Archive | November, 2015

Art Orgasms

20 Nov

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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.

~D

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Vote-Whoring

10 Nov

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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.

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: Broadway.com.

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?

Discuss:

~D

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

5 Nov

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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.

~D

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