Saturday, April 30, 2011


Never did finish my update the other day. Whoops.

Yesterday was exhausting, but ultimately not a bad day whatsoever. I moaned and groaned about spending a six hour workshop listening to our studio classmates sing; those six hours could be used for finals work and essay writing, et cetera.

So at 3:30 we all marched in to the theatre and sat in the rows of chairs, tired and grumbling about the next six hours sitting in chairs with no food and no break from studio, but with absolutely no idea of the ridiculously fabulous woman who was about to walk in and rock our socks. Her name is Liz Caplan. I highly recommend checking out the website, or just freaking googling her. She's been called "the musical theatre ghost whisperer," and when I pick my jaw up off the floor I can say I'd have to agree. And each of us only got 5 minutes with her.

I can't say the hours flew by (we were actually there for 7 to make sure everyone could go), and by the end I was shaky and starving, but SHE'S GOING TO BE OUR TEACHER NEXT YEAR.

Let me share with you what she said when I sang. I sang "No One But You" by Queen (click to see Kerry Ellis' rendition), my staple power ballad that has an MT flair. Second verse. I finished and everybody clapped (most people within the studio have never heard each other sing before - we're in different classes so we don't get to see each other perform), and Liz Caplan smiled and said "That song is beautiful in your voice, really good choice. Freddie would be proud."


I almost died on the spot. This woman, who has trained a zillion of the most amazing performers of our time, telling me that I would have made Freddie proud. WHAT.

But she worked with me on loosening my body because I was freezing cold (the AC was on and it was probably 50 degrees in that room), and even with a quick warm up session my second rendition was deeper and more resonant. The stuff she managed to do in 5 or 7 minutes was literally mind-bending. The simplest things changed sounds so much. And we're all so absurdly talented, I can't even IMAGINE what we'll be like after next year, with her as a regular teacher.

So it wasn't so bad. :)

Oh, and I got the interning position with Barbara McNamara Casting. :D

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Thursday, April 21, 2011


With great love to Alpha Tiger, aka Jesse, my fellow artist.

We have a habit of finding the most mind-bending or blatantly artsy art and sending it to each other while textually shouting "ART" at one another across the internet. One-upping him on the artfulness of something is quite a feat. These are the videos from our latest exchange; first my contributions, then his.

A trilogy of performances by Teatro da Vertagem (Vertigo Theatre) of Sao Paulo, Brazil. Paraiso Perdido (Paradise Lost), Livro de Jo (the Book of Job), and Apocalipse 1,11 (Revelations 1,11). Extremely graphic in nature. Also in Spanish, so I can't tell you what they're saying. It's truly amazing, however.

And Jesse's rebuttal, No Reward for Good Behavior.
The artist's blurb is what truly makes this art:
"One of the things that impresses me most in other people is seeing someone passionately engaged in a fruitless activity. When someone is obsessed with something even though there is no benefit, whether selfish or altrusitic, other than the simple feeling of participating in the action, I feel a kindred spirit. In many ways, my art-making is an absurd obsession; the resultant object aside, the process is the most important, yet irrational, activity in my life. And so, many of the sculptures I make are not only products of that paradox, but expressions of it. No Reward for Good Behavior, an overly-complex machine containing weeks-worth of fabricating and finishing, accomlishes a tiny, ridiculous task: walking these small figures around in a circle. And yet I am proud to have made something so nonsensical: there is so much forced meaningfulness out there. Sometimes one needs a break."

No Reward for Good Behavior from Ben Cowden on Vimeo.

I gotta start creating more or I'll go crazy. No more of this sitting around. I'm getting the message loud and clear, universe. Just give me the chance.

Also, on a separate note, I have an interview for an internship position with Barbara McNamara Casting on Monday at noon. Here's to hoping.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

And For The Kids at Home

Say Yes

By The Way, Meet Vera Stark, Second Stage Theatres. Twenty dollar student rush, with, of course, the ineffable Raji again (what am I going to do with my free time when he returns to the West Coast? GASP.)

I'll keep this brief - it's late, and I have class at 8:30 tomorrow morning, but it's something I have to share. Another stage door adventure, this time with Stephanie J. Block. Her advice to us, as she watched us sincerely from under the brim of her Mets hat, was "say yes to everything." Every opportunity, every benefit, every free thing, every class, absolutely everything, say yes, because that's how you meet people, that's how you make that one connection who will remember you and call you someday in the future and say would you like to do this project? Say yes to the work.

XO, Stephanie - thank you. I have a warm glow inside and it's because I know this is right.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Suicide is not the answer.

I will never understand suicide.

I'm not even sure why I wanted to share this, but something about it stung and just makes me wonder. Because there was also the performance art by Chris Burden in 1971 called Shoot, in which Burden was shot in the arm by an assistant from 15 feet away. Where does art end and something else begin?

And how can we keep things like this young man's death from happening? Nineteen years old. That was me two years ago.

I send everyone affected love and strength.

I don't know why I needed to share this. But I did.

(Remember, lots of things are clickable, if you want more info.)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

You Can Do Anything

I think I just need to put up a permanent link to Jason's blog - the things he finds and says are just so inspiring. CLICK. (EDIT: Permanent link to Jason's blog filed under Starry Eyed Idiot) This little girl just truly melted my heart, and made me want to be less of a sharp edged person. She motivated me on a Sunday morning, and maybe, after I do some homework and practice, I'll go have another lovely afternoon to myself and appreciate the me and us and that essential self I neglect. I want to go find her and hug her and say thank you, that I draw pictures too, and I sing. I'm good at singing.

Last night Raji and I went to see JERUSALEM on Broadway last night, with Mark Rylance, Mackenzie Crook and John Gallagher Jr., to name a few of the actors. An exceptional play, decidedly English, to be sure, but brilliant and totally moving, even to a little New Yorker like me. I am honored to have witnessed Mark Rylance perform. He has a command of the stage like I have never seen in another human. Like I always write, if you get the chance, please see it. It hits you something fierce and you're never quite sure what it was, but it was powerful beyond words.

Post show, Raji and I embraced our theatre student nerdiness and braved the torrential downpour to stand by the backstage door, while most all of the other patrons hopped into cabs or scurried down the sidewalk. I always want to meet the performers, though I never know what to say to them. Raji, however, has it down to a science, and I will be taking a leaf out of his book from now on. Part of the cast was chatting on the sidewalk under the overhang, so we joined them for a bit. Raji has a staple question he asks all working actors he meets, and tonight was no different; "What advice do you have for young actors just starting out?"

Charlotte Mills told us we should just see as much brilliant theatre as we can ("Which you're apparently already doing, so you're doing it right so far."), so we can just immerse ourselves in the world of what we want to do. Molly Ranson told us we shouldn't worry about what anybody else would do, and just really stay true to the choices and things that feel right to us.

We stood in the rain for quite a long time, not even sure if everyone would come out due to the weather, but John Gallagher Jr. did finally come out, without an umbrella, and before he could dash away down the sidewalk Raji had called him over so we could congratulate him and talk to him. He was surprisingly chatty and genuinely sincere, which was so wonderful. He told us to stay true in ourselves, and not let everything get to our heads ("because, you know, we all have those days, like, even I have them sometimes, like every other week, or sometimes, when you just ask yourself 'should I just quit?' But don't let it get to your head, just do it."). And he was saying how he truly believes there is a place for everyone who wants to do this, and works hard enough at it, no matter how long it takes ("People say 'oh, you're doing so well so young, four Broadway shows in a row, and I'm 26, but people don't realize I started auditioning when I was 13. Sometimes it takes a really long time to find out where you really fit into with this stuff, but I really believe there's a place for everyone who does it and really does it, you know?") It was a wonderful conversation, and he was so sweet.

It makes my heart swell and ache when I talk to working actors. I just want it so badly. Not fame, not oodles of money, but just to live that art and to love. To be DOING it. I say that like, every blog post. But it's true. It just helps me understand this is exactly where I belong, and these are the people I want to be with and work with. Because we're all exactly the same. We're connected, as the little girl in that video up top said.

So. With that, I'm off to do some homework, shower, then get some artsy fartsy crap and high tail it to a park. It's beautiful today. I want to see the flowers and the sun. Carpe Diem, motherfuckers. Love to each and every one of you. <3

Thursday, April 14, 2011


Today was a shitty day. It was also an enlightened day. My days are bipolar. Lucky I'm not.

In spite of all the potholes and bitch slaps the universe decided to dish my way today, it also helped me to see something with clear and open eyes for the first time. It's a rather important thing, and it's going to take a while to really set in, but once I can accept this and start moving forward, things will be better than they are.

Chakra acting work with Laura Fine today, higher self and lower self. And I realized a basic truth I guess life has made me forget: That all aspects of me, internal, external, spiritual, mental, emotional, all of these things exist, and they are all real, and however they are is the way they are, and not wrong. I do not need to be fixed. I am not broken.

The deepest part of me knows this. I just have to learn to live it. I am real, I feel, I love, I breathe, I am. It won't be an easy road. Saying it won't make my brain believe it. But getting my heart to believe it might be a start.

I am not broken. And I have believed that for so long.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

NO +

I felt my soul under my skin in class the other day. I like art. I also think my subconscious is in the shape of a bronze Egyptian mau.

I would share all my glorious teachings about chakra work and lower self work and internal discovery and how the human experience is to seek love and acceptance, and art is a linear route to that, and blah blah blah


academia sets her glorious Chanel heel down square on my eardrum and says "EXCUSE ME, PRIVATE UNIVERSITY STUDENT, but you think you can get away from the stricture of culture so easily?" And so, syllabi stalk the halls, grades begin to loom in a very non-liberal arts college sort of way, and curriculi begin to swirl and seethe as foaming tablets of ADJUSTMENT get dropped in every other week.

I'm still sick. Possible ear infection. More on that after what I hope will be a successful health center trip tomorrow. Along with being sick, I have three upcoming workshops to slide into my schedule, along with a current workshop this week during my acting classes in which I must memorize two extraneous monologues, along with my music memorization and primary scene memorization. Also still scuffing along the bottom in regards to music theory and those related classes, so studying and practicing piano and homework is essential, but when? Along with a final project and paper on CADA's "No +" movement for Latin American Theatre, and potentially a final paper for Contemporary American Playwrights, all in the next three weeks.

I'm losing my mind. Truly. My ear aches and I'm going insane.

Please watch the CADA video. Political activism has such an artistic quality to it. I love it. I'm making t-shirts for my project. NO + means No mas, or No more.

NO + NO + NO + NO + NO + NO + NO + NO +

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Home Free at Last

I can't believe I missed this when it happened - Lanford Wilson died at the age of 73. More on Wilson here.

I have not read much of his, but what I know has moved me. Burn This and Home Free. Home Free still haunts me, and it was the first time, as an actor, I felt immersed in every fiber of a character to the point where it affected my daily life. I love Joanna and always will. The butterfly monologue of Burn This I need to keep forever. It's beautiful and disturbing in the most lovely of ways.

I should read more of his. It speaks to me.

Rest in peace, Lanford Wilson. The playwrighting community has lost a true artist.

Saturday, April 9, 2011


"To be separate is to not believe in Love."

I want to be as close to knowing Love as this man is. He knows art; he lives it and breathes it and has become a part of the world in a way I wish my young, spastic little brain could accept.

Taking a couple days back in CT to heal my sickness. Also to do laundry. And homework. Developing my skills in transcribing the International Phonetic Alphabet. I'm such a nerd and I LOVE IT.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

While My Body is Away

I'm sick today. And because my body is out of commission, my brain is on overload.

Art. There is so much ART in this city, and I've seen almost none of it. I have to change that.

Some combinations of words, or words I've made up, or words together with connotations or sounds or things that I think are pretty.

secondhand voodoo
suburban surrealism
halcyon homicide
homo sapiens pastiche

Things I must go see soon.
Seance on a Wet Afternoon, a new opera by Stephen Schwartz.
Epona's Labyrinth, a Kafkaesque vision of modern medicine and modern life.
And basically anything at the opera. Cheap tix to Rigoletto through my dorm hall, so I might organize my life and go see that.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

A worn out sole

"Life beats down and crushes the soul and art reminds you that you have one."

- Stella Adler

Seeking A Mr. Fix-it

My computer is acting up again... I have it running in safe mode with networking, just so I can access my email and important things, but who knows how long this will last? It is almost 4 years old, and laptops don't have very long life spans. We'll see how long I can fudge it running like this.

Saw Next to Normal on tour this past Saturday, seeing Born Yesterday with Robert Sean Leonard and Jim Belushi tonight (for free! Thanks, NYU) EDIT: Staying home. I am so damn sick. Hopefully my sudden allergy attack and general feeling of crappiness won't hinder my attending. Free Broadway is freaking hard to come by. Well. We saw how that worked out. Got free tix to Black Watch in a few weeks. That'll make up for it.