Photo Gallery 64th: "The Making of an Actor" in a Tiny Theatre
摘要： How are actors and good plays nurtured in these tiny theatres? What does it mean to be an actor on the stage? In this issue, we followed Morning Star Drama Club to help give you a glimpse of the industry.
For the past few years, dramas have been attracting increasing attention from the public as many drama-adapted films hit the cinema and were warmly accepted by the audience, such as Mr. Monkey, Goodbye Mr. Loser, Never Say Die, etc. Drama actors like Shen Teng, Ma Li, Ai Lun, etc. also went beyond the stage and onto the screens. However, their success is only like the tip of the iceberg, since the majority of dramas are confined on the stage and remain little known. How are actors and good plays nurtured in these tiny theatres? What does it mean to be an actor on the stage? In this issue, we followed Morning Star Drama Club to help give you a glimpse of the industry.
On the morning of January 3rd, 2018, Song Yichen, head coach of Morning Star Drama Club, mustered all the actors for the daily rehearsal. In fact, member actors of the club had to start rehearsal every morning at 09:00 AM, except when there was show arrangement that day.
Impromptu performance is part of the daily training. During the training, actors are divided into two groups. Each group is supposed to do impromptu performance around different topics. The group that successfully link the topic with the drama wins, while the group whose representative wins the rock-paper-scissors game can decide which group comes on stage first.
Actors waiting to go on stage. Since one group isn’t informed the topic of the other group, every actor’s performance can change the story line. Therefore, actor’s ability to timely react to changes is tested. The actor whose performance doesn’t make sense will be pointed out by the head coach, thus leaving the competition.
Song wasn’t quite satisfied with everybody’s performance, so he went back stage and instructed the actors individually how to structure their performance. Song founded Morning Star Drama Club in 2015. He rented a cinema hall of a movie theatre in Beijing and decorated it into a playhouse. For the past two years, member actors came and went a couple times.
After every scene, Song would stop and comment on actors’ performance. Song is not only the head coach, the screenwriter, but also a teacher for every actor. The club mainly features improv comedy, and already produced four plays, including Zero Distance Fun, Fun & Insanity, etc.
During the free training time, Ma Yukuan, a martial actor, was practicing breath.
Before joining the club, Ms. Swallow was a talk show actor.
For lunch, they ordered takeaway food. At present, the club roughly could make ends meet, afford the yearly rent and provide for all the member actors. Some investors already approached Song. If everything went well, Song would hire some marketing personnel and rent a dormitory for the member actors.
Seven member actors rented a two-bedroom apartment together. Four sleep in two bedrooms, three in the living room (one on the sofa). Basically, their lives were confined to the apartment and the theatre every day: leaving the apartment for the theatre at 09:00 AM and going back to the apartment at10:00 PM.
On the morning of January 6th 2018, Zhang Fang, a senior student and a professional voice actor, was getting prepared for the kid play “Look at Me, 72 Changes”. She watched a play at the theatre once, love it so much and immediately decided to join the club. At present, she was the leading actress for both “Look at Me, 72 Changes” and “Fun & Insanity”.
The kid play includes an interactive magic show, so the actors invite the only two kids onto the stage. There were only four spectators that day in the 138-seat theatre. It was a Sunday, so besides the kid play in the morning, there was two other performances in the afternoon and the evening. “The actors’ acting level varied a great deal, so it takes time to balance everybody’s performance and find the best pace,” Song explained, “once, there was only one spectator, so when he found out that, he thought he was tricked and prepared to leave It wasn’t until we explained to him that he decided to stay and watch our play.”
Attendance rate of the afternoon play was a lot higher than the morning kid play (only around thirty spectators). Nevertheless, the actors weren’t quite affected and make everybody laugh several times.
In one scene, a spectator was invited onto stage. The play was about a group of young people pursuing their dreams and becoming actors.
Stage photo of “Fun & Insanity”
Control room of the theatre. Actors who didn’t come on stage were supposed to control the light and music.
After the play, Song introduced each actor to the audience and bowed in thanks to the audience.
When the audience left, actors would send them off at the gate.
After every performance, Song would get everybody together and have a brief review. Unsatisfied with every actor’s performance, he gave individual advice to every actor.
Cai Rong was almost the only actor that met Song’s standard. After receiving his Ph.D degree, he’d already worked for a couple years. However, he’s reached the point where he wanted to make some change, re-arrange his life and do something he really likes. “I love acting. So here I am, after quitting my job,” Qin told us, “before joining the club, my life was arranged to satisfy my parents. However, I’ve decided to live for myself.”
After the performance, Li Xiaoqi left the theatre for another part-time job at a movie salon nearby. He was supposed to take care of the customers and clear the rooms. As a result, he had to sleep on this sofa for ten days out of a month.
TMTPost Photo Gallery
Special column of TMTPost
Aiming to record individuals and entrepreneurs in the Internet industry
Photos don’t lie, but they are just part of reality
Photos are free, but also deceiving
This is an Internet age, and we want you to discover stories with us online
The article is published with authorization from the author @Flybutchery, please note source and hyperlink when reproduce.]
Translated by Levin Feng (Senior Translator at PAGE TO PAGE), working for TMTpost.