Quotations: Volume 24

Here are some of the educational, inspirational, and humorous quotations from my classes this week:

"I'm sure you know more than I do about something. It's not voice." - Voice Professor, to D-Train

"This is [Voice Professor] time. One minute could be ten. Three minutes could be half. It could be to your advantage, or to your disadvantage, depending." - Voice Professor

"Next you can move into your spine twists... with your customary moaning and groaning." - Voice Professor

Voice Professor: We're going to take three minutes to find our support, forward placement, space in the back of the mouth... What else?
Killer: Rib swing.
Voice Professor: Good. Rib swing. What else would you like to find?
Wifey: Nirvana.
Voice Professor: That might take five minutes.

"We treat Másha like she is a piece of furniture. She is a part of the room. She is like a sofa or a chair. The sofa is beginning to smell like Másha." - Acting Professor, on Three Sisters

"You're beginning to get like monkeys always grooming each other, except one of the monkeys is sick." - Acting Professor, on the ways the actresses playing the sisters in Three Sisters had been reacting to each other

"No matter how big other people's problems are, mine are always bigger." - Acting Professor, on the mentality of Chekov's characters

"Go ahead and use this opportunity to locate your toes. You might as well find them this year." - Movement Professor

"[Thrill], don't shake your head. You know exactly what I'm talking about." - Voice Professor

"Okay. You feel awkward. It's okay to feel awkward. But it's not okay to shake your head at me when you know what I'm talking about." - Voice Professor

"Being able to receive and respond subconsciously, that is a great skill. Some might even call it genius. That is the goal." - Acting Professor

"Why not strive for genius? Why strive for anything less than that, even just talent? Let's strive for genius." - Acting Professor

"You're making them look so good in front of their friends. 'She didn't cite your work, did she, Larry?'" - Big Show, about Voice Professor giving a speech in front of people that she had cited in the speech

"There is nothing more serious than the creative process." - Acting Professor

(on the romance budding between Newbie and Big Show's characters in a scene from Three Sisters)
Acting Professor: When Kulygin got there, there was not much between you yet. There was no elephant in the room.
Newbie: No, no. More like a squirrel.

"Sometimes an expression of love is incredibly rude." - Acting Professor

"The question is, 'Can we get uphill by going downhill?' The answer is, 'No.'" - Acting Professor

"That airplane wasn't out of gas, so why do we need to make an emergency landing to refuel?" - Acting Professor, using a metaphor about following impulses

"You must yield to your subconscious, even if you are Einstein. Your subconscious is not just Einstein, but a thousand Einsteins. It knows what's coming." - Acting Professor

(after a confusing metaphor about hot air balloons)
Acting Professor: I'll never be a specialist in balloons.
Iceman: Who is?
Acting Professor: The first time I learned how hot air balloons worked was when I came over to the U.S.
Thrill: You came over in a balloon?


Wednesday, March 25

We did stretching and alignment stuff.

Then we went into a Theatre Complicité exercise called "Find the Game". By receiving the other people in the ensemble and looking for the will of the group, you figure out the rules for a game that you're making up on the spot. It took us a couple of tries to get the hang of it, but then it was a lot of fun.

We played another game that Movement Professor called "The McDonald's Game". We took all the exercise balls of various sizes and put them in a clump, and then stood around the edges using our knees to hold the balls in place. We created sort of a bouncy, large ball version of a ball pit at a Play Place. And then one person would go in the pit while the rest of us protected them and kept the balls inside our circle. It was great fun! I think I enjoyed being an edge person just as much as I liked being in the middle. It brought me a great deal of joy.

We went through the guys' monologue and discussed the IPA.

Then, we went into the concepts of linking and blending in sentences... whether you should double-plode consonants that are in adjacent words (like "real love" or "minor role", whether you can leave both syllables of the word "because" in context, whether you can put words together so that some letters almost switch words in your head ("don't you", "real enough", "but you're").

I was Másha and Newbie was Anfísa all class. We're going to switch tomorrow.

We ended up getting through all of Act I, and it was a blast.

It's funny how clear things in the script become once they're on their feet. I thought that Másha didn't want to go to a party with her husband because she hated him. But once we started playing the scene, the reason I didn't want to go to the party was so that I could stay and flirt with Vershínin. How obvious!

Acting Professor said to us:
- Allow yourself to go with the flow
- Trust yourself
- Work on your lines at home, and then don't worry about them when you're on stage... Whatever comes out, comes out.


Tuesday, March 24

I think that part of what makes my program so special is the relationship it has with the community. There's an Adopt-A-Student program in place, and as a result, we develop close relationships with people around. Today, we were given the very sad news that a woman who was a large supporter of our program and our theatre passed away over the weekend. She was wonderful to me, and I am heartbroken over the loss.

That put a bit of a dark cloud over my first day back to classes.

Movement Professor, sensing that our bodies were not ready to go straight back into tumbling, did stretches with us for the majority of class.

We also worked with "Clouding". It's a group activity in which the group lifts one person, and then supports their body as they move in space. It's kind of like crowd surfing, but way cooler. I was a little too nervous to be clouded today, but I'll probably go tomorrow.

We went over the female monologue from The Wood Demon today, and will go over the male one tomorrow. We asked questions about pronunciation. All-The-Way and I had the most... I actually still have more (I never asked about "laughing", for example), but we ran out of time. Voice Professor came up to me after class and encouraged my question-asking, saying that it results in everyone coming to a clearer understanding of the IPA work. So if we have time, maybe I'll ask a couple more questions tomorrow.

We worked on Act I of Three Sisters using the costumes we found over break. All the guys playing officers (Big Show, Iceman, Killer, and Thrill) got matching uniforms out of props storage. I think they might have originally been used as marching band uniforms, but they work for our rehearsal purposes and they look pretty great (side note: men in tight white pants = hilarious).

I started as Másha and Newbie started as Anfísa, and then we switched. Másha is pretty depressed and weird at the beginning of the play, which is lucky because I was already in a similar emotional state when we began.

We ended up getting about 2/3 of the way through Act I. Kulygin (O.D.) and Natasha (Wifey) haven't made their entrances yet, but we'll definitely get to their parts tomorrow.

We started by discussing more of Caucasian Chalk Circle after getting our papers back. We then compared it to our latest read, Orestes 2.0. Brecht took problems his society was facing and set them in the past in order to get his audience to look at them with a sense of disconnect. Mee took a myth from the past and modernized it in order to achieve a similar effect.

We're going to spend one more day on Orestes 2.0, and then move onto another Mee work: Big Love. The full texts of both plays can be found online (LEGALLY!) here.


Monday, March 23

First off, congratulations to Big Show who went on in one of his understudy roles for The Winter's Tale last weekend!

Thursday, most of my classmates and I headed to the props storage facility (which is the biggest props storage facility I've ever seen in my life. How big is it, you ask? It's the building where the Conservatory USED to be, years ago. Props are stored in every classroom, studio, office, and performance space. It's insane. We went for the purpose of gathering props for our Chekhov project for Acting class. Among other things, we borrowed a fake baby, a mismatched Silver Service (assembled by All-the-Way), a hanging plant, and some picture frames (someone had the idea that we should put a picture of Acting Professor in one of them and treat it like he's our dead father -- I thought that was pretty great).

I have a costume for Másha that I borrowed from 3rd-year MT (she played Másha in her first year and still had her black dress), so I should be okay for tomorrow. I don't have a good hat for the character, but we have a substitute sort of rehearsal hat that I think will work for now until we can fill out the proper paperwork for the costume shop.

I read Orestes 2.O and A Nearly Normal Life by Charles L. Mee. Probably should've read A Nearly Normal Life (his memoir) first, as Analysis Professor recommended. But no, I'm a stubborn fool and insisted that I could understand the play without it. The play? Good. Confusing. And when I finished it, I felt dirty. The memoir? All about how Charles L. Mee had Polio as a teenager, and now he writes in a fractured style about imperfect worlds, because that's what is truer to his experience. It may be madness, and yet I see the method in it. (Yes, I just paraphrased Shakespeare.)

I did the IPA on the whole monologue from The Wood Demon. I literally looked up every single word (I figured it couldn't hurt). It wasn't TOO bad, although it made it clear to me that I DO have some of the Midwestern vowels that I thought I'd escaped (Voice Professor says I'm good with self-diagnosis). Mine are not as pronounced as most, which is why I haven't gotten much criticism on them, but they're there. It's difficult for me to say the word "man" with the correct vowel, instead of widening it and giving the "a" a hint of "ee" (if people have it strongly, "man" almost sounds like "mee-yun"). I've been working on it.

The most difficult words for me so far:
- calculating: 'kælkjəleItIŋ/kælkjʊleItIŋ (the "-cu" part should start with a "ky-" and have the vowel of "rut" or "foot", NOT "tube"... I keep incorrectly saying it like the "cu" in "cute".)
- for: fɔr (vowel is like the "aw" in "law")
- forestry: 'fɔrɛstri (first vowel is like the "aw" in "law")
- happiness: 'hæpInIs (sounds like "HAP-ih-nihs", NOT "HAP-ee-nihs")
- husband: 'h^zbənd (sounds like "HUZ-bund", NOT "HUZ-bind", "HUZ-band", or "HUZ-bend")
- married: 'mærid (first vowel is like the first one in "apple")
- more: mɔr (vowel is like the "aw" in "law")
- of: ɒv (has a 'v' consonant, not an 'f')
- or: ɔr (vowel is like the "aw" in "law")
- tormenting: 'tɔrmɛntIŋ (first vowel is like the "aw" in "law")
- very: vɛri (first vowel is an "eh" like in "met", not like "air")
- your/you're: yɔr (vowel is like the "aw" in "law")

I'm not sure if we're pronouncing the name "Sonya" as "'soʊnjə" or 'sɒnjə" (so that the first vowel sounds like "sew", or so that the first syllable rhymes with "on"). I also don't know if we're saying "laughing" as "læfIŋ" or "lafIŋ" (the first is like "apple", the second is decidedly more British... almost like "father"). I guess I'll ask tomorrow.

I tried to do some tumbling on my own, but there's just not really a safe place to do it. I did some donkey kicks, back bends, rolling, and cartwheels in my living room. I don't think it's wise for me to do much else without Movement Professor watching anyway.

I'm not as memorized as I probably should be on Three Sisters, but I hope it will be enough. The worrisome part is mostly just trying to remember cue lines. A lot of what Másha says are lines of random reactions to other people. So many people on stage at the same time makes things trickier than our usual whatnot in that class.

I hope I'm ready for classes to start again tomorrow. Tuesdays are always the hardest for me, as I have class from 9:00-12:00, student rep meeting at 12:15, and then class from 1:00-5:30. After two weeks off, it's going to be a rough adjustment going back to that.



Tuesday, March 17

Saturday night I spent some time dressed as a "colonial townswoman" for a Development event for the theatre. It was a dinner out on the beach, and we watched the sunset as we ate. It was really rather lovely. And being in costume was all kinds of fun. :)

Sunday I finally got to see Miss Julie (directed by Acting Professor, starring three 2nd-years), and it was SO GOOD. I love watching other people apply the techniques that I'm learning. Also, four of my 1st-year classmates who are crewing the show were recruited to be servants in the play (All-The-Way, D-Train, Newbie, & Wifey), and have a neat movement scene in the middle. It was so exciting to see them up there! I'm very proud.

Yesterday, Two-Shots-Up and I got together to go over some lines for Three Sisters. I still have a LOT of work to do on that...

I have successfully IPA-ed the monologue from The Wood Demon. Now I have to get the language into my mouth properly, and then I can start memorizing it.

Today I plan to read Orestes by Charles Mee.

A little bit at a time is going to be the best way to get all my work done, I think. Thank goodness for break.



Monday, March 9

Today there was a "Town Hall meeting" at the theatre to announce next season's line-up, both for the Rep Theatre (company members and 3rd years) and for the Conservatory shows (next year's 2nd-years... a.k.a. my class! The Elite Eleven of 2011!).

The Season Announcement is when the upcoming season is unveiled to the community, the press, and the students officially for the first time. (We'd heard some rumors previously, but you never know how accurate they may or may not be.) A huge amount of donors, board members, students, faculty, and town residents came for the big reveal. It was so exciting!

So first, the season that is near and dear to my heart:

THE MYSTERY PLAYS by Roberto Aquirre Sacasa
preview October 27, runs October 28 - Nov. 15

Two tales of psychological terror and the unknown by the most intriguing young writer in America today. A young filmmaker barely escapes a deadly train accident and discovers how close we all reside to the afterlife. A brother and sister try to assemble the details of a horrible murder fifteen years after it took place. The boundaries of reality and illusion are constantly shifting in this exciting play opening just in time for Halloween.

BLUE/ORANGE by Joe Penhall
preview Jan 5, runs Jan 6 - 24

This edgy new play explores the politics of mental illness with enormous power and scathing comedy. At a National Health Service Hospital in London, two psychiatrists lock horns over the diagnosis of a young black patient, and a dangerous game of power, ego and racial prejudice unfold. As brilliantly comic as it is provocative, this Olivier award-winning play for 2000 raises questions for which there are no answers and leads the audience on a complex and emotional journey.

MACHINAL by Sophie Treadwell
preview March 2, runs March 3 - 21

A classic play from early 20th century America. An ordinary young woman is foolish enough to believe she can have it all: career, home, marriage, children, pleasure, and love. Her inevitable downfall and the play's shattering conclusion still has the power to fascinate and shock...
(This will be our ensemble piece, featuring all 11 members of my ferociously talented class.

preview April 14, runs April 15 - May 3

One of France's great classic playwrights, and the man who brought subtle psychological insight to classic comedy. Two headstrong children are betrothed to each other by their parents, in spite of the fact that they have never been introduced. Trying to exert their independence, the two children trade places with their servants in order to get a good look at their fiancés. In doing so, however, they only manage to confuse their families, their friends, and their own hearts. . A romantic comedy presented on the [historic theatre] stage.

AAAAHHHHH!!!! It's so exciting! We have a season! We're going to perform here! This is what we've been waiting for!

These are the shows that will be done for the Rep season:

A dynamic educational experience for students and families. OCT 21 - NOV 8
(This will be an educational outreach show featuring the entire 3rd-year ensemble)

CONTACT created by Susan Stroman and John Weidman
A romantic and thrilling dance musical. OCT 24-NOV 22
(It will be a collaboration with the ballet that shares our performing arts building. How cool is that? The costumes designs will be by William Ivey Long, who designed for the original Broadway production of the show -- and who has won 5 Tony Awards for his designs of Broadway shows like Hairspray and The Producers.)

THE PERFUME SHOP adapted by E.P. Dowdall
A heartwarming comedy for the holidays. DEC 4 - APRIL 1
(the American premiere of a new adaptation of Parfumerie by Miklos Laszlo, which is the play that the movies The Shop Around the Corner and You've Got Mail were based on, as well as the musical She Loves Me)

DEC 11 - FEB 23
(Artistic Director explained that the show they had in this spot had to be yanked from the docket a mere 36 hours ago! They're not sure yet what will be replacing it.)

A delightfully comic look at relationships. DEC 18 - FEB 25
(Partly based on a writings by Mark Twain)

THE LAST FIVE YEARS by Jason Robert Brown
An intimate and uplifting musical in the [historic theatre]. JAN 21 - FEB 28

HEARTS by Willy Holtzman
A poignant journey of forgiveness and friendship. JAN 22 - APRIL 11
(Willy Holzman was the playwright for the musical Wicked)

MANAGING MAXINE by Janece Shaffer
A hilarious look at love in the Golden years. MARCH 12 - APRIL 17

An exciting journey from page to stage. MARCH 24 - APRIL 18
(There will be 2 new plays produced, and the audience will be invited into every step of the process - from attending open rehearsals, to special events with the playwrights, talkback sessions, and finally the performances themselves.)

DANCING BACKWARDS IN HIGH HEELS - THE GINGER MUSICAL conceived & developed by Lynnette Barkley & Christopher McGovern; book/original songs/arrangements by Christopher McGovern
A new musical about an all-time American favorite. MAY 7 - MAY 30
(Artistic Director said something about it being done in collaboration with Northlight Theatre in Chicago. He said it will be originated here, before going on to Arizona.)

Isn't it amazing how much theatre goes on in this place in a single season? 15 shows between October and May!

I'm so geeked. I'm going to have to go order a bunch of plays online, ASAP.

Much love,



Quotations: Volume 23

Here are some of the educational, inspirational, and humorous quotations from my classes this week:

"Build your strength,
Build your strength,
And coordination,
Focus on the doughnut,
Not the hole."
- Movement Professor

(reciting example sentences for vowels)
Iceman: "Apple Jacks beat Snap Crackle Pop."
Wifey: Do you mean Rice Krispies?
Voice Professor: Well done. And good strong point of view.

"A little more Strindberg, a little less Disney." - Movement Professor

(I had pain in my hip flexors, and Movement Professor said that we'd do a warm-up to focus on them. After a lot of difficult warm-ups in a row, she announced a simpler one...)
Movement Professor: Now let's do some "figure eights" for Angela's hips.
Two-Shots-Up: YES! Yay for Angela's hips!
Me: It's not the first time I've heard that.
Iceman: And it won't be the last.

(I was finally staying up in a yoga tripod, after weeks of unsuccessful attempts due to problems with my hip flexors)
Me: Hey! Look guys! I can stay here now!
O.D.: Hooray for Angela's hips!
Two-Shots-Up: Hey! It won't be the last time!

Movement Professor: Extend your leg behind you. Fly like a bird. I don't know what kind of bird. Maybe more like a fish.
D-Train: I think it's like a flying fish.
Me: Can it be a flying squirrel?
Movement Professor: I don't think you can in this position... But if you can keep your head on your spine, you can be any animal you want, Angela.

(asking for spotters for Killer, who was going to attempt a handstand)
"I need two strong guys, because you know his pelvis weighs a ton." - Movement Professor

Big Show: It's the motion.
Movement Professor: Did you say it's b***s***?
Big Show: Motion.
Movement Professor: Oh. Okay.

"Tap your feet at the top of your donkey kicks. Be aware of where your legs are. It's ten twenty; where are your legs?" - Movement Professor (at 10:20am)

Movement Professor: Let it never be said that my actors aren't strong.
Big Show: Who's been saying that? I want to know so that I can kick their a**.

"They don't have to be, like, Nobel Prize winning sentences. They just have to contain the sound." - Voice Professor

Voice Professor: [Big Show], do you have vowel euphoria? You seem to.
Big Show: 'Vowel euphoria'? (laughs) I think I do.

"You can traw some raw appaw cidaw vinegaw." - Voice Professor

(after D-Train started an example sentence)
Voice Professor: Did you hear that? It was a mini glottal attack.
D-Train: I hate glottal attacks.
Voice Professor: As well you should.

"I don't know what just happened over there, but I don't like it. All this laughing is trouble. [Thrill], it's you, isn't it?" - Voice Professor

"I'm supposed to answer a lot of questions, but I don't want to. I am in mourning, d*** it." - Acting Professor, explaining Másha's state of mind in Three Sisters

"Your family has money. You do not. And you will inherit it when they die. But last time you checked, they're alright." - Acting Professor, explaining Túzenbach's economic status to Killer in Three Sisters

(discussing when Másha says that there are "one and a half" officers at their party, which is often misunderstood by the actors, and therefore the audience)
"When Másha says that line, no one ever understands. But she is taking about two very concrete people. Túzenbach is a man. Solyóny is a half." - Acting Professor

"Playing these people is going to be a bit like playing martians. But they lived. That's the difference." - Acting Professor

"We just got Russian history in an hour. Well, it beats readin' it." - Thrill

Acting Professor: So there is a problem. Másha cannot go to Moscow, because she went ahead and got herself married.
Me: Don't judge us.
Newbie: Don't judge the Máshai!

"What is the image that -- I'm gonna make a sports metaphor, and I'm going to screw it up -- hits into... left field... Oh, whatever." - Analysis Professor

"From now on, you cannot be passive audience members. You are not going into the theatre and sitting back and letting it wash over you anymore. You're a technician now. You have to behave like one." - Analysis Professor, saying that as a trained actor you have to look at theatre from the perspective of an artist and a craftsman

"When you watch theatre, you have to take all the threads apart, because it's your job to know how to put them together." - Analysis Professor

"Don't put all your weight on me. I'm not that strong. I look strong, but it's all momentum. Actually, that's not true. I'm pretty strong." - Movement Professor

Movement Professor: That's called 'The Flopping Fish'. It's great for stage because it looks so ridiculous.
Me: Um, [Movement Professor]? I think I did that accidentally last week.
Killer: Oh my God! I think you did!

Voice Professor: [Wifey], you're closer to me than usual.
Wifey: I swiped [D-Train]'s spot.
D-Train: She did.
Wifey: [D-Train] hates me today.
Voice Professor: It's nice to be hated. It means you've had an impact on the world.

(Voice Professor was saying to think of the word "oar" as being spelled "owre", and Big Show attempted to correct her)
"I was attempting to spell phoenetically. But that's okay. I know you're taking it off the fact that I'm the most atrocious speller in the world." - Voice Professor

"You take the tiniest little pause ever there. You can't even call it a pause. A pauselette." - Voice Professor


Friday, March 6

As of right now, we are officially on Spring Break. Of course, we still have a lot to do... but classes will resume in two weeks time.

We started doing backward rolls from standing. Then we started a new thing called "The Flopping Fish". It involves starting from standing, backward rolling up to a Candle position (legs straight in the air, balanced sort of on your shoulders), throwing your legs over your shoulder to complete the roll, and ending up with your stomach on the mat but your back arched and your arms out. It's a lot of fun.

By the end of class, Thrill was doing dive-rolls that made it look like he could throw himself over a car. It was incredible. And several people (like Big Show and Iceman) have gotten pretty good at walking on their hands. Two-Shots-Up did it across the full length of our mats!

With a little assistance, I can do a back-walkover. I think that if I keep working on it, I'll figure out how to do it on my own, but right now I definitely need a couple of spotters supporting me.

I got up into a handstand during donkey-kicks, and stayed up with the help of a couple of spotters. I think I could stay up on my own, but Movement Professor wanted to make sure that my back was straight.

I finally figured out how to do the special cartwheel that ends facing forward with an arched back. Very exciting.

My one-handed cartwheels are still pretty ugly, but I can get around. Movement Professor suggested that I grab the back of my shirt with the hand I won't be using, and that helped me to not follow my impulse to use it. I think the only thing that's holding me back is fear. Once I get over that and can straighten my legs, I'll be good.

It's unbelievable how strong we've all gotten in this tumbling unit. Wifey was whipping through her backward rolls today like they were nothing. D-Train has some of the most wagon-wheel-like cartwheels I've ever seen. Newbie and O.D. can do forward rolls really well even though they've both had significant spinal surgeries. Killer has figured out how to do a successful cartwheel despite his setback of having a heavy pelvis. All-The-Way makes every move she makes look graceful, no matter how awkward it may be when first explained.

I think we're going to do more acrobatics after break. Should be fun. I hope I'm ready for it, because it's so exciting when you can nail these things.

I had a thought today on how to say the word "north" with the Standard vowel that we're supposed to use. You say the word "gnaw" and then add an "rth" (yes, the vowel really does sound like that in the dialect we're learning). It works. :)

Here are my favorite example sentences of the day:
- "Be sure to fear scary star warriors." - Two-Shots-Up
- "Peering in the fair port, I see the scar on the cocksure captain." - Iceman
- "There are hairy pears." - Wifey
- "Look here. There is the poor little whore. How much do you charge, whore?" - Thrill
- "Here there are more poor people on tour where Northern beers are made." - Killer
(I'm a pretty excellent sentence maker, but I think Killer is my second-in-command... he used ALL the r-coloring vowels TWICE in ONE SENTENCE! Impressive stuff.)

Voice Professor gave us monologues from The Wood Demon by Anton Chekhov to work on over break from a Voice perspective. We are to look up the IPAs for all the words we are unsure of, and try to get as off-book as we can. After break, we will be having an oral exam to check our pronunciation work.

We worked with the first part of Act I of Three Sisters sort of in the same way we do études. Newbie and I traded off on who was playing Másha, and the other would play Anfísa (the nurse, who is a minor character). O.D. and D-Train stepped in for minor characters as well. Wifey and Big Show were audience members, as their characters hadn't gotten on stage yet (neither had O.D. & D-Train's characters).

It was a lot of fun, actually. I've been in classes since August, but today was the first time that I've done a scene in Acting class with more than one of them. It was so great!!! There's so much to receive and react to with that many people on stage at once. It really felt like we'd started creating a whole world. I can't tell you how excited I am to continue to work on this project.

Our homework for over break is to try to get off book for Act I and Act IV (which are the two acts we'll be working on for class), and to obtain rehearsal costumes that are appropriate for our characters. Másha is described as wearing a black dress in the first act, but Acting Professor recommended doing research into what the silhouettes would have been like in that time period.


So, ladies and gentlemen, faithful readers and stumblers, commenters and lurkers, one and all...

If I'm not posting much in the next couple of weeks, you'll know why. I'll be homeworking, going over my understudy lines, and taking a little bit of time off. And I'm ready to rest... at least for a little while.

All good things,



Thursday, March 5

We had THREE prospective students yesterday, and I was guiding around two of them. It's a little weird because I remember doing it a year ago (OVER a year ago, actually; I think I came to visit on February 26... bizarre). But it's kinda cool to have observers.

I stayed in the yoga tripod position for like 12 seconds today! Trust me, it was exciting. My previous record was 3. I'm getting stronger, and my balance is improving.

We attempted to do cartwheels in which we hit our feet together at the top... I was not very successful. It just made me fall out of them faster and on strange angles. I hope I'll get it soon.

It was perhaps the, oh, second time all year in Movement that I've been able to do something really well that other people struggled with: going into a back-bend from a standing position. I have a crazy back, so that's my favorite physical skill/quirk. I think we're going to do back walk-overs after break... I really, really, really want to learn how to do one. I hope my body can.

We tapped our feet together at the tops of our donkey kicks. Mine are so much higher and straighter than they used to be. I'm excited about that, too.

Unfortunately, my hip flexors are acting up again. If I'm in a straddle (even a mild one) for too long, they just start cramping. I feel like they prevent me from doing a lot (although realistically, it's a few things, and it's not everyday). Can't I have them surgically removed? Or fortified with metal like Wolverine from the X-Men? I think that would help a great deal.

Voice Professor called me out early in class for pushing myself to do something before I was ready. I've been really working on my forward placement, but I'm putting a lot of pressure on myself to get it right. I started working with it before my voice was fully warmed up. She reminded me to be fair to myself.

We recited sentences for all the vowels. Here are some I made up for the "apple" vowel:
- Angela asks for lavendar and marjoram.
- Alabama has bad taxes.
- Danny from Alaska laughs at Adam.

And here are some entertaining sentences for various sounds that my classmates came up with:

"Captain Laugh-a-lot can babble during a battle." - Thrill
"Don't toy with me, boy; I'm royal, boy!" - Thrill
"The cran-apple stand sat alone in Candyland." - Big Show
"'Ey' is a bad way to say 'hey'." - O.D.
"Andy and Janice vanish." - O.D.
"Here there are more poor people." - Killer's way of using all 5 r-colored vowels in one sentence.

We got our casting for our Chekhov project of Three Sisters.

All-The-Way: Irína
Big Show: Vershínin
D-Train: Andréy
Disco (Me): Másha
Iceman: Solyóny
Killer: Túzenbach
Newbie: Másha
O.D.: Kulygin
Thrill: Chebutykin
Two-Shots-Up: Ólga
Wifey: Natásha

You'll notice that Newbie and I are both playing Másha. There are only 4 major female characters in the play, and Acting Professor didn't want anyone to get stuck playing a minor role, so he double-cast the part of Másha. He had to double-cast some of the 2nd-years last year in The Seagull, so I was sort of expecting it. I hope Newbie and I don't feel cheated by the whole thing, but I think it's going to be fine. And I have a feeling that we're both going to have a lot of fun with Másha.

Acting Professor gave us a run-down of important Russian history, including the back-story of why Chekhov's Intelligensia are such moral, nobel people. I didn't know any of it previously, and it was pretty fascinating. Makes me want to go on Wikipedia and read more. Perhaps I will do so over our upcoming break.

We discussed Caucasian Chalk Circle by Brecht. I'm a pretty smart cookie, but this is a difficult play to read and keep track of.

Analysis Professor wrote the following quotation on the chalkboard:

"There are questions of man to dream, as in Pirandello, and man to thought, as in Shaw, but Brecht is concerned with man to man." - Joseph Chaiken

Part of Brecht's philosophy as a playwright was to go against everything that Aristotle wrote about playwrighting in Poetics, so I was pretty surprised that this play exemplified one of Aristotle's concepts: the events of the story have to be both surprising AND prepared for (or probable). It sounds like an oxymoron, but it makes sense when Analysis Professor explains it.

Director J pointed out that Brecht doesn't only try to alienate his audience, but rather he tries to emotionally engage them first. After all, alienation is fine, but you have to have something to be alienated FROM.

We threw out a lot of concepts of the play in trying to nail down an action. Justice, ownership, redefining responsibility beyond the scope of one's experience, disregarding the self, and sacrificing. I'm not sure that we really ended up with a solid action, but I have a better understanding of it now than I did going into it (which is good, because our paper on this play is due Monday).

The class will meet again after our break. By then, we are supposed to have read A Nearly Normal Life and Orestes, both by Charles L. Mee (whom Analysis Professor refers to as "Chuck").


Wednesday, March 4

Today was a big day for the understudies.

The actor playing Camillo in The Winter's Tale was out sick. His understudy is 3rd-year DY, who normally plays Young Shepherd. 3rd-year DY's understudy is Thrill. And 3rd-year EA, who normally plays Dorcas (among other roles) is still out with an injury. Her understudy is Two-Shots-Up. So in a very unusual performance, THREE understudies went on in one day (two of whom had never been up in those roles before). Crazy!

Tonight was also important because it marked the opening of the 2nd-year show, Miss Julie by August Strindberg. It was sold out tonight, and the preview last night had been sold out as well, so I haven't gotten to see it yet. I did attend the opening night party to support and congratulate all involved. I hope to be able to see it within the next couple of days (especially because one of my roommates -- 2nd-year NP -- is in it).


Tuesday, March 3

Movement Professor told us that she had consulted her doctor recently, and he had recommended that she take daily multi-vitamins and Omega-3. Food is grown more quickly these days than it used to be, and as a result does not have as many vitamins in it. Movement Professor therefore recommended that we all supplement our diets with these things.

She also said her doctor advised her to eat 5 times a day, and to always include a carb and a protein. She told her doctor she wasn't sure that she could do that, but he said that the between-meal snacks don't have to be big. A snack might be a piece of cheese on a triscuit, or a few almonds and a saltine.

My left-handed cartwheels are getting a LOT better. The hard part is still form. When I learned cartwheels as a child, I learned that you start by facing the direction you're headed, and end up facing the direction that you came from. The way we're learning now, you face the side the entire time (like a star, an X, or the spokes in a wagon wheel) so that you can do multiple cartwheels in a row. My right side is getting pretty good at this, but on my left side I still end up twisting mid-cartwheel to face backward.

I'm getting better at doing my forward rolls the way Movement Professor instructed, so I started doing them from standing yesterday. I got a little nauseated from all the tumbling, so I didn't try dive-rolls, but almost everyone in my class did yesterday (I volunteered to be one of the people they were diving over).

Note to self: do not wear shorts again during tumbling. Scrapes up legs and leaves weird mystery bruises.

We worked with the diphthongs we'd made sentences for, and went back to the "apple" vowel. My sentence was "[Iceman] asked for his gal pal's hand on Valentine's Day." I thought it was pretty clever (since it's true).

Here are some of my sentences...

"like" diphthong
- I exercise my tight thighs at nine.
- I fly my kite high in the sky.
- I smile psychologically while saying like.

"pay" diphthong
- Dane ate Jason's cake.
- David stays away from the ballet.
- Make my grape flavored shake with whey. (I call this one "the Jamba Juice order.")
(All-the-Way pointed out that "The rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain" -- used in My Fair Lady -- was good for this one as well.)

"oil" diphthong
- Disloyal boys annoy coy Joyce.
- Roy broils soy burgers in oil.
- The noisy boys have annoying voices.

the "sink/sing" sound (sounds like "ing")
- Starlings are singing and spreading their wings.
- Unwrapping things with inked paper and string.
- I'm thinking of things that bring the spring.

Because this is tech/previews/opening week for Miss Julie, our afternoon classes (Acting and Analysis) were canceled. And we do not have Voice or Movement on Wednesday.

As a side note, I recently stepped on a scale and learned that I've lost a chunk of weight since November, just from eating a little more healthily and being active in Movement class. I suspect that I might be a little taller, too, so I'm going to have to measure myself one of these days.

I volunteered to be in costume at an upcoming dinner event that the Development Department is hosting to benefit the theatre. The theme is related to the play The Devil's Disciple, which is currently in rehearsals. The director, Tony Walton, will be a special guest. I got to go to the costume shop and try on some pretty dresses from the time period. I'm so excited! It's been so long since I've been in a cool costume for anything. (If anyone reading this blog is attending the dinner on Saturday, March 14, I'll be there. Please say hello!)

Voice Tutorial
I set up a tutorial to work with Voice Professor on my "forward placement" (I've also heard it called "head resonance") because it's very difficult for me to do at the moment.

I met with her yesterday during the time that I would have normally had Acting class. She says that the things my placement falls back on the most are the "sit" vowel, the second halves of diphthongs, and the consonants "k" and "g" (which I've been working to adjust since the fall... I know HOW to make them in my mouth as opposed to my throat, but I forget a lot).

She also said that she hears me occasionally put my tongue in the wrong place when I'm producing the sound of "a schwa with r-coloring", like the end of the words "sire" and "tender" (I was using Paulina's Winter's Tale speech that starts, "What studied torments, tyrant, hast for me?" for the tutorial). I need to produce them with the tip of my tongue, not the middle.

Another thing that's challenging for me is that I keep increasing my volume when I move my placement forward. Voice Professor is concerned that I'm mentally linking the two, and they're not the same thing.

That said, she seems confident that I'm going to figure it out. And if she thinks so, then I think so, too.


Sunday, March 1

Two-Shots-Up has had an exciting weekend. She has been understudying the same actress (3rd-year E.A.) in two different shows, and that actress has had an injury. So on Saturday, she had to go on for BOTH roles! In one day! Dorcas in The Winter's Tale and Angelique in The Imaginary Invalid. She went on again today for Imaginary Invalid for the closing performance. And rumor has it, she might be doing Winter's Tale next week as well.

I went to see both of the shows on Saturday, and she totally rocked them out. I was so very, very proud!

I drilled my lines today. I hope that if I have to go on, it'll be okay. It's pretty good in my kitchen, but on stage is a completely different matter.