Tim Tunes

3-6 Dr. David R. Press - Acting Wizard

September 19, 2022 Tim Rose Season 3 Episode 6
Tim Tunes
3-6 Dr. David R. Press - Acting Wizard
Show Notes Transcript

Sometimes there are teachers in our lives that are so influential that we can’t imagine our lives without their influence. When I was in high school, trying to figure out what to do with my life, I thought that by going to college and studying theater I could improve my stage presence and my performance as a musician. What I got was so much more than I bargained for. 

In this episode, we are speaking with Dr. David R. Press, teacher, director, and actor extraordinaire. Dr. Press was instrumental in teaching me how to approach an artistic project, how to analyze and interpret a subject, and how to create and perform a work, simply and with honesty. We’ll also hear short stories and tributes from a few of Dave’s other students.

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[Intro]

[Intro Theme – Motor]

Sometimes there are teachers in our lives that are so influential that we can’t imagine our lives without their influence. When I was in high school, trying to figure out what to do with my life, I thought that by going to college and studying theater I could improve my stage presence and my performance as a musician. What I got was so much more than I bargained for.  

In this episode, we are speaking with Dr. David R. Press, teacher, director, and actor extraordinaire. Dr. Press was instrumental in teaching me how to approach an artistic project, how to analyze and interpret a subject, and how to create and perform a work, simply and with honesty. 

[Pod Lick]

Hi. I’m Tim Rose and this is the Tim Tunes pod cast. In this episode we’ll have a conversation with David Press probably the biggest influence on me in terms of the artistic elements of my songs and how I represent them. We’ll also hear short stories and tributes from Dave’s other students.

[Pod Lick – Big D]

[Teaching Acting]

I caught up with the good doctor at his home in Cumberland, Maryland. There was something very gratifying walking up those same stairs that I had used 50 years ago into that same beautiful Victorian house. We met on a hot July day in his home office. The window air conditioner kept us cool but also provided a bit of a noisy background.

{Interview} 

It’s hard for me to quantify exactly what I learned from Dr. Press. His teaching seemed like magic to me. He could spot phony acting from a mile away. When I first started working with him, I couldn’t understand what he was seeing that I wasn’t. Over time, as I learned to watch and listen very carefully, my skill increased, and I was able to tell the difference between good honest acting and the rote delivery of lines.

We started talking about Public Speaking which was another subject he taught. As he talks about the similarity of public speaking and acting, he voices one of the key tenets of his teaching. Let’s have a listen 

{Interview}

[Pod Lick – Expanding Synth]

[Listening]
All of us who were students of Doctor Press have stories about his teachings. Let’s listen as Emmy and Tony Award winning actress Debra Monk, currently in the television shows The Gilded Age and New Amsterdam, talks about her experience learning from Dr. Press.

 {Deb Monk Tribute}

 Listening. Who knew that so much of acting consisted of listening to the other characters? David R. Press, that’s who. 

 [Character Development]
Much of Dr. Press’s method was designed to get at the humanity of the character through an organic process of character development. Again, this seemed like magic to me, but it always worked when the actor bought in to it. Let’s listen while Stephan Vaughan recounts another story about Dr. Press’s methods. Old friend Steve used to play harmonica and sing with me in my college band. After college he worked in movies as a stuntman and fight coordinator. Today, Steve teaches Stage Combat and Acting for Film at SUNY-Freedonia and Niagara University.  We caught up with Steve as he was driving home from Maryland to Western New York. The recording isn’t great, but I think the story more than makes up for it.

{Steve Vaughn Tribute}

[Podlick – Funky Wah]
 
[Who Goes There]
So, by now you may be wondering what the Aich Eee Double Hockey Sticks do theater and acting have to do with creating and performing songs. Usually, when composing, I consider each of my songs to be like a little play. I cast the singer in the role of the key character and write and perform the song from their point of view. Most often there is a story with a beginning a middle and an end, and conflict of some kind that the character in the song must deal with. Now I’ll be the first to admit that I am so tired of stories about the threat of death or the threat of lost love or the prospect of new love. I mean, it’s exhausting, and frankly, I think it’s a little lazy. If you go around being afraid of death, or afraid of losing love, or are constantly falling in love, I mean, ‘Zounds! Get a life. Get thee to a psychiatry.

But I digress… I learned from Dr. Press how to analyze a character and get into their skin and see the world from their perspective. Even quote unquote bad people think they are right and justified in their thoughts and actions. I don’t generally make it clear that the song is written from the character’s perspective and not mine. For instance, in my song, “God Loves Me” subtitled “But He doesn’t really care about you”, I sing as a religious zealot. The religious positions when plainly spoken are so ridiculous that I hope people don’t think this is my view, but rather the view of the character who inhabits the song. Although, considering the whole “Birds Aren’t Real” debacle I wonder sometimes. 

 [Podlick – Birdies]

 In my musical, “Homeless Souls”, one of my characters was a homeless vet. At the time, one third of the homeless were vets. I decided to record an interview with my Frostburg friend Bing Roetruck who had been in the infantry and was a Vietnam vet. I asked him to tell me what it was really like over there? What was it that he kept thinking about? In the action of the play, this character is homeless and re-enacts his flashback in real time. This song is based on that interview and was recorded in the mid-nineties on a small Teac four track tape recorder. Bing is no longer with us, so I dedicate this song to him and to Dr. Press who taught me how to appreciate the perspectives of others.  Here is, “Who Goes There?”

 [Play song – Who Goes There?]

 D2 C#2 D2 F#2 D2 C2 B2 C2 D2                                                                                                  INTRO

           D2                                   C#2                                                                                                           VERSE 1
I was just about as cherry as a cherry could be
        D2                                             F#2
The day we went on ambush on hill 223
          D2                              C2
I was adding the time to the end of my hitch
                B2                          C2          D2
When he put me on point, that son-of-a-bitch.
                  D2                                         C#2
They can train your body and they can train your mind.
               D2                                                   F#2
But they can't prepare you for that very first time.
        D2                                 C2
My heart was racing, I was pumped up with fear
                        B2              C2                D2
And all I could think was, I shouldn't be here.

E2             C2     D2          B2     C2             A2          C2       E2                                                CHORUS 1
Who goes there, friend or foe?  How much longer until I go home?
E2                  C2           D2               B2       C2             A2      C2          E2
    Somebody tell me because I don't know. Who goes there, friend or foe?

    D2                                    C#2                                                                                                             VERSE 2
I cut through the jungle my eyes like a knife
        D2                                                       F#2
And stare as the elephant grass comes to life.
D2                       C2                            B2            C2              D2
  I look at him as he looks at me and both of our bodies fire instantly.
       D2                            C#2                      D2                                                   F#2
I'll never forget that look in his eyes as his chest explodes and his bullets whiz by.
      D2                                    C2                       B2         C2                D2
In a flash it's over. I am in the clear.  Why am I alive?  I shouldn't be here.

E2             C2     D2          B2     C2      A2                C2             E2                                      CHORUS 2
Who goes there, friend or foe?    Am I crazy?  I just want to go home.
E2              C2             D2                 B2     C2             A2      C2          E2
Somebody help me because I don't know. Who goes there, friend or foe?

D2                                   C#2                                                                                                             VERSE 3
    I'm salty now, got one under my belt.
      D2                                                             F#2
But where are the feelings that I should have felt?
       D2                               C2
The perimeter's set.  We're tucked in for the night.
   B2                              C2          D2
I drew first watch.  Now I'm sitting tight.
D2                                C#2                               D2                                          F#2
Searching the darkness, looking for signs, But all I can see is the look in his eyes.
D2                                          C2                           B2                          C2               D2
Is that something moving? Is somebody there? I want to go home. I shouldn't be here.

D2                    C#2                         D2                                                 F#2                                     BRIDGE
Quiet now, the night has grown still. Something's going to happen.  I know it will.
             D2                      C2                   B2                              C2               D2
Deathly calm all around, time for the kill. God help me.  Now I live for the thrill.

D2                                   C#2                                                                                                  VERSE 4 & END
Gotta get my weapon... God, no. Not again!
     D2                                                  F#2
I'm trapped inside this nightmare like a mannequin.
D2                              C2
       I need my weapon, it's my only chance.
B2                                               C2                       D2
      It's the only way I can break out of this trance.
D2                                     C#2
    They're coming soon, I know it. Like they always do!
               D2                                                   F#2
I'm frozen here with fear.  I can't move!
D2                                             C2
Locked to the dark with my ten-thousand-mile stare
               B2                        C2                D2             
I see that look in his eyes.  I shouldn't be here!

 

[Pod Lick – Sad World]


[Stories and Tributes]
Now, let’s listen to stories and tributes from some of Dave’s other students starting with Mary Kollmorgen.

 {Tribute – Mary Kollmorgan}

 Now Let’s hear from Hizzonor Circuit Court Judge on Senior status Dan Dwyer.

 {Tribute – Dan Dwyer}

 Next we’ll hear from proud former student and dedicated character actor of stage and screen Mark Rolston.

 {Tribute – Mark Rolston}

 You can see Mark as Lt. Thorne on Bosch Legacy – streaming on IMDB. He just finished a SciFi Comedy pilot called ‘Star Crew’ and is currently filming an Indie project ‘PUG - The Movie’ where he plays a crooked boxing promoter. Also, he is staring in the next installment of the Spider-Man franchise video games as Norman Osborn – AKA the Green Goblin. He’s a very busy fellow. 

 [Podlick – Bell 0]

Now let’s finish up this section with a message from Paula Samson Sandridge retired educator, mom and grandma who appeared in numerous productions at Frostburg.

 {Tribute – Paula Samson Sandridge}

[Outro]
That about wraps up this episode. I hope you’ve enjoyed my thinly veiled attempt to honor this exceptional mentor and teacher. Every great teacher should be honored in some way, as who can say where the ripples they start will end.

 From the bottom of my heart thank you, David. 

 And special thanks to Debra Monk, Steven Vaughan, Mary Kollmorgan, Dan Dwyer, Mark Rolston and Paula Sandridge.

 And thank you all for listening. You can join us for discussions on this episode and well anything else you want to discuss in the Tim Tunes Podcast group on Facebook. You can purchase or stream my music at tim-rose.com. 

 If you enjoyed this episode, please consider making a donation to the Alzehimers Association at alz.org

 [Outro Pod Lick]

 {"And shaggy wanes..." vocal exercise.]