Recently I did a bit of a day-trip down to Richmond VA for a couple of classes.
The first class was taught by Magnolia Jackson Pickett Burnside who was voted “Best Drag Performer in Richmond”. The name of the class was “Who the [expletive] do you think you are?!?!”. It was about character development.
We didn’t go over our characters individually, we were more so given pointers and questions to think of the answer to, as far as developing our characters. I admit that I have heard this before, a long time ago and I never paid it any attention. So I wonder if now is the time I give it some thought. I have never considered what the differences are between me and my character. I always thought my character could be an exaggerated version of myself, but still maintaining the same likes and dislikes.
It was also mentioned that sometimes the small details can make a difference, even if the audience would never know…? Really? Maybe so. I wouldn’t have thought that, but Magnolia is such a character, and I am not so much. Maybe she has a point there.
She also emailed us some videos before the class started. All the videos involved dialogue, and I was thinking that I’m not going to talk on stage so that part wasn’t much help, but really it was paying attention to everything else about the characters that was the point. We discussed the characters in them, how they stood, their mannerisms, facial expressions, and how they interacted with others. All that I have never given thought to at all. How does Bianca DuPree stand? Smile? Gesture to someone else…I really need to refine myself to these details.
In addition to that, a little marketing was thrown into the class as well. Se mentioned Facebook and how our profiles need to be filled out: music, movies, activities, anything for our characters. She talked about researching performers you are going to perform with before you get to the venue. She said we all need Twitter accounts (and everyone groaned, including me) because it is another form of contact with others. And she also stressed the importance of staying after a show to talk to people.
Fortunately, this lesson went over on time, which was great for me because it filled in the time until my next class. I really liked this class, and it is at a good point in my performing career…I’ve done some shows so I am not totally uncomfortable on stage, and I have not really considered these things about my character. I thanked Magnolia and headed on out to the next lesson.
It was a quick drive to the next class taught by Miss Jo “Boobs” Weldon. This class was called “Stripping out of street clothes” but really it was about even more than that. It didn’t so much as focus on street clothes, it was more about taking off almost anything in a graceful, attractive and entertaining manner. And I was surprising myself that I was sitting there taking notes on taking off a bra. (I do it everyday, but when on a stage it has to be done a little differently) She gave so many performing pointers about general audience eye contact, framing your body parts with your clothing, touching your skin, finishing your moves, and even mentioned that you need to portray confidence even if you are faking it.
Jo also talked about showing what you are taking off, and how you are doing it. Sounds like obvious stuff but I am sure I have not done that every time. In fact, I generally don’t do any kind of a strip tease at all, I am more of a “rip it off on cue and onto the next move” kind of performer. But my non-pole routines need more of this. Sometimes I notice that when I am in a crunch or in the zone to get all the details done for a new routine, I miss out on the importance of movements. So again I took a class that I was very glad to attend and came out with some information that I needed to hear again. She liked my Pop-Tart bag as well
After that, I got something to eat, and then it was time for the long drive home…oh that 95 N traffic sure does make a long drive even longer.