Friday, December 4, 2009

25 Reasons to Give ‘Em a Studio Class

This month in our series of 25th Anniversary Top 25 lists, we're devoted to heart’s desires – those secret, low-register rumblings that lead one to what artistic director Beth Harper calls the living arts. Whether you’re buying for someone else or giving yourself the gift only you know you want, here’s the top 25 WANTs a studio class can answer.

Give me attention – Sometimes you just need an audience. Don’t inflict this need on your friends and family.

Give me space – An empty room is a place where anything can happen.

Give me voice – Finding your voice in the world can start in your belly.

Give me expression – So much to say, but where to start? How about with the script.

Give me presence – The study of performance puts us smack dab in the here and now.

Give me drive – Don’t let aimlessness set in after the holidays! Your studio class will set a short term purpose.

Give me humor – Theater reminds us not just to laugh at one another, but at ourselves. Studio classes beget belly laughs.

Give me a schedule – Wanting to act doesn’t always make it so. With a studio class, you’ll have one night a week, guaranteed.

Give me community –Start with a roomful of strangers, and watch yourself congeal into a group of people with unique shared experiences. The connections we make in an acting class can be surprising, illuminating and profound.

Give me a jolt – Need a jump start? Give yourself a place where you’ll be taken to task.

Give me sensitivity – Acting demands we stop and take each other in. Rediscover your Spiderman senses in a Studio Class, and learn to use them for good.

Give me listening and memory techniques – The study of acting requires an agile noggin. In a Studio Class you’ll focus on focusing, as well as retaining, before you go spouting.

Give me discovery –If necessity is the mother of invention, invention is the mother of amazement. You’ll wow yourself with what you find in your Studio Class explorations.

Give me a chance – Want to act, but not quite ready for auditions? Nobody can take a Studio Class away from you. Turn your rejection into resilience.

Give me time – Earmarking a specific time and place for your passion ensures there is room for it in your life. Studio Classes happen once a week.

Give me something to call my own – Acting study reminds us that we really are snowflakes: no one will ever have the same insights, discoveries, and experiences as you in a Studio Class.

Give me something lasting – Benefits of Studio Classes long outlive the 12 weeks of showing up. You’ll have takeaway skills that will stick in your mind for years to come.

Give me growth – Start in one place, end in another. That’s measurable.

Give me mentorship – Getting guidance lights the way.

Give me play – Remember making sand castles as a kid? Studio classes are like that, but without the sand.

Give me appreciation – You’ll never watch a play or performance the same way again.

Give me a refresher – Weather its been a few months or several years since you last hit the boards, everyone can do with a brushup from time to time.

Give me regretlessness – You didn’t run away to join the circus? It’s not too late. Studio Classes allow you to keep your day job – and no cleaning up after elephants!

Give me imagination – What’s in there? When was the last time you looked?

Give me joy – Nothing like performing. Nothing like performing. Nothing like performing.

And BONUS number 26?
Give me a BREAK! - Just say "blog" when you're registering and pay in full before January 15, and you'll receive a 20% discount on a Studio Class! More info on Studio Classes here.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

25 Reasons to See “Stay for the Cake”

By Scott Rogers, guest blogger and writer/director/actor, "Stay for the Cake," an evening of one-acts about the creative life. Hosted by Portland Actors Conservatory, "Stay for the Cake" is the debut production of The Montgomery Street Players, a new all-PAC-alum performance group featuring Sarah Farrell, Maria Aparo, Elizabeth Calhoun, Robby Lundergan, Tom Mounsey, Scott Rogers, Vinnie Duyck, and Phoebe Smallwood. The show runs Friday through Sunday, Oct. 30-Nov. 15, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets, only $10, can be purchased here.

(in no particular order)

1. Bakery Bar is supplying the cakes for all shows.

2. Tickets are only $10 because we think Hamilton is the sexiest president on US currency.

3. Nearly a baker’s dozen of PAC alums are on the stage, in the director’s chair and managing the production.

4. Review 2500 years of theater history.

5. Get the scoop on what the Brothers Grimm actually did in their spare time.

6. Philip Cuomo curated the plays by working with PAC alums who were in the director’s chair.

7. The title is more than an invitation; it’s a command!

8. There’s cross-dressing.

9. There’s a sword fight.

10. Paul Graham doesn’t know (yet) that he’s being portrayed on the stage.

11. Collectable programs. Collect all three.

12. See what happens when a cease and desist order is served mid-show.

13. Axes, saws and at least one bloody apron.

14. There are many open seats after opening weekend.

15. We’re listed in the Oregonian, Willamette Week and The Portland Mercury – reputable and respected publications.

16. It’s the first show produced as part of PAC’s Alumni Performance Program.

17. Learn how to argue more effectively with people.

18. Get inside, and escape the rain.

19. You're very close to a 405 entrance ramp in case you need to flee the area quickly.

20. The show is in an old firehouse. You will be safe. Well, you’ll be safer than if the show was performed in an active, 19th Century lumber mill.

21. We swept the floors and cleaned the toilets.

22. Come see what makes us laugh, even after working on it for weeks.

23. Help PAC celebrate its 25th year.

24. More than likely, you’ll get to eat cake (diet restrictions and personal beliefs about cake aside).

25. It would absolutely delight us to do the show for you.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Stay for the Cake Opens Oct. 30!


In 25th Year, Professional Actor Training School Gives Rise to Alumni Performance Group

PORTLAND, ORE. – Sept. 25, 2009 – Portland Actors Conservatory, the premiere school for actor training in the Pacific Northwest, will present a new theater company comprised of Conservatory alumni called The Montgomery Street Players in Stay for the Cake, an evening of one-act plays running October 30 through November 15 at the Conservatory’s Firehouse Theatre. Tickets are $10 and available online at

Stay for the Cake represents all-original work written, directed, designed and performed by The Montgomery Street Players.

"Creating work opportunities, rather than just waiting for them,is essential for a theatre artist to remain vital," said Philip Cuomo, Associate Director of Portland Actors Conservatory. "As a school, we wanted to provide the faculty guidance, the infrastructure and the space that would allow alumni to create new works while exploring the producing, directing and design aspects of theater."

Each of the three plays in Stay for the Cake explores multiple aspects of the creative life. In Phyllis Hartnoll's Final Lesson, our heroine spins her last lecture as professor at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, but gets most of it wrong. The Grimm Brothers take a break from folk tales in Donnerstrasse to write a pop song that will become popular one hundred years later – and a lawyer in a red hood tries to sort out the resulting legal mess Wrapping up the evening, a character based on philanthropist Paul Graham instructs the audience on constructive disagreement in How to Have an Argument. The existential crisis that interrupts him brings about an exploration of the creative process, gratuitous accents and cake for all.

Founded in 2009, The Montgomery Street Players is a performance group comprised of graduates from the conservatory's professional actor training program. They promoted Stay for the Cake with a public interactive performance on the Oregon Cultural Trust’s Day of Culture, October 8, in and around Pioneer Courthouse Square.

Portland Actors Conservatory is the premiere school for professional actor training in the Pacific Northwest. Artistic director Beth Harper leads the Conservatory's multiple offerings including its fulltime, Two Year Professional Training Program, ongoing Studio Class offerings, and the Summer on Stage youth theatre program. Portland Actors Conservatory provides the highest standard in actor training with distinguished faculty.The Conservatory is located near Portland, Ore.'s city center in the historic Firehouse Theatre, housing an upstairs studio space as well an intimate 70-seat theatre. Portland Actors Conservatory annually produces a three show season featuring its second year students working alongside professional guest artists, in addition to two student showcases. Portland Actors Conservatory is Oregon's only independent professional actor training school accredited with the National Association of Schools of Theatre.

The Montgomery Street Players is a performance group comprised of conservatory graduates from the classes of 2007 (Sarah Farrell), 2008 (Maria Aparo, Elizabeth Calhoun, Robby Lundergan, Tom Mounsey, Scott Rogers) and 2009 (Vinnie Duyck, Phoebe Smallwood). Stay for the Cake is the first production to be written, designed, directed and performed by the group.


Monday, September 21, 2009

All Gussied Up, Ready to Go

We're ready to go back to school! In preparation for the first day of the 2009-2010 Conservatory this Tuesday, Sept. 22, the building is all clean and spiffy, thanks to a major cleanup headed by Chris Mikolavich. We've dusted cabinets, trounced old furniture (you wouldn't believe our prop storage) and repainted the stairwell with the help of our intrepid Second Year students! Though it was a bear, we DID eventually get the dumpster delivered from the City.

Personal heroes and First Year Conservatory students Rich Cashin and Dan Selivonchick did the heavy lifting outside. Alum Kendall Meyer sorted through the all-too-well-stocked kitchen with Beth backstage. Together we got the place into tip top shape.

Even Beth is excited about starting Conservatory this week, and she's been doing this for a while. There's no denying it: the shift to a fulltime day program is a major, exciting, big deal change for Portland Actors Conservatory. I can tell you what the press release says, which is that our Conservatory enrollment has grown 41% over the past year and 33% from three years ago. I can even tell you that this year’s enrollment is the largest in the Conservatory’s history (with 24 students - we like it that way). And you might go "Hm. Impressive statistics."

Or I can tell you this: we've got more international interest than ever before (possibly three non-US countries represented by our new First Year class) and Beth made the front page of the Oregonian's Business section last week. Who would have thought? These are firsts no one would have thought possible even a few years ago.

The icing on the cake will be our new banner on the front of the building that should go up this week. Wheee!!!

Philip's even gotten a haircut for the occasion. It is the $12 variety, but it looks darn good.

Our new office manager, Maureen O'Connor, is fresh from Chicago and wo-manning the front desk with class and style. Make her talk Chicagoan to you; it's pretty cute.

And First Years - you are welcome to fill this (blog) space with your thoughts, experiences, travails, and worries. Email me to find out how to contribute and share your Conservatory Confessions with the world.

We're ready. Are you? What's you're worst back to school fear? What was your best back to school outfit ever? Mine was first grade, I think: fleece lined denim jacket with plaid shirt underneath. What can I say, I'm from the Northwest. :)

Friday, August 28, 2009

First Top 25 List of the 25th Anniversary Season!

In honor of our 25th birthday, we're going to be compiling Top 25 Lists. Here's the first one:

Top 25 things an actor should never say

“I only had a few drinks before fight call.”

"Do I have to read the whole play?"

“Bummer. I was hoping the dressing rooms would be unisex.”

“When you say nudity, do you mean like, naked nudity?”

“You’re doing a great job as the lead, but I have a few notes for you if you’re interested in some feedback.”

“When there’s a long pause after you stop speaking, I’ll know it’s my line.”

“Sorry about my acid reflux in our love scene tonight. Those burps really burn and I just have to let ‘em out.”

“Can everyone be quiet before the show? I need four hours of complete silence before I go on.”

“Can you give me a little more in this scene? Because whatever you’re doing, I don’t really get it.”

“We can take it on the road!”

"I'll try that action but I'm sure is not going to work."

"My character would never do that."

“But what’s my motivation for the kick ball change, jump jump freeze?”

“Do you think this sequined unitard makes me look fat?”

“I can definitely learn classical guitar for the role by the end of our two week rehearsal process.”

“I’m sorry, I got a pilot.”

“Can I get a cue light for that? I don’t want to have to listen to the play, I’m really sick of it actually.”

“Hmmmm Me May Mi Mo MUUUUU! Can I get one Power Ball and a pack of Camel Lights? And $30 on pump 6.”

“I kicked the light two weeks ago but I think I moved it back to the right spot.”

“Is it ok if I just paraphrase this speech? I don’t think the exact words really matter here.”

“What’s your name? I know you’re not that important to the production, but I like to appear friendly.”

“Boy, sucks to be you after that review in the paper. Do you want me to read it to you before you go on tonight?”

“Am I supposed to remember everything we did yesterday?”

“What’s wrong with punching someone for answering their cell phone during the show?”

“What I really want to do is direct.”

Additions? Suggestions? Shout it out!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Shoutout to Alums!

Whutup, PACtors? That's what we call those who have been through the two years of growth, challenge, bonding and sometime insanity we call Portland Actors Conservatory's Two Year program. Some of you may be reading this before dashing off to rehearsal, and some of you may be feeling a deep yearning to hit the boards again after being away for too long. But one thing is true: you indubitably possess the skill, the training, and the experience to pursue your craft with tenacity and tenderness. We promise.

In short, the world is a PACtor's oyster. A good way to keep this in mind is to reconnect with fellow actors from your class, or even from other Conservatory classes. Sometimes losing the small, tightly-knit (some would say crocheted) community of your class after graduation can be a swift kick to the support system. But the reality is, we're all in this big world of professional theater together - and the good news is that the world is not really that big.

Need a good talk with Beth? Or just to vent about an audition with someone who understands? Want to celebrate getting the role, or seeing yourself on the small screen? I promise you, there's a fellow alum out there who wants to do it with you, and that Beth would love to hear from you.

Ways to Connect

You can start right here by commenting on this post. Or you can write your OWN darn post by emailing here: It'll go into drafts and then I publish it, easy peasy.
Facebook -
Twitter - Follow us at @pdxconservatory or go to
Email List - - Make sure to check "Alumni News" under your interest areas for targeted alum-specific updates!

We're planning to do more Alumni Meetups like the one at Aura Restaurant and Lounge on Aug. 26, where PAC's first-ever alumni theater troupe will be sharing some info on their Fall show and I'll be giving you a heads up on some new programs for alums and prospective students this year. Want to get involved in the next gen of PACtors? Or just see some familiar faces? Come on down and chow some complimentary appetizers on us!

Lastly, who am I and what in the world do these silly videos have to do with PAC alums? I'm the new marketing coordinator, silly! If you haven't met me yet, drop me a line at and tell me what you're up to. I love hearing from you guys! And the videos - just keeping you entertained, and reminding you that all the world's a stage, my friends.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Housing Solutions?

Are you relocating to Portland, Ore. for your Conservatory training? Or did you successfully? Let's get the conversation started right here: any tips and tricks for finding your pdx digs? Especially if you're coming from afar, like Greece, Australia, or England...

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

And Introducing...

If my last six weeks at Portland Actors Conservatory were a theatre piece, it would look something like this: me rustling around in the wings, hurriedly gathering props and building set pieces out of stray bits of string. I'd be rushing from the costume shop to the dressing room, pulling together a costume instinctively out of the most colorful pieces at the ends of the rack. I'd be listening to the first five seconds of many pieces of music, throwing CDs over my shoulder as I toss them out. And I'd be talking to a lot of people about where the rest room is, what act went on before me, what the audience tends to like, and who was going to be on stage with me.

In essence, I'd be getting my act together. :)

I'm the new marketing coordinator here at Portland Actors Conservatory and I couldn't be happier about it. The ramp-up has been steep, but fun: the opening of "The Blue Room," launching the Summer on Stage acting camps, promoting the Graduation Showcase, and of course, learning the ropes. I've been proud to bring some attention to our little school on the hill, like KGW's "PDX Tonight" on "The Blue Room" with Joe Smith, a beautiful piece on KBOO's "Stage and Studio," a fabulous write up on Beth by Bob Hicks on ArtScatter, and a great hit on Portland Arts Watch. This was in addition to our great 'Blue Room' press: Holly Johnson's great review in the Oregonian and the Willamette Week's positive writeup, subtitled 'Sex, Drugs and Rampant Regret.'

Behind the scenes, artistic director Beth is always trying to get me to take a cigarette break and Philip, the associate director, and I have to be careful not to talk my half day away hashing through local productions, producing confabs, and works in progress. Executive director Nurella takes meetings like a madwoman and Summer on Stage kids slam doors all day. Georgia and I talk wedding stuff. Melissa Whitney, our Summer on Stage teacher, comes in to use the copy machine and we laugh about a show we worked on together. In yesterday's staff meeting, we had great fun dreaming up a new street performance class to be led by Philip, and I watched Beth's skin turn pink as she tried to take the joke in stride (not a big fan of street theater).

In short, heaven!

I'm looking forward to composing my mise-en-scene more carefully this summer as we gear up for the launch of our first-ever, full time day-program version of the Two Year Conservatory. The program clearly works, and has been since PAC started it in 1994. I mean, thow a rock in this town and you'll hit a working PAC grad. But migrating our Conservatory training to the day program takes it to a whole 'nother level. Not only does it make the Conservatory 2 legit 2 quit, it opens up a lot of room in our evening Studio Classes serving actor-interesteds who want their first taste, ongoing training, or a new skill.

If you've always wondered what the heck Portland Actors Conservatory is all about, there's never been a better time to dip a toe, or fall headfirst. 25 years of professional actor training, baby, and we wear it well.

Saturday, July 4, 2009


To paraphrase:

"If today was your last day at PAC, how would you feel?"

It's simple. I'd

Kiss today goodbye
The sweetness and the sorrow
Wish me luck, the same to you!
But I can't regret
What I did for love,
What I did for love.

Look, my eyes are dry
The gift was ours to borrow
We did what we had to do
Won't forget, can't regret
What I did for love.
What I did for love.

Gone, love is never gone
As we travel on,
Love's what we'll remember...


Anything added to that seems like sentimentalized blather, so I won't. In two weeks I will be missing my ensemble. Graduating is an awesome, exciting, joyous thing and yet...

"I feel like my heart is breaking. Why am I so sad?"


Thursday, June 11, 2009

from "Brighton Beach" to the "Blue Room"

Needless to say the part of "The Student" is a far cry from the character of Eugene in "Brighton Beach Memoirs. for those who have seen both shows the comparison is obvious. You have Eugene: a boy of fifteen finally really rooting himself into depression-era New York--and really just rooting himself into the world of manhood--and then we have "the student." Now, while he is ultimately in a search more grounding himself in his world there is a higher level of comfortability where he is concerned since it is established that he comes from a wealthy family (complete with au pair, i mean come on!) so his understanding of the "world" is somewhat limited, just like Eugene. For me the hardest adjustment in the character came from my own personal opinions and judgements and views on the character, which i think is something no actor can really avoid. To this day I leave the stage following the first scene between "The Student" and "The Au Pair" and think to myself "God, what a dick!" (referring to myself of course...not the au pair...)
But then I feel "the student" somwhat redeems himself in the scene between "the student" and "the married woman." a scene I very much enjoy for both my scene partner (Nicole Yoba) and the scene is much more fitting to my personality. This play is a great treat to be in because everybody gets two scenes in which they play two sides of themselves. The Arisocrat says something to the effect of "Don't we change? With one person aren't we one way and with another we're another?" (sorry vinnie i totally butchered your line but you know what I mean) so it's really a fun play of exploration which makes it that much more enjoyable to watch and really makes it that much more enjoyable to act in. Each night we go on there is a totally new sense of energy to the place. The play is never the same. But one thing that I see happening that is very exciting is people really trying new things and bringing up the passion and sex and pelvis-acting we are encouraged to embrace by our fucking awesome director Philip Cuomo whom i would have be my director any day of the week.
I think through the span of these three shows people have really settled into who they are as actors: everybody has a more prefessional air about them, people are more in tune with the rehearsal and performance process, and with the showcase closing in i am very excited to see the performances we bring to the table.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Oh me, oh my, what a tangled web we weave, how can I express in words what the past week has been like? Undeniably rewarding, but still I cant help but think my body would be thanking me right now if I had turned down the sound tech job. I stretched myself a little thin and am only now starting to feel the burn of it. Now that the final performance of the first week is over and I get to enjoy my first day off in 2 weeks, I realize just how tired I am. I really cant complain because this cast has been at it much harder for much longer than I have, and with wonderful results. I just feel like I have on gotten the grove down yet for how the conservatory operates, and so when I try to operate on the way I am expected to perform in say my job or at other schools I have attended I find myself falling drastically short, or getting overly frustrated when things dont go how I expect them to. its a learning curve that at times seems insermountable to me.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

A Day in the Life of A Propster

So, I’m totally plagiarizing Robby, but I’m really feeling the sentiment. Thus, you are about to be subjected to the Jack/Robby bastard blog child. *shudders* this could be interesting. So be prepared to have a mind explosion! So, the "topic" of my blog today is to give a little glimpse into the life of a props master. Here we go!

I suck at props. Bam! There we are. Thank you and goodnight. Ok, that's not it. Here comes the serious part. I have had an interesting time with props. There were some I thought I could never find. Thinking I would be searching from one end of the Earth to the other. But those were actually the easiest to find (i.e the palm pilot, fake cellphones, stuff animals). The hardest ones were the ones that shouldn't be. Like my arch-nemesis... the baby dolls! Dun Dun Dun!!! Just thinking about it makes my skin crawl! Oh, wait, that was an ingrown hair pimple. Anyway, the thing is, I thought props were gonna be my easy job between plays. I could be lazy, catch up on all the sleep I lost during Brighton Beach, move... Yeah, didn’t work like that. I had to be at every rehearsal but didn't have time outside of that to find props because of work so it was this awesome catch 22. The worst part though was I felt so out on my own. I didn’t have my ensemble behind me, not because they were intentionally ditching me, but because as a techie I am not in on the "actor" part anymore. My fellow techies were swamped with their own jobs and I had no help. And with a show as prop heavy and prop speciality heavy as this and with a full time job on top... It sucked. Anyway, if I got into everything I went through the last few months doing props I would regress to the cranky, moody freak I have been during this time. Plus, ya’ll ain’t that interested I’m sure. God bless Sarah for deciding I needed an assistant; I thank God for Katherine and Arlena’s help the last few weeks.

Anyway, when it was getting down to the wire, and I had very little time and money, I found myself strangling kittens. That's when I realized I just needed to breathe and let it go and just ground myself. See, acting exercises aren't just for acting. And after I pried my amazing, talented hands from those kittens and breathed, I turned into Super Prop Mistress and was able to find, thank God, everything I needed. So, I guess, the moral of the story is to breathe and do not strangle kittens.

~Jack (who is happy to be going back to being a lazy actor)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Word is In for Living Out

It is no wonder tickets are selling fast for Lisa Loomer’s Living Out. The notices are great and the Conservatory has a terrific group of second year students who bring a diverse assortment of life experience, intelligence and talent to enliven the characters written by Ms. Loomer. In Living Out the second year students are led by Veronika Nunez who as the mother of small child, the effervescent Deigo, has a unique perspective and experience from which to create the character of Ana: An El Salvadoran immigrant who works as a Nanny for an anglo lawyer and makes sacrifices for her employer which compromises her relationship with her own family.

Read what Holly Johnson has to say about Veronika’s portrayal of Ana in the Oregonian:

“..the evening belongs to Ana. In a theater piece that begins … very funny .. but turns into a heart-wrenching drama, Ana is always at the center, and Nunez portrays her in a gemlike performance.”

Read the entire review at

Lisa Loomer’s social comedy is filled with pathos and intelligence, and performed by a talented group of actors. Buy your tickets before they are gone. Only 8 performances left.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Living Out-Opens April 10th

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Nationwide Search Finds Executive Director Close to Home!!!

After an exhaustive six month search the Conservatory is pleased to announce the hiring of Nurella Doumitt as Executive Director. A prestigious grant from the Murdock Charitable Trust to create the position of Executive Director propelled the Conservatory to search the country, to interview people from as far away as Virginia and New Hampshire, until finally, we met the right person for this job. Nurella recently was the Director of Admissions and Marketing for Pacific Crest Academy in Camas, Washington and was the Founding Executive Director of The National Conference for Community and Justice here in Portland. She established a regional board of directors made up of corporate, civic and community leaders, developed community, business and government partnerships with Portland Police Bureau, Washington League of Cities, Portland Public Schools, Nike and others. This unique experience in the not-for-profit community, along with with her background in private schools, makes her an excellent fit for the position of Executive Director. Welcome Nurella!

Dressing Room Drama

So, we had rehearsal on Saturday for Living Out. A number of us were in the dressing room and somehow, Vinnie’s elbow or arm bone collided with my nose or maybe my nose collided with Vinnie’s arm bone. Needles to say, I saw stars and they weren’t on the door to my dressing room!

Phoebe whisked me away to the hospital for medical attention. Of course I was asked how this occurred and after explaining that it happened during a rehearsal for a play, the staff was more concerned about what play , where and if I was a visiting actress. I just happened to have some of the post cards for Living Out in my bag and handed them out to the doctor ( who by the way said he would come and bring flowers) and the nurse and asked that they share the information about the show with others on the Hospital’s staff.

So I left the hospital, having done some marketing of the play with my ice bag, a black eye, and pain killers.. We returned to PAC in time to do our last scene.

-Linda Merican

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

From Cats to Lazy Boys

Okay, so the groomer from my Vet’s office (I’ve gotten to know her over the years) came to the show Saturday night and brought six friends with her. She called me this morning and told me that they are still talking about the show and the theater (they thought it was “a very” cool space”) were just terrific! In addition, she told me that they thought that the acting was” fabulous” It is a wonderful thing when your cats lead you to folks who enjoy the theater!!

In addition, last summer I bought some furniture at Lazy Boy and told the sales staff about the theater. Well three of them came to the show (they were the ones who brought the flowers the night of preview). At any rate, they loved the show and said that they will or have bought tickets for the future performances. You never know who you’ll meet when you go furniture shopping!!

One more thing, I think I’m having a bit of post partum depression letting “Kate” go. Yesterday was the first day that I didn’t re-read my lines. I may end up being a Spanish nanny from Brooklyn!

-Linda Merican

What I Learned in Brighton Beach

Life over the last two months became nothing but The Play, going to Beau Monde Beauty College for my daily hair-do with Sarah & Sandy for the show, and cleaning my house for the weekly guests who flocked in from Washington and California to see it. With the sheets, bobby pins, and mp3 player (laden with my recorded lines) flying in all directions at any given moment of a day, it was easy to lose track of time and hard to get everything done in life (dishes, groceries, friendships, letters home, etc.). Sometimes it was even hard to remember that this was a learning process and not just a difficult job.

The big surprise gift I found within myself throughout the run of the show? I somehow managed to find time every day to stop and reflect on the question: What have I learned today?

More surprising was when the inner critic groused "Probably learned nuttin'!" another, fuller voice rose up with an impressive list.

I learned:

...I could learn all my lines perfectly, and still do them wrong in performance without meaning to.

...I could do the play four days in a row, and how tiring and also satisfying that was.

...that finger waves are pretty, that I look a lot like my grandmothers, and I actually enjoy those big old dome hair dryers. They are so WARM! Yum!

...that I could do it when I was exhausted and I didn't wanna. hard it can become to listen to one's fellow actor when you've heard it all before. to listen anyway and find, to my great joy, that there was something I'd never heard before. The gift of it was being able to respond just a bit more deeply from the heart of the character, and so give back to my partner.'s fun to dish at the beauty parlor! skin does not respond well to makeup. My face was inflamed after two shows in a row, my eyes sore and red. My face actually swelled and ached on Mondays. The hair and face products left a metal taste in my mouth that is still there. This made me finally go talk to a skin care person and ask about the simplest lotion and make up remover (since even my regular stuff suddenly caused reactions) and I learned that jojoba oil is the the thing! It's the simplest product and is most like one's natural skin oil, and it's healing my face! It cleans off makeup perfectly and moisturizes! It's just as great as Claire in "Proof" said it was! (I learned that in my audition).

...I like cabbage.

...if I have too much hairspray on I can't sleep from the smell of it.

...I had to recite my lines daily to keep them solid.

...I couldn't sleep on Saturday nights between the evening show and the matinee because I was too wound up and anxious about getting enough sleep for the matinee. Sigh.

...the presence of my husband in the audience made me more nervous than anyone else.

...guest artists will teach you more than you can ever imagine.

...that a 30 minute savasana would shut down my nervous system when I was super nervous and I'd get up refreshed and ready to go.

...I will eat a plateful of pickles if left backstage alone with them.

...that the days I had the lowest energy were the days I could focus best on stage.

...warm ups work like a charm!

...a play is like a piece of complex music with many layers, themes, connections, motifs, and ideas waiting to be discovered, and that there can always be growth and improvement in the performance of it.

...when Connor was present I found myself suddenly going over the top and doing a lot of extraneous and stupid face acting because I was so nervous about "doing it just right" when he was there. Wish I could take *that* night back! many lovely people there are in my life to work with and who came to see me. I am endlessly grateful. to ground myself back into the play when I was tweaking about knowing people in the audience. I had to forget about the audience and go back to the world of the play or I would have derailed. It took a while to do this sometimes, but I figured it out! Phew!

...that the ensemble extends well beyond the actors. Everyone worked so hard to make a great show, and I was proud to work with such dedicated crew, designers and director. friggin awesome it is to rip down the world you played in for 4 weeks! Striking kicked my butt so hard after the weekend of shows that I could barely move on Monday, but I wouldn't take back the satisfaction of working with the cast and crew, and my incredibly strong monster husband and dear friend John to rip down that world and see that simple blank slate again. That beautiful empty stage sitting there, an open mind, ready for the next ideas, the next players, the next show! of all, I learned that I am still learning!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Brighton Beach Memoirs--Opens February 20th

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Brighton Beach Memoirs

Friday, January 30, 2009

Jacob's Memoirs: CHAPTER TWO: EUGENE

Like I said before, I find myself totally in relation with the character of Eugene.
Granted, I'm not too terribly far from the age of this character (me being 20, Eugene being 15), which by the way, helps emmensely in the character analysis side of things.
I don't only see a lot of myself in Eugene: the dreamer, the writer, the young one, etc. But I admire a lot of him as well. And I really kind of miss being that age where all you had to worry about was so comically minute but in your head, heart and gut it was your WORLD CRISIS.
Eugene is a boy. Right on the cusp of manhood (at least for 1937.) He's really in search of his status in the world. At hom he's just the kid who plays too loudly and obnoxiously and writes a lot. But for Eugen he has plays and goals, a future worked out and to him so attainable.
One of my very favorate tings about this play is the brothers: Eugene and Stanley. As a pair. I never really had that big brother/little brother realationship with my actual brother. But fo some reason it's easy to find it in playing opposate Mark, who plays Stan. Those are my favorate scenes to play.
I truly have enjoyed and will continue to enjoy the portrayal of this character. I have fun with it every time and taht's really what I want to bring to the table, so when I first address the audience they won't necessarily think Eugene Morris Jerome but they'll think: "Eugene the fun and goofy 15-year-old narrator."
That's me!
~jacob bean-watson


When I first heard that "Brighton Beach Memoirs" was being considered for the 2009 season at Portland Actors Conservatory I was overcome with excitement, intrigue and desire.
The play comes with a bit of history with me.
I was introduced to the play back in my Freshman year at Oregon City High School. My Drama One class. It was actually the first play script I had ever read. I instandly loved the balance of hilarious comedy, colorful characters and I found Eugene very interesting, but also it's use of drama and discussion of serious and valid family troubles and woes.
In all truth I loved the character of Stanley. I actually played him in a scene assgnment for the class.
Of course when I read the play again, this time in preperation fo the auditions at PAC, I found my mouth would drop and internally I would think: "Holy crap! I was such a Eugene!"
And to some extent I still am.
After being awarded the part of Eugene there was this strange nostalgic feeling of returning to the play that ultimately was there at the begining of my acting education and practice.
I read the play maybe 50 times before the read-through wtih the cast and each time I could find something new to maybe laugh at or think on; it's just such a full play you can enjoy it every time. It's so easy to have fun with it.
And luckily the cast, I feel anyway, still have so much fun with it.
And thank God for that.
~jacob bean-watson.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Well finally!

We finally had our Winter Showcase, huzzah! We were thwarted by the weather in December, but now we are back and more amazing than ever ;P

The evening started with Philip and Beth talking about the conservatory and its programs, then came the moment when they announced our names and we walked out onstage. It was an incredibly exciting moment, signalling the start of all of us on our journey to become professional actors and yet for me, it was very bittersweet. To hear my name, my name that I have chosen, called out and to walk onstage to my friends applause was glorious, but at the same time I was sad beyond words. You see, the person I wanted there the most, my mother (who has come to every production I have ever been involved in, whether onstage or behind the scenes), was unable to come due to automobilic and physical obstacles.

The evenings performances went off without too many hitches (most of which I'm sure the audience did not see. Except for poor Vinnie's concussion, :( ), and the applause as we took our last bow was gorgeous to hear. Then the rush as we changed out of our clown outfits and into our clothes and ran down the stairs to be hugged and congratulated by our friends and (for everyone else) family.

And also by each other.

ROFL, I'll never forget Mark coming up to me, shaking my hand, giving me a hug and telling me good job. I said good job back and asked if he was leaving. He said no, that he was just congratulating everyone. Awww. "And you're all sweaty and you just hugged me. Thanks dude, I really appriciate that. Really." Trust me to ruin a kodak moment ;P As the evening wore on, I was cuddled and congratulated the members of the ensemble. Again, awww. I'm in school with some pretty amazing people, you know that?

We are now in full swing for our next production, a piece by Neil Simon. And now, having just completed the read-throughs for "Brighton Beach Memoirs" and with rehearsals starting in about 12 hrs, I'm going to sign off with the words of Eugene Jerome:

"Puberty is over. Onwards and upwards!"