Archive for January, 2013

Spotlight on Raphael Parry

Many Dallasites know Raphael Parry for his extensive work in shaping the Dallas theater scene over the last thirty years. He currently serves as Executive and Artistic Director of Shakespeare Dallas, where he has directed or performed in over twenty-five Shakespearean productions. He also serves as a founder and Chief Artistic Officer of Project X: Theatre, a producing company that focuses on new play development. Raphael has been recognized by the Dallas Theatre League and the Dallas Theater Critics Forum with the Standing Ovation Award for his continued contributions to Dallas Theater.

What you may not know is that Raphael has deep ties to the Dallas Museum of Art, serving as Director and host of Arts & Letters Live’s Texas Bound series for almost two decades. The series showcases Texas-connected actors reading short fiction and essays by Texas-connected authors to a live audience. We like to say that it is “story time for adults.”

Raphael will reprise his role as Director and host again during the 2013 season of Texas Bound on February 11 and on May 6, when he will also participate as an actor.

We caught up with Raphael for a short Q&A about his involvement with Texas Bound.

Raphael Parry, Director and Host of Texas Bound series at the DMA

Raphael Parry, Director and host of the Texas Bound series at the DMA

How long have you been involved with Texas Bound?
My first season I was an actor reading a very short story—less than three minutes long. The next year, I was invited to serve as Director and host—that was 1995. I will be starting my 18th season this year.

What do you enjoy most about working with the series?
Getting to read a huge number of stories, as we search to select just the right ones for the series. It has really brought me a profound appreciation for the art of the short story. And our audience is so generous and eager to hear the readings. It is always a pleasure to take part in Texas Bound in performance.

Texas Bound rehearsal, 2012

Texas Bound rehearsal, 2012

Can you talk a little bit about the process of selecting the stories and casting them?
It starts with a huge collection of stories that have been sifted through after an open call for stories. Our Producer, Katie Hutton, reads through all the submissions and selects the ones that are candidates for Texas Bound. At this point, we have approximately eighty to one hundred stories that we can consider for the Texas Bound series. We meet twice weekly starting in the late summer and I read the stories out loud to Katie and her team. What works on paper can often not transfer to a successful story being read out loud. After reading each story, we discuss three to four potential actors that would be the right match for the story. After reading all of the stories over many weeks, we have a small collection of stories that are strong candidates. Then the real puzzle work begins. We have to find a combination of stories that add up to the right length for the evening and have some balance. We often use a meal as the metaphor for the evening: appetizer, main course, and dessert. We are looking to create a balance and flow.

What is your most memorable Texas Bound experience?
The most memorable experiences are when everything comes together: the actors, the stories, and the audience. There have been many evenings where the flow is fantastic, and we are all moving through the performance with each story and reading building on another. It is like floating on a cloud when it all clicks, and then it’s over—like an ephemeral dream it all dissolves and we are left with a great memory.

What story or stories are you most excited about this season?

'The Dangerous Animals Club' by Dallas native Stephen Tobolowsky

“The Dangerous Animals Club” by Dallas native Stephen Tobolowsky

All of the stories intrigue me, as we work so hard to find just the right ones. I am looking forward to hearing Stephen Tobolowsky read his essay “F.A.Q” from his book The Dangerous Animals Club. He has such an interesting voice, and his essays are so personal yet universal. Also, John Benjamin Hickey is reading Patricia Highsmith’s “A Curious Suicide”; it is a murder mystery with a unique tone. Those two are standouts from a stellar field of stories.

 

Stephen Tobolowsky will read on February 11th. photo credit Jim Britt.

Stephen Tobolowsky will read on February 11. Photo by Jim Britt.

Several of the featured actors this season. Matt Bomer and Stephen Tobolowsky will read on February 11th.  John Benjamin Hickey will read on May 6th.

Matt Bomer will read on February 11.

Several of the featured actors this season. Matt Bomer and Stephen Tobolowsky will read on February 11th.  John Benjamin Hickey will read on May 6th.

John Benjamin Hickey will read on May 6.

Join us for the first Texas Bound of the season on Monday, February 11. For more information on this season of Texas Bound, visit our website. You can order tickets online or call 214-922-1818.

Katie Hutton is the Program Manager for Arts & Letters Live at the DMA and Producer of Texas Bound.

A HI-C Avenger in C3

John Hernandez, HI-C Avenger, 1992, acrylic on wood, Dallas Museum of Art, Texas Artists Fund

John Hernandez, HI-C Avenger, 1992, acrylic on wood, Dallas Museum of Art, Texas Artists Fund

The Center for Creative Connections was honored to host two workshops this weekend with the artist John Hernandez. Hernandez, a well-known artist based in San Antonio, received his MFA from the University of North Texas under the tutelage of artist Vernon Fischer. His work is accessible to people of all ages, and a reminder of a pop-culture past. Our visitors were thrilled to have the opportunity to talk with Hernandez about his work and engage in a hands-on experience on Thursday evening during the C3 Artistic Encounters workshop.

Hernandez answering questions about his work

Hernandez answering questions about his work

The workshop guided participants through a process Hernandez uses in his own work to design maquettes for his larger installations. Combing through magazines, participants pieced together images in a surreal way, affixed them to cardboard, and then transformed them to pop out of foam core.

John Hernandez demonstrating

John Hernandez giving a demonstration

Deborah creating her collage

Deborah creating her collage

Hernandez joined us again in C3 during our Late Night on Friday evening for a toy sculpture workshop. Similar to the way in which Hernandez creates, visitors pieced together vintage toys to create new creatures of their own. Morphing one toy into another, cutting pieces of something that once was in order to create something new and different, gave visitors a closer look at the process of the guest artist.

Toy Creations

Toy creations

The next time you are in C3, stop by to admire Hi-C Avenger by John Hernandez and take a closer look! What will you see?

Amanda Batson is the C3 Program Coordinator at the Dallas Museum of Art.

Welcome, DMA Friends

On Monday we launched our DMA Friends & Partners program and returned to free general admission. We welcomed over 2,000 visitors to the DMA, and over 800 visitors signed up to be among our first DMA Friends. We are excited to now offer free general admission every day the DMA is open (for Museum hours visit the DMA’s website), and we are thrilled to make available free membership through the DMA Friends program.

If you were not able to join us on Monday to sign up as a DMA Friend, don’t worry! Anyone that walks through the DMA’s doors will be able to sign up for free at the kiosks located in the Museum’s Concourse. DMA Friends is a FREE program that allows you to discover new and fun activities at the DMA. We’ve created bundles of activities, called badges, that are awarded to DMA Friends who are active at the Museum. Badges can give you new ideas about ways to use the Museum that you’ve never thought of before. Earning badges unlocks special rewards and recognition like free tickets, behind-the-scenes tours, discounts on shopping and dining, and access to exclusive experiences at the Museum.
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The DIY Teleprompter

At the DMA, we have a studio set up for video production, and we’ve recently started using a teleprompter for many of our announcement-based videos. Using a teleprompter makes it easy for the video subject to read his or her lines and still look into the camera, giving the video a natural feel and flow.

The first time we needed a teleprompter, it was a last-minute request, and we didn’t have time to order one (not to mention they are extremely costly!). So a trip to Home Depot, a cardboard box, a pair of scissors, and an iPad app later and we had a working DIY teleprompter.

How a Teleprompter Works

Angle of Incidence Equals Angle of Reflection

A teleprompter works by using a bit of optical illusion. A piece of glass is placed at a 45-degree angle in front of the camera lens. A computer screen (in our case, an iPad) is placed under the glass. The text is reflected off the glass and is readable by the actor while the camera does not pick up this reflection.

In terms of physics, this is based on the fact that the angle of incidence is equal to the angle of reflection. This means that if light strikes a surface (in our case the glass) it reflects off the opposite direction, but at the same angle as it was hit. So as long as the screen is on a flat surface, and the glass is at eye level to the actor, the actor will see the text but the camera will not, since its not on the same angle of incidence. This also relates to the Fresnel Effect (pronounced fray-nel), which is the observation that the amount of light visible is dependent on the viewing angle.

The material you use will also have an effect on the quality you get. Real glass works much better than Plexiglas. You also need to get the thinnest piece of glass possible. If the glass is too thick, the actor will see two reflections and the text will appear blurry. The actor will see reflections on the front of the glass and also the back. The glass I used here is 3/32 inch thick, which works great.

Setting Up the Teleprompter

DIY Teleprompter

First you have to get something to hold your glass at a 45-degree angle. I used a simple cardboard shipping box and cut both sides to just under the width of the glass. This will hold it in place and allow room for adjustment. A more permanent solution would be to build a wooden box with slots to hold your glass, but try the cardboard first so you’ll get a feel for how the glass needs to sit.

The next thing you’ll want to do is get the reflecting glass to the height of the actor. This isn’t that difficult, but do this first and it will save you a headache later. I have a rolling kitchen cart, and I’ve used some apple boxes to get the height up to eye level. You’ll need to experiment a little and have some extra “shims” on hand if there is a height difference with your actor.

DIY Teleprompter

Go ahead and set up the iPad app, and place the iPad in the bottom of the box facing up—remember you’ll need to tell it to mirror the whole display since it’s being reflected. The app I’m using, Teleprompter+, lists this as a setting. When you start the script, it will mirror all of the text for you automatically.

Set the camera up on the other side of the glass. Once the subject is in focus and you start recording, you’ll want to use a piece of dark cloth to cover the back of the camera. I actually use my sport coat, which has a dark lining. This will block out any back-lighting, so the actor only sees the text. Before you start recording, make sure your subject knows where the lens is so he or she can make a mental mark of where to place his or her eyes. You are ready to record.

The iPad App—Teleprompter+

One thing that’s really nice about Teleprompter+ is that it allows you to set up your iPhone to control the text scrolling on the iPad on either a wireless or bluetooth connection. This allows the subject to scroll the text with the iPhone off-camera. In newscast setups, this is usually done with massive pieces of equipment and is controlled by a teleprompter operator. This setup using a separate operator often drives talent crazy because this person needs to be really good at the pacing and understanding where the eyes are. It’s an art to get this right. By using the iPhone app to control the iPad, we eliminate this need, and if your talent is good at this it works much more smoothly.

Final Touches

I’ve given you all of the technical explanation and instructions for putting a teleprompter together, but I would be remiss if I didn’t say that the lynchpin for success is the talent you have in front of the camera. Reading pre-written text and making it sound natural is an art unto itself. News anchors all use teleprompters and you can tell the difference those who are dynamic and interesting and those who sound like they are reading.

The other skill that is extremely important is knowing how to “read” off a teleprompter. Naturally when we read our eyes drift around to collect information to give to our brain. Unfortunately this motion is clearly visible when using a teleprompter. The talent must have a clear understanding of where the lens is and where his or her eyes should be. Moving the camera back further seems like a good way to make eye motion less obvious, but then it is harder for the talent to see and read.

The subject of most of our teleprompter usage has been our director, Max Anderson, who has had considerable television and teleprompter experience in the past. This makes the whole thing go very quickly, and we can get everything in one or two takes. If you’re dealing with someone who doesn’t have this experience, you’ll want to build in some rehearsal time.

DIY Teleprompter

So it doesn’t look as nice as the ones used on news sets or at press conferences, but those could run you close to $5,000. Here are the costs for our DIY Teleprompter:

11 x 14-inch piece of 3/32-inch-thick glass: $3.28
Cardboard box: Free
Apple boxes and cart: Free (already had them lying around)
Teleprompter+ app: $14.99

Total costs: $18.27 + tax

Ted Forbes is the Multimedia Producer at the Dallas Museum of Art.

Peace and Equality

Civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. was a champion of peaceful ways and equality for all people. This year marks the 50th anniversary of his I Have a Dream speech, delivered in Washington, D.C., in August 1963. Pick up a Peace and Equality self-guide tour (featuring the works shown below) today at the DMA during the launch of the DMA Friends & Partners program and our return to free general admission, and visit works of art in the DMA’s collection that resonate with the spirit of peace, hope, compassion, faith, and determination prevalent throughout Dr. King’s actions and teachings.

Edward Hicks, The Peaceable Kingdom, c. 1846-1847, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, The Art Museum League Fund

Edward Hicks, The Peaceable Kingdom, c. 1846-1847, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, The Art Museum League Fund

Jina, 12th century, black stone, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of the Junior Associates

Jina, India, Western Rajasthan, 12th century, black stone, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of the Junior Associates

Rufino Tamayo, El Hombre (Man), 1953, vinyl with pigment on panel, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas Art Association commission, Neiman-Marcus Company Exposition Funds

Rufino Tamayo, El Hombre (Man), 1953, vinyl with pigment on panel, Dallas Museum of Art, Commissioned by the Dallas Art Association through Neiman-Marcus Exposition Funds, (c) 2013 Estate of the artist in support of Fundacion Olga y Rufino Tamayo, A.C.

Glenn Ligon, Untitled, 2002, coal dust, printing ink, oil stick, glue, acrylic paint, and gesso on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, DMA/amfAR Benefit Auction Fund

Glenn Ligon, Untitled, 2002, coal dust, printing ink, oil stick, glue, acrylic paint, and gesso on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, DMA/amfAR Benefit Auction Fund, (c) 2002 Glenn Ligon

Nicole Stutzman Forbes is the Chair of Learning Initiatives and Dallas Museum of Art League Director of Education.

Countdown to DMA Friends & Partners on January 21

We have been preparing for months for the launch of DMA Friends & Partners and our return to free general admission. The DMA Friend kiosks are in place, the badges have been uploaded, and we are ready to welcome everyone to the DMA on Monday, January 21.

Join us on this very special day. Explore the Museum and start earning credit as you enjoy performances in the galleries, tours, art making, and more! Download the full schedule of activities here and check out a few shots of the installation process below.

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Five, Six, Seven, Eight

Chagall: Beyond Color opens on Sunday, February 17, and the highlight of the exhibition is sure to be the costumes designed by Chagall in 1942 for the production of the ballet Aleko. The ballet’s première took place in September 1942 in Mexico City, followed by the Ballet Theatre of New York production, and the costumes have not been seen in the U.S. since. Recently, DMA staff whipped out their jazz hands and did their best mannequin impersonations to assist in the installation of the Aleko costumes.

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