Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year 2013

2012 has been a whirlwind of adventure. I left the safety of college and home behind as I moved across the country to a city I'd never been to. I have worked over five jobs this year. I've been cast in nine shows. I've made amazing new friends and family that I hope to have for a very long time. I've watched my close friends find success in their lives and have been there to celebrate with them. I've found my own successes and made new goals and I'm so excited to achieve them.

First on the list: I got the call today that I've been cast in my first webseries! What a way to start 2013! I've been wanting more film on my resume, and I had such a blast at the audition. I was given some strange sides to read, but the CD had me trying really fun things with them. They laughed, they whispered, and I had a good feeling but you just never know. I was very excited to get the call because this project will hopefully be including some fighting for me, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed on getting more techniques on the resume!

Next up I'll be taking new headshots with the talented Danielle Barnum. Last year I got new shots that got me quite a bit of work, but I've heard from many lately that I need an update. I'm looking forward to sending these out to some agencies.

Agency submissions are at the top of my list for 2013. Submitting is as important as receiving representation, because it's about getting my name and image out there in the ether of Seattle. I'd love to start booking work in the commercial/film industry out here, and this is the first step to doing so.

I have an audition coming up on Sunday for a local theatre company that's been producing some exciting new works. I can't wait to meet new people and work with new companies this year.

I've been so lucky this year to work with such a broad network of artists. I've made so many new friends, and looking back to this time last year I've not only grown as an artist but I've grown so much as a person. I'm more confident, more willing to take a risk, and more excited than ever to see what the future has in store. I'd like to thank everyone that helped make 2012 one of the most exhilarating journeys of my life so far. I even had the joy of visiting family this Thanksgiving and Christmas, which I missed out on last year. I'm more inspired now to continue on this crazy life of working to make ends meet financially just for the thrill of the chase in my art. Normally I'd say I dare 2013 to be better than the year before. But this year, I've learned I don't dare. I do. I'm going to do everything I can to help 2013 surprise me!

Happy New Year all!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Acting journal update

I've been doing a lot of new monologues recently for my Adler acting lessons, and for my own memory I need to write some things down.

A couple weeks ago we worked on the actions: To reveal, to declare, and to dream. In other words, exposing intimacy. Acting coach C reminded me that every action we choose to perform must further the conflict of the plot. There is always a forward motion. In so doing, I must be careful not to 'act the past'. I performed Kitty Duval from The Time of Your Life, which I hadn't read before. It's a very whimsical and yet truthful piece about life after the Great Depression, and how people survived. In this monologue Kitty recounts her past in a dreamlike state. I was given the note to not act the past, because in terms of 'dreaming', Kitty is dreaming her past like it's happening now. If I were to put my current opinion of past events into the monologue, it is no longer dreaming.

Acting coach C and I also talked a lot about how people go to the theatre to see conflict resolved. They want to watch people fight the battles and demons they don't necessarily allow themselves to confront. It's a good reminder that all theatre is action, and that without this action we are not telling a story.

This past week I learned about Big Ideas.  Big ideas are such things as: good vs. evil, right vs. wrong, hypocrisy vs. integrity.  These are universal battles that everyone can relate to in some facet. Some scenes are not just about the people and situation they find them self in. They are about ideas, universal ideas that audiences everywhere can connect with. If we, as actors, never reach the big ideas in a scene and focus instead on the personal battle a character is going through (playing the emotion, as they say) then often an audience has not understood and we have not done our job. Big ideas, in my case this week, were used to remove emotion and stop me from making a scene too personal. The scene was no longer about how my character felt about her mother, but instead about how she felt about her values and the way they clashed with her mother's. I've definitely used similar tactics, but I'd never had it explained in quite this way. I found it very useful.

In other news, I bought my acting instructor's book: The Actor's Script, and I'm loving it so far. It's a good breakdown of the way to approach a script, with some Stella Adler thrown in.

The way of the world

After the terrible events in Connecticut on Friday December 14, 2012, I read this article by an actor about why we do theatre. It's really very inspiring, and I wanted to share it:

In it the author talks about how his acting instructor taught him that theatre is done to save people in times of tragedy. It helps them cope, breathe, and find a direction to move forward in. I was taught the same things by my acting instructors.

Some times it's easy to forget the larger reasons why I do theatre. Of course it's fun, a form of self expression, and an unbeatable outlet. But I also do it because of the impact it has on others. I do it to help, to teach, to serve a greater community in ways they can't serve themselves.

I was especially hard hit by this tragedy because not only are my parents teachers, but I'm one as well. The children I teach daily are the same ages as so many of the victims. I don't have many words to describe this experience, but I know that it will serve as a reminder to many that life is priceless and these are times of change.

It is the duty of theatre to help in times of change. I urge everyone to help in whatever way they can. Do a good deed, compliment someone, express yourself and help others. Share your love of something with someone else. Hug a child. Hug a teacher. Most importantly, open yourself to something new and do it for all of the children and teachers that will never have the chance.  Love.

Here is one artist that is helping in his way:

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Seattle Year One Recap, a little early

In the last month I've been reading more plays, performing more monologues and perfecting my audition technique, catching up on some good books and movies, and just generally taking a step back and getting my head on straight.

I've made some life changes, reevaluated some goals, and started my next phase. If you're interested in some of the articles that have been helping me out lately, here are some links:

The Wal-Marting of American Theatre

The Empty Spaces of American Theatre

I've become a TCG member, renewed my Theatre Puget Sound membership, looked into some big regional auditions and theatre companies, and chosen my next headshot photographer! I have some auditions on the horizon and honestly after the last month of my life I can't wait to get back to it. I even signed on for some winter classes at Freehold Theatre!

I'll be taking a break from so much teaching  to start working on myself again. I've decided that I'm not ready right now to be devoting so much of my time to others instead of my own goals, so after some hard choices I've finally put myself on the track to getting more of what I want. Whew.

Who knew so much could happen in one month? Not this girl.

Also, I've received the link to the website for the film I filmed last May. If you want to see some of the production photos with the talented cast and crew here it is:

They hope it will be completed by October 2013! I'll be helping to promote it coming up soon, and I can't wait to film another.

Here's a recap of the acting experiences I've had since moving to the city a year ago:

Dis and Dat with Underkulture Theatre, a two person absurdist piece that really stretched my physicality and imagination.

Murder Mystery plays with Murder Mystery Players. I've done two now, and will hopefully continue to work with this fun national company. There's always a quick and dirty rehearsal, a sold out crowd, and an exciting fight scene to be had.

Hoodies Up! with BrownBox Theatre, a company that prides itself on producing working by, for, and about African Americans in a city that doesn't tend to do work that allows them many roles. All the proceeds went to the Trayvon Martin foundation. Theatre for a cause is the best kind of theatre there is.

Techno Lust the movie. It started out as test shots in February, then again in April, and then I was cast for the full movie in May. Out of all my experiences this year, this was by far my most exciting. For 5 days I knew what it was like to really do what I want to do, and it only inspired me to continue to work towards the goal of having that as many times as I can.

The Taming of the Shrew with Greenstage. Outdoor theatre for 3 months with one of the best casts I've had the opportunity to work with. Greenstage reminded me why I do theatre and what it means to be a family with the people you work with. I couldn't have had a better summer.

Connecticut with the Seattle Fringe Festival. I had the opportunity to work side by side with a new playwright at the return of the Seattle Fringe Festival. It was so amazing to be a part of the history of Seattle in that way.

Dead Man's Cell Phone with Burien Little Theatre. I took a chance on hoping to get cast in this production, and I couldn't have been luckier to be a part of it and meet so many talented members of the theatre community.

This list is not including the countless auditions I went on weekly that allowed me to continue to perform again and again. It does not include the numerous callbacks I received only to have to move on to the next show. It doesn't include the shows I was cast in or offered that I had to say thank you, but no thank you to. And it doesn't include the films I began filming that were cancelled part way through. As a point of reference, it also doesn't include the shows I stage managed, helped to direct or teach, write, or worked on in any technical sense.

Overall my first year in Seattle offered me so many amazing opportunities. No, it hasn't been everything I expected. Sometimes budgets aren't large enough to accomplish all the hopes and dreams of a production team, sometimes schedules conflict and rehearsals aren't always timely and efficient, and sometimes you don't have time or know all the right people to do the things you want to do. But what Seattle has taught me this year is that I'm doing the right thing.

This city is so encouraging to its artists. There are so many people here waiting for the next show to come out, and so many people hoping you'll be the one they see in it. Directors can't wait to meet you, actors can't wait to work with you, and companies are stretching their creativity and ingenuity by producing new works that are bubbling over with relevant and stimulating themes that make you laugh and cry and stomp your feet with frustration.

I literally cannot wait for year two.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Musings of a Procrastinator

Readers, it's time to come clean. I've been having a procrastination problem lately (in procrastination time, that means a while). It's been almost a month since my last update, so here is my confession:

I was sad to see Dead Man's Cell Phone end. With it went my claim to being a working actor of the moment. However, I was gaining back my valuable free time and prescious working woman hours that help me save some extra cash for the future big move to the next stage of my life. I hugged my loving cast goodbye and we shared a fond final cast party to remember the good times.

I felt so lucky to have many of my friends able to come see me perform these last couple months. I've been on an acting spree, and in a way I think I lost sight of some of the things I think are most important in my life. When acting becomes a chore instead of a release, I know it's time for things to change. I found myself doing wonderful pieces, but I felt less and less like I was giving them what they deserved from myself. I felt like I spent so much time spreading myself between projects that I wasn't fully embodying any one thing in a given moment.

Now that I've had time to take a step back and evaluate these last 8 months of crazy acting experiences, I know what I'm looking forward to doing in the future. I'm ready to start taking some classes again. I want to do more than my weekly acting class and really feel as though I'm working on my craft with like minded people. I want to feel that every production I step into means something to me and that I have something to offer it. I don't want to split my time, I want to work hard and improve as much as I can every time I do a play. I want to always learn something new, and for me I think that means I need to go back to basics for a little while.

I'm on the hunt for a new heashot photographer, and I've got some good leads. I'm trying to weigh how much I want to pay for these new shots with the quality I expect to get. At my age, these shots might not last me very long, and I don't want to shell out $500 for a one year investment if I can avoid it.

I'm starting to put out feelers for work outside Seattle. I never imagined myself as a one market woman. I want to travel and move from regional theatre to regional theatre. But in order to accomplish that dream I have to remember to not get stuck in a one market mindset. I need to constantly research audition dates and seasons that I'd like to be involved in. I need to pick my newest audition package. Luckily, with the help of my fantastic personal acting coach, I have a great new many options to choose from.

I think I'm really just working on finding myself again. I'm rediscovering my passion for this art and where exactly I want to go with it. I love my job being a preschool teacher. And I love that I've been given the opportunity to be a freelance teaching artist with many great new companies in the Puget Sound. But in the grand scheme of things, I don't love teaching the way I love acting, and I don't love staying in one place when I feel there is so much more to be discovered.

I have big plans, and phase one of my transition from college student to graduated woman is complete. I have acted my way into eight new credits, become a bonafide theatre for youth educator, and continued my education by privately studying Stella Adler all in one year's time. I continue to work at The 5th Avenue Theatre which I adore, and I've been working on seeing more theatre.

Recently I've seen: A Mouse Who Knows Me (A New Musical), Scapin, LAPDSMU 2, Rabbit Hole, Cardenio, and Language Art. I've been pushing myself to really use my time for me now that I have the time to spend. It's been incredibly fulfilling to be able to see more theatre and remember all the reasons why I love my job so much.

Here's a recap of the last month:

1. Opened and performed in the Northwest premiere of a new murder mystery with a fun and funny cast. We had a sold out show to a really great audience and I had the opportunity to act and rehearse with some old friends. I'm looking forward to my next outing with them. I really adore this company, and though I never imagined doing murder mysteries, every time I work with them I remember all the reasons I fell in love with theatre to begin with.

2. I opened and closed Dead Man's Cell Phone after a four week run. We had sold out shows, two rousing talk backs, and a whole lot of fun. I learned a lot--and really, that's all you can ask for.

3. I admitted to myself that it was time for new headshots, and now I've been fighting my common sense and my thrift to find a photographer that meets all my qualifications.

4. I've found a new direction for myself in the form of focusing on making me a better artist. I'm going to accomplish this by making more time for myself, continuing to expand myself outside theatre, seeing more theatre, and reminding myself of technique. I'm truly excited to get back to work on me.

5. I've been teaching more. A lot more.

I'm ready for a week at home with family, and then I'm ready to find my focus and start honing in on what I want again!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Whereto Gumshoe?

Sitting in a coffee shop appreciating the free wi-fi and limited time I have to kill before rehearsal tonight I'm thinking about all my experiences the past month and a half. So many things have happened that I haven't had the time, energy, enthusiasm, or words to express.

I've been working non-stop on overlapping projects, driving from one rehearsal to another, teching one show after the next, opening and closing, running and striking. It's been the most wonderful experience. I've loved every second of it.

When I'm investing myself in things that I love i.e. theatre, I find so much more passion in my jobs. I teach better, I learn better, I love better. I find it difficult to not be working on something I love doing, because I'm so used to being able to do it all the time.

I'm about to take a break from running around like crazy, and I'm really hoping I last more than a week without my frustration coming out. This last month I've been preparing myself for the sudden downslide I'll have when my next two projects end. I'll be going home for Christmas, and because of this I can't take anymore projects right now because I would miss rehearsals or performances.

I think I've grown in a lot of ways. I realize now that taking a break is good for my health. It's good for me to refocus on being a real person with other passions and adventures. It's healthy for me to do things besides theatre, and it makes me a better artist.

I can use this time to submit myself for future projects, really sharpen my technique in classes, research grad schools, write like I used to, and find new creative avenues to express myself in. I can find time to read, to bake and cook, to travel, and to go see theatre.

If there's one thing I want to do better this year than I did last year, it's the amount of theatre I attend. It's so important as an artist to not only keep up with the work around you, but to appreciate it and learn from it. Theatre artists do theatre for a multitude of different reasons, but I think it's easy to forget that as a theatre artist, it is important for us to be given the same things we want to give to others who see our work.

I watched a movie last night for the first time in over three months. How ridiculous is that? When I think about it, I've probably watched less than ten movies since moving to Seattle. I pack my schedule so full that I only make time for certain things. Normally these things are all things I want to do and love to do. But doing the same things over and over does not make you a well rounded individual. It doesn't stimulate you or push you.

I plan on pushing myself harder in these next two months than I have previously--but in different ways. I'm going to focus on me.

I've spent the last couple months in rehearsals with a lot of different artists and the thing that separates me from most of them is the amount of time I spend on myself. I spend a lot of time on my career and theatre and acting, but not a lot of time on other things I used to like. Such as writing, designing, biking, reading, running, having a life.

These last couple months I've had more of a life than I have in the past year and it's felt so good. I can't wait to do more of it. I think taking a break is going to be really good for me. Maybe I'll learn something new..

Friday, October 12, 2012

Goodbye Summer, Hello Fall--Where does the time go?

I can't believe I let the time get so away from me. I have a lot of events to comment on, and many things I've learned but I'll start with a recap.

The month of September flew by with rehearsals for the Fringe Fest and Dead Man's Cell Phone every single night. It wasn't long before I hit tech week for the Fringe, and we were finally putting the show together. The thing to know about fringe festivals is that the pieces put on are either imported/invited from other cities where they've already performed, or they are new works that haven't been performed yet. In our case, we were still pulling everything together by the time we were given our two hours on stage to tech. Because so many plays were using the same four venues, we were given a limited amount of time to go cue to cue through our play and work the kinks out.

In our two hours we managed to get through the cue to cue, but not through an actual run of the show. Because one of our actors had been scheduled at work the days previous, we hadn't actually done a full run with all the actors in about four days. So by the time we opened on a Wednesday night at 9pm, we were doing our first run of the show!

Personally I enjoy doing the kind of theatre where you get to fly by the seat of your pants sometimes because I think it can teach and remind us of valuable lessons such as listening, controlling adrenaline, and trusting your fellow actors. With about nine people in the audience it felt more like an open dress rehearsal, but it also felt great to put the show on after two months of rehearsal.

We had a wonderful four day run, with intimate but enthusiastic audience turnouts. Saturday was our best performance, I thought, because many of our fellow fringe actors showed up to support the work.  At the end of the run, I attended a short after party given by our playwright, and it was really nice to sit down with everyone who had put so much time and hard work into making his dream possible. We got to talk about our favorite points of the show, and reaction we heard from audience members. I was also given the greatest gift I've ever been given for doing a show, and better yet--I was paid! I didn't expect to get paid for this show, but it sure was a nice bonus.

The weekend of the Fringe Festival I also attended two productions: Disco Pigs and LAPDSMU. Both were just fantastic shows. Disco Pigs is a two person play written by the Tony-Award winning writer of Once, Enda Walsh. It was not only a fantastic piece of literature, but a wonderfully staged and fully realized production. It included one of my favorite sets I've encountered in a while, with life size tinker-toys, and ABC building blocks. I had the most amazing time being an audience member of this show. I enjoyed it from the opening lines (shouted in an Irish brogue while one character pushed another on stage in a shopping cart) to the closing lines (said in tears). Stellar performances given by two extremely capable actors. I wish I could have seen it twice. LAPDSMU was just hilarious. I had a lot of friends performing in it, and I laughed the entire way through. I can't wait to see the sequel!

After the Fringe was over, I moved directly into tech week for DMCP, which was really exhilarating for me because:
A. I finally got to focus on one show for the first time in three months.
B. I hadn't been through a week long tech process since college (inside a theatre that is. Shrew had two weeks of outside tech).

I had a great time finally grasping certain things about the show that I hadn't quite focused on before, and really tuning in with my cast. Opening night was a blast! We were really prepared to go onstage, and I felt great about finally getting an audience.

I've had a lot of fun in this process because I've learned some things about myself. It's easy to forget to use the lessons you learn when you're in school. It's also important to remind yourself why those lessons were important and to use them whenever possible. I also learned a lot about knowing when it's a good time in your life to be working on two projects at once. I had a lot of fun doing two shows, but as an actor it's important to be able to give your all to a project, and if it's not possible to do that, then it might not be a good idea to accept two project. In the future, I'll need to weigh my options carefully. I always want to do my best work on a project, and luckily for me, I had two extremely supportive casts that were accepting of my engagements. Both shows worked out great!

Fortunately, I had a week to get in the right place and really buckle down with myself. We've had two reviews for the show (both good), and we've been getting pretty good turn out too! To a small theatre, it really is all about butts in seats!

After I opened DMCP, I went into rehearsal for an upcoming murder mystery. It's with a company I've worked with previously that's always a lot of fun. There's always a quick and dirty rehearsal period of about a week and a half, then a one night show with a generally sold out crowd at a dinner theatre. I love these shows because you get to interact with the audience as an actor, which is abnormal and I like flexing muscles I don't use a lot. We'll be performing this upcoming Wednesday, so we'll tech this next week.

After this show, I'll finish running DMCP by October 21, and then I'm taking a little time to myself for once. I picked up four new teaching gigs this week that have me booked Monday-Thursday at four different schools in Seattle. I'm teaching keyboard, dramatic play (The 3 Billy Goats Gruff, musical Michael Jackson Style), and another theatre class. I now teach age 2.5-10. Life is crazy.

I'll have some deeper insight coming up soon, but for now, I've got to go to rehearsal!

Here's the link to the reviews:
Here's the link to the production photos:

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Be a part of the future

The auditions have slowed down these last couple weeks, and things aren't nearly so crazy as they were before.

Two weekends ago I auditioned for a new work. It was a really unique script that deals with many contemporary issues in society, but it approaches them in a very engaging way. I had a blast at the audition because it was the first I've been to yet where all my friends were auditioning too! I didn't have the chance to audition with any of my friends, and I didn't end up getting cast--but crazily enough many of my friends did.

I'm excited to see the production when it opens in April. I love that Seattle offers so many great opportunities  for new playwrights. There are many up and coming playwrights in this city that have their work produced on large and small stages area wide. It gives this theatre community a forward energy. Everyone in Seattle is working towards making American Theatre a staple of this country, and new artists are constantly coming to and emerging from this city with great ideas and a passion for producing inspiring premieres that make their way all over the country and the world.

Now, this doesn't mean the work pays well, or that the production value is always high--but I think it's important to remember the things that can be taken away from being a part of this new play movement. The opportunity to workshop a piece and be the first to perform it is a heady feeling. The Fringe Festival show I'm in right now is a new work, and I'm part of the premiere. In many of these circumstances, actors have the chance to work directly with the writers, which provides great insight to the characters and situations they find themselves in.  I've learned to deal with changing dialogue, and cutting scenes. There is also something wonderful about contemporary voices in theatre, and gaining the ability to approach these new, unheard voices.

Play writing is an ever evolving art form, and every play gives an actor a gift by allowing them to find something new in themselves and in their craft.  When performing great American works of theatre, there is often an idea in everyone's mind of how it should be done, or possibly how it's never been done before (which can either be the best or worst experiment). With a new work, there isn't a presupposed idea, no boundaries or guidelines, and ultimately a freedom that can help to foster an intelligent dialogue and a natural openness to new ideas.

New works were a selling point when I was deciding to move to this city. Since I've been here they've presented exciting opportunities, but nothing so great as a national tour (or even a small scale educational tour) or a lead in to a larger job. Many new works do not lead to future career opportunities in this city, but I think that if American actors think or continue to think of new works as purely a stepping stone in their career, then America will never truly gain a theatre to call its own. As long as playwrights continue to write, and someone somewhere continues to be generous enough to fund their work, and actors continue to take time out of their career catapulting shenanigans then eventually we will help to make the future of American theatre.

New works in Seattle are so accepted as part of the community. They are exciting and dominate a good portion of the work done in this small market. As long as new plays are being produced throughout the country, American theatre will continue to move forward. Continuing to perform the classics and the modern realism genre that were born out of war-time society will always be pertinent and effectual. But as a country with no National Theatre, it is up to the playwrights to find their own niche and funding that will help their work spread to the public. Being part of a new work is being part of the future.

Read a great article about Seattle playwrights here:

In other news, I also auditioned for another local company that does a lot of new works recently. I'm still waiting to hear back from them, and in the mean time I'm making sure I'm off book for the two productions I'm already a part of.

Rehearsals have gone by so quickly for the Fringe show. We actually open and run next week starting Wednesday. When that closes, I'll be starting Tech Week for my second show. In other words, I've been very busy rehearsing on two separate sides of the city, memorizing lines and blocking, and promoting the shows. I'm excited to be getting closer to opening, because the audience is what it's all about!

I've learned a lot about different directing styles in these processes. I've been lucky to have worked with two very collaborative directors that appreciate actor input and ideas. Both rehearsals have helped me find a voice I didn't know I had as an actor. I've been allowed to really dig into scenes with my casts because the directors have been so willing to discuss different methods.

I've also learned a lot about juggling shows. What I've taken away from the experience is that doing multiple shows at once can be great. I have stretched my creativity and learned new things. It can also be exhausting and frustrating to miss one rehearsal for another, or to have six hours of one rehearsal and then four hours of another with only an hour break in between. And as tiring as this can be, I still find it to be an incredibly fulfilling experience that I feel grateful to have. That's how I know I'm doing the right thing for me. I'm curious to know other actors' opinions on the subject.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Comedic Timing

I guess this is my time for comedy. I'll be performing in my second straight comedy this fall! I love that I'm getting the chance to stretch myself and try on my funny pants for a change. Take that drama! Oh wait...there's some of that in this play too.

I had one of those weekends that you look back on and think, "Why did I ever think that was a good idea?" Of course, this meant it was a great idea because I learned a ton.

Because I lost my phone on Bainbridge Island and was without communication or navigational capabilities, I had to learn routes to places beforehand (oh the horror, I know I live in a digital age) and make sure I left with enough time to get lost.  This wouldn't have been a huge issue if I hadn't been carrying the entire set for Shrew in my car and couldn't afford to get lost, and if I hadn't booked myself so full. This weekend I had two callbacks, two auditions, two shows (post phone loss), and some errands.

My first callback was for a feature film that didn't end up panning out. I did have a really fun time at the callback though. The script was really accessible emotionally and I was able to read with the male that had already been cast opposite my character.  I learned that organic blocking in a film audition is difficult. I was in an unfamiliar setting that was opposite to where the characters in the script were located. It was exciting to try and make it work, but I know I could have been more effective if the movement had been made more clear in the space. In the end, my schedule conflicted with the shooting dates, so this wasn't meant to be my first feature film.

Then I had an audition for an upcoming comedy that I was crossing my fingers for. I prepared two monologues, performed them, and scored a callback for the role I wanted most. The next night I had a four hour callback for the role. It was the most fun I've had in a callback since Shrew. I had the opportunity to read so many times that I felt the freedom to make crazy choices because I knew I'd be in the room again to try something new later. I felt daring and funny and read with some very talented people that only made the scenes funnier (which is all you can hope for).

I found out the next day that I got cast! I was so excited. This was also the day I finally received my phone in the mail and was able to finally look at my long lost schedule. I found a lot of conflicting rehearsal dates between this new show and my Fringe Festival piece. Luckily for me, my directors were willing to work around the conflicts and I'll be performing in both this fall!

I also auditioned for a short film that went well and I'm waiting to hear back on.

Here are some things I learned from my weekend:

1. It's good to audition as much as possible. However, if you're going to audition for many things that will be happening in the same time frame, be prepared to make decisions between them if it should come to that. Sometimes it's easy to get caught up in auditioning and forget that all the people you're auditioning for think they can cast you. They can't. You'll have to decide.

2. Don't put your whole schedule in your phone if you're going to lose your phone. It can cause you a lot of stress.

3. Know your conflicts before an audition. Don't ever put a director in a position to cast you if you can't accept.

4.  Auditioning is FUN! Seriously, it's too much fun. I'm like an adrenaline junkie and I love the high I get from putting myself out there. Don't overdose--it's not healthy. Give yourself a chance to figure out what you want from an audition instead of auditioning for everything you qualify for.

5. I need more headshots and resumes.

I took an assistant position this week at a summer theatre camp. It's been a lot of fun to be in a new environment. It has made me excited to start back this fall with my after school theatre teaching. I hope I get some exciting classes!

Post Show Shrew

The Taming of the Shrew ended this past Saturday after a surprisingly cool 3PM matinee.

Here's some things I learned this summer:

1. I like theatre in the park more than I thought I would. You have to be louder, bigger, and more engaging to the point where you can feel unrealistic, but you have the opportunity to create a world including an audience and the natural setting around you. Adapting the show to any occasion is a great exercise.

2. I used to be attracted to dramatic realism because it made me feel alive. More and more I find myself being drawn to physical theatre where I can use my body and engage myself to the fullest extent. Whether it is fighting, rolling, running, or stunts--I want to do it all. Doing so much of this work has also helped me when I return to dramatic realism. It's become much easier for me to physically engage.

3. Comedy is incredibly freeing. There could not be a more perfect time for me to have the opportunity to do comedy in my career. Being pigeonholed in dramas for so long had unknowingly put me in a mental and artistic bind. I was finding it difficult to be organic. Comedy has helped me to relearn what it means to be organic.

4. I have so much more to learn about acting Shakespeare. I could fill a book with everything I don't know.

5. Always bring a second pair of contacts to a performance, some contact solution (in the case that you don't have a second pair and your first pair dried out after falling out of your eye and being lost in the grass for ten minutes), never try to do a fight call with one contact unless absolutely necessary, drink too much water to make sure that there is absolutely no chance of you getting heat stroke during a performance, learn to control the urge to vomit (in the case that you get heat stroke anyway), and remember to never forget your phone on a strange island park after dark when your phone battery is dead and your ferry is leaving. If you do lose your phone, be happy that there are good people in the world that will mail it to you at their earliest convenience.

6. Theatre is most fun when everyone you're working with has a passion for the work and a love for each other. Don't take the instances that this actually happens for granted, because you'll miss it when you aren't so lucky to experience it on the next show.

7. Pick-up rehearsals may seem pointless, but an actor shouldn't belittle any opportunity to look over the script and rehearse a show before showing it to an audience when time has passed. It keeps everything fresh and reminds you to do your homework.

8. I loved working on a show with a six week run. I would have been happy to continue doing the show because I loved my part so much. I was worried at the beginning of summer that I might get tired or bored in a show that ran so long--it never happened.

9. I really loved traveling to new spaces. There was something dynamic and exciting about literally bringing theatre to people instead of making people come to the theatre. I loved the feeling of giving something back to the community with a free show and a location near everyone. I think I would really love touring theatre.

10. As strange as it is to have to talk to people after the show and accept compliments from strangers that sometimes seem like they're only said because you're standing in front of them and they can't get around you without speaking, I enjoyed connecting with an audience after the show. It was exciting to hear people talk about loving theatre and Shakespeare. People would tell me stories about the first time they'd seen the show, or the time they were in the show, or about their favorite shows and how so and so reminded them of it.  There is nothing more heartwarming to me than being able to share my love for something with the people around me. What a wonderful experience.

11. Doing theatre at night in the dark really makes you appreciate stage lights. And run lights. And lanterns that light your costume tent.

12. Sometimes the best shows seem to be when actors have people they know in the audience. I think the theory behind this is that you want the people you love to love watching you. In this case: imagine that every audience for a show is made up of people you love (because you should love everyone that comes to see any show you're in) and that they all love you (which they must because they came to the show you're in to watch you, right?). Now every show is the best show.

13. Always thank a stage manager that knows how to use Febreze .

I had the most amazing time this summer learning about Shakespeare, meeting Seattle for what felt like the first time, and doing what I'll consider my first professional show. I'll never take being in a theatre for granted, and I'll always appreciate an audience that will sit in the sun to roast while watching a free show. I spent the summer with friends and new family. I don't know how to sum up the summer in this blog post, but I know that I'll remember how much fun I had bruising myself, smashing mosquitoes, and chasing butterflies.

Chasing Winifred

Hear about my crazy weekend next!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Talk about being an adult

This has been an eye-opening month.

Last week I had a difficult decision to make that took me a couple (much needed) days to decipher. I had accepted a wonderful opportunity of a show. It was going to teach me new skills and introduce me to new people. I had the chance to work with some people I've worked with before. I felt grateful that i had finally been allowed a chance to approach improv work, and do more comedy. On the other hand, I was noticing some auditions coming up for shows and films that were much more up my alley genre-wise. They were the types of theatre and film that I've always wanted to pursue, the kind that I want people to see on my resume because I think they represent the kind of artist I want to be. They were the kind I started doing theatre for--the kind I fell in love with.

When I finally started looking at the situation in this light, my decision became the slightest bit easier. Which isn't saying much because it was really hard for me to make. I've never turned down a role before--and it's not something I would ever recommend doing. It can breed poor relationships and break reputations. However, I think it's important for an actor to know what they want and have the courage to follow through and do what is best for their career. I hadn't started rehearsals for the show I had 'accepted', and I hadn't signed an official contract--does that make it ok? No.

There comes a time in every actor's journey though (for some only once, for others much more often) where they have to make a difficult decision between jobs. An actor only hopes that they can handle the situation with compassion, professionalism, and a good degree of contrition. After all, you have caused a step back in some one else's plans. At the same time, you have given some one else an opportunity to play a role you couldn't accept.

For me, it isn't something I will do often. I had such a difficult struggle doing it this time. I can say with confidence though, that I feel I made the right decision for myself. It took me a while to figure out that money wasn't the factor in my decision that I was worried about. It all came down to the kind of theatre and film I love to do. Of course I hope to have many opportunities that teach me new things and help me grow as an actor, but this wasn't my turn. My turn will come again.

On another note:
I attended a master class called Playing Pinter that I had signed up for almost three months ago. It was a truly inspiring experience. Henry Woolf (Pinter's longest friend) taught the class. He spent a good hour telling us stories of he and Pinter growing up, how they came to be the artists that they were, and the way that the times affected their work and careers. My how times have changed. Mr. Woolf was easily one of the funniest men I've had the pleasure of meeting.

The class itself was about Pinter's work and the difficulties of approaching his style, and how he preferred it done in his lifetime. It was incredibly enlightening and I took a copious amount of notes on the subject which I probably won't transfer here because it would take a long time.

In the end, I was paired with a scene partner and we were given the chance to rehearse and perform A Kind of Alaska. It was a very emotionally charged scene, and we were given minimal blocking to work with. It was really fun to just stretch my dramatic muscles after so long. In fact, it felt great. My partner was extremely talented, and we had a great time piecing it together and giving it a go with the rest of the class. Everyone received different scenes and then we all performed for each other. Mr. Woolf was happy that we had taken some of what he said to heart as a class, and seemed to enjoy the work.

It was a really enjoyable experience not only because I had a great time acting, but because I got to feel one step removed from an amazing man. Just hearing the stories and all about the relationship between the two men was fascinating. And I learned a lot about Pinter's work. I'd love to do more of it.

In other news tomorrow begins the final weekend of Shrew. I'm sad to see it go, but after a six week run and with so many auditions happening around town, it seems that everyone feels content to leave the summer behind with the fondest of memories to think back on. It's been a great ride, and I'll be sure to put up a list of all the things I've learned after this crazy summer with this awesome cast!

Here's our most recent review:

Thursday, August 9, 2012

What kind of actor do you want to be? Think really hard about it.

I might have whiplash.

This week's challenges came at me so suddenly, I barely had time to think--which is not the best way to make important decisions. Let me back up.

This week I started rehearsals for Connecticut, which I was very excited about. However, that meant that I was back into my busy schedule. Rehearsals most evening, performances over the weekends, and of course, work during the day. Now, to my surprise (and delight) I received my first unsolicited offer to audition this week.

This is something I expected to come a little later in my career here, so I wasn't prepared for it. I was emailed by an artistic director of a local theatre who said she was interested in me for a role in their upcoming production, and would I like to come read? Unfortunately, this production will be rehearsing at the same time as another show which I've already agreed to. Also, the audition date was during my Pinter Master Class that's happening soon. I took a day to think it over.

One difficulty in the decision was that this role was a paying role. Here I just finished auditioning for a show I wasn't expecting to be cast in, somehow managed to get cast in anyway, and then agreed to the contract not minding that I wouldn't be paid. I did this because I told myself in my first year in Seattle I wouldn't be choosy. I would take the work I was offered as long as it would teach me something new. I also thought that:

#1 All the other theatres had cast their fall shows because the performances are already coming up so quickly.
#2 That I shouldn't worry about being paid because so few theatres pay here anyway.

However, as I said, this offer was for a paying role, and here I had accepted an unpaying role, thinking it was my only option. Now I find out that the Seattle theatres are late casters, because there have been various other auditions popping up that pay small stipends as well.

I want to clarify here: the role I accepted originally is a great opportunity to learn something new outside of my comfort zone. It's something I've never done before, and always was told I wasn't good at. I'm lucky to have the chance.

Now, the big morality question for me was--what kind of actor do I want to be?  Do I want to be the actor that backs out of an agreement (even though rehearsals haven't begun yet) because I take my career and myself seriously enough to want to get paid (even though the money wouldn't make much of a dent in my pocketbook)? Or do I want to be the actor that is known as reliable?  Do I want to learn something new? Or do I want to pursue the kind of theatre that is already on my resume and continue to build that representation of me?

I have to admit that the majority of me was saying that I really needed to consider the options. I do want to do this as a career. And I want to be paid for my work because to me that shows not only a respect for actors and their time spent, but also can show the caliber of work being done (not always). However, when the money isn't that much anyway, it really boils down to the type of theatre it is. But rehearsals are coming up so fast, and I was stressed with rehearsals and scheduling all my conflicting auditions and rehearsals into my limited free time that I panicked a bit.

This is a situation I think you can only hope for as an actor. You want to be wanted by people who respect your work. You want to be in demand. But because I'm just starting out, and the demand for me is not with hugely reputable companies (let's be honest, it wouldn't have been a very difficult decision then), I struggled to decide what I wanted to do.

In the end, I emailed the AD back and said thank you but I'm booked. It helped that their rehearsal schedule conflicted with my Fringe show, and that it took up Saturdays and Sundays. Normally companies here rehearse on Saturdays. But Sundays are normally dark days, because companies respect that that is your weekend from your day job. I didn't want to commit myself so fully to something that would suck me dry when I would have to disappoint people in the process.

It's definitely made me rethink my priorities. I think that from now on I will have to choose carefully the first time around, so I don't run into a difficult choice later. Maybe it's time for me, in this market, to let certain opportunities pass me by, because I respect my work enough to want to be paid. Now, that doesn't mean I won't accept an intriguing script for no pay when nothing else is going on, but it does mean that maybe next time I won't be so quick to jump into the first opportunity that comes my way.

Now--while all of this moral turmoil was happening, there was more.

I received a call from the casting director of a SAG film that is interested in me coming in to read for their two main female roles. I was incredibly excited! But wait--let me look at my schedule--

Rehearsing Connecticut at night, Shrew every Thursday-Sunday, teaching Pre-School during the day, and I picked up a freelance teaching/assistant director position to fill my meager 3 hour break between work and my shows...Have I finally overbooked myself?

It's definitely possible. I had to rearrange some things, and we finally decided on a time. It wasn't until I woke up this morning that I realized I booked my audition at the same time as one of my teaching gigs...I need to call the CD back. I really hope they can squeeze me in. The script is really intriguing.

The film I auditioned for the other weekend called as well--they wanted to schedule a callback with me for the lead role in their film too! So I finally moved things around on a Saturday for them. I'll be auditioning at 9:30, rehearsing 11-1, and then performing 2-5.

Needless to say, I've forgotten what a weekend is.

My roommate is coming back this week, so I also need to clean the apartment. These are the moments you want a genie in your life.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Back to Basics

My film audition last weekend went splendidly. I walked into one of the smallest waiting rooms I've ever had the pleasure of squeezing myself into and met my fellow actors. Now, unlike many of the auditions I've been attending in Seattle where you read with a scene partner, this audition had a designated reader.

This means, when it was finally my turn to go inside, I met the director, the writer, the assistant director, and my reader. I got incredibly lucky this time around because my reader was awesome! Sometimes, the reader doesn't know how to be an active scene partner and they don't help you out by reading well and with purpose. However, this reader was very giving and made it a point to stay in the scene with me, even going so far as to act the stage directions for me to respond off of. Because of this, I had a great audition. I was able to read three scenes, two for the main role, and one for the supporting best friend.

I'm finally gaining more confidence in my auditions to do what I need to do in order to have a good audition. I walked in and introduced myself. The scenes I was reading for took place in beds and chairs, so even though I didn't see one available I asked for one. I could tell by the surprise on their faces that no one had bothered to do that yet. Lucky for me it was pleasant surprise, and the reader happily gave up his chair for me to have. After I had finished reading, I was asked to do one of the scenes again with a little direction. I thought I took the direction well, and the director seemed to agree. Before I left they asked for my headshot and resume to keep.

Normally these are required at every audition an actor attends. However, in Seattle there are some that don't ask for it because you've already emailed it to them, or because they don't want it unless they know they want to hold onto it. This film didn't ask me to bring one in, but I was taught well and so I always have one on hand because you never know when you'll be asked for one. I happily gave them my headshot and resume and then proceeded to try and block the very exciting audition from my mind since I knew there was a large group of actors auditioning and I wouldn't hear back for a while.

I just got the email two days ago--I scored a callback for the lead! I'm so excited to have another opportunity to read for this character because I love the script. Also, I have some things I'd like to try differently, and I always feel lucky when I'm given a second chance to do better.

Unfortunately, I'm not certain what kind of filming schedule their going to have. The audition process was a little unorganized in this regard because I expected to be asked my availability, but hopefully things will work out if I'm lucky enough to get cast.

Tuesday is the beginning of my next rehearsal process! My Fringe Festival show will be underway and moving along before I know it. My improv show starts the week after, so I'm already jumping in full steam ahead before I've wrapped Shrew.

Shrew has been going very well. It's amazing how fast the time flies. I spent my whole summer rehearsing and performing this show, and I can't believe there are only two weekends left. This past weekend had great audience turnout and support. This weekend I expect will be even better. The longer the show is open, the more word of mouth travels and makes people drive over to see the show. I plan to make the most of these last performances!

On an unrelated note, I spent my week traveling around Washington with the family and took some great pictures.

Also, I recently read a great article in the New York Times (even though it was written forever ago) that really rang true with me.

It's about why actors do what they do. Written by Frank Langella, an actor himself, the article speaks to the dangers of a career in acting as well as the reason many of us do it anyway. I myself am only truly beginning to understand many of the fears talked about in this piece, and if I'm lucky I will never know all of them.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Cast twice in one night: Embracing Seattle!

It's official:
I've signed on for my next two projects! I've been cast in an improv show that will be modeling itself off a classical script, and I landed the role I was hoping for in the fringe festival show.

It's difficult for me to believe that after everything I was pushed towards in college, that my first large scale professional production in the city was a comedy, and my newest will be an improvised version of a classic play.  I was never given the opportunity to do comedy, and I was way too intimidated to try my hand at improv in school. I was always told my niche was drama. And I know my passion lies with drama and realism because it soothes my soul. Drama is the reason I fell in love with acting. It allows you to go to all the places you wish you had the courage to go to in real life.

Having the opportunity to really stretch myself creatively, artistically, and fundamentally through different genres of theatre since I've moved to Seattle has to be the most amazing feeling, though. I've learned that just because I haven't had the experience of doing comedy or improv, doesn't mean that I'm not capable of it. And it certainly doesn't mean people aren't willing to take a chance on me--apparently. I feel so grateful to have become part of such a welcoming community that will look at my audition and say "I believe in you."

It's definitely something that has only brought theatre closer to my heart since my move. One more lesson to add to my list from last time, I suppose. Embrace yourself and you will be embraced.

Now onto the details:
I was terrified walking into the improv auditions.  I didn't really know what I was doing. I was lucky enough to read with a very sharing partner who made me feel incredibly safe and therefore experimental and daring. I wasn't afraid to try things with him. Even luckier for me: He's been cast opposite me! I'm really looking forward to working with a cast of experienced improv performers. What am I looking forward to more, you ask? Clowning.

That's right. In this show, we'll be learning clowning techniques to build our characters and create movement patterns. This is something I've been interested in for quite a while since I discovered my first year in college that many masters programs cover clowning because it's become such a popular method in our post-modern world. I'll also be delving deeper into commedia dell'arte than I've gone before, I expect. 

My audition was solid and I walked out thanking myself and my wonderful friends that pushed me to challenge myself and not turn down the callback. Who knew it would wind up with me getting cast?

My Fringe Festival auditions and callbacks went very well, too. I had a great scene partner in callbacks and we received a really interesting scene. It had so many levels to play with, and the characters were so obvious the second you read the side, but I felt like I had all the control with where I wanted to take the scene. It's been a long time since I've come across a play that I've enjoyed reading for as much as I enjoyed this one. 

Not only was the script great, but I had a wonderful experience working with the director as well. Different styles of directing work for different people, but I immediately felt as if I clicked with this director. His insight was exceptionally impressive, and I can't wait to dive into the script with him and the playwright (who will hopefully be working on the project as well).

We performed four shows this past weekend. Friday was the most interesting with a smaller crowd, no backstage covering, and torrential winds that carried our voices and our tents away.  We learned some lessons that night, but every show this weekend was a great show and it felt good to be hitting our stride early on. It feels like we've been doing this show for months and we're only on week two! This week we'll be performing in the parks closest to me, so I'll have an enjoyably short commute for once.

We've been getting great attendance, and have thankfully had very few mishaps. Besides bruises, some stumbles, and one unfortunate swollen ankle from a ladder incident the cast has been fortunate for an outdoor show that deals with ever-changing terrains, temperatures, and weather conditions. We did have a bout of food poisoning on Sunday with one cast mate. I was incredibly impressed with his stamina and stubbornness. Not a single patron knew he was sick, and I wouldn't have either. It was very inspiring to watch someone be so committed to a project. Because of the nature of the rehearsal process and the budget, we don't have understudies for our show. If he had decided he was too sick to perform we probably would have had the stage manager go on with book in hand instead of cancelling the show because our audience was so large. Luckily, it never came to that. 

Coming up this weekend I have a film audition that I'm looking forward to! And next week I'll be taking some much needed time off. It's going to be absolutely wonderful.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Can you do your special skills on command?

I've had the most terrifying, exhilarating, and liberating weekend in quite some time.

I did my callbacks for two upcoming fall shows at a local theatre company (both classics), and a Fringe Festival piece I'm hoping to have the opportunity to join.

Each callback was challenging in a different way. Some things I learned this weekend:

1. It's okay to be scared. It's not okay to let that fear make a decision for you. A wise friend reminded me that we don't know what we're capable of until we try it.

2. Some directors will not have a vision you agree with. It is up to you to decide if you can work around that, or if it will cause a problem. Choose wisely, because if you can't be professional you could gain a bad reputation.

3. Reputation is very important. However, don't let someone's 'reputation' stand in the way of you giving them a chance professionally. Sometimes people don't get along, but you never know who you'll click with that someone else didn't.

4. Always be prepared. And when you aren't, be prepared to look as prepared as possible.

5. Never put a special skill on your resume you can't do. This weekend a director decided to test my skill to mimic animal calls by calling in his friend who works at the zoo to guess each of my calls. It was fun, but imagine if I hadn't been able to do them on command...

6. Always take the time you're given to learn something about the people you're working with. You never know when you'll see them again, and it's wonderful to be able to remember a name with a face. It's all about the networking, but more importantly it's about connecting with people in a way that makes them want to work with you.

7.  Scheduling is very important. Give yourself time to breathe between the things you have to do in your day (like 3 callbacks). I forgot how important breathing was until, as I was walking down the sidewalk to my latest callback today, I passed a sign in a window with elegant script that simply said, 'Pause'. I did. And I was better because of it.

8. Remember that there is a time and a place to speak in detail about an audition experience. Some experiences don't need to be shared. You don't want to be a downer, have an attitude, or give someone the impression that you don't want to work on something. Control yourself.

9. The difference between paying theatre and non-paying theatre is not necessarily the money. Don't forget to wager in the connections that can be made, and the overall experience you could obtain. If you're always in it for the money, you could miss a wonderful opportunity.

10. Be A Team Player. Theatre is a community. It's about helping each other, loving each other, and never letting down your tribe when you can help it. Always give your best, and expect the best in return--because that's what everyone expects of you.

I had some positive and negative experiences this weekend. I also learned how to turn those negative experiences into positive ones. I think, in this business, that's an important trait to foster. You have to learn something from every experience you have--know what to take away and what to leave behind.

I don't know what I'll find out this week, but I do know that I'm a better artist for pushing myself the way I did this weekend. I never thought I'd be auditioning for improv shows. I never thought I'd have a chance to read for Hamlet. I never thought anyone would actually ask me to wiggle my eyes in an audition because it was on my resume (I mean, you hear about that stuff, but come on.).

I had many loved ones come see my shows this weekend, and am lucky enough to have more coming to see them in this next week! I also have another callback coming up, as well as a movie audition that I'm really excited for. I'm happiest when I'm busy working towards a goal, or...working at all really. But needless to say, this is going to be a wonderful week!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Callbacks and Auditions coming up

I'm so excited that I wanted to write this before I go to bed, which I really need to do since my crazy performance schedule picks back up tomorrow and I'll be exhausted.

In the last two days I did not clean my apartment, do my laundry or dishes, nor did I read a book. I did, however, rent two versions of Hamlet (Kenneth Branagh and David Tennant), brush up my audition pieces, and researched an excess amount of history pertaining to productions of Hamlet and their actors.

I got to my audition an hour early today and was lucky enough to sneak in about fifteen minutes before my time. For some reason I wasn't very nervous for this audition--which is only abnormal for me because I was so excited about it so I expected that to be a side effect. Honestly, I don't think my audition was top notch compared to what I wanted it to be, but you can't win every time. I was prepared, confident, and showed my range. And I did manage to get callbacks for both shows!

The directors were wonderful! One had heard of my college, which is beginning to happen so often that I need to stop being surprised by it. It was also a little exciting for me to have to schedule my callbacks with them around my show this weekend as well as some other auditions I'll be attending. It made me feel busy and important, which is of course ridiculous and untrue, but fun to pretend for the two minutes I was in the room.

I was also asked to go in another room and work with the Fight Director on some sword fighting and period movement (which I'm proud, and yet not humble enough to not mention that none of the six girls auditioning before me were asked to do). That was also a lot of fun. To be honest, I'm too young for Hamlet (they're looking for 25 and older), but I'm going to give this callback my absolute best. When listing the top ten roles I'd love to play in my career, Hamlet is definitely one of them--and it's not a role many females find the opportunity to approach. What an amazing chance.

All in all, it was a great start to my week of four upcoming shows. Tomorrow I have my first pick up rehearsal. Saturday I have one call back, one audition, and one performance. Sunday I have a callback and a performance.

The audition I have on Saturday is for a show that will be performing in the Seattle Fringe Festival which is reopening this year after a very extended hiatus. I've been trying to worm my way into it (which is, unsurprisingly, very difficult to do), so I'm hoping to get a good shot at it this weekend. There are going to be so many great and notable pieces performing in the festival this fall and I'd love the opportunity to join in.

I thought that auditions were going to take until August to pick up, but it looks like the race to cast seasons has begun already. Good thing I love auditioning! I can't wait to prepare a Hamlet monologue for this weekend!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Hit Refresh

The large knot on my forearm that I'm almost certain is a bone bruise thanks me for having the next two days off. The rest of me is sad and yet elated. Opening weekend was so exciting. Saturday we headlined for the Seattle Outdoor Theatre Festival at 7pm. We had almost 500 people show up to watch! They were a wonderful audience and we had a fantastically fun show running, rolling, fighting, and wooing.

Sunday night was a slower night. The sun wasn't out, the temperature was lower, and the park was closed to cars for 'bike day' so our audience was smaller. All in all, it was a test in pushing the pace and raising the energy to keep the audience engaged. Based on our charitable donations and audience enjoyment, I'd say we succeeded!

Now the cast has a wonderful two days off until our pick-up rehearsal on Wednesday night. We perform Thursday through Sunday this week. Because there is so much to remember, we're required to rehearse the night before our next show to refresh blocking, memorization, and fight choreography. I'm excited for my co-workers to see the show this week, as well.

Now that I have a couple days to myself I feel a little lighter. I love being busy, but now I have just the right amount of time to clean my apartment, run some errands, and maybe read a book. By read a book I mean that I'll probably be reading plays for Acting on Friday, and refreshing my memorization on my upcoming Tuesday audition pieces. Since Hamlet and Scapin are the two plays I'm auditioning for, I watched a Hamlet documentary on Netflix to get in the mindset. Of course, this made me overly excited for auditions and now I can't wait to do them. Plus, I adore auditioning for new people and I've never auditioned for this company before. It's so refreshing to put yourself out there for people who don't know who you are!

I've written my cover letter and made my submission packets for agency submissions and will be sending those out this week and waiting to hear back. It's nice to be able to do this while I'm in a show, so if the agency is interested enough they have the opportunity to come see my work.

In this short three day run a reality has really sunk in for me. I'm one of three women in this wonderful cast. I feel so incredibly lucky to have been cast with these fine women (and men). Every time an audience comes out to see us, the gender division becomes increasingly apparent to me. It only solidifies how difficult it can be for females in this industry. There aren't as many roles available to us, and that fact makes it difficult to obtain consistent work unless you're in demand. The Hamlet audition I'm doing on Tuesday is for a gender crossed version. All the male roles have been made into female roles. Many theatres make decisions like this when they know the majority of their talent will be heavily female. Of course, it's obviously an artistic statement as well--but it's a great opportunity for the female actors in the area to have a go at some truly inspiring material. My goal this next year is to continue to do the work I love to do, and hopefully to become an actor in this city that people want to watch again. That's the key--when you're given the chance to act, do it well so you have the chance again.

I'm so grateful for the opportunities I've had this summer so far. I've finally been able to find my family here, and that's the most important thing about theatre. Here's to seventeen more exciting shows!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Tech and Opening Night for Taming of the Shrew

Two weeks have flown by! And by flown by I mean I've acquired at least ten new bruises, run Shrew almost  eleven times, officially opened Shrew to the public, and experienced two great acting lessons!

Greenstage has two weeks of tech for their Shakespeare in the Park, purely so the company can visit as many parks as possible to adjust to space and volume levels. Normally, there's one week of tech for a show--quick and dirty. Two weeks was a long time of running the show consecutively, but it definitely taught us all a lot.

We had to adjust to fecal matter on the stage, murderous and drunken audience members who threatened the cast, blood-sucking insects that only travel in packs of fifty, stages covered in pine cones and rocks instead of grass, and spaces with terrible acoustics and too much wing visibility. All in all, I'd say it was great practice and we all felt prepared last night to go on stage and give it our all.

Last night was opening night in Seward Park. It was really exciting to finally be playing for the public and get the audience reaction we've been craving. We had a terrible final dress rehearsal, which is supposed to be good luck--and it was! Opening went fantastically! We had a great crowd! Some left, some more trickled in. It's interesting because doing a free park show means that:
A. Small children who come with their families generally leave early because they have a short attention span and it's a two hour long show.
B. More families with small children come by part way through and watch because it's family friendly.
C. People don't feel obligated to stay because they didn't pay money to attend.
D. There are always those that cross by unexpectedly and end up staying because you held their attention.

It's so different from playing inside a theatre. For one thing, it's incredibly hot/humid outside some days, and we're not only wearing long sleeves and many layers, but we're also running around on stage and behind the stage to make it to our next entrance. You sometimes have to be much louder than you think is possible without hurting your voice, and be very conscious of the spaces where you must cheat out or all your sound will be lost. Sometimes audiences don't leave aisles for you to travel through and you have to reevaluate an entrance. Sometimes planes, or frisbees, or scared animals will interrupt your show--in which case you have to make sure to not let it interrupt the show.

I find it to be a great exercise in immediacy. Every performance is something new. It keeps you on your toes, it makes the play fresh, and it keeps you in the moment as an actor. Now, at the same time, I think of it as a completely different style of theatre. It's over the top, not always concise, and not at all the way a show would be performed in doors.

I think what I've taken away from the experience so far is that outdoor theatre is great with the right cast (like mine, lucky me), and that you have to buy into every single cheesy second of it to make it worth anyone's while.  It took me a while to become accustomed to it, but I love it. Would I want to do it all the time? No way.

Next up, I have auditions on Tuesday night for a local theatre company I've heard a lot about. There's some other auditions coming up soon that I hope to nab as well. Once August hits the auditions are supposed to pick back up, so I'm doubly excited to not only have a couple weeks to recuperate, but to know that there's exciting things up ahead as well.

Last acting lesson I performed my Pygmalion piece for the third week in a row and finally nailed it. It took me a long time to figure out where I should go with that monologue. I finally took it too a much lighter/funnier place and it worked so much better. Acting Coach then gave me a monologue from Saint Joan by Shaw to work on, and I've been loving every second of it. Because things were so crazy this past week with tech going on, I took the time this lesson to talk about grad schools, seeking local representation, and the direction we needed to take me in the next year or so. It was really nice to discuss where I'm wanting my career to lead me currently, and know that Acting Coach was interested in helping me get there.

Acting Coach has a masters in Directing from one of the top schools in the country and has been working professionally as an actor, director, and instructor for many years. All of our lessons are graduate level lessons, which is great for me because I'm constantly pushing myself and knowing that each lesson is worth every penny. I think the more comfortable I get in my career here, the less I'll think about grad school. However, grad school is something I'm incredibly interested in doing because I want that solid technique behind me, and great connections can be made from all the top schools. Of course, the tops schools are very difficult to get into, so I'm working my way up to that.

Next up on my list this year: Agency Representation.

For now I have nineteen more shows of Taming of the Shrew to perform, and it's going to be an incredible ride!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The 'Busy' Trap, Indeed

The African Desert Turtle that came to visit work with the reptile petting zoo.
I can't believe that it's taken me so long to update. I've been very busy, but usually I can find the time to slip in a short post.

Monday through Saturday I rehearse about four hours per day after work. I have very little time between work and rehearsal to breathe/get anything done/sleep if I need it/memorize or work on lines. Of course this means my blog updating has suffered as well.

Here's the skinny:

Rehearsals have gone by so fast! This show was funny by week two, by now it's hilarious. Every day we discover something new and we're keeping each other on our toes.

We had a fight choreographer come in to build our combat scenes and  chaos scenes. We have quite a few. I believe I'm in four 'fight scenes' in this show, none of which are actually scripted. Director has added in all the fighting, and I think the next time I see a version of Shrew I'll miss the physicality of this show. All of the combat scenes add so much to our characters and really support the story.

Our fight choreographer wasn't able to stay on very long, but with his groundwork, the rest of us pitched in and created all the fight scenes. We're lucky to have three actors in the cast that are extremely well trained (and certified) in many specialties of stage combat so the fights are not only creative, but technically executed as well. I have adored every step of the process of getting these fights to where they are now.

We've had three entire days of rehearsal throughout the process dedicated to fight choreography and cleaning/sharpening movements. Some fights have changed drastically and some have just gotten longer. In both cases I've had an absolute blast being a part of them. I have a feeling I'm only beginning to understand how much I love stunt/combat work. I'm finally getting a chance to really partake in this side of theatre and film, and every time I do it I can't help but be more excited than the last time. I'm thinking about getting into some classes here on stage combat--and because I'm lucky enough to be working with some great actors who have already done so, they've been nice enough to point me in the right direction. It will definitely make me a more marketable actor, but honestly I'm going to do it because it's so much fun.

In these past three weeks we've been getting off book, getting to know each other, and tightening up the pace of the show. We're still not quite reaching the 90 minute mark that we should be at by the time we open, but we're getting closer every day. We've rehearsed in many different outside areas to simulate the different parks we'll be playing in. This week we're finally traveling to some of our performance locations so we can become accustomed to them. Because every park is different and will present different obstacles, we're learning now how best to adapt. Some parks have massive tree roots in the middle of the stage, others are near airports, while others will be a small metal flatbed truck provided to us by an island. In the end, we have to be able to change our blocking (and out fighting) to the space we're playing in.

This means we have separate blocking and fights to remember for those different parks. Before every rehearsal we have a warm up and then a fight call. Fight call is a rehearsal of all the fights in the show to assure that no actors will be hurt in the performance by forgetting a move. Fight call for our show has become extremely lengthy, sometimes lasting over half an hour. I love it.

We've long since added in props, and we're finally getting to the costume stages. Next week will be tech/dress rehearsals, so our designers are working hard to finish the show up. We've had to make sure that many of our costume changes will be able to be made fast enough (they're called quick changes), and that our costumes allow us enough movement to fight safely.

Personally, I've been waiting for the nice weather to kick in so that we won't have to rehearse in the cold rainy weather anymore. It's slightly refreshing, but I think I'll enjoy Shakespeare in the park when summer finally arrives. Seattlites say it happens after the 4th of July! Here's to hoping!

In other news I had a fabulous audition last weekend for an adapted play with two parts--one man, one woman. It was at a very reputable theatre here, and it was the most substantial role I've been able to audition for since coming to Seattle. Most theatres here have a list a mile long already of the young, tall, thin female that they're going to use, so it's not often that I'm given the opportunity to strut my stuff.

I prepared a monologue from A Doll's House with Acting Coach. I rocked my audition, and landed a callback! I was incredibly excited, especially since the Artistic Director I was auditioning for showed me a list of at least 35 women that he was auditioning besides me. Eight of us made it to callbacks, and we all auditioned in front of each other. I had a great time, and best of all I was able to work with an extremely talented and well known actor as my scene partner. In the end, I didn't end up getting the role, but I felt like I made a good impression on a lot of people and there's not much more you can ask for than that.

This is the slow part of summer audition wise in Seattle. There aren't a lot of audition opportunities right now which is simultaneously frustrating and relaxing. In another month or so things will be picking back up again, so I'm biding my time until then. Which, of course, actually means that I'm attending my weekly acting sessions and rehearsing every day.

My second film was put on hold, which is really great for my schedule because I'm not sure I would have been able to keep up with it. Instead, I was able to pick up a shift at The 5th Avenue, and I got to see the touring cast of Les Miserables. Now, I've read part of the book (then got so busy I couldn't finish it), and I'd heard a lot about the musical. I was absolutely blown away by the show. It was amazing. I loved every second of it, and it's definitely in my list of top five favorite musicals now. It easily became a musical that I will try to catch again and again with different casts. It's such a moving piece with beautiful songs.

I have this hang up--I can't listen to a musical's score until I see it in person. I hate to know the story before I see the show, I mean, it's like knowing how a book will end before you start reading it. What's the point? So even though Les Mis is a classic, and I've sang at least one of the songs in a voice class before, I generally didn't know what to expect. I'm so glad I didn't. It made the show that much better. And the singing was just phenomenal. It was an extremely talent cast and I'm glad I caught the limited run. If it was here longer I would probably go again.

Les Miserables inspired me all over again to continue on this path. I was so awed by the talent on that stage, and the power of the piece itself. It reminded me of all the reasons why I'm so passionate about what I do.  It was also incredibly relaxing to take three hours to sit back and let my mind wander. I've been running around so much lately, which I love to do, but there's been a little nugget in the back of my mind making me wonder what's so great about being so busy?

Yes, it's incredibly fulfilling if you're busy doing something you love. But I think it's also important to remember to take time for yourself, which is something I haven't been able to do lately. Now, don't get me wrong, I'd choose rehearsal over work any day, so I'm not tired of rehearsing. But I am interested in reevaluating my day job soon and really looking at what I need financially and professionally to fulfill me so that I can feasibly and regularly give myself the time I need.

If you have five minutes read this article about being 'too busy':

It's a really interesting look at the effects of being busy, and it makes you take a hard look at the kind of life style you might actually want. Strangely enough, I had all these same thoughts before I read this article, so when I read it, it really cemented many of the ideas in my brain. It's time to sit back and smell the roses.  Good thing my first vacation in ten months is coming up in three weeks!

Unrelated news:
I've since purchased a bike and have begun biking to work when the weather permits. Staying active and taking some extra time to get around to places has increased the amount of time in my day I take to just breathe and think. Healthy body, healthy mind.