The Stage Education and Training
Finally (for this time - there will, of course, be more another day) I have been sent On Making Off: Misadventures off-off Broadway by Randy Anderson. It’s a very entertaining, lively, wry memoir of a young actor who arrived in New York at the turn of the millennium and then struggled to make theatre, a living and something of his youth - with many lessons for anyone starting out in the industry in New York, or anywhere else, which is why I feel justified in including it in a training blog.
For example, he and others founded a company called The Beggars’ Group which has produced several pieces of fringe theatre. Anderson, who is a natural, pacey story teller with a gift for making good use of dialogue, pithy sentences and one-liners, details the how what and when - and the mistakes he made.
I must admit that my heart sank when this book arrived and I saw that it is self-published. Usually that’s a sign that no decent publisher would touch it because the quality is dire. But this time, I need not have worried. On Making Off drew me in immediately and made me laugh - and think - a lot. It’s a good read with nothing amateurish about it at all.
When it comes to the world of theater, I am that person you would describe as a retrograde Neanderthal: I know nothing. For this reason I was skeptical about reading a book which, at first glance, seemed entirely devoted to the subject. After a few chapters my initial bias quickly dissipated and was replaced with curiosity and laughter. Anderson's writing is not only humorous, but insightful, and provides a glimpse into the life of a young creative willing to move to the big city and take a chance on his artistic dreams. The book is filled with unexpected, and often hilariously-awkward, situations as the author attempts to establish a small theater company with his eccentric cast of friends. Anderson also delves into self-reflection and shares more the more serious personal struggles of his youth, which helps to balance the humor and give the book real depth. Whether or not you have an interest in theater, I would highly recommend this book!
As a middle aged lady, I'm not going to be running off to NYC to start my own theatre company, but this book made me feel like a fly on the wall during an actor's early quest in his field, the creation of a theatre group, and all of the misadventures, heart ache and wild successes that accompanied it! A really fun and engaging read that made me cry and laugh, cringe and wish I was there (as a 20 something :). If you are looking for something light and fun, but at the same time an examination of our humanness and the ways we deal with both mundane and crazy things in life, this is a great read. Couldn't wait to see what happened on every page!
Well worth the read, entertaining from beginning to end, the author is brazenly honest about his exploits in the theatre world, very true to life, speaks to all those with a "dream" of "making it big" in entertainment, defining what big is when making a dream a reality, grappling with the real obstacles and focusing on the artistic expression. Who are you? What do you have to say? What do you really want to be doing with your life and how are you going to do it? For an artist to accomplish any amount of success, these questions must be dealt with, and Anderson wrestles them to the ground in such an adventurous, life affirming way. He is the real deal, and anyone who wants to succeed in show business would be smart to learn from his experience.
In the Fall of 2011, On Making Off: Misadventures off-off Broadway won a Pinnacle Book Achievement Award. This award is given quarterly to books of high merit. The book subsequently participated in several trade shows on the west coast as a result.
On Making Off: Misadventures Off-Off Broadway was written for anyone who has ever done theatre in any setting or for the patron of the arts. It gives a very intimate look at what goes on behind the scenes of a small theatre company in a very humorous way! Fist, the book cover is great. When I picked it up for some bedtime reading, I couldn't put it down! I ended up going to bed very late and finished the book in one sitting. Easy read and very enjoyable. I was wondering if there was going to be a hard copy of the book available? I have a strong interest in theatre and would like a hard copy for my library!
On Making Off is for anyone who has done theatre on a shoestring budget. On Making Off is for anyone who has trekked to see a friend's show in a teeny tiny space that barely passes for a theatre. On Making Off is for anyone who has been young in a city where possibilities are endless and new adventures are around every corner. On Making Off is for anyone who has a group of friends who are maddening and endearing at the same time. On Making Off is for anyone who dreams big and then busts their butt to make that dream a reality.
In conclusion, On Making Off is for everyone.
Randy Anderson's memoir is a true delight from the cover artwork to the final page. You won't regret a second of the time you spend with him and his crew of Beggars. They will make you laugh, both AT and WITH them. They will frustrate you. And they will move you.
Randy's second book, careful, was released in May 2014.
This heartbreaking drama will take you on an unforgettable journey through South America while examining the human spirit's power to heal.
Stay tuned for more news soon!