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.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Sailing the DN Undauntless

We're doing great work. Why does it surprise us. People's families and friends and the rest of the audiences have been wowed. Tony Pasqualini who joined us to play Shylock, and was one of the founders of Freehold has his family up here visiting too, and they are catching up with old friends. After opening night his family, especially his teens, were extremely taken with the show. He said he was a little surprised as they got into such a lively discussion about the play and it's themes. More than other productions he has worked on, so we are communicating.

Some of my best friends were there last night. Bob and Mary, Wayne and Pam, and Rachel. Bob was my manager for the third contract I had at Microsoft, starting July of 1998 (or was it '97?). The last six months of that contract Wayne joined our group, and we shared an office. We and several others from that group have remained very good friends since. Happily, Bob is starting work in my group at Expedia about the same time my leave of absence is up (more on that later). They really enjoyed the show, and as it was Shakespeare and only one of them had seen the play before, it was gratifying they really got it. People who have seen the play, or are familiar with Shakespeare would get a lot, but to have people who don't see Shakespeare as often really get it and enjoy it is great praise.

Rachel, who many of you bloggers already know, I met in the Winter of 2001 when I took my third acting class at Bellevue Community College. I went on to take her classes for several years. So, I had long time friends from both sides of my life at the same show. Those with a casual relationship to theatre, and Rachel with a professional relationship. She told me I was developing in a way that reminded her of a local professional actor -- my favorite local actor. That literally took my breath away.

Steve and Paula were at the opening on Thursday, and Steve commented on how great it has been to watch me grow in the training, as by the time he'd met Paula she was already quite accomplished. We met in 2002, as I was getting ready to pursue intermediate training, having taken lots of beginning classes. For me it was another very meaningful and personal compliment, reinforced by Greg's comment the following night.

I am (painfully) aware of lots of areas I need to work hard on to improve. I still feel like a rank beginner, but these different comments and compliments help keep me going. I am making headway, heck, maybe even a lot. It occurred to me as I was warming up on Friday that I wasn't thinking of Shakespeare in terms of how to get the verse and prose correct. The text feels plain and clear. The work of the year has gotten me to a point, at least for the roles I have in The Merchant Of Venice, where the language is comfortable and as natural feeling as any modern play I've worked on. The challenge is to be able to maintain the level of text analysis which allows for this, while moving forward on and assimilating everything else. Hell, I don't even feel like I've assimilated more than half of what I did in Meisner two years ago. Once again it is daunting, which makes it all the more exciting. Not many easy things are exciting. Landing on the moon, the early crossings of the ocean, and the early crossings of the continent. If they had not been daunting, they would not have been exciting either.

Here's to hoping you find that which daunts you.

PS - DN = Double Negative

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Still Kicking

Nearly three weeks since I posted. We're half way through the mainstage portion of The Merchant Of Venice. It's been harrowing. Lots of development and ensemble work, and wondering when we'd actually start running the damned play. Blocking, cuts, uncuts, and such going on day to day never seeming to slow down. A week and a half from opening, we finally run the play. Then back to working and changing acts. At least it was bigger chunks than scenes. Making changes opening night, and again tonight.

During the last week of rehearsal it occurred to me this was likely the plan all along. That our ensemble nature, and the intensive training made us able to respond to this kind of process. All of us had worked shows where much more time was needed running the show to get the rehearsal done. It seems the tools we've built this year, which are nowhere near assimilated, are still enough that we have been able to respond and adjust. We were able to spend more time developing the show itself, and less time developing the actors.

We are extremely happy with how the show is going. Full (or nearly so) houses, and terrific responses. Not a one of us is close to satisfied with our work, so it is likely to continue improving. Then on the road to the prisons, hospital, low income housing (traditional and tent city), where we'll also have to assemble and disassemble the stage for each show. It's hard and sad to believe it will come to an end so soon.

Tonight I got especially nice and sincere compliments from a good friend, director, and lead musician. They are particularly meaningful, as I was painfully aware of things I wished I'd done better. For all intents and purposes this is a professional production, and Shakespeare to boot. More than anything I wanted to not screw it up. To acquit myself well was hoped for, but not expected. I still want to do a Hell of a lot better.

G'night my friends. More later.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Folks, One and One Is Still Two

Now, it’s time for some political thoughts.

Fatherland Secrecy Pay Offs

Getting off the gravy train or conservative reprisals? DC and New York are getting less anti-terror money from Fatherland Secrecy. Chertoff, who comes off most times as a talking head made a couple points which make sense. The problem is, while I would like to believe it, he has no more credibility than anyone with the w stain.

His points were that last year's grant was a one time adjustment because there wasn't enough the previous year. Okay, I can nearly buy that part of it. The second point was places like New York and DC are the highest priorities to address, and once they have a handle on them money can start going to other lower priority entities that have real risk too. Okay, I can nearly buy that part of it too.

Why do I have trouble? We have been thoroughly conditioned to expect misinformation and outright lies from the bush administration. New York, Boston, and DC are seeing large decreases and places like Omaha large increases. Two political considerations jump out at me. First the obvious, that it seems to be the so-called blue areas which are getting cuts. Second, if Fatherland Secrecy thought the money was truly reducing terrorist threats how likely would they be to cut funding to DC, where they live? Doh! Could it be anymore obvious this is pork barrel politics for those who are obedient to the fear mongers, more commonly known in the media as republicans or the defendants?

Dictator In Chief

The more I think about the executive branch (DOJ) search of Jefferson’s office the more troubled I am. It is the same reduction to absurdity as the forced DNA sampling of the entire population to help catch bad guys. We have many examples. Who thinks congressmen should be above the law? Besides congressmen? Who thinks the president should be able to do whatever he wants to congressmen? Besides the president and other idiots.

DeLay stands accused of more serious crimes. So does Ney, and in my mind Frist too. Why is it none of these or any others have been invaded by the president's storm troopers? How about Cunningham, whom they were able to convict, shouldn't he have been treated the same as the penny ante player Jefferson?

It is another blatant case of partisan politics where they should not be seen. Jefferson certainly appears to have been caught red-handed. Video and cold cash. ;) It should be an easier conviction than Cunningham, who also had the right wing mutual protection society covering for him, and was only convicted because he was too obvious for even the conservative sycophants to stomach or ignore.

Congress and the executive branch should not be above the law, and with our current executive running amok I'd rather see our congress given too much protection than allow even the ones who are crooks to be invaded by the more corrupt and bigger crooks in the white house.

Damn Spring II

So, I archived what was my last post. Too maudlin for current postings in my mind. I've got some allergy type thing going, throat and head not quite right.

I saw a promotional production for a new theatre group, headed up by Lisa Every and John Abramson which is named "The Community Theatre." For those of you in this area, it was like the Freehold Studio Series, two sets of short works or scenes. Nice work, and surprisingly I found some of the most trained actors the most difficult to understand. Something to keep in mind for myself. It was in a large historic, good vibey, but unacousticly friendly room. Their first production will be a set of three Thornton Wilder one acts this Fall. I will make an effort to see it.

Over half the ETI folks were there and some (most?) were going out afterwards, and I bagged. Other friends were there too, I sort of sat between Steve and Paula and a bunch of the ETI folks. I just didn't feel like hanging. I was in introvert land, and wanted to go home and chill. I caught myself starting to feel in the dumps yesterday. Feeling the audition went horribly, and getting that talentless feeling. My personal incarnation of dark side of the force.

In some ways it would be so easy to withdraw again, go into the world of novels and avoid all the work, challenge, and disappointments of trying to be an actor, artist, and social animal. I'd lose so much, but there is that period of time when the blues hit that you have the false epiphany. Then one where you tell yourself you are actually making a great fool of yourself. You have no talent or gifts whatsoever, and you're just a big joke which at best makes the truly talented people feel better or have someone to get snarky about.

I think of it as bad seed, just waiting to grow into robust tare. It is so much easier to yank an objectionable weed as a seedling. I think it happens when I'm out of balance. Like so many things I've found, I defy categories, not really fitting in anywhere. By inclination I'm an introvert, and lived as one most of my life. Genetics or environment? Let the dweebs figure that one out. It is not an altogether healthy place. I act as an extrovert now, but not all the time. I find a desire once in a while to just curl back into my private world for a bit.

I'm at the withdrawal point now. It doesn't hamper me, keep me away from rehearsal or anything like that. It's simply that I need some chill time. I think I realized last week when I started reading a few pages in the evening, and the urge to get back to working on some scripts again pesters me. Kind of ignoring it over the last week or two, I got the blues which I'm guessing is a signal to find a balance. I get the same feeling when I'm introverted for too long. I'm surprised to find I still need to get back to introverted land, and that the reactions which tell me so are the same ones which tell me to get into a more extroverted mode.

Go figure. I'll honor it, just get back to my kitchen and characters and see who calls.

PS - I just got invited to dinner for tomorrow. What you need is sometimes beckoning.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Why Do I ...?

Okay, that was awful. I didn't get to the audition as early as I wanted. Then I was called in early, which was a surprise I appreciated. Still, I didn't get a chance to settle down and relax. I'd parked a couple blocks away. It felt lovely out, but by Seattle acclimatization it was pretty muggy. No problem in itself, but I pretty much went straight in for the audition, and the room they had set up was pretty warm. I ended up sweating profusely. Like a glass of ice water, after a tropical thunderstorm.

I think it started out well. They just wanted me to talk for a bit, which I assume served as a bit of a screen test. There was the director, producer, and executive producer who served as reader, and I jabber pretty well with a small group like that. No idea how I play on a camera, though I've always thought I didn't come across well. On the one short film I did several years ago, I've had several people who I admire and trust tell me I was the high point of the film. Maybe they were being kind, or maybe I film better than I think.

It was a juicy character, who is a little nutty. Talking schizophrenic paranoid nonsense. I've seen people talk that way. I worked on it for a bit last night, and found something pretty fun when I used some accents, especially southern. It was all gone this morning. Partly because I was sitting, which feels very strange to me now, and doesn't serve me well. Partly I couldn't find the character I'd started creating last night. I should have tried the southern accent, as that helped with character. I didn't because it needs brushing up, and is terrible. Wrong choice I suspect. I didn't try to play crazy, which was a good choice. I was serious about the whacked out things I was saying. More character and voice work would have done the rest, as I didn't make the character pop. And partly, perhaps mostly, it was an audition.

They were nice folks and I had a good time, and got some valuable experience. I'd love to work on the film, but I'd be quite surprised if I even get a call back. Next time. I know next to nothing about camera work, and now I know a tiny bit more.

And next time I audition for anything I'll plan on arriving an hour early, instead of 15-30 minutes early. I want to avoid another situation like today where I get delayed, am only ten minutes early, and I'm called early.

I saw King John again on Thursday. A number of my classmates saw it as well, and they felt the same way as I. I only promote a show like this in which I'm not directly affiliated, every couple years. Let's see, I see over fifty productions a year, so that is less than 1% of the time. It's also the first time I've seen a show more than once in several years. I wonder why I bother. I don't think anyone has ever taken me up on the advice. Actually, I do know why I bother. I can't imagine not telling people about a show which is so wonderful. Since 2000, I have promoted two other shows in this way. R. Buckminster Fuller in 2001 and Exchange Theatre's Journey's End in 2003.

Likely nobody will see King John on my recommendation, but I was happy to see the theatre had a good house on Thursday. I plan on making a donation to the company, in hopes they will do more of this kind of work. I doubt they will create something that grabs me this much any time soon, but I'd certainly expect more superior work. Thus, it is a company I want to support. I don't know if they'll stick with all-female casts, but if that is part of their charter it is less awkward for me. I worry about making donations to companies I'd like audition for.