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Posts Tagged ‘MFA’

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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New York City: Day 2

 

I woke up smiling today.

I remember telling Katie awhile ago that one of the things that I was most afraid of was of waking up on my first morning alone in New York City. I was convinced that sheer panic was going to set in then. It didn’t. Sure, that feeling of terror could easily come tomorrow when my mom’s actually out of the city, I realize that I really don’t know a soul, and have to get ready for my first day of life as an MFA acting candidate. But… here’s to hoping that doesn’t happen. I’m trying to be fearless, but I’m not sure how long that’s going to last. 

I think I went shopping today. I say, “I think” because, at the moment, I feel rather like Alice. Through the looking glass, down the rabbit-hole, and all that follows. After leaving my favorite pair of shoes (my go-to, everyday, gotta have ‘em shoes) my mother and I ventured down the street to Century 21 to find me a new pair. Mayhem… that’s what that was. I thought I was going to need a compass and map to find my way out of that labyrinth of a store.

This afternoon, I wandered down to the South Street Seaport since it’s only a stone’s throw from my apartment and I wanted to do some exploring. I am in love. The ships and the tugboats… I swear, I must’ve been a sailor in a past life. I always feel really drawn toward large bodies of water– lakes, rivers, the sea. And I’m enchanted by all things nautical. Suffice to say, I have a feeling I’m going to be spending many an afternoon with my books out at the Seaport watching the boats and the birds. 

Remember that part about my living situation in which I sleep in the kitchen because my two roommates are sharing the bedroom? Well, as of today, no such roommates have appeared. In addition, the names on the door have changed. My mother wonders if perhaps they’re “decoy” names– names put on my door so that people won’t think I live alone. I wonder if that’s not incredibly wishful thinking on her part. I have hope, though– It’s Sunday evening and graduate Orientation for all schools starts tomorrow morning. If indeed these elusive roommates never come, I’ll have 445 square feet all to myself– two rooms, a kitchen, and a bathroom. But, I’m a 22-year-old living in Manhattan and that situation is far to good to be true. My gut tells me that they’ll show up. And that I’ll continue falling asleep to the gentle hum of the refrigerator next to my bed. And that will be my Manhattan existence for awhile. 

I have to openly admit that I cried when my mother left this afternoon. There was the sudden realization that, Hell. I’m in New York City. And I don’t know anyone. There was a moment of panic. I never had that moment when I left Atlanta for undergrad because I knew people– Charlie was there, Michelle was there, my twin sister was there. No matter how new the experience, I could always walk down the hall and see a friendly face to put my head on straight again, so I never got terribly homesick. Not so this time. My mom’s gone, I’m alone, and the fear is starting to kick in a little bit. But, I’m taking deep breaths and reminding myself that I’m incredibly lucky. And, God-willing, tomorrow at Orientation I’ll make lots of new friends. Good ones. We all have the stare at each other’s faces for the next three years after all. I’m so eager for the new… I’m just in desperate need of something familiar in this moment. 

Tomorrow, all hell breaks loose in the form of graduate school, so I was happy for today’s rather mellow tone. 

Highlights:

-Watching a barber-shop quartet stop an old woman on the street in the Village to serenade her with “The Way You Look Tonight”. (She was holding her palms to her cheeks and trying not to cry.)
-Sitting next to a woman on the subway carrying a baby dressed as a blowfish.

Things I Learned:

-Words of wisdom from an old cab driver this morning. “I didn’t take care of myself. You’re young. You take care of yourself. Eat the right things. Do the right things. It’s that simple.”
-You can still feel the subway rumbling from an apartment on the 14th floor.

Tomorrow: 

-Official Welcome, Student Introductions, “Building Ensemble” with Bob LuPone, Walking Tour of the West Village. (I’m giving myself an hour in the morning to leave my apartment, make it to the train, and navigate through the Village to get to the Drama School. Is that absurd? Whatever. Don’t judge me.)

Now: 

 

 

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I begin this part of the post about seven hours after I started it. At 6:30 this evening, we had “floor meetings”. Good Lord, it felt like freshman year of college all over again. My favorite part, hands down, was when our R.A. told us that we were going to have a social event to decorate door-stops, but for legal reasons, we weren’t allowed to call them door-stops, so we were going to have a Wooden Triangle Decorating Social. That in itself was humorous and absurd. Then a very ernest young fashion student who looked terribly confused said, “So… is the social for making the door-stops or… is the social… for… the door-stops…?” I was the awkward girl who let out one very audible giggle. 

At the end of the meeting, there was an ice cream social for all of the graduate students. (No, I’m not kidding.) At one point, a group of boys walked in and said, “Where my drama students at?!” Immediately, we all convened in a corner with lots of couches. Mack, Israel, Jessica, Tyler, and Lindsey– the Williams Street Actors. I adore all of them. After awhile, Jessica, Tyler, and I realized that we’d been talking in the lounge of our apartment building for two hours on our first real night in New York City, so we decided to venture out (a little). Tyler bought drinks, we all laughed too much, and some serious bonding occurred over both “To Catch a Predator” and “Cash Cab”. We’re all meeting downstairs in the morning to make the subway/walking trek over to the theatre facilities. 

I took some pretty rockin’ pictures at the Seaport today, but those will have to wait. This girl has a big day ahead of her. Time to get to bed in preparation of  being a Mother Freakin’ Artist. (Get it? MFA? No? …alright, nevermind…)

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