Bring Back the One-Scenes!
Last night I finally went to watch Les Mis. I want to write about this for a bit before I get into my point. The movie, from the very first scene, had my emotions on strings. I'm not afraid to admit that this adaptation made me tear up more than I ever could have expected. As all the storylines started to unfold, the more and more brilliant I realized the acting was.
All that said, it was really Anne Hathaway who really blew me away. (Sidenote: If she doesn't get nominated and win an Oscar for her performance in this, especially after her rendition of "I Dreamed A Dream", I will write to the academy and lead a revolution <---- see what I did there? No... ok). It hit me in watching her that even if your character is killed off half way through a show, you can still leave the biggest impact, even if for just one scene (the one mentioned above).
AND THEN BOOM! I realized... it's been quite a while since we've seen a one-scene Duo on stage.
Let me take you through some history:
2012 Duo NFL Finalists:
Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog Jumanji The Syringa Tree Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother (Final round Champion) The Colored Museum The Help (Champion)
2011 Duo NFL Finalists:
Hello Herman (Champion and Final Round Champion) Southern Girls The Big Bang The Secret Life of Walter Mitty The Phantom Tollbooth Distracted
2010 Duo NFL Finalists:
Front Porch Chronicles Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks The Little Tommy Parker Celebrated Colored Minstrel Show Sticks and Stones The Wiz (Champion and Final Round Champion) Anon(ymous)
And the list goes on. What is the one thing that sticks out to me when I see this list? The last one-scene Duo that I've seen hit the stage is Little Tommy Parker Celebrated Colored Minstrel Show. The last time I've seen a one-scene dominate the stage? 2005 "Barbara's Wedding".
I think we've become so obsessed with trying to put as many scenes in our performances that we lose track of the real power behind interpretation- the adaptation of the material. We obsess about trying to find a new creative way to transition from scene to scene, or to sound/look the best when performing, and we take time away from actually developing the characters and the dyanamics/chemistry between the players.
I'm not saying that Duos with many scenes should start being cut out, but I do think that so many coaches/students miss out on powerful material because for some reason they are afraid of performing a duo that stays within one setting and one time frame. I'll say this- yes it is more difficult to pull off, BUT I highly encourage those that want a challenge to start looking into material that you have skipped because of this particular reason. There are some great writings out there and multiple plays that have some VERY powerful scenes (watch 2008's Rabbit Hole- although they combined a ton of scenes to make it look like one big fluid scene, it was a very good example of how you can stay in the moment and make it feel real).
The point of Duo, I feel, has been muddled. It's become about the flash and dance. It's become about the "creative" transition noises/music/etc. It's become about shock.
I miss the days of connection. Two simple characters telling an honest story. Not to say the duos that have been getting to stage (I'd argue that 2012 was the strongest year since 2005- and even stronger) aren't deserving nor amazing. I just wish that competitors would pick up more intimate literature. I want more connection between characters (watch 2010's "Sticks and Stones"!) and I want more story and less flash (2006's "Careless Love").
Though one-scenes aren't for everyone- I think it's about darn time to have another one reach the stage. Please make this request become reality. PlzAndThankYou
As I said earlier, Anne Hathaway only needed one scene (on top of an already brilliant performance!) to, in my opinion, lock up the Academy Award and I believe she did that with "I Dreamed A Dream". I you don't know why I'm raving about this so much, I urge you to go watch this movie. It shows just powerful just one scene can be- not just with that one scene- with almost ALL the scenes in this film I cried.
One-scenes aren't a hindrance... they're just difficult. And my mother always told me- something worth doing is never going to be easy. So challenge yourselves and give a powerful performance.
Ok, getting off my soapbox.