Relax! Don’t Do It…

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Hello Gentle Reader!

Once upon a time, I used to stress out about not having a production to work on right after my current project would end. With Little Shop of Horrors ending on Saturday, I am  getting a little antsy about that very thing.

My logical brain knows that there will be a project for me somewhere at some point, but as I have pointed out time and again, logic is NOT my default setting. 😄

Having taken 2018 off (and most of 2019 too), I know that Theatre Arts will be around when I am ready for a project.

I used to be grateful that I had an answer for people when they asked, “what are you working on next?” Recently, one of my Lil Shop castmates asked and I said, “I don’t have anything coming up and I don’t mind.” I never expected the calm that I felt when I said that.

My Dear Reader, I know when the right project comes along it will call to me. I just hope that I can audition well enough to become part of the cast. Fingers crossed.  Toes too! LOL 😂

I do have to say that I am so grateful at being a part of the thriving theatre community that we have in the Bay Area. From the actors, to the producers and staff, to the incredible artists that work on design elements, there are so many insanely wonderful people that are part of it.

So there shall be no freaking out! I hope. LOL! No, no.  It’ll be fine.  I think.

Yeah… just gonna wait for that project to call…

*sits and waits…*

*and waits…*

A New Post? Yup!…

time-to-come-back-coverHELLO Gentle Reader!!!

How have you been? What have you been up to? Chasing those dreams? I hope you had an amazing 2019! I really do. I also hope your holiday celebrations were amazing and filled with love and laughter with those you care for the most. 

Can you believe it has almost been a full year since I last posted? 📆 I had to take some time away because I was having some personal issues with the old survival job that just made me feel like I was suffocating and regardless of what I tried I couldn’t seem to shake it. 😔  I didn’t want to inadvertently put any of it on you. What brought me to this decision was the number of times that I had noticed that I spoke before self-editing and realizing later that there was venom in my words. This, of course, compounded the feelings I was already dealing with so the easiest solution was to take a step back. That being said, I did miss you all.

I even did the same thing with theatre. I saw a few shows but didn’t participate in anything until October/November when I had been about 2 months into feeling more like myself. 

My initial plan for this post was to go back to something that I used to do WAAAYY back when… try and decipher my Chinese zodiac horoscope.  BUT I realized that a year away is a very long time in the blogging world so I should probably update you, Dear Reader, on what I did work on as far as theatre goes. 

I was lucky enough to be cast in productions of…

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AND

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The toughest part about these projects was that they started rehearsals at the EXACT. Same. Time!😱

Star Wars had a shorter more intense schedule while Little Shop had 3 weeks more of rehearsal time. I am one lucky ducky. I had 2 great directors that were willing to allow me the chance to tackle this task.  I know that they were nervous about letting me do this, and I hope it was the knowledge that I would work hard to bring my best to each show. I mean, not that I don’t work hard when I am in a single show. LOL!

Let’s first tackle “One Hour Star Wars Trilogy: Live!” A little side note: I LOVE THIS TRILOGY!!! ❤️❤️ Give me this before offering LOTR or Indiana Jones. I don’t care how much people like to talk smack about them. I know they are a little silly and not the best acted. I LOVE THEM ANYWAY.

This was a project of love, no doubt. I enjoyed every single moment of work on this show because it’s freakin Star Wars.  Not only that, but I got reunited with a few people that worked on last year’s “Making of the Star Wars Holiday Special: Live!” I laughed so much during the process that it didn’t feel like work at all. There was joy in every moment we built and the process of collaboration was fast and furious. There were some ideas that worked and some that didn’t. I also got to work with a bunch of new friends that had the BEST quickly improvised ideas. The best thing about the production run was all the running around backstage to get to the different entrances in the theater. So much swearing! LOL!  I think we said “shit!💩” at least 20 times a show. And the show is only an HOUR!!!!! HAHAHAHAHAHA😂

Ahhhh, Gentle Reader, I am gonna miss that show. LOL!

Next up, let’s have a chat about 🎶Little Shop, Little Shoppa Horrors🎵.

But we’ll do that in another post.

Thanks for reading, Dear Reader!  I have performances Friday and Saturday, so I am aiming to have the Lil Shop post up by Sunday night.

Until then…

Let me know how you are and what your are up to!

 

In The Pursuit of Happiness…

Memorial-Day-Flag-Website-Banner_edited-1Hello Dear Reader,

Every year at this time, I think of a fellow I did a show with many years ago. I think I may have mentioned Cesar Flores before. His Vietnam stories always made me so sad because I could see the hurt in his face and hear it in his voice. He spoke with such passion about everything.  I really loved that about him. I know he is somewhere in California, but I don’t know where anymore.

I thank him and all the soldiers this Memorial Day for all the sacrifice that they have made so that America can have the freedoms that have become a way of life. Freedoms that seem to be used to protest for justice and tear us apart for elitism and racism. Just because I don’t agree with some of the propaganda that is going around doesn’t mean it is isn’t an expression, as much as I am loathe to point out.

According to our Declaration of Independence, we all have the right to pursue happiness.  What happens when that happiness is in jeopardy? I have been paying much more attention to the empty seats, content, quality and types of advertising in the theaters I have been attending as of late. The worry of being a company owner is making sure that you can sustain great shows that bring in a full audience to keep on putting up more great shows and round and round the circle goes.

Can I just say, I don’t understand that when money gets tight the first thing that seems to be cut is live theater. I mean, I sort of get it.  Tickets are expensive and if you know a lot of people in different shows it can get REALLY pricey. Yet, there is so much intrinsic value in it for a well rounded life. These creative expressions offer us a chance as a society to step back and look at ourselves. Sometimes theatre points the finger and sometimes it doesn’t. Since I want to open my own company in the future, this has really made me shift my thoughts on what the state of theatre in this area will be like in a few months.

My Gentle Reader, I don’t have any worries of the the talent on either side of the table. And when I say “either side of the table,” for those that don’t know, I am referring to the cast/talent and staff/production. We have some great people that are on both sides.  I worry about the people that we do this for. While it may be fun and a necessity (sometimes) for us, theatre is a mirror of sorts to life. Even if the attendees aren’t going through the particular situation that is on stage, we can still relate to it on an emotional level. You may not agree with some of the things that the play is about, but the hope is that it makes you willing to think about the subject and maybe it will change your heart or strengthen your resolve but hopefully it will make you feel and/or think.

I’ve looked into strategies (and that ain’t even my strong suit! Ask anyone who has played board games with me) in marketing and awareness and community involvement. I see opportunities there, but getting those seats sold is where I feel a bit lost. What if those strategies are great but the seats don’t sell?

Do any of you amazing friends have any thoughts on the state of theatre in the future? What have you seen in regards to attendance? Do you see any way to shrink the number of empty seats?

Dear Reader, I hope you had a wonderful holiday weekend and that you took a moment to reflect on the things that allow us to try to attain the American Dream that our grandparents had before things got so crazy expensive.

And Cesar, where ever you are and whatever show you are working on now, my friend, I salute you and say “Welcome Home!”

Until next time, Gentle Reader…

 

 

Nothing But Death and Taxes, Friends. Death and Taxes… and Hope

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Dear Gentle Reader,

Last week was the most dreaded of the US “holidays,” even more so than Valentine’s Day. Yes, sadly friends, I feel that Valentine’s Day is on par with National Grilled Cheese Day. But I digress… That’s right we got to “celebrate” Tax Day, April 15th.  Oh joy.

As usual, I had to pay a pretty penny even though my survival job was supposed to be really good at paying into the tax pool. It wasn’t nearly enough, I guess. It is so frustrating to constantly have to pay for taxes when the job should be handling it.

I, like many people that know they will end up paying, waited until the last minute. I don’t know why. Maybe I am hoping that something will change and I will magically not have to pay. So from the time I get my paperwork until the week of the deadline, this cloud of dread hangs over me.

Yet, I still plan and dream. I still have hope, Dear Reader. I still have hope that someday I will have my own theatre company. I have already picked out the first season and have my ideas what I would like each production to achieve.

What I am having trouble with is the whole non-profit thing. The benefits are great but I dont really want a board of directors. I know they would be a massive help in nearly everything, but I would feel like I have bosses.  I don’t want to have that feeling in something that I create.

Would it be beneficial to just create a “production company?”

Oh, Gentle Reader, so many things to think about and so many shows to see and so many ideas to bring to life. WHY?? WHY?? Maybe I should go and knit something in the corner to calm my brain down.

Who knows, I may find a zen moment and get a solution.

But for now, taxes are done, theater rentals checked out, rights pricing checked out, looking to have the logo designed and so on…

Oh, and the company won’t be up and running for a while, but the ball has begun to roll. I have to start it now. I mean, I am no spring chicken (not a word, Kevin! Not a word.) so I need to begin.  Especially if I want it to be like what I see in my crazy brain.

OK! Now that I got that out, Dear Reader, I need to try and get some sleep. I will keep you posted, of course, on the upcoming issues I will be facing. LOL!

Big hugs to you all.

Until next time, friends…

 

 

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…

🎼I’m Sane But I’m Overwhelmed…🎶

 

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Dear Gentle Reader,

As I was bounding back home to get to job #2 from an interview in Millbrae a few days ago, Alanis Morissette’s “Hand in My Pocket” showed up in the shuffle line up. I realized that this is the perfect song to describe my life. 😀

First off I have to say, I love me some Alanis! Her Jagged Little Pill 📀 still gets a full spin in my car every now and again as does her Under Rug Swept.  I love her phrasing and her vocabulary.  C’mon “There’s an obvious attraction to the path of least resistance in your life/There’s an obvious aversion no amount of my insistence will make you try tonight” For me, it conjures up such great imagery. Yes, Ironic got her into a bit of a pickle, but I don’t care.

Now, Dear Reader, what I ❤️ about this song really comes into play when you actually take a look at the lyrics. She pairs a great descriptive word with nearly the exact opposite of how it should make her feel. Most lines have a negative first word and a positive second, but occasionally, she reverses this set up.

No one ever has good days every day, sad to say even me. However, just like those lyrics I may be broke, but I find ways to be happy. Even while I may be poor, I think it is imperative to still be kind.

Well, bad days come a-knocking every once in a while, like on my drive, as I stressed myself out about whether or not going to this interview was the right move as well as the thought that I may miss my shift if traffic was not my friend during this trip.  There was no guarantee that the potential offer would match what I am making now.  What if it wasn’t? Now all the time and energy put into this would have been for naught. 😞

It turns out that traffic, Gentle Reader, was on my side so I was not going to miss any work hours. BUT! Yes, there is a but, my friends, the same struggle of getting from one place to the next on time reared its big ugly head.  Can you believe it?  What are the odds that one job would affect the next twice in one day? Not only that, take a guess as to what song popped up on the rotation, again? Yup ⇪!

Here’s the thing, though.  This time I was supposed to be heading to an audition! 😳 The tough part was I was working on a project that needed to be completed in one shot.  I didn’t have the luxury to hold off on what wasn’t completed yet to make it to my audition. That alone began to put me in a tailspin as I worked as quickly as possible. I sent apologetic messages for my tardiness and I felt just awful. It’s bad enough that I don’t like auditions, but to walk in after they have already been there for over two hours?  I felt like a heel. Thankful that I still got the chance to read, but a heel nonetheless.

The great thing, Dear Reader, is that if that gamble of an interview pays off, not only with I have just 1 job to focus on along with ALL my theatre stuff, but it frees up a crap ton of time for MORE theatre stuff!! Well, except for the audition that I was late to.  I totally didn’t get that. Which is a total bummer, but I can’t have it all. (But I wants it all!  I needs it!)  That was a train wreck and it will never happen again. I hope.

So keep your fingers crossed for me, would ya? Let’s send out the good vibes that this interview will lead to a good enough single stream of income so that I can keep on keeping on. Even if it doesn’t happen though, just like Alanis says “everything’s gonna be fine, fine, fine.”

What about you, Gentle Reader? Have you ever had a song sum up your life perfectly?  Whether it be a moment, a week, a month, or for your whole life so far, music is everyone’s soundtrack. What is “your” song?  C’mon. You can share.  We’re pals.  No judgements.  Let me know in the comments below.  Who knows, I may not know the song and when I look it up, it may be the best thing I’ve ever heard👂

Until next time, Dear Reader…

Waking Up Now That September Ends

 

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This month has felt a bit like a dream.

 

I got to work on a great show with a wonderful group of bipeds.  We had some crazy hot weather in California and I hate the sun, so we all know how I feel about that. I actually was able to begin building my savings account again, even with extra bills to pay!  That’s a big one.      

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 I had so much fun working on Assassins for Los Altos Stage Company!  The show got such great reviews.  I had no idea what the show was about and I wasn’t planning on auditioning.  Then I got a call from Lee Ann Payne saying, “hey I am directing a show. You should come and audition.” Of course, that wasn’t how she said it, but it was very casual. Then, a coworker explained the whole show to me. It was at that point that I thought “hell yeah! I have to do that show.” So I do owe them both credit for prompting me to audition.  As often as I could, I watched all the scenes when I was off stage during the rehearsal process, seeing how the director and actors built up their characters and told their stories.  I loved hearing the crazy things that are only said in theatre like “you’re giving the ‘fuck’ too much.” Once the show opened, I loved to listen to the scenes (especially the Fromme and Moore scenes) and chuckled at every joke that was found throughout the show.  For those of you who haven’t seen or heard of Sondheim’s Assassins you can do a Youtube search, but here’s a description from MTI:

A multiple Tony Award-winning theatrical tour-de-force, Assassinscombines Sondheim’s signature blend of intelligently stunning lyrics and beautiful music with a panoramic story of our nation’s culture of celebrity and the violent means some will use to obtain it, embodied by America’s four successful and five would-be presidential assassins. Bold, original, disturbing and alarmingly funny, Assassins is perhaps the most controversial musical ever written.

Assassins lays bare the lives of nine individuals who assassinated or tried to assassinate the President of the United States, in a one-act historical “revusical” that explores the dark side of the American experience. From John Wilkes Booth to Lee Harvey Oswald, writers, Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman, bend the rules of time and space, taking us on a nightmarish roller coaster ride in which assassins and would-be assassins from different historical periods meet, interact and inspire each other to harrowing acts in the name of the American Dream.

Assassins requires skilled singers who are also versatile actors. This is an ideal choice for mature audiences and will challenge your designers as they try to recreate famous moments and people in America’s history.

So you see, it is something that many people don’t want to be “entertained” with, especially in light of Donald Trump’s statements about 2nd Amendment-ers “taking care” of Hillary Clinton. So some people didn’t really like the material of the show, but they did appreciate the performances though it seems like the audience is  “rooting” 👏 for Lee Harvey Oswald, John Wilkes Booth, and the others during show, particularly at the end of each either completing their jobs or being executed themselves. The all performances were so good, from the top down the entire cast was so solid!  Some were mesmerizing like Ken Boswell as Charles Guiteau, Philomena Block as Sarah Jane Moore, Alea Selburn as Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme, and Todd Wright as Sam Byke.  It was a great show to be a part of and I am grateful for the chance to play with this group of actors, even if the unexpected heat did put a damper on the run.  But this is one to remember, thanks to the timeliness of it as well as its own greatness

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MY STARS!!!  It is September! Why are we having this 90+ degree weather when global warming isn’t real!? (I totally believe in global warming. That was just a joke.) Yes, yes, I know that summer ended on the 21st, and can potentially stay warm through October.  I know this academically, but I don’t wanna!  LOL. I want it to stay like it was when I was a kid. Summer was only June thru August! I have made mention many times that I don’t enjoy being in the heat, so this felt like a slow painful Wicked Witch of the West type murder. 💀 What a world! What a world. Mercifully, the costumes weren’t too heavy, and considering one of my castmates had a suit that was made out of material that felt like the heaviest grade of wool cloth a person can find, I shouldn’t really complain. The important thing is we survived! And my beard and moustache stayed on when I needed it to!  That is the real miracle here. Even if I did look a little like Mario.  Special thanks to the Assassins cast for always singing the Super Mario music when I passed by… 😜😉

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You know, here in the Bay Area, it takes a lot of solid, steady, well paying work in order to pay the rent/mortgage if you are an actor.  Out of all the actors I know (and that is a TON of them) I believe all of us have survival jobs.  Some of us like those jobs.  Some of us don’t. Personally, I tend to vacillate between the two.  Currently, I am grateful to have them as I know some people aren’t so fortunate.  Now this month has been rife with extra bills to pay.  Some expected, some not so much. For example, I decided I wanted to work out my brain with an anthropology class. Since I love to people watch, I figured this would be a good fit. I wasn’t expecting to cough up almost $400 bucks for it and that’s without the books. But it worked out.  Then, stupid me got a parking ticket.  $50. 💩! Then a smog and my car registration, which I was planning for.  But then, to have to fix the exhaust pipe on the car on top of all that?  Oh, I thought I was doomed. 😱 DOOMED, I tell you.  Somehow, looking at my statements, everything did work out really well, and for the first time in a long time my savings account has funds flowing back into it.  👀  I never thought I would see that day again.

That has been my September in a oven roasted nut shell.  Did you have a good month?  Or was it like Green Day’s September, where you just want to hide out until it is over? Just like with the survival job, I went back and forth on this, too.  I hated the weather. Loved the show. Hated the extra bills. Loved that I have done a bit of growing up.  Hate that I just said that.  Love that I am learning new things.  Hate that I don’t write as much. BUT Love that you, dear reader, take the time to give this the once over.  Thank you!

Tell me about your month! Did you learn something new about yourself?  Did you do anything fun relating to theatre?  I am all ears… er… eyes, I guess it would be.

Until next time!

💖