26 November, 2009

Make it work!

5 more weeks of 2009! I know any time people mention dates it’s immediately followed by “OMG can you believe it?!” etc. etc.
(But seers, can you?)

I can’t help but think about all I’ve learned and experienced this year and how much I’ve grown since this time last year.

Oh also did you notice it’s been like, 2 weeks since I wrote? (I’ll take your silence as a resounding “YES!”) The non-writing is decidedly not me-ish but life has been happening! (and oh how we love when it does!)

I was temping along printing shipping labels at the local marketing department of a dialysis company (glitzy!) listening to “Die! Vampire Die!” from [Title of Show] and thinking wistfully about how there’s so many places in this great country I’ve yet to see. (Why does this package of at home after kidney dialysis information get to go to Tempe and I don’t??) When on a break I had a missed call from a 212 number.

(212 is the area code for New York and we always hope it’s a casting company when there is a missed call and not a Walgreens wondering if I’m ever going to pick up my freaking headshots.)

I listened to the voicemail and discovered that it WAS a casting company and they wanted to see if I’d be available for an audition for a show on Monday.

(This was Friday.)

(I was in Nashville.)

I can’t just skip up to NYC at a moment’s notice! I had to call and politely decline and urge them to call me again next season! And then I went back to printing labels. The end.


OBVIOUSLY (being me) I finagled a way to make the thousand mile trek to the Big Apple for the audition. One minute I was printing shipping labels and the next I was shipping out!

I left the next day for Lynchburg where I had a ridiculously horrifying experience. Well, not in Lynchburg proper actually I was on I-81 near Wytheville. (details.) Apparently a crazy man thought I was throwing gumballs at his vehicle and decided to teach me a lesson thereby thoroughly freaking me out for 20 minutes and getting him arrested.
(FYI there were no actual gumballs involved.)
The night ended with me totally safe and him having a psychological examination at the sheriff’s station. I felt scurred for me but worse for my mom and dad who were on the phone with me during the crazy thing. Yuck. All’s certainly well that ends well. So after that I spent the night in my parents' beautiful new home on the Roanoke end of Lynchburg. It’s pretty much out in the country which is determinable by the insane amount of stars one can count from the driveway. BEAUTIFUL. And QUIET.
The next day I was on to DC where I dropped my car (Thanks Supreme Court for the free parking and lack of vandalism!!) and headed on to DC via Megabus (not quite as classy as Boltbus but it was sold out).
Monday it seemed that all stars aligned. I got major props on my darker hair color choice and my audition went very well. It really is a deeply satisfying feeling when you know that you showed the director exactly who you are and what you bring to the role without trying to morph yourself into some other type “See I’m a belter!! Hear my vocal nodes developing!!!”
It’s happened to me a few times and it’s so great.

I had planned to stay only for a day-ish and come back to the south Wednesday but the casting director asked me if I could come to the callback the following Monday. At first I was all, uhhhh really? Wait around a whole week? But then I was all lemmemakeitwork. So I gave away a few shifts, secured a couch to sleep on and learned how to wear the same thing twice in one week (a difficult lesson). While in NYC I got to catch up with 10 or so dear, dear friends, see “Dreamgirls” at the Apollo Theatre, see “Ragtime” at the Neil Simon Theatre and see my friend Melissa star as Rosalyn in “As You Like It” at Marymount Manhattan College! I also got to take a dance class at Broadway Dance Center, eat Crumbs Cupcakes and read a lot.

The callback Monday went well though I don’t really know (at all) how it will pan out. I really feel peaceful about it though--that if it is the right next step then I’ll get offered the job and if it’s not then I won’t.

So that pretty much sums up what’s been going on with me lately. I have about 3 and a half more weeks in Nashville until I go to Lynchburg for Christmas. At that point it looks like I’ll either be there for a couple of weeks until rehearsals begin in NYC or I’ll be gearing up for a semester of theatre classes. Both sound fantastic to me.

And since I’m finishing up this blog post on Thanksgiving I should say that I’m so thankful today for parents who didn’t screw me up, a sister and close friends who are fiercely loyal, inspire me to be better, and always assume the best, and an art form that so deeply moves my soul. Happy Thanksgiving!

12 November, 2009

Details. (it's a little wordy. just being honest.)

(Warning: there is heavy usage of the words "I" and "My" in this blog. That's a little disgusting to me (oh there I go...oh there I go double!!) but I thought if you are up to the task of reading this you might care what's going on with me. I definitely care about what's going on with you. :-))

Hello big bright beautiful world!

I've been a bit absent from here lately only because the things preoccupying my mind and heart aren't particularly blog ready and/or blog appropriate.

It's strange. As extroverted and open-bookish as I am I just don't want to share all of it with everybody.

Meanwhile, I wish I could write as fast as I type/think. My wrist can't handle the thought speed! (I do love a seat by a window at a golden lit coffee shop in the early evening though. That's where I am now. Well, not now-now. Now as in when I was writing this--not typing. Ahem.)
Fear not though I have been writing a lot. I recently made November Resolutions. Yes that is the thing normal people do in January. Well, Patric and I decided to make June Resolutions over the summer and randomly prioritizing and setting goals really lends itself to giving a span of time some specific direction. So for these last 2 months I have Novemberesolutions. They include things like: finish reading these certain books. And get the hell off of Facebook. Things like that. I'm still poring over Anne Lamott's "Bird by Bird" and not only learning things about writing but there's also a ton to be gleaned and applied to acting. Here's an example:

"...each of your characters has an emotional acre that they tend, or don't tend, in certain specific ways. One of the things you want to discover as you start out is what each person's acre looks like. What is the person growing, and what sort of shape is the land in? ...you need to find out as much as possible about the interior life of the people you are working with...you also want to ask yourself how they stand, what they carry in their pockets or purses, what happens in their faces and to their posture when they are thinking, or bored, or afraid. Whom would they have voted for last time? Why should we care about them anyway? What would be the first thing they stopped doing if they found out they had six months to live? Would they start smoking again? Would they keep flossing?"

Good writing--as well as good acting--is in the details.

Coming home to Nashville for a few months has been great for my inner world. I've gotten to reconnect with my inner songwriter, guitarist, indy music lover, voracious reader, aspiring author and sacred music lover. There are many facets to my artist--yours too, I am certain.

I think in order to grow in one area of art we must tend to our other artistic gardens. Reading about writing--and in turn, writing about reading--is certainly making me a more thoughtful (read: better) actor.

In New York there was a certain level of manic urgency to my artistic focus. Specifically every day I was preparing for the audition that was coming up in the next 3 days or less. In Nashville I have been relieved of the constant pressure to prepare urgently. Instead I can prepare for auditions months in advance, finding excellent material, chewing on character choices. I can read a lot, play a lot and generally just enjoy creativity without the urgency. Gratifying for sure.

It really is fulfilling and in no small way life-altering to have a tangible long term goal. I've discovered that I want to get a MFA in acting--no small task to get into a program much less complete it! And it has affected everything. What I think about, what I write about, how I envision my future, how I spend my money--even where I live. The next year and two months will be spent in focused preparation. I have a code to crack--the law of getting into a well-respected MFA program. When it comes to performing I've truly never sought to discover how much I can learn, how much talent I can tap into and how much skill I can develop. Acting is a field many of us think will find us. I am not going to be discovered as I write in my journal at a coffee shop in Hillsboro Village today. (As AWESOME as it would be for a big Broadway producer to waltz in and say: "You! You there! With the dark reddishbrownish curly hair drinking the Rolover! Are you technically Jewish and play guitar and jump rope well? Can you sing an F? You're hired! Tell Playbill.com we've found our star!")

Lots and lots and lots of effort must be exuded. And that's ok. That's good even. So, here goes...

02 November, 2009

A Way Back To Then (a little lesson on good ballads and good performing)

Every now and then I see a performance and notice some things about it. Maybe you'll find it semi-interesting or useful? Or notice something yourself and comment? Or disagree with me and comment?

This is a ballad from the show "[Title of Show]." This musical was written by the actors about the process of writing a show as they entered the show in a musical theatre festival. The show is about the show. Why is that hard for me to effectively describe? Lemme try again...the show within the show is the show the actors are writing in the show. Never mind. Let's jut focus on this one song. That's easier.

Here are things that are great about this song/performance.

--It's a ballad that is really a beautiful monologue penned to music. Great ballads always are.

--Great ballads also have relatable content. For anyone who's had dreams as a child this song definitely connects.

--Heidi makes vocal choices to interpret the song. She doesn't even move her hands. I think sometimes musical theatre performers think they have to add facial expressions and gestures that are not organic at all and we just mimic the way the song is performed by the person who originated the role. We should listen to those recordings less and study the lyrics more.

--Sometimes songs tell the story so effectively we as performers don't have to add that much to it. It's up to us to figure those things out. :)