Can’t wait, but…

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Hello Gentle Reader!

As you know, I am stepping into a director role once again for 🎷 Smokey Joe’s Cafe (which I lovingly call SmoJo’s). I didn’t think that I would direct again after Jesus Christ Superstar. 😔 It wasn’t the complete vision that I had and made way too many compromises for it to end up the way that I wanted. It wasn’t my vision, but I loved every person that worked so hard on it.  My only wish is that I didn’t compromise what I wanted. 😉

I had mentioned that I was hesitant to direct to a good friend the other day (even though I have already accepted the position, yes, I know how it sounds) and she had some great advice and said “Don’t be! You learn from every situation, so whatever happened last time, learn from it and don’t let it happen again! You will make mistakes with every show…”

As I sat listening to the talented people 🎤 belt out tunes during the initial auditons, the voice of self doubt kept popping up and asking “are you sure you want to call XYZ back for XYZ role?” or “are you sure you can bring the best out of these people?” 👿 It was hard to shut it down. I am so glad that I have the team that I have. We laughed so much with each other and were all excited by all the people we had come out and sing us a song. The laughter does SO much to help squelch that voice. Something about sharing laughs with people helps me bond and connect them. Do you ever notice how laughing settles nerves and most uncomfortableness? It helps me so much. 👍

My Dear Reader, I was initially worried that we didn’t have people banging down the doors to audition but the number of people that did, had brought a lot of great stuff to the table. When I got home, after the second day of auditions, I KNEW I had a cast in there.

I slept so good that night! LOL. 💤

Oh, Gentle Reader!  Knowing that I have 9 roles that can be filled 3 or 4 times over by these auditionees puts my nerves and heart at ease, but that stupid worry voice, while muffled, is still there. Am I the right person to lead these 9 people to a packed house of spectators that will be blown away?

Yes.

I am. Thank you ❤︎, Jillian, for giving me a different way to look at this! So once the decisions are hashed out, I will happily pour as much of my heart and soul into this show that I am asking the performers to give to the audience.

And I can’t wait for you to see what’s in store!

So my Kind Reader, what do you do to get over that little voice that makes you doubt yourself? Or maybe you don’t have that issue… if you don’t, damn! I would love to be you.  Well, like you. 😉

Until next time, Dear Reader.  I look forward to talking about the callbacks… but that’s another post. Muahahahaha!!!💖💖

 

My Bag of Lemons Rotted…

imagesThey say when life hands you lemons make the situation better by making lemonade. They don’t tell you what to do when the lemons begin to rot because you are taking care of life and time just. will. not. stop!

My Dear Gentle Reader, this summer was a hard few months to get through. I have had ongoing issues with my #survivaljob that makes me want to swat “decision makers” (I use that term Über sarcastically) with a rolled up newspaper in their face. I know, I know.  Violence never helps solve anything.

Then we had a visit from the cancer fairy. Luckily, we had medicine men and women fix THAT issue. Then there was the recovery which took the longest time and made me worry. That was all I did. Night and day. Day and night. Sometimes I still do. That whole mess floored me.  I wasn’t the patient but the caretaker with TONS of help from my mother in law and our incredible, wonderful friends. That level of stress really cuts a big gaping hole in the sails and just left me feeling like all I could do was hope the waves would take me close to land.

I have also had a number of deaths in the family that left me numb and again, unable to process. Just last week, I lost another cousin. I worry about the mental health of my father who seems to be getting a little more and more forgetful. I worry about the health of my mother, who takes care of my father on top of her job and most of the rest of my siblings. It gets SO overwhelming that I just turn it all off. Everything.

When I thought about writing a post, I would sit at a blank screen and just watch the cursor blink. I didn’t even read plays or work on my own show. I kind of abandoned Facebook and Twitter. Only occasionally did I make a post on Instagram.

I think that the worst is over. I still haven’t recovered that missing magic from March.  I don’t know if you recall that post, Dear Reader. That particular event was that I totalled my car in an accident and rolled it down a small hill. We walked away with some cuts and bruises and soreness, but otherwise intact. I don’t think I have still processed that because I still think about what I could have done to prevent it, and then I get worked up and anxious about it all over again. I know I have definitely lost even more magic.

I know that I don’t feel the same emotionally or physically.  I just feel a little “off” but hoping it is just cobwebs creeping into places I haven’t used in the last 10 months.

Things are looking up though! In 9 days, I have auditions for Smokey Joe’s Cafe, and two weeks after that, I begin rehearsals for my return to the stage.  I will be working on a production of the “Making of the Star Wars Christmas Special” at Dragon Theatre Productions. We open in December for one lone weekend.

I have my fingers crossed that the magic will find me again. I am officially excited for theatre to come back into my life as something more than just an observer. I need it.

If you have read this far, Kind Reader, I thank you for letting me bend your ear/eyes for a moment or two.

May the magic bring all your dreams to life.

Until next time, Gentle Reader…

In The Pursuit of Happiness…

Memorial-Day-Flag-Website-Banner_edited-1Hello Dear Reader,

Every year at this time, I think of a fellow I did a show with many years ago. I think I may have mentioned Cesar Flores before. His Vietnam stories always made me so sad because I could see the hurt in his face and hear it in his voice. He spoke with such passion about everything.  I really loved that about him. I know he is somewhere in California, but I don’t know where anymore.

I thank him and all the soldiers this Memorial Day for all the sacrifice that they have made so that America can have the freedoms that have become a way of life. Freedoms that seem to be used to protest for justice and tear us apart for elitism and racism. Just because I don’t agree with some of the propaganda that is going around doesn’t mean it is isn’t an expression, as much as I am loathe to point out.

According to our Declaration of Independence, we all have the right to pursue happiness.  What happens when that happiness is in jeopardy? I have been paying much more attention to the empty seats, content, quality and types of advertising in the theaters I have been attending as of late. The worry of being a company owner is making sure that you can sustain great shows that bring in a full audience to keep on putting up more great shows and round and round the circle goes.

Can I just say, I don’t understand that when money gets tight the first thing that seems to be cut is live theater. I mean, I sort of get it.  Tickets are expensive and if you know a lot of people in different shows it can get REALLY pricey. Yet, there is so much intrinsic value in it for a well rounded life. These creative expressions offer us a chance as a society to step back and look at ourselves. Sometimes theatre points the finger and sometimes it doesn’t. Since I want to open my own company in the future, this has really made me shift my thoughts on what the state of theatre in this area will be like in a few months.

My Gentle Reader, I don’t have any worries of the the talent on either side of the table. And when I say “either side of the table,” for those that don’t know, I am referring to the cast/talent and staff/production. We have some great people that are on both sides.  I worry about the people that we do this for. While it may be fun and a necessity (sometimes) for us, theatre is a mirror of sorts to life. Even if the attendees aren’t going through the particular situation that is on stage, we can still relate to it on an emotional level. You may not agree with some of the things that the play is about, but the hope is that it makes you willing to think about the subject and maybe it will change your heart or strengthen your resolve but hopefully it will make you feel and/or think.

I’ve looked into strategies (and that ain’t even my strong suit! Ask anyone who has played board games with me) in marketing and awareness and community involvement. I see opportunities there, but getting those seats sold is where I feel a bit lost. What if those strategies are great but the seats don’t sell?

Do any of you amazing friends have any thoughts on the state of theatre in the future? What have you seen in regards to attendance? Do you see any way to shrink the number of empty seats?

Dear Reader, I hope you had a wonderful holiday weekend and that you took a moment to reflect on the things that allow us to try to attain the American Dream that our grandparents had before things got so crazy expensive.

And Cesar, where ever you are and whatever show you are working on now, my friend, I salute you and say “Welcome Home!”

Until next time, Gentle Reader…

 

 

Even If A Door Closes And Another Isn’t Around…

Windows-open

Always check the windows!!😃😃

Dearest Reader,

Today, I got that dreaded email that no actor likes to get: the good old “Thanks, but no thanks.” 😟

I promised myself the year off. So really, for me nothing has changed. However, as I have been really unmotivated to work on learning new monologues or audition songs, I have spent most of my time doing research, hanging out with friends and seeing shows. On top of that, I have become a professional napper. 😴 Yes, yes. A NAPPER! Me, the guy who can’t sleep at night because of fears and wants and a whole lot of whatnot.  This has put me in a mindset of “I’ll get to it later.” I am beginning to wonder if this time off thing was a bad idea.

So while I may have been given a “T/NT” letter, I still get my year off AND I soon get to announce what my kick off project for 2019 is going to be. 👏👏👏(That reminds me, I gotta look into some swing dance classes…)

I also think I lost a bit of my magic at the end of March that involved a high stress situation that we came across. Don’t worry, Good Reader, everything is ok now, but for a hot minute we were a little panicked.

Now, I get to be panicked about other things! Yay and Boo all at the same time. 😂🤯🤪 Just like getting that letter, but not really having it make a difference. There needs to be a hashtag for that… So while I am disappointed, I need to keep my mind focused on what I set out to do at the very start of all this and get back to it.

I now need to find a way to draw out what I had in me before March happened so I can finish that script! Maybe I need to go back to the source material and play with it. Like make it a game for now. I can record the different characters and listen to it for inspiration? That actually may be what I might do.

Thank you, Dear Reader! I knew you could help!

Until our paths cross again…

Every Moment is A Moment…

Just be glad for the moments that we had…

Dear Gentle Reader,

My weekend high came to a crashing low Monday morning when I heard that a friend had died in a car accident.

Keith had an easy going way about him that made him approachable. He played so many instruments that I was never certain of what he was playing in the orchestra pit whenever our paths crossed. I joked with him during our run of “Boy From Oz” that I was going to start calling him the artist formerly known as Keith. The guy was a crazy talented musician and smart to boot.

When I first heard this news,  I was stunned. Then I tried to find pictures from the 6 or 7 shows we did and I could only find one.  One lone picture, Dear Reader, of a kind soul whose path I was lucky enough to cross several times.

As I looked through my past, I can see the documentation of my journey, but not enough moments with the people that have created such joy in my life, like Keith.

This knowledge itself brings a sadness because I know I will forget people and experiences. Gentle Reader, as you know I have mentioned a few times that I don’t have the best of memories. I am not really a photogenic person despite my love for being on the stage. I can’t even act like I like being in pictures. That’s how much I don’t care for them.

However, I have to say Thank You to my BFF, Sarah, as well as friends like Tawni, Nique, and Monica for gently pushing me to be in pics just as Keith had. For this lone shot.

Me & Keith

Dear Reader, thank you for taking a moment to read these ramblings of a random fella that has only now realized that stopping to smell the flowers is nice and all, but if you dont recall doing it, have you actually stopped to smell them? Being on the go and working hard is not any fun if you can’t remember it all.

Remember to stop and collect those moments, Gentle Reader. Try to never forget them and have the best time you can during them. And to Keith, my friend, I will see you after the final curtain call… Rest peacefully.

 

Nothing But Death and Taxes, Friends. Death and Taxes… and Hope

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Dear Gentle Reader,

Last week was the most dreaded of the US “holidays,” even more so than Valentine’s Day. Yes, sadly friends, I feel that Valentine’s Day is on par with National Grilled Cheese Day. But I digress… That’s right we got to “celebrate” Tax Day, April 15th.  Oh joy.

As usual, I had to pay a pretty penny even though my survival job was supposed to be really good at paying into the tax pool. It wasn’t nearly enough, I guess. It is so frustrating to constantly have to pay for taxes when the job should be handling it.

I, like many people that know they will end up paying, waited until the last minute. I don’t know why. Maybe I am hoping that something will change and I will magically not have to pay. So from the time I get my paperwork until the week of the deadline, this cloud of dread hangs over me.

Yet, I still plan and dream. I still have hope, Dear Reader. I still have hope that someday I will have my own theatre company. I have already picked out the first season and have my ideas what I would like each production to achieve.

What I am having trouble with is the whole non-profit thing. The benefits are great but I dont really want a board of directors. I know they would be a massive help in nearly everything, but I would feel like I have bosses.  I don’t want to have that feeling in something that I create.

Would it be beneficial to just create a “production company?”

Oh, Gentle Reader, so many things to think about and so many shows to see and so many ideas to bring to life. WHY?? WHY?? Maybe I should go and knit something in the corner to calm my brain down.

Who knows, I may find a zen moment and get a solution.

But for now, taxes are done, theater rentals checked out, rights pricing checked out, looking to have the logo designed and so on…

Oh, and the company won’t be up and running for a while, but the ball has begun to roll. I have to start it now. I mean, I am no spring chicken (not a word, Kevin! Not a word.) so I need to begin.  Especially if I want it to be like what I see in my crazy brain.

OK! Now that I got that out, Dear Reader, I need to try and get some sleep. I will keep you posted, of course, on the upcoming issues I will be facing. LOL!

Big hugs to you all.

Until next time, friends…

 

 

It may be April Fool’s but this book is no joke!

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Dear Gentle Reader,

I was super excited when Rare Bird Books gave me the green light to review one of their recent release books, so big Thank you’s to them for this opportunity! 👏

Seven Pillars Acting is not your typical acting book. Yes, it is incredibly informative, and relatable but what sets it apart from the others is the focus is on today’s actor. Tweaking the classics just a little so that it makes acting even less intimidating.

Sonya Cooke has taken all the major acting concepts from great teachers and directors (Meisner, Stanislavski, Donnellan and Brestoff to name a few) and distilled them down to seven concise key steps that take actors from first day of rehearsal to performance. High praise for taking this task and creating something so clear from so many different places.

The seven pillars listed in the book are as follows:

  1. Contact
  2. Circumstance
  3. Meaning
  4. Emotional Life
  5. Objective
  6. Action
  7. Physical Life

Released in January 2018, this little book of 305 pages is one of the best brush up books to keep on your shelf. When I say “brush up book,” I mean absolutely no disrespect.  This is worthy of curriculum status, and may well be, but I don’t know if it is too new for that at this time.

Dear Reader, it is a well known truth that actors are constantly returning to classes just like dancers. If, like me, it is a bit too hard to juggle in a class with current life situations, this book is something I can easily turn to. Each pillar has numerous exercises and some can be done without a partner. For the other activities, grab a fellow actor one day and have a fun informal session on a random agreed upon scene just to keep “in-shape.”

There are times when I can’t recall which of my theatre textbooks had a bit of advice that I wanted to refer to so I would dig them all out and skim through several books to find what I was thinking of.  Now, I feel that I could simply pick this gem off the shelf and refer to it rather than hunting through a full shelf of books. (What? You didn’t keep the textbooks of your favorite classes?)😄 (Is that weird?) 😳

Quick note: I honestly feel that acting is such an individual process because we are all  different and don’t learn the same way. It is helpful to take what you can from all the different styles and form your own “way.” That being said, in my personal process, I have found that I can delve even further into my character building from this book. Typically, while I work on the circumstances I try to find every variation of how it could be interpreted. I write down the likely ones and work on those but keep the others in the back of my mind. What I don’t do is to find all the variations on how the various circumstances would make me feel. I figure that would be too much writing and there isn’t enough space on some of these pages to fill in all that info. Although to be fair, she writes to focus on one. I do like this idea though and will begin including it because it offers the chance to present an even clearer picture to the audience.  Basically, I figure it should take me from regular image to High-Def.

There are some quotes and passages that I loved and here are a few of my faves:

“Once a circumstance is known to be imaginary, its potency is gone – much like being spooked by a shadow in a dark corner. Once it is revealed to not be a real threat, the fear subsides. Therefore, because of the degree of belief, the circumstances of our lives seem more real than the circumstances of our characters.” 

“…acting is all about seeing.” 

“Not only does your family push your buttons, but they were the ones who installed them in the first place.”  – Jo Spiller

“Neutral is not inactive.” 

“The nature of emotion is state-less; it is in flow e-motion, and must not be rigidly fixed.” 

“E-motion is ungraspable like water.” 

Dear Reader, I am absolutely certain that the more times I go through this book, the more info I will glean from it. I don’t know if I mentioned this at any point, but when I am in productions, I read my script everyday. I look for new insights and sometimes I see something I didn’t catch before, sometimes I don’t, but I feel like I will have new ideas the next time I pick up this book. This is a fresh streamlined process that feels accessible to anyone from the beginning actor to the experienced.  Hat’s off to the author!

Be sure to grab your copy.

Have you ever had an instructional book that you found refreshing or insightful?  What was it? I’d love to learn what others are checking out in the world. 🌏🌎

Until next time Gentle Reader…