Monday, June 28, 2010

So I Just Can't Be Distracted By Love's Triviality

Very tired. Very busy. Spread a bit too thin? Maybe.

I spent years doing everything I could to be the good group member, never canceling commitments, except personal ones to friends and family, giving up everything so I could be at rehearsal or whatever. Usually rehearsal. I've given up paying work, social interaction, sleep, health. Art is, of course, a sacrifice, but I think in the past I've gone far beyond the call of duty and headed into the call of insanity.

I used to get angry with other people who were able to say, 'I can't make it, but I expect to still be involved' (never in so many words, of course). They would miss rehearsals that I had killed myself to get to, and they still got to be in the play. They left early, but they were still as much of the team as I was. I got very up on my high horse about how I was dedicated and they weren't, but in the end, it didn't matter.

So I'm trying to take a page out of their book. I'm trying to not get too down on myself when I can't drop everything for my shows. I have a job that I like and I get well paid at and I want to keep it for the whole contract. I have other things in my life that I need to do. I am doing my best, but I'm trying to keep lots of things going, because when work comes along I want to take it! I wish this business wasn't feast or famine, but it is, so I'm eating!

I love when my metaphors are food related.

It's stressful though. In addition to the long days and the no-free-time-which-gives-me-the-crazy, I hate feeling like I"m not a good part of the crew. I am not working enough, and I'm not at various rehearsals enough. I'm definitely not at the gym enough, or seeing friends enough, or cleaning and paying phone bills and getting my glasses fixed enough.

But until I actualy go round the twist, it's a pretty productive way for me to be, so I'm going to fight to keep all these balls up in the air. Hopefully they won't knock me out like eating too much turkey.

I did it again!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Someone to Hurt You Too Deep

Well, I am on the one and only roller coaster of me. Join me, won't you? Admission is free, but you pay with your soul.

This is really only a ride for one. As amazing as I am at emotionally torturing others, I have earned my doctorate in emotionally torturing myself.

Oh, why, oh, why am I so difficult? Sometimes my difficult-ness charms me and I think it is interesting and dynamic, and sometimes I realize that it is just exhausting and irritating, like a trans-Atlantic flight. Perhaps I hold on to it for fear that it is one thing that makes me not boring, when I'm sure it actually is a pretty boring thing about me. Who wants to watch something decompose in on itself? It's not really that interesting. Unless it's some kind of monster that eats itself. But watching something slowly die? No. People change the channel. People pull the plug.

I'm up and down and down and up. Things were better. I was enjoying rehearsals, finding my way through, and even though I have so so so many obstacles to things working out, I had not as of yet had to quit any of the things I was involved in. I was doing ok, for me.

Yet I am just constantly bombarded by these thoughts of failure, mostly generated by seeing some other Toronto based actress who I either casually know, or just casually hate, getting gigs that I am not good enough to get, and then me inevitably comparing myself to said ingenues, who are better than me at everything and should just be made queen already.

I don't know how to measure success without involving someone else and holding myself up to them. I am constantly feeling like I'm not doing enough, that the work I do isn't good enough, isn't important enough, that everyone is somehow always doing better than me.

It's exhausting. These negative thoughts breed like rabbits and fly like buzzards, circling inanely and constantly. I don't know how to hold on to anything good and push away anything negative. I tell myself that if I had something to look forward to I would be ok, if I get this project or that project these feelings will dissolve, but I know that isn't really the case.

Oh man, am I ever good at defeating myself. I totally beat me!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

I Don't Perform, Except at Dinner....

Except when I do.

And sometimes, it is not a disaster.

I was lucky enough to be asked to perform at Theatre Caravel's Sea Change, a cabaret-type event they host four times a year. Well, if I start at the beginning, I am lucky enough to know this guy.

Eric Double, who I met doing something ridiculous, which may or may not have involved me pretending to be the Big Bad Wolf, and may or may not have ended with me terrorizing small children, and then dancing around twice a day, every day last summer. But out of that malarky came my friendship with Eric, who is just such a catch. He started this great company which is doing all this very exciting work, including Sea Change. And one night we were working on monologues and drinking beer and it seemed like a good idea for me to do this wacky vocal masque thing I have at his upcoming event.

And then I promptly forget that I said I would do that, and then I told myself that I would just bail, and then it became too late to bail and I said I would perform in a second piece at that same event and then I panicked every day for a week.

And then I did it and it was not so bad.

Although, looking at pictures of it, it is beyond me why anyone would watch such a blatant display of douchebaggery and asshattery.

It's this weird little thing I do. God knows how I would describe it.

It was such a wonderful night. There were four other really terrific acts, including this guy, who was so good that I bought his CD, which is amazing, because I have not spent money since the fall of 1929 when Chipper McGee wrangled me out of a nickel to go to the moving picture show, dagnabbit. I chased him diggity two miles.

Eric and his partner Julia have put together something so special. I met Eric when he was building the first one and it has just grown into this great thing. It makes me really proud, which is amazing because we all know what a horribly embittered person I am. I plan on going to as many as possible in future. And those times I can drink more because I will not be preparing to throw up in front of everyone.

I love performing my vocal masque, and while I have never thought of it having more of a life, I would love it to. I don't know if it's the kind of thing that interests anyone other than me, but it's a style I really connect to. I have an idea for a one-woman show (that, if I play my cards right, I would cast me in), that kind of came out of this vocal masque thing. Again with the wanting to do my own work.

I do love it so.

(These pictures were taken by Marvin Double, Eric's dad, by the way. I am very keen on giving photo credits, because my dear friend Caitlin Cronenberg is a photographer and I know how hard she works. And she just taught me how to put links in a blog).

Thursday, June 17, 2010

What you Dont' Know About Women....

I'm in a show.

This show.

I have a small part. I play a servant to the lead character, Petruchio. My character's name is Grumio.

I like this picture of some Grumio from some version of this play.

But if you, like me, prefer to think in terms of romantic comedies for teens, I am this guy:

That would be David Krumholtz as Michael in the mid-90's classic, Ten Things I Hate About You, starring the late, great Heath Ledger, and the still-alive, still totally mediocre Julia Stiles. The parallel doesn't really work, because Warner Bros., in their infinite wisdom, made Heath/Patrick/Petruchio a loner, and Grumio is his assistant. So there isn't really a Grumio. But my future husband Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who is kind of like Lucentio, has this guy, who is kind of like Hortensio, but also kind of a Grumio. Like a second, or a man-at-arms, or a goofy sidekick. Whatever, we'll go with it, because I like this guy and it makes me feel better about my part.

I'm struggling with it right now. In continuing with my grand tradition of always having to play male characters who speak in prose (a tradition I'm ready to see the end of: it has come up in auditions lately that maybe I can't do verse, and that is not true, and scary to me), I am, once again, a boy (see above). But I play it as a girl. However, there are problems with that. In the text, Grumio has lots of references to man, men, and there are lines that he/she has to overhear that disparage women.

I am supposed to play loyalty to Petruchio at all costs, but as a girl, and as a strong character like Grumio, it strikes me as very disengenuous that she's ok to hear her sex lambasted, and consents to the treatment of Katherine, the shrew. It makes sense to me in a way that Grumio is loyal, but not blindly supportive of Petruchio. All of his/her asides become passive aggressive comments, which is such a female thing to do. Not condoning, not condemning, but allowing things to happen and commenting on them from the outside. That also fits in a sense of representing women and the lower classes: that they have to be outside the action, but have intelligence which belies their position. That's what I'm trying to bring to it. Snarky, wise, a good servant but one who speaks her mind, often to her and her master's peril. However, in order to fit the traditional idea of Grumio (that I'm not attached to, but that the play moves towards), I have to want to die fighting for Petruchio. The male influence is in the text, and I have to honor it while still subverting it.

I dont' want to be a difficult actor, but I also feel it's a mistake to make the choice to cast a girl in this part (because it is not one that changes with no IS a male part), and then to pretend I'm not a girl, or to pretend I'm a girl with no female instincts. I think there's the opportunity to create a very different, strong, interesting character, but that means that some pre-conceived notions have to go away. And that's hard when you only have a few weeks.

Women are different from men. I read the play differently because I'm a girl. It's difficult to know how to play this (although this is, what, the fifth male turned female Shakespeare role I've had to do). Right now all of this is making it difficult for me to enjoy it. I have to find something I love about Grumio. That's a huge challenge for me. If I don't like a character, and I have never been a huge fan of Grumio's, it's hard to get inside and play them fully, to make them win their scenes. I had this problem with Olga in 'Three Sisters', but I came to like her, and to see her as vital to the play. Hopefully I can get there with this character. But right now, it feels much like David Krumholtz must have felt as he drove his bike right over the cliff.

Man, that movie is awesome.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

We're Opening Doors, Singing, 'Here we are'.....

Well, today's post actually has some kind of educational content. Imagine that! It also has the added bonus of distracting me from memorizing text that I desperately need to learn. Yesterday night, tonight, and tomorrow night I have the unfortunate task of memorizing different things. So I'll just blog instead. Tum te tum.

Anyway, the lesson today was CRASHING AUDITIONS IS A GOOD THING TO DO. Yes, you might have to spend two and a half hours sitting on the floor in a stairwell in Ryerson University. Yes, the only other people auditioning for the first huge chunk of time might be all men with sides they were already given to prepare, and you might feel really embarrassed as you are clearly not supposed to be auditioning today. Yes, you might hate yourself when other REAL actors, those who got legitimate auditions ask you what time you're at, and you have to say you don't have a time.

BUT you might get seen at the end of that and have a good audition, and learn that you were supposed to be given an audition and they typed your email address wrong. So you have been punishing yourself for a week and wondering why you didn't get this one, and you actually did.

If your name is Jessica Moss, all these things will happen.

But it was really good! Ok, waiting or that long was kind of ass. But it ended up being a good audition. Until the inevitable crash on the streetcar ride home when I realized it probably wasn't as good as I thought. But I had lots of fun, and it was nice learning that I should have been seen, and my pieces were pretty good, which means I can find new ones for my audition in two weeks, but I have something I can totally use if nothing else pops up.

Now I can be hideously rejected because I have jinxed myself by writing about it. OH NO, I FORGOT, THE UNIVERSE CAN'T HEAR MY NEGATIVE THOUGHTS, EVERYONE LOOK POSITIVE.

Ha ha. 'Everyone'. There is no one reading this. I am funny.

But I really am trying to put more positive thoughts out there.

Maybe, however, instead of positive thoughts, I should learn my lines for a callback, so that I can impress them with my ability to act and learn things, rather than my ability to will my desires into being by proclaiming them to the universe. Blah. I've had too much to learn lately. My brain wants candy. And scheduling has been so not fun and I am worried about losing my jobs and pissing everyone off.

Oh, but last night I saw a ballet version of this and it reminded me that I want to be a dancer, not an actor. Or, really, I want to be Rita Moreno:

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Don't talk of stars, burning above, if you're in love, show me....

Talkity talk talk.

Why do I not have great contemporary monologues? Why are they so hard to find? I am terrified about doing 'overdone' monologues, so I pass a lot of things I'd love to do up just because I feel they are choices everyone is making. I guess that's really only a problem if you don't do them as well as anyone else, but I'd like to have a fighting chance, at least.

I want a monologue that SHOWS something wonderful about me, that makes everyone go, 'Hey, this girl has MOXIE'. Are there any moxie monologues?

I've shocked myself by how much I've let my acting muscles go. The fact that I've had lots lined up for quite a while means I haven't been auditioning, so I don't have new exciting monologues that I'm itching to show. I'm very tired of my old ones (not my Shakespeares, I love my Shakespeares, although I need some new ones of those too, so that I can show people new stuff). But my contemporaries, and especially my canadian contemporaries, are abysmal. So monologues = in tatters. And I missed a submission a while ago, which is kind of unheard of for me. I submit for a lot. I don't get very much, but I take looking for acting work very seriously. I just got caught up with work and....I have no idea what else. Television?

It's been hard to strike a balance between my work and my career. I've never found it so tricky, I guess mostly because I was babysitting, and nothing ever paid enough to really care about missing a day or so. I am loathe to let anyone down, and always go out of my way to appear the best employee ever, but my work has been so sporadic, and for such irregular hours, that it has always been not so bad balancing the two. Also, I've spent most of my life in school, where that battle is fought for you. Easy peasy.

But now the lure of money is very strong. I feel bad not working. But I also know that I don't want to just have a joe job for the rest of my life. I want to work in theatre. And I have to take that seriously in order to move up the ranks. But it's hard when auditioning (or even submitting) seems to yield nothing. Because I could just go to work and make money instead of embarrassing myself. Right now I'm trying to decide if I should crash an audition (which would require, likely, the leaving of work early, as well as the learning of new monologues). I also have to put some time into what I'm going to perform for my friend's cabaret-type night, which I am so honored to be a part of but have put no thought into whatsoever.

What's happening to me? I keep forgetting I'm an actor.

That's easy to do when you're not really one. When you just pretend for no money.