🎼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.

❤️

🎼I Don’t Want A Lot For Christmas, There Is Just One Thing I Need…🎶

Hello Gentle Reader,

How has your week gone so far? Hopefully, it has been productive and low stress.

I am genuinely a curious person. To an extent.

I never realized it until this past Monday. During my workday, I attended an online COVID 19 meeting that was about the vaccines and what the federal guidelines are for my company. Before I get people all riled up, I understand this is a very personal decision and I accept people are entitled to make their own decisions. But…. to be fair, if the nation can decide that abortions are illegal, it is perfectly acceptable for it to decide that you have to get vaccinated. OH!!😳 Did I just make a controversial statement? That depends on how you take it. Stop and look at it factually before you message me about it making you feel a certain way. Stop and think about it.

One of the great things about the meeting that I learned was something called Constructive Conflict. The best way to describe it is thusly: “any discussion where participants talk openly and respectfully about these disagreements in a mutual attempt to understand each other’s perspectives.” Everyone has a perspective and sometimes those views differ even if you are looking at the same thing. We all know this. Don’t assume your point of view is the correct one. Be curious about why the other person believes what they do. Unless you are a certified expert in a field of study, you probably don’t know all the minutiae on a subject or if the thing you are studying is in a constant state of flux. You can even start the conversation with “I know we disagree on — but I would honestly like to understand your point of view.” The key thing is you have to be sincere.

Over the weekend, while sitting at a meal, my friends and I were talking about tv shows. I find a lot of them hard to swallow lately because they don’t make sense emotionally or logically to me. Instead of being curious about why my friends liked certain shows, I stubbornly held to my feelings and was dismissive about their arguement about it and just sat back and listened to them switch topics without engaging much.

That isn’t how I normally operate, Dear Reader. I should hope by now, you would know this. I try to ask questions when we talk about stuff but for some reason, I just don’t like to talk about tv or music with them. And these are my closest and most dear friends talking about things that are so big in our individual lives.

If I had known about this concept, I think the conversation would have been a lot more substantial and interesting. Now that I do know about this, I am curious to see what the next opportunity will be to use this. Not only that, but I am curious how this will influence the next time I am building a character for a show!

What if my personal beliefs are opposite to the beliefs of the character I am to play? This can be such a great tool for research to find those small nuances to add to the inner life of that person.

It is amazing the things I am finding in my work life that translate so well to the theatre. I am so friggin’ lucky!

In performance news, we close A Nice Family Christmas this weekend to a sold out audience. Woo hoo! What a super fun production! Only two more chances to enjoy the company of these lovely people on stage. Then, it is sheer and utter freedom until January 3rd. Whatever shall I do with myself? I know that I have some coffee “dates” set up with people that I haven’t seen in a while, so I am looking forward to that.

OH! and getting some knitting done! 😄

I also wanted to practice some filming techniques and computer skills that I have recently acquired… Nevermind, I guess I know what I will be up to. 😂

Until next time, Kind Reader, stay safe and aware. Be kind to others and yourself.

❤️

May the 4th be with you…

Thanks to GeeksareSexy.com

An actor and a Jedi Knight are more similar that I thought.  Here’s how Obi-Wan explains what The Force is to a young Luke Skywalker

As an actor, we have to use every emotional receptor in our bodies to bring to life characters that have been created on the page.  Not only do we have to be aware of our emotional state, but also that of the other people that we share the stage with and using that energy to tell us what’s next.  Not only that, but a really well performed play has the power of opening the minds and hearts of people. Almost like this:

I said almost!  Here’s the best merged into one like peanut butter and chocolate!!! Enjoy.

I SO WANT TO DO THIS SHOW!!!         May the 4th be with you!!!