Acting Up

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

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

Allie's Journey

For the next several months this will be dedicated to information pertinent to Allene M. Maddock. Her care has been assumed by Hospice as of 06Apr12.

Please feel free to call or write her. If you call be patient and take time to explain who you are. Currently she remembers, but you have to help her focus so she truly knows who she is talking to at the moment. We have to do this too, and I frequently say something like, "Yes this is Scott, your oldest."

Her phone is area code two-zero-six, and the number is 216 3816.

Her Address:
Allie Maddock
c/o Queen Ann Manor
100 Crockett Street
Seattle, Washington
    98109

Friday, July 29, 2005

You Heard It Here First

Less than five minutes ago I called Freehold, and left a voice mail for Robin thanking her and accepting the offer to be a part of the Ensemble Training Intensive (ETI). There's more from last night, which I'll finish editing and post today.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Smelling The Roses

I washed the blood spots off my hands a few minutes ago.

I did some slow tens in the field across the street from my house, as discussed in the last post's comments. For those less familiar with them than I, it is walking very, very slowly trying to keep your center/abdomen moving at a constant speed, often with your upper body taking on static shapes. For those versed in Suzuki training, forgive my errors and simplification. Even with my understanding it is meditative.

For me the first thing is to give up expectations, and letting things hit me from the outside. Basically shutting of the internal (or infernal) dialogue. On the way over I wondered if my leg would cause problems, then I wondered about the mosquitoes. The bugs were the challenge, but I simply let them alter my upper body shape when I needed to slap them to keep me from dropping out. Hence the need to get out the damned spots. That and the need to remember to keep my center of weight low occupied me as I remembered what to do and tuned out the frivolous.

Last night I found I tended to spontaneously move with my palms facing outward, hungrily inviting the world in and pushing my awareness out. Every time theatre entered my thoughts I felt the warm expanding sensation in my chest. Yearning and deep satisfaction rolled into one. It is what theatre means to me. It is vital to remember, because I tend to get caught up in the bustle of a busy schedule. No sense being constantly busy if you don't quite know why.

My hesitation in immediately accepting the ETI position is bizarre. After giving my left brain exclusive control for some forty years, I made a conscious decision to give it a voice and look at things logically as I've been so focused on the right brain the last few years with my artistic pursuits. It took me half a lifetime to realize I'm one of those unusual people who are not predominately left or right brain centric. I don't want to be unbalanced again.

I want to do ETI. It is more important to me than advancing my day job, though I'll do my damnedest to hold on to it for a few more years. Point 1. I find joy and fulfillment in exploring art, especially when it challenges and scares me. Point 2. The fulfillment I experienced in the ensemble (Meisner) last year is something I crave. Point 3. My chest aches joyfully when I attempt slow tens while being eaten by mosquitoes and contemplating art. Point 4. During the same exercise I looked at the beauty in the dusk sky and that which I've been pursuing on stage. The shallow pseudo-joy of what I can buy thanks to my day job evaporates. Joy is in the relationships, strife, and heavens. The very things which are celebrated in art and assiduously denied and destroyed in a cubicle or office. Point 5. The list goes on, and my left brain is disappointed I'm stopping so soon.

Logic likes to tote itself. The items above are all important but small. There are big items. Like those who commented via several E-mail threads and comments here. A network of friends and acquaintances I have as a result of art. That is important. Sometimes doing what you know to be right is the hardest thing in the world to do, seemingly for no more reason than it being right. Much more so when it is something for yourself.

Now for a big parent plug. Dad and Joyce, my stepmother, have been incredibly supportive. It is an unquantifiable comfort. My logical left brain was completely mollified by them. They love and care for me as deeply as I do them. They have been as excited and anticipatory as I the last couple weeks. If they thought I was headed for certain disaster they wouldn't have been so excited. They attend theatre regularly, have seen everything I've been in when they are in town, and have worked it themselves in school and community theatres. Our relationship, their life experience, and appreciation of the arts and the risk makes that a very solid recommendation which satisfies my left brain.

Tomorrow morning I will call Freehold and make the commitment. [Well, I did so after writing this entry, but before I edited and posted it.]

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Catching The Changing Tides

I received a letter from Freehold yesterday. Crap. Well, things have changed. If you don't' want to wade through it all, check the last two paragraphs.

I was not (initially) selected for ETI. Right now the disappointment far outweighs the relief of knowing I'll have more time next year. I'm on the wait list, which I suppose means they'll contact me if they get desperate for a body should some of the picks decline the opportunity. Had I been selected I'd have confirmed in a heartbeat -- since I'd made tentative plans and inquiries ahead of time. However, if a spot opens up I will be conflicted. My initial worry of getting ahead of myself would be revived. I don't want to make the commitment to simply allow them to achieve the desired body count. Even with the day job flexibility it could mean giving up my career, and if they have doubts as to whether I am ready professionally I should think about it too. I doubt I'll have to worry about it though.

[DELETED my irritation over the letter vs a phone call]

So where do I go from here? Well, good things came up. Auditions are always good experience, and I figured out exactly why I want classical training. I also found out that for this type of time commitment my employer, Expedia, is willing to make some big adjustments -- though I worry floating the question may have compromised my status slightly. It also opens me up to other ways of getting training and experience.

Locally, I'll be checking Northwest Actors Studio for their conservatory program. I'm sure it is too late for this year, so I'll take the next year to explore the program and try a class or two to get a feeling for their atmosphere. I'll look into other conservatory programs. I've a contact in Toronto I'll check with. Not having been there, I have this stereotype classical training would be the norm. Anyone have any recommendations or contacts elsewhere?

I'll also be thinking about the theatre I put on hold while I waited to find out about ETI. I have a few weeks to think on that, as the Shakespeare Intensive I signed up for starts today. As I mentioned earlier, it was supposed to start on Sunday, but the instructor called moments after I cleared customs to cancel the first two sessions.

Speaking of my short vacation, I started a blog entry while I was up there.
I'm up in Duncan, British Columbia with young Cullen on my lap. He just left me for sister Kali.
That's as far as I got, as the fickle thirteen month old Cullen immediately came back and I wanted to give him more attention. I seem to have an affinity with pets and kids. People often tell me their child or pet doesn't usually warm up to people so quickly.

It was quite a fun weekend. I took Thursday and Friday off, and rode up on the Victoria Clipper. I really enjoy going that route, as it is so easy for me. Of course I have to get a ride to and from Victoria, which is about an hour's trip. I was thinking of taking my motorcycle on one of the ferries, but decided against it because I was so beat from work. I just didn't look forward to a post work ride up north to my stepsister's house in Bellingham, then an early morning ride to Anacortes. Next time.

Thursday was a scorcher, and we ate in air conditioned splendor at White Spot, a small chain. I wasn't so sure about the name but nary a neo-nazi was to be seen. The next night I was going to grill lamb chops in honor of the sheep pasture across the arterial, but the kids didn't want them. So it was steaks, and salmon for Dave whose system can't handle meat. (Poor fellow, because he used to love steaks.) I gifted them with a cheap charcoal grill, which cost nearly as much as the bag of charcoal. I generally cook over gas, and as a result the steaks I'd intended to be rare and medium were swapped. It all worked out in the end -- even the nearly well done ones tasted great. The nice thing about getting quality instead of Costco or Walmart.

After the barbecue I took the girls, Jade 14, and Kali 9, and Kalon to the theatre in Chemainus to see The Wizard of Oz. Dave stayed home to mind Cullen, as Kalon had done the previous evening. It was a very good show in a very nice professional theatre. Canada is tempting when thinking of working in theatre. You can make a living at it a little easier, and there are lovely professional theatres in small towns like Chemainus.

Saturday was even more laid back. Dave put Cullen in the stroller and we went on a two and a half hour walk. Five to six miles, likely longer. We weren't power walking, but we weren't dawdling either. Longest walk since I broke my leg, and it felt good. My knee was a little tender, but it is nice to feel so much better. I didn't even think about it being a long walk on my recovering leg until we were done. Good. Dave's mom who lives in the downstairs apartment cooked up our dinner on Saturday.

Then up early on Sunday, and back to Victoria where Dave and I had breakfast before I checked in.

Shit, shyte, SHIT! I just got a call from Robin at Freehold and was offered a position in ETI. I have until Friday to make up my mind. I told her my concern, that they had passed over me maybe because I wasn't professionally ready for the commitment. No, they'd talked about it and I would not have been wait listed if I wasn't ready. It's surprising to me that I asked the question -- didn't have the confidence to do so a few short years ago. Well folks, I've still some heavy thinking to do the next few days. Maybe it is a good thing, forcing me to think about it a bit before committing, as well as experiencing the let down when I thought I wouldn't be offered a slot.

Keep me in your thoughts in whatever spiritual or non-spiritual way works for you. If you've seen me and have any professional thoughts now is the time I could use them. I don't want to simply say yes because I want the training and get in over my head, and don't want to say no and cut off my nose to spite my face. Right now, I'm strongly leaning towards accepting.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Wading

I haven't heard back about ETI yet. I'd expected to by now, and am wondering if they have enough candidates. I'm still in that odd place where I'll be happy either way, with getting the training this year or waiting and having a life this year. I much prefer starting this year, but I can't get worked up in any way with worry should I not be accepted.

The Shakespeare Intensive which was to start yesterday, was postponed until Wednesday because the instructor was down with the flu. We'll figure out how to make up the Sunday and Monday classes when we meet. Personally, I'd like to make up the time during the last week or two as we prepare for the one performance at Volunteer Park.

This week feels like it will be laid back. Good. I need to decompress. I don't want to decompress, and if you knew me before 1999 you'd know how fucking weird that sounds. I'm going to read more scripts, work on a book or two, and eat a fancy dinner out. I don't know where, when, or whether I'll be alone. I want to be with someone, but I don't feel the impetus to spend the infinitesimal energy to ask people. It'd be peaceful to eat alone, but then I might not go out to dinner.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Food For The Body and Soul

Monday after work I made a variation on gazpacho. Having a number of veggies and herbs from the veggie co-op, I ran what I had through the food processor. I want to remember so I'm writing it down here. It's not as good as the turnip/beet/potato salad I made last year, but after forgetting what I did.

Lots of zucchini, a few yellow neck summer squash. Green onions, a big sweet onion. Fresh basil, cilantro, parsley, and dill. And some old dried dill (I forgot I had the fresh stuff). Basalmic vinegar, salt, fresh ground gourmet pepper, and honey.

So there wasn't much cucumber, and I usually forgo the tomatoes. I used just a touch more vinegar than I would had I used cukes instead of zucchini, because they don't have as much flavor. Something was missing, and I thought a little honey would do the trick. It did, and I think it came out rather nice.

Trina, my scene partner from the final Meisner scenes was one of my fellow auditioners on Sunday. She paid me and The Cherry Orchard the nicest compliment. She said our show was a bit slow the first half, but it developed so nicely she liked it even better than the Three Sisters. She was more drawn in and connected with the characters better. I consider that high praise as I saw Three Sisters myself, and thought it extremely well done. She really liked my work with the different characters too. My goal was to have someone tell me they saw totally different characters, not the same guy playing another role. I got two. (Thank you Rachel!)

I thought of that again today because I renewed my subscription for the Seattle Opera this year. Sounds like a tenuous connection you say? I chatted with the salesperson for quite a while about what we do outside the day jobs and what we like to watch. He is an avid fan and prefers classic operas done in a classic manner. We got to chatting and he told me it was ironic that his favorite opera of all time was Mourning Becomes Electra, which was a modern adaptation and production and directed by Bart Sher, the Artistic Director of the Intiman (and Assistant Directed by Rachel -- it's a small world). He liked the tightness, structure, choreography/blocking, etc. I admire Bart Sher a great deal, and regret I didn't get to see this one.

That wouldn't happen this year. I vacillated about getting tickets again. I'll be busy, and may run into financial hardships if accepted for ETI. Then I remembered the magic. I'll need to see something where I can totally escape from my day job and (dramatic) theatre and this is the ticket. Lots of pomp and circumstance and art. I'll find a way to get to those respites. Once I committed, I have started looking forward to them already. Even without ETI I'm going to try to really stretch this year. Better not break another freakin' leg!

Monday, July 18, 2005

Dunno

The audition yesterday. We started with movement work, getting well warmed up, which included physical improv. It was rather fun. Then on to paired improvs. We were split into two groups, and each group given different circumstances. Then we waited in different areas. I was in group B, and was called third or fourth to work with the mystery guest from group A. That was fun too. Then the monologues, the part which terrified me.

I was in the middle of the list. I tend to volunteer first or last, and wonder if that had anything to do with my place in the list, as I've studied quite a bit with two of the three auditors, George and Robin. I went in and did my modern monologue, and waited for the inevitable direction and playing I was expecting after talking to Gregory and attending the two informational sessions on the Ensemble Training Intensive (ETI). "Thank you. Do you have any questions?" Oh shit, It wasn't inevitable after all.

I had a Friar Lawrence monologue prepared, and I almost asked, "Can I do my classic monologue now?" I figured that would make me feel an idiot, and since it was optional and I wasn't as confident about it I said, "No." then added, "When will we hear back?" Damn, my first cattle call type audition and I muffed it. The nice thing, which will be important to remember was I lost my butterflies when I walked into the room. Next time I'll also want to remember to take a deep centering breath before I launch.

Other people had a similar experience, and we were rather bemused. I have absolutely no idea how I did. At least I'm not alone in that. There were 18 auditioners, for I believe, 16 slots. I liked the chemistry of the whole group and would love to work with all (or sixteen) of them. In a week we'll know. Logically I know I've a good chance. Personally, I just don't know. That actor voice tells me, "You sucked." Well, I know that is not true. I could have done a Hell of a lot better. I could have done a whole Hell of a lot worse. Thanks to Paula and Jessica for the search and prep work. The experience I've had, Meisner perhaps the most significant, made a huge difference. I know what I am capable of and how to move that way. Two years ago when I was applying for the Meisner Progression, I could not have touched what I did yesterday. I'm not sure I could actually visualize myself doing it.

It's an interesting place. I was nervous as never before in theatre for that monologue. I got in the room moved a chair, and did it. Did I rush? Did I fail to change? Was my intention clear? Well that's gone from my awareness too. I know I'll be happy with either answer. I'm ready to make the commitment for ETI (Ensemble Training Intensive) now. There are other things I would like to work on this year as well, so I certainly won't be kicking my heals doing nothing.

For now it is out of my hands, and I'm relaxed. I have nothing this week, except a couple days of vacation when I'll visit my friends, Dave, Kalon, and kids on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. My Shakespeare Intensive class starts on Sunday at 5PM, and by then I'll probably be rarin' to go again. Short breaks from theatre are about all I can take. Though, if I get into ETI, I'll probably want two, or maybe even three weeks respite after that.

It feels good to be at ease, though down deep I'm chomping at the bit to get into the Shakespeare Intensive. Right now, work is still crazy and I've been in reactive mode for several weeks. I can hardly wait until this project is done. Lots of stuff I want to fix or make better. More chomping.

Oh my God. I just got a letter back from the Seattle Times letter editor. They're planning on printing the letter I sent in Friday in tomorrow's paper. A satire, and once I find it I'll post the link and text. And surprise, surprise, surprise. It's a political barb.

Wagging the bulldog

Former friend now faux

Iraq has been such a roaring success, George Bush and his planners have decided to exact the same style vengeance for the London bombings.

In the name of consistency, strong leadership and Republican morality, intelligence is now being compiled and invasion plans drafted. We must deal with that most heinous supporter of al-Qaida, builder of WMD, and breeding ground for terrorists. Luxembourg!

Don't forget, you must approve this course of action. In the words of Bush and his revered role models, You're with us or your against us!

— Scott Maddock, Redmond
The typo, I'd hoped would like a typical Bushism, but it doesn't play that way. Oh, well.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Hiya'

Mild vent earlier today. Now on the brighter side.

On my way home from the chiropractor in Issaquah last night I had a relaxing ride, heading up to Woodinville to pick up my share of last week's veggies. More gazpacho. I was feeling good, the remnants of rush hour traffic only making me slow enough to enjoy the sights. No hurry, though I did zoom some corners nicely when there were no cars in front of me.

I was waiting at the light at the end of Lake Sammamish when I noticed the occupants of the car behind me. A couple, the fellow probably five or ten years older than I, the woman about my age maybe five years younger. The man was having an intense, and it looked like a yelling, argument on the phone. The woman looked well practiced with the situation. Stony faced, looking out the window to the side away from her companion.

Sitting there I thought to myself, I should gesture to the lady, offering her a ride on the motorcycle. I didn't. But I couldn't help but think to myself, what a great way to begin a movie. I guess all I need is the rest of the story. And there could be 100's of great stories. That would be a fun project, especially if my bike and I could star! That was going through my mind as I was musing over the different experiences the three of us had. One a man making himself angrier, putting himself in a foul mood he'd be sharing with everyone near him. The woman trying to tune out the same old screaming, knowing she'd soon be trying to calm or deflect his anger. The guy on the motorbike, delighting in waving at children and young teens when they look at the guy on the rumbling pretty red and cream motorcycle.

People traveling the same way, probably for not dissimilar reasons, and widely different experiences. How often have I been the foul person shitting upon those around me? Been there, done that, tired of that there way. I certainly like being the jolly fellow waving at kids (and their moms) a lot more. Today has been trying at work and I'm going to have a nice ride home, have fun with my monologue homework and watch a fun movie. And think about the woman in the car with the jerk. Should I have made the gesture, and risked watching her man stroke out in the seat next to her? Probably not. Should I add it to my writer's toolbox for that distant day when I start writing again? Definitely.

I was thinking about my second Bachelor of Science. Aside from a history and a political science credit I needed to graduate from Armstrong, which is in the same system as Georgia Tech, all I needed were the mathematics and computer science courses. I decided I'd CLEP the history and political science (these are tests which can exempt you from classes if you demonstrate the necessary knowledge). The preparation packages were terribly overpriced and vague, so I figured I'd take the test so I would really know what to study. That cost about $60, as opposed to $1000 to get packages for both tests. In the back of my mind was the possibility I'd pass by the skin of my teeth. I did embarrassingly well taking the tests cold. Not for me, but for the state of education. Even the A- and B+ (or was it B- and C+ ?) didn't matter since the grades didn't count. I was excited, because that meant I wouldn't have take the things again to maintain the Summa Cum Laude level I was so proud of at the time. My first degree was with honors (Cum Laude) but I wasn't particularly proud of that because I was a slacker a decade ahead of time. The second degree interested me, and I worked for it.

Back to my thought. I have the same feeling right now. I may do fine on Sunday and get accepted into the Ensemble Training Intensive. If not, it will have been a very good prep, and free. The stakes are still high for me, but knowing it is also prep for other things or the next ETI creates a healthy perspective for me. It prevents me from terrifying myself out of doing my best. Does this make sense to anyone? Or am I the only person who constantly cons myself?

Those are some of my prep tools. Put the stakes in perspective so I don't blow it off or blow myself up. Choose to be in good spirits, and wave at children and their parents. The other types of prep are, I hope, pretty standard for the craft.

I Am Not A Crook: The Sequel (Or The Bastards Need a Big Time OUT)

You think Rove will squirm out of consequences for his actions once again? How about Delay? Etc. Rove actually had the gall to claim the leaked information came from the media. Yeah, right the deputy chief of staff gets his classified briefings from reporters. It is the traditional gop tactic of blaming others for the very depredations they commit, though they usually blame the so-called liberals first. It gives them blaming dibs, like a schoolyard bully. "You can't accuse us of X", they say, "because we already accused you!"

It is my observation today's conservatives revel in corruption. Partly because it irritates moderate and progressive people, but mostly for corruption's own sake. Seeing their leaders get away with blatant corruption must give them a johnson of epic proportions, in the hope they may get away with their own little dirty dealings.

It has been obvious since before the election w and his cronies are utterly corrupt, and all the conservatives can do is joke about it. The crooks in the whitehouse are proud of their abuse, and not only do they expect to be worshipped for it, they actually are. Rove didn't explicitly name Plame, Delay has only been indicted, etc. Conservatives lightly stifle their vicious little laughs behind grasping little hands.

Meanwhile our troops are dying. They are forgotten when they come home. Benefits are reduced. The occasional sycophant in uniform makes a pro-administration comment or letter to the editor and the conservatives go all orgasmic. Anyone remember the soldier who spoke out against the war, both it's justification and execution, in the early months of the war? The next day's news was about his court-martial. You can't have it both ways in a free society. I was a combatant in the Gulf War, and NONE of us were allowed to speak out about policy, pro or con. Different ethic today, or should I say lack thereof?

I and all the actual combat veterans I have talked to personally have opposed this war from the outset and the deeply entrenched and institionalized double standard invoked by this administration.
1) Soldiers may speak out on the Iraq policy, but only when it agrees with the administration.
2) Enlisted men are convicted for torture, and the instigators from the AG on down are rewarded.
3) Invoke supporting the troops, and take away veteran's benefits.
4) Invoke supporting the troops, and prohibit respectful photos indicative of the death toll.
5) Invoke supporting the troops, and give all the plum jobs to overpaid contractors.
6) Invoke supporting the troops, and give all the safe jobs to overpaid contractors.
7) Invoke supporting the troops, and extend them involuntarily over and over.
8) Invoke supporting the troops, and redeploy them with insufficient down time.
9) Invoke supporting the troops, and smear anyone who speaks on their behalf.

I pray Rove's comeuppance is only the beginning and his role in trying to obfuscate the yellow cake fantasy is the first of many threads to unravel. I also pray the poor planning, incompetent high level execution, and ridiculousness of the war will finally come to light.

We may not have the courage to examine our role in encouraging terrorists, but that cowardice need not carry to the point of destroying an entire country and creating ten times the motivation and a hundred times the number of terrorists to strike back than there were before 9/11.

The Blair Bush Project certainly has quantifiable results now.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Things That Go Bump In the Night

It was at once harder and more fun than I thought it would be. It was like a review of my class last year, working with Paula who in addition to directing and lots of experience, has done Meisner and the Instrument Training Intensive at Freehold. I've been reviewing my notes in order, getting farther for each show. This was sort of a needed jump ahead. It was quite fun and worthy because of that. I'd done some of the work, and my focus was improved there, and was reminded of other aspects I'd I'd not yet reviewed for prep. Getting together before I was ready wasn't all bad. I'll have a much richer base from which to continue preparing.

It is very strange for me. I've never really had to prepare a monologue for an audition. I've gone to auditions which weren't looking for prepared monologues, or been cast without an audition. I've a couple audition pieces I've learned, and used them in different auditions where monologues were optional. I've not tried to prepare an audition piece since completing Meisner. I was just getting started when I broke my leg, and everything was on hold for a bit, then straight into The Cherry Orchard. Now here I am in an audition with the highest stakes yet preparing monologues. It's all so exciting, I feel like heaving or sleeping.

I'm working to get something ready. I'm terrible, and much less so now thanks to Paula. I'm thinking it may be great practice for the next ETI (Ensemble Training Intensive) audition. Paula doesn't think I'm that sucky, so here's to hoping it's simply actor anxiety.

I was nervous, so I didn't eat before meeting Paula at 8 PM. Didn't bring anything to snack on either. The last fifteen minutes I just wanted to stop and go get food. My stomache was churning and knocking like my car in high school. Luckily Paula wouldn't let me stop, and I think that was we did the most important work of the evening. I thanked her profusely for not throwing my motorcycle boots at me.

Tonight is Steve's birthday, so I'll be seeing he and Paula tonight at the Elysian for dinner shortly. Lately I've been seeing friends in batches. Did a couple things with Beth about a month ago, the last couple weeks I've been to several shows with Rachel, and this week I'll be seeing Steve and Paula a lot. After the audition on Sunday I'll be heading to their wedding shower. Paula and I might get together for another Scott Fright Night this week. Now that we've worked once, it won't be quite so scary. The added apprehension of working like that for a close friend is still there. And all of the above (except Steve who had another gig) made it out for my last show.

So, I may not be sanguine about my chances of getting into ETI. Perhaps that is the best attitude for me, regardless. It tells me I want to get in the program, and won't let me stop preparing. I'm feeling damn pretty lucky all the same. I can't remember what life was like without a big circle of friends. Or rather, I don't want to remember. (Unless, of course, it will help with a role.)

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Jumping In

Golly. I was exhausted when I got home yesterday. Still, I walked around the track four or five times. I live across the street from a junior high, so there is a decent track a short walk from my front door. I brought along a copy of the Shakespeare monologue, which was memorized to the point where I could remember it with a little thought. So I walked around the track several times deliberately stressing the even syllables when my right foot hit the ground. I recited quietly, but with my voice open wide, so as to not bother all the other folks using the track while not building the habit of holding back my voice. The last lap or two I simply ran the lines, and the modern monologue as well.

Even after the low key exercise I was still beat. I decided that a good night's rest would prepare me better for audition coaching than text analysis. I postponed my chiropractor appoint for this afternoon, which should give me a little more time to do some analysis before Paula and I go to work tonight. At least I finally feel a little more alert.

I received a call from Freehold while I was riding in to work morning. I checked my voice mail and I've gotten over the first hurdle. I'm invited to the Ensemble Training Intensive audition from Noon until 5PM on Sunday. I'm to wear clothes I can move in. For me that is comfy jeans with suspenders. We'll be doing group improv, paired improv, and individual auditions with the monologues. I'm excited, and asking myself at the same time, "What the Hell have I gotten myself into?" I'm scared, and very pleased about it.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Let The Sun Shine In

It is cold in my office today. After our final show yesterday afternoon I got out my clippers which I preset in the theater, and went to work. Huge fluffy beard all gone. Hair in need of a trim, all gone. It is a lovely clean feeling. The mustache is still present and thick, but not so bushy that it is a part of my meal. The bare head makes the office feel even cooler.

I'm going to work with Paula on my monologues tomorrow. Damn. I'd hoped for Wednesday or Thursday, but wedding planning and picking up her mom from the airport have priority. You see, I've one piece down cold, the other should be tonight, but I'd hoped to work more with physicality, analysis and such beforehand. Well, last minute beggars can't be choosy.

The last week of The Cherry Orchard was sublime. On Friday, two people missed the call for places after intermission. Or three, if you include the stage manager who missed one of the actor hangouts for the first time. (I'm so grateful none of the shows I've worked on as stage manager had more actors than dressing room and green room space could accommodate!) The top of the third act after intermission starts off pretty fun, and it was hysterical because of the improvising around the missing characters. It didn't affect my scene partner and myself directly, but we were certainly caught up in the event. I thought it injected extra life and energy which was amazing and carried through the rest of the weekend. My roommate Aaron taped that show for us, so it will be interesting taking a look. He didn't know anything was amiss while he was watching from the seats.

It's always a bittersweet time. The time commitment of the show is over, and extra time will be available again, though never as much as I claim. And of course, never again will you be in that show. By the time I had my head and face nearly shaved -- the clippers can only get so close -- the set was gone, with the last few items in differing stages of disassembly. I stayed and helped with some heavy items. Luckily there was no running needed.

I've helped strike sets as an actor before, and this time it was a little unpleasant when I looked at the whole stage. It was fine when I focused on the piece of wood or furniture at hand, but it was icky looking at the whole space. I suspect I'm more invested in the show than in the past, as a result of moving more of that training from the class to the stage. That is good, but it makes striking a little tougher when I'm in the cast. I've got lots more work to bring the training I received last year to the stage, and I expect it will last through and past ETI, when I'll get lots more things to work on.

They had some young volunteers helping, the teens taking a class and getting ready to put up their show I suspect. It was a blessing because I didn't want to stay any longer once I'd helped with the awkward heavy things. I went and met the rest of the folks that weren't otherwise occupied at Duke's chowder house.

Next time I'm crew or staff, I'll make an extra effort to spare the actors if strike is immediately after the final curtain call. Even with my small roles, there was lots of prep and a real sadness at bidding my characters adieu. I felt drained terribly yesterday, and it is a little hard to write about. This has been a surprise to me.

G'night my friends. My work at the day job is done, I've some homework to attempt before meeting up with Paula tomorrow, and I need sleep. Meeting up with Paula, one of my best friends in the world for monologue coaching scares me, even thinking about it. My emotions are all over the place right now, though somehow muted. Thank the stars for small favors.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Post Holiday Post

The 4th of July was a nice day for me. Did some work on the modern monologue, then popped over to my friend Wayne's house to pick up some produce. Wayne, Kate, and I share an organic co-op for veggies. We chatted a bit then I was off to my brother's house. We had a communication snafu, and he thought I wasn't coming by until later if at all, and I'd planned to come on out for their whole deal. He told me they were starting at 2PM. I should have checked with the boss, the ultimate coordinator.

So I got there a little early and socialized a bit, and was of little use. So, I found a table where I could be out of the way in the shade on the deck, and worked on text analysis, figuring out my beats and key words. Actions and intentions will be next. Then people started arriving. My folks arrived, along with Joyce's son (my stepbrother) and family visiting from Chicago.

It was a great time, with lots more of Tonia and Eric's friends arriving throughout the day. They put up one Hell of a spread, and could have fed a hundred people. I think I know who is going to be eating a mix outstanding, exotic, and ethnic barbecue foods for a while. Charlie their Australian Shepherd Dog made me a bit uneasy. He's a firework hound, and charges any firework, especially the louder ones. Luckily he returns when called so he was kept from fireworks which might hurt him badly. Still, it made me a little uneasy. Despite my minor worry, no injuries or mishaps occurred, and a fantastic time was had by all.

There were numerous other parties I wanted to go to, and the one I was going to go to on the way to Eric and Tonia's was postponed until the 31st for a move. Ah, it is frustrating, not being able to do everything you want. Better than feeling like nothing you want is available!

Last week I was standing next to a conversation where one of the actors was going about how he felt his work was not up to snuff, and how the entire show was not quite clicking. Maybe, maybe not. Absolutely not an appropriate or helpful thing to moan on about backstage, especially to a very young actor. I broke the mood intentionally with something like, "Well it's that bastard Scott! He can't do anything right. Can't even do the same thing wrong twice in a row. Let's get him." I've felt that way about shows, and I believe "Silence is golden." If you feel things are dicked up, do what you can about it and don't worry about what you can't fix. Sounds like AA, huh? If you struggle to improve your own work, the worst case is that it won't help anyone else, but you still might breathe more life into your scenes. Isn't that what you should be trying to do with every scene, for every performance anyway? It is hard, maybe striving 100% isn't reasonable. It's a good target though. Even an ace misses the black once in a while, but he still breathes and pulls the trigger. Maybe not correctly, but he won't ever get close without that minimal effort.

Grrr.

Tuesday night I picked up organic heavy cream and whole milk, eggs, sugar, vanilla beans, and rock salt. Cooked up a storm, and last night picked up some shaved ice from Larry's Market to go with the salt. I like the simple recipe for a slightly custardy vanilla ice cream, and make a big batch. Instead of vanilla extract I put in 2/3 of a vanilla bean and two shots of very nice bourbon, for a strong vanilla flavor. Oh my God. It is so evil, I nearly failed to resist taking more than a taste, well two or three tastes. And my beard was trashed when I cleaned the paddles and such. I bought 15 of the disposable containers, each just under a pint and will pack them with home made ice cream. I didn't give people gifts or cards on opening night. For some reason I never think of that until someone hands me a nice gift. I like to give something towards the end of the run. So, I'll have a nice little card, and dessert for folks on Saturday or Sunday waiting in the backstage freezer. I checked the fridge and the freezer compartment is blissfully empty. For now.

I am saddened by the attack in London. I'll not vent exhaustively about it now. I will apologize for our president's policy which brought this on, by creating more motivation, operatives, and capability for terrorists. I also pray he'll wait a decent interval before saying he told us so, and how we need to get more blindly aggressive against people who had nothing to do with the attack. I very strongly suspect we'll see more attacks against the US and UK. Damn.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

The Waters Clear A Bit

Last Thursday I dashed out of the theatre as soon as my last bit was done, skipping the curtain call so I could get to Freehold for the end of year scenes for the Meisner Progression. In particular I wanted to see my friend Greg's scene. We chatted last Summer about the program and I told him the good, the bad, and the ugly from my perspective, which was a pretty strong endorsement of the program. (We're still friends too!)

I was struck by several things, including a personal epiphany of sorts regarding the Ensemble Training Intensive (ETI). I wrote a long bit last Friday, which I didn't have time to proof over the weekend, so I thought I'd start fresh with a more gelled and, I hope, concise exploration.

I saw the last two scenes, and Greg was in the last. The first one I saw, it took the actors a minute or so to connect, then bam, it was a very intense, engaging, and deep piece. Greg started intense, connected, and deep, and they stayed there. I was stunned, and made a compliment which was sincere, and not something I can post here. A strange thing. As we were waiting for the next to last scene (the first scene for me), I found myself reliving some of the intense emotional upheaval I experienced one year ago.

While watching this amazing work I was struck, realizing this was what we did only 364 days before. It was during the scenes and on my ride home afterwards I had and chewed on an epiphany. I finally decided a month ago I wanted to do the ETI program because I crave more ensemble work and want to move forward in the craft. Wasn't quite sure why, except I expect to enjoy the experience and what it will bring me, and figure I need some classical training.

I have the training for the deeply connected work I saw last Thursday, and strive to bring more of it into my work with each production. A small part of the Meisner training helped us bring that to the audience. The voice and physical training offered in ETI will help to bring that beautifully connected work to the audience much more. In looking back on nearly every show I've seen or been in, I've found that there are many actors who are very strong in one aspect or the other, and the actors who stand out are those with a balance. The actor who is deeply connected and can bring that experience to the back row of the house as well as the front row.

I still feel I have a long way to go in bringing the Meisner training to my work. I'm not running down my progress. Heck, I find it exciting to experience the growth, and am jazzed knowing how much more I can do with further practice. It brings me all the way back to my original concern this Spring and Winter when I was debating whether to apply for ETI. If I wait until I'm satisfied with my listening and connection skills to pursue classical training I will likely have been dead and cold for quite a while. The doubt was that left/right brain contention which creeps into every corner of my being. Bottom line, pursuing classical training and skills will not stop my striving along more methody lines, and if anything it will help the struggle to bring that connection and truth into my work.

For some roles, a costume piece or shoes help me find the character, others animal work or daydreaming and imagery. It's never the same. The old inside out, vs inside out debate. Hey whatever works today is what I prefer. The more tools the better, and thus far none of them have been exclusive. I feel every class or production has built and expanded on what I've done so far.

Writing it down misses something. The clarity. The sudden thunderclap realization. Now is the time to start trying for ETI, and if I get in great, if not prepare for the next time it is offered or find similar training elsewhere. The thunderclap was a final distillation of two questions which I'd agonized over and had already decided on, but hadn't really focused on the why. Yes, I am ready to do this because it won't cause me to lose or stunt the ongoing growth from previous training and experience. And I know what it is I expect out of the training.

The clarity of purpose and desire has made a difference. I'm working on a couple monologue pieces for the audition, not my typical put things off to the last minute. Well shit, I feel like it is already the last hour though. Will it be enough? We'll see...