Art Orgasms

20 Nov


Straight up: it is one a.m., as I start this.

…I waited until midnight for the Adele album to drop, like sci-fi nerds are waiting for Star Wars. Same experience. Same geek-factor. Same obsession.

…The digital download popped early, so I’m well of two-times into listening to one of our generation’s greatest storyteller’s “junior album.” And it plays like a fucking doctoral thesis.

…Cuz sometimes…a freak of talent is born unto us…who speaks an international language of art, so well…that even sounds before the words, punch you in the gut with real-talk. My instinct pulls heavily towards “All I Ask,” and “Million Years Ago.”

…The album as a whole is story-telling rich, has surprisingly eclectic genre-play, and (together with her vocal texture), is frankly balls-out magnificent. Totally worth the wait. But art speaks differently to different people, and for me (at the moment), these two songs are the repeat mini-set as I write this. Small, totally significant details that tickle, punch, and thrust. Together with the power of her instrument to tell the story…it’s like a master-class in being human and vulnerable.

…Which, after even a pretty fucking great rehearsal tonight, on a pretty fucking good play, with a pretty fucking stellar set of co-stars, makes me hungry to do more, and better…be braver, more naked, more “real.”

…Which is the drop-down gorgeous thing about “art.” The inspiration of one, on another…the combining of these words to the effect of chills or delight. The gut punch, of action or inarticulate sound, when words aren’t enough.

My god, how lucky…to have that damn desk job, so I can afford to go to a rehearsal, I’m not being paid for (this particular time), so I can speak words of art, debate and discuss interpretation with other artists, go home after a good night of hard work, wait til midnight for an album drop I’ve waited YEARS for, and have the leisure to stay up, with a couple fingers of expensive top drawer whiskey, reflecting about it until (let’s face it) two a.m. or better, before bed n’ work tomorrow.

Exhaustion is worth it. It always is. I would trade nothing past 4:30 p.m., for anything. Which means, I’ve got a pretty supremely blessed life, frankly.

…And sitting here, with this musical goddess of storytelling piped at full volume in my earbuds, it presses me forward…to work harder, do better, and hope that at least once in my career, I can slaughter a human heart with empathy, at least a tenth as well…as Miss Adele.



10 Nov


I have a weird thing about “achievements.”

…The thing is: I know I work my ass off to obtain them, and it is really important to me that I personally reach forward and more than just retain my own self-standards. This does not always succeed artistically to my own satisfaction…but one can never point at my work and say, “Yeah, she’s totally just phoning that shit in.”

…Even on my worst day, in the worst play, with all the crap falling down around our ears, no matter how much I may bitch about it in blog forum or privately, when it comes time to hit that stage: that fucker belongs to me and I’m gonna beat it into the most obedient submission I am able to, with as much power, emotion, and intent as I can muster. Not doing so, is the number one mortal sin in my theatrical spiritual belief sector, which I absofuckinglutely refuse to commit.

(…Well, that and “showmancing”…)

…So obviously, while I am my own worst critic in many ways, I will also acknowledge my service to the art, and the storytellers who came before us. I will even acknowledge that upon occasion, (because I work so fucking hard from prep to performance), that I can even kick some ass. Every once in a while, so happens the stars and cast and role and director align, allowing me to maybe even “slay” it.

…A “slaying” requires a sweet-mix of magic show-alchemy, and is always due to the collective team, which helps in both personal achievements, and the appropriateness of saying, “Ah, WE killed it!” Which is more fun anyway…because who doesn’t want to party with their team after a legit smash hit?

…But here is where it gets weird…


Awards make me uncomfortable because of lot of reasons, all scrambled in a stone-soup just plopped on the table. Everyone wants to be polite and politically correct when it comes time to eat it, but everyone also really wants to fucking win first taste of the pot. I mean: let’s just be real.

…Its not that you DO it for the awards, but its not like getting one is some kind of slap in the face. To throw everything you’ve got (and some stuff you don’t) onto a stage, and then get nominated for it, is kind of a really huge booster-shot in the ass…as an acknowledgement of your craftsmanship and dedication.

…And I will even go so far as to say, in a lot of cases, “Fuck yes, I earned it!” Being a nominee is a giant honor, given by peers and audiences alike, and while sometimes you get the popular vote cuz of say a “body of work” vs “this actual role,” I think I can personally tell the difference of the “gimme” vs the “truly earned.”

…Case in point:

Every year they release their regional nominations, of which I’ve crazily made the list up to four times in three catagories, in one year. For three years I split my own vote odds by warring with myself is the same catagory (as I have this year), which I’m not stating as like, “Ooo, ahh…lookit her all over the listings,” I’m saying: there are like over 3,000 working stage actors in the greater Seattle area. Me up there that many times means others aren’t. Other also super hard working artists, who consistently deliver the goods on the boards, and for whatever reason…lack of audience, politics, yet-to-build name-recognition…AREN’T on the list. I mean, I work my ass off, but so do they. I’ve built a career here across 15 years so far, so why should they get the shaft cuz they’re just starting? I did one role this season that I know in my guts, was one of those times an actor merges with heart and soul and therefore can just bleed it out of every pore. But what if they did too?

This is why awards suck. Its acknowledgement of achievement, but it never means you were the absolute best at something. Art doesn’t work that way. Actually, nothing does. Even a fucking Olympic medal is determined by 1/18th of a second, or a stuck landing vs a wobble on a piece that’s been “perfected” across two decades of time. It’s fate and odds and all kinds of other things, but it doesn’t mean you are really any finer an athlete than the other guy. Four nominations doesn’t make me the better artist.

…Which is all to say: Award season makes me both excited and really uncomfortable. I am always hugely ecstatic for my super talented friends when they are recognized…and super hugely appreciative and grateful to see my name beside theirs. And where I will tout them til the cows come home, I always feel incredibly strange at how to react to my own name.

…I’m not comfortable whoring it to the masses for votes, because of all the reasons I’ve just specified. But secretly, of course, to win would be superfuckingamazeballs.

…And, where one of the nominations, I do not agree with this year…the other: I absofuckinglutely do.

…So what I’m saying is…I have a question:

Can one admit a job well done, and openly hope to win what we already know is a “right time, right place, right cast” award, and still hold balance with the fact that it’s a momentary acknowledgement…WITHOUT just sounding like a balls-out hypocritical nomination-whore?

…Or do you just smile and nod in appreciation to the fact that you even made the list to begin with? At what point do you just look like a greedy asshole?

…Or: at what point is it worth turning into one?



…”Hello?” (When Adele Sings Your Theme Song)

5 Nov


Tonight launches our final week of performances of [title of show]…which (being a new company) has had a supremely small attendance for its run.

…This changes nothing at all about the intent of energy we performers begin these performances with, however does do a number on us as each one progresses.

…One doesn’t have limitless resources to extend without some sort of compensation. If you think of it in banking terms: you end up withdrawing more than you have in the account to help make up the difference…which leaves you in the hole by halfway in. And that has its repercussion on your metal and artistic being…leaving you overdrawn in self confidence, artistic joy, and energy.

…You take a hit, is what I’m saying.

…With every poorly attended or poorly received performance, it registers on some basic level. Which is shitty, but as an Artist, we’ve all been there. Maybe even once or twice per run. It’s really difficult, you try to shake it off, reboot, find a reinvigoration source, and launch at it again, hoping for the best next time. And that’s usually the end of that.

…This run, however, has become an ongoing set-up of repeat hits so consistent, it feels like one is prepping for war every night…a war against ghosts that somehow seem to unseat you and suck the life from you with the weapon of nothingness. It is an unsettling prep, I have had to try and learn to make…at the 11th hour…not knowing until places call if we are at a total cancellation (which has happened twice thus far, due to zero bodies present), or a repeat of another performance to four people (which happened three times last week, meaning 12 people total saw it, combined.)

…Rough audiences and small houses by all means happen…but in well over fifty productions, I’ve never seen the like of this before. Attempting to keep ones head in the game before a show, and focus on intent and pace and energetic enthusiasm without over-compensating or being pulled into a black hole of depression is like 99% of my time spent once the curtain speech begins. And I’ve come to the well-tried conclusion by now: I don’t like it.

…Embracing my character and cast mates, and growing our relationship through nightly choices and consistent ground-work is what I like. I find that the rest tends to take care of itself if you are present and openly aware. But I’ve also now found that being present and openly aware is like a super-drug-OD-hit, when it is to a room of silence. The awareness rockets skyward and I end up having to fight instead of embrace.

…Which is not to discount the four people who do come…cuz God knows their job is awkward as hell now too. How are they supposed to fill an entire room with active awareness and joy? Anyone who’s seen a comedy at home on their couch alone must understand on some level that shit just ain’t funny when you’re the only witness to it. Comedy is a team sport…It needs way more “thems” to stock up the laughter ammo.

…Which leaves us at this epic kind of theatre fail which is sorta no one’s fault, really. We’re doing our job, they are trying to do theirs, and though we are in the same room, it’s like we are actually separated by like 1300 miles and years of distance.

….In short: Adele totally just sang our artistic life theme song…

…Which you’d think would be way cool. But under the circumstances, kinda isn’t.


Tent City: A Soap Saga

29 Oct

They cancelled all the Soaps from my childhood, but the memory remains clear (and will for life) of the high-stake emotional roller coasters of inbreeding, murder, mystery and hysterical outbursts they produced. Whole towns stuck in perpetuity of land lock like Brigadoon, where everyone had an evil twin no one knew about, and people would continually die and then come back to life again…or have massive reconstruction surgery to look like other people…for reasons that never made any sense, but were totally based on actor availability at the time.

…A part of me mourns their loss. They were fucking ridiculous, and if you missed one day you’d have no idea what the hell was going on anymore, or who was married or sleeping with whom…but it was an easy way to kill a sick day.

….I only bring this up because New Boss has taken to eating lunch in his office, while looking out his windows. It’s his new favorite thing. I know, cuz he’s told me. His very own tent-city soap, which he narrates while I type away in my office.

To set this up, (if you’re new, like he is) you need to know: we are located just out of the Port. It ain’t the greatest side of town, and has been the topic of many blogs across the years about Dancing Tweakers, Stoned Homeless Models, a Tunnel Tranny (prostitute crossdresser), et al. From time to time, we will also find ourselves the neighbors of a transient Tent-City…which will start with one, and multiply to half a dozen “homes,” collecting across several days to a month, until the cops come, bust them all, and they load of their kits like travellers, gone by the next day, until they mysteriously re-emerge slowly again, several months later.

…So happens, New Boss, got hired just after one of such transitions, so that one day while eating his yogurt he hollared out:

Boss: Hey! There’s a puptent!
Me: Oh yeah. They do that. Must be city rebuild time.
Boss: What?
Me: Yeah, it’ll start with one or two…and if they don’t get busted another will show up soon..then another…
Boss: Seriously?
Me: Yep.
Boss: What do we do?
Me: Nothing. It’s not our property, they never come in our yard or anything to bother us.
Boss: They just “live” there?!
Me: Yep.
Boss: On the side of the overpass?!
Me: Yep.
Boss: Just like that?!
Me: Well, I mean…it’ll grow now. If no one busts em.
Boss: What do you mean?
Me: Watch. You’ll see…

…And he did. Totally fascinated. For over a week now. Like its some kind of social human study on transients. Every lunch: he’s sitting there,watching them eat and drink and have domestic disputes just like they were a living soap opera, playing out their daily dramas.

Day 2

Boss: There’s another one!! Look!! Now there are TWO tents!
Me: Yup. I told yuh…
Boss: …Same piece of grass, but like 20 feet away.
Me: it’s like a “gentleman’s agreement” of land rights. Those’ll redistribute to smaller plots as it continues to populate.

Day 3

Boss: That one has a bike now. He looks like he’s talking to someone but I can’t figure out to who.
Me: Prob’ly no one. They frequently have arguments with the air and trees and things.
Boss: Seriously?
Me: We had one dance outside the tunnel for like three hours one day to no music at all.
Boss: Like, for money?
Me: No, for fun. He just felt like it I guess.

Day 3

Boss: Five!! Five tents!
Me: Yep.
Boss: Not to be gross, but…where do they…you know…go to the bathroom?
Me: There.
Boss: Where?
Me: Anywhere. There…or there…or there…
Boss: Just–Out in public?
Me: Well yeah. It’s not like they travel with Honeybuckets or something…
Boss: Seriously?!
Me: You’ll see. Literally, at some point (unfortunately)…

Day 4

Me: Yep.
Boss: Just like that!
Me: Yep.
Boss: I can’t even. And that guy! What’s he doing do you think?
Me: Picking the ground for cigarette butts and needles most likely.
Boss: Woa.
Me: Yeah, I can’t handle the shoot ups part…s’why I’m super glad my office faces the tunnel and I don’t have to see when they do that crap. Too much traffic.

Day 5

Boss: Fight!! Its a fight!
Me: They’ll calm down in a minute. All they do is yell…if it got violent, the cops would stop and make them all go away.
Boss: So they just stand there screaming back and forth? What does that resolve?
Me: I dunno. Nothing. What does it ever resolve.
Boss: It looks like it’s about that fur-coat lady.
Me: So I’m gonna guess she banged someone she shouldn’t have and now her boyfriend is pissed.
Boss: Well yeah, but..I mean…one would guess based on her behavior and dress that that is like her “job” so to speak.
Me: Oh yeah, no, she’s totally a prostitute…but that’s just her job. It’s like what’s-her-face in “A Hundred Ways To Die In The West.” It’s an agreement you do what you have to for livelihood. She’s just not supposed to like cozy up with someone for “fun.”
Boss: And that guy was “fun”?!
Me: Dude, you’ve seen their world. At least he still has most of his teeth.

…And so on.

…It is a bizarre and horrible fact of life that people can and do live this existance. And of course there are a variety of reasons they do…though the communities in our area of the Port seem mostly due to mega substance abuse. After years of watching them repopulate and relocate and come back again…one sorta becomes anesthetized to their presence. Like neighbors in New York, we ignore one another and do what we do to survive. One only realizes how matter-of-fact it has become when it is seen through fresh eyes….who are clearly old enough to have seen it before, but never on such a close-up, daily, routine and basis.

…In time, our neighbor’s lives will become as face-valued and unsurprising to New Boss, as a coma victim waking up after 20 years lost out at sea, or a backstabbing evil twin who stole the other’s identity and even his own wife couldn’t tell. Because that’s just the way it rolls in America…sadly.

…At the moment, at least, Tent-City has a most consumed witness to their daily stories…until one day when we come in to find they have moved once again, to greener pastures.


Arcadia With Chekhov: The Musical

27 Oct


It’s one of those super crazy theatre weeks where you play three different people across three days, then see if it pans out thru the weekend.

…I mean, who am I joking, of course I was gonna audition for Arcadia after all…who the hell wouldn’t if they could?

…So after a weekend of bouncing back and forth on the fence, I gave in, did some character brush-up and review, launching me into auds last night. Tonight, I travel north for our first table read n’ formal chat on the devised Chekhov piece for this year’s Seattle Fringe, and tomorrow: I launch back into [title of show]…unless it comes up cancelled due to lack of audience…in which case I double back south for Arcadia callbacks…leading hopefully (one must always be hopeful) to casting.

…If that’s a go, I’ll prob’ly be tag-teaming ‘tween it and [tos] come Saturday.

In or out, Wednesday performance or not, that’s still a three-atre full week…which is pretty super cool, and prob’ly the funnest thing to happen to me since downloading customer Bee Cha’s contract on Monday and saying it out loud for the first time.

(…Which, no doubt, isn’t intended to be funny…it’s prob’y even a family name…leading to a totally respected lineage of former Bee Chas…with Bee Chas to come…but I get precious few happy moments in this job, so gimme a damn break.)

…Anyway…what was I talking about?

Oh yeah: Cecil is super sick, so I did a drive-n-drop of supplies on her doorstep last night, full of all the things you use for colds, but minus the alcohol. She’s sitting at home now, after going to the Doc, and is itching to be doing all the things She’s “supposed” to be doing, and would be, had She not the plague. Being one of those people who hates to get beat (even by tiny bugs floating in her spit), I’ll bet She’s reading this right now…while pouting, with total lack of else to do.

…So I’ll write her a tiny terrible poem, in lieu of a “get well soon” card.

…And here it is:

O Cecil of sickness, so full of goo,
Wisht you felt less awful and sadishly blue.

The sun, it is shining, and wants you to play,
But you’d shrivel up in it, and blow all away.

Cuz your head-parts and face-parts and parts you can’t see,
Are cloaked by invisible bugs and gross things.

So you’re too busy hacking and snorting out goop
To even think twice,’bout that paper that’s due.

Which is good, cuz your eyes are all bloodshot and ouchy,
It’s best to just “jammy,” all snug on your couchy.

So this time next week, you’ll feel gooder than good,
And go back to the super “Cecil” you should.



The Deal

23 Oct


…So the deal is, two days before I went on vacation for a week in order to open this show, Corporate arrived on a surprise visit, fired The WHS Pimp, and brought in another guy.

…With no time to process any of this, I had to call a cab to take The Pimp home, and meet and start training my new Boss, within two hours. Hadda total meltdown at lunch in the car, then finished the day, ran music and lines with a recorder, and that night, went to see our Sister show Open…only to wake up and do it all over again the following day.

….Friday night, I left my desk with no fucking idea if I’d have a job or an office by the time I got back, a week later…but there was certainly no way I was gonna cancel the vacation, as I was also (as previously discussed) freaking the fuck out about opening this show.

For a week, I sought a buffer and tried to land some kind of solid footing on emotional ground. I didn’t succeed. But I did survive.

….And I came back from my non-vacation, to the same job and desk. And I didn’t die, or have a meltdown that Monday. Even when Corporate came back again. And I didn’t on Tuesday. And I didn’t on Wednesday.

…And I say this more as a form of wonderment than achievement, because I still don’t know why.

These past months of awful, just seemed to get so much worse, even when I thought it couldn’t possibly. That bitch peaked at like a Mount Everest height…so it makes sense that it was hard to breathe and terrifying at every step.

…And then, because, I guess there’s nowhere higher to go in the vicinity: it stopped climbing to worseness.

…Which doesn’t mean the world and my problems in it are magically fixed somehow…it just means that at some point, the fates were like: “Yep, she’s totally teetering on her last straw. What comes next is what they make Lifetime original movies about…guess we should back off her ass a bit and see if she can keep floating or drowns. No use beating a dead horse…”

Despite the fates’ combo-metaphor usage, they knew enough to stop when they did. I’m not gonna say I’m grateful about it…they’ve been making dick-moves for ages. But I will say: “It took me two weeks to process all this, and I think both theatre and office worlds are slowing achieving a better place.”

…Leaving me with an actual weekend, were I can actually relax a bit, with only laundry…a performance, and a choice of whether to audition for that one show, or just wait and work on Seattle Fringe.

This is a more reasonable speed, fates. (In case you were wondering.) This, I can do.


A Letter To Friends In The Audience

16 Oct


You know how I have really high expectations of myself as a performer? And, you know how I am my worst critic and get really pissed off when I feel I have not been able to give the best performance I can for whatever random reason might have just occured?

…And you know how you mostly say, “I couldn’t even tell, what the hell are you even talking about?”

…And we sorta debate/argue a bit back and forth over it? And you roll your eyes at me, and I still feel I’ve failed, and then we all go out for a beer afterwards, under the stipulation we talk about anything at all but what you’ve just seen?

In good conscience, I can’t do that with this show.

…First of all, because it’s delightful and hilarious and populated by totally talented people…and second of all, because it’s a brand spanking new company, and we need all the word-of-mouth we can get.

This, however, doesn’t change the wall of anxiety I am facing every night to do this thing, I don’t have self confidence to be doing. You cannot reason with it, dismiss it, beef it up…I’ve tried…none of that seems to work. And though I am absolutely doing my job out there, to the best of my particular ability in this field, it is not a wheelhouse that any amount of exhausted rehearsals have managed to make me feel, “oh, hell yeah…I’ve got this.”

…In short, I will know most of the people in every audience of this show…because I’ve worked in this town for 15 years now, and have super supportive kick-ass friends. And I guess what it comes down to is:

1) Thanks for coming and being here for all of us, I know you’ll laugh lots and enjoy the hell out of this dork-fest of theatre love.

2) Please, dear God, can you spread the word on the streets to get some butts in the seats.

3) Fuck the beer, after…I’ll need a whiskey. Same table-rules apply.


~ Perpetually-Freaked-Out-Susan


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