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Archive for the 'Actress' Category

The Play Reading

Cranky just finished writing a play. I was invited to participate in a reading series and to have a new work read. Cranky didn’t have a new work, but said yes anyway and planned to just make one up.

A deadline is a great thing for a writer. Until, of course, the deadline comes. Cranky made up most of a play sitting on the couch in her living room. Went to places she had literally never gone before. Then it was four days until rehearsal and six days before the reading, and the ending just fell off a cliff. And let’s face it, you got no ending-you got no play. Or movie or TV show for that matter. I am still resentful that I lost so many hours of my life watching Lost. If it was all a dream go fuck yourself. So there I am. The ending hasn’t been cracked. I pace around, say a prayer and thank goodness get an idea. The next few hours I keep running to my computer to add things. I wake up the next morning and grab my computer and start typing before getting out of bed. The dog looks at me funny because Cranky has never done this before and dogs are all about routine.

The night before the rehearsal I send the completed script to the six actors. I am thrilled and love the play. The day of the rehearsal I wake up and I hate the play. I’m sure all the actors hate it too. Especially the one I am closest too, who asks me if I will have time to “talk about the play” after rehearsal. The phrase “talk about the play” will send any playwright into a paranoid tailspin. Especially Cranky. So I walk around all day in a panicked state. The thought crosses my mind that I hope there is an earthquake on Thursday so we won’t have to read the play. Or maybe I will have to perform an emergency C-Section on the play and completely rewrite it in one day. I’m sure that the fact that I wrote anything good in the past was a fluke. And that I will never write another play again. That I am not a writer at all. I’m like “Please, please where are the disasters when you need them? How about a little blackout on Thursday? That will do the trick.”

The actors arrive at rehearsal. They all look very happy to be there and enthusiastic. I am sure this is because they are good actors and they are just acting. Then we read through the play. It’s actually good. They are laughing. It’s the perfect combination of sad/funny funny/sad that I like. The rehearsal goes really really well. I’m still nervous about the “talk about the play” person. We go to a diner and she asks if she can change three words. Three words. And tells me it’s a great piece. The earthquake/blackout wish starts to fade.

But we’re talking about the wonderful world of theater were nothing is a sure thing. Ever. The night of the reading there is a full house in the event room of the restaurant hosting it. Before the performance I notice one of the actors downing glasses of Guinness. When he orders another I ask him if he can perform after drinking beer. “Oh sure,” he says.

Everybody is happy. The reading begins. The first scene comes off great. Then comes the second scene with Guinness guy. He is inaudible. I don’t mean a little bit. I mean you can’t hear him AT ALL. It looks like I stuck a mime in there with the speaking actors for experimental reasons. Cranky does not write experimental theater nor does she want to see it. I can’t explain the physical sensations of anxiety that are running through my body. I hired him because his girlfriend asked me if I had something for him. Cranky did it to be nice. And he was a child star on some television program and has been in a bunch of movies. All I can say is, “Dude, Hollywood is calling get the fuck off the stage.”

When it is over I apologize to everyone I know in the room. Some people liked it anyway. Most of them were sitting in the front row.

But alas, such is the way it goes sometimes in the world of a thespian. And when all is said and done, I have written a new play.

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Beware of the Divas

One thing you may encounter if you are in the theatrical world is THE DIVA.

Cranky was once befriended by a musical theater Diva –the worst kind. Believe it or not, Cranky’s natural inclination is to be generous, so it took many many Diva acts to reach the friendship waterloo. Basically, the annoying behavior is to insure that everywhere they go, whatever they are doing, they are the center of attention.

Hence every visit to every restaurant began with multiple changings of tables due to mysterious drafts that no one else could feel besides her. “Oh no. I can’t sit here. The draft. There’s a draft. It will ruin my voice. Cough. Cough. Do you feel it? Can we sit somewhere else? Are you sure there is not a draft over there too?” If you have ever worked in a restaurant, you know how just much maître ds love this. Cringe worthy. And when it came time to order, she would over discuss the foods she can’t eat with the waiter in a whiny voice.

So Cranky decided restaurants were not a viable place to see the Diva. So Cranky would make dinner at home and invite her and her henpecked live-in boyfriend. What could go wrong there? What? Well, Divas find a way. She once asked if she could bring along a fan visiting from London to dinner. Of course. The more the merrier. NOT. The fan was a guy named Barnaby or something who had seen her musical in London like 100 times and given her a rose at the stage door every night. OY.

So here comes Barnaby into my home. He doesn’t say hello, thanks for inviting me OR ANYTHING. He plops down next to the Diva and they sit nose to nose all evening while he praises her and she drinks it in and no attempt is made to engage in conversation with the rest of the table, which consists of henpecked, me, some guy I was once married to, and a horrified friend. I felt less like a hostess and more like an enabler. Her only foray into group conversation is when the friend compliments me on my eyes and the Diva suddenly springs into action and runs over to him to show him the amazing spots in her irises.

Then there is the party at the Diva’s house. Cranky is always willing to help a friend before a party. As a major domo, Cranky can crank out crudité, and is never without doilies and toothpicks at home. So I go to the Diva’s house to help. There is a massive amount of vegetables to cut, cheese to arrange and things to pop in the oven. The Diva shows Cranky everything that needs to be done, chops one piece of celery, and then disappears. Cranky keeps working. And working. It’s summer, and my hair starts to droop and the makeup is melting off my face. Where is Diva? Where? Well, when preparation is done, and the doorbell rings announcing the first guest, Diva appears freshly made up and ready for the party, and Cranky/friend/maid was ready to lie down. Diva had taken a shower, put on make-up and changed outfits.

One day I ran into her and a friend of hers when I was on the way somewhere. I had just put on a tiny bit of some lemony scented something. Diva went nuts. “ARE YOU WEARING PERFUME? OH NO! DON’T COME NEAR ME. STAY BACK! I’M ALLERGIC AND IT WILL AFFECT MY VOICE! STAY BACK!” Cranky kept walking.

Funnily, Cranky didn’t really know who Diva was in the theater world, as an avid unfollower of musical theater. Maybe if I had been a sycophant, her behavior might not have been so irksome. But, I knew she could really sing. Hell, she could sing. She used to occasionally sing for me. Mini concerts in her living room. That was nice. Diva had some voice. I used to tell her, “Girlfriend, you have the best voice I have ever heard! Get out!” I once attended a concert she gave, and she was so good Cranky cried.

But, to me, she was a fellow dog owner in the hood. She had three huge dogs who used to steal food from the homeless people sleeping on the benches. Divas raise delinquents. One day, returning from the dog park, Diva asked Cranky to hold her pack of dogs while she went into the market for “just a minute.” A half hour later, after Cranky had had enough time to reevaluate this relationship, Diva returned.

Our last morning meeting in the dog park we chatted while the dogs romped. Diva drank Cranky’s coffee. I was wearing mirrored aviator sunglasses. Diva interrupted her to say, “I’m sorry. I can see myself in your glasses and I look terrible. Would you take them off?”

Cranky out.

The Magazine Photo Shoot

Cranky recently did a photo shoot for a major magazine. Playing a mom of an errant teenager. Funny, the same magazine wrote a cover article about errant teenagers when Cranky was one and Cranky’s suburban town along with Cranky’s crazy friends were in that article. But I suppose one could write about errant teenagers every few years.

Anyway, the casting director said the stylist would be in touch about wardrobe. No word from the stylist for days. Then the stylist emails me the morning of the shoot and said to call her when I got up. When I call her, she tells me they were shopping until 11pm sorry she didn’t call, she is on the way to the shoot, she got some choices, could I bring some clothes, do I have khaki pants, they are thinking blue for me, yes going to put me in blue, do you have a blue dress, and , and how about nice jeans do I have a pair of those, and bring a bunch of accessories… At some point I just hold the phone away from my ear and let her go on.

Cranky has been through this before and has no intention of bringing the laundry list of clothes. Because I know. I know what will happen. Which does. When I get there, she hands me a blue dress with a price tag on it and says, “Go put this on.” And there is a mountain of accessories. There always is. No need to bring your best pearl earrings only to have them lost on chaotic set. No no.

In the photographer’s studio are three moms, three dads and three teenagers with their stage moms. One of them an uber stage mom who never stops talking about all the things her kid has done. She says she has a suitcase of pictures that she brings with her to show casting directors all the projects he’s been on. “That suitcase is heavy! There are so many pictures!” “How about just a resume? I suggest. She is living through the poor sucker. He looks resigned to it. On top of that, he is home schooled. No break from the constant fawning. I feel like telling him if he ever wants to feel like a normal teenager he can come and stay at my house and I will ignore him 22 hours a day.

There is talk on the set that this might be a cover story. So the “family” that the editors pick will be on the cover. Great I think. That will be fun. I am going to make sure my family rocks the shoot. Then I go into makeup. The makeup artist makes me look like Mommy Dearest. Frightening Cookie Monster eyebrows with a pale face. No mascara, eyeliner or lipstick. I frighten myself when I look in the mirror. When she is done I pray. Dear God please don’t let this be in the cover. Please don’t let this be on the cover. PLEASE NOT THE COVER!

Last Day of the Webisodes

Cranky had her last day of shooting the webisodes last week. I can’t believe we made it though all eight episodes. Amazing. Everyday there were grumbles among the crew about leaving. The sound guy said he couldn’t make the last day. Early on, one of the producers kept telling the crew to stick it out. Then she decided to actually show up on set and work with the production. She lasted two days, then she split.

Then the last day was pushed up by five days. Nothing was ready. There was stuff to be built. Wardrobe to pull. I got an email from the wardrobe person that used the word HAVOC. I had been scheduled to work that day and since money trumps webisodes, I had to go to work. So the whole day had to be shifted for a later call time – 5pm. Oh oh. We know what that means, an all-nighter. Cranky becomes non compos mentis after 1am. That’s it. I’m done. I’m either laughing or sleeping. Speaking of sleeping, one day on the set I was doing a scene that takes place in a spa bed. And Cranky actually fell asleep between takes. I swear. I woke up to hear the word “ACTION!” It was very surreal. And Cranky remembered her lines! Another webisode miracle.

So I show up on set and set pieces are in the process of being built on the sidewalk. The makeup and hair people have total pusses on. When my hair is being done it is completely fried by the hair lady who keeps it in the curling iron like FOREVER. But the puss makes Cranky afraid to say anything. Curl, fry, smoke, curl, fry, smoke, curl, fry, smoke, over and over to my poor hair. Which means I will have to get an extra, unscheduled haircut to undo the damage.

We have about three days worth of work to do in one day, or night I should say. But it is webisode world, and the producer got the space for free, and this is the day we got it, so it is do or die. The space is a regular sound stage and we needed a place to shoot scenes that take place on the set of a soap opera. Cranky is playing a soap star. They actually made a mock magazine cover with my face on it. I know it’s stupid, but it is still on my coffee table. Like maybe it is true and not just a prop.

All my first scenes of the day take place in a hospital bed. Hospitals are big on soap operas where there is always a crisis or a shooting. Or a coma. One of the crew lends me his Soduku book so I have something to do for the hours in the hospital bed. Of course, as an actress, I hate the fact that I have practically no makeup on because I am in a hospital. I was in a hospital once. I put on makeup EVERDAY. And earrings. And a velvet robe. I told them that, but they said that it was not normal. Really? Cranky is not normal? So I got no makeup.

Then around 1am it was time to get ready for the wedding scene. Cranky is the fucking bride. I kid you not. I am sure that by this hour Cranky looks like Miss Havisham in a white veil. And both dress choices are strapless and I have to figure out a way to keep my breasts from getting out of control and spilling out everywhere. And Cranky has always said no one over forty should wear a strapless dress. And here I am being FILMED in one. But the wardrobe person tells me we are lucky to have ANYTHING. FOR NO MONEY.
So in the words of Tim Gunn I have to make it work. I keep trying to get the veil to cover my armpits. At this point a Burka/veil would be much appreciated.

I go downstairs to the room that they have been furiously decorating for the wedding scene. There are like forty extras in the scene. The first time we run the scene I am walked down the aisle by a man and all the extras stand. And I can’t believe this faux wedding brings tears to Cranky’s eyes. Seriously, how lame. Cranky is crying at her own fake soap opera wedding. Because Cranky never had a wedding and right now Cranky thinks her husband hates her. So I am thinking, “Don’t cry. Don’t cry. You stupid idiot! Don’t Cry!” I try thinking about the latest episode of “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” It takes three takes to stop the tears from happening on the walk down the aisle.

Then I realize that I know the story line, and that my fellow actors the forty extras DON’T. So they don’t know that when I do the soap opera scenes I am doing kind of over the top bad acting. Oh no!! So between Takes I am on the stage by the priest and I stop everything. I say; “EXCUSE ME! I HAVE TO MAKE AN ANNOUNCEMENT! I AM NOT A BAD ACTRESS. I JUST PLAY ONE ON TV.”

I couldn’t help myself-or my ego couldn’t help itself.

So the working on the webisodes is over now. And it was a big pain in the ass. And like every actress I am so sad that it is over and I miss it like crazy.

Not Another Student Film!

Cranky is doing her eight hundredth graduate school film this weekend. I figured graduate school – its gotta be good. They use Bob Giraldi’s DP and sound guy. I got the lead part. Sounds OK. Right?

OF COURSE NOT.

“Oh yes. We have a producer and a wardrobe person and hair and makeup,” the director said. Love that. Love when they are taking care of the actors. I had great expectations.

Until the wardrobe person actually called. Four days before the shoot. Completely unintelligible.

The phone rings.

“Ah, hello. Is this Cwankery?” says the voice on the phone.

“Um, this is CRANKY,” I say.

“Oh, yes Cwankery this is Naohagalaga. You playing housekeeper. I need to get uniform,” she says.

“I’m not playing the housekeeper”, I say.

“No director say you need a uniform,” she says, “Housekeeper?”

“But I’m not playing the housekeeper”, I say.

“Do you know who is playing the lead?” she says.

“That would be me,” I answer.

“I need to get you uniform?” she says.

“But I’m not playing the housekeeper,” I say.

“Oh. Do you know who’s playing the housekeeper?” she asks.

“No,” I say, “Why don’t you ask the director.”

“Do you have the director’s phone number?” she asks.

This is a first. The wardrobe lady is asking me for the director’s phone number. Seriously.

Then I get a call from the director. I had agreed to go and have a few pictures taken with the guy playing my husband and the guy playing my son for photos around the house so he is calling to schedule that. It was fine with me until he wants me to go an hour into New Jersey by train to take the pictures. “Why can’t we do them in the city?” I ask. “Because the guy playing your husband can’t leave Jersey,” he says. “Why? I answer, “is he under house arrest? Does he have an ankle bracelet?”

Of course not. He doesn’t WANT to leave New Jersey. He is a friend of the director’s parents who has agreed to play my DEAD husband who has no lines in the film so of course he has more power than I do because who the hell can you get to play the dead husband with no lines and one flashback scene?

Then I get the shooting schedule from the previously unheard from producer. All the scenes are marked by scene numbers. But there are no scene numbers in the script, only page numbers. I can’t tell which scene is which and I am in every fucking one of them. I have a million different outfits to figure out and all Naohagalaga can do is buy a uniform. I email the producer to please send me a script using page numbers as there are no scene numbers on the script and she writes me back that she can’t change the script.

HUH?

For this I am losing quality time with my dog?

Wish me luck.

PS – Of course after all this it came out fab. It is now one of my fav roles.

Cranky Gets A Money Gig From Craig’s List- HELP!!

The recession is annoying Cranky. I had a nice freelance money job. But now that job isn’t paying me any money. So I ended up in the bizarro world of Craig’s List looking for some kinda job thing to bring in some dough. This is how my life turned into a Seinfeld episode.

I got a job working for Oscar the cranky old guy. Only Cranky would find a job like this. Luckily I am splitting the job with a model so we both can go on calls. And I tell him I can never come in until eleven because there are only so many hours of this I can take.

Here is my day:

Play one message from an unintelligible friend six times to try to figure out what the hell he is saying. Finally give up and play it for Oscar who immediately recognizes his fellow octogenarian’s garble and calls him back. Call the city to fight a parking ticket and use the term elder abuse to get out of it.

Then it is lunchtime.

Every day at 12:30 Oscar hands me a ten-dollar bill and says; “See if they have Matzo Ball. If they have Matzo Ball soup just take the Matzo Balls and put them in a different soup. I don’t like the soup the Matzo Balls come in. I don’t like the Jewish Penicillin.

Tuesday at lunch time: “See if they have the Matzo Ball…”

Wednesday at lunch: “See if they have the Matzo Ball….”

Thursday: “See if they have the Matzo Ball….”

After four weeks of this I realize that Morton Williams Supermarket hasn’t had Matzo Ball soup for the past hundred years, but I will never stop hearing the Matzo Ball speech.

So we eat our soup.  As Oscar takes his last spoonful he starts to nod off and ends up taking a nap on the leatherette couch in his office with a sweater over his head. One day the sweater slips and I see his frozen face with unseeing eyes and mouth open. I think; “Oh shit! He’s dead! What am I gonna do? Who do I call? I’ve never had a dead boss before.” And then I hear a little snore and realize that Oscar sleeps with his eyes open which is one of the scarier things I have ever seen in my life.

After lunch comes the most important business of the day. Now we must go on match.com and send emails to women. Oscar pulls up a chair and looks over my shoulder at the computer while we do searches for women. I am so in the world of weirdos now I am beside myself. Yesterday he started yelling: “Find me more women! There must be more women! Can’t you call someone you know that uses match.com who can tell you how to find more women?”

Ah, yeah.  I know how to navigate match.com. What I don’t know is how to get any twenty-eight to thirty-eight year old woman to write back to an eighty-year-old man looking for a date, a relationship, a wife and a NEW BABY. Ah, yeah. A NEW FUCKING BABY. Unhappy with his  eighteen-year-old son, he has decided that he should get a new baby. And the way to get a new baby is to get a woman in her childbearing years to go out with you. Oh and she must be tall and thin. TALL AND THIN.

This shit is giving me nightmares. I keep seeing Oscar’s fungus finger pointing at pictures of young women.  Is it worth the hourly rate? The Matzo Balls and match.com floating around my brain when I leave there? The listening to him pee with the bathroom door open? Or how about walking by the door of his office, as he is about to pee in the empty soup container from lunch because he is too old and tired to walk to the bathroom?

Seriously,  the economy better get better because I don’t know how long I can take this shit.

Yesterday was doing match.com with Oscar dictating over my shoulder. It’s a good thing he doesn’t  see very well,  so he can’t see all the typos I will have to go back and correct later. So he is dictating a note to some beautiful young Brazilian woman. I am feeling sorry for her that she will get a response to her lovely picture and open it and find it is from grandpa. Anyway, he is dictating that he went to Rio once but couldn’t go to the beach because he is very fair skinned. Then he says his ability to meet women is small because he doesn’t like cocktail bars. Then he says he hates large groups of people because he finds most people are insufferable bores. While I am typing I think, “Way to go Oscar. Way to get a date. Sound like a complete misanthrope. Great way to make an impression- expose yourself as having the emotional intelligence of a bi-valve.”

And then it happens. Cranky has an uncontrollable laughing fit. As it is bubbling up I am thinking; ‘NO. STOP! DO NOT LAUGH! DO NOT LAUGH! HE WILL SEE YOU!” Which makes if even more funny, so I dissolve into a hysterical laughing fit in front of him.

Fortunately, he thinks of himself as a great writer and as I am laughing with tears coming down my cheeks he says; “It’s a great letter, right? What do you think?”  “Huh?”  I think, “Don’t ask me what I think! I can’t tell you what I really think.”  And then it comes to me.  I say, “You sound like Woody Allan,” and I am able to save the day.  Thank you Second City Improv.  Thanks for the skills to save my job with Matzo Ball man.

Help! I’m Stuck In An Audition And I Can’t Get Out!

So after missing an audition I decide to turn over a new leaf. I will go to everything. I will not be judgmental.  I will have a good attitude. Well, that was my first mistake.

So when I get a call to go to an audition my attitude is so “good” I ignore all the usual warning signs. I am so into “getting out there” that I let it go that the audition is in an apartment building. Never a good sign. If they can’t fork over fifteen bucks an hours for a studio, fuck them. And when I ask, I am told, “Oh there are no sides. We are going to improvise.” Hmmmm. Again questionable.

But the new positive Cranky is looking on the bright side and ignores all this. The new positive Cranky is giving everybody the benefit of a doubt. The new positive Cranky says; “Sure!”   And I head uptown to 15 Central Park West for the audition.

Probably the fancy address helped to quell my fears. The presence of that many doormen somehow makes the possibility that I am going to see a psycho killer at home highly unlikely.

When I get there I CANNOT believe the lobby. It has a pre-war feeling and pre-war dimensions, and yet it is new. I ask the doorman about it and he tells me the building cost one billion dollars to build. “They used the same stone that was used to build the Empire State Building. They wanted a building that would fit in with the rest of Central Park West. Not like that ugly glass building next store that Trump built.” Its true this building is elegant. The Trump one next door doesn’t cut it. But if you‘ve ever watched “The Apprentice” and seen the inside of Donald Trump’s apartment, this is understandable. He has terrible taste the poor thing. I think his home décor style is called “Early Hotel Lobby.”

So I enjoy the walk through the lobby. I pass through the corridor that goes through the walled formal gardens. I go up on a spotless elevator. What the hell kind of independent filmmaker lives here? I wonder. What kind? The rich kid who lives with their parents kind.

I find this out when I enter the room.  It is a conference room that is available to tenants. I have to ask who lives here. “Oh, me and my parents,” answers the director.

So she explains the film to me. In it a woman gets followed home by some guy who then pushes her in the door and shoots her. I now realize I never got a script BECAUSE THERE IS NONE. She’s gonna improvise the entire film. I am not hot on that. You can usually tell by the quality of the dialogue when it is all improvised. And as a writer I always think things would be better if somebody wrote something.

So there is no script. The director then says we are going to improvise. She wants me to walk around the room like someone is following me.  Huh?  Walk around the room?  At this point I’m sure she must realize what I am thinking because I am absolutely sure I have a self-diagnosed condition called FACIAL EXPRESSION TURRETS. I can’t help myself really. Every emotion just passes over my face without me having a say in it. It is great for acting, but sucky in life.

This is when I need a strategy to get myself out of the room. A sure fire way to get out of there. But I AM STUCK IN THE AUDITION AND I CAN’T GET OUT. I may need a “Lifeline” device to hang around my neck with a button I can press to summon help.

She wants me to walk around the room? Which basically means circling the fucking conference table whilst looking over my shoulder. I mean you expect this kind of retarded shit at a commercial audition, but at one for a film?  No.

But I can’t get out of the room, so I do it. I avoid making any expression at all. I am not gonna do the Laura Dern in ”Jurassic Park” look. I feel like an idiot. I am circling a table. At one point I stop as if I am at a traffic light. My method training is surfacing willy-nilly. When I finish she says, “Oh, we didn’t want you to stop. WOULD YOU MIND DOING IT AGAIN?” Please Dear God Please God get me out of here. So again I am circling circling.

The feast de resistance comes when she tells me to now make believe that I open the door, some guy pushes me in, and then he shoots me. The only thing is, THERE IS NO GUY. Do I look like frigging Marcel Marceau? Can I push myself through a doorway? Can I shoot myself?

That’s it. So I look at the assistant director and ask if he can be the guy who pushes me in the door and shoots me. He looks real embarrassed. He’s embarrassed? I just circled a conference table for ten minutes!

They look at me like I’ve got some balls. When in reality, if I had balls I would have left fifteen minutes ago.

He blushes through the whole thing, which makes me superbly happy.

When I leave, I sit in the beautiful garden with the fountain that so looks like the afterlife. It is quiet there. Not an idiot in sight. I regain my composure. I decide to walk across Central Park even though there is a light drizzle. Again, I am alone. With the trees. With the plants. It is very quiet. I feel all right. I know Cranky will live to act another day.


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