Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Spaghetti western revelations

An odd old voice came up in class last night. At the end of each month we tape our scenes and they get uploaded to The Natural Act website. (I’ll post a link when this month is ready) I was just sitting there, enjoying watching scenes, inspired by my colleagues in class bringing out their best work when I was ambushed by a host of negative messages from some deep, dark, distant place. “You’re not pretty enough for this business and genetically it’s only going to get worse” “who are you kidding? You’re 50!” and the best one “you’re really setting yourself up for a major disappointment.”

Hmmm I say. I had eaten a huge plate of spaghetti and meatballs for lunch because it was really cold and I couldn’t get warm. Sitting there hours later feeling the result of wheat sensitivity, and blood sugars crashing about me, I had the where with all to not respond. I mean these are the voices that had been with me a decade and a half ago, when I was 12 pounds lighter, 15 years younger and seeming light years away from any sense of truth about myself. So, I got up to do my scene with the miraculous Linda Martin feeling old, fat, out of place and more than slightly brain damaged. The amazing thing is, I got up to do my scene. I enjoyed the work and in a matter of time was pretty much swept away by the joy of the moment.

Part of my training as an actor was to get sober. 16 years ago I had to choose between a life of any kind and a downward spiral into a special place reserved for those who are not able to believe in the good things people tell them, or the wonder of the world around them or the potential of amazing transformation that lies with in us all. It still shocks me that all these years later, those voices can still muster the energy to attempt to lay waste to my foundation. But they are old and weak and feeble and no match for my joy... what a relief. I had some protein when I got home and fell asleep with John watching Law & Order. Got up and went for a really good long run... take that demon, voices...

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Windy, scattered showers

We're into it now. The windy season. It howls out of the west across the mesa bringing with it lots of dust, and hopeful some film projects.

Its been an intense couple of weeks, with interviews for Art of the Song as well as workshops to take and to facilitate. I have been working from home a lot, I think out of a need to "den up" and not be quite so public. Odd that someone as private as I am has chosen performing as a life path and also chosen to discuss the process here in open forum.

In class the other night Price had us up doing a simple (he always makes it seem simple) exercise. Stand in front of everyone and first, Cry. Real crying. Then Laugh, really laugh. My heart was pounding so hard. I look so f%#$-up when I do either. I was really self conscious and felt this surge of supreme vulnerability come up. Again, seeing us all at our best and most human, yet this time that protective coating was gone and it was so very raw. Not so strange that I found it much harder to laugh than to cry. I have a lot of joy in my life so laughter should be easy right? I have had a lot to sob over in my life but haven't we all? It was hard though, to really let go and be there in the intense grief and giddiness.

Mulling over the scene that I am doing with the miraculous Linda Martin. There is an essential thing missing at the top of the scene that I think comes from not triggering off each other in a real way. We've sort of imposed an obstacle but the real obstacle is that my character has just gone through a life altering experience and the rules have all been changed for her. So my behavior has to be different enough that Linda's character will be moved to respond in a new way.

Hmmm ...

Feeling my way through this return to the craft is cool. I seem to have more resources now emotionally, though I am still tripping my self up. When I look at tape, I am still dealing with seeing a middle aged woman who is not exactly a bombshell by Hollywood standards. Seeing that my self consciousness shows up in really sneaky ways like almost hiding from the camera at times, and collapsing in my midsection so that I look like I am leaking the essential life force out the back of my waist...

I've been told that I need to deal with the visual component of my sexuality by dressing for class as the character would dress and being given scenes where my character is overtly sensual. What is sexy, what shows fire and pizazz for a woman at my stage of life and career?

For me it is more about self confidence and attitude than low cut tops and tight jeans, although they are pretty great. Its about the joy of being in my body, and loving being alive and in relationship to another person. Its about inspiration and giving.

Any perspectives are welcome.

Monday, March 23, 2009

More more and more

What an amazing weekend. The TeleSummit was fantastic. So much information from the presenters about how to create, build and manage a career in the arts successfully using all the new media that is available to us. Made me really appreciate how easy it is now to get our work known. Empowering! The talks are available as downloads for the two weeks if you register now!

The workshop I took with Cathy Henderson was nothing short of mind blowing. She teaches, coaches, and inspires with a loving and calculating eye. Her passion for actors and the craft of casting gave me a whole new understanding of the business. The vibe in the room was incredible. So supportive and energized, everyone working for each other in a way that created union and joy.

And man, did we work! Three scenes, one as an audition read for camera, one with a scene partner and one quick, cold read styled mock audition, plus a monologue night showcasing our own choices of material. Her comments along with Rod's, were useful, bonecrackingly on the mark, and talent producing.

I love watching other people work. I mean, I really love watching other actors, no matter where they are in their craft or career. First, its seeing the courage that it takes to commit to a craft like this. I mean really, it's a crazy making business; second, seeing the choices that people make and invest in; third, the pure joy of seeing all that talent come out, and finally, I am a junky for Truth. I was sitting in the waiting room during the monologue showcase on Friday night watching and feeling the energy. There was this rich blend of anxiety, excitement, and desire. The deep wish to do a really good job. Just sitting there in the waiting room feeling all this humanity swirling around I could see that we absolutely were at our best and most vulnerable; which for me is what its all about. If I can be that vulnerable there in the waiting room, I think I'm ready to go in to the auditors room. I'd spent most of the evening out in the parking lot with some friends, doing monologues in a round robin fashion, going around the circle, adding people in as they walked up. Such a great community feel, more like a songwriters circle than actorly... very special.

I feel truly and deeply blessed to have been able to start over out here in the west, where the sky is so big it has room for all these stars.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Getting naked in a shared dressing room with strangers anyone?

There is a shredder truck outside my office window and even my noise canceling headphones can't keep up... so I am taking refuge in a new Art of the Song show going out today with Rokia Traore, she is fabulous. Muuuuchhhh better now...

My audition was great. The director and producer had all the women called back in the room together reading with two different partners... It was interesting and weird at the same time. It was like going to Century 21 in NYC and having to undress in front of half of the other women working downtown, shopping on their lunch hour.

I loved being present for other people's work but kept having to remind myself that I was there to AUDITION, not teach or be a classmate. So it was a great lesson in focus and equanimity. I did not get the part (damn) but my dear friend Beth Bailey did so I am okay with it. I know the part will be served exceptionally well! And there are more opportunities with Mother Road. So I have another shot at it soon.

I pulled a monologue from the audition that I am using tonight for a workshop with Cathy Henderson. I'm really excited about the piece. It has a deep sense of longing to be remembered in the world; a need to have made a difference and that her life had meaning. That she was truly alive in the world even a little bit. There is a need to be absolved from the perceived sins that she had partaken in to feel that aliveness. So it has wonderful levels of vulnerability and power, juxtapositioned with a sense that the End is here so there is an urgency to know the answer to the question "did my life matter."

The workshop is going to be really great on Sunday. Cathy has a lot of projects at the moment and there will also be a couple of directors and producers in attendance. That's what I'm talkin' about...

On Saturday I am moderating a series of talks in our Your Creative Career TeleSummit... Still time to sign up! Check out my first ever teleconference call that is posted there about how to find your authentic voice when you are pitching your work.

I guess my auditions and posting are proof of the pudding...

Monday, March 16, 2009

Class tonight, audition tomorrow and a workshop ...

Life is good here in the Albuquerque acting community. There is always a great class to jump into or a workshop. I am really happy about being called back for Mother Road Theater's production of Life During Wartime. Its cool for me as if I recall correctly from the initial audition, the role calls for a lot of sensuality. While not an issue in life, playing the sexy girl or the sensuous one has not been my natural drift. I am usually called for the underdog or the teacher, counselor, lawyer. So this will be really fun. Its something that I have been working on in my classes with Price Hall and Eb Lottimer. Who'd a thought that I would be able to reconnect to all this, and add in the leading lady roles at 50? Certainly not me and I am happy to be releasing old identities and allowing the new possibilities to flourish.

In class last week we had to bring songs. It was amazing to see the vulnerability and courage that non-singers and singers had going on. Jim Corona brought Drift Away and we all were transported. Every person in the class gave their all and I realized, that's why I do this. That's what I love about this craft.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

I've been a student of the actor's craft for over twenty years now. I've worked in regional theater and as an understudy for Mary Steenburgen's Candida at The Roundabout Theater in NYC, countless summer stock productions, outdoor Shakespeares and AEA Waiver. Also a couple of small roles on TV in the premiere episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Breaking Bad and Wildfire.

Mine has been a path that has led me on a lot of interesting side roads. In this blog I will be recounting my reconnection to my path as an actor in what seemed to be an unlikely place out in the wild west of New Mexico. I left NYC almost nine years ago, figuring that the move pretty much torpedoed my career. I justified it for all kinds of reasons. But, as I am sure you know if you are reading this, it is an avocation, a spiritual journey, and one that brings more rewards the deeper I release myself into its flow. So thanks for stopping by, I look forward to sharing this with you and look forward to your comments!