Archives for posts with tag: listening

I am in a Shakespeare state-of-mind.  Have you ever AllMyHairstudied a language and begun thinking or dreaming in that other tongue?  The month of August I will play Ophelia in Hamlet, and as the theater desires everyone off-book [to know all their lines] when rehearsals begin the first of July, all parts were bequeathed at the beginning of the year.  Also, it helps I teach acting at the venue producing the play- The Rose Theater (visit their site: TheStageAwaits.com).  Having so much topsy-turveyness in life, my personality is one where I sat down in January to precisely determine how many scenes this character will perform.  As it turns out, Ophelia has lines in six scenes, a convenient number considering the months until we begin working out the blocking [where/on which line you move to/enter/exit the stage].

From these two numbers- six scenes and six months- memorizing dialogue for one scene each month develops an easily digestible task.  My memorization skills are average, thus being not blessed with a photographic memory, or a quick conversion rate from short to long term recollection- I have multiple mechanisms utilized to retain verbose narrations.  A prior post (Play: Within the Lines) goes into detail, however, I … lied, admitting to write a half dozen times, alas- the truth is ten.  Yes, that is correct, I write all my character’s dialogue an even ten times to secure those utterances into my noggin.  Regardless if it seems me a dolt, this is what I have learned my dyslexic brain likes: it slows me down and repetition is the mother of…  I don’t know, something (SKILL; I looked it up!).

Creating a sense of security within the chaos that is Life, can provide necessary comfort.  That being said- the theater presenting Shakespeare’s most popular tragedy has set a goal to raise $1,500 for the building of proper sets and toward more realistic costumes (straight-jackets are difficult to come by at the thrift stores).  Please support in this artistic endeavor any manner you feel comfortable, whether sharing the link or a $10 contribution via IndieGoGO with worthwhile incentives.  All aide is supremely appreciated by this not-for-profit stage, and yours truly.

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April has proven to be the Busiest month and, Made_in_NY_logotruly, I wish I had photos from one of the most recent “amazing” adventures!!  Alas, as with most all productions “Everyone who is working on the film will sign a Non Disclosure form; This means you will not share any information about what we are filming on any social media- twitter, facebook, blogs, etc. If you do share any of this confidential information you will be sent home from set.”  How long will casting hold a grudge for making their job more difficult and causing them to look bad?  For ginormous budget movies/television one may not even have phones on-set and we are warned: should phones be seen- they will be confiscated, plus, you agreed to the confidentiality agreement.  The element of surprise is ultra-paramount.

Even when phones are permitted, they cause unnecessary distraction- preventing the smoothest production value.  The reason texting while driving is against the law: a cell phone seize your sole focus.  Thus, making you unaccountable when, say, the Assistant Director needs you to perform the action captured in every other camera angle of this scene, but because you are on your phone …. around the corner, five-ten production minutes (which might as well be five-ten hours) are wasted yelling your name.  I leave my phone tucked away and only check it when “turning around” is announced-the term for placing all the equipment and camera on the opposite side of a shot to catch the corresponding coverage.  This usually takes a good ten minutes, between cables, lights, props, “the village” (chairs, monitors, etc.), people, and all the rest-thankfully allowing ample time to take a quick peek at the e-mail for any upcoming casting opportunities requiring rapid response.

Twice this month, I again worked on “Boardwalk Empire”, putting me, so far, in all but one episode for the new season.  In #403, one scene takes place in a charming real location, and while I sit at the counter indulging, take after take, in the after-glow of consuming the best cherry pie a-la-mode I never ate, my day actually started with a different action.  My shadow can be seen walking up to the ‘Ladies’ room opaque glass door and knocking as the beautiful main character, leg raised ….

Come on now, we covered consequence and curiosity at the the beginning here- Thank you for tuning in!

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Having heard, and believed to some extent, the harsh critique-Teacher Katrina E. Perkins “Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach” * – I shunned becoming a teacher.  The first acting classes I attended regularly for any length of time, at Playhouse West in Los Angeles, met twice weekly, with one teacher on Tuesdays, and a different one for Thursdays.  The Tuesday Teacher, Mark Pellegrino, was, and is, an actor in known movies and T.V., including ‘The Big Lebowski”, “The Number 23”, and “Dexter”.  Tony Savant, the Thursday counterpart, was the school’s artistic director.  Each teacher presented wonderful insight and guidance toward creating the strongest, most truthful, acting foundation.

Having never taken an acting class, aside from an ‘Introduction to Acting’ and ‘Accents & Dialects’ courses at L.A.C.C., this school became my Home for two years.  Spending so much time there, in more than the two classes a week I was a member, additionally a wonderful perk of this school/repertory theater was the option to also attend any other class at your current level or below.  That is, if one were in the beginner course, one had the ability to sit-in and watch any other beginner class; if you’re in the intermediate level the option was for any beginner and intermediate, you get it. Learning through watching other students and hearing another teacher’s vocabulary, provided great insight and excelled my progress.  Sometimes, as long as I arrived prepared, the teacher might even let me participate.  Granted, my main teachers were always the best, it was beneficial to hear different phrasings to repeat an idea.

Aside from the numerous classes attended, the course required a minimum of two rehearsals outside of class each week.  The appointed class secretary compiled a class roster including each student’s name, phone number, and email address, and distributed it; some even volunteered to open their home at a specified day/time each week for rehearsals.  Did that mean people actually rehearsed?  No, however, it was easy to discern who took the Art seriously.  Having one teacher working in the field, and another assiduously focusing us week after week, forged a determination toward living truthfully – and the truth is teachers are Gold.

*George Bernard Shaw Man and Superman

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Last week I had a ‘Go-See’ with L’Oreal.  A ‘Go-See’ is like an audition, except for models- so the clients can see how you look in person, and usually, how you walk (the runway, as a model).  In this case it was to evaluate hair to determine if I was an apt specimen to demonstrate a new hair gloss product to the people of L’Oreal flying into New York from around the globe for a week long convention to educate the company hairstylists about all the innovating products newly available.  Being an actress, this was my first ‘Go-See’, and while auditions tend to make me uptight and nervous, I figured this was no pressure on me, as it had nothing to do with my performance, and was only about the hair.

Still, wanting to do my best, I researched modeling and tips for the ‘Go-See’.  I read the importance of wearing light make-up, having a nice neutral manicure, and clean hair.  My hair is something I have been complimented on almost daily since I was a child.  I use to hate my frizzy hair and thought strangers were simply being sweet to me.  Only a couple years ago did I finally accept my hair IS beautiful and unknown people are generous with their kindness because they are genuine in their expression.  Living my whole life with long hair, I know my hair looks best with one day of grime built up: freshly shampooed = more frizz and less curls.  I wish I had listened to my better judgement, knowing my curls were specifics in which they were interested.

Back to the ‘Go-See’, I have never in my life seen so many very tall, very thin women gathered in one place at one time. To my calculations, they saw approximately 300 girls in that three hour time frame.  Fast forward, the event has passed and no call back did I receive.  All is well, because every event is part of a bigger picture, and when realizing this we can learn.  Regardless the reason for not being included in the showcase, I am reminded to listen to my own personal truth via experience.

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There’s a place that no one knows

Sometimes most I love to go

Always here I’m all alone

Near to me and close to home

The space is small and warmth resides

No fear exists; no truth to hide

I’m loud and free, out of my mind

More paths must be I want to find

Searching- there, is happiness

Landing- comfort, I confess

Always, you expect to be.

Changing is reality

Know final words, of what,? to say

My feelings here have gone astray

Growing them from sad and glum

Smiling now I laugh and hummm

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The average yearly income for an actor in the state of California is $60,000….a median number I would will be happy to earn next year.  This fact was delivered to my attention in the form of a notice stating $4030.50 was due by me before September 15th. Thankfully, a pleasant and knowledgable Jack in Sacramento made this simple mistake, via the city of Los Angeles, disappear.  Some individuals might have become worked-up over a scary expensive notice with no validity, but because I knew there was zero truth to the claim- it was easy to laugh.

I love how we are tested to practice what we preach.  This bill arrived the day I signed up to become a member of SAG-AFTRA, the union for professional film, television, and radio artists.  A weighty decision- admittedly not contained in the budgetary savings- with a price tag of $3,000.  Being eligible to join from time studying/pursuing acting in Los Angeles, I committed to the currency of this endeavor after taking a step back and re-evaluating the ultimate goal: to be working as an actress professionally.  Naturally, at some point, to achieve this ambition I would eventually be paying the initiation fee to be a part of this organization.  So why now?

Because, one company (utilized by ‘Boardwalk Empire’) supplying background actors for television and films shot in New York, where it pleases me to reside, allows union members to register with them on the first Wednesday of each month.  Non-union actors are invited to mail a headshot/resume, and submit themselves for occasionally updated casting notices listed on the website.  This option seemed to present a lower opportunity for success.  The intention is in pursuit to live the life of my dreams: to be paid as an artist, therefore, I consider this a necessary investment moving me toward my professional career!  In spite of the monetary magnitude, I am grateful for the skill alluded to with this status.  When approaching agents and casting directors one less obstacle, that may or may not have been preventing progress, is removed.  I was already behaving as a professional and now I made it official!

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The hardest part in acting is learning the lines.  At least, so goes the opinion of consensus.  Some actors go “off-book” before truly being so, regularly calling out “line”- slowing rehearsal- or continually toting and repeatedly pulls out from her (literal) back pocket a stack of notecards with all her lines- also causing delay. Others have photographic memories, and hence remember rapidly. However, he takes time picturing the page in his mind’s eye to recall and then read the line, therefore, are lines memorized? Occasionally actors have played the part before, recollecting lines previously secured in long term memory from that long-last performance.

For those committing lines to memory for the first time, Playhouse West School in Hollywood, California, teaches students to write all the character’s lines- sans any punctuation- and know it as you would the spelling of your name- forwards/backwards without a stress on any one letter/word in particular.  Taking this one step further, I write all the lines half a dozen times, akin to grade school rote learning of spelling words. When recording lines for auditory memorization, the school instructs only record your lines and be conscious to do it in a monotone voice to prevent an ingrained line-read.  The reason to ignore the other character when memorizing is to promote a LISTEN and respond reactiveness.  Should the other actor not have his line, you must not be waiting for a ‘cue’.  Our duty is to respond to what we hear, as if for the very first time, if a scene partner uses a word ‘desire’ when the script actually says ‘demand’ but your line is throwing the same phrase back at him – Listening and repeating the word actually used creates consistency.

If the other actor jumps ahead in the scene, or the play, you may become flustered, if you only know your cues.  Conversely, Listening (and knowing your lines by heart) gifts one with the ability to remain in character and continue flawlessly.  Remember your character’s life.  It is called ‘Play’ for good reason and we all get there, in front of an audience, via our own path.  We collaborate in love of art.

It is common to be fooled into time wasting- reliving past moments or daydreaming of “if only…” situations. Time is what we do with it and requires consistent focus toward goals to beget a reality of our dreams.  We dream each night and we must also work daily toward creating the living dream we desire.  Recently, I found myself wishing I had gotten more sleep, taken more time to recharge Katrina so she could utilize peak performance, as intended, through routinely achieving the requisite eight hours of rejuvenating and repairing repose nightly.  That sentence was written when I should have already gone to bed.  I’ll choose to follow my own advice, doing so now, and I’ll pick it up when my brain has had a chance to organize.

By listening to one’s whispering essence, we are united with more than the universal energy that animates.  We understand the truth in this moment, this breath, this heartbeat being the only one.  Stress over past could have/should have’s and possible futures are perceived projections, dependent on the one and only moment that is real- NOW.  Had I listened to that knowing, I would have said no to requests extending myself beyond human possibility.  I knew I was depleted.  I would have been saying yes to strengthening my health and probably prevented a cold.  Often I think- if only there were two more hours in the day, then I would be able to accomplish all the ‘to do’s on the ever lengthening daily list.  Then I realize, more requests and needs would arise.

This is my third blog and the goal had been to post every Sunday.  When guilt (a word banished from my vocabulary since my father’s death in January) began to shake it’s crotchety finger at me, a friend reminded me: goals are to motivate- not overwhelm- they can always be pushed back.  May you take this moment to prioritize the most important item on your agenda: breath in and out, smile, and prove you can truly listen to your intuition by doing what will help your soul feel alive, healthy, and loved.  This moment loves you.