STOP Telling Performers to “Just be Thankful for the Opportunity”

STOP Telling Performers to “Just be Thankful for the Opportunity”

This is something that I have wanted to get off my chest for years now, and since audition season is underway, I feel this is the perfect time to bring this up. There is the scapegoat comment that I have heard a lot of theatre professionals say to actors and actresses for years and years now: To be grateful or thankful for the opportunity every time an issue arises and a performer speaks up about it. I think that is such a stupid and outdated thing to say.

I want to tell everyone who has ever said that to PLEASE STOP! Because here is the thing you need to know: WE ARE GRATEFUL, and WE ARE PROBABLY THE MOST THANKFUL PEOPLE IN THE WORLD! This is a very tough business and a lot of the time our jobs are to audition and get ourselves out there. Once in a while we will do a show, so to have this thought given everything performers go through and to suggest that we aren’t “Thankful/ Grateful” is just ridiculous.

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How Political Should Theatre Be?

How Political Should Theatre Be?

I recently went to see a broadcast of David Hare’s new play, ‘I’m Not Running.’ A political comedy that is excellently staged, one exchange stood out to me. “I’m not political” claims Pauline when she first meets Sandy as his doctor, “why not?” is Sandy’s response.

This question is important because we should all be political, whether we want to be actively involved or not we should all be focused on politics as it affects every part of our lives. If you are lucky enough not to be political, it shows how you feel so secure and protected in your existence and have never had to worry about how someone’s opinions will affect your daily life. How far into politics and political agendas should theatre delve? Should theatre stay away from specific political events such as Brexit, and controversial political figures such as Donald Trump?

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Simon Says: Playwriting Words of Wisdom

Simon Says:  Playwriting Words of Wisdom

I recently performed in Neil Simon’s Brighton Beach Memoirs, playing the patriarch Jack Jerome.   The play is a semi-autobiographical look at the playwright’s formative years, and according to his wife, Elaine Joyce Simon, “If you’re looking for the heart and soul of Neil Simon, you’ll find everything you need to know in Brighton Beach Memoirs.   As an aspiring playwright myself, I wanted to get inside Mr. Simon’s head, and see what advice he could offer.  As it turns out, there’s a lot of wisdom in his memoirs,  Rewrites (1996) and The Play Goes On (1999).  Here are some selected pearls of wisdom that I gleaned from listening to what Simon says.

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Modern Day Romeos, Beware

Modern Day Romeos, Beware

How does a playwright come to write a book of sonnets? A better question might be: Why aren’t playwrights doing it all the time? Basically a 14-line long monologue, the sonnet flows naturally, if ironically, from the first person singular and has a clearly defined second character in the object of its affection. As readers, we can imagine the muse being addressed off-page much like the offstage Rosaline in Romeo & Juliet or all the men in The Women. Who was Shakespeare’s source of inspiration for his 154 sonnets? I’ve no idea. But I certainly know who mine was for Infinity Standing Up.

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My Mother, the Theater, and Me

My Mother, the Theater, and Me

My mother was strong, smart, independent and funny. She could also be infuriating. Widowed at a young age, she was solely responsible for bringing up my brother and me. I liked that she was strong, but sometimes she was a little too strong. It could make our relationship difficult at times, but there was one place we always got along - the theater.

My mother took me to my very first show. It was the out of town tryout for Annie at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. I was just a little girl, but I was dazzled. I begged my mother for the cast recording, and when she got it for me, I practically wore it out. I was hooked. At nine years old, I even organized the neighborhood kids, and we attempted to put together a production of the show. The production never really came together, but I didn’t care because I had fallen in love. Just the effort alone gave me joy, and I knew from that time on that the theater was my happy place.

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Is Frozen's "Monster" Too Dark for Kids?

Is Frozen's "Monster" Too Dark for Kids?

The title of the song, ​Monster​, is the word that Elsa uses to describe herself over and over again. In the first chorus, she sings, “​Is the thing they see, the thing I have to be? A monster, were they right? Has the dark in me finally come to light? Am I a monster, full of rage? Nowhere to go but on a rampage. Or am I just a monster in a cage?​” It is a song that resonates with a lot of people. Everyone, at some point in their life, can relate to Elsa’s questions of “am I a burden to people?” or “How badly am I hurting this person?” Everyone has moments where they don’t know who they are. But is this song a good song for a musical whose main demographic is young children?  

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Emotional Catharsis – “Let them come, let them go.”

Emotional Catharsis – “Let them come, let them go.”

I saw a sticker on Facebook today. “Feelings are healthy. You need to feel them all. Don’t suppress them. Sadness, anger, fear, happiness, love. Let them come, let them go.” I love this quote, and I even agree with it; however, we can all agree that there are simply times where we can’t just feel. We may find out something that makes us want to cry, or scream in anger, but we can’t just leave the office. I work at a law firm. My bosses wouldn’t really appreciate me blasting the clients with emotions that translate to “I will cut you!” or if they walk in and I’ve obviously been crying, or even if I’m enjoying some moment and laughing. 

Propriety is king when you’re a paralegal. 

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According to Some, Sopranos can only be tall, thin and blonde...

According to Some, Sopranos can only be tall, thin and blonde...

I prefer to live my life as a performer thinking that the people I work with aren’t ignorant but of course that perfect image gets shattered every so often. I also prefer to live my life being confident in my skills and having trust in myself that I can say ‘when I’m a professional’ and not ‘if I ever make it’. And of course some people love to shatter those lovely thoughts as well.

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New Year’s Resolutions for the Theatre Community

New Year’s Resolutions for the Theatre Community

For many people, the beginning of a new year also marks the time of year in which people try to come up with resolutions, in the hopes that these specific goals in their lives will have been achieved by this time next year. Those of us who are highly active in theatre most likely have already come up with such resolutions related to theatre. However, there might be a few additional ideas for resolutions that some of us might not have thought about and should be willing to consider to make their year in theatre even better than last year. 

So without further ado, here are just a few New Year’s resolutions – in no particular order – for all of us in the theatre community to consider…

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Bring Back the Beloved Broadway Holiday Musical

Bring Back the Beloved Broadway Holiday Musical

Twas the night before Christmas, when all thro’ Broadway, not a holiday musical was playing, save Ruben & Clay. The tickets were bought at box offices galore, in hopes that audiences would soon beg for more. At least, this has been the case in more recent seasons concerning Broadway musicals focused on the holidays. Think about the catalog of Christmas shows alone that have graced Broadway stages in seasons past: A Christmas Story, Holiday Inn, Elf, How The Grinch Stole Christmas and Irving Berlin’s White Christmas. Now don’t get me wrong; I have nothing against American Idol magnates Ruben Studdard and Clay Aiken coming together peacefully over the 2018 holiday season for a little AI reunion, but where are the tried and true Christmas Broadway musicals that we have held so dear in past seasons? The choice to bring back such musicals (all of which were also hit box office smashes in their own right) seems to be almost a no-brainer. So why the lack this year? In fairness, there are possibly two exceptions, neither of which is technically in a Broadway house however: Dr Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas (starring Tony Award-nominee Gavin Lee in the title role) at the HULU

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