Archive | February, 2013

The Evil Smell Of “Yum”

28 Feb

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Hello Bunnies! 

Am super ecstatic to report that in the quest to lose tonnage for my current show, ye olde scale finally hit the negative 10 marker! That’s right, 10 pounds lost, since first weigh-in on February 12th!

The craptastical thing about it, is that I only getta claim 7 pounds of that “legit,” as my “cheat-day” saw me gain 3 pounds and have to re-lose it again…plus another pound, which took me until this morning to finally accomplish.

…And what have we learned from this?

…We learned that it isn’t worth a whole day of cheating to have to work 3 days after that, in order to get outta the hole.

…Which means less of a cheat on cheating days.

This is something I can totally do, you guys. 

My goal was 20 lbs by Opening…and had I not stuffed m’damn gob so hard last weekend, I would be halfway there by now.  And STILL not even by calorie counting or “technically” starving m’self.

(* “technically” refers to the fact that my body has plenty input to work on and burn off, with all kinds of green things and homemade foods. But, because I’m me, I am perpetually “hungry” nearly every waking moment of the day.)

The cravings are stupendous. 

I instantly want to eat everything I lay my eyes on…even things I wouldn’t in “real life.”  This makes going to a grocery store, or even the gas station, a major mental hurdle of willpower.  For some reason, my sense of smell has also become magnified to pick up just the faintest whiffs of foodage…cooking 3 miles away…in a house…somewhere in my neighborhood. 

…I swear to you, I could smell pasta sauce simmering, when getting out of my car last night.

With me, this will always be a constant fight, that will never get easier.  Such is the life of a foodie. And I’m one of the foodiest.

…At some point, I’ll be able to add in exercise beyond pacing in my office…soon as the weather turns.  No time to get soaking wet post-work, and pre-rehearsal, then shower et al.  Nor do I choose to chance getting a cold right now.  So, until these gray clouds and random sky pissings calm down to less than 7 days per week, this is the way it’s gonna be.

In Other News:  Finished blocking last night for the entire show, which means we are fucking WIZARDS! (But not literally.  Although, that might be cool to try sometime.)

…I am on my 4th cup of black coffee, (which helped me thru this morning’s Month-End closeouts), and am now off to spend my “lunch,” learning more lines… keeping my mouth too busy to chew on things.

~D

Press Corruption

27 Feb

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This has nothing to do with buy-outs and palm-greasing of the Journalist trade, and everything to do with pimping out a product.

…Yesterday’s blog got high numbers of interest, so thought you might enjoy a little more on the the realm of Theatre PR.  It’s pretty basic in that you are trying to sell something that people don’t need, and make them pay money they often can’t afford, for something that lasts a maximum of three hours time.

…This is on the basics of course.  The cold, hard, sell-it-to-me facts. 

WE know that theatre is necessary and worth it, and lasts much longer than a fleeting instant, by the fact of how it commands your attention, and influences debates and conversations and emotions long after the curtain has gone down.  But before people get all emotionally invested in whatever it is they are about to see, you have to make them emotionally invested in what they are about to see.

…Yes. It’s sort of a “catch-22.”

Hollywood has been doing this with entertainment for over 100 years.  They found the best ways to corrupt your feelings and pocket book, and continue to tweak them infinitely in new combos and patterns and trends in order to keep up the good work.  It only makes sense for theatre to follow in their footsteps and do the same thing: so we do. 

…We slobber posters all over everything, invent catchy tag-lines, print out postcards and flood the market in bookstores, local businesses, and home addresses, flip out bookmarks, bulk-mail season flyers, tweet about rehearsals, FB “special deals, ” sell random tchotchkes, email campaign your inboxes, and stick ads on every theatre callboard, newspaper, community calendar, radio station, and even craigslist.  We are not too proud to do anything.  Hell, give us a sandwich board and a hot dog suit made of felt, and we’d use that too!

…The point is: theatre only works if you have people come to it.  Tickets are often upwards of twice the price of a Friday night trip to the movie theatre, and it is limited in the special effects and able-to-get-up-any-time-you-want-to-go-pee option. Also, a lot of time, you’re going out on a limb in content, by unrecognizable actors, and plots you’ve never heard of.

I’ll give you all that.

…But it is also my job to get your butt in the seat and watch it anyway. It’s my job as an Actor. It’s my job as a person of theatre. It’s my job as part of a PR team. So here is how I do my share: trailers.

Trailers are the sweet-spot of instant info and emotional investment you can use on unsuspecting patrons. In 2-4 minutes, you can give them history, plot, characters, emotional content, themes, a good cry when needed, and production dates, times, and ticket info. It’s short. The music will help set a perfect mood. And they can share it with others. When I go on a full-run campaign, I usually mix it up with an initial teaser with history of the show and content, to educate…followed by another trailer by Opening to light a flame under their asses more specifically, followed by a review quote-filled one telling them why they should all go buy tickets now because the damn this is just too goddamn amazing to miss…followed by a “one more week and you’ll have missed it, and then won’t YOU just feel like a schmo?” hit.

…And: it works.

People will talk about them. People will share them. It can go viral on FB, and be sent in newsletters and general emails…and it answers the question of WHY a person should buy a ticket, WHAT they are in for, and WHERE the show once came from. So here are a few as examples…just to wet your whistle:

***

First: The Teasers:

Opening Week:

Reviews:

~D

Speed-Blocking

26 Feb

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Due to one cancelled rehearsal and a max of four per week at roughly 2.5 hours each, Mr. Director has set an unheard of course of blocking. 

His goal is 3 days.

3. Days.

…That’s 101 pages, wherein 8 of the 10 in the cast, never actually leave the stage for more than roughly 1 minute, each at staggered points throughout the show.  We eat on stage, dress on stage, cook on stage, sleep on stage, get in fights, and live on top of each other from the second we arrive until just before the last monologue of the show.

…That’s a LOT of fucking movement, all.  In fact, it is actually a woolly mammoth shit-ton.

It means that whether we are actually in the scene or not, we are still “on,” somewhere…usually in a bedroom on a platform, on the couch, by the “pouf” chair, at the table, working at the stove…going about doing all the things that normal people go about and do in day-to-day life, only in this case, it needs to be paintstakingly blocked, and stipulated step-by-step.  Because, due to the cramped space, and furniture, you almost can’t move until someone else does so as well, so you can counter them, and be (in turn) countered by someone else.

…Again. 8 PEOPLE.

8 People.

3 Platforms.

1 Staircase.

1 Couch, which folds out into a bed.

2 Cots.

3 Beds.

3 Dressers.

1 Dinning room table with chairs.

1 Desk.

1 Side table.

1 Kitchen sink/counter/stove/ice box hybrid

4 Doors.

1 Bookcase.

0 Walls.

…Tonight, we finished through Scene 2 of Act 2, covering all Mrs. Van Daan’s major three freak-outs and melt-downs,  the smoking argument, four costume changes, Anne’s nightmare, Hannukah, the break-in, Peter & Anne’s first real “talk,” and New Years.

…We’re makin’ better “time” than a stripper at a Bachelor Party. 

…But of course have no idea if, at these speeds, we have really retained anything.  It might prob’ly will be one gigantic cluster-fuck by the time we review and start working scenes this Sunday…but by the grace of theatre impossibility-happening-anyway…we might just make it happen.

Theatre’s weird that way.

Especially when you think there is no way in hell it could ever work.

…It’s like a special rule or something.

In the meantime: I built a teaser trailer for the show today.  Am contracted to do it for another theatre in town, but I like to do them for other shows too…mine, that is…to help and get the press out.

Wanna taste?

Alright. You twisted my arm. 

…But spill anything on the fur coat, and your ass is MINE, bub.

~D

Music-Speak With Ghosts

25 Feb

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First of all, accents have a musicality to them. 

…We’ve been through all this before, but today brings a new challenge.

I don’t know why, but I’ve always been drawn to accents, and able to learn and speak in them with relative ease…even the more complicated ones, mixing cultures and races together…or pinpointing it down to a specific region.  It’s my favorite thing to do, and I’ve gotten to play with all kinds of them in the course of my career…which is awesome, even though it may at times also be “limiting.”

For instance: right now, I’m trying to find that thin line of European Jewish lilt, minus any other linguistic influence, because our Director has chosen to go without Dutch and German for the show, entirely.  The van Daan’s, however, are written with sentence structures so specific to a Yiddish musicality, that it was made clear to me we’d have to either consciously work against it, or embrace it.  The Director (thankfully) allowed us to keep the influence as written, yet specified he wants no others to muddy the soup.  This means that the contributing factors of what delineates a European Jewish accent from say a New York one, becomes harder to define. 

An American Accent, influenced with the musicality and lilt of Yiddish, automatically lends itself to the cutting of clean endings, the combining of words together to make a mouthful, and the inclination to end almost every sentence with the cadence rising upward in a question.  For a European Jewish lilt, you would temper the large roundness of the sound and lazy endings with say the Russian “R’s” or forward motion of the mouth pursing out Dutch “D’s” or German “V” sounds replacing the wide “W’s.”  All of those mixtures help contain the Yiddish sound a bit, calming it down, so you sound less like some random guy from Brooklyn. 

…When those influences are denied you, tempering the Yiddish, is a lot more difficult than you might think. 

It’s one of those accents with a mind of its own, that takes over the tongue in no time flat, and runs off with itself. Which means that right now, while pounding lines, I’m forever having to consciously hit every ending and separate every word so it sounds almost freakishly unnatural.  Because, I have to isolate and find the correct rules to apply to each word-combo problem I find, keeping it with hard “R’s”, and hitting all the endings just right, but without it seeming like a freight train hit every sentence in a head-on collision.

…And because of the subtraction of any other accent as influence, it means I can’t just go to a YouTube of native Polish Jews, or watch a news story, or archive footage of German Holocaust survivors sharing their stories.  I’ve got to basically invent this whole other version, whose closest mother-tongue of existence actually  (so far) has only resided in the mouth of Shelley Winters as she had herself performed the movie.  Which is infuriating, as she’s the last person I want to listen to, while I’m trying to muscle through and discover the role for myself.

Usually, American films are the WORST place to go to for any ounce of dialect authenticity.  Only this time, I had little choice…it was either this or the overindulgence of something like “Fiddler on the Roof”…which would just be fucking ridiculous. At least in THIS case, I know the source is clean and on point.  Because Winters was from a Jewish-Austrian family, and if anyone would have been able to figure out how to solve the English-only Jewish European Accent problem, I’m thinkin’ she’s the most qualified person in the room.

…So despite hating it, I had to listen and learn.  Not because I loath to learn from “the goods”…but because she was SO fucking good, that even in the parts where I hit a line-read just like her, it sorta pisses me off that I’m not coming up with newer choices.  Sometimes it’s just in the writing: your choice.  Sometimes in the attitude and type of character.  Obviously, I already have a good grasp of this woman, because we are lined up in many facets of it.  And wisely I only kept to one short scene for homework purposes, so as not to get her living in my head throughout.

…Now that I sorta have a grip on where to go with the influence, I’ve gotta go to first blocking rehearsal tonight, and forget everything I heard from her, so I can forge my own way through the Attic jungle. 

Which is doable. 

…It just means for one section, I’ll be fighting an Oscar-winning ghost, is all.

So, again…no pressure or anything.

~D

For The Oscar

24 Feb

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This one is a last minute post to m’peeps who won tonight. (As seen in tape delay with a bevy of friends.)

…Of course, we knew Adele would win, that was never a question up for debate with real people…of which I am proud and roared loudly upon acceptance speech.  In the mean time though, can we get a “hollah” for Shirely Bassey at 110, singing with the same chutzpah and vibrato as her original self a zillion years ago?

…Also, I’d like to openly shed a tear for Streisand’s Hamlish tribute (the same year I saw him live at the Seattle Symphony), and get an “Amen” for Annie Hathaway’s Best Supporting win.

…My only major upset for the night was effing Jennifer Lawrence, who at age twelve has absolutley no reason to be winning an Best Actress catagory Oscar when people like Kate Winslet had to spend over a decade and six nominations to finally win…especially when going up against Juilliard-trained Jessica Chastain and her hotel room of mugshots and engrossing meta homework on “Zero Dark Thirty” like a fucking GROWN UP actor.

…But I’m not bitter or anything.

Congrats to m’peeps, 12 of whom won of the ones I wished to…which ain’t bad, when you consider how political Hollywood is.

…Also, Charliz Theron should keep the hair, Seth MacFarlan should be my other boyfriend, Catherine Zeta-Jones is a physical wizard, Daniel Radcliffe, should always randomly Broadway-dance, George Clooney still makes the best Cary Grant,  Daniel Day-Lewis should maybe be retired from award-winning…just to be fair…and Les Mis peeps were all on the same stage at the same time, singing…and it was of awesome. 

…So there.

Until tomorrow:

~D

Changey Mindees

23 Feb

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You know how you sometimes see a show and get disgruntled with it for whatever reason and do the whole, “Fuck this, I could be watching West Wing right now!” bit?  And then you never revisit it again?

…And you know how then sometimes, you see this one actor do something and decide you really like them, so then start stalking them in other stuff, then remember they were in that one show you’d given up on that one time, but then decided to watch it again anyway, cuz now you have a new found love and reason to? And then the show turns out to be even more awesome than the original part that you used to actually like?

…Well, I had one of those days.

The show was the BBC Robin Hood, the subject was Downton Abbey’s own “Anna Bates,” and I decided I like it better than before, and prob’ly need to own it now.

This all only happens in Season Three, of course. 

…So I skipped all the others and picked up exactly where I had originally left off…bouncing straight into Joanne Froggatt (aka “Anna”) bein’ all feisty and awesome, while my boyfriend Richard Armitage runs around as evil Guy Gisborn, sporting eyeliner, with a black leather wardrobe sticking to him like glue, throughout. 

The show is fun for no reasons at all Historical…because it doesn’t really stick to that, or period…although it sorta tries.  Where it wins is in the hawt, brooding, sexy, sword fighting field…as well as ridiculously amazing Hungarian forests (where they filmed.) 

…Also, it wins in the “I know more than you,” actor career-boost arena. Because those people had no idea that within one year, Joanne would be a household name as half of a major character-plot romance at Downton, and within two years, Armitage would go epic blockbuster as the king of dwarfs in, The Hobbit.

…At THIS point, they are only semi-starving actors, lucky to get whatever the hell they can grab onto, along the way.

Oh, what a little time can do. 

(And two hella important projects.)

…Which is all to say: if you’re up for a little fun, you should totally Netflix stream it. But you’ll have to start at the beginning of season one, or nothing will really make any sense. By season three, you’ll have an extra little treat waiting…and on account of it being a fairly long series with hour-long episodes…by the time you’re done with all of that…it’ll only be like five months before Downton returns, and something like six for the second Hobbit movie.

…So, it’ll tide you over a bit.

You’re welcome.

…And now: back to streaming.

~D 

The Fella’s Op’ning

22 Feb

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The Fella had an Opening night tonight, which was stellar and included both a post-party, and a post-post party.  In fact, the second one is still going.  I first remembered to blog about four hours ago…but then forgot again and got much more interested in food on my “free-eat-anything-night.”

…Currently, Marty is passing around a picture of her Uncle.  Apparently I will be marrying him some day…not only to get me into the family (a convenience for all of us)…but also I think, just so she could call me “Aunt Roz.”  Which would just be weired.  Cuz both her Uncle and I are in our early thirties.  And Marty’s 26.

…Crazy stuff happens in the Mid-West (apparently.)

I have sweater teeth.

Have eaten more shit in the past ten hours, than the past ten days put together.  My tummy is complaining about it a little.  My teeth feel like they are coated in  peachy-O sugar granules and cotton balls.  I’m well hydrated to fight off that wine I stopped drinking about four hours ago…but I really want a Coke.  Don’t have any…and once I go to sleep, my free night of awesome indulgence is over.

…Alllllmost over.

Good times were had. 

Off to spend some last moments with the friend-fam.

~D

 

Conversations, ‘Tween Myselves

21 Feb

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Conversations that normal people never get to have (in open letter form.) From this role, to my last:

**

Dear Martha,

Since last we parted, I retired from teaching and loving people who don’t want it. Haven’t cried once in two-and-a-half weeks. (A coincidence? I think not.) I should be back to normal snot-regulation soon.

It was by no means a “picnic” to say goodbye to you, but I fear your influence was a heavy burden that being held too much longer, would have seen me 40 pounds heavier, and a full-blown alcoholic by the end.

…The morning kind.

…Who like to pretend it’s cranberry juice in their tumbler next to the Wheaties, and not a cheap $5  bottle of Cabernet.

…But I digress.

A lot has changed for me lately.

…First of all, I’ve jumped ahead a bit, (from ’39 to ’42), and yet have aged 14 years.

Ouch.

Am stuck in Holland, for the duration of the War. (And I thought being a lesbian in a small town was bad.)

…My Dutch is terrible, and don’t even get me started on my English. And now that I finally have a decent wardrobe to show off (complete with fur coat)…there’s nowhere to go and no one to see it. In fact, in a couple of years, my husband’s just gonna sell it for a pack of smokes on the black market, which in two days time, will be totally gone. And they won’t even be Turkish. Which, I mean…if not…why even bother?

The rationing is killing me.

…Also, I’ve converted. (It was a super short ceremony.) Am Jewish now…and married. (It was a super long ceremony.) Also, I’m told I have a son…but can’t be bothered with him much right now, on account of just moving into an attic, on the forth floor. I’ve no idea how long we’ll be here (maybe a month or so??)…but am damn glad I brought my bedpan.

The food is terrible.

The company, isn’t much better.

…Except for the men. But only when they flatter me. Otherwise, I have no use for them either.

Meanwhile, I’ve lost 5 pounds in the past 8 days, doing this new diet. I made it up, and am thinkin’ of maybe marketing it later…when the War is all over. It’s called, “You live on rotten potatoes and black beans, fatty, better drop a hot ton so you can sorta fucking look like it,” plan.

…The kid with the diary says I should maybe think of a shorter name. But what the hell does she know about anything?

…Whatever I call it, it’ll have this whole revolutionary kick-starter plan.

First off: overindulge in everything to the point that you are guaranteed to be puking all the following day from a hangover. Build this solely on the fact that one cannot embrace the idea of the Holocaust without being reduced to a puddle of sick, unless there is a sizable amount of liquor to help. You may later find irony in this as you grasp the toilet bowl…but you will also wake up finding three pounds missing from your general tonnage.

…And, you’re welcome.

Next: Give it all up, and embrace the life of food and drink-abstinence, for the entire duration, (‘cept for one day a week), while praying heavily for liberation.

…And then, complain about it.

…With wide gesticulations.

…And shouting bouts with your spouse.

Mazel Tov. You are now officially Attic-Jewish.

(This offer good from now, through April 27th.)

With fond self-affection,

~ Mrs. Van Daan

***

~D

Chewing On A Pepto

20 Feb

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I dunno what the hell happened ‘tween an hour ago and now, but my tummy is doin’ aerobics.  All I ate was a burrito with black beans and some odds and ends from the fridge.

…Bet it was the “ends.” Those bastards always get you.

…Anyway, sitting here now, slamming some fuzzy water and trying to settle it all down. 

Have table work tonight, then off til Sunday evening for our first blocking rehearsal.  This theatre has no alternate rehearsal space we will be using, so they have to book us around  the show already on stage…which puts us at odd call-times, with weird days off…rehearsing in what is now a hunting lodge with every kind of stuffed and killed bird and animal you can imagine, staring down on us.

So, no pressure.

Am watching Downton re-runs now, trying to kill the ick in my guts, then brush up a bit on character specs before I head on out up north. 

…Oh tummy…behave, would you? Please.  I’ve got stuff to do.  It’s all but the banana and coffee I gave you today.  And I can’t make it on less.

Oh guts.  Oh, my guts…

😦

~D

F%@$ You, Downton Abbey!: A Love Letter

19 Feb

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**Spoiler Alert**

If you haven’t yet watched the finale of Downton’s Season 3, then stop reading now…or I will ruin your life. 

…If you have already seen it: Julian Fellows ruined our lives, and this is the part where we grieve together.

First of all, Marty kept it secret for a whole week. 

…I’d gotten her the season for her Birthday, which she dutifully ate up, then drew blood on a continual basis by biting her tongue about what happens.  She was supposed to have brought the discs to our Friday Girl’s Night, but had forgotten them at home, so we both stewed, then got over it, then went to see a film which made us forget everything but awesome stuff.

…Regardless of how amazing Maggie Smith is, this still meant that I was gonna have to wait until at least Monday to see what the rest of the world was already going to know, by late Sunday. No cable, means streaming ability only, (thank you Masterpiece), and work, plus rehearsal meant it was gonna have to wait until late.

…And it did.

…And then I got really pissed.

…And used some choice words that apparently Dame Smith finds particularly appealing in her own personal lexicon.

…But before all that, I needed to follow through on a promise. A blood oath with Marty that I would hook in, as soon as the episode began, and IM her my immediate responses she would have been able to SEE, had she remembered to bring the damn discs last Friday. Which (because of the interactive way I tend to watch television anyway), became a mass flood in stream-of-consciousness updates yelled at both her, and the TV screen.

I include it here as follows:

**

Me Text: And Downton begins…

Marty: Ooooohhhh my Jesus!! Do you know what happens already?

Me Text: Nope. Surprised it’s a year later, automatically.

Me to TV: Ooo. Alternate intro. Mixin’ it up, kids…!

Marty: She’s pregnant!!!!

Me Text: Yup. 🙂 The end spoiler last week showed it though.

Me to TV: Well, they can’t kill off Mary, so it won’t be that. But something not right is gonna happen with the baby. Obviously. To freak everyone out about it. Bet it comes way early or something…

Me Text: It’s gonna be a Preemie…just know it.

Me to TV: Wait. Maid-chick-what? Nope. Bitch, step down!

Me Text: Crap. Branson and a maid. Crap.

Marty: I know. You see her and you are like, LAY OFF BITCH.

Me to TV: Dude, don’t be an idiot stereotype. Stay AWAY from the Help! Know your place!!

Me to TV: Meanwhile…A castle. With actual turrets…!

Me Text: Hello Scotland. Yes, please.

Me to TV: Party times! Boss is out!! Lets bust out of here everyone, and add some color into our wardrobes!!!

Me to TV: Shit. Everyone is gonna be gone from the house. Something’s gonna happen to the house…!

Me Text: If the house burns to the ground or something while at the fair, I’m gonna lose it.

Me to TV: Oh. Wait. Wait. Mrs. Crawley’s gettin’ all hit ooooon….

Me Text: Ahhh…Matthew’s Mama and the Doc. Bomb-chicka-bow-wow.

Marty: I know. Right?!?!

Me to TV: Oh dear lord in heaven. TWO Mrs. O’Briens. Save us all…

Me to TV: God. Mary, whhhhy must you allllways be suuuuuch a biiiiiitch.

Me Text: Mary is suuuuuuch a bitch.

(My stream freezes as Downstairs are collected looking out the window at a twitterpated Mrs. Patmore. I cuss. I doodle with the computer. I reboot and reset.)


Me Text: My stream just died. Trying to start over and skip to the same part. Fuck.

Marty: Nnnnnnooooooooo that’s not cool!!!! What part are you at?

Me to TV: Fucking computer and it’s fucking…oh…there. Ok. That works-ish I guess.

Me Text: Got it goin’ but had to go back a bit. Bates and Anna and the smoking peppermint.

Me to TV: I love you Bates’ so much…why haven’t you made babies yet?

Me to TV: …And back to the “borrowed” Jane Eyre plot point of the dude with the crazy wife no one knows about…

Me Text: Poor Edith and her shitty men. YOU’RE ALREADY MARRIED, JAGHOLE!

Marty: I know, but not really. I mean he shouldn’t have to suffer with an insane wife for forever. I mean, she doesn’t even know who he is.

Me Text: He shouldn’t. But she deserves better. Wow. This is like the “everyone hooking up with everyone else” episode…

Me to TV: (Totally cracking up and repeating:) Daisy: Mrs. Patmore? Why not? She’s a woman, ain’t she? Thomas: Only “technically”…

Me to TV: Establishing shot to die by. Lookit that! Lookit it!!

Me Text: Scotland is ridiculous. I want to go to there.


Marty: Yes it is!!!! And we will go there!!

Me to TV: Ohhhh! Shut up, shut up…romancing by a hot Doc…and she has like no idea what is ahead…but I do!

Me Text: A date! With the Doc!!

Marty: Holler!!!

Me to TV: OMG. Anna. Why are you so freakin’ adorable? Lookit her. Learning to reel. How fucking cute is she??

Me Text: I love Anna 🙂

(Computer stream freezes and jerks. And starts. And freezes again. And then goes. Kinda.)


Me Text: Dammit. Keeps freezing the stream…

Me to TV: Oh shit! Thomas is getting the living crap beat out of him!! Dude, Mason MOVE YOUR ASS!! Go get someone you freakin’ idiot!

(Stream freezes again.)

Me to TV: STOP IT!!! YOU’RE RUINING EVERYTHING!! WORK, GODDAMN YOU…!!!

(The stream freezes one last time, jiggles, pops and goes on seamlessly once more.)

Me to TV: And about fucking time! Now. Where were we. Oh. Yeah. Mason just standing there like an asshat while Thomas bleeds all over the place for him.

Me to TV: Oh…Carson and baby Sybil…how gross-cute is thaaaaaat?

Marty: Ahhhh you’re killing me. What part are you at?

Me to TV: Damn. Forgot Marty…

Me Text: Butler and the baby. Thomas just beat up. Anna about to show her stuff, I bet.

Marty: Carson and the baby is the fucking cutest thing ever.

Me Text: OMG. So cute 🙂

Me to TV: And Mrs. Hughes. I love them. They need to follow THAT love story line. It was TOTALLY there during the cancer scare and then just dropped off to nothing immediately.(Laughing and repeating) Mrs. Hughes: Lovely to see you cherish the wee bairn. Carson: No need to get all sentimental about it…

Me to TV: Men. In. Kilts. Thank you God. And Julian Fellows…

Me to TV: Who’d have thunk there could be someone to try and out-O’Brien, O’Brien?! It’s like evil, squared!

Me Text: Shit. That’s a good slug of whiskey.

Me to TV: Shit. I want a good slug of whiskey…

Me to TV: Oh, here it comes!

Me Text: Anna 🙂

Me to TV: Lookit him look at her…lookit that faaaace. Ohhh…and how he says that thing about…Go! Go and make babies you two!! I demand it!!

Me to TV: …And the part where Mrs. Patmore doesn’t get, at all, that she is being “used.” Stupid women…

Me Text: Alfred’s gonna be the new cook I bet. Geeze they are packing this episode FULL.

Marty: They have so much to cover. But I love that Mrs. Patmore is like, “Of course a man can cook!!”

Me to TV: What are you doing? Who do you think you are you little…Back it uuuup! Back! It! Up!

Me Text: GET AWAY FROM BRANSON U SLUT!

Marty: I KNOW!!!! HE’S SYBIL’S AND ALWAYS WILL BE.

Me Text: I know!!! Oh. Contractions!

Me to TV: … And so it begins. What new hell have you in store for us now, Downton Abbey…?

Me to TV: Meanwhile, of course. Have to “replace” the spirited dead daughter with another person who wants to be just like her, only is annoying, cuz she ISN’T her.

Me Text: I don’t want Rose at Downton. Dammit.

Me to TV: Oh. Mrs. Hughes. Can I keep you? I love that woman. So much. She’s just the best of everything that is good. Listen to her Branson, she knows what’s what.

Me Text: Mrs. Hughes…such a good woman.

Marty: I love her so much. She’s so smart and observant.

Me to TV: Shut up! I’m not crying just cuz he is…and she’s all there and comforting him and…shut up!

Me Text: I know. Baby Born!

Me to TV: Well. That was anti-climatic. Which just means some NEW kind of awful will be taking place. It won’t be Branson now…so is it the house? Is it one of the 11 romances flying through the air? Is it something at the Scottish castle? If something happens to Anna or Bates, I’m gonna kill myself… DAMMIT, Downton, you EXHAUST ME!

Me to TV: Dear Matthew, WHY do you INSIST on seeing “good” in that bitch wife of yours? She’s awful.

Me to TV: (Repeating with a scoff) Mary: I wish everyone else could see me the way you do, and not the way Edith and other people do… THEN STOP BEING A BITCH, MARY. IT’S KINDA REALLY EASY!

Me to TV: Driving. Driving fast. Oh shit…

Me Text:–Driving fast. Shit. No. Shit.

(Aaaaaan the whole Downton world implodes. With it’s eyes wide open, lying in a ditch. I actually, physically, stand up.)

Me to TV: FUCK! YOU! JULIAN! FELLOWS!!!!

Me Text: FUCK YOU, JULIAN FELLOWS!!!!

Marty: Bad. Bad. Bad.

Me to TV: Are you FUCKING KIDDING ME??!?!?!

Marty: (Like she could hear me.) RIGHT?!??! IT’S NOT OKAY!

Me Text: FUCK. YOU.

Me to TV: …I can’t even…SERIOUSLY??!?!

Me Text: Fuck! Yoooooooou!!!

(Inward sob.)

Marty: Apparently we have to say that to Matthew. He didn’t renew his contract cause he wanted to move on so they had to kill him. BUT IT’S STILL NOT OKAY.

Me Text: Fuck them all!!!

Marty: Fuuuuuuuucccckk it. How could he do that to us?!?!?

Me to TV: Stupid Actors, and their stupid careers!!!

Me Text: I am a Hulk of anger!!!! SMASH!!!!

Marty: Rrrrraaaahhhh!!!

(I sulk on the couch and yell at the credits rolling on the TV.)

Marty: You got so happy didn’t you. So fucking happy and then they took your heart and ripped it out.

Me Text: Those bastards.

Marty: And we have 10 fucking months until the next one.

Me Text: Fuck. Fuck. Just. Fuck.

***

…Which soon after ended our correspondence because I felt I needed to go to bed…being almost midnight-thirty.

…But then, I was too wound up to sleep (of course.) So instead, stayed up til 2 a.m. watching every. freakin. piece. of. supplemental. Downton. materials. I. could. find.

…Until I finally, finally fell asleep.

…And that’s the way it went down. In real-time.

The end.

~D

A Quote To Work By

18 Feb

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Today, mid-study, I found a particular quote about “life” that astounds me so much, under such drastic circumstances, that there is nothing I can contribute to it, only honor it and the voice who made it.  Thought I’d share, as I begin on a new journey of work and life, and you start on and continue your own.

It’s something to think about:

**

“One day this terrible war will be over. The time will come when we’ll be people again and not just Jews!

Who has inflicted this on us? Who has set us apart from all the rest? Who has put us through such suffering? It’s God who has made us the way we are, but it’s also God who will lift us up again. In the eyes of the world, we’re doomed, but if, after all this suffering, there are still Jews left, the Jewish people will be held up as an example. Who knows, maybe our religion will teach the world and all the people in it about goodness, and that’s the reason, the only reason, we have to suffer. We can never be just Dutch, or just English, or whatever, we will always be Jews as well. And we’ll have to keep on being Jews, but then, we’ll want to be.

Be brave! Let’s remember our duty and perform it without complaint. There will be a way out. God has never deserted our people. Through the ages Jews have had to suffer, but through the ages they’ve gone on living, and the centuries of suffering have only made them stronger. The weak shall fall and the strong shall survive and not be defeated!

…I know what I want, I have a goal, I have opinions, a religion and love. If only I can be myself, I’ll be satisfied. I know that I’m a woman, a woman with inner strength and a great deal of courage! If God lets me live…I’ll go out into the world and work for mankind!

I now know that courage and happiness are needed first!”

~Anne M. Frank
2 years, 3 months, 5 days into hiding
Age 14

**

…Thanks, Anne.

With love and genuine admiration,

From: A bitching, self-centered, asshole who forgets (a lot of the time), how phenomenally blessed and lucky she is.

~D

Evening Off

17 Feb

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Last hurrah before rehearsals begin tomorrow. 

My nose may be still stuck in the books, but there’s “Sex and the City” on the TV as I transcribe m’notes out of various books, and get ready to roll.

…Which means keepin’ it short tonight.

…Off to launch back into work.

~D

The Age Of Reason

16 Feb

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While standing in line at FedEx yesterday, to work on a present for Ma’s Birthday,  I met with an interesting concept by chance. 

…A man of late forties to fifties, printing out some awards for “his kids,” struck up a conversation with me while we were waiting for his prints to complete and it would be my turn.  He volunteers teaching Photoshop and other computer programs to troubled inner-city kids in the area and was sharing some of their stories. 

These are kids he’s spent over a year with now, three of which (under the age of 16) are pregnant and are in a variety of other circumstances they are in no way prepared to face at this point in their young lives.  “Babies,” he kept calling them, which they are.  “His babies.”  But even with mixed feelings about the situations they now find themselves in, you could see the pride in their accomplishments that he told me about like any father would…boasting about how much promise they have and how far they can go in life, if they can just manage to shrug off the horrors they’ve seen, take responsibility for their actions and educations, and apply themselves.  Which is a tall task when you find yourself in their world.  But then, as he reasoned, we all of us have a moment when we have made that same decision, and came to the realization that the world and our place in it, can mean something.  If we choose it to.

…He called it: The Age of Reason.

His thesis from UW was on the topic, which I found something to really think about…so thought I’d pass it onto you.

Here is the theory…though not as eloquently put as he did:

What is maturity?  What is adulthood?  What is the transition marker from child to adult?  Is it an age like 18 or 21? Is it getting your first job, or graduating from school, or renting your first apartment?  Is it some first major emotional catastrophe? His reasoning is that none of those things are what makes you a conscious, contributing, adult human being.  He claims it comes from a “spark.” 

…It is a different moment for everyone…and it has nothing to do with age at all.  It has nothing to do with “what you want to be when you grow up.” It has nothing to do with your college career, or first car, or even parenting a child.  It is called, “The Age of Reason,” and it happens the moment you realize that you are more than the product of your parents, more than a person in your family, more than a student, or a friend, or a sister, or brother, or the kid with the highest SAT score in your graduating class. The “spark” is the moment you realize that you have a responsibility to the species, and history, and the future, you have something to contribute…when you recognize the gifts and powers you own, the powers they wield, and make the choice to use them for good. Or not. A crisis moment when you realize your infinite possibility (whether you are willing to reach for and achieve it, or not.)

“The Age of Reason.”

…So he asked me my age (as an example.) I gave 30 as a good, round number…(two years younger from my own)…and he went on from there.

**

(An approximation of our 40 minute conversation.)

He: When was the moment, you “knew?” When was your “spark?”

Me: The summer going into Freshman year. So, 13.

He: A youngish age.

Me: I don’t think I was ever “young.” I always knew what I wanted and always wanted to do and be it immediately. But I know that summer was when I realized that what I wanted could mean more, and involve more, than just “me.” It could matter to many people, by how I used what I have to be part of something bigger than me, in a group effort to make a difference.

He: 13.

Me: Yep.

He: Okay. So that was your “spark.” Now to find your Age of Reason, you subtract that from your current age. Why? Because THAT is the real age of your intellectual birth. THAT is how old you really are. Not the number of years on this earth. Until that moment, you were feeding and growing from others, and experiences and “life” as you knew it, like a baby nursing from it’s mother. But you weren’t weaned yet. You had no responsibility to share it, or contribute to this world until you realized you had a place in it, and powers to use. Get it?

Me: Sure.

He: Which makes you NOT 30 years old. You are 17. That moment was your “intellectual Birthday.” You are only 17 years old “WISE.” Get it?

Me: I do.

He: Which, if you take into consideration things like relationships…romantic or familial…and life choice-decisions, it makes a huge difference. You, for instance, may have a fling with a younger man of your age…but not a serious relationship I bet. First of all: your “spark” came young. Very young. Most are mid-teens when it happens…or even twenties…some even hit your age before it happens. The point is: if, say, you were with someone of 28…which isn’t far off…or even 32…but their “spark” happened much later. Let’s say he’s an actual age 32…

Me: Alright.

He: Say his “spark” hit at 20.

Me: Yes.

He: Which makes him what? In The Age of Reason?

Me: 12.

He: Right. And what in common of life goals, and intellect, and romance and all of it, has a 12 year old, with a 17 year old? Nothing. They speak totally different languages. They are at totally different places in their life, with totally different goals. It isn’t any more proper to be with that person for you, than if were you those ACTUAL. Living. Ages.

Me: Huh. Actually, kinda makes sense…

He: Sure it does. But see, the heartbreaking thing is…these kids? “My kids?”

Me: Yeah?

He: They haven’t reached their “sparks” yet. A lot of ’em don’t even know they have one, don’t even know they have a talent to share…don’t even know that they matter. These babies, who are having babies, haven’t even started yet…and they are already having to be responsible for a whole other human being. Which is not the same thing. And means a bunch of responsibilities they are in no way prepared for. But somebody’s gotta tell them…somebody has to show them that it isn’t all over for them. It hasn’t even started yet. They need to have hope, an idea that they can still “do” and “be” whatever it is they need to. There’s more to life than just living it…more than just the “job” and the “bills” and all that. But how do you tell that to a 15 year old girl, whose been kicked out of the house, and her 16 year-old boyfriend, who in 3 months are gonna be responsible for this whole other human being?

(I shake my head with total lack of words.)

He: See what I’m saying? These kids…they haven’t even been born yet. Haven’t even begun.

(I shake my head again. And he smiles at me.)

He: But YOU have. 17. It’s a good age to be.

(I smile.)

He: What are you gonna do with it?

Me: Oh. I’ve got some stuff up my sleeve, I think.

He: (Chuckle.) I bet you do. You work hard and don’t waste it. Just remember that one time you talked to that crazy old guy at the FedEx one day, huh?

Me: Old?

He: Well, to you. I am to 30. Take a wild guess.

(I look at him a second, as he pops his credit card back in his wallet and collects his pictures off the Kodak machine.)

He: Come on. Can’t hurt my feelings. I work with teenagers all day who think I’m ancient. Go on. Guess.

Me: (Shrug, as I pop my memory card into the machine.) Depends.

He: Huh?

Me: You want it in actual “years”…or “Reason?”

(He grins hugely, and points to me.)

He: I like you kid. I really do.

(We shake hands.)

He: Think about it though. Seriously.

Me: I’m already on it.

He: And maybe think on them, too. (To his packet of award print-outs.) They can use all the help and prayers or whatever you’ve got, to give ’em.

Me: I’m on that too.

(And with a last smile, he turned and headed towards the door.)

***

…Just so you know: I thought about it.

And I think there’s something in it.

And for him and “his kids”…I thought I’d pass it on.

~D

One For The Tall, Belting, Redhead

15 Feb

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Know what’s awesome about FB…aside from the prime place to go and waste your time while you should be doing other things?  The fact that you can find people from your past who you delighted in, years and years later, and reconnect on a whole new level.  Even from several states away.

I love to stalk them.

I love to watch their projects grow, follow them through casting and rehearsals and performances and tours.  I love to see the many new sides of their personalities come out in different roles…I love the new headshots, and reviews, and interviews, and go-and-get-em-team speeching on Opening Nights that they send out to all their casts and crews. 

…I love how we can still (even from far away) share these experiences together…like we once did before. 

…And I love how it makes me miss ’em, and wonder over the wide world of possibilities of ever finding some way to work together again.

Almost anything can happen. This is, after all, the “Theatre.”

…And this all comes from a tagging today, where she poked me to show a sneaked pic of her, standing off-set in the wings, catching up on some of m’blogs while on break. She’s obviously not reading one of the funnier ones, but is totally consumed in whatever it is…so much so that she didn’t even notice the Paparazzi at work.

…And I thought, “Wow. That means other people do it too…that ‘stalking’ thing. Maybe I don’t have to be so freak-fetish-feeling secretive about it. Other people will (on some random days), stop for a hot second, to catch up on an old friend they worked with a million years ago and thought of just now, today. Just because.”

It makes me feel good.

…And warm-fuzzy.

…And memory-filled of our days spent on the Titanic and in ridiculously giant ball gowns in the dead of summer, going to post-show picnics at the Village, drinking fuzzy navels while watching old movies, reading “Lolita,” lovin’ all up on Rosemary Clooneyness, singing at the top of our lungs toward seas of patron’s faces…and the time I spent whoring her as a prostitute for two months, under my professional care. (The condom runs were epic, purchased in bulk weekly and turned in as a “business expense” which 18 year-old-me delighted in, to no end. Even if it was for the mic pack equipment.)

…I think you will find, not many people share those kind of memories. Or if they do, prob’ly not with the consistent fondness that we do.

…Which is the magic of our industry. (Long may it reign!)

…This is all (P.S.) really only a big, fat, giant preface to the fact that I promised her something funny today, after reading whatever it was that caught her all up in emo-ville. Which is a tall order. As nothing even remotely funny has happened yet.

…But I say, “yet” as it is a Friday, and Marty is coming up for a girls-night, and we have about 11 too many already pre-planned things ahead of us. Something hysterical is bound to happen. And usually in some form of embarrassment. Which helps her not at all right now, at this second. But it will (no doubt) at a later date.

…So, keep readin’, friend.

Even still…betcha she smiled to herself, already. At least once.

😉

Which makes today’s blog: a success!

~D

P.S. …’Member the time someone subbed in real beer for the whole show? That was a doozy 😉

The Salt-Misery

14 Feb

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So I’m being forced to lose weight now, cuz what works for a frumpy school teacher in 1939, doesn’t work three years later as a starving Jewish woman in hiding.

…I started Monday, and am down 4 lbs. Helped greatly (no doubt) by an entire day of being sick. 

Am not following any regime, or counting calories, or starving myself, though. That’s for later.  Just now, I’m in the “cutting out shit that makes sense to cut out” phase. This includes snack foods and dessert menus.  And (starting last Tuesday) alcohol.  And nothing after 7pm.  Except one day a week, where I getta go hog wild on whatever the hell I want.

…Because I’m not a machine, you guys.

I already hate it.

Last night at about 10:30 I wanted salt so bad, I was almost willing to work out or something, just to lick my own sweaty arm.  It was awful.  And then I was all pretending my millionth cup of hot tea was actually hot cocoa.  (Which doesn’t work, just so you know.) And fighting my tummy telling me it was time for my other-other meal of the day…(which is still less than the average “three per day”…only the late night habit of it has totally ruined my constitution and body shape.)

…And then I got up this morning and had the usual breakfast of coffee…only my gut was so empty from the total lack of middle-of-the-night meal, that it still hasn’t stopped growling at me.

Even through all the paperworking and junk.

…And now WHS Pimp is off to get some greasy goodness, which he offered to share, only I can’t, so told him: if he knows what’s good for him, he’ll not bring it anywhere within 50 feet of me.  Or talk about it afterwards.  But maybe let me smell his breath when he’s done eating.

I’m not usually one to force my eating habits on others, or their consequences…but right now, I’m very fragile. 

It’s only day four. 

Day four through the end of show at closing…which is ironically the day before my Birthday.  OVER TWO MONTHS AWAY.

TWO MONTHS?!

TWO?!

How will I ever make it?!  How will I manage to stick to something like that?  Oh sure, some people do it every day, and always have, and have healthy everythings because of it, and la-de-dah.  But I’m a FOODIE, you all.  I have far too much respect for my tastebuds to limit or neglect them!  Why should they have to suffer?!  What have they ever done to me but support me in every way possible (except during the occasional cold?)

…But I have to. 

I HAVE to. 

Because it’s what’s needed. 

…Which, by the way, is this TOTALLY different thing from say a “Hollywood Actor” undertaking to dump a shit-ton of weight. 

First of all, they have endless fundage to afford all those granola-world wholesome foods that taste of cardboard and dirt…and someone to buy them…and someone to cook them, and someone to feed them, and someone to train them, and someone to watch them like a fucking hawk.  And that whole time? That is their “job.”  Just that: To lose weight.  The rest of us have to manage on real-world schedules, during real-world jobs, without so much as a Butler around.

Don’t you feel sorry for us?!

I do!

Alllll the poor slobs that feel it necessary to take it on the chin and pull up their too-big, big-girl panties, and undertake something all alone like this!

…And also: I want some potato chips.

Fuck you, salt-misery!

~D

The Hardest Part Is Done

13 Feb

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Just wrapped up research in Phase 1 for the show…the most difficult part. 

…Wanted to get it completed and out of the way as quickly as possible so as not to have to live in that mindspace for any longer than necessary.  Had decided to start at the end and work backwards, for this very purpose, which means I’ve just finished the timeline for Auguste van Pels’ last 8 months of her life.

…Not an easy job.  Precious little info on her specifically, then needing to delve into each place she was sent at the time of her sentence there, before moving onto the next.  It’s been four days of Concentration Camp horrors in my brain, which has led me to yelling at books (and the TV screen), and one phenomenal hangover…because one just can’t undertake the study of this kind of thing sober.  Or if they do, I don’t know how they expect to sleep that night.

So, for any who care to know: here is the timeline from the Attic to the end of Auguste van Pels (née Mrs. van Daan’s) life, gutted down from pages and pages of notes, to her main specifics. And I have to say that the first VERY OBVIOUS information it feeds to one, is that this woman was one hell of a fighter…epic in both physical and mental strength, with a constitution to endure.  There is absolutely no way a human being could survive half of her plight, as long as she did, without having had all that.

***

PART ONE (From Attic, forward)

I. July 13th, 1942 (Age 42)
Goes into hiding with Husband Hermann and Son, Peter (15 years old)

(A) July 14th, 1942
Thousands of Jews in Amsterdam are rounded up and deported to Westerbork Concentration Camp, then onto Auschwitz, based on command of results of the Wannsee Conference. Having gone into hiding 1 day before their originally planned date, saved Auguste for roughly 2 years, 8 months and 22 days.

2. August 4th, 1944 (Age 43)
Arrested with all in the Attic, and locked in holding cell for 4 days at Euterpestraat Gestapo Headquarters at Amsteweensweg, until transportation.

3. August 8th, 1944 (Age 43)
Transported to Westerbork Concentration & Holding Camp (Netherlands) (Total stay here: 26 days)

(A) Westerbork main transport hub for Dutch Jews. Established by the Dutch in 1939 as Political Detention Center. Nazi’s claim it in May, 1943. October 2-3 1943, Jewish male labor used to revamp it for Concentration Camp use. Transports leave every Tuesday morning, with usually 2,000 – 3,000 people per train, for the death camps, primarily Auschwitz.

4. September 3rd, 1944 (Age 43)
Transported with all from the Attic, to Auschwitz (Poland) on a 3 day train ride containing 1,019 Jews, in the last transport made from Westerbork to Auschwitz.

5. September 6th, 1944 (Age 43)
Arrive at Auschwitz. (Total stay here: 2 months, 20 days). Of the 1,019 in her transport, 549 were immediately selected for and sent to the gas chambers. All from the Attic, survived the selection, at which time, Auguste was separated from Hermann and Peter, never setting eyes on them again. She, along with all of the Frank women, then walked from the station to Auschwitz-Birkenau women’s camp, where they became 4 of the 39,000 held there. Auguste was then assigned to a work labor group where she remained for her time there. She would not know it, but Hermann would be killed in a gas chamber at the men’s camp a few weeks after their arrival. Otto Frank and Peter both witnessing his selection for the group.

(A) Auschwitz was ultimately made up of three camps, camp II (also known as Auschwitz-Birkenau) had the highest death-rated of all the camps in the Holocaust. Established June 14th, 1940, from converted Military barracks, taken over by the Nazis, April 27th, 1940, by Himmler, hiring Hoss as the Commandant. By Summer of 1943, 4 gas chamber/crematoriums are at full function. The crematorium’s are only able to keep up with 50% of the daily gassings, disposing of 4,415 bodies per day. Between 1.1 -1.5 million died here by War’s end, 90% of them: Jewish.

6. November 26th, 1944 (Age 44)
Transported to Bergen-Belsen (Germany) as 1 of 8 women. (Total stay here: 2 months 11 days). Anne and Margot are already here, and it is the last time they will see one another, by chance one day, and speak.

(A) Bergen-Belsen was established in April, 1943, with particularly poor living conditions. It had 1 latrine for 30,000 women, the barracks built to house 100, instead were forced to hold 1,000, making rampant disease the camp’s #1 killer. By Summer of 1944, death via lethal injections were being applied to attempt keeping the numbers and disease down. By the camp’s liberation 13,000 corpses, and 58,000 prisoners were found. Rampant Typhus would end up killing 14,000 of the survivors between April 15th, and June 20th of 1945.

7. December 20th, 1944
The second of the Attic member’s dies: Fritz Pfeffer, (née Mr. Dussel) in Neuenggamme (Germany.)

8. January 6th, 1945
Edith Frank dies in Auschwitz.

9. January 16th, 1945
Auguste would never know it, but this is the date Peter was selected from the men’s camp at Auschwitz and sent on a death march, to the mining pits of the Mauthausen labor camp in Austria. It is 11 days before the date of Auschwitz’s liberation by the Russian Army.

10. January 27th, 1945
Otto Frank is among the 7,000 liberated from Auschwitz. The Netherlands are still at War, and he waits until March to begin his travels back to Amsterdam.

11. February 6th, 1945 (Age 44)
Transported to Buchenwald (Germany) (Total stay here: 2 months, 3 days). Auguste is immediately selected as part of a slave labor group called the Raguhn Labor Unit, with whom she works until it is later disbanded on April 8th, 1945.

(A) Buchenwald was established in the Summer of 1937, and in full operation on July 15th, 1937, primarily as a work camp for the Armament. This was also the site for the Euthanasia program, and medical experiments. It was liberated on April 11th, 1945…2 days after Auguste was sent to her final destination: Theresienstadt.

12. Sometime in early March, 1945
Margot first, then Anne Frank, dies of Typhus, in Bergen-Belsen. Several weeks later, the camp would be liberated.

13. March 5th, 1945
Otto Frank begins his trek homeward to the Secret Annex in Amsterdam. He has already heard of his wife’s death but has hopes of Margot and Anne’s survival. it will take him nearly 3 months to complete his journey.

14. April 9th, 1945 (Age 44)
Sent to Theresienstadt (Czechoslovakia) (Total stay here: unknown). After the Buchenwald Raguhn Labor Unit was disbanded on April 8th, 1945, all survivors were forced into what would be known as the Buchenwald-Theresienstadt Death March. Auguste was among those sent, (a 380.75 mile journey) on foot with little clothing, and no provisions. Due to the War’s ending and lax recording on behalf of the officers in charge, it is not known for certain if Auguste ever reached her destination.

(A) Theresienstadt was established on November 24th, 1941 as a “model ghetto” and Concentration Camp. Of the over 140,000 Jews sent there, 33,000 died, 88,000 were deported and killed, 19,000 survived.

15. Sometime between April 11th and May 7th, 1945 (Age 44)
Auguste van Pels dies. It is estimated: sometime after the 2nd day of the Buchenwald-Theresienstadt Death March, and before the date of the actual camp’s liberation on May 7th, 1945.

16. May 5th, 1945
Peter dies in Mauthausen, 3 days before liberation.

17. June 3rd, 1945
Otto Frank arrives in Amsterdam, immediately seeking out and finding Miep Gies, one of their protectors while in hiding.

***

…Auguste van Pels was 1 of 6 million Jewish deaths (Nearly 2/3 Jewish population of Europe, and 1/2 of the world-wide Jews.)

…She was 1 of 14,000 German Jews who relocated to Holland, fleeing the Nazi regime.

…She was 1 of 140,000 Holland’s Jews killed (75% of its Jewish population. Only 5,200 of the deported 100,000 survived.)

…She hid in the Secret Annex for 2 years and 22 days.

…She spent an estimated 8 months under forced labor and incarceration in 5 Concentration camps, in 4 countries, after 4 train transports and a death march.

This is the last of the worst of my prep for this role. Wrapping my head around facts and figures I’ve heard about a million times, but then sizing it all down to one single human life and the journey that it took under such atrocious horrors, is devastating.

What this shows me, in no uncertain terms…and with no arguments to the contrary, is that this woman was ANYTHING but the weak, whining, flighty, little socialite she was so often projected to be, in Anne’s diary. This woman fought longer and harder than I can even concept…beyond any hope…beyond separation of her family…and through intense labor, physical struggles, and all the mind-fucks that this situation could possibly put you in.

…And all I can think of right now, after four days spent researching the last 8 months of her life, is how 1 day separated her from the first major transport out of Amsterdam toward Auschwitz at the beginning of her hiding, and 2 days longer at Buchenwald, would have seen her survive the War.

…Sometimes there are no words to express what you feel.

This is one of them.

~D

How To Work With A Hangover

12 Feb

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Due to unfortunate circumstances, today has been one of the longest days ever. 

And it’s all my own damn fault. 

…But no matter whose it is, people have to get up and go to work, every day.  And SURELY I’m not the only person who has unwisely “tied one on” the night before, with nauseating repercussions.  Surely I can’t be the only one who has made facial intimate acquaintance with the toilet bowl that all the co-worker’s butts spend time on.  But just in case this hasn’t happened to you (YET…because I feel I can safely say that “it WILL, oneday”), let me offer you some free advice which may help you to get through the day.

1. Have a one-stall bathroom
Not that you can help what kind of facilities you are given, but I find (after today) that having ones own privacy in which to blow ones own chunks, is always preferred.

2. Clean-Prep
If you are like me: a major germaphobe…then it would behoove you to Lysol wipe down every surface NOW, before the fireworks begin.

3. Prepare the runway
Move all the shit between you and the bathroom out of the way, so an easy clearance of access is made. 

4. Fess up to an ally
When the WHS Pimp (or whatever co-worker you have nearest to you) queries about your strange furniture rearrangements, cleaning kick, and why you look particularly like shit today, just tell them the truth.  If they are decent people they will nod with compassion, and intercept all incoming traffic to stay away from your office.

5. Talk as little as humanly possible
Save all the customer calls for later, and dive into emails and paperwork first.  Pretend that everything is going to be okay.

6. Pre-hydrate
To tell the truth, if you’d done this correctly last night you wouldn’t even BE in this position today.  But everybody makes mistakes, what’s done is done, and all you can do now is prep for the inevitable fallout. Lukewarm mint tea (so as not to scald you later in exit) and vitamin waters are excellent attempts to brave and temper the situation.  You will still lose.  But at least you were smart about it.

7. Once the race begins, be prepared for the long haul
Inevitably, if you’re going to have a hangover at work, it’s gonna be one of the bigger and badder kind.  Which means that this won’t all be over with one little hill climb and deadly descent. No.  That would be too easy.  And not nearly humiliating enough. You need to know, right now, that this is going to last well past noon, my friends…reducing you to a shaking mess of blood-shot-eyes and dry-heaving pile of sick, which in between bouts still has three reports, 25 booking calls, and 13 contracts to do.  So pace yourself wisely.

8. Embrace law of averages
I hate math. But sometimes you can make it work for you.  If you focus enough to take note of each sick bout for a bit, you will see a pattern of time emerge, and can then break up your work load accordingly.  For instance: I know to be true, that this report takes me about 30 minutes to complete per day.  Add an automatic 30 more minutes onto that due to your total lack of brain function or giving a shit, then break it up into appropriate chunks of “non sick time” or “the amount of time you are able to go without hurling your guts out.”  Complete each chunk then take a rest period and prepare for the inevitable.  After it happens, clean up, attempt to hydrate, and repeat.  In this way, you can complete your 30 minute report in roughly an hour and a half, including one extra tea brew, and a couple of nauseating phone answers.

9.  Beware of the false-hope fake-out
At some point it all is going to stop.  Stop for a while.  Maybe the longest of all. Maybe in five minutes it will be even longer.  Maybe it’s already been that five minutes and it’s still “stopped.”  Maybe this is now…for reals…the long-last END of all the — oh wait. Nope. Nope. My bad.

10. Fight the sandman
When this is all over (also known as sometime around 12:30 or so) you will feel utterly annihilated.  Not only because of your personal fight, but adding on top of it all the usual customer crapdom and paperworking insanity that is your average day.  There will be nothing left.  And you’ll find yourself sitting in your swivel chair, staring into space until you are jerked back to reality with a phone ring.  Were you asleep?  What happened?  Where are you?  Oh fuck.  It’s work.  Answer the phone and do your job.  But each time you hang up, the death stare returns again.  You have at least 4 hours left to your day, and now is not the time for sleeping.  So what do you do, now that all your “busy work” of the day is complete?  You make more tea.  You organize the supply closet.  You clean the bathroom. Again.  You consider FBing, only don’t know if you can take an accidental food picture posted by friends right now.  You decide, instead, to open up your blog and post something.  And not just “anything”…a carefully thought-out list of aid to all the poor bastards out there who might, just might, have a day like today.  Only tomorrow, instead.

~D

Oops

11 Feb

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Over-study, and loss of time.  It happens.  And then you pass out and wake up and realize you forgot to blog. 

…Can I just reiterate how not easy this is, as a daily assignment…rain, shine, good day, bad, feast of info or famine…to write a blog every single day?

Not easy.

With six months left to go…being only at the half-marker of my dedicated length of time…this is my second slip up. When you count it all up, that ain’t bad.

…But it’s still there.  Which makes me make this face:

(Face of irritation posted here)

…As I confess it, backdate it, post it, and go on to start my day.

~D

Lessons From Behind The Bookcase

10 Feb

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Nose in the books, while streaming Netflix and every bio anything I can find for research on the show.  Playing real people, (and well known historical figures at that), makes the homework so much more specific. There’s a lot you have to get right, preconceived notions of who they are, what their contribution was in the whole of the story.

…This ain’t m’first rodeo in these matters.

I’ve played historical figures before on a number of occasions and I think what most people don’t realize is that these actual people (or what we have come to know of them as “characters”), are usually known for their one or two-dimensional most popular traits and factoid bases. This makes it a danger to research, flesh out, and mount as a total well-rounded “human being” because people are going to want the thing they THINK of as “that person” not necessarily the TRUTH of that person. And at some point, you have to decided just where that line resides and IF you are willing to cross over it or stay in the comfortable little valley, that the popular opinion is going to insist is gospel truth.

Am I confusing the hell out of you yet? Here, I’ll give you an easy example:

Lets take Marilyn Monroe.

…Now say, you were planning to portray her in a production. What does that mean? Where do you prep for that? What information are you going for? This is a totally iconic person, whose physical image is emblazoned on our culture in a very specific way, who has a cannon of work under her in a very specific style, who was notorious for very specific lifestyle choices, and died in suspicious circumstances which have never been explained. We know all that. And I mean “we” as a collective of pop-culture-aware consumers of the product that was (and still is) “Marilyn Monroe.”

…This means that any S.O.B who chooses to undertake her as a “character” has a gigantic, impossible-to-live-up-to laundry list of “dos” and “don’ts” that MUST, MUST, MUST be included and achieved in the portrayal of her in said production, and against which, everything that is spoken, and every move that is made, will be judged upon.

An “ideal” of what it is to be: “Marilyn.”

…Only, any idiot, (or self-respecting acting artist) would know…it takes a hell of a lot more than that to flesh out a whole realistic “human” into a production. Sure, you can take the lazy way, the easy way…the two-dimensional route…and nail it, and please plenty of people who don’t know any better and don’t want to. But that’s not your “job” as a performer. Unless your gig is literally: Impersonation.

…But “impersonation” is not what I’m talking about. That’s not what an actor is doing in the case of taking on the portrayal of an actual historic person. Your job, is to open that person up, beyond what is conventionally known of them…to dig in, get dirty, and find something there that makes them go from “historical iconery” to “relatable humanity.”

Least, that’s the way I see it.

If you want “Marilyn Monroe” as the product that is: “Marilyn Monroe”…watch her films, buy her posters..by all means, enjoy the hell out of it! She worked really hard , to package that deal and make it for you. She did her homework too and knew what it was that her fans wanted and gave it to them. But for a performer to portray her, is NOT the same job that Marilyn did. Hers was to give you the product you wanted. The performers is to show you the process of what it was to make and “be” that.

…Do you get what I’m saying here?

…So when you undertake…say, one of the eight people who hid together for over two years, in a tiny attic in Amsterdam, in order to save their lives…you have a choice to make. Do you give the audience “The Character” that is that person…that we have come to know of them…or…do you give them: the person?

Now, I haven’t even had so much as a first table read on the show yet, so I can’t answer what the Director is gonna go for, in this. But what I know from the performer’s standpoint…from the person who loves history and respects this subject of it beyond words…I know what I expect from myself, and it’s more than just the text in play format is giving to me.

Because it has to be.

…And it’s more than just Anne Frank’s diary is giving me. Because it has to be.

…Which is strange, because most would think of it as the ultimate in source material for these matters. But here is the craziest thing I’ve realized while reading it for the millionth time, these past few days:

One reads “The Diary of Anne Frank,” from Anne Frank’s perspective. No big surprise maybe…it’s meant for you too. That’s the point. But have you ever once attempted to view it from another perspective? Not your own, but from one of the other people?

No.

None of us have.

No matter how many times we read it.

…But when THAT is your homework, something glaringly obvious pops out at you: It isn’t “fair.”

Every fight is one-sided.

Every bickering is someone elses fault.

Every hurt is purposeful.

Every irritation: expanded on.

Every argument: honed and crafted from one point of view, onto paper.

…And this beautiful historical document that we have always taken as 100% pure documentation of absolute truth, and heartbreaking frustration…is that in many ways…but NOT in ALL of them.

…Because, she was a 13 year old girl, who wrote in her diary, all of her frustrations and foibles, without edit or consideration of the fact that most of the time it was written in heated circumstances in order to air her frustrations and yell out loud the things she couldn’t in actual physical life.

THAT WAS HER JOB.

She was 13!

…That we have taken it all as Gospel truth makes sense, she was there, she recorded it, raw and unvarnished and with incredible detail. But it was also one-sided. It was also in angst, and despair, and fury, and frustrations, and desires, and hopes, and irritations.

Unlike the work and realm of “Marilyn Monroe,” she wasn’t making a “product,” she was airing her personal feelings, never in a million years suspecting that her words would become a representative voice of millions of people, to billions of others, for all of time. Had she been given opportunity of completing the edit of her diary and submitting it to a publisher herself after the War, who knows what might have been ultimately altered and seen from other perspectives with less fury and more even balance to it all?

Perhaps the unvarnished parts of it, are what makes it so exemplary to begin with.

…But the long way to the point I’m trying to make here is: I am undertaking to portray “Mrs. Van Daan”…a very human and real person who once lived an entire life before her time in the Secret Annex in the Attic, and one who died very shortly after being torn out of it. And all we know of this woman, as culture, as students of history, as activists of humanity, as people who love literature…is what was recorded about her by a 13 year old girl, forced to live in ungodly circumstances with her, across two years of time.

We don’t even know when she died, where she’s buried, who spoke with her last, if she knew the fate of her family.

…We know only second-hand stories of her marriage and youth from those told in the Annex. But I am about to spend from now until the end of April, undertaking the life of this woman. She may not have been the most famous inmate in that Annex in Amsterdam, but she matters. She matters more than just details from a disgruntled diarist. And yet its my job to live up to the reputation she’s been given, while also trying to reason why all her vanity, and stubbornness, and flirtations, and complaints were justified…from where they came, and why.

It isn’t easy to try and work against “iconery.” And that’s what I have ahead. Maybe not on so specific a level as a “Marilyn Monroe”…but it is there, nevertheless. I need to figure out how to ride the line that Anne set, seventy years ago…yet Auguste van Pels deserves…as a person who lived through this hell…to be represented in as fair and rounded a light as I can manage.

Such an honor to be trusted with something like this, shouldn’t be taken lazily or lightly.

…I love, love, love my job 🙂

~D

Back From Storybrooke

9 Feb

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Harriet has travelled 465.9 miles since Friday morning, and made her first International trip, smuggling Americans over the border.

…She was very accommodating.

…Even if we were totally legal about it.  (We tried to keep that part on the down-low to give her a more a feel for the dramatic.)

…She (and we) were welcomed into Richmond B.C., and the tiny hamlet that it Steveston, for a joyous and tiny trip abroad to geek out about the film-set town that is Storybrooke, Maine in “Once Upon A Time.” 

We took mug shots of Mr. Golds:

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…Gawked at The Library, ate breakfast at Granny’s:

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…And braved only poking our heads into the bread peddler’s:

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…As we sipped our coffees from a variety of coffee houses and frequented the tiny town boutiques, after an evening of yummy Birthday eats n’ drinks care of Marty’s family from Michigan, Indiana and Scotland abroad:

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It was a a perfect get-away, an excellent closer to our show, with an ironic theme which seemed to follow us everywhere…coming full circle to the end of our Holiday. 

…And what we found was a town of happy, and most accepting Canadians, who’d rather sleep in till 11 on a Saturday, than open early and sell something, owned an average of 1.5 dogs per person, preferred bicycles to motor vehicles, drink lots and lots of coffee from no less than 12 separate roasters, are in love with starch (mostly in the forms of baked goods and pastas), and are totally passive about the fact that Hollywood occasionally takes over their entire town to film some TV show, then halfway covers some of it back up until they return again later on whatever random dates.

…Whether filming, or not…life goes on in the little doppelganger that is sleepy little “Storybrooke,” much the same, either way. 

And we’ve seen it. 

So now you know. 

~D

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