Tuesday, April 23, 2013

It's all in your point of view

Perspective. For an actor we call this Point of View and one’s point of view is built on your given circumstances. Last Thursday I attended a really great production of Neil Simon’s “Rumors” performed by the students at Wheaton College in Norton, MA. My nephew Alex Butcher-Nesbitt (remember that name, btw - you heard it here first) was in the cast and I must say he did a stellar job. Their timing was like greased lightning, the way great comedy must be played. On the whole the cast’s connection to each other was genuine and their understanding of the jokes was deep enough to make this play shine again. 

Juxtaposed against the events of that day; the brutal and fatal violence and on going manhunt just 30 miles away in Boston. It was a mind bender, and I must give credit to the director and young actors for knowing that their jobs that night were, in part, to give us a two hour break from the trauma of the bombings and ensuing tragedies. And the playwright deserves his due for illuminating our hypocrisy. In the first act, all the characters are claiming a knowledge that “something’s afoot” and spin tales based in small observations that they hold to be true, because, well... it’s fun to make up tales, isn’t it, even at the expense of another? In the second act, when it becomes clear that some characters may be harmed by their association to the events in the play, they suddenly deny any knowledge of anything, at all. In the end of course, the truth is so fantastical that no one could have ever dreamed it up, except Neil Simon, who blesses us all with a glimpse into our own personal need to know things if they serve us, and to deny all knowledge if they implicate us. 

On my long westbound drive back to Albany the following day, with emergency vehicles flying eastbound toward Boston, I had a good long think about the importance of our work as actors. How else can our society see it’s foibles and pitfalls in such easily digested forms like a silly comedy about silly people?

Hope to see you in the studio soon - Come tell your story with us. 


Saturday, April 6, 2013

Welcome Spring... Have I mentioned recently how much I love my life? I am sitting here in my office at Sol Acting Academy listening to my new instructor Jessica Quindlen teach the new spring session of youth acting classes. It's amazing to hear the creative ideas pouring out into the space.

It's been a year since John and I bought Sol Acting Academy and we're coming up on a year in our new digs. As you enter the studio there is a wall of hand prints that students have been adding over the year. I did it because I thought it would look festive and give folks a sense of ownership. But today one of our young students was having a hard time seeing how she fit in to the group.  So she and I took a moment to visit the wall to see if we could find a handprint that was just the size of her hand. She tried on my handprint too, which let her see how much she was going to grow. It was so fun to see her then join the class, knowing that she had a place here. So often we have that sense of "where do I fit in this big picture" and it can make us want to shrink away from diving in fully. Now I know that all I have to do is look for the handprint of those who have come before to find my place and where I need to grow.

I took three months off from teaching to focus on my own performance work, as I felt like I was so busy teaching the craft that my own was slipping. What a beautiful and rewarding journey I've been on in the first quarter of 2013. Our shows were really well received in both NYC, Saratoga Springs and Albuquerque. Full houses in all locations and great feedback has led me to think that a longer run is in our future. Applications are in for the All For One Theater Festival  - an amazing festival in NYC that not only presents solo shows but supports the artists through out the year with help booking performances nationwide. So look for The Bark & The Tree in a theater near you later in the year!

And more great news is that I booked a day on the new film Things People Do starring Wes Bentley, directed by Saar Klein. I've really admired Saar's editing work for a very long time. Can't wait to see what he brings to directing of this movie.

Looking forward to starting the production meetings for a short film I wrote - planning to shoot this summer. A romantic comedy called Leverage about a public defender from NYC that moves to Santa Fe to start over after losing her husband to a sudden heart attack, starring, you guessed it... moi. Stay tuned!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Tickets on sale!

Exciting day today! Tickets now on sale for the Albuquerque show! Visit this link to get info and reserve. Thanks and more later!  http://barkandtree.brownpapertickets.com

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Every day it's a gettin' closer

A little Buddy Holly to spark up the weekend. Always works for me.

Our NYC date is confirmed for March 2nd at 8pm. If you live in the New York area, I sincerely hope you can make it. Will post ticket information as soon as I have it. I was not expecting a Saturday night spot, and I am really happy about it, what an honor. It feels great to be working toward this.

A note about rehearsals. They seem slow and methodical at times. Other times we'll be shooting the breeze or playing with the beautiful Valentina (Magali's little girl). And that is the core of the creative process. Sometimes it's really intense. Other times light and slightly out of focus. It allows me to relax and feel more myself in the piece and after each session there's a lot more clarity.

Check out this beautiful post that David Dabney of Red Rooster Creative made!

I really love it. I am a performer, first and foremost, and a writer. I deal with tangibles like words and emotions in time and space. To have a creative team expanding the project is a new experience for me. It's a new experience to watch them take the tangibles that we bring out in discussion and translate them into the visual metaphor using light, sound, physical space, and design.

Here's the team: Lee Kitts - Director; Magali Henderson - Stage Manager; Karen Perlow - Lighting; Karen Anselm - set and costume; & Laura Pirard - Sound Design.

More next week!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Watching the Ravens and the Patriots duke it out. I love the Ravens, not because I am such a huge football fan, but because of what they pulled off last week up against the Broncos. They were at elevation, in 8 degree weather, never giving up even in the last 30 seconds. Talk about Never Give Up! I love the team, even though all I see when I watch football is big strong men sustaining irreversible brain damage voluntarily.

Today was a great day. We are remounting The Bark & The Tree and were able to get into The Cell Theater to check blocking and adjust things. Script still in hand, there are a few moments that are coming to life in new ways. Interesting that when I wrote and performed the play 3 years ago, I didn't really understand what it was about. Now, working with Lee Kitts, and having had time to sit with the material, the core of it is getting clear. It is a lesson in trust. It didn't really matter if I knew what the play was about. It was more important to get it up on the boards and let it unfold. It reminds me of some songwriters I've talked with who's song means one thing to them, but the audience has it's own experience and emotional response. Soon I will be able to sum up in one line what the meaning is for me . . . soon.

In attendance at the run through today was documentary film maker Donna Lee Wells (She Had Some Horses). She came to see us at work, and I believe is interested using the process of getting B & T up and running as the focus of her next project. I am looking forward to finding out what she has in mind. I hope it will have something to do with women of a certain age creating meaningful work!

We should have a date for the New York show this week. Time is flying! 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Well, that flew by...

Hello and Happy New Year, again... I am sitting at Annapurna's World Chai House in Albuquerque, sipping a "cup of productivity." The owner Yashoda Naidoo tells me it's all the oxygen the spices cause to flow into my bloodstream. I think it's the caffeine. I drink caffeine on special occasions now, like others turn to champagne. That's sound a bit pathetic, but trust me, I am much more entertaining caffeinated than filled with bubbles.

So happy new year! Last year was filled with a lot of forward momentum. After teaching at Sol Acting Academy for almost a year, John and I bought the place and moved it to a new location at 5500 San Mateo Blvd, NE in ABQ. It is a studio filled with joy, laughter, and some really GREAT acting work. I am so proud.

We also moved to a new home in Albuquerque. 2012 was a year where I don't think I sat down much, except on airplanes. A year filled with travel, and work, and family. It was quiet compared to the previous years that were preoccupied with the illnesses and loss of my dear in-laws. We celebrated the arrival of a new grand daughter, Francis Sophia Dillon-Varner and went to visit her and her loving parents in Germany. What a thrill! Pictures on Facebook!

I am calling 2013 the Year of Dreams Come True. I started this blog in 2009 taking small steps to explore the path back into acting. My goal was simply to enter into the profession again full time without going nuts. I've shared here the great learning experiences I have had along the way. I am really excited to say that many seeds of the dreams and goals are now starting flourish.

Which reminds me of this thing I learned. John and I visited a state park in eastern Arizona recently and I learned that there are these little tiny organisms that lay dormant in the sandstone. In their slumber they can withstand huge degree temperature differentials. Some scientists even shot them into space on the outside of a Space Shuttle to test this out. They can last over 50 years this way only to be revived, when the causes and conditions are correct, as a living shrimp-like organism  that thrives in rain water puddles that gather in the sandstone. Crazy.

So, if their dream of life can hold steadfast, mine can, too! Maybe this sounds goofy... sorry.

The Bark & The Tree is going to be in NYC, which means I will be, too, because where she goes I go... we'll be on at The Barrow Group's FAB Project festival of solo works March 1, 2, 3 2013. After that we'll be in ABQ for two nights at the Cell Theater as part of Women and Creativity Month March 16 & 17. I will be posting info here and on my FB page. Hope to see you at one of the shows!

And dream on... 

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Getting the work out there

Happy New Year! I am back from a great trip east to New York visiting my mother. It included a trip to NYC where John and I met with several friends and had the great pleasure of seeing Other Desert Cities by Jon Robin Baitz at the historic Booth Theater on Broadway. What a great show. Stockard Channing, Stacy Keach, Rachel Griffith (in her Broadway debut), Judith Light, and Thomas Sadoski are an amazing ensemble.

Working on my classes at Sol Acting Academy, working on a short screen play, and doing some rewrites on The Bark & The Tree. I gave it to some friends in NYC who are solo performers themselves. Looking forward to their feedback. Also taking a great class with Leslie Becker -- she's fantastic... My favorite quote so far: What's holding you back from you dreams? The only reason you haven't done them yet... is because you haven't DONE IT YET. Everything else is story you tell yourself.

And here's some excitement! My reel is up on YouTube with clips from Breaking Bad, In Plain Sight, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Cyphers, The Incredible Voyage of Captain Hook and Mind Games.There is much to be said for self promotion. What I am discovering is that, while I may have told people that I have been on these shows... it doesn't sink in until they see it on screen. Several folks have commented on my FB page that they have seen all these pieces and didn't realize that it was me! So here it is to alleviate doubt and hopefully, attract more work!

Happy watching and have a blessed day!