Tag Archives: performance

Well, Fuck.

10 Nov

 I have succeeded in taking care of myself zero much this week. I’ve only 7 things on my Wonder Wall “Do Me” list, and I’ve only even touched 2. Things like “going to bed earlier” and “getting my walks in” didn’t even *make* the fucking list. Not even, “maybe detox a bit,” after Monday’s post-closing hangover — where I invented almost a mathematical equation of the amount of times you can dehydrate and rehydrate yourself in a given space of one nine-hour work day. (I stopped counting after 8.)
…And that was only on wine…

…Which will tell you how much was probably involved.

You guys, I over extended myself in Every capacity, socially, mentally, lack-of-physically, I’ve had no more than 3 waking hours to myself all week. And I’ve two more things still to do. And I’m going to do them. Because putting anything off at this point is fucking pointless. Damage is already done. 

…So despite every day, walking past my damn living room bar with an almost audible, “Oh, Fuck off,” tonight, I B-lined to it.

I started with the money bar and a sipping shot. Getting wasted might help tonight, but not so much tomorrow. So, I’ll sip on my Buckingham Palace, gold-rimmed shot of Suntory Whisky Toki, and plan my next spoiling. I will taste my way through a night of good stuff and not kill the new elephant-walking neighbor upstairs. 

…I will unload on all of you, then go attempt to read that damn book I keep picking up and can’t focus on. Or maybe I’ll say fuck that, and just lay here waiting for Bud to arrive, listening to the Glenn Miller Pandora channel that I would be getting ready to right now, had the show not wrapped on Sunday.

This is my first week in many, where that wasn’t a thing. Where I wouldn’t be setting my hair right now, and running my lines for the 10,000th time. 

…And in about ten minutes, I’d be in the dressing room, greeting the ladies, popping the music on again, getting into the flow, and trying to pretend I wasn’t nervous as fuck about how very many ways I could (and probably would), screw up tonight. 

…In a few minutes, I’d be laughing despite all that (because: theatre), shoving some awesome Mdm Arcadi baked good in my face, (in lieu of dinner,) sipping on my 6th black coffee for the day, wishing to God it was this whiskey.

 …And despite the fact: it never would be, and despite how terrified I was, I’d still rather be in that room than not in that room.

…Even without the whiskey.

I’m not even well enough to function “generally” and I want back in the the place that freaks me out ten ways to Sunday.

Figures.

Why wouldn’t it be that way?

Why would anything make sense, except my inability to get my damn shit together?

I’m bone-tired. And heart-sad. And super thankful for the team I’m not with tonight, who I would be, if we hadn’t demolished it all to fuck, 5 days ago.

…Also: I need to pick another sipping whiskey.

Except: no, I won’t. The next one is for my Blithe’s.

One Bombay Sapphire, in memory of the yous.

…Love you nerds. Miss yuh like my mental acuity. 

XO and all that,

~D

Dear My Blithe Spirits

3 Nov

I will have far too much fun participating in our final weekend of shenanigans, and late night post-show “Wakes,” to do this individually, so please accept this blog as my closing card, to the lot of you:

I showed up on your doorstep, as a broken mess, still very much contributing to my ongoing ill-health for the remainder of our rehearsal period. There were many nights and days (or whatever you call 3 am, time, after time, after time) when I just knew there was no mental way for me to pull this show off. I was empty. I was sick. 

…At one point, it was a serious discussion that I should leave.

…And while I was fighting all these many ghosts of shit, haunting me: you were there. Our team. From the highest leadership…who assured me that if I needed to leave, truly, there would be no less affection or support for me…that my  value as a human and their friend was higher than being a commodity, more than ticket sales, or recasting nightmares…to the front-of-house staff, and best damn bartender in town.

…Supported every single second by a beautifully talented SM, who was a calming voice of reason, and constant source of hugs and joy. Her team, which have been so incredibly dialed in at every moment. 

…Our designers and incredible painters, who built us a world of details and our stately home which they successfully destroy at every performance-end. 

…This team.

…And then: the ones on stage with me, who have covered god knows how many line fuck-ups, who are so generous with their smiles and naughtiness…who have pulled sweaty costumes off me in every quick change, and fed me freshly baked yum-goods, and given me so very much play-space on stage, and supported me when I failed, (so phenomenally), time and time again…helping me fool everyone who has seen this show–that there is nothing in the least amiss.

I am endlessly thankful for you all. And super Emo, heading into this final weekend of performances. It was a show I had no business taking on, let alone staying in, for probably everyone’s better interest. But you were (and are) always, always, always there. You never gave up on me. 

…So: I couldn’t. 

…So: I didn’t.

…So: I still haven’t.

“Thank you,” seems so very little in return. What you gave me was why the theatre has always been so essential to so many of us.

We are bigger, stronger, fiercer together. As a team. As artists. And despite my injuries, you brilliant bastards got me to the World Series, so when I was ready, and able: I could play.

I am so incredibly thankful for all of you fantastically talented freaks. And I promise to pay this all forward. Just as soon as I am able.

Thank you,

~D

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

I’m Gonna Read Your Diary

2 Jun

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Cecil’s new theatre company is having a fundraising event with an open mic for the entertainment. Cuz Cecil is smart and knows, “why spend money on that shit when – if given the option – artists will whore themselves out for free.”

… She isn’t being greedy in this…the fundraiser will pay tech, talent and designers on their premiere gig…but this being a fundraiser means if you ain’t got the change, you can donate your art-things.

… All my change being deposited into the London fund, I only have the latter to give. And even that I was gonna decline participation in, only cuz open mics make me artistically hive. I need more distance and like a damn character between me and an audience…this gig is far too much like public speaking, of which I am awkward at, in the supreme.

…But that was before Cecil asked me to do a dramatic read from her 13-year-old-self’s diary.

I have done so before. In fact, thrice to several small gatherings I have shared it’s contents.

Because frankly, it is magnificent.

The first time was on one of our “Drunk Tuesdays,” so named from its original conception, on a Tuesday where we decided to drink too much, read some plays, wander to the corner gas station for Scratch Lotto tickets and candy, and spend the walk back dreaming of the flat we’d buy in London with the winnings.

…We had so much fun doing this on a stupid day of the week where one generally does nothing, and not winning all the things we scratched, that “Drunk Tuesdays” became a thing…generally whenever we needed one, no matter the day of week.

… So it was on one of such nights, that Cecil began to talk about this boy she’d obsessed over at age 13, and this diary she’d kept over a short few month span. Would I like to read it?, she’d asked.

…And so, on what would turn out to be the next “Drunk Tuesday,” Cecil jumped off the couch, squealed that she’d just remembered something, and ran out to her car. There she had been toting what she called, “The Donovan Diaries,” which she’d gotten her mother to dig out of her childhood bedroom and send her.

… Already, it was amazeballs. Built by hand, with outer covers of black sparkle construction paper, hole-punched and loop-tied with ribbons, filled with about a half centimeter of ruled paper, partially filled in with multiple – colored writing, each color claiming it’s own diary entry, complete with a Prologue of who this was for, when they could read it, what they were to do with it after, and hints at occasional super secret codes and their super secret keys to them, somehow within a reason unknown, to be kept within these same sheets.

… And so: we read. In tag-team style. With a dead seriousness, and solemnity of truth that we all wished, at that age, to be taken with.

… And we did this, in between ugly-faced crying laughter from the audience’s side. Because there just was no other way to receive it.

…Because goddamn it, the strategy to getting and holding a “man’s” attention, knowing what to do with it when you have it, trying to deal with not wanting it when it is there, but do when it isn’t, and all the complications which come with this, are even funnier when you haven’t learned enough to laugh at yourself about it yet.

… And so, for reasons of sheer embarrassment, and truthfulness, Cecil has charged me with the task to stand at an open mic, not on a “Drunk Tuesday,” and share her humiliations with earnest solemnity.

… And I will.

… And the people will cry with joy.

… Because 13 or 23, you couldn’t buy a Cecil, and the brain it comes with, for a million dollars.

… But you can try your best, at the tip jar.

~D

Weird Shit Actors Say

18 Dec

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The current theatre I’m working at is one of my home base hubs…and so are the places we go to in the area after rehearsal and performances. We have become known…(because, frankly, how do you miss us)…at these places, not necessarily by name but by vocation. To the bartenders and waitstaff, we are those theatre weirdos, who pop in, take over the place, drink too much, over tip, eat whole meals at 11 pm, and go along our merry way.

…They know the “regulars,” and track us from show to show…some sincerely not giving a shit, but earning their tip by asking after “how it’s going,” some who have actually been inclined to attend, “Holy shit, that part where you walk off and blow your own head in…that’s freakin intense!”…Some just nod at you and bring your usual with no comment, and know enough not to ask if you want another round…it just appears as if by magic.

…Then, occasionally, you get the guy or gal who hasn’t yet worked our table before…and I imagine what must go through their heads when they are indoctrinated…hearing our conversations for the first time. We are only on the surface, “normal people.” Its not like they haven’t served nuts before, but we are a special brand of them.

Because of things like this:

Normal People (Meeting someone new): “Hi, hi — nice to meet you — where you from, what’s your wife’s name…oh, you’ve got kids?”

Theatre People (Meeting someone new): “…But then Dad was an alcoholic mess, so naturally, I did jokes and funny voices to make mom laugh…and people would be like, ‘oh Anne, he’s so funny, I bet he turns out to be a comedian or something…'”

**

Theatre People (Ordering food): “I don’t do meat, or animal byproduct, or gluten, or nuts. So, I’ll have the house salad with no dressing or croutons, or almonds. And a double Vodka on the rocks.”

Normal People (Ordering food): “Steak. Beer.”

**

Theatre People (Talking politics): “…No but it’s a classic case that Freud would wet-dream over. He’s obviously got some serious mother issues to work out, so is taking his total lack of control in that relationship to like the zenith level, by making all women pay by taking away their own basic rights, so he can feel empowered over the fact that she started dating after Daddy left or whatever, and he didn’t like the fact that mommy was gettin it on with Mr. Frick, across the street. ‘How do I stop her? By stopping all of them,’ he thinks…penance for ‘slutiness,’ paid in full…”

Normal People (Talking politics): “Well…I like my shot-gun, so: I’m voting for that guy.”

**

Normal People (Talking about the Holidays): “…And Suzy had that bronchial thing that was going around, so we had to stay home. I did a ham…baked a bit, but..it was a quiet Christmas.”

Theatre People (Talking about the Holidays): “We had a double header on the 23rd, then the 24th, came back for a pick-up rehearsal for the other show on the 26th, then musical work for that special New Years gig, on Wednesday and Thursday. I haven’t actually been home except to sleep in like a week. Also, I think my fish died, but I don’t have time to deal with that, so am just avoiding the living room in general right now…”

**

Normal People (On finances): “So we are working the budget really closely with our accountant, because we’ve decided that maybe we’ll refinance next year, and use that capital to roll back into the kitchen revamp and finishing the basement into a fourth bedroom…”

Theatre People (On finances): “….Yeah, I knew I’d over-draft by Tuesday, so I did the whole, ‘go take out $200 from the versateller before it hits so I only get feed once’ deal…like yuh do. Anyway, this round’s on me.”

**

Theatre People (Regarding job interviews): “And so then he asked me what I was, and I’m all like, ‘what do you mean?’ And he’s like, ‘well I can’t decide if you’re some kinda exotic ethnic thing or just like…part black?’ And I’m like, ‘dude, I’m whatever the part needs me to be. In fact, I can be taller, shorter, blond, even Cajun…if that’s what you want…”

Normal People (Regarding job interviews): “…And then this middle aged white guy walked in. So, that was over.”

**

Normal People (Talking relationships): “I dunno, it’s just so complicated and unnecessarily chaotic. If we love each other, why can’t the other stuff just figure itself out?”

Theatre People (Talking relationships): “No! NO! No! That’s just too simple. I mean, sure, you can play it that way…if you want to, but there’s like 150 layers under that basic set up…so much more ‘complication’ to mine there…I mean, I love you, but am like obsessed with her for some reason…which I mean obviously goes back to that time in the third scene where she slaps me…but my devotion and love for you is different…calmer, like. See I think I idolize you, and deep down I realize I just don’t deserve you, so I go with the gut reaction of the mirrored image of myself: her. The ‘wandering whore,’ so to speak. It’s nothing against you personally.…”

***

Normal People (At the end of a long night): “Whelp, that’s me: done in. Off home to do the husband/wife/mom/dad stuff…maybe night cap with a bath…”

Theatre People (At the end of a long night): “So…the after party is at yours then? I’ll grab a bottle and some bread or something on the way…oh, and hey, can I just crash on your couch or whatever? If I have to wake up to someone else’s early morning sexing in the next room one more time, I swear to God — P.S. I love how you’re single. We should get drunker and fool around. Think about it…”

…And so it goes. Entertainment and intrigue on and off the stage.

…You’re welcome, server “Mary Beth.”

You, are welcome.

~D

A Letter To Friends In The Audience

16 Oct

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Signed,

~ Perpetually-Freaked-Out-Susan

A Wish For The Having Of Funness

8 Sep

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This is a formal request I am putting in.

….Because apparently everyone else in the world considers doing a musical as a hella good time, while my anxiety-brain has been a little-lot in Hell for the last three days in prep for both the first read yesterday, and tonight’s first music work.

I want to have a good time. I want to be excited and challenged, in the good and positive, “learn lots and get gooder” way, instead of the “truly gut-wrenching, terrifying, I haven’t slept in x-days,” way. Wish there was a damn switch to make that happen.

….Also, though am touched at the like inherent confidence everyone seems to have in me, I wish just one time when I voice my total abject terror at the moment, people would stop saying, “Pffft, you’ve got this.”

….Because, yuh know what? I really don’t. And saying that is just making me feel worse…belittling the actual real terror I am feeling.

….Cuz there is: ” going outside comfort zones,” and there’s, “facing past memories of the last time this went down,” that are flashing back with only the horrible parts, pretty much constantly.

What I want, is to super-real-time enjoy this super fun role, with these totally fun nerds, in this hilarious show. But my entire being is so fucking destroyed by the very real knowledge that this could completely be a set-up lesson in humility so righteous, that self-humiliation is only a tiny part of the possible after-effect.

…What I’m explaining here is: this isn’t just learning lines and choreography. This is playing a musical fucking instrument. My voice. A thing not played, or trained…it can’t even read the notes of what it’s trying to do, and the last time it had to “hold a part” in anything was ten years ago, as part of a giant chorus. Now I’m supposed to jump up and magically figure out how to tight-harmony as one of four, in frankly a super complicated “not your average 50’s musical” structure.

…I literally cannot think of a single goddamn thing more terrifying to me right now.

…I’d rather spread-eagle, naked, in front of an audience in a show-and-tell gynecological exam, than face even tonight’s first musical rehearsal.

Seriously.

No. Fucking: seriously.

This, is a whole new “overwhelm.” It’s the six-feet- under kind.

….And what I WANT, is for that not to be. What I WANT is to be free to embrace the laughter from last night’s read, and the screw-ups we all made in first pass at the music. I want to know, to TRUST that my team can trust me. I’m very big on that. And I cannot say, with any self-faith at all, that “I’ve got this.”

…So, maybe like just saying it in print, will help a little, in dispelling the puking-bad-horror I am feeling right now.

…Cuz even singing literal songs about just that, ain’t cuttin’ it.

…Type-casting has just never been more ironic than this. Like, ever.

~D

Dear Annie

11 Mar

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Well, my friend, as I’ve stacked two shows simultaneously after this one…I wanted to take a moment of reflection before an insanely busy weekend launches, inhibiting me completely.

…As it stands, we are three performances from where our road together ends.

…The time when both our bruised bodies and wrecked knees, ribcages stuffed in steel-lined corsets…the gallons of sweat and frustrated shared history with “that kid”…will have come to completion. I know how exhausted my body and brain is…I cannot even fathom how much yours was at final rest…but with Helen there beside you, I know it’s a peaceful, and well-loved place I leave you…until someone else picks up this script and begins the journey all over again.

I have truly treasured being a part of your world and history…learning the tiny details and intimacies of your life…the hard times and the sweet, and I’ve done my absolute best to provide the most truthful access to you that I could conceive of from months of study and communal brain space.

…I have to admit, it has been a more difficult task than I thought, to keep perspective in. Because honestly, you crack me the hell up with all your self-affacing humor in letters, your ferocious arguments in a heated moment, your stubborn refusals to back down, your imperfect people skills. But god, you were beautiful too…with your very honest, human struggles against doubt, and self confidence, and pain, and the loss that fueled the nightmares which haunted you all of your life.

I am astounded by so many things about you, but most of all, at the way you still managed to open (even if only to one person, truly) and trust enough…to “love” again. Despite all of it.

…I have loved being some far-reaching part of your existence. I did my best to do you proud, and though I could frequently hear you cussing at me and sighing from above, during manic rehearsals …I know you’ve nodded in my direction at least once or twice. Because I’ve felt it.

…A lot of actors I know, find performing actual people from history a daunting task. It’s a slippery slope that many feel caught and restricted in, which I never have. The homework only feeds me…the mindful conversations I have in my head which I have always invited the spirit or essence of such person to openly become a part of, makes me feel I’m participating in a secret interview with the past that not many people get the chance to undertake. I feel connected and energized and try to erase as much of my own judgment as I can, to keep an honest and open gateway to whatever enlightenment may come of it all. In essence, it may sound freaky-deeky, but in those moments, if I’m good and fair and trust…I am never alone…and I try to bring that with me as a host for the story being told. Frankly, I love the companionship of history and the people who make it worth remembering and talking about.

…Like you.

If you could look down right now and see what has come from the work you had started, all those years ago…I think I know you well enough to say that while not totally satisfied, you would still be proud. So many things changed for the better because of the work that you and Helen did.

So many lives.

…If you taught us nothing else, it is that every person has a worth of destiny and meaning…be they deaf, dumb, and blind, or an orphan girl with only six years of education under their belt.

…Whether you were of the inclination to believe it or not… I bet you all I’ve got, that a little boy named Jimmy…perfect in body and mind…is standing beside you right now, proud as hell, and grinning with all of his might, in agreement.

…And Helen too.

Three more shows, and I have to let you go. But before I do…wanna know my deep down secret?

In over 50 roles, you have been my most especial and absolute favorite.

Thanks for the hard, and wonderful work, Lady. In life, and on stage.

Your Big Fan,

~D

Earnest, My Lover

4 Mar

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Here we are…halfway through the run of “Miracle,” over the hump of that 16 shows in 17 days marathon, back at performances as usual tomorrow, while today I have first read to begin the next show.

It’s the first time I’ve ever remounted a role, which is going against the grain for me.

…Whatever character I take on, I put everything I’ve got into it…so good, bad, or otherwise, there is no need to revisit them to my mind.  Obviously I could have taken later lessons and instilled them into earlier characters in my career to make the work more solid, but performance art being what it is…one could always say that, then end up playing the same 5 roles your entire career on repeat.  No thank you.  I learn what I can from each, and move the fuck on.  It’s healthier that way.  Even for the ones I really, really love.

…But this re-visit comes from what I’d call “unfinished business.” And it is also allowing me to work with one of my favorite artists I’ve ever shared a stage with.  The fact we had both done the same show before, is anything but adding dust to an old already-written book, as his role has now swapped and we’ll be firing on all cylinders in a trilogy of romantic mayhems together.  Our last chance to touch upon that regime was in “Importance of Being Earnest,” where we first realized the mad-cow totally platonic chemistry we apparently swim in together…which amuses the fuck out of us both, I think…as I doubt two more totally NOT interested-in-one-another-at-all people could be found. 

…The joy of finding a performing  “yin” to your “yang,” the always “yes-man” to every idea…the person who you can literally go anywhere you can mentally and physically conceive of, on a total whim, which for some reason just always fucking works…THAT is a hell of a lot of fun to play and work with. Actual communication isn’t even a necessity of the beast…it’s like we’re artistically wired to the other’s guys idea-sector.

…Which, given that it’s period and farce, outrageous and scintillating, means I’ll have a lot to keep my mind busy and inventive, and  joyful as I wave goodbye to my favorite role to date.  The transition will be far less bumpy with a buddy at my side…several buddies in fact. 

…Sometimes being “The Woman,” ain’t all bad…

Hark, “39 Steps”…it’s me again.  Grab the wigs n’ handcuffs…eets time to plaaaay. 

~D

All The Things

26 Feb

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This just in: Kids like food fights. 

…The Student matinee this week (our 10th show in 11 days so far), was full of Elementary fidgeters,  College ASL reps, and Teachers…which showed obvious divide in content appreciation until it came to the giant breakfast battle, wherein everyone became immediately 5 years old and hypnotized by the fact that two people were slopping around with this much goop on total purpose. 

…How much we consume and throw around on stage is pretty staggering, frankly, (as provided by our tireless prop-mistress, and cleaned up by our beautiful tech team), and contains as follows:

50 biscuits, 5 dozen scrambled eggs, 5 packs of mashed potatoes, several pans of fried potatoes, 75 pieces of bacon, one bone-in ham, 30 corn muffins, 2 cakes – one coffee crumb,  one white chocolate ganache-drizzled, 5 bags of green beans, 4  glasses of milk, many pitchers of water, and several  fistfuls of candy.  PER WEEK.

…I dunno where the hell that skinny  kid puts it all, or what keeps her from puking all over everything when I continually haul her up by her guts and fling her around…but I know I’m certainly taking in the bare minimum as necessitated per the scenes. Just keeping water down with that much action in a corset is pushing it at times, but the point I suppose is that the bulk of it never makes it in a mouth at all… rather becoming graffiti about the stage, smashed into costumes, crumbed on blankets, plastered on floors and table tops, sludged on chairs, my sunglasses, our hair, and (with amazingly few instances) audience members.

As to the amount of damage we do, relocating intermission became a necessity…cutting the show in such a way as to show a fairly set divide between the more humorous and youth-filled first half and the exhausted, dogged-and-determined second.  As our run stands, the nightmares which have haunted Annie in spurts begin to slam at her directly at the top of act two, launching her further into self-doubt and a sense of impending failure if not for solving a total lack of discipline from her pupil (and most importantly her constantly-placating family.)  A cut I originally disliked, (but obviously understood the reasoning for), I have now with performance, begun to embrace. 

…What this means is a shift from prominent physical battle in act one, to mental battle in act two…though both are present throughout the show in fits and starts. Act two has become where the bulk of the “acting” comes in…where the weariness and battle of inner demons comes to the front over fists of food and face slaps, and it is also the only instance in the entire show where we are able to tackle the words of the piece without being slammed with the constant technical work going on all around us.  One scene… with just myself and the Kellers in a room with no walls, no furniture, not a single prop to be seen.  Just three people: working organically off one another, passing the ball back and forth as we fight each in our own way, for the soul of this small person. 

…It has become my favorite part of the performance.  Not for the gravitas and tears shed…but for the lock-and-load workmanship with two fine actors who know their shit, and don’t ever let go of their particular rein and purpose and intent no matter which way they get pulled  by the other two in the scene. 

…None of which should show disservice to my Helen.  You couldn’t if you tried.  She’s a regular ball-buster of performing determination. 

…But after chasing her about non-stop for over an hour, it is nice to selfishly stand on my own two feet – upright off of the floor—face two seasoned pros, and play a game of emotional poker to see who will win THIS night.

The emotional and physical demands are great, and the stakes are high for all of us in this show, but there is something to be said for the simple joy of speaking well-written words on a stage with nothing else but the story and your scene partners to guide you and make you become better at what you do, than when you first started the night.  No other “special effects” are required.

Thanks, guys.

~D

To Our Teachers

19 Feb

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Maybe they were your first real crush in grade school. Or a favorite professor in College. They might be your kids, or co-workers…your significant other, Bff, mortal enemy, the guy who got the job that you didn’t…hell, maybe even your faithful dog. You meet them on stages and screen, and behind them…in lines at the supermarket, in the pages of a book, in your family tree. Sometimes they won the race, or lost it…baked the most unbelievable cake, or can’t even nuke a cup of soup.  They give advice to tough life questions, but most of all: they inspire us–To do more. To try harder. To never give up. Never surrender. To never stop: learning.

They are our Teachers.

I’ve had a lot of them. And I’ve learned a lot…(the good, the bad, and the ugly)…from them. And so have you.

…After shadowing one of the most famous ones in the world, for the past two months, what I’ve learned from her is that they are just people like you or me. What’s so special about even the best of them isn’t a saintly demeanor, a genius intellect, the patience of Job, kindness to small animals, good looks, social status, education, or even expertise. The best teachers are the ones willing to get down and dirty, fight through exhaustion, against the odds, often without the technical tools, support, or even decent circumstances to back them. They will take on the mess and hopelessness and pain, frustration, and fear…and power through them.

A good teacher can come from the most inauspicious place, and provide you with a lifetime of knowledge from sheer unintentioned inspiration alone. They needn’t even be aware of it…

…But then, its entirely possible that they would be.

…Because they’ve been literally at your side, every step of the way, every sleepless night, to bolster you up when you need it most, to push a little bit harder to win the race, for late night study sessions, to lend a shoulder when you’ve nothing left to give… to fight for team-you with every affirmation of, “you can do this!”

What I’ve been taught by THIS particular Teacher, among many things, is the behind-the-scene fight that they often must undertake, just to DO the job they do. The utter unabashed fight, tooth and nail, in the name of You. The often hopelessly ignored, “Give me what I need to help this person do what I know they can do!

…The handicaps so many of them fight to traverse, have nothing to do with the lack of promise in their pupils…but the circumstances they are restricted by…the lack of funding, or information…the violent atmospheres, and overwhelming sense of hopelessness and lack of resources, are often the greatest obstacles they face.

…What our greatest Teachers have taught us, we aren’t even aware of, actually. Because the battle began before we even got there, and will last long after they’ve helped us to whatever enlightenment we will achieve at their hands.

…I’ve only even been playing one for the past two months, and the sheer and total exhaustion of that fight has frankly been pretty damn eye opening.

…And truly fucking exhausting.

In short: as we attack Preview tonight and Open our show tomorrow… I’d like to say a public “Thank You!” to all my Teachers, past and present. And and all the ones yet to come.

The amount of things I would never be and never do without you, is a rack-up on the entire resume of my life that would have left many, many holes in it.

…So, THANK YOU!

…And please, don’t let the assholes get you down! Fight on, Life-Professors! We need you!

~D

Hey, Kid I Know…

13 Feb

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Dear Kid I’m Working With~

Look, I’m gonna play it straight with you: kids are not my favorite people.  They used to be, and then I grew out of them.

…I frankly no longer have the patience for your antics, fits, mess, lack of personal space, penchant for screaming at a pitch that only dogs should be able to hear, throwing fits in supermarkets, getting goo everywhere, inexhaustible energy; smart-ass attitude, annoying precociousness, and/or creepy attempts to act like you’re 35 when you’re actually 8.  What with all the digital world of internets and gaming and hashtagging also now added to the mix with this generation, I don’t even know how to communicate with you people anymore. 

See, kids have changed. They used to be introduced to things like real-world etiquette, discipline, and imagination. They used to have respect. They used to actively “play.” Like: games without plastic controllers. Outside.* And they used to be “kids.”

(* It’s this place with dirt and trees and no walls around it, that you— never mind…)

…So no, kids aren’t my bag.  Which means that every time I work on a show with you people, it becomes a huge “gird your loins” moment for me. 

…It’s having to watch and try to temper every single “sunofabitch” and “fuck” that naturally wants to erupt when one screws things up royally. (Which you’ve obviously seen: I do plenty.) It’s having to put you first in every moment in every scene that we usher you through.  It’s constantly checking in after every stage fight and altercation, terrified that some horrible bruise matching any one of our own, will end up having child protective services banging on our door and hauling us away in handcuffs.  Plus the frustration of you little bastards knowing every single damn line we keep fucking up, and not even breathing heavy after nine minutes thrashing around or dancing or whatever-ing, when the rest of us all want to collapse on the cold concrete and just die.

…None of which is counting the off-stage moments in rehearsal…with your little high-pitched voices constantly running a mile a minute, gluing yourselves to one another in giggling bunches, fighting with one another, squirming and making noise during emotional moments, your by-and-large total inability to focus on anything but cell phone screens, lighting fixtures, or dust floaties in the air…unwillingness to “play” or look “uncool,” and like a cat somehow know the exact wrong person to follow around in a room full of other people who would actually welcome and adore your attention.

I have done my damndest to stay away from environments like this, on purpose.  I’d rather bleed from my eyeballs than endure a production of “Matilda,” “Bye, Bye Birdie,” or “The Wizard of Oz.”  I’ve only ever done one children’s theatre show, which I still haven’t recovered from…and you literally could not pay me enough to do something like “Annie.”

…That being said, as cantankerous as I am about it, I gotta admit: some of you people aren’t the worst.

I’ve known a few.

…One singular “tween” with whom I would work in several shows across several seasons, proved my “all-kids-suck” rule was for-shit.  At least in her case.  SHE didn’t-suck so much, she became like a little sister, a best pal, who would rightly (we always said she would) go onto NY and LA and all round-the-world, spewing her talent all over the damn place.

…For reasons stemming 100% on a bucket list role, I voluntarily and happily walked right into this thing called, “Oliver!” once, with about three hundred of you people totally surrounding me.  And every single damn one of the yous were fucking amazing, outstanding, hardworking “artists”…I don’t give a shit how wide the age-range gap ran.

…And if you want to talk about “horror:” a cast-full of teenage girls for “Children’s Hour?!”  This hugely emotional roller coaster job to do, based completely off of a group of young women being able to sell a performance of lies and nasty intentions so well that is catapults and obliterates the lives of every adult sharing the stage with them.  And they fucking DID!  Every night! Like goddamn Rock Stars!

…Meanwhile, ”The Diary of Anne Frank” is completely ushered, bound, and delivered on the shoulders of a 13 year-old girl.  And in the almost unheard of casting choice, ours actually WAS that age.  Have you any idea the fucking weight of that role on even a young ADULT, let alone a “girl” who hasn’t even experienced an iota of real-life emotional equivalency to inform her of what she is about to put herself through every performance?  A freaking ball-buster of awesome, who worked like a damn draft-horse, pulling us along with her. Every. Single. Night.

…In other words: I’ve been lucky.  Like… supremely.  The pit-of-my-stomach ache of uncertainty of how in the hell we would be able to swing these shows, ended up being for nothing.  Because these kids were special…these kids grew from crops bearing hard work and determination and dedication and support and monster abilities.  I’ve felt surrounded by some kind of freak genetically altered talent-fruit, just being around them.  And by the end – with not a single exception – I have seen them not as kids at all…but as co-working artists. Because they were. And are. 

…Which brings me to you.

We aren’t as emotionally close in “real life” as I was with a lot of those other young people. And I admit, a huge giant-ass part of the difficulty in this piece revolves around the fact that you can not only NOT help ME out, you cannot even help YOURSELF. Such is the nature of the story, and this script. We all knew this going in, but that does not alleviate the weight that it brings (literally), in what is required to get this show up, on its feet, and run in complete, each performance.

…And what I have to lift, YOU have to provide.  All of it.  Dead-weight, in body, emotionally feeding me every frustration, beating, slapping, pinching, and slamming your body into mine…repeat, after repeat, after repeat. Drawing me into your mind and thought process with only facial cues and touch to tell me where you are and what is happening at any given moment. 

…And you cannot see.

…You cannot hear.

…You cannot speak.

…You cannot understand.

Kid, this entire show works exclusively on the fact that every single fucking audience member who walks through those doors will believe it.  Believe it so thoroughly and emotionally that what we have all just literally busted ourselves black and blue for MEANS something, SAYS something, and that by the final moment in our little pool of light, we will have earned and lived up to the job we’ve been entrusted with: telling the story of these two amazing women who did it all for real.

…That is so damn much to ask of you.

I know it.

…But you know what ELSE I know?

(…Like in that pit of my stomach where it usually sits all sour and undigested-feeling, every time I know that a kid is about to be involved in something super high-stakes and emotional…?)

I fucking know, without a doubt, you can…and WILL…do this.

…And when those lights fade out on Opening Night, everyone else is gonna have to stand behind me. Cuz I’LL be your number one fan…waiting to shake your hand.

Actor to actor.

Thanks for the work, partner.  You’re alright.

…For a kid.

~D

Tick, Tick, Boom!

11 Feb

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You know how in every spy movie there’s a point with a bomb detonator  clock ticking away, and Hero-person needs to cut the wire, but doesn’t know which one, and then while you’re yelling at the screen to, “Fucking do SOMETHING!!,” they finally do…it goes *snip,* but the clock still keeps ticking on…because that’s the rules…and they’re sweating and crying, and you’re sweating and crying…and then for no apparent reason but the magic of cinema, the clock ends up stopping at the one-second mark?

…Yeah.  That’s what this show feels like.

I have felt that clock ticking away since literally day-one. I prepared myself the best that I could for it, and I have been working my ass off. We ALL have. Yet, I have never had a day where the technical aspects settled down so that the acting could have a chance to happen naturally.  I’ve never had a day where the tech, the props, the blocking, the fight choreography, the rehearsal clothes, the sightlines, hasn’t been the real core of what fueled the scene, rather than the situation of the education at hand. And frankly, going into Hell Week, that scares the living shit out of me. 

This is the point already universally recognized as where the Tech takes over and goes center stage, adding the gloss and paint to the show.  Problem is, it’s been tech non-stop already for like two months, and now we begin piling on more.  I’ve already ripped petticoats, torn the soles from my shoe, de-boned my corset, broken a fountain pen, annihilated several chairs …eaten piles of cold eggs, potatoes, and bacon, and racked up 150,000 bruises all over my body.  We’ve had to stage and re-stage so many times for sightlines and set adjustments, that just remembering what version we’re in now is starting to soup up the mix as well, and some of our key-most props and set components are still pending.

Listen, it’s a monster show for everyone here, from Design Team down to the Actors. And none of us are Wizards.  Things take time.  But for every second that ticks away, my body sweats a little bit more, my mind fights to hold onto the things that I CAN control and am responsible for, and I wait…

…I wait, and wait, and wait…

…And fight, and fight, and fight…

…Mutilating this second pocket-sized copy of the script with excessive repeated reviewing…trying really, really hard to have faith that the Theatre deities are going to step in on that last damn second on the ticking clock from hell I have running against me right now…

…And that, for no apparent reason…other than “Theatre logic” …

…We will Open, in nine days…

…Without going, “Boom!”

Fight on Team-Miracle. Lets please live up to the name!

~D

 

 

Making Choices

7 Jan

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It’s endless. 

…The supply of facts, figures, and analysis on Sullivan and Keller seems to stretch on infinitely.  Which is wonderful, don’t get me wrong…but it is also frequently debatable from one source to the next…with something as universally “go-to” as Wikipedia being the least academically sound posting of all.  The fact that anyone can contribute to it, is obviously the problem, but that it is likely the first place people will go for info on the topic, pisses me off.  It’s all over the place with inaccuracy…

…As are (from time to time) various books.  I’ve a small shelf of them in my brain now…not counting other articles, reports, essays and such.  Each time I open a new one, it sends me diving back into my now almost 400 pages of notes and clippings, to fact-check something I distinctly remember being reported as another date, time, location, argument, or note of reference.  At this point, I’m forced to use averaging to choose accuracy…in that if I’ve read it twice as this date, and once as that one, I’ll consider the original two reports as correct, unless the scales start to counter with a third option, or added numbers to one or the other of the first two. 

…How the hell can you get facts this way?

 You would think that with two such widely noted historical people, and archives scattered all over the country in their own handwriting, we could get together on some specifics …but it’s surprising to me how much is left out, misstated, inferred, or simply made up, to fill the gaps between days and years and functions…not only when the written and archived materials were lost or (in some cases) purposely destroyed…but even when a picture of a dated letter in Sullivan’s own handwriting states a fact, readily available to view from the Perkin’s archives online, without even leaving your chair.

It’s irritating.  And frustrating.

…First of all: Helen was 6, not 7…Annie 20 not 21 when they met in 1887.  It’s as easy as knowing their birth-months to calculate. AND IT MATTERS.  It matters because they were REAL people, because the difference between 6 and 7 is the difference between what should have been a first grade education and a second grade one…which matters to a child with zero education up to that point, in as much as Helen had to learn not only how to function day-to-day in a seeing and hearing world, and be taught what we spend our infancy learning about basic human interactions, etiquette, feeling, reactions, desires, disappointments, and frustrations…but also how to spell every word that made up every sentence she spoke, as well as grammar and formal sentence structure, mathematics up to and including multiplication tables, to read raised letters and braille, and print square letters in full composition format…as well as learn basics in earth sciences, history, astronomy, and geography, at an age when the average school child is just beginning basic reading, and simple addition and subtraction.

She was 6!

YOU couldn’t do that at 6!  You couldn’t do it at 7 either. Hell, the average adult can’t manage it NOW …but that isn’t the point. The point is: FACTS. 

…And Annie, at 20?  With only six years education…not “formal” mind you, just plain “education” of any kind…under her belt.? Yet, she took up the only post offered to her after graduation, sending her 1200 miles away, where she would be paid the equivalent of $625 (today’s calculation), plus room and board, per month, as a governess to a wild-child neither she nor anyone she knew had ever set eyes on.

…Adding to that her OWN handicapped circumstance (which seems to be frequently forgotten in all this), as well as the difference between “success” (whatever THAT meant) and “failure,” separating the the facts of either earning a living the only way she could fathom how, or going back to the State Alms or Work House.

…No pressure THERE.

It ALL MATTERS.

…So it bothers me when I have holes in the info that I can’t dig up.  The traces are gone (in some cases)…in others, we have only word-of-mouth to go on…and I trust even the written ones little enough as it is. The main point of contention I now face, being: Annie’s voice.

Her disposition is well noted, her temper, her inclination for finery and beauty and nature, her love of poetry and Shakespeare and virtually every other form of the written word…she was a talented sculptor, a fine horsewoman, occasionally composed verse, had an almost photographic memory of stories, anecdotes, and amusing tales, had a very wry and bitingly quick wit, was terrible at spelling and mathematics, hated anything to do with “sewing notions,” fought depression and anxiety, could at times be emotionally crippled with PTSDs from her childhood…in her top-most form, only attained 50% of her sight, eventually going fully blind, loved to cook, and had a monstrous affection for animals .  Add to that about a billion other fact and figures I have ferreted away…and I’ve come up with a pretty solid idea of the woman as she would stand, day-to-day…but it is (with all of that) in mute form.

…There is only ONE surviving sample of her voice, at age 62…and is a mix between the heavily elocution-trained musicality of Hollywood grande-dames from the early talkies, and an east-coaster wideness, in evidence of her Boston school years.  We know, that though born in the U.S., her constant surroundings through childhood amidst the Irish Immigrant population (including her parents, uncles, aunts, and the Almshouse after), left her with the mimicry of an Irish brogue…strong enough to be self-conscious of it (along with everything else about herself) when she entered Perkin’s School for the Blind, at age 14. 

…We know that in her valedictorian speech, six years later, she was reported by several newspapers attending the exercises as having, “a grace of expression,” “…with genuine refinement.”  Assuming then, that she’d worked her ass off to oust that accent, along with her other less savory childhood habits.

…Yet, Historical biographer Kim Nielsen suggests she still had some semblance of a lilt, even if only faintly, as late as Helen’s beginning of college at Radcliffe in 1900…which puts Annie at age 34. In other instances, Helen had been noted to ask if Teacher had an accent and was told “no,”…though had it been by Annie, herself, she could have preferred this as the answer to the reality. Meanwhile, on the flip side, Helen was able to note the differences in accents from Northerners and Southerners based on vocal vibrations felt by hand, at least by Annie’s second year with her. Whether the question was asked prior or after that, and if it was queried based on an oddness that Helen found in Annie’s speech, which fit neither in straight “North” or “South” categories, is unknown.

…Time, tons of speaking engagements, a stint in vaudeville, travels abroad, and further self-education very easily explains how we get from whatever-her-voice-sounded-like-then, to the 62-year-old version from the short video.  But the amount of previous affectation and when it was changed is still up for debate.

…The ever-copied full-on brogue that Anne Bancroft won her Tony and Oscar with, however, is not.

That was a simple solution created to help break a heavy Bronx-Jewish accent from her 750 performances of the previous Gibson play, “Two for the Seesaw,” she’d just completed before “Miracle” rehearsals began.  It was a quick fix that director Arthur Penn had come up with to help her speech patterns refocus, and is frequently copied in most productions which have followed…one assumes as either lack of research, or reverence to  “the one who came before” (and won all the awards, while she was at it.)

…Either way…thankfully Mdm. Director was in the “without” camp, letting the Irish feistiness show through in her many other aspects of expression.  I have enough to do without having the ghost of Bancroft’s ridiculously amazing performance haunting my every move. This leaves me a mode to create distance from her.  We’re both playing her in our 30’s, both keeping in mind the premature sobering a childhood like hers can have on “youth,” both ball-buster broads, and since she’s been a teacher of mine all my life…I’m even at war to break her specific cadence with these lines running in my head.

…What I get now, is the gift to create a sound, specific to where Annie is in her own history and education at that point in time.  With so many historical facts to get down, this freedom to invent her sound freely, has been (and still is) a major working point, and the essence of my own thumbprint on her.

…Mdm. Director has chosen to bring out the hint of brogue as-was in childhood, for the flash-back nightmare sequences… so I’ve countered, adding a taste in other key moments such as an added sense of play when making fun of herself…and, following a pattern which happens to most people with a previous affectation, to bring it out a bit whenever she gets angry or overwrought. 

…Basically…the flavor is still there…but not necessarily to where you pick up on the specifics of it…only: she has a different way of talking.  She is still at times fighting against it, like a war with her wanting-to-be-more-cultured self… sometimes embracing it, as solace when alone and frustrated or emotional…sometimes getting caught up in it, despite herself.

Figuring out how to do all that and make it unconscious, a matter of mental state, a peculiarity of just how “unfinished” this girl is herself, never mind with the weight of the extraordinary challenge facing her…I think it will help to convey the constant struggle, the lack in her own education, and the reminder that these two people are just beginning.  They have a long, long way to go…in life journey, in education, in everything they will achieve that hasn’t even been thought of yet.

 …Every day, it’s a total joy to remember all that, lace up my boots, and begin.

~D

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Donna Reed Disease

30 Oct

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Am in desperate need of a vacation.  

Somewhere not here.  

…Not where paperwork and same-routine waits at my office desk.  A place where phones don’t ring, or even exist.  

…I need a break from the depression of sitting on my couch for hours on end streaming Netflix until two a.m., and not taking showers on weekends till show call. I need a place with fresh air and detox facials…with yoga stretching, and books…with no beach bods in bikinis reminding me how horribly out of shape I am. 

…Also, no children.

And it needs to be virtually free.  

…If you google all these qualifications, you come up with a few pilgrimage monasteries and not much else.  But I hate dirt.  And road trips. And camping.  
I’m a sucky pilgrim. 

…Not as bad as the ones who swapped smallpox blankets for Indian corn…(I have morals)…but I can admit my limits.

Thing is, I’m still depressed from “Rita” closing.  I miss the work it took, the challenge, the journey.  “Dial M” is like being in a radio show with costume changes. I go home afterwards, tired and depressed from doing nothing but crying…because it’s all I’m scriptually allowed to do. Ten or twelve different ways. And then I go home and drink while chanting, “suck it up, you have a job, other people don’t.”  

I wish I could do that.  

…Instead, I’ve contracted Donna Reed Disease.

Donna Reed the PERSON was one of the first women executives in television history.  She launched her own production company, siting lack of roles being shopped her way, even after winning an Oscar four years previously… proceeding to then create her own vehicle to star in, which ran for 8 seasons.  

…But nobody knows that part.  

You say “Donna Reed” and everyone immediately thinks of the stepford-like perfection of 1950’s housewife: subservient to her husband, dutiful to her children, vacuuming the carpets in high heels and circle-skirts, with a full five course home-cooked meal on the table… greeting hubby at the door in formal wear with a cocktail in hand, every evening by five.

I love the 50’s…don’t get me wrong.  But after playing a lot of back-to-back ball-buster women in a row…I have never, until now, been so keenly aware of the backslide in women’s lib, post-40’s.

The 1940’s were my years.  

…Women tossed off the housedress and went to work and fucking OWNED it.  Cuz they had to…cuz they could.  Cuz War happens.  Then the War ended and the fellas came back and womanity backslid about 5 paces, right off the bat.  Again, because they had to…because PTSD’s are fucked up…and the women respectfully backed off to help heal and encourage the fellas to find their footing again.  

…But they bowed down and backed off so far, it became the social equivalent of going from Egyptian pyramid-building with full septic systems, to log-cabins with outhouses.  It was an entire decade of backtracking so hard we became virtually a sex of soap opera stars: melodramatic damsels in distress, consumed in Barbie doll perfections.  

…This should not be new to me.  The concept isn’t, but fighting this script to find SOMETHING to do with this role, became nothing more than a frustration of limitation.  You can only serve the script as writ.  I came in hoping for that 40’s Noir dame of awesome, whose seen some things, done some things, and knows some things…a woman of the world. None of which is written, nor supportable in this text. 

…She is a flat-out victim.  Written as a flat-out victim.  At every man’s whim to either destroy or save her.

I’m a pretty damn capable actor who can sniff out good dirt just about anywhere…but when there is none, there is nothing you can do.  

…But cry.

…As many different ways as you can.

…Then disappear for 20 – 30 pages at a time, and come back to cry some more.

It is frustrating.

…It’s a job. I’m thankful to have something. I’m trying to enjoy it.  To at least gain some level of cathartic channeling from a bad day in it or something.

…But it doesn’t work.

Donna Reed Disease.

There’s a lot more here of wasted wealth…and no one will see it or give a shit. And it bothers me.  I said it.

…In the end: I’m not good at being the “just-stand-there-and-look-helpless-and-pretty” character. I don’t do any one of those things good enough to fulfill my artistic needs.

…But what I DO get (thankfully) is a cast and crew of great people.  The fellas are hilarious and dandy drinking buds, and if I’m pressed to admit it: I kinda do really like that blue dress in scene one. Even if it is girl-clothes. 

Also: the murder scene doesn’t suck.  So there’s that.

…Which is why I think, most of all, I just really need a vacation right now.  Followed by some kind of steak-sized role to dig into, directly after.

“Hedda Gabler” for Christmas, anyone???

~D

 
 

Tag-Teaming Murder & Education

8 Sep

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Dearest “Rita” is alive and well, warbling her free-association wisdoms at-will (and speed), and having a great time playing with her Professor…which ends our first weekend of performances, and ushers in today’s first rehearsal of the next gig.

From Liverpool to London, back to Liverpool again…and London…I’ll be splitting time for the next two week’s ‘tween our enthusiastically educating Scouser and a London society-dame, fighting to survive murder, Hitchcock-style. While we are on the same island, there is a good sixty-year era-difference, not to mention sizable pocketbook increase…which’ll be fun to bounce around between…cuz who the hell doesn’t love Noir and 50’s fashions, mixed with sailor-mouthed, punk, fuck-me shoes?

Yes to it all!

…And so with today’s first table-read, we pack away the Chekhov, Ibsen, and Forster et al (Sunday nights thru Wednesday), and bring out some epic Noir film-festing to put some meat on these ingénue bones facing me in print. 

Famously portrayed by Grace Kelly, in her typical perfect-looking-yet-boring-as-hell-to-watch fashion, the plan is to make our Margot in Dial “M”, more than that.  Something with smarts, bite, and maybe even some (god-forbid) sex…seeing as she’s blackmailed for schtooping who she shouldn’t, and all.  Which means I’ll be forced (dammit) to dig out all my Stanwyck’s, Tierney’s, Astor’s, Bacall’s, Davis & Crawfords…Turner’s, Hayworth’s, and Gardner’s (woe is me) to settle in for some one-on-one refresher courses, (hee hee) on how to be bad-girl-awesome…in general.

…Working against iconic interpretation is always a “thing” when tackling something like a “Hitchcock”…which is 50% fixed in this case by not casting a blonde, really.  The moment lights rise in scene one, I’m automatically given more freedom to fight against the character-as-played in pre-conceived expectation, by physical presence alone.  The other 50% is taking dated text and infusing new life into it…figuring out how to leverage a more realistic, suspicious, sexual, “human” being from a white-toast sort of role, as usually played. 

…I’m going mining for more in there…and it’ll be fun panning to find it 😉

~D

Manic, Twisted, & Sexy

28 May

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Today, I have three less personalities to concentrate on, still leaving me with a sizable deck yet to be sorted.

…A great new program at the UWT has been attempting to launch a theatre works interest, not only to the student body but local community as well.  Some of it’s leading professors have brought in a handful of actors to work both with the student playwrights and faculty, to do read performances with talk-backs to get the ball rolling, and I’ve been supremely lucky to be amongst those handful. 

I LOVE contributing in my own backyard…my own city…blocks away from my little home.  I love that they are eager to bring more arts to the area, use it’s local artists as resources, engage audiences made of faculty and students and community, in talk-backs about social issues, politics, art, and literature.  I love being part of a grass-roots movement, and that as more and more educational systems are phasing OUT the arts in their schools, we have a very esteemed University staff stating, “No!  In fact, we don’t have ENOUGH!” 

…How awesome is THAT?!

(I know, right?)

…Which is WHY I now have three less contributors to my psyche, in as much as last night we finished another such read, with a wonderfully alert house-full, engaged in the process, the structure, and the event as a whole. A fine study on mental illness and addiction and the affects they leave in their wake. I had a hell of a lot of fun as the bipolar, self-drug-prescribing, alcoholic root of it all, playing with tight text, exercising a little of my own demons, and having an exhausting wale of a time. These are the kind of work outs, (when married with a dream cast of close buds), when you really getta blow it all out there with full conviction, knowing full-well you are supporting, and are supported by, the best.

It only gets better than this, when it’s up on it’s feet and in full performance…

…Which, speaking of, leads us to the next part of the personality deck: A twisted little tale of sisterly sexual obsession and dark deeds.

“The Maids,” a translation from the Genet original, is next up on the calendar…with hopes to butt it snugly up against a mainstay of my bucket list, which will be auditioning next week.

…So, currently, I’ve a Scouser hairdresser a-la Pygmalion (“Educating Rita”) sharing space with a twisted turn-of-the-century homicidal Frenchy who likes to play-act as others. It’s an interesting combo up in my head these days, to say the least…which I obviously love, as only an actor would voluntarily piggy-back that range and number of personalities together at one time. Dropping the manic-bipolar-drugged-up-drunk off my back, makes the rest left over seem almost feasible at this point.

…So now I’ve only to concentrate on the massive “Maids” line load, break down my script as to whom I am “playing” when, and prep a monologue. Pffft!! Piece of fucking cake!

…Except, minus the cake.

…Cuz I’ve seen what we are wearing in this little French horror story, and the deconstructed waste of seedy, stringy undergarments we will be sporting, while slithering all over one another, requires yet another diet regime to flog and whip my body into a submissive state that I feel comfortable slobbering all over a stage in my “altogethers.” Well, as comfortable as one can be, anyway.

…I wonder if going vegetarian is the key? I wonder if I could even fathom a world without meat for any real length of time?

…I wonder if The WHS Pimp would survive the wasteland of this office with an hormonal and pregnant receptionist, and a meat-addicted me on the wagon?

…Fuck that…would the WORLD survive it??

…This is prob’ly TBA.

…But definitely not till after I finish this donut…

~D

Things

8 May

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Good news is: I’m not contracting a weird disease in my wrist.

…This watch I bought from Hong Kong online has been freaking me out for days…on account of the face constantly changing color when it touches me.  I didn’t realize it until after I’d already been wearing it across two day’s span…chalking it up to “difference of light.” Then I took it off to show Ma at one point, and it turned from brown to green within seconds. My brain instantly jumped to the fact there is prob’ly something spurious in the metal…filling me with lead-based cancerous ions of doom.

…Like those coffee cups I drank out of for a whole year before I read the base stamp that said as much.

Nowhere on the literature of what I purchased or where I purchased it, was there an explanation to my new state for concern. Until I found it today, by total generic Googling.  Apparently it’s a selling point feature of said watch, for every place BUT the one that I purchased it from.

…Whether I’m feeling “coffee,” “green,” “black” or “blue” tinted, I am told none of them will fill me with any toxic diseases.  That they know of.  So, that’s comforting.  Although it still doesn’t explain why none of these places online provide you with a “key” to the color codes. I have no fucking idea what in the hell any of them are supposed to mean.

Is it my aura?

Is it my chi?

Is it generic me-temperature?

Is “coffee” better than “green?”

Should I esteem to a calming “blue” over the who-knows-what-to-think-of-it “black?”

I dunno.

They won’t tell me.

…So now I have that to worry about.

…Meanwhile: Am on a record-breaking semi-insomniac cycle. That means I can get to sleep alright, (around one-or-so a.m.), but pop awake for any variety of “thinking” reasons at three or four, without being able to kick it and go back to sleep again. This is just weird. Who wakes up from “thinking?”

…It isn’t a dream. It isn’t a sound. I’ve had the fan running WITH the heater at the same time, and singularly by turn…so it isn’t climate.

I don’t understand.

…Really, it’s akin to going from total sleep to that semi-haze of alertness when rolling over, and my brain suddenly yells something like, “RENT!” And then I snap totally awake and commence to worry the rest of the morning about when the fucking landlord will finally deposit that damn check…cuz I have my auto car and insurance payments hitting any day now, and even though I did the math and it should all be fine to go through, who the fuck knows what random “oh, I forgot about that” thing might hit my account in the mean time and screw everything up?

…And then the rent might bounce, and I’d be homeless on the street…and I have a lot of shit that NO WAY would all fit into a shopping cart as a make-shift mobile home unit…cuz if the RENT doesn’t clear, it’ll reject my car payments too…and THEN where will I be?!

…Oh sure, you can laugh or roll your eyes at me all you want, but these are real anxieties at three a.m. on almost no sleep. Your brain isn’t thinking super clearly…it just fixates, and chews the SHIT out of things…like an old piece of bubble gum, long since flavorless, but the chewing action keeps your oral fixation and teeth clenching at bay…so you just keep chewing on it until you’re exhausted for totally OTHER reasons.

…A case of the solution making another problem.

Basically, this is the entire life-cycle of a person with clinical anxiety.

…So: not a lot of sleep. And busy work days slamming me against the wall without mercy. And random anxiousness popping up night and day, for what equates to “technically sound reasons,” although not good enough ones at all for normal people to obsess about for hours and days on end.

…It’s the only time I crave to be one of them.

We are not without some “goodnesses,” however. Until today, there was sun for after-work walks. Some buddy hang times. Lovely read rehearsal work-outs with old friends for a performance this Friday. Birthday toys to be played with…

…I have “stuff.” I’ll be fine. I’ll eventually figure out this new rut I’ve been thrown into and even things out. Either way, it beats the hell outta the “depression” tsunami that “was”…so…I’ll take it.

…I’ll chew on it…

…Til the fucker turns to rubber.

…Then, one day, I’ll figure out how to spit the bastard out, and have a reprise of calm before another piece gets popped in my mouth.

…So it goes.

~D

Giggle Bubbles

9 Mar

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Acting is a weird profession.

…What other one on the planet requires you to be other people, embrace and empathize with serial killers and monsters, partake in voyeuristic fake sexual activities, and fuck with your mind and emotions on a continual basis as “part of the job?” 

Maybe an undercover cop. 

That’s about it.

…But what’s even more screwed up, is the fact that this seems perfectly normal to us and aside from a few character-inflicted hangovers, can come and go in any combination or variety, multiply even as needed, simultaneously, and then go cold turkey dormant at the drop of the hat…sure leaving a few mood swings in their wake, but other than that, fairly harmlessly.

…I mean, we do shit on a stage that puts people behind bars for life, sends them into lockdown therapy, demands suicide watch, and lands them on the cover your more unsavory pulp-newspapers and magazines. Pretty much on a continual basis. Then, two hours (or sixteen) later, we go home, pop a beer cap, and eat some pizza, like nothing has happened.

I don’t care who you are, that’s just fucked up.

And we’re, you know, just sorta used to that.

…But every once in a while, it does kinda throw you.  You’ll do a role a little too close to home, or something will get into your head a little too deeply, and it becomes more difficult to divorce yourself at the end of the day. 

…Sometimes you have that Christopher Reeves-Somewhere-In-Time penny moment, when you become suddenly distracted by the most innocent of things and it rips you out of your happy little acting bubble, realizing that it’s all fake and you are you, and the delicacy of the moment is completely shattered…scrambling helplessly to hold onto the last tail end of this projected truth so you can do the job that people in the seats, right now, staring up at you, are waiting for you to do.

…And sometimes you’re just artistically sideswiped and get the giggles.

Epic giggles.

Inappropriate-can’t-hold-your-shit-together-for-the-life-of-you giggles.

There is no cure.

This is the kind of thing where you so suddenly realize the total absurdity of the situation you are in and that this is your life, and this moment needs to happen because people and their jobs and careers are depending on you…which should put enormous amounts of significance on it all, you would think…but doesn’t…because it’s all riding on the right timing of a burp, or how fast you can drop trow, or how much tongue to use in this kiss, or even just delivering a line which has some double meaning to you and your scene partner, and so now neither one can look the other in the eye at all, when it comes time to say it.

Giggle bubbles.

…I’ve just hit one.

I am currently sipping coffee, on break from reading a script. It is not a comedy. In fact it is the most far flung from it. I keep expecting with the next page turn that it will invent a new apocalypse, strain of disease, or drug O.D.

…It is a one-woman show, containing several characters undertaken by the single actor. I will not be responsible for the acting portion of said piece, I will be the stage direction usher, for a dear friend, who will be.

…This all comes as part of a gig for one of the Universities, in their writing department. A script writing and development class has come full circle and they have brought in a few professional actors to stage read the shows for the playwrights, so they can take notes on further changes and workshopping needed before launching them out into the world and publisher’s doorsteps.

…There are several scripts and all of the actors split time in role sizes and stage directions, as “cast” by the facilitator of the gig. None of the actors have read the scripts, or know the roles until the final edit has trickled in and been forwarded. Of the four pieces I’m in, this is the only one I’ve received thus far. And it is a masterpiece of definition in being a new work by a new playwright.

What does this mean?

…People are told to write what they know, write what will catch your attention and draw an audience, know the audience you are writing FOR, and/or make a statement or impression that will stay with you.

…Because of this, there are many, many, many plays in this world riding the soap opera wave of personal tragedy with shock-theatre gimmick, attempting to assail you with either a deluge of tears, pissing anger, sexual enticement and/or whatever performance art involving a dude taking a dump on a five-dollar-bill while dressed as a mime, falls under.

Classic new playwrighting syndrome.

…And this particular script has it all.

I seriously can’t keep a straight face while reading.

This poor woman central character is emotionally pushed through so many events in 30 pages, and had so many orgasms while doing it, that it’s like a theatrical version of Rasputin. She’s been hypothetically, stabbed, shot, gutted, run over by a car, a bus, a train, thrown off a plane in flight, survived a couple of world wars and her dog just died.

…I’m only on page 13.

…I had to take a break.

…From laughing.

My fucking stomach hurts.

…Now, I’m not intending to be “mean,” this is just one of those instances I was talking about before…when I realize the total absurdity of what we do and how we do it, and what we are asking the audience to do, by trusting and coming on this journey with us…which (literally in this case) is about every sexually erotic and explicit deed and curse word, with every broken down junky personal tragedy you can throw in there, in an explosion of screaming in your face offensive, yet autobiographical who-de-haw, that I’ve read in a long-ass time.

And this Wednesday, I will be it’s narrator.

…At some point I will need to actually face an audience, with my dear friend, and support her, as she undergoes fucking herself, the audience, and the English language all to hell.

…And I need to do it with a straight face.

My job is just cocking weird…is what I’m saying.

~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

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