Thursday, March 15, 2012

Easy Street

I have just finished reading Ann Elizabeth Shapera's "Easy Street: A Guide for Players in Improvised Interactive Environmental Performance, Walkaround Entertainment, and First-Person Historical Interpretation" Some of you may know Ms. Shapera by another identity; Jane the Phoole of the Renaissance Faire in Bristol. You ought to know her - she's extraordinarily famous.

I had been watching and admiring her work from afar, and was excited to find that she'd come up with a "how-to" work of her own. It did not disappoint.

It's written in a breezy, humorous style, and what can sometimes be rather heavy concepts are approached with a light touch, calculated not to intimidate those who are new to the activity. The advice is practical, and the knowledge was gained not through intensive training in the theatre, but through experience on the ground, face to face with fairegoers.

My favorite work on the subject of interactive characterization and performance, Gary Izzo's "The Art of Play", has long been out of print, and usually goes for well over $100.00 used. Shapera's book covers some of the same material in her characterization chapters, but distills and simplifies it considerably. In this, it has an advantage over the former work.

While no one book will have all the anwsers, or answers that work for every actor, I highly recommend it to anybody and everybody involved in interactive theatre, each of whom will come away with something valuable that they may use in their performances.

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