Friday, January 21, 2011

I don't normally like cantaloupe very much, but I will say that it is one of those flavors that once you have it in your mouth, the only thing that sounds good is to get more of it in your mouth, so I always end up eating more cantaloupe than I planned.

Sorry. My brain is a little off today. I've gotten about five hours of sleep every night this week, so my thought processes are kind of random. Don't get me wrong - I'm enjoying how I'm spending my evenings. It just makes for a really long week when you get up at 6:20am, leave the house by 7:05am, and don't get back there until midnight. And then do that again. For five days in a row. You get tired.

It's interesting to me to sit in on these rehearsals as an understudy. I'm getting an opportunity to see how an Equity show works, and how Equity actors work and it's really fun to just sort of sit back and watch that. It makes everything just a little less scary. And hearing them talk about various opportunities and problems and things that go along with being full time actors is also interesting. I think we all have this mental image of actors as the people in Hollywood who don't really have to audition anymore and they are shuttled off to exotic places to make brilliant films and then somebody dresses them up fancy so they look great when they pick up their Academy Award. But that's not how it is for the majority of actors. We still have to audition all of the time. ALL of the time. And even if you are offered an amazing gig, it might not be in your best interest to take it for insurance reasons or because it doesn't fill your union requirements or because it means you won't get paid for rehearsal time so you'll be without a paycheck for a month and a half before the money starts coming in. And, you can have an entire season booked as of July, so you know where you're going to be and when through the following July. Or you can not know what you're doing once your current show closes, so even though you're pulling in a nice check now, you have to be careful with it because you don't know when your next gig will happen.

I dunno. It's not a glamorous life. Nobody is an actor for the money. We're actors because we love it. Because we have no other choice in the matter. Because we love to learn and explore and play. Really, I think being an actor is about studying. You study your character and your time period and human emotion and human interactions and life all around you and then you do your damnedest to recreate the important bits on stage in front of (hopefully) a full house. But it's the studying and creation and the process that is really fun about it. Everything from preparing for the audition all the way up to keeping the closing night performance fresh. It's a process and it's brilliant and I love this opportunity to watch how other people work. It helps me focus on how I want to work. What kind of actor I want to be.


I've also started "working out" in the bathroom at work. When I take my breaks throughout the day, I've starting doing some squats or wall pushups or other various strength training exercises while I'm in there. So far, nobody has seen me do this, which is why I use the restroom to do it. But it struck me as rather a good idea. I'm home for about seven hours a day at the moment, five of which are spent sleeping, one spent trying to apologize to my cat for leaving him alone all day, a half hour spent taking the day off of me, and a half an hour spent prepping myself for the new day ahead. That doesn't leave much time for exercise. But I don't like being completely sedentary. So why not throw in a few exercises during the biggest sedentary part of my day? While I'm at work? It doesn't take very long when I split it up through the day - fifteen reps of an exercise on each trip to the ladies' room amounts to an extra minute and a half spent away from my desk? Something like that. But it makes me feel like I'm doing something, so that's good. And every little bit helps, right? Who says you have to do all of your squats, leg lifts, calf raises, and pushups in a row to get some sort of muscular benefit from them?

Anyway. That's what's going on with me. I'm working a lot, learning a lot, and trying to still take care of myself while I do it. And I know what my next show is after this one and how I want to walk in on the first day of rehearsal. I'll be a professional actor someday yet, I swear.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Happy new year!

So honestly, I've been meaning to post something since about December 30, but I've just been to lazy to actually do it. I wanted to do the whole "year in review" thing and talk about how hard 2010 was for me, and I wanted to promise to say something nice about myself every day in 2011, and I wanted to talk about my frustration with my body at the moment, but none of that happened and here we are, seventeen days into January and I'm just now posting. This is going to be random. I'm telling you that up front in case you were looking for some hidden gem of the interweb or something.

I find myself kind of antsy lately. One of the reasons 2010 was difficult for me was due to a lack of creative outlets. Let me qualify that: yes, I can always play music in my living room; yes, I can always write; yes, I can always cook or bake or do a bunch of other things that many people consider creative outlets. I'm talking specifically about performing. I was all geared up to perform in 2010. After my bigger, more exciting plans fell through (and I wasn't really performing in anticipation of said plans), I set out to reinvent myself in the Chicago theater scene. Only to get called back for about a dozen shows, but not cast in any of them. And while it really is exciting to be called back (because that means they saw at least enough talent in you to want to see you again), it is almost infinitely frustrating to then not be cast in anything. ANYTHING. New plays, old plays, sketches, short plays, long plays, you name it. Yes, it is flattering to know that the directors liked me and saw something in me. But I then don't get to work on the actual project, which sucks. I like having projects to work on. And I know there are a million reasons why another actor was cast - they wanted someone taller or shorter or more blond or less blond or her eyes look better next to his eyes or whatever. A lot of it has nothing to do with my abilities. But to be good, and to know that I'm good, and not be working is hard. It's really friggin' hard. It's like the people out there pounding the pavement trying to get jobs that they are overqualified for, and they don't get those jobs because they are overqualified. Kind of. I'm not an "overqualified" actor - I don't think anyone ever gets to that point. But you know what I mean. I have the skills, I have the drive, I have the willingness to try things and learn and whatever, but I don't actually get a chance to show anyone that by working on a real project.

Which brings me to: I'm working on two projects now.

Which is exciting. I'm understudying a show on an Equity stage (I don't know if I get Equity points or not, but even if I don't, it's nice to be recognized by this company) and I was cast in a university production not too far from my house. Which is exciting. Both are exciting. They are very different roles in very different circumstances and I think both will be a lot of fun.

But it means I'm going to be insanely busy until about April. Which is good - I like being busy. But I've not been this busy in quite a while and that might take some adjusting. I had kind of gotten used to having a couple of nights a week to myself. I'm going to have to start actually taking care of myself so all of these late nights don't wind up killing me.

And the body issues thing - it's always there. It always will be. And there is part of me that would like to drop x number of pounds before we open, but there is a bigger part of me that knows that isn't going to happen. If I start obsessing about every little thing I eat right now and try to squeeze in three or four workouts a week when I'm running at full speed from 6:15am to 11:15pm, I'm going to make myself sick. So I think what I need to do is just be kind of mindful about it, do what I can, and most importantly, learn to love my shape just the way it is and be confident in it. There are plenty of actors larger than me who are consistently cast. And I am, by no stretch of the imagination, an ingenue. Women who are not the ingenue don't necessarily have to be lollipop girls.

Which brings me to my next point - I am not an ingenue. Yes, I still look like I'm in my mid-twenties (especially with my hair long like it is at the moment), but I am not an ingenue. I am strong and grounded and confident as a performer, which the characters played by ingenues seldom are. I, however, keep being cast (in class, and now in these two shows) as someone significantly older than I actually am - fifteen or twenty years older than I actually am. Which can be a little challenging because those types of women are typically in a different stage in their life than I am (i.e. I've not been married to the same man for twenty years and I have no kids), but it is also a little bit encouraging because it means that when my face finally catches up with the rest of me, there should be some good, juicy roles for me to play.

But it's still a little disappointing that I never got to be an ingenue.

But anyway, I'm busy again and that's good. And I have ideas for things to do in 2011 that I hope actually work out. So keep your fingers crossed that 2011 will be better than 2010!