Archive for the 'Actress' Category

The Absolutely Dreadful Audition

Got the below email from a fledgling director:

“From: Adam Drysin
Subject: Penny Dreadful Audition
Date: Oct 16, 2009, at 7:35 PM EDT

Hi everyone, thank you all so much for your enthusiastic response! Due to the sheer volume of actors interested (over 150 of you have already confirmed), I’ll have to send out a mass email.”

Dopey dopier dopiest – like I care how many people responded? Is there a difference between a laconic response and an enthusiastic one? Can you feel a vibe when you look at a submission-“Hmmmm this feels enthusiastic!”  Seriously?  If you asked any of the sheer volume of actors if they were enthusiastic about your project the most common answer would probably be; “Ah I dunno.  The guy sounds kind of lamo but I’m not doing anything else,  so what the hell.”

“Unfortunately, if you are unable to make it between 2 and 6 on this upcoming WEDS 10/21 I am currently unable to accommodate you. However, I will be looking to schedule a make up date in the coming weeks.”

Huh? So you WILL be able to accommodate me?

“If you have responded that you would like to come on Wednesday at a specific time, be assured that I have made a note of it and you will be seen before you have to leave.”

But not when you ARRIVE at your chosen time?

“Your presence is not unappreciated and everyone who comes to audition will be seen. I only ask that you be patient, since I am pretty much putting this whole thing together by myself.”

And I should care why? Thanks for warning me that you’re unprofessional and have no friends.

“Attached you’ll find a side to prepare- it’s a scene from David Mamet’s play Boston Marriage. I find I have the best results with casting calls when actors reading material I haven’t written.”


“Looking forward to meeting you all, don’t hesitate to call or email me with any questions.

Adam Drysin

P.S. ALSO, please watch this video, it will give you a good sense of I do auditions…

(just kidding, but you should all watch it anyway because it’s great)”

Appropriate for facebook but for a casting email? Not so much.

OK, so after reading this email Cranky should have known better. Cranky should have skipped it. I shoulda stayed home. But no, Cranky went anyway. This is when I could use the actor HOTLINE.  I needed someone to tell me; “JUST SAY NO!”  But I went.   And of course it was a big mess. A green room full of actors where no one left. The NO EXIT of audition rooms.

So Cranky and another actress took matters into their own hands – we had a minor rebellion. We were free. For all I know those actors are still in there. Waiting waiting.

The story of what we found is in the email below that I wrote to Mr. Drysin the moment I got home.

“From: crankyactress
Date: October 21, 2009 5:40:19 PM EDT

Dear Adam –

I unfortunately attended the ABSOLUTELY DREADFUL PENNY DREADFUL AUDITION and waited and waited. I had to listen to two actresses talking to each other across the room about how they flushed their cell phone down the toilet and why they only did one year of the two-year conservatory program they were in. One of the stories involving bronchitis and mononucleosis and how she was told not to attend school with bronchitis but if she didn’t attend she would fail. Why why why do boring loud people always talk to each other ACROSS the room? So thanks for that Adam. I have a million things to do but I traveled to the village to sit in a plastic chair and listen to drivel.

There were ten actors waiting to be seen for your project. When another actress and I realized that the monitor had not called any one in for over fifteen minutes we decided we needed to figure out WHAT THE HELL WAS GOING ON. So we left the green room and searched the halls until we found the audition room. There was music coming from inside. We were not auditioning for a musical. We knocked on the door. There you and the monitor were. Listening to music. Having snacks.

You’ve gotta be fucking kidding me.

When we asked, you said, “Ah, um, ah we were changing the tape.” In a video camera. Which takes all of two minutes. There is a myth that actors are stupid. You obviously believe this MYTH. So by then, with ten actors there and each audition taking approximately five minutes each, I would have had to wait about an hour. Nice.

You said you had a “big turnout”. The amount of actors who responded is of no concern to me. If you choose to audition 150 actors for a short film I suggest you figure out an organized way to do it or maybe narrow it down by half. Asking 150 actors to come between 2 and 6 is preposterous.

So bye bye Adam. We left.

If you can’t organize an audition what is your film set gonna be like? Time management is a huge part of being a good director. I know because I’ve worked with a lot of them. A lot of talented EXPERIENCED people who would never THINK of treating other people this way. I’ve heard NYU costs like 40,000 bucks a year. I suggest you take this money and open a small business and get someone organized to run it. You obviously have no respect for actors. And good actors are gonna walk away.

I have been in the First Run Festival. I’ve been in films that have been in festivals all over the world. I do my work. I prepare. I’m on time. I fix my fucking hair and put on makeup. I take my work seriously. I am continually working on my craft.

Do I wanna work with a JOKER? The answer would be no.



Cranky On A Deserted Island

Cranky took a mini vacation last week. A perfect recession vacation. A friend let me stay in her Fire Island house for free when she wasn’t using it. So I brought a girlfriend. We arrived in the middle of the week. It was off-season. It was a cloudy dark and blustery. There were no people. There were no bicycles ringing their bells. No barking dogs.   It was scary as shit. All the houses were dark. We were on a deserted island.

I know this is supposed to be great. But I live in Brooklyn, a block from the 24-hour Korean Deli. In an apartment building with neighbors all around (most of them friendly – except for the two crazies in the building.) It looked like the perfect setting for a Shining kind of situation. We got off the ferry and 1:15 in the afternoon and the only little store was closing. CLOSING? HELP!

We watched “David Letterman” and I was inspired by his nightly top ten list. So I wrote one of my own:

The top ten things that show I’m an ACTRESS when on vacation on a deserted island:

  1. The minute my friend and I get off the boat we start our vacation by doing a tough session of “Buns Yoga.”
  2. We are ravenous after so share 5 crackers.
  3. I’m supposed to relax but I check email 18 times a day.
  4. The only other human on the island is the strange man who runs the grocery store and still I apply eyeliner.
  5. First thought when spotting a deer on the lawn – “Why don’t my eyelashes look like that?”
  6. I try to figure out how to swim without getting any sun on my complexion
  7. For dinner we are starving and have to walk 2 miles to the only open restaurant on the island and still we split an entrée.
  8. When the tough looking longshoremen types at the bar in the restaurant check me out my friend is nervous – I am relieved – if I can’t get attention on a deserted island it might be the end of my acting career.
  9. Appalled to realize that being in a beach house means you, your clothes and your hair will smell like mildew the entire time- not attractive.
  10. Spent 26 minutes scanning the channels of unfamiliar satellite TV to find “Project Runway” instead of playing the requisite board games.

The No Notice Audition

I got home yesterday afternoon after doing six loads of laundry at the local laundromat. The laundromat that uses all the machines to do laundry for people who have their laundry picked up and dropped off. Cranky used to be one of those people. But tough times call for drastic action like doing your own laundry.

It’s not a people friendly place this laundromat. Because there is no room for people. It is so narrow that no matter where you are you are in the way. Putting your clothes in the washer- you’re in the way. Taking them out of the dryer- you’re in the way. Folding your laundry- you’re in the way. It’s so narrow it’s like a bowling alley lined with washing machines and dryers.

And everyone hates doing laundry, so everyone there is disgruntled. Especially the maids who are there doing other people’s laundry. So it was me and the maids yesterday. And Jose the laundry man. Jose, who used to deliver my laundry in better times. Jose, who looked at me like “What are you doing here?” when I walked in pushing my loser shopping cart. Jose, who had to explain to me, “Put quarters in three time.” When I put one round of quarters in and stared at the machine confusedly when it didn’t spin. Jose, with the huge sweat rings under his arms, because not only is it cramped, it has no air conditioning and maintains a steady temperature of 100 degrees.

So I spent the afternoon sweating like a bull and having people say; “Excuse me!” “Excuse me!” “Excuse Me!” Even though I had spent three hours at the gym the night before, I did not wash my hair because I knew the laundry sweat sauna was on deck for the next day.

I get home at three o’clock and there is an email from a casting agent asking me to come in before 7pm for a call for a print ad. Usually I would think, “Oh please, are they kidding?” But tough times require that Cranky tough it out. So even though I have dirty horrible hair, blood shot eyes and am traumatized from the sauna/laundromat I have to go.

They say they want you to come in looking like a fifties housewife. I get out the heat rollers I haven’t used in ten years, plug them in and hop in the shower. No time to wash my hair. Get out. Put rollers in dirty hair. Use half a bottle of Visine to remove the blood shot eyes from laundry heat aggravation. Put on a blouse, a ton of pearls and red lipstick and pink blush only on the cheeks.

I run down to the elevator and practically run over my neighbor who is getting off. He says; “Hey Cranky! You look beautiful.” This is great because I was afraid I was looking like a dork. We all need someone to say we look good when we are on the way to an audition.

I get to the office and the audition is a three second mug shot session. They tell me to look proud. “Stand on the T and hold your number near your face.” SNAP. “Turn and face left.” SNAP. “Face forward and look proud and warm.” SNAP.

So SNAP I am outta there, and for six blocks I wondered if my proud expression was effusive enough. It’s hard to look proud. Was I proud of someone else? (I went with this one.) Or proud of myself? Or proud as in arrogant? Or proud that I have clean laundry? I keep making the face I made for the last shot as I walk down the street. Does it FEEL proud enough? Do I look like a psycho walking down Sixth Avenue?

It’s amazing how much post audition analytical thought can be spawned by the three-second audition. Especially when I am doing my own laundry.

Casting Director on Twitter – A No No

Cranky read with outraged horror about a casting director who was Twittering nasty comments during an audition. She was making her personal casting dos and don’ts list while watching performers open their hearts to her. She was thinking about her following more that the people in the room. The people who spent hours learning something to show her. The people that got dressed up to meet her. The people who traveled on the Africa hot subway in the New York summer. One of her Tweets was; “Multitasking. Auditioning #50 of the day and sending out an e-mail blast!” Nice. So glad they have half your attention. Then there was the tweet about how listening to the singing made her feel like her “ears were bleeding.” Girlfriend, you don’t belong in the biz. You gotta have heart.

We don’t tweet about THEM. Because them might give us our next job. Even though a lot of them are weirdos with major personality defects, which are aggravated by the power over people they feel, often leading to advanced megalomania. You know who I’m talking about. The ones who act like mean bulldogs just because they can. The ones who hate you if you look a little too happy when you walk into the room.

Like the other day when I had a callback for The Onion News Network. I love the Onion. I was excited to be a part of it because it is sooooo funny. I had the funnest audition. The casting director was a doll. The woman running the camera was a cutie. They were laughing while I did the sides. I got clear direction. I felt good.

Then came the callback. They had me in so “I could meet the director.” The minute I walked into the room she gave me major bad vibes. I think I looked too relaxed and happy to see the casting director. So Ms. Director was gonna show who was really in charge. She had long thick dark curly hair covering half of her face. Never trust that. And she did not introduce herself. Hate that.

She started talking on and on and on about where my character was and how she was feeling and where she was and Republican this blah blah blah blah blah. It became mesmerizing. Then she says, “So how do you feel about that?”   “Huh?” I think, “Um, ah well it makes sense,” I say, “These are the people who love Ann Coulter.” “NO,” she says, “How do YOU feel about it?” My mind is like, “Wait. What does she mean? Me the person or me the character? Maybe she wants to know how my character feels about it.” So I describe in detail how excited my character is about what is going on. When I finish she looks exasperated and says, “That’s nice but could you use some of the dialogue from the script?”

I am now the retard in the room. The audition had begun unbeknownst by me. She was just blabbering and her last sentence was supposed to be followed by the dialogue from the script. This is a first. It’s usually, “Slate your name. I’ll ask you a question and you reply.” But Ms. Director wants to screw me up and show how smart she is. So I do the dialogue. I have memorized it, but at the end I use the word desiccated instead of the word decomposed, because she has rattled me. And to make it worse I point up that I switched words. I do it again. I use the correct word but can’t even remember what I said. “Did I say desiccated?” I ask. “No” she says. “Thank you,” she says. I get up and leave the room. That was AWFUL. I had to go straight to Sephora across the street and get a new lipstick to cheer myself up.

It’s amazing that someone completely humorless is a director at The Onion. How did that happen? I think she has them snowed into thinking she’s an ARTISTE.

I once went to an audition for a print ad and when I was in the room I assumed they were taking stills, so I moved and freezed, moved and freezed, moved and freezed. They were filming! I was doing a robot fucking dance and they were filming. Oh hell. But later they ended up casting me for an editorial print job. They are two funny guys who are both very Seth Rogen. They walk around the casting office in socks.   I have this terrible feeling they went home that night and smoked joints with their friends and watched the robot lady audition tape and rolled on the floor laughing. But that’s like my job right? To be entertaining. Even if I didn’t mean it.

Summer Is A Bummer

There’s a thing about being an actress that happens a lot. You can’t wait to get a job. And then when you get a job, you can’t wait until it’s over. And then when it’s over you’re afraid you’ll never get another job.

This is my current state of mind. Add the fact that it is the depths of summer and NO ONE is calling me to audition. I have gone from CRANKY ACTRESS to CRAZY ACTRESS.

I almost agreed to go to Philadelphia for an audition for an Indy film. Not just Philadelphia, but some scary place called Jenkintown. So I would be doing approximately 5 hours of round trip of traveling for the CHANCE of a role.

My first tip off was when my husband answered the phone and a guy said, “Ah, um, is this an actor?” It was the director. He didn’t know who he was calling. But I still was gonna go. It was a total desperation move.

And who was I gonna meet when I got there? Freddy with the mask? Is there a crazy man inviting actresses to come and audition in obscure towns in Pennsylvania? Are the actresses never seen again? Does Freddy tell them before he kills them, “Look, you had a chance to use your head. You could have refused to come to Jenkintown. But you came of your own free will. You did. You came. You traveled five hours for an audition. What kind of idiot does that? You are so stupid you deserve to die.”

I didn’t tell anyone because I knew they would tell me I was nuts.   I only told a very close friend. She said, “Ah, Cranky if you need to get out of the house that bad why don’t you go to the beach?”

Doing a play where the script had MAJOR problems is torture. But not doing anything is WORSE TORTURE. So today I donated five pairs of shoes to housing works, rearranged my closet, hand washed all the hand wash, and checked Facebook where people posted videos of funny pets doing funny things and are playing Bejeweled Blitz. And now I’m thinking maybe I SHOULD go to Jenkintown.

Cast Pictures Anyone?

Had a performance last night with the FACHADICK COMPANY. They asked the actors to be ready and dressed in costume by 5:30pm so they could take cast pictures. So I would have to get there at 4:30pm to put on makeup and squeeze into my skintight gown and then sit around until 7pm with the spaghetti straps boring into my shoulders. And then do the show. Do the SHOW. After hanging around in my costume for two and a half hours before the show.

The director said, “These pictures are for you people! We’re doing this for you.” Oh really? Really? They’re for me? Just what I always wanted! Pictures of myself with the FACHADICK COMPANY that I can look at for the rest of my life and reminisce about my mini nervous breakdown at the Westway Diner. So my answer was, “Too busy, can’t make it.”

I walked into the theater at 6pm yesterday and everyone was sitting around the stage and in the audience. I ask the director, “Are you done with the pictures already?” “Ah, no,” he says, “the photographer never showed up.” Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha. I got that wonderful feeling inside, when you trusted your gut and you were right. Etta, my husband’s grandmother would have said I was QVELLING. Yes, yes, I was QVELLING inside.

Then he said, “But he might show up, so if you want to hurry and get your dress on you can get in the pictures.” Cranky had no intention of hurrying. Cranky just gave him a blank stare. When he didn’t show up for tech he lost his director status in my mind. So I go to the powder room. And when I come back the stage manager says to the director, “Did you tell Cranky the photographer isn’t coming so she doesn’t have to hurry?”

We had a very kind audience. They were laughing, laughing, laughing. You gotta love that. During the performance a couple of us were hanging out on the fire escape stairs waiting for our entrances and two people from the show in the theater two floors above came walking down the stairs. They went right to the entrance to the stage and mouthed, “Is this the bathroom?”

Was Cranky tempted to say yes.nWould it have hurt the play if two strangers wandered onstage? We will never know because Cranky did the right thing and directed them to fly hallway, where now half the lights are burned out, so you can’t see the flies coming.

Opening Night Horrors

So opening night arrives. Or should I call it opening day? Because we have to be at the theater at 2pm to do our one and only tech and our one and only speed through on the actual stage before the curtain’s up.

I take the subway there and a person sitting opposite me on the train is reading “The Secrets of Mental Health.” I don’t know about you, but if I were reading that, I’d be putting a plain brown cover on that puppy. And if I had known what I was in for later, I would have her asked if I could borrow it.

I arrive at the theater. The cast is sitting around in the audience. The lead guy who is also the set builder is in an Italian t-shirt in a sweaty frenzy placing furniture on the stage and hammering supports to hold a door in place.

The stage manager is already having a meltdown. “THERE’S NO ONE HERE TO SHOW ME THE LIGHT BOARD! IT WAS IN MY CONTRACT THAT SOMEONE WOULD BE HERE WITH ME! THERE IS NO ONE HERE. HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO FIGURE OUT HOW TO WORK THIS THING?” This is a show with like a million telephone ring cues. And a blackout.

So far the director is a no show. I repeat. The director is a NO SHOW!!

The stage manager comes down from the light booth. She lies in the floor in yogic child pose. “Can someone go and get me a beer? And don’t talk to me for the next hour.” A beer? Is that gonna help her figure out the light board?”

I’ve been here ten minutes and am asking myself, “WHY WHY WHY?”

Something looks weird to me about the stage. I go and sit in the audience and realize what it is. If you sit on the right side of the audience you cannot see the right side of the stage. The door has been placed downstage and almost in the center on a perfect angle to block all the action stage left. As luck would have it most of my action takes place stage left. No one has thought about sight lines. But you cannot be wielding a hammer and checking sight lines at the same time. This is where a director who SHOWS UP comes in handy. I am now thinking they need to change the name of the company to the FACHADICK COMPANY.

I ask Mr. Hammer, “Would you come over her for a minute?” He comes and sits next to me. “You can’t see half the stage,” I tell him. “Hmmm,” he says, “maybe we can move the furniture around a little.” Yeah, maybe if we tip the whole stage and all the furniture slides over to one side everything will work out perfectly.

“That’s not gonna help,” I say, “Most of my action takes place on that side of the stage. If you don’t care, I don’t either.” “Well, you’re in the play so you should be seen,” he says. Duh.

After a little back and forth with the ingénue who delivers two lines from the other side of the door and wants the audience to see her two lines, Italian t-shirt makes the call. “Well, most of the action happens on the stage, so I think we should see the stage,” he says.

We get to the speed through and I am like rattled, tired and tense so I blank TWICE. I mean like totally blank. I could have stood there for an hour and the line wouldn’t have come to me. This is some scary shit. We are opening in 90 minutes.

On my little break I go to the Westway Diner on Eighth Avenue. I sit in the booth. I put my head in my hands and say OUT LOUD, “Dear God Please Help Me!” And I am alone. I am alone and talking to myself. But Eighth Avenue is full of crazies so nobody cares. This is what the FACHADICK COMPANY has driven me to. I order soup. I can’t eat it. I order eggs. I figure it’s two mouthfuls and you get a lot of protein.

As I walk back to the theater I hear the death march in my head. DAH DAH DAH DUM DAH DAH DAH DAH DUM…

I go up to the dressing room. It is up two flights of fire escape stairs. The bathroom is in the basement. You have to walk down fly hallway to get there. Big flies, little flies, all kinda flies must be batted from your face to get to the toilet.

The dressing room isn’t air-conditioned. It is stifling and the ingénue asks that the fan be turned off because she has to flat iron her hair. I just love putting makeup on and then watching it melt off my face.

We begin. My first entrance I feel like and empty shell in sandal heels. “Pull it together,” I tell myself. I start getting it together. Then there is a scene when I am sitting on a loveseat and other cast members enter. The ingénue comes on and stands directly in front of me with her ass in my face. Her butt is literally an inch from my face. I have a choice. I can move and look like an actress who is aware of being upstaged, or I can stay. But I have to deliver a line. If I stay where I am and deliver my line is it gonna look like the ingénue is doing ventriloquism with her butt? To stay or to go? I stay and opt for the talking butt.

We get through it without any mishaps.

When I get to the theater the next day, the lead guy tells me he was out drinking until 4am. So when we do the show, he gets his lines twisted. For example, he is supposed to say, “What do you want?” And I answer, “What does anyone want? Sex, Love, etc…” But instead, his hangover leads him to say, “What can I do for you?” So I have to reply, “What could you do for me? What do I want? What does anyone want, etc…..”

But he IS a member of the FACHADICK COMPANY and they have to work hard to stay fachadick. He’s handsome and talented, but being a member of a company that just spews out plays that no one cares about hasn’t done him any favors. And I’m sure after the many years he has been doing theater it takes work to remain fachadick. But determined to be fachadick he is.

Acting Career Depends On Air Conditioner

I haven’t done theater in a while and I totally forgot about the horrors of opening night.

It started two days ago when I realized it was close. We were still looking at our scripts and calling “LINE!”   I was still grasping for when to enter and what line to say when I did enter.

I started having trouble sleeping. First, I had the super install the air conditioners. Then I had him come back the next day and switch them because I felt the den one was quieter then the bedroom one. Then I couldn’t sleep because I thought that one was too noisy. By the next morning I was in a state of nervous apoplexy and felt like my life depended on getting a new air conditioner immediately. If I didn’t get one I would get no sleep, totally screw up onstage, get a bad review and morbidly embarrass the nice guy who recommended me for the role.

This is a nervous transference thing that happens sometimes. My husband does the same thing. He once had a presentation the next day and became fixated that the medicine cabinet was going to fall off the wall. “We have to take everything out of the medicine cabinet!” He yelled. “It’s going to fall off the wall! I better remove the door off its hinges!” I knew what was really off its hinges, but I went along with it. After the presentation, the medicine cabinet was OK. So was my husband.

In my crazed state I got a friend from around the corner to go to J and R with me to buy one and a neighbor down the hall to help me put it in. I got the neighborhood involved. I couldn’t ask the super again because he already thought I was completely nuts. “Cranky come on!” he said when he had to switch them.

So after the air conditioner fixation there was nothing else to obsess about.

Then my acting teacher called me. “I understand you open tomorrow. How’s it going?” he said. This is a man who teaches at a university, teaches private classes and just lost his wife and is about to go to Europe (“Blow the country” is how he put it) to scatter his wife’s ashes in the Seine. And he remembered to call me the day before I open in a little show on 45th Street. I am crying as I write this. Cranky may be cranky, but she is also extremely sentimental.

He talked to me about my character and how rehearsals have been going. “THEY’VE DONE NO SCENE WORK AT ALL!” I said, “All we’ve done is run the play from beginning to end.”

“Ah,” he said, “these people don’t know what they are doing. You have huge resources to draw on. You’re intelligent. You can work it out.” He calmed me down.

I love him. I love my Mr. Inscrutable. Someday, I will be directed by someone like him. I hope I hope. Then my life will be complete.

At the end of the conversation, I told him how he has been in my thoughts since he lost his wife and I started blubbering. The minute he heard the hint of a sniffle the got the hell off the phone. “Ah, I gotta go,” he said. No blubbering for Mr. Inscrutable. Oh no.

Cranky In Rehearsal

I’ve been rehearsing the play. I like the director. Especially since he lets me do what I want.

When I got the script, I realized my character was horribly, grossly overwritten. A bad cliché rich woman from a drawing room comedy circa 1932. “OY VEY” I said to myself, “I’m a better writer than the writer of the play I am acting in. I took a chance and decided to be honest.

After the table read, the director told us that if there were any lines that bothered us that needed changing we could discuss it at the next meeting. So we have the next meeting, and nobody else had any changes. And I was like, “Well, let’s go to page 14.” That’s the page my character enters on. And I worked my through the rest of the play. Cutting, burning, slashing extraneous words and lines.

For example, my character is supposed to say, “Oh, you are just too funny,” and I changed it to, “Funny.” Which is actually much funnier in the circumstances my character is in.

The director got it. I love him now.

Fighting stilted dialogue is a losing acting battle.

The director also said to ignore the micro-managing annoying cloying stage directions that are there before and after every piece of dialogue. All I have to see is something like, “she says sarcastically,” to make me lose respect for the writer. I’ll say it however the hell I want. That’s why you hired me.

I’m also getting to know the group I am rehearsing with. I’m a guest artist, and it’s a company and every company has its own culture.

This is a new one. Rehearsal by committee. People have opinions about other people’s characters and what they should be doing. Especially one guy who I have dubbed the “REHEARSAL NAZI.” He takes over. The director says two words and Nazi jumps up and says, “Wait. I should go here, He should go there. She should sit there.” And everybody does it.

The blocking first method (if you can call it a method)is not ideal, but it happens a lot. Organically figuring out where your character wants to go and why is THE ONLY thing that makes sense. Otherwise you get that mannequinesque feeling that you have to work really hard to shake.

You have to work backwards and fill in why you are doing what you are doing after you are already doing it.

I’ve learned the hard way that even though they have given you a stack of postcards and a beautiful email invite for the show, do not send even one of those suckers out until you fell solid in the role. Which may sometimes be never.

There is nothing worse than knowing that people you know are in the audience and that you are moving around the stage nonsensically in a way that shows you are doing what you are doing because the director told you to do it.

But I am staying calm. Aren’t you proud of me? I get to wear a fabulous outfit. I keep reminding myself about that and that and it makes me happy.

And by some miracle, I am quite often able to pull a performance out of my ass even after only counter-intuitive rehearsals. I just lie on the couch and daydream through each scene. It works.

Yesterday in rehearsal, I overheard the rehearsal Nazi tell another actor; “No, you don’t understand. You might think this scene is about you. But actually every scene in this play is about me.” AND HE WASN’T JOKING.

And I found out last night that our first time working in the theater is opening night. Never done that before and if I didn’t have a SENSE OF HUMOR, I’d be scared.

Then the director goes, “Listen people. I want you to take care of yourselves. If one of you gets sick everyone is gonna get it.” Then the stage manager says. “I know, but I’m under so much stress, I feel like I’m a little under the weather already.” And the director says, “WELL, THAT’S OK, YOU DON’T HAVE TO KISS ANYBODY.” How sweet. Since her sickness won’t disrupt the production she can go ahead and GET AS SICK AS SHE WANTS. She can die really as far as the director is concerned, because the curtain WILL STILL GO UP without her. This is how single-minded directors and producers get about projects. I know, I’ve been there when I produced. I’ve had to ask myself if I was putting on a show AND losing my humanity.

I told the director that he was being very Coppola. As in “Apocalypse Now” when Martin Sheen’s heart trouble threatened to hold up production. “He might die,” someone said. “He’s not dead until I say he is dead,” said Coppola. The director just gave me a weird look.

The Fucked Festival

It all started when I tried to make a phone call on my husband’s IPod. “What are you doing? he said. “Huh?” I said, “trying to make a call.” “That’s my IPod!” he said, as I tapped the screen with my forefinger. “Oh. Really?” I said. Oh oh.
I thought I was keeping it together really well. I was like, “Wow I am under duress and I am handling it very well.” Then these kind of things started happening and I realized I wasn’t handling it well at all.

A few days later I picked up my cell phone and listened for a dial tone before I dialed. Oh oh. This is the kind of stuff that happens to me when I’m stressed.

I got up this morning and told my husband I wouldn’t be home for dinner tonight because I had a rehearsal. Then I emailed another director to ask if I could bring a guest to tomorrow night’s screening of a film I was in. Then I got a call from a friend and she consoled me when I told her how I had spaced and had missed an audition last Thursday afternoon. Then I emailed my scene partner to tell him we could work tonight if we went up early because my rehearsal was at 8pm. AND THEN I got an email from the film director saying, “The screening is NEXT WEEK.”

I ran to my Filofax and realized I had it flipped open to the wrong page and had made all these plans based on NEXT WEEK’S schedule. So I had to call my husband, email the director, email my scene partner and change everything and find the sides for the audition I DIDN’T MISS. This is not good.

I have an ex-boyfriend from high school, Bob, who is basically a shut in. He was the coolest guy in three towns, gorgeous and in a band, had a car and killer blue eyes. Funny, how a lot of the cool guys are losers or go to jail after peaking in high school. Bob stays up all night watching TV, gets up at 2pm, takes his psychotropic medication and starts watching TV again. Once when we were talking he said, “You know Crank, I know all about what is going on. I know all the news and everything. But they never tell you what DAY it is.” I immediately sent him a couple of World Wildlife calendars with a note saying:

Dear Bob,
Not knowing what day it is NOT ATTRACTIVE.

Now Bob and I are in the same boat! And I had to fix it. So I looked at my life and identified the stressors. A sick relative that I take the loser bus on a horrible trip to depressed upstate to visit. Can’t change that. Rehearsing a show. Don’t wanna change that. The specter of co-producing a piece that I wrote with a summer festival in NYC. Ah-hah! Must change that.
I realized that my mind has been going in circles ever since I got accepted into this apparently disorganized festival. If you hear the word festival, run. I was notified in April that my play had been accepted and would get the performance dates by May 6th. I needed the dates to figure out the timing of casting and rehearsals. The festival runs for a month, and if my dates were far enough from the dates of the play that I’m IN, then I was gonna perform the piece myself. But if the dates were close to the play I’m IN, then I would cast another actress. It’s a 20-minute one-woman piece. Also, just in general, it would be kinda nice to know what I can and cannot do for the rest of the summer. And a 20-minute monologue needs some serious rehearsal time.

So May 6th comes and goes and no dates. So does May 7th. 8th, 9th, 10th, 11, 12th. 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th. 17th. 18th, 19th, and 20th. I send the festival four equally spaced emails explaining that I cannot proceed until I know the performance dates. Do I get an answer? NO. NO. NO.

All this time my mind is stuck going in circles. “Should I start working on it? Should I talk to the actresses I know and love? Should I start working on it? Should I have an audition? I wonder if that blond actress I like is doing anything now? Is someone gonna wanna learn a 20-minute piece for three or four performances?” I feel like the festival is now torturing me. On purpose. How long does it take to make up a schedule? Does the festival care about the playwrights? Or does it just wanna collect the door? Is this usury? Do I hate them now? AH, YEAH. So I run to my computer and write this email:

Hi All,
I’m sorry to report that I have accepted a role in a production that runs until mid-July. I have been waiting to hear the performance dates for my piece since May 6th – the original date given to me that we would be receiving our performance dates. I’m terribly sorry, but I have to withdraw from the festival, as I can no longer keep my life on hold waiting to figure out my schedule for the near future.

I know you must have your reasons, but it seems inconsiderate to me and a sign of a lack of organization. It does not give me a good feeling about the festival to be continually put off about what I will be doing with my life for the summer. I do need to be able to make plans and say yea or nay to job offers.

Ahhhhhhh. And the minute I send it, I can think again.


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March 2023

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