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Archive for August, 2009

New York City: Day 10

Today was the first day of school. Perhaps my last first day of school. Now there’s a strange thought. (Unless I go against all of Katie’s best advice and pursue my PhD in Russian Literature…)

The day began rather miserably. Since last Wednesday, I don’t think I’ve gone to bed once before 4AM. On Thursday night, we didn’t even make our way back to the apartment until after the sun was up. We had breakfast with people on their way to work. And on each of these early mornings, I crammed in a few quick hours of sleep and was up exploring the city again by 9AM. So, this morning is leaving me a bit baffled. After watching “Waiting for Guffman” last night with a few of the other Williams Street actors and our poet friend, I slipped into bed just before midnight. When my alarm went off at 8 this morning, I felt like someone had taken a baseball bat to my body. Like someone had super-glued my eyes shut. 

The first day of class and I felt like death. 

Last night, Jessica and I had planned on making the trek to the theatre a little early so that we could sign up for the audition intensive workshops before space filled. After a few cups of coffee and a nice walk to the theatre, I was ready to tackle the day. We got to Bank Street around 9:15, giving us some time to wander the building, find our lockers, and check our mailboxes before class. Now, because we were told during Orientation that all actors were in the same section of Theatre History, I gladly followed when Jessica and Is told me that we had class at 10AM. False. I was at the theatre at 9:15 for a class that didn’t start until 11:30. 

On the bright side of being the only person in my section to show up two hours early, I got to meet a lot of the 3rd Year actors, who were all incredibly friendly. 

All in all, day one of graduate school was a success. Light day. One class. Passionate professor. (He kept spontaneously breaking into dance and saying, “This is why I’m shouting. Because it lives!”) And what was in my mailbox? Free theatre tickets. Thank you, New School for Drama. 

Tomorrow, however, is going to be a little bit hellish. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, the day begins at 8:30AM with Neutral American Speech, followed back-to-back by Alexander Technique, Vocal Production, and Stanislavski Technique. Classes back-to-back from 8:30AM until 6:55PM with a break for lunch. Hell. 

Just from a physical standpoint, I’m terrified. Tuesdays and Thursdays are going to be long and difficult days. Oy. 

First Day of School

Check out the sweet, First Day of School, nerdy back-pack action... You're jealous.

 

After class, I came back to Williams Street, tore a shipping label off of one of the cardboard boxes that litter my apartment, and headed off to the New York Public Library with Chris. That place is magic. When finding out that I was off to get my library card, James wrote, “I just had an image in my head of you walking out of the library, shouting ‘YES!’ and jumping up into the air.” Yeah. That was about right. Funny, though, was that since the Children’s Room is the only circulating part of that branch, we sat at a tiny child’s table to fill out the paperwork. I was amused. 

Once the library had been thoroughly explored and the ceilings had been stared at sufficiently, Chris and I found our way back to Bryant Park. Today was the third time we’ve been there in four days. I think it’s my favorite park in the city so far. There’s something about that place– it’s always got a misty quality to it. I think it’s the trees, which Chris tells me are birches. We read, people-watched, and ate Poptarts for a few hours before heading to the New School bookstore. There are 31 books on my list for Theatre History. I’m going to have to start storing books in our oven, since it has no other function. 

After leaving the bookstore, Chris headed off to Poet Orientation (where I’m sure they’re all dressed in robes and partaking in ritual slaughter of some kind) so I made my way back to Williams Street on my own. It was my first time alone on the subway going anywhere besides the theatre. Silly, perhaps, but I was thrilled when I didn’t get lost. 

Mack’s rounding up a group of the actors to read a play in the lounge tonight, so away I go. 

And, because I’m missing SLU and because every time I think of keeping my heart in my mouth as an actor I think of Tom Martin, I have to share something that Marcy sent me this morning:

A not-really-haiku.
Tom to Kevin:

“Let the chickens runs, Kevin; let the chickens live. 
Wind them up and let them live on stage.
Give birth to the idea and say, 
“hey! look what i just did”.

Oh, and listen to this: 

 

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Yawn…

New York City: Day 9

I’m too tired to write anything of substance. 

Chris and I made a day of Central Park and it was nothing short of wonderful. 

Watching the sun set in Battery Park was stunning. 

It’s midnight and I realize that all I’ve eaten today has been two Soy Joy’s that were given as samples on the street and two of the Poptarts that Chris packed for our park adventure. Time to make a sandwich. 

Classes start tomorrow. The string of perfect and adventure-filled days in the city had to end sometime… 

More photographs? Why certainly! http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2147582&id=33305394&l=40949ad136

Sleep, please come now.

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New York City: Day 8

My first week as a New Yorker has come and gone and I couldn’t be happier. 

And, though I couldn’t be happier, my body completely and utterly hates me. I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck. Between the sunburn I sustained at the park on Thursday, the copious amounts of walking that I wasn’t prepared for, the go-go-go mentality reigning supreme, and the major sleep deficit I’m running on, I’m rather on the exhausted side. But, oh my, exhaustion has never felt so good. 

Thursday night/Friday morning was a night for the books. It was one of those New York City evenings that sneak up on you and turn into mornings far too quickly for you to be able to do anything about it.  I hesitate to write about for fear that trying to explain will kill whatever it was. After watching the sun come up over the water and having breakfast next to poor souls on their way to work for the day, we found our way home. 

After sneaking in a few hours of sleep, Chris, Mack, Jake, Jessica and I headed off to MoMA. Fantastic. We didn’t get through the whole thing, but there are plans in the works to go back soon to finish the rest. (Side note: I’m fascinated that MoMA houses some Merce Cunningham works. What?) 

After our MoMA adventure, we housed a poetry reading in my apartment. That sounds a lot more pretentious than it actually was. A lot of the guys read original work. I shared some of my favorite Neruda and Sandburg. We pulled the mattresses off of my roommates beds and all sat around my kitchen laughing and reading. Jessica tried in vain to teach us a Canadian dice game that made my head want to explode, though my lack of sleep was probably much more at-fault. 

Last night was yet another Ryan MacGuire’s night. And after staying there entirely too long yet again, we few of us  decided it would be a good idea to take the Staten Island Ferry there and back at 3AM just for the hell of it. I’m so glad we did. It was beautiful. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. 

This morning, Isreal, Mack, Chris and I explored Coney Island for a few hours. Let’s talk about beautiful… It was a foggy and misty day. Everything felt good on my feet– the sand, the water, the planks on the boardwalk. On a whim, we decided to check out Prospect Park on our way back to Manhattan. Turns out, today was the big Michael Jackson tribute in the park. After seeing what the crowd had to offer, we wandered over to Lefferts Historic House. I fell in love.

And here’s the link to the photos I took today: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2147382&id=33305394&l=ddbf132e96

A combination of Beirut’s “Cherbourg” and the rainy last few days we’ve had has Les Parapluies de Cherbourg playing in my head this evening. So, that’s what I’ll leave you with tonight.

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My feet ache. 

New York City: Day 6 (How is it already Day 6?!)

The last two days have been equally as spectacular as my New York City days that have gone before them. Yesterday marked the final day of Orientation. We spent the morning doing Voice and Speech Assessments– each incoming Drama student got up in front of our cohort and the faculty and performed a one-minute monologue and a one-minute song. Now, I’m not a singer. I was prepared to do my fall-back “this makes people think I can sing” song, “Honey Bun”, but when we were told that we could do whatever we wanted and that Voice and Speech Assessments were historically “a really good time”, I changed my game-plan a little bit. As a nod to my dear friend Katie, I definitely sang Destiny’s Child’s “Say My Name”, complete with the little white girl dance. I had people shaking my hands afterwards and thanking me for my “inspired choice”. 

It was a long (but stimulating) afternoon of Vocal Orientation and Movement Orientation, wrapped up with a segment called “Shakespeare in Your Soul” with Paul Rudd. It was wonderful. We did a lot in the way of text analysis– he’s just a brilliant guy. I introduced myself to him afterwards and we ended up having a long conversation about King Lear, which just made my heart feel incredibly full. He’s invited me to sit in on one of his classes first semester. The Third Years are mounting Richard III in his class, so I’m really eager to see the work they’re going to do. 

After lunch, (pizza from Two Boots– amazing) the actors stuck around to meet with Matt again. His advice to us was simple: don’t gossip, be good to each other, don’t date each other, work your asses off, don’t be crazy. Afterwards, I made my way to the second floor to peek into the studios and to check out where I’d be having classes. I popped my head into Bob LuPone’s office to thank him for a really fantastic Orientation. He said, “How do you feel?” I told him that I was really eager to start working, but that I felt great. He said, “I’m glad. And you can always knock on my door when you don’t feel great. Welcome.” Jessica and I walked around the Village a bit after leaving the theatre facilities. I’ll tell you, if I had more money, I could just spend my days eating my way through Manhattan. There are so many restaurants that look so, so good. 

Last night, Israel, Mack, Jessica, Michelle, and I made our way to an open mic night. Israel and Mack live with a fellow graduate student named Chris who’s studying poetry, so Chris joined our merry little band of actors. It was a great time. Holy cow, there are some talented people in this city. Since we all live together, we opted to close the evening at the pub around the corner. I think my abs still hurt from how hard we laughed last night. 

Hudson River Hang-out

This morning, Mack and I took the train out to the Hudson River Park and met up with Matt, Jason, Ryan, and a few of the other Drama students. For the most part, it was just the boys and I tossing around a football. It was an absolutely beautiful morning and the breeze coming off the river was so calming. I didn’t stay as long as I’d planned because as soon as the sun started to make an appearance, I could feel my shoulders yelling at me to get out of the sunlight. Sure enough, I’ve got burnt shoulders at the moment. 

After making it back to Williams Street, I discovered boxes waiting for me– my books have arrived! My little place is finally beginning to feel like home. Speaking of books, I spent a really wonderful afternoon with Chris the Poet bookshop-hopping. I’d made a list of seven independent bookstores all over the city that I’d heard of or that friends had recommended. A fellow bibliophile, it was nice to have Chris’ company and sense of direction. 

We’ve spent the last five hours in my own personal heaven. First, there was The Mysterious Bookshop on Warren, which specializes in detective fiction. (I couldn’t be happier to have found this little mystery haven…) After that, we made our way to The Strand. Being inside felt a little bit like The Labyrinth. While trying to make our way to St. Mark’s, we found Shakespeare & Co. Booksellers. While my poet friend prefers St. Mark’s, I have to say that Shakespeare & Co. was my absolute favorite bookshop of the six that we visited this afternoon. The two of us spent a substantial amount of time trying to control our laughter while flipping through an illustrated book about Bigfoot, and while the laughter certainly gained points for the establishment, the amazing play selection in the basement sealed the deal. 

It was really a perfect New York City afternoon. We stopped to listen to a bluegrass band in Washington Square Park. We also made our way through Times Square and Rockefeller Plaza looking for a little French bookshop that we never found, but the walk and the people-watching were well worth it. It was in Rockefeller Plaza that we both had our first New York hot dog– and, damn, were they good. I loved wandering through Bryant park, as well. The little carousel there was just enchanting. 

Today was also my first time venturing off of the 2 or 3 train. We’ve been so absurdly busy with Orientation that today was really my first opportunity to really start exploring. Did I mention that I was thankful to have Chris with me? I can’t put into words how incredibly lost I would’ve been without his navigational skills. 

And have I mentioned that my feet ache? Because they do. 

Off to meet the Williams Street gang. I’ll close with the song that I sent to the other actors yesterday morning. Dig it. 

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Is that how this works?

I now know why New Yorkers don’t stop to talk to people on the street. 

About two hours ago, Jake and I headed into Tribeca on a search for voice recorders for Neutral American Speech and Vocal Production. At the end of what turned out to be quite a quest, Jake headed back toward the apartment, but I decided to walk for awhile. I was heading down Warren trying to find the bookshop I wanted to explore when I passed a tiny pub. Outside was a round little man with red cheeks and curly white hair standing next to a tall man in scrubs. As I passed, he said, “She’s Irish. Beautiful. You Irish?” I smiled, said that I was, and kept walking. 

The doctor yelled after me, “You answered! You’re not from New York!” I turned around and asked what he meant. “If you were from New York, you would’ve ignored us. I’m from Louisiana, so I stick out like a sore thumb.” I laughed and said that I was from Georgia. They introduced themselves as Talley (who kept saying, “You’ve got a million dollar smile, kiddo.”) and Jason the surgeon. 

Jason the surgeon has asked me to dinner. He asked for my number, but I declined, saying I wasn’t in the habit of giving my contact information out to strangers, so he gave me his. He seemed nice enough, but I’m not going to call. Is that terrible of me? Is it strange that I was creeped out by that or is that how things go down here? I don’t know… That’s just an awkward way to meet people… Maybe it’s time to start using my iPod while I walk and on the subway. Gah.

This post makes me sound a lot more anti-social than I actually am. Whatever.

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You’ll be gold.

Lord Almighty, I am exhausted. I feel like I could sleep four days without stirring. 

New York City: Day 4

Honestly, nobody tells you how exhausting this city is. Perhaps it’s because I’m a 75-year-old man at heart who really just wants a nap, a scotch, a book, and a cigar… but, hell, I am tired. And I mean tired

But this might be because I managed to get lost again today. And today, there was no fellow graduate student happening to run by. After about 45 minutes of wandering around Chelsea with my map, determined to figure it out on my own, I finally found my way to the train that would take me where I needed to go. On the bright side, after only four days of pretty fierce walking, I’ve got some serious definition in my quads and calves. I’d been planning to get a gym membership, but I feel like I’m going to be to exhausted to ever get there.

 

(almost) too tired for words

(almost) too tired for words

 

Last night was so incredibly refreshing. Two of my good friends from high school who I’d lost touch with made their way to the Financial District last night to see me. Ryan happened to be in my small groups on just about every retreat we ever went on and was my sister’s date to the dance at which she was covered in blisters from a serious sunburn. Greg was partly responsible for the only detention I ever received in my time at Marist. It was so fantastic to see both of them again. Greg is Georgia-bound, but luckily Ryan’s working here now. We have big plans to make a weekend of standing in line for SNL tickets.

Seeing them also helped to put some things into perspective. I’ve been living in theatre-land for awhile. Both boys are planning on heading to medical school. Ryan asked what we’d done at Orientation that day. “We talked a lot about what our individual roots are as artists.” They both just kind of looked at me. “Um… wow…”

We just happen to live in very different worlds.

The second day of Orientation has further confirmed that this is the place for me. I left pretty early this morning and took the train by myself so that I could get some monologue work done before breakfast started. It was actually kind of nice having the walk to myself since the rest of the day has been filled with people and information and noise. Starting my day with a quiet walk through a beautiful neighborhood is what I needed.

The actors had our one-on-one session with Ron Leibman this morning. He said, “I heard a lot yesterday during the introductions about where you’re from and all of that bullshit, but how are you feeling?” Almost everyone that spoke cried. I smiled at those who did, trying to let them know that I was in the same place. He looked at me and said, “You look awfully happy. What was going through your head yesterday?”  I laughed, “Don’t let my smile fool you. I am terrified.” And I started to cry. When I took a minute to collect myself before continuing, he said, “Don’t censor yourself. Tell me how you’re feeling.” And so I let myself cry. I wasn’t sobbing or anything. My voice was still controlled. They were just a few, quiet tears falling onto my shaking hands. But mine were happy tears. I said, “I have a lot of self-doubt. I have so much respect for this art that some days I think that I have absolutely no business being here. And while trying to process everything last night, I realized that I have never been this happy to be this terrified. I’m so happy and I am so scared.” He pulled his chair a little closer and he said, “Lindsey, I want you to remember this feeling right now. You’re going to feel that again on the opening night of your first Broadway show. I’m so excited… now get me the hell out of here! I promise you’re going to feel it again. Use it now. Use it then. You’ll be gold.”  

I looked around and there were a few girls crying. The boys mainly just nodded a lot. Iris reached over and held my hand. All in all, our time with Ron was pretty wonderful, as had been our time with Mr. LuPone yesterday. The majority of the afternoon was concerned with house-keeping issues: signing out rehearsal space, use of the studios, locker assignments, gym access, rehearsal schedules, and so on. 

All I want to do is curl up in bed right now, but I’ve desperately got to prepare for tomorrow’s Voice and Speech Assessment. I haven’t looked at any of my pieces since early May. Jeezle petes… 

Anyway. What I’m listening to now: 

 

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I thought I’d share  a few of the pictures I took at the South Street Seaport yesterday. The sailor in my heart is so very much in love with this place. Lucky for me, it’s only a few short blocks south of my apartment.

…setting free the anchor and looking past the shore…

 

 

 

 

And just because this makes me smile: 

 

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