Acting Up

My musings, thoughts, rants, and discoveries. - Scott Maddock

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Location: Redmond, Washington, U.S. Inc. (Formerly U.S.A.)

Back to Blogging

I haven't blogged here since 2012. Why am I making a stab at it again?

I realized two things about social media I wanted to get away from. First was that I was often using it as a journal, which is boring and maybe TMI for those platforms. Secondly I was using it too much for my taste, so that I felt like a tool for marketers rather than using social media as a tool for my ends.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Plug In

Five days makes for a nice break. Luckily it was a four day weekend, so only one day of vacation. Even though we didn't do any touring, I developed an affection for Vancouver Island. It has a nice feel, generally so much cleaner and friendlier than the US. In restaurants and stores I noticed there was actually a comfortable amount of room. Restrooms are roomy and much cleaner, tables and aisles have more room. Even at the Wendy's it was apparent. Tables weren't so close together that people rising at adjacent tables would collide. An inherent and prevalent respect for the customer which is now foreign in the U.S. where shareholders come first and are always right.

Beth gave me a ride to the Victoria Clipper at 6:30 AM on Wednesday and picked me up at 7:30 PM on Sunday. It sure made a difference. No parking or cabs to worry about. Friends are truly the stuff of life.

Coming into the office this morning I was driving my pickup to work for the first time in a while. I had a creepy experience pulling into the parking garage, that I would not have experience on a motorcycle. The garage suddenly felt like the pod wall in which humans are ensconced in Matrix.

I very much like my day job, and it certainly makes life easier and allows me to make contributions to various theatres. I toy with the idea of working art for my day job, but I suspect I still need a 9 to 5 grind. When I had the extra time for nearly two months after finishing Meisner and Les Liaisons Dangereuses this Summer I wrote maybe three pages, and read less than one hundred pages for my research. Not very productive.

Still, the picture of the parking garage as the Matrix pod wall haunts me. It is a pretty strong allusion to the modern cubicle and tilt-up office parks. Especially in the feeling they impart on the bio units we call employees.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Little Big Heart

Right now I am riding the Victoria Clipper, going to see Dave and Kalon. And the kids, Jade, Kali, and the new addition Cullen who is nearly five months old.

While I was waiting to board, then waiting for the boat to depart I was writing in my journal book for Rumors. Starting my personal post-mortem process. In writing down my lessons learned something positive occurred to me. I learned some effective tools for evaluating my own work and building upon it.

One of the big things I slid into sideways in the Meisner Progression last year was the ability to analyze and critique my own work. At the end of the last two quarters, and maybe after the first, when Robin gave us feedback she asked what we thought of the piece we worked on at the end of the quarter and where we would go from there. In class we were constantly discussing our experiences, and how we felt about the work or exercise we had just done. We got feedback from classmates and Robin at every step. That served to help us intuit or feel what our internal experience meant in terms of our performance in other's eyes.

Like developing the ability to shut off the internal dialog this is not something I realized I was learning to do. It is in hindsight I have realized another tool I picked up.

Now I am telling myself my feeling I sucked stems from my ability to effectively critique and hopefully improve my process. There are reservations damn it all. It would be nice to completely exonerate myself, saying I really was very good; the dissatisfaction was only a reaction of my analytical tools. Cop out. As always the truth is somewhere in the middle. I'm not too concerned where. As long as I don't let myself off the hook and don't berate myself so badly the joy fades I'm in a good state of balanced tensions.

We're a little over half way. Only two hours from Seattle to Victoria. I will never consider flying. This is easier, faster in the long run, and much more comfortable. Once we were under way I spent some time working on The Thai Getaway, and will be getting back to it shortly. I am doing a drastic rewrite, and feel in a bit of a corner. Charge on ahead. It is easier to fix something not so good than to have nothing at all to work on.

Maybe I should set up a writing blog like Ric, or maybe copy files somewhere. For now I'd simply post the old version, and in a month or two post the update. I find thinking about it to be personally scary, so maybe letting more people see some of my drafts would be a good thing to do. That reminds me of the first script I started working on several years ago, and my reason for going to Dave and Kalon's for Thanksgiving, even though Canadian Thanksgiving was a month and half ago.

First they moved from the old family home about an hour north of Toronto, to Duncan which is about an hour north of Victoria. Second is my mom. A little over two years ago, on October 30th, I told her I would not see her again. A painfully maudlin story for another post. Maybe.

Well, my brother invited mom over for Thanksgiving. I am very happy he did. I sincerely believe the kids should know their grandmother. I don't have the desire for myself.

I called to talk to the family on Thanksgiving, and end the brotherly silence now the election is done. No awkwardness on that count or the mommie dearest count. I was wondering how I would handle her trying to cut into the conversation to reconnect with spiritual soul mate son. I considered waiting a day to avoid the likely awkwardness. It turns out she figured it was too stressful for her to be come over and Eric didn't beg her enough. That means I got to talk to my brother without interruption, and my Dad who I hope would have graciously avoided his ex. Great talks, and I was sure happy I gave mom the opportunity to join them as it allowed me the privilege of visiting some of my best friends who moved away a year and a half ago.


Sunday already and now we are cruising slowly out of the harbor from Victoria. What a wonderful visit. Mostly catching up and lounging around. They don't know the island terribly well yet so we just spent time together. For Thanksgiving I cooked that American classic meal, quesadillas. Dave is particularly enamored of my recipe. It is only the second time I have not had turkey on Thanksgiving, and that was lobster I had caught in Key West in 1986.

Jade who is thirteen and Kali who is 8 have grown a lot in a year and a half. I was startled to see Jade has become quite a young woman. I still tend to think of her as being about seven, he age when they all stayed with me for six to twelve months. Not exactly sure how long, as I wasn't keeping track. Jade is very much a teen. Very mature, kind, and interesting most moments, then petulant, mean, and angry the next. It's a miracle any of us make it through puberty without being strangled. The children they were and the adults they frequently and tantalizingly show us they are about to be makes them worth the aggravation. I get to cheat being an uncle and friend, as I don't generally get subjected to the teen angst. My hat is off to all you parents without blood on your hands. It really is worth it says the mostly impartial observer.

I had a wonderful send off. Kali wanted a pizza party, so we picked up several pizzas and started Titan A.E., one of their favorite family movies. Just as the meal was settling nicely it was time to go. Kali was sent to wake Jade who'd had a long day and Dave and I got shoed and such for the trip. There was a round of hugs with the kids, including smiles from Cullen. Dave's mom, Katie, lives in the downstairs unit and I got to say good by to her, than back out for another round of hugs. Put my bags in the car and another round of hugs. Gave Kalon a hug and another round of hugs. Kali was crying her eyes out. Bless her generous loving and not so little heart. My eyes are all watery remembering it.

"What's that? Why yes. Thank you steward, I would like a beer."

Monday, November 22, 2004

Cops Syndrome

For Rumors I sent out numerous invites. I haven't done that in several years. It was all part of the self-production aspect of the show. I had six people to whom I wrote personal notes come to the show, plus five guests. I kept the list modest, about 35. One in six came, a pretty good return. I think all of them, except for the one who brought three guests would have come anyway. Still, it felt nice to write the notes. I can't remember the last time I wrote notes, plural, by hand. That accounted for about half the family, friends and acquaintances who came. Because I wasn't feeling especially happy with my work I was very low-keyed when mentioning it to my acting friends.

It was nice to see people I know at half or more of the shows, but I will resist pushy marketing of my shows for another year or two. I prefer to let friends simply know about the shows. I feel like I am distancing them when I push a show, and they don't come. There's an awkwardness. I don't mind (or believe) when people say, "Oh I couldn't remember when your show was. Sorry I missed it." I don't expect my priorities to be the same as my friends, especially the non-artistic types. Life would be pretty dull if we were all the same.

It is hard to get people to live theatre. I call it the "Cops Syndrome." I think most people would rather see their favorite rerun of Cops again, than go to the best live production ever. I don't understand it anymore than tv and cinema fanatics understand my love of theatre. That feeling was deepened when I was Outreach Chair for Exchange Theatre. Here I was with oodles of comp tickets, and I spent an inordinate amount of time personally giving them to friends and acquaintances. It was hard to find people to accept free tickets, and even then only about 60% of the ticket holders showed up.

So, I'm happy 1/6th of the people I wrote to made it, and a little concerned the others probably feel less connection as a result of my invite. Thus I'll wait a significant time before I write them again. In the back of my mind are my writing projects, and my newest idea for finding a theater space on the east side of Lake Washington. Those are things I would market more shamelessly.


All done with Rumors. 'Twas a fun run, though as frustrating as it was edifying for me. We had formal check ins, and on our last one we were to mention one thing we were going to try and do better. I mentioned the intense training I had last year, and the challenge I was finding in bringing the tools to a non-classroom environment. My goal Saturday night was to move from applying what I learned from 10% to 11%. Not really a quantifiable goal, more of a personal push.

It was especially fun to watch all the characters/actors grow and learn through the show. Every single person was trying new things, making new offers up until the final show. One thing I did before the final show was run my lines without moving. I have gotten repeated feedback from nearly every instructor, and many directors I have had that I need to be pretty planted on stage, and I realized I was making too many little movments. I hope it helped me maintain the dynamic stillness which serves me. I also did some singing to warm-up my voice. I was surprised how much that helped.

Now on to a couple shows where I'll be working offstage duties. Not exactly sure what yet, as it depends how time commitments and pre-production plans work out. Maybe running lights and sound for a holiday show, set building and design for another show or two in January, and maybe some writing for one of them. For now, just a one week respite, though I do have Neutral Mask tonight, which I am looking forward to.

I gave myself a personal post-mortem homework assignment for Rumors. Review the prep I did for the show, and review my class notes from Meisner last year. A daunting task. I intend to identify prep work, how effective it was, and why I think it worked or not. The other is identifying additional exercises for prep, which I want to incorporate for the next show. While I know I did a better job than I would have a year ago thanks to the training investment, I am not at all satisfied with what I just did. I'm almost okay with that, as long as I keep moving forward adding more depth and focus to my work with each show.

So come January, unless something unexpected comes up, it will be time to start looking for auditions. I haven't done that in a while, working on referrals and such. Time to step out of the comfort zone again.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Damn The Torpedoes?

Just three more shows for Rumors. It is so much more fun this week. The fever I had last week let up and the lines are no longer my big issue. I've not experienced anxiety over my lines before, and there is a little residual anxiety left. It'll make me more sympathetic to other actors in the future.

I'm looking forward to the rest, and as always I'll miss the cast and crew. Sometimes I think theatre is more about making lots of friendships than anything else. Most people you work with on shows are still good friends the next time you see them, even if it has been years. What a great gift.

On the big scale art is what drives me. I'm not exactly sure what art is, or what aspect of that mystery I should be concentrating on. I just spend the greater part of my time doing it. The friendships sustain me, keep the unknown-ness in perspective so it doesn’t make me nuts. Okay, okay, so it doesn’t make me more nuts.

Finishing a challenging week at the office, and making my mortgage payment over the phone. A nice way to start my theatre commute, getting the work week and debt behind me.

Kipley sent me a nice note, making me feel better about my show, and my irritation last Saturday. He has gotten himself a theatre in Hoboken, and I think it is stupendous. I read his bog regularly, and will be paying especially close attention, thinking of several nascent theatre companies I am working with. I live on the east side of Lake Washington, and there is a paucity of good dramatic theatre. Musical theatre and light comedy do well. People have a bias making it very hard to attract people to dramatic theatre in this area. They will make the ugly commute across the bridge to see shows in Seattle, but won’t come to a nearby theatre in Bellevue/Redmond/Kirkland.

I’m motivated to start asking friends who have talked about starting theatres if they are really interested, and contacting three or four real estate agent friends. Something like Kipley’s space would be a great start. There are a number of seriously talented artists on the east side, that and a spark is all you really need to start. If nobody wants to start looking around with me, well maybe I’ll go it alone, though I worry about my organizational skills. Damn it all, I want a theatre doing serious work in its own space. I figure it will take a long, long time and a lot of effort to find a space. It may not happen, but I can guarantee it will not happen if I just think about it.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Brighten Up

Autumn kisses leaves
Winds lifting swirling choosing
Dance over chaos

I read my posts from yesterday. I'd gone over several things which made me feel good and a couple which didn't feel so good. I was tempted to archive the downer one. The last time I really thought of those things that irritated me was when I recounted them for my blog.

For the last couple days the I've been pestering everyone with my description of Catherine dancing with and around her daddy during the Akropolis warm up. I told a few people who I had shared my artistic self-doubts with about being asked if I was real cop again. I'm sure I'll mention these again, but not so often. Like previous experiences they'll soon be thoughts which will crop up in relation to topics in future conversations.

Why do we like to talk about things we have just experienced? I'm guessing it is our way of putting things into long-term memory. The same concept involved in using a person's name in sentences several times when you first meet them, so you more easily remember their name. I want to remember the perceived compliment of being mistaken for a real cop, and even more I want to remember the family warm-up.

I started down this train of thought after realizing I only mentioned the irksome things a couple times, in a kind of purge. On the other hand, I wanted to share the nice things over and over again. I was wondering why my focus was on things which made me feel better. That was not the case for a very large part of my life. What's the causative factor? If I get back in that self-destructive whiney world, how do I heal myself? Can it be as simple as watching what I say? Is the effort to be upbeat in what you choose to share a pivotal piece? I haven't a real clue, but my heart says, "Yes!"

Last month I wrote about what you take with you and what you leave behind in this life, and came to the conclusion that for me they are the same. I've been reminding myself of that concept in my day to day decisions, trying to apply it on a smaller scale. Not very often, something under 5% of the time if I had to make a guess. It makes a difference. Dropped a few pounds, got a couple minor but long delayed projects done.

What it boils down to for me is I truly am the arbiter of my own life. If it sucks, either I chose to look at it that way or to live it that way. Take it or leave it. It sounds judgmental, yet it gives me hope. Sort of an ass-kicking affirmation I can give myself. I've avoided the annual Winter blues for five years now. I still don't know how I got to the point where I finally looked on the bright side of life, but it's worth kicking my own arse to stay there.

Monday, November 15, 2004

The Up Side

The aspirin did the trick, keeping the fever away. No more dropped lines in Rumors, though everyone is very aware of every word I say -- I try to tell myself it is good the cop makes them nervous. A friend who is taking the Meisner Progression gave me some very positive feedback. That was great, because my line gaffes on Wednesday and Thursday were not my big concern.

Another audience member I didn't know asked me after the show if I was a real cop. How cool is that? I still need to do work for this role, and future roles for that matter. That kind of feedback makes the effort worthwhile. That and the nice and informed words from Greg were terrific to hear. Maybe I'll keep doing this acting stuff. As if I could quit.

Friday my folks came, which is always great. I'm 47 and I still love it when my folks come see me on stage. They brought along my new license plates. My truck is still registered at their place because I intend to donate it to a theatre, so it shouldn't really matter. The problem has been getting title to the vehicle I'd like to replace it with. More on the plates.

After Sunday's matinee I headed for Capitol Hill, to videograph the closing show for Akropolis. I cleaned my ancient VHS recorder and brought it along. They set up their camcorder to capture most of the stage, and I was up in the seats following the action creating tableaus and close-ups to augment their camera's footage. It turns out their camera failed to record. If I'd known I would have framed my shots a lot differently. I recorded the entire thing, but there were some jerky camera movements as I quickly shifted from one focus to another, assuming I'd be able to meld it together nicely in editing. The added concern is whether there was enough light for my nearly 20 year old video camera. If not, I actually taped the warm up to get my camera movement warmed up, so we should be able to put together some sort of demo. I would like to get a very good camera and tripod at some point, so I can concentrate more on framing and smooth transitions for my video than keeping everything going.

There was an added treat. Jennifer and Joseph's 4 1/2 year old daughter joined the warm up. It was at once hysterical, beautiful, and moving. She darted in and out with her father like a joyous little sprite. I hope the camera caught a little of that spirit for them. I will certainly remember it for a long time in any case.

Joseph is probably borrowing my truck at the moment to move the set piece to their house. I wasn't able to help, but didn't mind loaning the truck out in the least. I left the new license plate on the seat, so I wouldn't get them in trouble.

I realized there was actually an up side to the peremptory canceling of our Wednesday show which I mentioned earlier. I'll be able to attend most of my Mask class on Wednesday. I didn't get to go at all last week, and I am really looking forward to tonight's class, even if I didn't have time to do my homework.

The Down Side

The board for the show I'm working on disappointed me a couple times over the weekend. I've been on boards and have done a lot of work, and I appreciate what they do. Still they should be reminded to respect and give space to the actors.

We were in the dressing room before the show and in walks a crowd of board members, friends, and actors from previous shows. They held the door open for an extended period while several people were in their skivvies, were very loud, and ensconced themselves in the dressing room for 20 minutes or so. It was like having a barrel of ice water dumped on you in the middle of prep. I know and like several of the people, and felt a little let down. Even as a stage manager I don't intrude unnecessarily in the dressing room, generally make calls from the doorway so I don't have invade the space any more than necessary.

Well, they are new at it, hence the name Next Step Theater. They are good folks. They have worked especially hard reviving a theatre company which nearly died. I reminded myself of all that and it made shaking off the ice water feeling easier.

I mentioned it to the director who is on the board, but I don't think he understood my concern. To be fair Ben is the most accommodating director I've worked with. The times I've had schedule issues he resolved the situation quickly and without fanfare. I respect that immensely.

Our show for this Wednesday was canceled. This was my second disappointment. It was a board decision because no tickets had been sold yet. I would not have felt irked if someone had asked the cast. I would have been strongly inclined to go on with the show, as I think canceling a show gives the appearance of last ditch desperation. If the actors had been asked and most went along with the decision, and I think they would have, it would have been palatable.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

More Threes...

Of course, you may have missed the previous post on 'three' which I thought was too ucky, and archived.

Thursday was our opening night. It was also Veteran's Day. I got several sets of good wishes for both occurrences. Oddly enough for me the bigger significance of the day was a third milestone, the two year anniversary of my motorcycle crash. On 11/11/02 I was cut off on the freeway express lane while commuting to an improv class and hit the pavement rather than the fellow talking on his cell phone who popped over without signaling. I went down rather abruptly at 60mph, and my bike and I discovered the joy of bouncing on asphalt at 60 mph. Last year and this year I made a special point of riding the motorcycle on the same stretch of freeway on 11/11. No weird feelings either time.

Last night, Friday, was our third show, and the first one where I didn't make a colossal screw up. I finally realized I was running a fever, and took three aspirin before the show to reduce the fever. No getting lost, no skipping ahead, and a decent job. I'm still struggling with the process of bringing the process and tools I learned in my intensive class last year to a show where I'm not working with others that have a similar process. I'd guess having a process puts me in a minority.

Also on the third show I stumbled upon a prep that works for me in this show. The dressing room is a ratty old space, and I swept and mopped it, about two hours work on Friday. It was a desire to honor and be honored by the space, and while I did it I used the service aspect to help me prepare. I'm a cop trying to deal with nouveau riche, and cleaning around people who were inadvertently dropping trail mix and tissues as I was cleaning helped with the public servant aspect of the role. By tonight I had a system and was able to get the cleaning done much faster after everyone left the dressing room. The space is less dusty, my sinuses like that, the other actors love the fact their bare or stocking feet aren't filthy after one step, and it gives me a physical activity while I run lines and prep and daydream into the character. A win-win-win situation for me. The cast is bemused, especially when I responded to a query as to whether I did this at home and answered while holding back a chuckle, "Not on your fucking life!" I'm stuck now. At first it was simply to honor the space, now it is crucial for my prep as Officer Welch. I hope the next cast using the space appreciates it.

We had a matinee today and afterwards I walked a couple blocks to catch the first hour and a bit of Richard's 40th birthday before the evening show. Damn, but I wanted to stay longer. His gatherings are always fun with a fascinating bunch of people. I was flattered to be included, and truly regretted I couldn't stay longer. I had a sip of Richard's Manhattan. I'd ordered one a couple months ago after hearing Richard rave about them. I think what I got that time was just a couple ounces of bourbon in a cocktail glass.

I liked my sip of Richard's Manhattan, and on the way home picked up a bottle of sweet vermouth so I could have more than a sip when I was done with shows for the day. I'm finding a couple things. It's a little on the sweet side and a little stronger than I like. It will be a scandal to 'purists', but I'll probably go for future Manhattans on the rocks. I may try getting dry vermouth and experimenting. Maybe half and half or all dry will suit my taste better. There is as blend of flavors I like in a traditional Manhattan and a little less sugar and some dilution may make for something I really like.

I've decided three things. I won't proof this much, but I will spell check. Maybe I'll archive it in the light of day. Second, it is time to go to sleep, so I have nearly a ten hour rest window before getting up for the matinee I'm performing in tomorrow, and the show I'm videographing for Akropolis. If you live in the area it will be your last chance to see this amazing show -- and you'd be ignorant and unkind to yourself to not make the effort. Thirdly? Hell! I forgot what it was. G'night!

Monday, November 08, 2004

A Lovely Haze

I went on my ride along with Sgt. Duncan of the Port Orchard Police Department yesterday, and will transcribe the appropriate parts when I get done with my paper journaling of the ride and my impressions.

Tonight was the tech rehearsal for Rumors. Very well executed tech rehearsal. The light plot is very simple, the simplest I've ever worked with, but for a farce where people are all over the place I think that is the best way to go. Especially for a community or fringe theatre production. The sound cues were thought out and charted ahead of time, so like the light cues it was just fine tuning the timing.

The theatre, which is at Seattle Center, is a hundred yards or so from the Space Needle. I wished I was a photographer. It was fully dark, and there was a light fog when I arrived, thickening gradually as the altitude increased. The Space Needle saucer, softened by the mist was breath taking. I was very early, and I kept stopping to stare at it as I shucked my riding gear and stowed it in the trunk. I'm not needed until the end of the play, and the tech started an hour later than our normal start time. It turns out I was a whole hour earlier than I thought, so I walked to the QFC to get a turkey/cranberry sandwich. I'm not wild about QFC, preferring locally owned stores, but that is a great sandwich. Not too heavy, not too rabbit foody.

Walking back across Seattle Center with my sandwich I was mesmerized by the Space Needle. It was other worldly, the kind of beauty that makes you love a civilization. I yearn for the kind of soul in our collective which built space needles instead of the stagnant souls building strip malls.

After the rehearsal the fog had thinned some, and it was with regret that I rode my bike home. I love my loud exhaust pipes. The folks parked next to me who were leaving at the same time snubbed my friendly salutation, which I take as license to be pretty damned loud. Even so, I couldn't indulge myself. The soft mist, and the lovely picture of the Space Needle in my mind's eye made me handle the throttle modestly so I wouldn't break the spell for anyone else. I hope you have a great evening too.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Cup #3

Placebo. Wanted something hot, but didn't really need another caffeine hit, so I brewed up some decaf. Interesting stuff, eh?

I'm waiting for something interesting to happen, though I suppose it is a blessing so far. I don't really want to live in interesting times at 3 AM!

In a short three hours I can go get some shut eye. I'm trying to decide whether I'll go home and nap or sack out on the office floor. I brought my yoga mat with just that in mind. When I paused to think, realization hit. It it is only a matter of fifteen or twenty minutes difference in rack time and the better quality sleep at home is worth the extra trip. It's funny how when you are on short rations how deliberately you plan. Probably I'll get myself all ready for sleep and feel wide awake.

Just started on the Fuji apple I brought in. Strange, they taste better during the drowsy hours.

I'll probably archive these entries tomorrow. I'm betting in the light of day they'll seem extra boring...

Cup #2

Starting java cup #2. There was a hiccup, and I was able to help verify the situation and resolution. I was only seconds behind the well experienced folks in making calls, nice feeling not lost.

Tomorrow I have class four hours after my shift at work. Then a nap, and off to usher for Exchange Theatre, and see Playboy of the Western World. A month or so back I did a couple "coming attraction" scenes for Exchange's Annual Fundraising Gala, and one of them was a scene from this play with the actual cast. I played Shawn because the man cast for the role wasn't available that day. I am really looking forward to seeing the entire play.

I think I'll do some actual work for a bit, making Monday easier for me. Had a theatre hit before work, a long-winded journal entry, and a little political venting. Pretty good night at the office!

Friday, November 05, 2004

Sleepless In Seattle

Here at Expedia it is prop night. "Prop" for propagation, when the new code is released to the web. I'm on the A-team, from 10PM to 6AM. I'm being mentored by one of the other people on the team, as it is my first go around. If I get a task I don't know how to address, I'll run down the hall and ask Kevin for guidance.

Kind of an interesting switch. I went to rehearsal this evening, then rushed to work. I don't think that would work for me on a regular basis. Taking the charge of a rehearsal back to work on regular basis would feel bizarre, though it would ultimately be better for sleep patterns. It's not often I go home from the office and feel too energized and manic to go to sleep right away. That is the rule instead of the exception when I come home from a rehearsal or a class.

Well, finally I felt I was at the point I'd wanted to be on the first rehearsal tonight. Good thing too; we open on Thursday. It's that infamous cracking point. Where the character work, blocking, text work, and running the play all start fusing. I gained a precise sense of the direction I need to take, and strangely enough what I need to work on the most is back story. I was way ahead of the ball on that, and now I need to strengthen and deepen it. I found myself on stage this evening knowing what I needed to get where I need to be. The Police ride-along on Sunday is sure to help. Little did I know that scheduling it so late would prove to be perfect timing. Didn't know why I was procrastinating, but it worked out.

Lots more to do, and with the heat off at work next week it will be so much easier to prepare. Sometimes I feel like my acting curve is like my old technical learning curve. I don't improve gradually, rather I tend toward the lower half of the class for the first part of the term, and finish with the top scores. There is a click moment, and all of a sudden ah ha's start cropping up.

Ahhhhh. Just got my first cup of coffee. Like any normal day I'll limit myself to two cups, or three max if I find it really hard to keep my eyes open.

I'm feeling better with the play, and hope to get to a point quickly where Ben (the director) isn't wondering what he was thinking when he cast me. When I decided to study acting seriously to give myself a foundation, little did I realize I'd be dealing with that bizarre learning curve over and over again. I kind of wonder if it is internal or external. Do others see gradual improvement throughout rehearsals, or do they see me suddenly blossom? I'm not sure I really want to know. The click moment is always a surprise, it lends me confidence and boldness, and makes me love the work all the more. Maybe I should be hesitant in dissecting it.

I really like my day job, which ironically I'm doing now in the middle of the night. My job has a feeling of transience. Kipley's dream theatre in Hoboken, Rachel's dream theatre here, Paula's dream theatre somewhere, etc. They call me too. I realized I'm not afraid of the change, not married to my current situation, and not really in a hurry to leave it. I'd give up a lot to change, but very, very few things that are meaningful to me. The hardest thing I can think of now is my ability to support theatre's financially, albeit in a modest way, and the possibility of giving up the Seattle theatre community. Sadly my feeling that my country is on a truly amoral and criminal course makes me feel I should be doing something more, upping the stakes for my wanderlust and creative urges.

Speaking of which, in between naps trying to prepare for tonight, I resumed my research into Harvey Matusow. I hit a point this afternoon where I really love this character. I suspect this is a turning point as important in writing as in acting. I still find it hard to read about the vicious undercurrent in America of the 40's, 50's, and 60's which is being relived nearly verbatim today, but I no longer dread reading more about it.

Haven't heard much on the poem I wrote a couple days ago, except from my very good friend Beth. We met through Kiwanis about five years ago, and she has watched me go through my artistic discovery and awakening. She scolded me saying I should have let her know she would have to get tissues to read the whole thing. She has a very conservative niece in Texas and asked if she could forward my poem. Wow, what a compliment. Of course we are close friends, so I doubt many others would be much moved, but actually crying and wanting to send it on is really something. Not that I think it is likely to sway anyone on the other end of the political spectrum.

Every conservative whom I've told I oppose the war because of my combat service and experience in collecting and analyzing intelligence can only respond with condescension. Between you and I, none of these people impressed me with their acuity before I knew their politics, so I find it hard to keep my face from twitching. I'm amused with the attitude and sad about the futility of trying to communicate with willful ignorance. I truly believe most people are very bright, if only they have the cajones to step away from comfortable notions. Using your noggin takes courage. We are gifted with intelligence, but only if you exercise it. If you don't exercise it, you lose it, and what then separates you from the animals?

Thinking isn't supposed to make you feel all happy like some 60's sitcom character. People seem willing to accept pain as a result of physical exercise, but not as a result of exercising their minds.

Thursday, November 04, 2004


After I saw Akropolis last Saturday Rachel told me she understood why I like to make donations to small theatre companies. Without our support the show probably would not have gone up she said. That may be a friendly exaggeration. Even so, I never thought of it in quite those terms. When I first heard I may have made a contribution which enabled a show to be put up, I thought, "Neat."

Let's see, I'm single, and have no kids. I love acting, working on productions, watching other productions, and the rest of the theatrical world with a deep passion. I don't donate to see my name in programs or on brass plaques. I have to admit it is nice to see a gift acknowledged. Still, it is not why I lend my support. Rather it is a sense of community. You just do it, because you want to and are able

Robert Heinlein wrote about gratitude in Stranger in a Strange Land. His character, Jubal Harshaw, said gratitude is a euphemism for resentment. One of the most poisonous emotions around. Since I read that in high school 30 (oh shit) years ago I have studied situations I've been in and found it to be dead on -- gratitude is fleeting -- the ensuing resentment interminable. Acknowledgement is great, but don't harbor gratitude!

When I see an acquaintance in a show I make a point of giving them sincere compliments. I don't mean the continuous qualified nasty compliments I used to hear from the maternal side of the family, "You did okay, except for ....... and ....... then you ....... you should have ....... I would have ....... next time you should ....... Like I said you did alright, but ......." And why did it take me decades to realize I'd earned a right to confident of my abilities? So, I find things which truly merit praise and offer only that. Simplicity. I was awed by an actor recently, and even though we don't chat much, I wrote him after the show, and he replied, "You of the warm, generous, inspiring heart..." Now, that's an acknowledgement! There is a perception of myself which is surprising and pleasing, and a wonderful gift in return.

I am a little jittery about the show coming up. Rumors is a tremendously fun script, and it is a challenge. I suspect much of the challenge is being in my first show after completing Meisner. We've a wonderful mix of experience ranging from one person who is making their stage debut to another who is an equity actor. I'm finding many challenges. The Meisner Progression was a true ensemble, and while I like the entire cast, we are not an ensemble. There are no dedicated partners using the same process to work with, as in class. Most of the actors are not terribly connected to their scene partners -- there is more acting than being present and living through the character.

I'm not ragging on the cast, quite the opposite actually. I'm pointing out the external challenges I am facing as a result of the type of training I have pursued. The internal challenges are picking the prep work which will be the most effective for my character in this role. More animal work? More visualization? More text analysis? More character analysis? Etc? Brilliant training doesn't make you brilliant. That takes hard work and good choices. Making proper choices takes hard work and experience, because they will never be the same. I hope everyone else's perspective of my work is more forgiving than mine. Robin said we would never be satisfied with our work in a role.
Yeah, yeah, yeah..., yup, okay, she was right.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Good Mourning

The Warriors' Wasting
by Scott Maddock

A young man, I volunteered to serve
Protecting your freedom and the weak.
Fought for those who quickly lose their nerve
Yet bravely send us our deaths to seek.

Cowards at home applaud, pundits lie,
Living high while carnage knows no side.
Can't even watch men they sent to die.
"To view our dead serves the other side."

On coming home there's no jobs to find.
Warrior's skills sent to the garbage heap,
"Don't compete with those who stayed! Don't mind,
It's only fair their plunder they keep. "

These "cautious" ones steal your liberties
Call compassion or discourse treason,
Want your thoughts to cease; and fears increase.
The only thing they fear is reason.

Sugared voices, strident calls, the same
Message spreads. With them or against them,
It's your only choice. An ancient game
To be sure; it is their precious gem.

You worship the puppet master's skills,
Let the warriors take their poison pills,
Masters do not pay for sins or kills,
It's the warriors lot to bear those ills.

I pray for those now fighting. To God:
Give them strength and hope. May each that lives
Have champions of their own, and God,
Save our warriors from conservatives.

I know I'm not a poet. But attempting verse keeps it short.

I guess I'm not the only one contemplating leaving the United States. An interesting article about the subject. Not so much the content, which totally misses the thought that paying taxes in this country may well be an immoral act, or as the Catholics would say, "A mortal sin." Rather the fact that it is considered newsworthy.

I'm heartened and saddened by the large number of people who are evaluating the ethics of living in this country. If I get serious about the possibility of moving in a year, I better start making plans and job applications in about six months. Maybe, I'll try dissent first.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Whose Is It To Lose?
            -- or --
Make Up Your Freaking Mind!

I hate polls. Most of the polls I see show a large disapproval rating for Bush. Large margins of dissatisfaction with his handling of Iraq and Al Qaeda, the economy, the environment, etc. Yet a slight (statistically tied) preference for him over Kerry. No wonder so many of us are going nuts. I'm not wild about Kerry, but I'm adamant in my preference. The problem is there are so many that detest both candidates in a way that their preference is meaningless except for their one vote. They have no chance of encouraging another person to think, because they are simply shrill, whiny, and indecisive in their special way.

I'd like to have a truly liberal and viable candidate to support. And like the witch hunts which were named after that flash in the pan, Joseph McCarthy, but existed for decades before and after, the suppression of truly liberal voices has been quite successful. We have psychotically conservative vs. overly conservative this year. I'm 100% behind the overly conservative Kerry, hoping for a liberal or even a moderate choice in the future.

A small positive step forward is hundreds times better than a staggering, waffling, mincing, insignificant little lurch to the left. A step at least has a chance of building momentum, while a sidestep simply adds to the current inertia.

More On Indecision
Sadly I think the vast majority of folks who feel an understandable and fierce disdain for both candidates will vote for Kerry. Should Kerry lose, these will be the people who will be responsible. That unwillingness to take a stand has an impact. You can blame Nadar for 2000, and if we re-Bush you can blame the folks who hadn't the courage to support their choice because he's not some fairy tale knight in shining armor. Next time lend your support to the one fighting the evil witch, even if it ain't your Prince Charming!