🎼You Gotta Get It Right While You Got The Time, Cuz When You Close Your Heart, Then You Close Your Mind…🎶

Hello Gentle Reader!

This a post that isn’t as fully formed as I was hoping as I rushed to get my thoughts in place. The post that was supposed to be uploaded had references to the Golden Globes and with the passing of Lisa Marie Presley, I felt like it wasn’t the right time to post it.💔

I am currently in rehearsal for a staged reading of a new play called La Lechuza or The Owl Witch. It is a really neat opportunity to see a play evolve and morph into a more matured version of itself. I am loving the conversation we are having during our time together.

In a previous post, I had expressed a want to figure out myself to try and find that elusive self love that we are always hearing about. One of the biggest blank spaces I have in regards to my sense of self is culture 🇲🇽 and what it means for me and how I can embrace it and be more comfortable in my milk chocolatey colored outer candy shell.

Last spring/summer, while I was involved with The Pear Theatre’s Pear Slices performances, I had a back and forth email conversation with one of the playwrights, Linda Amayo-Hassan who is writing my current project.

Growing up, I had always known where I should be. The silly tests like “what job would you be suited for” and the like all said the same thing and it was what I had already known. Entertainment. Yet, when I think back at all the shows that I watched, I didn’t see people like me in the roles that weren’t thugs or criminals of some kind, if they were in the show or movie at all. There were a handful of Latinx people on TV, but those were in dramas and I wasn’t keen on those as a kid. I stopped associating with anything that was culturally focused. I thought that I would be looked at as lesser than by theatre directors if I was more proud of it. 

In my neighborhood and in schools I attended, so many of the mocha colored kids, like myself, were a part of gangs or misbehaving in some other way. Of course, that just isn’t my personality, Dear Reader. Eventually, I just made it through life believing that culture and race didn’t matter, that you just had to be a good person. 

In an old job at Nordstrom, I used to work with this amazing lady name Mebrat. She was from Eritrea, a small country in Northern Africa. I swear that every day, as she watched people coming or going, she would say at least once “I wonder where s/he is from?” Finally, after weeks of this, I asked her why is that so important? Isn’t it more important that the person is kind and compassionate? I didn’t yell this or anything, mind you, Kind Reader, I respected her so much and we had some of my favorite conversations. I was truly curious because that was how my perspective was focused. She told me that she wanted to know what similarities were shared, what did they enjoy about their lives, did they emigrate here, were they second or third or more generation “American.” She was a lot like me, full of curiosity. Where we differed was that she was curious about people and I was curious about things and creating things. Her questions were “who are they?” and mine were “how did they do that?” While she did teach me to be curious about people, it wasn’t to the point that I needed to know where they were from and how that informed their view of the world. 🌍

It wasn’t until as recently as 3 or 4 years when I began to appreciate more movies from other cultures that shared their traditions and joys, and of course the terrible racist events around the country, that are still happening TO THIS DAY, that I began to want to know more about my own. And it sort of showed me a hole that had been falsely covered like some sort of hunting trap that one falls in because they weren’t looking where they were going.

Ms. Amayo-Hassan’s piece in the Pear Slices was about a Puerto Rican family who had lost their home on the island due to Hurricane Katrina, and the lack of help that followed. It was a beautiful piece because even while surrounded by this profound amount of death and loss, the parents still had hope and still were able to make one another smile. In it, the father questions if the government would have stepped in faster if this happened on the mainland. While Puerto Ricans are considered U.S. citizens, this government dragged their feet getting any sort of assistance to the island to help rescue and rebuild. So he wondered if they are really citizens and asks why would they let “their people”suffer? Why would the government not help as it should? While I worked on this short play, I was finding all of these little questions in his motivations, his reactions and his silence. When I first started the play, I took it rather fairly straightforward with the upbeat parts being upbeat and the serious parts being more reserved. Then, as we got to walk through the piece more and more, I was finding things that felt like little betrayals, or small prayers for the dead, or at one point just fury.

Gentle Reader, I slowly began to realize that I had more in common with this character than I thought. I noticed that I was really hitting on some inner hurts that I had inflicted on myself thinking I was merely “American.” Finding all these gems of pain and sadness and betrayal even that Ricardo, the father character, felt helped to fill that hole I was feeling a little. 

This new play, La Lechuza, is helping me learn a little more about the culture from my cast mates and I am doing my best to absorb everything that they are saying. It is also helping my pronunciation of the language. I would say this is a pretty good start on the self discovery path. This project is a staged reading for More Más Marami Arts in March, I believe. I will keep you posted as details get finalized.

Well, I hope this wasn’t too much of a jumbled mess of a post. As I mentioned before, it was a bit of a rush job to get this idea mostly formulated. I didn’t know how it was going to go because I know I had to give you a lot of backstory to get to the point. I just hope I got to it. 😂

Thank you, Dear Reader, for joining along in my rambles as I try to figure out my messy brain and all around self so that I can be my best when I step on to the stage. I always appreciate the chance to bend your ear. 

Until next time, stay safe and alert. Be kind and take care of yourself and those you care about. 

❤️

🎼 And I Wish You Joy and Happiness, But Above All This, I Wish You Love… 🎶

Hello Gentle Reader!

Happy New Year! We are one week into 2023 and I am hoping you are all doing things that you enjoy. I have been working from home this week, so I have had the chance to catch some shows while answering emails. I have been watching a lot of the charming show, We’re Here and getting such a kick out of watching Hot Ones. And I have been loving them enough to watch more than one episode at a time. I don’t normally binge anything because I get antsy and NEED to do something or grab a yarn project to work on to pull my attention away cuz I get bored. It is crazy. With so much stuff to watch and enjoy, I get bored. I don’t think I know any other actors who say they are bored with an outlet of their craft. I should shut up before I get in trouble. 🤭 I really think it is an attention thing, but that is just a guess.

But, back to the topic at hand. Whenever I work on building a character and look to find my motivations I always try to base every decision from the perspective of love. I do this because I honestly, personally, believe in life, there is nothing worth fighting for more than love. It doesn’t have to be physical love; it could be anything.

I know I have mentioned this before in a past post. I just can’t remember how far back or how often (I try not to be too repetitive, let me know if I am, ok?)

I love my life. With all its hardships and challenges and chaos, it is pretty good. The problem that I am struggling with, Kind Reader, is that I can’t look in the mirror and say that I love myself.

Don’t get me wrong, I have accepted myself in all my flawed glory, from the dried skin on the heel of my left foot to my bum knee to my slightly lazy right eye to the annoying frizzy greying hair on my head to my tendency to obsessively worry about thing to my battles with memory. I don’t mind these things about myself, but I do wish that I didn’t have the worry and memory issues. So I continue my journey on figuring out the best way to get better at adapting to them.

Please don’t think this is a New Year’s resolution post. I don’t believe in them and hold them in the same low regard as Thanksgiving. I know that people often say ‘it a time for giving thanks for what you have and your friends and family.’ Shut up. Just stop it with that nonsense. If you aren’t grateful every single day of the year for what you have and the amazing people in your life, you need to rethink that life right now, Resolutions are the same, why do you need to wait until the start of a new year to put all of this pressure on your shoulders? ‘But it is a clean slate… blah blah blah’ If you really want to do it, why wait? You have the motivation now, why wait until January 1, every day is a clean slate as is the beginning of every week, month and heck hour if you really wanna get into it. Not to judge anyone’s decisions, but those ideas that society holds up is so limiting and should be thrown out like trash. But I digress…

One of the things that I did happen to watch was the Lizzo concert for her latest album “Special.” I had the biggest smile on my face the whole time and was in the best mood after. As a fan of her music, I was just happy to be hearing the music, but to watch her and see the joy she has sharing her creations with the audience was a bonus. Not only that, there were a couple of times where you can see that moment where she is still grateful for these moments. Her music is filled with positivity and encouragement to love yourself and sometimes a it can be a little therapeutic. 😂 The inclusivity she brings to the table is a breath of fresh air and her audacious notion that being in love with yourself is the best kind of love because then your are unstoppable. This idea is beautiful. I love it. I am fascinated by it. I am intrigued by it. I want to know if she is right.

So I am going to use my curiosity and try and find the answer. I will keep you posted on what I find. Who know? Maybe I will even end up actually loving myself and to quote the singer “it’s about damn time!”

Thank you, Dear Reader, for continuing to follow along on this journey with me. I always appreciate the chance to bend your ear.

Until next time, stay safe and alert. Be kind and take care of yourself and those you care about.

❤️

🎼 Time, Time, Time, See What’s Become Of Me… 🎶

Credit: Michael Horta.

Hello Gentle Reader!

Happy holiday season if you celebrate it in any fashion and for those that don’t I hope you are having a fantastic time. I am usually only a Halloween and New Year’s kinda guy, but with my last project, you can say that I am in the Xmas spirit, I suppose.

I have a question for you my Dear Reader. What is the difference between the following line:

“… my very own legendary official Red Ryder carbine action 200 shot range model air rifle, with a compass and this thing which tells time built right into the stock.”

“… MY very own legendary official Red Ryder carbine action 200 shot range model air rifle. With a compass! And this thing… which tells TIME built right into the stock.” 

The way that I see it, the first version has the same sort of half committed involvement that the narrator from the film uses.  He is invested, but it just feels like he has told this story before to other people so it isn’t novel or new to him anymore. In the second version, I play it so that it feels like actually owning this present is a dream that I don’t want to wake from and the details of the gun that I have been going on and on about are highlighted since they are referred to 99% of the time the air rifle is mentioned. But I think the Time emphasis was me bringing my life experience to the piece. 

Christmas Eve was the first day since closing night of A Christmas Story that I could say that line without feeling the burning sensation in my nose and eyes of tears that wanted to be set free. 

I can’t exactly say when it happened, but I suspect that it was some time during week 2 of performances that the line above began to morph from the previous to the latter. 

I don’t know if I had mentioned it here yet, but I had so much work to do with the script that I read it multiple times a day on the weekends and at least once every day. I listened the the audio version I made while I was in traffic on the way to rehearsal. I listened to it at work when I wasn’t in meetings.  All to share this memory for this character.

But what is a memory? It is a snippet of time that you are recalling at a different point in time. Sometimes it is purposely done and other times it could be involuntarily triggered by sound, scent or emotion and situation. 

On closing night, I said that line, and before I could continue with the rest of the scene, I had this magnificent surge of love, heartache, stress, fondness and a few other emotions, all at once. I became aware of the symbol of authoritative and parental figures and friends (that my cast mates Shawna and Keith represented) had turned into a focused source of those people in my life that I don’t see, can’t see, won’t see anymore or haven’t seen in a very long time.


It was an overwhelming sensation. Then it circled back to the sadness that this little show of ours had grown to become something so special to me and it was taking the last breaths of life.  I took a few moments to try and force my voice back “into character” but as a proponent of “feel your feelings” I delivered the lines “The greatest Christmas gift I had ever received…. Or ever WOULD receive” with that bubble in my throat and powered through “pranging ducks on the wing and getting off spectacular hip shots.” I could only hope that through my quaking voice the audience could understand what I was saying, Kind Reader. 

I felt a wee bit foolish but there was nothing I could have done.  In far away voices, I could hear the backstage manager and some of the others, waiting to enter the stage for bows, commenting or gasping that this moment was happening. 

During the first attempt at creating an audio aid, which I recorded on a whim, I can hear my final speech get a little emotionally shaky. I wish that I had paid more attention to that moment so that I could steel myself of this and present the show to the audience  just as we had done the rest of the run. 

Even before this show began I have been fighting with the fleeting nature of time and the ideas that some people had about it. And I took on some of their baggage from them and still shoulder. So couple that baggage with the reminiscing of friends and family and a storm was inevitable.

It is a lot of energy to process and keep in check in the space of the 15 seconds that it takes to say that line and I did well every other night. But time will find a way of catching up with you.

With that, let me just shut off this light on 2022 and the wonderful production of A Christmas Story that I was so fortunate to be a part of. Thanks for letting me bend your ear one more time this year, Dear Reader. Take care of yourself and those you care about! Stay safe and alert and I will see you in 2023. 

🎼 Thought I Heard Your Voice Yesterday, Then I Turned Around To Say… 🎶

Hello Gentle Reader!

Can you believe that my current show A Christmas Story is in its fourth and final week? Too soon, I say! 😂 But as I say in the show “Finally, all good things must come to an end. There were no more presents to be opened, just empty boxes and paper around the tree.”

While this is bittersweet, it isn’t what I wanted to write about. There is something that has been bothering? No, that isn’t the right word… weighing on my mind is a better way to put it.

This week has been a roller coaster of emotions. Amazing highs from the show and seeing some adored friends in the audience after to lows and valleys of sadness because work has had some terrible news for colleagues and friends of mine. Yet in the middle of all that was this encounter that I had after the matinee last Sunday.

After the show, I had gone into the lobby because I was hoping to snag a hot chocolate, it may or may not have been spiked🤭 and while I was out there, this gentleman approaches me. But he has this really weird energy and my paranoia went into red alert. I checked my surroundings to see what and who was around me.

Being out in public always puts me on edge anyway because of all these mass shootings. But now add all the hate crimes that seem to be popping up all over the country, and that just makes my fight or flight response even more active. My Dear Reader, I totally know that women live this life everyday and THAT is a tragedy because when do they get the chance to not have tension in their lives? I feel for them. It makes my soul weep that our mothers, sisters, daughters, aunts and friends have to live with the fear always lingering.

At this point, he is standing next to me and I say “hi” but he just has this sad smile on his face. After a group passes by, he says that he really enjoyed the show. I tell him “that’s fantastic. Thank you so much for being a part of this awesome audience.” Then he starts to say something, but his voice catches so he clears his throat, the way guys do when they don’t want to give away that they are experiencing an emotion, and says “you remind me of my best friend that I had.” He told me the friend’s name, I want to say it was Eddie, but I am only partially listening because my brain is wondering if this guy was ok. He goes on to tell me that his friend used to love “doing drama” but that while it wasn’t his particular thing, but he would go and support his friend when he did perform. He said he almost thought I was actually him. Voice, appearance and mannerisms all lined up according to this man. The thing was that his friend had died when he was 30.

I could see that he was still feeling the sorrow of that loss and I extended my condolences. This man was a little younger than I but I couldn’t tell how much so I wasn’t sure how recent this was.

This experience has been in my thoughts since then. Did he need closure? Did he truly just miss his friend that much? What was the rest of the story? I didn’t know how to respond and I am disappointed in myself that I didn’t say something more than just vague condolences. After a few minutes, the guy left and I wandered back to the stage in a daze, confused by what just happened. It felt like an hour but it was really only moments, I rushed back to the lobby to find the guy. My intent was to offer to go grab a cup of coffee or even a drink and just toast the memory of his friend. He seemed like he needed it.

However, I was so thrown off by this encounter, I couldn’t even recall what he was wearing. I could have been looking right at him and I wouldn’t know it. Well, I do remember he had on a black beanie that was pulled low on his forehead.

I just wish that I had caught him in time. His sadness was palpable and it just seemed that this little gesture could have been of some comfort to him. Or should I have offered him a hug? I just feel like some compassion was needed and I failed miserably to offer it.

For the life of me, Kind Reader, I cannot get it out of my head that I didn’t act in alignment with my personal ethics. Logically, I understand that I don’t have to do anything, but my heart just keeps saying, “I’m not mad, just disappointed.”

It is exhausting to have your brain and your heart disagreeing. I am trying hard to put this to bed so that it doesn’t affect the show. One thing I would like to put into the Universe is that if that fella happens to be reading this; I hope he will send me an email and let’s go have a toast to your friend and you can tell me some of your favorite memories.

Thanks for letting me bend your ear, Good Reader! I hope you know how much I appreciate you. What would you do in my situation? Let me know because I feel like I am falling down the ladder of human virtue.

Until next time, stay safe and alert. Take care of yourself and your loved ones.

❤️

🎼Is This The Real Life? Is This Just Fantasy? 🎶

Happy Holiday Season, Gentle Reader!

Oooooooowwweeeeee!

I hope your Turkey Day was wonderful, if you celebrate. If you are one of amazing Readers outside of the US, I hope your week was magnificent. But to be clear, this post isn’t about the recent holiday.

As we head into the weekend, and I return to grown up Ralph Parker, I wanted to share why I am enjoying this production so much. And it isn’t because it is Christmas themed. LOL. I don’t really celebrate it as I had mentioned before despite the fact that I worked on a Christmas show last year and in White Christmas many years ago.

One of the biggest reasons I wanted to be a part of this production was the shear fact that I have never had the opportunity to work with this many youngsters before. I wanted to have this experience because it was not only new, but the energy that they bring is incomparable. My past experiences were as a choreographer of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang for a youth production and the shows where I was cast that did have younger persons, really only had one or two. To share a stage with 10 of them is a wholly different experience and I am enjoying it immensely.

Another reason I have cherished this process is because of the director. Allie Bailey is one of my favorite people and director to collaborate with during the process. The first time I met her was at auditions for her production of Pippin. What a blast that was! This is my 3rd time working with her. I have absolute trust in her. I appreciate that I can offer my ideas on the character and she asks questions to force me to dive even deeper than what I thought was deep enough. Sometimes instead of confirming my ideas, she counters knowing that it can do one of two things, guide me into a different point of view OR ensure that my view as the character has an answer in their backstory for every potential question that the script may present. I trust that if I am not presenting anything clearly, she will catch it and let me know so that I can make stronger choices. I also like to think that she trusts me and is fully ok with the time I take to work through building my character. She also knows how much I change delivery of lines to try and find my truth in the moment. Sometimes, directors have wanted me to make my choices and stick to them midway through the rehearsal process so the scene is “set” but that stresses me out because if a line gets delivered differently on accident and I give my response like we had “set” then the truth of the moment is lost and will be seen as forced by the audience.

It has been so incredible to take this journey, Dear Reader. The A Christmas Story movie is brilliant in its mix of realism and hyper camp thanks largely to the filming style by director Bob Clark. Not to detract from the acting because I thought all of that was well done too with special nod to Darren McGavin. But aside from the lamp, the filming visual are what stick with me. Like the zoomed in perspective of the kids on Santa and the elves when they are angry or the over dramatic grading by Miss Shields. That is hard to replicate on a stage. Yet, our director had the solution.

When I step back and take a macro look at the staged version, I can see at least 3 levels of style, for lack of a better term. In the first ring, this is the most true to life. My version of Ralph lives here. Yeah, he gets caught up in explaining some of the moments of his memories, but think about when you are recounting something to others. It is a normal reaction. Not only can you get caught up in the storytelling, but those emotions can well up within you again. Like the bullying scene. It is sad to recall, but man, those are some of the easiest feelings to recall from my past. It is painful and scary and embarrassing but the mix is easy to find when I need them.

In the next ring, the memory is stored there. I know that the potential for expanding upon your story is highly likely, Sweet Reader. While Ralph recalls this Christmas memory, obviously some parts are over the top. This is the ring that Mother, The Old Man and Randy, Santa as well as Ralphie’s classmates and Teacher live. Slightly larger than life yet rooted in complete truth but a little more exaggerated than Ring One.

In the final ring, Raphie’s imaginative fantasies reside. This is the overblown moments in the show. This is the home of Black Bart and his gang, Shakespeare and the fan girling Miss Shields, and Red Ryder.

The real trick was knowing where to blur the lines and have those rings bleed into one another and I think our director must be a fricking magician because she has managed to do that very thing spectacularly.

I say it every day in real life, I am a lucky duck. I cannot tell you enough what a wonderful time I am having getting to know these little artists as well as making friends with peers that I had not worked with before. And now, it is off to the theater!

Thank you for once again taking a moment out of your lives, Gentle Reader, to read the musings of a vagabond actor just looking for new ways to explore emotion and view life through the stories of others.

Until the next time our paths cross, Dear Reader, stay safe and alert. Be sure to care for yourself and those around you.

❤️