Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Monster At The End of the Book

When I was little my mom used to read me a Sesame Street book called The Monster at the End of This Book starring Grover. The whole premise of the book is that Grover really believes there is a monster waiting for him at the end of the book and so as you turn each page he begs you not to turn another page. I think my Wreck My Journal book has a monster at the end of the book and I really don't want to turn the pages.

I did complete the first page, I'm not sure that my name is written illegibly enough. For the backwards instruction I decided on writing it backwards by beginning with the "n" and ending with the "e." I still find myself hoping that was alright. Seriously I have major perfectionist issues don't I? -- You don't really need to answer that I, I think I know the answer. Being completely honest, I'm a bit afraid to open the book again. I suppose the only way to get past that is to do it so I will right now...the second page is a list of instructions 1. Follow the instructions on every page. 2. Order is not important 3.Instructions are open to interpretation. 4. Experiment (work against your better judgment).

Okay so "follow the instructions on every page" I like that, guidelines, things that tell me exactly what to do...except that I get the feeling these instructions are going to tell me to do things I don't want to do.

"Order is not important" even that kind of bothers me. You have to understand that I do many things in order. I even eat in order, yes, I know, I should probably not be admitting this, but I eat one thing at time. On a plate with a few things, say meat, rice and vegetables. I eat the vegetables, then the meat and then the rice and then drink my beverage. Odd I know, but that's what I do. Order is very important...but I can follow this direction.

"Instructions are open to interpretation" now this is where I really start to have issues, if you're going to give me instructions, I'm going to follow them, interpreting them will only make me wonder if I've over analyzed them, not followed them enough or completely re-written them. It makes me nervous.

"Experiment" I didn't do well in Chemistry...

Okay, since order is not important I will open the book once more tonight and find a page..."Take this book in the shower with you" Really, really? Sigh...okay...I'll do it, but I don't think I'm going to like it and I don't think the book is going to like it either...

If there is a monster at the end of the book shouldn't I just stop now...I suppose that would mean I missed the point entirely -- of both the Wreck This Journal project and The Monster at the End of the Book. After all the monster at the end of Grover's book was himself, so does that mean that in a way I am my own monster, holding myself back from doing the odd things the book asks me to do -- I think it does. So first thing tomorrow morning this book and I will taking a shower!

The end 2010

So here it is the end of this fantastically amazing year. I'm not sure I'm ready to say goodbye to 2010. It was a good year for me and for many people I know. I'm sure that 2011 will be good, but sometimes it's hard to jump into something when what you are leaving has been so good. But in less than 28 hours we will be doing just that whether I'm ready to or not. Someone once told me that they way you spend midnight on the turn of a new year is a sign for how the rest of your year will be...I'm not sure if I believe that or not but if it is true it means that the rest of 2011 will find me in large crowds surrounding by many drunk people, but with two of my best friends on the planet. So I guess buying into what I was told that can't be too bad of a way to spend the year. (For those of you wondering where the large crowds of drunken people will be, I'll be spending tomorrow night on the Las Vegas strip.)

Looking ahead there is a lot of good things headed my way in the next year. Theatre Unleashed has some amazing shows on the horizon, I'll be going with one, possibly two shows to the Hollywood Fringe Festival, that yet to be discussed project I keep hinting about will be getting underway and I'm sure there will be things I don't even know about pushing their way into my sights. On a personal note I will also be starting the "Couch to 5K" program with a friend of mine. For some reason at the age of 3cough cough cough I've decided that perhaps challenging myself to do something like run a 5k and perhaps more seems sort of like a fun plan. Ask me if I still feel that way in a couple weeks!

And so I hope whatever holiday you may celebrate this time of year has left you feeling happy, content, relaxed and ready to start another fantastic year.

Have a Happy and Safe New Years!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Art of Imperfection

So yesterday one of my roommates gave me a book titled Wreck This Journal written by Keri Smith. The entire purpose as stated on the cover is to wreck the book. The second page has a warning that says "During the process of this book you will get dirty. You may find yourself covered in paint, or any other number of foreign substances. You will get wet. You may be asked to do things you question. You may grieve for the perfect state that you found the book in. You may begin to see creative destruction everywhere. You may begin to live more recklessly."

That entire statement scares me. I am a stage manager. By nature we like things organized, completed, tied up in little packages, fixed, in a word perfect or as close to perfect as we can. I am also an only child, now I know that some only children will absolutely disagree with me, but generally an only child also likes things as close to perfect as they can be. I'll admit it I am a bit of a perfectionist. Growing up my toys were never broken, my games and puzzles were never missing pieces, everything had it's place, everything was neat and tidy. So seeing an opening statement like the one above terrifies me. Books are not supposed to be destroyed.

So I took a deep breathe and turned the page only to stumped by the first set of instructions. They seem simple enough, but I soon found myself worrying that I would do them incorrectly. It's my book, can't I complete them anyway I want? Apparently my brain doesn't think so...#1 write your name in white -- first thought, how am I going to write in white and have it be seen? second thought, I could use white out, I don't have white out, I'll have to take it to work tomorrow. Third thought, am I over thinking this, no it says write my name in white. Okay #2 Write your name illegibly... I don't know how to do that. What if I write it and you can read it, then I've failed and it's only step 2 of the first page. Alright so I'll skip that for now and continue to think about how to write my name illegibly. #3 Write your name in tiny letters -- okay now that I can do, but do I write it normally with a capital E and a capital S or all caps or all lower case, dilemma, I went with all caps, but still found myself wondering if that would be alright. #4 Write your name backward -- this is where I stopped, write it backward -- do they mean actually write it backward as in nire or am I suppose to write it normally but start from the right side of the page and work my backward so that it will still spell my name but was written right to left instead of left to write.

At this point I've begun to doubt my success rate for following the directions in this book. I want to complete it I really do, but there is this over powering voice inside my brain telling me to make sure I do it correctly. I think my over achieving, perfection wanting brain is missing the point of the book. I will try again tomorrow, once I figure out the meaning of the writing your name backwards. I'm a bit scared to turn the page. If this page was this difficult the next page probably won't be much easier. It'll be good for me right, destroying the book. I'll let you know how it goes :)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Not Alone

I've talked a lot about my experiences at both the Hollywood and New York Fringe Festivals this past summer. If you've read with any regularity you already know that both festivals were absolutely incredible experiences for me on a personal level. I left them wanting to go back, wanting to do more, wanting to find the next project that would give me that level of motivation and excitement and give me that artistic and creative high. Like I said if you have read my blog you already know all that.

What hit me last night was the lasting impact of these festivals, particularly the Hollywood Fringe Festival (most likely because I live here) had over the entire small theater community. I think many people left Hollywood Fringe feeling the same way I felt, wanting more, wanting to do it again. In many ways it reminded me of summer camp long ago, when after two or three weeks you had made many new friends and when it came time to say goodbye there were promises to write, to keep in touch, to maybe visit each other during school breaks. Rarely did those things ever happen. Sure we saw each other the next summer and picked up where we left off 12 months ago, but the friendships never went farther than summer camp. And so at the end of Hollywood Fringe I found myself wondering what the outcome would be, would people make that effort to stay in touch, to support each other's creative products or would we get lost in our own busy creative worlds, forgetting about the actors, writers, producers we met over the summer, would we be able to go farther than just Fringe?

It's been nearly six months since Hollywood Fringe and what hit me last night (while at a show produced by Coeurage Theater, a company we met at Fringe) was how unlike the summer camp experience Fringe turned out to be. For those who made the effort Hollywood Fringe was the turning point or the connection that many smaller theaters have been looking to find in Los Angeles. It was the moment that many of us realized we are not alone and not only are we not alone, we are not competing with each other, we are allowed to and should be supporting each other. I think many of us realized this is a team effort, we may come from several companies, from all parts of the city, but in order for small theatre in Los Angeles to survive, we need each other.

The organizers of Hollywood Fringe did an amazing job of organizing a festival that brought the Los Angeles theater community together for a little over two weeks last June. It is an incredible testament to them that not only was Hollywood Fringe a successful two week festival, but it succeeded in gathering the small companies in Los Angeles and getting us to talk with each other, to realize we have the same frustrations, the same desires and the same goals and most importantly none of us are alone.

Unlike summer camp those smaller companies have made the effort to stay connected and because of that the Los Angeles small theater scene is becoming stronger. If after only six months scripts are being shared, cross-promotions are being explored and bi-monthly producers meet-ups and breakfasts are planned, I can't wait to see what this community of artists does after a year, two years and then five years of working together.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

And I Was Doing So Well

Sigh, I was doing so well for nearly a year, keeping up the blog entries and then I stopped. I think I was waiting for something, I'm still not sure what I'm waiting for, motivation perhaps or maybe inspiration, a spark, I'm really not sure, whatever it is I'm still not quite sure I've found it. Either way I have a lot to catch up on, so forgive the rather unfocused rambling that will occur in the next couple paragraphs.

Things are good. Theatre Unleashed opened 25PPH this weekend. It's a great show, 25 plays all done in an hour (well an hour-ish). Our houses seemed to really like it and I've heard rumors of people quoting certain lines. All good things.

We'll be announcing our next season this week and it's a season I am excited to see move forward. Perhaps more than anything else I'm excited to be putting season three to bed. I'm happy we are leaving it behind with a strong production up and running. Unlike seasons 1 and 2 I feel like the best way to describe this one is with the phrase, "we survived it" and we certainly did, we may have come out a little more bruised than we would have liked, but we learned a lot, we have picked up the pieces, dusted ourselves off, perhaps used some gaff tape or super glue on a few edges and have emerged shiny and stronger than ever. That feels good.

I still have moments when I miss our time in New York. I know that my time in New York was idyllic, I didn't have to work, my expenses were taken care of, it was not real. Knowing that doesn't make me long for it any less at times. There are things I worry I'll eventually forget, things I want to take with me for the rest of my life. And so while they may not make sense to anyone else the following words are words that I hope will be enough to keep these amazing memories alive in my head: pac-man, rain, diner, "Today," The Cherry Pit, and the G train.

I also remembered this week why I rarely take work outside of Theatre Unleashed and how lucky I am to be working with such an incredible group of people. Actors are an interesting group of people. I've discussed my love affair and fondness for them in other blogs, but still their uniqueness continues to astonish me in both good and bad ways. I was reminded that with Theatre Unleashed I know that actors will come to rehearsal ready to work, they will come to have fun, but first and most importantly they are there to work, to rehearse, to be creative, they are there to listen to each other and the director and they are there because they care about the process of creating a show. I was sadly reminded that not all actors think like the actors I have come to know and love in Theatre Unleashed. As I watched this rehearsal that reminded me of all of this I remembered how fortunate I am.

So looking ahead, I'm excited to spend three more weekends with 25PPH. I'm excited to move forward into season 4 and in just a few weeks I should be able to share more about an independent project I'm working on. So maybe I have found my motivation, inspiration, creativity, whatever it was I was looking for, perhaps it's back and ready to go again!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

A Live TV Show...

So this past week there was much hype regarding the airing of a popular television show. The network in a publicity stunt did a live episode. Everything completely live, anything can happen, actors may make mistakes, light and sound may be slightly off, that's the excitement, that's the gimmick right? You never know what may happen...and then after it aired the news stories the next day proclaimed how great a success it was. Everything went off perfectly, twice (they had to do it twice once for east/central time and once for mountain/pacific time) actually. There was an entire news story on how amazing it was that this 30 minute program managed to occur twice on the same night without any issues.

Now I don't know an incredible amount regarding the technical aspects of streaming a live television show to an entire nation, nor do I know anything about making sure it times out perfectly to fit in with the commercial sponsors who probably paid astronomical amounts to advertise during a live television sitcom event and I certainly don't want to take away from what I'm sure was weeks worth of planning for such an event. What I would like to point out to anyone who was so enthralled, amazed, on the edge of their seats during the airing of the episode, is that every week across the country, particularly on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and many times on Sundays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays and sometimes even the occasional Monday, the general public as well as the big name advertisers can go and see a live event. Now it may not be a live television event, but it would be a live theatrical event.

I know I'm bias, but I happen to find it a bit funny that everyone makes such a big deal out of the work of the actors, the technological feat, the extra rehearsal time, and the awe that both episodes were the same. Seriously, this happens all the time at theaters all across the globe. Actors rehearse for six to eight weeks and then perform anywhere from three to over one hundred performances of the same show. Each performance is for the most part identical to the last one and the same as the one that will come after it. Just like live TV, the risk of an actor forgetting their lines or a prop breaking or worse disappearing and the constant risk that a light or sound cue won't work properly, all exist in live theater. That thrill that everyone is so excited to watch on live TV is even more exciting in person.

So while I don't want to diminish the work of the cast and crew that recently aired a 30 minute live sitcom event, I would like to remind everyone that many, many actors and crews work hard in live venues nearly every night to bring you live entertainment where the risks are just as big and the excitement of the audience should be just as high.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Next Thing

It's been about six weeks since New York. In some ways it seems like we got back to Los Angeles yesterday and in other ways I feel like that adventure had to have been a dream of a journey that happened in another lifetime. Coming back to LA was a bit rough, granted life in NYC was idyllic, nearly perfect, no jobs, just fun, theatre and friends, a very far cry from normal life.

It's taken me a few weeks to get excited again, to find my drive, to find the next thing that makes me excited. And then about 10 days ago I found it. It's not quite ready to be announced, but it will be soon. It will occupy nearly as much of my life as Friends Like These and thankfully involve some of the same people. It's something completely different in several ways. The concept is new, it pushes limits, stretches imaginations, lets me officially try another role, and is exceptionally ambitious. All of that is what makes it "the next thing."

There are other smaller things that will fill in the gaps and keep me working. The next installment of 25 PPH goes up in a few weeks. It's another great show, 25 plays in 60 minutes (well, roughly 60 minutes!). Our fourth season will be announced and starting pre-production soon and the roller coaster of a new season will begin all over again.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

An Hour at St. Patrick's Cathedral

One of my favorite places in NYC is Saint Patrick's Cathedral. So when I had some time one day before meeting my mom and stepdad lunch I decided to stop in for a few moments.

A few subway stops and a 10 minute walk later I found myself slipping into one of the pews at St. Pat's for a bit of reflection. It's an amazing place, quiet and peaceful, despite the tourists wandering through with their cameras. As I sat there reflecting and thinking tears started to flow. For good and bad, happy and sad things. I won't share everything here, some of things are just for me. But some of the tears were happy tears, thankful tears. Tears for all the things I've been given. Tears for how lucky I am to be in NY, to be doing what I love, to be with people I care about. Tears of thankfulness, tears of appreciation, tears of love.

I found myself wishing for things that can be, for things that can never be. It felt good to take a few moments and center myself. Put things into perspective, let things out and sit and listen for an answer. It came in an odd way, an overwhelming feeling of calmness. No definitive answer, no impulsive need to do anything, no immediate answer, what I was left with was definitely the sentiment of don't worry about it. What will happen will happen and it will be okay.

I sat for a few more moments enjoying that feeling and then quietly got up and walked back out onto the crowded city streets.

In No Particular Order -- Thoughts from New York Fringe

I haven't yet found the words to fully describe the last ten days of my life. Any word or phrase I come up with seems to fall flat, nothing really captures the emotions, the energy, the fun, the life that occurred during our time in New York.

To say New York was a dream come true, seems cliche, but it was. It absolutely was. It reminded me why I do what I do, what I want to do, why what I do is important. To experience that in New York City, to work on a stage in New York City was an incredible experience that is now really just hitting me.

I could say it was life changing. Again it sounds too contrite, or passe, but it was. I learned things about myself that I will keep with me forever. I came out of New York a slightly different, better, stronger person. I left New York with a different energy, different ideas, different thoughts. But I left more confident in who I am, who I want to become and that for me does truly define the phrase "life changing."

I could say it was an experience, but that sounds too ambiguous, too vague. It was the culmination of over 14 months of work, planning, rehearsals, performances and more. It was a chance to live in true theatre city, to become part of that atmosphere for two weeks. It was a chance to explore other options, to try new things to be immersed. For all those reasons it was absolutely an experience.

I could say it was everything I wanted it to be and more. It truly was but that sounds too over the top. I left New York with no regrets. I accomplished so many things, saw many other things, lived and explored freely. It was fantastic to be free from the constraints of normal life. To just be able to focus on a good performance and enjoying the experience.

None of this can truly summarize the 10 days I spent in New York this summer. Maybe in time I'll come up with something that can be the short and sweet 10 word answer. There's a part of me that hopes I'll never be able to sum it up that quickly. So for now, if you ask me how New York was, be prepared to listen for a while!

Figuring Out How to Say Goodbye

A couple of posts ago I mentioned that I had no idea how I was going to say goodbye to Friends Like These. For now its journey has ended, which means my journey with it has ended. How do you say goodbye to something that has taken up 14 months of your life? A project you completely and fully believe in, something you've focused on for so long, that life without it doesn't seem quite right.

We did say goodbye, first in tears, then with photos, then with more tears and then a few more tears. It was a perfect ending to a perfect run. Three amazing NY reviews, listed as one of the things to see in NYC this week, we were truly embraced and blessed by the city of New York. To end on such a high note was indeed an incredible feeling.

The emptiness was still there (it will be there for a while). What to move on to is a question many of us are pondering now. I decided to keep a part of Friends Like These and my New York journey close to me to remind me of the memories, the experience, and the journey. So on Sunday I made my way over to the East Village, to a shop named "Whatever," and had an artist place two cherries on the inside of my right ankle. Cherries for The Cherry Pit Theatre -- the first theatre I SM'd in in New York City. Inside on Cherry are the letters FLT. The first show I stage managed in New York, the show that gave me so many experiences, helped me grow in so many ways, introduced to me incredible people and helped me create amazing bonds with some great friends. These letters also tie me forever to one of my best friends, Greg Crafts, without him none of this would be possible and so I proudly put the initials of his play inside the first cherry. Inside the second cherry are the numbers 14, 31, 4. Standing for 14 months, 31 performances, 4 productions.

It felt right to say goodbye to Friends Like These this way. Now no matter where I go or what I do it will always be there, reminding me why we do what we do and why all of this is absolutely worth it.

The End of the Journey (For Now) Fringe Day 9

The last of the lists. I promise, in fact my place for the next few hours is to take a bit of time and extend these lists, reflect on the more important facts write a few more entries. But to finish what I've started here's the Day 9 list:

Sleep (much needed)
Breakfast at the diner at the Metropolitan/Lorimer stop (where the G train meets the L train)
Back to our place
Clean and pack
Taxi to airport
Goodbye NYC
Five hour flight
Home to LA

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Moving On -- Fringe Day 8

Yet another list, I'm sorry :)

Breakfast at the Oldest Bar in New York, near Union Square with Jenn's family
Morning with Jenn at South Street Seaport
Text Message from Greg made me jealous, I want want he's getting
Discussion with Jenn, I'm getting what he's getting :)
Travel to East Village
Mysterious Facebook posts from Jenn
One hour later something new on my ankle (I'll post more later)
Dinner with Jenn and Greg
Off to Fringe Festival Awards
Back to Brooklyn for our last night in NYC :(
Not ready to go back to real life
New York has been good to me!

Closing -- Fringe Day 7

I'll write a bit more later on my feelings on closing the book on Friends Like These, for now here's the Fringe Day 7 list:

Slept in a bit (very nice)
lunch with Greg and Jenn's families at a pizza place in Times Square, used to be a church, very cool
Last run of Friends Like These
Dinner with Jenn and Greg's families near the theatre
Ice Cream and Serendipity with Sarah, Matt, Jenn and Greg
Long subway ride home at 2am
Short list -- good day :)

Friday, August 27, 2010

A Mess is What I'll Be

How do you say goodbye to something you've worked on for 14 months. How do I do the show tomorrow knowing this is probably the very last time I'll run this show. This is a project I've believed in, lived with and loved for nearly 1.5 years. We've closed before, but always with the phrase, "can't wait to do it again in ______."

Those comforting words aren't around anymore. Tomorrow truly is the end. The very lasts. I hate goodbyes. I can do "see you later" very well. I've done it three times with this show, but goodbye is an entirely different ball game. This truly is goodbye.

I want to savor it, remember it, enjoy it. This has truly been one of the more defining shows in my career as an SM. Not because it's technically challenging, but because I've never been with a show for this long. It's part of me, part of my routine. And so tomorrow as the lights go out on the final song plays, the cast takes their last bow and the lights go out on Friends Like These I can guarantee that I will be taking it all in through teary eyes that don't want to say goodbye.

Family Reunions -- New York Fringe Day 6

Day Six list:

Family Day -- in New York to see the show were my family, Matt's family, Jen's family.
More Families tomorrow
Morning Coffee at Starbucks
Reading another great review (that makes us 2 for 2!)
Train to Manhattan
An hour in St. Patrick's Cathedral
Walk towards Central Park
Down to Wall street to meet my family
Lunch with family
Walk through South Street Seaport
New dress
Buy consumable props (I finally remembered tonight)
Head over to theatre
Largest audience yet
Fantastic show
Birthday cupcake with cast and Jen B.
Birthday dinner (after cupcakes -- we have priorities) with Jen B, the cast and friends
Walk back to subway with Jenn and Greg
Can't believe we have only one show left.

The Arrival of Jenn and the Sun -- New York Fringe Day 5

The Day 5 List:

Jenn arrived
The sun came out
Morning in Central Park
Ride back to Brooklyn to make sure Greg is awake
Fantastic performance by our incredible cast
Dinner with Jenn's Brother, Andy, Jenn and Greg in Times Square
Wandering through Times Square and Toys R US
Ride back to Brooklyn
Update facebook
Write a bit
Cravings for chocolate shakes
Decision to go to the diner
Long wait for the G-train
Chocolate shakes with Greg
Back to the G-train, wait for many minutes
Back to our neighborhood
Must sleep!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Adventures in the Rain -- NY Fringe Day 4

I know I'm copping out and I promise a more complete and story worthy version of our NYC adventures at a later time. But for now the lists are all I can do!

More rain, wet again...I'm getting used to it and kind of starting to enjoy it
Showing Sean Manhattan in 3 hours or less: Central Park (the southern tip), Rockafeller Plazer, Radio City, Times Square, Chinatown, Little Italy, the financial district, hot dog in front of the New York Federal building
Subway back to Brooklyn
Seeing Sean leave :( We'll miss him
Dinner with Greg at great Pizza place
Walks around SoHo and the village while waiting for our late night show time
Coffee at Starbucks
Amazing show
Late night ride back to Brooklyn
Still Raining -- still wet
Late night conversation with great friend
Sleep around 5am
Up at 9am off for another adventure in this fantastic city :)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Opening Day -- New York Fringe Day 3

Walking to Starbucks
More rain
Walking to theatre
Opening show at The Cherry Pit
Stage Managing a show in New York City -- Still can't quite believe it
Mets game with Greg -- more rain
late night subway rides
walking through our section of Brooklyn in an attempt to find a diner that was actually to stops away from us -- more rain
diner conversations at 4am
walk back from subway -- more rain
normal life just won't seem as exciting anymore

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Walking in the Rain -- New York Fringe Day 2

Thoughts, Memories and Adventures from Fringe Day 2:

More Rain!
Pulling prop and costumes suitcases through the subway system
Ignoring the dirty looks from the commuters as we squished ourselves and the giant suitcases into the already packed L train
More walking in the rain with luggage
Tech run at The Cherry Pit
Playing with a light board that has 40 channels, all working
Dunkin Doughnuts coffee
Getting lost, turning around
Getting lost again, turning around again
Union Square Farmer's Market with Sean, Ryan and Matt
The G train towards Church Ave -- scratch that, the G train towards Queens
Grocery shopping in Brooklyn
Making Lasagna with help from Sean for the cast dinner
Dinner with cast and friends
Wine and Beer
Ms. Pac Man, Beer, bar in Brooklyn
More time with cast
Back to bar for more Ms. Pac Man
Bars that don't close until 4am
Crawling into bed at 4:30am
Slowly falling in love with this city

Sunday, August 22, 2010

And So It Begins -- New York Fringe Festival Day I

We have arrived in New York Fringe Festival! All of us along with our postcard, programs, props and costumes, we're all here. I still can't completely believe it. Perhaps it will begin to set in tomorrow as we go through our tech run at the theatre.

Sean, Jen, Corwin and I arrived bright and early this morning off the Los Angeles red-eye. I was quite proud of Sean and I as we managed to correctly take the airtrain from JFK to Jamaica Station and successfully get on the E train to Brooklyn. That's when things started to go wrong. We were supposed to take the E train to Ely/23rd and switch to the G train. It seems that the G train is currently being renovated and so we were told to get off the E train at a different stop and take the free shuttle. We did that, but the bus driver told us to get off at the wrong stop and so we ended up walking, with our luggage, in the rain, approximately 1.5 miles from Queens to Brooklyn. I can't even begin to tell you the number of odd looks we got from native New Yorkers. As my step-brother later said, it was probably because we looked like a really odd homeless pair. So that was the first time I got wet today. Since then I've been able to say the words "I'm wet again" about 6 more times.

Which leads me to an important piece of information -- It rains in New York in the summer -- I know, I know, being from Philadelphia this bit of information really shouldn't surprise me. I can't quite say I was surprised by it, more insulted by it. It does not rain in the summer in Los Angeles, end of story, no exceptions. Rain complicates things and it makes you wet.

I'm sure I should have much more to say about today, but considering that I've nearly been up for a full 24 hours and I need to be up a bit early tomorrow I'm not sure I'm quite thinking properly right now.

What I do know is:

1. I am in New York City (Brooklyn to be precise)
2. I will be here for 9 days!
3. Tomorrow I will run a tech rehearsal in a theatre in New York City
4. My name is printed in a Playbill program as SM of Friends Like These
5. I will forever be grateful to Greg for writing this incredible piece that has given 5 actors, two designers, a director and me the chance to be performing in New York
6. I will forever be thankful to Sean, the director for asking me to share this adventure with him
7. I absolutely have the best job in the world

Good night New York, I can't wait to see adventures what you bring us tomorrow.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sunday Happiness

One of the highlights of my summer has been rehearsing and running Super Sidekick. I realized looking through my blog entries that I've barely mentioned it, but it has been the fun haven among the running around and business of all the other productions. I can count on Super Sidekick, both the play and the cast to make me smile. It's just pure fun and for a few hours every Sunday for the past six weeks that's what we've been able to enjoy, pure fun. Sadly it closed today but I wanted to record some of my highlights from the past six week adventure into theater for children.

* The addition of the new song, Final Encounter and that Scott did manage to get to sing some of it.
* The incredible fight choreography done during the song that had children standing up in their seats because they were actually afraid for Inky
* The child hecklers, that when prompted to repeat the phrase, "Don't Feed the Bears" responded with "Do Feed The Bears" and Scott's quick response to the little six year old "Excuse me sir, but do I come to your place of business and heckle you, I don't think I do!"
* The little girl who wanted to tell Inky all about her fear of the dark, so much that he had to tell her they could talk about it later.
* The sold out houses
* The kids who couldn't wait to meet Inky and the Princess after each show
* The adorable ninja koala ears and choreography
* The weekly intermission cast Scrabble game

I could go on and on as there were so many good memories from this show. For now Super Sidekick goes back on the shelf, it may reappear next year for Hollywood Fringe and if it does I will happily take my place as the stage manager of this adorable musical.

For now attention must turn to Friends Like These and our New York adventure. A week from now I'll be in NYC. I'm not sure it's sunk in yet, I'm not sure it will until I'm on the plane. We have a lot to do this week, including fed-exing a box of costumes (that's the easy part) and a box of prop weapons, (that's the hard part, how exactly does one send a bunch of PVC pipe and foam wrapped in duct tape across the country. Some of these pieces are taller than me). I'm hoping the guys at the Fed-Ex place won't laugh too hard when I bring everything into their store and ask them to pack them for me.

As my summer winds down I realize I owe huge amounts of thanks to Greg Crafts, he is the writer of both Friends Like These and Super Sidekick and without him my summer would not be nearly as exciting. Because of him I get to go be a Stage Manager in New York for a week and because of him, my Sundays have been exceptionally enjoyable. I can't really ask for more than that!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Old Script

No matter how much I try I can't get myself to use the new Friends Like These script. I actually printed out the newest version, something I haven't done for the previous two remounts of the play. The new version with re-writes incorporated into the script, the intermission removed and all the other changes neatly typed in placed was hole-punched and placed into a new black spiral notebook, but I can't bring myself to switch to it. I like my old one, the changes are written in pencil, it has three generations of set changes, and lighting and sound cue notes written in the margins, it has names of original cast members, understudies, and now new cast members scribbled on blank pages. It's somewhat like my security blanket, with that script I know the show, I feel safe and at home, I know each page, I know exactly where each cue is written. It's the difference between a brand new book and one that has been read so many times it's dog-eared and creased. Both tell the same story, but one feels more comfortable, more lived in, more read, more loved.

I went to rehearsal tonight fully intending to use the clean new script, to write in new cues, get rid of the clutter of the old generations of this show, but I just couldn't do it. It felt like I was cheating or ignoring the history and the past lives of the production. And so after a few seconds I made the decision that the shiny new script in the new black spiral notebook will not be accompanying me to New York next weekend, I will be carrying the old one, the one with loose pages due to the holes wearing out, the one with all the pencil marks and re-writes written in above and below other lines, the one in the familiar light blue notebook with the blue and purple post-notes sticking out to mark the sound and light cues, the one that reminds me in big capital letters to "WAIT FOR BRIAN" so that I never again cut him out of the last part of a scene, that's the one that will fly to NY, that is the script that will go to the theater and that is the script that will watch the last five performances of this show. It seems fitting, this script and I started this journey together, it seems appropriate that we should get to finish it together.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Muppets Take Manhattan Or Closing Two Shows

I know -- it's an odd title for a post...bear with me! It's one of my all time favorite movies, who doesn't love the Muppets? (by the way, the word Muppets is not in my spell-check. How can such an iconic franchise not be recognized by spell-check?) Anyway, I love that movie and in more than one way it seems a bit appropriate to title my post "The Muppets Take Manhattan." I'll explain.

As I was watching the second to last performance of Twelfth Night and the final Patriotism Unleashed cast last night the lyrics to "Saying Goodbye" from Muppets Take Manhattan started running through my hear. For those of you unfamiliar with the song it's goes like this:

Saying Good Bye,
Going Away,
Seems like Goodbye's such a hard thing to say,
Touching our hands,
Wondering why, it's time for saying goodbye.

Saying Good Bye,
Why is it sad?
Makes us remember the good times we've had,
Much more to say, Foolish to try.
It's time for saying goodbye.

Don't want to leave,
But we both know,
Sometimes it's better to go.

Somehow I know we'll meet again,
I'm not sure quite where and I don't know quite when.
You're in my heart, until then,
It's time for saying goodbye.

Want to Smile,
Want to cry,
It's time for saying Good Bye

Sappy? Perhaps, but it's what began running through my head. I really don't like saying goodbye to great casts and this song kind of embodies all of my closing night emotions. All good shows much come to an end and the sad part is that like the song says sometime we will meet again, but it won't be under these conditions, it won't be this play or this theater or this exact group of people. And ending it does remind you of how much fun you had creating it and at the same time, there is a feeling that it is time for it end, go out on top, with sold-out houses, that's always the best way to close something. As always I will miss these two casts. I've been blessed with fantastic groups of people this summer and will miss hanging out with them on a weekly basis. I'm guessing the local bar down the street will also miss us hanging out on weekly basis!

Before I continue to explain the title of my post, I have to share one small story from our second to last after show gathering. Last night I had to laugh because the bartender yelled out "Last Call" and eight people immediately responded, "Thank You Last Call" For those of you not in theater, it's standard procedure that when the SM or someone else says something like "5 minutes to places" or "ladder coming through" the standard response is "Thank you 5 minutes" or "Thank you ladder" it ensures that everyone heard the announcement. So hearing the automatic, "Thank You Last Call" response made me smile, you can take the actors to the bar, but you can't truly take them out of the theater!

So the second reason this blog is titled The Muppets Take Manhattan is because in less than a month Friends Like These will be in Manhattan. Now, I'm not saying we're muppets, although, I'm guessing there may be times when we'll feel like the muppets, rather clueless, but having a good time being clueless and I'm not really expecting any breakout dance/musical numbers to happen over a late night dinner in a diner, but I do think it will be an adventure that will give us many stories to share for months to come.

So after tonight, Twelfth Night will be done. Noah will not have to wear bright yellow leggings and be cross-gartered, Jim won't have a reason to grab Jenn's boob, Darci won't need to put her hair in pin curls to wear two different wigs, Julia won't need to worry that her veil will unhook too early, Tom won't need to load six different instruments into the car every weekend, Paul won't need to perfect his "drunk hair," Chris won't need to worry about being boogered by Julia, Carlos won't need to spend 90% of the play moving furniture, Tracey will no longer make us laugh with Fabian's improvisational outbursts. Courtney can finally focus on one show instead of three, Sacha won't have to give Shawn piggy back rides, and Erica and Jessica won't need to avoid the set changers while they are dancing. They will have one last circle of actor love tonight, have one more great performance and then we will head to the Lativan Center for one last post-show gathering. Tomorrow we will all wake up with different agendas, the words, the blocking, the set changes, the costumes of Twelfth Night will slowly drift from our heads, new shows will come up and this summer will become a good, but distant memory. And so Twelfth Night cast, I shall end by saying, "want to smile, want to cry, it's time for saying goodbye!"

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Saying Goodbye

I find myself oddly mourning the loss of Friends Like These. I shouldn't be, not yet anyway. New York is right around the corner, a month from tomorrow I will be taking the red-eye out to NYC to run the booth for FLT during it's Fringe Festival run. And yet I find myself sad at the thought of it ending. It's project I've worked on for over a year now. It's a play that I love and I have this overwhelming desire to hold on to it. I don't want to say goodbye, I'm not ready.

Perhaps the sadness comes from realizing that it really is my time with this project that is coming to an end. Friends Like These has the potential to go on to bigger and greater opportunities. I hope it does, it's a script that deserves attention. But my small role in this adventure is ending. That's not to say that I wouldn't consider working on a re-mount in the future, but for now it seems that FLT is headed for places where I can't follow. And so these feelings of sadness, of wanting to hold on, not wanting to say goodbye, not wanting to go through the lists of lasts are starting to build up.

When I was a kid I would try to draw out opening birthday or Christmas presents. The longer I made it last the longer it was until the disappointment of the holiday being over sunk in. It's the same with Friends Like These, I want to make it last. I want to savour each moment of our last five performances. I don't want to say goodbye.

The Eye of the Storm

I've never been in the eye of a hurricane. During Hurricane Gloria (way back in the 1980's and one of the few storms to really hit the Mid-Atlantic states I spent a few nights without electricity sleeping on a cot in my parent's bedroom, I flew back from Uruguay and caught the last flight out of Miami before the appropriately named Hurrican Erin came ashore, but I've never been in the eye of a hurricane. From what I hear it's a calm and serene place to be until you remember that it's a passing phase and you will soon find yourself back in the storm.

I am enjoying a few days of calmness. Super Sidekick , written by the talented Greg Crafts opened this weekend. It's show where I tend to watch the entire thing with a huge smile on my face, I love it. Patriotism Unleashed continues it's run. It's a rather irreverrant look at The Fourth of July and written by some of the most funny people I know in Los Angeles. On top of those two, Twelfth Night continues it's fantastic run.

With those three shows up and running I get a few rehearsal free days to breathe and relax. Come Thursday it's back into the storm. But this storm isn't a scary one, it's fun one. It may throw you around a bit, but at the end you can't wait for the next one. That's how my weekends are right now. By the end I'm exhausted and yet I can't wait to start over again.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Theatre Makes You Forget

How is it that the act of doing a play can make your mind put aside everything else in your life for those few precious hours? It's truly a beautiful thing. I'm not sure how it happens, adrenaline maybe, or the need to focus on what's on the stage or perhaps a combination of the two. But it is an amazing talent the mind has for putting everything else in some closet in your brain that gets shut and locked until you're finished.

This week has been a whirlwind of theater. Twelfth Night opened last Friday and it is truly a magical production. The set and the costumes are beautiful and the actors are incredible. Friends Like These opened last night at the Hollywood Fringe Festival. I had to hand it over to another stage manager for tonight and tomorrow night as I am committed to Twelfth Night for those two performances. I don't have children, but I think I now a bit of what it must be like to leave your kid with a babysitter for the first time. I had to really resist the urge to call and check on them. It's not an easy show to run and so as I watched Twelfth Night tonight my mind kept going back to the booth of Friends Like These and hoping they were doing alright.

I go back to FLT tomorrow afternoon and then leave them again for the final Hollywood Fringe Production. Super Sidekick is in full rehearsal mode. It's the coming of age tale of a superhero's sidekick, complete with evil ninja koalas. Super Sidekick is a children's musical written by Gregory Crafts, also the writer of Friends Like These. And so this week I feel a bit like a bowling ball being sent down a lane that has the rubber gutter guards for kids, I bounce from place to place, cast to cast, booth to booth and script to script. I actually caught myself telling myself out loud as I walked to get dinner that I needed to remember to breathe. Then I started to laugh because if I'm unconsciously speaking out loud to myself, it must be something important that my brain needs to tell me. And so I followed the directions given to me by my subconscious. I took a few moments to breathe and remind myself how incredibly blessed and lucky I am to be traveling down this incredibly insane yet fulfilling alley and how thankful I am that I have the rubber bouncers covering the gutters so I don't fall off.

After the show, as I cleaned up, locked up and left, life outside of the theatre came flooding back to me. The to-do lists, the conversation with my grandparents that reminded me that I really do need to get to Indianapolis soon -- a thing I've been promising for two years and it still hasn't happened. The fear that if I don't get there this fall I may regret not taking the time for the trip. The wish that I could fix everything and make a friend completely better, the sadness at the realization and acceptance that I can't. The tiredness and desire to crawl into my bed and sleep for hours and the guilt that my once aloof kitten now follows me everywhere because I'm clearly not home enough and she misses me.

All of these things along with the good thoughts, an old friend is coming to LA this weekend and we get to have breakfast on Sunday, a short term tutoring job that will help me get to NYC for the fringe festival in August, how lucky I am to have amazing friends and to be doing things I love, all of these thoughts came rushing into my head as I left the theatre tonight. I know the spell of the theatre can't last forever, but it definitely is a nice reprieve from normal life. Apart from a four hour version of Hamlet I can't figure out how to get that spell to last longer than it does and I suppose that's a good thing because the longer you stay in that world the harder it is to come back.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Coming Home

Tonight in the midst of Twelfth Night and all the other projects, I found myself going to Friends Like These rehearsal. As I sat in an office on the upper floor of a building just down the street from the Kodak theatre in Hollywood I had this overwhelming sensation that I was home. Not home as in that office, I've never been there before, home as in this play, this project, Friends Like These, it is comfortable yet never boring, cozy and intimate yet exciting and challenging all at the same time and I absolutely love it.

Sitting there watching this cast, a mix of original cast members and new ones, rehearse for the Hollywood Fringe Festival, it just felt right. This was were I was supposed to be. All of the stress, and the to do lists of the other projects fell away because I was home. One of the things I love about actually going "home" (I put it in quotes because I do truly consider Los Angeles to be my home, but the phrase "going home" refers to me actually leaving Los Angeles and going to Kansas City where my mom and stepdad live), one of things I love about "going home" is that everything else disappears, you can focus on the good things, relax, have fun and you know that nothing bad or horrible is going to happen while you are there. That's how this play makes me feel.

If you know Friends Like These you may think that's an odd thing to say about a play that deals with the events leading up to a school shooting (if you haven't seen the play, don't worry I didn't give anything away, we tell you that in the first 15 seconds of the show). While it may be an odd thing to say, it's the truth, with this show I am home. Everything else disappears for a while and I can just be there and enjoy it.

I realized tonight I've been actually working on this show for 11 months now. 11 months ago the two directors, Vance and Sean and I put together the casting notices and by the middle of July 2009 we had our first cast. By the time we go to New York Fringe in August, three of our original cast members, Ryan, Sarah and Alex will have been living with the characters of Brian, Nicole and Jesse for over a year.

It's a show I could quite possible run in my sleep, I know every song that plays, have many lines memorized and know the timing for all of the light cues by heart. It's also a show I don't get tired of watching. By my count, including rehearsals I've probably seen it in its entirety close to 50 times! I should be tired of it, I should be bringing a book to read in between cues, I should not be sitting captivated by the words and actions on the stage and yet every night I am. Even in rehearsal I have to remind myself to stay focused on the script as our new additions Matt and Jen are still needing some line help every once in a while, I find I am way to tied up in what is happening in front of me to turn the pages in my script and follow along. I want to know what happens, how it all works out.

The fact that I'm still, even after 50 runs, captivated by this play is a testament to the voices that Greg Crafts, the writer gave these characters and to the actors who lend their expressions, interpretations and actions to those words. This cast is a very different cast from the original cast, different in a good way though. The words and the actions are coming alive in slightly different versions and I love seeing the subtle differences and changes. And yet despite those differences I still find myself settling into a rehearsal knowing I'm home and even though I was only there in that world for three hours tonight, it was a time to be comfortable, let everything else go, relax, and enjoy being "home."

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Meltdown

I know, I's been over 2 months since I've sat down to write a real post. So many things happening. It's been hard to find a few quiet moments to sit down and actually reflect and write. So to catch you up here's the summary. The Unserious Chekhov opened and closed. It was a great cast and I can say I learned a lot from that run and truly enjoyed working with all of them. Just as Chekhov closed I jumped into Twelfth Night rehearsals, found out that Friends Like These was accepted to the New York City Fringe Festival, agreed to stage manage a sketch show titled Patriotism Unleashed and a kid's musical, Super Sidekick. If you're counting that means that between now and the end of the summer I am involved in four major productions, five if you count Friends Like These Hollywood Fringe at the end of the month. And I didn't mention Boarding The Mothership, our 24 hour theatre event next Saturday or the Beer Pong fundraiser I'm organizing for July. I am one busy girl. Too busy honestly.

A friend asked me last night why I do this. I could give the "cop out" answers -- "Because I like to" or "Because I can't say no" Okay, well that last one is partially true, but the real answer, why I take on five shows at once, why I don't mind doing everything I do, the answer is that I do it because what I do in some small way gives my friends a chance to do what makes them happy. That's why I do what I do. That's what makes my job worth it, what pushes me to be better.

Don't be fooled, I'm in no way perfect, I have my moments. One came tonight, moments when I do question it all, what I'm doing. For me, these moments come during the most inconvenient times, usually during Tech week. Tonight at 10:36pm I found myself sitting in my car, realizing that the last time I had eaten was the peanut butter and jelly sandwich I made myself about 10 hours earlier. Then all the things I still needed to do, not just for Twelfth Night, but for all the other ones popped into my head inevitably the feelings of doubt and frustration quickly charge in after the to do list. My brain fought with itself, one side saying it's too much, you can't do it all, the other side pushing me forward, forcing me to find solutions. The two sides took a short timeout as I sat in my pulled over car and let the tears fall from my face, then the laughter set in and the fight in my head resumed, this time the doubting side gets quickly defeated by images of tonight's rehearsal, this cast, the set, the costumes, the other two casts I worked with today and the one I can't wait to get to know and then the conversation from last night came back to me, why do I do what I do. It's not because I enjoy the occasional meltdown in my car, it's because I am incredibly privileged and honored to know incredibly talented people and I get to help them create a world where they can truly shine and be happy.

So as I sat there and the tears turned to laughter I realized how lucky I am, perhaps a bit crazy at times and definitely overloaded and a bit overwhelmed, but all of that will pass, and when it does what I'll be left with are the incredible memories of this specific and incredible time in my life.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

It's Been Too Long

I know it's probably been at least a month since I've written anything. There's too much to write right now. I'll need a bit of time, but for now all I have to say is the quote of my current Facebook status:

"this amazing life I have can't really be real, sometimes I'm afraid I'll wake up & discover its all a dream. If that's the truth I want to dream forever."

I hope I never forget that feeling!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

I Should Be Sleeping

It's 12:40am in Los Angeles. I should be asleep. I really should be going to bed. So much is going on right now that sleep has become a precious commodity. Torrid Affaire closed two weekends ago, I can't thank Andrew and Jake for pushing me to direct enough and the cast was truly a fun and talented group of people. I will miss seeing them together each weekend.
The Unserious Chekhov
is now in tech week. We open this coming Friday. It's been a show filled with surprises and challenges. We've had multiple cast changes and a limited (non existent) budget. Tonight we saw everything come together for the first time. I love when that happens, getting to see each little piece fit into the piece before and after it is truly a great experience. I'm looking forward to seeing where it goes in the next week.
We also turned two this week. That's right Theatre Unleashed has reached it's second birthday. Two years ago on April 1st we became an officially recognized company in the state of California. It incredible to see how far we've come, how much we've learned and what we've accomplished in those two years. Tomorrow we'll be celebrating with our fourth 24 hour theatre event, this one is Acting Our Age: The Terrible Two's. Should be a fun birthday celebration for all of us.

And now it is off to bed for me, to grab a few precious hours of sleep before I go and celebrate TU's success with several of my favorite people.

Good Night Los Angeles!

Friday, March 19, 2010

The List

I have a list. It's a mental list, it's not actually written down, but it is a list none the less. It's a list of names and faces. It's a list you don't want to find yourself on! It's not a long list and the honor of being placed on that list requires a lot of work. This list contains the names of people, mainly actors, that I will never work with again, will never recommend to anyone and depending on the severity of their crime may go out of my way to tell other people not to work with them. I know that sounds a bit harsh and perhaps it is. But I'm a very patient person and it really takes a lot for an actor to find his or her way onto my list. Once you do though I'm afraid there is no amount of smiles, gifts, kind words, or compliments that will get your name crossed off the list. If you disappoint me, if you disappoint others, if you intentially make a decision that sacrifices a production you will be on my list forever.

Now I'm a reasonable person, if your reasons are good, things like family and health they always come first, no one should ever put a production ahead of their families or medical issues, ever. I will be the first one to tell you that we'll be okay, please go and take care of what needs to be handled and we will welcome you back when you can come back.

I really do have a ton of patience. I used to teach kindergartners and a long time ago I realized that actors are like kindergartners. I say this out of the utmost love and respect. (I should say that 98% of my closest friends are actors and I wouldn't trade them for anyone else in the world.) Here are the parrellels:

You often need to ask both Kindergartners and Actors to pick up and put away their toys or props.

You need to reinforce the ideas of inside/outside voices or stage/normal voices.

You find yourself bandaging cuts knees and cleaning out wounds for both groups.

You need to tell both Kindergartners and Actorswhen to arrive, when to leave, when to go to the bathroom.

And there are moments when they return from the bathroom when you want to ask them if they've washed their hands.

Both groups need and thrive on a lot of love. They both have a lot of love to give, they are insanely creative and slightly eccentric. This is why I love them. They have this wonderful ability to make me laugh, show me that life goes on and will be alright. They are remarkably supportive and genuine. My kindergartners that I used to teach and the actors that I have the honor of working with and being friends with continually enrich my life and I am a better person for knowing them.

So when one of them does something that disappoints me, it is not something I take lightly. When you make a decision based on a whim in your head and that decision hurts a cast, company or a production you, my friend, you will find yourself at the very top of my list.

I have a few things I can promise you will recieve just for being on my list:

1. The guarantee that you will never be cast in a production that I am directing, stage managing or production managing.

2. I solomenly promise that the next time someone asks me for a recommendation for a role that you might be absolutely perfect for, your name and face will flash through my brain and I will smile, look at the person and say, " I really can't think of anyone."

3. I can also assure that if someone asks me about you, I will without guilt, tell them what you did that made you end up on my list.

4. Finally you should know that in any future encounters we may have I will be cold but professional, we will not hug and catch up, I reserve those activities for people not on this small but very important list.

I do not put anyone on this list on a whim. You will never leave the list. So please think about your actions, think about the consequences and don't make me add you to my list.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Happiness In A Jar!

There are moments in life when you get to experience pure happiness. Sometimes it's a fleeting moment and other times in lingers. For me I can usually find it when I get the chance to put my ipod on and go for a walk to the park near my house. There is usually a moment when I find myself almost giggling at absolutely nothing, at that same moment there is this overwhelming sense of calm inside me as if my mind, my body and my spirit are all coming together to remind me to enjoy this and that everything is and will continue to be alright. Those moments are a bit like a drug, once you get them you want more of them. I find myself trying to find more opportunities for them to happen, but you can't force them to happen. Forced spontaneous happiness just isn't quite the same thing! Please don't think I'm not happy most of the time, I am, quite happy, but these moments I'm talking about are the completely care-free, no other thoughts in my head, moments of freedom. They are glorious.

Once they have passed and I'm left in the after glow of a spurt of uncontrollable happiness I'm usually left to think about what caused it. Was there something particular in my life that spurred on that moment on that particular day? To my growing surprise the answer is normally no, in fact most of the time they come unexpectedly on quite ordinary and normal days. They come as reminders to me to look for opportunities, to take risks, they serve as reassurances that at the age of thirty something maybe I've started to understand just a tiny, minuscule portion of my place in the universe and that the roads I've chosen and the doors I've opened are the right ones.

I wish it was something I could share with people, bottle it up and give it away, "Uncontrollable Happiness" in a jar. Guaranteed to make you smile, push you forward and give you a warm fuzzy feeling!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

What do a dialogue between the moon and the sun, a man talking to a gun in a frozen russian post station, a live volcano, references to vodka and drunk peasants stuck in an inn over night have in common? -- They are all bundled together in the works known as The Comedies of Chekhov. And it is my good fortune to be directing two out of the five of them for Theatre Unleashed's next main stage show.

I have to admit a bit of panic at first. I read the scripts and then I re-read the scripts and then I think I read them once more and then I thought to myself what in the world am I going to do with them. I went into my first rehearsals completely unprepared, I had nothing, no inspiration, no ideas, just sheer panic. And then a magical thing started to happen, I let my actors give voice to their characters, the words that I had been reading on the pages suddenly came to life and I could see it unfolding before me. As they read blocking ideas, comedic timing plays all begin to emerge, in my head the panic gave way to excitement.

This is why I love actors, they can take something that on a page may seem a bit dry, a bit dull and they have an innate ability to bring it to life even during a reading of the play.

While Chekhov goes into rehearsals Torrid Affaire continues its run for another three weeks. Audiences have been good and people seem to be enjoying themselves. I still get nervous when people I know come to see it. Each time I want to remind them I'm new at this, this was my first attempt, please don't judge me to harshly. And yet each time they come out with compliments, I owe that mostly to the writing of the piece and to the actors on the stage. Those two components made it very easy to direct it!

I am truly fortunate to be a new directing with one play up and another in rehearsal. This is a journey I never dreamed I'd be on and yet here I am. Amazing :)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Embracing Life

Torrid Affaire opened this past weekend. Opening night was nearly sold out, it was incredible. The amount of love and support this show and I have received is truly amazing. I've said this before on this blog but it's worth saying again, I do really believe that I have a charmed and magical life here. It's something I probably dreamed about as a kid, not this exactly, but something similar. Surrounded by friends, doing something you love doing, in general being in love with life. And at this moment I truly am in love with life!

It's taken me a while to say that and the road to get there has definitely not always been smooth, but now that I've found that place I want to cling to it and never let it go. I don't plan on seeing it leave anytime soon, but I've discovered that pure contentment can be elusive and it doesn't always come in the form you think it will come in. I've learned you have to search for it, dig it out and then truly revel it in it. I'm beginning to see that the more you embrace happiness and contentedness the longer it stays and the easier it is to find again.

Everything I have here in LA, my roommates, my incredible friends, my jobs (both paying and non-paying), my adorable kittens, the creative outlets, all this has fallen into place as I settle into my early thirties. I have embraced this life and it has embraced me. It's an incredible feeling.

I received my first directing review this week. It was filled with exclamation points and while the grammar may not be the best it was kind and complementary. I'm posting it below so there will be a record of it somewhere. It won't be the last review with my name attached as director.

While I'm not giving up stage and production managing I have absolutely fallen hard for directing. When I was acting back in December I never felt "it." I kept waiting for the excitement, the "thing" whatever it is that actors crave, that makes them want to go out on stage every night. I never really understood it until now. Acting didn't do it for me, but directing does, I finally know what the "it" is!

Torrid Affaire Review:
Theatre Unleashed presents Andrew Moore's comedy TORRID AFFAIRE, a rather playful romp about a group of five women as they gather together to torment one another as they face their own personal selves.
The setting is a rather shabby yet comfortable living space. A group of five twenty-something women meet for a "Torrd Affaire" party. This sort of party is related to a Tupperware event. However, the products shown are not meant to hold leftovers. These products are more of a sensual nature that range from body oils, scented candles, outerwear, and even battery operated "toys" one can't find at Toys R Us! As the leader of this group offers what's available, every one of these woman reveal a few secrets! Among the tales and stories that are told, this little evening comes out toward its end--and perhaps with a few of these personal devices falling into the hands (among other places) of these ladies!
This play is very funny and witty, full of smart lines that one can relate to especially if one is of the demographic as depicted on stage. Sure, the humor becomes "blue" in nature at times, but it's more geared toward playfulness that something rather offensive! The cast of players that depict the five, consisting of Taryn Chaifetz as Molly, Darci Dixon as Melanie, Ana Therese Lopez as Charlene, Annamarie Mignini as Camille, and Katie Sikkema as Esther, hold their charm as robust and as the post-modern people that they are. They aren't sappy, but they do know what's going on! Erin Scott is on helm as director of this one-act play that appeals to all!
Also seen within the cast is Joshua Morrison as Jonah, the humble "man servant" that is a modest milquetoast that is ironically, the only male character in this play!
It's been a well known fact that when the girls get together, anything goes--or almost anything anyway! TORRID AFFAIRE is a little comic gem that is short and sweet. In addition, it's naughty yet nice indeed! Oh,'s also for mature audiences only! But you already knew that! (Right?)

TORRID AFFAIRE, presented by Theatre Unleased and performs at The Sherry Theatre, 11052 Magnolia Blvd. (east of Lankershim Blvd), North Hollywood, until March 6th. Showtimes are Friday and Saturday nights @ 8:00 PM. Reservations and information, call (818) 849-4039. Visit the website at
(Vol. 15-No. 8-Week of February 22nd, 2010)

Friday, February 19, 2010

Today We Fight

This will tell you my state of mind, I woke this morning with two phrases from movies playing in my head. The first one, “Take it to the mattresses.” While I know that it originally comes from The Godfather, in my head it was coming from You’ve Got Mail. Hey -- I’m a girl alright, cut me some slack. The second was “Today We Fight.” It’s part of a longer monologue that has been playing in my head today. I’ve already divulged that I am a bit of a Lord of The Rings geek, so get ready – this will only confirm that for you. In Return of King, Aragorn is leading what is left of the armies of men to the Black Gate to what they believe is certain death. In his speech he says, “there may come a day when the bonds of men come crashing down, but it is not this day, today we fight.”
Now this may be a dramatic, but I was sleeping and it’s what my brain came up with. That phrase though, “Today we fight” has become my mantra of the day. Due to sensitive issues I can’t really explain the details, but it has been a day to fight for something worth fighting for, to believe in something that grew from excitement and passion and to realize that it will be alright. And it will be alright, I said to someone in the past 24 hours, we are tornado proof, we may shift around a bit and shake a little during the actual storm, but we’ll still be standing once the clouds disappear. And what’s more we’ll be all the stronger for it.

Sunday, February 14, 2010


Yesterday I was rinsing out travel size Listerine bottles to make prop body oils for Torrid Affaire. I realized that the smell of Listerine reminds me of my grandfather. It was an odd realization. A certain smell so clearly identified with a person. The memories of him were so strong. My grandfather, Jeremiah Kennedy, Boppy to me, was truly an amazing man. He was married to my grandmother for over 50 years. Together they raised my mom and my aunt, over the course of those 50 years he suffered from an eye condition that eventually caused him to lose his sight. He was a talented vocalist. He had strong opinions, was very intelligent and he was one of my biggest cheerleaders. He always wanted to know what I was doing, how I was doing and no matter what I said, his response would always be, "well you certainly are busy out there, keep it up, we are proud of you."

My grandfather died four ago. So much has happened in those four years. The biggest change occurred just 6 months after he passed away, that's when I was asked to stage manage for the first time. It's when the pieces of the puzzle that make up my life in Los Angeles all started to come together to form this amazing life that I truly love.

I know that when I moved here six years ago my grandparents were a bit worried. Why would I give up a nice teaching position with a nice income in a nice midwest town to move to Los Angeles? I know to them my decisions probably didn't make sense, but my grandfather never expressed any of that doubt, not to me anyway. I wish I could tell him everything that has happened in the past four years. I know what his response would be, "well you certainly are busy out there, keep it up, we are proud of you." I also know that where ever he is, he is probably saying that anyway!

As I get ready to add the word director to the long list of things I've done in the past four years, I wish I could tell him about it. While he may not have appreciated the subject matter of Torrid Affaire, I know he would be proud of me.

Even after four years I still miss hearing those fifteen words, "well you certainly are busy out there, keep it up, we are proud of you." I know they may not sound like much but they were full of love.

It's funny how a smell can bring up some many emotions and memories isn't?

Sunday, February 7, 2010

A Whirlwind...

Life is crazy right now. Torrid Affaire is in full rehearsal mode. We open two weeks from this past Friday. We'll be adding props this week! Last night was our third successful 24 hour festival, Sex, Love, Rock n' Roll and Beer: A Day if the Life of Cupid. I am constantly amazed at the enormous amount of talent Theatre Unleashed possesses. Each play was well written, the actors were off book and our host was fantastic. A good night of great theatre.

Today I wrote my director's statement for the Torrid Affaire program and thought I would share it here:

"Directing -- it's not a word that was ever supposed to be next to my name, and yet here it is. I blame -- no I think our Associate Artistic Director Jacob Smith and our president and the writer of Torrid Affaire, Andrew Moore for this. In the past eight months I had two conversations that led to the reason why the "directed by Erin Scott" appear in our program. Eight months ago Jake asked if I would consider not only being his stage manager but also being his Assistant Director. I believe my first response went something like "Really? Me? Um...okay." And then the fear set in. I'm not a director, how could I possibly be any use to him that way. Rehearsals started, it took me several weeks to feel even slightly comfortable, but Jake was patient and let me find my directing style. At that point I knew I was hooked.

The second conversation happened in December. Andrew and I were cleaning the lobby and he mentioned he had found the perfect person to direct Torrid Affaire. He then told me he thought I should do it. Me? Really a full length play? I said yes and started on a whirlwind journey that led us to tonight. While directing Torrid Affaire the voices of Jake, Andrew, Carlos and Jeff all great directors I've stage managed for were constantly in the back of my head. The four of them along with several others are truly responsible for the words, "director, Erin Scott." I hope you have as much fun watching Torrid Affaire as I had directing. Thank you for coming and enjoy the show!"

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Everyone Died

And that was the perfect end to the run of Friends Like These. 4 gunshots, blackout and curtain. I hope they took it all in, I hope they remember what they created on that stage. It certainly was the definition of the magic of live theatre.

I woke up this morning feeling very sad. It took me a few moments to determine why my glorious Saturday morning of sleeping in was being interrupted with sadness and then all of sudden it came rushing back to me. Tonight would be the end. The true night of lasts, the last time I'd have to go to Carl's Jr to pick up prop food, the last night Sari would cover her hair in lotion and draw in some of the thickest eyebrows I've ever seen. The last night that I would bring Ryan his preset hanger at the end of the show, the last night we'd use the slurpee cups that 7-11 refused to give us for free, the list goes on and on. It truly was a night of lasts.

The sadness, the desire to not move on is particularly strong for me. I've been with other shows that I've loved, but usually when a show ends I'm ready for the end. It feels like it's run its course and it's time to say goodbye. This one is different, it's not done, and I'm not ready to say goodbye. Not to the play, and especially not to this cast. They are such a unique yet cohesive group. True professionals, anyone working in theatre, television or film would be lucky to cast any of these six amazing actors.

We didn't actually say goodbye to each other. The plan is to go to Hollywood Fringe in June and hopefully New York fringe in August. With those plans in our heads, it is a bit easier to walk away for now. If I had actually said goodbye tonight I think it would have been something like this, "As a stage manager you hope for a cast as talented, professional and nice as all of you are. I will miss your smiles, and your hugs, I'll miss seeing you each weekend and most of all I'll miss watching you perform. When I called you to tell you we'd like to offer you a role in this show I had no idea we were putting together such an amazing group of people. We were truly blessed to find all of you, thank you for making my job incredible easy." I could go on, I could embarrass each one of them by telling them how incredible they are and how much each of them contributed to the production. I won't, I think they know, at least I hope they do!

So for now, the book holding Friends Like These has not been closed, it has merely been bookmarked. It will be set aside for a while, but like all favorite books, we'll rediscover it again in the near future, dust it off, re-read it and fall in love with it all over again.

Thank you Matthew Scott, Ryan J, Sari, Sarah, Alex, Jacob, Vance, Sean and Greg for letting me be a part of this fantastic journey.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Goodbyes and Beginnings

We are two thirds of the way through our remount of Friends Like These. When we first started this journey back in July 2009 with casting I don't think any of us imagined it would last this long. We were fortunate to know back in October when we closed FTL the first time that it wasn't goodbye. The remount had already been planned and we knew that roughly 10 weeks later all of us would be gathered together again for part two of this incredible journey. Last night we said goodbye to one of our original cast members. Alex won't be with us next weekend. We have a fantastic understudy joining us, but it was definitely hard watching last night, knowing that would be the last time (for a while at least -- currently the plan is for Friends Like These to come back in the summer at both the Hollywood and NYC Fringe festivals.) that this cast will perform together. I'm not ready tocompletely say goodbye to this show and this cast.

When I came home last night I changed my facebook status to "I have probably seen that show at least 50 times including rehearsals and I could probably see it at least another 50 more. They never cease to amaze me, how incredibly talents they are and yet how humble and nice they are to everyone. Together they have created something that is truly special. I hope they know that :) I do hope these five actors really know much life they have breathed into this great script. I will miss them and I will miss Friends Like These after we close next weekend. For the moment I will tell myself that this isn't goodbye, it's just "see you in a little while." That will make next weekend easier.

While I prepare to put Friends Like These off to the side for a bit, I am preparing for my next project, directing, Torrid Affaire. Auditions were last Sunday and our first couple rehearsals were this past week. So far I am in love with the process, the cast and the show. I discovered my least favorite part of directing so far is the casting. Too many good people for only 6 roles. If only I could cast them all. Other than a brief moment yesterday, when I had a slight panic that someone had accidentally left me in charge, it felt pretty natural. I have to thank the directors I've worked with over the past 4 years. Observing them has been an incredible introduction to the world of directing. The frightening part for me is that we only 17 rehearsals. 17 rehearsals until we open -- that's a bit crazy. Good -- but crazy!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Unexpected Sadness

As I walked into our theatre this morning to prepare the space for company auditions I found myself walking down the aisle to the stage and being overcome with a strong feeling of emptiness and sadness. Not for myself but for the space. It struck me as odd that a feeling like that could come from a building, from an empty stage and yet it was very powerful. Perhaps I'm a bit of a romantic and it had something to do with the dimly lit stage and the ominous rain clouds outside, but to me as I walked through it felt like the building, the stage, even the seats were sad and lonely this morning. As I gathered chairs and swept the floor I tried to figure it out. What occurred to me was maybe it wasn't sadness, maybe it was a mourning over the loss of the packed house from the night before, two shows back to back both nearly sold out. Maybe the theatre was sad, cold and empty not knowing when that excitement and energy would return to it's space. I wanted to reassure it somehow, tell it that we'll all be back next weekend, different crowds, but the bright lights, the voices, the audience, the cast we'll all be back to perform again, to make the space come to life and be happy again. I'm not sure how to convey that to the four walls and 36 empty seats, it's not really a conversation you can actually have. I hope our auditions today helped cheer it up a bit, make it feel useful and alive again.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

And So It Begins

Please forgive The Lord of Rings reference I'm about to make. This is the only part of me that leans at all towards the geek side of things. In Two Towers just before the battle of Helm's Deep, King Theoden is standing on the top of the wall in the middle of the night with his entire army ready to battle the forces of Sauron and Saruman. As it starts to rain off in the distance they can see the opposing army approaching. He stands there getting wet and very stoically says, "And so it begins." There is no fear in his voice, it's very matter of fact. He has no idea what will happen that night but he's ready for it, no matter what.

I had my "and so it begins" moment late Monday night. Vacation is over, everyone is back and our season is kicking into full production mode. I had two back to back meetings on Monday evening. Both good meetings, things were accomplished. I came home with a ton of things to do, so as I sat working late into the night on Monday night, that phrase, "And so it begins" popped into my head. We are looking at another ambitious year, full of fun, excitement and uncertainty. Uncertainty because with any theatre company or performance for that matter you never know what could happen. The good thing is that like King Theoden, we are ready for it, there is no fear in us. We will jump into this new year, embrace it, have fun with it, create and live in it. It truly is exciting!