Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Tryin' To Get Up That Great Big Hill Of Hope

My family. (I had to ask my brother to put a shirt on so this is a rare photo)
So yesterday I turned 25, which means this song is even more relevant to me. I had a low-key birthday but I was touched by all of the comments, texts, and phone calls I received. I am a very lucky girl.

Laughing so hard I am crying. The best.
 I've had a lot of time to think to myself and reflect and overall I am so grateful for the experiences of this past year. This has been a year of learning. I've accomplished a lot of mini-goals I have set for myself and I am proud of how far I've come. It's hard to think that way though when you have about 15 dollars in your bank account. I know it's a temporary situation but it's scary. Like... panic attack scary. It's something that maybe most people don't like to talk about, but that's my life right now. But I wouldn't trade this year for anything. I accomplished quite a few things off of my 25 before 25 list. I landed a "part" (a few I'd even go so far as to say...!) I got myself a website, wrote more, fell in love, drank moonshine, taught and really felt confident that I've made a difference in some kids' lives. I also explored some more of the country, made some incredible friends and pushed myself as a performer. Maybe 25 was an ambitious number of accomplishments, but I think putting those things out in the universe helped me get to where I am. I think it's a good practice to lay your goals out as a road map for where you want to go next. So I've been thinking about what I want to see myself accomplish before *gasp* 26. These aren't in any particular order of importance.

1. I want to become less attached to objects. Mainly clothes. I admit that shopping is a hobby of mine and although I always try to find bargains, I really don't need any more clothes. It is something I enjoy but I need to learn to live with less and be happy.

2. I want to be more proactive about auditions and marketing myself. New headshots are going to happen soon. They have to. And I think getting some business cards and also offering my services as an audition coach for high school kids. I enjoy doing it and it might be a way to make some extra money. If only I could play piano better I could offer some voice coaching too!!

3. I want to be out of my parents house.

4. I want to move to NYC or Chicago. (goes along with 3)

5. I want to land a job in a state I've never been to before.

6. I want to play Suzy Simpson again.

7. Get that tattoo!

8. Touch a Great White Shark (hey, it's on every one of my lists. Maybe positive thinking works and you'll all be jealous!)
Wine and Good Friends. What else do you need?

These poor puppies!

Cute parentals.


Siblings at Birthday Dinner

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

I Got Bronchitis...Ain't Nobody Got Time For That!

So as the title suggest, I got bronchitis. Not exactly the most wonderful thing to happen before closing weekend of a show with 30ish songs. BUT I am lucky that I am feeling much better. Still some chest pain and congestion but I have yet *knock on wood* to have a coughing fit onstage and I'm able *knock more on wood* to get through my big numbers. So instead of focusing on the negative I've been focusing on the positive. I've almost made it through a run of a show that seemed nearly impossible at the start. I went from being overwhelmed by this amount of music to being able to sing it in my sleep (literally). I feel so comfortable in my own skin and with the ladies I get to share the stage with.

Also, the other day the girls and I did an auditioning workshop at a local high school. The students were auditioning for their school's production of Pippin. Pippin was my first musical in High School. I was lucky enough to be cast in the ensemble as a freshman, which was a feat in and of itself. Then the girl playing Fastrada started to not show up for rehearsals. The director approached me and asked if I would sing her parts in rehearsals. Innocent enough, right? And it was fun. Then she started having me come to blocking rehearsals for that character, and eventually she said they'd probably give me one performance in the role. WHAT!? I was on top of the world. Then this girl drop-kicked another girl in the face into a locker and was suspended from school. I remember two upper-classmen boys coming up to me and hugging me and saying, "Do you know what this means?" I was like... "Yeah, I'm gonna play the part and this girl is gonna beat the shit out of me." I'm not gonna lie I was a little nervous about the repercussions. But I had a lead(ish) role as a freshman and my senior boyfriend (who I was CRAZY in love with. Emphasis on crazy) was playing my husband, Charlemagne. I was on cloud fricken nine. Looking back, I had absolutely no clue what I was doing but I had the time of my life. And it was because of luck. And because I'm a reliable actor. So workshopping these auditions for these kids who want to be in this show so badly brought a lot of that back, and also made me really see just how far I've come from that eager, know-nothing freshman in that purple-sequined dress to the actor I am today. Of course I'm still learning. Of course I'm really just starting my professional career. But it was really cool to be able to pass on some of what I've experienced to high schoolers with some of the same dreams and doubts as I had.

[ I wrote this last week but didn't have time/internet access to upload it. Happy Thanksgiving Y'all!]

Trip to Owego


Opening Performance Cookie Cake!

A funny moment in rehearsal,

The director and I being silly.

I have a friend!

Audition Workshop Action!

Thank You And Goodnight!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me

Not gonna lie, that crown feels GOOD.

Mr. Lee!

So I've successfully completed two weekends of The Marvelous Wonderettes and it has been an absolute blast getting to play around onstage in cute blue dresses 4 nights a week! The audience seems to really enjoy it and every show is different. Lots of moments for improvising within my character which I think is the most fun and my favorite thing to do. The other night I definitely licked some icing off of some poor girl's cupcake wrapper. Well hey, she shouldn't have left it within the reach of me! Other fun moments include me forgetting to wear my underwear onstage (ooops), Genevieve completely surprising me and bopping me on the nose while singing to me, and (spoiler alert) picking up my gum off the floor only to find a big ole hair on it. And eating it. Nom nom nom! Seriously all of the hard work of rehearsal is really paying off now. I can relax and feel confident that I know the steps and the notes and focus on telling the story and just PLAY! The other night I noticed things that each of my three cast mates were doing in the show that absolutely cracked me up. I wasn't able to notice before because I was in my little world of "oh my god I hope I'm doing this right." Now I am finally comfortable and can't wait for what shenanigans the last two weeks of the run have in store. I'm also mentally preparing myself to get a day job so I don't starve. I'm preparing to not beat myself up for not having anything booked right now. I'm preparing to tell myself, "hey, just because you're waiting tables and/or substitute teaching and/or baristaing right now doesn't mean the success you've had this past year and a half doesn't count. It doesn't mean you aren't finally hitting your stride and it doesn't mean all that positive self-talk you've finally been able to give yourself goes down the toilet. It's just a moment to pause, reflect, get some money in your bank account and get your ass to NYC." (If I'm feeling down you all have to redirect me to those statements I just made. Thanks in advance. Yay friends!)

Moley Mole Moleeee!


Goooo Chipmunks!!

Jamas after broadway night at the bar.

Monday, October 21, 2013

L-O-V-E That Spells Love!

   Sorry it has been so long since my last update. I'm currently sitting in the house at Cider Mill Playhouse in Endicott, NY before rehearsal for The Marvelous Wonderettes. Let me tell you this show is a MOTHER to rehearse. I'm having the time of my life but working my little chipmunk tail off trying to remember all of my inner harmonies and dance steps!! The character I'm playing (Suzy) is super fun and I've instantly formed a bond with my cast mates. Good thing, since there are only 4 people in the cast! I've also had lots of new experiences, like having to chew gum on stage and blow bubbles successfully, which I haven't been able to do in my first 24 years of life. It has been weird to chew gum during rehearsal (it feels so wrong) and I won't lie... I'm still not great at it. I've bitten my lip several times to the point of bleeding because, well, I am truly special. Or as my director would say, "cuz you're dumb." The director and cast have such a great relationship even thought we have so much work to do it feels like a safe and crazy fun environment all the time. And the people who run this theater are absolute SWEETHEARTS and work SO HARD. I know how lucky I am to have that. Counting my stars this month fo sho.

I haven't had very much access to the Internet in these past few weeks, which is at times annoying but may be a blessing in disguise. I've had to actually talk to and get to know my roommates with my downtime. Amazing, right? I'm so excited to be doing a musical comedy again. That's where my roots are and where I feel the most "in it" if that makes any sense. I've learned so much already and as we go into our final 10 days of rehearsal I know I will learn so much more. This has been a joy already and I don't mind being poor to do it. Plus, poor is a great diet! Anyway, today is about prepping my brain and my body for blocking act II and finalizing choices to be able to start running the show successfully. YAY! GOOOO CHIPMUNKS!

Our orangey home away from home for these two months.

We're on da sign!

This is what we look like walking to a Saturday am rehearsal. Love these girlies.

This theater looks like a barn from the outside and is connected to a cider mill. ALL THE FALLNESS. LOVE IT.

So...this happened.

One of the only times I get a hot second to sit down during this mutha of a show.

There are purple trees here, y'all.

I like turtles...
The theme to this rehearsal process.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

I Love You All

It's hard to believe that there's only one performances of Steel Magnolias left! I've had such a great time in this fantastic little town. Everyone here is wonderful and I honestly feel like every night I get to grace the stage with the other fabulous 5 women in the cast is a Master class. (Geez that's a mouthful to say.) They are all so different and powerful in their own way. It makes me proud to be counted among them. And the audience here seems to really appreciate the work we are all doing. It's not always glamorous. The audience sometimes gets up in the middle of the show and walks right in front of you to use the bathroom. Sometimes there are people who have been to every performance and say the lines along with you or in most cases, before you can even get to them. But hey, in this "business of show" as Tobias Funke would say, there are all kinds of challenges and you have to rise to the occasion. And I love every single minute of my job. It's going to be hard to leave Great Plains but I know I will leave behind friendships with some awesome people and an experience I will never forget. On to the next
adventure in Philly!

Photos by Doug Nuttleman, Great Plains Theatre 2013

Friday, September 6, 2013

Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion.

I've been here in Abilene for 5 days now and I'm having an awesome experience already. The women in the cast are RIDICULOUSly amazing and I am so lucky to be sharing the stage with them. Everyone on the creative team is as nice and supportive and talented as I thought they'd be! It sure is a whirlwind to rehearse and mount a show in ten days but every day I feel like I personally am making big strides in getting to where I want to be for the performances. So, good stuff is happening. Yay! I am really enjoying the rehearsal process (even if I'm EXHAUSTED at the end of the day) but I am also excited for when we open and we have free time during the day to explore the city. There seem to be a lot of cool little shops and antique stores around here. I also have some auditions to prep for and a Shakespeare monologue to memorize for one but I can't put the cart before the horse. We open a week from tonight!!

The castle! a.k.a. Great Plains!

This guy was making really good time on his laps. I was impressed.

Statue scared the crap out of me when I walked by. I'm assuming this is Ike Eisenhower.

Downtime at our first rehearsal.

Surprise cake for Jimilee's Birthday!

My chair!

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Home is Wherever I'm With You

I've been home for two weeks and so far it's been pretty okay. I really haven't had too much time to sit feel sorry for myself and missing my Little Rock friends family. These two weeks have been full of unpacking, organizing, remodeling (including an additional closet rod and a SHOE CLOSET!!) and spending time with my family and my puppies. I'm glad I got to catch up with some friends and drink some good local beer, but it still feels strange. I'm not sure where I am when I wake up. I keep double-taking when I see people who resemble Arkansans. I'm always so disappointed when it isn't them. Right now I'm feeling excited for my next gig, and simultaneously terrified. I'm truthfully scared of failure, and scared that this will be my last play in a long time. I know that's the vampires talking ( [title of show] anyone?) But it's how I feel. I think once I get to Abilene and get down to rehearsal (One week, yeehawwww!) I will feel a bit better. I always do. Trying to focus on the positives and move forward. Something's coming.

But for now.... PUPPIES!

I love them so hard.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

I'll See You Later or Please Don't Crying

    It's happening. My parents are here. Most of my belongings are already packed away in boxes and sealed shut. All of my artwork and knic-knacks are safely stowed away. The beer is (almost) gone. Tomorrow is my last full day in Arkansas and thus ends my year-long adventure. It's crazy to think about how much has changed since last year when I moved out here. I knew no one, was living on my own for the first time, and working my first relatively long-term/big-girl acting job out of college. It was lonely and scary and frustrating for a long time. But even through the hard times I knew that I had met some pretty cool people. And those pretty cool people turned out to be some pretty amazing, inspiring, life-changing people. And that has made all the difference. Tonight I parted with possibly my best friend here. She's the first person who reached out to me with open arms and sarcasm and laughter and I will love her forever for all of the things she is and has done for me. I started to cry and she pet my face and said, "Please don't crying!!" I have a feeling I'm going to have to tell myself that more than a few more times before I leave and even after. I will make myself a promise not to say goodbye. I will
only say see you later because I will do my damnedest to return and hopefully do some more kickass theater in the Natural State.  I leave Little Rock with a heavy heart, but it is because it is so full. I am so fucking lucky.

A quiet last moment in the theater. I think an empty stage has such a presence. There are memories of the past, but there is so much possibility and hope for what is to come. (Cue: "I Was Meant For The Stage" by The Decemberists. Okay... I swear I'm done.)

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

This Is How It Works

One of my awesome Playmaking students rocking my swag.

    So Summer Theatre Academy is in it's second week now and it is exhausting yet gratifying work. I do however, feel burnt out and anxious. I'm leaving here so soon and I feel very torn. I spent so much time not feeling comfortable here and being homesick, and now with a few weeks left I am dreading leaving. I like having employment. I love having these friends and feeling like I could be part of a little community. I like these kids. I love having my own apartment. It's going to be very hard to leave. A good friend of mine told me that I have to focus on the positives waiting for me back home or I will drive myself crazy. It's easier said than done. No matter if I went or stayed, I would miss out on or lose something. I do miss my family and my puppies. I miss my few friends still at home. But living at home isn't easy when you're a young adult, and our house is very small for five grown adults and three VERY grown (fat) doggies. I know home is the best place to be for what I want to do. I want to dive back into the Philly theatre scene. I have to start getting myself to New York and save money and live at home as long as my parents will have me. I just never expected to fall in love with this place. Sure it's not perfect and I still get lonely and whatnot, but that's anywhere: that's life. I'm sure I have great experiences awaiting me back east, I just needed to share how I feel. This is (hopefully) the first of many times I will have to leave a place just as soon as it felt like home.

Alexander Lie Down. YES.
    But alas, the actor's life for me. It's worth it. Here's an example of why I need to keep pursuing this. I've  had one male high-school student in my project and in one of my classes for almost two weeks now. He is a fantastic singer with this great tenor voice and is very expressive and energetic. He's a smart kid. But for some reason his words get all mushed up in his mouth when he speaks. I have him in my Voice and Diction class, and I was repeatedly telling him to over-accentuate his articulation, but no real audible change was happening. He has a major part in our project and is barely understandable. It was puzzling. But today in class he was working on his Spoon River poem and I had a suspicion that his problem was with placement and using his facial mask as his primary resonator to get the words out. I really don't know what I'm doing, but I had him place his fingers on the sides of his nose on his cheek bones and had him really over-do it with the nasal resonance. He started to speak and the other students who were sitting in the back of the auditorium. "Wow." One even said. It was amazing to see that I could help someone who wants to pursue professional acting change a habit that was really going to hold them back from working. It was a really nice moment. I know I'm not the best teacher, but I am learning, and it was really special that I had a part in this young actor's growth. I know my voice and speech teachers have changed me forever as a performer and I'm forever thankful. I only hope I can be half as impactful as they were.

So yeah, I guess that's why I have to go on to bigger and better things. I'm not finished learning. I'm not finished discovering. I can't stay in one place, as safe as it feels. I have to take some risks and live my life. Wish me luck.

My kids trying to get out of a knot. This was chaotic to say the least.

This wouldn't be my blog without some dog pics! Introducing Salvador Dogi, everyone!

Me and lil Sal and/or Bambi.