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, April 28, 2006

Just A Moment

We had a decent audience for opening last night. The theater was just under half full, between thirty and forty folks maybe. Enough that it looked like it was full of people and not empty seats. We did some Meisner work for warm up, and that really helps. I even managed to get out of my own way a bit. I had fun, and as they say, I was in the moment at times. I'd like to go deeper more consistently. Still this was the first time I'd really felt that way doing Shakespeare.

All we had for class this morning was stage combat. My lunch is cooking, and after that I'm catching a nap and doing more imagination homework. I'm really looking forward to this evening, still feeling a little tired from yesterday. The only feedback John gave us was to forget about the words. In my class journal I talked about letting go of the homework. All the technical things we do to understand and communicate the layered meanings of heightened text. People don't really want to hear your homework. It may be clearer and more engaging than the flat readings we've all seen in all too many Shakespeare productions, but they want more.

Part of getting into the world, really playing there, is letting go of the words/homework. Once you have a real connection with your partner, the homework and the connection work together to create rising action, personal stakes, intention, etc. I got a hint of it last night. I want more. I expect the audience does to.

I've felt this in other plays. But, well, this is Shakespeare... There is the tradition and the culture behind Shakespeare. The power of the words is amazing. Otherwise you wouldn't have brilliant people still analyzing and embracing it for their entire life 400 years later. I look forward to taking this work to other Shakespeare productions, other classical works, and modern works too. It was so good to have a glimpse of where this work can take me as it assimilates.

When you learn to program, the knowledge is there. Then comes experience where you learn shortcuts and better ways of writing code, but it doesn't substantially change. There is a sense of building something, but not a lot of art, except in your style and approach. Learning to fly is very technical as well. Once you have the knowledge, you develop the physical skills. There is art in there, and it must be carefully and closely harnessed, so you don't become a smoking hole. It is intoxicating. Surrounded by blue sky, cutting through the air, banking to skew your view of the world, the beauty of the world from above.

In theatre the learning is not technical. Even classical training. Especially. You work on physical movement, and hitting the mark is not so important as the journey. You work on voice and speech where volume and articulation are not so important as the connection, which the technical skills simply serve to help communicate. As you practice you constantly struggle to break out of the harness.

As I've droned before, I was a model pre-med student. I was a good naval officer and aviator. I am a very good programmer. They are finite paths. I'm thinking of Rachel's recent posts, because I change direction so often. Whether I become a master in these fields doesn't matter -- I can't follow through that far. There is a point where it simply becomes more of the same for me. The only reason I am still programming, and enjoying it, is because it supports my passion, and is actually a recovery time when needed for an intense production.

Theatre. Acting. I've met people that are considered masters, but nobody I consider a master. They are amazing, brave, alive, and vibrant. I admire them in a nearly divine way. You often feel energized just being around them. I feel this is an infinite art, and mastering infinity is a ridiculous concept for me. It is the conundrum of finding the infinitely high integer (number), then just adding one to it. Once you've mastered the infinite world of theatre, what is beyond the boundary of your mastery? You could master a process, but it is your personal process, and only yours. You could master the area of endeavor which cries to your soul. You are a master. It is a subset. Don't get all huffy. It is a wonderful and 'masterful' accomplishment. Something to be very proud of.

I'm going on about me. I need a changing focus, and art allows you to change focus and continue building. It is what I have craved my whole life. Right now I can't imagine turning away from acting and theatre. It is possible and I would still live. Only if I have art. Without that there is no life for me. I was dead long enough. That experience does define me, it has to, but I've had enough of that definition.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Bouncing Off...

Well, there's lots I want to write about. Got a promotion at work. I'll be starting a leave of absence from work in two and a half weeks. Got rousted by the police as I was leaving the studio Monday night. I have notes for the last week of the academic portion of ETI and class rehearsals, which I have yet to polish and post on my class journal site, and I probably won't even post the notes for tech week. Our show, the ETI Recital opens tomorrow night. BD, Piccadilly, and Rachel have left nice comments I want to respond to.

Whew. A week, no two weeks ago I detox'd. It sounds stronger than the tame reality. My body got tired of the caffeine, liquor, herbal infusions, and excess junk food. That was a strange thing, as I alluded I wasn't really hitting anything particularly hard, except maybe the caffeine. Even that was not hard for most coffee drinkers, but four cups and a couple diet cokes in a day is a lot for me. I just get blah'd out every once in a while and stop. It wasn't premeditated, I just found myself one day realizing I hadn't been giving any time to my favorite vices for several days. I suppose with the end of the quarter coming up my mind and body craved the cleaner living I did first quarter.

When the show is done, you may find me with a double bacon cheeseburger resting on a plate on my lap, a triple shot espresso in one hand, a tall whiskey in the other, and a little herbal supplement sitting on the coffee table. It's a nice fantasy, but it doesn't appeal to me right now. I'm hoping there's nice weather on Sunday, so I can mow my front lawn after we close with our matinee. God, what's happening? Will it go away by Sunday? Someone save me from myself. The evil Scott needs a little license. He needs to get out and play. That's a lie. He needs to get out and be fucking lethargic for a little while.

Right now I am feeling better about our scene. I wrote a luke warm invite for the show to people who didn't now about it because I haven't felt good about my work lately. The soliloquy, which I love, is kicking my ass, the director has me in a black gi using a stick. I've never studied martial arts so while the clothes help me stay low and centered I wonder how much of a dufus I look like... I got a great note on the soliloquy from Robin on Sunday which is really helping me find the intention and get notes to hone it, and some of the other stuff is coming together. It finally started being fun -- I still think I may look a bit of a dufus but that thought is nowhere when I am doing it. That's one of the gifts of theatre, you get to say "screw it" and just play. Also, my scene partner and I are connecting really nicely now, which makes the rest of the scene work nicely, and makes it fun. Damn, it goes by too fast. It is a short and very dense scene. It is good to feel it goes by too fast. Makes me look forward to doing it a lot more. Hopefully we'll have good audiences through the four day run.

I should commit and write a stronger invite to some more people. I'll probably not, saving the big promotional E-mails and cards for our final project. Well now it is time to get some shut eye.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Give Someone a Happy Easter

This is a time of year when I'm briefly reminded of the good that is so deeply buried within the church, that good which so appealed to me as a child, and does so today. I'd ask you fundamentalist folks to remember who the bible says renders judgment, and ask forgiveness for usurping that role from God. I'd further ask you to serve the least of us. Whether you consider the least to be a Muslim, a destitute woman seeking abortion, a queer, or liberal sinner who truly cares about and loves others unconditionally. At the very least to consider lessening your persecution of them.

The previous was my last paragraph, but I figured on the off chance a fundamentalist stumbled onto this it should be first. I don't expect to anyone's deeply rooted hate and fear to vanish. I'd hope to maybe introduce a crack in the unrighteous facade of piety.

I heard Garry Wills on NPR several days ago. He wrote the book What Jesus Meant, which I am tempted to buy. I turned it on in the middle of the interview and was caught by his musing on the American god, who has approved of every one of our wars. This is not the God in the christian bible, and certainly not in the New Testament. There in the pages of the scripture lives an iconoclastic Jesus, who opposed war. Period.

He talked of how Jesus said (paraphrased), when you serve the least, you served him. That is the only guidance he gave on getting into heaven. Kind of gets lost in the typical modern American christian's headlong rush to judge other's as unfit for their sacred society. He discussed how businesses and politicians claim to be acting as Jesus would, when in fact there is not a one who would approve of Jesus. He was a man who challenged the powers that be, secular and religious, and the challenges apply as much today as they did in his life. Likely more so.

He reminded me of the religion I loved growing up. The one I discovered when I read the bible for myself in it's entirety, saw how it evolved from the old testament to the new, and the love, compassion and acceptance I saw as the basis of christianity. The fundamentalist attitude which has permeated the modern faith, and has swayed even the traditionally loving and open-minded sects turned me from the church. I am still turned from the church, because I simply cant abide with it's cold and judgmental approach. For me, it defines hypocrisy.

I remain estranged from the church. Yet, I have a spiritual life, which is casual in that I don't worry about man's definitions of the godhead be it the trinity or allah. Yet it is deep, in that I believe it is imperative to be your best in how you interact with the world. Good intentions are meaningless unless they find life in your actions. Unlike modern christians I don't believe in deathbed confessions or conversions. I believe in pursuing a life of good works. Whether God is truly the holy trinity or a pasta monster I do believe that is what is asked for. I don't think he/she gives a hoot how you define god. He/she does care how you live your life. So should you.

Forget about being judged. Forget old hurts. Cherish all you can. Happy Easter!

Friends

I finally remembered to call Gregory today, and left a voice mail. He called a little later from backstage, and we chatted for ten or fifteen minutes, when the stage manager called him. He's doing well, and in a high stress time as well. They have a bit over a month left, finishing up at the end of May. Their finals are faculty presentations. For example, the movement piece will be performed for the entire faculty. Wow. That would be wracking -- high stakes. There is a little part of me that likes the idea of a bigger audience. But, I'm not there and I know it would be an extremely high stress scenario.

He'll be going home at the end of the year, to work a couple jobs for the Summer. It's four or five hours from Seattle, and I hope to get out for a weekend and visit. He'll be busy earning and saving for next year, but luckily I have relatives there so I'd have other things to do. It sounds like next year will be the killer year. He'll have residence, so the tuition will drop by half, and they will be TA's so there shouldn't be a need for an outside job. It will be a busy, busy time. Plus, they are the casting pool for all the directing student projects.

Gregory said, "I'm planning to get to Seattle and see The Merchant of Venice. Now, that is flattering. Not only that he is planning to see the show, he even knows what and when it will be. He is internet savvy, and went through ETI last time around, so finding the information was not too hard. Still I have an idea of how hectic and loaded his life is and I was touched by the interest and effort.

I did the same thing to Paula now that I think on it. I told her she better let me know as soon as possible when the project she directs as a directing intern with the acting interns will be produced. I read up on the program so I'd know what she'd be doing, and the intern opportunity for actors sounded interesting too. Something to think about in a couple years, if I'm still hankering for a graduate program. It seems routine when we are interested in what our friends are doing, and touching when they do the same for you.

Regarding yesterday, the rehearsal went well. Often getting on the boards is a temporary cure to your physical ills. Getting detox'd after that mild food poisoning took a while, and required extra water. I thought I'd had enough to drink until my back cramped up impressively at the chiropractor. I'd postponed my regular Thursday visit a day, because I was busy with H&R Block. Ended up being a good thing. The session helped me relax and get the extra sleep and water I needed. I'm still needing extra water, and I'm working on that now in preparation for watching Pillowman tonight. Geof Alm our combat instructor was the fight director for the show.

Vents:
Regarding our president. Screw him and prosecute the corrupt little sweet talking weasel in the world court. (Milosevic's old quarters are available.)

Regarding our Secretary of Defense. Send the arrogant lying bastard to a little cage in Gitmo.

Regarding our president of vice. Send that shitbird (without his shotguns) to Gitmo with his boy-toy Donny, and make him clean the detainee cages with a toothbrush.


Friday, April 14, 2006

Next

This is a different place in lots of ways. I'm at Caffe Vita's. Nothing unusual there, I've written from here before. But I'm also working, to keep my day shorter tomorrow. We had stage combat class from 9:00am-10:30am, and my next commitment is rehearsal from 2:00pm-3:30pm. And, I'll be doing some more text work, or rather reviewing my text before starting rehearsal with Hal. I had a touch of food poisoning yesterday, rather I was getting over it yesterday. No heaves thank God, but lost sleep, and I'm still feeling a bit off. Has me feeling anxious about rehearsal. I've worked on it, but I'm afraid it won't show. It was a bit of bad beef as I left the office Wednesday. Goddamn jerky.

When ETI is finished I'll probably be down here an evening or two a week. Writing and researching. Grand plans or something I'll actually do? I hope the latter. It would be fun to trek across the lake after work for flight lessons and working on some scripts or stories. We'll see. Maybe I'll simply be a lump while I catch my breath, but Vita's and the blue yonder have their allure.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

The Friendly Age

This gets me irritated.
"I think it's inappropriate to use a children's event to make a political statement," said Mark D. Tooley, who directs the United Methodist committee at the Institute on Religion and Democracy. He wrote a column earlier this year in the Weekly Standard saying gay civil rights groups were making "covert plans to crash the annual White House Easter egg roll."
Yup, the church I grew up in has deeply embraced tolerance. This arrogant Pharisee has nothing to say about the straight couples crashing the event with their children to make a political statement. Is he saying only children of 'straight' couples should be allowed to participate? In that case Tool(ey) should be out there with his baseball bat making sure to screen out the 10% of the children who will be gay when they hit adolescence. I'm sure he has flawless gaydar.

If I can stomach it, I'll resume researching McCarthyism when I finish the ETI curriculum. One thing I remember from my previous research was about the United Methodist Church. They were considered to be an Unfriendly Witness by the House Un-American Activities Committee. Good for them, then. Now, they have fallen from grace. Today they would certainly cooperate with any similar hate and fear based persecutions with a faux-religious ecstasy.


Monday, April 10, 2006

Going, Going...

Paula accepted a directing internship at the Milwaukee Repertory, which provides lodging and a stipend. She was in the beginning of an application process to sixty theatres. This was one of her topmost choices - I looked over the application when we went to see the Three Musketeers (which was a great show) on March 10th. I missed a call from her last week, which was right after she received the offer. Our busy lifestyles are a part of our friendship. I was looking forward to hearing from her, though I didn't know what the news was.

I saw Paula yesterday as I was warming up and waiting for our audition 'final', and she was at Freehold for the first day of Personal Clown (one of the classes I'll be taking in the not too distant future). She told me the news, and it helped me relax before the mock audition. Kate Godman, the casting director for the Intiman, was our audition instructor, and set it up like a professional audition. We had three monologues instead of the normal two, a personal interview, and a prepared reading, combining a cattle call audition with a callback situation. Paula's good news helped me center a bit better for it.

I am excited for Paula. After my audition slot I walked up to their place and hung out with Steve during the unaccustomed Sunday break. Mostly, he composed and I read Paula's Riverside Shakespeare. At this point they haven't decided for sure if they'll leave Seattle. At least for a while Steve will stay around town, and I assured him he had a place to stay if they decide to give up the apartment (and it's a great one). I'll miss Paula when she goes, and Steve as much if they decide to leave the area permanently. One of the schools there has an MFA program for film scoring which pricks Steve's interest. I just can't find any real sadness about it. There is a pang, realizing one or both of them will be far away, possibly permanently. I can't separate it from the stronger pang of happiness. It is wonderful to see friends get terrific opportunities such as this.

I look forward to going to a show at a major theatre directed by Paula, seeing a major movie scored by Steve, and a major show with Gregory in a principle role -- our friend in the acting MFA program at Rutgers. I've seen them in those roles in fringe theatre, worked with them in those roles. It is fun stuff to imagine for the future. We are all serious artists who converged in the camaraderie of productions to become good and close friends. It's highly unlikely we'll all work on the same project again (but who knows for sure?). I'll carry their influence where I go, and they'll carry mine. What more can you hope for as you navigate this existence?

Saturday, April 08, 2006

All Het Up

Damn. I was just walking back to my office from the kitchen, and put the cold can of soda (Talking Rain, aka carbonated water) against my head. A wave of good feeling radiated through my whole body as I rolled it across my forehead and face. Almost sensual. Like when you've worked up a profuse sweat working outside on a hot day, or in a black box theatre sans air conditioning on that same day. Only, it is a little cool in my office today. If I'd realized I have a fever earlier, I'd have left. It explains why I've had a case of the stares instead of a case or productivity.

I have to polish up my resume, monologues, and Meisner circumstance for classes tomorrow. I'd better get out of here quickly, work effectively and get some sleep. This is really shitty timing, though after tomorrow getting a little extra rest will be somewhat easier.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Talking To Myself

I feel good.

I wrote that two days ago, didn't post it, and it still holds. No ecstatic type of thing, just a feeling of being grounded and in a positive space.

I'm still feeling tired, over-extended, and stressed because of homework for our last day of voice tomorrow, and movement and audition for Sunday. That little self talk on Monday has got me a bit more clarity. The fatigue was creating a little burn out, and a simple reminder of where I am, where I've come from, and what is coming up was a nice restorative.

It's a nice thing to be able to talk yourself into a better mood. I suppose it helps if you're gullible.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Open Eyes

I was at drill this morning, right on time, which is late for me. I like getting there a bit early. I was the only one, which didn't surprise me. One person had a vicious headache and had to leave class early last night, another was exhausted and talking of skipping, and the other is feeling a little cross about things. I still gave myself a bit of a workout. I feel like I'm cheating when I skip rope because it gets things a-pumping and a-sweating so quickly. I also spent time on monologues, juggling, balancing, core strength build up, and the stage combat fight choreography.

As I was doing things I was thinking how everyone else in my drill session was being affected by the long term intense nature of ETI. It was not a judgmental thing at all, just a thought process which of course led me into thinking about myself, which might have been a little judgmental, but I let go of that quickly. I put ten or fifteen pounds on the last couple months -- I haven't weighed myself in that long. It is not as bad as it sounds, because my waist has remained about the same. I'd like to do more than switch fat for muscle, but at least it is progress of a sort. One of the places I carry stress (thanks to both parents) is in my stomach, and I realized I've been feeding acid indigestion a bit. Need to eat more carefully, and reduce the meal size.

So there is the little(?) weight frustration, but more significant is my overall health. I've felt slightly off for a couple months. Riding the edge, balancing my time between work the conservatory (ETI) and a few minutes of leisure. The constant feeling of coming down with a bug has added to the frustration for me.

So, I'm there thinking about my reaction to the stress, and "Bang." The thought sank in, and hit me. There is not much time left in ETI. One more week of classes, then a little under three weeks of rehearsals during the same time slots, and our ETI Recital for this term on the last week of April. After that it is the five weeks of full time rehearsal for The Merchant of Venice.

It is coming to an end, and the classroom portion is nearly over. A year from now I'll look back on this and miss it terribly. That is the aspect which struck me the most. I'm in the midst of a pivotal point in my life, something I have striven for, and which I enjoy even when it has me feeling like crap. That realization perked my spirits up immediately and it is staying with me.

I'm also aware of another of those lovely antitheses. I'm enjoying myself, even when I feel out of sorts, exhausted, and talentless. I'm not feeling talentless at the moment, but the extra feeling of physiological malaise makes up for it.

The realization that I am in the midst of a very special time in my life and training was a big warm fuzzy. And it is a comforting thought which helps deal with the stress.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Yawn

It's release night, so to speak. I'm on the second shift, starting at 6:30AM, so it's been going for a while. All is going pretty smoothly.

I read this gem:
"Rep. McKinney appearing with the star of "Lethal Weapon"? Not exactly the message you want to be sending," said Ron Bonjean, spokesman for House Speaker Dennis Hastert.
Hastert must have balls the size of sand grains if he has to have his spokesman deliver this one. Who are two of the republicans biggest heroes? Reagan and Schwarzenegger. Well, Danny is not a politico, and he is at least a good actor. (Though Arnold worked at it, and was growing in the art before he whored himself.) And who is the porn star who is a republican activists? Not that she should be kept from politics, it just tells you something about the consistency of the party of discrimination for anyone outside their specific, er, demographics.

The whole things strikes me as sadly funny. Generally I give cops the benefit of the doubt, as it is usually a thankless job. When I saw the headline my gut reaction was I bet this would not have happened to a white male. This would not have been my initial intuition on such a story even a year ago. First were the under-reported instances like armed white officers and civilians turning blacks away from their parish who were trying to flee Katrina, followed by the well reported syrupy denials by the ruling conservative class of any racist motives in the response. The government conducting unjustified and illegal domestic spying based on racial profiling and dissenters. Widespread and systematic abuse of prisoners foreign and domestic, with
a concomitant refusal to follow or acknowledge either international or national law. If you can't see we have created a culture of abuse in this country it is only because you're saying "When they came for the I remained silent..."

There is a slew of these little incidents. They appear on a daily basis. They are overlooked because of the huge abuses of power conducted in our name. Which is worse? The big flashily packaged power grabs and corruption or the way abuse and corruption has found it's way into the little daily affairs directly affecting all of us?

Ahhh. Complimentary breakfast is available for this shift. Not the greatest quality, but it hit the spot. Things are quiet, so I'll go catch up on my class journal blog. I have the last three class days to post. Sunday and Tuesday's entries have been done for a while, I just haven't had a chance to post them.

I'm glad it is raining. I find it harder to be inside on a nice day when I wake up early.

Addendum: I caught up on my class blog. I was late for class yesterday, as a result of what turned out to be a very nice experience.