Conquering, fighting and Doubling-down…

Another semester comes to a close
Doubling-down on the acting pursuits
Conquering a few fears
“fightin’ the good fight”

Almost a month ago I finished yet another academic year. A year marked with some of my most cherished experiences as a teacher, as well as working through some struggles to find my way. I embrace the experiences and working to sit with myself and process the lessons. Maybe this is true with many vocations, but working and living in the artistic and educational communities, I find I am always learning.  Perhaps that’s the secret?
Being open to learn, and constantly questioning things (the world around you as well as oneself).

Despite it’s ups and downs, I’d have to declare the ’14/’15 Academic Year a success.

I will continue my teaching in the fall semester at both Rider and Rutgers.
I will also be teaching at RSAC again – teaching Acting to the kids in that program; excited to be back

While I’m not the type for New Year’s resolutions (I know, I know…it’s June – bear with me), I did resolve to “double-down” on my Acting efforts; trying to abate the constant actors’ struggle against stagnation.
That said, I’ve been meeting and re-acquainting myself with the prominent CD’s in the area.
With all humility, that effort so far seems to have been met with positive results. My work brought to classes and seminars has met expectations and on more than one occasion, I’ve been called in afterwards for auditions for specific projects. That’s the goal, always…familiarizing more and more industry professionals with my work. As I tell my students quite often (and was confirmed by one of the most prestigious CDs in the area) – it’s not about booking the role, but showing up and bringing solid, prepared work. Booking he role will come when it comes (there is so much out of our control), all we can do is show up prepared. There’s nothing better than a CD knowing your work and knowing you “bring it” every time (or at least most of the times).

Of course, I’ve come close a few times lately (was “pinned” for an episodic last month)…
You can guess the outcome.
C’est la vie!
More importantly, that CD will assuredly bring me in for something else.
The same old story…but I remain comforted that I am building a solid reputation.

On the fear front-
I’m taking another Improv class, and ventured into directing.

Improv (that shit is HARD) – I am in the Level 1 class at The PIT
I’ve gone through Levels 1 and 2 at UCB, which was terrific. I just figured another point-of view might be interesting. Plus, I have no problem starting over with something like this….nothing but humility here. It’s so hard (for me, especially) and I could use the repetition.
We’ll see.

Directing (HARD too) – I decided to put my fears aside and go for it.
I had my directing debut with AMIOS this past month.
It was a great piece Always by your Side by Conor O’Brien
starring Lauren Berst and Zach Evenson. A terrific cast, a wonderful writer.

He gave us a chilling 3-scene play. During the rehearsal process I let the actors feel it out; I believe in seeing what they bring (some of my best experiences occurred when the directors allowed the actors to bring in their own ideas and work off that). Of course I provided a context for it all, based off of the world that Conor created. But still, theater works well within collaboration – I believe.

That said, I took a big risk that I think paid off.
During rehearsals, inspired by what the actors were doing physically (i.e. body language through their commitment to their respective objectives) – an idea emerged. As I pondered this idea, I also realized that the actual dialogue in Act 2 had no new information in it (we didn’t get any info that wasn’t covered in Acts 1 & 3). In addition, the playwright was really interested in telling his story in 3 Acts. So, I did a little experiment in rehearsals with music: I challenged the actors perform Act 2 MOS 
(a film term reference -I heard it was Ingmar Bergman who had a hard time with “W’s” – so when he would say “Without Sound” it sounded like, “Mitout Sound” – the term then got abbreviated to MOS…  a little film history there, for you – if you’re interested).
The actors were clearly telling the story physically (via the body language). I had Rufus Wainwright’s I can’t Give you Anything but Love underscoring the Act. The more we worked it, the more I liked it
It’ was risky, the actors were a bit confused when I proposed it – but it paid off. The playwright liked it too, even though it confused him at first (I realize it’s a delicate thing for a playwright to have so much of their words cut). After a back and forth, he acknowledged the story was still clear (my primary concern, always). I know there were a few Shotz! veterans that were taken aback by the decision.
Again however, it paid off.

It was cool to feel the audience “lean in” when Act 2 happened…
”what’s this?” 
“what’s going on?” – you could feel it – very cool.

To add a little spice to that – one of my actors had a serious bike accident late in the process (broke his elbow, tore his rotator cuff…bad). Between our last rehearsal and TECH (we lost a rehearsal and a few days), I only spoke to the actor; his arm was in a sling, and on major pain meds.

I was prepared to go up myself as a plan B. 
The night of the performance, I wasn’t fully sure about who would go up…a little bit of added excitement.
Again, thanks to a wonderful playwright and fully committed, talented actors!
A true privilege.

Added to that, I’ve had a few small acting projects: a couple of 1-Acts, a short film shooting later this month, another has been in the Film Festival circuit.

February, written and directed by the wonderful Jessi Shuttleworth of Scabland Productions.
I had the privilege of seeing this with mom last month at the SOHO International Film Festival. I was/am so impressed by the film, so proud to have been a part of it. A powerful story, effectively shot and told beautifully. There’s talk of my working with her on her next project – I’m so there!
It was/is rewarding to see the work going out there and being received by so many…I like that feeling.

I want it to continue…

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