Tuesday, October 26, 2010

So much to say, so little time

It seems that I have less and less time to write these days. Since Wednesday I've presented my project in Nuts and Bolts, gone to Ethics class, written a vernacular translation of my Shakespeare soliloquy and talked through it with Professor R, Watched the the Julie Taymor version of Titus (Shakespeare'sTitus Andronicus), set up and helped run a costume sale, went headshot shirt shopping (say that 5 times fast), finished a ton of homework, filmed my last movie scene, performed my soliloquy, and taken my headshots! Plus rehearsal.

So: the project went really well. We seemed to be the only cities encouraging people to not move there. Kansas City was good, and Minneapolis was interesting, but I was actually interested in Denver and Orlando. Denver is a market I would move to if I wanted to settle down and have a family, I think. They have a great, smaller scene, and it's just a great place to live. Orlando seemed cool for just starting out. I'm not especially interested in Disney, but there are other theatres around, and I do love the Florida atmosphere. Today we get to hear from Chicago, NY, LA, and Seattle. I'm extremely excited about all of these, because if I'm serious about this, I'll definitely end up in one of these places. Kyle (who took my headshots, and acted at Boji) will be a guest speaker in class today, which will be really cool too. He lives in NY as an actor/singer/photographer, and he's going to tell us all about it.

I really like the soliloquy I've received in Shakespeare. It's Queen Margaret from King Henry VI Part II. We had to present them individually yesterday, and I'm excited to work with Professor R on mine to make it better. I played one level the whole time, and he reminded me not to put emphasis on non-operative words such as: HIS head. It should be his HEAD.

My weekend flew by! The Costume sale went swimmingly! We raised more money than I think we imagined we would, and half of the proceeds are going to The Women's Shelter. I also bought some great things, for very cheap! We're very proud of that. I placed our Warehouse T-Shirt order, so hopefully those should be coming in soon next week.

Sunday was a crazy day. I thought I would film my 2 line scene for one hour, tops. Instead, I ended up at a 5 hour shoot because they had to take close-ups, different angles, and over the shoulders of me and my partner and my mother. I never knew it could take so long. I had a lot of fun while filming. It was a really emotional scene, but Garret (my 'brother' in the scene) and I had a lot of fun in between takes. It showed me that I really do love film acting as much as I always thought I would. However, I didn't like waiting around between takes or before takes. On a real set, I wouldn't have homework to be doing and I would have a trailer to stay in--so this problem was purely a student film issue. :) I received great direction, and enjoyed the experience overall.

I took my headshots yesterday! It was scary, but Kyle made it fun and easier than I thought it would be. I ended up with over 400 pictures, and Katie Mac and I got it down to just over 50. They're on Facebook mom!

Rehearsal has been going really well. We were completely blocked (all our movement was decided) by Friday afternoon. We were working scenes by Friday evening. We just finished working Act 1 yesterday! It goes so fast. We need to be off book Act 1 by Wednesday, and Act 2 by Friday. And then we'll just start running the show. I'm loving the script more every time I do it, which is good because that doesn't always happen. I'm constantly thinking of new things to try, and Director is really great about giving us ideas and letting us have freedom in the process. She keeps it real. She reminds us when we've glossed over an important moment, and to really think about what we're saying and listen to each other. It's difficult because there are only the 2 of us in this play, so we have to be careful that certain things have meaning, and we don't forget them.

Anyways, I've gotta go memorize my monologue for Wednesday's class!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Tudors, Ethics, and Getting Cast

So, over the lovely 3 day weekend I managed to finish off my project about the Houston/Austin theatre scene. It's not as in depth as I'd like, but I think it's fairly well done. Truthfully, it was difficult to answer some of the questions because the markets are so small that they don't offer up a lot of information about theatre. It's difficult to even find pictures of the theatres, because they aren't known on a national scale. I've tried to figure out how to upload it here, so you could look at it if you'd like, but I'm not sure this blog has the capabilities. I'll look into it!

Also over the weekend, I started watching the television series
The Tudors which is about the reign of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. It's mostly fictional, but all the characters are historically accurate. It's very well acted and well scripted, then again most Showtime shows are. It's made me think a lot about classical acting in my future. I really enjoy the classics and I think I'll definitely take the time to train for those somewhere. The University of San Diego has an incredible graduate program geared towards the classics, and they study abroad at the Globe Theatre. On a side note, I discovered that Austin has a replica of a Shakespearean outdoor theatre. I must go.

Speaking of classics, Shakespeare Acting has been going well. We performed our 10 line 'midterms' and I received good feedback. Now we've moved onto soliloquies. I'm performing Queen Margaret from King Henry VI Part 2. She's a very powerful woman, and I'm excited to be playing her! I did a lot of research on the play so I understand all of the historical context. That's the problem with Shakespeare's Histories: they were automatically understood in his time, because everyone knew the back stories. These days, very few Americans know about many of the English Kings aside from Henry VIII. There's a lot of names to keep track of, and lineage to check out. I wish I had the time to read every Shakespeare play we receive scenes from this semester. We're supposed to, but realistically it's impossible.

I'm taking Shakespeare Literature too, and we have a new play to read every week in there. The plays we receive in acting class are different Shakespeare plays, and there's no way I could read and digest 2 Shakes plays every week around all the other homework I have--plus rehearsal!

Because I got cast.

I'm so excited! Monday we had auditions for Collected Stories in the Warehouse. We have a new student director, Michelle, and she did auditions and callbacks in the same night to ensure that rehearsals could start on Tuesday. We're already a week behind in rehearsals because of midterms last week, so we'll have 2 weeks of rehearsal and 1 week of Tech. So I performed a new monologue that I had prepared over the weekend for auditions and received a callback. Collected Stories is a 2 women play that we fought hard to have in our season. We thought that is was an important piece of work that needed to be done, and the ladies at this school should have an opportunity to play these intelligent and mature characters.

At callbacks I read for the older character first, and then the younger character. I ended up getting to read for the younger character several more times before she released everyone except 5 of us--to stay and read for the older character. I've been wanting a younger character on my resume to even it out. It's difficult to explain to theatres that are interested in you why your resume consists of characters that aren't your age. So the more younger characters I can get on my resume, the better, because those will be the roles I actually get called back for in the real world.

All in all, the callbacks were really fun. We did separate reads with out partners for the first half, then the director brought us all in and picked pairs to perform scenes in front of everyone to move it along. It's very rare in an audition here that we get to watch each other perform, and it was very useful. It was interesting watching how the first years would get nervous to perform in front of everyone and I had to remind myself that they weren't used to it yet. It made me remember how scared of performing I was when I first came here. The 3rd years were so talented and that was daunting. I had a first year scene partner in one of my callbacks, and she did a great job being courageous. Now she's an understudy!

So callbacks lasted until 11 pm, then I woke up, went to class, and then the cast list was up! I'm playing Lisa, the younger character! I had class right up until rehearsal and then the read-through sped by. It's been a crazy couple of days, that's for sure.

I had voice midterms on Monday; that went well. I ended up singing my 16 bar cuts Acapella for memorization purposes. Then I turned my Houston/Austin project in to be graded. I received my grade for my Ethics midterm. I got an 86%, and I got a lesson about education. My Professor had created a test that was impossible to make up answers on. We were really angry at how specific he was because we had had to study so hard and then we still weren't able to answer some of the questions which made us look like we hadn't studied at all. However, he told us that education shouldn't be about the grades you make, it should be about what you learn and the knowledge you retain. We had to admit that we had learned a lot in his class and through the studying that we did for the test, so he had done his job, even if we didn't test well.

In Professor D's Nuts and Bolts class yesterday we talked about Ancillary Acting work. He gave us a list of entertainment jobs that we could do instead of performing on a stage or in film. We talked about: Theme parks, stunt work, cruise lines, industrial shows, industrial films (like the training videos at every workplace), voice overs, and being a reader in auditions.

My two favorites were being a reader and voice overs. If you're a reader it means that you're an actor's 'scene partner' in their audition. You read the other characters lines, usually while sitting down with the casting director and director, while the auditionee performs. This is a great way to watch what makes an audition work and what specific casting directors are looking for. Casting directors are your big in, in this industry and it's important to know them and know what they like.

Voice Overs can be done anywhere and everywhere. There are so many opportunities to do voice overs, and if you're lucky you can get a job that pays a ton of money! There are some people that do just this for a living. They have recording studios in their basement and they receive scripts, record them, and email them off and they're done for the day. They take special microphone training and you need to have an array of voices at your disposal for specific radio ads or television commercials. Voice Over artists are the highest paid actors in the business. This is a great supplementary job that I would love to do.

Cruise lines are also of interest to me, and Professor D promises that we'll interview some of his friends that work on cruise ships about their experiences. These jobs can be horrible if you aren't careful choosing the line you go on. Some cruise lines offer a weekly meal schedule, and it can be hard to eat the same thing every Wednesday for 6 months. You also have to be careful of who's giving you insurance. Cruise lines are all non-Equity (the stage actors' union)and so you have to make sure of who is taking care of you if you break your leg. Who flies you home, the ship, or you? Another thing to be careful of is who is paying for your visa? If your visa costs $30 to get off the ship at every country and the ship is going to 10 countries, you should probably make sure that the ship is paying for it. Or the theatre company you're working for.

The downer is that there are very few straight play cruise lines, which is what I'm interested in. And the other downer is that you're away as long as the ship is away, so if something happens at home it's really difficult to make it back.

Next time in Nuts and Bolts I'll be presenting my city research with my partner. I'm really excited about these presentations because I'll get to learn about the theatre markets in a lot of cities, so I can find a city that fits me that I could potentially move to. Top of the list right now: Seattle and Chicago.

I have a Warehouse Board Meeting today to approve the poster I've made for this show. I have afternoon and night rehearsal, and somehow in there I also have to find time to make an appointment to cut my bangs before headshots next week, and to plan my presentation for Nuts and Bolts. It's going to be a busy day! Good thing I had the morning off!

And for my sake, some notes I received at the read through yesterday:
* Think of different ways to end all your sentences with question marks
* Work on using a higher register for your voice, you sound too similar to Rhea
* Dye hair light? Highlights? We need to see a visible distinction between Rhea and me (both tall, both brunette)

Oh! P.S. I've started a guest blogging series on the Warehouse Blog, meaning I've contacted people and interviewed them about things I think the students here will be interested in! I'm really excited about it, and the first interview is up! It's not letting me add the warehouse link, so you should scroll down a couple posts to where I added it before!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Almost Midterm but Not Quite

Friday sped by, and so did my weekend! However, I did get a lot accomplished in my seemingly short amount of time.

On Friday we presented out Shakespeare scenes for the class. I had a section of Hamlet. Everyone's scenes went great! The language was clear and easy to understand. Everyone understood the point of their scenes, and it was like we weren't watching Shakespeare at all! My scene went very well, too. I had a blast performing it because I took risks and committed more fully than I had been in some of our rehearsals. Professor R had told us to not hold back or be afraid to be a little melodramatic, and so I didn't. I didn't end up being melodramatic, but that direction really allowed me to stop being so small and closed off.

Here are some of the notes we received from Professor R afterwards:
* You are a master wordsmith. You carved out every line and syllable and made it your own.
* Both of you really understood the scene and committed to the story.
* I can tell you love Shakespeare

So, they were very nice notes to get. It always feels good to not receive a critical note, however that doesn't mean the scene was seamless. I think it just means that in the amount of time we had, we really showed Professor R what he wanted. Which is great!

Acting in Shakespeare is a class I'm really enjoying, and it makes me think that I'd love to study Shakespeare and Restoration more in depth. Maybe I'll do graduate school one day.

This weekend I did a mock tour for Student Ambassadors which went well. I had to check out early because I was supposed to film some of my scenes for one of the films I'm in. I didn't know where the film site was so it took me a while to find it, but when I got there they ended up not needing me for a couple hours yet. So I came back to campus and attended the understudy performance of Five Women Wearing the Same Dress, which was fabulous by the way. The understudies really did their homework, and I was very proud of them. I had to leave at intermission because I got a call saying they were ready to film me. So, I went and filmed my scene, which only took about 15 takes or so. It was a lot of fun! I actually received direction from the director about where I should put my hand and how she wanted me to stand and if she wanted more in my voice. It was nice to know she wanted me to turn out well on film. It makes me more excited to see the final product. Honestly I have about 7 lines in this film, so it won't be anything to remember, but it's a great experience. I still have one more scene to shoot yet.

Then I made a letterhead for the Warehouse, to hopefully add to an e-mail subscription list I'd like to set up. After that it was time to go to the closing show of Five Women! I had to run in early and print off 40 more programs. And 10 minutes before the start of the show, the house manager ran up and told me we needed about 30 more because there was a line of people waiting for programs! That's great! The show had great word of mouth PR, and our ad in the newspaper as well as the posters downtown really brought in a big crowd. We ended up selling higher than normal for one of our shows!

The show was hilarious and heartwarming. It was a great script and a great cast. It was amazing to watch how everything came together for this show. Being a part of it was so much fun, and all of our hard work really paid off. We had strike after the show and the set came down in no time. We were out early and I got to bed early.

Sunday was filled with massive amounts of homework and small spurts of procrastination. I finished up memorizing lines for the Shakespeare midterm, wrote a cover letter and a review of Five Women for Nuts and Bolts, wrote in the discussion board for class, and typed out my section of the proposal for our Global Ethics Senior Capstone project. I spent about 4 hours looking for a good monologue, but it took me until yesterday to find the one I'd like to use. We're supposed to being 'using the room' for our next monologue assignment, and so I had been having difficulty finding a monologue that I could accomplish that with.

The monologue I'm using is from Lanford Wilson's Ludlow Fair and hopefully it will turn out to be a good addition to my repertoire.

In Nuts and Bolts today we talked more about Living in the Big City. There was a lot of discussion on security at the apartments we live in, as well as car security, and grocery delivery. We also talked about collecting unemployment. Unemployment is given to people who are let go from their jobs or when the job they have ends. As actors, we sign contracts for 4-8 week gigs---and then our jobs end. Because of this, as long as we are actively seeking employment such as auditioning or attempting to find auditions, we can collect unemployment to help pay the bills.

Professor D suggested some good part time jobs, as well. When in a large market such as LA, NYC, or Chicago where acting is seen as a legitimate profession, auditions take place during the day and performances and showcases take place at night. This means if you have a day job you can't audition, and if you have a night job you can't perform. So how do we do it, you ask? We have to find jobs with flexible hours that allow us to audition and perform. This means: massage therapy, certified personal trainer, temping, or knowing your employer well enough. Professor D used to be a bell boy, and has friends that work as personal assistants or vet assistants who have boss' that allow them to take off for auditions.

We talked a lot about temping and its benefits in class today. It's one of the most flexible jobs, and it's easy if you know how to work computer's and type well.

Well--isn't it interesting the things I have to look forward to? Who knows what part time job I'll have? I'm not too worried about it at the moment. For now, I'd like to focus on actually acquiring a theatre related job!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Thinking About the Future

Food for thought:

I graduate in 8 months exactly. May 7, 2011. I haven't been in college for very long. Still, high school seems like a life time ago. I learned so much about theatre my first and second year here. It's become so much more than a possible career. I came into college loving what I experienced in high school, but knowing there was more out there. 2 years later I realize now that what theatre is to me has changed. It's always been about family and about creativity. It's been about expressing myself and sharing an idea. Now, all of that has grown. It's become about the art and the craft itself. It's about the history of theatre and what it has always meant to the people who perform it. It's about learning something not only about myself, but something human everyday. It reminds me that everything in life changes and evolves. It has shown me that I can change and that I can help change people. It's about representing the bigger picture and bringing new ideas to a wider public. And I love the process. I love delving into situations I have or haven't experienced or making people laugh. It's a sort of psychology for the soul. And I use my body and my mind everyday. At the end of the day I know I've worked hard for something, usually with someone else. It's a community experience.

Most importantly though, I think theatre has taught me that there is so much more to life than I thought before. There are different people and places to experience. There are things that I want to do that have nothing to do with working in an office and everything to do with learning about life. I wish I could spend my life traveling and meeting new people and experiencing different cultures. But I know I can't. Not realistically--at least for a little while.

And I think that might be the saddest thing I've learned in college. American theatre has become so commercial. So much of it is based on money and public desire. The regional theatre movement is slightly better, but it's really the store-front, independent theatres that are able to perform the work that matters. But in other parts of the world, theatre is different. Theatre is not only a respected art, but a respected career. It's not seen as a claim to fame, or idealistic. The people that practice it aren't usually out to get famous. In England actors are knighted for their craft. It's considered respectable to study theatre and to perform it. It's odd to not only concieve of the notion that somewhere else people might not laugh when I say I'm an actress, but odd that somewhere else my idea of a future is a legitimate one. And that has allowed me to understand that my future is legitimate--if I so choose to make it that way.

I suppose I'm thinking about all of this because in 8 months I'll be out there, and I'll have to make decisions about what I want to do. And I don't really know what I want to do. I want to act, but only if acting is bringing me the same joy that it has brought me so far. I want to be part of a cast that loves what they do as much as I do. And I want it to be about the experience, and very rarely about the money. They always say that if you do theatre, you can never just do theatre. You have to do other things to give you the experience you need to do theatre. And I like that. I like knowing that I can do other things to be good at what I love to do. Nothing I do will ever be a waste of time.

Now--the key is to actually do this. To be successful. But I think my success will be measured by my happiness, and by the people I've met along the way.

Full Speed Ahead

Wow, I'm failing miserably at keeping up this year. I'm sorry.

Next week is midterms, so this week and last week are crammed full of teachers throwing information at me. Which is ok, to an extent.

Let's pick up where we left off, shall we? I'm loving my new haircut, for one. Mom's visit was awesome and gave me a much needed mental health weekend. Also, over the weekend we had our 2 annual Warehouse Field Day! It was a great success and everybody had a great time. This week I had to get the Warehouse Programs printed. They look beautiful! My poster that I designed is on the front, and we had them printed in color, which is a step up from last year. I also created a 'Warehouse Theatre Bookmark' insert. It's bookmark with the rest of our upcoming season as well as our blog and twitter accounts, so the public can keep up with us online.

I also had to get the dress display for the lobby situated. We wanted to put student made dresses on display as a show of campus involvement in the Warehouse. It ended up that only one student submitted dresses, but we had enough for a great display!

So it was a busy week for the Warehouse. We opened the show last night and I hear it went great! The photo/bio board for the actors and designers looks amazing, the show was hilarious, and we had a group of 33 come! It's rare to get a group, so that was really cool. We played to 81% last night! We might even run out of programs--and that's great!

Now, onto my school life, because really, how did my life become only about the Warehouse?

In Shakespeare we reviewed our scenes to be performed Friday. Kylie and I did well, and I had a few notes about emphasis placement, but Professor R says we're well on our way. In Shakespeare Lit this week we studied All's Well that Ends Well. Coming up next we're studying Titus Andronicus. Each week now there is a new group presentation on the play and then we discuss it. It's become more of a process than a learning experience, but I'm working on it.

Nuts and Bolts this week was fun! We discussed Our Leading Lady which closed on the mainstage over the weekend. It was a great play, but an odd script. Not one of Charles Busch's better ones in my opinion. However the cast did a beautiful job. Then we also talked about our interviews. Professor D told us most everyone did a good job. I got to watch the video of my interview. Professor D said I was charming and comfortable, and well composed. I thought my interview went pretty well. I was wearing rings, and I continually clinked them against the table and that was annoying. I felt that the interview could have been slightly more personal, but I know what I need to work on for next time. Also this week in Professor D's class we talked about 'Living in the Big City' and leasing apartments. A very educational lesson, for sure.

Professor B signed my UPTA paperwork, which I can now send in to be registered officially. UPTAs are the Unified Professional Theatre Auditions. They're a combined regional audition where theatre companies, producers, casting directors, and touring groups come to audition new talent. It's one of the most widely attended in the country, and I'm more interested in this audition than in Midwest Auditions, which consists mostly of summer stock theatres and small touring shows. But, maybe I'll be able to attend both. I can't say for sure what will come of either of these, but it's always good to register.

I have my first filming dates this weekend. I'll be shooting a couple scenes off campus for one of the student films I'm in. That will be fun, but hopefully it won't take up all my time on the weekend before midterms. I also have a 'mock overnight' planned with Student Ambassadors, where the returning student ambassadors train the new ambassadors by hosting an overnight and giving a tour. I'll miss some of it because we have our Talkback after Friday's show and the board has to be there, but that's ok.

So, that's my last week in a nutshell. It sounds horribly uninteresting, but I don't have much energy to make it engaging. I have ethics class soon! We've moved from Hindu Dharma to Buddhism. I'm enjoying it a lot! Gotta go!

Oh, and check out the Warehouse Blog I created for our theatre company. I'm quite proud of it.