Monday, March 13, 2017

Music fit for a Matriarch...

As many of you know, I LOVE having a playlist for a show, and "Princess of Mars" is no different. While there wasn't much of an "arc" like there was for Irene, it still helped set the mood and became the work-out music as I got ready to squeeze into a green bodysuit that hid NOTHING...

So, without further ado, here is what Matriarch Sarkoja listens to as she gets ready to rule the Tharks support her hatchling, Tal Haljus, as HE rules the Tharks...

(In no particular order)

1-"Apocalypse" (Theme From "The Plan; Bonus Live Version) by Bear McCreary
    Long time readers will know my love of Mr. McCreary and my insistence that he appear at least once on ANY playlist...I will find a reason to include him. There is something alien about this song, something tribal, especially on the Live Version.

2-"Maelstrom" by Sirena
    You will be seeing MUCH more of these ladies on my NEXT playlist, but that is all I will say for now (no spoilers...). Haunting and pounding, it is the story of storm that you really can't win against.

3-"Welcome To The Jungle" by Guns N' Roses
    Alright, so not a jungle, per se...but don't tell Sarkoja doesn't have a LITTLE classic rock, especially one that ends with "its gonna bring you down".

4-"Paint It, Black" by Ciara
    I have adored this cover since I first heard it on the trailer for "The Last Witch Hunter". Forget what all those girls "dressed in their summer clothes" don't need love...embrace the darkness inside of you...there will you find your power.

5-"Dragonland" by Thomas Bergersen
   I wanted something else instrumental and a little battle-back ground sounding. This struck me as the flowing and yet hard (which, if you've seen my weapons for this show...hehehe)

6-"The End Is Over" by Powerman 500
   Another rock song, very guttural and powerful.

7-"The Arena" by Lindsey Stirling
   Lindsey is a recent find, but already she had a prominent place in this and the next playlist. The first time I heard this song was when she premiered the video, so the decision to include this was influenced by the fact that it is set in a post-post-apocolyptic desert, but it is also very flowing and its called "The Arena"...I mean, come on...come see the show and you'll understand...

8-"Mirage" by Lindsey Stirling feat. Raja Kumari
   The play take place on a planet that is practically a desert...this needed to be included.

9-"El Dorado" by Two Steps From Hell
   This was the last song added because I didn't know how badly it needed to be on there until we started putting the show together...want to know why? Well, guess you'll just have to come and see us!

So, there we are. I am thrilled that Sarkoja gets some pretty awesome cuts. If you want to come see what this music has inspired, then get your butt over to Berger Park starting March 18th and running through April 1st. Tickets Can be purchased HERE!

Saturday, December 31, 2016

As 2016 Comes to a close...

Well, I think we can all agree that this year hasn’t been the best.  In fact, it has pretty much sucked.

I haven’t said a lot because there really isn’t anything I feel that hasn’t been said a thousand times over.

So many bright lights gone: princes, princesses, mothers, fathers, sportsmen, those who made us laugh, those who made us cry, those who made us cheer, those who made our blood boil, those who made our heart sing.

I know a lot of friends whose struggles have been much closer to home, whose lives have been full of so much ugliness.  Personally, there have been many days where I have just huddled into a ball and wept.

The lessons that learned and the lessons we will learn are never easy. Change can be agonizingly slow, or so abrupt that it takes your breath away.

And yet, for all the horror, for all the pain for all the loss, we are still standing. We are still here.

Yes, we have lost many. However, just because they are gone does not mean the love, the music, the joy, the knowledge, the power, the HOPE they gave us is gone.

There is a quote at the end of the novelization of "Revenge of the Sith" (I know, I know, but hear me out) that I have always loved"
            The dark is generous and it is patient and it always wins - but in the heart of its strength lies its weakness: one lone cancel is enough to hold it back.
             Love is more than a candle.
             Love can ignite the stars. 

That is one of the reasons why I started "Good Morning, Lovelies", as well as why I went through December doing 31 Days of Awesome. I need to remember that there is beauty, that there is love, and I really hope that some others saw that, too.

I do refuse to be blind to the evil in the world, but I also refuse to let it be the only thing I see. Give to the world. Give beauty, give love. At the same time, it took me a long time to learn that you can give and give, and while you shouldn't expect anything in return, wisdom is knowing when you have given enough and need to walk away because no one is giving in return.

So, my motto for 2017: Do no harm. But take no shit.

And as for everyone we had to say good-bye to this year?

I said earlier this month that one of the hardest lessons you learn is that your heroes are not immortal.

This isn’t entirely true.

WE are the keepers of their immortality. WE are their legacy.

We weep, we mourn, we hold each other.

Then, we stand up. We sing. We write. We create.  We hold the torch.

We Have Hope.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Shove...With Love

There was an article that was floating around online recently about understudies, as well as my own current situation, that brought an event to the front of my mind.

A few years ago, I was riding the CTA when I overheard a phone conversation a woman was having with someone.

"Well, I'm not going to that rehearsal; I'm JUST the understudy, its not like they need me or anything."

I couldn't decide if I wanted to fall out of my chair or smack her. I settled on getting a good look at her face when I exited the bus so I could remember her if she ever showed up at an audition I was running.

JUST an understudy? Not going to the rehearsal? Oh sweetie, you can be very sure that if you ever show up at any audition I am running your name will get a big ol' black mark next to it.

As I have already stated in a previous blog, I believe in the importance of showing up. As an understudy, you are in the unique situation of being able to show up and be helpful...

When I understudied "Watership Down" I missed a total of 2 rehearsals: one was my birthday, and the second was when I was so sick I could barely stand (I figured it was my job to cover the actors when they were sick, not to MAKE them sick). Otherwise, I was there, two copies of the script (one for each actress I was covering) in a giant binder, jotting blocking, marking costume changes, and PRAYING with every bone in my terrified body that I would never have to go on.

I never did. To this day, those two actresses still get hugs from me.

But what DID end up happening was that I was there, so if another actor was missing, I would pop the lines from my seat in the corner; if they needed a warm body I was there. I actually ended up standing in for every character except Bigwig, the General, Hazel...and the two actresses I was covering.  I got to sit and watch the amazing process that Lifeline goes through before they present an adaptation to the public. I got hang out with some pretty cool people, most of who are still very close friends.

I know that understudies get put-in rehearsals if there is a confirmed show where they are going on. I have been BLESSED with two, and will have a third before I ever hit the stage at Chi-Fi, but what if that call comes and there is no time?

When I was understudying the female tracts for "Frodo-A-Go-Go", I got the call that our "Legoland" wouldn't be able to go on for the shows that weekend...with less than 24 hours notice. HOWEVER, I had been to the rehearsals, I knew the shape of the show, I knew the fights.

I know for a fact that there are actors who have been sitting in the audience when they have been gently tapped on the shoulder by an ASM and told to get their butt backstage... 10 minutes after the show has STARTED. I also know times when it has happened halfway through the first act.

Now imagine if you have JUST watched the show once. You have learned your lines, great, you copied the blocking, fantastic...but what if something has changed? What if there is a costume change that you have to do, or one you have to help another actor with?

Being at rehearsal is more than just learning your lines and blocking: it is becoming a part of the team that is putting this show together, becoming a part of the family that a show can become. There is a chemistry that can be missing if you haven't been participating.

The article that was posted recently was about understudies on Broadway and their experiences. It talked about last minute calls, the "shove with love", and how many actors can make a pretty decent living being understudies, if not getting that one chance for a "big break".

Being an understudy does not mean that I am hoping you get sick or that something horrible happens to you; I am not going to push you down the stairs or poison your food (see above re: Watership Down).

It means that IF something happens, I am here, not only for you but for the rest of the cast and for the audience that is coming that night.

SO WHAT if you never get to go on?
You still get to add the credit to your resume, and the more tracks you were tasked with covering, then maybe another director will see that and be impressed.
You still got to work with the theatre, and you got your foot in the door.
You still got to work with a group of actors who will hopefully remember you, and maybe you made some friends along the way.

So, to the amazing people I get to play with at Chi-Fi this weekend: thank you. Thank you for this chance and thank you for your patience.

And especially to my fellow witches and my shades: SHOVE WITH LOVE!!!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

If music be the food of love...

OK, wrong Shakespeare, I know...still, those of you who have read this blog before know that I usually try to do playlists for shows that I am in. Sometimes, they are as short as three songs. Other times, I will work out the full arc (check out the blog on Irene and "Sherlock").

As we approach the first major break-out rehearsal for the Witches and their Shades, now is probably the best time to talk about this show's playlist.

This character a very movement based character, and it is much more about setting a mood than tracing an arc. I also got to delve into some of the darker themes in my music collection.

And every other song is off a "Battlestar Galactica" soundtrack. Because Bear McCreary is a GENIUS!

1-Heeding The Call (BSG-Season 3): A good opening. Starts light and little exotic, and then builds to something a little more than ominous...

2-Immortals (Big Hero 6, Fall Out Boy): Something upbeat after a slow start...

3-Kara Remembers (BSG-Season 4): This is one of my favorite songs from the entire series. Much like "Heed The Call", it has that slow, slinking build punctuated by some truly amazing beats once it gets going (nerd moment, if I may: I see this as the song that plays during a Mara flashback to the night Vader came back from Cloud City).

4-Animals (V, Maroon 5): There is something animalistic in the Weird Sisters, especially in this production. They are more and less than human, and fully willing to hunt their prey...

5-Apocalypse (BSG-The Plan): SO, this song was actually on a previous playlist, when I was auditioning to be one of the Erinyes in "The Last Daughter of Oedipus".  This song says unseen forces pulling and pushing twisting fate.

6-Bad Things (Jace Everett, True Blood): We are seducing people to the Dark Side; why do YOU think this song is on here?

7-Gaeta's Lament-Instr. (BSG-Season 4): At this point, it is good to assume that I just worship at the feat of Bear McCreary...

8-Going Under (Fallen-Evanesance): The sweet surrender the Dark Side offers...don't fight it...

9-Lords of Kobol (BSG-Season 2): See #7 above.

10-Seven Devils(Ceremonials-Florence and the Machine): OK, so there are way more than seven witches/shades, but we will still pull your kingdom down...

11-All Along The Watchtower (BSG-Season 3): "...Princes kept the view, while all the women came and went, barefoot servants, too...outside in the distance, a wild cat did growl...two riders were approaching...the wind began to howl..." HOW is that not a perfect song for this show?

Bonus Tracks
My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark (Fall Out Boy). Someone, ANYONE, choreograph a lightsaber fight to this song. I will sacrifice my sanity and well being if you do!!

Storming New Caprica (BSG-Season 3)-Another good fight song.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

On Hard Work and Showing Up...

I believe is hard work. I do. I believe that hard work should be rewarded.

When we are younger, when we are in school, we are told that we should work hard. It was a lesson that was ingrained in me especially hard because, as a very young age, I was informed by my mother that I could do theatre so long as my grades stayed at a certain level. Something about my Scottish blood took that as a challenge, which led to one memorable day where I was up at 6:00 to be a school by 7:15 to take that quarter's AP English writing test (this after staying up to proofread the paper we had to turn in as well), followed by a full day of classes (including a meeting of the yearbook team), followed by rehearsal until 6:00 for the high school show followed by rehearsal at 7:00 for the local community theatre show.

Yeah, I was nuts.

But I believed in working hard. I believed that if you worked hard, then you would be rewarded. If you got good grades, then colleges would like you, and, maybe, even give you a little money.

In high school, it paid off. I graduated 36 in a class of 536, and got into Loyola with a Scholarship.

Yay hard work!

At Loyola at the first meeting of the Theatre School, we were basically told that 55% of our time would be spent on Theatre, and 55% of our time would be spent on Academics. It took us all a second to do the math, and to make sure they weren't joking, and they weren't. The Theatre Department expected you to show up. They expected that, even if you were on the performance track, you would serve as House Crew, Costume Crew, Set Crew, Light get the idea.

So I worked hard. I ended up increasing my Academic Scholarship amount, and scoring a Theatre Scholarship by the end of my first year.

Long story short, I ended up going into the "real" world with the expectation that my work ethic would yield rewards...

It took nigh on 9 years for that illusion to be shattered. Yeah, I am a slow learner...

In the real world, hard work SHOULD get you further, and I am sure it does... in most places.

I am not afraid to say that 5 years with a company that I gave just about every summer to did not end well. Blood, sweat, tears, gas money, and when there started to be talk about taking the company Equity and using union actors, no consideration was made to those who had spent even longer than I had with the company when it came to making sure we would still be included in the shows. Even if they had had the courtesy to say that they would have ensured us getting our points, I would have stuck around.

Instead, we were basically told that all our hard work meant nothing.

It took me much longer to learn this lesson professionally than it did artistically. Nine years, in fact. Nine years of showing up and taking on not only my own duties, but others as well. Staying late, coming in early, and working like a dog lead to no vacation days, no sick days, no benefits, and mu hours being cut to three days a week. Not that I blame them: the economy was in the junk heap at the that point, and I was just grateful to have any job.

However, when the opportunity came to leave both of these situations behind, both artistically and professionally, I am not afraid to say I ran.

A theatre company that offers me membership after all I do is work box office and then show up at strike (because that's what I was taught you did at Loyola)? Where do I sign?

An up-and-coming Chicago start-up that wants to offer me benefits, stock options, a 401K, and HOW many vacation days? Done!

Since then, I won't say things have been perfect, but when is life ever? There have been heartbreaks and tears, late nights and lots of wine...and beer...and cider...but there have been lessons learned and triumphs.

It is a hard lesson to learn, when you enter real life: sometimes, hard work DOES NOT get you ahead. You have to know the difference between being patient, and being complacent and comfortable. You have to know when you have given enough, and there has been no reward, no matter how small, that is time to move on.

But I still believe that for every new venture, you SHOW UP. You work your butt off. When I was cast as an understudy for a production, the only time I didn't show up was when I was so sick I couldn't see straight.

I figured, as an understudy, if was my job to cover for other actors when they got sick, not make other actors suffer from the plague I was carrying...

But you work. Every new show, every new job, every new opportunity is a chance for you to make your mark. It is a chance to find a new home.

Long story short (TOO LATE!) we come to the moral of my story, and the good news, and the connection to the show I am working on now...

Fight rehearsals for MacSith are, for the most part, optional. But, as I have become something of the social media maven, and fight rehearsals are usually when you get the best shots of lightsaber fights, I have been showing up.

This past Thursday, it was apparently discussed that the actress playing Lady M would not be able to make it to ChiFi, a convention occurring at the Palmer House Hilton in March where we will be doing two performances of MacSith. The current Witch 1 played the Lady last year, so she will be stepping into those shoes. That means they needed someone to play Witch Primus...

Ladies and Gents, I will see you all on March 19th-20th.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

When Nerd and Stage meet...

As I mentioned in the last blog, I will be taking a journey "a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away..."

This made me think about how my theatre career has often intersected with my nerd world...and I am not just talking about theatre people in Chicago being total nerds...because they are. Seriously, my broadsword certification class had two "Buffy" scenes, one "Dragonheart", and two "Game of Thrones"...the last being the exact same scene.

With "MacSith", I discovered, I continue my nerd/theatre melding. I have sampled from many of the geek food groups...I realize that I have MANY more to go: Battlestar...Marvel...maybe even (gulp) D.C., but I think I am off to a good start!

"Lord of the Rings"/Frodo-A-Go-Go
 There is photographic evidence SOMEWHERE that I make a lovely blonde, but it has been lost...

This fully improvised parody of "Lord of the Rings" was the second professional show I did in Chicago. I was the understudy for all the females, but this included the "Sam" and "Frodo" characters. My proudest moment was when I actually got to go on for two weekends as "Legoland", blond wig and all. The fact that one of those two weekends coincided with the weekend they won ALL the Academy Awards was just icing.

Steampunk/Sherlock/Sherlock Holmes: The Last Adventure
It was a long break between nerd shows, but when it came again, it came big. For me, "Sherlock" is the show that all others are measured against, and that is a hard bar to reach. We performed just as the new series premiered in England and the movies were starting, so it could be said we came in on the ground floor, and we did a pretty darn good job. Not to sound too hipster, but we were doing Sherlock and Steampunk before it was cool!
The Cast.

Corsets are FUN!
Irene and the King of Bohemia

My Little Pony/L'Imbecile
I'm sorry, I was Pinky Pie. The photographic evidence proves it:

Aww, the Three Courtiers...

Star Trek/Klingon Christmas Carol
You have not know challenge until you have to memorize Klingon. For months, I spit and twisted my tongue and slathered my face in adhesive and it was awesome. This was nerd heaven, and it brought up all sorts of lovely memories from when I was a kid.

Klingon's Angels
Me and the targh...

Buffy-verse/Broadsword Class & SPT
When choosing a scene for our Broadsword SPT, my partner and I looked at a few scenes, but settled on the big Buffy/Faith fight from the end of Season 3. Not a full play, but close enough. And we passed our certification test, so YAY!

Star Wars/Mac Sith
So here we arrive at the present day. Star Wars and Shakespeare, in one glorious mash-up. We'll see how much saber-swinging I get to do, but, in the meanwhile, it is Force-pushing and witch-ing it up. And some pretty awesome Jedi Warriors...

And with that, I shall wish you all a very good night!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

If 13-Year-Old Me could see me now...

...Man, I wish I could go back in time and tell an anxious, picked-on, teenage me that, one day, you WILL get to combine your two loves and people will come and pay to see it...

Middle school was not easy. Not that it is for anyone, but kids can be extra mean when you pick an extra-curricular activity like acting, and it isn't made much easier when you like things that are considered "nerdy". Like Star Wars. And Star Trek. And Fantasy.

Nope. The first half of Middle School was NOT fun.

Then, your mom goes into the office to file the paper work because you will be out of class for the first part of one certain day, and the office lady looks at the calendar.

"Oh, but she'll miss the field trip they have scheduled that day!"

And your mom gets to respond: "No, she IS the field trip."

Because the field trip is a viewing if "To Kill A Mockingbird" at the local community theatre, and yours truly is playing Scout.

And I don't think I am blowing my horn TOO much when I say I knocked it out of the park.

Yeah, middle school got ALOT easier after that day.

But, let's take small side trip: Westgate Mall...Waldenbooks...a 10 year old Star Wars fan uses some of her PRECIOUS allowance to buy "Heir To The Empire."

My love affair with the Star Wars EU exploded and I never really looked back. I stuck through the good times and the bad times, (Callista that blonde, whiny, wimpy, B...(looks at young co-stars possibly reading this) um...yeah, never mind).

I'll be honest: I had lost track of the EU (this was before the internet was as prevalent as it is) and so didn't even know the "Hand of Thrawn" books were out until I saw a friend reading them during a rehearsal. I made a comment about how much a certain farm boy and a certain red head just needed to get over themselves and get together. He snorted in derision and the subject was dropped until Tech week when he called me over and whispered "I hate you for being right," and showed me the end of a certain paragraph at the end of a certain chapter (page 481-82...not that I have it bookmarked or anything...shut up).

Stupid thin walls between greenroom and theatre; I wanted to scream in joy and I couldn't.

To make a long story short (TOO LATE)...Fast forward 16 years.

A local company is remounting a production, and are holding auditions:  "MacBeth" set in the "Star Wars" universe.


If nothing else, I figure I can pick up the Lightsaber the director owes me from backing the Kickstarter from the original run. So I sign up for a slot, show up, do my Rosalind, speak the speech, swing a lightsaber in a fight, and head on my way home.

Then the e-mail comes in, and 13-year-old me screams in joy...

More to come as we go into rehearsals, but I cannot begin to say how excited I am to be a part of this production and working with this company. These are good folks, and this is a great cast, and I am looking forward to helping transport the Bard to a galaxy far, far away...