Sunday, January 31, 2010

Closing and Opening

  Today is the last day of January, and I will be very glad to see this month pass into history. I wrote an entry here on January 15, where I mentioned what a rough patch of luck I was having. With the exception of finishing classes and having a great final performance, this streak has continued. Now, I try not to be a negative person, and I do count my blessings in life. There are a lot of them. But this past month will go down in my personal history as the longest string of bad luck, ill will, unfortunate circumstance and emotional turbulence I can remember. I spent many a restless night feeling worthless and completely insignificant.
  I won't go into all the things that made it so. This is not a forum to bare my soul. Suffice it say, the last week of this dread January went out in the same style it came in. I started the week by getting myself in a giant mess of trouble with my employer, damaging my good reputation, and ended the week coming extremely close to being arrested. I tell you, people, if I made a list of everything in the last 31 days that has worked against me on a daily basis, you'd never believe it. It has truly been a test of mental and spiritual fortitude. But, I'm still standing.
  Tomorrow is the first of February, and it's also the first day of the new semester at Studio Theatre. I'll be in Classical Voice and Movement tomorrow night, and then Shakespeare on Tuesday. Because I was so busy with rehearsals for final scenes this month, I had to bow out of my recital. The good news is, I'll get to sing my song on our first class Tuesday. It'll be the first time I've performed it, and it will be a great practice to warm me up for that all-important audition for LAMDA on the 27th. I feel a lot more confident about this piece than I did even a week ago, but I feel like I can definitely make it even better.
  Time only to take a deep breath, and then dive back in.

Monday, January 25, 2010

A Walk

  I had a rare treat yesterday when I took about thirty minutes out of my day to walk in a nearby nature park. It's one of my favorite places to go walking, though I seldom get the chance. I knew I'd be passing by on the way to run a few errands, so I took my camera and grabbed a few pics. It was so nice after all the hectic running around I've been doing lately with school and rehearsals and practices and work. Today's 365 also came from this same shoot. Enjoy.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Everything continues

  With barely time to catch my breath, I will be starting the next semester at Studio in about two weeks. This term, I'll be taking "Shakespeare" and "Classical Voice & Movement." These are apparently very demanding courses and very vocally intensive. The first night of class, we're all expected to sing a song unaccompanied. I'll likely go with "Danny Boy" since I'm already working on that and would be wary of trying something new on such short notice.
  Last night's Final Scenes performance went very well. It ran smoothly, felt very connected, and seemed to get a great reception from the audience. We were first in the rotation, so there was a little bit of added pressure, but I couldn't be happier with the results. I was originally planning to take this next semester off, but after some *very* strong encouragement from Studio faculty, I decided to proceed with the next tier of training. The instructor for the Shakespeare block is also the founder of DC Studio Theatre, and she's been doing this for upwards of forty years. This will be her last semester teaching, and I need to take advantage. I'll still be auditioning in New York in late February with a goal of moving to London in the fall to pursue a degree.
  Speaking of LAMDA, I've finally picked the two monologues I'm going to audition with. The first will be the St. Crispin's Day speech from Henry V, and the second will be a comedic piece from "Fading Joy." I still don't know what I'm going to sing for my song.

  Oh, and I'm going to take up the violin. Again.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Out with a bang

  What an absolutely extraordinary night. Last night's Final Scenes left my jaw on the floor. Everybody really, truly brought their A-Game, and I think the audience was sufficiently blown away.
  The night opened with two scenes from "How I Learned to Drive," which set the bar incredibly high for the rest of us. My partner and I were up next with two from "The Country Girl," and the crowd was very receptive. They laughed, they ooh'd and ahh'd. There's a great moment in the first scene where I get slapped in the face really hard, and that got a great reaction. In the second scene, when I grab the girl roughly, pull her to me and plant a long kiss on her- that got a great reaction as well. Big, intense scenes, and we nailed 'em.
  We were followed by three more sets of scenes, and I sat in awe watching my fellow classmates own the material. I'm still soaring just thinking about it. It's been an honor to be part of such a talented group of actors. Now that the semester is over, I'm really going to miss it. Time to start auditioning.
  But first, there's one more night of performing. Tonight is Final Scenes night for the class I'm guest acting in. It's another really great scene, and I'm looking forward to getting it in front of an audience, especially after last night. Time to break the other leg!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Tonight, Tonight

  Here we go! Tonight is the Final Scenes public performance for Character and Emotion.

  We have all worked so hard and put in so many hours to get to this night. Naturally, everybody's a bit stressed, and we all want to own our performances and really blow the audience out of their seats. It's almost worse than an opening night performance, pressure-wise, because there is no other performance. Just this one. One chance to nail it. As theatre is a living, breathing thing, no two performances are the same. There's no way to predict it, and there's no such thing as a "perfect" performance. The only thing you can do is be present, focus, and FEEL it. BE the character.
  I love acting, and there is nothing like the thrill of performing live.

  Time to break a leg!

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Storm Breaks

  "Keep it together, man." I don't know how many times I've said that to myself in the last fifteen days. Literally out loud, sometimes. It has been an absolutely disasterous time for me day in and day out since the year started. I pretty much didn't sleep for the first week, and I lost seven pounds from not eating. It seemed like I just couldn't catch the slightest break, and that everything in my life was crashing down around me.

  No more.

  I've been through rough times before, of course, as anybody has. Hell, in the last couple of years, I've risked my reputation, my ego, my faith, and my very life. I've lived with tremendous heartache, unbelievable expectations and awful responsibility. I've had to remain emotionless and unattached when I wanted to feel. I've had incredibly difficult decisions to make. I've had to live for the first time with no plan and a temporary lack of control of my fate. I've endured a constant physical pain that I can't seem to rid myself of. Through it all, for the most part, I've kept my chin up and weathered it.

  One of the things that has helped me save my sanity is performance and art. I'm a very logical, problem-solving person, but I'm also intensely creative. I thrive on it. I've had the opportunity in the last year to further my acting, singing and photography, and I don't want to think about how miserable I would have been without those experiences and the friendships that have grown from them.

  As you may have read on previous blogs, I applied to the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts last month. Today, I was told my application had been accepted, and I was issued a date and time to audition for them in New York. 27 February, I'll be at what is arguably the most important audition I've ever had. I'm tremendously excited and terrified all at the same time. I'm taking a hatchet to my career with this plan, but it's something I can't deny myself. One of my favorite quotes is "A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for." True words, and the trade winds are blowing again. Time to take a different kind of risk.

  This coming week, I'll be performing in my final scenes for the public down at Studio. Wednesday, I'll start putting together my material for the LAMDA audition, which includes two constrasting monologues and an unaccompanied song. I haven't decided what to sing yet, but I'll probably go with something familiar given the short time frame. I have a CD with some good material on it, and a friend of mine told that one of her favorite songs for men to sing is on there. Maybe I'll give it another look.

Friday, January 8, 2010


  Sometimes, someone else can capture your thoughts so perfectly that you'd swear they must have looked straight into your soul. I'm referring to the following passage by Chilean poet Pablo Neruda. The original is in Spanish, and, like anything translated, loses a shade of its beauty here. I've known this poem for years, but the words have never resonated with me quite like they do tonight.

Tonight, I can write the saddest lines.

Write, for example, 'The night is full of stars
and they shiver, sapphires in the distance.'

The night wind whirls in the sky and sings.

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
I loved her, and sometimes she loved me too.

Through nights like this one, I held her in my arms.
I kissed her again and again under the endless sky.

She loved me sometimes, and I loved her too.
How could one have not loved her great still eyes.

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
To think that I do not have her. To feel that I have lost her.

To hear the immense night, still more immense without her.
And the verse falls to the soul like dew to the meadow.

What does it matter that my love could not keep her.
The night is full of stars, and she is not with me.

This is all. In the distance, someone is singing. In the distance.
My soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.

My sight searches for her as though to bring her to me.
My heart looks for her, and she is not with me.

The same night, whitening the same trees.
We, of that time, are no longer the same.

I no longer love her, that's certain, but how I loved her.
My voice tried to find the wind to touch her hearing.

Another's. She will be another's. Like my kisses before.
Her voice. Her bright body. Her infinite eyes.

I no longer love her, that's certain, but maybe I love her.
Love is so short, forgetting is so long.

Because through nights like this one, I held her in my arms
my soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.

Though this be the last pain that she makes me suffer
and these the last verses that I write for her.

-Pablo Neruda

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Petting the Sweaty Things

  Alright, this is just getting out of hand. Yes, THIS. And that. And that thing over there, I don't even know what that is, but I don't like the cut of its jib.

  THE TEMPERATURE OUTSIDE: Day after day. Lows into the 12's range. Highs in the low 30's. I don't care for that one bit. Cold wind driving the chill into the "Aw, hell no" spectrum. Tonight, I had to walk many blocks to Studio in this weather. I made the mistake of licking my lips. They froze and broke off.

  MY RIGHT FOOT: Always with this guy. I walked around too long in dress shoes the other night, and it feels like all the tissue on the ball of my foot is gone. Pretty sure I'm hearing bone scraping on concrete when I walk now. I needs me some mf'n gel insoles or something.

  TONIGHT'S HORRID PERFORMANCE: Hands down the worst one we've done. I'm sorry, Kat, and I know we're married and that I love you very much, but we stunk the joint up tonight, the both of us. Next rehearsal, we need to really get on this thing. There are only two weeks left. Let's own it. In the words of our fearless instructor tonight, "Take the fucking stage!"


  Thanks just all to pieces, DAYRUNNER. I order a four dollar refill for my 2010 daily calendar and ya charge me $5.60 in shipping. Now I know why. Because the thing that could have been sent in an envelope was sent instead in a huge box with bubble insulation. Guys, it's 3x5 cards. It doesn't need a box that would hold a set of encyclopedias. You are single handedly destroying the environment, DAYRUNNER. I'm telling the polar bears where to find you.

  I'M DAMNED TIRED: These days are killing me. Got some food in me finally, but I'm just so wasted. I need to take some of my sleep medicine:

and then climb into bed. At least I won't be risking frostbite in there, I'll be off my bloody stump-foot, I won't be performing anything for anybody (ahem), and everything is environmentally friendly.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Novocaine to the brain

  It's amazing to me how an emotional distraction can completely unwire your brain.

  Your reaction times slow. Your thinking becomes muddied, dull. Your will drains into the ground through your feet.
  Today is such a day. I prepared a liquid breakfast that I nearly gagged on trying to force into myself. Lunch went largely uneaten. I forgot both of my badges for the office today and had to sign in as a visitor. I left my bag with all my work materials at home. A beautiful sunrise on the way to work felt like a banquet with no taste. Sleep will elude me again tonight. Nobody knows what's going on inside, because I've become very good at putting on a front.
  Despite my struggles with concentration today in the face of difficult decisions in all things work-related, life goes on. Tonight, my scene partner and I are putting up our second scene for the first time. This thing is packed full of heavy drama, passion, and some incredible moments. I'm really excited to be performing it for the group for the first time. I'm a little worried about my focus, but I think I'll be able to apply everything I'm feeling into the character and charge the scene. I think it'll be good.