Divas and other such

January 15, 2010

Last night I had the good fortune to see Grateful Divas rehearse their upcoming show. Rebecca Keith had invited me to come in and give some feedback. There was so much talent on the stage that I hardly knew what to say! I gave my notes and they very graciously accepted them.

The show is very sweet—a cabaret chronicling the different stages of women’s lives through spoken word and (sometimes altered) Broadway tunes. It’s a fundraiser for Cardinal Stage Company and  will really resonate with and entertain the audience. I hope to see the dress rehearsal next week (I have to miss the actual performances).

In other news, I went through the feedback from the final workshop round of BloomingPlays. After several iterations where everyone was focused on the sisters, now suddenly everyone’s focused on the mom! And she’s not even in the scene! Augh, the life of an artiste (back of hand to forehead)!

We have about a month to make revisions before handing in the final script. Some of the feedback called for pretty dramatic changes—such as throwing out the whole beginning of the script—so I don’t know what the end result will be. It depends in part on what Lori wants to do, too.

What is nice is that we do seem to have captured the issues surrounding caring for an aging parent. There was a couple in the audience last Saturday that hadn’t heard the play before and they seemed quite moved by it. When asked for initial reactions to the play, the gentleman just said, “Truth.”

It’s easy, in the midst of so much critique, to lose sight of the things that are working.

In other other news, I received a letter—a real letter—from my friend LC today! What a surprise. It was great to hear from him but I’m afraid his life circumstances aren’t tip-top at the moment. My evil side noted that the paper and envelope were black-edged—at some point in some culture, black-edged paper indicated death. So the note had a funereal tinge to it. Sort of Edward Gorey.

In other other other news, I’m continuing to evaluate my creative life and trying to determine what’s next. That’s hard to do when I’m not sure what is. Recent experiences have left me very chastened in relation to my talents, and I fear that my best creative work is behind me. Part of me says that’s just because I don’t have the right impetus, but the fearful part of me just grieves and whimpers. It’s a lonely world inside me sometimes.

Now I’m going to look for traces of an old friend. All I have is her ghost.

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SoM closes

January 5, 2010

I’d hoped to have time to blog while the show was running, but I spent my time actually doing the show instead! It’s now over—Sunday afternoon was our closing show—and I find myself sad because of it. While I appreciate the swathes of free time that have opened up in my schedule, I miss the camaraderie of working towards a shared goal.

The run of the show was great fun. We had terrific audiences—very warm and appreciative. Backstage was fun, too, though we always had to be mindful to keep the noise down! Mary, Philippa, Phil, and I made up the “adults’ table” out in the stairwell off stage right during the party scene, swapping stories and trying not to laugh while we waited for our next cue.

I ended up grateful for my nun’s habit because it kept me warm! The weather was frigid and, with two outside entrances/exits, I appreciated the scads of wool! People loved my party dress; the little girls in the cast would tell me so with their eyes shining.

One day/night stands out in particular for me: my birthday. I was standing in the wings before the evening show, talking to my sister who was 200 miles away. It was a bit of a lonely birthday (I turned 42) but I was very glad to have the show to fill the time. I don’t know why that image sticks with me so clearly, but I can practically feel the cell phone in my hand now.

Presents were abundant throughout the run. We had yellow roses and pink carnations on opening night. Lynne Schwartzberg (or “Cookie Lynne,” as Esther called her) kept us stocked up on incredible sugar creations throughout. Philippa gave everyone tiny plastic “flying nuns.” Caroline Dowd-Higgins handmade photo greeting cards for us and gave us them along with cookies from Vienna (she played the baroness from Vienna). Mary gave all the nuns candles as a memento of our pyrotechnics. Nick, who played Friedrich, gave everyone a can of Vienna sausage and a bit of Swiss chocolate along with a clever Von Trapp limerick he invented. Philippa very kindly gave me a cool little handmade dish for a birthday present. Perhaps the cleverest gift was from the ever-gracious Melissa Bohun, who made candies that looked like stained glass window panes. She delivered them in “brown paper packages tied up with string.” What a generous company!

We struck the set Sunday night, carrying big pieces of wood through the freezing wind from one building to the next, taking down lights, and stuffing a piece of pizza in where we could! I feel sorry for the Cardinal staff that has to go through all the costumes and debris to organize everything!

I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to perform in this show. I hope to be able to do another Cardinal show in future. The show was good, the experience rewarding, and the people outstanding. I am thankful.


SoM opening night!

December 23, 2009

Woot! Just home from an exhilarating opening night of Sound of Music. While the show was fun, the best part was the audience! We could feel the warmth and appreciation even through the downstage monitor speakers. Everyone was upbeat and happy, givin’ it all back to this loving crowd. Backstage, we kept crying out, “We love this audience!”

Mother Abbess gave all her nuns yellow roses for the opening, and Esther, our indomitable choreographer, left us pink carnations with a wonderful note. Phillippa, our sister nun, gave each of us three teeny plastic flying nuns that look like they have superpowers. Well, let’s face it, if you were both a nun and a being capable of flying, you’d have to be a superhero!

I remain terrified of the runway (the 3′ wide arc that reaches out beyond the stage) but have determined to conquer my terror sometime before the show is over.

This show has given me so many reasons to think of my Aunt Dolores, who died several years ago. She was Sister Dolores Marie McLaughlin and she was an inspiration and a friend.

She would have loved to have known that I was playing a nun again (I played Maria in high school). If only there were some way to make these things happen faster in life, so that so many who have passed beyond the Veil could still take part—in a corporeal way!

I think of my grandparents and certain aunts and uncles, imagining what it would be like to have them in the audience. It would be such a joy.

With family so far away (or so dead!), I rely primarily on friends to fill that emotional need for someone in the audience to connect with. When they are able to come, there’s no easy way to link up with them afterwards—the Bus-Chum has no green room.

I think it’s so important to have a way to link back up with the audience after a show. They are often hungry to close the loop and give back some love with compliments and kudos. And then you shine it right back with thanks, and it all becomes a big love fest!

The theme of this post seems to be all about love and longing, doesn’t it? I believe Four Things In The World, and one of them is that “love is the best thing.” Take it as you will, but I believe, love is the best thing. May you find it and keep it with you and yours.


tensiontension

July 12, 2009

…so anxious I wait.”

That was the opening line from a bad poem I wrote in high school but it describes where I am now. Got a message from Lee Williams this week saying he may let me know as early as next week whether Kaia will be invited to sing at Lotus. We’ve been waiting for The Werd for almost a year, focusing all our rehearsals around the possibility, and it’s finally coming down to the wire.

I worked some more on the recording of Redbird and sent it off to Kevin for his approval. As soon as I get it, I’ll post it here for free. I’m anxious to get the recording complete and to be able to share it!

Tension is also the watchword (though to a lesser degree) for my pending callback audition for Cardinal Stage Company‘s production of The Sound of Music. I’ve been working with Janiece to prep and did some “research” last week by watching the movie and noting all the things I would do differently. 🙂 But really, there’s no substitute for Julie Andrews, is there? The most daunting challenge facing anyone playing the role is that most people have never seen or heard a different Maria. There is only “one way” to play the role and that is the way owned by Andrews. Sheesh. No pressure.

Hopefully next week will see some of this tense waiting resolved. I feel like I’m ready to explode out of the starting blocks but I’d settle for just knowing one way or the other.


All in a day’s slack

May 8, 2009

What a day! It started with the good news that Kaia’s CD Get Down, Rise Up! is featured live & in person at Wandering Turtle Art Gallery. Not only is Wandering Turtle run by one of Bloomington’s coolest people (Jaime Sweany), it features fantastic art and great greeting cards. It’s a wonderful place to browse for a creative boost and, of course, a great place to buy things!

Next came an email from the Bloomington Playwrights Project saying that Kindred, a mini-play I co-wrote with Lori Garraghty, has been selected for the 2009-2010 BloomingPlays Festival! While I’ve published poetry, fiction, screenplays, and non-fiction over the years, this is the first piece I’ve written for the stage. 

There were 77 entries, I believe, and only a handful of Bloomington playwrights (5? 7?) were selected, so it’s an even bigger honor to me to be selected. My other entry, a mini-play entitled A Day In The Life, did not make the cut. I wasn’t sure if it was just self-involved rubbish but thought I’d throw it into the pot. I think I was right! 🙂 

Tonight I went to go see Cardinal’s production of Doubt and Randy stopped me to say they’ll be calling me back to audition for The Sound of Music! I felt bad that I couldn’t focus entirely on the excellent production in front of me because my brain was busily imagining possible audition sequences and flashing back to my high school appearance as Maria. (Diane Kondrat was a non-stop revelation in Doubt; go see it if you can!)

I ran into the fabulous Janiece Jaffe after the show and talked a little about taking voice lessons with her. I’ve thought about it for a while. My current voice coach has been brilliant to work with in the past but he seems to have a serious block about teaching now. He’s suggested I find a woman who understands the voice of a woman over 40: voilá! I’m sure I would learn a lot from Janiece but I need to set with it a little bit longer before I decide. I want to be sure Jeduthun is truly uninterested in working together.

It’s been a wonderful day for affirmation of my artistic self. I only hope I can live up to it all! My brain is in a tremendous whirl. Time for milk and some popcorn to calm me down!


First audition in 23 years

April 26, 2009

Today I auditioned for Cardinal Stage Company. It’s a general audition for the season rather than for a particular show. I’ve been rehearsing non-stop for 6 weeks in preparation. 

I did the last 25 bars or so of Gethsemane from Jesus Christ Superstar for my song. For my monologue, I used a short piece entitled Tatiana that was written back in about 2004 by a playwright at the BPP—a playwright who neglected to put her name on the manuscript.

I worked with the lovely and talented Mr Richard Perez to go in with the best possible delivery I could within the time constraints I had. Rich is a great director—he hints at broader ideas or asks questions that lead you to a deeper understanding of the character. Many directors just focus on blocking and line delivery.

We had a breakthrough on Wednesday when I made a new connection with my character’s motivation and ended up sobbing for an hour afterwards. 🙂 I just worked on the song and the monologue lightly after that, knowing I wanted to keep that emotional connection raw.

So of course I went in there and couldn’t establish a connection at all. If I could have paused for about seven or 89 minutes mid-monologue, it would’ve been fine! But alas, alack, and Alaska, the show must go on.

Beforehand, I kept sliding back and forth between terrible nerves and a kind of steely calm. By the time I got in I was trembling all over. Fortunately both my audition pieces are intense, so the trembling worked in my favor!

The audition panel consisted of Mike Price (in whose talent I stand in awe), Randy White (in whose artistic abilities I stand in awe) and two other Cardinal Stage official-types that I’ve seen before but could not place. There was about 5 feet between me and them. I’d been expecting just Randy and maybe one other volunteer hanging out in the audience, with me 25 feet away on stage (this was at the MCPL auditorium). Let’s amp up that tension, shall we?? 🙂 

I did fine on the vocal side of Gethsemane but didn’t communicate the message as deeply as I wanted to. The monologue was the real heartbreaker, though, since I’d been able to play through the sobbing with Rich but had nary a tear in the audition. So while my mouth and body keep going, my brain is spinning at a zillion miles an hour, saying, “Remember, Rich said to just try to re-connect with that trigger” and “Should I fake the crying?” and so forth. Not conducive to calm delivery, but this sort of thing happens all the time in live performance. I thank all the people who taught me “the show must go on” in all its forms!

Talking with BryBry today, I realized it’s been about 23 years since my first “real” audition. Previous to that I auditioned all the time for school and community theatre, but my last high-pressure audition was at the IU music school. I had made the cut to get in, but this audition was with Robert Porco, head of the choral department.

I often think of that audition because he took the time to work with me. My audition piece was Care Selve, a gorgeous Italian aria. He had me go back and sing it again, this time singing the second half “as if you are singing to your beloved.” I knew immediately what he meant—my delivery had been technically flawless but emotionally void. I fell into the song and he nodded yes, yes. 

When we finished, he leaned hard on me to join The Singing Hoosiers (IU’s premiere choral group) but I had a class conflict that couldn’t be avoided. He kept at me again and again. I suppose it’s a sign of my idiocy that I couldn’t find a way to get where he thought I should go. The first of many “bad career moves” in the music school.

As I walked home today, my mind was racing with a deconstruction of every single note, word, and gesture from the audition. I just kept telling myself, “I did the best I could.” That was true. I wish I could’ve done better. But, as I told myself, the only way to get better is to do a lot more auditions! I had no idea until tonight that it had been as long as it had. No wonder I was a wreck!

All I want is to be good enough to make it into the chorus or to get a bit part. I know if I’m given a chance, I’ll get better from there. Each audition was one at a time so I have no idea how others did or how I stacked up. Since it was a general audition, I won’t even hear anything back from them regarding callbacks or rejections for some time. How’s that for I-Hate-Ambiguity Lass?? 🙂

I thank Brighid and Grandpa for sustaining me, and especially Rich for opening up whole new creative vistas! I pray for more opportunities—successful ones!