🎼 …Then You Shoulda Put A Ring On It🎶

Hello Gentle Reader!!!

It’s been a long time.  

I know in the last post (from a million years ago) I had mentioned that I started a new job. While it is a pretty stale excuse… YES that is my excuse for not getting back to the postings and what nots. But I am loving it. There is a TON of trainings that I have to do, seemingly nonstop, but it is a really fascinating.

In that same post, I had mentioned that I was triggered by something in the In The Heights movie and that it was a planned upcoming post. Well, guess what? That post is finally here. LOL! 

Now I know, my Dear Reader, you are most likely thinking, “like your last post, that movie is long gone” to which I would begrudgingly concur.  Firstly, can I just say how bummed I am that it did not do as well in the box office as I had hoped? Even with its flaws, it was still a celebration of an under represented culture on the big screen. But, I digress. 

Yes, ITH has been out of the cinemas for at least 6 weeks, but what has reignited the issue was the newest Marvel movie, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.

While I am not Chinese and have no Chinese heritage in my ancestral tree, the same thing popped up as I sat in the auditorium watching this REALLY great movie. (Before I go further, YES!!!! YOU SHOULD GO SEE THIS FILM!) 

Anyway, the thing that both films made me aware that I was craving deep down in my marrow was this sense of belonging to something older; something wiser.  I can only call it culture or traditions, but personally, I feel it is something much deeper.  It is those old philosophies and histories that formed these groups of people that share this deep connection. It is deeper than simply knowing your nationality.  Disclaimer:  before you drag me for this, I KNOW IT IS A MARVEL MOVIE, so the cultural references may be inaccurate as all get out. LOL!

I think back to that impactful interaction I had with the middle eastern lady in my store in the Before Times. She spoke of her culture and the need for human interaction with inviting strangers into her home for coffee. 

(It must be nice to live in a place where people are that rational that you know this stranger isn’t going to bring harm to your person. I cannot fathom the idea in this country.) 

I think that woke up the idea in my subconscious because I take note of it more often than I used to.  In a previous survival job, an old coworker would always ask me where I thought this or that person was from when they walked by our office.  My response was always the same.  Why is that important to you? Isn’t it more important if they are a kind/good person? I think it was something in her culture that made her want to connect on a deeper level, and it doesn’t get much more deep than diving into your ancestry. She tried to talk to me about it, but I only had a superficial connection to not only my heritage but also my family. 

Growing up, I was told a lot of things that were contrary to who I knew I was inside. Even as a kid, I knew exactly who I was, most gay kids do.  I wasn’t macho or tough in the way the typical Latino male was “supposed” to be. I didn’t have role models to show me there was another way.  I’d like to believe that my family thought they were helping to toughen me up when they would put boxing gloves on us kids and have us fight each other.  However, I know that it was just for cruel amusement. The religion that my family was supposed to have marked people like me an abomination (talk about dramatic).   So I severed that cord. What was the point of holding on to something that didn’t value people like me? 

I have often voiced regrets about not taking pictures of or with dear friends during events or parties. This is very true. I don’t know how I feel about not having pictures of over half of my family. Half I don’t even know who they are, like names, ages or how we are related. The memories I do have are dark for a lot of them, like the forced boxing. 

The last time I saw my Nina aka Godmother (to me that is her name not the religious title) she pulled me aside and said I’m sorry for not treating you the right way. I was completely surprised by this and caught off guard that I nonchalantly told her it was okay. No worries.  I’m a such a dummy LOL! While I appreciated it, truly, I would loved to have had a really in depth conversation about it. I now I was a bit of a brat.

I have been wondering, if I had been more open than they were, would I have that connection that I am currently in search of. It is one thing to know where you came from, but as I watched those movies and hearing the tiny tidbits of philosophies or historical events, it seems like it is another thing to be a part of them. 

Now, Kind Reader, since this is supposed to be a theatre blog, I have to do the tie in! LOL!

This brings up a new journey for me. More like a new way of thinking about my character choices and how I build characters. Instead of merely going by the events of the script that motivate me or the ideas of what I think the rest of that character’s life up until the point of the play has been, I have this new factor that I can play with.  How did the events of his culture shape him? Was it a positive or negative impact? I am really looking forward to layering this new texture onto upcoming characters I play. 

Wait! I can hear it already. “As an actor, that is what you are supposed to do anyway!” Yes, this is true. However, every character I have played was always a kind of “every man” kind of character. There were layers to the characters, but because I, me myself, had no real connection to a heritage, it wasn’t one of the layers that was applied.

I am glad that there is so much to learn about what it is to be human. The complexities are so vast and it is what keeps my love of acting so strong.  

Thank you, Gentle Reader for taking the time to help me heal a little bit of my soul that I didn’t know needed it. 

So, let me ask you… Where are you from? What is one thing that you love about your culture? Let me know in the comments.  I have started to read up on history and looking into folklore but like literally an hour before I began writing this, so don’t quiz me yet. LOL!

Thank you again, and I look forward to learning more about you all. 

Stay safe and alert and share the kindness in your heart. 

🎼I Will Be Right Here Waiting For You🎶…

Hello Gentle Reader!

The other day I was driving home from work. Usually I have my music on my phone playing on random for all the tracks on the device and I have about 30 gigs of just music downloaded onto the SD card. Imagine my surprise when a non-song begins to play.

By non-song, I mean something that is not played on the radio, an audiobook chapter, or even a YouTube video. What began playing was the first run through of music from our production of Little Shop of Horrors last year, (technically, 2 years ago because we premiered on NYE 2019 before the chime of midnight, I guess.) For those that are unfamiliar, when you work on a musical, there comes a point when you try to sing through all of the music for the show in one rehearsal to see what needs some fine tuning or clarification.

Anywho, it made me really miss the cast and the theatre something fierce. Then my eyes decided that it was the perfect time to start burning so I had to blink a lot to make the burning go away. I happened to catch some lady staring at me while we were waiting for the light to turn green. Her face read as “WTF?” so I can only imagine the faces I was making. 😂😂

As the country continues our tortoise-like pace to herd-immunity (I really don’t like that term,) I can’t help but to be so excited for all the projects that I am seeing audition notices for. Even the shows that I know I am not interested in doing, I am just thrilled that the show is happening. It’s like me being excited for you to eat a delicious dinner that I am not invited to. I am just being a cheerleader on the side.

Can I just say, Dear Reader, that while I can’t mention the show, I recently just had something offered to me for later this year? I am over the moon to have SOMETHING on the books for 2021. Now, I just have to be practice a little patience and wait for rehearsals to begin in a few months. Hopefully then I can say what I will be working on.

I think what I can say is from reading the script is that no two performances are going to be the same! 😄 However, one thing that I do know is that even if everyone is vaccinated, some people will continue to stay away from crowded areas and events, so I am really intrigued on how this is all going to work out. Will the show have a live audience or will it be live-streamed? Will an audience even want to come to a theatre to see it? What happens if the ticket sales are hindered by the people that are wary of live events still? I get it. I can’t do it, but I get it. I have so many questions and worries for the theatre companies, but I am still super optimistic about the great return!

I already let anxiety and fear prevent me from doing things I would have loved to do before the pandemic and it has given me a different outlook on what I missed from just that, so I won’t be secluding myself from getting back on that stage or mingling with casts and friends. I am really looking forward to hugging my friends. A LOT! 😂

Getting my second dose on Thursday and then I wait. I will sit in the corner of the room and clock watch until the time I can meet my new cast mates and we get to play! Or until I can go out brunching with friends. 🥓🍳🥂 What? I love to brunch! 😂😂

What is something that you can’t wait for once things return to normal-ish? Is it something that is done in big events, or is it something as simple as hugging a friend?

Until next time, Kind Reader, stay safe and alert, check up on your friends, and practice kindness. We are all in this together…

❤️

🎼All Around Me Are Familiar Faces, Worn Out Places, Worn Out Faces🎶…

Hello Gentle Reader,

I hope this finds you well.

Wow, talk about March Madness! I have been trying to wrap my head around the senseless deaths that are plaguing the world. First there was Sarah Everard’s shocking murder. What this brought up was the fact that women are still justifiably living in fear and worry. Hearing an old friend’s confession of how many times men have forced themselves on her was heartbreaking.

Then came the Atlanta hate crime. A terrorist attack on 3 different spas where 8 people were murdered. This world lost Xiaojie Tan, Daoyou Feng, Delaina Ashley Yaun Gonzalez, Paul Andre Michels, Soon Chung Park, Hyun Grant, Suncha Kim, and Yong Ae Yue, because of the fragile white male ego. Yes, I said Hate Crime and Terrorist.

I have no words on the why’s and who’s. There are plenty of brilliantly put words all over social media by others with a better grasp on the situation.

So, Kind Reader, I would like to ask for your thoughts on this idea…

Arts classes (ANY OF THEM) teach people how to express themselves in a constructive way. This is why I think they are imperative to early education, but not just elementary schools. They should be mandatory throughout an educational career. They should not be electives, or viewed as a throwaway class. They should be held in as high regard as sports.

Dear Reader, why do people argue that sports teaches self esteem, teamwork, and leadership as if that is the only way to learn this? To this I say two things: 1. You have never been a part of a production, huh? 2. Sports has limited chances to teach leadership, usually isn’t it only the captains or star players?

So a big poo poo to that belief.

Music classes have been proven to enhance math and language skills resulting in higher test scores. Photography classes teach one observance and inspires self esteem as well as stress relief. Art classes promote physical and psychological wellbeing. In some, it can help with fine motor skills or improve cognitive functions. Dance class teaches discipline, self expression, boosts cognitive function, physical health, and boosts mood.

Speaking from my own experience in theatre classes, I can say for certain that theatre has taught me empathy for others INCLUDING THOSE OF DIFFERING CULTURES, controlling my own emotions, thinking quickly on my feet, improvising as well as some of the same things the other Arts classes offer. As far as teamwork goes, when you work on a production, any person in the show is a teammate. You are all working together toward a common goal, just like in any sport. When it comes to leadership opportunities, you have a slew of leaders: director, set designer, stage manager, master carpenter, lighting designer, costumer/designer, and producer just for plays. If it is a musical, add choreographer, dance captain, music director, vocal director not to mention the possiblity of assistants. All of those people are leaders in their area that are AGAIN working as a team toward the same goal. The end result of that goal, heck even the smaller tasks completed throughout the process, result in accomplishments that foster self esteem.

With all that being said, I will repeat: Arts classes should be mandatory throughout a person’s educational career. I can’t help but to wonder about my certainty that the world would be a better place already if this were being done. I honestly do not think I am wrong about it. That being said, I am not foolish enough to believe that it would solve all of the world’s problems. But I bet it would help…

Thank you, Gentle Reader, for once again letting me bend your ear. Do you think sports should be more important than the Arts? Can you help me understand why? Let me know in the comments below.

Until next time, stay safe and alert as well as kind. Check in on your friends, especially those of AAPI and BIPOC backgrounds.

Be an ally.

🎼Heaven Knows I Was Just A Young Boy, Didn’t Know What I Wanted To Be…🎶

Hello Dear Reader!

I trust these last three weeks of the new year have been better than the first, no? I hope they have been. Things around here have been a cavalcade of emotions, I tells ya! What a first week of the year! Not only did we still have regular COVID to worry about, but now there are new strains? We lost 3 members of our family. There was an attempt at preventing the confirmation of a real leader-like president. There were happy moments with yummy dinners. Online visits with friends. Text message conversations with besties. Video messages with besties.

After that first week, things seem to have started looking better. Something that I have come to really enjoy lately, while talking with my longest friend from childhood, is the revelation of things that I had long forgotten.

The first high school that I had attended didn’t really have a theatre department. It was barely a class at best when I first started going there. I believe that the three years that I attended, it had 3 different teachers. But that is something that I can’t stand behind 100%. 😂😂

Each one had their good and bad, but I can only remember that last one had said the words “there’s no reason why you couldn’t be on that stage doing that too.” The day previous we had gone to the school performance of Pippin, which was life changing for me. I had never been able to sit so close to the stage where I felt like I could feel the Leading Player’s energy. I was in awe as I watched him charm his way through the show. I had never wanted to do something so bad. I feel horrible that I can’t remember her name, but I can see her face when I stop and think about her. No WAIT!!! Her name was Mrs. Current!!!! 👍👍 Woot!

I also recall that the first teacher claimed he was a working actor, but he didn’t really teach us anything that I can say was impactful. He definitely gave the impression that he didn’t want to help people become better at acting and I was really mad about that. This was the first time that I was able to take a “class” to learn how to be better at something I was doing since grade school. I couldn’t afford to go to any real acting classes, so I had to wait until high school. The only critiques that I can recall him saying are “You need to know what you’re talking about” or “How much time did you spend on this?” Each of those were usually directed at the other students. To my friends and I, it would be a “that was nice” or the occasional “good job.” I mean, that’s nice and all, but he never broke it down to say what was good, or how he came to the conclusion that the piece was ‘nice.’ Ugh, to say he irked me is an understatement.

Finally, in senior year of high school, I transferred to a school that had a whole department dedicated to performing arts and it was where I met John Healy. I learned so much in that one year than the entire previous three. When I think back on those years, I may not have learned much from those teachers, but I remember being allowed to perform pretty much anything I wanted during the first three years. I did a John Leguizamo piece that was SO not high school appropriate. 😳😳 My friends and I acted out the entire first scene of Hocus Pocus and we were the Sanderson Sisters, harmonies and all. WERK!🤌 I can’t remember any sort of “fun” feelings like that during my final year of high school with those new friends, so I guess that was where the trade-off was.

I used to believe that if I stopped and looked at the past, it wouldn’t do much to help me get ahead, so I rarely looked back. However, I am finding that this abstract portrait of my life that I am painting can’t be really seen or fully enjoyed if I continue to work with my nose pressed up against the canvas focusing on the details of only the right now. What I am learning from this is that while it is nice to have a certain color in one spot of your painting, maybe by adding it to another area of the canvas it can make your work of art all the more beautiful.

When my uncle, aunt and cousin passed away earlier this year from COVID-19, my sister texted me pictures of them and while the memories are super fuzzy, they made me smile. Hold your loved ones close, Gentle Reader, and step back from your paintings every once in a while to see if there are any colors missing from spots.

I hope the start of 2021 is proving to be better than last year. Mine may have started rocky, but things are looking up. Thanks for letting me bend your ear once again.

Until next time, Kind Reader, stay safe and aware. Don’t forget to create. ❤️❤️❤️

Yo, I’ll tell you what I want, what I really, really want…

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Hello Dear Reader!

I hope you had the most fabulous of weekends! I really do. It was Global Pride Weekend! I have been on an emotional upswing this week, mostly. There were a few moments of sadness, but they didn’t last for long. Physically, I am still trying to adjust to the movements of the acting class I am taking. It is so different from my experience with Meisner and Stanislavski method classes.  This one has a focus on Laban Movement which is really fascinating. I love learning all of these different techniques. I think it will be crazy fun to “build” characters combining all the various methods/styles, and I can’t wait to try it.  Whenever that may be.

But, before I get bummed out dwelling on this, Gentle Reader, let’s move on…

Yesterday during a “Brunch For 2” breakfast, we decided to watch Bridge Theatre’s version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream thanks to National Theatre At Home on Youtube.  For the record, I do enjoy watching Shakespeare contrary to what some may have heard. (But we aren’t focusing on that right now. LOL!) I even enjoy learning monologues and soliloquies from his works, but I have never wanted to audition for a Shakespeare show. The honest to goodness reason, selfish as it is,  is because most of the places in this area are Shakespeare in the Park type of companies and have the bulk of their performances in the summer months. I don’t do summer.  I hate being overheated unless I am exercising, in a dance class or performing. As most of these places do the bulk of their rehearsals and performances outside, I steer clear.  I will go see the shows since it is only about 3 hours of a day.  I can handle that. Only once a month though! LOL! 

Kindest Reader, watching that production was breathtaking.  I was full of humor and heightened tension and brilliant releases of energy that shock the audience out of the expected in the best possible ways. There were beautiful stage pictures nearly everywhere you looked. Everything about the production was lush and vibrant.  Even the beds looked great! LOL!

And it made me realize what my soul has been missing.

While I loved being in the shows that I have been lucky enough to participate in, the one thing that I have been longing for is something that is an extravagant reimagining of a classic or an immersive world creation.  I felt like the latter was going to be what the original idea behind my summer project with Dragon Theatre was supposed to be. Then, COVID-19 put a stop to that. I trust that some day I will get the chance to be a part of something as incredible as this production. If you haven’t had a chance to see it, Dear Reader, I highly recommend it. 

 A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Check it out while you still can.  It is the best 2.5 hours in any day. The actors playing PUCK and BOTTOM steal the show, in my opinion, but there are no weak links in the cast.    I hope you check it out and let the magic of the show color the rest of your day. 

Enjoy your Monday, Gentle Reader! Stay safe and alert and open to learning. I adore you. 

Until next time.