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Posts Tagged ‘New York City’

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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It’s after midnight now. The first day of the year has gotten away from me.

New York City: Year 2, Day 133(4)

I spent the afternoon shaking confetti out of my hair. When I woke up late in the day, it was on my eyelids, stuck to my back, in the crook of my left arm. I peeled away flecks of pink, green, and blue carefully, groggily. More satisfying, though, was shaking my head back and forth and watching the color fall from my hair.

Too much has happened in the days since Christmas Eve. I’m too tired and still too sad to write about most of those events. They have taken me to Georgia, Florida, Missouri, Ohio, and back again to New York. There have reunions and celebrations. There has been a loss. I want to write about them all, but right now, there’s too much that my mind still needs to process. So at the moment, I deal with today. The New Year.

Chris and I found ourselves back in New York City yesterday afternoon. I spent most of flight from Ohio thinking of the blizzard we’d missed while on our holiday travels and remembering the snow-filled and stormy night a year ago when we ran through the blizzard together to watch the snow fall over the ocean. This year, the snow and the sea went on without us and we only just made it back in time to catch the remnants. On our street in Brooklyn, bicycles are still lost in the snow piled high on the sidewalk. Once inside the apartment, we dropped our bags, changed clothes, and prepared to head to Evangeline’s apartment in Williamsburg to ring in the New Year.

Before…

The Poet and I spent the walk to Angie’s slipping through the slush and relishing in the fact that Christmas decorations had not yet been taken down. I used the heels of my boots as a spike in the snowier areas where no path had been cleared. All along McCarren Park, only a narrow passage hugging the gate had been shoveled. Revelers fell into the beeline with the snow settled in on either side. I couldn’t help but laugh at the fact that the streets of Williamsburg and Greenpoint felt like a college campus on a Saturday night. Groups linked arms as they walked, laughed, sang. The cars didn’t have the streets to themselves.

I’m not sure I’ve ever had some much fun on New Year’s Eve as I did last night. Angie’s apartment was filled with people, many I’d met before, many I hadn’t. A whole slew of Talking Heads songs were played. I laughed entirely too much, danced a bit too hard, and probably drank a bit too fast. At midnight, I got to kiss the man I love. We all took an early morning trip to the roof where the dancing and singing continued. New friends were made. At one point in the early hours of the morning, “Circle of Life” from The Lion King played. What happened then is documented below. Shortly after, the confetti appeared. I don’t know from where. I only know that I spent the rest of the night and all of today covered with it and not minding a bit.

It is 2011. While I have no idea how that came to be, I’m thankful for how it began– celebrating in good company, singing “Auld Lang Syne” from the rooftops of New York City and preparing for all that’s to come. The After isn’t nearly as attractive as the Before, but I think that’s the sign of a New Year’s Eve well done.

2011, it’s nice to meet you. I certainly hope we’ll be friends.

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New York City: Year 2, Day 106

The condensation on the inside of the windows in my apartment makes me feel warm this morning. The radiator hisses and somehow this is soothing. I’m drinking coffee with cream and occasionally dunking pepparkakor in it because my boyfriend is of Scandinavian descent and drinks his coffee black and out of a mug that says, “You can always tell a Swede, but you can’t tell him much”. I’m trying to memorize the first five minutes of Under Milk Wood by Dylan Thomas in Standard British for my oral final in Dialects, but Richard Burton’s thick Welsh voice keeps rolling around in my head and I can’t help remembering the evenings spent, wine-in-hand, listening to Burton read Thomas and later falling asleep soundly. The aptly named Dwarf Alberta Spruce that I hugged for a mile while I carried it home has one string of lights. I made a star to sit on top and on the branches hang a few ornaments from my mother who didn’t want my Christmas tree to be bare (the Eiffel Tower, a dove, a heart and sword), a green glass beetle, and a small Russian peasant girl made out of wool. A few days ago, with construction paper and thumb tacks, I turned my apartment into a low-budget Christmas wonderland and this morning, it feels good.

The morning is quiet. I’m grateful for that.

Last night, a solid little crew from The New School for Drama made our way to The Music Box Theatre on 45th to see David Hirson’s La Bete.

The play, written entirely in rhyming couplets, featured an unparalleled performance by Mark Rylance. David Hyde Pierce was also fantastic as Elomire and raised questions pitting the demands of high art against pandering to the masses. I was reminded of the power of the voice, the power of an arresting stage imagine, the importance of trusting the language. As a student of the theatre, I couldn’t be more thankful to have seen it.

We waited in the cold by the stage door so that our birthday boy, Jeff, could shake hands with a certain David Hyde Pierce. Mr. Rylance made an appearance with his fold-up bike, red helmet, and flashing light reflectors. Later, when Mr. Hyde Pierce made his way to his car, we all congratulated him. He laughed and thanked us, made note that my lips were turning blue, and smiled with Jeff as Michelle snapped a picture.

I love being in the classrooms at 151 Bank Street and I’m so lucky to get to act every single day, even if it’s a bare bones scene in a hot classroom with wooden blocks and heavy tables. But, oh… it was so nice to be in a theatre again. Sometimes, I forget. I forget the feeling as the house lights dim to half when it all suddenly feels like home.

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It’s a Sunday evening in early October. The darker half of the year is beginning.

New York City: Year 2, Day 50

Sitting at my desk and watching the sun set over the park, I can smell the pumpkin pie Chris has baking in the oven and I’m anxious for the coming nights of fake cobwebs, fallen leaves, and autumnal ale. I’ve been dreaming of corn husks and scarecrows. I spend my days wishing I could go apple picking. But mostly, I’m eager for the ghost stories that this month brings.

On Friday, our merry band of actors performed Daniel Pearle’s gorgeous play, Three Women Against the Sea. I’d fallen in love with this play, with Ruth, the character who I got to live with briefly. The play opens with Ruth sitting on the beach in the middle of the night smoking a cigarette. She is joined by her sister-in-law, Oli, who informs her she has called the police to help look for Nana, their mother-in-law. We learn that Ruth and Oli were married to Nana’s sons, Ben and Eli, who died in a plane crash three years earlier and that today is the anniversary of their death. The women fight, they cut each other, they comfort each other. It’s a beautiful play– heartbreaking and hilarious and hopeful all at the same time. Daniel Pearle is a genius.

The writer’s next assignment is to take one of the characters from the play they’d written and carry them over into another play.

I spent most of Friday morning working with my sensory choices for Three Women Against the Sea, getting ready for the show. During my brief lunch break between Stage Combat, Clown and our performance, I caught Daniel watching an N’Sync video on YouTube on his computer. When I gave him a What the hell? look he said, “Oh, it’s for my next play. It takes place before the crash. Ruth and Ben and Eli are dancing together.” I burst into tears.

After we performed, Daliya, Angie, and I sat next each other in the theater and listened to the readings of the new plays with the new casts. I rested my head on Angie’s shoulder as Daniel introduced Catherine as Ruth and Jeff as Ben. I had just been living with Ruth, as Ruth, onstage moments before and there I sat, residuals of her in my bones, watching my dead husband sing karaoke with his twin brother. I cried at the memory I hadn’t had before.

It’s a beautiful thing, when the theatre conjures ghosts.

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After the recent move to the wilds of Brooklyn, I thought I was done with moving for a while. But, no. On Monday, I made the move back to 151 Bank Street.

New York City: Year 2, Day 14

Did you catch that? That’s me trying to make light of the fact that I’ll be living at The New School for Drama from now until May. I say trying because, after one week, it’s already not terribly funny. 32 credit hours (that’s 10 classes) on top of rehearsals for Scene Study, rehearsals for Directing projects, rehearsals for Co-Lab, rehearsals for the main stage shows, and (oh, yeah) homework means that I’ll be wandering back to Greenpoint near the wee hours of the morning to sneak in a few hours of sleep before making the trek back to the West Village the next morning.

These days will be long, but I am prepared. My locker is now home to two boxes of oatmeal, two boxes of green tea, a bowl, a spoon, a mug, six notebooks, many textbooks, my tennis shoes, some aspirin, a box of tissues, a spare toothbrush, a change of clothes, a box of granola bars, an extra sweater, and a card from the Poet to make me smile.

Long days and all, it’s good to be back. I love my classes. I can tell that my Friday classes are going to be especially good to me. I start the day at 8:30 with Stage Combat, then it’s off to Theatrical Clown, both of which I am endlessly excited about. Sadly, we don’t get to start working with our noses for another two weeks— I’m an impatient little clown. On Friday afternoons, I have Co-Lab. For the first project, I’m working on a beautiful play by the wonderful Daniel Pearle called Three Women Against the Sea, which is a contemporary retelling of the story of Ruth and Naomi in the Old Testament.

It’s wonderful to be back in class, but the majority of my week was consumed by auditions.

At The New School for Drama, the 2nd Year Acting students audition at the beginning of the year for two main stage productions— one in the fall, one in the spring. (Am I repeating myself. I think I might be. Whatever.) In the fall, we’re doing Elmer Rice’s The Adding Machine directed by Lou Jacobs. In the spring, we take on The Chekhov Project, adapted by Robert Hoyt and directed by Casey Biggs. Initial auditions were on Wednesday night up in the theatre. Though the nervous energy throughout the halls made me want to vomit, I felt good about the work I brought in. On Thursday, my classmates and I nervously hovered around the call-board waiting for the Call-Back list to be posted. That night, I read for Judy in The Adding Machine with my pal Mackenzie (who is attached to my hip this semester— we have every single one of our classes together and happen to be cast in the same Co-Lab project) and last night, I read for Irina, the youngest of the famed Three Sisters for The Chekhov Project. I felt good about my Judy— the promiscuous little thing who enjoys late-night jaunts to graveyards. I was also happy with how my Chekhov call-back went. My sobs produced lots of laughter thanks to the twisted Chekhovian humor.

In any case, it’s all done with. Now the waiting game begins. Cast lists should go up Tuesday, though people are already buzzing about who’s playing what part and who heard what in the hallways about casting.

But none of that really matters, does it? Here I am, typing away, and I’d already forgotten about the feeling I came home on Wednesday night with. Shame on me.

I’d been feeling unsettled for the past few weeks. Something didn’t feel right. I was feeling restless and lost and stuck and all of those other nasty and cliché things. I also haven’t been onstage since early May. I hadn’t put together that perhaps I was feeling out of sorts because I’m an actor who wasn’t acting. As soon as a walked out of the theatre on Wednesday night, I knew that’s what had been wrong. My audition on the main stage lasted maybe four minutes, if that. But for just a few minutes, I was connecting with someone. Really connecting. I was doing work I could be proud of and making tiny statements about things that are very important to me, things that are close to my heart. One of my acting teachers nodded and smiled at me as I left the theatre and, as soon as I stepped into the lobby, I started to cry. It’s what had been missing. The entire walk home, I couldn’t stop thinking about how incredibly lucky I am to get to study what I love in this place with these people.

As the days at school get longer and I start running on less and less sleep, I need to hang on to that feeling. When I start whining about being exhausted and hungry and drained, someone remind me. Please?

This seems like the only appropriate thing to post in an update about auditioning. The original cast of A Chorus Line doing “I Hope I Get It”. Also appropriate since I auditioned for Bob LuPone on Wednesday– the head of The New School for Drama, yes, but also the fellow playing Zach in this here video, teaching dance combinations and making cuts and decisions. And so it continues…

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I feel like I’ve been crying for a week straight.

New York City: Year 2, Day 6

Everything (and I mean everything) has been bringing me to tears for the past few days. A man walking down Driggs carrying  three bunches of flowers with a stupid grin on his face. The all-too precious bicycle gang of 7-year-old girls congregating in the park last night. The bells from St. Stanislaus waking me up in the morning.

Hey. Hormones. What the hell?

At the moment, I’m grateful that I don’t have a TV anymore. I’m suddenly remembering Saturday mornings in college, sitting on my red slip-covered couch and crying at Haagen-Daz commercials. Not Hallmark– Haagen-Daz.

My tears have only been happy (knock-on-wood). And, (oh right) I’m an actor. I should count myself lucky that the emotional well that so much of us spend all too much time digging for seems to be overflowing here in my neck of the woods.

Last night, The Poet and I celebrated our first anniversary together (which is surprising to a good number of people who, since knowing us, thought us to be high school sweethearts) at a brilliant restaurant here in Brooklyn called Five Leaves. If sipping on Chris’ Sazerac and sharing the most amazing Devils on Horseback ever served weren’t enough to make me weep tears of joy, the organic lamb shepherd’s pie sealed the deal. Ok, I didn’t really cry over the food (though it was pretty damn good) but, sitting across from Chris, laughing with him until I ached, thinking about the beautiful year we’ve had, knowing that I’ve found the person who, before we met I knew we’d meet— that made me cry.

Sometimes, walking in this city. Sometimes, thinking of the work I do. Sometimes, holding Chris’ hand. Sometimes, with a book in my hands. Sometimes, while I write. Sometimes, while I hear Katie’s voice all the way from Iowa. Sometimes, watching the water. Sometimes, when it rains. Sometimes, I’m just too full, too happy to do anything by cry.

And this made me downright weep, sucker that I am:

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