Archive for September, 2009

exposing, processing, recording.

While cleaning my room (and by “my room”, I mean the kitchen) I stumbled across the poem I excavated from Deleuze a few weeks ago, so I thought I’d share. Here it is:


a definite danger

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Did you go to Scarborough Fair?

New York City: Day 39

If you didn’t, you’re out of luck. On the modern Roman calendar, today would have been the last day of the festivities. Scarborough Fair was a trading event that began in the Middle Ages on England’s eastern coast. No fooling. I looked it up. On Wikipedia, no less. 

A few days ago, I’d been listening to some Bob Dylan and was suddenly curious as to which came first: Dylan’s “Girl from the North Country” or Simon and Garfunkel’s “Scarborough Fair/Canticle”. Turns out, they learned the traditional arrangement from the same source– English folk musician Martin Carthy. (And, because we keep tabs here, Dylan released his song in ’63 while Paul and Art didn’t jump on that particular bandwagon until ’66.)



It’s a windy Tuesday in New York City. My afternoon has been marked by a desperate (and unsuccessful) attempt to locate a flu shot. I’m trying my best to stay far away from the Actor Plague that is torturing my fellow MFA candidates. 

Highlight of the afternoon (so far): I wandered down to the Seaport after Theatre History to do some reading by the water and walked away with a free night’s stay at Harrah’s Resort in Atlantic City.  They offered to upgrade me to a free suite if I slipped into a bikini, but I thought I’d walk away with the free room and my dignity intact. Thank you, very much. 

A close second in the highlights department was the discovery of Bowne & Co Stationers. I’m smitten. This tiny gem of a stationary shop, bookstore, and print shop has been in the same location on Pearl Street since 1775. I imagine this will become one of my haunts. 

Anyway. All of you: stop what you’re doing and go celebrate the last day of a fair that no longer exists. I’m going to. 



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Ramble on Rose

Bram Stoker and Francis Ford Coppola kept me from doing any writing of substance yesterday, but I’m finding Central Park to be equally distracting this afternoon. 


I write this, my first blog entry written anywhere other than my William Street studio, from one of my favorite spots in the park. Christopher and I came here on our first week in the city. We wandered through The Ramble and found the water’s edge. A stone’s throw from the Boat House, there’s a rather imposing rock. We parked ourselves there that afternoon. I don’t think either of us opened the books we’d carried with us that day. We spent most of our time watching people in rowboats and talking about memory or the nature of memories. Odd– having a memory of a conversation about memories. 


And here we are again. Christopher’s sitting not too far from me, actually reading today. I wandered off with my camera for some time, but found my way back to Chris, back to the rock, and back to my books not long ago. It’s a perfect day in New York City. 



Thinking about it, yesterday seemed perfect, too. I’d always imagined myself to be talking about the weather when I’ve written about how beautiful the days are, but that can’t be right. Yesterday was stunning. A perfect day. It was raining when I woke up. When I saw how misty and gray the morning was, I suddenly had the urge to ride the ferry to Staten Island. God bless The Poet. He indulges all of my whims. I say, “Let’s go to the zoo” or “I need to wander a bookstore” or “Let’s go ride the ferry” and his response is always, “Let’s go.” And so Chris and I packed our books and headed to Staten Island only to make the return trip. It was amazing to me how many other people were doing the same thing– taking the ferry only to jump on the next boat bound for Manhattan. 


Running into Jacob on our way back was a wonderfully pleasant surprise. It was the second day in a row that running into Jacob-Sebastian has directly led to a trip down Maiden Lane to Dunkin Donuts. The staff knows him. It’s delightful. What’s not so delightful is the realization that the three of us consumed close to 20 donuts in a 48-hour period. Ok, perhaps it’s delightful. It’s also just kind of gluttonous.


Speaking of Jacob– a shout-out to his Alabama friends who have stumbled upon my ramblings. Hello, new friends. It’s nice to hear how many people have friends and family who like to think that my blog is worth reading. I’m told that a few readers (I have “readers”– that’s odd) have questions. Feel free to leave a “comment” with a question and I’ll be happy to respond as best I can. 


While we’re on the topic of administrative blog business, I’m getting a little heat about not having a title or name for my blog. I’ve got nothing. Does anyone have any suggestions?


Clouds are starting to creep in. It looks like rain. Beautiful. 


(P.S. Today’s musical selection is brought to you by Christopher Hughes, who decided to start playing this while I was reading, leading me to believe that we were about to witness something monumental happen in Central Park. I was more than a little disappointed when I learned that it was only his laptop and not a flash imrov group about to emerge from the lake in scuba gear.)

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I just watched a woman vomit blood on Anthony Hopkins. Silly vampires. 

New York City: Day 37

Right now, the day finds me watching Dracula with Chris and Jacob. And, while Winona Ryder and Keanu Reeves make me want to punch someone in the face, all is well. The three of us are slowly (but surely) demolishing a dozen donuts, so not much can shake my calm. Not even Keanu and that stupid face of his.

For the record, it makes me really happy that Tom Waits is in this movie. He plays a madman rather convincingly. 

So far, it’s been a wonderful, sleepy, donut-filled, lazy day. Christopher joined me for breakfast this morning. My mornings for the last few weeks have been filled with terribly strong coffee and Nutella on toast.  Thankfully, this morning was no different. Drinking coffee and watching the misty morning pass by outside the window while listening to The Weepies made me miss Katie Consamus in a bad way. Only a few short weeks until she visits. Thank God. 

More pictures: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2149676&id=33305394&l=bdb861d1ae

Francis Ford Coppola is making it difficult for me to write at the moment. More later.

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How very European of you…

Giant, amazing, big, fat, wonderful news! Katie Consamus– light of my life, my partner-in-crime– is coming to the city in November! Also, she too has a blog. I imagine she will chronicle her time as a first-year MFA Acting candidate at the University of Iowa in Iowa City. As soon as the girl gives me a link, I’m posting it here. She’s brilliant and fearless and anyone who reads this should read that, for you will surely fall in love with her.

What. a. day.

New York City: (still) Day 35 

I listened to Talking Heads (Stop Making Sense) on my walk to school this morning. Somehow, listening to David Byrne allows me to let in just enough of the crazy so that I can make it through Co-Lab unscathed. We started the morning with imrov. At one point, the entire cohort was at my wedding reception, where Jacob and I danced rather clumsily. I often feel rather clumsy in imrov, but I didn’t in Stanislavski yesterday. Why? Because yesterday I did my prep-work, I kept my objective clear, I personalized. Simple. I have got to stop separating the work we’re doing in Stanislavski from the exercises we do in Co-Lab. It’s time to start committing and keeping the stakes high on Friday mornings. 

After the imrovs, we were split into groups of six and sent off to read each other’s over-heard dialogues. Then, as a group, we chose one of them to put on its feet and present to the rest of the cohort. Since it was my dialogue, I got to cast it and direct a bit for the reading and, to be honest, it felt really nice to be able to slip into my director brain again. I’ve missed it. A few gems from the conversation: 

“You. A Swede. Hatchets.” 

-“Who doesn’t think to bring a gun to a hatchet fight?”
-(with disdain) “How very European of you!”

Watching and listening to the other scenes made me feel very voyeuristic. The dialogues were fascinating. People are fascinating. In Ms. Simendinger’s dialogue, she captured a mother and her two children on the subway. The little ones had been learning about the Holocaust at school and were talking about it. There was something very jarring about hearing little children talk about such a dark and terrible piece of history. The mother started to quiet them, trying to impart that the subject was taboo when an old man leaned over and said, “My grandmother was killed by the Nazis.” He turned to the mother and gestured to the son. “May I?” He told the young man that what happened then was very real and that he could never forget what he’d learned about it at school.

The scene resonated because the need in each character was so strong. An old man bridged the disconnect on the subway. He broke the “rules”. Once the rules are established and a character breaks them… Well. That’s when things become interesting, isn’t it? 

After four hours of Co-Lab, I found Christopher reading in the courtyard outside of the theatre where he was waiting with an icing-filled cookie sandwich from Magnolia’s. Heaven. (Pure, unadulterated heaven.) We walked up Hudson Street to St. Luke in the Fields, which has beautiful gardens tucked away. Since there wasn’t any available bench-space to speak of, we spent the little remaining time on my lunch break down by the river. The day was too beautiful to speak of. It’s silly how happy laying in the grass by the river makes me. I’m almost a little sad to feel fall creeping in. It means that winter’s just around the corner. At least, that’s the way it usually goes. 

After lunch, it was Ragnar time. Have I written about Ragnar yet? Oh, but where would I begin?! He’s my Chekhov professor. He’s a wonderful German man who prefers movement over speech. He’s usually hopping around the room in some way, shape, or form. And it’s is absolutely delightful. Animated and delightful– those are the two words that come to mind when I think of Ragnar. Anyway, I couldn’t describe what happened today in Chekov if someone held a gun to my head, so I won’t try. Suffice to say, we were all completely and utterly exhausted by the end of class. I don’t remember the last time I sweat as much as I did in that class today. It was absurd. I am a little concerned that I may have hurt my voice doing the work, though. I need to be much more careful about that… 

I don’t know how any of us made it through Neutral Mask. But, sweating and utterly drained, we poured ourselves into Shelley’s classroom and got to work. We’ve been exploring four of the Seven Stages of Man. Today, we exploring the idea of toddlers. I understood where my energy was coming from and how to move, but I always work best with clear mental images. No matter how hard I tried to picture myself as toddler, nothing was there. I kept coming back to images of my twin sister. Crystal clear images. Lauren sitting in a cabinet banging tupperware together. Images of Lauren brushing her hair with the wrong side of a hair brush. I couldn’t picture myself at all, but I could clearly see Lauren toddling around. 

I chose a new mask today. One less womanly. In it, a much more close-fitting mask, I was suddenly very away of the Actor Plague that has a lot of my classmates very ill at the moment, which made it difficult to focus at times. But, when I was focused, I was a two-year-old version of my twin sister. Banging pots together, very pleased with myself. Trying to comb my hair with a fork (dinglehopper, anyone?). Dragging a toaster around my its cord, it became my puppy. And I never parted from am piece of fabric I’d found, which quickly became my blanket. 

I had trouble interacting with others during this exercise. Not surprising, since I’m sure the reports that came home with me from Children’s Nest probably indicated that I didn’t play well with others. It’s just that I’d become to involved with an object or with whatever imaginary life was taking shape in my head that I kind of didn’t “need” playmates. I guess not too much has changed in the last two decades. I expressed my concern over my lack of desire to interact with others while I’m in mask to Shelley after class, but she doesn’t seem at all concerned. She shrugged. “You’re a twin,” was what she said. Huh.

It’s Friday night in New York City. And I’m exhausted. All I want to do is take a hot bath, curl up with my book, and got to bed. Oh, sleep sounds divine… But I have a feeling I’ll act like the 22-year-old I am and get into some mischief. Gah. Living the life of a 75-year-old man in the body of a 22-year-old girl is exceedingly frustrating.


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Friday never hesitates…

Friday morning. How has another week come and gone already? I can’t seem to shake the dual feelings that I just got to New York and that I’ve spent three or four lifetimes here. It’s an odd sensation, to say the least. 

New York City: Day 35

I’m very excited for Co-Lab this morning. We were all asked to record an “overheard dialogue” somewhere in the city. Today, we’re bringing them to class in script form to be performed. Or work-shopped. Or something of the sort. I’m not entirely sure. But I’m eager to get my heated discussion about Swedes and hatchet fights up on its feet. 

There’s so much I want to write about yesterday’s classes, about what goes on in the rooms at 151 Bank Street. About Neutral American Speech, Vocal Production, about Stanislavski. There’s too much I want to write about how wonderful a scene-partner Jacob is and about how much Bethany makes me smile. But all of that will have to wait. It’s off to the West Village with me. (I go to school in the Village. Holy cow–that is pretty remarkable. I’m constantly struck by how charmed my life is right now… Counting my blessings and giving thanks has never been higher on my to-do list.) Back-pack, note-books, movement attire in tow, I’m headed to Bank Street for a very full day. I love not knowing what Fridays will bring.


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I just listened to John Ashbery follow up one of his poems with a film noir recommendation. 

New York City: Day 34

After a long afternoon of Stanislavski, I practically sprinted for ten minutes to make it to 12th and 6th in time to meet Mr. Hughes for a poetry reading. It was phenomenal. 21 contributors to The Best American Poetry 2009 including John Ashbery and Billy Collins were gathered there to read their work. I fell in love with a poet in red named Tina Kelley. 

And, for the record, Mr. Ashbery recommends that we see the 1947 film They Made Me a Fugitive.


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every other day…

Tuesday, Tuesday. Can’t trust that day. 

New York City: Day 32

Did I just bastardize The Mamas and The Papas? I think I did. I apologize. It’s early. But as Mackenzie so accurately observed in his Facebook status, Tuesdays are the new Mondays. 

So. Tuesday morning and I’m preparing to face my first “real” grade in graduate school. We’re being tested on the much-dreaded and ever-so-feared International Phonetic Alphabet. Gah.

Also– the audition I had on Sunday? As predicted, I got terribly lost. I walked for ten minutes in the wrong direction before I corrected myself. I spent entirely too much time clopping around Astoria in my heels and my little black dress, headshots and smile in tow. But, I also walked away with a part. So… I have my first gig in the city. (Do staged readings count as gigs? Whatever. They do for my purposes.) I’ll be reading the role of Margot in The Weather Plays in November at The Barrow Group Studios. Huzzah! 

On that note, I’m off to class for the next 11 hours. There isn’t enough coffee in the world… 


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anchors aweigh

I just spent a good deal of time trying to scrub blue ink in the shape of an anchor off of my left forearm. I wasn’t entirely successful.

New York City: Day 30

Yesterday was entirely too beautiful. Early in the afternoon, Christopher and I made our way to Central Park with our books. But (happily) a parade of Germans prevented us from crossing the street into the park. We’d run into the German-American parade that was a prelude to the Central Park Oktoberfest. Just as I’d begun to think about the parade scene in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”, this started to play: 



I had a grin plastered to my face most of the afternoon. And I’d be lying if I said that my heart didn’t absolutely sing every time a marching band passed by. What is it about horns that I seem to understand in such a visceral way? The Germans and their festivities had Chris and I both needing bratwurst in a bad way, but, a pair of poor artists, we settled for street-side hot dogs instead. 

Yesterday afternoon, for your viewing pleasure:


After a long and utterly exhausting week of classes, the relaxation that has come with this weekend has been much-needed. 

I have my first non-academic New York audition this evening for a staged reading. It’s a group interview/audition in Astoria. Here’s hoping I don’t get horribly lost on the way there…

Once again, The Poet has fallen asleep with his book on his chest. To wake him or not to wake him…

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I’ve tried to get out of this chair and start dressing myself at least three times now. This could be problematic.

New York City: Day 28

Time to be honest: Yesterday was another I have no business being here kind of day.

The day started fine enough. Transcribing IPA in Neutral American Speech still makes me feel incredibly unintelligent at times, but I’m working on that. And in fact, Alexander Technique later on in the morning was fantastic. Then came Vocal Production. I was just writing to a former professor at SLU that I was most excited about the work I’ve been doing in that class– that I’m producing sounds I had no idea I was capable of. (And sustaining them!) Suffice to say, I’ve been rocking chest voice work. Yesterday, we started head voice. And I was the only one in the class who was really struggling. No matter what I did to relax, no matter where I tried to place the sound, no matter how hard I concentrated on my breathing… it wasn’t there.

The lunch break was much-needed. The frustration had begun to mess with my head. I met Chris in Abingdon Square where he was waiting with cupcakes from Magnolia’s. A few coffees and lots of relaxation later, and I felt ready to tackle my audition for the first round of scene work. 

My audition was a total train wreck.

I did a piece that I’m familiar with. In fact, it was the contemporary piece that I initially auditioned for The New School with, so… it works. Or. It used to. When I spoke, I felt like trash was just pouring out of my mouth and I had no idea where it was coming from. I’ve never wanted to apologize after an audition before, save my call-back for Up in the Air at which Jason Reitman asked if I could be a little less turned on. Yeah. But at least that debacle ended with a role and a funny story. Not the case with what happened yesterday. 

I’m just feeling a little bit lost. I knew what kind of actor I was three weeks ago and now I don’t have a damn clue. I’m feeling as though I don’t have a process right now. I’ve been asked to forget everything I’ve ever learned. I’m learning how to speak again, how to walk again, how to train my brain again. I expressed my frustrations to Kathy before Stanislavski yesterday afternoon and she didn’t seem remotely concerned, which was comforting. She had sort of an Of course you feel that way mentality. She even brought Tiger Woods into the mix, explaining how his game plummeted for awhile while he was trying to retrain himself with a new swing.

Logically, I can understand all of that. I think what’s bothering me is that I know that first impressions count. And I looked like a joke of a human being in that studio yesterday.

But. Today is a new day. Time to shake it off and start another long day of classes.

…maybe I should get dressed.


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