Block 190: September 2, 2013



It’s Labor Day! And I’m not really gonna do anything?


Date: September 2, 2013

Crane: 190

Days Spent on Project: 197

Location: Apartment, Washington Heights, NYC

Person I would have sent it to: Compared to my experience at Kenyon, the relationships I formed with my acting teachers weren’t as deep or as meaningful. And, honestly, that’s okay; given the nature of the program, and that I was only going to be there for a little over three months, how much of connection could I make?

Which isn’t to say the teachers I took classes with weren’t great. They were. They were all working professionals in the London Theatre scene back in the 90s; some of them were quite well-known and involved with larger scale, more known productions, while others were involved in what I guess would be more the equivalent of our NYC downtown theater scene.

I mean, I took a master class with Fiona Shaw and Henry Goodman. That’s awesome. (I was too intimidated to participate fully, but I was there!)

But I should dedicate some Cranes to the few teachers from that semester that, in a way, define the experience I had in London. Ultimately, there are a couple of coaches from that semester that have evolved into a composite of all of them.

Ian W. was the program director that semester. He was the public figure of the school. I’m not clear how much of the program was “his,” of course. Did he choose which students were accepted? Did he hire all the professors? Did he have final say in everything? I don’t know.

From what I remember, he did not teach a class that semester.  But, we students were assigned teachers who would work with us on monologues throughout the semester. I was assigned him.

He was confident. Intelligent. Experienced. Very British.

I was, in turn, extremely intimidated by that, but unaware of what I was getting into. So, my hesitancy didn’t last long.

Over that semester, I worked on monologues from Volpone, Richard III, and Three Sisters. Throughout the semester, he taught me to rely less on showing through physical actions what was going on. He taught me to really rely on the text, to understand not necessarily just my intention, my dramatic action, but the words and the word choices that had been made for me, the grammar and punctuation and spacing, and the meaning behind what I was saying. Really, really understand it. Don’t illustrate it or comment on it. Just understand it. It was a lesson I needed; I would never really get it so directly at Kenyon. Yes, Kenyon was all about text and understanding its importance. But, in London, it was brought to my attention by calling me out on my unawareness.

He later would cast me in the production that he would direct at the end of the semester. It was Hamlet.

He would cast me as Hamlet.

We performed it in a small theater in London before a small audience. I know the stakes weren’t high. I know it was a bit- just a bit- of a stretch for me at 20 to be playing the role. But the opportunity was something I cherish still. That vote of confidence meant a lot.

Music I listened to while sewing: This morning, I was in the mood for PJ Harvey. An unexpected choice, but her music is great.

Thoughts/Feelings behind the block: Yesterday, I may have met with a director I’ve known for years but have never had the chance to work with. She’s involved with a “webisode” project- an online mini-series of which there will be six 10-15 minute episodes. It’ll film over 2 weeks in New Jersey. It’s set now and in suburbia, dealing with alienation and crumbling relationships and dreams and quarter-life crises and unemployment and reality. I read the screenplays last night, the writing is good. You’re drawn in by the end…

And I may have volunteered to do the costumes for it. There is no budget to buy anything. There is no pay. It’s going to be quick and hopefully well-done on a string and a prayer.

I’m a little terrified.

I have done short student films before. But those projects have always been IN the city, there’s always been some sort of compensation, and I’ve always had a some kind of budget to make things happen.

I walked into the meeting fully expecting to turn down the project. No money? No resources? But then we went through the script and it’s good. And my friend is very charming and she has an aesthetic I’m drawn to…

She and I talked about what we’ve been doing in the past few years. She described how she’s finally starting to understand the projects she wants to do, what path she wants to take. She said she went through a time where she just turned things down- if they didn’t feel like they would move her in a useful direction, she didn’t take them. She said it was hard, but eventually she found a direction that would take her where she wanted.

And she’s moving ahead.

I really wish I had that confidence. I left the meeting, knowing I had volunteered to do something I have little experience in and would have little to no support to do.

And it got me thinking: are my doubts and my fears my biggest obstacles to overcome? Should I let my hesitancy, my unfamiliarity with this, keep me from trying?

No, it shouldn’t. I’m interested. This is something I want experience in. It’ll be hard work and probably a little trying at times, but why not try? It could be awesome.

I guess I need to think more like that more often… and not just when I agree or volunteer. I need to think like that throughout the project… not get so down about the details or frustrated by my own fear.

I should tackle it head-on, right?


Here goes nothing…

Happy Labor Day.

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