Sunday, February 27, 2011


I've been a very bad blogger. I haven't updated in two weeks, even just to post adorable pictures of my animals, and my stats have dwindled to nothing. Unfortunately, there is a similar story for my productivity in general. Things just haven't been moving forward the way they should. Chalk it up to PMS, karma, misaligned stars, or what have you, but whatever it was left me reading Confessions of a Shopaholic from cover to cover in a matter of a couple days. (I have to report that the movie took some serious liberties. To the point that it's not even the same story. I hate Hollywood sometimes.)

Some of this has been due to the difficulty I have been having getting my application together for Williamstown Theatre Festival. It requires three letters of recommendation, and I knew the first two off the bat, both of whom were quick to agree. The third letter was a different story. Three people turned me down for various reasons: company policy, they didn't know me well enough, and (the one that really put me in a mood) "dont have time. sorry." The fourth person I asked didn't reply for several days. Meanwhile, I'm getting antsy as the postmark date for financial aid is approaching swiftly (March 1). I did, finally, get a third person on board. But then I wasn't hearing back from anyone. It's really been a nightmare, and it's not anyone's fault but my own for not asking earlier. These kind of situations are difficult for me, because when I try to be pointed, I come off as an asshole. And believe you me, I don't want these people thinking I'm an asshole because a) I love them and b) apparently they are the only people I can ask for these things. Cue me tripping over myself to be as diplomatic and charming as possible.

In the meantime, I had run out of headshot prints. A friend of my mother's was kind enough to do some extra touch ups on them, but I had to stop by her office and pick them up before I had to run around and find somewhere to get them printed. Not having a car/license makes this a little difficult. When I did pick up the CD, the edits looked great, so I made my way to a shipping and print shop to get them printed. It was the wrong choice as the paper wasn't what I wanted, they couldn't print 8 x 10, and the owner (who apparently worked in the porn industry as a manager and producer) decided to hit on me. A lot. But I got two prints for a dollar, so whatever. They're going in the envelope. I'm ordering from Reproductions ASAP.

To give myself some credit, I have read two Sarah Ruhl plays, picked a new contemporary monologue, and started a website since I last updated. It hasn't been published to the internet yet, but I'm working through Wix. I did a few test runs of places like Weebly and Webs, but found them to be extremely generic. Wix has been easy to use and has some unique templates that you can change as much or as little as you want. It has also been suggested to me that Wordpress is also a good place to go. Even though it is a blogging site, it allows you to create a site that looks and works like a webpage. Actors have to make themselves as accessible as possible. Websites are pretty much essential, even if they are from one of these free servers.

So there is a haphazard update. Here's to a more productive coming week, getting my application in on time, and Colin Firth winning Best Actor.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Recent Reads

I have been pretty slack with reading plays post-graduation. And those I read in school were for class rather than keeping up with current work. No more slacking for me. Not just because it's my job to keep up with contemporary work and expand my knowledge of older pieces, but also that reading plays is really the only way to find monologues (novels can be good sources too). True, I have a couple monologue books that I have used in a pinch, but I'm not a huge fan. They take the work out of the play's context, they're not always current, and they make monologues so readily available that the same ones become over-used in the audition room. However, they are good for finding pieces in your age range and type and can therefore point you in the right direction of plays that suit you...

Now that I'm done with my monologue book tangent, what I started out saying was that I'm kicking the reading into high gear. I have a ton of plays lying around my room, most are dated, but the more the merrier. My Amazon wish list is ever growing and I will soon be subscribing to American Theatre Magazine (a student ID gets you 10 issues for $20. So hang on to your student ID when you graduate!). I am reading the New York Times theatre section much more frequently to keep up with up-and-coming playwrights. Another great resource for buying plays is the Drama Book Shop in New York City. If you can't find it anywhere else, they will probably have it. If you knew all this, I hope you're not being a slacker like me. If you didn't know, now you do. Start reading.

Here are my thoughts on a few recent reads and what monologues they have in store:
  1. The Ruby Sunrise by Rinne Groff: Bought this one at the Drama Book Shop in New York, thinking that the role of Ruby would be a good one for me. The description on the back described her as a farm girl building an early TV in her barn. It sounded quirky and fun, but I was met with something much darker than I anticipated. Not that dark is bad, but I was not particularly enraptured by the storyline of a girl finding an outlet to tell her mother's story while exhibiting similar characteristics to Mommabear (She doesn't call her that. I just made that up.). It seemed a little old hat. It did stand out to me that the daughter's storyline takes place during the Red Scare, and she works for a TV station (and her mom was building TVs.. get it?). I think the crisis of the daughter's era could have been more deeply explored, rather than a focus on already obvious parallels between mother and daughter that result in a fairly predictable ending. Monologues? A couple. Short ones for Ruby ("young, maybe 17") and a longer one for an actress, Suzie ("20s")
  2. Eternal Hydra by Anton Piatigorsky: Another Drama Book Shop find (on the faculty recommended shelf). This is a very well-crafted play. It follows two female authors/researchers who are attempting to get books published that vouch for two writers from the turn of the century. As the truth comes forward about the two earlier authors, it becomes clear that their stories overlap more than expected and the repercussions of that discovery echo into the work of their modern researchers. Four actors (2 m. 2 f.) seamlessly move in and out of all of the parts to create a story that weaves between modern-day New York, 1930's Paris, and New Orleans post Civil War. Conversation is evoked about plagiarism and equality of gender and race. This one's a winner in my book. Monologues? Yes. There are monologues for the two women, one of whom is African-American. There are also a few for the middle-aged to mature gentleman playing the author of the 1930's.
  3. In The Blood by Suzan-Lori Parks: I love Suzan-Lori Parks. I knew I loved Suzan-Lori Parks by the time I finished the first page of Topdog/Underdog. This play was no exception. It is "a modern day riff on The Scarlet Letter" (as the back-cover description says), following a woman named Hester and her five children, all of whom have different fathers. The role of Hester is the only one that is not doubled (the children playing their own fathers or someone involved in the sexual encounter that produced them), and the children are played by adults. There is also a strong parallel between In The Blood and Mother Courage that begs to be examined further. I bought this play originally for my Women In Dramatic Arts class, but ended up reading Parks' Venus instead (also recommended). Both plays are excellent as a study of the role of women in theatre and in history. Monologues? Yellow light yes. For African-American men and women, and one for a Caucasian female. Mature, rough subject matter. By which I mean sex. And not the good kind. Tread lightly in the audition room with these babies.
  4. Hunting and Gathering by Brooke Berman: Berman uses the search for New York apartments as a metaphor for commitment and "finding your place" in a more abstract sense. There are four players, two women and two men, who all have closely connected stories resulting in a staged romantic comedy. I'd say this is a step above your typical Hugh Grant or Ashton Kutcher movie, as the characters struggle with engaging problems that go beyond "I am lonely and this person is perfect." This play is full of laughs as Ruth learns about life while playing Big Buck Hunter and Jesse becomes acquainted with IKEA. This play is a great read for young actors, as all the characters are between 20 and 30. Monologues? Holy crap YES. Each of the characters has multiple direct addresses to the audience that are charming and revealing about their nature. Also great for scene work, as the play is composed of two-person scenes.
Are these mini reviews at all helpful or interesting?  Leave thoughts or suggestions about them in a comment or on my facebook. Thanks for reading and break a leg!

    Friday, February 11, 2011

    Meet My Babies

    I know this is totally off-topic for this blog, but I just had to introduce these girls now that I have new pictures...

    Meet Sophie, one of my four miniature horses. I grabbed this picture while documenting a farm-wide effort to clear the brush after trimming a chestnut tree. Look at that face!

    Like Mother, Like Daughter: Toffee and Loretta, world-renowned beggars. Seriously, their giant brown eyes and long eyelashes have won them many an alfalfa cube.

    And RetterBug with Weeble, the cutest little grain theif in the world. You wouldn't think such a sweet face would belong to such a stinker!

    So there they are, four of my little joys outside of theatre. They're too precious to not brag about!

    Sunday, February 6, 2011

    Audition Journal #3: Actors Theatre of Louisville

    Date: February 3, 2011, 11:25 am
    Auditioned For: Michael Legg, Director of the Apprentice/Intern Company
    Pieces: Joan la Pucelle from Henry VI Part I
    Steph from Reasons To Be Pretty by Neil LaBute
    Attire: Dark blue sleeveless blouse with lace yoke
    High-waist brown pencil skirt
    Gray lace-up oxford heels

    I have drooled over the apprenticeship at the Actors Theatre of Louisville for years. When I found out they were going to be at KCACTF while I was there, I assumed I would not audition. I was there for dramaturgy, I was unprepared, and I did not want my first audition to be piss-poor. I went to Mr. Legg's workshop about networking and found out that he couldn't stand Neil LaBute. They're a theatre that does new and contemporary plays and what do I have to present? Shakespeare and Neil Freaking LaBute. I figured that was the deal breaker (along with the fact that I did not bring headshots and resumes to the conference) and I would go on my nerdy dramturgical way. My teacher thought differently, and probably wisely. She's aware of my willingness to back out of situations like that, so she made me turn around and go talk to him about an audition slot. He said he'd like to see whatever pieces I had, even if they were Shakespeare and LaBute and put me down for an audition.

    I warmed up with Dan and Kelly as best as I could in a pencil skirt and quickly got annoyed about doing Joan in the clothes I had picked for my interview earlier that day. Joan la Pucelle does not wear pencil skirts. Mr. Legg spent a good fifteen minutes each with my friends, who auditioned before me as my tongue decided to get dry and mealy. I went in, not particularly nervous, but also not very hopeful. Michael Legg was joined by Bruce Price, Production Manager of the Florida Studio Theatre. I presented Steph followed by Joan and afterwords was offered a seat by Mr. Legg. While the audition was probably poop, getting to talk to him was worth signing up. I told him I was a dramaturg as well and he suggested the Actors Theatre's literary internship, but also said it would be insanely competitive and probably not worth my time to apply as a first-time dramaturg. (However, I am going to put the application together and mention the meeting in my cover letter and request advice for next time.)We also discovered that he is a huge fan of my hometown, to the point that he named his dog after it! It was an absolute pleasure to meet him and speak with him.

    Mr. Price from FST gave me his card and asked me to look at their literary internship, which I am adding to my list of applications.

    This morning, I received an email on behalf of Mr. Legg saying that now was not the best time in my career to apply to the Apprentice Company at the Actors Theatre. So my dream internship isn't happening just yet, but I did make good contacts in Mr. Legg and Mr. Price and learned the value of having a wide variety of monologues on-hand. I have come away from the audition and the conference as a whole with a determination to pursue the actor I want to be rather than settling for the actor I am.

    Saturday, February 5, 2011

    A Week in Daytona

    I am unsure of where to start in reviewing the past five days. They have been eye-opening, inspiring, full of excitement and good people. I had been dreading my trip to Daytona for the Region IV Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival--the train rides through the night, the apprehension of spending a week with peers I respect and was intimidated by, and flying solo in a realm of dramaturgy while the people I knew competed in acting. As usual, my anxiety was uncalled for and the convention was not only revealing, but has reignited the hunger that kept me working so hard in college and dissipated upon my graduation.

    My attendance of the festival was mandatory for my application for the LMDA/KCACTF Student Dramaturgy Award to be considered for the regional award. I was excited for the workshops and teaching of Lenora Inez Brown, a Chicago-based dramaturg who is head of the department of Dramaturgy and Dramatic Criticism at The Theatre School of DePaul University. She is also extremely accomplished, having worked not only at the Kennedy Center, but also the Goodman, the Steppenwolf, and the Sundance Theatre Labs. I guess you could say her resume's not too shabby. The information she impressed upon the dramaturgs in the few days we had with her concerned critical thinking, how to ask open questions, and writing diplomatic notes to directors--aspects I had hardly considered during my work on 'Art.' Here are just a few of the bullet points I've pulled from my notes:
    • Go from general to specific. You can make specific become general. But keep the big picture in mind.
    • Create questions for fruitful exploration.
    • Focus on the facts instead of opinion or interpretation.
    • An incomplete moment in a script is not the source of the problem. The source or problem comes before that moment.
    • Make notes rehearsal-hall friendly (with language that is achievable and includes action rather than scholarly). Write them to promote discussion in an objective way that does not direct the director.
    In signing my copy of her book (The Art of Active Dramaturgy), Lenora wrote, "Don't forget to think thematically and to never shy away from the big questions." My perspective of the role of dramaturgy has completely changed this week, but in a way that I am curious to explore. Aside from the workshops, I was also responsible for working on a student-written 10-minute play, which gave me a tiny glimpse of dramaturging a new work. I also completed my application for the regional award with an interview. The award was given to a very deserving student from Clemson, which means my application is finally finished.

    While the week has certainly not discouraged my interest and eagerness for dramaturgy, I naturally found myself wishing I could join the actors. And I did a few times in workshops on networking, working as a professional actor, and one on avant-garde techniques. During the latter, I shared a woo-woo actor moment of trust and vulnerability and forgiveness with a total stranger, who I am now desperately trying to hunt down on facebook. I love working with people I don't know. There are no preconceptions and there is nothing to mistrust. It's a blank slate to build upon and I am most comfortable to explore with people who don't expect a certain behavior from me. The workshop about working as a professional actor with actress Marguerite Hannah was a big wake-up call for my lazy ass to get moving (as was the state of my bank account by the end of the week). I intend to take the suggestion from the networking workshop with Michael Legg, Director of the Apprentice/Intern Company of the Actor's Theatre of Louisville to keep office hours to set aside a defined time to work. (I also had the pleasure to audition for Mr. Legg. Audition Journal post is next on my agenda) When I get home I have the following list of tasks:
    • Applications, applications, applications
      • Williamstown Theatre Festival Apprenticeship
      • Wooly Mammoth Literary Management Internship
      • Actor's Theatre of Louisville Literary/Dramaturgy Internship
      • Georgia Shakes
      • Dallas Shakes
      • Shakespeare Tavern
      • American Shakespeare Center
    • Expand monologue repertoire
    • Read NY Times theatre section daily
    • Subscribe to American Theatre
    • Print headshots
    • Read plays. All the time.
    I also spent the best $20 of my life to see a live broadcast of King Lear at London's Donmar Warehouse starring Derek Jacobi. This was honestly the most stunning piece of theatre I've seen and I wasn't even in the actual theatre. As such, we were constantly recounting moments of it--the lighting, the storm monologue, Lear repeatedly picking up and dropping the limp arm of Cordelia, the moment when Edgar accidentally uses the word father, mad Lear and blind Gloucester lying on the ground in exhaustion. We were a weeping mess when we got back to the conference to hear that one of our competitors for the Irene Ryan Award had made it to the final round. Last night, his name was announced as a regional recipient, meaning that he will compete at national level against 15 other contestants, having made it to the top of over 200 in the region. His lovely partner was also given the award for best classical acting after the respondents had to call the national office to make sure the award was not reserved for contestants only. PS: My school has never competed in theatre. I am insanely excited and proud of them. It also gives me confidence in the quality of the education I was given. Our three nominees and their partners exhibited solid training, perseverance, and a refined craft that I think is inherent in all of my department's dedicated students. And then they are also just really fucking talented. That always helps.

    While I didn't walk away with an award, I did end up with a much clearer understanding of dramaturgy and a very exciting reminder that I have a terrible case of the acting bug. Obviously, none of this was quite as good as touring the NASCAR racetrack. But we all knew that.