Saturday, February 26, 2011

When I Say Jump--Say How High?

I've been meaning to update all week, because I feel like I learned a lot I need to share, but I just didn't know how to put it in words.

I'm still a little confused, but sooner is better than later.

Monday: My first school day being done with the show. It was weird. It was nice. I ran around getting the programs printed for the Warehouse show, and then folded them. I had a lot of time for my homework in the afternoon and evening. Kaitie and I let our first year friend Emma sleep over because her whole building's heat got turned off. We went and saw the Sketchy Business show, which is a student sketch comedy group on campus. It's made up of mostly underclassmen, but the boys stepped in for a skit this time, and it was really great! I'm really enjoying watching as much theatre on and off campus this semester as possible. I find myself wanting to be as involved as I can before my time is up here.

Tuesday: Here's where things got a little interesting. Professor L spent our 2 hours of Comedy Class talking about our futures. We started by going over some of the girls' experiences at their Midwest auditions. Then we moved into subsistence work (Young Audiences Inc.), touring shows, writing your own material, and working off royalties. Those were things we'd heard before from Professor D, but Professor L shared some of her personal experiences, and it was eye opening for me. Then we talked about regional markets vs. New York City, and we covered some common misconceptions there.

Normally, I love that our faculty tends to have completely differing opinions on most subjects, and you can find what works best for you as an individual. This week I became slightly frustrated that I didn't know who's advice applied to me better. Professor L said that New York is mainly for the singers. And the way to make it there is to go with a meal ticket in hand. The interesting, artistically challenging works start in the regions, pick up momentum, and then move to NYC. Why not get on board with those in the regions? We spoke a lot about how we have to find the markets that fit our style.

Then we talked about finding our type (the most difficult assignment for me last semester). Know who you are, Professor L said, and know what you need to do to be fulfilled. Do I want to do commercial theatre or artistically challenging theatre? Professor L spent a lot of the class time looking at me when she spoke of leading lady types and graduate school. She said that some people will hit their prime later in life and will work more then. She told us that graduate school should be done only when you are ready for it. Some people wait 8 years for graduate school. I believe Professor L waited quite a few years before graduate school, and she received two degrees (Acting and Directing) at different points in her life.

She wanted us to talk about our fears. We spoke up about wanting a paycheck to validate us when we graduate, not knowing who we are beyond this school, and not knowing how to proceed.

Honestly, it was nice to have this talk because these are the kinds of things we're desperate to hear this last semester. It shows us the faculty understands and they care. However, it was so overwhelming at the time, no one really knew what to say or ask.

After class I went up to Professor L to set up a feedback time with her about my last audition. Instead she told me right there why she didn't cast me. She gave me nothing but amazing feedback, which made my head spin a little(a lot). She'd never been so honest with me, and I felt for the first time here that I could go to her for anything, because I know now how much she believes in me. So after that 4 minute crazy interlude in my life, I asked to meet on Thursday for a talk about graduate schools.

Wednesday: I had a blast in the box office! This entire week I spent a lot of time in the box office, and I had the opportunity to do a lot of new things. I started correspondence with designers, made gift certificates and donation cards, and to trouble shoot some technical difficulties. I'm not sure why I'm so excited about this, but I am! Box Office is cathartic to me, I think. I really enjoy being around the people, and working on the business side. Sometimes I don't know how they keep it all together though, because it's so much work!

That night I saw the opening of The Young and Fair!

My mentizzle was sick, and she was the lead in the show, so her understudy had to go on! She was absolutely fantastic. What a model for all the other understudies out there. She never looked like she didn't know what she was doing or what she was about to say. Every understudy should always remember they might have to go on. It's easy in the real world when you're being paid for it, but at school sometimes people forget. I was so proud of the entire cast! Of course, I'm going back tonight to see the show, because my mentizzle is better now.

Thursday: I met with Professor L before class. She talked with me more in depth about why I was thinking so strongly of moving to New York. She expressed again that there are 50,000 unemployed actors in New York with more experience than me. Why not go when I have a sure thing? Or better connections (ie after graduate school)? She also told me that I should strongly consider film, which I told her is an interest of mine anyway. She urged me to look into markets with a strong film base such as Chicago. Chicago also does a lot of new works, she said, and that's the kind of work I should be involved in, she said. It was really nice to have such an honest talk. I told her about my interest in Seattle because my friends are moving there, and she told me that as long as it has a good film scene, I should consider it.

We talked specifically about choosing a graduate school that pays for me and has a repertory or regional theatre attached to it. She graduated with an MFA in acting from UMKC, and she told me that when she was there, they brought in world class directors and playwrights to work with. By the time she graduated people couldn't believe that she was so young and had worked with so many amazing people. She told me that's the kind of program I need to be looking for. She warned me to not think about graduate school until I knew what I wanted. Graduate school should be done when you're sure of the direction you'd like to go so you can choose the school that's the best fit for you. I take that with a grain of salt only because I think that I'm not sure I'll ever be able to choose exactly what I want. I'm not big on boxing myself in. I'll make sure I'm interesting in learning what a program has to offer.

In Comedy Class we went around in a circle and talked about the backgrounds of our comedians we're about to start 'inhabiting'. We didn't make it all the way around because our research is so in depth. Next class we're going to finish the Bio circle, and then we're going to start our sketches. We're supposed to have taken a sketch we think we can imitate of our comedian and perform it eventually. I'll be doing Molly Shannon and her Mary Katherine Gallagher sketch from SNL. I'm really excited about it. She's a total spaz.

Thursday it also started snowing again, out of no where. I went to see Bach's Lunch with some friends. I loved it! Erin (my mom from Sense) performed a duet called Secondary Characters from Title of Show. It was fantastic. I had such a great time watching new people perform too.

My Creating Online Media class was cancelled because of the snow, but I'm basically finished with the resume page we had to code. I only need to add a navigation bar and a .pdf link of my resume to download.

Friday: I had to tell a personal story about a piece of art that is meaningful to me in Acting for the Camera. It was a closeup shot and we had to make it conversational. I told the story of buying my first book of poetry, and how I used to think I'd be a writer. It made me promise myself that I will still be a writer. I've been so caught up these years here that I've forgotten one of my first passions. But soon, I'll have a lot of time on my hands.

Last night was the opening of 33 in 66 at the Berlin Theatre downtown. Basically this show was created off the idea of the Neofuturists' show Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind. A group of students here got together who were all inspired by the above troupe, and they decided they wanted to do a similar show. What happens is, there is a closeline on stage, with numbers attached to it. Each number stands for a different 'play'. The audience calls our a number, and a member of the troupe takes it down, reads the name of the play and they have to perform it right then and there. When that one is done, another random number is called. The actors never know which number correlates with which play until they read it, and the order of the plays is different every time because of the audience. The goal is to put on 33 plays in 66 minutes! Crazy right? It's so much fun to watch! The sketches range from funny to honest, and it's all student written. Tons of my friends were in it and they did such a great job. They're planning on doing a new 33 plays every month! I can't wait!

Saturday: So this weekend is all about catching up for me. I still have an essay to write for this award. I have to start watching more of Molly Shannon. The Oscars are on Sunday, and I've signed onto do a directing scene that starts rehearsal tomorrow as well. Busy Busy, but nothing like it was. Also coming up this week: my last audition at college--Eleemosynary!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Next Big Thing

Today was the end of one of the most enjoyable experiences I've had in college. I've made fantastic new friends, and built great relationships. I've learned so much about myself and my abilities.

Our show Friday night was performed to a sold out crowd, half of which were prospective theatre students. This entire run has sold incredibly well, and our resident stage manager expressed that we should all be proud of our hard work on such a well received show. We had a lot to overcome in this process with 4 snowdays, a huge cast, and not enough shop/costume workers to go around. I'm glad to say I was a part of it.

We received a standing ovation at the end of Friday night. It was an interesting show for me because I felt a little off about my performance. But I have to remind myself that I don't always need to like what I give, as long as the audience enjoys it and learns from it. And even on an off night I discovered new things. I listened in ways I hadn't before and tried things that the swing performance had inspired me to try.

Tonight's show was the most fun yet. Everyone was so excited to be there, and so ready to give it one last go. We all started the show in great spirits, and we ended the show in even better spirits. I realized when I started preparing for the show tonight that it was going to be an emotional roller coaster ride. I found out earlier in the day that I wasn't cast in Clean House. I won't be in the musical at the end of semester. So tonight was my last main stage performance. For 3 years, I've called this school home, and it's only fitting that I end with such an amazing opportunity under my belt.

I've gotten to act with 2 faculty members who have taught me so much, and a huge cast of students who live and breathe this art form every day. This process taught me again how to handle a large part and how to listen in every scene. It taught me commitment to character and emotions. I can tell that my ability to draw my emotions out quickly has improved immensely. And I've learned how to be myself again. I spent a lot of time in college being shy when I'm cast, but this show really allowed me to be myself, and I can only thank my amazing cast for that.

I wrote personal thank you cards for everyone because I feel it's important to show appreciation. I write them for every show, but it was especially difficult for this one. I had so much I wanted to say.

I received some breath-stopping, blush-inducing compliments today from people I've never met, and from people I highly esteem. If there's one thing I've taken away from this experience, it's that I want to do this again. I want to be in a large cast, and part of a company that has a common goal.

I've spent a lot of time recently thinking about where I want to end up and what I really want to do for my career. My dinner with 2 amazing alumni women really inspired me to think harder. I know now that I don't want to pursue strictly commercial theatre or strictly avante garde work. I want to be hired at places where they value a company atmosphere. Whether that's at a theatre or on a television series is neither here nor there. I'd like to do a wide range of things in this field, but I know that I don't want to end up doing this just for the money. And I don't want a main role just because it's a good one to put on a resume. I want to enjoy the experience and get to know the people. For me, it's all about the community. That's what I value. And good work comes out of working with people who value that as well. It's what makes me happy.

We striked the set after the show tonight. It was sad to see it go, but I love strike because everyone is working together and you get to be a part of something bigger than yourself. A couple of the members in my cast are in the next show, and I can't wait to see them perform! Professor L magically improves everyone she works with. It's impossible to not grow from the experience. I'll be going in for feedback early this week about my audition, which I'll post here.

So, enough about Sense and Sensibility and our fantastic closing show that made me incredibly happy and proud. More interesting are the two women I had the opportunity to spend a dinner with: Karyn Meek and Mara McEwin. Karyn is a Broadway stage manager who is currently touring the show 9 to 5. Mara co-founded and acts as artistic director for her own theatre company called Treehouse Shakers. They perform theatre/dance performance art pieces for young audiences in New York. They graduated with each other and are good friends. They talked forever about New York, Equity vs. Non-Equity, and how to decide where your niche is. It was fascinating and inspiring.

I learned that beyond not going Equity too soon because of financial considerations(which I'd learned already), it can mark you out for artistically fulfilling work. Mara's company hires Non-Equity and they can pay better than some Equity contracts. She told me that there are many Non-Equity theatres that also offer benefit plans that can be nearly as good as or better than Equity benefit plans. Karyn spoke a lot about how commercial work can be soul-killing if you want to do theatre for the art of it. It's a decision a lot of actors have to make, she says, of wanting to go down the commercially(aka monetarily) successful path or the artistically fulfilling. That's something I don't necessarily have to consider now, but it is important for my future.

They talked about how our college network (especially and specifically in NYC, though it's large in other areas of the country) is magnificent. Both of them (they graduated mid 1990's) were given their first day jobs by the alumni association. Professor L expressed her love of the alumni association as well. Apparently, these amazing women will help hook graduates up with day jobs, agent info, sublets or good apartments to rent, and anything else we could ever want or need. It was really reassuring to know that when I move, I won't be alone if I don't choose to be. Mara also offered to meet up with any of us if we should decide to go to New York for spring break. I'm very excited at this prospect.

Honestly, the last couple days have been a bit overwhelming. I've never been so thankful to have almost no homework over a weekend before. I've thought entirely too much about my future, and I fluctuate between extreme excitement and absolute dread at the thought of leaving college. I suppose I sound like every other college senior on the face of the planet. With the end of this show comes the time for me to begin making a lot of decisions that I'm not entirely ready to make. I have to remember that not everything needs to be decided now, and instead be happy at all the opportunities that are before me.

What an exciting prospect.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Bye Bye Blackbird

That's the title of a song that I enjoy that I'd heard before, forgotten, and recently been reintroduced too. We used it in a scene in Acting IV last year, and it was in the ending of The History Boys movie I just finished watching.

This week:

I auditioned for Clean House! There were auditions Monday, and I performed a new monologue that I really like. Comedic monologues can be so difficult to find so I mark it as a success when I land on one I enjoy that shows personality. And isn't overdone. I also had to tell 2 jokes.

My jokes were:
1. The phrase 'sort of' is so inconsequential. It doesn't mean anything. It's just a filler. Except when it's said after things, like after I love you. Or you're going to live! Or, it's a boy!

2. My friend has six locks on her door, one after the other. Whenever she leaves, she makes sure to lock every other one. She says this way, if someone were to stand there picking her locks, they'd always be sure to lock 3 of them.

Professor/Director L really liked my jokes. I believe it might have been one of her more fun auditions for her. Who wouldn't want to sit and listen to free comedy for 3 hours.

I made callbacks, so Tuesday afternoon was fun as well. I read for the character Lane and Virginia. Director L definitely liked me more for Lane because she had me read an extra monologue. Overall it was a really fun experience. I'm not sure I'm the right fit for this play, but I would love the opportunity to be involved because it would be such a great learning experience. And I could definitely use a comedy on my resume. And I want to work with Professor L again before I graduate.

The cast list is posted Saturday afternoon. But if things don't work out, then a couple weeks from now is the auditions for Eleemosynary in the Warehouse, which is a 3 women show that looks like it's going to be a real challenge and tons of fun. I can't wait for both! Both casts might offer a swing cast as well.

Speaking of swing casts, tonight was the understudy performance of Sense and Sensibility! It went so well! I was so excited to watch these ladies get to show their stuff after such a thankless process. It can be very difficult to be an understudy and never have full rehearsal time and never receive acknowledgement for the work put in. But tonight was their night, and they performed beautifully!

It was such a different show. It had different pace, different characters, and told a different story in a lot of ways. It was a study for the full cast to watch. I think we learned a lot from each other tonight, and I loved the opportunity. My swing had so much to memorize, and I'm so proud of her! She has more experience than me in this theatre department, so I wasn't worried, but it must have been difficult without 3 weeks of rehearsal. Really, then entire show was just an admirable event, and the turn out was great. The entire audience was pumped to be there and were ready to support.

It was also extremely interesting to watch the men (who don't have swings and were required to perform with the swing cast tonight) perform with a different group of girls. There was different chemistry and different character relationships all around. It really opened up interpretation which can become stale after a rehearsal process. I have new ideas for tomorrow night that I think will help me grow.

I was so excited to watch the show, since I've never had the opportunity to see a couple parts. I loved every part of it, and I found myself laughing even when I already knew the jokes. I laughed through the entirety of my ending scene where my character is proposed to, because even though I wasn't on stage, it was as cheesy as ever. I loved it.

The underclassmen should be proud of everything they accomplished, and they have many great things to look forward to here and beyond. Job well done!

I dropped out of the Midwest auditions which opened up my Friday. Tomorrow I'm doing an audition for the Advanced Narrative Film class for the moving they've written, which should be fun. We've received some intriguing sides and I'm interested to see how they have us work them. Also in Acting for Film, we'll be speaking to an alumna. She's a dancer/choreographer/(maybe actor?) who has her own theatre company called The Treehouse Shakers, I believe. I'll be finding out more tomorrow, but I'm excited because I've been offered the opportunity to have dinner with her, the president of our college, the dean of our theatre department (Professor B), and a few other senior acting students. I might look a bit odd at a swanky restaurant with my hair in curlers tomorrow, but I have a show to put on! I can't wait to meet the guest!

This whole week has been a round of auditions it seems. We did mock audition packages in comedy class Tuesday. They went relatively well. I definitely decided that I hate my package and will not be doing it for another audition. Time to find some different pieces, or just pair things differently. We did mock auditions in Acting for Film on Wednesday. I'll be receiving feedback tomorrow afternoon. I don't think I've done amazing work, but I think that is mostly due to nerves, preparation (though I was memorized), and my inability to judge what looks good on camera. I won't learn without watching my footage though, and that's what tomorrow is for. I really just need to focus on make interesting choices. It seems so easy and natural for me on stage, but when it comes to the camera, I just draw a blank.

Box Office internship has been fun this week. I've gotten to prepare some things for Boji, and I've been learning more and more. I like administration type work, and working to help run a theatre.

So tomorrow I have a show, which I'm ecstatic to get back to. And then we're taking all the prospective theatre majors to the Warehouse to watch our combat/sketch show Women Fight Against! I'm excited to show off our student run theatre. I'm feeling a little odd about being such a potentially influential role in these prospective students' choice of institution for higher education. However, it's kind of cool, because when I came to visit, it was watching a show that made my decision for me. It's like I've come full circle. And theatre to me is all about giving back--so I can't wait to have an awesome show! I've missed the cast this week, and I'm ready to have 2 more runs at it before strike.

I've been nominated for an award called the Trustee Award, and the winning senior gets to speak at graduation. However, I have to have 2 letters of recommendation and I've run into the problem of realizing that the only faculty who know me on campus, are theatre faculty. And if I do 2 of them, I don't seem very well rounded. That, and the 2 professors I wanted to ask have been so busy this week with auditions and family emergencies that it's a really horrible time to impose upon them. I haven't figured out how to rectify this situation.

The Warehouse show opens next Wednesday! My mentizzle (we have a mentor program here, and I'm mentoring a 1st year student) is one of the main roles in it. I can't wait to see the show!

Monday, February 14, 2011

I Love

I love to love. This is my Valentine's Day post! I love my amazing family that came to support me this weekend, all my friends, and my life. Gee, too much positivity is dangerous. But you'll have to deal with a little more, because I had a great weekend.

I had a fabulous (word of the week right there, I can't stop using it) opening night. The entire cast had such great energy and we finally settled into our roles. The cast party was a lot of fun, and I even got to see some old friends. There were a lot of congratulations going around. I'm really not very good at taking a compliment. I mean, I say 'thank you' or 'that's so nice, I really appreciate that' or 'I'm so glad you enjoyed it' and 'that means a lot', but then I run out of things to say. I keep thinking I'll get better at it, but I'm starting to realize that it's just not in my nature. I always see things as a group effort. I'm a team player. My performance is only as good as the cast I perform with. I do like to be appreciated, but I'm also aware that I have others to thank.

I digress. Saturday was fantastic. My parents came up for the day. I gave a tour to some prospective students with Katie Mac. Then I went out to lunch with my parents and went shopping for a while. I love when they come visit. I'm so lucky to have parents that are so supportive of my dreams. They really enjoyed the show, and they had the pleasure of being introduced to Jimmy Johns, my favorite sand which shop, which they also enjoyed. The happiness of others makes me happy.

Saturday's show was more like our previous rehearsals. People fell back into familiar rhythms, and the energy was different. I don't think we fell into the second night slump, which was good. Sunday's matinee was a good show as well.

This whole weekend was crazy because the show sold so much better than usual. The February slot is always slow. But this year there were so many things that went our way. The weather got noticeably better and people wanted to come out. The show was a well known name, and people love seeing things they're comfortable with. And it was a love story, which fit perfectly with Valentine's Day weekend.

This next weekend is Theatre Weekend, so it will be exciting to perform for all the prospective theatre students.

I have some new updates. I'm no longer attending Midwest Auditions which makes this week much less stressful. I was able to focus solely on my Clean House auditions today, and I received a callback for tomorrow. I'm excited to try some comedy on for size and to be back in auditions. They're so much fun!

Tomorrow morning in comedy class we'll be performing potential packages for Professor L so she can perfect our technique. I think we'll be focusing on introductions, opening lines, and transitioning between pieces. It should be extremely beneficial. On Wednesday I'll be auditioning for a 'film' in Acting for the Camera. It's just a mock audition, but there's much to be learned.

I need to go read some scripts for this week. More later!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Almost Opening and other collected stories

I've given it some thought and decided that this week has definitely made the top 5 for most exhausting weeks of my life.

With last week's blizzard, all the classes have been playing catch up so there's a heavier coarse load to worry about. Midwest Auditions are next week, and all of the faculty is working to make sure we're prepared so I've had a lot of deadlines to worry about, along with my choice of package material ( which, by the way, is completely irrelevant because I won't be able to stay for callbacks, and very few of the theatres would ever consider hiring me because I don't sing and dance, but this doesn't matter because I have a compulsion to always do my best. So even though I shouldn't spend my time stressing about finding new pieces to work with that will make me a better fit for all the companies that won't be hiring me because I can't stay to talk to them and because I already have summer employment lined up, I've spent many hours this week stressing about it anyway. How ridiculous.) and rehearsals.

Rehearsals have been going fabulous. We have Clean House auditions Monday however. So I've been wanting to focus on that, but it's been impossible with the pressure on for Midwest, catching up in classes, and my focus has (and should be) been on the show at hand.

We finally got on stage Tuesday night, after our run through Monday. We got to run all the way to the middle of Act II. We were already playing catch up because Tuesday is usually the day that Act II is completed and then Wednesday is a full run. However, we came in Wednesday and picked up from where we left off and finished teching the show. Then they gave us half an hour to get into costume and make up before we started a run of the whole show.

The hair in this play is beautiful, but such a pain to do. I don't know how women ever had the patience for it. It takes me 30 minutes to curl my bangs completely with a small curling iron to get the correct time period appropriate look. The rest of my hair I put in sponge curlers all day, which gets me interesting looks from all the non theatre majors on campus, but such is life. Honestly, I think it's good PR and more people want to see the show when girls walk around with odd hair dos all day.

The costumes are gorgeous as well. They're also the only part of the show I'm still a little uncertain on. I don't leave stage that often, so I have people come on stage to dress me during scene changes, but we're all still trying to work out the kinks of which bonnet is paired with which scene according to season, and which gloves go with which outfit. The costume changes have been going much swifter than I thought they would though, so that is good.

I haven't gone up on lines, which is also comforting after such an odd rehearsal process. Everyone's spirits have been very high and every night is fun and has good energy. It's always a good experience to have a cast that loves to be in the theatre.

I'm a little brain dead right now from so many late nights and too much monologue searching, but I wanted to say how much fun I've had during this rehearsal process. Working with younger actors has been such a learning experience. They remind me constantly of lessons I've learned that I was starting to forget. It's been so nice to work with people I don't spend much time with on a regular basis. I have so much fun when I go to rehearsal everyday. Today we received notes about last night's run through. I was surprised that they allowed us to finish the show since it meant ending at midnight and the usual cut off is 10 pm. But I was glad to have a run of it. Director B reminded everyone today that we can't forget that every scene furthers the story, and no scene can ever seem unimportant. We must drive the show. Director B also gave me some nice compliments on some of the more emotionally invested scenes I have. She's really been enjoying them lately, which is comforting to know. Tonight's rehearsal went really well for me, as well. Everyone really picked up the pace and we discovered a lot of new tactics to try.

One of the things that I've improved on with this show, is my ability to stay with a scene, and really listen. I discovered in Rabbit Hole that I wasn't as good at staying connected as I thought. Collected Stories definitely kept me on my toes, but this show does as well. I have such odd transitions to master and every scene has it's own new vibe. I've had to work really hard to mentally prepare myself before every scene to remind myself where I should be emotionally. It's been an interesting mental exercise, and I'm finally starting to feel comfortable with emotions on stage again. Rabbit Hole had scared me off for a while, because it was so difficult for me in the time span I was given. I feel as if I've made progress, and that's really all I can ask for.

I've spent a lot of this process doing my own thing. And the coolest thing about it, was that I never questioned if I was doing something the way Director B wanted it, or wondered if I should try something. If I wanted to try something I did, and I built my character myself. It's taken me these 2 1/2 years to get to this place of confidence in my ability as an actor, and I think it's the greatest gift that college can give me. I feel like I could enter any rehearsal process and bring what is expected of me to the table the first day in. I feel prepared. And this show has really solidified that for me; it will be sad for the process to end.

BUT I CAN'T WAIT TO BREATHE. I need a second to get my priorities in line for the next 3 months before graduation, and to pick up the slack on some of my Warehouse Public Relations duties. I need to think about Spring Break, Summer, and next Fall. I need to make some plans!

Professor L has said some really inspiring things in comedy class lately, about being an actor. She's really gone back to the basics with us and we've spent a lot of class time warming up our bodies and reconnecting with the Alexander technique and opening up our diaphragmatic breathing. We learned today about 'attacking' the opening line of a monologue. You have to be focused, and drive it with energy. You have to make the auditors pay attention to you and say 'this girl's got something to say'. This, subsequently, has taught me a lot about what is a good monologue and what isn't. A monologue that has a breezy first line, might not be the best pick for an audition.

We've talked a lot about our fears, and what we think we haven't quite mastered yet. I told Professor L that I have a hard time choosing one monologue to define who I am. It's difficult for me to choose which side of me I'd like to represent because I believe I have so much to offer. The advice she gave me was to make sure that my piece fits the company I'm auditioning for. Doing an unknown piece or a lesser known work may seem creative, but it might not get the best result. People want to see you do something reliable and sellable, sometimes. She reminded me to really cater to my audience, and that should help me narrow my choices. This is the 3rd advice from a faculty member that has changed my mind about my audition pieces, which is why I'm still trying to decide 1 week before my audition what I will be performing. This lapse in judgement is not a result of my college education, but rather my lack of decision making skills.

And my lack of time. And my inability to stay for callbacks, which makes the entire audition seem pointless. But I know it's not, so I will persevere.

Anyway, I need to be asleep right now, because this crazy show I've been working on opens tomorrow, and my hair has to look slightly presentable for the paying public.

In case I forgot to mention it: I'm SO EXCITED to open tomorrow.

These are the days when I know I love theatre!

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Snowpocalypse of 2011

This is the phrase coined for last week's massive blizzard that hit the Midwest and eventually traveled the South and North as well and went all the way to the East Coast. We got around 19 inches of snow in total, I believe. It started Monday.

Director B cancelled rehearsal early in the morning, which was perfect because campus ended up being closed by 4 PM. The rumor is that my school hasn't closed campus in over 10 years. Crazy! They cancelled school Tuesday, then part way through Tuesday they cancelled Wednesday. Everyone was prepared for school on Thursday (most of us were actually looking forward to it) but they cancelled school for Thursday late Wednesday afternoon. It was absolutely insane.

I had my website mockup due Tuesday, a film to finish in Dramatic Lit on Wednesday, the combat show to open on Friday, and rehearsal for Sense and Sensibility. Not to mention I was attempting to get the Warehouse Poster approved before campus was closed Monday and was subsequently stopped from getting it to the printers because of the storm.

So last week was a kind of spring break for me. I had time to sit back and watch all the movies I'd been meaning to watch. We watched Winter's Bone and The Kid's Are Alright. This week I finally saw The King's Speech and rewatched The Social Network. The only contender for Best Picture that I haven't seen this year is 127 Hours.

But back to the blizzard.

I took this time to sit back and relax. And I went a little stir crazy. I was partially glad to have the time off from rehearsal. I was feeling a little creatively blocked, and I knew the time off would mean that my performance would be fresh when we got back to it.'s a long show for me, so I was ready to get back to rehearsal to make sure I was where I needed to be. It put us on Boji time. We rehearsed for two weeks, and now there's this week and we open Friday. I actually prefer a shorter rehearsal process, so I'm not too upset about it.

Anyway, we had a couple movie days and we played board games. We made food with our wonderful groceries that we were lucky enough to have stocked up. Our amazing campus workers actually stayed on campus and kept our dining hall open, but I never trudged through the snow to eat.

It was absolutely beautiful to watch, and it was nice to have a break at such a hectic time of the year. By Thursday though, we were ready to get back to it. My cast actually organized a rehearsal and we met up and ran the show. School on Friday was a joke. I had a short class in Film Acting and I watched a movie in Dramatic Lit. I almost finished designing the headshot/bio board in Box Office. We ran Act 2 in rehearsal, then at night we ran the show on stage. The crew had put up the platforms, but we had nothing else to work with. It was perfect for spacing and learning our new positions, but lines are always rough when you're in the space the for the first time.

Friday after rehearsal Women Fight Against opened. We had previously rehearsed Wednesday and Thursday during our snow days. My piece came together beautifully and it reminded me of how creative I can be in other ways. I haven't choreographed in a while, and sometimes I forget that I can do things besides act. Kaitie wrote some amazing pieces for the show, and I think she had a lot of fun branching out as well.

I think it's a lesson to be learned. We should remember that we can box ourselves in as much as someone else can. But we also have the power to put ourselves out there and make art. Theatre isn't just about acting. It's a collaborative art that has so many different areas that I enjoy. Realizing this is something that has really helped in my rehearsal process for Sense these past couple days. Anyway, the show opened at 11 pm after only being in the space for about 2 hours for their tech process (which is significant because that is a short amount of time to learn the space you're performing in, so good on them!). It was fantastic! The cast had great energy. They were excited to share the work and speak their own words, and everybody loves a good fight scene. Everything was student written, choreographed, acted, and produced. Honestly, it was a really inspiring show, and just another reminder about how easy it is to create something yourself, instead of waiting to be cast in someone else's show. I have a feeling I will create many of my own shows in the future in some way.

We had a 3 hour Saturday call from 10-1 to run Sense . I was excited to get back to it and didn't mind rehearsing on a Saturday. It was our best run yet! All the time off forced us to listen again and make new choices. I really reconnected with some people and I felt really great after we were finished. Director B was so happy with us and she gave us a nice speech about how she knew we were ready to open. I love supportive atmospheres. There were 2 more shows of Women Fight Against and they both went so well that Professor B (also Director B, and Dean of the arts) suggested that the show be revived in a couple weeks for our annual theatre weekend as an after show to Sense and Sensibility !

It's late right now, and I'm rambling. What I really want to say in this post is that I've reevaluated theatre and my opinions of this life a lot this past week. I had a realization about live theatre vs. film/tv. I enjoy the idea of tv because it's a character that continues to grow, and as an actor you are afforded the opportunity to make something new every episode. The idea of a play had begun to seem so limiting. Running the same story over and over until you beat it into the ground is not my idea of fun. I really started thinking about where I wanted to move, and if I really wanted to pursue theatre still, or if I wanted to only do film.

But then I had this amazing rehearsal today. Director B took the crew and swing cast onto the stage to tech the show (that's right, it's tech week ladies and gentlemen--hold onto your hats), and she left the main cast to run the show in the rehearsal room. I had a blast. I was saying things I had said at least 10 times before, and I wasn't necessarily saying them in a new way, and it certainly wasn't the first time that I had listened to them, but something just suddenly clicked.

I am an actor. And I love to act. I love to act because it's exhilarating to explore every emotion that a human being goes through in a life time in the span of 2 hours. I love to act because when I speak a line someone in the audience is affected in an unalterable way. I love to act because I get to tell a story with a group of people that I can call friends, and every time we tell it we discover something new that brings us all a little closer. I love to act because it moves me, and it drives me, and it pushes me to places that sometimes I'm scared to go, but I'm so much more alive when I'm through. Almost everyone in the audience will never go to those places themselves, but by watching me and my fellow actors, they will understand and feel released and refreshed at the end.

I love to act because I love art. I love to write, and I love to read, and I love to move and be moved. I know that I could be happy doing a million other things with my life, and at some point I'm sure I will do at least 5 of those things. But right now, and for the immediate future, this is what inspires me and shows me that every day is worth something and that I have a purpose.

It's odd. I came here, to college, feeling this way about theatre. And I've been so driven while here, working so hard to accomplish so much. But it was all towards the goal of getting a diploma. This 3rd year has been difficult, trying to figure out what I want and why I want it. But I have to say that this year has also reminded me more of why I started doing theatre than any year since I've begun. And sometimes I lose track of why I want what I think I want. But it's all part of a process and a cycle that inevitably brings me back to the same place. Theatre.

At least for now.

Maybe 5 years from now I'll be checking off something else on my career checklist and I'll never look back or miss theatre. But that's then, and this is now.

What was so inspirational in rehearsal? I can't say for certain. There was a freedom today to try new things and make mistakes. It was about the cast first, the play second. But because of that, I was working harder to tell the story and it made me more excited to share things. I channeled all my excitement and it made it easier for me to yell and cry and laugh. I laughed a lot. John (my love interest in the play) and I had a great time with our end scene, because Director B recently changed our blocking again and we hadn't had a chance to try it out. I've never felt more like I was in an 80s movie, and I've never loved it this much. I couldn't keep it together, and it was great. It's better to laugh now than laugh during a performance! Director B would have been disappointed at our breaking character today, but I felt that I learned a lot from it. It will be the last time we get to do so, and we enjoyed it!

I've got a busy week ahead with late night rehearsals, and audition preparations. Midwest is next week Friday for me, and we'll be viewed by our faculty Wednesday to make sure we're prepared. Clean House auditions are also on Monday, and we have to have a 1 minute contemporary monologue and 2 stand up jokes prepared for that. I'm actually really excited about it, mostly because I'm feeling especially inspired today to try new things. However, I need to settle on a piece and get serious about it.

On a happier note: my parents will be here Saturday!!! I can't wait!