Tag Archives: New York

THE WORLD IS (ROUND) WIDE ENOUGH

 

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Honestly if I hadn’t seen Hamilton last night there possibly could have been an unconscious cloud-shaped vapor lingering over me the rest of my life. Honestly as a person-of-the-theatre or even just as a New York pedestrian I was starting to feel like something was gravely wrong – and it was – I was totally missing out.

 

Good news is that this little New York ant (me) is now one of the many masses who rounded onto West 46th street in order to SEE HAMILTON! When I was in line I really felt like part of a super-organism or something…

 

First thing you should know about this rendition of events is that I am a lottery cynic. Know that this arises from a history of lottery losses. The last time I was enlisted to buy lotto tickets, on behalf of a brother, I reported back that I’d self-checked them at the convenience store machine. Instead of ‘success!’ I’d regurgitated the “You Are Not A Winner” that had streamed through my consciousness 15 times. Needless to say I don’t like revisiting that sensation – yoga mantras are more highly recommended!

 

So as I was mulling over some new headshots and planning a night of reading plays and potential monologue finding/learning and maybe even some non-dairy ice cream devouring… I got a text from a, now proven loyal, friend named D’ariel Barnard

 

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Dear D’ariel had played the online Hamilton lottery a steady 6 weeks before finally arriving at the 2 tickets that got us in the door yesterday evening.

 

As I tracked the leader’s footsteps towards our seats I was in a bit of eerily silent shock due to the marching to Broadway on such short notice having not expected to be ‘in the room where it happens’. As soon as I breathed in the space, however, I began to realize what a pleasure this was going to be. The set is simple, yet intricate with its warm brick walls, strong wooden beams, connecting ropes and mysterious entranceways along its parameters. “Such a large, mobile cast must require this,” I thought before seeing any action.

 

I turned off my cell phone… YES to turning off cell phones in theatres people…

 

The action began and what struck me most, apart from the obvious talent on stage, was the revealing of these historical figures as flesh and blood before my very eyes. The strength of the relationships the Hamilton cast creates on stage is really astounding. Each human interaction stands on it’s own very specific terms. In that sense I began to see what might have been in the hearts and imaginings of the daunting faces that I might normally only glance at when forking over United States’ minted paper for some groceries at my local bodega…

 

What unexpectedly touched me most, I think, in this well-oiled musical has to be the vulnerability of the antagonist Aaron Burr (Sydney James Harcourt). In the intermission I found myself confessing that Alexander Hamilton (Lin-Manuel Miranda) was so easy to root for. I was with him every step of the way as he climbed the ladder and got Washington in his pocket. I rooted for his relationships to resolve themselves peacefully. I empathized with his conflicting emotions at every turn in his life. It is odd, however, that the character whose actions I couldn’t forgive (he antagonizes Alexander Hamilton the most) turned out to be the character I felt the most compassion for – Aaron Burr. Isn’t that odd?

 

I thought about why and I now know that it has to do with what Burr discovered through his grave mistakes. It’s interesting. Burr discovers something Hamilton inherently knew, something the other characters grappled with but overcame… that the world is wide enough. Any actor in an audition room shuffles through it, any young professional intern in a boardroom meeting seethes through it, any little New York ant waiting in the box office line knows it – it’s an oh so familiar competition with people placed in a similar position and often striving for a similar widget…

 

The play reminded me to strive for what Burr longed for in his ‘private moments made public’… to choose love more. I’m sure it’s hiding within those uniquely competitive relationships where I least expected it. It got me wondering along with Burr – what if he’d thrived on harnessing those competitive relationships?

 

Hamilton’s got me feeling small, or rather, unexpanded. New York theatre and acting teachers have harnessed my ability to live in curiosity about the people around me – to take in all of it and carve out windows for the shoes and souls of others. In my voice class today with Julia Lenardon I had a fellow actor’s hands supporting my back so I could experience the expansion of my ribs when I breathe. What if I thought of the world more like that – good and bad resistance & healthy competition – all of it is something to push against, or release into?

 

THE WORLD IS (ROUND) WIDE ENOUGH.

 

Maybe I can incorporate that?

 

At the very least I did touch the gold paint on the wall of the Richard Rodgers Theatre before I left the front row of House Left to ground myself in reality – I was there – with a fellow little New York ant (THANKS D’ARIEL)!

 

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THE TEMPEST in the PARK – Such Stuff As [My] Dreams Are Made On

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“[T]he sky it seemed would pour down”, not “stinking pitch”, but rather light rain on a New York Thursday evening at Shakespeare in the Park. The production was The Tempest and the rain was very fitting to an evening among Prospero’s conjuring schemes. Especially since this is a play that opens on a rather extraordinary day involving, not just a storm, but a tempest; a.k.a. a violent commotion, uproar, or disturbance.

Years spent banished on an island, and will to create an enchanted life for his daughter, have afforded the usurped Duke, Prospero (Sam Waterston), time and motivation to master a new set of laws. The sorcerous power that he has acquired allows him to manipulate an airy spirit Ariel (Chris Perfetti) to create the tempest. I found the intelligence and gentleness that Perfetti afforded the spirit to be interesting – hard not to love – like breathing air – taken for granted most of the time until there is a realization of the need to breathe.

Actual fireflies lit up here and there unexpectedly setting an appropriate otherworldly ambiance as Prospero made his way across the stage. The personalization and belief in what he was saying made Waterston’s Prospero clear and heart-felt in his words and sentiments. However, in this day and age it is difficult not to question whether his manipulations are fair and paternalism appropriate?

As Prospero’s shipwrecked royal relatives and crew make their way onto the island we get a sense that their jewelled crowns, ornamented coats and imperial protocols are out of place. Ariel’s soft music, the shifting winds and Prospero’s influence trump the swords & treasures from afar setting their bearers into induced sleeping states.

The more fitting presence on the island is Caliban’s (Louis Cancelmi). Cancelmi’s Caliban was very light on his feet, yet grounded and it was fun to watch how responsive he was to the people around him. The physical mangling of his body gave him an obvious obstacle to battle as he peered out of his ‘otherness’ at the beings around him testing and discovering how they fit into his life.

Prince Ferdinand (Rodney Richardson) finds that he is wandering alone (as a young prince rarely does) and is compelled to set his eyes upon the “peerless” Miranda (Francesca Carpanini). At the same time, Miranda, a youth who is used to being alone and has ignorantly learned to find joy without friendship discovers the first male peer that she’s ever seen… and been attracted to! Supervising this union is a happy father, Prospero, who knows their marriage will also tie his daughter back to her homeland and provide for her when he’s gone. Early on in the play he explains to Miranda,

O, a cherubim

Thou wast that did preserve me. Thou didst smile.

Infused with a fortitude from heaven,

When I have deck’d the sea with drops full salt,

Under my burthen groan’d; which raised in me

An undergoing stomach, to bear up

Against what should ensue.

Good ‘Ol Bill and the power of his language. I found myself getting emotional listening to Prospero’s reasons as to why he’s wielded every type of power he could – mastering the slave Caliban, conjuring spirits, and manipulating people. Being a female in my twenties – I can’t say I can speak for men in their later years… but I am human, I have received parental love and have felt protective over younger family members and children. It was in his parental sentiments towards his ‘cherubim’ that I heard the justification for his actions. I could feel him playing the love. If he could find a way to have his daughter taken care of – then he would forgive his brother, set slaves free, give up his own mysterious powers.

So are Prospero’s manipulations fair – NO – but maybe that is not the point of this story. History shows us life has been unfair for many. The Tempest magnifies the distribution of light and shade in Prospero’s character. It is compelling to watch a story about what people do when life has been unfair, how they perceive their power, how they interact with others around them and to wonder about why? The justification for Prospero’s wielding powers is the restoration of peace amongst his homeland by the uniting of his daughter, Miranda, and Prince Ferdinand. After all – it is a Shakespeare comedy. By the time Prospero offers his epilogue the storm was struck down making way for the stage lights to meet trees as a backdrop.

The actors in this production set an example for me to be inspired by:

Work from the self.

Find the obstacles.

Play the love.

Mine for the truth.

Personalize the text.

Connect to what the other players have to offer.

Tell the story.

Witnessing a story unfold about universal powers and themes (love & family) unfold in Central Park surrounded by earthly elements definitely is “such stuff as [my] dreams are made on”.

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O, THE TRAGEDY!

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It is intimidating to talk about Hamlet, let alone play it, so I almost didn’t write this post. I wouldn’t have missed the Off-Broadway production though, directed by Austin Pendleton, a person I respect after having taken just a few scene study sessions with him last year. It seems, however, that I see his picture and name around town a lot in some way with almost every theatre I’ve treaded into in New York. It makes me feel that I’m walking in his footsteps along the carpets and studio floors and like he’s possibly thought all the thoughts I’m thinking now (also I know he does because he rambles about the ups and downs of his life in the theatre to make his students laugh and relate to him in class). That is partly why I wouldn’t have missed a production of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet yesterday at the Classic Stage Company that involved Pendleton.

As I walked into the theatre to sit down I noticed that the set was modernized and the ceiling was draped with white flowers accented by purple light.  The play starts within a void, a ghostly father, and yet the remnants of the premature celebration of Gertrude & Claudius’ wedding remained throughout every scene distracting from the very invisible but apparent void. The flowers seem to foreshadow that by the end of the play Ophelia, played by Lisa Joyce, will remain hovering over the rest of the players at her funeral.

I was moved by this production – very moved. Perhaps I’m getting older or something (I inevitably am) but everything – all the thoughts of death lingering underneath the white wedding flowers, the beauty and frailty of every relationship in the play plagued by an underlying mistrust or ignorance of human nature… its tragedy was much more unfortunate to me this time round. In this play most of the characters are fighting for something other than love (except Ophelia) – even if their actions might be born of love and loss – it’s difficult to watch. It’s not that Claudius, or Hamlet, or Polonius or Gertrude seem to start out as bad people but eventually a series of sinister actions, revelations and inability to correct bad circumstances cloud their complex characters.

It was odd to hear Good Ol’ Bill‘s language fragmented at times. Hamlet would pause and point somewhere and think and then say something else. It’s daring to experiment with Shakespeare’s natural rhythm and many would scorn at it. I can admire an experiment with heightened text, however, only if I still understand everything that is being said and every event that is happening on stage. I was able to follow and the story was still clear to me despite the departure from a use of Shakespeare’s rhythm that generally helps me when I’m running it over myself. The language was still able to move me with metaphor and to reveal truths about the characters so I was not opposed by the experiment in this particular production.

Hamlet, played by Peter Sarsgaard, surprised me because he was the first character to bring me to tears. (I’m a sucker for grief so that immediately got me… his father dying… but there was some unsentimental, invisible thing that clutched at me too). Within the opening scene of the play I noticed that his Hamlet did not feel like a victim – or if he did he hid it. Instead, his victimhood simply resonated inside as he lashed out at the people around him. His vulnerability surfaced through cracks in his bad behavior and I pitied him – but not because I wanted to. I wanted to be angry at him for getting stuck, for not choosing love over thoughts of revenge, and for crushing Ophelia. Instead I just stared at him from the audience completely crumpled and unraveled by default. By observing Hamlet sitting like an eggshell that no one dares crack I understood Ophelia’s pain better.

I didn’t expect to like Polonius, played by Stephen Spinella, but when a character always thinks he is going to win if he does this, or does that, or reasons a little better this time, or is a little cleverer next time it starts to become humorous. I saw the frailty of a flawed character that in plotting and looking towards the best interests of his family committed actions that actually did not tend to his daughter’s real emotional needs. I couldn’t fault him for his efforts – even though they were faulty. Polonius seemed to pull the wool over his own eyes and the unintentional consequence of losing not only his daughter’s mind, but her person, seemed too great in proportion.

In relation to the ensemble I can say that they were all living in the same world, although they all had their own very different intentions, and this I enjoyed. It is the invisible work of the director to achieve this coordination! At times in the Second Act I felt the need for focus to shift more appropriately from one character to another to reveal plot points, but that goes more to timing and theatre is a live interchange where things can change from night to night – and should.

I got the sense, and this is true of most accounts of most performances, the characters will deepen during the run of the show and become more and more specific and personal. I am left with a deeply personal sense of a group of frail human beings suspended underneath the actions of the play. Even though it was Ophelia whose mind left her body before she left a world that was written to be too dark to accept her love… I craved for the petals of the flowers on the ceiling to shower down on the rest of the characters to relieve them from their own blind misfortune.

O, the tragedy!

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A NIGHT OF SeriousFun :)

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I’ll admit it straight out… my night was completely made possible by my actor-idolization-slash-obsession and dream of seeing Meryl Streep live in New York City! To my pleasant surprise my inspiration was expanded to a group of artists and child performers that Streep introduced to the audience tonight for An Evening of SeriousFun Celebrating the Legacy of Paul Newman at the Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center.

The child performers were campers with SeriousFun Children’s Network and all had one very important thing in common, which was that they all live with medical conditions or serious illness and wanted to share how their camps have helped them to discover joy, confidence and friendships free of charge. The children showcased some serious talent tonight by singing songs and playing instruments. They joined a history of performers who have graced New York stages through the ages and allowed us to escape through laughter and tears – which is really an act of giving. Most importantly, their mothers were behind them and paying tribute to Paul Newman’s generosity in founding this organization.

There is something to be said about watching skilled female singers like Natalie Cole, Renee Fleming and Carole King performing for a cause like SeriousFun. There is no mistaking how talented these ladies are, but when I watched them donate their performances to a cause they believe in I really became a fan of, not only their work, but of them as people. They were having so much fun on that stage with a live orchestra!

I also must mention Aloe Blacc because he had me in the palm of his hand, that he literally held out symbolically, as he sang about the journey of a child and mother. In the program he’s quoted as saying, “What it comes down to in my songwriting is trying to tell the story of the underdog and all the obstacles they have to overcome in this life”. His statement rang true tonight as he dedicated his performance to the SeriousFun children and their mothers. In the words of Tom Hanks, who was quite tearful while reading aloud a letter from a child’s mother who benefited from the camps, “Oh I’m a sap!”

In the end I’m happy to report that, sitting in a box on the third tier of Avery Fisher Hall, I also found use for my fancy opera binoculars gifted to me over the holidays by my friend who knows me well… a theatre goer with poor natural eyesight!

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In all seriousness, this is a really great cause and I couldn’t go to sleep without passing the message along so consider this blog post my virtual version of that ol’ camp game of ‘telephone’. However, it’s my hope that the message stays in tact that the SeriousFun Children’s Network is a worthwhile cause to support!

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THE DREAM IS THE WORK

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OPERA IS BIG.  Opera at the Metropolitan Opera (MET) in New York City is GRAND.  As an audience member I walked along its red carpet and slid into its red velvety seats tonight.  The seating had just the right spacing so that I didn’t have to peer over someone else’s head, rather I had the convenient opportunity to peer through the patrons in front of me instead.  My night started with Pablo Heras-Casado conducting a live orchestra carting my suspension of disbelief into the world of George Bizet’s “Carmen” production by Sir Richard Eyre.

 

Why has it taken me so long to wander into the MET for an operatic experience?  I pass it nearly every week to get to the New York Public Library’s Performing Arts Library at Lincoln Center.  My opera-singer roommate has only been singing its praises for the past year and enlightening me with scores morning, day and night… and yet I waited and watched straight plays, musicals and experimental theatre instead.  I pleasantly found the elements of a great performance in “Carmen” with the addition of the performers’ extremely gifted vocal abilities impressively grounding and also lifting the performance!

 

Tonight’s production had Brandon Jovanovich passionately playing Don Jose, torn between his duty to his country as a soldier and his mother’s wishes for him to marry his sweet friend Micaela. A playful, fearless and fierce Carmen seducing Don Jose was brought to life by mezzo-soprano Anita Rachvelishvili. The lovely soprano Anna Hartig offered up a gracious take on Micaela and moved me to helpless utter tears within fifteen seconds of watching her softly fight for affection from Don Jose.  All three performers held strong, appropriate relationships with each other that were truly humbling to the story.

 

Now I’m left asking myself what I should take from my experience with the opera as an actor? As an artist? I was struck by the thorough attention to detail that a MET production employs.  Not only does sound travel in the space like its melting into you, but the costumes, the set, the delicate syndication of the large ensemble and chorus was impressive and invited me in.  The soft melodic children chorus members balanced the bolder, more experienced singers in the production and created the sense of watching a community unfold on stage.  There were no distractions to take my focus off of the play, which means that the coordination, collaboration, professional vocal, musical and behind-the-stage skills that were employed gave me the sense that years, and years of training (moula) and work goes into a MET production.  I was in awe (first time at the MET obviously).

 

As an actor I connected and was mostly interested in the characters.  The relation to another human being depicted on stage because of universals or truths that the performers discovered and shared with me.  The story was controversial in its time due to the morality issues with a ‘gypsy’ woman, Carmen, seducing a French soldier, Don Jose, away from the more appropriate marriage to a sweet peasant girl, Micaela.  Today this plot could still stir up some intense moral judgments/arguments given the opportunity although I’m sure it will never be as scandalous as it was when it opened in at the Opera Comique in Paris in 1875.

 

I tend to find the witnessing of moral dilemmas on stage as enlightening and it helps me to face fears and controversy in a safe space.  I have opportunity to think about difficulties, about even painful ideas and events and have dialogue about them.  In this particular story I was struck with comparing Micaela’s translation of Don Jose’s motherly love and approval (or lack thereof) as she followed him around to save his soul contrasted with Carmen’s freedom and ability to turn the audience on with a bold use of her body to seduce Don Jose.  I was consistently torn between my heartfelt sympathy for Micaela and my excitement for Carmen’s freedom.  I witnessed the performers shifting the focus on stage to where it needed to be at all times and it allowed me to take in the characters’ points of view quite clearly throughout the performance.

 

Happy to report that I am very inspired by the opera.  I admire the passion that these performers had and it challenged and excited me to work harder on my own craft.  It made me want to listen to Bizet more often too. It also made me think of a quote by the late Marian Seldes in her book The Bright Lights: A Theatre Life:

 

“The dream was the work.”

 

As an audience member it felt good to be the last ingredient for the MET’s creation of the dream of “Carmen” on stage tonight.

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THE MAIDS – WIELDING SPIT INTO DIAMONDS

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DISCLAIMER: I have self-diagnosed Cate-Blanchett-ology!

FACT: I attended Sydney Theatre Company’s production of Jean Genet’s, The Maids. First in the balcony right on August 9th and next in the Orchestra left on August 12th, 2014 located at the New York City Center as part of the Lincoln Center Festival.

BONUS: During Q&A sessions I spoke with The Director of the Sydney Theatre Company, Andrew Upton, the Director, Benedict Andrews, and the cast of the play Elizabeth Debicki, Isabelle Huppert and Cate Blanchett.

Happy to report that I AM INSPIRED!

Why attend a play about murder, sex and death? Despite those themes being quite dramatic and drawing crowds through the ages, I really couldn’t resist an opportunity to watch Blanchett, an acting HERO of mine, at work!

Both Blanchett and Huppert have quite a bit of experience (and award collection) for delving into challenging material. In fact, when I prompted Andrews about what he respects most in a creative collaboration he described casting the entire ensemble because of their, “willingness to go all the way, to not be lazy, to ask big questions [and] to make big offers”.

First steps of developing the play involved the chic set design by Alice Babidge and the employing of 10 cameras to monitor it. I was intrigued, but not sold on the cameras at first. The cameras captured close ups of objects on stage, unattractive facial expressions of the actresses in moments of distress, and even the mistress’ toilet use. Debicki described the cameras as being “surveillance-ish” and that she “started to enjoy how ugly and horrible it can be to get your face really close to the mirror”.  Andrews provided a “construction on the stage” for the actresses to work around. He mentioned their effort to use the theatre to turn reality inside out and as “an interrogation of the performance… and what the piece is about”.  Once I realized how relevant the hunting out of these character’s flaws is to the society we live in, where people’s lives can be sought at the touch of a button, I warmed to the multimedia aspect of this performance.

On its surface the piece is about two sisters (Solange/Huppert and Claire/Blanchett) who work as maids for a very wealthy, and younger, Mistress/Debicki. The sisters have developed a habit of reaching a state of euphoria by role-playing the mistress and mimicking her gestures and lifestyle. They ritualistically wear her expensive clothes, make-up and jewels without her knowledge and even plot to murder her.  The mistress’ flowers became the maid’s whips to play with power when no one is looking.  By clowning around with each other in places where an onlooker might initially feel fear, disgust, anger or sadness in response to the criminal nature of the sisters’ actions the humor managed to make a theatre of over 2000 people continuously laugh!

As the characters delved deeper into the play I experienced more serious comments on society begin to unfold.  I started to care for the characters being portrayed on stage. They made me laugh so that in a moment where Claire collapses out of her role-playing game and calls for her older sister out of shame and sheer exhaustion my molecules were changed.  I felt her pain.  As an audience member I was inadvertently asked to look past the danger of empathizing with a person committing crime and to look at her human condition of suffering instead.

Andrews reminded me that, “something concrete is actually happening… these two women, these two sisters, live in insufferable conditions and are the lowest of the low. From that position… objection… humiliation and shame… from that terrible necessity, that powerlessness, they invent this ritual… this hatred for the woman that oppresses them”.

Blanchett found it important to search out truth in, not only her character’s smaller gestures, but her grand gestures as well. An example she offered is people on reality television shows, “they believe it… they’re very aware of being watched and I think that’s what we harness is that sometimes we become excessive when we think someone’s watching us”.

Naturally there was a lot of curiosity into Blanchett’s process of preparation for this role.  I’m sure I was grinning when Blanchett said she loves rehearsal because so do I!  She said, “the material and the people in the room dictate what you have to do. I don’t have any one process, it’s sort of a bastard process really, theater is a bastard form, it’s a bit of dance…musical… tragedy… comedy… pop-culture… high art, and I think it depends on the piece you’re working on what you have to do”.

It can be refreshing to know, and exciting to accept that challenge, that an actor has multiple ways into a character.  Each new character might demand something new to be discovered and exploded during the rehearsal process and then shared with the world.

In terms of the physical and emotional demands placed on an actor Blanchett assured that “actors usually do 8 shows a week and you get ‘show fit’ during the course of rehearsing, not like you’re going from a standing start”.  The actresses in this play spent 18 weeks in rehearsal in order to fully use the stage to carry out complicated and detailed physical choreography.  They run, crawl, jump, roll, spit, punch each other and have severe emotional breakdowns for a 1 hour and 45 minute show with no intermission.

“I love the way Beno [as Blanchett calls Andrews] works because as a director he’s got a very clear framework, but as he always says … if you leave the room with your first idea you’ve sort of screwed up in a way, so he’s willing for actors to throw everything at him to see what sticks”.

Andrews reflected that, “theater is the place where we can dangerously think about questions like… what is society? What is culture? What is class? What are the values?”

In a world where I am witnessing technology having the ability to remove us from human contact and emotional accountability to each other I really do appreciate a mounting of Genet’s play.  It is worth a shot at examining why Solange and Claire do what they do- whether that be what they do when no one is looking or how they change when submitting to the powers-that-be in their life.  It is interesting and requires that the actors reserve all judgment of the characters being played.  A challenge that I witnessed this ensemble meet in The Maids.

 

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NEW YORK – AN ACTOR’S PLAYGROUND

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Inspiration is possible everywhere I go (and is often free).  Yet, it has been made particularly possible for me to be inspired in New York City.  I really have found it to be a playground for theatre where I find world-famous actors up on fancy, bright stages. I also find extremely talented actors in tiny studio theatres simply sharing experiences to inspire each other.

I tagged along to a talk-back event tonight with Kathleen McNenny, Joanna Adler and Stark Sands for the Tom Todoroff Summer Intensive Program at Shetler Studios.  I realized that it is valuable to take the time to share experiences as actors (whether students, recent conservatory graduates, or experienced stage and film actors).

Why am I inspired? What did I learn?

“My job is to audition” I heard Kathleen say before jetting out of the theatre. We all love this woman. Being the Masks teacher at the Tom Todoroff Conservatory it is easy to forget that this down-to-earth person who gives her heart to her students really does pound the pavement every day as an actor.  It can actually be discouraging to realize that my whole life will be such an active pursuit of work; but Kathleen embodies staying positive and loving what we do as actors WHICH IS TO AUDITION!

Both Stark and Joanna reiterated her statement.  Auditioning is the heart of what we do.  It was notable for me to hear these actors state this in front a quiet, yet strong presence in the corner, Tom Todoroff, who carries on the legacy of Michael Shurtleff’s book The Audition.  Having worked through audition guideposts in Tom’s classes myself (and believe-you-me he is a stickler for them) I know that he’d agree with this statement on auditioning.

In terms of actors fresh out of Conservatory training (like me) part of the struggle is just to get auditions in order to exercise the chops.  I liked hearing Joanna trace back her various jobs and all the times that she said “YES” to an internship with a non-profit arts agency, had tea or lunch with another actor or a director and then noticing that it led to an audition, and even a job.  Hearing her speak I thought, “there is method to the madness of this business!”  Joanna shared that, “this business is uncertain for everyone. I accept that I am a part of this chaos.  I paid my conEdison bill and therefore I can let it go!”

We are all people looking for work and in order to collaborate I am first required to seek out relationship and community and then say YES to opportunities as they come.  Just like every actor that has come before me- and just like Joanna and Stark!

The last time I’d seen Stark was on one of those big fancy stages playing the lead in the musical Kinky Boots. Tonight he mentioned having done 400 performances with that show.  Having gained success so early in his career both in the theatre and in film I was definitely taking down notes from him.  One interesting point he made was that even as an actor who has made New York City his home-base he always has to be open to job opportunities in other cities.

On being prepared for auditions Stark shared that his process involves getting off-book (learning the lines of the script/scene) before the audition. It helps him to have “lived in the skin of the character for a while”.  He makes strong choices for his auditions and then must be malleable to take direction in the room.

In parting I’ll be letting these simple new mantras ring in my head for a while:

MY JOB AS AN ACTOR IS TO AUDITION.

I PREPARE.

I PAY SERVICE TO THE TEXT.

I LOVE WHAT I DO. 

 

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