Saturday, February 21, 2015

In the Groove

I feel like I'm in a really good place in my life. Every day, I get to dive into a script - whether it's a working on a monologue for auditions, rehearsing a scene for acting class (I work with the sensational Susan Aston), or crafting a scene for a film. I love it! It's all part of my daily routine.

Today I'm working on songs for upcoming auditions, and I find the prep work is very similar to crafting a scene or monologue. It's all about communication (as well as the sustained notes, but you now what I mean). What does the character need in that moment? What are the circumstances? And all of that deep-diving stuff that comes with researching a play, screenplay or musical. It's all about the story, bringing what I can bring to the character, and letting it flow through me. I love getting into the groove of it all!

To "get in the groove " means to enter into the spirit of the situation or circumstance of the moment. The groove is really the track on an old record in which the needle of the record player had to ride in order to reproduce the music--so the meaning is figurative. Gorgeous pic below by James Woody.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

A Day in the Life of a NY Actress

Something I've discovered about acting in NY is that it feels like you're part of a community. Everyone you meet is doing something to make their dreams come true, and I've been so lucky to meet people who, as Bonnie Gillespie says, "share their toys."

I recently took a seminar with Bonnie about Self Management for Actors, and through that workshop, I met some incredibly motivated people who formed a Facebook group and have been sharing knowledge, experiences, and other "toys." :)

One such actor is Tanya Perez (pictured below right), who recently penned this awesome article for "Ms. in the Miz." In it, she chronicles her day in the life as a film actor in NYC.

This reminded me of friends and family who've asked me what my daily life as an actor is like, so here's a glimpse into my daily groove:

It usually starts with visiting Actors Equity and Actors Access to see which auditions are happening when. This gives me prep time, so I can work on songs, scenes, or monologues for each audition. Preparation is key. Even if I'm going in for the cold reading of a new script, I research the author's previous works or find reviews about a previous productions/readings, so I have a sense of the style of the piece.

Now, as Tanya pointed out for film / TV, we usually don't get the script until the day or night before the audition, so then it's time to cram and jam!

This happened for me a few weeks ago when I was called in for the role of a News Anchor in the independent film, Child's Play. I got one page of a script and had to "fill in the blanks" for the character, so I could fill her shoes. It was a blast, and I got the gig!

With plays and musicals, if I don't get an appointment ahead of time, I go to the "open" Equity call. That means getting up at 6 am to go wait in line at whatever studio is hosting the audition. Aasif Mandvi recently talked about this in an interview with NY1 about his book, "No Lands Man."

You wait in line with a ton of other actors and hope to get a timeslot to audition later in the day. I have this down to a science:

6-something AM: get up, shower, pack breakfast and lunch and audition materials, including clothes, shoes, makeup, hair tools, music or monologue, headshot and resume.
7-something AM: take the train or walk to the audition studio. If it's a major open call, move everything up by an hour and get there EARLY!
Hang out and wait until 8:30 or 9 AM when the sign-up begins. Hopefully get a slot around lunch time.
9-9:30 AM: go work at my support job
Anywhere from 11:50 - 4:30: get hair and makeup done, go back to the audition location and wait to go on.
Audition time = about 2 minutes.

If it's possible to hit more than one audition, I do.

As Tanya wrote, it can take about 10 hours (or more) to prep for  a 2 minute performance, but if you book the gig, it's worth it!

Sunday, February 01, 2015

What's Your News?

A few weeks ago, I was called in to audition for the news anchor role in an independent film, and I booked it! :)

Being a research nut, I looked at the different styles of reporting the news, and brought in some options to the director. Did she want a news anchor in the style of MSNBC, Fox, CBS, or (my favorite) PBS? This seemed to delight the production team, and gave me room to show different possibilities. However, in addition to each style, I realized the goal for my character in the scene was to get the truth, and that helped me drive it.

We film this week, and I'm very excited. The script is really good, and I get to improvise at the end of my scene. Gotta love when a section is set aside for improv!