Sunday, August 12, 2012

These Vagabond Shoes...

For just a moment before writing this I had a moment of existential worry where I said to myself, "Self: are you too used to microblogging after being addicted to Tumblr? Do you even have the patience to sit down and write a real blog entry anymore?"

And then I sat down and wrote all of this. Clearly I need to have a little more faith in my ability to go on and on about myself.

This is my fifth day living in New York, and it has been a whirlwind adventure already. Just a few highlights: The subway runs 24 hours! Genius! Take that, BART, and stick it somewhere no one will look for it, like your trains that run after 1 AM oh wait you don't have any.

A whiskey/gourmet grilled cheese bar two blocks from my apartment, across the street from another bar with a mini-golf course in the back and an old-timey photo booth. The windmill on the golf course is made entirely of smashed PBR cans.

Hipster watching on the train, which I have been able to navigate more or less without trouble. There was one trip that was a little less successful, but I was coming back from IKEA late and was tired and brain-dead from a day of running around and trying to hustle free stuff from all over the city to furnish the apartment.

My lovely roommates, of course: Domonique and Maggie. Both are lovely people generally and already a great fit, living-wise. That's a golf club from mini-golf in the third picture on the left, there. I'm sure I'll have some stories soon.

My Aunt Ellen and Uncle Mike for being so unbelievably helpful I want to cry. They've provided everything from a ride from the airport to free furniture(!) and a free air conditioning unit(!!!), not to mention advice on learning about local events and places to visit. Very excited to be living so (relatively) near them.

As you may have gathered based on my excitement to get an AC unit, it's a little bit hot here. The kind of hot where a car passes and you make a face because the breeze it blows toward you is even warmer than the stagnant air you are already walking through. I spent my first night lying on top of my sheets and sweating, staring at my open window and wondering why it wasn't letting any cool air in. I'm lucky I got here at the tail end of the really warm season, I'm not even getting the worst of it.

But, God. Pizza and beer and parks and the L train and theatre and new people and family and and and. It's only been five days.

I think I'm gonna like it here.

Friday, June 24, 2011

A kick in the teeth is good for some...

Just finished beating my dad over the head with an empty tupperware I was about to fill with the leftovers of the delicious dinner he had made for me and my family when the melodious PLUNK, PLUNK, PLUNK, sound of plastic hitting flesh made me pause and reflect on how oh how had we ever come to this?

I don't really have much of a temper. And, yes, I am aware that that is one of those statements (much like its edgier, seat-shift-inducing cousin, "I'm not a racist, but...") that usually means the opposite of what you are saying, but I really believe this about myself. Of course I get angry, everyone with opinions and/or self respect gets angry, but it usually takes a lot for me to get to the point where I am hitting loved ones with kitchen implements. In fact it usually is only loved ones that this happens with. Especially when they are being particularly obnoxious.

I suppose it is precisely because we love them and they love us back and we know that, we can tell them how we really feel without fear of reproach, or at least without fear of diminishing love. And if they don't listen the first twelve times we describe our feelings of increasing irritation, we can stop doing the dishes long enough to pick up some tupperware and go to town.

Point is, anybody want to help me hide a body this weekend?

Monday, May 9, 2011

Thor and Hamlet

Saw Thor this weekend! Very fun. Went in with lowish expectations and was pleasantly surprised. The cast was fun, the visuals were all gorgeous, the writing was engaging and overall I had a very nice time. Though Kenneth Branagh could never be called subtle, I think he was a good fit for director. He certainly thought so. The end-of-movie credits roll and first up on the screen is DIRECTED BY KENNETH BRANAGH. Credits continue, the music crescendos and the last screen is filled by A FILM BY KENNETH BRANAGH!!!

The exclamation points weren't really there. I added them for effect. Oh, Kenneth Bragmoi. Your self-satisfied silliness knows no bounds.

I wasn't overly impressed with Natalie Portman but that could just be because I feel like every time I turn a corner or walk into a theater or wake up in the morning her face is hovering somewhere in front of me. Note to Hollywood: just because someone is the latest hot actress does not mean you have to plug her into EVERY SINGLE BLOCKBUSTER YOU CAN. Sincerely, several disaffected youths.

Thus endeth the nerdy section of this post.

KIDDING! That's all this blog is.

Hamlet is coming along as well. We start tech this Friday (agnflakehlfakshekaj) and we have a run tomorrow that I'm looking forward to. People are really starting to maintain focus, which is nice. There's been some behind-the-scenes whispers of irritation and general malcontent, mainly aimed at Irwin.

Hmm, it's been awhile since I've given details on what's been happening so let's see if I can't do a quick run-down of the behind-the-scenes stuff.

First off: Irwin's process isn't very good early on. He isn't very good at letting actors just play around to find the blocking, so he painstakingly crafts every moment himself and we often spend much more time than necessary blocking and reblocking scenes as a result because he is also not very good at making a clear stage picture. This leads to lots of unfocused, unmotivated actors who are more concerned with getting through rehearsal than communicating the story or finding interesting things to play.

There's also been a lot of pushing back from some individuals in the cast about direction they are given, to the point where they say "no" before even trying it. This is a bit of a pet peeve of mine. As far as I'm concerned, you are not allowed to say no until you've tried it and then you can say whether or not you like it.

It's been a frustrating couple of weeks.

But all that seems to be more or less behind us by now (thank God) because the play is blocked! So Irwin can't get all twitchy about how the hell we're going to get the wine glass out of Gertrude's hand before Rosencrantz and Guildenstern enter.

And since Irwin knows more solidly what he's doing with that, he can focus on his real strength as a director: acting coach. He's great with the working out individuals and how they can play something better or stronger than they are, and with the way characters relate to each other. And since Irwin is in a better head space, suddenly the actors are more focused and putting actual effort in.

This may also be because we are about to go into tech and everyone has suddenly realized that their bitching about Irwin will not save them from looking stupid on opening night. Bless.

But really, it's going well. The run tomorrow will be very helpful to see what it is, exactly, that we've got.

Monday, May 2, 2011

This Post Brought to You by Funnel Cake

Sorry for the hiatus. I got a little overwhelmed and then I got sick. To the point where I dragged my achey body up to rehearsal and Irwin went, "Whoa. Um. You okay?". But I soldiered on! And got better just in time, too, because the SANTA BARBARA FAIR was this weekend. Full of animals and fried food on sticks and carnival rides and did I mention the animals?


Seriously, too cute to be believed.

And then for the championship round (our section was rooting for Sloppy Joe) they brought out a little something extra.

Hurdles! Little piggy hurdles! Of course they kinda became useless when one of the pigs just plowed their way straight through it. But still! Little leaping pigs! It was very cute, and conveniently placed right next to the llamas section.

Other highlights were the swings (flying carousel, basically) and the Starship 3000, which only I had been on before, and none of the people with me (Jak, Kelsey and Garret). It's this big fat metal cylinder with standing up seats and everyone leans against a section of the wall and the tube spins and spins and the floor drops away but the centrifugal force presses you against the wall so you don't fall.

The best part of that ride is watching all the tiny children crawl upside down and over their parents' heads while all the adults can't lift their arms from the wall.

The Zipper was less fun, but it's Garret's favorite ride so I decided to give it a shot.

Never again. It whipped my head back so hard my hair clip shattered against the seat. Kelsey and I wobbled over to sit down, waiting for our brains to unstick from the front of our skulls while Jak and Garret ran over to Foot Loose (the pirate ship thing).

The fair was beginning to close down, and Jak wanted to hit the funnel cake stand on the way out, so we decided to round out the night with the ferris wheel.

Not pictured is the freeway, over the other side of the car.

Oh, Santa Barbara Fair. I will not see you next year (or I might, this was alumni weekend as well, coincidentally, and that could happen again) but you have filled me with so much joy I don't really mind. What a lovely day.

EDIT: just in case you find yourself without anything to do (and my goodness, it's only Monday, get a life) other than watching excessive amounts of The Office, Terry Jones' Medieval Lives kept me thoroughly entertained in my bedridden sick days. What could be better than listening to a former Python talk about how peasants weren't actually a bunch of stupid smelly glorified slaves? Not much, I say.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Scriptly Doodlings

I have never been in a play where I have done so much tablework and feel so lost. I guess that's Hamlet. During the tablework I'd usually sit by Dom, and she usually sat by Irwin, who usually stopped us every other line (or more) with a, "And what do you think that means?" or, "Good! Now try that again but this time stress the last syllable."

This was all very helpful, but it was also for three hours worth of script. We once spend three hours going over a page and a half. So by Act IV everyone was looking a little glazed around the eyes.

This whole process went on for about two weeks, and I ended up doodling quite a bit in my script. All the more because most of Gertrude's scenes have her say a line every two pages or so and the rest of the time she is listening and reacting to what's happening around her. It's always interesting to see how much you can learn about your character by what they don't say, as well as what they do.

So, we were going over the play within the play scene, and I had another two pages or so until my next line ("The lady doth protest too much, methinks.") and was drawing in my script when Irwin turned to me, saying, "Now, Emily! What do you think, hearing what Hamlet's sayi...are you...drawing a chicken in your script?"

Of course I wasn't. It looked more like a cross between a dodo and a chocobo, as you can see:

In response I said, "...I am also listening." Cue the tired actor laughter, but then I proved it by explaining my thoughts about the scene. So there.

The thing with Irwin (and I feel like that is something I might repeat a lot) is that he wants to be sure we don't move forward when people don't get it. Admirable, yes, but also leading to what I lovingly refer to as "acting blue-balls".

You know, when you're really enjoying the scene and the tension is building and you're on the brink of figuring something out and all of a sudden someone pulls on the reins and you have to stop and lose all your momentum and start again from scratch. It's a bit frustrating, even when I see the motivation behind it.

It's a bit of the same story with blocking, stopping and starting and going back until it is exactly the way Irwin wants. I look forward to having a skeleton of the whole play so we can play around a bit.

(For those eagle-eyed readers who noticed that I apparently wrote "vagina" for no reason in my script: "Nothing" was a common pun Shakespeare used in the place of the actual name of female anatomy. To quote Wikipedia: "an O-thing" [or "'n othing" or "no thing"] was Elizabethan slang for "vagina", evidently derived from the pun of a woman having "nothing" between her legs.)

Monday, April 18, 2011


So I've decided to start doing this again what with graduation looming somewhere over the horizon and me heading out into the great wide-open (by which I mean a hovel in my parent's basement). Existential crises abound! But enough about that, I am too busy to worry.

Namely with Hamlet, seeing as it's equally existential and much more immediate. We have started blocking in the Hatlen and are making our way through, one scene at a time. I've reached the point in the process that I now realize is not strange because it happens to me at least once in every process. The one where I realize I have no idea what I'm doing and fall into despair. Or at least mild irritation. I can just tell that my character isn't filled out enough, so when we get to the more hot 'n' heavy scenes I can't really get to the place I need to be to make it real, so I end up pushing and it's forced and painful for everyone involved. Time to do some more homework, clearly.

Domonique is a lovely assistant director, however, and sometimes painfully honest, just when I need it. I know I can trust her to tell me if I'm being silly or if I'm moving around the stage like a mannequin with particularly good diction. That is a huge relief, since realistically we have so little time to put up this enormous play and we're all beginning to wear thin at the edges.

But then, it's Shakespeare. So that's lovely and if I get sad I still get to say beautiful things and hear other people say beautiful things. Also my costume is incredibly kick-ass. Gorgeous red gown with gold accents. I knew I'd squeeze a gown out of this department before I left.

I hope I get over the self-doubt soon. I've only got a little more time here, and I want to enjoy it as much as I can.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Well, that was awesome

Shakespeare Santa Cruz ended on Sunday night, and the tears and spirits were flowing in equal measure. La Ronde had already opened...and closed (we only had the two Tuesday shows) and was a spectacular success, if I do say so myself.

The response from the rest of the acting company was overwhelmingly positive after our opening night show. Of course, most of them hadn't seen any of us act, so there was a whole new aspect of respect to our relationships with them after they saw what we could do. As for the play itself, we all had a lot of fun, and there weren't any major mess-ups. With as little rehearsal as we got, that was as high as most of us were aiming for the performance. It all came together beautifully, though. And I ended the evening feeling totally elated and a bit smug. Something like this:

The closing show had a few more costume malfunctions (so much of the blocking in this play is dependent on people putting clothes on and taking them off, it's easy to flub something) but felt a lot more solid than the first one. Less nervous, almost manic energy and more thoughtful. We paid more attention to the entire structure of the play, and the show was better for it.

But now all the shows have closed, not just ours, and I've said goodbye to the company. We closed the season officially after the last Sunday night performance (Othello) with a silent candle-lit walk to the glen, and then Audrey Stanley--the founder of Shakespeare Santa Cruz--gave a short speech as we all stood in a huge circle, the only light coming from a hundred candles each of us held. Finally, the Love's Labor's interns sang a song from the end of their show and we all went back to the dock to get thoroughly drunk. I cried a lot.

This whole experience has been so fantastic, and I comfort myself by thinking what a small world the theater community is. There is a very good chance I will see most of these people again, that I'll get to work with them again. And in the meantime I've got plenty of places to stay all over the country. Look who's got connections.

I'm so grateful for these past few months. And I'm grateful to be heading back to school soon, to put all the things I've learned into practice. Watch out, Santa Barbara, I'm coming home.