Monday, March 3, 2014

The Cause of Spontaneous Combustion!

Well, it is 9th week (of 10) for winter term here and my brain is currently exploding.  For everyone who says they don't understand spontaneous combustion, I believe that I have figured it out.  Here is how it works:

1.  9th week hits with papers and group projects galore.
2.  You freak out because they cannot possibly be enough time to get everything done.
3.  You realize that you are a theatre major and have a bunch of rehearsals.
4.  You attempt to find times to meet with both of your group projects that are due on Friday.
5.  You realize that your schedule is ridiculous so you start working with two different calendars, one that has all of your assignments and meetings on it and then another one that breaks down each day of the week by time so that you can cry at the amount of time you don't have to do everything.
6.  You then make another "To Do" list to try to wrap your mind around the amount of work you have and need to get done.
7.  Your brain starts freaking out and short circuiting, causing sparks to fly in your skull.
8.  Those sparks cause a fire.
9.  The fire spreads.
10.  Spontaneous combustion.

Not as spontaneous as you thought, is it?

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

What To Do When Not Invited to a Party

Step 1
Pause Sherlock.  Cannot handle the pain of real life and Sherlock at the same time.

Step 2
Turn on some music.  Have a party of your own!  Why not!

Step 3
Dance loudly above their heads.

Step 4
Write a blog post about it.

Step 5
Schedule said blog post to post a day later for two reasons:
     1) To figure out how the schedule option works.
     2) To not post two blog posts in a short period of time because you just posted on in an attempt to distract yourself from the party.

And there you have it!

Monday, February 24, 2014

My Time on a New York Street in 1929

For the past 7 weeks I worked on a production of the play Street Scene by Elmer Rice and what an experience that was.  The play takes place on the street outside an apartment building in New York in 1929, a time that was incredibly different from today.  This whole production process what quite a learning experience.  I played Shirley Kaplan, who is described in the stage directions as "a dark, unattractive Jewess, past thirty."  What a character description.

Sam, Abraham, and Shirley Kaplan.  What a beautiful family.

Street Scene is intended to be a naturalist piece, showing a slice of life in New York in 1929.  There is a lot of dated language as well as dated views of the world.  One of the things that we really had to work on was separating the world of the play and the characters of the play from the world we live in.  We had to remind ourselves that our characters were saying things, not us personally.

Another challenge of the piece was the size of the cast.  This cast was massive.  Since it is naturalism, Rice wrote many characters who pass by the apartment building in an attempt to make it feel like a real street.  This meant that we had around 30 people in the cast which is huge for a straight play.  And that was with characters being cut from the show.  It was pretty cool because I got to meet and work with a lot of people I wouldn't have gotten to otherwise.

The apartment building.  My apartment was the one to the right of the doors.  Picture by Kayleigh.
It has been quite a while since I have been on stage (over a year) and this was a great way to get back into acting.  I also learned a lot about directing, being a directing emphasis and all.  It was really cool to see Kathy work with such a huge cast.  She really took the time to work with every person regardless of part size.  She always has new ideas and was willing to hear recommendations.  It became quite a collaborative process and, in the end, we were able to create something that we were all proud of.  I am so glad I got to take part in this production.  And now I will get some sleep.

(I made two awkward dances with this cast that can be found on my YouTube page.)

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Muppet-ty Emotions

Well, I just finished re-watching The Muppet Movie.  (It turned out that my roommate had never seen it before, which shocked me.)  The moment the movie opened and Jim Henson started to sing "Rainbow Connection," I completely lost it and just started crying from joy.  The Muppets are amazing and I love them so much.

I am currently reading "Jim Henson: The Biography" by Brian Jay Jones (which can be bought here) and it is amazing.

I have always loved the Muppets but reading this book has reminded my how much I love them.  And watching the first movie tonight confirmed that even more.

A couple of summers ago, I got to have some time to experience the joy of dealing with a puppet for myself.  As part of a guerilla marketing campaign for a production of Avenue Q that the Skylight Music Theatre was producing, my mother and I drove around town with James Pimpton, a puppet designed to look like James Lipton from Inside the Actors Studio.  It was an absolute dream come true.  The second I put him on, I felt him come to life.  I loved every minute I spent with that puppet.

Pimpton and I having a grand ole time.
The more time I spent with him, the more I felt like he came to life.  I got to experiment to find the ways to make him seem most alive.  I spent so much time just studying how he moved and what I could do with him.

The hardest thing was making him seem alive in pictures.  In a picture, the viewer cannot see the movement of the puppet.  So what may look real and alive in person suddenly looks dead on film.  This was also quite a learning experience and we quickly learned that we had to keep him talking and moving while the pictures were taken.

Pimpton and I became buds.  Even though I knew that he was only a puppet I was controlling with my arm, he became more than that.  He was quite real.  And the day I had to give him back broke my heart.

But tonight I am reminded of my love for puppets like this.  And I have made it my goal to find a way to get ahold of another puppet to play with and make my own.  Someone that I can really create and turn into something amazing.  Watch out world.  I have a new goal.

Friday, December 13, 2013

The End is in Sight!

What a crazy week-and-a-half it has been!  We have gotten crazy amounts accomplished.  And I am exhausted.  Absolutely exhausted.

Last night we opened our show.  We had a small audience but they were all incredibly enthusiastic.  It was exciting for us, though, because it made us realize that we did it.  We put together a production in a week and a half.  Which is crazy.

I have started to become stir-crazy though.  We have been stuck in this lodge for the majority of the time.  I have left a couple of times to do things such as laundry and going to talk to schools but most of my time has been spent in the lodge.  We are all living in really close quarters.  But we go home Sunday.  I can make it to Sunday.

It is getting to Jessica too.
Throughout this process, I have been directing one of the shows.  It has been quite interesting.  It is a very short timeline and working with a playwright as she makes changes has been quite the learning experience.  (We were lucky because she didn't change much.  Which was very very nice.)  The play I directed takes place in an ad agency with two guys who are trying to come up with a new ad campaign for plungers.  It is quite a funny play.

Erik and Brian acting.
I have also been part of the group that goes out to the schools.  We only ended up being able to get in touch with one school but we went to two different teachers' classes.  Even though Jessica's and my play wasn't chosen to be part of the night of plays, it was chosen to be read in the schools to get students to come.  It was really exciting to get to hear the play read and hear people react to what they were hearing.  I think that most people enjoyed it!

I got to read stage directions for my play!
We still have 3 more performances.  Two of them are tonight and then we have one tomorrow.  And I am one of the curtain holders.  Which means that I hold the curtains back so that people can come on and off and so that the scene changes can happen.  I will be holding a lot of curtains tonight.

Also, I got my theatre advisor to participate in this week's Awkward Dance Wednesdays.  I was amazing.  Enjoy.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Things I Have Learned About Myself In the Past Few Days

I am up in Björklunden, my college's northern campus, for a Start-Up Theatre class.

The idea is that we are, in two weeks, starting a theatre company, writing plays, and putting on a 10-minute play festival.  We got up here Monday for lunch and have been going pretty non-stop ever since.  We have named ourselves Greyfell Theatre Company and have been working on getting ourselves out into the world.  Throughout the last couple of days, I have learned quite a few things about myself.

1.  I hate the word "thresholds."  I have a terrible physical reaction to the word that I can't explain.  When I hear it, my stomach starts churning and my whole body starts shaking.  I really don't know why this happens.  It weirds me out that I can't figure out why this happens.  I just know that I need to avoid saying the word, which will be hard because we just named our night of 10-minute plays "Thresholds."

2.  I like writing.  I have known this for a while, but I have always had problems finishing things because I get nervous about my writing and decide that I can't share it with anyone.  I then feel like my ideas are terrible and that other people have WAY better ideas and so I stop writing.  I have so many partially written things lying around.  And I haven't even really written much in the past couple of years because I am so afraid of failing.  But, being here, we were forced to write a 10-minute play and we had less than 24 hours to get a first draft done.

Working through drafts.
I worked with Jessica (even though I wrote most of the play) and we had a great time.  We fell in love with our play right away (because the characters were very similar to ourselves) but I was still nervous about putting it out there.  Yesterday morning, we had a "power read" where we read all of the plays that everyone had written.  (There were 18 total, including our own.)  While that was exhausting, it made people read my play.  I was forced to let over 20 people read what I had written.  And people, including professors, kept telling me that the play was good!  That night, we had to make slates of our favorite plays and ours could not be our own slates.  We then had to advocate for shows we really liked to Jacque, our literary manager.  One of the company members, Phillip, raised his hand right away and advocated for our play as the very first one.  And other people agreed with his opinions!  It felts amazing to hear people enjoying it.  Sadly, when the slates were announced this morning, our play was not on it.  It was disappointing but Jessica and I have talked and we are going to continue working on it to submit it to some 10-minute play festivals at other theatre companies.

3.  I really enjoy doing blogs!  We each had to take positions on different marketing teams and I am on the blog and YouTube teams.  I know that I haven't written here in a while, but that will be changing.  I WILL START TO BLOG HERE MORE!  Anyway, for the Greyfell blog, we came up with a blog schedule that involves having different people involved in the program write blogs in the early afternoon and then the blog team (of which I am a part of) will write in the evening, following our last session, about what has happened throughout the day.

Abi, myself, Jessica, and Matt, AKA The Blog Group
Today, I got to do the student perspective and I have done a couple of the other blog group posts.  It has been fun to get to tell people what is happening and the nice thing about the blog format is that, while it needs to be somewhat professional, it doesn't need to be completely, 100% professional.  It is a fun way to spread information!

Just an example of one of the faces on my Greyfell blog post
My blog post for Greyfell revolved around my feelings so far with pictures of my face to explain those feelings.  Check it out here!  It's pretty cool.  

Oh man.  This post has become way longer than I was expecting.  Oops!  Anyway, check out Greyfell! 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


See this face?

Do you see it?  That is the face of someone very excited to have finished all of the things that are due tomorrow.  Super super exciting.

I know that I haven't written in a long time.  I know, I know.  You can yell at me if you want.  I deserve it.  But I have been so incredibly busy that my brain hasn't been able to handle the idea of writing extra stuff.

Let me catch you up on what happened during the time I was away from this blog.

I directed a 90 minute adaptation of As You Like It that my friend Abi adapted and starred in for her senior project.
Photo by my amazing friend Alex.  Abi is in the center.  Look at that directing!
It was my first time directing something longer than 5 minutes which was incredibly exciting but super scary at the same time.  The first week was incredibly poorly scheduled.  They don't teach you things like scheduling in directing class.  That would have been a nice thing to have known how to do going into this experience.  I got better at it though!  The show was a huge success.  I have heard nothing but good things.  For our second and last show (because we sadly only got two performances) we more than sold out.  We ran out of seats and then people who didn't have tickets snuck in and sat on the stairs of the audience.  It was amazing to see that kind of turn out.

I have been doing crazy amounts of improv.  I am a member of Lawrence's own Optimistic Feral Children.
We got 10 people in the Shire Shower and 13 people into the Hobbit bathroom.  I am still amazed that this was possible.
We are pretty funny.  You can watch our shows on our YouTube page.  We, along with two other groups on campus, brought the touring group from the Upright Citizens Brigade to campus in October and we got to do a workshop with them.  We opened for their show and the UCB members were really impressed with us, which was incredibly exciting.  We hung out with them afterwards which just reminded me how much I love improvisers and how much I want to do what they do.

I have been continuing to do Awkward Dance Wednesdays.  For some reason, though, I am having a hard time posting them on this blog, so you should just go check them out on my YouTube page if you need to catch up.  If you haven't seen them recently, you should go watch them.  They are pretty great.  It will totally be worth your time.

Well, I think that that is probably enough information for now.  I will try to get back into the habit of posting more often.  Cause I missed you, blog universe.  Let's stay friends.  Let's never leave each other again.