Archives for posts with tag: Shakespeare

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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“A rose by any otherPhoto on 2013-05-19 at 15.46 name would smell as sweet” wisdom from a babe, implying how labels or judgements matter not. Certainly to Juliette- Romeo’s last name and their houses having a long-standing Hatfield vs. McCoy type family feud, made not her love for him more dim. Some people love … let us use … garlic, while others cannot stand it.  Personally, I relish the smell of fresh cut garlic the instant it hits heat, and the residual aroma left lingering on my fingers hours later, mmm mmmm yum yum yum.  If there ever were a true chance of becoming a vampire, final death via garlic consumption would inevitably be mine.  However, regardless of it’s all around deliciousness to me, more than the undead are repelled.

Born with inherent opinion, we know instinctively I do/do not like that color/smell/taste/knowledge/attitude/opinion/sound.  It is not something to be rationalized or convinced otherwise. Regardless of how healthy mushrooms are for me, I canNOT get past the texture. Reportedly, I use to consume them in mass quantities before I can remember, but as far as my recollection- ick, gross, nu-uh.  Such is the case with each of us, we may not be able to articulate here and now why or what we do or don’t care for, but we know how we feel in our gut. Though tastes may change, most likely it still will not be a conscious decision.

The visceral gut is the space from which great acting springs, where our spirit sings, or screams.  This impulse is antithetical to a contrived manipulation and rationalization of the head and ego demanding how we want others to behave or the scene to go. Living truthfully, embracing the serendipity of each moment, discovering, allowing it to be the rose it IS rather than wishing it morph to another within our control- such is life- struggle vs. acceptance: frustration or surrender.  Had Juliette attempted to deny her love, how would the story have gone?  She might have lived to old age, but she would have been an empty shell from renounced Love.  Give yourself permission to be audacious, to validate the quiet voice deserving perseverance.

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Yesterday was the first day for me employing myself full-time as managing director of my dreams.  Two weeks ago, notice was provided to a (by some standards) well-paying, career oriented, “secure” paycheck employer.  Now I am available to show up with all the best energy to devote toward acting, and the prime time required for auditioning, which a day job was monopolizing.  For over six months, I have been saving and following (with what drive remains after a 45 minute commute) a well devised list of monthly goals toward this moment.

How determined I was to be the best employee I could be for someone else: this month’s goal now rests on working diligently for the artistic career of my dreams, and bringing them into waking reality.  In a quantitative manner, that means three auditions a week, propagating more than one paying gig weekly before the end of August. Yesterday, I appealed to casting directors using a smart, focused submission for their current casting projects- which included a three paragraph letter demonstrating my knowledge and interest in their prior and future work.  Today, I e-mailed newspaper editors I already established a relationship with through the goals of the last few months [Networking].   The hope is for a review/interview [Marketing] of the play I am currently performing in at the Vanderbilt Museum on Long Island ( http://www.vanderbiltmuseum.org/home.php?section=events#twelfth-night ).

These two elements of a successful business, Networking and Marketing, are the key requirements I most need to Practice– which is the third ingredient key to achieve.  Acting, for me is the easy part because I know at the end it comes down to working hard and then letting go of it all.  The letting go can be the challenge, but one can only get to a safe point of surrendering ‘it’ to the Fates when one has worked hard enough to trust, knowing all has been done.  Nothing comes through force.  Patience, perseverance, and precision regularly return rewards.  I realize this is a marathon, rather than a sprint.  Today is but day two, and while I envision the future, today I advance my cause and submit for more auditions!

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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.

During eight years living in Los Angeles, I had the great pleasure to perform voices for a prolific writer of radio plays.  Once every month or two he would schedule a read through and studio time to record.  A gathering of about eight artists with rich vocal instruments and the vivid imaginations required of good actors would unite.  There is a freedom bestowed upon one performing in a room full of wonderfully gifted voice actors, each with their own mic and music stand before them, which electrifies.  One arrives wearing comfortable clothing and clean non-camera ready faces, preparations focusing more on the voice(s) and active energy infused into a character whose sole life resides in your ability to create through a spoken voice.

Occasionally there were more than one character to distinctly articulate. !AN OPPORTUNITY TO PLAY WITH AN ACCENT!  I absolutely LOVE to speak with a different sound in my mouth- imagining I have traveled and lived in all the worldly destinations I aspire!  Often, my standard voice evokes praise for clarity of elocution from multiple professionals, teachers, and even near deaf people with hearing aides who appreciate the intelligibility, pitch, and tone of my speech.  This is a grand starting point for incorporating a dialect- which I am equally applauded for an ability to voice numerous accents realistically.  Some are more challenging than others, notably Italian and Scottish, and these be the tests I revel!

As with everything, “practice makes perfect”.  Utilizing worksheets, accent/dialect instruction CDs, and recordings of native speakers, I practice in my home and car, repeating or talking to myself and any family who thankfully endure hearing.  Graduating to speak with confidence in public to strangers, I regularly pass as a foreigner and delight in the same attention lavished upon others when I detect a little something different in their utterance.  It takes more bravery to speak around people you know in an altered cadence, because they are the ones that will giggle and mock.  However, when you live with a voice in your everyday speaking, rather than merely exercising through the dialogue written, it becomes a part of you – therefore strengthening.

When you have a target, and the aim is true, you will hit the mark.  The director of the play I just finished performing in offered me parts in both ‘Twelfth Night’ and ‘MacBeth’, without my needing to audition.  After first working with him last summer in ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ I took the time to send a Thank You card following the final show.  Since then, in addition to his recent offers, he has cast me as a lead role and a few supporting roles in his productions.  By recognizing an opportunity to express gratitude, I strengthened a relationship and established myself as an appreciative actress interested in working with him again.

My ambition has been to achieve larger roles and work regularly while getting paid within the field of acting, in turn generating favorable circumstances to practice marketing and networking.  A few weeks ago I invited three newspapers to the most recent play.  This was the first step (after researching and calling to generate contact information) in establishing a relationship. Whether they showed-up this time or not, I have taken steps, with follow through, to grow a friendly working rapport.  In the near future I will compose another e-mail welcoming their attendance at each of the Shakespeare month long runs in July and August, with an extra line or two expressing interest in their current work, moving me one more notch above a ‘never heard of’.  Expanding the list to include three additional newspapers with each production, to make a total of nine writers I consistently contact professionally, will surely increase my chances of a favorable review in at least one periodical.

Truly, I admire writers, anyone living creatively really.  Having written and loved poetry since childhood, to be paid to write- songs, articles, greeting cards- is a chance I would hop on in a heartbeat.  Life can be perceived as random and less than envisioned.  However, each moment prepares us to live more fully, each day presents a chance to create the destined dream.  Make a S.M.A.R.T. plan, devoting one hour everyday to your objective, for, with perseverance passion can be made a paid reality.

“And all the men and women merely players” – ah Shakespeare.  Some people “act”…. some watch…. some PLAY!  We all play as children, at some point we loose the value of becoming lost in our imaginations. The power of envisioning possibilities.  I swear, one afternoon I practiced a day-dream as an emotional exercise for a scene, and that night it materialized into an actual event in the stairwell and on the rooftop of the acting school.  Oh….and that was a BIG, passionate O, I-talians and their surprises!

An emotional day-dream, as an actor, is a workout for the emotional muscles, so to speak, and the muscles of the imagination- to stretch and strengthen depth and availability for when access is depended upon instantaneously in the moment of a scene.  You’ve heard of marvelous actors such as Daniel Day-Lewis who stay in character throughout the entire filming process, although this method may be mocked by some actors, when you are already IN a state of truth for the imaginary it IS easier to delve deeper and go farther- just as when you work out regularly- strength and endurance are gained.  Take a look at some of Mr. Day-Lewis’s roles and tell me his characters are a shining example of INtensity!  The same is true for emotions and imagination. One may intuit the need for a conscious care and consideration to both areas of what EXACTLY you are strengthening- is it what you truly want, or are you empowering anxiety?

Opening night was recently upon me for a fun four-character thriller I had been rehearsing.  Waiting to enter from backstage, forgotten was fear for the fact I was about to be standing in front of an audience literally in my bra and panties, rather, I dwelled in pure excitement to live TRUTHFULLY in circumstances imaginary to my life- and the passion for PLAY!  Life consists of the moments we endure, the future we hope, and dedication we either put toward or put off to truly achieve our dreams.  Either way Time will pass and we are either disappointed by our stagnancy or  smiley with our progress.