Friday, August 28, 2009

The skinny on the industry

I have two friends right now that are trying to lose weight solely--or at least primarily--to get more gigs. Not like it hasn't been hashed to death since the beginning of time, but I can't help pointing out the obvious non sequiter between weight and talent.
Yes, yes, this is a visual industry, your looks are part of your business assets, blah blah blah. Ever noticed that the first people to point this out are ex-fattys that went through physical and emotional hell to loose the weight, and want other people to live through hell too? Obesity is practically an epidemic in the US, it's true, but I'm willing to bet the part of the population that's in the entertainment industry doesn't average particularly high on the BMI scale.

Obviously you should take care in the way you look, particularly when making a first impression, and you should be in fine enough shape to endure whatever physical hardships your genre of choice dicatates. The importance of good hygeine cannot be overemphasized. It's true too that audiences have appreciated a pretty face and form since the days of Euripedes. But it seems that appreciation has warped in our generation; attractiveness doesn't enhance talent, it equates talent.

And this isn't just in the film industry, although I still think it's the biggest culprit. All one has to do is remember the bruhaha over Jennifer Love Hewitt's bikini pictures a couple years ago for proof of that. I blame "reality" TV for transferring the obsession from Hollywood to Main Street, but it's not just the Jones' that are capitulating to the demands of a media-saturated minority. After those photos leaked, JLH didn't waste any time dropping 20+ pounds off her size 2 frame with four-hour private training sessions, did she? While wildly denying her motives were anything but living a healthier lifestyle? The lady doth protest too much, methinks.

But like I said, we expect that from Hollywood, which has been slowly deteriorating from a rare vintage to a bone-dry extra-hot skinny latte since the post-war era. Now it's leaking into live theatre as well. My two friends are gorgeous girls with amazing talent, but they think that's essentially moot if they don't loose twenty pounds. And before you cry shrink, this is coming from the people around them supporting their careers, not their own insecurities. Hello, Dance: 10 Looks: 3--I'd have to pull my socks off to tell you how many people I know that have been told they were first choice for a part talent-wise, but lost it to someone more closely resembling Megan Fox. I'm talking legit soprano roles too, not Transformers 3. If it's not over till the fat lady sings, we're all going to be here for a long, long time.

There's alot more to proper physicality than being merely pleasing to the eye. Why isn't the focus on the wonderful things the body allows us to do? The soft palate lifting elegantly to support a singer's high note, the muscles of an actor's face subtlely shifting to convey every shade of emotion, the legs and back stolidly supporting us through a 10 out of 12 tech rehearsal.
If the human body is an integral part of the art, maybe we should start treating it as such.

Let's try this one more time

Tomorrow we make a third attempt to find dancers for Other People's Musicals. The producer has been plastering the walls of local performing arts high schools and universities with flyers announcing the casting call, which is being held tomorrow at Salsasambo in midtown. Since the flyer didn't request a reply, or even provide any contact info, we have no idea how many people might show up. Of course I'd rather have a horde than a handful, if I had to pick. As an auditionee, I get sketched out when I go to an open call with hardly anyone there. It's like, what does everyone know that I don't?
The principals have already been cast, and I have to say I'm a little daunted by the choreographic process ahead. Normally dancers are meant to adapt to the choreography. Due to individual stregnths and weaknesses of the talent, I'll have to customize the movement for each person, on top of music with which I'm still trying to familiarize myself in a medium (film) that I'm not entirely used to combining with dance. Not to mention I have to somehow create and teach said movement while simultaneously rehearsing two other productions.
Stay tuned, this oughta be interesting.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Felt the urge


If each day is a gift
It comes with strings attached
To waste time
Is to spit on the cashmere
Your grandma saved all year
To buy for you.

Your mornings smell like yesterday’s coffee grounds. So?
Run water through it again and
Pretend it’s a cappuccino.
Everyday is a precious jewel.
You must polish it
Although the setting is cracked
And the stone is too big for it.
There’s no exchanges. And there’s no excuse

For the sour taste in your mouth.
Roll the gritty sand on your tongue
And spit out a pearl.

Sadness is a double-edged sword.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Forward, anyway, if not up

After much discussion, Patrick has decided to go back to school to finish his degree. His latest job search has been turning up wall after wall as employers get pickier. A large pool of candidates means people can afford to be more discrimanating with who they hire. Once upon a time experience and acumen more than made up for the academic holes in Patrick's resume, but now you have to have it all plus more to even get called in for an interview.
Patrick's ideal job has always been teaching drama in public high school, which I think is a noble pursuit (think about it: how many teachers have you had in the past who obviously just fell into the profession by default?).
There is no state-mandated teacher certification test for art, music, drama, or foreign languages in Georgia (although plenty places will try to sell you one, it's not technically required); but you have to get a special permit to teach those subjects at the secondary level. The only requirement for the permit is that you have relevant experience in your subject area. The catch is, you can only apply for this permit through a school after they have hired you. Due to afore mentioned pickiness, you can forget about being considered for employment if you lack a degree.
So, Patrick is going back to Piedmont to study drama education at one of only two programs in the whole state specifically geared toward the elusive permit certification. We have high hopes for his admission into the program, despite a somewhat lackluster GPA, because he's been there before and Piedmont is trying to raise its retention rate. I just hope we can pay for it.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Social Networking Snafu

This article appeared last week in the New York Times:

ArtsBeat: Should You Twitter at an Audition?
By By Dave Itzkoff
Published: August 14, 2009
A series of messages were posted on the Twitter feed of a casting director who appeared to be tweeting about the performers who were auditioning for her, prompting debate over the role of social media in auditions.

Read the whole story here:

I'm not appalled so much that she was tweeting about individual performances (although that is certainly disconcerting) as that she had a phone/computer out at all during an audition. To me, it's exactly the same thing as an actor walking to their mark holding a phone and being like, "hold on, I just gotta finish this text real quick." It's called RUDE.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Rehearsal roller coaster

This week began with our first meeting/read through for Thirteen Hours. Although Malcolm (the director) emailed us scripts beforehand, I hadn't really had time to read it--not to mention the massive amount of toner and paper to print it--so this was the first time I'd really hear the entire show. We also listened to the music numbers which had been pre-recorded by previous cast members.
The atmosphere was very relaxed; Patrick and I lounged on a couch and there was a dog and a baby present to provide endless distraction and entertainment. I really liked the material. It's kind of like Sex and the City meets RENT, only set in Atlanta instead of New York. Patrick's solo is really cute. He's also really cute in his concern for doing it justice.
Jen told me later that the director thought I nailed the character in my reading and the MD had been thrilled when they heard me sing at auditions. I sang the same song that I did for How to Succeed auditions (I Know the Truth--LOVE that song) and I didn't even get a call back, so I have no idea what I did differently. ( interesting topic for another post).
I attribute my wild success at the audition to the fact that there wasn't really any competition--not to be too self-deprecating; I mean, I did blow a pretty good belt and nailed the harmony-- but seriously. I was the only one reading for my part. It makes me question whether I can live up to my own hype.

Speaking of hype, I'm supposed to be drumming up butts for the seats for Sweeney Todd now. I'm hesitating. I do have confidence, probably more than most of the rest of the cast, that we'll pull it together, if only because it's happened in every other this-might-possibly-blow-goats-show I've done. But still, the judgement I'm reserving could go either way.
So far it's been only vocal rehearsals. Had one every day this past week. We FINALLY got to sing the songs all the way through without stopping. We were meant to be off book on Wednesday, which was a laugh taking into consideration what I just mentioned (uh..we haven't even sung the song twice at full tempo all the way through with principals? And we're supposed to know when we come in?).
Tomorrow we block the whole shebang. We're all acting like we're dreading it, but I think it's a front. I mean, at this point, any break from trying to sing with that plunky excuse for a piano is a good thing, even if it means being on our feet for six hours.
I remember during Fiddler I was freaking out because we weren't even doing full run-throughs at first dress. But that turned out alright, so I have hopes for this show too.

Sunday will round out my wild 'n wacky week with dance callbacks for Other People's Musicals. All I can say is I hope people will show up. One part of me would be relieved if we didn't find what we need, because I have so much on my plate, but this is the first chance I've ever had to be on the other side of casting and that's exciting.

Tonight is my one night off in what's shaping up to be a ridonculous couple months, and Patrick's going to be out filming, so what are my plans? An exciting evening getting my transmission flushed at Midas, followed by a lyrical class at Dance 101, and rounded out by Gossip Girl season 2 washed down with Bud Select. Ahhh....

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Type: Stage--Musical
Title: Thirteen Hours
Company: Play by Play Productions
Location: Relapse Theatre, 380 14th Street (West Side)
Role: Victoria (principal)
Dates: November 6-7, 13-14, 20-21 2009
Times: TBA
Notes: This will be a world premier production about three couples navigating modern relationship issues over a 13 hour time span. Patrick will be performing in a role opposite me, which we've only had the chance to do once before, so I'm looking forward to that. This makes the third project that I'm involved with currently. The best kind of busy!