Monday, February 28, 2011

Pirates and Rock Stars

If you're in the NYC area at all in the next month and want to see some lovely theatre that won't break the bank, then check out the amazing Ken Schatz (CLICK) and his crew in Treasure Island at the Irondale Theatre Center in Brooklyn. I've got my ticket for this Saturday; it has been far, far too long since I got to see Ken in any capacity, and I've been dying to see him perform since I met him.

Classical workshops with Josette Bushell-Mingo this week, the Artistic Director of the Swedish Silent Theatre. Should be interesting. Updates to come, hopefully.

Also getting my fix of the ineffable Alice Ripley and her band RIPLEY before I crawl into bed. She is a never ending fount of inspiration.

(I have a habit of making things CLICKable now, so try clicking names and things even if I don't expressly say CLICK.)

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Breakdown

ANOTHER post? JEEZ, Harley, what are you doing with yourself?

Learning is what I'm doing.

Had my first big emotional breakdown/breakthrough while rehearsing with Mary this evening - with all of the blocks and knots and armor I've been discovering, being able to undo it enough to feel and release was a surprise. I knew when I got to this point it was going to be rough, but man, this was like jumping in front of a bus. My knees gave out, I couldn't stand, couldn't move, couldn't see, was literally a snotty, sobbing mess. And this was just the first time letting some real emotion break through while doing repetition work. It was scary, and I'm exhausted, but I feel a little purged; calmer than I was, comforted that, yeah, I've got issues, but they aren't completely debilitating. I can still tap into emotion.

But hell, man, that was ROUGH. Awesome, but ROUGH.

I love my art. So. Fucking. Much.

Some Inspiration.

Two posts in one day? Jeez, I'm in a funk.

No One But You (Only The Good Die Young), as performed by Kerry Ellis. Click.

To be like her.

To be like her. These two women... Alice Ripley literally is my idol. Her face. Look at her face when she's singing, when she's acting - I want that fire.

Sweet Dreams are Made of This

I'm finally awake enough to type, but I'm still partially in that sleep state. Things from yesterday feel like a dream. This feeling keeps happening and I'm wondering what it means.

Anyway, about a dream. What I recall, anyway. ((I guess I'm not so awake, I'm still having an incredible amount of difficulty typing words with their correct spelling...))

None of this is in order, I just need to type before I forget.

In a house, not my own, but it was a castle too, above the streets of a not-quite-urban-not-quite-suburban location. Two characters from a previous dream, I remember them, don't know why. Jack and this other young man who looks like a kid from my old school but who has a Shakespearian name in my dream. My mom was cooking in the kitchen. The house/castle kept getting smaller when I changed rooms, the layout wasn't the same, but I didn't recognize this in my dream.

We're down on the streets and all of a sudden it's a gang war - this mass of gang members dressed in Revolutionary War-esque clothes came out of nowhere saying stuff about how they were finally going to get us. They had uzis and AK-47s. Me, Jack and Shakespeare kid are running around holding the peace, knowing bullets are about to go flying.

I'm back in the house suddenly, wanting to be on the streets fighting. We're in the dining room, which is lined floor to ceiling with old portraits. The windows look down on the street. The walls are a dark green. I'm upset about something, and I give Jack a piece of paper with a postsecret image printed on it. I say I found it, but I know that I made it in another dream long forgotten. It says something to the effect of "I know you actually want to love Hamlet," which suddenly became Shakespeare kid's name. Shakespeare kid/Hamlet is laughing at it, like, what is that all about. He has a headdress on, rough and handmade, of golden horns and furs. Jack is confused and also semi-laughing. He reads it as "I know you actually want to hurt Hamlet." I can't correct him because he can't know it's mine. Jack is also wearing some kind of headdress, similar to Hamlets, but not the same.

I have flashbacks to another dream in a different room with portraits, and there was a fight, and something happened to Hamlet when Jack threw something at him or hit him, and it was in slow motion and it was just a memory.

Suddenly I'm trying to get outside the house, because I can see the fight on the streets below, and Jack is down there, Hamlet may or may not be there, I'm not sure, I feel like he's in the house with me but I never see him or speak to him. I can't leave the house - the doors and windows have been locked with Sharpie markers jammed in all of the locks from the outside. My mom, still in the kitchen, asks me what I'm doing, and I'm trying to tell her I have to get out there but I can't, Jack locked me in so I wouldn't get hurt.

I'm back in the portrait room looking at the windows, which are locked, when this weird montage of understanding starts to happen, a la Da Vinci Code. A portrait appears in my head, awkward and patched together, but the headdress is the one Hamlet is wearing. The portrait says something. I know the golden horns are important. Another portrait appears in my head, this one of a strange, patched together girl, looking at me with Bette Davis eyes and a small, lipless mouth with large gap teeth. On her head is a headdress/hat with a raven in it. Flash to a medieval woodcut of a woman, and the raven skull in her hair is pointed out to me with gold light. It means something. Someone is wearing that hat, is that Ophelia?

I start to wake up at this point, so nothing continues.

What does this weird shit mean. I've been having unsettling dreams a lot lately, and I don't understand because they're too cryptic to make sense of.

Friday, February 25, 2011


In response to my email asking for advice and clarification on my seemingly strange physical reaction to the third chakra being activated (the soreness continued on into today, sporadically), my acting teacher, Michele Shay, wrote me back, and also forwarded on my message to the author of the Energy System of Acting textbook that we are using now, Laura Fine. I'll share both of their responses, in the order I received them. This work is daunting.

Thanks so much for e-mailing me. It does sound like things are waking up especially if its the psoaz muscle that is part of that diaphram. The body wants to take in more breath and open. So I would say- if there is a time you can be quiet- lie down on your back and allow the breath to go to where the pain is. Ask the pain what it is iy wants you to know or to pay attention to? wait for an answer,listen-avoid rushing. Give your self the luxary of gentleness. You can also send a beam of yellow light into the pain as well as an intnetion of unconditional self-love. Some very young part of you may show up. Allow what ever wants to express itself to express- especially tears-stuck tears.

Read also in The Exceptional Actor about the 3rd chakra and the heart or 4th chakra. Note the exercises she give and then return to Chapter 5 in Part One around p 44 The process of reclaiming life force. Do that exercise and see what happens. For your Heart, do the 3 step Heart Meditation technique on 55 and also drop your grounding chord and fill yourself with the white light before you go to class during the day and see if that helps the sense of safety. I am ccing Laura in case she has anything to add. The body when it is ready to let go of old patterns starts to pop like popcorn. Its just energy- it can't hurt you- only free you to be more of who you already are.
From Laura Fine:

Sounds like you are making wonderful progress. Michele provided great words of wisdom. I would echo her suggestion to proceed slowly and with gentleness. Most important, do not worry...the process of your chakras opening is really a very natural one. As the energy plates you notice around your Solar Plexus and Heart chakra relax and flow, simply remember that all is emotion is simply energy in movement. As your emotional energy moves, whatever it looks like, tears, sensation, laughter ...whatever...old beliefs may surface to resist the new flow of movement. Simply keep reminding yourself, that was past, in present time its safe to feel these feelings.

Thursday, February 24, 2011


Interesting day at studio, today. A quick briefing.

Dance remains elusive, and it digs at my core in a very nasty way. I don't know what else I can do but keep trying. It hurts so much to be corrected by classmates and watch their eyes try to shield their impatience with going so slowly.

I want to show off my new Eskrima doce pares skills - I feel like a jedi.

I enjoy acting like a zombie and/or possessed.

Next up in the character building, Hedda Gabler. I'm thrilled.

Music theory = math.

And the big eye-opener lesson of the day involves that gorgeous symbol up above. In my particular acting class, we are working on what is called the Energy System of Acting, or ESA. It's not as famous as Stanislavsky or Meisner or what have you, and it ties directly into yogic work. I had never heard of energy work being used in terms of acting, but now that we've begun, it seems so obvious.

Tapping into each of the innate energies of the chakras within ones self and reaching the essential neutral state can make even the most taxing roles a healing process. My chakras have a lot of healing to be done. The third and fourth in particular. After working specifically with the third, today (which is not that green symbol, but I prefer green more than yellow), I developed a deep ache right on my solar plexus for almost no reason. No physical reason, anyway. I'm waiting for a response, but I think I just discovered through experience that the energies of my body are directly tied to the physical reaction that my physical body has.

It's thrilling, but I'm terrified of that green chakra. There is a bunker of iron built around it, and I can feel it and feel myself hiding it and protecting it. But to get where I want to be, it's going to have to open up like some stubborn ass butterfly.

Off to do some studying, I suppose.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


I have chosen to personify this bear all week. It is cute, awkward, snarly, and a bear. Grar.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Sunday Morning

I know I have a ton of stuff that is pressing and needs to get done, but I feel like today needs to be about me, or something good for me, something to refresh my spirit, I guess. I know if I sit and try to study it just won't happen, because my mind is elsewhere. Not sure where it is, but maybe I'll go looking for it today.

Feeling much better than last weekend. Rough patches are like falling face first onto a carpet of rusty nails. Super fun. But things have balanced out on their own, for the most part.

The Fool is up today just because I've been thinking about it. I read the cards for a few of my friends last night, and I got to thinking about a spread my darling Pam read for me once, about a year ago. I'd love to see what this fool-hardy fool-child has become, after her new beginning has started. I'm right in the middle of it and getting tangled up in the act of doing it all, so I need to sit back for a minute and level it out. Maybe that's why I need a day to myself.

Friday, February 18, 2011


A very brief article, but interesting nonetheless. Is Whispering Harmful to the Voice? Click to go to the New York Times article.

I feel that it depends on whether you are aware of your own vocal functions enough to make a physical decision that is good for the voice - I can think of ways of whispering that would be harmful, and, after a while, probably even start to hurt. But then there are other ways to whisper that are much simpler and less traumatic. I prefer speaking extremely softly - when whispering, the strain can probably come from the need to articulate sounds without vibration, so we push more and can cause more damage without realizing what we're doing.

Very interesting. Copied here from Ken Schatz's Facebook.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Be My Valentine, or, The Gauntlet

Everything yesterday feels like it’s from some dream. All very Inception of me. I woke up and couldn’t understand what happened and what didn’t. Some of it still feels vague. I’m still mildly confused about what did occur and what didn’t, even after I see visible proof. Maybe I’m just tired.

I had a dream that I was a cutter. My arms were only slightly scarred, but my family hated me for it. Judged me. I covered up the cuts and scars with black electrical tape.

Debating whether to go to my voice lesson today or not. Part of me just does not feel like I can do it right now. Part of me knows I have to. I keep waking up early every day but all I want to do is sleep.

EDIT: Am not going to my lesson. I need to put the pieces of my brain back together.

Been really thinking on why I’m doing this – the acting thing. I’ve had a few discussions with different people lately about the subject, and I’m finding a trend that disturbs me. Or maybe I just don’t understand it. Or maybe I’m naïve. But I’ve been asked what the ultimate goal is, the ultimate dream of this is, and I answer honestly that I just want to make art and share it with as many people as possible, to perform and feel and make others feel and see beauty and pain. I don’t need a big apartment. I don’t need a lot. I just want to be able to live off of what I do and share my art. Broadway would be amazing, sure, and that’s a level of performance I’d love to get to someday. But it’s not the end-all be-all of this journey.

And for so many others I talk to, it’s fame. It’s money. It’s power. It’s mainstream big lights, big laughs, awards, TV, Hollywood. And that’s what they want out of this – and I don’t judge them or blame them, I just feel a little disillusioned. Am I naïve for believing in art the way I do? I guess I once believed that NYU would be filled with people who felt the way I did, whose passion drove them there because they had no other choice, they perform because they have to. But I guess not. I’m seeing more and more that the art turns into a lust for “network comedies” and “my name in lights” and money. Yeah, I want money. Who doesn’t want money? But this is not the business for money.

So I guess I’m wondering where the art is, and if I’m really running this gauntlet alone.

I also don’t think I’m eating well enough right now. I get so busy doing homework and wrapped up in what I’m doing that I just forget to eat. I think I had cereal, coffee and a handful of some snack food yesterday. Nuts and banana chips around lunchtime. My eating habits are very sporadic.

I’ve sort of given myself a little side project, which is extremely difficult for me, but I want to try anyway. I’ve taken Sylvia Plath’s poem “Mad Girl’s Love Song” and I have made it my project to create music for it. I don’t have music in my blood the way some people do, but I figure that trying to do this will help me understand the music theory I’m struggling with right now. I don’t even know how to begin, but I want to try.

Olympia Dukakis is coming to my acting class tomorrow – very exciting. She’s doing some exercises with us and I’ll be sure to share, if I can write it down true to her teachings.

Friday, February 11, 2011


Many things to discuss, but I want to devote a post to an artistic inspiration of mine.

"And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt."

"Character is fate."

"Perhaps when we find ourselves wanting everything, it is because we are dangerously close to wanting nothing."

"I took a deep breath and listened to the old bray of my heart. I am. I am. I am."

"Kiss me and you will see how important I am."

"How can you be so many women to so many strange people, oh you strange girl?"

"I want to taste and glory in each day, and never be afraid to experience pain; and never shut myself up in a numb core of nonfeeling, or stop questioning and criticizing life and take the easy way out. To learn and think: to think and live; to live and learn: this always, with new insight, new understanding, and new love."

"Can you understand? Someone, somewhere, can you understand me a little, love me a little? For all my despair, for all my ideals, for all that - I love life. But it is hard, and I have so much - so very much to learn."

"Perhaps some day I'll crawl back home, beaten, defeated. But not as long as I can make stories out of my heartbreak, beauty out of sorrow."

~ Sylvia Plath

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Got A Feeling 21 Is Gonna Be A Good Year

They said it first. (Click.)

That is the anthem to my day. Twenty one years ago I was born - crazy, right?

Cheers, world. Here's to 21 more. And then some.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Green Eyed

I don’t suppose jealousy can be counted as a motivating force. But I find myself increasingly jealous of things these days. Nothing specific, it’s nothing hurtful, or an overly cruel kind of jealousy aimed at anyone in particular (except maybe one case but we can’t all be saints, now can we), but it’s making me feel gross inside, these feelings of anger and bitterness at what I don’t have. It’s all revolving around how I have not been able to audition or audition successfully and how I am not in a production of anything right now. I know I have SOME talent. I got here, didn’t I? And I’m seething that I can’t show it at all.

I watch shows and I think of how I might do in a role. I hear of other people having opportunities and getting cast (in shows I adore, no less, in roles I would kill for, and they’re shallow, pretty girl party animals) or doing promo voice-over recordings or getting calls from agents or even simply going to auditions, just being successful and not hindered by a broken ear and I want to lash out at everything. Unfairness was never something I dealt with well. I’m waiting for my chance. It’s hard to want to focus completely on school and excel but also want to start getting out there and doing things. I don’t have the physical energy to be doing it all, and I certainly don’t have enough hours in the day.

I feel that my dancing won’t get me anywhere special, because I will never be the best at it, so I can fake it and whatever, but my acting and my voice have to be what makes me something different. Something no one can resist watching or listening to. I just need validation of that and the chance to see if all this time and money and blood and sweat is really helping me improve. I need to perform. I need to live what I’m doing.

Regardless, I guess I’ve got to just keep on keeping on, for now. I don’t know how to make these feelings go away. It makes me sick.

Focusing a lot of my effort right now on getting my flexibility and strength back (pushups almost killed me) so that I can really start honing my dance. Or, actually, just being able to dance at all. That would be nice. Also really trying to dig to understand the music theory that has just been going right over my head; I’m not sure how much it’s going to take for me to really start understanding, but I have no choice if I want to succeed. I feel so behind. I often wonder what they saw in me to bring me here, and whether it was a fluke. I believe in my abilities, but it’s hard to stay so confident when I am bombarded with challenges that seem determined to beat me into submission and some misery-inducing cubicle job for the rest of my days.

The people in my support system have such faith in me. I feel like I have to be perfect to prove that they aren’t mistaken. Perfect. What a horrifying word. I don’t even know what it means. I know what I want to be, and I guess that’s my version of perfect. I just hope it doesn’t kill me on the way.

Today is for homework - play reading, analysis, textbook reading, note taking, music studying, music searching, vocalizing, line learning, theory studying, stretching, piano putzing. Maybe some of it will get done.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


At studio yesterday, I learned many things, but I will hone it down to a couple very important ones.

Drums are extremely loud.

Subtlety is effortless when there is intention behind it.

I can be an effortlessly awkward person.

More lessons later. Another cold, wet day in the Big Apple. Happy Groundhog Day.