26 July, 2009

Kicking and Screaming...

Well it's 9 days away so I guess now is as good a time as any to let you know...

I'm leaving New York.

Hopefully not foreeeever but atleast for the next chunk.

I'm splitting my time in August between New York for the first 5 days, then Nashville for 2 weeks, then 5 days in Orlando, then wrapping the month up in Lynchburg. I know that sounds a little psychotic.

My sublease in Astoria ends August 1st but there are still a few auditions I want to attend here the first week of August. Bonnie, the lifelong best friend of like, 22 years got engaged a few months back and I have 1) yet to see the ring and 2) communicated to her that if she chose a wedding dress without me present I might DIE. So we are meeting up in Nashville to shop. :) I also haven't been back to the Music City since February and I'm pretty sure it's the longest I've been gone...ever! Weird. Nashville has gone through so many changes! No more Suttons, a new Urban Outfitters. It's weird stuff folks. I need to check it out. It will be the strangest phenomenon not to go back to Brandywine Pointe Blvd. I'm still not used to all this. Wonder when I will be?

For those of you who I talk to on a more regular basis you're probably not shocked by my decision to leave. Or you might be. Just 6 weeks ago I was loving living in Astoria, definitely staying in New York til the end of the year if not the next 5 years. But finances with several part-time jobs has proved to not add up to what I need to stay here and no great roommate possibilities have come knocking. Call me human but I'm just sick of living with strangers. I want a home! I want MY furniture! MY pictures on the wall! MY friend living in the other room! So those 2 factors helped me decide that the fall will be a great time to save money so I'm never destitute again. It's not cute having to choose between buying conditioner and hair gel. I need to do the non-exciting thing and do the smart thing. Save up and be on my feet for 2010.

So where will I be the rest of the year beyond my August travel? It's yet to be determined. I love Nashville and Lynchburg and could be happy in either locale. During my August trips I'm going to investigate the job possibilities and see what looks more advantageous. If I go to Nashville there will definitely be more princess parties. And I do love that. :)

I'm finishing up reading a thought-provoking piece of non-fiction by Malcolm Gladwell called "The Outliers." The book details the stories of various groups of people who became very successful. Reading it has reminded me how important it is to do meaningful work. I've been trying to figure out what I want my life to look like down the road and how to get there. I think the first step for me is to really commit and get plugged into one community. One community socially, spiritually and theatrically. I also want to focus more on writing. So, ya know, yay for that.

As always...more to come...

23 July, 2009

Top 10

I'm in a listy (not to be confused with lusty) mood so I thought I'd forward to you 10 of the most novel, interesting, useful or visited websites I frequent. Ch Ch check it out...

1. Freetranslation.com is amazing because if you're like me and you do the occasional international travel or travel writing or have an inkling to write something in Finnish on Facebook this website is an easy go to.

2. Pianofiles.com has undoubtedly been one of the most useful websites for me. It is a networking site where every user's page consists of a list of the digital sheet music they own. Some people have entire scores of movies and musicals. Any song you may need is possible to find. I have traded sheet music so far with about 10 people. And I've acquired the sheet music for songs I need for auditions. Ordinarily I'd fork out $5 for each piece. So survey says, I'm saving a lot of money. And for a career that forces you to spend so much on the job interview (headshots, resumes, dress, makeup, heels, sheet music) it's nice to have something to ease the pain throbbing in my pockets.

3. Twitter! I tend to be that guy who is wary of the new social networking craze. I was last on the myspace bandwagon back in the 80's and I joined Twitter well after all my techy cult apple pals. But I quickly realized upon joining that Twitter for me was like a really enjoyable way to group-text. I've chosen to limit my Twitter "friends" to people who I am really good friends with so any update I receive is of particular interest to me. Somehow while I'm waiting for the train to arrive I can learn that Ashli and Matt just had a delightful dinner on the Seine, Dad just completed his 501 syllabus, my friend Lindsay is en route to Texas and Meagan is studying for an intense exam. That's the kind of connecting I like.

4. Mint.com falls into the category of useful. I am a person who loves things being concise and organized. I use iCal daily (oh that color-coding). In the same vein Mint.com is a website that keeps up with bank accounts, credit cards and 401k's in one happy, organized place. I personally have accounts with 2 different banks so Mint converges all my spending and shows me how much I spent last year on food and even provides a way for me to see a pie graph of where my money is going. And as a visually oriented person I just love that. I can also budget through the website and they text me when they think an account is "dangerously low." It's a thoughtful little site.

5. Ashlielizabeth.blogspot.com is one of my very FAVORITE websites. In part because it is written by my sister. :-) Ashli and her husband Matt live in Edinburgh, Scotland and are spending the summer in Paris. She posts dreamy photos daily and gives detailed descriptions of ex-pat life. Totally recommend!

6. Hopstop.com is THE way I got around when I first moved to New York. It's a thoughtful mapquest for subway lines that takes note of rush hour and lines being down due to maintenance (which happens always.) Useful!

7. The Producer's Perspective Ken Davenport is a real live Broadway producer and provides candid analysis of the happenings on the Great White Way. I have a lot of interaction with directors, choreographers, and even quite a bit with writers but on a personal level I don't interact with producers often so Ken's blog is an interesting and rarely heard voice.

8. Playbill.com The Drudge of the theatre world. Much easier on the eyes than Broadwayworld and it even has a section for audition and job postings. I check this site multiple times daily.

9. Facebook.com You know it, you love it, you've wasted days of your life on it. My favorite part of Facebook is the messaging. I have one email chain through Facebook with friends that I've had for 2 years. It's quite useful for keeping in touch with all the people that you don't have time to call all the time. It's a way to spend less time on the phone but stay connected. Losing touch is soooo 1999.

10. Smartprettyandawkward.com This little site is satisfying like a jolly rancher. Small, tart and puts a little gleam in your eye. It also comes with quotes and you know how a girl likes her quotes...

21 July, 2009

15 Books

Have you guys seen that trend on facebook where you're supposed to make a list of 15 influential books in your life and give virtually no thought to what comes to mind? Well I made one just now and I'm posting it here instead. :-)

1. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
2. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
3. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
4. Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery
5. Girl Meets God by Lauren Winner
6. A Little Bit Wicked by Kristin Chenoweth
7. On Writing Well by William K. Zinsser
8. Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
9. Walking on Water by Madelein L'Engle
10. Tess of the D'urbevilles by Thomas Hardy
11. The Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
12. Failing Forward by John Maxwell
13. The Traveler's Gift by Andy Andrews
14. Sacred Marriage by Gary L. Thomas
15. I Married Adventure by Luci Swindoll

10 July, 2009

A really good day.

Tuesday night I had one of the best theatrical experiences of my life. I know, I know I love shows. I love 90% of what I've seen in the theatre since moving to New York so I'm not what one would call a "tough critic" (except if you get me on the topic of City Center's 'The Wiz' YIKES!) but the performance of 'Twelfth Night' produced by the Public Theatre in Central Park was one of the most enchanting delightful theatrical experiences I've ever had. Ahhhh. Let me just start from the beginning. (a very good place to start.)

Every summer the Public sponsors FREE shows in an outdoor theatre in Central Park. Sounds great until you realize tickets are limited and first come first serve and those first served, well, usually arrive around 3 AM. (hard core.) I got a tad suspicious when the dudes at the front of the line looked quite comfortable chilling out in Central Park...as if they lived there...but seriously, if I had $50 and felt good in my heart about having a hobo save my spot in line I might've done it too. Anyway...neither here nor there.

I was supposed to meet Conor and Melissa to get in line at 7:30 AM. I had heard that was a reasonable hour to attend so we made that the plan. I hadn't slept well the night before and each person who arrives can get up to 2 tickets so when 6:30 rolled around I felt no hesitation to text them and let them know I was running a bit late. I texted. I rolled over. The next thing I knew it was 8 AM. I called Conor and no answer. It made me a tad uneasy since when one is waiting in line for something for hours on end a phone call is welcomed entertainment. I decided to throw on some tennis shoes and dash down to the park. Conor's alarm didn't go off and Melissa had gotten sick in the night so there was nobody holding our precious spot in line! I arrived after about 600 of my closest pals. My friend Lacey (the flight attendant chum who had come in to town the week before to see the show) had waited all day---i mean from about 9 am until 8 pm and got to see the show so I was prepared to set up camp all day. Conor arrived about an hour and a half after I did and we made a plan. She'd hold our spot til 1 pm. I'd come back and wait with her for an hour or two then she'd leave, Melissa would get there for a while and we'd hope for the best. Tickets would start being handed out at 1 pm. The line started moving and a guy and girl (presumably a couple) walked down the line from the beginning to the end looking slightly bewildered carrying camping gear (sleeping bags, etc). I happened to make eye contact with the girl and they came over to us and asked us if there were "Only two of us." And we go "Yeah" and they said "Our friends aren't going to be able to come so would you guys like these tickets?" These nice kids had arrived at 5:30 AM and were GIVING us their extra tickets. It seemed a little too easy. We stood there tickets in hand bewildered for a solid 10 minutes. It was only 2:00! I thought we'd be waiting in the "stand by" line for 6 more hours! Whaaaaaa?

So in lieu of camping out in Central Park all day I decided to walk from the upper east side down to Times Square. I spent a satisfying hour in Drama Books reading and then made my way up to the Upper West Side. I got to the theatre a bit early and sat down on a bench. It was there that I met Lewis.

I was gazing at my ticket when Lewis took a looksy over and informed me that I had a good seat. Better than his he pointed out. The senior seats are all the way on the side. Close but all the way on the side. My seat was closer to the center. I told him I was just happy to have a ticket and I told him I brought cookies for our generous new friends. He said that he had arrived at the park at 6 AM to get a ticket. He also said that it was probably the last year he'd be doing that because waiting in line for 7 hours outside made him a little sick. He said he's the type to do what he wants to do though. He doesn't usually let things like that stop him. Lewis and I went on to discuss theatre. He's lived on the 6th floor of a walk up apartment building on the Upper East Side for more than 50 years. A native New Yorker he has seen MANY Broadway shows and says they don't make 'em like they used to. He said he was pleasantly surprised by the "South Pacific" revival though. Lewis loves dogs and made a point at talking to each one that strolled by and calling them "My Deahhhh" just the way it sounds. His wife and his own dog passed about 3 years ago. He doesn't think dogs should go without 2 to 3 walks a day so he hasn't bought another. And being 83 he doesn't exactly want to walk up and down those stairs more than twice a day. I told him I have a vested interest in the theatre in that I'm an actress. He loved that. HE said he's met alot of actresses--and living in New York all his life I'm sure he has.I tried to brag a little and told him I saw Jeff Daniels walking in the park earlier (he's currently starring in the Broadway play 'God of Carnage' and he had a small role in Sam Mendes' new movie 'Away We Go' which i just saw on Friday night.) Lewis was none too impressed. He's walked by celebrities and brilliant actors on the street all his life. He's seen Meryl Streep and Katherine Hepburn perform live in plays. Vivian Leigh too! After chatting for about 30 minutes he decided to embark into the theatre and he looked me dead in the eye. He said, "I just have one thing to say to you. Work hard. Tons of actresses come to this city to make it. Don't get distracted. Work hard."

I gulped to myself. Looked him back dead in the eye and said "I will."

We got to our seats just as the sun was setting. The stage was a beautiful large patch of green grass with a few rolling hills. I couldn't imagine a whole play on this small simple set but what the director did with it was pure magic. I have to be honest here and admit that i was a little nervous about seeing Shakespeare. I've never seen a professional production of Shakespeare and the college productions I have seen have left me...how should I say...bored...unaffected...texting?

I knew this was the make or break moment. If I'm one of those people who can't really appreciate Shakespeare then I respect myself juuuust a little bit less.

The lights on the stage came up and Anne Hatheway made her first entrance. Viola has just rolled onto the beach of Illyria after a shipwreck where she has lost her brother. For Shakespearean reasons she decides to disguise herself as a man to be a servant to the local duke. To make a long story short the Duke is in love with Olivia, Olivia falls in love with Anne (who she thinks is a dude) and Anne is in love with the Duke.

The acting in this play was none like I've ever seen in person. Every actor on the stage was every bit as committed as actors in an Oscar winning film even though there was virtually no set and the actors can turn their heads to the left and SEE the audience.

I wish I could adequately express how seeing this affected me. Let me really focus and try. I knew I was watching people who are some of the most skilled actors in New York. The creativity in their acting made Shakespeare's words fresh and relevant. It inspired me to be that creative on stage. To not say lines or lyrics like they've always been said. I was also so inspired by Anne Hatheway's commitment to her character. In her monologue in the last act about how she aches for the Duke I was so moved. And when she discovers that her brother is indeed not dead you can see in her face the process of choices she made as an actress. In spite of the play being a comedy Anne brings an immense amount of vulnerability and honesty to her role. I hope every actor who got the opportunity to watch her perform were inspired to take their commitment to roles up a few notches. Cause if anyone can get by on a name and charm it's Anne Hatheway.

I'm learning in my audition class how important vulnerability is on stage and how the clearest avenue of expressing it is through one's eyes. My first acting professor Neal Brasher told us in class (I'll never forget it) it doesn't matter how much you as an actor FEEL the moment on stage is real-if the person in the back row doesn't feel it, it doens't matter. Acting isn't about having such a huge imagination that you can convince yourself you see pink clouds. The audience has to see the pink clouds. And if they do, then you've done your job.

So Twelfth Night in Central Park under the stars was one of the best nights I've had in the theatre. I hope one day I can inspire someone to be better the way Anne Hatheway inspired me. At the end of the play the whole cast sang the lyric "Our play is done and we'll strive to please you everyday." To bring a bit of hope and joy to a world that's full of hard moments daily...that's really what theatre is about...we'll strive to please you everyday...

01 July, 2009

"Dont Suck."

Hi friends :)

Tonight I'm writing from a warm and surprisingly quiet apartment on the Upper West Side. All of a sudden around June 28th New York finally remembered that it's summer and I've been adjusting accordingly. I'm so NOT used to a/c units in windows as opposed to central heating and air. My sleep pattern is totally thrown off by the night sweats but being the cheap broke actor that I am I can't bear to turn the air up to a level in which I'm actually comfortable enough to doze off. Ha. My life is so glamorous glamorous. (flossy. flossy.)

June in the city has been great! I've gotten to work alot less at Anthropologie which is good for my soul and my career. I've had more time to put into auditions and whaddyaknow I'm getting better feedback/callbacks! I'm also really enjoying spending time with Rufus: my 5 year old 2nd cousin (we have the same great-grandmother [my mom's dad and rufus' grandpa are brothers.]). Rufus is amazingly inquisitive and funny and is gearing up for kindergarten in the fall. He is itching to learn how to read. And he's got a pretty big vocabulary. He's already tossed out "cap-sized" and "diarrhea." Proud. Also, Rufus' mom Cory, who is my ehh..2nd cousin by marriage? whatever. is a HILARIOUS comic and you should definitely check out her stuff. Her website is HERE So far I've only spent time with her in 15 minute intervals but I am looking forward to picking her brain about being a female stand-up comic. Also for the record she said Craig Ferguson is totally nice. She's been on his show 3 times and she showed me a card he left in her dressing room. On the inside it read:


Just a gem.

Other than that I've started an audition class with a casting director. We've only met for class once so far but I'm already gleaning tons. I'm also still holding my breath about a certain callback that I got for a certain show at a certain disneyworld where I would play a fish (rhymes with Fabio). It would be a dream come true. If I get it I'll hear some time this month.

I'm also trying to figure out if I want to be here in New York long term or not. I love the city but it can be a lonely place to try and conquer alone-ish. My heart really wants to put some roots down somewhere and I want it to be near at least 1 or 2 of my nearest and dearest. I'd love to go away and return a bit down the road with a buddy (re: sig other? tmi?) We'll see. :-) Where there is routine there can still be adventure. That is what I'm trying to tell myself anyway...until next time yall...