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…

The Play’s… Umm… TO Play is the Thing…

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Hello Dear Reader,

Well, February has come and gone and I am not anywhere near finishing my writing project. The power of frustration is palpable.  I was stewing in it. I feel all tender and a little sad. SO, I am just going to extend the time for this project.

Here’s the thing though.

I was putting way to much pressure on myself to complete this ASAP. What I have learned is when you’re creating something pressure like this is such a bad move. It isn’t helpful, Gentle Reader, and not conducive to the act of creating. If anything, it stifles creativity, I feel.

This will get done when it gets done. I mean, I do have the whole year off, after all.

Yesterday, as I was at my #survivaljob watching the rain fall, slamming onto the tiles that lead to the main lobby, I realized I haven’t been my normal self these last few years.

You know, Dear Reader, as an actor, I have to use every sense that is available to me as well as imagination and memories.  I watch people all the time.  Almost like I am studying them. I have memories, but I am certain that I don’t have enough memories. So I would create them my playing.  Not games, but playing with life.

But I stopped playing.  I stopped jumping in puddles and walking in the rain. I focused on going home and trying to be responsible so that I could get to that survival job day in and day out rather than going out and enjoying my friends. I stopped “going all in” at life. I put in just enough to get by.

But with this realization that what I am trying create isn’t meant to be done in the 5 weeks that I planned means that I can breathe.

Breathe.

And to jump in puddles.

And see my friends and their shows.

So, Sweet Reader, I AM going to continue to work on this show but I am not going to place that kind of pressure on it. I apologize that I don’t feel like any of the pages are worth sharing yet, but I will keep working on it.

Until then *inhale* more playing!

Dear Reader, have you ever had a realization that had kept you from enjoying your time? How did you break through that haze?  Leave me a comment or follow me on the social medias! Also, just pop in and say ‘Hi!’

http://www.Facebook.com/Jery.Theactorvist                                                                                                                       http://www.Instagram.com/theactorvista                                                                                                                     http://www.Twitter.com/Theactorvista                                                                                                                         Vero: Jery Theactorvist

Until next time…

Why Am I Not Done Yet?…

The Future Is What You MakeHello Dear Reader!

As I write this, I have another tab open of my other writing project that I keep finding myself rewriting over and over. It is eternally frustrating.😞

I do believe that I have mentioned this project in passing but here it is.  I am trying to write a show based on a wonderful book that I read a few years ago. I hesitate to name the book because I haven’t got permission yet. The author lives in Oakland, so I think I may be able to send the script once it is done.  I think the phrase that comes to mind is: It’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission.  One of the main reasons that I loved the book so much was because it honors strong women.  The main character is a woman embarking on a new life and it has a great cast of strong women and a small handful of supporting men. 👍 The beauty with which these places and scenes is described is so poetic and clear that I can easily see this on a stage.👀

My problem, Gentle Reader, is that I can’t seem to create dialogue that fills in some of the spaces of back story in a clear concise way so I can move on with the main story, as the book is in three parts that interweave past and present.😥

I know, I should just write it and set it aside and come back to it later for editing. I should do that. But since this type of writing isn’t quite my discipline I am having on hell of a time “letting go.”

My aim was to have a rough draft completed by the end of the month, which was part of the reason that I haven’t posted since the beginning of the year. I am, sadly, only about 20-odd pages in and believe that this script could easily hit over 100. The book itself is about 300 pages and there is a lot of story that I need to leave out. Unless I can easily tie it all in quickly which is where I am at now. Not to mention, I have rewritten the second scene four times and am still not happy with it. 

Now that I am sitting here and thinking this out with all of you, I think I may have to change up my tactic and try writing this scene by scene and out of order. Just for now until I get through the story then put it all together. Doing it this way, I may still hit my goal of having a rough draft completed!

Oh, Dear Reader!  Thank you.  😜That was incredibly helpful.  If I get some more progress done, I may possibly post a page for your perusal as thanks.

Well, with this newfound inspiration, I am back to my untitled project!😌

Until next time…

🎧🎶”I Get So Emotional…🎶

… Every time I think of you!!”
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Hello Gentle Reader!

Do you ever find yourself excited to work on a project but when the time comes to begin you find that you can’t bring yourself to start? 😱 That is the headspace I am in as the middle of the first month of the new year passes by. 📆

This particular project was one that seems pretty ambitious to me and I have only the slightest idea on where to begin this new challenge.😜 (I am keeping this vague because I have plans to post about the actual project next time.)

In truth Dear Reader, I got lost in the vastness of the extra time that I now have since I am currently not working on any projects. ⏰ My intention was to enroll into classes at the beginning of the year and then toward summer start working on ideas that I have in some notebooks of mine. I figured getting into a learning mindset first would bring some new creative ideas. 👍 I am so angry with myself because I spaced out on the enrollment deadline and sadly am in NO class. 👎Well, no acting class anyway.

I did begin lessons with a new vocal coach, 🎤 so all is not completely lost! I like this guy.  He is totally honest and keeps me working hard.  He doesn’t let mistakes slide and I really appreciate that. I have had coaches who just focus on praising, which is nice, but I find that I am not learning in that type of environment.  I know I can improve on something, but I was never told that I was doing anything wrong.  I had a hard time believing that and comprehending how that could be possible when I knew that I needed help with breath control, not sliding into notes and a slew of other things. It seemed that the only thing we were going to work on was how to sing the next song. That was cool and everything, but I needed my money to give me a bigger return than that. Now, it has been a number of years since then and the time has come to upgrade those skills and since I can articulate myself better I know what to ask for in a teacher.  At least this is one part of the plan that is working out.😄

Since I have so much free time, I figured that I would work on one of the projects that I wanted to take the year to get done. To keep me focused, I have currently told myself that  by the end of February, I will have a version of it complete.

So today, I sat down and got everything ready, but decided I needed to get my laundry done instead.  I guess the project just seems too daunting.  This task isn’t in my wheel house. There is so much to tackle  that I have no idea where I want to begin! So while the excitement is there, so too is the apprehension and fear that it won’t be what I thought I wanted as the outcome. And the curiosity that is everywhere because this will touch on so many topics.

I know in my gut that I need to begin but all of these feelings just give me pause and I know that I will sort through them but will I do it in enough time to complete this part of the project by the end of February? Cue the anxiety! Now time is a factor and it brings a whole new layer to put on top of this emotional cake.

But do you know what, Kind Reader? 💡Because of all these uncomfortable emotions, I know this is the right next step for me. In the end, that gives me enough calmness to take a deep breath and step up to the material I have set up already.  Oh, and coincidentally the laundry is almost done too. 😃

Do you panic when you step out of your comfort zone? How do you know the thing that takes you out of your zone is the right thing for you to do? Let me know in the comments below. Now, Gentle Reader, if you will excuse me, I am gonna have a slice of that cake!🍰

Until next time…

 

New Year, New Me… Wait! NO!!

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🎉 Happy New Year, Gentle Reader!

Every new year finds articles and lists of the same old cliché of “new year, new me.” Ugh!😞😴 I get it. All the resolutions and fresh starts and what not. It makes sense. It really does.  Do I really need a “new” me?

I used to fall into that same sort of pit of quicksand every year.  

2017 was different though.  

Yes, I know last year was a political poop show for America for we are now “‘Merica; Inc.🇺🇸” No longer the land of the free and home of the brave that we used to be since we are losing freedoms quicker than a tapper can shuffle off to Buffalo. But that is not what I want to talk about.😶

2017 allowed me the opportunity to check off a bucket list role that I didn’t ever think I would get to play AND one that was a little lower on my list than the top 10 but still just as incredible.  In addition to Paul (A Chorus Line)✨ and Hysterium (A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum)🃏, I got to add Carl Hanratty (Catch Me if You Can) and Cheech (Bullets Over Broadway)✍ to my resume. All of which I am incredibly grateful for and proud of and it just happened that I had received pretty good reviews for.😄😄😄

Now to the point, Dear Reader, because that last paragraph sounded super braggadocios. In all four shows, I followed my tried and true methods of preparation and instinct to build my roles. That process has gotten me into some wonderful patterns and discoveries of myself and my character choices. I also was lucky enough to work two of those shows with another actor that is on her own journey of discovery. 👍

One day during rehearsals for Bullets, she told me that she was inspired by me because I live honestly and fully in my passions. 🙀I was floored.  What can you say to something like that? It is one of those moments that made me look at the way I live. I love who I am.  💖Some people may not, but I do.  So why in the world would I need a “new” me?  What I would like, however, is a better me.  One may ask, well isn’t that the same thing? No. It isn’t. A new me would imply that I don’t like enough of myself and that I want to overhaul most of what makes me me. I just want upgrades to certain things.  There are times I get too comfortable in my methods and routines that when things get a little shaken up, it turns my world wackadoo. I don’t know about you, Kind Reader, but when that happens, I stress out and worry that my whole way of prepping is going to fail. That is SO not a good mindset to be in.  It just so happened that I had that experience twice last year.  In the end, it was a wonderful learning tool for myself, but if I can get out of my “usual” I think I would be more effective and efficient for projects that have a different pattern than what I am used to. I am planning to head back into study mode for 2018. Because I want to be sure that I am learning and growing, I decided that it would be beneficial to stay off of the boards while getting my system upgrades. I want to be as open to this new information as possible.  I feel that jumping from show to show like I have done the past 6 years would divide my attention too much to accomplish my task as fully as I would like. So not new, just better. 

So forget all that new year, new me, Gentle Reader.  I am sure You are a pretty amazing person already.  👏👏 So what do you think about the “New Me” madness that media tries to shove on us? If you would like to, which one of your “files” would you like to upgrade? 

Until next time, Dear Reader…

“… A Celebration of Humanity.”

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Vanity Fair September issue

‘Cause every night I lie in bed
The brightest colors fill my head
A million dreams are keeping me awake
I think of what the world could be
A vision of the one I see
A million dreams is all it’s gonna take
A million dreams for the world we’re gonna make

 

HELLO Gentle Reader!!!

Christmas time always brings around one of two things.. 1. A Star Wars movie or 2. a feel-good movie. I skipped 1 and went directly to 2. And I don’t regret it.

To say The Greatest Showman is a fantastic movie is barely doing the film justice in my opinion.

The idea of bringing yourself and others up from being held under by circumstances like class or appearance or race weaves a moving story of the start P.T. Barnum’s (Hugh Jackman) career, a dreamer with the belief that he can create a life for his family that is the complete opposite of his childhood. However, focusing on trying to fight your past can create other issues with your present.
Jackman’s performance is spectacular in all facets; the acting was clear and strong, the dancing was amazing (his clarity of movement and lines were mesmerizing), but for me, his singing was the clincher. If you were to listen to his performances in Oklahoma or Les Miserables or Boy From Oz, you know his “sound.” He’s a belter.  Nothing wrong with that, but sometimes I want to hear a little variety in a voice. The Showman music has allowed him to show more of his voice in a way that I feel hasn’t been featured much, if at all. I was expecting it for Bring Him Home in Les Mis but never got it. Hearing him use this lower register more was like being given the most wonderfully unexpected surprise. This role could not have been played by anyone else that I can think of with the same power.
The major theme of acceptance runs throughout the film. From Barnum wanting to  elevate his status in society, to the performers in his circus wanting to just be a part of society not just its freak show as well as self acceptance, to Barnum’s wife, Charity (wonderfully played by Michelle Williams) who just wants a simple life with her family, to Zac Efron’s socialite producer, Phillip Carlyle, who is too afraid to lose status in society to find something that makes him happy.  The entire ensemble was fantastic. I was so happy to hear how talented all the actors were.
The script was written by Jenny Bicks (Emmy winner for Sex and the City)  and Bill Condon (Oscar winner for Chicago and Dreamgirls). It is no wonder why this movie feels so polished in its storytelling.
The beautiful and uplifting songs were written by the team of Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (La La Land, A Christmas Story and the incredible Dear Evan Hansen) and are easily something that can be recorded into a pop song and played on the radio.  I am a wee bit surprised that “This Is Me” “Never Enough” or “Rewrite the Stars” haven’t had that treatment yet. LOL. I found the music energetic and catchy and haven’t stopped listening to the soundtrack since.
Visually, it was a crazy spectacle of color and flash during the circus scenes interspersed with stunningly clear regular life. Some of the shots were just gorgeous. Two that pop in mind right away is during the number “Rewrite the Stars” there is a shot of Anne Wheeler (Zendaya) on the trapeze singing beautifully clear while the rest of the shot spins around her.  Then, in “This is Me” there is a moment where Lettie (Keala Settle) turns around and then everything else around slows down. There are so many great shots but there is also one really bad one. LOL. It happens toward the end of the movie during “From Now On.” With so much great imagery, there is one that is just so jarringly out of place I wanted to flip a table. GRRRRR!!! When you see the movie, I am sure you will see it. Still, director Michael Gracey has made a very well done film.
I was really excited to see this movie and am so glad that I enjoyed it so much. This is like a little love letter to the dreamers.  The people that want to be something more.
Like us.
Gentle reader, I’ve missed you.
I’ll talk to you this weekend.
j.

Catch Me Success Rate = 100%, So Far…

Don't Break the Rules
Photo Credit: Edmond Kwong of ImageWurx

Hello Gentle Reader!

So far, I’ve “caught” him every show! LOL!

Let’s talk about CMIYC. 🎭

This has been a great experience overall.  I know that wasn’t what you were expecting me to say.  Yes, it did have its struggles like all rehearsals do and I will get into that in just a sec.

This has been so much fun to play Carl Hanratty. 😜 I have begun to love the end of this show so much.  “Goodbye” is such a great song to tie the two men’s lives together.  This begins with Agents Cod and Branton mocking the hotel room mess left by Frank Jr. as Hanratty’s. Then, the realization that it could be true is in “Man Inside the Clues.” 😱

The great thing about Carl, though, is that he has this arc in the show where he goes from  strictly seeing right or wrong to having some doubts about whether things are as simple as that.

Dear Reader, do you recall last year when I spoke of having a hard time with the rehearsal process of Lend Me A Tenor because I wasn’t understanding what was being asked of me. 💀 I wasn’t asking the right questions to get what I needed so in the end, I just had to let it all go and focus on the mechanics.  And that helped.  But I learned that I needed to work on MY communication.  In this process, I would hit points where I wasn’t understanding how A and B connected, but knowing what I knew now, I was able get what I needed to give the director what she was asking for.  That experience itself ended up not only being super fun but it was one of the greatest lessons I learned.💖 I will be forever grateful that I was a part of it.

The one area that freaked me out the most was that they respected our time a little too much, I felt. 😳LOL!  😂I had almost two weeks off in the middle while they worked on other scenes I wasn’t needed for. It was cool and all, but when it came to putting all together, I was in panic mode trying to make sure that I was synced up with everyone in the scenes we had together.  However, in the end, through all the stress and panic, the show quickly smoothed itself out and the nitpicking got to happen almost right away when it came to full run-throughs.

The time moved so fast that our first time on the set through to Opening Night felt like a blur. It is incredible to think that this show is already nearing the end of its run. It also makes me a little sad to think about. I have had such a great time working with these folks that I know I will be bawling in my dressing room while Rachelle Abbey sings the hell out of “Fly, Fly Away” on closing night. 🎶

Gentle Reader, this has unexpectedly become a favorite role in my list of credits for sure. Have you ever had an activity or event that you weren’t certain about that ended up being one of the best things you’ve ever done?  What made you nervous about it? How did you handle it? Let me know in the comments!

Until next time, Dear Reader, have a wonderful day!