Thursday, April 28, 2011

Someone's Got To Be Oppressed!

I meant to do a birthday post and then I had a really horrible birthday and I didn't want to.

And then I meant to do a post about Shakespeare's birthday and be a part of this massive blog project but then I wrote half of it and learned that talking about Shakespeare makes me sound like a really really big jerk of a nine year old. Like this kid who is incredibly pretentious and too smart for their own good, and should be rolled in a parking lot. So I didn't do that either.

I'm in a pit of nothing right now so it is hard to blog and not sound like a really blah or boring or whiny person.

Enough of that.

A lot of people have been telling me that they also feel they have nothing going on, so maybe it is just that time of year? The city looks like this:

Ugh. It is grey and rainy. Although in January we were saying it was 'just that time of year' when we had nothing going on. And we'll probably say it in August too. Really, the whole year is just very, very hard.

But quite a few of us are feeling very dejected and as if this Toronto theatre community doesn't want us, and we don't even really want to be in the community the way it is now, but it's something we've wanted for so long that we can't just give it up, and sometimes we want to be in it, plus we want the option, so we have to be accepted by the community and then we can turn it down, but we can't get accepted. And we can't get accepted because maybe we aren't talented, or maybe we are and we're just not friends with the right people, or we're not the right people, we're too weird, or too boring, or too not ethnically diverse, or too much or too little or we didn't go to the right school or we just don't have anything to offer. And who knows? It could be all of those things so we worry about them all without knowing what is the thing we have to change and whether we have to change at all.

It's tiring. And maddening. And I don't know a way out. For a job that I think I continue to get better at, I really don't know how to deal with it in the slightest. I tell myself that when I have work I will feel better. These periods without it make me feel like I'll never work again. And I can't get out of them without doing a play or getting cast, and I can't do those things because of the above paragraph.

My life is small and silly but it still causes me lots of anguish. I could have an anguish sale. Everything must go.

In our continuing series of horrifying pictures of me, we present THE DAY I DRESSED UP AS MEN YOU WOULDN'T DATE.

You wouldn't want to date this guy, shotgunning a PBR at 2 p.m. on Easter Monday in the rain, would you? Maybe you would.

This was, of course, for my fast approaching thing at Canadian Stage. I'm at the wonderful Canadian stage of artistic development where something is far enough away that I don't learn my lines, but close enough that I have anxiety attacks on the streetcar when thinking about it.

These are horrifying and I will have to marry a giant squid and live at the bottom of the sea with the other unspeakably hideous creatures. My gorgeous friend Eric Double took them. Kyle Purcell is in them, taking good quality pics that will be used in the show. Behind the scenes footage!!!

They're also kind of funny. I hope my show is. I don't know. It's a weird look inside my brain. It is, on one hand, very much my thing, but because we're using a multimedia element and I have two people directing me, it now is something that started with the way I do things and is changing. That's hard. The multimedia stuff is amazing, but when you don't initially think of theatre in that way (as I don't), it's hard to combine it with your own aesthetic and still feel like it's something that you would do. Kill your babies and let go, and we're stronger when we work together. I know it's the truth, but it's hard to do. Anyway. I am loving working on the show when I actually work on it. When I don't, the demons of insecurity creep in at an alarming pace. Partially because I wrote it, partially because it now is changing, partially because I don't know the many things to worry about! So many insecurity demons.

I just want it to be spring.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

I Would Like The Universe to Get Down on It's Knees...

Well, this is a post about ego.

(I really loved how in 'Ratatouille', the critic was named Anton Ego. First of all, that is a great name, both parts of it are equally perfect. It makes such perfect sense, as well as being almost onomatopoeically wonderful. Such a fun, and clever name. Such a fun and clever movie).

Anyway, my ego is almost as bad as this scary looking cartoon creation. Ugh. Maybe I should start picturing my ego in this way. It will make me hate myself, but will likely encourage me to get over myself, and not pay attention to this unfortunate aspect of my personality, yes?

My ego's being threatened right now because a) I'm not doing great as an actor right now, because I'm not in anything and I'm struggling to remember that I actually do, on occasion, perform in shows, and b) I'm nervous about the things I have coming up.

People tell me that all social anxiety and anxiety in general is related to ego, the idea that you are more important than you actually are, because you think people care about you or are watching you, when in reality no one really does. This is always a very upsetting statement when you're already feeling anxious, and it's true in part, but I don't think it's a completely accurate idea. I just want to do well, and I want people to like me.

I have an ego, and it flips wildly back and forth between telling me that I deserve things and am entitled and am smarter than everyone else, and telling me that I should give everything up and take an office job where no one notices me ever because I am useless and have nothing to offer.

I have two big ensemble shows coming up, and I'm quite terrified about them (I'm a little excited too, but mostly really scared). In big shows like these, it's an interesting balance about how important you are. On one hand, you have to blend in, you have to not cause trouble because there are so many people and things to deal with (and man, do I love to cause trouble), and be a cog in the machine, to a certain extent. This is often difficult when I want to be the STAR and have a hard time wondering why people need to cast other actors, because I could just play all the parts. But, you can't let go of your ego to think you aren't important, because you still have to be present and generous and totally loving your part. Even if it isn't what you want to be doing. Ego battle.

It's a lot like Bottom in Midsummer, but I really think that Bottom is a wonderful character who just has so much love for performing and life and his friends that he wants to be a part of everything. I don't think it's all him just wanting to talk all the time: it's about an inherent joy in doing. I try to justify my overwhelming urge to get onstage by explaining it like that to myself. I'm not an egomaniac....I'm just genuinely overcome by a love of the theatre.

Plus, I'm an egomaniac.


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Remember Mediocrity is Not a Mortal Sin


Here are some embarrassing pictures of me:

And here are some embarrassing confessions:
1) I have remained relatively faithful to the terrible television show 'Survivor' since its inception, missing only a handful of seasons. I have recently taken to REWATCHING entire seasons from years ago, in the privacy of my bed.
2) I'm often eating jelly beans while I do this.
3) Therefore, there are lots of jelly beans in my bed.

NONE OF THESE, however, is as embarrassing as the HIDEOUSLY EMBARRASSING AUDITION I just survived.

I used to think that I was funny. I used to think that I had some ability to do 'improvisation'. I now know that these are not true, because I auditioned for the Second City and it was horrible.

I am just not an improviser anymore. It's weird, at one point that is the direction that I thought I wanted to go in, and I was told by an agent that she wanted me if that is the way I was willing to go. But I was really bad at it! I just haven't used those muscles in such a long time. I'm not really that bummed....It isn't what I do anymore, so it was just an experience, but it's brought up two points of contention:

1) Am I funny?
2) Should I get back into doing this? This would mean putting in a lot of time and money to doing Second City classes and focusing on that.

At one point I wanted to be on SNL, and that has kind of been reinvigorated because I kind of want to be Tina Fey. But I'm not sure. Wow, this was bad. I don't even know if I have the basic skills anymore. No, that's not true, I'm pretty sure I do. I just don't know whether it's something I want to work at. Especially to the extent I would have to work on it in order to be as good as I would want to be.

I have been stinking up auditions lately. I've been on a run of not great experiences. It is probably payment for the general feeling of confidence (hubris?) that I was feeling two weeks ago. I've had to be reminded that I'm not that talented, and not doing that well. Sigh. It kind of sucks! Hopefully now something good will happen and things will swing my way. It really only takes one good thing to make me feel like there is a possibility of success. But at the same time, one bad auditions really grinds my gears. Ugh.

The most important thing now, of course, is to rally, think about the good stuff I have coming up, and how much I have to do, and work on the stuff that will make me better and not think for a second about the places that aren't so into me. That's hard, but not as impossible as it used to be. Actually, this horrible audition story is kind of funny. That's the worst audition I've ever had! Like, it wasn't soooo bad.....I lived through it!

Wow, there's a lot of embarrassing pictures of me on the Internet.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Are we Writing for Art? And is Art a Springboard to Fame?

I'm building a play.

Like, from the ground up.

If my reality show about building plays needed a title, it would be 'From the Ground Up'. Except that' s already a show, so it wouldn't be. It would be called, 'Laughing on the Outside, Crying Within'. Or wait, that's my autobiography. Ok, well there isn't a show, so there doesn't need to be a name anyway. Stop hassling me.

Anyway, I'm building it and this is what it looks like right now:

It's actually amazing to see it like that. I had hit a complete and total wall with it, and didn't write a word for a week. I didn't see it ever becoming anything more than a collection of little scenes. And then I had a meeting with the two directors (co-conspirators? They're kind of my patrons, because they're letting me do this with their slot in a festival, so maybe they are like my wealthy dowagers), and they were just fresh eyes and guiding lights of help, as always. So we took the scenes that I had, and some kind of bled into one another, and the ones that didn't, we found a way to make them bleed. MAKE ALL THE SCENES BLEED.

And now it has a kind of structure, or at least, the frame, of a structure that I can now start to fill in, and it is like a little journey, which is nice.

Anyway. It's great. Sometimes, all you need is a helpful meeting to get you off the playwriting ledge. And I really was on a ledge. Ugh, creation is just the most frustrating thing. It comes and it goes and you have to just keep hammering away at it. Sometimes it gives, and sometimes you just end up hammering for hours. Hammering and yammering.

These are the two gorgeous muffins that are making my stupid ideas into something that other people might be able to look at.

Julia and Eric. THEATRE CREATORS OF TOMORROW. And today. Because they do a bunch of cool stuff, and I go to it.

So it's great, and it feels hopeful and full of possibility, but I still have lots of work to do. There's a lot more still to write and writing takes a discipline that I need to haul out of myself with a crane. Like exercise and not swearing. So difficult! And not only that, but after I do that, which will kick my ass and involve me giving up and restarting and hating myself and all the other things that writing always involves, and THEN I have to GET UP AND START ACTING IT.


And that is another rigour that right now I am looking forward to, but will also be challenging and involve me giving up and restarting and hating myself and all the other things that acting always involves.

But one thing at a time.

Only Way to Make a Piece of Art

Please read this:

It's very wonderful.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Her Ups, Her Downs, Are Second Nature To Me Now.

So on Tuesday I had an audition and I was:

And then I had a reading and I was:

And now I have been thinking about this audition, which is something you are very much not supposed to do as an actor, you're supposed to let it go when you leave the room, but when have I ever let anything go in my entire life, I am still mad at people who kicked me in the shins playing field hockey in grade 8 (you know who you are).

So I'm back to being kind of:

The audition really was fine, from an acting perspective. I worked hard on it, and I went in and did what I had to do. What I was not so much the best at was the whole being charming and delightful and selling myself as much as I need to. I don't have an agent. I am a one woman pimp show. I have to do it all myself. And I didn't really do that. I was super nervous. It's hard going in and auditioning when you think the person doesn't like you so much. And I let it get to me.

Plus they saw a million people, so as much as I want to beat myself up for it, I also have to think that, realistically, I probably just blended into the crowd a whole bunch. Still disappointing. Bt really, what can you do in that situation?

It's just always horrible to really want something, and to know that you'd be good at it, and then to not get it. It's a horrible part of the job, and it's most of the job. It's still hurtful every time.

And then I went and did a reading, and it was wonderful, I got lots of positive feedback, and I am a pitiful sucker for an ego stock. Plus, I love doing little things like that, it makes me feel like acting really is my job and my life, and then when I get PAID it is all the more gratifying.

So after I was kind of like this:

It is undeniably uncouth to post pictures of yourself gleefully holding profit. Just be thankful I spared you pictures of me throwing it in the air and swimming in it like Scrooge McDuck.

Because it definitely happened.

Yes, yes, the money's very gratifying.

So of course, in my fashion, a la mode, I have been on a roller coaster of feeling successful and like a failure. Par for the course! I'm hoping I'll be YAY again soon. But who knows? I'm so gosh darn unpredictable. In the most predictable way.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Down a Dark Slimy Path Where Lie Secrets that I Never Want to Know

Wouldn't you want to go to an audition here?

At 10 a.m. on a Sunday, no less?

Apparently I did.

Or really, I didn't, because this is the face I had on as I went to it.

My desperate need to push myself to audition for film won out. Ugh. Film. I don't care. I don't know why, but I don't. GIVE ME THE STAGE.

Sex clubs after Saturday night are not the best. I am also not the best at auditioning. So much vomit on the sidewalks my whole way there! Stupid scary staircase! But it was really all fine and fun. I would be shocked if I was put in a movie, but it was an improvised mockumentary type thing and I think I came up with some stuff that was like kind of ok. I really want to be in a mockumentary. Especially if it was directed by Christopher Guest.

I had a wonderful day yesterday that was quite long, but also fairly productive, and was largely about me going to people's houses, not bringing anything, and then consuming their food and drink products. What a charming house guest I am. Especially because when I start drinking I start telling everybody the truth.

One of those events was my continual work on the show that I'll be doing a workshop presentation of at Canadian Stage's Festival of Ideas and Creation. It is coming along. There is a lot of material, but I'm not sure any of it is actually anything. Maybe they are just random words stuck together. Purple monkey dishwasher. I alternatively love and hate what I've done, but I'll give you a hint about it AND I LOVE THIS HINT:

Ok, that's not such a great hint. But I called my show 'Modern Love' mostly because of this song. And my undying modern love for Mr. Bowie. No, it's going to be a factor! Dwai, dwai, dwai.

And then my next meeting was with a choir that I'm joining! Because I love to sing, especially in groups, especially in groups of awesome people, and this choir is luckily all of that. We have some very big and exciting plans. It's also nice to do things that are like theatre related (because I really would like to be better at singing and I think it could be valuable for my fledgling career HA HA HA WHAT CAREER???), but aren't entirely theatre. This is for fun. And profit. Profit comes later.

We ate delicious things, like Cookie Monster cupcakes and Ring Pops. And wine. Fuuuuuuck.

We look like this.

Wouldn't you like to have songs sung to you by these people?

And then on my homeless old man tour, I went to A THIRD friend's house and had MORE of other people's consumables!

I realize that this is both boring and not really related to my career except that it is kind of, because writing shows and singing songs for people are both things I want to do one day. For fun and profit. So I go to auditions, and meetings, and choir rehearsals. And wine just happens to be there too. My dear friend wine!


Look, it's my face.