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: