Archive for December, 2007

Dec 28 – Big Time, Small Screen.

Posted in Art, Theatre with tags , , , , , on December 28, 2007 by actingchick

The clown video I worked on for the Seattle Opera is now on YouTube. I have now used about five seconds of my fifteen minutes of fame. My part is very small. I am the second clown standing in line, wearing a bee vest and I have an orange hat.

It was interesting to see the video. When you are on a film shoot you end up seeing everything from your perspective, not the camera’s, which can be very different. Plus how sound carries is different. And then editing makes a huge difference, so what you have experienced looks nothing at all like the final product.

The kid in the video was quite the precocious child. He was good for about the first half hour then he got bored and wanted to do something else. It is hard to understand him a few times in the video and I know what he was saying. I was impressed by the fact that he memorized so many lines. But then there were times I was like wanted to go up to him and say, Kid, settle down and say your lines, and stop complaining that the salami you are beating the guy with smells like poo. Yes, in case you couldn’t tell, it’s a stick of salami.

Two of the guys from my clown class were also in there, the guy in the jester hat with the boxing gloves, and the tall guy standing next to him on the right. I didn’t get to talk or work with them once we started shooting, which was too bad.

Apparently this will be streaming on the Seattle Opera website soon, but for now I will have to settle for it being on YouTube, as I await my two tickets to see Pagliacci. It’s not cash, but hey, you got to start somewhere.

For my description of the day of the shoot, click here.

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Dec 27 – Bye George!

Posted in Art with tags , , on December 27, 2007 by actingchick

glewis.jpg

While writing my blog my focus has been on myself (and rightly so I should think – it is my blog after all), but today’s blog is dedicated to my teachers, and specifically George Lewis. I’d like to publicly thank my teachers for their incredible dedication and patience in dealing with me.

During the year and a half I have been taking classes I have had four wonderful teachers. George Lewis, Annette Toutonghi, Amy Thone, and Geoff Alm.

The first class I took, Intro to Acting, was with George Lewis. Here is a bit I took of the Freehold page

“…George Lewis (Founding Partner, Associate Director) has been working in the field of movement theatre for over 30 years. His background includes extensive study in corporeal mime with Etienne Decroux in Paris, in the Biomechanics of Meyerhold with Russian master teacher Gennadi Bogdanov, and circus skills at the National Circus School in Paris. His work is deeply steeped in the tradition of ensemble theatre and original creation: he has worked with Mirage and Studebaker in Boston, Omnibus in Montreal, and the Sykes Group in Seattle. He has been teaching acting and movement across the U.S. and Canada since 1978, and currently teaches for the Dalcroye Society down at Cornish College for the Arts, and as core faculty at Freehold.”

George is a great teacher. George is intimidating (and not just to me). He pushes you gleefully, sarcastically, out of your comfort zone, and sometimes you hate him for it. I took the Intro to Acting, Movement, and Personal Clown classes with him, and especially in the case of Clown, because he was the teacher.

I almost didn’t sign up for clown because it sounded intimidating enough and the fact the George was teaching it made me even more scared. I actually had signed up for an improv class instead, but then I switched. I knew the fact that clown scared me so much, was probably an indication that I needed to take it. So I did.

It was a profound class, and I am grateful that I took it. Even more so now because George is leaving Freehold, at least for the while, and who knows when the opportunity to work with him will come up again. Here is an article about him leaving here.

Universally my teachers have been supportive and encouraging, which I know is their job, but they seem to really enjoy it (then again, they are actors…hmmm). Still, I am going to think it is genuine.

The other night I got to see them perform. Freehold was having a benefit and going away party for George. The teachers all did little scenes. It was great to see. I haven’t really seen any of them perform, with the exception of Annette Toutonghi, whom I just saw in The Women at ACT Theatre recently.

I enjoyed all the performances. They were good, which is what you would hope since they are supposed to know their stuff so they can teach it to me. Although I guess they only have to be better than me, which at this point wouldn’t take much.

After the benefit there was a going away party for George. It was very touching to see. He was sad about leaving and started to cry. Robin Lynn Smith the other founding member of Freehold there, started to also cry. Other people cried. It was very emotional. I got to say goodbye to George and got some last words of encouragement from. He said it was great working with me and that I should keep going. When you hear stuff like that from someone you respect, what can you do? I plan to keep going.

Dec 26 – Sunday at the Opera with Clowns.

Posted in Art with tags , , on December 26, 2007 by actingchick


I am finally getting around to posting again. Without having classes, I find my inspiration running a little short. Add to that the fact that I had the flu last week and I will throw that up as another reason for not writing. Although my fever induced rambling might have been more interesting.

I have done a little bit with acting. On December 16th I got to take my clown out in public. I had seen an audition notice looking for clown extras for a promotional video for the Seattle Opera’s production of Pagliacci. They were looking for people who were willing to dress crazy and preferred people with an already established clown character. How perfect.

I emailed the people in my clown class, and three of ended up doing it. We had to show up in costume at 8:00 am outside the Seattle Opera’s stage door. From there we were ushered into a holding area. I was the first clown to arrive, but soon others came. Two guys from class showed up, so we had fun chatting while we waited for the area we were shooting in to get enough light.

We were to shoot in the entry atrium of McCaw Hall which is apparently lit only by natural light. In Seattle the sun doesn’t come up until 8:00, and we ended up waiting until 9:00 to start shooting. This gave us only 2 hours to do this part of the shoot, because McCaw Hall was opening at 11:00 to let people in for the Nutcracker matinĂ©e brunch. Who knew they had a brunch?

The basic storyline for the video is a hick from the country gets the idea in his head that he is going to try out for the lead role in Pagliacci so he can become famous. He shows up at the Opera House thinking it won’t be a problem only to find a long line of clowns already there to audition. Discouraged by the fact that he has competition he uses some less than ethical means to try to get ahead, beating up one clown and stealing his accordion, cutting in line in front of a little kid (who later beats him up), etc…

My part was being one of the clowns in line to audition. I ended up being the second clown in line behind a mime. My job was to act like I was about to audition, alternately being nervous and psyching myself up. Two security guards dressed in all black would yell out “Next!”, inspiring panic in whoever was next. The guards were meant to be intimidating, looking like Secret Service agents, sunglasses, dragging us in, and then when our audition failed, throwing us out.

So I had to be nervous, psyche myself up, and then become very scared when my turn came up. The thing about doing film is of course you end up doing the same thing over and over and over again, so the camera people can get all the different angles they need for editing. The challenge of being an extra (and an actor who actually talks – I imagine) is keeping your energy up the 7th and 8th time.

I had already had a headache, but after the first hour it was pounding. The were some long stretches where I got to sit while they were shooting the back of the line. I’m not sure if it was good to sit because my head pounded less, but then I lost my energy, so it was a struggle to get motivated when I had to do my bit again.

11:00 rolled around and they opened the doors to the public. We finished in the nick of time. My payment for the gig is two free tickets to see Pagliacci. I have never been to the opera, so it will be interesting. And it was fun to get the clown out after two weeks off. It is funny, but the other two guys and me all said we missed clown class, which considering how we felt in the beginning, and most of during, is a testament to how profoundly altering that experience was.

I packed up the clown costume and put it away, with the costume from the play I did last summer. My drawer is getting full of costume bits and props. I am going to have to find a place to store all this stuff, because I am sure I will need it someday.

Dec 12 – End of the Fall?

Posted in Art with tags , , on December 13, 2007 by actingchick


I had my final Stage Combat class last night. Mostly review. We have started doing rapier with dagger – at the same time. Yes, now we have a pointy metal object in each hand to wave around and hit ourselves and/or the other person with. Mostly I hit myself.

It is very fun, but it feels rather like learning to drive a stick shift. You have the clutch to work, shifting, steering, and braking with that car. With rapier and dagger you have parrying, attacking, footwork, and choreography to keep track of.

For instance, your partner attacks you. You have to step back, parry, do some sort of binding away (getting their sword away from you using your sword), and then attack them while moving forward, and keeping whichever pointy object isn’t being used for attacking pointed at your opponent to cover your guard, all while cycling through the assigned configuration of targets.

It seems we just started getting things cooking and now we have a month break. School doesn’t start up again until January 12th. So what am I going to do with myself.

My plan is to work out a lot to get into shape. I have been eating my way through the Fall. When the daylight decreases here I start to go into hibernation mode. About mid-October I start wanting to eat every thing in sight, which I do. It took me a few years to realize there was a pattern to this, but about every fall I gain about 6 – 10 pounds in about 3 weeks. Then I spend the rest of the year getting that off only to start again in October.

Since I have been aware of this pattern the past few years, I have managed to keep the weight gain down to about six pounds instead of the top of the scale 13. I of course say every year that I am not going to let this happen. I even signed up for a weight lifting class and a boot camp class.

I was eating a lot, but I was working out a lot. Then I had to have surgery twice to remove some flesh (unfortunately not the 25 pounds worth). My subconscious mind took advantage of this and somehow I kept finding pints of Peanut Butter and Chocolate Haagen-Dazs in my shopping basket. And oddly enough I am up about 7 pounds.

Hmmm…coincidence?

Anyway, I get my stitches out tomorrow. Then my plan is to go running Saturday morning early with some people from the bootcamp class. Then Monday morning I am back to the weightlifting class in the morning, and back to Aikido in the evenings.

Oh yeah, I am going to start eating healthier too. I polished off the last of the Haagen-Dazs last night, and I promise that no more shall appear (at least until next October).

Dec 5 – Under the Knife

Posted in Art with tags , , on December 5, 2007 by actingchick


Since I don’t have much to talk about acting wise now that school is winding down, I guess I will have to talk a bit more about the other areas of my life. Yesterday I had a little minor surgery. I now have about twenty stitches in my lower abdomen(very low abdomen).

I had had a mole removed about a month ago. They cut it out and sent it to the lab. Well it came back “atypical”, which according to my doctors does not mean cancer. They stressed this to me over and over. “It’s not melanoma. Really.”

Anyway, as part of standard treatment when they get this sort of result back from the lab is to cut more off of you to make sure they get any little atypical cells that might be heading off to explore the wider world.

So yesterday I popped downstairs (I work in a hospital – how convenient) to get cut up. I make a point of letting the nurse know I work there. I do believe I get better service. Not that I wouldn’t get good service anyway, but I get a little extra friendliness, because they know they might see me around the cafeteria or in the elevator. And we’re family.

The nurse takes my vitals and takes me to the procedure room. It’s huge this time filled with all sorts of medical machines. In the center of the room is the bed under the big metal operating lights hanging from the ceiling like alien space daisies. It looked serious.

The first time they cut the mole off I was in a tiny exam room, which doubled as a supply room. As they were working on me people kept coming in asking, “Where’s the V-4 tube sutures.” or whatever (I made that up by the way in case you are a medical person saying to yourself, what in the world is a V-4 tube suture?)

So the contrast between the storage closet and this big tech filled room had me worried. Luckily when the doctor came in he waved a hand to the machines, and said don’t worry we won’t be using any of that. Whew!

The doctor came in with a stack of CD’s, one of which he put into a CD player. His son made him a mix CD to play during surgery, which I thought was a nice idea. Something to distract the very nervous person who has a phobia of needles and scalpels.

I was a micro bit more relaxed because I knew what to expect more or less. The doc numbed me up, and started cutting away. When he was done he plopped the little chunk of me into a liquid filled jar to send off to the lab. It was about the size of the last two joints of my pinky, and all pink and bloody. Yum.

Of course while the cutting is going on we are chatting about where I work in the hospital, and who I work for. Turns out the doc worked with one of our research groups, so he knew my people. A little light work chatter, a little soft music in the background. All I needed was a drink in my hand, voila! Cocktail party.

I got all stitched up, and got my bandage replacement materials from the nurse. I was feeling pretty good because everything was still numb, so I popped down to the cafeteria for some lunch with my friend Bucky. Something about surgery makes me hungry. Maybe my body had realized some of it is missing, so it wants to replace it as quickly as possible.

I went back to work for a while to finish up some payroll things I had to do. People in my office were like, don’t you want to go home? I said I am still numb and feel fine. I might as well take advantage of it. I did leave a half hour early to catch the bus home

All was good until about 9:30 last night when the last of the anesthetic wore off. Ouch! I stayed home today so I can lay out in my sweat pants moving as little as possible. I can’t take a shower until to tonight, and then I get to replace my bandage.

I am looking forward to seeing what my scar will look like. The doc said he would give me a nicer one than the last person. I am glad for that because the last scar was bumpy at the ends. I know a lot of people aren’t going to see it, but still I don’t want to be lumpy.

Dec 3 – Taking it easy and down the road.

Posted in Uncategorized on December 4, 2007 by actingchick


This quarter is almost over. Clown has wrapped up, and I have only two more Stage Combat classes. I heard we get to start dagger next class, so I am looking forward to that.

With Stage Combat over on the 15th I should have a month off from school. On the one hand that is a nice thing to have a little break and some home time. My girlfriend is infinitely patient with my schedule, but she likes to see me now and again. On the other hand, I am anxious to get going. I could do with 2 weeks instead of a month, but I have no say.

There are four classes I want to take next quarter. Actually there are six, but I can’t do them all as some of them are at the same time. But it is possible for me two swing the four classes depending on a few factors, the main one being money. But hopefully i will be getting a little extra cash into the coffers soon, but I don’t want to count my chickens ahead of time.

Still, assuming that I do get the money (or break down and use the plastic) the four classes I want to take are: Stage Combat (have to continue with this to get certified), Auditioning (helpful if I plan to audition), Voice (I really need this, trust me), and Accents (eets jus fo’ fun gov’nor).

The classes start and end at different times, so I would only actually be in all four classes for about a week and a half. But that week and half I would be in class every night. And of course in that week also happens to be my girlfriend’s birthday. I better start buttering her up now.

So that’s my plan for now. I guess we will see how that plays out in the next few weeks or so. My other dilemma is what am I going to write about while I am on break. My life is fairly boring. I guess I will just have to see if I can make it more interesting.

Dec 2 – Clown on.

Posted in Art with tags , , on December 3, 2007 by actingchick

First, it’s hard to believe that it is December already. Second, it is hard to believe clown class is over. This last Wednesday night was our last class. It was pretty much a normal class format. We did some warm-up exercises, and then we formed the Ring. But it wasn’t the Ring of Clown Shame, or the Ring of Burning Clowns, or the Ring of Clown Humiliation and Terror. This time it was just the Ring.

I guess we have improved. I wasn’t filled with dread, and neither was my partner. The ring assignment was a two person trick. Our trick was that my partner clown, Looster, was going to hold a cup in his mouth while sitting on one of those big exercise balls. Then I was going to bounce a ping pong ball off the floor and into the cup. Ta Da!

We hadn’t practiced our trick, because we have learned by now it doesn’t matter whether we succeed or fail; it is more about how we deal with the situation and each other.

So not only were we ready to go out there with a unrehearsed trick and see what would happen, we weren’t completely blown out of the water when George said to the air aloud as we started, that he sure hoped this wasn’t another ball trick, because he had seen enough of those. Not so subtle message: You better come up with something else. Now.

We had our moment of panic. Then I came up with an idea. I would get Looster to lay on the ball. He took some convincing but he lay down with his back on the ball. He still had the cup in his mouth from when we had started the other trick. I put a ping pong ball in the cup. Then I started to lift up his legs and my intent was sort of to wheelbarrow him around on the exercise ball. He didn’t want me to pick up his legs. He started to squirm, and almost lost the ball out of the cup. I was trying to hold him up and straighten the cup so the ball wouldn’t fall out.

It was physically hard for me. Looster is about 6 feet tall, so I am holding him up and the ball is making it hard for him to balance. I am trying to hold him still so the ball won’t fall out. Apparently it was funny to look at because I heard people laughing. He still had one hand on the floor to balance himself. I was trying to get him to pick it up so I could roll him around, but he didn’t want to. Eventually he did and we completed the trick.

We actually were successful. And at a trick we made up on the spot. And we stayed in our clown characters. And we were funny.

What do you know? I guess we learned something. We went from dreading class and feeling like horrible failures, to flinging ourselves off the cliff just to see what would happen. Giving up on the idea of failure always being a bad thing. Learning to pay attention to our partners, learning to follow the propositions offered, learning to follow the threads of the story. And maybe most important of all, learning to have fun doing it.

I think everyone should take clown class. It’s character building.