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…

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…

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!

 

Stepping Into The Limelight…

This is Leo.
This is Leo.

Hello gentle reader,

My first time walking into Limelight Actors’ Theater was filled with so much anxiety.  By now, you probably are thinking “Jeez, what doesn’t make you anxious?”

Touche’ hahahahaha

I was brought into this project by some fabulous friends, so I felt it super important to make a good impression on the director-fella, Kevin Heath, who is also happens to be the co-owner of the company, along with Alan Obata.

Weeeeelllll, walking into rehearsal 15 minutes late was NOT the way that I wanted to start off our first encounter.

Now, lemme ‘splain.

I had my GPS set for the Limelight address… but for one that was from a while ago. LOL! And what, bummed me out is that I circled the block twice with 10 minutes to spare trying to see if I was in the right spot because the only place that looked open was a car repair shop.  Then somehow, I managed to recall that our fearless leader had sent an email about the location for our read through.

One minute after the scheduled meeting time, I sent him a message letting him know of my goof and he was kind and understanding.  So I drove down the street and made it to the proper spot and shamefully walked into the venue.

Right away, Kevin popped up out of his chair with a big smile and a ready handshake.   Easily one of the kindest people, I have had the pleasure of meeting.  We traded pleasantries around the table as we took seats to begin the reading.  Like the first read through of “Super Villain” at the Pear Theater, I giggled the whole way through, and in the process stumbled on some of the words.

When we reconvened, after a month and a half away, we got to work putting this show on its feet.  I felt a little like I was bumbling along through the blocking, because I needed to get my awkwardness into gear.  I hoped that it didn’t look too spastic when I panicked. Then when we were told that a piece of the furniture was going to be a bean bag that I jumped on, I felt my stomach flip flop.  A big guy like me?  Jumping on a bean bag?  C’mon!!!!!  Talk about panic.

We rehearsed and rehearsed with no problems.  Things were piecing together.  The motions a bit more natural even though they sometimes were opposite of what I would normally want to do, thanks to my want of being a dancer.  Graceful wasn’t what Robert was about.

Preview snuck up so fast! The people that were there got to bear witness to my fear ever since the announcement of the bean bag.

The Bean Bag Incident…

Yes, dear reader. You can probably guessed what is to come.

All I remember is putting the handbag I was suppose to hide in its place then rushing over to get the bean bag.  I recall getting my hands on the white, smooth, faux leather and jumping in the air and suddenly hearing “pfwhoosh!!” Then an eruption of laughter.

I flailed around on this ever shrinking bag of beans and the laughter escalates in the midst of my flailing! I finally feel the giggles dying down and calm my motions as well for the scene to continue.  Oh boy! When I stand up, there is a mess of little white puff balls littering the stage and I worry that someone is going to fall.  GAH!!  Why a bean bag?  LOL!

Take that bean bag!!! Me :1 Bean bag: 0

It wasn’t until after the performance that I was told that every flail resulted in those little beans flying out of the hole in the bag which happened to be near my crotch, thus making me look like a seahorse on dry land birthing my offspring. Can’t visualize it? Check out the bottom of this post.

After that first audience, I always had to mentally prep myself for the possibility that it could happen again.  That’s when I found Leo (image at top).  He was just a pattern on the back of the set.  The natural lines in a wood pattern that my brain decided looked like a lion.  Every night there after though, I would take a moment and run down that particular sequence of events so that everything would be fine.  He was like my little mascot for the show.

I really don’t want to gush about how fabulous it was to work for the Limelight Actors Theater Company. Not because it isn’t true. Absolutely not. I had a marvelous time!  I don’t want to gush because then everyone is going to want to work there and they should, but I don’t want to have so much competition for roles.  Selfish?  Totally.  I wholeheartedly admit it.

That being said, I think people should experience what it is like to work for someone who cares so much that the actors are able to focus on their roles and fosters an environment that truly feels like we are creating something in tandem.  We were welcome to try out as much as we wanted, and believe you me, I took full advantage of that.  I don’t think I did anything the same more than twice while we were rehearsing because I kept having different feelings appear in my noggin so I would run with it.  Sometimes it worked out better than the last thing I thought of, and sometimes it didn’t.  I appreciated that whenever I would say “it feels weird to do…”  this motion or that one, I knew that I was heard and got to talk about it.

*sigh* I already miss the place. Not to mention the amazing people that I had the chance to work with!  I always love getting to work with my buddy Aaron Weisberg and the superb Cindy Powell, but to play on a stage with the very funny trio; Christine McElroy, Rachel Perry and Heather Bass was sheer joy!  Everyone was genuinely interested in our castmates’ lives outside of Boeing Boeing and it was so fun getting to really know these outstanding beautiful people.

So… thank you to Kevin and Alan of LAT for letting me be a part this crazy and kooky show with a whole slew of great people.  Alas, now it comes time to depart for the next destination, but I can’t wait to be for a return visit!

As promised!!

SEAHORSE!!!

Everybody Scream!!!

Wes Craven and Kevin Williamson have returned for another installment of a franchise that reinvigorated the slasher flick genre with a bit of wit, thought, and the old cliche for good measure.  Scream 4, while not as uniquely original as the, well, original,  does keep you looking for the usual suspects like the broody Ex-boyfriend, or the Crazy Eyed deputy that has a torch for the Boss.

For those of you who have never seen a Scream movie, I ask you why not?  Is it because you don’t like slasher flicks or is it because you don’t enjoy that feeling like your heart will skip a beat when something pops out from beyond the camera’s view?  Is it because you feel like the horror movie genre is somehow less intellectual than you would like?  If your reason is because of the latter, I do concur that many of the slasher flicks nowadays can go way too far (like House of 1,000 Corpses or Devil’s Rejects); there are still some that try to challenge you and keep up with the times.

And that brings me back to Scream 4.  The series revolves around Sydney Prescott (Neve Campbell), an “unlucky” girl whose mother was a little too “flirty” with the boys.  At least that’s how the whole thing began.  So long story short, usually during the anniversary of her mother’s killing, someone tries to kill Sydney.  Ta-da.  I’m not trying to make light of the movie. That’s just how it is.

The more I think about this movie, the more I think I like it.  Not just for the entertainment value of it, and it really was entertaining.  I kept turning to my partner in crime and saying, “I bet it’s ———.” throughout the film.  And even though I could figure out the formula, there was a step that I overlooked.   I won’t tell you what part it was, or it may ruin the ending for you.

For a horror movie, the acting was pretty good.  Nothing that is going to win an Oscar or anything, but it was almost all believable. There were a few moments when Neve Campbell would make her usual smile/smirk face as though she was nearly incredulous yet offended at the same time, and I remember thinking, “She does that often, doesn’t she?”  Not just in this series of movies, but in others like The Company (which I really love. It’s a dancing movie, c’mon!)  One of the characters that I had a hard time rooting for was Olivia, played by  Marielle Jaffe, so (SPOILER>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>) I found that when she was a victim, I was A-Okay with it.  Rounding out the major cast is David Arquette as Sheriff Dewey, Courteney Cox as Gale Weathers and Dewey’s Wife, Emma Roberts playing Jill Roberts and Hayden Panettiere as BFF Kirby (who’s hair I LOVED!)

So here’s why I really like this movie.  It’s well directed!  Wes Craven shows why he is the master of suspense.  Once again an iconic serial killer is brought to the public consciousness that people will always associate with a particular image.  Craven’s knack for showing you the victims surprise/pain/anguish is remarkable.  (Inconsequential SPOILER>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>) One that immediately comes to mind is the death of Sydney’s publicist, Rebecca Walters, (Alison Brie).  After the usual intense moments of being trapped in a hospital parking lot in a car with a killer just outside, the victim makes a run to “safety” only to find that the door that separates her from the very people who try to prevent death is locked.  Craven cuts quickly from her trying the door to turning just in time to see that image racing at her with only that door to stop his momentum.  The subtlety could be easily overlooked, but sometimes, on very rare occasions, the lightbulb fizzles on for me.

On top of the directing, Kevin Williamson returns to the franchise that he created and has penned a script filled with smarts, creativity, societal/generational morality/ethics, and humor.  The opening has a triple decker of murder, but all of them are just part of the formula.  Kind of like a cinematic amuse-bouche.  It’s not an appetizer that you just order off the menu; the chef decides to allow you the little morsel of bloody goodness to wet your appetite for what’s to come.   The juiciest piece was Anna Paquin and Kristen Bell! You can totally tell what’s gonna happen, but it’s so funny that there’s no way you can’t enjoy it.

Williamson’s writing for this particular installment stays so modern to  society today in that everything is so Technoriented (yes, I just made that up) there’s no true sense of privacy anymore and there’s hardly any originality being brought to light.  So what’s one to do? To try to outdo the original of course, and in the process to show how you are doing it so that way you can be famous.  One of the scenes is at the “Cinema Club” AKA A/V Club and the leaders of the group go into explaining what the next logical step of a horror film would be.  Their thought (which actually frightens me that someone may get the notion to do this) is that the killer should be taping it and streaming it Vlog style so that the crimes will live on well after the death of the killer.  I hope that never happens, but then again… There’s a wonderful little monologue near the end of the flick where Sydney is being told why this is happening.  It makes mention of the fact that nowadays you don’t have to really do anything special or have any talent to be famous.  You just have to make a lot of crazy decisions or have something horrible happen to you that you can milk.  Of course I am severely paraphrasing here with my bad memory so know that it’s much more interesting and well worded than this.  Hahaha.  As for humor, who else would fit in word play like “Shriek-quel” for sequel?

But I highly recommend taking a gander at the Scream movies if not all of them, then at least the first one and this latest one.  The original movie has such an amazing first scene that to this day it is one of my all times faves! The intensity is priceless.

Have you seen the movie yet?  What do you think of it?  Was it too gory? Not enough?  Maybe too corny? Lemme know!

So for all of you that have read this far, I offer you a little treat.  I am giving away a tiny gift certificate to AMC Theatres for answering the two following questions and #2 must be correct:

1.  What’s your favorite scary movie?

2. Can you tie the term amuse-bouche to the franchise I just wrote about?  *Note: There is only one answer for this.

In order to qualify, just write a comment in the section below with both answers.  The answer to question 2 must be correct.  All correct entries will be entered into a drawing and the winner picked at random.  Deadline: May 1, 2011. Good luck!!