Friday, October 29, 2010

A Melody I Start but Can't Complete

Hey 50 posts!

Soon I will be able to start advertising that I do this, and then people will read it, and then it will make me popular and then it will make me MONEY.

I capitalize money, but I'd really just as soon be popular.

It bothers me how much I want to be liked, because I have never been, and likely will never be, a person who draws others in to her. I wish I could be ok being a loner, but I'm really not.

I think a lot about why I have a blog. Sometimes I think that I'd love a website that had pictures of me and news and things, lots of emerging actors I know do this and I am oddly fascinated by them, but it just seems ridiculous for me. I have a very boring and small life. I don't think anyone would be interested in the crappy little projects I do. Plus, anyone who is interested knows because I tell them because they are in my life.

I like the idea that my blog is for thinking about the work I do. That's hard when I'm not doing enough work (like now), and especially when I'm feeling totally terrible about the work (especially like now).

I don't like getting constantly rejected for creation possibilities. I get rejected from acting jobs CONSTANTLY (although recently the problem has been more that I am not getting any opportunities, holy god, where are the auditions? For someone with no agent I usually am pretty good at getting stuff, but lately it has been sliiiiim pickins), but even more than that I get rejected from writing, things where they are looking for new projects. I think of projects and I work on them and get excited about them, and then no one wants them.

It's hard to think that you're the weird one, the one with the problem, the one with nothing to say, but it feels like that right now.

I feel quite removed from a lot of the work I see, especially the work I see from other people my age, and maybe I just don't fit in. Maybe that's why no one wants to see what I do, because it is different, because I am different, and the things I think are not the things that other people think.

'Art is like love, its seeing yourself in things that aren't you': that's one of my favorite quotes, but maybe I am incapable of making something that shows other people a part of themselves.

I'm very disappointed. It feels very hopeless, and it feels like a very personal thing.

Anyway, this brings me back to my blog, that I just don't write about things that other people think or are interested in.

So I try to use it to make myself be more positive, because I have to frame things here in a way that people could read them, which means I have to be more positive and proactive than I, in my heart of hearts, am.

But I don't know if that's working, and I don't know if that's real, and I don't know if that's helpful. So why have a blog? Who cares?

But I have been reading two blogs that make me think that a) someone somewhere has something in common with me, and b) the thinking about why you have a blog is something you just think, and it doesn't diminish the value of a blog.

Amanda Fucking Palmer, of the Dresden Dolls and Amanda Palmer. She's great. She just played the Emcee in what sounds like the best production of Cabaret ever.

Alyson McMackon from Theatre Rusticle. She doesn't update very much but its really interesting to read her thoughts about the work. Her company is workshopping a production of Peter and the Wolf, which I just want to be in. It sounds like something I could do. Sounds like something I want to do.

I read these blogs and think that there must be some interest in the work that I do, because their work appeals to me. But I don't know. I don't know how to get the opportunity to show what I can do. I'm fighting for it. I'm working to hard for it. But it just doesn't seem to be happening, and I don't know what more I can do. I'd like to give myself the opportunity, but I don't have the money or the support system. I am tired of finding reasons not to do things, but those reasons seem so compelling. They exist. How can I not find them?


Well, this was a whole lot of nothing!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

People Don't Know My Job is Hard

What's the right work to be doing?

Stuff in Toronto that doesn't pay but that people recognize, or stuff elsewhere that pays?

My own work that is representative of me and what I believe, or the plays that I love, that everyone loves, the stories we know?

What am I supposed to be fighting for?

It is not like I need an answer to these questions, as I don't have too much work right now...on the contrary, I am way way way understimulated and very worried about things and how they will shake down.

It's more that my rampant jealousy causes me to worry about what everyone else is doing, and sometimes I don't know if I care about their projects, or if I should care. Obviously I should stop worrying about everyone else but I HAVE TO BE ME.

I don't really have the option of planning what direction my career goes in, because right now I still just have to take whatever work is there, even if I don't feel so great about it, I have to be thrilled to be employed at all. But it is still something in the back of my mind that hums and buzzes.

What kind of actor do I want to be? EVERY KIND OF ACTOR.

I want to be at Stratford and Shaw, and star in my own one woman show, and create ensemble based theatre. I want to write and have my own company and direct and act. I want to run workshops and teach and play all the parts that I love.

Like Esther Greenwood, I am a true neurotic. I want everything, at once, all the time.

Hmm, maybe instead of this pointless discussion I should learn my lines or some sort of skill for my upcoming show. GOOD JOB, ME!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Freely Flows the Blood of Those Who Moralize

So yesterday I read Macbeth in a Bolton bookstore....



I'm trying to write about the small theatre-related things I do, mostly to remind myself that I am an actor, even when I go through lengthy stretches of time where I only do small theatre-related things and work as a babysitter. Well, it has been two months (and will be three) before I have another major project. I had two little things in between. Is that a long stretch to go without working? I don't even know anymore. How much do the real actors work? Is it just that their projects seem of higher stature and therefore more valuable so that there can be less of them? How am I doing, anyway? Can someone please grade me? I will show all my work.

I'm so confused about being an actor.

But I still sometimes think I might want to be one, and on even more rare occasions think that I might be one anyway, so I did a reading for Humber River Shakespeare.

The bookstore was really really cool!

So cute.

I really want to work in a bookstore. Maybe that is secretly my passion, and theatre has just got in the way. Although I would be dreadful at every single aspect of working a retail job, I think I would love being surrounded by books and people who like to read. I love to read. Sometimes I forget that and go so long without reading anything more strenuous than The Globe and Mail, and then I am overwhelmed with so many books to read that I can't even choose one and end up reading too many at a time. Right now I am re-reading Watership Down because the BBC put it on their list of 100 books and I am trying to read and reread them all because it will give me a sense of purpose, maybe? Or just because I am a brat.

Here's a book I need.

And look who wrote it!

Jesus Christ, you can change your name, but you can't fool me, you are EVERYWHERE!

I do love reading.

Staged readings, though, are difficult.

Your weaknesses as an actor are very exposed. It's just you and the text, so it becomes very quickly apparent when you can't actually hear the text, the metre, etc. Also, in a reading like this, where we all played several characters, you have to really go for characterization. Make choices that are bold but not broad. It's difficult. It's a good exercise.

I did pretty badly, but I'm not even sure. When the house is small it's hard to know what's going on. I wonder if my sense about acting will ever improve. I really never know how I'm doing. I had so much fun and then no one said how amazing I was so I figured I was terrible. What an impossible child I am! I had a good time when I was doing it, though, although I had to stand for a long time and sometimes I forget how hard that is. Wah wah wah.

But I love Macbeth! It is funny. And bloody, so good for Hallowe'en. I want to see it done again, I haven't in a while, just because it really is so effectively BLOODY. Seeped in gore and scare. It is so fast, so much action. I so badly want a BIG MEATY part where I get to see a storyline through and carry a show, but in this play I'd like to do several small things! I got to play most of the parts I would be interested in, and do a really bad job at them, so that's always great. It's probably the only play where that is true. Right now I am so focused on wanting a role that is a challenge and not my constant-comic-secondary-character schtick. Although so far that is all we have coming. Actually, I am really looking forward to doing it in Wonderland....

Ta Da!


Friday, October 15, 2010

If It Only Even Runs a Minute, At Least It's a Wedge

Buzz went very well.

I'm happy.

Well, as happy as I'll allow myself to be, which is not THAT happy.

When I was in it, I felt I was stunted and slow. I think sometimes that is actually me being in control, and I don't perceive it because my tendency is to be manic and want everything to be louder, faster, funnier. I thought I had lost my energy and was boring, but I also think there is power in stillness and surety: I just don't always think that I personally have that power.

But it was good.

Not enough people came, and not enough powerful people came in order to get it to the next level. It's frustrating. It's so much work, and it's good work, and as much as I believe in the play, I have fear that it's going to die at this level. That would be an incredible shame. It's a beautiful and exciting piece of work, and I think people would enjoy it. I don't know why a company doesn't see things that way.

I really tortured myself going into it. I was very nervous. I really want there to be a way to not have all those feelings. I can work through them, but it's just not fun enough to make me want to.

But hooray!

Now I just need to somehow hold on to these feelings....hmmm....

Oh wait, they're gone.

Ha ha ha!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Hey Somebody, Doncha Wanna Hear the Story of my Life?

This is what we do when we do plays (well, when some of us do this particular part of this particular play at this particular time):

We rehearse for free because our writer/director has a connection with a company.

We go to this corner.

There are drugs being dealt and done on the stoop outside the door. Sometimes there are bangs on the glass windows and we all stop.

At the beginning I didn't know the words so I read them. Now I don't need to read them, but I still make mistakes. The mistakes become more and more frustrating and more and more detrimental the further I go on.

At the beginning we sat on chairs at a table. Now we stand and move around the room that is shaped nothing like the theatre. I do the same movements every time, and I also don't, because how can you always sit in a chair the same way? Maybe good actors can.

After a few more tries at this, we'll do it in a room for other people and they'll think things about it, or they won't, and they'll say things to us about it, or they won't. Sometimes the things they say will not be the things they think and that is where you get in trouble, but it's just the way it is. I try not to lie when I'm in that situation but it's not possible. I tell bold-faced lies that hurt me in order to preserve relationships that I think should be preserved for future, because they aren't really of value to me at the present.

I'm not feeling good about all these things right now. I'm happy for the chance to do them, but I'm terrified. I have wanted to do this part for two years, and I thought I could do it, and maybe that was wrong. I don't know. I feel that I've lost my power. I feel that I've lost myself. I used to feel the most myself when I was acting and right now I don't feel that way.

I feel I'm letting the project and the people down and I love both those things.

This is a hard part about being an actor. You have to do the work when you have all these horrible feelings about yourself in the work. You have to do something that you're not able to do. I have to be in this play and I'm not doing a good job, but somehow I have to find my way to do a good job while doing a bad job. Because all the thoughts of 'I suck, I'm not doing this right, I hate myself', that's not the work. The work happens while those thoughts are happening, but that's not the work.

I think I'm doing a good job of doing the work even though I feel like this. I try. Goddammit, do I ever try. I learn my lines, I show up, I bring the things I'm supposed to bring, and I really really try. That is the one thing I have going for myself as an actor: I fucking work my ass off.

But despite all those things, I'm not as talented as I want to be. Not right now, anyway. And that's what it comes down to, in large part.

It's very scary and sad and it still doesn't make me stop, and is that some form of stupidity?

The show is on Thursday.

What is My Life Going to Be?

I suppose this is what it is to work in theatre, to be insanely busy, and then to be not busy enough.

I'm kind of busy....? No, not really. Not creatively.

When I slow down like this it's very hard to rev myself back up. Creative work breeds more creative work, both in that your synapses are firing and you're thinking about things and experiencing things and having new ideas, and in that people see you're working and want to work with you. When you're not working, or working very little, it's hard to get new projects, either by yourself or from others.

I'm excited about the two little things that I'm doing, but I'm also covered in malaise. Yum. Malaise. Sounds like mayonnaise.

It's hard to do anything for me when there's no structure, no fire. And I have things I should be doing. Prep for Sudbury. Writing. Exercising. Life....?

Life....? Oh right, that. I don't have enough of one.

I guess I don't really just talk about theatre on this blog, although in most of my thinking and talking, I do end up thinking and talking about theatre. This is really about my life through the filter of theatre, and sometimes I don't blog because that filter limits me.

I feel my life, in wide-screen, as it were, if I don't look at everything in relation to theatre, because that gives everything an angle, is not interesting enough to be blogged about. It really isn't even interesting enough to be lived. Malcolm Gladwell, who I'm a big fan of even though I feel that everyone is a fan of Malcolm Gladwell, so who cares, it is like liking The Beatles or chicken fingers, it doesn't make you smart or edgy or anything, it just makes you a member of the human race, but I have read all his books and think about them lots, he says that everything is interesting. That's a part of his writing, that anything, when examined in detail and questioned, and when looked at through some kind of filtering lens, is fascinating, and representative of something, and a part of this universal collage we're all creating every minute. So that if I just take pictures of whatever I do, and occasionally blog about the people and the things that come through my little world, it will be interesting. Except....I don't think it is. I don't know if it is.

I guess all this feeds the creation that will one day leap out of me fully formed, like Athena from Zeus, right?

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Red Black Blue Brown Yellow Crimson Green Orange Purple Pink Violet White White White White White

I went to Nuit Blanche....kinda.

I didn't last that long. The whole thing is pretty overwhelming, and I think I have to be in a better frame of mind to go. I also think I need to plan to go for longer than I went. I kind of would have liked to see more, and kind of didn't care anyway.


Everyone wants to look at art because it is Nuit Blanche, but most of the time, there is all this art everywhere and no one cares. It it just because Nuit Blanche is a thing and everyone drinks out in the street and it is an event and that is fun?

But I see art all the time! Look!

And then there's all the stuff that isn't art because no one says it is, but maybe it is.

Like beautiful Montreal cupcakes that are so pretty.

Or my brother posing outside the Big Lebowski store in New York.

Or this.

Ok, I just drew that, I guess that is not art.

I'm fascinated by the idea that things are ART in a museum or when we deign to call them art, and the rest of the time they are just stuff. It is so funny to me. The pretension of that. Humans are so ridiculous.

Nuit Blanche felt like a whole bunch of people just out, looking at art, but not really thinking about it or engaging with it, because there is no help with how to engage with pieces, and everything is so crowded. Maybe Nuit Blanche as a thing is the art. That's interesting to me. And there's nothing wrong with all this: it's fun to be out, and it's great to provide opportunities for local artists to create and then have people come and look at it. But there's just something missing for me...I'm too obsessed with what is art and what is good art, because I think, all the time, about how much I want to make good, meaningful, powerful, strange, beautiful, grotesque art.

I guess part of the problem is that I don't drink regularly or enough. So I don't get this sudden interest in one night of all-night art. Although I totally get the interest in something because it is the middle of the night. I love doing things in the middle of the night! I remember going to Midnight Movies at the Oxford Cinema in Halifax and even if I felt lonely it was like a little community going to see this movie even though it was too late, and then when we survived it, especially a scary move like 'Silence of the Lambs', or an epic movie like 'Godfather Part I', which stopped right before the car blew up (WHOOPS SPOILER) and we had to wait five minutes for them to reload the film but then they did and WE FINISHED IT AND IT WAS LIKE 'YAY WE ALL WATCHED THIS MOVE LATE TOGETHER!' That was always kind of great and felt like an accomplishment, even though I would just sit and occasionally make my friend Josh laugh. I'm not even in touch with Josh anymore and it still makes me happy that once upon a time I could occasionally make him laugh.

I guess everything is just a way to get rid of the loneliness, to feel something for a little bit of time so that we can remember it when we are lonely, to mark it in some abacus that I keep, so that I can tick it off and be like, 'Yup, one night in October I walked around downtown and saw free art', and I guess that is an accomplishment, sometimes it feels like one and sometime it most certainly does not.

But Nuit Blanche just made me feel more lonely. I guess I have to be in the right frame of mind. But really, my experience was just what it was and I can't judge it, and I have to be honest about it because being honest from minute to minute is what makes me a good actor.


It just seemed tiresome and too crowded. Too many people around and nothing seemed to be genuine, because everything is just something to get through and maybe that's just what it is, that is the experience, and really, it's fine, it's fun if you bring fun to it, and not if you don't bring anything to it, but really, is that all there is?

I guess so.

I'm a bit too in touch with loneliness. And maybe everyone is, but no one ever wants to talk about it. In the same way that no one ever really wants to talk about art. I feel I see plays and am in plays and go around wondering, 'Is this good? Am I good in this? What is this even about?', and no one really wants to talk about it, because even mentioning these things shatters something about them.

And maybe they shouldn't be asked about or talked about. But isn't that the whole thing? Isn't that why we make art? Especially theatre, which is, in essence, a live forum? So that after we can talk about things? But no one really cares. Maybe just because it is 3 a.m. in October and everyone had been drinking.

Art makes my head hurt.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

You're Nothing Without Me

This is not how I am, is it? I'm a nice actor. I think.

I'm also one of the most difficult people of all time. FACT.

I think I treat SMs pretty well, but my rampant temper and insane sensitivity might make that statement a lie. Really I think I'm more difficult to other actors. I appreciate SMs. They are amazing. I can't do any of the things that they do, and when they are good, it is like watching a freaking surgeon fly an eagle. Like, it is that awesome.

Because when I was an SM I cried 90% of the time. Now, of course, I generally cry 90% of the time, but being an SM made that worse because I had to call people. I don't call people. I have tremendous anxiety calling people. So I tried to avoid it. I would call ONE person, and ask them to call other people, and so on. I spent all of rehearsal imagining myself playing all the parts, and working out elaborate fantasies where I would get to play these parts. I ate any edible props before they could be used, and I tasted most of the other props. Essentially, I was the worst stage manager possible.

Here are things you need to be a great stage manager that I do not possess:

1. A cool head.
2. Patience
3. Clip boards and differently colored pens
4. Time management skills
5. The ability to tell people that rehearsal is starting in such a way that the rehearsal then actually starts.
6. A watch that works

Things that I have that make you a bad stage manager:

1. A deep set belief that I play all the parts far better than the actors who are actually playing them.
2. A nervous disposition
3. The habit of answering any problem or potential problem with a fearful look and the exclamation, 'OH NO! WHAT EVER ARE WE GOING TO DO?!?!?'
4. A propensity towards losing everything
5. An attitude that often leads me to utter the phrase, 'Pfft. Do it yourself'.
6. No pens.

I really have to make it as a theatre artist, because I am completely unemployable otherwise.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Happy Talky Talky Happy Talk

Well, I've been trying to use this blog as beacon for positivity. I used to do a lot of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, and it never really worked, but I've recently learned that no one likes you when all you do is whine all the time. I have to admit that I am judgmental (it is not something I'm proud of, but is something that is very true), and something that I judge people on, along with the books they read, and the things they say, and the middle of the road comedy shows they think are acceptable things to watch (TWO AND A HALF MEN IS NOT FUNNY), is their complaining levels. So I'm trying to whine less and be happy about good things that might be going on in my life.

But really, I'm not that kind of person. I am not a 'glass half full' person. I am more of a 'glass is made of poison and broken dreams and hates me and is looking at me cock-eyed right now WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY THAT COCK EYED LOOK, GLASS???'

When you're someone who gets sad pretty easily and gets anxious even more easily, being positive feels like physical effort. Like running up a motherfucking hill. Sisyphus styles.

But every now and again I get it into my head that I'm going to be more positive.

Anyway, this is how that cycle goes (I play both parts. In my fantasies, I usually play all the parts. Especially in my Saved by the Bell fantasies):

'Hey, self, let's be positive. Then people will like us and we will attract wonderful things into our life, via the Secret, which I did not read, but did make fun of once upon a time':

'Self, I like that idea! WE WILL BE POSITIVE NOW!'


'Oh, trees. Trees are nice, right? They give us shade and also bark! Remember taking birch bark when you were a kid and drawing on it? That was kind of fun! Hooray for positive memories!'

'And, you know, if, in this life, I have trees to be grateful for (NOTE: GRATITUDE IS VERY IMPORTANT WHEN YOU ARE BECOMING A POSITIVE PERSON), then maybe it doesn't matter that I don't have an agent and am not doing enough theatre work and maybe I'm not a very good actor at all, I mean, no one ever says I'm that good and I would probably have been at a major theatre by now if I was good so maybe I should just give -'



'Hey, this is going ok! How long has it been?'

'Fifteen minutes?'

'Hm, that's not so long, self. Oh wait, I mean, I HAVE DONE SUPER WELL AT THIS FOR FIFTEEN MINUTES. I AM SO POSITIVE NOW'.



'Oh. How horrifically disappointing.'

'You suck.'

'Yeah. NO! Wait. Let's be happy again....kind of....this doesn't mean I ...totally...suck.....'

'Ok, we can still try to be positive, because it's just one bad thing -'


'All right, all right, this is a test. I will survive this test, and continue to think positively although I have absolutely nothing to base that on. Really, thinking positive at this moment makes me an idiot, because with everything that's happening, I would be stupid to think anything good would happen. But I'll do it, I'll do it, things are ok, things are ok, things are ok-'

****ONE MORE BAD THING....*******


I then lapse into a cycle of negativity which involves lying in bed all the live long day and watching shows that I don't actually enjoy that much on my computer.

So I go from this:

To this:

To this:

To this:


And then I watch four hours of The Big Bang Theory online while consuming some combination of savory and sweet things. The Big Bang Theory is not even funny. Sigh. The worst part about this is that this is how I feel most comfortable. I feel like myself when I'm wallowing in pits of despair, expecting anvils to drop on me by some maniacal Wile E. Coyote like character in my midst.

Eventually, enough TV and bed make me feel happy again, or else so frustrated that I have to do something that is NOT TV and bed, and the cycle starts again.