Tag Archives: Art

I’ll Have What She’s Having

1 Nov

You know how sometimes you are so conflicted, or so hungry, or so PMSey that you think you want a big ol’ plate of this thing over here, but when your buddy’s plate comes to the table, you feel like that was what you should have chosen instead…but then they see that look in your eyes and are all, “Split-share?” (…cuz all your friends are equal foodies), and your taste buds and guts go, “Yeeeesss! Best of both worlds!” and everything is all-the-flavors-of-awesome?

…That is what going to a friend’s show is like. 

…Kinda always super wish you were working with them, but sometimes you just had to try for that other thing over there, instead…cuz of the stuff…and you did, and lots of times its good, but if you somehow have a skewed performance schedule, (or can sneak into a rehearsal of a limited run, like I am tonight), it’s like all the salty, sweet, buttery and garlicy goodness, wrapped up in both life-plates.

So, I’ll be art-eating super good tonight, at one of the final rehearsals, for an already sold-out run, of a dear friend, whose passion and empathy knows no bounds.

Damn, I’m so proud of her, and the team she has collected to create this amazing piece of historical theatre!

Let’s eat!

~D

Awake!

17 Sep

It’s 7:02. My body does one of those jolting awake things, like when you’ve forgotten something. I look at my wrist to check the time. The Fitbit is off. I didn’t put it back on again after my post-show shower last night. What an idiot! Check the time. Oh good! Good body-clock! Thank God! 

I get up and put the Fitbit on again, checking the battery, which is severely low. Wow, even with it on, I’d have prob’ly missed the alarm. I’ll charge it at work, I tell myself.

…I lay there checking my Entertainment news, as is my morning practice, and contemplate my tummy’s readiness for its first cup of (what will be many) black coffees today. While streaming news I remind self of rehearsal tonight, lines I’ll need to learn at lunch somehow, and being thankful I made it without a major injury through another week of shows.

…Coffee is made, and consumed, look down at my Fitbit, and sure enough, the alarm didn’t buzz. But I’m up and getting ready for work, none-the-less.

…Then it’s car, commute, so many damn detours from out of nowhere! I text Boss at second one…looks like I’ll be late because of them. I’m circling, I’m on and off-ramping, I’m getting ticked, cuz I’m too damn tired for this, and its a hell of a way to start a Monday.

…I get to work, and am first in. Unlock the crap, prep the stuff…I’m sitting at my desk, jotting to-dos on my idiot pad, when Boss texts me back:

“Um, why you there? It’s Sunday.”

…I open my computer screen.

“Sunday,” it says.

…Sunday. It’s Sunday. 

I’m sitting at my desk, and it’s Sunday.

…It does actually take me that long to understand what is wrong with this and all the things that led to this moment and how I have never ever ever, in my life, so totally lost the sense of time and day before. Not just “a little,” not just for a “moment.” I’m almost two hours into the loss, at this point.

…I pack up. I lock up. I go through the Starbucks for a giant latte and some food to settle my now flip-flopping tummy. 

…Not “suddenly” but even more than a moment ago, I feel like total shit. I was exhausted: now I’m emotionally almost crippled by it. I was cold: now I’m blasting the heat like its winter in Michigan, and still freezing. I was bruised but relieved that I made it through this last weekend of shows: now I’m horrified that I have a matinee still yet to face.

…I try my best not to freak out my Barista with this total overload of emotion, collect my goods, and drive home.

I get into bed, without even bothering to unmake it first. The pillows are taking up all the room, I’m already two cups of black coffee in, even without the latte, so sleep is impossible. It would be anyway. It already has often been, of late.

There is a misnomer that Art is or should be all fun and games. It’s probably great for some people if it is. I prefer it as the icing on a good amount of work. But sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes it sucks the absolute life out of you. And there is some strange unspoken rule that despite what it takes from you, you should be greatful to be a working artist and not mention the toll, or the truth of its impact. I say: that is shit. 

…Art is like anything else. Sometimes it sucks. Sometimes it hurts. Sometimes it is disappointing as fuck, and frustrating, and insulting, and debilitating. Like anything you love: art has shit days. It *can* have shit months. 

…For me, of late: it has. I have been fully aware of it. I knew it was bad. I didn’t know it was this bad. It’s a new low on the scale. 

I feel…empty. 

I am laying here in bed, too exhausted to cry, I need to save whatever energy I have for a house full of ticket payers. I need to somehow adjust my mood so I won’t infect my fellow cast, who is probably sleeping away right now, blissfully oblivious of the day I’ve already had before they’ve so much as got up for their morning pee. I need to rally presence of mind and focus…of a brain which didn’t know what day it was through two hours of time…so that I don’t do more physical damage to myself than is absolutely necessary out there, in stocking feet, in the dark.

I need to trust.

I don’t have any of that right now.

…And I am very, very, very, very tired.

Obviously.

In every way that I can be.

And that, is my Sunday morning truth.

~D

Open

9 Sep

Awake at 3am. I think asleep again by 5-something. Then again at 6. Then 8. 

…Haven’t slept well in ages. Several reasons, primary of last night being total body and mental exhaustion. 

…You know when you see a toddler, waaay past their nap time, have a total and complete meltdown in the grocery aisle, giving zero shits who the present audience is, or that this is unacceptable behavior–their limbs go limp, they’re sobbing like a family member died right in front of them, and it’s all because they don’t like the “orange kind”? I’m right there. I have no ability to appropriately designate my feelings and trauma. 

…And, my body hurts. Their are muscles that feel shredded, so many ever-changing colors of bruises, that I have no count. I keep stressing my formerly broken finger every night in the fight sequence, so what usually is a dull ache when weather changes, is shooting pains up to my elbow…(last night’s particular pain of choice to wake me.) My back is so tight across the shoulders: you could use it for a helipad.

If one person in the next five weeks, says they think its cute that I have an acting hobby, I’m going to punch them in the face. And in my current mental place: I can’t guarantee it would stop there. 

Of course, I DID sign up for this. And so: it is what it is. Boxers wear *their* sport badges with pride: split lips, broken noses, et al. So, in moments and shows like this, I do too. I do it to remind myself of the gallons of sweat and tears that have hours ago dissipated and been showered off. I do it because each one was earned in commitment to something I love, like the birth pains of a labor. I do it because not every role or show is a frivolous exercise, or a beauty contest…certainly not the ones *I* participate in. I do it because I carry that role with me at least as long as those bruises will show…and sometimes, well after. In an ephemeral artform, it’s the reminder I can look back on, and instantly trigger back to this time and place.

…And in the meantime, before starting rehearsals for “Blithe Spirit,” on Monday, I will use today to nest on the couch. I will stay in pajamas until prep for call. I will watch other people gaining *their* bruises and show-badges on TV. 

…I will self-care, and order delivery. I will cry when I need to, and not if I don’t, and leave my severely overworked contacts, soaking in their case.

I will take a day.

…And then, tonight, I will stretch and fight-call, and suit up again, adding to my growing badge collection.

Cuz, Theatre ain’t for fucking sissies.

~D

This Time, In NA…

5 May

Studied up and ready to open “Water By The Spoonful” tonight, with an energized and eager company. Fantastic post-preview talks, last night, with some of the production-family, reinvigorated my brains within Odessa’s headspace. 

…I love nothing better than spinning those connecting webs of collaboration…from the AD to the Costume Designer to the Actor, and how each take and builds from the others’ contribution, making this art-from-art kind of Celtic knot of seamless (we hope) common goal-reaching.
Am proud of this team, and honored to be a part of it.

…And honored to portray those who struggle with substance abuse issues…to tell their story as truthfully as we can, as raw and naked and serving the fact of that moment to moment struggle. Am very thankful at how much research I needed to do on the NA side of things…in that I have been fortunate to not have the first-hand knowledge of its world. The devastation it leaves in its wake is such an astonishing payment with ripple effect. After living in that headspace even only as an actor, the empathy for its victims is another study on the frailty in our humanity…but also the stubborness of our strength, the frustration in our circumstance, the fate of our birth, the pomposity and arrogance of our gambles with death, and the fight and fight and fight we can put up, when life throws fists in our faces, time and time again.

It’s a hell of a piece of theatre.

…And a pretty damn good production. (If I do say so myself.)

And: I do.

Happy Opening, team!

~D

I Wrote A Little… 

8 Aug

So… ‘member that time I bought that blank journal under the pretext of filling it with writing exercises to get me actually creating real wordsmithery again,  versus whatever the hell you wanna call this blog thing? 
… And,’ member how I have like 15 of those journals just sitting in my house, because of serial journal-purchase-syndrom, still waiting for words to be put in them,  and still totally empty, or long since converted to “show-research-journals?” 

… Cuz, ‘member how, (like dusting my house), I totally operate on a best-intention basis, but then often fail in my goals because I don’t wanna dust, potato chips are delicious, and facing a blank piece of paper with proper punctuation, plot, and sentence structure is really hard work? 

Well, chalk one up for me, bitches!  Cuz, I dun wrote me a story. 

It was Sunday. The place: my bed. I had just finished coughing myself awake,  and lay there re-exhausted from my efforts. Thinking to myself, “Well, I don’t even care what time it is…I’m so not getting out of bed after all that,” I decided to hide my apparent misplaced weekend-lay-about-in-bed-all-day guilt, by grabbing one of previously described blank journals and popping up my autoprompt app. 

…Hating the first two offers on demand, I took the third, and started scribbling long-hand, for what I assumed would be about fifteen minutes. 3.5 hours,  eleven pages, and a giant caffeine headache later, I realized that I’d just completed the mutherfucker, and really needed a damn cup of coffee (or 12.)

…Because,  that’s the way time works when I’m actively “Arting.” Sketching, researching, line-learning, blogging, or writing…once the juices get goin’,  I seriously cease to notice the present reality surrounding me. I’m told that I come by this honestly as an inherited trait. Apparently my great grandmother would start painting in the morning, and still be at it late into the night,  with only a depleted sleeve of saltines and empty glass by the canvas as proof of any pause for even sustenance. Which I completely understand, and could “see”  with multiple empty stomaches and/or late night writing sessions on whiskey turning into early morning hour alcoholic tendency accompanied by dry Cheerios by the handful,  direct from the box…which doesn’t really count as morning alcoholism because technically, I  hadn’t gone to bed yet, so it was still just really-late-yesterday o’clock, and anyway stop with that judgy-look,  just because you like to hide your morning alcoholism in disgusting tomato juice…!

…Anyway…where was I going with all this? Oh yeah: I wrote a little, this weekend. On like, a real thing. And it’s all pencil-scratchy, with horrendous spelling, and some of the words I can’t even really make out entirely because even stone cold sober, my creative writing comes out looking like a ten year old,  arthritic physician wrote it, but still. It’s mine. I haven’t reread it since…so,  it’s prob’ly terrible. But, I did it. I said I was going to,  and: there it is. 

… Only,  don’t get too excited though. I have no real intention of dusting, or giving up my post rehearsal junk food. It’s about “baby steps,”  people. And at 3.5 hours, I’ve already clocked overtime in good intentions this week. 

… The rest is just gonna have to hold its damn water for a while. 

~D

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

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

The Deal

23 Oct

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~D

Great Actingness

13 Mar

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I dunno if this happens with every profession, but “acting” I think gets a shittier rap than it should.

…Almost all you see about it are the glories and pitfalls…not the grunt work. Celebrity is great and all…awards are fantastic…excess, alcoholism, bitch-fights, and drug abuse are our biggest downfall…but the media has pushed these things so heavy to the forefront, as to soil the reputation of what we actually do out there in the world with our work, by and large.

This is an honored profession. It is an esteemed collective. It is a group of individuals, striving to show and share the human experience, broaden the brotherhood, celebrate our uniqueness, crossing age, race, sex, politics, religion…it provides another point of view, educates, enlightens, and broadens our horizons. It is a window looking into the best and worst of us, to study in hopes of understanding and relating to one another better tomorrow than we did yesterday, and last year, and 500 before that.

What we do (if we are intent to do it with serious ethic and art, not just for the bucks and golden statues), is an honor of trust. We are the mirror of the world and all it’s dark, bright, horrible, beautiful, terrifying, delightful places. And that, I think, is why we are so hungry to watch and seek and find new mentors from other people’s work. It is why we hold viciously intense emotional relationships with people we’ve known for two months time and might not even see again for fifteen years.

…It is why you can have an enormous amount of pride in another person’s drop-dead-gorgeous performance, whether you’ve met them or not…like it is a personal achievement of your own.

…Because it sort of is.

Great acting makes the world of “other” fall away. When you get sucked into a performance, it becomes a personal experience between you and the actors involved. They are peeling back and showing something naked and vulnerable to you…no half way…no safety net…without knowing how you will react to it, if you will honor it, spit on it, roll your eyes at it, get angry about it, hate them, or want to ravish them for it. It’s a hell of a trust exercise, I gotta tell yuh…and the success rate, even on an Award-winning-everything performance, will never be 100%.

…Because art is in the eye of the beholder, and what speaks to some might not to others.

…But when a performer sees another performer being brave…being honest, and naked and real. When it makes you feel embarrassed for watching, as if you’ve crossed a line that courtesy tells you is too far…when you are shown something that heaves your guts in empathy, or pity, or disgust…when it isn’t pretty, but somehow beautiful with the perfection of reflection on our imperfections, as “people”…it becomes almost a personal triumph of your own as WELL as whoever the hell just did that scene in front of you.

Because you KNOW what that kind of thing takes.

You’ve had to go there too.

…It isn’t about comparing your talents, it’s about embracing the fact that this is “family”…that person is your acting-brother-or-sister. This is OUR TEAM. And holy shit, did you just see what they did??!?!?!

I think this “pride”…or whatever you wanna call it…is in some part based on that familial sense of “we” and “us” that the acting community shares. It’s ties go deeper and get stronger if it is in regards to someone you have literally sweat and toiled with before, or have mentored personally, or have considered a mentor to yourself. But, these people do not need to even be aware of their personal link with you…they may have never met you…it doesn’t matter. If you have become invested in their art personally, then you take their hits and misses like a silent partner in crime…and you are one, because as everyone knows, the audience is the final cast member to everything we do. Whether they become invested and come along on the journey or not, has a huge baring in what our work will achieve.

When I see a performance that really, really arrests me…it becomes more than just an “entertainment.” If it has totally side-swiped my emotions, it becomes a literal part of me. A study piece. I will hold onto it. I will own it. I will make use of it, in some way, at some point, in my own work…it will live with me…in my tool kit of experience I’m constantly adding to.

…Someday, I will be faced with a moment, a line, a scene and in my brain I will think, “This is too much, I don’t know how to achieve all this. How can anybody go this far into the black hole of this character, and still retain a sense of self at the end of the day?”

…And I will open my toolkit, and take out a performance I have seen and say, “That’s how. Right there. You just become brave as fuck…like them…and do it.”

Last night I was up till 2:30 am watching a performance just like that.

Twice in fact.

…And it’s mine now. I own it: the lessons that come with it, and the pride in a sister-performer-teacher, who was balls-out beautifully brave enough to create it.

…Makes me feel “our team” just won a hell of a prize-fight.

…Makes me just itch to put it to use in my own right.

…Makes me proud to be a part of the family.

All good things 🙂

~D

Too Soon

28 Jan

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Came up for air too soon tonight, and got the theatrical version of the bends.

…See…because artists like to filter shit.

When the world gets too real, or horrid…or just really horrid, we feel the need to escape and throw it up immediately to get it out of our systems.

Like cheap therapy.

…So we will often think, (in total error, with sometimes devastating circumstances), that instead of actually facing a thing as it stands, we should chew on it a couple times and spew it out of some artistic orifice…frequently having nothing at all to do with the initial problem, and think we can just call it a day.

…Lose your job? Knit everyone you know a Christmas sweater.

…Bad break up? Volunteer to throw a wedding shower for a friend.

…Someone you love dies? Audition three days later, for a comedy.

…You know…things like that.

Now, sometimes this actually works in your favor. And on a freakish percentage of time, it goes big. Which is when you get things like Salvador Dali, Stephen Hawking, and Adele. But by and large…this is mostly art which should be practiced privately. Somewhere where it is totally excusable to look like a junkyard, with reactivated adolescent acne, unable to focus whatsoever, or bathe yourself.

….Mostly to avoid total and complete humiliation, when rejoining the functioning world once again.

Self preservation.

…But then, sometimes…for obvious reasons…our reasoning really blows in these times of emotional artistic horror…and we bite off more than we can chew. We think things like:

“I’m going to keep my callback appointment to that comedy after what happened three days ago…cuz I need to get out of my head where I’ve been wallowing without sleep or correct motor function, for days. It’ll be like a four hour break from being me. I’ll just filter the crap into that.”

(P.S. Artists can be woefully blind to their limits from time to time, with disastrous consequences.)

Needless to say, it didn’t go well.

…My worst attempt at filtering emotion or life-crap, EVER.

…Worse than the time I egregiously took up writing poetry for an afternoon, to prove to myself I could go legit instead of just blog.

…Or when I thought I’d get over my writer’s block by trying a serious portrait, after sketching nothing at all, for over ten years.

…Worse, even, than the time I thought I’d beat the, “thirty curse” nonsense, by getting totally wasted on five kinds of alcohol like a pro, the day before tech, ending up with my first (and to date) worst hangover ever.

…A new, embarrassing total low.

Bad reading. Bad choices. Bad showing.

…100% effort, severely handicapped, to about 12% performance capability. My own fault. Entirely. Nothing whatever to blame on any other field.

…I’d learned the lesson already, forty times last year. Why the hell didn’t I retain it?

Comedy is really fucking hard.

…It’s hard when you are running on all cylinders, at full power. More so, when perturbed, stressed or anxious.

…Impossible, when making stupid choices, and all you can think in your head when you sit down afterward is:

“He would have nailed that monologue. It was just the kind of story he told best…”

…And then you realize, you just put him in the past-tense.

…And you sort of want to vomit.

~D

Dear 2013,

31 Dec

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It’s been a year, friend. 

… A good one.

I’ve not much to complain of, as it ticks it’s last hours away. And when I do think of something, I remind myself that I’ve my family, friends, health, way to pay the bills, and theatre.

…What the HELL do I even have to bitch about, ey?

Tonight, (the busiest party one of the year), I’m spending at home in my pj pants, with five “children” (three, adopted), a bottle of wine, reminders of the past year, and an entire movie library before me.

…It is, in a word: delicious.

Nothing wrong with dressing up and doing the town red, but…nothing wrong with staying home with a too expensive bottle of wine, candles lit, comfy…warm…writing notes to friends which I think might be witty (three-quarters of a bottle in) but might prob’ly be not.  Never mind.  They will love them and me anyway.

(…Ain’t I lucky?)

The answer is: I am.

Whatta year.  Hell of a stretch creatively.  Friendships born and grown.  Adopted foster children, (in the form of fish and two frogs) as Cecil departs for studies abroad.  The BFF visit, short but of weight and importance and life-blood resuscitation that it always is.  Dates with The Fella, to talk of all things. Marty Christmas blitzes still to follow.

…Still trying to relinquish the last vestiges of what playing an animal in children’s theatre, over the Holidays can do to an adult frame. 

…Satisfyingly counting up the vast array of roles I got to tackle n’ play this year.

New friends.  Family times.  Even (yes) blogging days, when you all reminded me, after a drought of not posting, how important this relationship…OURS…here, is.

It’s been a good year.  But then, I had reason to believe (at the beginning) that it would be.

2014 will be different.  Artistically: much more improv-based.  In that I don’t know much of what is to come…or even of what is out there waiting for me.

…And we all know how awesome I deal with that…

…But even so: I have faith.

Faith.

…And I don’t believe in “accidents.”

So there is that.

And here am I.

…Finishing a tiny slip of a post, watching foster frogs dance in a water ballet, between sentence typing. 

…Before swapping out bluerays, and tackling another favorite film, paired with these cheeses and an excellent vino.

Happy New Year, friends and creative family!

May yours bring all things of wonder and joy!

~D

Contemplation Of Boredom And Stuff

15 Jul

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It’s the Monday night after a Sunday closing, and I already don’t know what to do with myself.

…Tonight I’ve experienced three alternate “post-work-day” scenarios to try and fill the time.

First home, I went for a walk.  Seemed like a good idea at the time. And it was.

…I took a different route, into a different neighborhood, attacked some hills, contemplated joining some kids on a swingset in the park, but then thought better of it, as that is exactly how you end up in jail on random kid-attack charges for something you never did while real sickos walk the streets, scoping out their next victims, while drooling.

…I am a bit of a hypochondriac about these kind of things, but current court cases have not risen my sense of confidence to the contrary in any way.

…So…instead of playing, I walked home.  Where I then delved into Empire Magazine while shoving as many rice krispy treats as humanly possible, into my face. You know, to counteract anything possibly healthy or invigorating about all the sweating I had just done.

…Then Mrs. Johnson showed up and it was all, “So, whatchu been up to?” and “How was the show?” and “Here, lemme sock you in the guts a little more…”

…Followed by a trip to help Ma with another load, moving into the new Town House.

…And now, after having a picnic on the futon (that I was too lazy to build back up into a couch, since Cecily last slept on it…Saturday night), I am laying on my tummy, listening to my landing neighbor toot about on their clarinet…actually, it’s not a “toot” so much as a “loldel.”  (A “loldel” is like a “yodel” minus the “yo”) It’s never a real song…but clearly played by a pro, as no squeaks or whines or honks ever jump out. To me, it sounds like they are forever composing a film underscore. Unlike in jazz free-form, it doesn’t seamlessly link, but alters randomly…with variations but no through-rhythm, going along for a bit before breaking up into a new slower, or higher, or lower piece, changing tempo, with frequent pauses in between. 

I like it. 

…Though it’s nothing you could do a chore or dance to.  It is meant just for their exercise, not as an interlude.  But it always makes me wonder what they are practicing for, the kind of music that they really play, and where.  And whether it is the same person, or another, who as the pianist in the flat, takes exercise in the same exact kind of way. 

…Either way, I like sharing the landing with musicians.  Good ones.  Classes up the building a bit.  And I like that I can justly refer to ours as the Arts Floor of the building.  It makes me feel more Bohemian. 

…Though my practices tend to more resemble schizophrenia, to the outside observer or listener, than any kind of art.  And based on the conversation content, prob’ly of a severely disturbed nature. 

In the past seven months of lines and character work alone, I’ve gone on Shakespearean rants, sobbed myself into a total breakdown-fueled suicide, gotten hauled off to a concentration camp, flirted in ridiculously rampant run-on sentence structure in period English, without end, and of late have hacked in nonstop German about spies and undergrounds, in between yodeling a ton of Scottish rolling “R’s” while blathering on about my “hoosband,” and running away from the London police, while accidentally handcuffed to a suspected murderer…with all the kind of once-sided conversations that naturally go with that.

…In fact…now that I think on it, that could be a small contributing reason to the fact that my landing neighbors seem to move quite frequently.  In fact, all of them do.  By far, I am the oldest tenant in the building…not in “age,” but in longevity.  Even now, there is a moving van across the way, and the “vacancy” sign has gone back up on the hanger bolts under our main title post.

…But I honestly think it can’t all be just me.  And anyway, the musicians in C1 have been around for at least nine months now.  And that says something.

…Even if only that, being musicans, they are too fucking poor to afford to move out and away from the psychotic freak schizo they are currently sharing the landing with.

…Who may, or may not be, alternately suplimenting her income by part-time prostitution, based on the vast numbers of people (of either sex) randomly spending the night, and/or leaving or arriving at three o’clock in the morning.

Such is life.

~D

Then, Onto Serious Matters…

24 May

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Beethoven in the background.

…I’ve just finished beating the hell outta my giant pink-bubble-gum Pilates ball, (with some added Yoga), and am celebrating my efforts with a heavy-handed homemade margarita that tastes about 200 proof.

…I am not a greener, you guys.  If I’m expected to work out, there must be some give and take, here. 

Besides…I already did like a five mile beach walk today at Point Defiance.  Plus rehearsal.  Plus walked the mall.  So it’s not like I haven’t earned this five-stiff-drinks-in-one.

An excellent day off.

Slept until 10:30 (which is totally unheard of, especially where cramping is concerned.)

…Lazed about a bit, regrouped over coffee, motored to mall to get nails done while watching Streep be magnificent in “Devil Wears Prada” in the background.  Then: did some summer shirt-shopping, off to beach-walk, had a sandwich, did lines and scene work at rehearsal, and beat it over to Barnes and Noble, till they kicked me out.

Home to working out with the giant pink-bubble-gum ball…to the tunes of Glenn Miller.  (It totally works, and makes it all a lot less horrible.)

…Debated more De Profundis.  Decided to blog first. 

…Beethoven selected. 

After all that lightness and air and incidental flippancy, I want a little more  grounded heft. 

I like heft.

I love Beethoven.

I blame him (almost exclusively) for my total closet devotion to doomed unrequited love stories.

…Well, him and the Brontes.

…But, still.

Sometimes you just need some background yearning.

…He also makes me want to “make” something.  Mostly, write. He makes me want to push aside these trivial little blog posts I’ve been devoted to for nigh onto a year now, and make something really legitimate.  Something dark or irksome or  full of complications.  Not even in content, even just in sentence structure, and thought process.  Haven’t done that in so long, I’ve forgotten how.

…But then I’ll hear the beginning of a movement…and I’ll see the picture of thought he paints instantly in my brain.  And how immediate the feelings follow it, and how personal and intimate it becomes.  And I start to remember how much I loved writing like that.  As if it mattered.  Not just for a lark.

…Back when it was about “content” not just daily requirement.

Art comes in so many varieties.  And the influence of one on another, is like a waterfall affect with me. 

De Profundis…such a serious text and consideration on the responsibilities of what it means to be an “artist” and the accountability that comes with it, is obviously pushing me in that mindset as well.  Delving into Oscar by day, in all his ridiculous and delicious glory, then investing in his darker side at night, is this whole new combining experience that makes me want to explore the same in my own little creationary world.

…There is obviously room for both. 

So, tonight is Beethoven, and some prose maybe.

Supremely rusty on that bent, but it’ll come back to me.

One hopes.

Off for a try at least…

~D

Hello, From Vacation

23 May

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I have traveled to “Vacation” since last we met, and it is very fine here. 

…They serve post-rehearsal margaritas (and laughs) for free.

It’s this whole package deal they have.

I’m on a 4-day hiatus from the day-job, as stipulated by the Boss. He has never (in six years) stipulated that I take time off on purpose.  And this is only because the clouds of impending doom are just there on the horizon…we can all smell the sales storm coming…so he figured he’d force both me and the WHS Pimp to take time off while we can, in view of the fact that we may not survive the summer to the next winter death knoll.

Makes sense, I suppose.

Either way: here I sit. 

…Much like I would on ANY night (come to think on it)…just as late, just as behind on the blogging, brain just as full of lines and blocking as ever.  Only difference is that tomorrow I get to make it my “profession” to be a person of leisure.  And I get to say “profession” as I will be getting paid to do it.  Whatever the “it” might contain. 

…Possibly a Grand movie (for I miss it…not that I even know what the hell is playing.)  Possibly a bookstore visit (because I haven’t got enough things to read as it is, or anything.)  Possibly an out-of-town field trip (location: unknown.)

…As long as my sober body is at the rehearsal by 7PM tomorrow, I am my own mistress of mischief.

…I only wish I was privately funded as well.

In Other News: Back when I was supposed to be sleeping across last night and early morning, but couldn’t (thanks to Mrs. Johnson), I indulged in a little downloaded “Wilde,” the bio film with everyone and their mother in it.  I had forgotten how many of my absolute favs were a part of it.  And often in cameos, at that. I can’t say it was exactly “delightful,” but the frequent one-liner Wildeisms gave many a snickering relief to the drama…and if there is a more perfect person to portray the great Irish wit than Stephen Fry, I call “Bollocks” on it!

…Plus, everyone was so damn young! 

…Jude Law is at his absolute MOST beautiful, no one even knows who Ioan Gruffudd is as yet, Michael Sheen is still baby-faced (even with the moustache), Judy Parfitt is decades from becoming a St. Raymond’s mainstay in “Midwives,” Jennifer Ehle looks about 18 years old (though she is 2 years past her famously delicious Lizzy Bennet phase), and Redgrave, Jones, Wanamaker and Wilkinson round out the parents and intimates, in a casting wet-dream of ridiculous pedigree.

A hard “watch” for content, but a classic in natural flow of the Wildean ways.

…Also started reading “De Profundis” the other night.  Tough stuff.  Very raw.  Very intimate.  Keep taking breaks only because I feel such an overwhelming sense of reading someone’s diary when I shouldn’t be.  Quite a statement, and self-account, and accusatory testament. The harshness of his self critique, and what he felt as a disloyalty to art and work and the finer aspirations in life, for a love affair…(or obsession, however you might choose to see it)…all in retrospect.  Makes some of his most famous of lines, so poignant, behind the scenes of their actual creation.

“There are only two tragedies in life: one is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it.”

…Indeed.

~D

Pretty People

16 May

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Post rehearsal wind-down with “Zorro.”  The Banderas/Zeta-Jones one, before she was anyone in particular, and Anthony Hopkins was getting the main title billing.

…Oh how the time does fly.

I remember being obsessed with this movie when it first came out.  Only because Banderas was the most beautiful male animal I had ever seen in my life.

I was 18 at the time. 

I STILL think he is the most beautiful male animal I have ever seen.

…That will prob’ly never change.

…So, if you pair that together with sword fights and Tangos and men wearing eyeliner: I am a total gonner.

I dunno why.

…Maybe its the ONE part of that side of my heritage that poked though.

Oh dear God, the stable fencing scene just started.

SHUT UP!  JUST SHUT UP *EVERYONE*!  I HAVE TO WATCH THIS!

****

(Later)

Well, shit.

I need a cigarette, now.

…And I don’t even smoke.

“Pretty People.”

…There is just something about watching “pretty people” DOING things, that just undoes a person, am I right?

It’s hardcore, fascination to the smallest detail.

…I wonder if Melanie Griffith ever just sits there over her morning coffee and watches that ridiculously beautiful man, tuck into a stack of pancakes or something, and nearly dies of pleasure.

I would.

I certainly wouldn’t waste a whole morning by NOT watching him eat his pancakes.

…What kind of person would I be to just squander such riches, when so many other people (like the non-fantasy me) have such a total lack of daily morning eye candy to greet them?!

…Not that beauty is everything.

…But in this post, that’s what it’s gonna fucking be about!

…And in this post, it is STILL only like half of “everything.”  Cuz he’s a totally decent person, and great father, plus he plays music every day in his home recording studio.

…I know, thanks to former stalkings.

…So really, what ISN’T to like about this man, being all delicious on my TV screen right now?

…Plus, then they put him with that Welsh freak-of-mock-Latin genes, and make them dance and fight together and you just sorta wanna die with pleasure, really.  How can  you help it?  I can’t?  Have you SEEN this?!

(Motions to TV screen, emphatically.)

In a study of “beauty” just purely for “beauty’s” sake, “pretty people” are kind of like some sort of wild exotic animal at a zoo.  They are fascinating to watch, doing anything…I think because our every sensor is so completely awake to the fact that that (over there) is “different.”  Another breed of whathaveyou.  Not in the ways of individuality that the normals have.  In other ways that you can’t quite put your finger on.

…And “sex” is not even what it’s all about.

…Else how do you explain Audrey Hepburn?

Audrey Hepburn is one of  the most astonishing looking humans ever invented, and I wouldn’t put her and “sex” in the same paragraph, never mind the same sentence.

(Except for the fact that I totally just did.)

…I think there is a certain level of carriage, and atmos that comes with “pretty people.”  Self-manufactured, like a personal scent maybe? It’s like this whole pre-packaged deal.  And we can’t help but be pleased by the esthetic because…well…it is just so fucking pleasing to look at.  It’s a walking piece of art. And then if you put TWO “pretty people” together, it’s like an ORGY of art.

(Hence this lovely guilty pleasure of mine.)

It is just so PLEASING to SEE.  To watch them.  As they co-habitate.  And to contemplate in some fantasy world even spawning more new “pretty people,” with their high-end cocktail of a gene pool.

…I mean…not to be totally superficial or anything, but…

No.

Fuck it.

It’s my damn blog. 

…I can be as superficial as I LIKE!

…To be totally superficial and everything: it is QUITE the pleasing end to a spotty (at best) day…to command some beautiful animals (totally at your remote’s will) to perform for you, just so you can have sheer pleasure, of watching them. 

Because: you said so.

God, I love movies.

~D

Lessons

3 Feb

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Theatre is a fickle business, sometimes. 

…Sometimes it’s only just for “show”…sometimes it’s the ride for the ride’s sake…sometimes it means nothing more (well done as it may be), than doing a job of it.

…And those can still be satisfying experiences, as long as you showed up and did your work to the best of your ability.  But when those shows are over, you are ready for them to be, and easily move on into the next “whatever” that is on the horizon.

…Sometimes, the show can be a horror, of miss-matched talents and personalities, that makes you feel like you are constantly swimming upstream in order to get anything done at all.  These are frustration-filled epics, that make you despise the theatre-gene that insists you put yourself through this…because you signed up for it, and because for whatever reason (or collection of them), you feel anything but fulfilled by run’s end. 

These shows, you are so damn glad are finally over, that you want to all but start a bonfire with the script, set and costumes, at the end, and walk away while the whole fucker just burns to the ground.

…Sometimes you have a chummy-cast show, where friendships are forged fiercely, and the JOY of being around one another brings an unfortunate realization by last performance (which you somehow manage to sidetrack yourself from acknowledging until then), that this is the last time you will all be together, like this, ever again.

…And then there are shows that you bleed for.

The process of making them, is like giving birth…in that it’s raw, and uncomfortable, and hysterical, and frustrating, and infuriating, and more nakedly real than you ever intended on being in front of strangers…who, through the process of all being in the delivery room together, come out of the experience as something stronger than sometimes even blood-family.

…Everyone is in dire circumstances, in that delivery room. Everyone is pushing as hard as they can, together, to the counts and the rhythms you’ve come to find you can all work best at. You are all sweating blood, and sobbing tears. You are all watching one another so hard that you can match the other person’s breath…see them riding their wave of pain from this moment to that, and know that once they get “here,” you will take it upon yourself and shoulder it the rest of the way to “there.” You learn about how far a person can be pressed, emotionally AND physically…and you watch that ability grow across the time you have spent together, because when you trust people at this kind of level, almost anything is possible.

Those kind of shows are exhausting…not just for the performers, but also (often) the audience as well. And those are the kind of shows where, when you go out to the lobby afterwards, the first thing people will say…with their blotchy faces, tracked with mascara stains, and wearied eyes…is how exhausted they are. How exhausting this WAS. How in the hell do the people who do it every day, manage to make it happen? And won’t we all be glad when it’s over and we don’t have to put ourselves through all this…over, and over, and over again?

Those are the kind of shows where you can honestly look them in the eyes, and tell them you wish it would never end.

…Because to say a line to a person on stage, and have an entire audience blown to silence…SILENCE…a room full of humans who are too held up into this moment to trust themselves even to breathe. THAT is power. That is trust, and affection, and desire, and hope, and pain projected from every person at the same time, all for you…because YOU trusted them enough to share something so personal and ugly and hopeless and real, that they can recognize it as something different than just a “show.” Because they have at some point, for some reason, felt that too.

They are invested in this moment before them. In this one person, who can only do the job they have to do, because this other person nourishes it into something spectacular.

Today, our company did our last performance of one of THOSE kind of shows.

…The kind that matters.

It hurts.

It’s thoroughly exhausting.

It’s frankly, a lot like willingly walking straight into house afire. How the hell do you prepare to undertake that every day?

…Because the feeling of accomplishment with your team at the end, is so astounding that the repercussions of all the scrapes and bruising and mind-games is always totally worth it.

ALWAYS.

…Even on nights where you’ve missed a mark, let an opportunity pass by, or couldn’t quite find the same breath-pace at a critical moment. Then, you beat yourself up…not just for you, but for the team, for the audience…because it wasn’t your best that time…though you put in the same work and sweat and bled just as hard as you always do, to achieve it.

I will nothing, but miss this show.

…I walked into it, from day one, with nothing but respect for the role I was trusted to do. I had connections to her that were frankly terrifying in how real and open it forced me to be as a person and as an artist. I was surrounded by friends who gave everything they had in equal measure to their parts, and made new friends via the baptism-through-fire, that is putting on a production like this.

…And now we’ve come to its end, here is what I know, and what I’ve learned:

It is fucking frustratingly exhausting to be forever terrified of being “found out.” This isn’t a new realization, so much as the extent of what you take on as a person in order to protect yourself.

…We all have those mechanisms in us, but when you take up the weight as a different kind of person and carry it around for two months, it’s like taking up a new exercise regime. Everything suddenly hurts everywhere, all the fucking time. You know what it’s like to do your old routine, your body is acclimated to it…it’s long-learned how to delegate the stress and balance everything out. But when you take on a new persona…a totally new set of muscles are brought into play.

Physically, I’ve had everything from bouts of nausea, headaches, two totally unexplainable weeks of “tennis elbow” that I never COULD figure out, and gained a pretty good amount of weight, while drinking too much…all from lifting Martha, for two months of time.

…Emotionally, I’ve sobbed through countless showers and welled up during break-up songs in grocery store lines. Have lost sleep, acknowledge some sizable self-image issues, and have taken to blatantly telling people where to “get off,” when they cross a line…in not always the most rage-appropriate situations.

Quite rightly, she has made me see that “enough” is “enough.”

…If you continue to hold it in, it will bottle up. It will seeth and grow. And at some point: it will break you.

I’ve also reaffirmed how important “justice” is to me. How essential it is to “trust,” never lightly, but fully…yet never without the earning of it. A self-preservation, re-instilled, for reasons that both she and I share, in life.

…And as an artist, I’ve learned how there is always further to go…even when you think you’ve reached the end of a possible moment of truth. There is always more there to find. And it will always mean something different to the people you are up there with and the ones out in the audience…who are watching you.

You can’t force a perspective of a character. You can only show what you think and know to be true…but that doesn’t mean other people will see or interpret it that way. Sometimes that can frustrate you as a performer. “No…you didn’t get the point at all…it’s like this…” …you may sometimes want to argue back. But interpretation is the viewers prerogative…you don’t get to make those decisions for them.

…Yet, at times, for whatever reason, everyone seems to be on the same exact page of the book…

…And you’re all reading in tandem together…

…And the power of all those conscious voices, reading the words at the same tempo, at the same time, in the same room, makes this energy that feeds and grows and builds and makes for something totally unique. A shared experience that you don’t HAVE to “spell” out for them, because they are already there…they can see and feel it…even when you aren’t saying a damn thing. Just standing there.

…I’ve learned more about what you “say” when you aren’t saying anything, than in any other show I’ve ever done. Which takes phenomenal amounts of trust in your fellow performers, and in yourself, and in the audience…to understand what it all means.

I think that is the secret about why holding secrets is such a damning (yet necessary) thing in our lives.

…We HAVE to protect ourselves, because it can sometimes be a really shitty world. And self-preservation is an automatic, human, thing. But there will always be consequences of it.

As a performer, I think I learned how to make that internal process show on the outside with more specificity…which informs the levels of emotion so much further…which gives the audience an “insider look” and opportunity of knowing more than the characters do…which gains their emotional support further and faster than any amount of huge monologuing will ever do.

It’s like music to the body…no words are necessary…you can say even more without them…and it’s terrifying how far that projection can go, and how fucking naked it makes you feel to do it in front of a house full of people…

…More naked than if you were just physically, were…

…However, if you and your partners have done it well enough…by the end of the night…you will hit that one moment…the pin-drop…the everyone-in-the-room-has-stopped-breathing-because-they-know-what-you-are-about-to-say-before-you-say-it-cause-they’ve-seen-you-fight-with-it-for-so-fucking-long-now-and-here-we’ve-finally-come-to-the-moment-of-truth.

I promise you: nothing on earth feels better than that moment.

Nothing.

…How the fuck do you do anything but mourn the fact, that this today, was the last time you will ever have that moment in those circumstances, ever again?

Art is a fierce thing, friends. We’re lucky bastards who get these moments in it, to share. And I can honestly say, (at least this time): I have loved every moment of it.

~D

Art.

1 Feb

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In honor of good times spent in the company of the fine people in this show, today’s post will be short, but artistically rendered non-the-less.  I give you, a post dedicated to (and featuring), our beloved “Karen” and “Joe.”

…In the style of Wes Anderson. 

(See, I was paying attention, “Joe.”)

~D

Waving Goodbye, From A Speeding Train

31 Dec

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So little time to spend looking backwards today, as I have so much planning, cleaning, shopping,  errands, lines and rehearsal time to focus on instead. 

…Have been burning the midnight oil a lot this week, and have learned through the experience that leaving the daily post for end-of-the-night, poses a number of problems stemming mostly from sheer exhaustion, and residual libation levels. I thought I’d try the more sober attack by forcing the keys beneath my fingers BEFORE all the madness begins…even while my eyes dart around the room noting all the hundred little things I need to clean and prepare for tonight. Trying m’best not to get sidetracked. Also: I really could use coffee. Am beanless and trying to tell myself that black English tea will work just as well. We’ve already had this discussion ten or eleven million times and know that it won’t.

…Meanwhile, as all this shit goes rushing through my brain, and the “to do” list of the day grows even while I’m just sitting here, I wanna take a second, make a quick glance back at the 2012 calendar to appreciate the places I’ve been along its life travels. A year of time has earned it’s place in the spotlight I guess. If for nothing else, than just the fact that the Mayan’s were wrong: we’re still here…and its up to us now to write the future that they clearly got too tired (or bored with) to keep working at.

For one, SWAL was born in June: a new blogging platform, in a new community of creative thinkers and doers…and I enjoyed being a part of it so much that five months ago I pledged the Blog-a-Day challenge, even though I hate doing things in odds, or mid-way through. 

…Every time I see the badge on m’blog I still have to fight the discomfort of knowing I joined part way into a thing, so my full year of achievement doesn’t fall on everyone else’s…that I still have well over half a year to go before my achievement is complete, and will then have the most anti-climatic ticker tape parade-for-one, in all of time. 

Should I have waited to join up with the circus at the stroke of midnight tonight?  I dunno.  Maybe. My little OCD buddy would have preferred it that way. But somehow it just seems wrong to plan that far in advance to run off and join a circus.  One doesn’t really “plan” it, one just becomes suddenly (without explanation) consumed with the community, art and wonder of it, and never looks back.  Which is what I did.  So points to me for being brave and all.  But then sometimes, realizing what a shit-ton of work being in one means, is sorta a pain in the ass.  Like for instance, when it’s four in the morning and I still haven’t done my post for the day. Or when talking about finding a penny on the sidewalk is about the level of excitement I have to offer the SWAL universe at-large.  I’ll try to do better…which isn’t to insinuate I don’t try the other times.  But it is true, I prob’ly could be a little more self-aware of free topic matter floating around me day-to-day.

…So, I will.

Next: A short season for theatre after a bustling one the year before.  Much longer breaks in between gigs, as nothing seemed pressing me to invest what it takes to do a show, at the level I’ve come to enjoy and expect.  The roles mean more to me now than they used to…not just grabbing at shows to fill the space, with hope that I will come ’round to actually be emotionally “in” them.  First of all: theatre is a lot of goddamn work. And at the level I invest in it: it’s the kind of work equal to birthing a new baby every two-to-three months…a lot of times painful, and messy, and frustrating, but ultimately joyful with mad amounts of pride in the end result that all we birth-partners have achieved.  Of course, sometimes you have a total dud too.  But mostly…mostly its been a year of happy family time, with new friends, new lessons, and new realizations. 

…As I carry on with rehearsals for the first show of 2013 (opening in less than two weeks time), I can tell this’ll be a year of upping the stakes again, pushing harder and going further than the usual casting and comfort levels.  Which is a phenomenal “starting” point, not to be wasted.  So I won’t.  Which means I’ve got some serious show scouting and auditions to hit this year…prob’ly further out of town than I prefer…but it’s a thing I’m totally prepared, at this point, to do.

In Other News: This was the year when The BFF took flight again, gallivanting to the melting pot of L.A. for reasons that I intellectually totally understand, but still emotionally find completely and woefully fucked up.  I miss her all the time. Yet by some kind of magic, when she visits, it’s like she never left at all.  She’s learning things all the time, and changing, but not changing in the ways that matter most, (and what I secretly feared), knowing what a soul-sucking enterprise that that town is and will always be. 

…One need not worry about that with The BFF. 

…She was born at the age of 35, and only gained personal strength, purpose, insight, intensity and integrity since then.  She’s fine.  She will always be fine.  Even if her BFF is sitting here freaking out about the 20,000 ways of possible scenarios in which she might possibly NOT be.

…I fucking HATE it how she’s always right about shit.  (‘Cept when she’s wrong…which happens too, upon occasion…but only sometimes.)

2012 was also The Year Of The Marty. 

…This is in reference to a once in a lifetime event that occurs, which has great significance. Like seeing Halleys Comet. The last occurrence on this scale of magnificent glory happened during the original Year Of The BFF. It just means that fate said, “You don’t know it yet, but this person has mad power to consume your interest, beat the shit out of your wall-building defenses, will challenge you often, and bring you tons of joy.” All my friend soul mates and family in the past, have added a new most important member to the clan this year. For which I am ecstatically thankful and always will be. Which is as sappy at I’m gonna get about that. So shut up, and pass me the french fries…

…And in closing: This was the year of re-evaluations.

Acknowledging that palettes change several times within a lifetime, I spent several solid tracks of the year, exploring and re-visiting things that have never been my particular taste or track of enjoyment, but felt was time to revisit again, never-the-less. Where one or two new tastes were found having been acquired…there were definitely those of solid disgust which HAVE NOT altered in the least. I know now, that they just never will be my cup of tea. And with that comes a kind of guiltless freedom, as the proof that “I tried it” was there…oh, so very embarrassingly obvious for all to see, in some cases.

…So there was that.

…Several “theres” and several “thats.”

…And though I continue to struggle with one specific highly palatable, yet pro’bly still glutton-filled-fest of a bad idea, which seems to haunt me, going on years…at the moment, I’m able to be reasonable about it. Which means, “I win. For now.”

…And that’s something.

Happy last of the year, all!

…May your day of past reflection and happy expectation be an exploding cork from a good bottle of bubbly, to you all!

~D

A Little Script Soapboxing

19 Dec

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Now onto scene breakdowns and work-throughs. 

…Ran lines today, several times then hit the books again in more research.  Mostly picking apart reviews of other performances and seeing if there is any info there to help me…better than popping in the film, but still informative in opening up your options. 

I don’t want to accidentally ape another person’s work, so never like watching other versions while working on a show.  Sometimes the critics come in handy though…not necessarily for their specific opinion on what works where, but more HOW they write about the piece, the theme, and what they think the underlying tones are at any given moment.  Essentially what the Director has shown them as a whole, is what I wanna see.

…Lots of layers in this one, so lots of room to make a lot of different choices.

…My favorite argument they all seem to be throwing around is “Why now? What keeps this 30’s show relevant to today?”

Apparently in a world where gay marriages are now taking place with welcome, and it’s “okay” to live a life of your choosing, this show is supposed to be in some way out-dated. I say, “Pardon me?!” for a variety of reasons…pointing to not only all the OTHER states in the Nation wherein your private life choices are NOT sanctioned as “acceptable” by the majority of the population, but I ALSO point to the rampant rash of social networking,bullying and ostracising, pushing people to the point of mental incapacities with violent reactions.

…There are parts of the script (mostly the language) that are dated, sure. But there is nothing outdated about the theme or content. I keep going over and over it again, reminding myself of it, and why this was written. The message needs to be clear at all times. And it doesn’t get any more clear than in a directly quoted monologue from the end of Act III. Still gives me chills every time I hear Marty say it. The weight the words carry, and the ripple of it’s truth at that point, should make people legitimately shiver, every night:

“…You told us that night that you had to do what you did. Now you have to do this. A public apology and money paid and you can sleep again. You and all those who always know how right they are. What’s somebody else’s life to you? A way to show your righteousness. And if you happen to be wrong, then you can always put it right some other day. Get out of here and be noble on the street.”

…If you take them, not just as words printed on a page, but say them…out loud…with all the conviction you can light underneath them…it is a devastating truth. Doing without thinking. Condemning without license. My convictions outweigh yours. Safer to assume the worst. Difference is a sin. You are clearly sick. My beliefs are more Holy than yours, And IF…IF I am wrong…IF it isn’t so…IF enough people think it’s more humane to deal with this another way…well then, an apology will suffice, because we are (after all) only human. Better to be safe than sorry. No harm, no foul.

Right?

We’ve all seen what happens. And we’ve seen it enough time to know the price paid when these seeds of hate and judgement take root and begin to grow.

Hypocrisy is a plague, which has only one cure: a conscious decision to stop it. We all do it to some capacity. We all have the power to eliminate the weed before it starts to grow. But for some reason…especially today…we feel it a special privilege to scream our conviction at full vocal capacity and never mind about the people we may hurt, or the devastation left in our wake. Who the hell gives us these rights? A Constitution, some would say. Legal tape.

I get it.

…But how do you explain those actions (and their repercussions) to a child coming home crying from another bullying and bout of rampant rumors…who may (at some point) become so ostracised because of them, that tragic consequences seem their only way of getting out of it?

Maybe it’s just me, but I love when art puts a new emphasis on an old idea. I love the immediacy of the moment of live performance. I love that every night we will perform this script and people will squirm in their seats in uncomfortable inability to turn the channel, or press pause, or take a bathroom break to help ease the intensity of the situation.

They will have to sit there.

They will have to watch and listen to it.

They will have to deal with how the words touch them personally…whether as victims or as persecutors.

And, they will have to witness what comes of it.

…Maybe that is what is really needed, here. In a world where attention spans last five seconds, and nobody “has the time to deal with this right now,” we’re gonna force you to. I’m betting, personally, there won’t be a dry eye in the place.

Just embrace it, guys. We’ll be a hot mess too. You won’t be alone.

~D

A Christmas Memory

8 Dec

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Mom is the oldest of six kids.  An Irish Catholic family: three girls, three boys. 

…It was a crazy dynamic from the beginning because though they had music in common, Gram was a free-spirited, brash and often outlandish Artist, and Gramps was a detail-oriented mathematician and engineer.  It was almost like watching two species of animal exist together, and yet somehow, it (obviously) worked.

…And of those six offspring (which would later have thirteen kids of their own), each epitomized a little freak-peculiarity of their own…because of the melding of the two worlds in Sciences and the Arts, forever  surrounding them. Not all of them inherited the high-infused academia, but they all were gifted in things “Artistic.” 

From cartooning, to interior design, to crafting, to writings, to wonder-inventions made out of old rusty stuff you would normally find in garage sales or at the local dump.  And, they all have criminally hilarious senses of humor…ranging from the uber dry wit of a Cliff Claven, to the twisted-viewed observations of someone under the influence of heavy hallucinogens.  Fuck your classroom “Chemistry” class…THIS is what really happens, when you join two dynamically different elements into one beaker and produce a family with it.

I am reminded on a continual basis of why I love them.

…Because they do things like (for instance) accidentally adopt twelve too many animals, plank-board ‘tween bridge railings…just because…make lighting fixtures out of car parts, build a Japanese landscape in their backyard, or sit down and type out random memories on FB for us all to read and laugh about.

So, today’s blog will be guest-served by one of them, because it was too good for me to pass up: the voice too dead-on in which it was written, the memory too crisp to merely smile at and go along my merry little way.

This one is from “Uncle Big Guy.”

…So titled, by me, when an infant…as (at over six feet), he is well of at least six inches taller than any of the other leprechaun-sized people in the Crane family gene pool.  We are told he (the youngest of the six kids) was the one who got all the “Swede,” back from Gram’s side of the family.  But all I knew was: he was (and is) a giant…who used to let me walk on his back to pop it, or land-surf…who always had a collection of musty-smelling empty Jack Daniels bottles lining his windowsill (his libation and collection-obsession since probably birth), and who could turn anything…absolutely the most normal everyday observations…into breathless hysteria, making you piss your pants just by the way he retold them.

…He still does. 

…And this is one of our many shared family Christmas memories, as he retold it to the FB world, today:

“My Mom loved the Holiday’s, she decorated the whole house for every one of them, including the change of the seasons. Having the house totally decked out every Christmas was awesome as a kid and has stuck with me my whole life, it is the main reason I now decorate my own home, it brings back a lot of memories of past Christmas’s of mine and I hope is building similar happy memories for my Son.

Every year we got a live tree, not overly big because the nice big ones were ‘too Goddamn expensive,’ this tree would then be stuffed into our Volkswagen bus for the trip home, leaving any of us other passengers to try to squeeze in around it if we also wanted to make the trip back. There was no fighting over seats in our van because all the seats had been removed so we could haul firewood in it. Dad was fiercely proud of the fact that he could haul ¾ of a cord of firewood in our van and not bothered in the least that when not hauling wood, his Children sat in folding lawn chairs in the back desperately holding on to anything within reach to keep from being thrown to the floor in the corners or at red lights. More than once I saw someone proudly showing my Dad their fancy new car only to have him say ‘Yeah, but how much wood can you haul in it?’

Moms answer to our less than grand Christmas trees was to put the whole thing on top of a rickety old metal trunk, making it appear a full foot taller than it actually was and had the added benefit of making it completely unstable. First the tree had to be placed into the ancient tree stand, I affectionately referred to as ‘that finger eating Sonofabitch.’ This pathetic stand had the multiple threaded rods that you would twist equally from all sides in an attempt to secure the tree to the stand until enough tension built up within the ring surrounding the tree that the whole thing would violently rotate ¼ turn around the trunk with incredible speed, generally taking a finger or two with it. At this point the stand becomes useless, basically just another decoration as the only thing holding the tree in it is the force of gravity, then this whole affair is carefully lifted and placed onto the slowly collapsing metal trunk.

This impending disaster always sat in the corner of the living room, directly in front of the two corner windows, which not coincidentally, had permanently installed cup hooks in their case work solely for attaching the long strands of bailing wire required to hold this Christmas miracle in the upright position. The entire operation described above took place not 10 feet from the wood stove which Dad liked to keep at a cozy 215 degrees, so emerging from under the tree soaked in sweat and tree sap an hour or so after climbing in, left you looking like a large, pissed off, glazed doughnut with pine needle sprinkles and broke fingers.

With the tree up it was time for decorations. Putting up the decorations with Mom was a running history lesson, after dragging all the boxes down from the attic, each one was carefully opened and unwrapped and almost every single piece had a story to go with it. There was the whole box of handmade ornaments from Grandma that usually hung in a row across the top of the bay window in the kitchen, it just wasn’t Christmas until Grandmas balls came out. Opening each new box was like seeing old friends and Mom would very often say things like ‘ OH.. those were from so and so when we lived back in the little yellow house, remember Dad?’ and Dad would say ‘is there a door open in the back of the house? I feel a draft.’ The next one would come out and Mom would gush ‘Oh.. we got these when C was born, or was it P, Do you remember Dad?’ and Dad would say ‘T, check the back of the house and put some more wood on the fire, cold in here.’ The next treasure unwrapped would bring , ‘OH these are very old.. be careful, Mama made these’ from Mom, and Dad would ask if we were going to eat at some point tonight.

Regardless of lyrical content the tree was always beautiful.

I don’t mean to put My Dad in a bad light here, he was just a very ‘practical’ Man , he wasn’t against tradition, it’s just that sometimes they differed from mom’s, sometimes to a frightening degree.

One Christmas, Mom’s Mom, Gramma, was with us for Christmas when my Mom’s tradition of lighting a candle in the window ‘so loved ones can find their way home,’ collided head on with my Dads tradition of ‘closing the Goddamn curtains at night’ to stop the draft. This led to the development of the new Christmas tradition of sprinting through the house with a flaming curtain rod. This pyrotechnic celebration took place right in front of my very old and unsuspecting Gramma, who, relaxing on the couch with a book at the time, was almost gifted a severe cardiac event.

Anyway, the whole point of this story is that one of the things my mom did for us was to do these large drawings on tag board with colored pencil. These drawings were very detailed depictions of a ‘cut away’ house where you could see inside into all the rooms. In these rooms she would draw all us kids and Grand kids celebrating Christmas or outside playing in the snow covered landscape. These poster sized drawings showed staircases and fireplaces and Christmas trees being decorated. You could find toys and books and rugs you recognized from real life, they were “cartoony” but very cool and you could look at them for a long time and discover new things.

Every Christmas these would come out and be put up on the wall, they were part of Christmas and I have never forgotten them. Fast forward to a few years ago and I am flipping through a magazine that sells puzzles among other things and there on the page is a picture of a puzzle that I swear my mother could have drawn. Long story short, I bought it with the intent of putting it together, making it a permanent piece and putting it up at Christmas, that was two years ago. Two days ago I took this puzzle down and started working on it, now, I am not a puzzle guy, but over the last two days of working on this I have remembered years of Christmas memories and thoughts of my crazy Mom and Dad and all the good times we had.

I don’t remember what I paid for this puzzle, but it sure as hell was worth it, and it is the reason I had to come in here and jot down this story. Wishing you all the happiest Christmas,

God bless people,

T.”
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…I remember that van…pitching over out of the chairs on turns, and doing drawings in the back with colored pens Gram always kept in her purse, as we waited for Gramps to get off work, in the Forest Service parking lot.

…I remember hearing about the drapery fire story, and Nana’s impending heart-palpitation “episode,” which followed it.

…I remember all the gillions of times Gramps voice would bark out from the kitchen, or his chair in the living room, “Somewhere there’s a door open. I can feel a draft!” And all our immediate whisking though the house to find and fix it.

…And I remember all of those posters Gram drew, so well. Especially the last one. Always hanging in the hallway. A kind of Christmas “Where’s Waldo” of hidden family story elements, and jokes, and events, and happy, happy memories.

Like this one.

Thanks, Uncle Big Guy, for the ‘”member when.”

Love,

Boo.

~D

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