Sunday, May 22, 2011

Bunk Beds

I have found my summer opportunity in an unexpected place. I know I whined about seven rejections, and got defiant, deciding to make my own summer training program. But post-babysitting exhaustion and the desire to snuggle my cat has left me without that curriculum I promised a while back. So when my friend Heather mentioned that the Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp still needed a counselor, it was pretty natural for me to be on that like spots on dice.

On Wednesday, I called to see if the position was still open and talked to a lovely lady named Sophie Aikman, who asked me to email my resume to her. I had already written the cover letter and gathered the contacts requested on the website, but I realized quickly that I had no idea how to write a normal resume. By which I mean one that is not covered in theatre and film credits. I highly recommend getting one together before you need it, because I was scrambling to put one together in a pinch. I had to get my friend with a normal degree to email me hers to use as a template. I was scheduled to have a phone interview with Sophie on Thursday, but had to move it to Friday when something came up for her.

The interview lasted about 45 minutes. It started with questions like, "What experience have you had with kids?" and "Have you ever been to summer camp?" which were followed by "What would you do if..." questions. It ended up being a very enjoyable conversation and I had a feeling I had it in the bag when I said I'd always wanted to go to Colorado and she replied "Oh, you'll love it here!" She offered me the position at the end of the conversation, just two days after I initially called her. Of course, I accepted it!

My Summer Home. No Big Deal.

I will be making less than I would working full-time at my kayak outfitter job this summer and I won't be performing, but I think there is something to be learned from managing middle-school girls for 2 months. (Check back here for revelations and frustrations.) Not to mention the fact that all of the teachers are potential professional contacts and there are a bunch of horses available for me to ride. This is not at all what I expected to be doing this summer, and I didn't think I would be spending it with any performing artists, much less a whole camp full of them! I'm seriously thrilled. And kind of terrified. Middle-school girls. Just sayin'.

Since some of my girls won't be in sessions long enough to produce a show, they don't have anything scheduled during evening rehearsal times. I'm coming up with ideas of things to do with them, either performance related or just campy. I'm thinking: capture the flag, foam sword battles, maybe a play reading. Any suggestions out there? It would be much appreesh!

So there it is. Colorado, here I come!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


One of the the newest professors to the performing arts department of my alma mater (Did I really just use "alma mater"? Who even does that?) shifted gears in her career after being a highly successful casting director for CBS-NY. This woman knows her stuff and is a lot of fun to boot. Unfortunately, I never had the pleasure of taking one of her classes, but she always had her Audition Techniques students do some digging and find out who they were in the industry as far as types were concerned. Recently, I decided it was about time I did the same. I even used the same approach that I had seen my friends use: the ever-effective Facebook status.

Well, maybe not ever-effective. Probably because I added a qualifier to my first call for suggestions, which was: Ellen Page and Anne Hathaway don't count. You all have no idea how often people tell me I'm like these two ladies. I just wanted to branch out, but apparently branching is not allowed in this investigation. I had one response, which ended in a question mark and was also a point for musically-inclined Julie Andrews. I am not musically inclined. In the least.

So I tried again, this time without the qualifier. First response?
Anne Hathaway. And this was from a girl I haven't spoken to since high school. Okay, am I really going to fight being compared to someone as charming and gorgeous as Anne Hathaway? I think not. Although I'm not sure if I will ever be that fearless about my boobs. Girl's got some good'uns.

Second comment?
Adorable, versatile, I-wish-we-could-be-friends Ellen Page. Can't complain about that one either.

In conclusion, I give in. I am officially the lovechild of Anne Hathaway and Ellen Page. I have never really considered myself to be a strong comedic actor, unlike my lovely type-based mothers. Maybe I misjudged myself and I need to redirect, to work my comedy muscle more. And apparently I need to have a Red Riding Hood role. (Hathaway was the voice of "Red" in Hoodwinked and Ellen Page's "Hayley" in Hard Candy has been compared to the character.)

Other actors have been suggested to me in the past, such as Audrey Hepburn, Tina Majorino ("Deb" from Napoleon Dynamite, and recently on the season finale of Bones) and I have a doppelganger in Emily Mest ("Thea" in the national tour of Spring Awakening). And then there's Andy Serkis.
I used to have a killer Gollum impression, but that's all we have in common.

I swear.

This precious totally knows what taters are.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Post-Graduation Productivity: Addendum to "On(Line)" and a Tangent Into Finances

Back at the end of March, I wrote an entry into the post series "Post-Graduation Productivity" about your online presence. (Read it here.) I added on to that post with a link to a similar discussion over at Playbills vs. Paying Bills because A) those guys are great and I want to tell as many people about them as possible and B) I draw from all kinds of places to give myself and my readers good information and reading material. Which is why I'm making an addendum to the "Let's Get it On(Line)" post. (Don't you love the word 'addendum'? Trippingly on the tongue, indeed.)

LearnVest did one of their many quick articles on building your online brand, which gives some additional ideas and is also a bit more eloquent than my post. LearnVest is a site with tons of information on finances, saving money, and ideas of how to live frugally, as well as tips for entrepreneurs. It is generally geared toward women, but often has information pertinent to men as well. If you dig this article, definitely poke around a little more, maybe sign up for their daily newsletter. Because don't we all know, money is in short supply for most actors. Another financial site that is designed specifically for artists is Abundance Bound. We need to use these resources to our advantage. They can't hurt. And most importantly, they're free. And I love free.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Discouraging Start

I had every intention of spending this summer with one theatre company or another, continuing my training and adding a little something extra to my resume before I move to Chicago in the fall. Unfortunately, things have proven to turn out a little differently. Out of the seven companies I auditioned for, I have received four rejection emails. Some of them were expected. Some of them were encouraging. And some of them couldn't even manage to put a "Dear Elise" at the top and a "Sincerely" at the bottom. The remaining three, in my mind, boil down to one "not a chance," one "not likely" and one "still reviewing."

It has been frustrating to know that my start out of the gate has been slow, that I spent money and time traveling to auditions in which the people behind the table hardly paid attention. That I will never know just what went wrong, and if it was anything I could change. Watching my peers excel while I warm the proverbial bench this summer is going to be tough, but the disappointment and comparison of myself to others is something I can deal with. However, being so removed from the acting world has already had an effect that has caused my very patient and supportive boyfriend to recently say he's wondered where I've been lately. I think my restlessness, lethargy, lack of motivation, moodiness, etc stems from my 5 month-long detachment from the thing that has propelled me for the last few years. I guess reading the New York Times and American Theatre just ain't cuttin' it.

So I chose April 30 to be the last day that I look for responses from the summer opportunities that I applied to, which makes today the first day of defiantly planning an artistically productive summer. In other words, its time to quit moping about rejection letters and do something with myself that will make me more "hire-able" next time around. Might as well make my own opportunities. I'll design my own daggum training program. Curriculum on its way soon.

As they say: slow and steady wins the race. Half speed, full intention.