Take The Stage | The Joy of Video Critiques

By Ian Kendall - Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Last time we talked a wee bit about video cameras. Today, I want to discuss what to do with those recordings and how to use the information.

OK, so it’s the day after a show, and you are buzzing because it went well. Everyone laughed in the right place, you came up with a couple of zinger ad libs, but you over ran by seven minutes. Also, you cannot remember what the ad libs were, just that they were funny. Luckily, you recorded the show, so you fire up the computer to watch.

This is rarely a fun activity, but it’s likely to give you better results than anything else you can do in the early stages of your stage career. Get a notepad, a pen, and maybe a trusted friend, something to drink and a comfy chair. You are going to be brutal, and brutally honest with yourself. Ideally, your trusted friend will know you well enough to be even more brutal. No one ever improved by ignoring the mistakes.

Make copious notes. Don’t be afraid to stop the clip and go back. Make notes of the timings of the routines; mark the start time, and the end time. You won’t have to time the transitions, because you’ll be able to work them out between the end and start times. Note down how long each routine lasts – over time you’ll see that the routine time will trend towards something quite consistent. This is vital to know later, when you are planning shows with different routines and fitting them together to fill your time slot.

How is your posture? How much visual noise are you making? Are you pacing, or walking with purpose? Are you looking up and out, or in and down? Do you ever turn your back on the audience? Are you wondering why I’ve not covered these topics yet? (Fret ye not, they are coming!) How well did you do sticking to your script? Remember those ad libs? Write them down – even that act will help to cement them in your mind. Can you fit them into the script, or are they stand alone lines that could fit anywhere? Were they really that funny?

With each routine; did all the mechanics happen at the right time? Did the script seem too wordy? Not wordy enough? Did it make sense? Did your helper (if there was one) seem relaxed on stage? Were there extended periods where they were ignored, and just standing there? Did you frame the climax well? How did you send the helpers back to their seats?

Check the end time; was it close to the expected routine length? How did the time compare to your rehearsal videos? Did you speed up, or did you slow down? How was your diction? Was everything you said audible? Did the audience laugh at the right points? Did any lines fall flat? (this can happen, so it’s not an automatic decision to cut the line, but if it happens more than once, it’s certainly time to consider an edit).

How did you leave the stage at the end? Did you get a good round of applause, or a polite one? How did you feel after the show?

Once you have watched the whole show, mark down all the routine times, and compare them with the show list; write down which routines were longer than expected, and by how much. If that happens time and again, you should amend the time on your planning list. Discuss the show with your trusted friend. Be honest, and expect unfiltered honesty. Then discuss how you can fix those problems.

Then, do it all over again next time. I cannot stress too much how important this is.

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