Musicals in the '70's Folk/Rock genre include:
Soul Doctor Dogfight
Hair The Me Nobody Knows
Jesus Christ Superstar Two Gentlemen of Verona
The Rocky Horror Show Hedwig and the Angry Inch
The Who's Tommy The Times They Are A-Changin’
If you are going to audition for one of the shows above, the creative team will likely ask you to "Bring in a '60s or '70s Folk/Rock song." Your song selection should theoretically be a tune written between 1965 and 1975, give or take a year. The music started evolving from Motown and '60s Pop after the United States’ involvement in the Vietnam War. We may call this era 70s Folk/Rock, but Woodstock was in 1969, so we’re really focusing on the era of music, which was an effort for artists to protest, express their frustrations, and heal.
Picking a Song
The British Invasion introduced the idea of a rock band to the late '60s sound with Bass, Drums and Electric Guitar. It allowed people to let out a raw, wild pain from the trauma of the war. The Beatles’ incredible palette of music, along with bands like The Rolling Stones and The Who, led to the evolution of this movement that American artists like Janis Joplin, Jimmy Hendrix, and Led Zeppelin latched onto. Folk music, led by artists like Joni Mitchell, Peter, Paul and Mary, and Simon and Garfunkel, was a more peaceful and poetic self-expression, incorporating Celtic and Scottish immigrants' musical roots in the Appalachian Mountains. It spoke on politics with an intention to heal society, our environment, and the overwhelming loss of innocence people felt during that time.
Remember that songs don’t have to be written in the same era in which the show takes place to be great audition pieces! Your audition song only needs to capture your essence in the style to be successful. Songs by Jeff Buckley, Jason Mraz, Beth Hart, or Joss Stone could work well for this world! Their Spotify stations will open up a lot of wonderful music.
Listen to all of my 70 Folk/Rock cuts on Spotify in this playlist. Once you find a song you love, get it on Musicnotes.com!
Move Your Bod!
Watch this awesome clip to catch the body language from HAIR. This is Twyla Tharp's choreography! It's incredible!! Here's Tom Jones and Janis Joplin rocking out on "Raise Your Hands"! They are both raw but in very different ways!
The shootings at Kent State University marked the beginning of the anti-war movement and defined the era. If you do not know what happened there, on May 4, 1970, the Ohio National Guard opened fire on unarmed students who were protesting President Nixon's bombing of Cambodia during the Vietnam War. College students became the catalyst for the evolution of counterculture and anti-war efforts; "Be-Ins", "Sit-Ins", the Sexual Revolution, and the idea of full self-exploration started then in a new, exciting way. People became spiritual and mystical. The Women's Liberation Movement and Black Panther Movement were also monumental in the mid-1960s to the late-1970s as well. Wartime tension and anger became the primary elements of socially conscious artists' music.
In Queer culture, tensions were steadily increasing and in 1969 The Stonewall Riots occurred in Greenwich Village, Manhattan. No longer were people within the LGBTQ+ community submitting to Police Brutality and discrimination - we were actively and righteously demanding change. This would inspire a plethora of Queer Rights Organizations to come together such as the Human Rights Campaign, OutRage! (U.K.-based), GLAAD (formerly Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation), PFLAG (formerly Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays), and Queer Nation.
People were burning bras, draft cards, and flags. Consider what you’re most drawn to from this period in History. How does this influence you and your craft? Would you have been a soldier or would you have evaded the draft? Would you have joined a social movement? Which movement? Would you have been someone who ignored the issues? Be honest with yourself. As actors it’s important to know our History without romanticizing it or irresponsibly assuming we understand all of its nuance. Living, breathing Human Beings were constantly losing their lives between the War in Vietnam and the War against Black Communities here in the States and we can’t ignore that (read up on COINTELPRO if you’re unfamiliar). Contemplating these historical details grounds your approach to acting.
The final step: Authenticity
Allow the music to hit you, move you physically, and make you feel you have to sing. People were experiencing and communicating real feelings about the world, which allowed their voices to become earthier, richer, and more grounded. This is a big shift from the polished, presentable, emotionally reserved essence of the Motown Era. This era was sadly not that different from the horrors we're experiencing today. So if there's ever a place to put your feelings about how the world feels, this is it. Instead of belting high notes at the creative team, show them how your real, honest feelings travel on your voice. Can you use your song to process something that hurts?
In rebelling against a clean-cut way of life, people's bodies became loose, free, and uninhibited. If you think of the '50s and early '60s as a neat bow, the mid-'60s and '70s undo the bow. Allow your limbs to be the loose ribbons! If you're singing a '70s ballad, ground your body and share an emotional, impactful moment with us. Allow yourself to be the vessel through which your message can come through simply and clearly.
Vocals: Raw, Uninhibited, Emotional, Grounded, Earthy, Passionate
Movement: Loose, Free, Honest, Expressive, Genuine
Pick a song grounded in this world of 70’s Folk/Rock that you can communicate big feelings through!
Remember to empathize for those who lived through this time without romanticizing their struggle!
You can wear clothes from your closet that suggest a "hippy" feel, but think about wearing vintage clothing or real flowers instead of fake flowers and a tie-dyed shirt. Grow your hair out, including your facial hair! For some inspiration, take a look at the link below!
Hippie Inspired Fashion
Watch 70s Folk/Rock Classes Below