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Today, a brief photo-essay: Summer (minus the waiting in various studios to audition, the hours spent cleaning tables at a Nolita cafe, and any documentation of the various projects I’ve undertaken. Also minus the heat wave, because nobody needs to be reminded of what a heat index of 115 feels like).

Next, you and I will be reunited, Little Blog, with (probably) no apologies or excuses of Project Explosions and other writing endeavors. Just you and me.

(Can you tell I got a new phone that takes pictures that are a lot cooler than I am?)

As in the days of old, I’ll leave you with some tunes. I’ve been listening to this cover all summer. Click. Listen. Enjoy.

We’re back.

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New York City: Year 2, Day 238

Preparations from Henry VI have begun at The New School for Drama. I wish I’d not abandoned this writing endeavor of mine during the period of the dark cloud while working on The Chekhov Project. I emerged and on the other side of the dark cloud was a beautiful show that I am deeply proud to have been a part of. I wish the feelings of joy on stage were documented alongside the uncertainties I had during the rehearsal process. No matter. Time for another show.

This is what the early preparation looks like:

I want to write about the amazing movement techniques I’ve been exposed to recently, the way I can feel my body waking up. I want to write about my beautiful classmates and their inspiring work. I want to write about the red, pink, and purple walls of the Circus Arts studio we shared today and the way old trunks lined the back wall. There’s much I want to say, but my brain is almost as tired as my bones.

So, there’s this…

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Tonight, we put the show on its feet.

New York City: Year 2, Day 173

Tonight, I felt incredibly lost. We ran the show from start to finish for the designers and the only reason I cried in the moments I was supposed to was because I was apologizing to them in my head– “I’m sorry you have to watch me right now. I have no idea what I’m doing. I’m sorry.”

Sometimes I feel like I have no business setting foot onstage.

Period of the dark cloud– what did I say?

Two things make this alright.

One: This afternoon, my Scene Study professor handed us copies of a beautiful speech that Robert Prosky made in 1998.

He said, “I was being interviewed and was asked what it was like to be an actor for so long a time. My answer was that on the first day of rehearsal faced with a new script, a bare stage, and the whole panoply of theater surrounding me, the thought would occur that “I don’t know how to do this; I don’t even know where to start.” But, start we would and in the rehearsal process of four or five weeks, I would add a little bit of this or that, a note from the director, a look from another actor, an idea from the subtext, etc. and then the play would open to some success or even failure, but at least I’d gotten thru it. Then the thought would occur, “Aha, I’ve fooled them again! They haven’t found out yet that I don’t know how to do this.” Rex Harrison once said, “I have now gotten to the age when i must prove that I’m just as good as I never was.”

The speech continues, “It has been said that an actor must have the hide of a rhinoceros, the courage and audacity of a lion and most importantly, the fragile vulnerability of an egg. It has also been said and I’m not sure by whom, that the moment of not knowing is the moment that has the greatest potential for creativity. The professional and private lives of most actors are filled to the brim with moments of not knowing.

Actors get recognized all the time in the street or in the supermarket, but sometimes the people who recognize us don’t know why they do. They think we’re a long lost cousin or we sold a used car to them once in Minneapolis. We satisfy their curiosity by saying, “I am an actor,” but I think all actors have some doubt about that statement. We’re not really sure that we are actors, but we are sure that we are lifelong residents in the house of not knowing.”

Reason number two everything is ok: I came home tonight from a 17-hour day, my evening spent in Chekhovian Russia where my fiance was killed, where I never made it to Moscow. I was tired, a little sad, a little frustrated with myself. But there was a letter waiting for me from my dearest friend, Katie The Trooper, who is enduring her own Second Year MFA Acting experience at the University of Iowa. Inside the sealed envelope were temporary tattoos promoting her latest show, a picture of her crazy cat that used to curl up on my stomach in the lifetimes ago that we were near each other, a postcard with a picture of a small French child running down a street, and a letter of encouragement and assurance that she’d join me in New York soon and we’d continue doing the work we love. She wrote, “You need these things.” And I did.

Katie will be here soon. We’ll keep paying rent in the House of Not Knowing together. This thought makes me happy.

Casey is always telling us that where our fear is– that’s where our truth lies. I was scared tonight, but I’m ready to keep working, I’m thrilled that there is work that is frightening me, and I’m eager to find what the truth is.

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I spend my days in New York. I spend my evenings in Russia.

New York City: Year 2, Day 172

This week marks the third week of rehearsal for Branches: The Chekhov Project. Though I’ve spent a good deal of time in Three Sisters land, it’s been beautiful to watch the worlds start to merge. I’ve grown to love Irina dearly, but it’s also impossible for me to hear Nina call herself “the seagull” without lines from my own show echoing in my head– kind, old soldiers calling Irina a little while bird, Irina speaking of her impending marriage and saying “Suddenly now, it’s as if I had wings.” There are startling parallels, lovely images.

We’ve entered the period of the dark cloud during which many of us can’t remember our own names much less remember how to act (or so it feels). It’s an exciting time, though– a time of discovery. I love the rehearsal hall. We’ll move up to the theatre next week. I’ll miss the rehearsal shoes laced on over socks with ridiculous patterns, the safety pins being tucked into rehearsal skirts. I love the period vests worn over Packers t-shirts and the pockets watches safely placed in well-worn jeans. I’ll miss the early fumblings with scripts in-hand and the moments we all stood around the piano learning Russian folk songs. There’s such excitement in the move to the theatre, yes, but there’s something tatty and breathtaking about the early life of a play. I believe that. There’s magic in the tattiness of the theatre.

It is still winter in New York City. I love it here, though my snowy walks are usually filled with images of whatever my Moscow happens to be that day. Lindsey’s Moscow Variations has been on loop in my brain since I began preparing to play Irina. Today we rehearsed Act 1. This is a good thing. In Act 1, I still believe in Moscow. In Act 1, I’m still going to meet and marry the man I dream of. In Act 1, nobody’s hurt.

I think perhaps the most rewarding thing about this project so far has been watching these amazing characters come to life in the form of my dear friends. I get to go to rehearsal every night and see Daliya’s Sonya, Jessica’s Nina, Jacob’s Vanya, Siri’s Olga, Jeff’s Tuzenbach, Andreas’ Constantine. It’s a cast filled with people I love, characters I love.

Folks, brush up your Chekhov. Come see this.

I hope this puts you in the mood:

(P.S. Because it makes me feel less alone, I want to mention that someone found my blog yesterday by Google-searching “MFA Acting, no sleep”. That is a true story if I have ever heard one. It is 1AM. On that note, I’m off to transcribe a monologue into a Southern Irish dialect, work on a scene from Suddenly, Last Summer and listen to my landlord yell at his dogs. Goodnight.)

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New York City: Year 2, Day 149

Things I have done since last we met:

-Finished researching Three Sisters
-Begun the memorization process for Three Sisters
-Scored some fun film work that necessitated being in a night club at 4am
-Finished writing my one-woman show
-Revisited The Facts of Winter
-Started yet another writing project

Also, I’ve been sleeping. A lot. I begin the life of graduate acting student once again a week from today, so I have been sleeping. Sleeping and enjoying the sun during daylight hours since it’ll probably be May before either of those things happen again.

Tonight, another storm is on its way. The trees in McGolrick Park look like black lace against the sky today. Or maybe not. Maybe they just look like bare trees in the winter. In any case, I’m happy that this winter is being kinder to me than last winter was. Last year, I was 16 stories up and lost in the gray of the Financial District. This year, my apartment overlooks a park. The snow stays whiter longer in our tiny patch of Brooklyn. I’m grateful for that.

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Few people have a smile like my grandmother did.

New Year City: Year 2, Day 138

Though there are many memories I’ve been turning to in recent weeks, I find myself most often thinking of her smile. My Nana, Beverly Trout Kennedy, was born on January 7, 1928. She was a wonderful woman– a sister, a friend, a wife, but most people remember her as a mother. She had nine sons, one daughter. Ten children. I count myself among 22 grandchildren. There’s also a great-grandchild. Look at her.

My Nana died on December 24th, 2010. Christmas eve. She was 83 years old.

I’ve been looking at that picture a lot. Everyone tells me how much I favor her.

Words aren’t coming easy. I wanted to write about her to celebrate her life, to acknowledge the amazing woman she was, to honor her role as the deeply loved matriarch of our family, but all I can think of is the funeral. Last week, her family and friends gathered in St. Louis to celebrate her. The church was filled.

Her sons, nine men now with children of their own, all easily identifiable as Bev’s boys with their broad shoulders and bright eyes, stood greeting people with pride for the woman their mother was. Her daughter, my Aunt Molly, shook hands with people who knew without a doubt that she was my Nana’s little girl. They share the same generous smile and equally generous spirit. I stood off to the side and thought about the fact that this was the church I’d been baptized in over two decades ago. She’d been there. I looked around at all of my cousins and thought of her holding each of us as babies.

People with friendships with my grandmother spanning decades were there in droves. Women and men I’d never met immediately identified me as a Trout girl and came up to me and, shaking my hand, shared a story about my Nana’s generosity, her giant heart, or one of the many antics she put up with between my former Marine grandfather and her ten children. Not a single person didn’t mention how beautiful, how graceful she was.

It was amazing to hear stories about her I’d never heard before, to think of her and laugh, to remember all of the joy she had in her life. Today I’m thinking of her and hoping I’ve inherited some of her grace, some of her courage, some of her generosity of heart.

She has been gone for almost two weeks. Tomorrow, January 7th, 2011 would have been her 83rd birthday.

I also write this because my family doesn’t yet have the closure they deserve. My Nana passed from complications due to a hit-and-run car accident after leaving a restaurant with her husband in mid-December. They were in Vero Beach, Florida at the time. If anybody reading this has friends or family in the Vero Beach area, please pass along this link to them and ask them to share any information they may have. http://www.tcpalm.com/news/2011/jan/01/indian-river-county-investigators-looking-for-in/

I’ve been looking at the video that my Aunt Molly made for her 80th birthday a few years ago. There are beautiful pictures of her as a little girl, pictures of her on the day she married my grandfather, pictures of her with her arms full of babies. It’s a nice reminder of what a loving and well-loved woman she was.

Happy birthday, Nana.

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Where are the animals going?

New York City: Year 2, Day 137

First, the blackbirds gave up on us on New Year’s Eve. Then the fish started going belly-up. Now, apparently some 40,000 odd Velvet swimming crabs have washed up on beaches in the UK. Another 50 birds show up dead on a street in Sweden. Louisiana and Arkansas– I knew he be wary of you, but now I have to add Sweden to the list?

The fish, the birds, the crabs. And now this deer. He’s making a run for something.  (My favorite part is the burly Polish man at the end who shouts, “Hoorah!”)

And then there’s me in Brooklyn. Not making a run for anything just yet. I’ve been thinking of getting a cat, but maybe I should hold off on that for awhile.

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