Thursday, March 17, 2011

What's in a name?

I've gotten so incredibly busy that I couldn't stop for a moment and breathe to write this. I probably should have taken the time to do so and I wouldn't have felt so crazy!

We finished blocking the show on Friday. We're on Boji time, it seems. We were able to work a lot of character things in with blocking, so it was fun. What's been taking up a lot of time is our character work. Director E has been letting us do character exercises in rehearsal to help us build these characters. Some days we have to walk around and interact with each other at our different ages in the script. We have a research assignment every day about our characters that we share. On Friday, we came into rehearsal and the middle of the floor was filled with random things. Director gave us 2 minutes to grab what we thought would be in our character's room, then we had to sit down in our 'space' and write a letter to one of the characters in the play. It was really hard, but it was incredibly useful. It took about 20 minutes, and then we read them out loud.

We get to do all of these exercises with the swing cast, which is great for interpretation. We get to understand how another person thinks of our character from a different point of view. By Monday, we were working the show. We started at scene 1, and we just started and stopped every time Director E had an idea. It was a lot of moment work, which is always great to focus on. We tried out a lot of new choices for our characters and discarded the ones that Director E didn't like. We've been working off book for scenes 1-3 since Monday, and the rest is off book by Friday. It's so nice to have the script out of my hands!

We met individually with Director E last night to talk about our characters and what directions we're thinking of going. It was nice to finally hear where she would like me to go. She'd been giving me a lot of freedom lately, and I toned my character down. It turns out she'd much rather I go bigger and crazier. I'm really excited to start on that! I got to do it a little last night. We reviewed Act II so we could have the lines in our bones again before getting off book.

Director E gave us an updated time line for our characters. The ages change so rapidly in the play, we had to map it out to be able to grab how old we were in a certain scene. It turns out Dorothea (my character) was born in 1910! Our assignment for tonight was to pick what kind of music we think our characters listen to. I've got some research to do.

I've been working all last week and this week on the poster.
It's gone through more revisions than my previous ones, I feel like. But I'm happy with the final outcome. The faculty and the board had input on this one, and it was nice to hear the opinions and be able to fix the problems.

I've been a little stressed this week because there's so much to do. There was the frustration of feeling like I wasn't doing things right in rehearsal (which I know now to be because we were going in 2 different directions), homework for classes which includes memorizing new monologues, memorizing for the show, memorizing for Acting for the Camera, working in Box Office on Boji things, and midterms for Creating Online Media and Voice. When it gets to this weekend, I'm going to RELAX.

Last weekend, I had some fun seeing a show downtown with one of the former teachers here. Addison was fantastic! It was a two man show, called Halper and Johnson. I hung out with some friends last weekend, which seems to be something I don't get to do a whole lot, so that was great too! I also watched the movie Auntie Mame for some character study, and it was very helpful.

We had an assignment for Comedy class to be a man doing a task. Last night I went down to the boys and 4 of them were nice enough to take our the trash for me so I could observe them. Then they walked me through their thought process of taking out the trash, and then they helped me make sure I looked like a man while doing it. Definitely one of my favorite assignments I think.

Today in rehearsal, we're going to get hypnotized by a certified hypno-therapist. My character is an eccentric who regularly takes her daughter to be hypnotized, so we thought it would be great to know what it's like. I'm SO excited!

The weather on Monday was horrible--it snowed 6 inches. But for the past 2 days it's been 70 degrees outside. I love it! I can only hope New York stays semi-warm for my visit. I'm very excited for Spring Break. Not only does a week off sound fantastic, but I'm getting pumped to see some amazing shows!

Class time!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

You can't always be prepared

Orig. Title: How has attending a Women's College helped me?

I had an interview yesterday for the Trustee Award I applied for. If I win the award, I get to speak at graduation. I was interviewed by 4 people, all of which are involved with my college, but none of which I'd met before. They were incredibly nice and easy to talk to. However, their questions were things I've thought about in my own time, but not necessarily things I'd had to formulate answers for before. And of course, in an interview situation, you have to have an answer.

I spoke a lot about how much I love this college, and how much I've learned about myself as an individual. In fact, I must have been too positive about the school, because I was asked if there was anything that bothers me about the college! That was hard to dig myself out of. Honestly, I felt like I talked in circles and repeated myself a lot. I also couldn't remember the ten ideals of my college...oh wait, that's because I never had to learn them. Honestly, I should know them anyway after all my time here, but I don't. I didn't look very intelligent on that answer. Overall, I became frustrated (not in the room of course, but afterwards). The questions they asked were things that I wanted to sit and think about before giving an answer. Subsequently, I'm still thinking about them now. And some questions I didn't think had appropriate answers, such as: How are you so involved in theatre with such an intense, accelerated curriculum, and involved around campus, and still manage to keep your sparkling GPA? My response was: I do my homework.

I wouldn't say the interview was rough, but I'm not sure it was my shining moment either. I learned a valuable lesson about interviews though: you can't always be prepared.

So: backtracking. I saw a True/False film this year called The Arbor which was very good, but incredibly depressing. The idea behind it was interesting. The director did audio interviews and then hired actors to lip sync to the voices of the real people. It was pretty amazing.

I also went to see the dance concert. Some of my friends from Freshmen year had solos, and it was amazing to finally get to see them shine. They did a fantastic job! The costumes were stunning, the dances were really cool, and I had a great time with friends!

Friday night I had auditions and callbacks for Eleemosynary, and Monday the cast list went up. I made it! My character is Dorothea. She is a 75 year old mother/grandmother who has recently had a stroke. All of her action in the play takes place in the memory of her granddaughter Echo, who imagines her much younger. So for the most part, I get to be in my 40's and 50's, but she was born in the 1920's. I'm so excited to research this role. I have so much that I can do with it. Since we found out we got cast the same day as our first rehearsal, I haven't had much time to prepare. I'm definitely going to take this upcoming weekend as a time to dive into everything. We've blocked 2 scenes so far, and my cast is amazing! We also have a swing cast that will get to perform one show. The girl playing my role in the swing cast is great! I'm so excited to get to work with her on this project.

Already I've been researching eccentricity, since my character is a notable eccentric. The play is really about a family of geniuses. All the characters are incredibly smart, so it's a lot of fun to work on such an intelligent script.

Also this week, I've been working on the directing scene I'm acting in. It gets better every time we run it, which is no surprise, but it also becomes more fun. I'm always finding something new to laugh about, and it's so easy to be natural in this role. I love knowing that I get to come have fun every time we rehearse, and I don't have to worry about being somebody else necessarily. We perform that this coming Sunday!

Yesterday in comedy class we had to perform a skit by our comedians. I was playing Molly Shannon's character Mary Katherine Gallagher.
She's an Irish Catholic schoolgirl whose grandmother thinks she can be a superstar. She has no social skills, she puts her hands in her armpits and smells them when she gets nervous, and she watches too many made for TV movies. I had a blast! I got to jump around, do a horrible monologue and song, and fling myself onto a pile of folding chairs. She always does dangerous stunts, but I made sure it was safe. Professor L loved it! She told me I was her doppelganger and that I did a great impression. You can sort of see the stack of chairs I jumped on in the background.

Here's a link to the skit I copied for class. It plays an advertisement before it lets you watch, but it's worth the wait! Just copy and paste it.

It's been a crazy couple of days. We've been reading more plays in Dramatic Literature, and doing more on camera scenes for Acting for the Camera. Our next assignment due before spring break in that class is called Hidden Camera. Professor D has give us 6 monologues. We're supposed to choose one and then have someone film us performing it in public somewhere off campus in a creative way. If we use a stranger, they're required to know they're being filmed of course, but the hardest part is making the monologues into our own words. They're very difficult monologues, which Professor D gave us on purpose. I'm excited to try it out, though I haven't decided how I want to perform mine yet.

I'm so busy all of a sudden that I'm having trouble keeping up with things. Our next assignment in comedy class is to perform a Shakespeare monologue as our comedian. You can not possibly understand how excited I am to perform Shakespeare as Mary Katherine Gallagher. It's going to be so awkward!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Peace be unto you

It hasn't necessarily been a busy week, and I couldn't decide what to write about. Classes have been going well. We watched a lot of our film footage in Acting for the Camera. I felt good about some of it, surprisingly, but I have a lot to learn.

I've spent a lot of this week catching up on real life. I've been doing some research on Seattle, and internships there. I've been thinking of pros and cons for moving certain places. Honestly, I just talk myself in circles, but at least I feel mildly productive.

But here's the real stuff: we read and discussed a play this week called Yellow Face about the practice of yellow face (think black face except for Asians) in the theatrical world, and the way that society tends not to oppose the idea of yellow face the way that black face is opposed. People are offended by the use of black face today because our country is so racially charged. But honestly, until I read this play, I hadn't even considered the struggles of Asians in America. It was definitely an eye opening play.

We discussed whether the idea of one race playing another on stage is ever appropriate. There were a lot of opposing views, but the majority thought that if the circumstance was meant to be farcical, or an artistic experience, that the idea was acceptable. But most of the time, the class agreed that the subject is offensive and inconsiderate.

This week I also watched one of the movies on the list that Professor D gave us to watch. I watched Malcolm X. I knew of Malcolm X, but because of his more radical approach to the topic of integration and race, he's not really covered in school the way Martin Luther King is. This movie was amazing to watch. It's about the journey and transformation of a young boy into a man. It's impossible to put race aside when speaking about this movie, but what really inspired me wasn't Malcolm X's ideas or methods. It was his ability to grow so much as a human being. He was constantly having his eyes opened to the injustices of the world, and learning of new faults in himself.

Most of what I'd heard of Malcolm X wasn't positive, and I'm definitely inspired to go read his autobiography (which is named one of the 100 most influential novels of the 20th century.), but I'm interested to know how much of the movie is true. I'm assuming most of it, otherwise the family wouldn't have let it be made. In the movie, the majority of the first half is Malcolm X being a hypocrite, and then espousing black supremacy which was equally supported and opposed at the time. But he continues to listen to people, and grow from his experiences (namely a trip to Mecca) and he lets them shape him and his cause. He's not afraid of change, and he's fighting for results. By the end of the movie he is working for a common cause, and is trying to fix some of his past transgressions.

It was inspiring to think that I can and will continue to grow as a person after I leave school. My time here is almost up, but I'm no where near done learning. I like the idea of traveling and learning about other ways of life, and opening my eyes to the world around me. It makes me excited about every possibility that lies before me.

This week made me proud and thankful to have grown up in the generation that I have. Race is and will always be an issue. But so much progress has been made.

There were 2 unfortunate incidents in my city this week. On a nearby college campus, there was a rape, and at our local grocery store there was a sexual assault. Though I live in a college town that can get pretty rowdy, it is not often that incidents like this occur. We've received an email about ways to handle situations like these should they occur, and the security staff has decided to offer self defense seminars in a couple weeks.

My freshmen year, we were required (as a class) to have a seminar with some members of the police force who spoke to us about how to conduct ourselves in a college town to avoid incidents like these. Because I go to a women's college, I thought these discussions were extremely relevant and important. I'm thankful that our staff take the time to help us protect ourselves by giving us important knowledge. We even received rape whistles in our mail boxes that came on lanyards so we could easily attach them to our purses.

The idea of assault is incredibly scary. But having gone to a women's college for almost 3 years now, my views are much stronger on the subject. I feel for women as a collective group now, in ways I didn't before.

I'm going to be moving to a larger city soon, and I'm inspired to not only be aware of myself and my surroundings, but to make sure that I can protect myself. I never want to feel helpless in a situation.

So, this week has been a learning experience all around. I've learned about my future, about the past, and how to stay aware of the present. And this afternoon---Eleemosynary auditions and hopefully callbacks! It's going to be a fun day!