Monday, November 29, 2010

all's well

Well a lot has happened in the five months that I have gone missing from the Blogosphere! I shall keep it brief here and start posting regularly with more details...

First off, I was indeed accepted in to Solofest 2010 at the Filling Station. The Bark & the Tree was selected as one of the festival openers on Friday night, along with Linda Rodeck’s Action Improv piece. We had a great house of close to 50 people. Linda’s piece was brilliant. It was a mode of working that I had never seen used as solo performance. It is truly compelling work. All the plays through out the festival were fantastic.

The premier of my solo piece was very well received. I was so involved in the process of getting it finished, rehearsed and produced that it was a bit of a wild ride to the last. The first performance felt emotionally connected and informed, the second show, the following week at the end of the fest, felt like a runaway train. The staging by Eb Lottimer was active and served the piece well and greatly helped the mission of getting the play up and running.

I later performed the play in Taos, to two sold out houses of friends and Art of the Song listeners at the Metta Theatre. Bruce MacIntosh creates a lovely intimate room for performance that is beautifully suited to solo performance work. It was there that the truth of the play began to show its self. After a delicious week of rehearsal, all by myself in this delightful theater, the text became more grounded and home-like.

And it was there that I took the risk of Stillness. Stillness on stage can be terrifying for both the actor and the audience. If the actor is not completely engaged in their thought process during the Stillness, the audience will become unsure, believing ultimately that something is amiss. As a performer, I chose to go for The Stillness because in some instances I simply had to stop, think about where I was, and how I felt about it. I owed it to the play somehow, to take time with the events and give them air. The fearsome thing is that it become too self involved, tipping the balance into a wallow of self reflection.

Feedback relayed that the pace was just right, that the silence allowed the audience to catch up and dig in a little deeper. Whew.

more news... I am shooting a pilot for ABC Family this week, playing Coach Lee, coach of the tennis team in The Lying Game, a new TV series based on a book by Sara Shepard featuring Helen Slater. ;-)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Learning to think differently

Exciting times. I've been wearing my producer hat for a long time now for radio. Wearing it channels a way of thinking that is more concerned with the whats and hows of a project than than the whys and how it feels. While 28 pages of original material doesn't seem like much in the face of my husband's new 160 page book, or my friends 130,000 word memoir, it is still a considerable piece of work that required me to let go of the hows and what for a time and just be in the presence of "other."

This week however I have been back in a How and What comfort zone, but challenging the edges of my particular sand box of artistic expression by looking at the sound and light design for the piece. I contacted a designer, Karen Perlow, who's work I have admired both from the audience perspective and from the stage as an actor involved in her work. Learning to explain what my vision is and why I had written in a particular effect is a great exercise. As a rookie at this, I simply wrote down what I saw and heard in my minds senses. Karen asked questions, which made me deepen my own understanding of the effect. For example, she asked "Why a constellation effect" and it helped me understand that I was trying for a feeling of distance that can at once make you feel small and insignificant, but also open and filled with potential.

This is a new form of creative thinking and a new form of producing that I find to be very rewarding.

Oh yes, and the great news is I have been accepted into the Filling Station's Solo Fest! July 9-12 and July 16 -18. Dates are not firm yet but I will be performing twice, once each weekend. I'll keep you posted.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Gusty Winds May Exist

Its amazing to me how easy it is to slip into the feeling that once you are blown off course, you have a long road back. Glory hallelujah. I discovered that isn't true. Getting blown off course is sometimes be an important part of the process. Its taken 18 years to understand and accept that.

I am so excited to say that I have a 28 page script in hand!

The main gift of this process has been to allow myself the freedom to be a creative without the pressure of thinking that I need to be something or somewhere else.

I am ready to begin the rehearsal process. I also need to find a lighting designer, and start picking music. Meeting today with Lynn Miller to start the process of how to stage, and where to apply for performance gigs.

I am now a playwright of sorts. What a great feeling.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

She's baaack...

My life feels as if it is virtually everyone else's at the moment and I am trying to rectify that with a few hours in the anonymity of a busy cafe.

Taking refuge this morning from everyone and everything. To catch up with myself. Its amazing to think that it was a month ago that I was upstate and heading down to be in NYC. I really enjoyed being there.

The visit to the City was amazing. I had a lot of time to myself and reconnected to a strength and a fragility that I had forgotten out here in the desert. To be in there again awakened the dichotomy of individuality and connectedness that I had lost track of in the west. I deeply love and miss the humanity of New York City. The collision of dreams and passion, with the day to day work of maintaining a life there; getting where you need to be, in the time you have to do it, with a measure of tranquility in the face of insanity.

I love it. I miss it. I need it. I know that I need New Mexico too. So how that is all going to work out, I do not know.

I visited with my old agent. Feels like we have more in common now than before. She has a 20 hours of footage about the place we met... Claremont Riding Academy. A real piece of history that was closed a number of years ago. We may work on it together... would be big fun... I did drum up the courage to ask if she would represent me if I lived there again... She didn't say no which is fantastic.

I visited with some dear friends from Grad School which was great and reminded me why I need NM. The spacious spiritual core that comes from living here is an essential part of my life now.

In some way it seems that the two places run the same energy ... the one an intense human experience in the company of 17 million people in a manufactured world, the other an intense human experience in the company of a few people, in a world manufactured by the sky, the wind and a little rain. But the energy in both feels like it has a similar root, none the less.

NYC and NM are like the flip sides of my favorite 45 ... at once A & B.

Successful visit to the cafe, produced 6 more pages to my play. I need to have a draft by the end of May so I can rehearse in June.

Cheer me on?

Thursday, April 8, 2010


What is it about setting a schedule, getting into a routine and then having a trip come up that creates a disruption in the pattern? Its seems to be more the norm than having an unencumbered schedule.

But I am victorious. Even with a travel day and visiting with my mother, I have gotten three new pages written. I like writing on planes, so I swapped Tuesday for Wednesday and wrote more.

I remembered some images from a stab at a memoir a few years ago. So I have stripped it for parts and am including the more arresting rhythmical language in the solo piece. And tonight I am sending to two friends.

Very tired... but wanted to be sure to get something up here before the week got away.

Being on the east coast feels really good. I love Upstate New York. So glad to be here for a bit.

Resting my eyes now...

Thursday, April 1, 2010

One of these things is not like the other...

Our solo work class started on Monday with a great small group of people. So interesting that it all happened organically. Glad to have the input of Lynn Miller and my classmates to support the work.

Today is a really good day. I have been writing from within today. An improvement over obsessing on the externals and the obstacles. A day of focus feeling my way into the script with music and poetry. I found a song that has some particularly poignant lyrics around the loyalty theme called A Nobleman's Wedding and learned it... playing and singing brought me to a very grounded place, as music always will.

There is a line in the song that references "Never come between the bark and the tree." Its such a powerful image. We know that when the bark is separated from the tree, the tree will die. So I have been playing with the idea. That must be how an deported Irish citizen, deported by a foreign government from their own ancestral land must have felt. As if they had been separated from all that protected and supported them. Perhaps that is how Eva felt... that she had separated the bark from the tree when she told Kevin to turn down the plea agreement in favor of 7 years transportation to a penal colony in Van Dieman's Land. I know that neither of them were ever the same again.

When the writing slowed up I started a list of how Eva and I are similar and how we are different. Surprised to find that we are very much the same, and very very different in ways I wouldn't have expected.

Also made some plans for my trip to NYC and have an appointment to visit with Marilynn Scott Murphy, of Professional Artists, the agent I was with when I lived & worked there. It was like yesterday, and I have been gone 10 years. Need to process that a little... okay... a lot.

Feeling really good about the work even though I know I have a long way to go. That's what its about isn't it? Having faith in the project and putting in the hours?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Visualize Good Housekeeping's gold medallion here...

Why is it so difficult to allow time for the creative process? Is it that I am afraid of what I will hear when I get quiet enough to listen to what my inner voice is saying? Is it that I feel guilty taking time away from my company that sorely needs me to show up and figure out ways of making money for it (and consequently me and John...) Or is it that I am truly an unmotivated person with no real ideas about what to write?

All of the above and I think the latter statement is the voice that I am afraid to hear when I get quiet. As my beloved sister says - the fear of being No Talent Scum. When she says that, I want to tackle her and hold my hand over her mouth, or plug my ears and scream "LALALALALA i'm not listen to you"... It feels like an afront to all that is holy in the Law of Attraction. "No," I cry..."you are inviting "No Talent" and certainly "Scum" into this sacred studio space!" I enter into a downward spiral of demands that lead to less and less worthy behaviors, that must be met for my plummeting self-esteem in its dark journey to feel vindicated...See I was right... I really am Not Good. In turn I spend more time in the company of folks that love to dig around in the muck with nothing much good to say. (though today I had lunch with Three Wonderful Women and feel very upheld!)

These episodes are usually triggered by a moment when I am confronted with my own frailty. Today I acknowledge that I am feeling really fragile. In being an artist there is an inherent need for approval yet I must also be capable of spending hours upon hours alone in my studio doing what it is that I have stated I am... Actress & writer. The only approval I need is my own. Yes, I am writing this show. Yes, I do not feel up to the task. Yes, my story is meaningful, even if only for me... yes, yes and yes again.

It is 3:30 pm on Tuesday. My beloved stepson left this morning, and there were calls that I should have not taken and a lunch I could have postponed to a non-Eva day...

So at this late hour in the day, I sit down and at least got this much down. I am available for these next three hours. And unlike my need for a Seal of Approval saying how picture perfect I am, I shall write for a while untamed.

*** updated at 7:00 pm ... Three pages written... feeling pretty darn good about it too...***

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Lynn's have it!

Its been a hectic week. One that while not conducive to sitting and writing, it has produced some really valuable things.

First and probably most importantly is that having my Tues/Thurs boundary breached by Art of the Song work and travel days, I have reinforced them with a certain strength of mind and conviction.

Second, and also most important given the opportunity, I have spoken with a couple of insightful people about the project and the conversations have led to an expanded sense of what the piece can become.

Third, and most daunting is that I have committed to having something ready to show at the Filling Station's SOLO fest in July... yes of 2010. I haven't promised something FINISHED. Just something.

I start Lynn Miller's class with two other solo artists on Monday, which will kick it into a whole other gear entirely. Exciting...

Until yesterday, I was really looking at this as an historical piece dealing specifically with Eva's experience. If I do that, I might as well write fiction as so little is known about her other than her poetry and a few journal pages that have been found.

But last night I was visiting with my friend Lynn Hamrick and started telling her some of the stories and experiences I had on my first trip to Ireland. My trip was filled with some hilarious experiences... well in hindsight funny but at the time... kind of a mind f*#&. She leaned forward and looked at me intensely and said, "You have to include ALL of this!"

Eva had great faith and conviction. And loyalty. I had no faith, my convictions were misplaced and loyalty was something that I knew very little about. So the confluence of the two energies created a vortex. It feels right to explore it...

Thursday, March 18, 2010

"cockles and mussels alive alive o" it ain't but there are some similarities...

Day two of concentrated work on Eva. Almost finished reading her book of poetry picture to the right.

Biggest difference since the first time I tried this... the internet. I read something confusing, I look it up on Wiki. Amazing material there about both Eva and Kevin Izod O'Doherty. Also able to research in Australia, England, the US and Canada.

And another thing... itunes. Eva set several of her poems to popular music of the time. Including Irish Molly O... which is disturbingly sticky as songs go. Don't try it, just trust me, because if you listen to it you'll call me in the middle of the night cursing...

wrapping up for the day with a timeline, photos adorning my desk and blog, a basket full of research and the bones of an original tune to one of her more heartbreakingly beautiful laments Bridget Cruises to Carolan. Interesting title. Not sure what Cruises means in this instance. I don't think she had a low rider...

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

I think you can go back...just differently

I am revisiting an idea that I had 18 years ago. To write a one woman show about the life of my great great grandmother Mary Eva Kelly, from County Galway. She was a romantic nationalist poet and her nom de plume was “Eva of the Nation.” She pledged to marry Kevin Izod O’Doherty, a founding member of the Young Irelanders movement that was active in the 1840’s. Kevin was arrested for his activities and was sent to Van Dieman’s Land before they could wed. If you know anything about Irish history then you know of the famine and the troubles that plagued the country at that time. Imagine a young woman growing up in that time, falling in love and waiting 7 years until her love returned... One source said their's was one of the Great Romances of Irish History.

Interesting that today is the first day of Eva in studio and I have no journal prepared to write in... no notebook assigned so I am forced to go on record in this computer.

It is March 16, 2010.

I committed to return to this idea on Feb 15, 2010 at the encouragement of two friends who are both accomplished creators of solo work, Lynn Miller and Courtney Cunningham. They will act as guides in the process as well.

As it happens that particular day was Eva’s Birthday 180th birthday. Feb 15, 1830. Nearly 20 years after my first attempt at writing her story as a one woman show. Support (or rather lack of it) is the thing that stopped me cold the first time... so it is wonderful to know that my husband John, my coach Eric and my neighbor Kathleen are also holding space...

I am going to be working on Eva Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays all day in studio... I am sure that I will have time in between as well.

Today I plan not so much to think about what I did or didn’t do... that is a long tale of traveling to Ireland to research her life and write the play. That is a story that ultimately would have to tell how I bottomed out as an alcoholic instead, and returned to start a new life in New York City and get sober in 1992. Revisiting the play was a painful thing until now, reminding me of my failure to complete it and the depths to which alcoholism took me.
Today it is exciting... joyous and meant to be.

I have cleaned my studio space... Lit candles on the altar, my favorite incense too. and have found two of my favorite Irish music CD’s to listen to while I begin. As suggested by Twyla Tharp I have a basket in which to place all materials that pertain to the project.
All that is in it now is her name...

I am keeping it simple today; starting the process with these three things...
Create a photo collage that will guide me featuring the lineage...
Create a time line
Start a story board of what I remember to be a great start 18 years ago...

More later...

Friday, January 22, 2010

taking small steps...

funny thing about being an actor and a radio host... I am really shy about putting my work out for people to see. So in an effort to lose that self sabotaging shyness I am posting an audition here that I did for a really neat film called A Christmas Snow that required we audition through YouTube and FaceBook... I wish I could get the thumbnail to change... its wicked goofy...

let me know what you think...

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Beauty and the Beast...

2009 was an amazing year of discovery for me. I read back over this blog and see that in the year that I have been posting I booked two short films (one lead, one supporting), a day player role on a hit TV show and lead roles in two plays. This feels good to me. Very good.

Along side the work, I also have been doing a lot classes and workshops which have been an important part of my reconnecting to myself as an actor. The fact that I have a second chance is the continued work of angels seen and unseen.

In the workshops I’ve been given a huge range of characters to portray. In one (actually a paid gig to workshop a great new film script) the feedback I received was that I had a very feminine vibe, fragile and interesting, similar to Juliet Binoche... in another casting workshop I was given a part for seriously broad comedy a la Sandy Martin. On one hand fragile beauty, on the other, comedic character lady. My ego loves the first one of course and feels betrayed by the second. But my actor self is thrilled by the prospect that, with a little more work, I could pull off both, raising my booking potential exponentially.

It reminds me of an experience I had in India. I was at a teaching with His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. As you may know... India is hard on a body. Really hard. It was a cold morning and I was deep in thought about the teaching. During a tea break, I got up to stretch my legs and as I navigated the thousands of people (Westerners, Asians, Tibetans, Indians and more) I ran into a friend. She looked concerned and said, “Viv, are you okay? You look really worn down! Be careful... get some rest.” I took it to heart and kept working my way to the back of the tent. About ten steps later I ran into another friend who grasped my shoulders and looked deep into my eyes saying, “Viv! You look radiant! This experience is clearly good for you!”

I call this the Emptiness of Viv’s Face. Maybe this could become my greatest asset as an actor. To create a character and then let the audience alone to choose their own experience. To disappear into the neutral zone between dualities and let the viewer decide.

To be both ... this is my quest...

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Will you still love me when I'm 64

I am taking a workshop this weekend that is really great. Chris Cuilla and Chadwick Struck are leading a really practical approach to building and maintaining a career as an actor in the regional markets here in Albuquerque as well as in Los Angeles. Its a lot of information and its really great to go over the nuts and bolts of the biz. Chris talks about reasonable goal setting and Chadwick will be auditioning us tomorrow and giving feedback. Its a great workshop and I highly recommend it.

For Christmas I received a book from my step - father that I swear, if it had been written before 2000 I would never have left New York on my wild tangent that took me to New Mexico.
(But then again, if I hadn't have done that I wouldn't have met my beloved husband, nor would I have my own syndicated public radio show on over 225 stations nationwide... so some tangents are fruitful. But I digress...again)

This book is called Working on the Inside: The Spiritual Life through the Eyes of Actors

If this had been available I would not have left the business for 7 years. The book interviews artists like Liam Neeson, Kristin Chenoweth, Phylicia Rashad and more about the way they balance their lives as working actors.

You see, the craft of acting is a creative path and a spiritual path for me. It has all the same components of ritual, silence, listening, transcendence (one hopes) and communion with something mysterious and complete. The book is giving me reason to hope that I'll be celebrating my 65 birthday with a really solid imdb page of credits and a deep sense of satisfaction of a career well balanced with life.