Sunday, March 28, 2010

Spotlight: Ken Schatz

My Circle in the Square movement class is taught by Ken Schatz, who has his own website. I checked it out the other day and realized just how incredibly fortunate I am to be learning anything from this man.

"GREAT WORK! Ken is a brilliant actor and acting teacher, director, dialect coach, and movement teacher... he’s everything!"
— Harvey Keitel (The Piano, Pulp Fiction)

Yeah. No matter how painful that class may be, it's worth every damn ache and pulled muscle. He's brilliantly talented and has one of the quirkiest senses of humor I've ever seen, but he knows so much about the body in relation to acting and what it takes to move and really get in touch with your own instrument. I adore his class.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Enn Why You

So yesterday was a big day - my Tisch audition at Theatreworks USA. This weekend was one of the most fabulous I've ever had, so much love goes out to my Billy and Meg who were with me and everyone who sent me all their lovin and good vibes and wishes for broken legs. Here's a brief rundown of the last few days and how my audition went.

Wednesday I went down to New Haven to meet with my professor, the ineffable, incredible and resilient Kaia, who recently had surgery so she was limited to the couch and some shuffling to the door and back. But for being 5 days out of the hospital she looked wonderful and is healing amazingly well. She'll be back on her feet in no time. She takes such good care of her body, and I can only hope I can be as healthy as her someday. I worked my audition pieces with her one last time before hopping off to New York, and it made me feel pretty good about everything.

Thursday I had Circle classes, which were surprisingly wonderful, but they're always wonderful. We were late to Alan's class due to missing the train we had aimed for, but Christina's class was excellent, and our physical classes were shockingly wonderful. Ken's class was agonizing, literally, since he had us do some very very intense stuff that was probably going to incapacitate me the next day, but working out that hard ultimately makes me feel so good. Ken's class following that was the real bonus to the day of school, though, since he did deep muscle stretches with us and got us all incredibly flexible and taught us how to crack our backs. It was so amazingly wonderful. I'll be making time once a week to do deep muscle stretches because it felt so damn amazing. Hopefully I can write detailed descriptions of what he taught us in a post at some point.

Bill and Meg and I then hit up our hotel, which was just down the road from our school, amazingly enough, dumped our things, showered, got changed, then headed off to see Next to Normal and the ineffable Alice Ripley. It was so excellent - Alice Ripley is so amazing it's shocking, and the fact that at the back stage door after the show she and I chatted about boots and shoes absolutely made my trip. :)

Friday morning: I'm awake before either Bill or Meg and feeling ready to vomit from nerves. All my audition stuff is on the desk next to the bust of George Washington that lit up. I'm stretching and trying to do physical warm ups in the space next to the closet. A soothing shower, a shave, some light humming, TLC to make my hair pretty, audition clothes, make-up, Bill and Meg wake up, some serious packing, and then out the door to hike to Theatreworks, USA.

It's a serious haul from 48th to 26th, but we got there with plenty of time to spare, and once I walked in all my nerves went away. A brief overview of the setup of the auditions in a small studio room, and then Meg and Bill disappeared and I was off to try and not look too much like a fool whilst dancing.

Audition Day Schedule!

Dance Audition.
Our instructor and adjudicator was a young NYU graduate named Jackie who was just darling and quite fun. I realized very quickly that I was not even remotely close to being one of the better dancers in the room, but I'd known that from the start. I might even have been the worst, but I didn't appear that way because, walking in knowing I wasn't going to get any points for technique, I decided not to worry and just to do what I could and enjoy the ride. Having fun takes away half the pain and makes you look twenty times more fun to watch, since I had a smile on my face as I "fanced" my way about and tried my best, whereas others looked constipated and anguished. It wasn't pretty, or fabulous, but it was fun and I hope I made a good impression. We did a ballet routine to a piano version of Lady Gaga's Pokerface and we did a CRAZY routine to West Side Story's "Dance At The High School Gym," better known as "MAMBO!" I was the only ginger in the room and the only one wearing blue (everyone else looked like "dancers at rehearsal" in their black spandex getups) - maybe that will help me stand out too.

Acting Audition.
Immediately after we danced we had a fun vocal warm up session with our accompanist, then we split off into two groups for a little acting warm up as well. After that was complete, there were lists posted on the doors of the audition rooms with the order of auditionees. I was the very first monologue audition in my room, so I quickly put on my good shoes and hurried into the room. I'm pretty good with monologues (I did Spinning Into Butter and Loose Knit), and I felt mine contrasted very nicely, but I didn't feel that I'd done them as well as I had in the past. I did them well, but not as well as I'd have hoped. The woman taking notes didn't say much, but seemed to like them. She did, however, very much like my interview. She thought my answers to some of the questions were incredibly insightful, especially the ones about myself. What she didn't know is that the questions she asked, minus one or two, were things I've been thinking about for ages upon ages. And once the interview was concluded, I stepped into the hall to wait about an hour for my third to last singing audition slot.

Singing Audition.
This part of the audition was by far the best, for me, and I'm glad it's the note I left on. I finally go in there (at this point Meg and Bill had returned to wait for me and I was just puttering around trying to keep my voice light and fresh and my allergies from being too much of a problem), and immediately I get a good vibe from the pianist who is more excited than I am when I tell him I'm singing Bat Boy. The woman watching and judging my performance has knee high green stripey socks on, and I promptly inform her that I love them. Knee socks of that caliber must be complimented, I don't care where I am. So I sing "Three Bedroom House," which is very familiar territory to me at this point, regardless of the strange duet-into-solo cuts that were made, and I just rocked it the way I remembered I could. Screw stuffy noses, I know how to sing around them, and I love Meredith so much that I refused to let that song be anything but fabulous. When I finished (with that bangin' belt note "in a concrete shelter ten feet underGROOOOOUND!"), the woman looked at me with a strange expression and said "That was ambitious! Such a word heavy... word... bleh... kind of song, that was wonderful. Very ambitious of you. I enjoyed that very much." Does she know how to stroke my ego or what?! She then asked if I had a cold, and I said no, just allergies, and she was relieved to find out it was just a temporary issue, not a permanent nodule in my nose causing the awkward sound on a few things, but she said she could hear me sing around it and it was good. My second piece was much more difficult, being in my upper register, and the resonance in my nasal cavities was all wonky from my allergies, but again, she said she thought it was incredibly beautiful and enjoyed it. She asked me how I felt, and I said the resonance was off but otherwise it was fine. She seemed content with that, and, after complimenting my "beautiful cheekbones" and how they read so beautifully onstage, I was free to go and my fate was left to the people behind desks at NYU.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Catching Up

The last post was due to a hijacked computer the other day - a friend of mine is planning on leaving school to go on tour with that band, and he wanted to share it. He will be playing bass for them, if all works out.

Bat Boy had its two weekend run and is now, finally, somewhat regrettably, over. Four weeks of giving my blood, sweat and tears (all quite literally) to that show finally came to an end, and the post-show funk is still with me, but not as bad as it was for the first few days.

It was a surprising success, our production of the cult phenomenon, and I received endless praise for my portrayal of Meredith. There were some horrendous technical issues for a few days, which broke my heart because I was literally ashamed to present such mediocre crap to the audience. Having pride in our work certainly did not mean allowing microphones to cut out or hideous feedback shrieking through important moments in the plot, but that's what kept happening.

But overall it was very much liked, and that's all we could have hoped for, seeing as how four days before we opened there honestly wasn't a show to put on that stage. The issues of dedication and work ethic perpetuated throughout the run, and people's bullshit continues to try and affect me, but I'm just so done.

I can only hope that I get a chance to play Meredith again in my lifetime - she is fabulous, I adored every moment I could assume her name and be that paranoid, OCD, Stepford Wife of a woman. I miss her.

But it's over, like it or not, and I'm trying to maintain my voice for my NYU Tisch audition this Friday. I'm really going for it. I'm terrified. I'm so excited. I'm still trying to memorize monologues. I have excellent selections, I just want to rock it. So much.

I received an Irene Ryan nomination for my portrayal of Meredith. It's an honor and it made me a little sad as well, but I'm just an emotional mess these days anyway. I have to go pop some allergy meds before my voice decides to be stupid and take a vacation.

After Tisch comes Some Girl(s) auditions, and after that I need to figure out what I'm doing for the summer. It never ends. Theatre people don't have the luxury of taking it one step at a time.

Thursday, March 4, 2010


Double entendre, today.

We have final dress tonight - we finally made it. I don't know how, but we did. There are some amazing moments onstage, and this score is just incredible, and Mary Jo and her lights are just fantastic. I wish we'd had this enthusiasm a few weeks ago, but the fact that we have it now is good enough, and having some people in the audience tonight will make a world of difference. Laughter and reactions are the greatest things for an actor onstage. We had our photographer, Charlie, there last night, and hearing his little exclamations of "ew" or giggles made me smile so much. Audience is the final piece of the theatre puzzle - it's the last element added and it takes it to a whole new level.

Now, the other piece of today's post.

It appears the Spotlight has more of an audience than I anticipated, so to those reading I say welcome, thank you, and hope you can appreciate what I've got going on here. This blog is for my benefit and anyone else who shares a passion in theatre. It's not a rant, not much besides personal opinion and the lessons I learn. Please, share your thoughts. There's an anonymous button, if you'd like to stop hiding.

Love your Bat Boy - we're gonna break shit.