🎼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.

❤️

🎼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.

❤️

🎼”Kindness Is What You Showed To Me, It Holds Me ‘Til I Ache, Overflow And Start To Break…”🎶

Hello Gentle Reader!

A happy colder weather season!🥶 It is my favorite time of the year. As someone who burns a lot of energy doing anything, this time of year always seems to make me feel like I am sorta normal. 😂

Since the last post, “A Nice Family Christmas🎄” has opened and has very nearly sold out! That is exciting. I think it just goes to show how much people wanted to have shared experiences and how important they are as well as how important theatre is for something like that. The show is a funny look at a dysfunctional family Christmas gathering. While it does have some true life grounded moments, this is still a comedy and the over the tops characters make me laugh, yes, even while on stage. The great thing is that I am reacting to what they are saying, so it isn’t like I am breaking character. I mean, not like this guy:

The end result though is that we want you to have a good laugh and remember to care for those that mean something to you. There is a line that Mom says near the end about how important it is to do good things for others. I really love that line. I think it is my favorite in the script. But if you can’t do good things, at least be kind.

I try my best to be a giving person if I have the means and most importantly a kind person, because it literally costs you nothing to do so. A friend of mine posted the calendar above on her instagram feed and I loved it. So, I am giving it a go this year. You better believe I am going to repost this every Thanksgiving from here on out, unless a new one is created. 😊

What I have noticed since starting this advent calendar, Dear Reader, is that things that would typically annoy me have had little effect. I have been in a great mood all month… so far. Now, I may have been confused at some points, but you can still be in a good mood and confused. Trust me. I haven’t brooded on anything like I normally do plus it helps you build some relationships a little stronger.

Even when I was journaling today, I was giving myself a bit of a talk down about something but I noticed it right in the middle of the entry and took a breath and changed my mindset. It was really very interesting to see it, acknowledge it, and take action in such a small amount of time. It was literally seconds.

I don’t want to say that this sort of shift is uncommon because that is what we do each time we are on the stage. We are reacting to one another and should someone deliver a line in a different manner, we see it, acknowledge it, and respond appropriately. OH, and mega shout-outs to my cast mates because this particular show makes me really aware of the energies I am getting and giving, so my delivery is NOT always they way we rehearsed (not even in rehearsal). I think it may be because this is a relatively small cast and we are all interacting with each other throughout most of the show. I have been in small casts before, but there would be scenes when I had no stage time with another actor(s). This, however, has been a blast. These talented people are so genuine, kind, and funny, it is really a pleasure to be around them.

I will try my best to get another post up about any insights that I had learned during the run of this show as we close on December 18. If I don’t get the chance to share another post until the new year, my Kindest Reader, I wish for you a loving and warm ending to 2021 and a bright shiny start to 2022.

Until the next time, thank you for letting me bend your ear. Stay safe and alert. Be kind to others and to yourself. ❤️

🎼 …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…

❤️