Tag Archives: Actor

Line-Dom, Character Actor: For Hire

13 Jul

I’m paid in wine and tacos, am only available post-walk and laundry-washing, and will task-master your ass, tight as a Drill Sergeant. 

… Or (perhaps more appropriately), a Dom. 

… Have taken up a temporary second existence as a line-driller, for all those assholes (whom I love),  who have off-book deadlines, unlike some people we know. It’s a bittersweet existence. Line-learning is the only part of the job I don’t enjoy, so I envy none of that sadistic frustration in cramming two hours or more of text into my brains. 

… But, the rest… 

… Dear God, I do miss the rest of it. 

… Character analysis, relationship discoveries in rehearsal, trying to get to the the bottom of a difficult moment, playing with the comedy to find its every button without breaking it… wresting out a shitty day in a good growl of anger or heaving sob, turning all of it to your supreme benefit and cleansing. 

Being an out-of-work Actor is as shitty as it gets in my world…(and it can get pretty damn shitty, so that’s really saying a thing.)  I miss my “out”  and coping partner like as if a part of my anatomy dropped off back there, and is just laying on the ground, useless,  depressing, and frankly,  not super functional. 

… Am trying to plug along best as I can, but instead of passing time making it easier, it gets more unsettling, my walks more intense and kinda anger-fueled (with nowhere else to filter daily frustrations),  and I’ve gone back to watching so much BBC programming, I have to actually think about not speaking in an accent,  as a natural default. 

This is my only way to cope. 

… And now, I’ve added other people’s scripts to the mix…drilling my poor theatre-family bastards harder than an oil rig in Texas. 

It is rough to be mid-30s, as a woman: period. 

… As an “actor,”   even more-so. 

… Even as a “character actor” … (which frankly has surprised the hell outta me.)  I thought NOT being an ingenue would have guaranteed me “roles for life.”  But, aside from Agatha Christie…no one wants you,  except as the very occasional spinster aunt, or  nosey neighbor. Hollywood states you’re too old to be a mistress anymore at this age…but, I’d even get those if they popped up anywhere on the boards around here…though, they seem to be “out of season,”  just now. 

… And though I am old enough to play early mothers and wives,  “maternal” and “submissive but supportive”  aren’t my specialties…I’ve done ’em, but only rarely with joy. And all the good “fucked up” delineations of these are in that 40s to 50s range. 

… What I’m built to kill at right now are shrinks, or lawyers, or P.Is ….hell, even a person in the throws of a nervous breakdown, or a junkie on  the street…where are those roles in the theatre cannon for women?

(…Outside of Miss Marple, and the cast of “Rent” types.) 

… Anyway… here I sit. Watching the boards and waiting. A perfectly good “that one chick” who can play just about anything needed,  provided someone wrote it down on paper at some point. And then theatres put it into their damn seasons. 

… It’s really about trekking the mountain, waiting for all the 40-something roles you get to at the summit, but meanwhile thinking, “How the fuck am I gonna stay limber on script reads and ‘town gossips’  when I’ve got Martha in Virgina Woolf waiting for me up there?!” 

… I dunno. Any other lady-actors out there feelin’ m’pain?  

Meanwhile: I’m on a severe FB diet, as I have long come to the conclusion that death and politics are stressing me out almost as much as my day job. Which means that almost any existence I have on it,  is me posting something I read from the Guardian on a theatre thing, an occasional blog about general nothingness, and/or how excited I am about this one show I’ve seen on Netflix. 

… In fact,  if I had money to put into stock or properties…(like for instance, had I won that last Lotto Mega Million) , I’d have invested heavily in Fitbit and Netflix, as they are my consistent saving graces. (Together with the revolving Repertory Theatre that is “English Actors In General”  c/o iTv and the BBC. ) 

… I just want to BE them. How is that wrong…? 

… Is it October yet? God, this” wait for vacation” thing is fucking arduous.

~D

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Weird Shit You Do…

31 Mar

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…When You’re Prepping For A Show.

This usually means, “homework.” Not that we don’t do plenty of weird shit on stage as well…but right now I’m talking specifically about the alien feeling of being totally outside in the real world, alone, while attempting to get your brain prepped to be inside the show world.

…Because we, as theatre people, do crap that seems straight up insane to any normal person, on a continual basis, and our “safety in numbers” bit only works when surrounded by other theatre people, or marching through somewhere like Comic-Con, the Vegas Strip, or Times Square. Anywhere else, an individual talking to themselves in different accents while on a walk, just isn’t normal. And even in the free-style  Pac-NW, you get strange looks wearing 19th century hair with a tank top and jeans, while eating at Applebees. Explaining all those bruises gets long-winded, and from total outsiders may even include an embarrassing hand clutch and serious -faced, “I’m here, when you’re ready to talk or need anything”…when, “No, seriously! A 12-year-old kid did this to me!” Is all that comes flying out. Because: it’s the damn truth.

…Morning work days come where you constantly look like shit, because of staying up till all hours learning 15 more pages of text. You lack ability to talk about anything at all other than the specific time period/character type/production in general, that you are working on. You lose sleep running best prop usage scenarios through your head…over, and over, and over again, so that in three weeks when you pick up that fucking cigarette, light it, and inhale on this beat, it will look totally “natural.” Who the hell else does this kinda shit?

No one.

…Only maybe prostitutes will buy the super-sized, box of condoms every week from the same small-town retailer and keep the receipt for “work expenses,” which I did for an entire summer as an SM at age 18…because: mic packs.

…Only five-year-olds spend more time building artistic masterpieces out of scraps, play dough, macaroni, cardboard, food coloring, dollar-store items, and paint than a props person does.

…Thrift stores only exist because theatre costumers come through and regularly buy out all their estate-sale stock of 1960’s sequin “this’s,” 1950’s “that’s,” and 1940’s holy-crap-we-so-needed-these’s.

…Only a ten-year-old boy and a sound designer will listen to endless farting and snoring and blow-up noises for hours on end, to find just the “right” one.

…”Do: face-crotch hit,” “It goes: fondle, fondle, fondle, kiss,” “Grab her boob,” “Is there any way to make him more sexually uncomfortable? “ “Go at it all the way, and we’ll pull back later if we have to”…says every Director to their employees, in any comedy, ever. Fuck all the appropriate work-conduct laws in the land!

Yes.  Theatre people are freaks. We make out with strangers, get more excited about (retro) hand-me-down clothes, than a pair of Jimmy Choos, because: “that’s so my character!”…we spend days and days committing vast amounts of text and traffic control patterns in our heads, only to close a show and never use them again. Ever. Too many hours are spent on “bits” which maybe only 1% of people will even notice, and even if they do, will prob’ly never “get.” Instead of just really not liking the chick in the next cubicle at work, in our world, you still have to have a fake affair with her and sell it to 200 people a night, across two months or whatever. That sleazy creeper WILL slip his tongue in your mouth mid-performance, because there is nothing you can fucking do about it, and he knows it, and that’s just the way it’ll have to be for like the rest of the goddamn run. Until you knee him in the balls one night. None of which gets any kind of legal repercussion or write up because: we are the theatre.

…You can smoke in our workplace. You can drink there. You can even have actual sex every night, on stage.  With your significant other watching from the audience.

…Children will be awake and running blocking at 11pm on a school night during tech week because: we are the theatre.  Grown men will have total melt downs over having to wear a shirt they hate, because: we are the theatre. 

…Epic cat-battles one night, will become besties the next…real-life Soap Opera situations when “he” cheats on “her” with that other girl in a wayward “showmance”, will bring pounds of drama and gossip all-around…the props WILL break, which is possibly the only time ever that a single pencil can ruin an entire enterprise of something (certainly the best joke, anyway)…and sadly, it is often the case, that when an employee turns up lit, or high as a kite, not only aren’t they fired, they are encouraged to go speak in front of hundreds of people as a company representative…no matter how fucking sloshed they are…due entirely to the fact of: we have no understudy.

….Because: THIS IS THE THEATRE!

I have actually seen and/or been a part of ALL of those things. And I will be obliged to see and/or be a part of them all again, forty or fifty more times in my career.  Cuz it’s just the rules of the game as you play them in our fucked up little world…

…Which I’m really so used to now, that it only rarely occurs to me to be out of the excepted norm to everyone else.

…Until I go home from rehearsal, (after a long-ass day-from-hell-at-work), pour out some gin, and spend the rest of the evening  (11:00pm to whenever-on) youtubing Gypsy Rose Lee glove removal strips, S&M and tantric torture ideas involving said removed gloves, and segue (naturally) to how to keep play dough stiffer while building and manipulating phallic prop “bread dough.”

…And then try to think where to start in answer to WHS Pimp’s, “What’d you do last night?” The following morning.

…So, that was my Monday.

…Which for me is pretty normal, I guess.

…And you’ve gotta admit: that’s freakin’ weird.

~D

How To Cover Your Bases Like A Boss

10 Nov

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For the first time in…well…”awhile,” I’m showless.  Not only not tag-teaming ‘tween a performance for this one, while rehearsing another…but totally without a role at all. 

…No idea what “next” is, nor the “next, next” after that.  Which is not a norm for me, cuz I like to stack my plate. So, naturally, instead of taking time off to enjoy the break of not having lines to learn or blocking to run…I’m spending lunch the day after closing my last show, trying to find m’next three  jobs.

When you’ve no solid idea of which way things are leaning…no pre-casting already taking up some of the slack in that department…it means you’ve gotta go straight to the boards and start shopping.

…Which shows are being done where? With how long a rehearsal schedule… running which date to which?  It isn’t about just finding out what is “next,” it’s about making a combo of line-ups…one show which could allow a second to follow without conflict or too much mental/physical strain. 

…Cuz my working area is large…across three counties.  So it’s not just, “This show starts rehearsal and opens…then what?” It’s: “This show starts rehearsal here, and opens there, but that show begins rehearsal about three-quarters through the other one…can I do both considering they are in two different counties, and have enough recoup time from that super physical show and this super wordy one? Then, what’s the third follow-up option after the first closes and the second has begun its run?”

Scheduling even the hypotheticals can be tricky…not to mention the second and third-alternate options. And then, what do those alternate option shows do to the schedule following that?  This means basically three separate scenarios laying out in front of me right now: Option 1, which because of placement of performance dates means an only two-show set-up, ‘tween now and end of May.  Option 2, which gives three back-to-backs, booked solid. Option 3 which means no casting in first or second show preference,  leaving a third and fourth try open for others.

… Season set-up like this requires a lot of picking and choosing.  What are the roles you really want? Who do you want to work with? How do the shows fall on the calendar? Are you willing to chance it all on one, or all of them, to give up other show options? Or do you set up a fall-back alternate knowing how bad it would already suck not to get the roles you want, but even more so if you are also sitting at home with no job at all? 

…There is always a give and take in these instances. And even when you know where your heart lies, it means dick until you get the offer call.  It’s Lotto odds for an actor to get what we really want, to begin with. Even for the secondary and third choices, we’re damn lucky to be considered at all. Not to mention that sometimes the seasons are so banging, it’s like there’s nice, meaty fun just everywhere you look…and choosing at all becomes an agony.

…Which is all just an incidental to the fact that it is entirely possible you won’t book anything at all. Cuz there are like six zillion actors in this world.  And even Union odds are 1 job in 10.  So…good luck with that.

But you know what?  This is what an actor has to do.  To prepare every scenario of what-if and then book the audition slots, prep the pieces, and show up to fight it out.  And even if we nail it…it is entirely possible that hair color, height, weight, politics, size of any one piece of anatomy being too big or too small, or the casting agent or director being hungry, grumpy, or needing more caffeine, can still TOTALLY tank it.  Even if you don’t.

That’s show biz. Rejection option any time for any reason. At all.

…So, there’s always that to consider.

Which means, the ONLY POWER an actor really has, is to be “prepared.” For anything.  And everything.  Including winning the role. Or losing it.  And what comes after, is where the next adventure begins.

But it doesn’t start at all, if you don’t get out there and try.

…Which is why I’ve already booked 6 role option audition slots for just the month of November, alone.

Now, onto prep.

🙂

~D 

 
 

Nod Off

21 Jul

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I can’t keep the eyes open long enough to finish the blog of intent, so here is what you get:

Place-filler.

Am about to begin a new week and a new script (in earnest), committing lines to m’brains until they stick, and running accents until my tongue muscle gives out.

…Not as sexy as from overuse of rampant kissing escapades, but we take what we can get, folks.

And right now, it could so be a lot, lot worse.

So, yay for that.

~D

Things That Go “BANG!,” And Mournful Bunting

4 Jul

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Home early from The Fella’s, and In-Laws. Stone. Cold. Sober.

…I’m sure this in not how the Founding Fathers intended America’s biggest party day of the year to end, for me.

But here I sit. 

…Because work is tomorrow, (after a Holiday sales blitz), with the beginning of a weekend full of shows riding it’s ass, like white-on-rice.

I feel I planned well, in-all, as plenty of drinking happened earlier in the day to offset the not-having-any-later, deal. Plus, having eaten half a cow and a lot of pig (with incidental greenery on the side), I think absorbed all the residual alcohol, and/or coerced it into helping break down all the stuff in m’guts, soon after.

…Which is basically a “workout,” if you look at it in some ways. (Like the world where ice cream doubles as your dairy qualification for the day.)

The amount of food I’ve had across these past two days, does worry me a bit.  Not so much in the fact that I won’t fit into my costumes…(that’s what a corset is for)…but that it will be exponentially more uncomfortable to be squeezed into them.

…But I haven’t totally ignored my responsibilities in that realm. I did manage to run lines today with The BFF, (as in days of old), to  keep verbally fit and ready for tomorrow. And as part of my coming-home-early-to prep-for-tomorrow bit, finally fished out my tights from the show-bag, where they have lazily resided all crumpled and stinky, since last Sunday. 

…And now, as I listen to endless pop-rockets, snap-dragons, and gunpowder bangs outside my window, clean black tights hang in their place along the shower rod…drooping like mournful, wet, bunting.

There is something strangely satisfying in my bathroom being taken over by show laundry, hanging to dry. 

Tradition. 

…Harking back to centuries of other show people, from Vaudeville to the legit stage, who have done it before me, and will long, long after I am gone. 

Some things never change:

…The late-night excessive banging of illegal fireworks outside your bedroom window on the fourth of July…and prep, the evening before your next performance, being two of them.

Happy Independence Day, friends!

~D

The Van Divas

4 Mar

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Fun rehearsal last night.  Lots of tightening up, but with plenty of short-stream BSing pockets in between.

…As characters were sent to their rooms like children, (to live out our terms until next needed somewhere downstage), we were given open opportunity to bond in small groups. 

…And with the first chance to address more than just blocking, Mr. Director was given ample opportunity to pick on us. Openly. With love. Building a natural theme to our interrelationships with him and one another.

…For instance, our Mr. Frank is The Problem Child.

…Apparently he always has been, and always will be. This charismatic individual, undertaking the grounding base of our production and it’s total through-line, is a 35 year-old Amazon employee by day, and occasional Burlesque dancer by night, with the energy of a one-year-old puppy.

…He is actually married (in real life) to our Mrs. Frank: A very centered school teacher, with a most calming essence…whom you can’t for the life of you, wrap your head around as being married to someone of her husband’s energy-content. Until it comes out that she too has a naughty side, also Burlesques upon occasion, and in fact was married on stage, during a show, at a bar, to said Mr. Frank, some years now ago.

…It’s always the quiet ones.

Our Margot (of physical appearance about 16, actual age 26) is a quiet, smiley, helpful Margot-ish being, (minus the doormat inclination), while our Anne goes toe-to-toe with her “father’s” bursts of natural enthusiasm, currently trying to be broken of a natural inclination to goose-step, and whose actual-Anne-age curiosity and innocents provides endless smiles and winks amongst the adults, making every beat of what could be a totally contrived moment of wonder and exuberance, into an actual, real-life, truly honest, first realization.

Our Miep: is a spitfire, currently performing in an all-female “Jesus Christ Superstar,” our Krahler is also our set-designer…which is terribly convenient to have around while performing on another production’s stage when things like,”wait, where the hell is the kitchen sink again, here or here?” comes up…and Dussel is one of the theatre’s Board Members.

My Peter is a quiet young fella, well-studied up on his role and it’s history, and is always exactly where he needs to be at precisely the right time. Freakishly centered for a teenage boy, until you find out he just finished a show up north, started the theatre group at his school, and is currently (along with his full class-load), directing “Harry Potter: The Musical,” featuring a shit-ton of his own peers. One HAS to have one’s shit together for that kind of schedule.

…And then we reach the van Daans. Or, as it has been openly implied…in that it is literally our assigned reputation: the van Divas.

This is due in one part, to my fabulous musical-theatre-Director-and-performer-of-Bearish-persuasion, husband. And to another part, my last (and first) collaboration with this company.

… First off, husband and wife have already bonded, are loud and braying, and have had zero need to warm to one another’s ability at fighting openly, with gusto, while randomly swapping bitch-glances, and love-looks, by turn as needed. Second: Hubby has worked there a zillion times, and being of a certain persuasion in lifestyle, shares over-the-Anne-head double entendres with delicious slight-of-hand. Third: Mr. Director and I have an inside joke, that started out not as a joke at all, but now he’s comfortable enough with the circumstance (knowing I am too) to flail it out there without the need of kid-gloves.

…Actually, he still has the “kid-gloves,” only now he makes a point to make fun of the fact that he has them…working the hell out of constantly checking up on me to see that all is well in my proverbial artistic world.

“Are you alright?” “You have a question?” “You like that choice?” “What do you want here?” “Anything you need?” “You look like somethings wrong.”

…I didn’t understand the joke for all of the first week, (or perhaps it still wasn’t a joke at that point it time, I really don’t know.) Why I was always being picked out specifically, I couldn’t really understand, constantly following each question with a look of confusion and, “No, I’m fine.” “It works good for me.” “Sure.” And, “It’s just my face. It’s just how I look.”

…But by last night, it had all sunk in.

…Never having worked with him directly before, it took that long…I think for both of us…to see the humor of it, and corroborate with it, so that by halfway through last night’s scene working: the van Divas were fully acknowledge as a pair-set, and the new kid had made her solid spot within the family.

…Which makes doing what we need to do, so much easier. Because yes, even in the theatre, everyone needs to have their little “boxes” of who is who and what it what. Just like on-stage, we have our little parts to play. We have spent just enough time together to understand what those now are, and can therefore get straight to poking at one another through our cages, to rile one another up in all the best ways and build this suffocating world of life-on-top-of-one-another, that we need to build.

…All part of building a “company.”

And this’ll be a good one.

🙂

~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

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