🎼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. 

❤️

🎼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.

❤️

🎼Looks Good, Sounds Good, Feels Good Too…🎶

Heeeeeeelllllloooooo Gentle Reader!

My many apologies for my long time away. First came the attempt at learning candle making, then I got cast in a production and now work is all kinds of wonky! BUT the important thing is now the show has begun with last night being the start of a spectacular run.

Yes, you Gorgeous Readers, I have opened another show! I kept meaning to post about it here, but time was just too poorly managed on my part. I can say that with complete honesty. I slept like crap these last 8 weeks and it just got worse 3 weeks ago thanks to work looking into cutting back on it spending. At first it wasn’t about stress. At first. It was more the fact that traffic in the Bay Area has returned to PreCovid Times and people drive worse now than they did back then. My drive to get to rehearsal can take anywhere from 50 minutes to 1 hour and 20 minutes, I think was my record, thanks to an accident. By the time it was the return trip home, the last thing on my mind was writing because I was trying to figure out what meetings I had to prepare for at work the next day.

So writing was put on the back burner. My sincere apologies. I’ve missed y’all.

I hope that you are all well and healthy and you are looking forward to the holiday season!

Speaking of the holiday season, let’s chat about my current project…

No doubt, Lovely Reader, that you have seen this 1986 holiday classic that is played on repeat every single year for 24 hours on Christmas Day.

If you happened to have missed it, somehow. It is the memory of the main character’s Christmas from when he was 8 years old. Filled with moments of hilarity and relatability, this film has something for everyone

Check out this newspaper article featuring Keith Larson. Keith does an outstanding job as The Old Man! I swear sometimes it sounds like the O.G. dad, Darren McGavin. He talks about how as he has gotten older and a family of his own, his relationship with this film has also grown.

If you haven’t seen it, watch it. It takes place in the 1940’s and it is just a simpler time so there are no cell phones, no distractions from screens. It is all about the human connections.

The script for the play version highlights all the best parts of the movie and delivers such heart.

For my experience with this show, it was pure pleasure. In the movie, you never see my “role.” You definitely hear it though. He is little Ralphie all growed up. (Yes, I know that isn’t a real word) and just like the movie, the play is told through the “memories” he shares, moving the story along.

For me the great challenge was getting the style of the syntax correct because while all my lines weren’t quite run-on sentences, they most certainly felt like it. There would be a paragraph of 7 lines that was only 2 actual sentences and some of the grammatical markings weren’t where one would think they should be. So really digging in and trying to sort all of that out was my biggest issue. Not to mention ALL THE LINES!! The sheer amount of them had gotten so that at a point in the early stages of rehearsals, that I began to question my casting. 😂😂

I was sick of hearing myself speak because it felt like I was ALWAYS monologuing. I began to wonder if I would turn out like some of the presenters I see during work functions, droning on and on and losing audience members like a comet loses pieces of itself as it hurtles through space. Sometimes I had pages of things to say and they didn’t really connect to one another so trying to shift the energy so it felt like it was a “scene change” was such an incredible exercise. There is still one that I feel a bit sticky on.

Here is an example: After one of the fantasy scenes with all the kids, Kind Reader, I reenter and talk about how having the Red Ryder BB gun was a must. Then I am supposed to set the tone for a scene about the sexy leg lamp. After a fantastical scene where Ralphie uses his rifle and the built in tools to save his classmates they all run off. The script says: “RALPH: No question about it. I had to have that air rifle. It was an absolute necessity. Meanwhile, night after night, the soft sinuous radiation of the Old Man’s major award lit up Cleveland Street, attracting cruising prides of adolescents.” Logically, I know there is a light shift, but I can’t see it as I am in a follow spot whenever I am on stage. So all I see is that light. I drop the register and volume of my voice and hope that I wait long enough that the light change happens before I go into the light part of the line. At the beginning I am in one frame of mind, caught up in the ideas of what could happen with that rifle and then I have to shift over to sexy time talk with a flip of the dime. 😂 It just feels funky to me. I am sure it looks great, but I, personally, find it feeling funky. It is totally a me thing and I completely trust my director, the amazing Allie Bailey. If it looked off or sounded odd in any way, she would straight up tell me.

Now with this beast of a show open, I can relax and enjoy the holidays myself. Since my family has suffered a lot of hardships with losses over the last few years, I know I need to enjoy our time together now.

Sometimes during the penultimate and the final scenes, I get a little choked up because of how I built the backstory for my character. But that is for another post.

I hope that you are able to come on down and check out this cult Christmas classic presented on a stage with over the top silliness and about a planet sized amount of heart. Besides, look at that little face! Don’t you wanna see the shenanigans this lil fella gets into?

Program Image: Shawna Gonzales as Mother and Matthew Horta as Ralphie Parker

Until next time, Dear Reader, I hope you stay safe, healthy and aware. Make sure to take care of yourself and those around you. I adore you all and look forward to the next time. Thanks for letting me bend your ear.

❤️

🎼Do You See What I See, Do You See What I See…🎶

Hello Dear Reader,

Happy All Of The Things! I hope however you celebrated with your families and friends, it was filled with joy, love, and kindness.

Last week, the family play I worked on had its final bow on Saturday. It was a fun run with a wonderful cast. Looking back, I can say there was a lesson in this production. And it was something I learned from the audience. It was a first for me.

I tried to get very comfortable in the skin of someone that was so unlike me. I mean, I have my little quirks, which could very well be undiagnosed OCD. I am not, however, self absorbed or oblivious to other people. I like to think that I did a decent job inhabiting that life though.

I am always looking for lessons to learn or what I could take away from each project. This time around, with this being the first time back on stage in 2 years, what will I learn, I wondered. 2 years is a long time to not put into practice what you know.

Now my Gentle Reader, you might be thinking “there are/were ways to participate with online performances.” To this, yes, I agree and I tried it. My experience doing an online or Zoom performance, while enjoyable in the meeting of people and working with them, was not as fulfilling as an in-person experience. I felt like I was expending way more energy just trying to maintain this sort of distanced connection with my cast mates. Not only that, I was never sure if I was reading my cast mates’ motivations properly because I couldn’t see their whole body, just whatever their head, neck and shoulders were telling me. It was draining. The people were great, but it was draining. I knew it wasn’t the thing for me. And that’s okay!

This time around, I learned that while I was getting comfy in Michael’s skin, I may have been getting a little careless with it too. As this was my very first time working on a thrust stage, (if you are unfamiliar, it is when the stage sticks out a bit and the audience sits on 3 sides instead of just one as in a traditional theater) I was hyper aware that my motions needed to be clear so no matter where one sat, my actions would be understood. This also means that at any given time, the actors on stage will have their backs to the audience at some point. Man, this was hard. It was an awesome challenge though.

Being comfortable with Michael’s mannerisms and actions were what brought he and I together. As long as I understood my motivations behind my actions, I could use those with everything on the stage if it felt right. And I did change what I interacted with… often! You know how they say the show can never be the same each night because of the various factors, like audience participation (their reactions), accidental (or intentional) walking pattern adjustment, forgotten words, costume malfunction, but mostly because of the first thing? I think I was to blame each night. 🙃

During the rehearsal process, as I mentioned in previous posts, I would always make adjustments based on how it felt. I could never recall exactly what I did because I was trying to simply stay in the moment. This meant that I didn’t have a defined track that is set and is always identical to the night before. There were points that I had to hit, but everything else was kind of fluid.

Early in the run, one of those points was called into question and after I reflected on it, I made an adjustment. There is a point in the show that Michael apologizes to his wife for accusing her of only coming back to him because she wants his money. Right after they reconcile, Michael says with hope of upcoming fatherhood and relief that Jill does love him, not his money, that he hopes they don’t have an “Uncle Bob” baby. Bob happens to be the alcoholic uncle who says inappropriate things. The line doesn’t feel like an announcement to the world but rather a secret hope between the couple. Well, I went with how it feels without thinking about the element of the thrust. This meant that the people behind me wouldn’t be able to clearly hear what I was saying. I actually heard someone ask what was said and it hit me that my intention and motivation may be appropriate but delivery needs to be adjusted so it can be heard by the audience clearly. So this point was adjusted and I made sure that I was louder and more clear with that line through the rest of the run. We didn’t have mics and it was a very intimate setting, meaning the audience was practically on the stage with us.

Later in the run, a great actor friend was in the audience and asked why I was pointing to my brother during a point when Uncle Bob says he has a confession for anyone who is keeping score of our contest. One of the reveals later in the show was that the brother was documenting the whole night. 🤭Oops sorry, SPOILERS! 😂! Well, my action is that I am actually pointing to Mom, but because of how I do it, sort of dismissively nonchalant which ends up looking like a hand imitating a fish out of water, the action was unclear. Also, dependent on where people sit, I will look like I am pointing to a different person on the stage. From that performance on, I made sure to keep the intention but to acknowledge Mom in a more focused manner.

So my Kind Reader, for this lesson, I learned that staying in the moment and understanding motivations and intentions are all important, but when audience perspective is shifted to almost all around you, clarity and focus in those things is even more useful to help deliver a more enjoyable performance for the audience.

As this posts, I shall be enjoying the final Sunday Brunch of the year. I eagerly look forward to the opportunities 2022 will bring and hope that you are too. That being said, until next time, Gentle Reader, I hope you are safe and alert and don’t forget to treat people with kindness. Including yourselves.

❤️

🎼All The Things I Would Do If I Had A Little Money, It’s A Rich Man’s World…🎶

Hello Gentle Reader!!

The timing of this is quite interesting given that Abba recently announced a new album and tour. LOL! Oh, and they released 2 of the songs. I really like one of them

I had logged onto our Teams link early and had my camera and mic off when I got a notification from a friend that this release had happened. Since I was waiting for others to sign on, I was sure that I could read up on this more. Imagine my surprise when I found out that there was already videos on Youtube for them. So of course, I watch them.

As I listened to “Don’t Shut Me Down”, I happened to have caught my reflection in the empty black part of the screen and it really struck a cord with me.

“I believe it would be fair to say
You look bewildered
And you wonder why I’m here today
And so you should, I would
When I left I felt I’d had enough
But in the shape and form I appear now
I have learned to cope
And love and hope is why I am here now

And now you see another me, I’ve been reloaded, yeah
I’m fired up, don’t shut me down
I’m like a dream within a dream that’s been decoded”

I don’t know why my brain always seems to make things seem like small magical moments. I mean what are the odds that this just happened to be what I heard when I saw myself. And I was actually happy with the position I am in. I can be hyper self-critical and sometimes landing this job still feels like it isn’t real. OR more appropriately, that I don’t deserve it. I recalled a report that I read somewhere a few years ago that was in regards to low income families and finances.

Dear Reader, it said that children who grew up in a low income household where money was always an invisible stressor (never spoken about but acknowledged) can get imprinted with the idea that this was supposed to be the norm. Some that don’t, find that there is a subconscious fear of surpassing the income level that your parents had because you won’t know how to “handle” it. It was this fear that potentially leads not only to self sabotage but could lead to fear of success.

I spent the last few days trying to find the report, but I can’t find anything like it. And I know I am not smart enough to dream up something like this, so I can only say “I solemnly swear that I did read this!”

I have always dreamed of having a job that will afford me the opportunity to travel without having to basically cut out all expenses… well literally EVERYTHING… just to get to my destination. Now, I can!

It was always a fight to keep my head above water because of the need to work on my theatrical endeavors, (Yes, I said need. NEEEEED! There is a home-ness I feel that I do not get anywhere else regardless of the self doubt and imposter syndrome that creeps in.)pay my obligations, and still have a roof over my head in the Bay Area, which is expensive AF! And I never minded the fight. I enjoyed my survival job because of my coworkers and I love the area because it is usually gorgeous outside. At least, when the whole state isn’t on fire… Then, of course, there is my hilarious family and beautiful friends. I’d also like to take a hot second to point mention this new work feels right. Feels like I can grow in the corporate world and the creative since I will be able to use both together.

For the last three decades, my acting teachers and mentors would say that traveling is such a great way to learn about people and find more of yourself by exploring the outside world to bring more to your inner world. That’s been one of my quiet wishes to do so I finally started to dare to look at places to travel.

I can’t wait until I get that first stamp in my passport! But first, I need to find somewhere to go. Choices! As this little world that is now globally connected through technology continues to shrink, I look forward to expanding my experience in it.

Thank you, Kind Reader, for connecting with me in this digital world! Maybe one day we’ll meet, if I don’t already know you. And for those that I do know, I will be cheering you on from the wings!

What was the first stamp in your passport? Are you like me and stampless? Then, let me ask, what do you want it be? Let me know in the comments. Thanks for your time. I adore you for it.

Be safe and alert whilst taking care and remember to share kindness.