acting

Feels like the first time

Sometimes, I look back at things I've done in the past, and I can connect the dots. I can see that doing that reading for so-and-so led to getting cast in this project over here, and then that thing, and then this other. I can see how something seemingly insignificant, saying yes to a particular opportunity that didn't seem especially mind-blowing, has taken me down a particular path and changed my life greatly. 

Right now, the past week at VO Atlanta...all these facts, all these new pieces of information, all of these events, and all of these wonderful people I met...are just pinpoints of light on an inky black sky. They are just stars waiting for the constellation to be drawn in. And it's going to take a while before I can look back to see what the picture is. 

Whatever it is, I have a feeling it's going to be beautiful. 

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Basilica Block Party...Just a Little Bit Late

I never claimed to be good at this blogging thing. 

MOM JEANS

My harrowing tale of love, loss, and the parrot that got away

Last month I shot a promo spot for the Basilica Block Party, a really fun little video spoofing Unsolved Mysteries-style tv shows. I worked with a (rather ill-tempered) parrot, and got to wear really unflattering mom jeans. Everyone from Periscope was really fun to work with, and I got to see Brandi Carlile and The Shins, so I guess it was worth it to wear the mom jeans and work with a diva bird. 

Bamboo Toilet Paper and a Trip Up North

Last week was a whirlwind of auditions (four on-camera, four VO, two theater), and rehearsals for Unsung, and the fundraiser for Candid Theater (I am on the board, plus I MC'd the event and performed at it as well), so I'm finally getting around to posting about my shoots. I started my week (last week) coming back from two shoots... One in Minneapolis, and one in Ely, Minnesota.  

On Saturday, I got to channel Joan from Mad Men on a shoot for a Kickstarter for Bim Bam Boo bamboo toilet paper, in a costume complete with Moschino vintage heels. It was a really fun shoot, very Poo-pourri in style. 

Keeping the lipstick intact while staying hydrated. V. important!

Keeping the lipstick intact while staying hydrated. V. important!

Vintage heels that fit me perfectly? It must be a dream!

Vintage heels that fit me perfectly? It must be a dream!

The whole team on the Bim Bam Boo shoot! How cool is this 360 photo courtesy of Kari Jo Skogquist?!??

The whole team on the Bim Bam Boo shoot! How cool is this 360 photo courtesy of Kari Jo Skogquist?!??

After that, I drove up north to Ely, Minnesota to play a nurse on the short film "Nobody's son." I can't post any photos from set, so here are a few pics from the trip up there...I spent about twice as much time driving as I did on set, so it's probably just as well that I show you glorious Northern Minnesota. 

Lake Superior

Lake Superior

Me. Lift Bridge. Cold. Wind. 

Me. Lift Bridge. Cold. Wind. 

Not many options. 

Not many options. 

"The Pardon List"

Last week I shot a short film...just a small role, playing Eva Braun, Hitler's mistress (and wife for 40 hours). Reunited in the afterlife, after Eva has spent 30 years waiting for him in purgatory, Hitler has a moment in front of the parole board...but will he ruin his chance to escape hell?

Originally, the script had called for me to punch Hitler...then it was a slap...and then they finally settled on having me hit him with a riding crop. It's really hard to say what the tone of the finished project will be, honestly, but I'm curious!

Off-Book

Next weekend I will be performing for the very first time at a unique improv performance called Off-Book, where the scenes are performed by one actor who is off-book, and one who has no clue what the hell is going on. I will be the off-book person, so I have some memorizing to do this week!  

From the website:

Come see Off-Book,,Saturday, August 20th at 8:00pm |$12 in advance, $14 at the door

Half-scripted, full speed ahead. It is every actor’s nightmare: getting thrown on stage to perform a play you’ve never read. That’s also the premise of Off Book. We have an actor memorize a script, then send them on stage with an improviser who has no idea what’s going on. Then we sit back and watch the magic happen.

A long-time HUGE Theater favorite, adapted with permission from Upright Citizen Brigade’s Gravid Water.

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Years in the Making

So… I have been putting off making my voiceover demo for years.

A year ago, I finally contacted people about studio time and demos and actually made some connections in the interest of actually recording a demo.

Now, a year later, I have actually, finally, recorded my demo. And today, I finally got the finished product!

 

The whole story: 

I went to Mike Stalcar at Audio Ruckus last week. We met a few months ago, before both of us went on respective vacations to Belize (him) and me (Italy), and chatted about the actual recording, as well as what my background is and everything else that might be pertinent. And we talked about travel, and how we both like to travel by going in random directions without a plan, just feeling out whatever path feels right. Mike was so easy to talk to, he made me realize that just like with the travel, sometimes you just have to put one foot in front of the other, and make steps in a direction that feels right. Even if you're a bit apprehensive. That's how all the cool stuff happens. That's where the rewards are. 

I recorded my demo on Thursday of this past week, and despite having prepared for it for years, I still felt scared, and apprehensive, and nervous about if I would be able to perform adequately, if I would screw it up, if I had the right material, and etc.…but it was SO MUCH FUN!

For a little bit of background, when I was a kid, I was given a tape recorder for my seventh birthday. I was given a couple of actual cassette tapes of bands I liked, and also a package of blank cassette tapes. One of my greatest joys of my childhood, was to hang out in my room, and record songs off the radio. I also took to recording my own commercials, of products and things that I made up entirely. I would spend hours in my room doing this. Sometimes, my mom would yell up the stairs to me to ask me a question or demand that I do something, and my usual response was "Mom!! Shhhh! I'm recording!" So, this has definitely been something Ive wanted to do for a long time.

Well… I am so happy to have a finished demo! Who knows what will come of it, or if I will get work. But I am heartened by the fact that on the first day after I recorded the demo, and even before the demo was finished, I messaged one of my agents about the demo and she immediately sent me a response saying"Yes! I would love to listen to it when it's done. By the way, did you submit for this particular audition?" So, the day after recording my demo, even without having it in hand, I was able to audition for a radio commercial that will be recording soon. 

My acting teacher always says that work begets work. That even if you are just doing scenes in class, the universe will respond in kind. Maybe it's something to do with your attitude that you put out into the world, or perhaps it is that people see that you are working, but whatever it is, WORK seems to come from you putting forth work. A religious person would say that God helps those who help themselves. 

A quote, often attributed to Goethe, also follows in this vein: 

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.”
— http://german.about.com/library/blgermyth12.htm

 

It is begun! Let's see where it goes!

 

A Commercial with Meaning

In January, I filmed a tv spot for Gundersen Health Systems. In the spot, I portray a patient nervously awaiting a biopsy. It was a great gig to get. I worked with a director from California. I got to go home and visit my family. I got paid well enough to splurge on my first trip to anywhere off the continent. But mostly, I was proud of this one because it was something I believe in. My mom's sister was a nurse at Gundersen Lutheran. She passed away two years ago after fighting cancer for two years. My dad's parents both went through cancer treatment at Gundersen. My sister works there as a CNA tech while getting her nursing prerequisites. I feel honored to have gotten to work on this spot, and happy that my family, most of whom live in the area, and especially my grandmothers, get to see it on tv.

 

 

Theatrical Fortnight

I meant to post this Sunday night, but got sidetracked. Going to have to be more mindful in the future...

Part of keeping myself on track this year is going to be setting goals, and another part is going to be me writing about what I do each week.  Sometimes it's hard to see progress or feel like I'm working on "my craft" when I really am (for example: those dead spaces where I'm not in a show, but keep busy with auditions, class scenes, writing, reading plays, and other actor-related things).  And other times, I lose sight of the art I love and spend weeks doing nothing to work toward any goals whatsoever, and then wind up feeling really lost and purposeless. 
A major goal is to not get stuck in the latter one this year.  Having goals is important.  And achieving big goals requires lots of little tiny steps toward them, not big, giant leaps. 

Baby steps.

My goals for 2015:

1. Do 10 scenes for class.  Not including remounts.  Last year I only did 3 all year (plus remounts), and so I hope to do much better this year.

2. Record my voiceover demo.

3. Get new headshots.

4. Write at least weekly in my blog, and publish 5 articles before the end of the year.

5. Find and rehearse 5 new monologues for audition season.

6. See approximately 80% new work, 20% previously produced shows.

That's what I've got so far.  I might add more goals as the year goes on. 

So, the past 14 days of my life as an actor have been filled with a ton of theater-related things. There is no particular order of importance placed on these things, though perhaps there should be. Some of them are definitely more meaningful, more purposeful, and more in-line with my goals than others. I'm going to star the ones that are important baby steps toward my bigger goals.

  • I put up two scenes from Magnolia in class, and then remounted them the following Monday.***
  • At my job at the U of M Medical School, I played the mother of a sick infant; I worked on communications and presentation skills for case presentations; and I helped first years practice their exam skills with me as their patient.
  • I checked out a giant stack of plays from the library and have read quite a few of them (The Flick, Halcyon Days, Shooting Star, In a Forest Dark and Deep). I'm currently reading Trust, by Steven Dietz.***
  • I went to see three shows, all new works: Theatre Novi Most's Rehearsing Failure and The Red Eye to Havre Grace at the Walker's Out There series were both devised pieces, and Loudmouth Collective's production of A Bright New Boise.***
  • I re-watched Breakfast at Tiffany's (in the interest of making my roommate watch it for the first time ever), watched Paul Thomas Anderson's film The Master, and saw A Most Violent Year.
  • I binge-watched Galavant.
  • I did a private play reading with some other actors for a company I'd love to work with.
  • I had a lovely dinner with my director from Candid Theatre's production of Hauptmann.
  • I was asked to do four separate paid gigs which I was unable to accept because of conflicts with other commitments.
  • I auditioned for one play and was called back. Auditions are still a bit sparse at the moment.
  • I attended birthday festivities for three different theater friends and the Bar Mitzvah of another theater friend's son; My friend Rachel taught me two chords on the ukelele, and I tried out some new songs at karaoke, so I feel musically accomplished; and I went dancing at Transmission for David Bowie night. 

I think that's a pretty good start to my year!  Now on to my second month...

Small steps I want to take this week toward each of my big goals:

1. Email possible scene partners about a few more class scenes.  I have possibly in the works two scenes.  I'm meeting with one classmate on Thursday to discuss, and the other one hasn't gotten back to me yet.

2. Transcribe 3 commercials that I've recorded that I could use for my demo.

3. I have to pay my taxes for last year before I can get new headshots, but I will work out at least three days this week.  Gotta get more in shape for my shots!

4. I will write on a topic of importance to me, some sort of rough draft. And I will update this blog by this Sunday as well.

5. I will cut a monologue or two from one of the plays I read recently.

6. I am seeing one play this week, and it's Caryl Churchill's newest play, Love and Information...so I think I'm doing good on my percentage so far. 

Also:

Taxes.  I need to get my tax stuff for last year together.  This is not working toward any big goals, but it needs to get done, so this week I would like to get all my mileage entered in my spreadsheet.

I am meeting with a filmmaker I know to discuss a project we want to work on together.

I'm sure that's plenty...I still have work and rehearsal for Commedia Day with Shadow Horse Theater, which is February 25th.  I'm sure all of this will keep me quite busy!

Until next Sunday...