Quotations: Volume 28

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

"But [Analysis Professor], the difference between you and me and these characters is that neither one of us, as far as I know, has frontal lobe damage." - Me

"Have you guys seen... Oh, what am I saying? Of course you haven't! You don't have any time." - Movement Professor

"Oh, you thought I was going to miss the train. Now look how the train is waiting for meeeeeeeeeee!" - Acting Professor, on holding on to impulses for too long

Acting Professor: You are, after all, doing all this for the audience, even though I kept telling you you're not.
Big Show: Well, I'm not gonna!
Iceman: I'm with [Big Show]!

"Yeah, and why not, I say. Why not?" - Acting Professor, saying that there's no reason that O.D.'s character and mine can't be in a huge fight at the top of our scene, the way we mysteriously had been that day

"This class is the hardest class I've taught in terms of getting people to let go of their subjectivity. And that's not a good thing." - Analysis Professor

O.D.: When I saw your curtain speech for Three Postcards about the theatre and compassion, I started tearing up a bit.
Analysis Professor: (laughs) Oh, honey, you gotta get out more.

Two-Shots-Up: I did not appreciate you in the beginning...
Analysis Professor: No one does.

"This is something they used to say about graduate school, but it's gone out of fashion: the things you're learning now won't all make sense until five years from now." - Analysis Professor

"You have no idea what I do in my personal life." - Voice Professor

Voice Professor: You now have twenty minutes to destructure.
D-Train: Mmmm. Delicious.

"I am the biggest nancy boy on the face of the planet. I don't know Joe Louis from the man who invented Little Debbie cakes, and I can read this play... DON'T WRITE THAT DOWN!" - Anonymous


Sunday, April 26

Well, ladies and gentlemen of the internet, it's official: I am out of classes for the summer. My first year as a graduate student is quasi-officially over (although I still have Conservatory-related tasks that I'm responsible for until the middle of May). As has been said to me several times this weekend, I have now earned the "M" in my MFA.

I kept meaning to write posts over the last few days, but it turned out to be one of the busiest weeks of my semester (and I had the misfortune of being under the weather). I figured that my faithful readers would understand.

So let's see how much of the last week I can remember well enough to summarize...

We had our Movement Showing on Wednesday morning, and it went splendidly. The 1st-years showed off our West Side Story choreography, and then some of our tumbling skills. Big Show successfully did a dive-roll over 4 people, which I believe set a new class record (I have a feeling that Thrill could pull off the same feat, but he decided to do his front flip instead). I did a couple of assisted back-walkovers, a dive-roll over Two-Shots-Up, some arch cartwheels, flying fish, rotating back-bends, donkey kicks (that turn into handstands for a brief time) and other things that I didn't think I could do just a few short weeks ago.

The 2nd-years demonstrated their Commedia Dell'Arte work, as well as their Restoration-style "stuffed turkey" monologues, and a Menuet. It was SO COOL watching them. I'm excited to start the 2nd-year and apply movement to my acting in a new, more stylized fashion. I think it's going to be a fun challenge.

Analysis Professor says that we need to keep reading 4-5 plays a week for the rest of our lives. It's a pretty daunting task, actually. I just got 3 plays in the mail yesterday, so I'll try to read those this coming week. After that, I guess I'll just have to start hitting up libraries more often.

He said that even if you think the playwright put something into the play "for no reason", as an actor you can't PLAY "no reason"; it's important that you be able to analyze a text properly so that you can discover the reason.

He also reiterated something that I learned in undergrad (and that is, to some extent, common sense). As an actor, you have to believe that every role you play is the protagonist. If you play Osric in Hamlet, you have to believe that it's a play about a servant who has to convince the Prince to engage in a fencing match.

This week, Voice Professor really just gave notes on our Acting scenes.

My notes from Wednesday were:

- good shifting vocal actions
- voice is overall forward -- great
- strong final consonants -- great
- "no music for me" <- off-voice

(translation: I didn't have good vocal energy on that line)
- "sixties" <- s-kst-z
(translation: I needed to work on the consonants in that word)
- "girls" <- z
(translation: I said the final "s" as an "s", but it should be a "z")
- "questions" <- z
(translation: I said the final "s" as an "s", but it should be a "z")
- S+L very good
(translation: I did well with Sending and Landing the text)

I tried to work on them that night. My notes for Thursday were:

- excellent sending + landing
- very clear strong shifts in vocal action
- "forge and foundry sales company" -- this was unclear
- Arlin Border - make this very clear 1st time you say it - it's unexpected. Or is it 'v'?

(translation: in the scene, I'm engaged to a man named Arvin Borders. Because it's not a name you expect to hear, I have to be especially clear when saying it the first time, so that the audience knows what we're saying the other times.)
- "question" - t
(translation: when I said it fast, it sounded like "queshun")
- "little children" - l
(translation: I wasn't being clear about the final "l" sound in "little")

On Wednesday, my scene with O.D. started with our characters in conflict for some reason. We were both angry and sarcastic. At the end of it, Acting Professor said, "Yeah, and why not, I say. Why not?" He meant that there was no reason why our characters COULDN'T be bonding over their anger and common hatred for the pipe industry, even though it's not written into the story that way. I'm glad that we explored it as a possibility.

Acting Professor said that from the point that something clicks our scene, we have to "move it." Once the audience knows what the ending is going to be, it's better to let things roll quickly and get there. When the conflict is still strong, we can take our time more. But when we hit the transition, we have to drive it home.

He said it was a "very adult piece today, without this kind of 'roses sentimentality'." He said we were much clearer in taking impulses and making shifts.

At our showing on Friday, our piece didn't run the same way at all. In the beginning, I (Hildy Matthews, that is) was nervous that my fiancé (Arvin Borders) was going to leave me. By the end of it, I realized that it didn't matter, because I could replace him with Andy Middleton (O.D.) and the seduction began. It wasn't the most sexual the scene has run. It wasn't the most aggressive. It wasn't the most sentimental. It wasn't the most anything. Perhaps that means it was truthful. I hope that's what it means.

It felt pretty good. And I was glad to have so many people around giving their support (professors, donors, friends, 2nd-years and 3rd-years).

My classmates rocked in their scenes, and I was so very, very proud of them. We've grown so much together.

After it ended, Acting Professor said that our group has been the most challenging class he has ever worked with. He said that we have gone on a journey, and come incredibly far from where we started. He said that makes it especially hard for him to say goodbye to us. He said that his door is always open to us in the future. I plan to take him up on that.

My camera broke a few weeks ago, so I was worried that I might not have any photos to post... I would like to thank Pat Baer, who was so kind to take pictures of our Showings, and send them to me.

(click picture to enlarge)

So here's a group shot of my classmates and the professors who have been so dear to us over the last year:
Back row: Acting Professor, Thrill, Big Show, Wifey, Analysis Professor, Iceman, Me (Disco)
Middle row: Movement Professor, Killer, Newbie, D-Train, Voice Professor, Two-Shots-Up
Front row: O.D., All-The-Way

And the requisite goofy shot:
Back row: Acting Professor, Thrill, Big Show, Wifey, Analysis Professor, Me (Disco)
Middle row: Movement Professor, Killer, Newbie, D-Train, Iceman, Voice Professor, Two-Shots-Up
Front row: Tech Instructor, O.D., All-The-Way

Acting Professor talking to us as a group one last time:

L to R: Me (Disco), Acting Professor, Movement Professor, Thrill, Wifey, Iceman, Newbie, O.D., Killer, All-The-Way, Voice Professor, Two-Shots-Up, Big Show, D-Train

D-Train & Killer, The Foster Portfolio

Me (Disco), Find Me a Dream

O.D. and me (Disco), Find Me a Dream

Me (Disco) and O.D., Find Me a Dream

Me (Disco) and O.D., Find Me a Dream

Iceman and All-The-Way, The Long Walk to Forever

Iceman and All-The-Way, The Long Walk to Forever

Iceman and All-The-Way, The Long Walk to Forever

Iceman and All-The-Way, The Long Walk to Forever

Two-Shots-Up and Thrill, Miss Temptation

Iceman, Two-Shots-Up, O.D., Killer, and All-The-Way; West Side Story Suite

All-The-Way, Killer, Big Show, me (Disco); West Side Story Suite

Thrill, Newbie, D-Train, Wifey; West Side Story Suite

Our big strong men! Iceman, Thrill, D-Train, Big Show, Killer, O.D.; West Side Story Suite

Iceman, Wifey, Two-Shots-Up; West Side Story Suite

Iceman (doing Lizard?), Killer (doing Frog?), and All-the-Way; Tumbling

Two-Shots-Up goes into a 2nd-position headstand as D-Train spots; Tumbling

O.D. in a 1st-position headstand; Tumbling

1st and 2nd years bowing together at the Movement Showing; Me (Disco), 2nd-year AG, Iceman, 2nd-year BW, Two-Shots-Up, Big Show, All-the-Way, 2nd-year KFH, 2nd-year KS, 2nd-year SG, O.D.


Tuesday, April 21

We went over what we will be doing in our Movement Showing tomorrow. We're going to start with some of our tumbling things. Movement Professor asked each of us to make a list of ten things that we would like to do in the showing. (I'm just doing things I like to do, like donkey kicks and flopping fish... some people are focusing more on things that they are proud of, like combat crawls and torpedoes).

After that, we'll do our West Side Story dances.

If anything ends up being videotaped, I'll link to it on here... but I don't know if that's going to work out or not.

Voice Professor was sick today, so we had Acting Professor twice.

O.D. and I first ran our scene in the morning. Acting Professor told us "don't rush" at the beginning of it, which is probably why it ran so much more slowly than usual. Apparently I missed an impulse to stand up at one point (which was disappointing to hear... I've gotten a lot better about not missing impulses as the year has gone on, and that's a note I haven't gotten in a while).

We ran it again in the afternoon, and it just felt kind of off. My character got drunk a lot faster than usual, and I'm not sure why.

I'm still nervous about the characterization aspect of this piece. Sometimes when I do it, I find myself using what I call my "big girl voice", and sometimes I find myself using my "little girl voice". I'm not sure if one is a stronger choice for the character than the other. I talked to Big Show about it during Three Postcards. He said that he thinks I'm probably doing the right thing by not making a decision on it and letting my voice be whatever it wants to be on any given run. So I'm just going to trust my creative subconscious and try not to freak out too much.

We discussed Paradise Street by Constance Congdon. It's incredibly complicated. I generally root on the side of female playwrights and casts that are more than half female, just because both are somewhat unusual in comparison to the norm. This play? Entirely female cast. Call me sexist, but that makes me happy (as 80% of the roles in theatre are male and 80% of actors are female...).

Three Postcards had a "Pay What You Can Tuesday" performance tonight, so we had a good-sized audience. They weren't afraid to laugh or clap. It was nice.

Being backstage in the dark can take its toll on tech crews. Sometimes we joke on the headsets a little (we try not to do it when cues are being called). It makes the job a little less monotonous.

Movement Tutorial
I forgot to mention that I had my final Alexander Tutorial last Friday. It went quite well, I thought. Movement Professor and I reviewed the tape that we've been making all year of my progress in standing and walking neutrally. It's incredible how much my body has changed over the course of the last eight months. I'm really rather proud of it.

Movement Professor says that I do a lot of things with my body that are dangerous and I need to stop. Going en pointe without shoes on, touching my elbows together behind my back, walking on my kneecaps, and tucking my toes underneath my ribs; those are just a few of my fun Gumby tricks that I have to leave behind for the sake of my physical health. Because really, I don't want to have knee-replacement surgery at the age of 30.


Monday, April 20

The reunion weekend was a total blast. Tons of people who graduated from the program in the '70s and '80s came back, as well as a few more recent grads. It was neat to talk to them about where they've worked (one guy was telling me about a run of a play he did in Siberia), what they've done (we watched one woman's commercial reel... and I'd actually seen two of the commercials), and their memories of the program.

We looked at old photographs, and they explained what the program used to be like. One woman said that the Rep company member who was her mentor was Deanna Dunagan (who recently won a Tony for her performance in August: Osage County). I saw a picture of a woman I've seen perform on Broadway (Jennifer Smith, who played Kitty in the original cast of The Drowsy Chaperone). I also saw a gorgeous picture of Linda Eder acting in the Rep many years ago. It was really neat.

I just kept thinking about the stories I'll tell people when I come back for a reunion someday. About meeting Brad Oscar and Tony Walton. About the quirks of all of my classmates. About the things I learned and the things I laughed at. Or maybe, instead of telling them, I'll just print out the quotations I've kept such extensive records of. ;)

There are a few concepts that we've discussed in Acting class lately that I haven't written about, so I thought I'd do that now.

During the end of our Chekhov project, we started doing a new thing... Before we enter a scene and a character, we take five minutes to sit (or lay down) with our eyes closed in an attempt to "lose the body" and "lose the face". The idea behind this is to become a blank slate and lose our habitual patterns of movement and expression in order to be free to create something new for the character. Movement Professor said that when we lose the body, we have the opportunity to "embody the soul."

Acting Professor says that, in the same vein as our five minute meditation, the day of a performance you should take a nap.

The work that we're doing with both Acting Professor & Movement Professor is a combination of Mary Overlie's Viewpoints (Movement Professor was in Mary Overlie's first Viewpoints class, alongside Anne Bogart) and Psychological Gesture. We are using this exploration of multiple techniques as a way to "provide food to the subconscious." We are "finding character, not building it."

We've discussed on multiple occasions how important it is to receive from your partners on stage. If you take all of your impulses from within, you will run out of impulses (and energy). You will end up squeezing things out of yourself until you are empty and your performance is heavy.

Acting Professor says that if at the end of a scene you can remember everything that you did but are vague on your partner's work, it's a very bad sign. Ideally, you should remember exactly what your partner did but have amnesia about your own performance. That means that you were receiving and responding.

The notes given to O.D. and me regarding our most recent run of "Find Me a Dream" were:
- Keep the relay of energy going between the two of us all the time, in a loop. Don't let it drop.
- We need to keep living in the pauses and have uninterrupted life.

My personal notes for the run were:
- I didn't lock my knees at the top of the scene, which is very good. :)
- As soon as I started seducing O.D., my knees locked and my back arched, which is bad.
- I had more vocal life in the scene than Movement Professor had ever heard me have before.
- I used a full range of physical tactics, which is good.
- At my entrance, I should not force one emotion or another. What happened to my character directly before the scene is a given circumstance; the way she's reacting to it is not. Also, how it affected her in the moment is not the same as how it will develop.
- O.D. and I do not need to kiss in the scene. Acting Professor says I was "radiating sexuality", and kissing him was somehow redundant.


Quotations: Volume 27

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

"You can be a happy blind person, you can be an angry blind person, you can be any kind of blind person you like. I don't care. Just be blind." - Voice Professor, telling an actor that he wasn't enunciating the sentence "I'm blind" well enough.

(talking about someone I didn't know)
Prop Designer: I don't think he gets any sleep. Have you ever seen him sleep?
Tech Instructor: Oh, I'm sure he hangs upside down from something every once in awhile.

(trying to figure out how the drink props should look for Three Postcards)
Analysis Professor: ...And a Rob Roy should have an orange slice. What is it? Whiskey, sweet vermouth, bitters... is there scotch?
Tech Instructor: Bitters? That sounds like a Manhattan.
Analysis Professor: Oh, you know, they all look the same. One of those.
Tech Instructor: Well, I'm an alcoholic, I guess.

(after our voice class was kicked out of the big theatre because other people needed it, we ended up in the small theatre)
Big Show: Why are we in here?
Voice Professor: Well, they double-booked the [big theatre].
Killer: We're refugees, really.
Voice Professor: Nomads, in fact.

"These last two weeks in your experience as first-year students, you will learn that I cannot fix everything. Better to learn that now." - Voice Professor, regarding the space mix-up

(after our Voice class had been kicked out of three other spaces because other people needed them, we ended up in the Acting Studio.)
Voice Professor: We're so flexible about our space. We ARE nomads.
Wifey: We're 'no mad', also.
Voice Professor: That's punishable. Child's pose for you!

"Now, you I AM more powerful than." - Voice Professor to O.D., after complaining that she was not more powerful than the people who had made us move locations multiple times

"The singing bowl isn't even cooperating. What is going on?" - Voice Professor

"We could debate this, but I'm right." - Voice Professor

(while working on "Intimate Scenes")
O.D.: (in a creepy, vaguely sexual way) Hello, [Wifey].
Voice Professor: Were you trying to scare your scene partner, [O.D.]?
O.D.: I was trying to be 'intimate'.
Voice Professor: It was a little creepy.
O.D.: Oh.
Voice Professor: It's my job to let you know.

Acting Professor: ...But then you went backwards.
D-Train: That's when I f***ed up the line.
Acting Professor: But don't f*** up the technique. The line can take it.

(Iceman stopped using a prop that he had used weeks ago in the Vonnegut scenes)
Acting Professor: Where did your sack go?
Iceman: My sack?
O.D.: That's going on the blog!

"Okay, how did I become the weather?" - Acting Professor, when O.D. looked at his blazer during an etude and asked Iceman, "How do you like this weather?"

(referring to us taking risks in the classroom, which is the perfect place to do so)
"If something is flawless, it means you're not taking risks and you're not growing. To me, it is a very bothersome situation if you're not making mistakes." - Acting Professor

(Discussing O.D. and my scene, "Find Me a Dream")
Acting Professor: She is a princess in a ghetto.
O.D.: That's good. I should write that down.


Friday, April 17

Our voice showing went splendidly. We had a decent turnout, which is always nice.

It started with Thrill and I doing the first half of the first scene we did from Cowboy Mouth to demonstrate our work with Sending & Landing. D-Train and Two-Shots-Up did the second half of the scene.

After that, we all spoke chunks of our Wood Demon monologues. This was to demonstrate our work with Standard American Dialect.

My chunk was:
"You're angry with me because you think I married your father for selfish reasons. I give you my word of honor, if that means anything to you, that I married him for love. He attracted me as a scholar and public figure. It wasn't real love, it was quite artificial, but it seemed real enough at the time."

Finally, we did an "IPA-athon". We were divided into two teams, and we had to take words that were written on the chalkboard and race to write the way they would be written using the International Phoenetic Alphabet in a sort of relay.

The second years showed off their work with dialects. I'm so excited to do that next year! I hope we get to do "deep South" like they did. (Dialect work in the 2nd year often has to do with the mainstage shows for your 2nd and 3rd year and what they will require).

The Board of the theatre stopped by for a bit and watched Thrill and Two-Shots-Up do their Vonnegut scene. They did a great job, despite the added pressure of an audience. I was proud of them.

My scene with O.D. ran differently than usual. I totally seduced him, which makes sense, actually. But I think we lost some of the triviality of the scene, and I think Hildy (my character) ended up being too intelligent. I think the sexuality and manipulative nature were getting better, though. O.D.'s character suddenly really because the solution to all of my problems, and the rest of the scene became like a hunt for me.

I've had a few good days of class, which makes me nervous. I hope that my bad day doesn't strike the same day as our Showing.

(By the way, I changed the time of the Acting Showing in my previous post. It is now 3pm on Friday the 24th.)

The show ran smoothly, and we had a pretty good house.

This weekend is the 50th Anniversary Reunion weekend for the Conservatory. Last night there was a sort of open mic night. I met a bunch of past grads (mostly from the classes of 1978, 1980, and 1981, it seemed). Some people sang (including All-The-Way, 3rd year BB, and 3rd year DM), some did mime, some did story-telling, one played a washboard... It was a lot of fun.


Thursday, April 16

I would like to invite those readers who are in my community to attend our "Showings" in the next several days. Showings are more like "open classes" than "performances". It's just a chance to see the kinds of things that 1st and 2nd year students have been working on in our classes this semester. If you're interested, they are...

Voice Showing (1st & 2nd years)
Friday, April 17
(Allen Studio, 2nd floor)

Movement Showing (1st & 2nd years)
Wednesday, April 22
(Movement Studio, 1st floor)

Acting II Showing (2nd years)
Thursday, April 23
(Allen Studio, 2nd floor)

Acting I Showing (1st years)
Friday, April 24
(Cooley Studio, 2nd floor)


We started by running our West Side Story stuff. The first time we ran it, my section with O.D. and Big Show went abysmally wrong. I think we've fixed it now... I hope, I hope.

Acting Professor came in, and we began what we will be working on for the final two weeks of class (side note: how did we get to the final two weeks of class so quickly?). We're working with bringing Psychological Gesture and Viewpoints work into the characterizations for our Vonnegut scenes.

Acting Professor led us through a psychological gesture exercise, first working with our characters from Three Sisters as those are fresher to us at the moment. I kept being convinced that I was doing it wrong (despite Acting Professor saying that the only way to do it wrong would be to stop doing anything). It should be interesting to apply it to character work.

We went into the big theatre to continue our work with intimate scenes. Unfortunately, Killer and I didn't get to work on the mainstage (because we went yesterday). But Voice Professor has assured us that we'll be the first to go next semester (as our Voice training will pick up exactly where we leave off).

Acting Professor told me to write the following on my blog: Costumes help actors transform. He says he doesn't understand why this isn't obvious to actors. If you are in sweatpants and a t-shirt, you will not be able to fully realize the reality of playing, say, a 1960s actress at a country club (which is my character... I've been doing it in a green rhinestoned cocktail dress and high heels as of late). He recently heard a teacher say that if you put a kid in jeans, he'll act like a kid; if you put a kid in a suit, he'll act differently. The same applies to actors. Your clothing informs you of a lot, consciously and subconsciously.

Yesterday when O.D. and I did our "Find Me a Dream" Vonnegut scene, Acting Professor timed it. He said it was only 8 minutes long (far shy of our 15 minute maximum). It feels so much longer than that, because there's so much life being played out in it. It's really pretty cool actually. We got great comments yesterday (about how at times the space really transforms in our scene, and about how it was a "satisfying artistic experience"), so I was a little nervous about how it would run today.

Acting Professor said that the most successful parts of the scene were when things ran differently than they had before. The less honest parts were when I tried to do something the way I did it yesterday because I knew it had been successful before. He said it was clear that I was perfectly happy to do the scene a completely different way each time, and that I should give myself the freedom to do just that. I raised the issue of consistency, wondering if it was problematic that I have difficulty repeating things from previous performances/rehearsals in a truthful way. He said that the most important thing is to play it truthfully. He says that, whatever might end up happening in the scene, the character I've created is consistent. She might not do the same things every time, but she is always Hildy. Now that I have her in me, I can be free in what I do with her.

The other great piece of feedback that I got today is that Hildy should be more physically aggressive than Andy (O.D.), because we can gather from the text that she is far more sexually experienced. I hadn't put that into the character, and I'm excited to work with that concept tomorrow. I think it'll add a lot to the scene.

Acting Professor also said it's important that Hildy realizes that all the weird, awkward behavior from Andy is a result of him finding her attractive. She needs to know that she has this effect on men. She needs to use it to her advantage.

Man, acting is fun!

(By the by, Acting Professor did a pretty great Marlon Brando impression today that made us laugh.)

We discussed In This Corner by Steven Drukman, which is about professional boxer Joe Louis. I really enjoyed the story.

I'd write more about these new plays we're discussing, but it's difficult to explain things out of context, and I assume that the people reading this blog are unfamiliar with most of these new works.

The show went well, but there was a very small audience, and it was a pretty quiet audience. (Note to audiences: it's okay to cry, laugh, applaud, or otherwise have an emotional response to a play or musical)

Tonight was the closing performance of Inventing Van Gogh. I snuck in after I was done with Three Postcards for the night. I only saw the last 20 minutes or so, but it was beautiful. It had grown so much since the opening (and I thought the opening was pretty terrific). I was so pleased for the actors. It was lovely, and the audience loved it. What a great way to end a run.


Wednesday, April 15

We added on to the "partnering" section of our West Side Story dance (the part where I dance with O.D. and Big Show). Now after my assisted back-walkover, I have a lift that involves a scissor kick, the boys drop into push-up positions with me pushing on their backs, and then we get up into something that Movement Professor has been calling an "X" (legs and arms extended so that the body is in an x-like shape). I hope it looks cool. It's pretty fun to do, I have to say (even though the whole thing is in about 8 counts).

We started working with a new scene from the play Cowboy Mouth for the purpose of learning how to do it as an "intimate scene" without the audience losing what we're saying. Killer and I were the first guinea pigs to give it a go. Voice Professor had someone being an audience member 10 feet in front of us, someone else sit in a place in the room where they couldn't see us (she called it "the obstructed view seats"), and a third person sit outside of the room, behind the door (so we were forced to project and articulate).

For me, the biggest problem was not getting my voice to a place where it could be heard and understood; the problem was trying to do it in a way that made it still seem realistic that I was sitting on a loveseat with Killer's head in my lap having a conversation with him. Way, way harder than I thought it would be.

Some people had the opposite problem. The scene seemed intimate to the 10-feet audience, but the obstructed view and out-of-room audience were missing words and phrases and had to work to pick up what was being said.

Tomorrow we're (theoretically) going to try it on the mainstage (instead of having to create these bizarre obstacles, we'll probably just have people in various parts of the house).

I was nervous about our first day back with our Vonnegut scenes, but it went really well. Acting Professor told me last week that my subconscious was working on the character the whole time I'd been focusing other things because my inner-artist knew that I was returning to the project. I didn't fully believe him at the time, but now I know he was right. Hildy made sense to me today in a way that she didn't before Spring Break. I'm excited to keep working with it.

Tonight was opening night for Three Postcards, and it was a smashing success. Everything went pretty smoothly (aside from a couple of almost-disasters that happened in the 30 seconds before the show started). I'm proud to be working on this show. It's really lovely.


Tuesday, April 14

We did a lot of leaps and skips across the floor. My leaps are getting pretty good, I think.

Unfortunately, the leaps did not help my I-slipped-in-a-puddle-and-have-leg-pain situation.

We reviewed our West Side Story stuff. We're going to add onto it tomorrow.


We went out onto the main stage for our Wood Demon pronunciation exam. (The same stage that most of us were in Winter's Tale on this past weekend.) We went one at a time. I thought I did pretty well with the pronunciation. I got an email last night from Voice Professor with my notes:

it means - glottal attack
should - sh was whistle
as for me - glottal attack

So it wasn't perfect, BUT none of my notes were pronunciation-based, and that's what the exam was focusing on, so I count it as a success.

We didn't have afternoon classes so that those of us doing tech could go to the other theatre. (Big Show and I are on props, All-The-Way and Wifey are on costumes, Killer is on lights.)

We had the Preview performance at 8. There was a decent-sized audience, and they really seemed to love it. Woo-hoo! We open tomorrow.



Monday, April 13: A Week in the Life

So my week has been pretty complicated. Want to see the schedule of the life of a grad student? Here's what mine was last week:

8:30am - 9:00am - frost cake for Iceman's birthday, head to school
9:00am - 10:25am - Movement
10:35am - 12:00pm - Voice
12:15pm - 12:45pm - Student Rep meeting
12:45pm - 1:00pm - construct set for Chekhov work and get into costume
1:00pm - 4:00pm - Acting
4:10pm - 5:30pm - Text Analysis
5:30pm - 6:00pm - group meeting with O.D. and Two-Shots-Up regarding Mr. Marmalade
6:00pm - 11:15pm - rehearsal for Three Postcards
11:30pm - 12:30am - homework while Skyping with boyfriend

9:00am - 10:25am - Movement
10:35am - 12:00pm - Voice
12:00pm - 1:00pm - study Winter's Tale lines, type blog post from day before, eat lunch
1:00pm - 1:30pm - group meeting group meeting with Director A, D-Train, O.D., and Two-Shots-Up regarding Mr. Marmalade
1:30pm - 2:00pm - construct set for Chekhov work and get into costume
2:00pm - 5:00pm - Acting class
5:15pm - 5:45pm - move props for Three Postcards from classroom building to Historic theatre
5:45pm - 6:20pm - dinner break
6:30pm - 11:00pm - rehearsal for Three Postcards
11:00pm - 12:00am - group meeting with Director A, D-Train, O.D., and Two-Shots-Up regarding Mr. Marmalade
12:15am - 1:00am - bake cake for Two-Shots-Up's birthday while doing homework and Skyping with boyfriend

9:00am - 10:25am - Movement
10:35am - 12:00pm - Voice
12:00pm - 12:30pm - go home to retrieve laptop, type blog post, eat lunch
12:30pm - 1:00pm - construct set for Chekhov work and get into costume
1:00pm - 4:00pm - Acting
4:10pm - 5:30pm - Text Analysis (my group's presentation on Mr. Marmalade
5:30pm - 6:30pm - dinner break
6:30pm - 11:00pm - first day of tech for Three Postcards
11:15pm - 12:00am - homework while Skyping with boyfriend

9:00am - 10:25am - Movement
10:35am - 12:00pm - Voice
12:00pm - 12:30pm - watch video tape of Winter's Tale in student lounge to brush up on lines before understudy run
12:30pm - 1:00pm - type blog post, eat lunch
1:00pm - 1:30pm - meeting with Acting Professor
1:30pm - 2:00pm - construct set for Chekhov work and get into costume
2:00pm - 5:00pm - Acting (final day of Chekhov work, with invited audience)
5:00pm - 6:30pm - dinner break
6:30pm - 11:15pm - rehearsal for Three Postcards
11:30pm - 12:30am - reviewing lines for Winter's Tale

7:50am - leave to pick up D-Train
8:00am - 8:45am - warm-up for understudy run
9:00am - 11:50am - Winter's Tale understudy run
11:50am - 12:00pm - notes from Voice Professor regarding Winter's Tale understudy run
12:00pm - 12:30pm - drive to Burger King, get food, eat lunch in car on way to rehearsal
12:30pm - 5:10pm - tech for Three Postcards
5:20pm - 6:40pm - dinner break, talk to roommate, type up "Quotations" blog post
7:00pm - 11:15pm - tech for Three Postcards (we were actually called until 12:00am, but got out early)

10:30pm - 11:30pm - Easter Mass
11:45pm - 12:15pm - grab lunch, head to theatre
12:30pm - 4:00pm - tech for Three Postcards (this was originally supposed to be a 12:00-5:00, 7:00-12:00 day, but was drastically shortened because 1. Tech was going well, 2. They didn't want to actors to wear out their voices)

Sweet freedom
(a.k.a. time to blog about how complicated the last week has been)


Saturday morning was the final understudy run for Winter's Tale, and it went really well. Afterward, I was on a massive Shakespeare-high. It feels so great to perform that work. And playing Paulina gave me this sense of power and authority. She's such a bad-a**. It was awesome. I hope that someday in the future I can play that role for real.

One of my donors came to watch the run, which made my day. :)

Voice Professor was there to watch and give notes (normally it would be Analysis Professor, but he asked her to cover for him because he's in tech for Three Postcards, which he directed). Her notes to me were:
"Angela. Excellent. Good sending and landing from upstage. Beautiful work."

I'm very proud of that. Especially since earlier in the day I had gotten this e-mail from her regarding Friday's final Chekhov day, which she attended:

hi Angela

i very much enjoyed hearing your 1st year class selected scenes from the three sisters! i did take a few specific word pronunciation notes, but mostly i listened for overall voice/speech issues. keep up the good work! namaste, [Voice Professor]

-sometimes you fell off vocal energy on your final words
-you cannot throw lines away and go off-voice, we must hear what you are saying; you need to act "outward" not "inward", even with a character like masha, or you will fall into a trap of not being able to be heard and/or going off-voice

I have a feeling those notes had a lot to do with the nervousness that Acting Professor commented on the day before. But I'm glad to know that once I got on the stage in the big theatre, I didn't have any vocal issues. I think the class notes were mostly the result of an off-day. I just need to be aware that going off-voice is a danger for me, and do what I can to combat it.


I've been in tech for Three Postcards this weekend, and it has gone pretty well.

Big Show and I are responsible for putting together all the food props. For this play, that involves:

- 1 Rob Roy on the rocks
- 2 lillets with twists of orange
- 1 bottle white wine
- 1 bowl of cream of fennel soup with parsley
- 1 seafood mousse with chives and crackers
- 1 roast duck with rice, chives, cherries, cranberry sauce, and honey
- 1 Cornish hen with Bulgar wheat, parsley, asparagus, carrot, and honey
- 1 veal paillard with rosemary, rice, asparagus and carrots
- 1 rum-flavored apple aspic with apple slices
- 2 cups of coffee

Can you keep a secret? We're using half fake food and half real food, and the majority of the real food is not actually what it's representing. SHHHHH!

Not only do we have to put all the food on plates, but we have to put them on with specific presentation so as to give the appearance of them being from a fancy restaurant.

Of course, this means our job also involves a lot of clean-up.

- 6 spoons
- 6 forks
- 4 knives
- 3 rocks glasses
- 3 water glasses
- 4 white wine glasses
- 2 martini glasses
- 1 tumbler
- 2 coffee cups
- 2 saucers
- 3 dessert plates
- 3 entree plates
- 1 soup bowl
- 1 wine bottle
- 1 creamer cup
- 1 ramekin
- 1 tray
- 1 pitcher
- approximately 24 fake pieces of food
- 1 tub (that we carry things in)

Now, let's talk about the complications of the theatre we're in...

1. The only area where we are allowed to handle food is on the second floor. The theatre is on the first floor.
2. There is no dishwasher.
3. There is no sink in the designated food preparation area.
4. The only three available sinks are in single-stall bathrooms; 1 is in the men's dressing room on the 2nd floor, 1 is in the women's dressing room on the 2nd floor, and 1 is on the first floor but has no place to put the dishes after washing them or drying them.
5. The refrigerator and the microwave are both on the second floor.

So basically...
It's impractical to wash dishes downstairs, since we need them upstairs (and because it's the smallest bathroom and tricky for 2 people to maneuver in, and has no space to put all the dishes). There are three women in the show and most of the crew is female, so the bathroom in the women's dressing room is constantly in use. Therefore, we've been using the sink in the men's bathroom.

That's right. All those things above (somewhere near 70 items, although I typed that list from memory and might be forgetting something) I am washing by hand in a shallow bathroom sink, aided only by a bottle of dish soap and a sponge. I wash things, put them on the seat of a chair in there, and then Big Show picks them up, dries them, and sets them down on the seat in the shower stall. We have to do all of this before the two men in the play are called (or, at least, before we're too much of an inconvenience to them).

At least Big Show is around to help now. When I first started, it was just me. Then when he came on board, he was pretty ill, so we made the decision that he should stay away from all dish-washing and food preparation in order to protect the health of the cast. He's now well enough that we've decided that he can dry the dishes (I'm still doing the washing), and he can mix the drinks. I'm still handling all of the food preparation on my own for the time being.

I'm also transporting most of the food on my own from upstairs to downstairs, most of it mid-production. The coffee, for example, needs to be made in the middle of the show. Three of the dishes (the soup, the mousse, and the aspic) need to be refrigerated until just before they go onstage. That means I have to carefully time when I have the ability to go upstage and am not needed backstage (either to give props to the actors or take them from the actors) to make the trips to prepare and transport the food items.

My legs are getting a workout.

And, although food production and dish washing are the largest parts of my job, that's not all I do. I have to do a couple of quick prop exchanges with one of the actors. And Big Show and I also have to do all the prop presets... which include napkins, menus, a wine list, coats, replacing a battery in an electric candle (which needs to be done before every show, as it only lasts about a show and a half), pushing in chairs in a way that doesn't affect the shape of the tablecloth, etc. It's not that it's difficult; it's just a lot to do.

While I was rushing around on Saturday to get the food, I didn't notice that a leaking water cooler on the 2nd floor had left a huge puddle on the tile floor, so I slipped and fell. I hurt my ankle and my leg in the process. Not significant injuries, but enough that it makes all the stairs trips a little less simple and a little less pleasant. I hope that having today off will give me a chance to recuperate.


The first preview for Three Postcards is Tuesday night (we're getting out of afternoon classes to finish tech), and it opens Wednesday. If you're in the area, I hope you'll be able to come and see it. It's really a fun show, and I'm proud to be working on it.

All good things,



Quotations: Volume 26

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

Voice Professor: Sorry I'm late. There was a lizard on my windshield, so I had to stop in a good neighborhood to let him off.
Analysis Professor: Wait... You actually stopped in a 'good neighborhood'? What, so he'd have a good home?
Voice Professor: Yes. Well, you know, I killed a cockroach last night, so I needed to balance it.
Analysis Professor: I'm sorry, I think I just went into a fugue state.

"I told my mother that if I die before she does, I do not want my funeral to be some sort of celebration. I want there to be sobbing, and everyone must wear black, and there must be no talk of how wonderful my life was, only how tragic my death was." - Voice Professor

"The more you shake your tushy, the better this will work." - Movement Professor

"I'm not going to destructure a twelve-year-old. I'm just not." - Voice Professor

"If you want to be an actor who dances, you have to learn to act while you're dancing." - Movement Professor

(to Big Show, who was playing Vershínin in Three Sisters)
Acting Professor: From the time something clicks with Másha, she is your number one priority. Ólga is second there.
Killer: Másha, Másha, Másha!

(Discussing the play The Bullet Round)
Analysis Professor: This is not about the guns.
Thrill: How do you do that, [Analysis Professor]? That's like saying that there's a play where a tank drives on stage in every scene, but it's not about the tank.
Me: And the play is titled, 'The Tank'.

(After Voice Professor announced she was delaying our exam)
Thrill: Bless you, [Voice Professor]! Thank you! Namasté!
Voice Professor: Don't 'namasté' me. Child's pose for you!

"When you pat someone on the back, it sends a cloud of dust into the air." - Acting Professor, on how the random physical interactions were making the scene less alive

"As emotions overwhelm you, remember that they are a fuel to move you forward, not a swimming pool to bathe in." - Acting Professor

(Discussing Three Sisters)
Acting Professor: The characters all deal with it in their own ways. Másha sometimes deals with it by kicking the dog, or the furniture, or something...
O.D.: Or Kulygin.
Wifey: Right. The dog.

Voice Professor: She's incredible. She gets up at four o'clock in the morning to ride her horse.
Thrill: She's like George Washington.

Me: [Analysis Professor] hates it when I quote him out of context on my blog.
D-Train: You know he loves it. He probably goes on and thinks, "What? I was only quoted twice this week?"

(Discussing Three Sisters)
Acting Professor: At one point, Kulygin started singing in Latin? I thought that moment was to die for. I'm not saying you have to do it again. Who knows if the impulse will come?
O.D.: Oh, it'll come.
Acting Professor: Maybe if you record...
Wifey: If you record it, it will come.

"Does anybody have any aspirin? I'm having a cerebral hemorrhage." - Analysis Professor

(At the first quasi-tech rehearsal for Three Postcards. Tech Instructor was designing lights, and Killer was Light Board Operator)
Tech Instructor: Where's [Killer]?
Stage Manager: He wasn't called tonight.
Tech Instructor: But who's gonna be here to hold my hand?


Friday, April 10

We started a different dance for West Side Story that is going to somehow lead into the other one. Big Show and I are partners. Different pairs have different blocking. For example, some girls do a pencil turn before going into a lift in first position, but I skip the pencil turn and Big Show lifts me in second position (which is apparently a more difficult lift for the guys, but Big Show is super strong).

I finally did the back-walkover move with O.D. and Big Show, and it worked out perfectly. I'm really excited about it.

We finally put the entire Wood Demon monologue together. Voice Professor gave me two notes on my read of it:

1. more "t" in the "at" of "looking at me"
2. unvoice the "wh" in "When"

As a general note to the class, she said to make sure to "go up for the 'l' in 'sensible' nice and hard."

Our exam is on Tuesday. I'm not worried about it.

I had a private meeting with Acting Professor to discuss my progress. He said to keep up the good work. He also said that in Act IV, some people are "getting drunk on emotion" and stopping the flow of their impulses, and that I should not allow myself to do that.

Class started with notes from Thursday's run from Movement Professor, which included:

- when the scene changes from one focus of attention to another, do not allow the relay of energy to get dropped
- when silent, you need MORE attention and outward energy
- our heads are falling back in down (instead of "freely forward and up"), especially when sitting in chairs
- more upright carriage without it being tight
- don't get stuck in vocal patterns
- when turning head, don't cut off the response from the body (there should at least be some spiral)

Acting Professor gave one general note... Reach into deeper calm. Prepare in advance. Don't be nervous.

Several 3rd-years came to our run, as well as Voice Professor.

At the end of the run, we got notes. Acting Professor said that I was nervous all through the 1st Act, and halfway through the 4th Act. When I got to the line, "The birds are migrating already. Swans. Or maybe they're geese. Oh, you happy things!", I finally settled into things (he said that was the best it had ever been), and was fine from there on out. He said that I need to know about myself that nerves creep into my work.

I was disappointed that the last run we had of this didn't go as well for me as it had been going (especially since this was the one time we had an audience). But I guess it's just a learning experience. And maybe now I'll be less nervous during our Showing in a couple of weeks.

I did a lot of sitting around in the dark, aside from prepping food and washing dishes. Big Show is sick and we don't want him to get any of the actors sick, so at the moment I'm doing all of the dish washing and food preparation alone so that he won't contaminate anything with his contagion (Tangent: did I just paraphrase Adriana in Comedy of Errors? That sounded familiar and I'm not quite sure why).

While sitting backstage I read Machinal, which is one of the plays we'll be doing next year. I had seen it before, but never read it. I'm really excited about it.


Thursday, April 9

We continued working on our West Side Story stuff.

Voice Professor says that we need to be perpetually drilling our "str-" and "dr-" combinations. If we don't, we'll lose the skill.

In our Wood Demon monologues, we did the final chunk. My only note was that I should link the phrase "minor role", using only one "r" for the two words. Voice Professor says I'm doing well saying the "ih" in the middle of "happiness" without it sounding weird (the middle vowel, in Standard American Dialect, is the same as the vowel in "sit" and sounds very strange to us).

We got notes on Wednesday's run. Acting Professor that in general it was good, and that the atmosphere was really coming in. Here were some of our notes:

- the sisters and Chebutykin should have more fun teasing Andrey about his crush on Natasha
- every one of the characters has their own convictions, and is not easily swayed. We all have to know when we're siding and against each of the others
- When Masha walks into the house, she knows that she would rather live there than where she does. Vershinin feels the same way.
- If we kiss someone as a greeting, it should be three kisses (cheek, other cheek, cheek), because it's more Russian.
- We should all have handkerchiefs
- We need to treat the baby doll in more as if it is a real baby
- the end of the piece was sagging and we started letting the pauses come in again... we can't do that. We have to work through it, renewing the impulses if we need to

We ran both Act I and Act IV. I was Anfisa, and Newbie was Masha.

Friday will be our last day of Three Sisters. We'll get notes first, and then I'll be Masha and Newbie will be Anfisa. Voice Professor is attending class, and it sounds like some of the 3rd-years might stop by as well (which will be neat... they did the same play when they were 1st-years).

We read Mr. Marmalade by Noah Haidle. I was in the group presenting this one. It was difficult for us to control the conversation, because people were so active in trying to bring up different perspectives on the text. It's a fascinating play. It's about a little girl who has a cocaine addict imaginary friend whom she upsets by befriending a suicidal 5 year old. I'd love to see it someday.

Last night was the first day of tech for Three Postcards. Big Show and I are on props, and they're complicated because it's all food. We had to learn the fancy-restaurant-style plating of each of the dishes, and we have to recreate it each night.

The trickiest thing tech-wise for this show is the lighting (it's a difficult space to light), so that's taking a lot of time. I'm sitting backstage on headset in the dark, trying to be helpful but not having much that I can help with. Ah well.


Wednesday, April 8

We did a lot of warming up, stretching out, and combinations across the floor. We then went back to our West Side Story choreography. There's a section where people pair off to do lifts and whatnot. Newbie jumps into D-Train's arms, Iceman dips Wifey, etc. There are 5 females and 6 males in my class, so I end up being the gal with two guys. We just blocked our move today. I'm going to do a back bend and then the guys are going to come over and catch me, and then lead me into a back walkover. We did it slowly today, but I think it's going to be really neat once we get the hang of it.

We went into the next section of our Wood Demon monologues. My notes today were:
- glottal attack on the word "at" (in "It seemed real enough at the time")
- need more of the middle "l" in "calculating"
- over-correcting the vowel in "man" (away from my midwestern vowel) to the point that it now sounds British
- need to make the first vowel in "already" have the "law" vowel

For tomorrow, we have to prepare the remainder of the monologue. Our exam was going to be Friday, but Voice Professor decided that it would be unrealistic to expect that. The test has now been bumped to Tuesday.

Our Voice Showing (a.k.a. the open class at the end of the semester that people are allowed to attend) is apparently Friday the 17th. I can't believe it's coming up so quickly. It feels like we just got back from Spring Break.

This is our last week of Chekhov work before we go back to our Vonnegut projects. I'm a little sad about it. I'll be sad to see it go.

Newbie and I have switched as Masha and Anfisa mid-class the last two days. Tomorrow and Friday we know that we'll be doing Act I AND Act IV, so we thought it would be good to do the whole through-line of the characters at least once. Tomorrow she will be Masha and I'll be Anfisa, and on Friday we'll switch.

Acting Professor pointed out today that Masha's whistling (that annoys Olga so much) is actually breaking some sort of Russian superstition about whistling in the house (which is strange, as Masha describes herself as being superstitious).

Acting Professor says that, in general, we're touching each other too much in this play, tapping each other's arms and patting each other's backs. He says that it's becoming a theatrical cliche as opposed to being true to the lives of the characters.

The whole class had a tech call today to move the props for Three Postcards to the Historic theatre, which is across the street from our building (unlike the main-stage theatre and the theatre that the 2nd-years usually use, which are both in the same building as our school). It didn't take very long.

It was strange having rehearsal in an actual theatre tonight instead of having it in the studio (where Voice and Acting II are taught) that we've been in up until this point. It's a neat space, but it's clear that it's going to present some challenges. The space absorbs sound, so the actors have to pay attention to their positions on stage as well as their diction and projection. As tech, we don't have a lot of wing space, and we're not allowed to touch many things. Also, the theatre doesn't normally allow any food in it whatsoever because it's a historic space (the theatre itself is like a museum exhibit), but the show takes place in a restaurant and involves a great deal of food. Therefore, we have to be EXTRA careful, and the food storage and preparation areas are less convenient than in our usual theatre. Also, there's no good place to wash dishes (and there are a lot in this show).

We start tech weekend tomorrow night, so I'll be even busier than usual over the next several days. Wish me luck.


Tuesday, April 7

We continued to block our West Side Story movement piece. The guys have some pretty athletic quick stuff in the beginning. It looks difficult to count. The girls' stuff isn't too bad so far. We'll see what happens.

Voice Professor came back after our week of Linklater. We discussed the differences between Linklater training and Fitzmaurice training (which is what we study here). One of the major differences to me is that Linklater is more emotion-based than Fitzmaurice work. We discussed how Linklater is the preferred method to teach to younger actors, and is the predominant course of study in undergraduate training. Some people in my class had a lot of Linklater training coming in (I had some, but not tons), so they thought it was interesting to return to that work after several months of working on something else.

We resumed work on our Wood Demon monologues. In the first several sentences of my monologue, the only note I received was that I need to put more "v" into the word "love".

We ran Act I of Three Sisters twice. I was Másha for the first run, and Anfísa for the second run.

I got a new dress for Másha that allows me to breathe better. Acting Professor said that I settled into the beginning nicely. He said that I can give myself the freedom to put me feet up on the couch, which I have been refraining from doing because I didn't know if it was appropriate for the given circumstances. Aside from holding there, my feedback was all positive.

I really love our Chekhov work. It's a lot of fun, and we're all growing a great deal as a result of it.

We read The Bullet Round by Steven Drukman. It involves a white rapper and the violence inherent in his lyrics. There's a gun that shows up throughout the play (and is used at the end), but Analysis Professor pointed out that the language in the play is somehow more assaultive than the gun is.

It was our "crew invited run" for Three Postcards, which means that all the people who will be teching the show get the opportunity to see it tech-less before it begins tech stuff. It went pretty well. I sent out some intense and specific line notes after the Sunday run, and the cast implemented a lot of them in the run. They're working really hard, and I'm proud of them.

I went and saw Murderers by Jeffrey Hatcher on the main stage on Friday. It's three 30-minute monologues delivered by characters who have committed murder (or are planning to) at a retirement community in a fictional Florida town (one that sounds similar to the one I'm living in). It was very funny, and I was glad I went.

On Sunday night, I went to see a Late Night reading of Drip Away, which was written by 3rd-year DP. It was fantastic. Unfortunately, several rehearsals were going on at the same time as the production, so most of my compatriots were unable to attend. The one downside of having so much theatre going on simultaneously at this program is that it's hard to see everything, especially when you're working on other things (which you usually are).


Quotations: Volume 25

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

"She used to call my soft palate 'The Rock of Gibraltar'; she could not move it." - O.D., on his last Linklater instructor

"My brother and I developed our own way of speaking. It got so bad that my parents couldn't understand us. I spoke mostly in onomatopoeia." - O.D.

"The land of Linklater; loose jaws and morals." - Linklater Instructor

(Discussing Killer's character in Three Sisters)
Killer: So I have to leave, but something is keeping me on the porch.
Acting Professor: Well, it's not exactly a tea party you're going to.

"...then Stanislavski came along and confused the hell out of everyone. Don't get me wrong. His motivations were noble, and his ideas were true. But he also invented a lot of would-be science." - Acting Professor

"If you're fired, your pension will be nothing to write home about. In fact, you won't have the money to buy the ink to write home about it." - Acting Professor, to O.D. about his character Ferapont in Three Sisters

"Chekhov's characters are huge. And all these tiny insignificant details pollute the water. And the water, which should be crystal clear, is so polluted and cloudy that we can no longer see the soul." - Acting Professor

"Don't settle for thirty-percent freedom. Push the envelope. Go for it. Fall on your face. Break your face. But then get back up. And next time, it will be fifty. Because you made a mistake, and you learned from it." - Acting Professor

Acting Professor: If you don't have full freedom, they will think, "Sure, he can play Rosencrantz or Guildenstern pretty well... But he's no Hamlet." You see? And by the way, what about Guildenstern and Rosencrantz?
Me: They're dead.
Acting Professor: They need to have freedom, too.

Acting Professor: Everything needs to be taken in its context. That's why I keep telling Angela, 'Don't quote me out of context.' They'll send me to jail.
Me: Well, I'm writing THAT one down.
Acting Professor: You're unreformable. Unreformable!
(Note: his last line was quoting Kulygin in Three Sisters)

"As actors, you have a very practical way of testing things. It's called rehearsal." - Acting Professor

"Don't tell [Analysis Professor] or anyone else I said this..." - Acting Professor

(after D-Train pondered over whether something was consistent among all works of the author of These Shining Lives)
Analysis Professor: What a very good point, [D-Train]. One would have to do research on that, wouldn't one?
D-Train: One would, if one really wanted to know.

(at a rehearsal for Three Postcards)
Analysis Professor (Director of Three Postcards): These people are New Yorkers. They have to be multi-taskers.
2nd-Year BW: I went to New York once, and I saw CATS.

(at a rehearsal for Three Postcards)
"This is the only time you'll hear me make a sports metaphor. You have to take the ball and pass it. You can't just hold onto it because that's a penalty in some sport or another." - Analysis Professor

"They can always buy train tickets and meet each other halfway and do it." - Acting Professor, on why Másha and Vershínin being forced apart shouldn't worry Ólga as much as the effect of Túzenbach's death on Irína in Three Sisters


Friday, April 3

We started choreographing a dance to some music from West Side Story. It was all kinds of fun, actually. I'm a musical theatre geek, and I love to dance... So I'm all for it. :)

Linklater Workshop
We were all pretty sore, so our Instructor was gentle on us.

We did a run of Act IV, and I was on Másha duty. At the end of the run, acting Professor said that it was "45 minutes of good honest work and 15 minutes of technical glitches." What that meant, of course, was that the Act SHOULD take 40-45 minutes, but ours took an hour.

I had been worried about the run beforehand, because I just felt so drained from the week, and I didn't know if I had enough in me to be Másha (who is depressed and upset through the whole act). But I recorded ease, and full freedom. I went into the run with the idea that I was going to let Másha be whatever she was in the moment, and not stress out about whether I was going to cry or scream or anything. So it was probably the most muted I've been as Másha. But Acting Professor seemed to like it anyway. I'm glad that I decided to do it honestly instead of pushing. It might not be the best I've done it (or will do it), but I don't feel negatively about it, and I'm glad for that.

Acting Professor reminded us that Chekhov is either heroism or vulgarity (and triviality). They both have tragic masks. Lyricism does not, and has no place in Chekhov's work.

He also said that we cannot underestimate the importance of the baby that's on stage during parts of this Act.

Movement Professor observed class and gave me the following notes:
- Keep breathing even in stillness.
- Good timing.
- Voice falls off at the ends of lines in moments of high emotion, followed by a sigh. This could be the result of exhaling the impulse instead of using it on the line.
- Make sure to use the physical sensation of touch when interacting with other characters physically. (This was a note for everyone.)
- Try to take the run (I run to Vershínin) on one exhalation.

I don't normally get a lot of breathing notes. I discussed it with Movement Professor afterward, and we think that it has something to do with the dress I've been wearing. It's incredibly tight in the chest region, which was intentional to provide the sort of structure that the clothing of the time would've included. But it's preventing me from taking a full rib swing, running out of breath near the ends of lines, and then trying to catch my breath (hence the sighing). I'm going to try to get a new dress before Tuesday so that it won't be a problem anymore.

On Tuesday, we're going back to Act I, and I'm going to be Másha. I'm really looking forward to it. I think Act I is going to be a lot richer now that we've found everything we have with Act IV.

ASM-ing Three Postcards is pretty fun so far, though I don't have to do much at this point. I'm on book and giving lines when the actors need them. I set the props before the run. I wash the glasses after the run. I like it. It's nice to be in a rehearsal room. And the music is actually pretty catchy. Good times.

We start tech next week.


Thursday, April 2

Yesterday's post, in case you hadn't realized, was an April Fools Day joke. So APRIL FOOLS! I will indeed be keeping up with this blog... Or at least attempting to do so. It's tricky sometimes... Which is why I'm so behind...

Last Thursday, Movement Professor gave a great speech all about how we should be looking at graduate school. It was really fabulous, and I couldn't possibly recreate it here, but here were a few of her points:
- It's a luxury to have the opportunity to attempt things that are scary, difficult, or impossible for us.
- The way we treat things in class is the way that we're habituating the way we handle things for our careers.
- We need to face challenges with openness and creativity, not skepticism and analyzation.

We've gone back to tumbling a bit. I can do dive-rolls over a person. All the guys in my class can do dive-rolls over TWO people (Thrill has even done THREE!). It's very impressive.

I can go into an arch (or a "bridge") position and then walk in circles using my hands and feet. It's pretty cool, I think, although it may have been the reason that I messed up my back last week...

I'm having trouble with glottal attacks, particularly with sentences that begin with vowel sounds. Voice Professor recommended that I practice saying vowel-words with an "h" sound. Then I can subtract the "h", but keep the feeling of it. Also, linking words together can help prevent glottal attacks because it continues the breath. Glottal attacks can only occur when you stop the breath on its journey.

We discussed that the word "a" is almost always pronounced as a schwa ("uh").

We don't have normal Voice class this week in favor of a Linklater Workshop (more on that later). Voice Professor gave us a list of things to work on with our "Wood Demon" monologues while she's gone (such as putting the tongue at the tip of the alveolar ridge on the word "selfish").

Another great speech we had last week came from Acting Professor. March 27th is "World Theatre Day". Acting Professor reminded us that it's important that we take our art seriously, because it is only when we take it seriously that the world takes it seriously. He had Big Show read Augusto Boal's message in honor of the occasion. (You can -- and should -- read it here.)

And, as always, there were just a bunch of pieces of wisdom that we've learned:

- Acting Professor pointed out that in Three Sisters, we see characters dealing with trivialities in lieu of handling their major problems. In life, we often only take the parts of things that we know how to deal with, and we let go of the other things. We sit, we eat, we talk, we drink tea... and meanwhile, our destinies are being decided.

- When entering the theatrical space, Acting Professor says it's important that you enter as though you came from somewhere. Don't come from backstage. Don't exit to backstage. Understand where the character came from and where they're going.

- When you're working through text in units, try to begin in moments where there would have been pauses in the text (sustained or preparatory). They make good points to mentally delete.

- As actors, we are trying to take deep, complex things and make them simple, but still truthful. The mistake is making them primitive and shallow. That can cause us to be truth-like instead of truthful, life-like instead of alive. We must not ignore the passions in the play to take the easy road of playing emotions.

- We have to take energy from our partners, the space, and eventually the audience. If we hold, we'll be cutting ourselves off and only yielding to inner-impulses, which are not inexhaustible. We must be in constant touch with the world around us, no matter what is happening.

- Some of us (Thrill, Newbie, O.D., and me) are working with older characters in this piece. Acting Professor says it's important not to play these characters using external characterization. We're not going to worry about physical age, but rather what age the person's SOUL is. We are still concentrating on essences, and we should not attempt to spoon-feed the characters to the audience.

- We have to ask ourselves how deeply we practice our technique. If you practice it deeply, you will be able to use it deeply. If you practice it somewhat, you will only be able to use it somewhat.

- We always need to give ourselves 100% freedom. It's not good to just be comfortable and safe at 30% freedom. We need to take risks and be bold in order to learn.

- When recording, it's important that we work on the side of the inclusive, mentally recording all stage directions.

- We have to take the given circumstances in as mines that we set in our paths, so that we'll have reasons to explode in the scenes.

- When we get notes, we need to take the notes and do them. We need to take them very seriously and work on them.

- We need to respect our colleagues, and respect their time. This includes their time in our scene work. We should not be indulgent in our pauses.

- We have to work decisively and boldly.

- Don't pause unless Chekov says to pause. He tells you when to pause. If you pause elsewhere, the written pauses will no longer be meaningful.

- The voice of your professor saying things like, "Very good... Just let it..." as side-coaching mid-scene needs to become your inner-voice.

We read Big Love by Charles L. Mee last week. The best conclusion we came to about the action was about embracing humanity in its variety. It confused me.

Today, we discussed These Shining Lives by Melanie Marnich. I greatly enjoyed it. We got into a class discussion about whether it the action was rooted in workers against the system, or women against society (I was in the former group... pretty much all the men in my class were in the latter).

Linklater Workshop
For this week, Voice Professor has gone up to our school's main campus, and a voice professor from up there has come down to us. They're familiarizing the other's students with their own specialties (so the undergrads are getting a crash course in Fitzmaurice and tremoring, and the grads are getting friendly with Linklater).

We've done a lot of work with opening up the throat, as well as freeing the tongue and the jaw. It seems that Linklater work and Fitzmaurice work are just different ways of accomplishing the same goals. It's good to have options in your toolbox.

Tonight was my first night as Assistant Stage Manager (ASM) for the musical Three Postcards. I'm excited about it. :) It was only their first run-through, but the actors already seem to be in a really great place. I can tell that the rest of my semester is going to be exhausting as a result of it, but I think it's going to be fun.


Wednesday, April 1

Hello all.

As you may have noticed, it has become increasingly difficult for me to post this blog on a daily basis.

I'm going to begin my work as Assistant Stage Manager on the musical Three Postcards starting tomorrow, and I don't anticipate that my schedule is going to become any more accommodating.

Therefore, I have had to make a difficult and sad decision. Due to my present and upcoming workload, I have decided to discontinue my usage of this blog, at least for the time being.

Thank you for your understanding.