next up on the blog - Press Play 2018.

STANISLAVSKI'S PRINCIPLES

Photo by Jocelen Janon of my character "M" from Patrick Graham's play "Lost Girls".

Photo by Jocelen Janon of my character "M" from Patrick Graham's play "Lost Girls".

Why hello good lookin'!

Welcome to my bi-weekly blog!

For those of you who don't know, I'm an educated, trained and experienced drama teacher. I've taught acting and theatre from 2008, getting my Graduate Diploma in Teaching (Secondary) in 2010 and have taught everywhere from kindergartens to high schools (I was even a Co-HOD of a drama department once!). 

Now, if you've dipped your toes into the world of acting, you've probably heard about several schools of acting. The main ones I'm going to reference are Meisner and the other being Stanislavski. What are the differences? I found this explanation on Camp Broadway and thought it sounded pretty spot on! 

"Stanislavski is all about what he calls the “given circumstance.” An actor has to ask, “where is my character in this scene and what is going on around him/her in order for them to say and do the things they say and do?” No matter who you study, always remember– you always move on stage, and say things on stage with a purpose. And that purpose is always to advance the scene, and tell the story.
Stanislavski also believes in finding a situation in actors’ lives that can compare to what the character might be going through in the scene. For example, let’s examine how he might suggest breaking down a break up scene with a significant other. Although you might not have a significant other, or may never have had one, you probably have had heated, emotional fights with someone in your life at some point. Stanislavski says to use that fire of the heated emotional fight, and apply it to the fight your character is having with their significant other.
Meisner, on the other hand, believes that the way you react onstage depends on how you are given your cue line. For example, a phrase as simple as “stop that!” can be said many different ways. If your scene partner decides to tickle you to get your reaction, you would giggle and maybe flirt back “stop that!” Or, your scene partner could be arguing, and you could turn around and scream “stop that!”It’s the same line, but you are reacting to the energy that your scene partner has given you as a lead-in to your line."

So basically - Stan-the-man is all about pre-meditative action and using your own experiences to fuel your on-stage action, while Meisner is all about reacting in the moment, without pre-meditated thought. 

I was taught acting via the Stanislavski method, which I still use to this day as a part of my live performances. However, Meisner is totally relevant and I definitely use it - especially in improv!

In 2013, I made a two-part series of videos about acting technique and the Stanislavski principles and his fundamental questions. If you click the video below it should play both videos one after the other. So rather than me write a whole bunch of words, grab yourself a coffee (and a treat), open up your jot pad (be sure to have a pen handy) and watch the videos below. 

Professional development that's free and you don't even need to leave the comfort of your own home!

You're welcome ;)

 

  

Character vs. Persona

Lilly Loca as her original drag king character, Gary Krumbert. Photo taken by Peter Jennings.

Lilly Loca as her original drag king character, Gary Krumbert. Photo taken by Peter Jennings.

Character (n): 

1. the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual.

2. a person in a novel, play, or film.

Persona (n): 

1. the aspect of someone's character that is presented to or perceived by others e.g. "their burlesque persona" 

 

I've often heard performers getting confused as to how to classify themselves - is who they are when they perform burlesque a character or a persona? To me, when people get it wrong, it irks me. Why? Well, because having performed in theatre and acting most of my life until 8 years ago when I first dipped my toes into the sparkly waters of burlesque, I was very much involved in character-based roles. I still am, and very much incorporate it into my burlesque career, but how I perceive a character may be a bit different to someone else who possibly doesn't have a theatrical background. I can't expect to get frustrated if someone is just a bit naive and thinks characters and personas are the same deal. So - I'm going to clear it all up for you! 

Important Note:

There is absolutely nothing wrong with having either a character, persona or both! It's just important to get it right when selling yourself to a client or producer. If people sell themselves as a roving character, yet when push comes to shove, the "character" isn't fully formed, and when hit with questions from people your interacting with while in role like "So, who is your father?" and you can't answer it - that character isn't developed and you've essentially promoted yourself as being someone you aren't. If you're a persona, you are you, just an adapted version of you, so audience members aren't going to expect a fully developed, three dimensional back story apart from your very own! 

Character - How do I know if they are one?

As stated above, a character has the mental and moral qualities of an individual. Basically, this means your character should have a backstory. Here's a checklist of how you can figure out whether you have a character or a persona:

  1. Do they have a distinct name (that is separate from yourself)?
  2. Do they have distinct personality traits which act as a basis for all of their actions, reactions, conversations, etc?
  3. Do they have a particular way they physicality hold themselves (i.e. they are confident, so walk with a proud chest, tall stature and moderate tension)?
  4. When you are them, do you find that you fall into their mindset and let them drive the way you act, react, perform, interact, etc?
  5. Can you imagine a backstory for them? Do they have a family? what's their favorite colour? Are they married? Do they like seafood? 
  6. Do they have any particular quirks (i.e. allergies, a twitchy left eye, a distinct dislike for physical contact)? 

If you've answered 3 or more of these with "yes" - you've probably got yourself a character. If you've answered more with "no" or "I'm not sure", then it's probably safe to say you've got yourself a persona.

How do I develop a character?

So - how to develop your character (if you have one)? There are various character profiles you can download from Google - I've got them for all my drag king characters Jethro, Gary and Santago. I know everything about them from what high school they went to (or didn't) to what their preference in food is. It is fundamental if you're creating a character to have a well rounded, fleshed out, 3D one - especially if you're roving. Why? Because their history, personality, quirks and life experiences will be a huge influence on how they interact with people and the kinds of acts you'll come up with for them. Just like if you have a persona - the acts you create for your onstage persona are inspired and influenced by your own life! Same needs to happen with a character. 

Case Study - Me, Lilly and Gary.

Lilly Loca. Photo taken by Studio81.

Lilly Loca. Photo taken by Studio81.

To use myself as a case study, I'll take one of my characters Gary Krumbert and my onstage burlesque persona Lilly Loca as examples. Gary is a fully fleshed out, 3D character. He has his backstory, he in himself is a person. I am not me when I am him. I am fully, 100% in role as Gary. However I react to a situation in role as him, I instinctively know what to do and how to react because I know him so well as know his backstory well enough to be able to conduct myself accordingly. With Lilly - essentially, Lilly Loca is me. She is me, I am her. Lilly Loca is a stage name I fashioned myself to separate Nat Hugill, the mother, wife, theatre actress, producer among other things from Lilly Loca - the bawdy, silver tongued burlesque entertainer and MC. To complicate matters further, I say I'm Lilly Loca performing as Gary Krumbert, Jethro Jenkins, Santago Montego, etc. Why? Because I use my name Lilly Loca as an umbrella for all things burlesque - and if I want people to find me, or remember me, I need to link my characters to the name I go by in the burlesque industry. Weird, I know - but otherwise people think Gary is someone who isn't me - you have no idea how many times I've heard people say "OH YOU'RE GARY?!!! I WOULD HAVE NEVER KNOWN HAD YOU NOT TOLD ME!".

To complicate things further...

Lilly Loca as Absolem. Photo taken by Bruce Jenkins Photographer.

Lilly Loca as Absolem. Photo taken by Bruce Jenkins Photographer.

You can be in role in your persona. Yep - now, there's a BIG difference here between being in character or playing a role as your persona. Again, I'll use myself as a case study. 

So, as explained before, I, Lilly, am a persona. I am essentially Nat with a jazzy name. Lilly is my mask, my facade, but underneath it all, it's still Nat. 

As Lilly, I sometimes take on a role for a particular act. This is to say, they're not a character as they're not fully fleshed out or a person in their own right, it's me as Lilly taking on characteristics of a particular character to help achieve a particular emotion, feel, look, etc. Pretty much it's performer inception, haha! 

When I perform my Absolem routine - the routine is inspired by the character of Absolem from the famed Alice in Wonderland books. However I am not the character of Absolem. I take on qualities of Absolems character as Lilly to help the audience understand that the act is in homage to this character and helps them to understand the metamorphosis I go through in my routine from caterpillar to butterfly. It's like if a performer was to perform a snake inspired act - they'd take on qualities of a snake to convince the audience that that's what their doing (i.e. use fluid, snake-like movements when performing, use glaring eye contact, etc) but they in themselves are not the character of a snake. On stage, they personify the characters traits, but offstage when people chat to the audience, they're themselves, not in role. See what I mean? That's where it all get's a bit confusing. 

So, if you're ever in doubt as to whether you are a character, persona or a persona donning qualities of a character but aren't in themselves a character, read all of the above and ask yourself those questions to determine it. 

I hope this has been an insightful read for you!

Next blog: Goals of 2018 + review of my 2017 goals