Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Olive Oil

Olive Oil: angry/uncomfortable/tired/sad/frustrated/scared/insecure/lonely/well loved/weary/content/confused

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


"'Does the Moon have a purpose?'
...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


I got to have a really phenomenal experience today, and I want to share it, because I'm pretty sure I won't ever really have this kind of opportunity ever again.

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

Can't put my finger on it.

And I'm back to pressing my nose to the grindstone.

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

Physics of Singing


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.