Friday, December 17, 2010

Loris Takes Manhattan (plus thoughts on relationships)

If you don't know what a loris is watch this. This little guy went into my repertoire of random characters at the beginning of my summer at the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, and received much attention there. When I returned to New Jersey to see friends and to go into New York for various sightseeing expeditions and to see Driving Miss Daisy on Broadway, the loris made a definite reappearance.

My first time in “the city” as everyone up there seems to call it went something like this:
Day 1 (December 13)
  • Get off plane at JFK, having pressed my face to the plane window in search of the New York skyline, only to realize that it was on the other side of the plane.
  • Talk to cranky ticket lady and pay $15 for a bus ticket to Grand Central
  • Get on bus and fear for my life due to New York drivers.
    • See NYPD Crime Scene Unit van. Look for Gary Sinese.
    • Gawk at tall buildings.
  • Get to Grand Central. Stand in main concourse area. Take pictures like a tourist.
  • Meet lovely Heather, who's father is conveniently a professional driver. Use his service to get to World Trade Center subway stop. Feel sad.
  • Follow Heather through subways and Path trains to her stop in NJ.
  • Go to her house. Find it insanely cute. Discover that the toilet paper is folded into points. Remember depth of love for Heather.
  • Take a nap and get a shower while Heather goes to company Christmas party.
  • Reunite with Lauren, who comes back with Heather after listening to the Artistic Director talk for much longer than expected.
  • Head back to the city to meet my professor and mentor Sharon Ott to go see Driving Miss Daisy.
    • Realize on the way that we have left far too late and not only will miss my meeting time with Sharon, but also curtain for the show. Start running. Subway. Taxi. Runrunrun.
  • Find ticket at will call. Slip into theatre. Crawl over half an aisle of people. Realize Sharon's not mad. Slow breathing. Watch first Broadway show.
  • After stepping out into the cold and high-winds, follow Sharon to Ruby Foo's in Times Square to eat some sushi, have drinkies, and talk.
  • Meet back up with the girls, head back to New Jersey for warm PJ's and sleep.
Day 2 (December 14)
  • Head into city with the girls in early afternoon.
  • Lunch at the Tick Tock Diner on 8th and 34th. Grilled chicken sandwich with smoked mozzarella and red peppers.
  • Go to Mecca. AKA The Drama Book Shop. Spend too much money on two new plays and a workbook on creating emotion on demand.
  • Go to Bryant Park. Take pictures with the tree. Poke around in shops. Buy hot chocolate.
  • Meet Jenny at Rockefeller Center. Look at tree.
  • Walk around until we find Thai food. Order things we can't pronounce.
  • Head back to NJ to watch Peter Pan.
Day 3 (December 15)
  • Back to the city one more time with Heather.
  • New York bagel at Grand Central. Everything with cream cheese. Yes.
  • Buy another bus ticket. Hugs. Climb onto bus and head back to the airport.
    • Watch cranky old man get mad at everyone because he doesn't know where he's supposed to be. A lady asks what airline he's looking for and he goes off on her for calling it an airline.
  • Get there way early. Buy $3 Coke. Re-read Mrs. Warren's Profession. See flight has been delayed 10 minutes.
  • Walk out onto the tarmac. Feel cold. Get on plane. Sit in last row next to the bathroom.
  • Finish Mrs. Warren's Profession as plane lands in Charlotte, NC.

I think it's pretty clear that I hardly scratched the surface of New York. It's an exciting city that I definitely see myself returning to, but it was not the life-changing must-live-here visit that it has such a reputation for. To me, the most important part of this trip was reinvesting in the relationships I've developed in the past year or more.

As actors, we always hear about “contacts” and that “it's who you know.” It's important and it's professional and yaddayadda, but relationships shouldn't be pushed aside on a personal level. I'm not totally sure how to talk about this without sounding totally cheesy, but it's the holidays, so that's acceptable, right? I realized over drinks with Sharon that my relationship to her had changed since I graduated. First of all, I was drinking a rum and coke. Second, we were talking about more than the play we just read in class or when is that paper due. We talked about theatre, pursuing a career in theatre, and also things that have nothing to do with theatre. This last bit is where I think thank-you note contacts and the truly important relationships diverge. These are the people who advise you, keep you sane, give you a place to crash and go with you into the city to make sure you take the right train. They recommend grad schools and score you free tickets to Driving Miss Daisy. They give you someone to talk to about things that are not related to acting in the least. And you should do whatever you can to return the favor. It is not really about “the more the merrier” in your contact list, but how well you tend to who is there. Since Christmas is usually misinterpreted as a season for excessive and empty consumerism, I encourage you guys to stick more closely to a more warm fuzzy connotation and take some time to foster the relationships that are really important to you, both as theatre artists and in general. Do them a favor, meet them for coffee or drinks and pay for them, make them homemade goodies, anything that tells them that they are more than just a “contact” to you. As a general greeting for everyone on my list, I took some pictures with my favorite critters on the farm.
Happy Holidays from Loretta, Sophie and myself!

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