Tuesday, December 29, 2009
When you get a good idea, go with it. Turn it into something - this reminds me that I need to start writing something with my friend Anne, a play in the style of Vagina Monologues but less about cooters and more about people.
I want to see this, actually - very much. :)
Monday, December 28, 2009
Decided I'd make a list of all the theatrical things I have gotten myself into that are immediately pressing in my life.
- ACTF (scenes and monologue)
- Bat Boy (off book by Jan. 25th)
- New headshots needed (I'd like to get those done while my hair is still pretty)
- Resume editing down
- NETC auditions (?)
- Straw Hat auditions (?)
This is my winter break. I do want to do this for my life, so it's really quite thrilling to be so immersed right now.
I've added a new box on the right of the blog, links to audition websites in case anyone is interested. So far it's just the NETCs and Straw Hats, but I'm still looking so I should find a few more soon.
Classes have obviously finished until next semester, and, like I said, I should have plenty of stories regarding Circle in the Square and my New York adventures. Circle is going to be so incredible, I really can't express how excited I am for it. A few anecdotes from Circle alumnus I know:
"He took the lighter and put it under her skirt and told her to do the scene again. It was so fucked up, but it fucking worked."
"He wasn't getting the feeling he wanted, so he kept digging at him, saying stuff to piss this kid off, just to enrage him more and more and finally he handed the kid a knife, held out his arm and said 'cut me.' And you know what? He would have let this kid cut him. If it would have gotten the feeling and emotion the way he wanted, he would have let this kid cut him really bad."
I can't wait.
Friday, December 18, 2009
Read this. Read this, read this, read this. Then read it again. Then read it yet another time.
Finals have consumed my life and stress made what life I had miserable, so any attempt at blogging stopped at the "maybe I should write something" thought. I did, however, get cast as Meredith in Bat Boy: The Musical, and I have plenty of work to do before KCACTF in a month or so.
I'm on break now, so give me a few days and things might get back to normal around here.
Thank you if you've kept up and had patience. Next semester will be different, I promise.
There will be a new weekly session, hopefully, about the experiences I have at Circle in the Square Theatre School in New York, because intensity is about to get cranked up all the way to 11.
Happy Holidays to everyone.
Monday, December 7, 2009
The one acts are over, thank god - I thought I'd seen some bad shows, but nothing tops the debacle I was just a part of. I don't want to talk about it.
I auditioned tonight for Bat Boy. It's the first time I've ever walked out of a musical audition and felt continuously good about it. Thank Kaia Monroe for voice lessons. Thank fate I've known Bat Boy for years. Thank something wonderful for the burst of confidence I got halfway through my song. And thank you, Larry, for making that dance easy. :)
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
That is now what this word means. Thank you, V, for enlightening me.
Thanksgiving break is almost upon us - there is much to tell in terms of theatrical stories, including a post entitled Insubordination that I'm typing up slowly to get all the facts, since it is an important piece of my educational puzzle. I stood up to bullshit. It felt good.
ACTF work is coming along slowly. Another story for another time.
The one acts are almost over. Thank Thespis.
I'm scared to go home.
Monday, November 16, 2009
...Albert Camus wrote that the only serious question is whether to kill yourself or not.
Tom Robbins wrote that the only serious question is whether time has a beginning and an end.
Camus clearly got up on the wrong side of the bed, and Robbins must have forgotten to set the alarm.
There is only one serious question. And that is: Who knows how to make love stay?
Answer me that and I will tell you whether or not to kill yourself.
Answer me that and I will ease your mind about the beginning and end of time.
Answer me that and I will reveal to you the purpose of the moon."
"Who knows how to make love stay?
1. Tell love you are going to Junior's Deli on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn to pick up a cheesecake, and if love stays, it can have half. It will stay.
2. Tell love you want a momento of it and obtain a lock of its hair. Burn the hair in a dime-store incense burner with yin/yang symbols on three sides. Face southwest. Talk fast over the burning hair in a convincingly exotic language. Remove the ashes of the burnt hair and use them to paint a mustache on your face. Find love. Tell it you are someone new. It will stay.
3. Wake love up in the middle of the night. Tell it the world is on fire. Dash to the bedroom window and pee out of it. Casually return to bed and assure love that everything is going to be all right. Fall asleep. Love will be there in the morning."
Thursday, November 5, 2009
That is the Monte Cristo Cottage in New London, Connecticut, the summer home and only real home the young Eugene O'Neill had while growing up. We took a college field trip there today since all my Acting 2 class does is O'Neill scenes and it was somehow relevant. New London happens to be right next to my hometown, so I know this area quite well and have been to the cottage before, so it wasn't really super special to me, but it's always neat when history becomes just a little more real.
We got an off-season tour of the house, got to explore a bit and look at things, try and imagine living there with a family like the one described in Long Day's Journey Into Night. The banister of the stairs has initials carved into it, and the curators believe that it was Jamie who etched his mother's initials into the wood, a faint but very readable "M.E." for Mary Ellen.
The view out the front windows is basically the same as it would have been for O'Neill way back when - instead of a street and the houses on the opposite side and the buildings across the river, it would have been grass straight down to the beach of the river, and nothing but trees across the water. A lot of the house is now museum-esque, with two mannequins in the front with original costume pieces from productions of LDJIN, including one worn by Collene Dewhurst in 1988.
The photo to the right is the living room where LDJIN takes place, and where I got to perform a scene from that play this afternoon. Many a famous stage performer has done character work in that house, and there are videos of actors like Collene Dewhurst and James Robards doing scenework in that very room. That room is where O'Neill's childhood is embodied, and there is a very, very strange energy in that room. It's dark and small and cluttered, and the windows stare straight out onto the river. I was sitting in the wicker chair on the far side of the table at the start of the scene.
None of the furniture is original, of course, but there are still memories and lifetimes of emotions trapped in the house, especially that room. I felt it trying to rehearse. I got this chill that I couldn't shake, this uneasy feeling that made me want to get out and forget about the whole thing. The feeling never truly went away. I kept trying to get myself mentally in the state of mind I needed to be in to perform that scene (which is somewhere dark and loathing and lonely), but as I became more vulnerable, the wierder I felt about being in that house, until finally we had to just perform it.
I had this fear in the back of my mind that if I did poorly, the ghost of Mary was going to haunt my ass until the day I died - I had to do justice to her. She was real, I was in her house, not on a stage. This was her home, though she hated it and never called it her home, it was her only home with her family. This house was this play. I was sitting in a wicker chair in that room with my classmates scattered in the doorways and in the corners of the room, their eyes flickering from me and Meg to the mannequin in the corner to the pictures on the wall and the light reflecting in hollow squares off of the windows. I was terrified of forgetting my lines, of doing worse than the first time I performed, of looking like a silly theatre student in front of the curator, of being a pathetic Mary Tyrone in her own home, of failing to fill the shoes of so many gifted, heavyweight actresses who had tread the floors before me looking for character, so scared I almost froze - then I looked out the windows and started talking.
I don't remember much, I was so nervous. I remember saying lines (not anything specific, though), I remember moving, I remember continually looking out the windows and seeing nothing but the night slowly drawing in around the river and the yard, I remember a few actions, but nothing is solid and I really have no idea what I even did. I didn't feel like I was even trying to do anything, and I thought it was a really shitty performance until people started praising me. I still don't even know what happened. Did I channel something, did I just find something inside? I don't know. I really, really don't.
But the fact that I got to be Mary Tyrone in her house was so unreal and incredible - I don't think I ever really want to do that again, it was so creepy, but it was absolutely amazing and I'm incredibly grateful to have had that experience. Gives me a new appreciation for character work and O'Neill's writing.
Next up - off book for my one act.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Class registration is way too close for comfort - I have yet to even begin considering what classes I'm taking other than the Circle in the Square, so I need to have a meeting with my academic advisor or I'm kinda screwed. And I forgot to call her. Crap.
(Just sent an email to her, so hopefully this will work out just fine.)
I have yet to pick my Irene Ryan scenes or monologue, and though I've tentatively selected a partner, there is always the chance she says no or will get a nomination of her own, and then I'm royally screwed. Though these scenes should be an incredible priority in my life, right now, I'm currently caught up in...
Long Day's Journey scenework! Again! For the redo on Thursday at the Monte Cristo Cottage in New London, CT! So besides having to relearn all of these lines and adding the self-loathing she wanted into the scene, I will have the incredible pressure of performing Mary Tyrone in the house where the play happened. Or, where O'Neill grew up and the characters were real. So I'm kind of terrified that if I suck, the ghost of Mary O'Neill/Tyrone will haunt me and possess me and kill me or something. But for now it's just relearning the lines that will ruin me. For now.
I also have to write a little philosophy response paper. Random normal college work in the middle of artistic mayhem.
Returning to artistic mayhem. My one-act requires being off book in a week, which is no sweat, seeing as how I have the most lines and there's only 26 of them. The real problem with this show is what I call the TardTrio; a glorified triangle of theatrical authority consisting of director/SM/ASM. None of the people in that triangle should be there. That's all I'll say, for the moment. My head hurts thinking about it.
On a lighter note, I recieved soul-food motivation type stuff from a situation other than the high of performing or being in the glow of NYC; my dance professor gave us a little pep talk shpeal as part of his introduction to the Jazz unit of our class. I'll paraphrase some snippets for your reading pleasure.
"Whatever you suck at, work at it. Make it better. A casting director once came up to me after a vocal audition and said 'well, don't you ever let anyone tell you you're not a singer!' and I was like 'um, nobody ever has.' I'm a dancer, so casting directors always assume that 'oh, you're a dancer, you can't sing,' which, if you're lazy and don't really care, can probably be true. But I took lessons and worked to make sure that I was good. You have to be that multi-faceted person."
"Do all sorts of theatre. You're an actor, fine, but I did costumes for years and years before I got my skinny ass onstage. You never know what they're looking for, but the more you've got going for you, the better off you are - some theatre company might need a box office director and a leading man; why not you? Everything about theatre should be a part of your repertoire. There are so many jobs in theatre that aren't onstage that nobody even really thinks about. Seriously. Think about it."
"Always work towards that final goal of yours. Think about it this way, in this competitive business of ours - right now, at this very moment, while you're standing here listening to me, someone who wants to be a star as much as you just finished a voice lesson or a dance class or an auditions workshop. Everything you do needs to be passionate and for that final goal. You have to be better than the other person. Don't stop."
Hats off to you, Larry. Sorry I totally slaughtered your quotes.
Now I really need to do homework. None of this will matter if I'm sucking in academia.
Sunday, November 1, 2009
The Physics of Singing - what makes some people able to raise rafters in an aria and other people content to hum. How is it that breathing can be transformed into some of the most moving sounds in the world?
Interesting little read. Thanks again to StumbleUpon for finding me such insightful things.
Saturday, October 31, 2009
A bit to think on that has nothing to do with this All Hallow's Eve.
Spread some Autumnal spook and nonsense tonight! And see Paranormal Activity; besides being too scared to breathe and crying in downright terror, it's an excellent, excellent example of truth in improvisational acting.
Happy Halloween. :)
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
"MODERN ART = I COULD DO THAT + YEAH, BUT YOU DIDN'T."
If you have a good idea and it’s well-executed, it looks effortless. It looks like it’s been around forever.
But I don’t want it to look effortless! you say. I want it to look as hard as I worked on it.
No, you don’t. You want it to look easy.
Friday, October 23, 2009
Monday evening (the day after Othello closed) was the start of the auditions for the one acts, student directed short plays that are a part of the Directing II class. Last year I was in a one act called Home Free - it was my springboard into the middle of the theatre world here at school and they are fabulous opportunities for so many people.
It was a quick, very short cold reading of a scene for the panel of student directors. With material that new and unfamiliar and also as short as it was, it's really difficult to judge your own performance. At least in my opinion.
(this entry was just interrupted for an hour by FRANTIC, a totally addicting little spaceship shooter game)
So I had doubts about my audition, but a very good friend of mine is directing one of the other shows, and because his show was all men, he could give me honest feedback without feeling like he was cheating or something. So he tried to slap me when I berated myself about my dislike of my audition and told me I had a callback.
Callbacks, Wednesday night. Talk about a clusterfuck. The organization is seriously lacking, but that's not my problem. I sat for three hours and only read twice, and was petrified because I felt like I'd read badly, and I was feeling a bit under the weather as it was, so I was kind of a mess.
I won't get into the drama following callbacks. Basically people are dumb and I have a newfound dislike for certain individulas.
I was cast in a ten minute play called The Last Days of Leni Riefenstahl, where I am the title female, a 100 year old woman who (true story) was Hitler's greatest filmmaker. I'm very excited for the role, since she's incredibly fascinating, and the longest little monologue I have is about Helen Keller.
The read through last night proved that I'm working amidst a small circus, and since my patience is running thin anyway because the last month has proven to be the most difficult of my life, I might end up being the bitch of the show. But I don't care. I'm there to do my job and perform Leni as truthfully as I can, not deal with giggly, immature people.
Halloween is coming up, the best holiday ever. Please welcome to the stage Miss Harleen Quinzel. :)
Sunday, October 18, 2009
1. You are bound to run into someone too crazy and too senile and too absurd to have any sort of power, and yet there they are, in a position of power and authority. When dealing with these people, you must smile and nod and edge around the corners until you can ignore them completely.
2. Do not, under any circumstance, procrastinate in the face of Shakespeare and Eugene O'Neill simultaneously.
3. Sense memories are one of an actors most powerful and most dangerous tools.
4. No matter how wonderfully you can articulate and project, turning your ass to the audience to deliver lines is a complete and utter no-no. Even if the audience can hear you.
5. Let the make-up and hair crew do whatever they feel like. They don't listen to reason and think they understand your hair better than you do. Let them trial and error their way through the mutilated curls and retarded bobby pins until they can discover your hair's inability to function on their own. They'll feel better about themselves.
6. No matter what the situation is outside of the show, no matter how horrible and bleak it may seem, no matter how many nights you sit up sobbing and unable to sleep, the show must go on. The show will go on.
7. Techtors are few and far between. Cherish them when you find them.
8. Good people are few and far between. Cherish them when you find them. Tell your friends you love them and forgive them - you might not get another chance. Send a little message, give a hug, a smile, a phone call - connect with the people who matter. You don't want to have to apologize for something when they're lying in a casket.
9. Shakespeare isn't that scary once you download a mental translator.
10. Being lectured at is not a successful way to learn acting techniques.
11. Shows can turn out half-decent even if half the cast is legitimately challenged and has some form of Asberger's Syndrome.
12. Renaissance dresses and bodices are not condusive to belly dancing.
13. Find a mentor who you can really trust and bond with - the things you'll learn are endless.
14. No matter how tired or pissy or annoyed or college-y or hungover or weary you are, try to find something good to take out of every situation you are presented with. You never know what you'll wind up with.
15. Sometimes a trial by fire is the only way to go.
16. Love your stage manager. ADORE your stage manager.
17. Fight through flat audiences. There's nothing you can do but keep going. If it's sink or swim in a black hole audience, never, ever sink. Never. Fight the good fight, keep pushing the power you have and the show you know how to do. You have to lift yourself, your castmates, and try to fight off the overwhelming low energy around you. You have no choice but to keep fighting.
18. Never turn down an opportunity to nap.
19. Respect your green room. Love your green room. Do not leave four day old chinese food behind couches in the green room.
20. Treat every performance the same. No matter if you have a three night run or you put it on for seven days or two weekends or months at a time, treat every performance the same. Keep fighting for that energy. It's a fight. Every day is a fight.
I learned how to fight over the past few months. I'm stronger because of it.
Oh yeah. And I'm going back to KCACTF next January. :)
Sunday, October 4, 2009
Our theatre department lost someone last night to suicide. I can't stop shaking.
I hope you found peace, Mike.
Bravo, Quinnipiac University and their presentation of The Laramie Project. Bravo for everything it stands for, bravo for their excellent rendition of it, bravo for reminding me. I remember.
The fact that people's voices can be recorded, transcribed, rearranged, printed into a small book called a script, memorized, then respoken, and those words can have such force and memory and movement in them - that's part of the true magic that is theatre.
Theatre isn't always flashing lights and fun and games - sometimes it is raw power and emotion. Theatre is life, only more beautiful, or uglier, or stranger, or just as strange, or better, or worse, or...
And it's not even just about The Laramie Project in itself. Laramie showed me the power of words. Laramie showed me the power of hate, and, even moreso, love.
Theatre moved me tonight. Again. And I can't thank the theatre gods enough for it.
Saturday, September 26, 2009
Until then, theatre as a vessel of controversy.
It certainly makes you think about society at large - and this was in the UK; imagine that going down in some rural US theatre.
And I'm very excited that my Desdemona gets a little visual spunk - a redheaded Desdemona will be fun. :)
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Far from classic grandeur, which is my personal favourite, but this theatre is just so damn awesome I had to share it. The Melbourne Theatre in Melbourne, Australia, I'll have to assume (because we'd never do something that cool for the arts here in the US), and it is one hell of a theatre. Check it.
Shared from ThisBlogRules.
Monday, September 7, 2009
At callbacks the other evening I was given a compliment from a friend of mine who was watching. She said I'd done so well reading that scene and that when I was up there I had "just... so much presence up there!" And I was thinking about it last night and that could be one of the highest forms of praise an actor can recieve. I'll tell you why.
Presence is hard to define, because it embodies so much that is intangible. People can have presence without being actors or artists of any kind - animals can have presence, everyday people can have presence. Someone who commands attention without trying, without knowing they're doing so.
From Anna Deavere Smith's Letters to a Young Artist:
"I agree presence is that feeling that the person onstage or in a film is standing right next to you. In film the presence blasts across the screen. Presence defies the limits of a person's body defies the limits of the actual space it takes up."
"Presence means you hold your own space, control the space around you, and sometimes welcome others into it."
About Laura Hutton, the first supermodel: "Her presence was the intensity of her gaze - not the expectation that others would be gazing at her."
"Real presence is the feeling that the person onstage is right next to you because you long to have them there. Or because you are terrified that they could come after you and get you in your seat. Monsters have presence. Godzilla had presence. Terrorists have presence. Osama bin Laden has presence.
Presence doesn't have to do with likability. Nor does being a provocateur guarantee presence."
"Presence can be magical. It can delight the people around you. Think of when you were a kid, and you had a favorite friend, or a favorite relative - something enchanted you - presence is enchanting. And it does not always have to do with what a person actually is. It is what you wish they were. There is myth in presence. This works for that which we wish embrace us, and it is the same fro that which we fear. There is magic in fear ... Presence is having a hold on the desires and fears of those around you."
"Presence requires being aware. Presence requires paying attention. Presence requires using your intelligence. Presence requires allowing others to make an impact on you. This means putting your mind on them, not just on yourself."
"Presence will probably, in the near future, be based on absolute authenticity. Whoever can achieve that in a world of brands, and seductions, and false promises, and addictions to false loves, will truly be charismatic."
"Presence is an invitation."
Sunday, September 6, 2009
I'll be focusing this semester on breathing methods, learning proper Shakespeare, and bitching about Eugene O'Neill. Desdemona, here I come.
Friday, September 4, 2009
I won't get into that, simply because it's making me furious and I won't be able to sleep if I'm wound up.
I did, however, get some good audition prep advice, which I will share with you. That was effective, I think, all the time and effort that went into my monologue work and, mostly, my appearance.
Looking professional is fine and dandy, but for this particular situation, I was given time-tested advice on what to wear to accentuate qualities this director would be looking for - exuding femininity, innocence, pale skin... play to your strengths and play to the need of the role. I decided against my professional standard outfit for dresses and heels instead, picking colours that made me pale (gotta look white as a cracka for Othello ladies) and clothes that were feminine. I think it worked. Much love to Bill Adams for being my What Not To Wear guru.
I'm picking up voice lessons again on Tuesday, which is very exciting, and I'll have lots to teach on breathing methods, since my Stage Speaking class is phenomenal.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
How if, when I am laid in the tomb,
I wake before the time that Romeo
come to redeem me? There's a fearful thought!
Shall I not, then, lay stifled in the vault,
and there die strangled ere my Romeo comes?
Or, if I live, is it not like,
the horrible conceit of death and night
together with the terror of this place,
as in a vault, an ancient receptacle,
Where bloody Tybalt, yet but green in earth,
lies festering in his shroud;
O, if I wake, shall I not be distraught,
Environed with all these hideous fears?
And madly play with my forefather's joints?
And, in this rage, with some great kinsman's bone,
as with a club, dash out my own desperate brains?
O, look! Methinks I see my cousin's ghost
seeking out Romeo that did spit his body
upon a rapier's point; stay, Tybalt, stay!
Romeo, I come! This do I drink to thee.
I typed that from memory, which is a good start, seeing as how memorizing it was like trying to swallow a brick. This is (obviously) from Romeo and Juliet, Act 4 Sc 3, and I'll be using it to audition for Othello in a week or two.
In response to my desperate plea for help in memorizing and performing Shakespeare (since I'm an inexperienced little thing), a friend of mine wrote: "I do laps around my kitchen island for hours. Don't fight the verse, it may seem alien at first, but let it come naturally and you'll get the flow of it. Shakespeare is very good to actors."
It's only fitting that I'd been unconsciously pacing around my dining room table while reading the thing for an hour or so. :P I'm not alone in strange habits. Yay.
Once I got decent chunks of it memorized this morning, I realized that there is a funky little rhythm I have to feel out, which is unusual and different for someone who's never had that kind of poetry in the words I've performed. Where I would normally pause and feel out the moment, I have to just plunge onward, keeping the rhythm steady and the pentameter happy. Michael had it right when he said "don't fight the verse," because that's what I'm instinctively doing, at the moment.
Practice should fix my resistance, and I must say when I get a segment right and I can feel it, it's really very smooth and wonderful. With a dash of luck and some serious work before the 8th or 9th, maybe I'll land myself my first Shakespearian role.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
You decide whether their tears are real or not - they came up with the tears upon request of the photographer, but stage tears come from somewhere. Sadness is real, whether or not the situation is.
Sunday, August 16, 2009
About an hour and 15 minutes ago it felt like a slab of concrete hit me in the face when the total realization of completion hit me. It's not a totally satisfying feeling - it's a hollowness, a lack of direction. What came before this? What did I do? What was I going to do? I'm happier that it happened, but now that it's over that first shimmy into the next phase of life is always a little uncomfortable. It's like waking up, and waking up isn't always pleasant.
My face is in the process of recovering from a week of make-up abuse, and my hair won't forgive me for raping it with hairspray for quite a while, I'm sure. My back aches, my feet itch to move, and my voice feels trapped. It's an addiction, this stage thing. Cold turkey ain't good for nobody.
School's on the way, and I've got plenty to keep me busy once that starts up. It's getting there in the next few weeks that will prove to be the challenge. There should be a reset button in my head to help the breakaway process go a little faster.
There's monologues to learn, schoolbooks to break the bank, supplies to be packed, people to say goodbye to. Curtain's down for the summer, but I'm so glad that it went up in the first place. Exit stage left, here we go. Next stop, New Haven.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
A friend of mine sent me your series of blogs on the illusion of pain the body and it really interested me. I am going to be a BFA Acting student at Marymount Manhattan College this fall and have much to learn about the craft so I enjoy every chance I get.
Right now I am playing the part of Mercutio in Romeo & Juliet with the local professional Shakespeare company. We are half way through our run (two weekends), and I was wondering if you could give a few words of advice on extreme pain. I've obviously been indicating to try and create the illusion that Mercutio is going through hell just before he dies and I was wondering if the rules bend or change in this situation.
Please and Thank You -Victor
Thanks for writing and for checking out my blog. The handling of the illusion of extreme pain is no different from the handling of the illusion of any other type of pain onstage. You still have to find out what ACTIONS a person performs--in this case--when he is stabbed. You'll need to do some research into what a person goes through when he is stabbed. You will discover there are actions a stabbing victim performs (I don't know what these are, as I have not had to play this).
Suppose you learn stabbing victims tighten their stomach muscles as a reaction to the trauma. Let's say you also learn that a stabbing victim also breathes faster, in an attempt to give the body the extra oxygen it needs to deal with the trauma. Now you have two conflicting actions: tightening the stomach muscles while trying to breathe faster. Now add to this the other actions Mercutio must play (to curse Romeo and Tybalt, to regret his choices, to hang on, etc.). Now add the thoughts of a man who believes his best friend has just betrayed him. Now add the love he feels for his best friend. Put all of this together and you will not need to indicate pain. All of this will produce real frustration in you, real anxiety over trying to do (to perform, to act) what Mercutio is trying to do in the last moments of his life.
The secret to it all, Victor, is knowing what you must DO. As actors, we don't act LIKE we're doing something; we REALLY DO IT. Don't act LIKE you've been stabbed, PERFORM THE TRUE ACTIONS OF A MAN WHO HAS BEEN STABBED. YOU MUST RESEARCH THIS.
I will also add that you must not try to play the victim. When you writhe around in fake pain you give the audience a victim, when what they want is a victor. Try not to die. Don't let your enemy have the satisfaction of knowing the kind of extreme pain you're in. Fight. Try to get things done in your last breaths. Try to accomplish something, some last noble act. The audience knows you're in pain. They saw you get stabbed. Trust this and perform the actions of a dying man who has been stabbed, indeed, a man who has been stabbed by his enemy and betrayed (he believes) by his best friend.
You should watch "Delores Claiborn" starring Kathy Bates. There is a scene within the first 1/3 of the movie that is a flashback. Kathy Bates is in the kitchen, and her husband takes a thick piece of wood and beats her with it. Instead of Kathy indication pain, she tries to get things done. She avoids her back muscles. Because she doesn't have her back muscles, she leans on the table for support. Her daughter comes down, so she fights off the tears. The tears are real, Victor, but they're not the tears of back pain because Kathy Bates is not in back pain. The tears are from the extreme sadness she feels over having been treated so badly by her imagined husband. There is no indicating, Victor. Kathy Bates is brilliant in this moment, in that she does not indicate pain but finds the truth and PLAYS ACTION. THE AUDIENCE WILL FILL IN THE REST.
The Movement for Actors Blog
Faculty, Stella Adler Studio, L. A.
Sunday, August 9, 2009
Saturday, August 1, 2009
School will start back up in about a month, and I'm kind of excited, actually. I miss my friends from school a whole heck of a lot, and I'm excited to continue establishing my position in the theatre department. One show got me critical acclaim, a theatre vacation, some serious callbacks, and a boatload of respect - I can't wait to see what this year can do for me.
But before all that can happen BACK TO THE 80's is going up next weekend. I have every intention of blowing the roof off of that building, single-handedly if I must (though I would rather do it by simply blasting the audience out of their seats with the awesomeness of the whole cast), and rocking this establishment.
This summer has been a lesson in stamina, dance, and breath support. I will never listen to Walking on Sunshine the same way again. I will never half-ass any physical movement onstage ever again. I will make every second onstage as awesome as if it were my last time being onstage ever.
And Dragonheart is a totally badass movie, in case anybody was wondering.
Thursday, July 30, 2009
New York was fantastic - it was a bit hot, and New York in the summer has a very distinct reek to it. The subway vents are appalling, sometimes. Avenue Q was an inspiration, as always - the life the performers gave those puppets was incredible, and I was just about peeing myself laughing.
A BACKSTAGE article will be posted soon, but it's basically a review of a book, so I'll have to go get the actual book. This one is about improving your singing psychologically, and apparently it works. I have freaking gift cards, why don't I just go online? :P
I've been taking a little more stock than usual in horoscopes and tarot flips and moon charts and such. Not because I'm superstitious like that, but because I've found that there is a slice of truth in everything, and lately it hasn't been hard to find.
My show goes up in about two weeks, and then it's off to memorize some Shakespeare and prep for the next audition. A never-ending cycle. I hate auditions though. I've got to worry about this show going awesome before I even start thinking about Othello.
Friday, July 24, 2009
And on a separate note, the darling Hobo Cat of previous mention has gone missing. :( I haven't seen her for several days now, and neither has anyone else here. I hope she's all right. I'm rather attached to her.
Monday, July 20, 2009
Some wisdom and life lessons that will inspire you to live each day better. Written by a lyrical and musical genius I'm sure you know pretty well. :)
This road I've begun, this theatrical journey I've wanted so badly - it's just a piece of my life. I'm only nineteen; do I really expect to know how to handle everything now? It's a terrifying, huge world out there - and I want a little tiny piece of it for myself. Everybody does. It's time to start living, time to take a little from this world I'm given. Learn to live and learn to love and take in every second of your life because you'll never get it back. Make the most of every chance you've got. It's hard advice to follow, and I know I'm a hypocrite. But maybe someday I'll learn for real. :)
I'm walking on sunshine, whoa-oh, and don't it feel good.
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
I was angry for multiple reasons - it's late, some people piss me off, stupid little things ruin my night, I'm hungry - lots of things. My room was filled with muttered cussing and stale, ranting air from hours of trying to do work and prevent it from ever happening again, so I went outside, right after the sky made it's huge, tree-splitting sound right above my house. That sound is thrilling and terrifying all at once.
Only a few things in this world help us realize exactly how small we are in the grand scheme of things - the ocean is one of them, and a hefty, end-of-the-world thunderstorm is another. I stood at the door, the wet, wild air strained through the screen at my nose, and the silent flashes of light lancing around the clouds was a little frightening. One flare of light that wanted to hold my hand and kiss my hair would shock the life from my teeny little heart in an instant. I went outside anyway, because that rain-sound is so soothing. The hiss and gentle plink and drip that comes with rain and the volume that comes with flash-flood amounts of it is so unique and wonderful that I couldn't resist, now that I was there.
The sky flickered at me, lighting up the world around me, as if it were taking pictures so it would remember where it had been, to see the shivering girl in boxers and an oversized tee-shirt looking up at it and say "Huh - what's she doing out here?"
The rain was big - giant drops still cold from the inverted ocean miles above me. I was drenched in seconds. I couldn't stay. So I went back inside, refreshed, pretty cold, and very humbled.
I love thunderstorms. I wish there was one every night.
Goodnight, world. The morning promises something new.
Sunday, July 5, 2009
It doesn't happen, of course, but it's that ability to release, to be wild, to move and try to throw the very essence of my being out through my fingertips. I can't explain what it feels like. But I'm trying to make it contagious. There was a time I didn't feel this way - I want to share it, to let the timid ones and the inexperienced ones have it too, to force them to feel that need to fly apart and nearly kill themselves with what they do. I want to make up for all the shows I feel like I never gave it my all, never did enough. I still feel like I'm not doing enough.
Irene Leagan. Eileen Reagan. Say that five times fast.
I had this idea that when I did my massive Sunshine solo for the first time in front of most of the cast that it would be epic and impressive and shock most of them. It could have, easily, but I wound up losing control and being so entirely winded that I just stopped and waved the pianist on, unable to keep singing. I wanted to impress everyone so bad, to prove I deserved what I got, but all I did was prove I'm out of shape, haha. But for some reason I wasn't mortified like I thought I'd be. I wasn't completely embarrassed. I'm not sure why. They'll hear it eventually. I'll rock it some other time.
There's no time in the world like a summer speeding away. I love it and hate it and can't figure it out. It's beautiful, is what it is.
Sunday, June 28, 2009
Delightfully clever, fresh, and very intriguing - a split jury proving the genius of the Bard once again.
Hamlet goes on trial, hundreds of years after he was penned. Was Polonius' stabbing pure murder or was Hamlet truly insane? A theatrical event quite unlike anything I've ever heard of, real lawyers and justices and jurors take Hamlet and put it on trial.
I love ingenuity.
Friday, June 26, 2009
- WAY. TOO. YOUNG. My dad is only a year older than MJ. MJ might have been wierd and messed up, but it's still far too young an age to go.
- Most people need to shut up about it. If you are my age or younger, your newfound "love" for all things MJ is as genuine as my Coach handbags from Chinatown. Don't jump on the bandwagon just because you can.
- Yes, he was wierd. Yes, he was a recluse. Yes, he was really fucking wierd. But now that he's dead, that does not give anyone and everyone the right to either worship him or badmouth him right out of the grave. He was a person with a lot of issues and a lot of talent. Let his family grieve without anymore stupid bullshit following him around.
- I feel bad for Farrah and Ryan right now because this totally overshadowed her death. Rest in peace, Farrah.
- It's unfortunate, but the novelty of this deceased "tabloid circus freak" will fade and life goes on. Have your moment, enjoy his music, and move on. I know he died yesterday, but obsessing is way unnecessary.
- I came to my own conclusions about him - you'll have yours, whatever. I think that he was a lonely, sad man with a ton of talent. He had no childhood, an abusive family, and once vitiligo set in and he tried to fix his features, it all just went way downhill. He tried to regain his childhood with his Peter Pan obsession and his friendships (and I do believe it was only friendships, imho) with children, and he was a pitious individual. I hope he finds peace now.
This is the last you will hear from me about this. I had my say, and I'm off to continue living my life and practicing music and learning lines and such.
Back to normal soon with updates on music techniques for different kinds of singing and the necessity of researching a show.
Monday, June 22, 2009
And I've added a link in the gadgets to the right hand side of the blog, a banner that takes you to FreeRice.com. Support the world and support your vocabulary - play for a little while and feed the hungry around the world.
I start work today, and rehearsals start today. Two of my summer goals have been achieved. A show and a job. This makes me smile, more than a little bit.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Can children be killers?
Long story short; hell yes.
Classic Hollywood, filmed with the original Broadway stage cast instead of current (in 1956) film stars, absolutely awesome. That little girl is scary and very, very good. Go watch it.
I love TCM. Best channel ever.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Walking on Sunshine is for V. (EDIT: I tried to make a palindrome and it sucked, so nevermind.)
And if I fuck up too terribly, may my vocal cords rot. (EDIT: Not really - that might be painful and sad, but you get the idea.)
Monday, June 15, 2009
There has got to be a cure for this stupid pre-audition nerve thing.
My own personal pre-audition routine includes eating several hours before the actual audition and then not again until afterwards. I can't eat before an audition - I just can't do it. I ate lunch earlier, but even that was tough. I don't like the feeling of anything weighing me down when I'm in there. I'm having some water right now and suddenly fighting the urge to nap. I can't figure out what my body's trying to do to prepare. Jeez.
And I know I'll be fine! What the crap, people. If I ever figure out a way to make auditioning easier, I will most assuredly inform you. I think there's a link in the Starry Eyed Idiot bar on the side of the blog about auditioning.
Friday, June 12, 2009
Audition in three days. I need a pianist.
Monday, June 8, 2009
(From Rolling Stone's Top 100 Singers of All Time:)
Even as he was dying, Mercury threw himself into his majestic, operatic singing. Queen's Brian May recalls that Mercury could hardly walk when the band recorded "The Show Must Go On" in 1990.
"I said, 'Fred, I don't know if this is going to be possible to sing,' " May says. "And he went, 'I'll fucking do it, darling,' — vodka down — and went in and killed it, completely lacerated that vocal."
A healthy dose of respect for Freddie is equivalent to sheer and total awe.
Friday, June 5, 2009
A professor of mine at school described the acting tool of "emotional memory" as a swinging door (I always pictured one of those old west saloon doors, but a little tougher and harder to get through) that requires a muscle to open and close.
Human beings, by their nature, are very adept at closing those emotional doors. As a defense mechanism, we tend to hide our feelings and bottle up all intense emotion. Learning to access this emotion, these taught, barricaded feelings, is definitely something that takes practice.
I tried using in-class exercises, but for one reason or another I could never open up the way some other people did. Asking personal questions never prompted an emotional response - my saloon doors never even started to swing open. I didn't even know how to get them to start moving. I could shut them to hide anger or fear or sadness in everyday life, but opening them is so against our nature it's very hard to do.
I began to learn how tonight. Yeah, maybe it did take some rough emotional times in my life. Maybe it did require some booze to loosen my tongue, but one way or another it happened.
I felt it deep down, that buried sensation of being able to cry, under layers and layers and layers (I personally feel it behind my face, far back, but still pressing up from my chest and behind my face - it may be different for you - be aware of the small, distinct feelings like this. It will help you access emotion and action later on) pressed back behind my face, coming up from my heart area. I knew I could, but I've never known how - I said so. I don't know how - it's there, but I can't get to it. The muscle that opens the doors is too weak.
He said, "What scares you? On a deeper level, what are you the most afraid of? Losing something, anything, what scares you?"
And I knew exactly what it was. I felt my instinct trying to push it down, to make it go away. It's just my nature to hide it - it's all of our natures to hide our weaknesses and hurt. I felt it in my brain and then, the strangest thing, I could physically feel those doors I was talking about before, I could truly feel them moving and cracking open. And as they opened, he kept talking to me and I was afraid at first, but two tears ran down my nose and then I couldn't stop. I needed to cry.
I was aware of those doors, and every time they started to shut I just remembered what was hurting me so badly, what I was so scared of right then in my life, and I could reopen the doors. As much of a therapy session as it was (and it was, trust me), I exist in my actor's mind, so I'm always working on something. And this was a major step in accessing emotion for me. It was good to cry. I haven't cried for a very, very, very long time.
Feeling is a frightening thing. It's not tangible, it's not truly logical, and we try to protect ourselves from it. But as an actor, we have to be able to access those feelings to be able to portray a true person trying to protect themselves from their own emotions. You can't bury an emotion that isn't truly there. All part of the learning process.
And I needed that hug. More than I think he'll ever know.
Thursday, June 4, 2009
Monday, June 1, 2009
Sunday, May 31, 2009
Excerpts (Chapter 1, Concepts):
"For a would-be actor, the prerequisite is talent. You can only hope to God you've got it."
Of course a young actor is going to need more than that, but talent is utterly invaluable. My efforts in learning about the craft prove that a person needs far more than a smattering of talent to be an actor. Seeing professionals is that reality check I like to have every so often.
"To rebel or revolt against the status quo is in the very nature of an artist."
I think that one speaks for itself.
"By the very nature of our profession we seem to develop slothful rather than disciplined habits. A great dancer to his last days cannot - and will not - perform without hours of daily practice. The pianist Artur Rubinstein and the violinist Isaac Stern cannot - and will not - play a concert without daily practice. While an actor may be forced to work as a waiter or a typist to sustain himself while waiting for the call to play King Lear, there is no excuse for his frittering away the hours that belong to him - and his true work - with partying, and fun and games."
This particular snippet of the text stung me quite badly the first time I read it, and it still does. I had this self-destructive phase a month or so back while at school, a combination of many things, and when I realized that I had not done a single thing to further my theatrical education beyond hover around the theatre longingly for nearly two and a half weeks, I was more than a little annoyed with myself. Fun and games are an essential part of anyone's life (they are experiences to be had, and everyone needs a social life) and especially young actors. I just needed a bit of a refocus, that was all. Learning to balance everything is part of the process.
"Every actor must demand total discipline of himself if he really means to be an actor."
There's more to this quote but I figured it's mostly self-explanatory. You know what it means to discipline yourself; I kind of dealt with that in my previous quote commentary.
"Stanislavsky's statement is always with me: 'Love the art in yourself, not yourself in the art.' "
Simple. Narcissism will destroy you. Loving yourself in the art is not art - it is selfish and no better than those paparazzi fodder divettes everywhere. Loving the theatre revealed through you, the art created with your words and interpretation - that is the right reason to be onstage. The craft itself.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Scraps of conversation with a non-actor who sort of understands the actor. Sort of.
ME (12:38:06 AM): character isn't created by pulling together attributes from the outside and form fitting them around you
ME (12:38:43 AM): to be a good performer, you peel away pieces of yourself until you've exposed enough of what's inside of you and put it together in such a way that it isn't you anymore
ME (12:39:50 AM): it's wierd, and that's why Joanna was so terrifying, because I found her inside, not outside.
ME (12:39:59 AM): But I'm relatively sane now, so it's all good.
HIM (12:40:38 AM): ah okay
HIM (12:40:58 AM): so apparently you aren't as emotionally challenged as you thought
ME (12:41:35 AM): how am I less emotionally challenged? Joanna somehow pulled herself together out of the words I was given and my own mental anguish
All I ever talk about is character. Probably because character work can mostly be done by yourself, with your own personal development of technique and understanding of the human condition, yadda yadda yadda, blah blah, Stanislavsky, Method, sense memory, object memory, et cetera, et cetera, you know the drill. I'd love to be able to talk about something else besides picking apart your own brain and going out and having experiences to draw on, but to get into other stuff I have to be doing other stuff. And it's not currently happening. Which is fine.
I've come to terms with the fact that I probably won't be doing a full fledged show this summer, what with my work schedule to be decided tomorrow and all, but in the long run I need cash if I want to continue what I'm doing. Money makes the world go round and it sponsors dreams.
Workout routine will begin tomorrow! (or whenever I find the motivation to wake up earlier than noon...)
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Real life can be more interesting than the greatest work of fiction ever created. A fan club dedicated to Chuck Palahniuk (author of such gems as Fight Club and Choke)called The Cult made their favourite writer a birthday present. They took the prize postings off of an online forum thread and made Mr. Palahniuk a leather-bound coffee table book, full to the brim of real-life, nitty gritty stories that are laughable and heartbreaking. Inspiration comes from all sorts of places. I've been reading these stories compulsively since I discovered them this morning.
Character, character, character. I love it. There are short stories and plays waiting to be written out of those things. I love it, I love it, I love it.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Daily yoga routine (start it up again)
Swim daily (weather permitting)
Continue training voice (Privelige To Pee/Bat Boy)
Shakespearian monologue (Shrew/12th Night)
Grow out hair
Get some cash (economy permitting)
Sleeping more and growing out my hair might not be directly theatrical or anything, but it's on my list of things to do anyway. I'll need new headshots if I get my hair super long. And sleeping more will keep me healthy. I got my voice back, and I intend to keep it this time. Practice, practice, practice.
It's going to be an interesting summer.
Friday, May 15, 2009
So my freshman year is almost up, and it's been one hell of a ride. I've met the most amazing people, many of whom are graduating and I won't see as often as I'd like to anymore, I've been given the most amazing opportunities here, I've learned more than I ever thought possible, and I'm only getting started around here. That's the best part, too.
I got Rookie of the Year at the department banquet and I was nominated for Best Actress (against three seniors, mind you), which was an honor in itself. I've only been in one single little show - it's a little shocking how many honors I've been given this year, and I am forever grateful for having been given a chance and allowed to succeed.
My classes are over, I did my Acting I final yesterday and it went fairly well. I'll get a good grade and next year be taking Acting II and then going to Circle in the Square in the spring - how cool is that?? Time for a summer of song learning, working for da money, play reading, friend lovin'. ;)
Crescent Players 2009 - 2010 Season:
Othello, dir. Dr. Sheila Garvey
Student Directed One Acts (TBA)
Bat Boy, dir. Larry Nye
Some Girls, dir. Kaia Monroe
Things happen for a reason - I've learned this lesson very, very well over the past few years, and I'm wondering if my whole life is going to play out with beautiful irony.
The Spotlight will be continuing - hopefully more often than I have been, due to classes and such - but it will be continuing and teaching, since I have so much more to learn. Cross my fingers for another ACTF trip next year. Dreams are scary things, but damn, they're so good.
Monday, May 11, 2009
Allergies destroyed my voice again. Existing and being unable to sing a note is kind of like a pianist being chained to a piano with his fingers all smashed and broken. Run that up a pole and fly it.
Acting 1 final might be an utter disaster. We'll see. Music papers consuming my life. Can barely speak, my sinuses are like a time bomb. I want to go home. I need to get out of here.
Saturday, April 25, 2009
An informative and sharp article about how, despite the flash and bang and occasional astounding qualities of some modern shows, Disney-esque crap has diluted what once was the crown jewel of theatre. A look at the pre-70's musicals that worked, why they worked, and why they aren't working now. A look at when theatre was theatre and not a decidedly inflated cash-cow.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
I had my first experience acting for film today, and it was delightfully new and exciting. It was a short scene for a communications class studying filmmaking and their project involved having to create a short film for their class, so they recruited acting students to help out. I played the wife of a wonderful friend of mine, Billy, who is just a darling and very good at what he does, so we had some very fun chemistry in front of the camera. We were in someone's house a town over from the school, set up in the kitchen with a few lights and a boom mic and a camera and other equipment that was just really really cool looking. The scene itself was only about 8 or 10 lines long, total, very short, but we shot it over 20 times to get the right sound levels and the right overlapping sound cues and different angles, and it was absolutely fascinating. I had always written myself off as a stage girl, film wasn't for me, but this was a very interesting taste and I liked it. It's much more personal, very intimate, and getting the reactions from the crew was lots of fun. I thoroughly enjoyed myself.
I'll hopefully end up with a copy of it so I can take my scene and start a film reel, like an audition selection to send in for if I ever want to do film work. A sampling of my prior experience sort of thing. I'm dying to see how it turns out, too - it certainly isn't Oscar worthy or anything, but it was so much fun.
Later in the afternoon I got to brush up my modelling skills as well - my friend Alisha is a photography student and has a "mockumentary" project to do, which she has chosen to do on abused women. Guess who was Abused Woman #1?
She painted a black eye onto me with blue, purple and black eyeshadows and eyeliner, and we created a bruised and puffed up lip with some really cheap spirit gum knock off stuff that was basically wax with cotton fibers in it, so it was disgusting but ended up serving its purpose. The film was black and white, and, in a moment of genius (and a tribute to old Hollywood), we made some badass fake blood with Hershey's chocolate syrup. It has better consistency than store-bought fake blood, and for the purpose of photographing it, it stays put and drips slower, but makes really pretty smears and drips. We made an absolute mess of her bathroom in the process, but when we were done I looked rather battered. (Though it is very, very difficult to look miserable and in pain when you have chocolate syrup in your mouth and up your nose. I did a bloody nose myself for an extra touch of pain.) She also hijacked a Parcan from the theatre, so we had some intense lighting as well. It's on film, so they haven't developed yet, (I saw some of the negatives this evening, however, and some of them look quite delightful) but when they are, I will certainly get myself a copy of at least one, because everybody needs a photo of themselves being beaten up by friends. (Poor Dean - I started to cry when Alisha had him grab my hair and raise his hand to hit me, and he couldn't even look at me he felt so bad. The make up was disturbing, and he's such a nice guy, haha.)
Now I'm up at 1 am doing homework for my theatre classes in the morning. Tomorrow is going to be a busy day - Class, class, painfully frustrating practice with professor for class, voice lesson, homework, Vagina Monologues. And Respect For Acting at every spare moment. :)
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
"I used to accept opinions such as: "You're just born to be an actor"; "Actors don't really know what they're doing on stage"; "Acting is just instinct - it can't be taught." During the short period when I, too, believed such statements, like anyone else who thinks that way, I had no respect for acting."
"Many people, including some working actors, who express such beliefs may admire the fact that an actor has a trained voice and body, but they believe that any further training can come only from actually performing before an audience. I find this akin to the sink-or-swim method of introducing a child to water. Children do drown and not all actors develop by their mere physical presence on a stage."
"More than in the other performing arts the lack of respect for acting seems to spring from the fact that every layman considers himself a valid critic. While no lay audience discusses the bowing arm or stroke of the violinist or the palette or brush technique of the painter, or the tension which may create a poor entre-chat, they will all be willing to give formulas to the actor. The aunts and agents of the actor drop in backstage and offer advice: "I think you didn't cry enough." "I think your 'Camille' should use more rouge." "Don't you think you should gasp a little more?" And the actor listens to them, compounding the felonious notion that no craft or skill or art is needed in acting."***
"One of the finest lessons I ever learned was from the great German actor Albert Basserman... He watched us, listened to us, adjusted to us, meanwhile executing his actions with only a small part of his playing energy. At the first dress rehearsal, he started to play fully. There was such a vibrant reality to the rhythm of his speech and behavior that I was swept away by it. I kept waiting for him to come to an end with his intentions so that I could take my "turn." As a result, I either made a big hole in the dialogue or desperately cut in on him in order to avoid another hole. I was expecting the usual "It's your turn; then it's my turn." At the end of the first act I went to his dressing room and said, "Mr. Basserman, I can't apologize enough, but I never know when you're through!" He looked at me in amazement and said, "I'm never through! And neither should you be."
And neither should you be.
Sunday, April 19, 2009
Focus. Possum breathing. Center myself.
Monday, April 13, 2009
A different voice to HIM.
ME: tell me - could you see where you were going to be eight years ago?
HIM: no way... i had no idea. my drive and ambition for performance is all coming from years and years of innate practice, just living a crazy life. but i know what i am supposed to do, in order to make my mark in this world. the fact that you know now, is amazing, its fucking fantastic.
HIM: because now all you have to do is LIVE. and while you live, you can experience everything with that lens, storing it all and computing it in your mind and muscle for theatre. the hard part (intelligence, education, work ethic, drive, etc) is already there.
ME: sometimes living is the hard part, yeah? haha... it's a funny road we walk, but I like my shoes just fine.
ME: whenever i think about what it is to be an artist and what I've unintentionally but willingly started to do with my life, I get such a wierd, existential, second-minded passion going on
HIM: isnt it awesome? it can be frustrating, but at least you know you will never work for the sake of working, marry for the sake of marrying....it will never be mundane
ME: I could never live a mundane life - it would kill me
ME: the very thought of it threatens to kill me
HIM: you will always be passionate, and everything you do will always have that weird existential crazy reason behind it. and it is that that makes life worth living.
I'm stuck in place right now, I feel. Frozen in time, suspended while part of me runs around creating a chaos to live in and ease the emptiness of that waiting sensation. No amount of confidence or knowledge can make that feeling go away.
I was told in simple words what the emptiness in my heart was, a long time ago. I was fifteen years old, I think. Four years isn't that long, in the grand scheme of things, but a lot of shit went down in four years. Life altering things. But I'm understanding the depth behind those simple words.
There are people I miss very much right now. I don't think they even realize how much I miss them, or why.
I never considered myself a Fatalist, but I believe in Fate with all of my being. I'm holding her hand and I won't bother fighting this time - she hasn't let me down yet. All things in time, she says. Her sound is a dream, her words a coincidence.
I need to go to bed. Right now.
Saturday, April 11, 2009
There is a little hobo cat
who lives outside my door,
If ever there was a home he had,
he hasn't anymore.
Small and shabby, hoarse and thin,
Around the block he roams,
A growly little voice is heard,
Afraid of me he was at first,
(Kindness was hard to find),
Gold coin eyes and sooty fur
and that gravel voice did whine.
The little thing, he had no name,
but he wound around my hand,
and I pat his head and loved him so -
This affection, so unplanned.
Outside the door he'll always sit,
he cannot come inside,
But this little lonely hobo cat
has somewhere warm to hide.
A cushioned bench upon my porch,
all painted white and green,
An outdoor throne, and on this seat
small Scruffy can be seen.
The saga shall continue.
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
I have two monologues in The Vagina Monologues now. It's making the experience a little better, now that I get to scream "CUNT" in front of a bunch of people. Good theatre has made me an elitist, and that is a blessing and a curse. On the one hand I am a better performer for having such high standards, but I'm also stuck doing low quality shows for a little bit. Joy.
Small, informal casting call for a video production class' short movie tomorrow afternoon. I'm up against one of SCSU's queens of the stage again, though (one of the two from the Les Blancs auditions), and I have resigned myself to the fact that I will get nothing until experience moves on. Whatever. Anything to act, I guess.
Selecting classes for next semester is one god-awful headache. It's hard to fulfill requirements when all the gen eds I need are snatched away by the upper classmen before I can even look for them. I will get three theatre classes though, so that should be good. Stage Speaking, Acting II, and Historic Dance for Actors. My first dance class - I'm on the right track now. ;)
We're doing scenework in my Acting I class now - moving on from monologue work to utilizing a partner in a scene. I've also been spoiled by being able to work with some amazing people in the past, so now I just wish I could have them back. They remember who they are - having an incredible scene partner pushes you to a new level and depth that you can't find if you're supporting the scene all on your own. I have two partners in class, because there was an odd number and someone had to do two scenes, so I pulled the proverbial short straw. One of my scene partners is wonderful. I call her "Scene Partner Awesome," or just by her name, Alisha. My other scene partner is named Mike, and he looks like a junkie Anthony Rapp and acts like one too, minus the Anthony Rapp part. I don't know what the hell I'm supposed to do. I think feeding lines to a brick wall would incite more of a legitimate response.
Easter weekend - no class on Friday, woohoo! When I get my Uta Hagen book Friday I'll probably post some tidbits from that for you before the weekend is out. If not, Happy Zombie Jesus Day (or, in layman's terms, happy Easter)!
Monday, April 6, 2009
"Here is Anna Deavere Smith's brass tacks advice to aspiring artists of all stripes. In vividly anecdotal letters to the young BZ, she addresses the full spectrum of issues that people starting out will face: from questions of confidence, discipline, and self-esteem, to fame, failure, and fear, to staying healthy, presenting yourself effectively, building a diverse social and professional network, and using your art to promote social change. At once inspiring and no-nonsense, Letters to a Young Artist will challenge you, motivate you, and set you on a course to pursue your art without compromise."
Your grandmother is losing her memory. Her short-term memory, that is. She cannot remember seeing you yesterday, but she can remember with clarity her girlhood. I would like to take this interest that you have in memory and talk about your memory as a gold mine for your art.
My Aunt Esther said to me, about two years before she died, "Old age is sad; nobody tells you it's going to be this sad." And she looked at me with her clear gray eyes. And it broke my heart.
So: memory. Memory is not only a practical utility that helps us know whewre we are. Memory is an essential substance for us, as artists. Memory is the beginning of romance; it's at the root of feeling. We are a conglomerate of complicated memories, all kinds of memories that make us who we are. Now, your grandmother can't remember that youc ame to see her yesterday, and she certainly can't remember what you gave her for your birthday, but she remembers her fifth birthday party. And possibly she longs for that.
My favourite quotation - or let's say the quotation that really gets to why I have chosen to be an artist:
"A man's work is nothing but this slow trek to rediscover, through the detours of art, those two or three great and simple images in whose presence his heart first opened."
That is a passage from Albert Camus. I learned it from a remarkable man named Barney Simon ...
So for me, this quotation from Camus - both what is says, and how I came upon it, says it all. My work is nearly a full-time enterprise of trying to reach back and find those great and simple images that first found access to my heart.
Being an artist requires an intense identification of all aspects of life. For acting, this requires an ability to experience, absorb, accept, feel, and transmit all aspects of the human condition - all notes on the scale. It is exactly this "rediscovery" with open arms, of all of those elements, in the way that they first found access to my heart. Some of them made my heart sing, some of them held my heart like a cradle, some made my heart tremble, others made my heart break. But it's all part of it. BZ, you can also help others rediscover those two or three great and simple images through your work.
Text belongs to Letters to a Young Artist, by Anna Deavere Smith, published by Anchor Books, trademark of Random House Inc., New York, copyright 2006.
Friday, April 3, 2009
(Old school diagram above is bird's eye view of the box - if the bird were sitting in the back of your mouth.)
As performers, we sort of rely on our voice box a lot. And I mean a lot. As people we rely on our voice boxes a lot in general. But to performers, whose ultimate purpose is to convey stories or ideas, it's rather essential (unless you're a mime, but I'm not working to be a mime, sorry Marcel). An actor's two main tools to manipulate are the voice and the body. This is focusing on the voice.
If these muscles aren't trained properly or used in the correct way, there can be serious damage done to them, which is an actor's nightmare. Losing your voice the night before a show? Eek. Permanent damage from straining the muscles incorrectly? Even bigger eek. But it's almost impossible to avoid a sniffly little cold every so often, right?
That is where Eric Armstrong's article comes in - "TAKE CARE OF YOUR VOICE: Simple ways for actors and others to keep the instrument in shape."
"As with good health in general, a few simple precautions and adjustments of habit can make a big difference."
There isn't always a miracle fix for a sore throat on musical night, but if you start now and train your body and voice in a way that is correct and healthy, you can protect yourself from vocal injury in the future. And not just actors need proper voice care - just about everyone in theatre does. Directors, stage managers, producers, crew heads, front of house staff... anyone who needs to communicate effectively should be taking care of themselves so that they have their voice when they need it.
Don't overdo it.
Theatre isn't the only thing you do. Everybody knows this - we all have other interests that can be potentially taxing on our bodies. Fatigue of the voice and body can be very detrimental. If you're a tired person, you've got a tired body, a tired mind, and a tired voice. Don't scream at sporting events if you're in the process of preparing for a show. Try to scale back vocal use leading up to the show - if it's an intense vocal part, you're going to need everything you've got, so be conscious of what you're doing vocally. All parts of the body need to be working in sync with each other for a prime performance.
Center your breathing.
There are different schools of breathing techniques out there, but the general point of all of them is to make sure that you have enough air to perform what you need to. People, in general, breathe shallowly in everyday situations; they breathe from the upper part of their chest, so that their breaths come from beneath the shoulders, neck and breastbone. This is just fine for everyday speaking, but onstage it can strain the neck and throat. Diaphramatic breathing is a general term for it, and my vocal instructors have come up with some clever terms to help me understand the concepts behind proper breathing. "Possum breathing" is my personal favourite, since it helps to remove all reliance on that upper chest breathing. Breathing from your core, deep, fluid air flow that causes your whole abdomen and part of your thorax (anatomy!) to push outward - that's the sort of breathing that needs to be done. Kristen Linklater's book discusses this quite a bit, so I would invest in that. See the Starry Eyed Idiot box for tools regarding it. The voice and air should pour out, not be pushed. Proper training with your breathing will add power and tone to a voice, because it is not being forced at all. It's better for the voice box as well.
This one might seem obvious, and it really should be, because a simple little warm up can make a very big difference. Get into the habit of warming up. It tunes your instrument - just like runners would never fly into a 100 meter sprint without stretching first (the consequenses of that are terrible to imagine - shredded gastronemicus, anyone?), actors should never go into any sort of performance without warming up the voice. It's a delicate little system, and needs to be treated as such. Focus yourself mentally, get your body working with stretches, engage your diaphramatic breathing, vocalize lightly to tune up... find a routine that works for you.
Water fixes lots and lots of vocal issues. A well hydrated body keeps the vocal cords (and the rest of your body) functioning smoothly and lubricates the works without getting all mucousy and tempting you to clear your throat. Dehydrated bodies create mucous to try and lubricate the vocal cords, but it's not good for the voice, so keep yourself hydrated. Most Americans are chronically dehydrated (according to some cool scientific studies), so go fix that statistic. If you're not American, you should still go hydrate yourself. The best way to get enough water is to sip on it all day - carry a water bottle with you; you'll be more likely to drink it if you have it handy.
HANDY (but awkward) TIP! If you pee pale, you're hydrated. The more water you've got in your system, the more you'll piss out and the clearer your pee will be. When I was trying to cure my bronchitis before an audition last semester, I drank so much water that I literally peed clear. I'm sure you wanted to know that. It kept me hydrated and I had at least a little bit of a voice to audition with, which is better than none. Water. It works.
Take care of your throat.
Armstrong addresses three problems that can injure the throat and what to do about them. Clearing the throat, coughing, and heartburn. Yes, that's bad for the voice too, not just your craving for chili. I won't talk about heartburn since I don't have it, and the only advice he gives is to go see a doctor.
Clearing the throat - Don't do it! The itch you feel at the back of your throat can be caused by mucous in the throat and mouth (a side effect of dehydration and colds and any number of things), and the habit of clearing the throat is instinctual, sometimes. But the action of clearing the throat bangs the vocal folds together (see little grey diagram) and can injure them, and when you clear your throat it just makes more fluid to soothe it, which can make you want to clear it even more. Vicious cycle. It's a bad habit that a lot of people have, including myself, and you want to make efforts to not do it anymore. The Miss Piggy "uh-hum" is a safe alternative, a gentler version of the throat clearing action.
Coughing - Don't do it! Just kidding. You can't help coughing if you're sick or have irritated your throat somehow. It's dangerous though because it blasts open your vocal cords and strains them very badly. Medication that limits the urge to cough and treats the underlying cause is the best way to go, if you have a stubborn cough. Cough drops aren't necessarily good for a cough-roughened throat, either, though I have found that sometimes they are my saviours (see the post about my love affair with Elderberry Ricola). Some lozenges contain menthol that can irritate the vocal cords while cooling your throat. If you want to use cough drops, I'd go for Ricola, since they seem less harsh in the long run, though they do still contain menthol.
Treat your cold.
The advice I needed three weeks ago! This is the ailment that affects people's voices the most. In addition to the fun of runny noses and stuffed sinuses comes the swelling of the tissues in the throat. The swelling can lead to hoarseness, or even the loss of your voice. That's never good for an onstage situation, and I always panic when I get a cold, since I seem to get them every six months on the dot. Or three months, depending on the weather. Steaming your airway is the best way to deal with a cold, Armstrong writes. Boil a pot of water, and carefully breathe the steam as you cover your head and the pot with a towel (see picture so you don't boil your face off). Humidifiers in winter are a good way to keep the airways nice and hydrated and prevent colds. Steam, lots of rest, and limiting the use of the voice are the best ways to cure a cold and get back on your feet for a performance. The absolute best way to treat a cold, of course, is to not get one in the first place, so taking care of yourself and staying healthy is the absolute best option around.
Be smart with extremes.
Different situations require different uses of the voice - theatre takes place in lots of different areas, and if a play is outdoors or in a tiny black box, it will require a different set of vocal skills to manipulate the voice appropriately for each area. Cold, dry, dusty places are rough on the voice, as are noisy places, since they can make a performer push their voices too much just to be heard. No matter what situation you are in, and what sort of performance you are in, the rule of thumb for me is that "if it hurts, don't do it." Nothing you do to your voice should ever strain or cause pain. You can seriously hurt your instrument doing that.
However, there are times onstage when a character may need to scream, yell, cry, choke, cough, maybe even puke. Those extremes can be damaging, so it is important that there is proper vocal technique being taught that can prevent those extremes from injuring a performer. Losing your voice for good is not worth one badly placed shriek in one show.
All in all, take care of yourself and your voice - eat well, drink enough water, get enough sleep (tough for students, but it's worth a shot anyway, haha), and playing smart no matter what the circumstance. Take care of your voice - it's the only one you've got.
Another credit to Eric Armstrong for most of the information presented here. Subscribe to Dramatics magazine - it's worth it.
Thursday, April 2, 2009
Going to NYC to see West Side Story on Saturday - should be a wonderful time, even if we get horrendously shitty seats like when I saw In The Heights. West Side is a classic, man - and there will be some serious dancing, which I'm excited about. I always hope I can get better at dancing through some form of visual osmosis. If only it worked that way.
Making progress in the theatre department at the university. Was nominated for two Board positions and one Crew Management position - I'm not sure I'll accept all the nominations, however, but the fact that I was thought of and seconded is flattering. And I'd like to get more involved anyway. Maybe I could be Secretary. Treasurer just sounds like it might kill me.
I'm being totally miserable about putting up that article I keep saying I will. Not like anybody is too terribly interested. Think the Spotlight would get more traffic if I stopped telling my theatre journey stories and just put up lessons? But that was never the point - the point was how to get where I'm going, and everything that entails, beginning to end.
Must practice monologue for Acting 1. Must figure out college.