Sunday, December 19, 2010

Home Sweet Home

It's so nice to be home after being away so long--minus of course Thanksgiving break which was really so short that it doesn't even count in the grand scheme of things. I'm enjoying the warmer weather, though apparently it supposed to get warmer just as we're leaving for Florida, where, ironically, it's supposed to be cooler. Alas, I cannot escape winter this year. Lucky for me I've got awesome warm clothes, and I rarely have to go outside if I choose not to. (The previously typed comment easily defines much of modern American Society's blase attitude towards our wealth. I would like to say that I am very thankful for all my warm clothes and for having the choice to stay inside where it is warm.)

I went Christmas shopping with the family yesterday, which was fun. Mom never enjoys shopping, or Christmas, really, but secretly she enjoys the rest of us enjoying Christmas, which really means that she enjoys Christmas because it makes us happy.

I seem to be in the odd condition this morning of writing in circular logic. To continue with more oddities, I'd like to express my interest in the fact that I tend to use many exclamation points in my writing. Now, something about exclamation points really attracts me. They can be so happy and exciting and they give energy to my words. At the same time, the over-abundance of exclamation points can give a reader the impression that I'm yelling or possibly on a caffeine kick induced by too much theatre and not enough adrenaline. I'd like to take this time to assure my readers that while I do partake in too much theatre, I do not happen to enjoy many beverages that include caffeine because I have a healthy affliction for carbonation and the taste of coffee. This means that all of my exclamation marks are used with the best of intentions and only because I like to express my excitement for all things 'me-related', 'theatre-related', and 'future-related'.

In the future it is probable that I will post about my abundant use of parentheses to define my illogical and un-interpretable inner thoughts.

Have a very Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The End is Near

Yesterday was so packed, I realized I had to write another post to cover all the important things that happened to me.

I had my final Nuts and Bolts class in the morning. We all turned in our Created Content projects and our Notebooks full of notes. Professor D gave us a small quiz over the New York Times, which we're supposed to read every day of our lives because that's what a proper theatre professional would do to stay aware of their world. It was an extra credit quiz...and I got more right than I thought I would, so--win. Then he had some of the girls show their created content projects. One was a scrapbook (because people pay to have others scrapbook their lives (Mom--good side job.)). Another was a bag designed and built specifically for a stage manager and all their needs. Some were websites, and after I saw those I was really proud of myself for building my own, and I think I made the right decision to do it that way.

Then Professor D told us we were going to watch our TV auditions in full, but what he really pulled up were our STI auditions! My first summer at college we were required to audition with a contemporary monologue and a monologue pre-1900s. They were to be contrasting pieces done in 3 minutes. Of course no one stayed in the time limit because either we didn't know what preparation was or because for some incredibly insane reason we thought it would be great to make ourselves memorize really long new material.

Honestly, watching them I was so proud of my class. Sometimes we watch the underclassmen and we think 'Wow, I remember when I was that untrained'. But even at STI, for the most part, I thought my class showed so much natural talent and willingness to work through a challenge. I was proud to be part of such a talented and dedicated class. I've gotten to work with them on so many things, and my experience at college is only because of these amazing men and women and what they can do. We all had little ticks, and it was amazing to see how much we've grown in this short year and a half. It feels like it's been a century since we went to STI. My semesters here are so full of new techniques that I can hardly remember a time when I didn't know not to stand in neutral or how to score a script.

Yesterday I became so thankful for the education I've received. After watching our auditions, Professor D told us that he knew his class had been about how hard this industry is, but now was the time to tell us how wonderful it is. He told us that we are truly doing God's work. He said we have the ability and the opportunity to hold a mirror up to human nature every day so that people see themselves in our work and recognize something that they haven't before. We get to change people, and affect the world. We make a difference and we're an important part of this world. He told us that at any time, if we decide that we don't want to act anymore, or if this life isn't what we want any longer, that we should never feel as if we have wasted these years at college or our years in the professional world. We will have impacted people and we will have grown as people. The skills I've learned at school can be applied to almost any area in any industry. I understand community, teamwork, how to deal with people in stressful situations, time management, hardware skills, and memorization. I have intellect and the ability to adapt under stress. All these things would benefit me in any line of work (minus maybe the hardware skills).

Professor D also expressed that this line of work is hard, really hard. It's hard to take rejection on a daily basis, especially when it's out of your control. It's hard to be unemployed for long stretches of time. He told us there are only 4 things you can control: Your look, Your attitude, Your drive, and Your preparation. Everything else we shouldn't worry about, because it's out of our control. And that's hard to do.

It's hard to have a day job that you don't find as inspiring. However, he told us that what we do takes courage. Courage because it's hard. Courage because we put ourselves out there, and take ourselves to the emotional places that most people wish they could go, but never let themselves. But most of all, he said, we get to do what everyone else wants to do, but didn't have the courage to do. We get to act. Everyone loved doing plays in high school, but most people never pursue it. He told us there are 110,000 actors in a world of over 8 million people. Very few people do our job. But that also means that if we ever decide to do something different--it's OK. Those other 7,890,000 aren't wrong--and they're happy too.

Professor said that if there is one thing he hoped he taught us, it would be to never be a jerk. Life is too short and the world is too small to be a jerk. And have other hobbies. Not living outside theatre will never make you a better artist and it will kill your soul. And never hate what you do. If we ever find ourselves in a position where we don't enjoy getting up every morning and acting, then we shouldn't be doing it anymore.

There were tears after this speech. Watching how far we've come as a class and then hearing Professor D encourage us to do what we've been working so hard for was really inspiring.

Then of course, Professor B had to go and do the same thing after our Monologue Final was complete. My monologue went really well. Not to repeat myself for the umpteenth time on this blog--but I was really proud of my class period. We had split the class in halves, and my period went yesterday while the other half watched. Everyone had made their package adaptable to the space and to what a real audition would be like. We used a chair if we needed, and nothing else. Everyone had killed their little habits and gave really powerful performances. Afterwards, we talked about what was successful and the comments we wanted to make about individual pieces. There was definitely a different energy between the class periods. I thought that everyone had packages that really showcased who they are as performers right now. They all played to their strengths. We laughed because we all still tend to run a little lengthy even after all this time. We were all individuals, no one seemed like anyone else. I was really surprised by this and it made me understand how hard a casting director's job must be. However, Professor B told us that that is what she accomplished through this class. For the most part, people blend together in an audition, and she was proud to say we were all different. Professor B went around and commented on all our packages. She told me that mine was sophisticated and urbane--just like me. She told me I always seem slightly older than my years and that my package truly showed me as a performer and that it was a very strong package. She believed I'd found the perfect pieces. Of course, I would only take these pieces to a very specific audition, not a children's audition or anything, but it was very nice to hear. I performed The Provoked Wife by John Vanbrugh and Ron Bobby had too big a Heart by Rolin Jones. I think my Midwest package will have to be slightly different depending on who I want to cater to.

We also talked about how much everyone has improved. Professor B challenged us to never forget what we've learned through this class and return to our old habits. She actually made the comment that she knows it's easy to forget the things we learn in class, but that made me realize something. I think the reason I've had such a great education at this institution is that everything I've learned I've been able to apply almost immediately, whether it's in another class or in a play I'm rehearsing or performing. It all blends together so it's almost difficult to forget it. I know I'm not as polished as I was when I first learned certain techniques, but they're still living in the back of my mind if I need to pull them out. I'm very proud to say that.

The P-Tech show afterwards was really awesome. I enjoyed it very much, and all the performances were great. It was just another experience of the day where we realized how far we've come in such a short time.

By the end of this semester I have had my last classes with Professor R and Professor B. That's so weird. We said a lot of goodbyes in class to Rhea and Sarah who graduated at semester. If yesterday was anything to go by, I think they're feeling inspired and courageous enough to move forward with their lives.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Down the Rabbit Hole

Finals week is the mystical time of the year when nobody sleeps and everyone says ridiculous things. Thankfully, it's almost over.

Friday I had my Shakespeare final. Everyone performed their final scenes for the class. It felt kind of like Shakespeare on tour because every scene was in a different location. My scene was in the basement of senior hall. We were proud of the final product. It turned out really creepy and slightly too realistic in the death department for some people when we strangled the Duke of Clarence. Professor R really enjoyed it and he told us that the death scene was the best we'd done it yet! Everyone's scenes went really well. They had all chosen great cuts from the plays that were really interesting to watch. The best ones were the ones where the location added to the experience, I thought.

Over the weekend I finished up my website, studied for my Global Ethics final, and prepared my Jury songs. The weekend actually seemed pretty long for once. We had an awesome Christmas party Saturday night where I dressed as a Grecian Christmas Tree with the help of my amazing friends and some significant others. Unfortunately for you, I don't happen to have any pictures of the event or my costume, so you'll just have to imagine the most creative and beautiful Christmas tree you can. And then multiply that by 10.

I also attended the Senior Dance Concert. The dancers have a 3 year program here like the Theatre Majors, so my friends from first year were the choreographers for this concert. I have to say, out of the senior dance concerts I've seen in my 3 years, this was my favorite. It was beautifully done and the lighting designs were all really creative. Last year I lighting designed for the Senior Dance concert, which in retrospect, was a lot of fun. They really did a grat job this year though, and I loved every dance.

I had an 8am final rehearsal for the directing scene I was acting in Monday morning. It went very smoothly and the director was happy with it. I went to my Voice Jury at 1:30 and sang my song. One day, I'll be much better at that song. Yesterday was not that day. Suffice to say that the voice professors were proud of my progress. Something I learned: Next time, I know that I should act my song. I wasn't sure of the protocol, but I asked afterwards and they told me I should definitely act it if I could. I should have just done it anyway but C'EST LA VIE!

Global Ethics was not nearly as difficult as midterms. I have a feeling he gave us an easy out. However, there were a couple questions that I guessed, which fits accordingly with the 'Sascha can never get full points on any assignment in Global Ethics' policy that was instated at the beginning of the semester. However, I did get full points on my final dilemma which was like the best Christmas present ever! It was like I accomplished the impossible, I wanted to wear my graded paper around school for the day but I figured that would be bragging, inappropriate, and Professor T made us give our papers back, so it would have been impossible. Instead I just took away the experience of being part of a class that made a real difference and taught me more about the meaning of education than any other class I've ever taken. Thanks Professor T.

I performed my directing scene with Katie Mac and we had a grand old time. Director was very proud of his final product and we had a great time acting in a surrealist piece. All the directing scenes last night went very well. It was interesting to watch the difference in the scenes from this year, and from my class last year. This year many people chose outside actors, or more first year actors. Last year, we chose to act in each other's scenes, and some third years joined in. I think the quality of directing is probably equally matched in most ways, and even though the acting was wanting in some areas, there were so many first years that gained so much experience. They had the opportunity to act in front of their peers, work with more experience actors, and be taught by great directors. There were a lot of stand out projects last night. I think my favorite was definitely a scene that was written by the girl who directed it. She brought in outside actors, and they were great! I was so impressed by her scene! She has a great future ahead of her.

After directing scenes the first half of our Monologue Class performed. It was great to watch all the people we hadn't seen all year do their work. I loved it, and some people have really great potential packages. I think what most of us will take away from this final though, is that we don't like our packages. And that's even better because it means you know yourself and what you want. I perform tonight with the rest of the class. After that is the P-Tech show--which I can't wait to see. It's going to be so good.

Today I have my Nuts and Bolts final, which consists of turning in our notes for the semester (which I did on Friday) and giving him our created content, which I already finished. Then tonight I have monologues, which I'm completely prepared for. What an easy day! Tomorrow is my last final--Shakespeare Lit--and then it's home for winter break!


I'm going to watch so many movies this break. Rabbit Hole is out in select theatres, and I have to see it. I'm going to bawl the whole time. The Tempest is out, and that's a must see. So many movies from the festival strip are being released over break, and those are my favorites usually. I really want to see Blue Valentine. Actually, I want to see just about every movie that's being released over break. Good thing I'll have that mystical thing called free time.

Now that I've used the word mystical twice in this incredibly long post--I'll let you go.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

I straighten my hair because I'm serious

That's a lovely quote from one of my favorite shows, Greek.

Wow, I've been gone for a while! But I'm back and ready to fill in the world.

So, I had a beautiful Thanksgiving vacation working on homework, spending time with family and friends, and relaxing for the first time since Boji.

I came back to school refreshed and ready to speed through the last 3 weeks. Monday I had a 10 page paper due in Shakespeare Lit about the morality of the East vs. the West in Antony and Cleopatra both in Shakespeare's time and at the time the actual events took place. It was crazy to write because it was hard to find historical evidence, but I got it done and presented it to the class on Wednesday. I received an A, which is all I could ask for.

Tuesday we worked on 'On-Camera' auditions in Nuts and Bolts. I volunteered to read a scene in class and it was a lot of fun. Thursday we did mock auditions with sides that we had 2 days to memorize and prepare. I watched my audition on Friday and Professor D said I did very well, especially in a technical sense. However, I didn't think there was anything that stood out about my audition, and that's the key to getting cast. You have to be interesting and special. So, for a first time it was a productive audition, but I'm very excited for next semester when I get to learn how to do it better.

I learned that occasionally I make my eyes too large, or move my eyebrows too much. I think my 'listening' face is bland, personally, so I'm going to work on that. I also need to learn to make bigger choices for my characters. It's difficult to know how big is too big when on camera, because I don't have enough experience yet.

Wednesday I performed my dramatic contemporary monologue for Professor B in our last monologue class. I did a good job, and she told me I could definitely add it too a package. This Wednesday we have to go in and tell her the package we'd like to perform for our final. We pick two contrasting monologues that show off our personality and ability best. I'm thinking I might do my Restoration (18th century) comedic and my contemporary dramatic. Professor B encouraged us to stick with contemporary because that's what we're most likely to be cast as for a while, because that's where most of the work is for younger actors. Good advice!

We also had a Warehouse Board meeting to decide which director would receive the 'Off-the-Wall' Slot. Once a year, we allow an outside director to perform in the Warehouse space, but we have to listen to presentations to make sure that their vision fits with our vision for the Warehouse. It was a close call, and all the presentations were great. Erin ended up winning. Her idea was 'Women Fight Against', which is a show based on combat and monologues and sketches where women will fight against different people, situations, and ideals. It's going to be really cool!

I watched my commercial audition on Wednesday, and Professor D showed me some things I need to work on. He told me that when you finish an audition you should always keep your eyes on the camera, don't look back up at the casting director. That leaves them wanting more when they watch the tape. He also told me that it's always interesting to watch someone push through mistakes. I messed up one of my takes, but I kept going, and he said that's exactly what you should always do. Personally, I didn't enjoy commercial auditions because of the improvisation, and because I didn't have a strong relationship with the product, but I know now how to do better with them in the future.

Watching myself on camera is an interesting experience. I rarely think I look good, I either appear bored or too excited, and I'm unaware of how to make my personality come across. However, I look forward to learning everything I can about film acting. Even though I have no idea what I'm doing, I'm having a great time figuring it out. I recently shot another film scene for the film acting practicum I'm taking. It was a scene written by my student director, and it all took place inside a car, which we drove around a parking garage for the entire shoot. It was interesting to be so close to the camera for the entire shoot, and to focus not only on the things in the car, but on the cars outside of my car (because I was looking for a car). Kylie drove the car, so she had to work on saying her lines and being an attentive driver. She thought it was very difficult, and we had a near collision. This is, I'm sure, why car scenes in TV and Film take place in a car that is NOT moving. Stay on the safe side--don't act and drive.

Thursday after the TV auditions, my Ethics class was cancelled. I went out to lunch with Gillian, and then spent the rest of the day working on designing my personal acting website. It's coming along quite nicely, if I do say so. I've spent a total of 15 hours in the past week watching videos and figuring out my new programs through trial and error. I got some Adobe software over the break: Dreamweaver and Photoshop. I've built and designed my own template and entrance page, and now I just need to link the rest of my pages. I'll have it up and running soon if everything goes smoothly! While I've enjoyed creating it, it's still only a first try and I can tell that I'll be redesigning it over winter break just for fun. It has to be better the second time, right?

I had Shakespeare rehearsal Friday morning. Professor R watched our Richard III scene and gave us some great pointers. We're performing it in the basement of Senior Hall, which is dark, leaky, and loud with old machinery. We're working hard to be louder than our surroundings, and we've brought in our own light and we're playing it like an interrogation scene. I'm really excited about it, and I think it's going to be great. We dressed the scene on Monday and Professor R has mostly technical things to point out. He told us to watch our dramatic pauses and helped with some interpretation issues. I've really enjoyed this class this semester and I'm sad to be nearly done with it. It's been so much fun to work on classic material, and I think I've found I have a passion for it. I would love to do more classics in my future, or possibly earn a graduate degree in classical acting.

Kaitie and I watched Macbeth (1979) with Ian Mckellen and Judi Dench last night. It was so good! The set (or lack thereof) was weird and the lighting was distracting, but I understand it was a stylistic choice. What I loved was the acting. Mckellen and Dench are some of the most renown actors in the world, and they're so respected in England for their work in the arts. I could list the credentials but they would be too long. But if you're interested you should look them up.

I also saw Meet me in St. Louis this weekend, and it was great! It must be a 'last year in college' thing, but I feel so proud at every performance I've attended this year. I've grown with my class and we've been through so much; I feel so much pride every time one of them is cast and they have the opportunity to light up the stage. I remember 1st year and STI when we were so fresh and mold-able. Everyone has come so far and learned so much. Everyone did such a great job, and the characters were so heartwarming and charming. I might go see it again, I liked it so much!

Our auditions for Sense and Sensibility were supposed to be Monday, so I prepared my monologue over the weekend. However, Professor B (the director) has moved them to January, so I have some more time to prepare, I guess. It's one less thing on the plate, that's for sure.

My directing scene is completely blocked, and now I need to memorize it. We perform Sunday. I think my last day should be Wednesday, and then I'm on the road again!