Humanity in an elevator; You Were Seen

November 25, 2019 2;15pm

I just had such an odd but refreshingly beautiful *truly* human experience.

I was leaving a particularly difficult therapy session where I cried most of the way through. As I was leaving my therapists office I booked it to the elevator because my puffy red eyes and the potential that I was going to burst into tears and shatter into pieces was happening and I wanted to get out of there as soon as I could so if I broke down it wouldn’t be in the lobby and I could just get outside.

I clicked the button to go from the 5th floor to the lobby while I stood alone in the elevator. Then the elevator stopped one floor below me- a different floor of the therapy center I was at.

A young 20 something female presenting human came into the elevator and stood slightly in front of me. I heard sniffling and realized she was silently, bravely trying to contain her crying. Their faux fur coat hood obstructed my view of their face but I could hear the restraint. As we stood there descending in the elevator I just thought to myself very mindfully “here are two people who are hurting in the same space, each going through something different but feeling pain and yet we stay silent.”

For a moment I had the urge to reach out and hug her. I felt the same way as I walked half a block down the road behind her, with her cries still being stifled the whole time but audibly getting a bit louder.

I chose not to touch her because some people have trauma and would be startled if you touch them so I didn’t. But that’s the only reason I didn’t do anything. To respect that she might be startled by my intentioned loving and empathetic touch.

But to have two humans together in a box descend 3 floors and not acknowledge each other was powerful. I don’t know if she noticed me, if she knew it was okay to cry in front of me because internally I was still crying.

The silence of two peoples hurt was ear shattering. Painful. Sad. But the most visceral human experience I’ve ever had.

My eyes are open, I saw another persons humanity and we were linked in one way or another. We stood in silent solidarity. Resilient, we stood in tandem in our hurt.

I hope they are okay. I hope they have someone that can hug them in the way that they need. In the way I need right now. But instead I sit here on my hour ride home on the train now filled with a curiosity, heaviness, sadness and yet peace. I hope they know they were seen and not feel invisible.

The Seagull Series, No. 1: Play Time In School; Discovering the Play

Monday, October 28, 2019 5:29pm

So, I’ve decided that I wanted to start a ‘series’ essentially to document and reflect on my time when I played Konstantin in Anton Chekhovs 1854 play, ‘The Seagull: A Comedy in 4 Acts’ 2 years ago back in November 2017.

I want to start this series because playing Konstantin has been one of (if not the) greatest joys I’ve ever had in my life. I think for the rest of my life when October and November roll around I will forever become nostalgic for when I played this role. I know last year for 1 year anniversary I tirelessly and deeply documented the journey, giving behind the scenes peeks and sharing stories of my time in the play. Well, I want to do that again but in a more formal-concrete, permanent way. This way I can always look back at the pictures of my time during rehearsals and have a timeline of my journey through the show- all of the pitfalls and successes as a young actor just starting out in my professional career.

This series will serve as a reflection of how I’ve grown since taking my final bow and all the things I’ve learned because of that show. I hope you enjoy this wild ride with me. Prepare for stories of completely forgotten lines during a pivotal scene, the time I ripped my shin open when I kicked a chair open and was bleeding and how I still have a scar from it, and overall growing as a human while I navigated my way through my first leading role. So! Lets jump in friend!

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I think it’s appropriate to start with how much Konstantin meant to me before even being cast in the show. I studied acting at The Atlantic Theatre Company Acting School full-time conservatory located in Manhattan, New York. I spent 2 years there growing as an artist and a human being as a whole. My second year we had to take a class respectfully named “Chekhov” When I was tasked with having to read 4 of Chekhov’s plays before the first semester began over summer break I wasn’t looking forward to it. Who gives a shit about plays written over 100 years ago by some Russian dude? Well, it turns out I did. I cared. Due to my extensive posting of pictures and documenting my life and the app Timehop I was able to trace the exact day I first read The Seagull- August 20, 2016.

Here’s the status I made:

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I simply replied to my classmate “I had no idea, I’m really enjoying the seagull.” That’s right Ri, you had no idea.

These are the legit FIRST lines of the play in an exchange between Masha and Medvenko. And I remember putting my phone down to type out a status update of it because I thought it was so brilliant and funny. As I continued to read the play, (it’s full title being “The Seagull: A Comedy in 4 Acts”) I fell in love.

I fell in love with the character Konstantin to be more specific. Konstantin was this struggling writer who was consumed by depression. He longed for love from his mother who was cold and dismissive of him, he was rejected by the love of his life in unrequited life-long love and struggled with suicidal ideation. He ends up making an attempt at the end of act 3 by shooting himself in the head and survives but then, sadly the final moment on stage we hear a gunshot go off and the final line of the play is “Konstantin shot himself.”

It’s maybe morbid (or to some downright depressing) to think about how much I related to such a dark character but I did. I said from the beginning, he was my spirit animal. In a picture of the cover of the play on September 23, 2016 I wrote a facebook status: “It’s ya boi Konstantin. Aka my spirit animal. He is my life in words.” Even though he was written 136 years before I was born, he was me and I was him. I needed to play him. I was lucky to have been in training and had the opportunity to do a very famous scene from the show, commonly referred to as “The bandage scene” In this scene his mother, Arkadina (are-ka-din-ah– Russian names are a bitch) wraps his fresh wound from his botched suicide attempt and they end up getting into a monstrous fight where she insults his work as a playwright, calling him talentless, belittling him to the point that he begins to cry and she ends up yelling “Stop crying! Cry baby! Stop crying!” and he, in turn, insults her acting career as she used to be a successful actress which adds to her narcissist characteristics throughout the play. It’s a scene full of energy, life, vulnerability, hurt and volatile anger between two people who don’t understand each other that just (sadly) happen to be mother and son.

Well finally on October 6, 2016 I got to do the infamous bandage scene in class. I learned so much about myself in rehearsals and the eventual “performance” for the class in that scene. I learned that I was scared of being vulnerable and being seen and letting myself “go there” and allow my work to be messy. At school, you would do a first found of the scene, then get notes, and then do what was called a “bring back” which was the final polished scene. You would think with how much I connected with Konnie I would just be a puddle of tears and ferocious but I could never cry, and I still held back. When we did the bring back about 2 weeks later after our initial showing of the scene I had a breakthrough in my life as an actor: I let my walls down and cried. Hysterically. To the point that I could barely get my lines out- which is what was needed for the scene, but also what I needed for me as an actor. I proved to myself I could let my walls down, and what it felt to be out of control and free from any judgment of myself or being in my head. I remember calling my dad that night amped up and saying that I had always dreamed of doing/being capable of what I just did in that room hours before. It was a cloud parting the sky of realizing my power as an actor when I got out of my head and what could lie on the horizon for me as a performer.

Heres a picture of me the day we did the scene for the first time on October 6, 2016

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Then oddly enough the day I did my bring back was a day that I was practicing the actual bandage scene for the professional production:

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Sadly, this is the point in my life where severe mental health struggles were beginning to pop up and lead me down the dangerous spiral of self-harm and complete loss of self that lasted 4 months.  A mere few weeks later, during Christmas break, I decided to leave the program for good.

So this was my introduction to the brilliance that is The Seagull. Despite having to leave training to take care of my mental health, little did I know not too far ahead, in November 2017 would I play Konstantin as my first NYC role and also marking my first leading role. which I would go on to play professionally a year later.

 

 

 

Take The Best, Leave The Rest

So I read this article from Backstage probably 4 days ago and just haven’t had time to share about it despite being so moved and inspired when I first read it, and here I am now on Saturday morning finally getting to talk about it because it’s STILL stuck out to me.

The featured actor on September 26th edition of backstage is Ginancarlo Esposito You might know him from his terrifying role in Breaking Bad, which is where I personally recognized him from.

He was quoted in the article when asked about his approach to acting saying:

“ I say take the best and leave the rest, if you commit yourself to one technique for me it would disallow me to pull from other modalities that I feel work.”

When I read this is was like YAS! I’m glad I’m on the same page and not the only one who does this. But specifically the wording “take the best, leave the rest” really stuck with me.

Over my time as an actor and the professional training I’ve done I’ve dabbled in meisner, Stanislavsky and my most intensive modality of technique being Practial Asthetics and I am an alumnus of @atlanticactingschool where that is the only school@that teaches PA because it was developed there. I spent 2 years of my life learning PA which for those of you that are unfamiliar with that method- it was created by William H Macy and David Mamet and has strong roots in scene analysis, intention and purely listening to your scene partner and being a human on stage.

While I was at Atlantic the steps to analyze a scene were extensive and very methodical, but when you did the work the results that were yielded were impeccable and I did my best work while learning at that school.

But after I left Atlantic I was faced with my first role, let me correct that- my first lead role in Anton Chekhov’s ‘The Seagull’ playing the protagonist, Konstantin. This is such a juicy, complex role and a huge undertaking and I didn’t have much time to prepare for it since rehearsals were a little under a month to take on such a behemoth of a play that spans 4 acts in which my character is on stage in almost every scene.

When I began researching the role and beginning the ground work and inevitably creating the character as a whole and bringing that into rehearsals I was met with an expected road block: What method do I use? My default was to use Practical Asthetics because that’s how I was trained the last 2 years ( I got this role not too long out of school and it was my first since leaving school. But I found due to the IMMENSE personal nature of the material and how I view Konstantin as an extension of myself, PA wasn’t really going to help me. Instead over time I found myself leaning more into Stanislavsky and the method. I bought “An Actor Prepares” and sunk my teeth into it. ⠀

What ended up resulting was using a lot of emotional memory (which is commonly associated with the method) and deep character work like writing diary entries in Konstantin’s first person POV. ⠀

Essentially I created my own method. I did end up using PA for the parts of scenes I sincerely COULD NOT find motivation for some of Konstantin’s choices confused me and I couldn’t rely on my own personal experience to being truth to the character. For example, I would never shoot a bird and hand it to the love of my life and then threaten to kill myself all in the same sentence. Those were moments when the method wasn’t able to help me. ⠀

It was truly astounding going through that process of playing Konstantin because I created my own method using tips and tricks from past modalities and crafting my own unique process. I wrote, created a playlist, made sure to wear his clothes each rehearsal- all things that weren’t focused on in my extensive training at the Atlantic. It was thrilling, confusing, frustrating at times because I felt lost and like I should be “sticking to” the training of what my life centered around for the past 2 years. ⠀

In the end, and even now as roles as come and gone I still do the same. I pick and choose which modalities to use to create a character and I feel forunate that I’ve found my own formula, but more importantly, told myself it’s okay to use more than one and not be married to PA. ⠀

I’ve taken the best of my trainings and what has worked for me, and then experimented by meshing them all together and as a result, cultivated my own approach, hence- leaving the rest.

Speak Aloud and Your Truth Comes True, says Billy Porter

“We speak into existence what we are. If you keep saying ‘I can’t,” then you won’t. If you say ‘I can,” then there’s a transition that happens all around you,” he says. “Me speaking life into myself ultimately has changed my life”

– Billy Porter, Backstage Magazine 8.1.19

*****

Ok hie beautiful truth bombs!! This hit me haaad (imagine a Boston accent.) So I’ll start with this quote and move forward. One of my old managers use to tell me, or rather (immediately) lovingly scold me whenever I would complain about being “poor” and “having no money” she would tell me to put positive energy out universe and soon those things would come true- roles would come to me and my acting career could take off and eventually—I wouldn’t be poor. It ultimately, (in her eyes, and I believe the immediate connection I made to this quote) comes down to not believing enough in myself that good things could come my way and voicing them aloud. Instead I was stuck in this pit that things would be the way the are because I spoke aloud about my misery and misfortune, somehow making it cosmically true.

That was her take on money and inevitable success coming to me. Now to expand it more broadly in relation to what Billy said, I agree- in this business, there isn’t room for “no” in your head. I remember this young girl I studied with while I was at the Atlantic, one of youngest in our class and extremely talented one day said aloud “I’m finishing this program, and then I’m getting into Juilliard and if I say it aloud enough times it’s going to happen” and this is coming from a girl who is already studying at a prestigious acting school at the time but had her eye set on a dream years ahead.

Now when it comes to me, things are a bit more murky- I have a heart of stone and  commitment to my career as an actor I will not take no for an answer, however, being trans- I know for a fact I am not suited for every (or like, most any of them) cis male role and that’s when the audible “I can’t”s slip out.

I believe that because of the way I look and sound and where we are in the industry we aren’t in the place that I can play some of my dream roles and types of characters because the world wouldn’t believe me as maybe the deranged killer on an episode of CSI: DALLAS (is that a show yet? If so- hit me up casting directors?) I believe I won’t be taken seriously and CAN’T play all the cis male roles in mainstream media because the world just isn’t ready for a freckled face, brown skin, high voiced person like me to be believed as “a man” And try as I may to talk aloud and seemly “manifest” good vibes for myself, I have to keep in perspective where the industry is when it comes to trans people playing cis roles.

With THAT being said, I find it very exciting Billy is finally getting his due on such an important show like Pose where trans poc are in the spotlight (literally). Hell, I’ll admit I even had an audition for the show. I had the opportunity to see Billy in Kinky Boots years ago and it’s inspiring to see that a 30 year career in the theatre and after winning a Tony and Grammy he is finally on TV and nominated for an Emmy and mainstream media knows his name because of a show about queer and trans poc. It’s about damn time for HIM and the rest of us for some visibility.

 

 

 

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No Plan B.

“Those of you with nothing to fall back on,you will find are home.”

-David Mamet

This is a lesson and quote I take WHOLEHEARTEDLY. This quote from him book True Or False reminds me that I have to remember to stay hungry and never give at all costs. I’ve found that if you really want a career in acting you have to be willing to have 𝘯𝘰 plan B. I know that sounds unreasonable and maybe stupid but I believe if a person wants to be a professional actor you have to be so driven and believe enough in yourself that things will work out you will stop at nothing until you have reached the goals you have set for yourself.

I believe if there is something else you would rather be doing, or even have a faint interest in as a career path and can 𝐢𝐦𝐚𝐠𝐢𝐧𝐞 doing, one should pursue that instead. ⁣

This business is draining and frankly can be soul- sucking. The amount of rejection and never hearing the “𝘸𝘩𝘺” of why you didn’t the hundreds of roles you auditioned for can be maddening and make you feel insecure, confused, at times hopeless and maybe even worthless and THATS when the thoughts of “I want to give up, this is too hard” come in or when you can’t pay your rent and you’re at HRA applying for food stamps just to get by. ⁣

But I believe you have to have 𝐚𝐫𝐝𝐨𝐫 for your work, accept the fact that maybe you simply didn’t get the damn role for a “stupid” reason completely out of your control like you were simply “too tall/short” “your speaking voice was too high” “you’re too flamboyant” “you were TOO attractive” Or maybe at the time of the audition you were 𝘵𝘰𝘰 heavy or 𝘵𝘰𝘰 thin. These continual moments of that 𝘣𝘪𝘵𝘪𝘯𝘨, 𝘴𝘵𝘪𝘯𝘨𝘪𝘯𝘨, unknown rejection 𝘵𝘦𝘴𝘵 you to keep pushing and then eventually, EVENTUALLY something will happen. You will “make it” in whatever way that looks like to you. ⁣

So I say if you’re on that grind, get out there and 𝐠𝐞𝐭 𝐨𝐧 𝐢𝐭. Use every resource possible. Study films, watch your favorite actor’s movies and study their performances but also branch out and watch films you 𝘩𝘢𝘷𝘦𝘯’𝘵 seen. Learn about filmmaking and theater, read plays. Go to school and study, and if you can’t afford that, take acting classes.. Get on Backstage.com (@backstagecast on instagram) and setup a profile, apply for roles, audition and get your face out there and 𝘣𝘦 𝘴𝘦𝘦𝘯, also, read the 𝟷𝟶𝟶𝟶’𝘴 of articles on that behemoth as another resource— put in the work. ⁣

One of my favorite quotes that I’ll leave you with is this:⁣

𝗪𝐨𝐫𝐤 𝐇𝐚𝐫𝐝 𝐈𝐧 𝐒𝐢𝐥𝐞𝐧𝐜𝐞, 𝐋𝐞𝐭 𝐒𝐮𝐜𝐜𝐞𝐬𝐬 𝐁𝐞 𝐘𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐍𝐨𝐢𝐬𝐞.

The Voice Over Acting Path My Career Is Heading Down That I Didn’t Expect, Auditioning For It & What I’ve Learned So Far

Voice Over: We all know it, whether we hate it (the car commercials, those horrific training videos before you get on the floor at our new job or even those annoying peppy- ass Spotify ads) or the ones we like, the ones that voice our favorite TV characters in animation, video games, the NOT so annoying commercials like maybe you like the sexy old spice guy? Or the Dos Equis dude? These are just tiny examples of where voice over is  present in our daily lives because baby- it’s everywhere. Instructional how-to’s, McDonald’s dollar menus, bar safety videos and our beloved Homer Simpson and Stewey, are all faceless voices, even the stuff on on TV telling us WHEN a TV show is  going to be on at “8/7 central” are all voice over.

In my over decade career of acting and years perusing professional training through my BFA in musical theatre and my 2.5 conservatory degree at the Atlantic Acting School in New York which specialized in solely acting, VO (Voice Over) was not even on my radar as something I would ever do, was in my range of possibilities or even of interest to me.

Now a year later in my professional relationship and contract with my management  overall, 98% of my auditions were for VO. My auditions are for animation so: The bulk is mostly TV show characters, a TV spot here and there ( the person telling you when a TV show- mostly for nickelodeon was going to be on), a few video games, I did one audiobook audition and I recently had an absolute blast for a horror-story podcast based out of an eastern city metropolis. Now, the other 2% of auditions can be broken down into physical in-person auditions and self-tapes. The physical in-person auditions have all been for wildly successful and high profile things that I still can’t believe I’ve been able to step into those rooms to audition for such as Netflix TV shows; FX, or big-name showrunner TV peeps or wonderfully exciting well known NYC Theaters–My managers are goooood to me! (Shout to SG if ya’ll are reading this)  The self-tapes have mostly been for films which I have the least experience in and don’t have much to say about.

So that 98 % of VO auditions that have taken up my August 2018- now present July 2019 have been such a learning experience and what I want to focus on. I’m not going to lie and say in the beginning and even middle and here and there, there have been moments where I have said after having so many auditions in a row (sometimes 4 in a week- but like- I wasn’t complaining then because HI AUDITIONS AND CREATIVITY!!) where I was looking at the potential trajectory of my life and saying “I don’t want to do voiceover ” or maybe some variation perhaps of ” This isn’t what I planned, I want to do theatre, where are those auditions?”

So privilege check for a moment- I am extremely lucky because in my best days I was getting a minimum of 2 auditions a week. Usually 3. Lucky? Check. The shit I was/still am auditioning for was and is ridiculous to be brought in at that level is extremely lucky and so fortunate. Check. I know there are actors out there who would murder their families Menendez style to audition for the companies I have in a medium they “didn’t plan on” or “want to.” So I know when those gross words slip out I need to shut the hell up and look at my life and be grateful.

So here’s the part where I’ll lay it out and just be transparent and in the words of Amy Schumer (who I can quote this almost verbatim because I was practicing my VO skills the other day from her book The Girl With The Lower Back Tattoo) and say “Choose your own adventure and skip ahead if you don’t want to hate me or hate your life.” I’ve had the pleasure of auditioning (and I’m going to stick to VO only because that’s the point of this post) for new shows on PBS, Nickelodeon TV shows and commercial spots, Cartoon Network ( some established shows like Steven Universe and new ones), Video game franchises, Dreamworks and my personal greatest accomplishment and honor was when I finally got to audition for Disney about 10 months in. Privilege check meter:  meter has exploded- mercury exploding all over. check check check.

Now here’s a fun fact. Out of the however many auditions I’ve had (including the in-person ones)…I haven’t booked a single one! And I put that exclamation mark there for 2 reasons, A) for proof that you can have all the opportunities in the world and it doesn’t mean shit because this biz is hard and B)  also hopefully you’ll be like “see he doesn’t take himself that seriously and he’s not a conceited asshat”  *Nervously looks around hoping for the latter*

But in all seriousness, I’ve auditioned for a lot of stuff, and haven’t booked anything and while yes, that super sucks and my bank account weeps and I’ve been on the verge of having to move out of my 1 bedroom apartment I live alone in– heres where things turn around- I’ve learned so much about acting through VO and honestly this past week I have begun to learn so much more- which is why I was inspired to write this all down now.

The main thing about Voice Over acting: You have so much FREEDOM TO CREATE. You can literally do ANYthiNg. You get to be so SO big. You are literally, at the true essence CRE-ATE-TING a character from just lines on a page and conveying it all with your      v o i c e.  You get to encapsulate and paint the picture of a whole human with your mouth dude! What a concept!

The Audition Process: You get the email from your manager *LADY SPIDER DUE 7/4* you will usually get a break down which means it’s a description of the character, sometimes a paragraph giving the emotional arc (or other times, a very brief description like a sentence or 2 of key facets) of the character and sometimes you even get a sketch of what the character looks like, usually a black and white artist sketch. [[[Quick Trivia: Something I am learning now, (A year later…better late than never, but aren’t babies just learning to walk at a year or something? I know nothing of child development) as I am getting better from listening to the professionals, something paramount to creating the way the voice of the character is they may get the idea based on the sketch maybe about the way their mouth is shaped prompting this voice actor to then talk out of the side of their mouth, or have a lisp.]]] So you get the breakdown with or without the sketch. So here, let me give you a fake breakdown so you know what one would look like:

Lady Spider, 17-mid 20s,  She’s a spit fire always ready with a witty quip. Her close friends; Jewels and Tyler all work together at the job they all hate, Dairy King.

And then the scene would probably take place in a Dairy king (maybe she puts it down with a snide comment?) but maybe the lines have nothing to do with Dairy King-I dunno. Who knows, it just gives you a slight idea that this girl has some sass, and then it’s up to you as the talent to portray that facet in whatever way you want. Then you record it at home, do as many takes as you want- me I do like 80,000, then you send it off as an mp3 to you manager and you continue on with your life.

The lines are usually short, and equal a page or 2. I am going to type usually again, but use italics this time. Usually. I’ve had some doozy’s where I’ve had almost paragraphs to read. Another fun fact is, you just read your lines, when you get the script, or some people call it sides, or copy, you get everyone’s lines but you skip down the page and just read your lines even if aurally it won’t make sense if when listening it goes from suddenly you shouting “NO!” when your line before was “I think I’m going to eat some pizza.”

So, as I said– you get to be as big as you want, which I have found a lot of freedom and fun in. I find myself creating these larger than life characters, doing things, making sounds (I’ve had to pretend I was shoving my face with cake, so I was licking my fingers and had to find a way to make myself sound full) to create a picture and tell a story, which inevitably is a lot harder than you think. However not everything is peachy keen, I wish and have a bit of disdain that I have no training in VO. I will be the first to admit, and then my managers can probably (although in a loving manner) back me up and say that I would benefit from VO lessons and classes. I can do a few specific things very well, a few accents, and placements in my voice and find endless emotion within that placement, but finding a great deal of vocal range has been difficult for me. An old acting teacher has told me, my speaking voice alone is interesting, so wouldn’t that be nice if I could just Mila Kunis it up in this B (She plays Meg on Family guy in her speaking voice) and just get cast using my regular voice? And I’ve honestly thought about that a lot, and I don’t know that that would be all that fun. Part of the glory of sending in all these audio files to the faceless suits of the 2 agencies I always submit to is creating these larger than life characters, most of which are not human (I would like to clarify though, just because I’m reading for a character named Lady Spider or Ollie the Octopus I’m not making guttural noises like a Pokemon, these are human beings and voices I am creating.)

And finally the last story I will share with you my dear friend, is the most challenging and longest audition I had because it was a 10-minute recording, was for an AudioBook. It was a while back but I believe it was 3 chapters of a successful teen novel that had been out since I believe 2014? It was very surprising but the audition came late at night, I want to say maybe 9pm and was due the next day. Now, here’s my thing when it comes to VO auditions- I do them immediately. I don’t have much of a life so I am usually always home and can get to my computer almost immediately and start recording. So, it was like, 9pm on say, a Wednesday and I get an email for an Audiobook audition (my very first) I don’t even know how many pages it was…Let me see if I can find the email- hold please…-okay, I’m back- it was 6 pages in about size 12 font. It took me hours to record.

Now, I say this 100% UNBIASED despite the fact that I am a Backstage (magazine) Brand Ambassador for the Backstage platform, but months before I got the call for this massive undertaking I was browsing youtube and stumbled across a video they had where it was something like “An audiobook artist (?) takes us through her session recording” And my interest was piqued enough to click and it was interesting because the 10? 12?  minute  video showed how this woman differentiated each character from the next by highlighting their lines of speaking in different colors so she knew who was talking and which voice to do. So you saw a colorful page in front of her, designating the different characters she was voicing and sipping tea. I was blown away. At this point it was just voyeurism- I had no personal stake in this woman’s genius or lifesaving tactics. But come that Wednesday 9pm email months later and when I scrolled that 6-page pdf and a flurry of swears came flying out of my mouth I remembered that video. I didn’t even need to watch it again- I just knew I needed to highlight who was talking. Luckily for me, there were only 2 people talking, a 60-year-old man, who I gave a deep southern drawl to, and a young 17-year-old fiesty/ defensive girl. So, my computer screen went from white to an array of pink and blue (no not gender norms- more like adobe pdf sucks and I didn’t have color options)

What I found perhaps most interesting was  the “I said” and “he said looking down, embarrassed staring at his shoes” and then launching into the dialogue of a character because you then have to switch into someone’s voice you made up- also known as the narrative, in this case, it was first-person narrative. The older guy who I made up, with the deep southern drawl, we will call him Jack, was an interesting segue from the “I said’s” considering this was written in the first person and sometimes the characters would just dialogue back and forth. It certainly was a lesson and a sight to be seen.

Only now listening to the GENIUS that is Michael C Hall narrating, fuck it, acting the SHIT out of Stephen King’s ‘Pet Semetary’ do I KNOW what Audiobooks are supposed to sound like, oh my good god and heaven! I’ve never listened to one before, but thanks to Amazon prime I got a few for free and I am shocked at what that man can do ( I feel like Dexter didn’t do him justice because I was bored- sorry) He voices: an 80-year-old woman and man, 5-year-old girl, 2-year-old boy, the 40-year-old main character, his wife and the narration which I believe is third-person narrative ( “Louis put his shoes on”)

And finally finally (swear to god I’m done now) I got an official microphone to compete with everyone else with last week. This whole time bashfully I’ve been using my MacBook Pro microphone, so even as good as my auditions have been, the quality hasn’t been as nice as it could have been. BUT! The same 2 agencies called me for all my auditions so I won’t beat myself up too hard and fault myself, but now I’m ready for the big leagues. I’m ready to compete with the big dogs. Is this the $1000 microphone yet? No. But the difference is incredible. I am excited about my next audition and I want to  practice because now with the microphone it has a jack so I can hear myself while I’m talking, and obviously playback afterward when I’m done. Mostly, I am excited to learn from my mistakes, correct my accent (My Wisconsin regionalism still creeps through) and just get better. Because whether or not in the moments I am an ungrateful piece of poo, VO seems to be where things are headed, so I might as well be the best doggone actor I can be right?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The “Right” Way To Warm Up Before A Show

April 28, 2019 7:22pm

All done with opening night!!

I included a photo degradation of my emotional state/ prep before I go on stage. Some people might think (And I’ve been lauded and other times judged by fellow actors on my focus and commitment to warming up before a show) I take my job too seriously, or I “prep” too much, but I don’t think there’s any certain way, or rather right way it takes for a person to get into character.

For me, its vocal warm ups and an ass load of stretching. Listening to music is nonnegotiable, and making sure I’m alone and making it a point to separate myself from the rest of the cast is of utmost importance.

I create playlists for each character I play to help me get in tune with they who they are and so when I stretch (I’m talking legs- in- the- air- get- every-muscle- in- my- body- to- wake- up- and- say- hello, 30+ min stretch) I can begin to let that part of them, their energy sink and absorb into me. Because even if you’re just sitting in a chair the whole time, your body has to be buzzing! It has to be relaxed and ready to move at any second and active! ZING!

And while I do all this I try to remember to breathe (I ALWAYS forget, mostly when I’m stretching!!) because that always seems impossible to remember as an actor when we are on stage even though it’s our bread and butter- without breathing it’s hard for us to connect to our emotions.

 

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So while it may seem extreme, unnecessary or whatever to other actors and I may look like a fool, of like I’m trying to be Christian Bale, that’s fine- we all do our own thing. Truth is, I wish I would have had this precision and focus back when I played Konstantin in The Seagull when it came to warming up my physical body. I will say, I did have one helluva playlist that Got. Me. There. but I didn’t take care of my body and I wonder what my performance could have been if I would have taken the time to go beyond music. Because my biggest problem I encountered with that role, which just so happened to be my very first lead ever, as well as my New York debut was grounding my feet on the ground-I was all over the place. I was flailing around, my body disconnected and disjointed and my feet never really planted into the earth holding me firmly into place.

I remember the manager who actually ended up signing me from that show did immediately pointed out that I was a mess on the stage and I wasn’t grounded. Even in Stanislavski’s teachings he insists we stay present in our bodies.

So, when it came time for my next show after Konstantin is when I began my ritual and now I carry it with me. Now luckily, I’ve had professional training at The Atlantic Theatre Company Acting School for 2.5 years, so I also have a solid foundation of tools in my box, I just never knew how to utilize (let alone understand their immense value) them until now in my professional career.

In the end- find your process. Find what works. Is music your way in? Rolling around on the floor and meowing like a cat? Sitting quietly in a corner? Or socializing and then hopping on stage and just killing it?

Pictures from today of getting into character