Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Slow down life

I can't keep anything straight! It's been so hectic around here, and instead of it feeling like the end is approaching, I just keep forgetting. I feel like I have years left in college instead of 2 more weeks. People have to keep reminding the seniors about deadlines because it doesn't feel as if graduation is about to happen. There's so much left to do. And feel. Ah.

So: My show opened last Wednesday. It went fantastic! Every night of the show was a strong night. I'm not sure I'd ever had this experience before, so it was really nice to have it for my last show. We received a lot of great compliments, and I had so much fun. I had forgotten that I hadn't played a crazy role in a while (probably because the rehearsal process seemed so long), so it was nice to hear my classmates say they enjoyed seeing me in something that wasn't dramatic.

All of the faculty came out to support us, and I couldn't have had a better experience. My costume was fantastic, my castmates were amazing and have great things ahead of them, and I got to work with some of my favorite people one last time. I'd say Friday was probably my strongest performance, but every night was a new show. Saturday night was strike, and honestly it was kind of a blur. I had a moment where I realized it was my last strike...then it passed and nothing seemed to hit me. I think it will hit when we're striking Thoroughly Modern Millie and the rest of my classmates are finished with me.

We had honors convocation and I won the Trustee Award which means I'm the senior speaker at graduation. I also received the Sarah Ann Fay award for theatre, which was really exciting. So many amazing and gifted women have won it before me and I felt honored and humbled to be chosen for it this year. I don't tend to think of theatre or acting as an individual experience. It's about a community, and that means I owe everything I've accompished to the amazing people around me. I think it also made me realize how far I've truly come and how hard I've worked to be where I am. I'm so lucky to have come to the place that I'm at, and I couldn't have asked for a better experience.

Along with rehearsals, performances, and tons of senior things I've also had a couple other events to check off on my to do list. I've had rehearsals for 2 off-the-walls I'm acting in. I'll be performing in Love, Loss, and What I Wore Thursday night and 27 Wagons Full of Cotton on May 3rd. There's been some rehearsals for singing at graduation as well as for the senior recital that's coming up on Saturday.

I've had no afternoon rehearsals for the past 2 days and it's been so strange. Normally, you'd think this would give me more time to think, pack, write a speech, or do something productive that prepares me for life after college. Instead all I do is spend entirely too much time with my classmates talking about how we don't want to graduate but we want to be done with school, staring at my room wishing it would pack itself, memorizing lines, stressing about singing in front of an audience, and designing various projects.

Full steam ahead.

I have so much to do! I'm so happy to be going to Boji because it's a reprieve from real life, but it's strange to see how excited the 2nd years are about their casting. That was me only a year ago--yet I feel like I've come so far. The seniors are in such a different place, and it's strange to feel things coming to an end.

We've had the last Sketchy Business show, the last improv show, and we even held a Warehouse sponsored Murder Mystery/Dance.

I've also finally made the decision to move to Seattle. That's it. That's where I'm going. If I don't like it, I'll move again. But right now, the plan is to pack my car, snatch my dog, and start from square one in the North West corner of America. I feel slightly sick typing this which is possibly a mixture of excitement and unease at the prospect of being at the bottom of the food chain and working my way up.

Which reminds me of everything I learned this weekend about auditioning. I'll have to write a stand alone post about Merri Sugarman's workshop this past Saturday, but right now I have to run to class.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Lost and Found

It's been so long! I'm so sorry!

A recap is necessary for the past 2 weeks, but first: It's my 21st birthday! I feel....old? Hm. I feel legal, let's put it that way. I feel like my opportunities are endless. There are more things I can do and more places I can go. It's exciting. I had a great time last night. I went to a campus sponsored speak easy where all the proceeds went to VegFam for charity. So technically, I gambled on my 21st birthday because I played some Blackjack, but all the proceeds went to charity! Then the girls in my class took me out and we had a great time. I received a lot of birthday wishes, and I had a large group sing me happy birthday. It was fun!

But moving backwards:

Spring Break 2011--New York City

We left Saturday morning at 7 to get to the airport. The flight over was smooth and we got in at 1. We found Ashley's Brooklyn apartment with no problem. It was a really cute little place. The neighborhood was nice, and right by 5th avenue where EVERYTHING was happening. We spent a morning walking down 5th avenue and it was a lot of fun. The street was so busy, and all the shops were selling the same things, but everybody had customers. We actually ate at a $5 chinese restaurant there called Bruce Lee's Restaurant that was pretty good.

So the first day Ashley took us into the city to show us the little church basement theatre that she was directing at. It was a neat space! She had to work, so Kaitie and I walked down to Hell's Kitchen and explored and at some food. I had the best tuna wrap ever. It had taken us about an hour on the subway to get into the city from Brooklyn so it was already getting pretty late and we decided we wanted to find a show. We found The Women's Theatre Project, which is a small place that a past graduate and friend of mine interned at for a short time. We walked in to explore and they happened to be about to put on a one woman show called Room based on the writings of Virginia Woolf and directed by Ann Bogart. We got student tickets at $20 and piddled around in Times Square before it was time to see the show.

This show was amazing. It was all based on the Viewpoints technique, which is a method that Ann Bogart herself, created. We were watching a show directed by one of the greats. 20 years from now people will be talking about this method the way they talk about Stella Adler and Lee Strasberg. It is already taught (and has been for 20 years or so) in every good graduate program. Anyway, the show--fantastic. I was a little too tired from the plane ride to really take in all the dialogue, but I was so focused on her physicality that I wouldn't have paid total attention either way. 'Viewpoints is a technique of composition that provides a vocabulary for thinking about and acting upon movement and gesture.' So the entire play she did a series of extremely controlled movements in specific orders, all on specific lines. Some were simple-others were complex. I actually tried to do a couple later that night just to see if I could. I couldn't. The climax of the production happened when she did every single move she had covered so far in rapid fire succession. She didn't mess up or lose her balance once. It was amazing.

It really spoke to me about the use of an actor's body as a tool. They tell us how important our physicality is all the time in school. Of course it changes with every role: how you walk or hold yourself. It really helped me unlock the kind of movements I needed to be making with my character Dorothea in Eleemosynary right now.

Also, the set was a box. All lights were visible. And there was nothing but a chair on stage. It was a great show.

Next up--Sunday. So on Sunday we met up with Melissa in the city and we saw a bit of Shetler Studios which is a rehearsal and audition space in New York that, if I lived there, I would be seeing a lot of at some point. Then we went shopping for a while, at which I was completely unsuccessful but Kaitie and Melissa both managed to find something. That night we went to see the show Ashley was stage managing at a different theatre. She was working with the Young Company, which is the Columbia Graduate Acting program students. Some of them were past graduates, and some had yet to graduate. They were performing As You Like It in 90 minutes.

It started out a little rough, but they all settled into it and it became a really enjoyable show. It's a show they perform for a lot of schools, so there were some fun elements like a slow motion fight and live music that the actors added in. All in all, it was a solid show, but the whole time I was watching it I was thinking "My class could do that". Columbia has some great faculty members for their graduate program, but honestly it made me think that I would never go there for graduate school. I want to improve and be surrounded by people that push me harder, and I wasn't impressed by the show to that degree. But I liked the show.

Then we went out for desert in Times Square and we at at Roxy's Delicatessen, which was yummy. We ended up taking almost 3 hours to get home that night. We had to take Katie Mac back to Williamsburg where she was staying, and the subways were running slow. There wasn't a subway from Williamsburg down into Brooklyn, so we had to ride back into the city, then into Brooklyn. I decided right then and there that I don't like my life being dictated by the public transportation schedule, especially when I'm tired and I have someone waiting up to let me in their building. Strike 1 against New York.

Monday we had a chill day. We went shopping with Melissa again, and we decided not to see a show. We met up with some of our classmates for a birthday, which was fun. We called it a night early so Ashley wouldn't be waiting up for us two nights in a row. Tuesday was Kaitie's 21st birthday, and we were on the move to stay at Katie Mac's. We took our luggage into the city and ate at Lombardi's for lunch. Lombardi's is New York's first pizzeria. It's supposed to be a classic. I enjoyed it, but compared to the 99 cent pizza I had later in the week, I wouldn't say it was amazing. They were nice enough to hold our bags for us though. Then we ate desert at a small cafe called The Best Chocolate Cake in the world. I had the chocolate cake, and it was my 2nd best. My 1st is a Brazilian restaurant in Texas. But it was a close 2nd, and I would eat it again. They actually ship their cakes anywhere, but I decided not to tempt myself by taking a business card with me.

After that we headed over to Williamsburg to drop our stuff off at Katie Mac's. We ended up doing some more shopping and I found a pair of boots that I liked for $24! We put our stuff in the apartment, and then we headed into town for a birthday meal at Ellen's Stardust Diner. I have to say, it was the most unimpressive I've ever seen it. That could be because I have a lot more training now, or because I wasn't there with an adult meaning I didn't look like a child meaning I didn't deserve special attention, or it could be because they just didn't know how to work a crowd. Possibly a mixture of all three. Seriously though, they all sounded great ( I think they sounded the best out of every time I've ever been) but they just didn't interact. They all stood in the same place to sing, or they sang while they were serving. But none of them sang to anyone specific, or seemed to have anything to say with the song they chose. Kaitie wasn't impressed, and our server hardly paid attention to us, even after we told him it was her 21st birthday. Strike 2?

We went out to some bars that night. We went to the International Bar (?) in the east side, which we decided wasn't the atmosphere for us. After that we went into Williamsburg to a bar called Barcade which had a bunch of old arcade games that everyone could play for 25 cents. That was a fun time, but we called it a night early and decided to watch some Robert Downey Jr. movie at Katie Mac's place before going to bed.

Wednesday we moved our stuff up to Harlem where we would be staying with Rachael that night. Then we went into the city and saw Arcadia for a matinee and Driving Miss Daisy at night. Arcadia was something I really wanted to see. It had Billy Crudup in it and I am a huge fan. We got student rush tickets and the show was amazing. I absolutely loved it. It's a fantastically intelligent and humorous script, and the acting was supreme. The set was beautiful and simple. It's a play that goes between two different time periods, and they did it wonderfully. I loved everything about it.

Driving Miss Daisy was phenomenal as well. Vanessa Redgrave and James Earl Jones were stunning. I was originally sad that I couldn't get tickets to Warhorse, but I'm so glad I had the opportunity to see this show instead. I saw two of the greatest actors of this century on stage. My professor says everybody should see Vanessa Redgrave before she dies. I will have something to talk about for years to come. They were literally amazing to watch. Mr. Jone's characterization absolutely blew me away. And to watch the two of them age was such a great educational tool since I have to do the same in Eleemosynary. Also, the stage had a bunch of slipping set pieces on it, which was really cool to watch. They had a rotating piece of stage for the car, which was a neat idea. The play was great!

We went out that night to see everyone one last time. It was crazy because everyone from my school that went to New York for the break showed up at the bar, and we had a lot of fun speaking to all the alumni. Rachael's apartment was really cute, and I got to sleep on my second blow up mattress of the trip. I slept on a floor for 2 nights, a couch for 1, and an air mattress for 2. I loved every minute of it.

Thursday morning we were up and out of there in time to explore for some of the acting schools I wanted to research. I tried to see the School for Film and Television (Conservatory of Dramatic Arts now it's called) and the Stella Adler Studio, but both were in random buildings on some high floor and I didn't feel comfortable waltzing in. So instead, we went to the American Natural History Museum, which was one of my favorite things on the trip. I had so much fun! I've forgotten after going to theatre school for 3 years, how nice it is to be reminded of the outside world and where we came from. It's an amazing museum and I wish I could have spent more than 3 hours there, but we were on a race to get a deli sandwich (which we were told we had to do before leaving New York because it is classic cuisine) and catch a subway car to the airport.

There was a bit of a snafu which almost made us entirely too late for our airplane. Instead we were only marginally late and we somehow made it (with the help of a nice man who ushered us down 5 more ramps, after 1 football field of running through an airport, into our flight just in time and became our saving grace) into our seats. The stewardess was nice enough to provide us with bottle water to catch our breath and we were off! A five night, six day trip to New York City complete!

What did I learn? I hate the cold. I'm not the biggest fan of public transportation late at night. Carrying luggage around through a large city is tiring and just a hassle. I love theatre. I can do theatre. I could live in New York if I had to. I don't want to live in New York at this moment if I don't have to. I hate the cold.

That about sums it up.

So we got back, I did a bunch of homework, and I officially became addicted to past and present ABC Family television shows that should probably only entertain preteens. What can I say?

This week has been even crazier than the two before it. We crashed back into rehearsal, and were in much better shape than when we left because surprisingly a week off can always do more good than harm. I had a presentation and 5 page essay for Dramatic Lit on Monday. Comedy Class on Tuesday consisted of us starting to piece together our final company class show based on Lysistrata. Wednesday was Crew Watch and the beginning of Tech Week. Thursday was Warehouse Board Elections. And Friday was the Boji Meeting and my Birthday night!

I've had entirely too much homework to be happy. I've been looking into Seattle a lot and am 85% certain I'd like to possibly move there after Boji. I could expound on that, but since I haven't made final decisions I'll save it for another day.

It is obvious to me now that I'm capable of writing entirely too much information in one go, and that it's slightly odd I chose my birthday to take the time to write this down. Today I want to see a movie because it's been so long. And then I'm going to Melissa's senior recital and 33 in 66 to support my friends! Happy Birthday to me!

Here's some pictures to make this post even longer: