Tuesday, September 30, 2008

About time for an update

Us second year PACtors are in full swing, and by that I mean swinging off the walls trying to find the perfect scenes for our three scene study projects as well as discovering our inner (or not so inner) clowns and getting to "better know" William's Richard III. Phew.

For those not in the know, we are fully immersed up to our gills in Actor's Boot Camp. Yes...we've been forced to grow gills. Looks good under special skills. This is the time we are shaped from lowly acting meat props to full fledged Actors First Class and earn our stripes and spots on the wall.

This is a reminder to breathe, and an open invitation to share, to everyone who has gone before us, to those who have not yet been, and those who are still in the trenches. If you are one of the latter, just holler; we have plenty of ladders, it's kind of a thing.

Looking forward to sharing with whoever you are that is reading this right now.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Ensemble

Tonite we put our items in the ensemble box and will not touch them for the next year. It was a time of great emotion and tears. I cannot tell you what we put in the box; that is private for us. But as in Master class, it was a way to be open and come together as a group. The richness and incredibly personal aspect of each of the objects was amazing, and made me feel so very honored to be a member of this group. If even 1/10 of what I saw tonite makes it on stage then mark my words, the class of PAC 2009 is gonna kick some serious tail. Period.

Come watch us fly our dreams. I promise you won't be disappointed.


Friday, September 5, 2008

Summer on Stage Internship

Now that the frenetic work preparing for auditions is done and I've slept for a week, I can finally sit down and post about the Summer on Stage Internship.

I signed on for half of it, because I was out of town for the first half, and it's a good thing, too. It was a lot of work! From July 30th until August 15th, I was 9-5ing with the best of them, only admittedly having a lot more fun than I've had at any full time job I've ever held.

We had 17 kids in the class and worked on "Inside Out-Upside Down," a play of monologues written by young people about the wall that exists between "normal" people and people with disabilities and differences. There was faint grumbling from the students in the beginning. "It's not Shakespeare!" was a common disappointed statement. One student from England pointed out how impressive it was that kids here were complaining about not doing Shakespeare. That was impressive! The kids in the program were fantastic, hard working while still having fun, and of course, goofing off.

Originally, my job description was mostly about wrangling the kids and not letting too much goofing off happen. Also, I was there to assist the long time, respected teachers, Andrea White and Melissa Whitley. However, this session, Andrea had to be out of town for a week, and I was asked if I'd be up to helping teach.


I stepped up and somehow squeaked "Yes. I'll help teach."

Which quickly became also helping with directing.

The seat of my pants grew wings and I was flying by them. I can't say that this flight was an expedition of soaring to new heights. My rump bumped along the ground most of the time. And I hit a few posts.

But I did it! With the very generous help and endless, warm encouragement of Melissa and Andrea, as well as Beth, Philip, Georgia and Sarah, I did it! I taught my first classes and said my first directorial words!

I drew from an outline of what Andrea needed taught while she was gone, some of her class exercises, some of Melissa's exercises, and mostly from the training I'd gotten since January. There I was, trying to craft all that I'd learned into something cohesive that would serve these kids in putting on this particular play. It was like playing with a Rubik's Cube made of a thousand precious gems. When a pattern would click into place, a burst of light and flood of understanding about the craft of acting would whoosh in.

Over the seemingly endless and simultaneously split-second-ness of the camp, as an ensemble, we faced many difficult times, including a death in one of the families of our actor's. The kids and faculty were amazing. Hell, we were ALL amazing in the face of the pain, rallying and coming back to do the hard work, supporting each other, keeping it real and somehow finding ways to smile at times in the midst of real life tragedy. Some innocence was lost for all of us, but the show went on.

I had no idea what all this would mean to me personally. Throughout, I was madly trying to choose and memorize my monologues, make all my rehearsal appointments with Simona, and get my beat analysis done in the little cracks of time I had at breaks. I was at school 9am to 10pm each day and at times thinking "Why the hell did I agree to do this? That was so stupid!"

It wasn't stupid, though. Inundating myself with this practice was an incredible opportunity for learning and growth, both personally and professionally.

On the day of the performance, we were all anxiously waiting the audience's arrival. Nicole came to run the box office for us, so I got to run flowers to the actors in the dressing room and express the good wishes from their families. I wish I'd had flowers for every one of them. The expression on their faces when the deliveries came made my heart explode.

I saw one man walking up the road and thought "Oh, another one! Yay!" One step closer and I suddenly recognized him as my husband, Tyler! I couldn't believe he could get out of work to come to the show! I was a beagle puppy, and I couldn't settle down! I was so glad he would get to see what I'd worked so hard to help create.

During the introduction of the play, Andrea and Melissa had me up on stage with them, and gave me credit as a co-director. I just stood their and grinned like an idiot. I was too excited to do anything else. So I stood there like a total dork. I regret nothing. It was awesome.

The house lights went down and the show went up. We all watched the young actors with bated breath. All the kinks somehow disappeared, and all the enthusiasm we had fought together as a group to achieve magically arrived. I was on the edge of my seat!

I remembered seeing Connor during "The Secret Rapture" sitting in the audience soundlessly mouthing the entire play as the actors spoke their lines. I remembered Beth and the intensity of her gaze during "The Hiding Place" willing the actors to give all they had. I felt like I was privy to this sacred, special, hallowed experience: I could feel myself emanating the directorial beam of light and love, an invested guide willing every line to be delivered well, pulling with all my might for the good energy, the great performance, and rooting for those kids on that stage. It was incredible to want so much for so many at the same time. It's a selflessness that caught me off guard. And I high that I will seek again.

I felt like the Grinch. My heart actually swelled with pride - three sizes that day! In that moment I could not believe that it was me sitting there, and that I actually helped to create that living piece of art that was happening RIGHT NOW! Effecting people, touching the actors, the directors, the audience, and me. No matter how many times you hear the lines or see the play, it can move you again and again. Those actors have those feelings in them. They share them with you. It's intense, incredible work.

That night, I started the Master Class and cried in front of everybody all weekend long, both as a person and an actor. The timing couldn't have been more right for Jane and Sarah to sweep in and help me put all my pieces back together and repair my pant-wings for auditions. I was both exhausted and exhilarated.

There was a moment by myself that night in bed, staring wide eyed into the dark, when I privately sniffled with an overwhelming and happy gratitude for the opportunity that the Universe provided me to be a part of Summer on Stage at PAC, for the bravery of those kids, for the passion and belief that the SOS teachers and PAC faculty and staff have in their actors and their art, and the simple fact that I finally had the courage and strength to show up and take a place in the middle of it all for that amazingly short and endless period of time.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Forget Tolkien!

We're the fellowship of the Conservatory. Together we nine shall embark upon a quest such as we have never known. In this quest we go, not to destroy an object of beauty and evil, but to find our breath and active action. We will seek our objective with all our heart, overcoming whatever obstacles are in our way using tactics we have learned from our mentors. We will journey to strange lands and countries all whilst staying within the eager bounds of our little theatre.

Fair thee well wherever you fare. May our aeries receive us at our journey's end.

~Legolas aka Jack ;)