Saturday, February 27, 2010

Teching for Bat Boy

We've finally clawed our way to tech week of Bat Boy - still have no idea how we made it, and how this show is even remotely looking presentable, but this bat creature is shuddering to life, scene by scene.

Recently my discoveries and lessons have been mostly about things that have nothing to do with technique, nothing to do with books or schools of acting or methods or metaphors. It's all about an aspect of this life that no one can tell you about, that you have to begin experiencing to find out what you're really made of, deep down.

The fight required to keep going, day after day, pushing forward in a sea of setbacks and immaturity and frustration and jealousy and solitude and technical errors and complications and balancing all aspects of life and still waking up the next morning, after crying from physical pain and emotional shredding and mental snapping, with that eager desperation to do what I do best... that fight gets harder every day, but luckily I have found that toughened thing that refuses to let pettiness win, that refuses to allow the word mediocre into her life, that thing that doesn't recognize the mundane. I fight because not fighting equals giving up, and that is not an option. I hurt and struggle because it's the best option there is.

This bat child, my bat child, will be heard.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Sometimes you grow up too fast. Sometimes you regret, sometimes you smile. Sometimes everything is okay, even when it's all crumbling around you. It's just blowing sand off of the bigger picture.

A lot of stuff to do tomorrow. Way too much, actually. But I'll make it.

Friday, February 19, 2010


Lesson of the Day from Circle in the Square, Movement Class with Ken Schatz:

We were doing an exercise where we had to do quick turns from pose to pose to pose to pose, never the same twice, always quickly and impulsively without thinking. Letting our instrument act without the brain getting in the way. For every turn we made we had to let out sound, again, without thinking, just letting the instrument work, separating the body from the brain.

He changed the sound to words - one word for a quarter turn, two words for a half turn, three words for a full turn, but it still had to be instantaneous and without thinking. It felt nearly impossible, and there was a block in my brain and nothing but panicked sounds would come out as I tried to think of three things to say that weren't related and were just words. But we as a society have been taught to think before we speak, to say things only when we've addressed the consequences in our head, so letting that go and just letting words out was so difficult. Ken described it as "adding words to this turns you all into drunken retarded people," because we didn't know how to just "do" and not think.

Then, when we couldn't manage any more non-repeated words or we were babbling hopelessly, he told us to only say profane, vulgar and unacceptable things, and all of a sudden we were spewing the crudest things imaginable without thinking. It was easier, for whatever reason, and I didn't understand why I kept spitting "fuck," "shit," "piss," "asshole," and many other words to rude to write, but they were the first things my mouth was forming.

I truly understood what it was to let the body go without thinking when I made a full turn and didn't even realize what had come out of my mouth until I heard the shocked gasps and murmurings of my classmates, and I was horrified to realize that I had unconsciously spewed some very foul racial epithets, none of which I meant, of course, but I was just frozen with shock. Ken nodded, said I could relax, then started telling us the metaphor that explained what was happening.

The Ketchup Analogy.

You get a bottle of ketchup on a diner table. You go to use it. It hasn't been used in a long time, so there's crusty, unused, gross ketchup clogging the opening. The ketchup that never quite got out.
That bottle equates to us - before beautiful, good, clean ketchup (words, actions, etc. ) can come out, we need to clear away the crusty ugliness first. The things that never get said, the stuff just clogging our subconscious. It has to be removed and cleaned out, allowed to be released, so we can move forward.

I love Circle.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

What's Best

My recent frustrations were part of this new train of thought, so bear with me while I try to explain all of this as briefly as I can.

From the few Circle in the Square visits I have had, I realized that there is so much more to be had in a theatre education than what I'm getting right now. The Circle in the Square partnership program is the highest acting level a student can reach where I go to school. I'm a sophomore, and I want more. I want to learn everything and take every opportunity I can get.

Keep that in mind, for a moment.

BAT BOY: There are a lot of people in this cast, a lot of (complicated) music, a lot of staging, and not a lot of time. I took it upon myself to fill a leadership role, to offer assistance and a guiding force, as it were, to a lot of people not used to the time constraints and the work required to pull off a musical of this caliber. By "guiding force" I mean only that I would call focus back when it was needed, be an alto section leader, and organize outside help sessions, i.e. having a professional attitude and a strong work ethic, something that has been instilled in me since I began performing several years ago.

After about a week of this, I was confronted by a few castmates who told me I needed to "back off" and/or "step down" because people were very unhappy with me. My attempt at being an "FDR" was more along the lines of "Hitler," they said. I was being "a diva bitch" and waltzing around taking charge like I was "the goddess of Bat Boy." My behavior was creating incredible animosity and dividing our cast and making a bad environment to create a show. People were threatening to quit.

I was floored, indignant, confused, irate, deeply hurt and deeply sad. My efforts to help this show be the best it could be and to motivate the rest of them to achieve something wonderful had been almost forcefully rejected and ridden with spite and jealousy. I had never spoken down to anyone, I had only ever supported and tried to get work done. It was utterly ridiculous.

Mostly I was angry, at first. I didn't deserve that kind of reaction. Such immature gossip behind my back was so uncalled for, at our age. If I were the diva bitch they labeled me as, would I have spent so much effort trying to help the people who were secretly hating me? Of course not. But clearly that's not how they saw it.

I've had leads in this department, I have succeeded, I have taken roles, so I knew jealousy would be a factor. If I weren't Meredith in this show, I know that what I tried to do (and continue to do) would not be a problem. But that's showbiz, kid.

Then I was just so sad I could hardly express it. Working my ass off to succeed and be the best I could possibly be, and to share that passion and work ethic with others, was not being supported. I felt so incredibly alone. I didn't care that jealous people were angry for whatever reason, I was hurt because I felt trapped. I had few options left, and none of them made me happy. Sink to their level, play nice and stop "showing off;" continue to make them angry by trying to help and motivating them; fend for myself and myself alone.

But I found that the "majority" was not as major as it was made out to be - the people who matter didn't have a problem, and I will never sacrifice excellence to be well-liked. This is what I want, and I'm going to have to suffer sometimes to get it - I just wish it weren't during my education.

Lately I've felt more alone than ever, for many reasons.

And so, with these recent events in mind, I've been considering transferring out of here and finding a higher level of theatrical education and student work ethic somewhere else. Part of me wants to go, because I know there is an incredible amount of opportunity out there and I could have the kind of education I'm desperate for and I need. Part of me doesn't, because there are professors here who can still teach me like that, and there is so much to be done in the New Haven area, and New York is just a train hop away. It's a lot of thinking and it's scary. I'm still not sure what I want to do, or where I would go if I did decide to leave. I'm running out of time, though, and I feel like my whole future is sitting on this decision.

I have to do what's best for me, but I don't know what that is yet. I really don't.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Follow the Leader?

I always mean to make these posts something useful, something specific, but too much happens in the span of hours for me to focus my thoughts into one post.

So much needs to be said about Circle in the Square, and so much needs to be said about how wronged and angry and hurt I feel, but that will have to wait.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Happy Birthday

As of this minute that I type this, I have survived on this earth for two decades. It's time to start living, take a little from this world I'm given, as Irene Ryan herself once sang. No more surviving. It's all about living.

I'm quite content, right now. Happy Birthday, old girl. =)

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Messages from my Ceiling

No, this still isn't KCACTF or Circle, for that matter, but it seemed an appropriate thing to make a note of.

At the beginning of last semester I began to put little notecards with sayings that I liked or would inspire me on the ceiling above my bed. I intend to keep them and add to this collection of motivation to wake up and look at, since they're comforting and can make me smile at whatever ungodly hour I'm waking up at.

So far they read:

"Fight the good fight."
"Never let the bastards get you down." (a quote from my mother)
"The Greater The Obstacle, The Greater The Glory In Overcoming It." - Moliere
"All artists are joyseekers."
"Say what you mean, mean what you say, or shut up." - Langdon's First Law
And FEAR, SHAME, and IGNORANCE with an X through them.

The last three came from my first lesson at Circle, and I'll elaborate on them later. For now I'm off to do some more work for Bat Boy. The music is incredibly intense and I have taken it upon myself to whip the alto section into shape, because I am determined to spread my work ethic, or at least force it upon other people, if necessary.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Durham, One Week

Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival Region 1 2010

This trip, by and large, was much less enjoyable than last year's trip, for many different reasons. We had less opportunity to take advantage of workshops because of the location of our hotel, which was about 20 minutes away from the conference center. We remained locked together as an amoeba-like group, and five days of being stuck in close confines with the same people can put a severe strain on anyone's sanity.

But I did get to do one workshop and I got to see some lovely shows and some less lovely shows, along with see some excellent Irene Ryan competition scenes. Here is the week in review.

Tuesday, January 26:
Prior to being able to do anything, there was major drama in the fact that my entire school was not registered to attend the festival. Good times.

Irene Ryan Scholarship Competition Preliminaries

I performed The Baby Dance in Round 2, at 4pm, which meant there was a lot of time to sit and think and wonder and get nervous, since we got there at around 1, but I felt pretty good all things considered. I'd been working on that scene since before winter break had begun, so I knew the material, and though there had been major professor drama throughout the process, I was at the competition and it was all almost over.

I love doing the scene there and I hate it too, because I know I'm a better actor than the limited moment they get to see me. I'm so much better than what two minutes and thirty five seconds can show, but that's all anybody gets.

We got critiqued afterwards, but it was in a group setting and I didn't like it at all. I felt like I couldn't ask questions and she couldn't go into details like she might have because there were two dozen other students sitting around listening. She liked it overall, wanted more visible moments of understanding, of really hearing what was said and being in that moment and letting it hit, which I understood. After running scenes so long they can get stale.

We didn't move on, so that was the end of my Irene Ryan run for 2010. By the end of the week, I'd decided, in a dual-minded, hypocritical type of way, that 1) the competition is all bureaucracy and not objective at all, so I will never care how far I get because it's no measure of my ability, and 2) that I was going to make a good showing some day, that I would kick ass and refuse to let anyone get in my way, that I would pick perfect scenes, that I would get the perfect partner and I'd make an impact somehow, that Southern would be recognized for its acting achievements. So I'm not sure exactly how I feel.

Wednesday, January 27
A lot of workshops were cancelled over the course of the week, which also posed a problem, since some of what I wanted to do was nixed. But my one workshop was on Wednesday.

Stage Makeup Design with Karen Anselm
(KCACTF Nat'l Chair/Design and Technology, Professor of Theatre, Costume Designer, Director at Bloomberg University)
I was honestly shocked at how much creative thought actually goes into all sorts of makeup design. Every aspect of character, age, personality traits, good, evil, worried, flighty, hints from the text, inspiration from every sort of image possible - there were a million things to learn and take in and it was incredibly fascinating. After a crash course in where to get designs from and how to use design sheets and tracing paper, she let us have a gazillion random pictures and magazine pages and anything to give us ideas. I grabbed a Lichtenstein painting and a photo of the Migrant Mother as inspiration for Meredith from Bat Boy. We got to use crayons. I was a happy camper.

We saw Red Masquerade, a new play presented by SUNY New Paltz. It was about McCarthyism and the story of a woman named Angela Calomiris, a spy working for the FBI as a double agent in the Communist Party. They had a beautiful black box set, and the play was basically a film noir for the stage, which worked for the most part, but sometimes it was a little much for me. Overall I enjoyed it very much. One line from that show became our theme for the week - "Bourgeois Bitch!"

That evening was In Conflict, a Laramie Project style look at war veterans from Iraq presented by Schenectady County Community College. It wasn't executed very well, but the subject was very, very tough. It was especially hard because one of my dearest friends was next to me, and he is an Iraq War vet, so feeling him react to what was being said and trying to comprehend what he went through really hurt.

Thursday, January 28
There were no workshops that day, and no afternoon shows, so we watched the Irene Ryan Semi-Finalists all afternoon instead. They were pretty good, overall, though I didn't understand why some groups went through. But I'm not a judge, so it's not up to me.

That evening was Lorca, presented by Central Connecticut State University, a strange mashup of The House of Bernarda Alba and the biographical poems by the guy who wrote it, Federico Garcia Lorca. It was done well, overall, but it doesn't stick well in my mind. There was nothing "incredible" about it, nothing terribly memorable besides a few performances.

Friday, January 29

This day was dedicated almost soley to one of the greatest pieces of theatre I've ever seen, and I am not exaggerating. I saw this show twice in the black box theatre, and I nearly cried both times, it was so beautiful. Boston University put on a student written show titled diventare, which means "to become" in Italian. It was the story of a woman whose baby daughter had died in a storm, and she escapes in her mind to where her little girl still lives as a mermaid nymph and her life isn't shattered and distorted. The sheer brilliance of this production cannot be expressed in mere words. It was all lights and movement and Sigur Ros soundtrack and the actors were lifted in the blackness with small flashlights on them as they were carried so that they were, in fact, swimming through the depths of the ocean. It was so incredibly beautiful I didn't know how to react. I still don't. That's why we saw it twice. It was too astounding to be real.

That evening's show, All The World's A Grave, presented by Bates College, was a fitting yang to that morning's yin. It was appallingly bad, a strange mashup of Shakespeare to juxtapose the wrong characters together to make some humorous moments, but overall it was just painful and absurdly long. That was the only absurdist humor I could find in it. I was embarrassed for them.

Saturday, January 30
The Irene Ryan Finals were this morning, and again, I was rather confused at a few of the groups who were selected to move on, but again, not my choice. None of them were bad, but I was sure there were better groups to have chosen than some who were there.

There were also the Tech Olympics - I did not personally attend this, seeing as how I have no technical ability, but we had people go, and our techies are awesome.

After that was a delightful presentation of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels by Dean College, where I nearly peed myself laughing. The performances were good, and the dancing was good, but it was really the script that pushed this one into the excellent category. The script plus a good cast and direction made it as entertaining as could be.

The awards ceremony followed, blah blah, people won stuff, blah blah. Dance party after that. Blah blah, lots of awkward dancing, lots of sexual tension, blah blah.

And we went home the next day, none too soon.

Ranier Maria Rilke

I'm not forgetting about KCACTF, but until I have a spare hour or two, that will have to wait.

Until then, have a taste of my reading assignment for my first day of classes at Circle In The Square. At the time I posted this, I had only read half of one letter, but I know from only that much that this is an incredibly, incredibly important series of letters to read.

Monday, February 1, 2010


I am back where there is school and internet, but my tales of the festival will have to wait - I sliced my finger this morning and typing is an absolute chore, and there is far too much to say to deal with the pain right now. As soon as I'm able, KCACTF 2010 will be talked about in much detail.