Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Misadventures of Sarah Goldman (Beau Jest Rehearsal Diaries, Part 3)

Saturday, December 20, 2015
A full run-through today! I feel more ready today than I have during this whole run. There are still little things to work out and figure out, and we’re adding actual food into the Seder on Monday. But with producer previews coming up on Tuesday, I’m feeling pretty good.
Both Bryan and Todd have inadvertently discovered how very ticklish the back of my knees are, and it’s a problem. ESPECIALLY with Todd. In the opening scene, I have my legs draped over his lap and I was SO JUMPY today the whole time my legs were there, because he kept starting to put his hands on the back of my knees. I know they’d both just leave me alone if I didn’t react so hugely, but it’s not entirely in my control.
One difficult thing about rehearsal today—they took away our couch! One of the legs is broken. We were in the middle of the Shabbat meal scene when some people came in and removed the couch and replaced it with chairs. We made a few jokes about how Sarah forgot to lock her door. We were actually each a little worried about how it had happened. Ben A made a joke about how the kissing scene got a little too intense, but I looked at Bryan and said I hoped it wasn’t from the other night when we spent a few minutes falling onto the back of the couch because it was fun. (“I like falling, but I don’t like landing,” Bryan explained.) But apparently it’s been broken for a while. I hope we get it back soon—it is DIFFICULT to rehearse with those chairs instead. They’re smaller, and it’s hard to do certain blocking things.
Monday, we introduce food to the Seder meal! We’re also playing the “dice game,” which involves switching casts after running for as many minutes as the dice dictates, and eventually impressions and emotions as well. I’m super excited about it.
Oh! And I spoke with the Deseret News today about the show and my experience in it. I was a little unsure at first, but I feel like I was able to express some important and true things. I’m excited to read the article when it comes out.

Monday, December 21, 2015
The dice game was SO MUCH FUN! I was so impressed with EVERYONE in the cast. Everyone rocked it. Eric pointed out the vulnerability of an exercise like this, when we’re called upon to do stupid impressions and crazy emotions and to transition quickly. It’s kind of beautiful to see everyone support each other and to laugh together. I loved it. And I did make some fun discoveries. Eric just gave us the greatest pep talk in the world after rehearsal, instead of notes. It was such a great night. Eric and Tammy both laughed until they cried. We all did.
In an effort to dissuade Todd from tickling the back of my knees tonight, I bit his hand. Twice. When that didn’t stop him, I licked his hand. He watched me do it, then said, “Whoa. That was…awesome.” *sigh* It did not dissuade him AT ALL. Dang it.
In other news, I sometimes worry that my physical affection for those around me will be misinterpreted as inappropriate. Like, maybe people think that I, as a married woman, shouldn’t be cuddling with other people? But it’s not that I’m making any of it sexual or even romantic. It’s just that physical touch is my love language. And I’m not physically affectionate with EVERYONE just because not everyone is comfortable with it. It’s not everyone ELSE’S love language. But for those people who do speak the love language of physical touch, it’s how we communicate—cuddles and hand holding and massages. And plus, theatre people. Theatre people in general seem to have fewer physical boundaries. So we’re all kind of more touchy-feely anyway. It’s just that all touch has such romantic or sexual weight in our current society that I worry a little. But not enough to change anything.
On a completely different note, we’ve got producer previews tomorrow—woo hoo! Also…I’m definitely NOT coming down with a cold (uuuggghhhhh).

Tuesday, December 22, 2015
First producer preview down! We made Mark laugh out loud, multiple times. So that was awesome. It was a fairly solid run, although nerves sort of got the better of us. We were a little scared, and a little unused to having an audience there, so we were a little frenetic. Lines weren’t quite what they usually are, and there were a few spots that didn’t go as smoothly as they usually do. But it was still solid. The biggest note we got is to trust the script and ground our work in reality. I think with our nerves, we got a little lost in the shtick, and moved away from the natural-ness of it all.
Eric and Sally kept talking about making sure our choices are grounded in being natural and honest. And in the back of my mind, I thought, “But…my honesty IS kind of weird. Like, me being natural and genuine might not seem as grounded in reality, just because the way I act isn’t quite how other people act. I’m kind of weird.” I trust Eric to pull me back if needed.
I feel okay about my work tonight. It was a little disconnected in places, but generally okay. In Ben Hopkin’s class, he talks about how technique, or “communication” makes up for where we fall short in connection. I feel like I’m a solid enough actress technique-wise that I can carry off a show pretty well, even if my connection is suffering a little. I know I can do BETTER, though. I feel confident we can get it to where it needs to be. We just had to get this very slightly clunky bit out of the way.
Speaking of bits, we’re probably going to cut a couple of them. Mark and Sally said they like working with Eric because he gives them lots to work with, and then they come in and do sort of a “final edit.” So after the other cast’s producer preview, we’ll see what changes need to be made. (One change that’s being made: kissing Chris in the opening scene after all! I looked over at Todd after notes and said, “Hey, we’re gonna kiss!” Bryan frowned at Todd and then said, “I get Todd’s secondsies?” I just rolled my eyes. I actually agree with Sally that it’s a more effective moment—to have Sarah KISSING someone on the couch, then saying, “Oh that’ll be my date,” when the doorbell rings.)
Sally told an awesome story that I wanted to record. So, in the script, Bob says that he works at the Candlelight Playhouse every so often. At the end of the show, he says he’ll be doing “Fiddler on the Roof” there. The Candlelight Playhouse is a real theatre in Chicago, and years and years ago, Mark and Sally went to see a show there. It was the first time they had ever seen a theatre in the round that had a moving stage. It wasn’t terribly high-tech—it could only rotate as far as the extension cords would reach. But at this point, Mark and Sally were designing the new theatre, the theatre we’re currently in. So Mark came home from the Candlelight Playhouse and said, “I think we should have a rotating stage.” And the Hale West Valley rotating stage was born.
As we left the theatre tonight, Bryan and I both started moon-walking to our cars (don't remember why). His car was about 10 yards away. Mine was about 100. After about four seconds of moon-walking, I said, “If we were really committed actors, we’d both do this all the way to our cars.” Bryan said, “I AM a really committed actor.” I laughed and then said, “Dang it! What have I done?!” But I freaking did it—I moon-walked all the way to my car. I moon-walked over a curb, over grass, down the other curb. I almost tripped once, but I made it. My shoes were filled with slushy water afterwards, but it was totally worth it.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015
Other cast’s producer preview! I took a ton of notes, as always. (Ha. Always. I’ve only been double cast twice.) I think the sweet spot is somewhere in between their cast and ours, as far as realism and energy goes. The biggest note THEY got was to amp up the energy and volume.
Todd and Becca were including the added stage kiss in their run, they decided to figure it out before rehearsal officially started. Eric and I sat and watched, creepily, so that I knew how it would go. Becca and Todd ran their scene, then Becca and I switched out and I ran it. (Afterwards, Todd said, “Okay, who’s next?” Bryan put his phone down—the one he’d been pretending to video-tape us with—and took my place in Todd’s arms. I took Bryan’s phone out of his hands and captured the tender moment.) 

Thursday, December 24, 2015
Today, I thought about the fact that Beau Jest won’t last forever, and it broke my heart a little. I have no choice but to live in the moment and just enjoy every second of doing this show, because if I don’t, I’ll start to crumble. Maybe that’s unhealthy? I just feel so lucky lucky lucky blessed blessed blessed. That I get to play this part. That I get to tell this story. That I get to do it with these people.
I think having a day or two off from rehearsal will be helpful for us—give us a chance to sort of “refresh” and come back to the script with new eyes.
I can’t believe I get to do this.

Saturday, December 26, 2015
I’m having a hard time understanding what day it is. We didn’t have rehearsal Thursday or yesterday, but we had rehearsal today. But we don’t have rehearsal tomorrow. We have rehearsal the next day. My brain is struggling.                        
Today’s rehearsal included so many things. We started out with cast photos. (Man, I love my wig.) Also, Ric looks like Mr. Feeney from Boy Meets World in his costume and glasses. (Realization: That actor who plays Mr. Feeney has a New England accent. We were all trying to impersonate him, and I realized that it’s not “slightly British,” as we first thought, it’s New England. *The More You Know*)
I had one terrifying moment during photos, when Bryan reminded me to take off my FitBit, and I noticed that I wasn’t wearing my wedding ring. I mean, I wasn’t SUPPOSED to be, and I had loosened it earlier to remind me to take it off. But I couldn’t remember actually taking it off, or where I had put it. I felt tearful and vaguely panicked for a moment, but told myself to just do the photos, then look, and then I could panic and cry if I couldn’t find it. I got back to the costume shop and searched my makeup kit and my purse, and didn’t find it. Then I stepped into the dressing room and there, shining on the floor, was my wedding ring. I picked it up and ran back into the shop and did a victory lap, exclaiming (and explaining) joyfully. I’m so glad I never had to panic and cry about it. I think I might just not wear it to the theatre anymore. Just to be safe.
After photos, and changing back into regular clothes (a t-shirt and my husband’s wolf pajama pants, in my case), we did a white elephant gift exchange, where I stole two Alien action figures, which were promptly stolen back from me. In the end, Bryan and I struck a deal—I stole a pocketknife back for him, and he gave me the funny t-shirt he had gotten for it. So now I have Todd’s old t-shirt, which just says, “George is still running.” There’s actually a valid explanation for the caption, but I like how cryptic it is without the explanation.  
Then we had the famous SPEED-THROUGH! Dueling cast-style. It was a race to see who could get the best time. We took a break at intermission for sandwiches, and it took me all of that break to recover my normal breath. In the end, Tammy refused to tell us which cast won, and gave us ALL a prize (2 comp tickets to the show for ANY NIGHT during the run). The two casts started at different times, because of Todd being single cast, so at the end of Act One, we had finished before the other cast. So we waited until they were done and then pretended like we were still finishing when they came in. (I don’t think we ever actually told them about our deception.)
The speed-through was really helpful. Eric said that sometimes actors complain about speed-throughs, because you never actually do a show that way. But we all talked about how helpful it really is! It lets you know where you don’t know your lines and cues. It heightens your focus. It helps you find places where speed is actually better. It increases camaraderie among cast members (despite the competition between casts). It helps you be aware of intonation patterns. Ric shared a final thought, and he got a little bit emotional as he said it. He said that the speed-through truly taught him what talent we have in this production. He said he was so impressed with all of us, and feels so so lucky to be doing this with all of us. I couldn’t have put it better myself.
For some reason, I had it in my head that we were going to do an additional full run after the speed-throughs, but it turns out we didn’t—we were done by 2 o’clock. I found myself lingering, chatting with Andy and Bryan and Tammy, not wanting to leave. I feel more at home at the theatre than anywhere else (besides home). Eventually, I did get into my car and drove off, but not without wishing I had an excuse to stay, chatting or working. I’ve missed everyone the last two days, and I’ll miss them again tomorrow. I suppose I’ll get a good healthy dose of everyone this coming week—tech week is officially begun!
The other day, Jacob asked me if I feel ready for opening (on Thursday!!!). I thought for a moment and replied that I feel ready acting-wise. The things I don’t feel ready for are all tech things—quick changes and working with the wig and being in the space. But I know those are all things we’ll work on next week. So I feel confident I’ll be ready by the time we actually open. There are still moments that I know could be stronger, but I also know that they’re great where they are, and that they’ll improve with more rehearsal time. And it will take us a few shows with an audience for the show to sort of “settle.” Not as in “settling for what it is,” but for it to get comfortable in its groove. I’m excited for that to happen.
Here goes nothin’!

Monday, December 28, 2015
First night of tech! It actually didn’t even really feel like rehearsal. We did mic EQ’s, and then rehearsed the quick-changes. We were only there from 6 pm to 8:30 pm. It was super helpful to do quick-changes, though. Barbara (the costume designer) is going to make a few additional adjustments to make them even easier. The set’s in the middle of change-over, but there’s enough there for us to get a sense of distance and timing. 
I’m excited for the set to be all loaded in, and to start REALLY rehearsing. Each cast has got two full runs in the space before opening, and I kind of wish we had more. Okay, not kind of, I DEFINITELY wish we had more! But I’m confident enough in our abilities to make it work. Doing shows at the Playmill taught me how to “fake it ‘til you make it” when it comes to having a show ready. And Jacob is the only one I have coming to opening night, and he’ll be seeing it again a few weeks later. All my other people are coming a few shows into the run…we’ll have had some time to solidify everything even better.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015
Day after tomorrow. That’s when we open. We have one more run. GAH!
Tonight was pretty good—not as bad as I thought it was going to be, but not as good as it will be tomorrow. We were just kind of “in our heads” tonight. We added so many elements—new props, costumes, lights, sound, the set itself. Pretty darn smooth for all that new stuff. Some line flubs and repeats. Our favorite of the night was Bryan saying, “Did your doctor subscribe askpirin for you?” There were also a few silly technical things during quick changes, but I think we’ll get them figured out. I think tomorrow I might sit down and write out the details of how we’re doing things. Not just what needs to be done, like “put on dress,” but the specifics of how the dress is put on (who does the buckle, etc). I think that will help.
But there were also all these strange little things that compounded to throw us off—at one point, Bryan and I hold hands, but our fingers were like, off by one digit on the interlocking business, so things were just weird. Things like that. The wine was sweeter than we expected. There were smaller spoons with the Seder meal. The vodka glasses were fuller than usual. The bedroom and kitchen had doors. All these little things. But still. We got through it!
Mark said tonight that at this point, all we really need is an audience. And we’ll have a few tomorrow night! We’re having a sort of “invited dress.” That will actually be REALLY HELPFUL. New Year’s feels like so much pressure to get it right, and it will be nice to have a sort of “beta audience” first.
I don’t feel as ready as I want to feel, but I suppose there’s not much I can do about it.
Final thing to record: Eric is so kind as a director. His encouragement has been so helpful, and it makes it easier to believe in the greatness of our work.
One day closer to opening night. GAH.  

Wednesday, December 30, 2015
This is it! Final dress rehearsal was tonight! And I feel so much better about the show. Last night, I wasn’t quite sure if we’d really be ready. But after tonight, I feel pretty good. It was a pretty smooth run—we were all focused and listening and present. Any little flubs (because we still had a few) were covered easily and quickly. It was also helpful to have a little bit of an audience there. Starting to get some of that laughter and energy from them really brought things to life.
Mark compliments my wig every time I see him, as well I should. He also told me to try my mic pack on my thigh to avoid the “bustle” look of it being around my waist, and I'm a little nervous about that--I've never had it work very well. 
And I’m glad our run was good—I was so GRUMPY beforehand! A prayer before our run helped. And I feel pretty good! 

So this is it. Opening night. I’m ready.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Beau Jestery Diaries

You guys.

The unabridged version of my Beau Jest rehearsal diary is 28 single-spaced pages long. 21,000 words. I have a problem.

(Actually, it's totally NOT a problem. I love writing and I always have, and I think I always will. It has blessed my life in the most wonderful ways. PLUS, you punks benefit from it, too, as readers of my blog. So Imma keep writin'.)

Anyway, here are a few more thoughts from Beau Jest rehearsals.

Monday, December 7, 2015
1st Day of Hannukah
Happy Hannukah! Today was the first day of the holiday, so during a break tonight, we ate our treats by the light of the menorah and listened to Adam Sandler’s Hannukah song.
I love my job. I love this play. I love my cast. I love this experience. I feel most alive and like myself when I am at the theatre, rehearsing and running lines and talking about the show.
I ran lines with Bryan a TON tonight before rehearsal even started, and it was so so so helpful. The whole rehearsal tonight was a good one.
Tonight was also one of those awesome nights when you find solutions to little problems. Or find ways to improve things. (I also organized all those dishes and stuff!) I love those nights of fixing and discovering. We fixed the first romantic kiss thing with this idea I had, and it wasn’t not working before, but now it works even better. I just felt “on” tonight. There’s only so much control one seems to have as an actor. You do have some control. But there are times when the magic is there, and times when it isn’t. After Saturday’s being “off,” tonight’s being “on” felt amazing. There have been a few times in my life when I can feel that—when I feel myself brushing up against that column of light, or even standing in it. I always notice and then try to stop noticing—noticing turns that light off. You just have to keep going. I can feel the elements of this production combining more and more consistently to make that happen more and more often. I love that. It’s, and you’ll have to forgive the shortcomings of language here, magical.
Tonight’s “Ruthie Award” (the first one of the process!) went to Ben Parkes, for ending his victory dance with “Too legit to quit,” and also for his maniacal laughter after the line “It’s settled.”
Finally, Bryan didn’t shave before rehearsal tonight, so he was all scratchy. I was complaining about it all night, and then when I got home and kissed Jacob, I laughed because he was scratchy, too. “I’ll never escape it!” I cried. “Every man I've kissed tonight has been so scratchy!” (File that under “Things I Am Surprised to Hear Myself Say.”)

Tuesday, December 8, 2015
Ugh, Act One lines are rough. Even with Bryan and I meeting to run them beforehand. We’re continually improving, though, so I feel confident we’ll get to where we need to be. Tonight’s “Ruthie” went to Betsy, for sqealing gleefully as Miriam, and hitting Joel’s hand with such great timing.
Also, after all my complaining about Bryan’s scratchy face last night, he showed up today having shaved—everything except his mustache. You know, the part most likely to poke me when I’m being kissed.

Thursday, December 10, 2015
I feel so much more confident about Act II than I do about Act I. I also want to just rehearse everything always. We’re alternating casts for rehearsal this week, so I didn’t have any last night, nor do I rehearse tomorrow night. Or Saturday. Or Sunday. It will be four whole days until rehearsal!
I love that Eric and Bryan have improv experience. They both can do excellent impressions of Winnie the Pooh characters, so tonight, the two of them did a scene as Tigger (Eric) and Pooh bear (Bryan) having a mobster confrontation. It was amazing. I suspect, deep within me, that I could be amazing at impressions. But I’m afraid to try, because if I don’t succeed, I’ll be really really sad about it.
Tonight’s Ruthie award went to Todd Thompson, for his hilarious mumbling as he sits back down after yelling that he’s willing to convert to Judaism.
I am so so so so so absurdly grateful to be doing this show. I was heartbroken when I didn’t get cast in “Christmas Carol,” but now I understand why. Or at least I understand how that heartbreak fit in to the path of my life. I needed to do Beau Jest. I have this line in the show where I say, “I don’t know why you came into my life at this particular time…” and for a brief moment tonight, I thought about how I feel that way about the show in general. It’s funny—I’ll make these friends, and then I can’t remember what my life was like before them. All I know is that working with these people and getting to do this show is one of the greatest blessings in our move to Utah.

Monday, December 14, 2015
Our cast just ran lines while the other cast did a run tonight. It was EXACTLY what we needed. It was also fun to just sort of run around the dance studio and play while we got our lines down.
Oh! And here's a funny thing! Betsy and I realized tonight that I went to her house about a YEAR ago for Soup Group. Jayne Luke from Damn Yankees invited me and Jessica. I only went once, but Betsy and I realized tonight that it was to HER house. I remembered later that she had cats named after characters in “Waiting For Godot.” Who would have thought that one day we'd be playing mother and daughter? Funny.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015
Feels like the first full run-through we’ve done in a long time. It went pretty well—we’re still making new discoveries and that feels great. We’re still stronger on Act II, probably because it’s shorter. The confession to my parents was so emotional for me tonight—I’m glad I was able to go there. Eric told me to pull back a little bit, and I responded that I agreed; it was just happening and I wanted to follow it and see where I would eventually need to pull back. At the end of that scene, Bob hugs Sarah, and after the initial hug, I sort of buried myself into it—I needed the safety of it…I did, as Liz.
There are certain things that happen during rehearsal or during notes that I have no way of explaining in words. I can try to record them, but I don’t know how. Like, I’ll try to explain this one…today after notes, Bryan grabbed my finger and sort of lifted my hand with it. Then he put it down. Then I lifted my own hand by my finger in the same way, then lifted his hand the same way too. Why? I don’t know. Following an impulse. Then he started sculpting my hand, then I started sculpting his, step by step, until we had formed this two-hand sculpture, with his hand making a peace sign and mine flipping the bird. At that point, Eric saw my hand and stopped us and said, “No hate!” I pointed to Bryan to blame him, and then paused and said, “I…actually don’t have any way to explain how this started.” As we stood up, Bryan pointed out that this is the case for most of the things we do.
Today’s treat was brought by Todd, who is a miracle of class and humor. He brought us all bottles of sparkling cider, but they were a “special brand.” He took a picture of himself, IN COSTUME, with the piano in the lobby. Then he made a special label for each bottle, with his picture, calling the drink “Chris’s Bubbly.” It was AMAZING.
Also, we are the worst Jews EVER. We made plans to celebrate Hannukah, and we were all about it for the first day—lit candles on the menorah and everything. And then we forgot about it for the rest of the holiday. I don’t think we ever lit candles again. Oops.
Tonight’s Ruthie went to Jerry, for upping his game so much and coming so far, especially having missed so much rehearsal.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015
Tech Preview tonight! And it was…um…a little rough. But not horrendous. I managed to convince everyone to let MWF do Act II instead of Act I, because we’re stronger on it than we are on Act I. We’ll have to tackle Act I tomorrow, but at least not in front of technicians. I think we were all just nervous. We made mistakes in places we’ve never made mistakes before. The very last scene, we got SO LOST in the lines. I think we got every single one of them in, though. Just in sort of an arbitrary order.
I feel like I was able to find a good balance with the vulnerability of the confession towards the end of the show. I was able to be honest with it, but also allow it to build naturally (pulling it back where it needed to be). Sometimes I get worried about “making myself cry.” It’s nice if I cry, because it’s physical evidence of the emotional journey—something visual that represents the inner experience. But I never want to force it. So I’m trying to remember some of the skills I learned in Ben Hopkin’s class—just stay connected, soften into the moment, and let it move you. When I do that, tears come naturally. I feel pretty good about my work on this show in general, and I’m so grateful for the ways it has allowed me to grow.
I also loved watching the other cast do Act I. I learn so so much from watching. I’ve got a handful of notes to implement, just from seeing how the other cast does things. During rehearsal tonight, I kept leaning over to Bryan to whisper ideas—leaning over the cardboard box and coat rack we put between us to keep us from distracting each other. (It sort of worked.) There are a few moments for us to work tomorrow before rehearsal starts.
Here's a funny…one never really discusses the logistics of kissing in real life. You just kiss. But these things need to be discussed for the stage. At one point, Bryan and I watched Ben A and Becca do a specific kiss, and I turned to Bryan and reminded him about a note that Eric gave us. Bryan asked, “Should I swivel my head?” I thought and then replied, “Only if you shave.”
Tonight, Andy brought marshmallows as a treat, because Chris told us she can fit 17 marshmallows in her mouth and we wanted her to prove it. (She didn’t.) Between discussions of my small mouth and those marshmallows, the entire thing quickly descended into perverse innuendo. Sigh. I love this cast. (And for the record, I could only fit one marshmallow in my mouth. ONE.)
Finally, tonight’s Ruthie awards went to a TEAM. Ben A, Ben P, Betsy, and Bryan won a game of “Categories” before we began the run. We actually warmed up tonight, something we’ve never done before, and their team beat us. Although, I felt an “Honorary Ruthie” should have gone to Ben A, because when Eric said the category was “Modern Prophets,” Ben A yelled, “Yes! I got this! I was the primary chorister, bitches!”

Thursday, December 17, 2015
Tonight we tackled Act I, and we did pretty darn good! We’re more and more solid on lines, and we tried a few new things and made a few new discoveries. We open in two weeks—whew! Tomorrow’s rehearsal was originally a TBA, so we decided to just work a few Sarah and Bob scenes. I’m glad because that’s what I feel like we need. There are a few bits that just need smoothing. And I really love watching the other cast. They have such different moments, and I love stealing from them.
Oh, and tonight’s Ruthies went to Becca and ME! For our hard work, from the very beginning. I felt honored.

Friday, December 18, 2015
Tonight was just Sarah and Bob in rehearsal, and Bryan and I did a few fun exercises when it was just the two of us—we traded off working with the set and Eric, and working on our own in the dance studio. We did one scene in gibberish, to find a few ways to get out of intonation patterns and communicate just with our bodies and faces. We did one scene waaaaay over the top, to just see what we discovered. Both exercises were SUPER helpful, and I ended up making some great discoveries that I could put into use. The only downside was that after we did the scene in gibberish, we kind of had a hard time getting back into English again.
Oh. Also, I totally said the word “f**k” in rehearsal tonight. I kept messing up my line and I was standing right next to Bryan and looking at him and trying to get this line out. I finally just ended my nonsense string of words with a whispered, “F**k.” Bryan laughed, then turned to Eric and said, “Are we allowed to say ‘f**k’?” Eric laughed and Tammy reprimanded us, even though she laughed while she did so.
Tonight's rehearsal felt really productive. There was one particular scene where Eric didn’t have any notes for us—said it was great just the way we were doing it. Victory! On another scene, Eric said, “I like the way you’re doing that bit.” I said, “Really? During this whole process, I’ve felt a little—I don’t know, I’ve been afraid of not being feminine enough.” He pointed out that even if my ACTIONS are not super-feminine, they will be MADE feminine by the costume and makeup and hair. He said that as a director, he spends a lot of time trying to PULL comedy out of actresses--women are often not as confident in their humor. We talked about how it’s really only been within ONE generation or so that women are allowed to be funny, if that. It’s hard for women to have confidence in their ability to make people laugh, because it’s still such a new idea. I pointed out that it’s hard for women to feel funny and f**kable at the same time (although this time, I didn’t say the word). But Eric pointed out that most men want to be with a woman who will make them laugh. One of the many strange conundrums the modern woman faces. Anyway, it felt nice to have my work as a comedienne recognized.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Thoughts on "Affair-Proofing Your Marriage"

Recently, an article popped up on my newsfeed. It was from a site called "The Dating Divas," which I'm kind of familiar with. The article was called "16 Ways to Protect Your Marriage From Infidelity." This article isn't an anomaly...there are handfuls of others floating around the web. I found this one and this one that had a similar tone and similar advice. And while I admire the intentions of all of these articles, I want to talk about a few issues I have.

(Disclaimer: All of the articles I reference, and my own thoughts, are specifically about married, monogamous, heterosexual couples. There is an enormous range of other relationships out there...this stuff just doesn't quite apply to them in the same way.) 

First of all, I want to make it clear that all of these rules listed in these articles probably make sense for SOME couples. Jacob and I followed a lot of them when we were first married. Whatever rules you and your spouse set are best for you--no one gets to tell you what's best for YOUR relationship. So in explaining the issues I have, I'm not saying that MY way is the BEST way. I'm just saying there's more than one way that really works.

Let's just get one thing out of the way right now: "Taking it up a notch in the bedroom" will not affair-proof your marriage. I see this idea aimed almost exclusively at women..."give your husband more sex and he won't leave you." This is an archaic idea to me; that if men don't get enough sex (or good enough sex) from you, they'll find it elsewhere. That it is solely your responsibility to meet his every sexual desire. Because, listen. Sex is a super important part of marriage. And making sure one another's legitimate needs are met is a valid and important thing. Compromises sometimes need to be made on either side. But if a man has an affair, there's probably more going on than sexual dissatisfaction. Men are capable of controlling themselves. If there are legitimate sexual disconnects, talk about it. Work it out. But ladies? Don't "give" sex JUST because you're afraid your husband will find it somewhere else if you don't put out.

A lot of these articles talk about sharing passwords, keeping in contact during the day, always knowing who your spouse is with, and being a familiar face to those your spouse works with. One of the most common tips is to never be alone with someone of the opposite sex (no texting or messaging either). But here's why I don't like these rules. Or, at least, here's why Jacob and I don't have them. They all send the message "I DON'T TRUST YOU." They imply that both me and my spouse are children who need constant monitoring. They imply that adultery is an evil monster that's lurking in every shadow, just waiting for the right opportunity to pounce. All of these tips seem so based in FEAR. And the ironic thing is this: that very fear, and that very lack of trust, is damaging to a relationship. And a damaged relationship is actually more susceptible to adultery.

I show my love for Jacob by just trusting him. I trust that he is a grown man who can make responsible decisions and can have meaningful relationships with other people without it threatening me. And I feel his love for me in his trust. My friendships with other men and women are meaningful and real, and none of them make my marriage any weaker. (And in Jacob and I's case, it probably makes our marriage stronger, to be honest. I am a better, fuller person when I have friendships outside of my marriage, and that also makes me a better wife.)

From and LDS standpoint, I understand the need to treat the marriage covenant as sacred, and to guard it fiercely. It makes sense to want to do everything possible to remove temptation, to not give Satan a chance, to keep yourself as far away from even the appearance of sin as possible. But for Jacob and I, the best way to keep our relationship strong is to simply talk to one another. We don't have rules about being alone with the opposite sex. But we do have rules about keeping things from one another. I don't say anything to anyone unless I would also say those things to Jacob. The only things I ever keep from Jacob are things that aren't mine to share--confidences about the lives of others. But I will tell Jacob, "So and so had a long talk about some of the things they're going through, and it was a good talk." Because for us, honesty is what "affair-proofs" our marriage. Adultery is painful not just because of the sex, but because of the deception.

So, I'm currently in rehearsal for a show in which I kiss someone else. This is something that Jacob and I talked about when we first got married (stage/screen kisses) and we already know we're both okay with it. It's a kind of strange situation--one that not many monogamous couples experience...your spouse kissing someone else, even though they don't have a real-life romantic or sexual relationship with that person. And it was a situation that I'd never been in before. But I think if Jacob and I spent a lot of our time worrying about each other's fidelity, a stage kiss would be a much bigger deal than it is. But Jacob is honestly, truly, 100% okay with me stage-kissing someone else. Because he trusts me. The other night in my rehearsal diary, I wrote about how empowering that trust is. It allows me to do my best work as an actress, and to feel safe in fully committing to every scene.

That same trust is what allows me to have meaningful and uplifting conversations with people, both men and women. It's what allows me to follow the Spirit and send a text to someone who might need it, without worrying about what my husband will think if that person happens to be a man. That trust allows me to be the best version of myself, onstage and off. And I try to give that same empowering trust to Jacob.

So here's my tip about "affair-proofing" your marriage: Be an adult. Trust your spouse. Trust yourself. Listen to your instincts, and if you or your spouse are uncomfortable with something, speak up. TALK TO EACH OTHER. Set your own rules and follow them. Don't worry so much about adultery lurking in every corner, waiting for you to let your guard down. Don't give it that much power.

photo via

Friday, December 11, 2015

12 Days of Christmas Stuff

Somehow, while rehearsals were going on and I was recovering from NaNoWriMo, a third of December happened. Christmas is in 13 days. So I'm jumpstarting my holiday spirits with some of my favorite Christmas things. And thought I'd share them here! So in no particular order, here are 12 days of Christmas books, stories, albums, and films.

1. Nativity! (film)
Martin Freeman plays a disgruntled elementary school teacher who is asked to put on this year's Nativity play. But can the magic of Christmas restore Mr. Madden's Scrooge-like disdain of the holidays? This is charming and so very British and I love it. ALSO, most of the script was improvised, Christopher Guest-style.

2. The Family Stone (film)
I adore poignant and quirky films about the beautiful imperfection of family. This is the perfect example of that.

3. Love Actually (film)
Oh the greatness of this British film! I love the ensemble nature of this story (these stories?) and the ultimate message that love actually is all around us. (Warning for those interested in warnings: Rated R for language and nudity.)

4. Family Man (film)
Listen. This is one of my favorite films. Ever. I can't help it. It's so sweet and funny and lovely. It captures the beauty and challenge of marriage and family so well.

5. Angela and the Baby Jesus (children's book)
By Frank McCourt
Jacob read this out loud to his family the first year of our marriage, and I've deliberately made it a tradition for him to do so every year. It's hilarious and lovely.

6. A Green and Red Christmas (album) 
By the Muppets
You can't go wrong with the Muppets. Any Christmas song by Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem is a win in my book.

7. My Troubles (A Work in Progress, by Joseph of N--) (short story)
by Jonathan Goldstein
This short story is the last in a collection called "Ladies and Gentlemen, the Bible!" It's a reimagining of the Christmas story from Joseph's point of view...human, worried, flawed, hard-working Joseph. I know not everyone will enjoy this story; Joseph is so very human in it, and some readers might feel it's sacrilegious to approach this character this way. That's okay. But I find it so meaningful--it makes it easier for me to connect to the people who lived and died in Jerusalem, to see the story in this realistic, humorous light. Joseph is just a guy, doing the best he can. Here's a small excerpt, just to get an idea of the tone of the story: "So it was pretty soon afterward that I started to worry. The angels must have seen Mary from Heaven and knew she was the right one for the job, but they probably didn't get a very good look at me. While they were all lying around on the clouds mooning over Mary, they probably missed her loudmouth boyfriend in the background griping about his stubbed toe. Who was I to be raising an angel baby? What could I teach a baby of any kind? How to hyperventilate when you're outbid for a carpentry job? How to cry in frustration when your roof caves in? What kid is going to want to hang around with me? All I have to teach him is how to worry. That was an area in which I excelled." 

8. Barenaked for the Holidays  (album)
by The Barenaked Ladies
Hands down, favorite holiday album of all time. Equal parts silly and sincere. And there's some Hannukah thrown in there, as well as Christmas!

9. A Christmas Carol (book/movie/play/musical/etc)
The book. Any version of the movie. Any version of the play. Just the story in general.

10. It's A Wonderful Life (film)
I always sort of forget how fantastic this movie really is. And then I re-watch it and am overwhelmed by its humor and heart.

11. A Very Murray Christmas (film)
A short Netflix original! It's mostly musical numbers, with a loose plot surrounding a failed live television special. I think I'm charmed by this mostly because it's sort of a dream--I want to end up in the hotel Carlyle in New York City during a blizzard on Christmas Eve, singing songs with Bill Murray and Paul Shaffer and David Johansen and Jason Schwartzman and Rashida Jones and Maya Rudolph and Phoenix. (Warning: Some language.)

12. The Bible: Luke, Chapter 2 (book excerpt)
Where it all began. Does anyone else always hear the voices of Charlie Brown characters when they read this story?


Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Whose Woods These Are I Think I Know

Revisiting an old poem. Tonight was one of those strange times when I was reluctant to go inside. Between parking the car and walking to my apartment door, I could feel a youthful wanderlust tugging at me. I often complain about the cold of winter, but there's something about the solitude and the night and even the cold that was calling to me tonight.

I don't feel I can walk alone into the wee small hours of the morning nowadays, in part because crime, and in part because I keep binge-watching the X-files. These two things combine to make walking alone at night seems fraught with peril. But the city lights kept reflecting off the rainclouds tonight, so instead of walking, I re-worked this poem a little bit. Maybe some night I'll walk instead.

Walking Thoughts

I walk to sleep
and take my walking slow.

I used to walk more often
years ago.
Heartsick, I would wander uphill,
past the silent homes of strangers.

I lay in bed and think
of those star-filled nights,
with the moonlight on the snow,
and my heart
someone’s name.

I lay in bed
stretching the muscles and tendons of my legs.
For the most part,
I no longer yearn.
His name is in my blood
and he is warm beside me.
So often now,
I walk and tire in the walking.

But now and then,
on a December night,
I will glance upwards
and think of how the moonlight looked
when I walked alone in the snow
and I will miss the cold silence of it.
I will miss how the cold
and the stars
and the snow
and the moon
filled the walking places
in me.

photo via

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Thoughts From Beau Jest rehearsals

I know we've already covered this, but I'm a compulsive writer.

I've been keeping a "rehearsal diary" for Beau Jest...I've done this a few times with other shows, and I always love going back and reading them later. There are usually both funny memories to smile over and important lessons to remember. So I thought I'd share some of the highlights of Beau Jest's rehearsal journal here! I've tried to edit out any spoilers from the show, but in an effort to embrace my vulnerability, I have left a few very personal thoughts in--some of the struggles I've felt during this process, ways I've connected with the character, or times I've felt weak or pretty or confident or mean. (Because I'm a human being, okay?! I FEEL ALL THE THINGS!)

I feel so absurdly lucky to get to do what I love with such amazing people.

Saturday, November 7, 2015
I spent so much time being both thrilled and terrified to begin rehearsals. Like all actors, I think I have a neurotic need to be adored. But once I got there and got to working, that need went away—it always does. I can just fall into the world of the play, and the words in the script, and the thoughts and feelings of the character. Eric was very kind and very complimentary, and that gave me a giant boost of confidence, which I’ll use in the times before and after rehearsal when I get neurotic again.
I only really know Andy and Ben P in the cast, so I’m excited to get to know the others. Just from the read-through, I can tell they’re all wonderful actors AND wonderful people.
Also, Ben Parkes can’t pronounce the word “memorial” and it’s hilarious and adorable. There’s a line where he has to say the name of a hospital—“Northwestern Memorial”—and he struggles.

Monday, November 9, 2015
First blocking rehearsal! Eric likes to block before we get on our feet—we start rehearsal by sitting and having him explain our movement and beats and bits. It took me a minute to orient myself in his directing style, but I generally have a pretty clear idea of what he’s looking for. He talked a lot about rhythm during Saturday’s read-through, and it’s been fun to find some of that.
I’m suffering a little bit from “I’m not pretty” syndrome. After “Oklahoma” I just felt so frumpy. I need to remind myself to not compare, and to embrace my own beauty.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015
It’s funny…I feel like I know everyone so well already. There are so few of us, it’s easy to become friends.
In some ways, it feels like it hasn’t been years since Ben P and I worked together—his acting and his sense of humor is still so familiar to me, it’s like we sort of picked up where we left off. And I love working with Andy. I wish both of them could somehow be in my cast.
A few of us got there earlier tonight to help Bryan go over the blocking he missed last night. There’s a point at which Dave/Bob is supposed to fold the napkins on the table all pretty, and we all sort of got distracted by that for like…twenty minutes. We found a variety of different folds—the “Rose,” the “Turkey Fan,” the “Pope Hat.” (Some of these names we made up.) Bryan struggled to create anything for a while, and then made the perfect rose, which ended up being the favorite of the props master. We didn’t get to the blocking, but we all had fun.
I also curled my hair to help me feel pretty today, and I prayed for a little extra confidence, and I felt pretty and funny tonight.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015
So much sitting in rehearsal today! It’s kinda nice—forces us to focus on the moments and the acting and the relationships, instead of the business. The stage picture could use some variety, so we’re giving it that wherever we can.
Oh! And Ben Parkes correctly pronounced the word “memorial”! We just told him it rhymes with “oriole” and he did it perfectly.

Thursday, November 12, 2015
Mixed feelings about rehearsal today—they’re mostly positive, though.
I feel like I’m really understanding Eric’s vision, and I love working with everyone. People make me laugh all the time. There’s a bit between Bob and Sarah, where we speak at the same time for three short little lines, and Bryan kept quoting incomplete song lyrics, which killed me as soon as I noticed it. I told him this was bad news, because I break so easily, and he said it was REALLY bad news, because he LOVES making people break. I finally suggested that we both speak incomplete song lyrics and see if at any point during the run, we say the same ones.

Friday, November 13, 2015
Confession time. Sometimes when I get afraid, I become sort of "mentally competitive" in rehearsals. And I don’t like who I become when I start competing with my double—I’m constantly comparing and either thinking I’m better, or being furious that I’m not. I don’t want to be that person. I want to be open and kind and welcoming. I don’t want to spend my energy in rehearsals fighting off those awful feelings. I want to just do my work. So that’s what I’m going to try to do. To be open to the discoveries that my double makes. To just DO MY WORK.
That seems to be the best solution to all the problems I’ve had in rehearsal. Just DO MY WORK.
During rehearsal today, I spent some time taking some character development notes—filling out the worksheet I’ve created over the years. I made some cool discoveries, and I’m feeling a little more connected to the character. I already felt connected, but now I feel I understand her even more.
And on a completely completely different note, here’s the other thing that happened tonight. And it sounds absurd to get this serious after the rest of this entry. But that’s the human experience, I guess. Tonight in Paris, there were massive coordinated terrorist attacks. Over 140 people are dead. And it’s just senseless and heartbreaking. Here’s what I finally posted on Facebook tonight—I can’t think of a better way to phrase it.

It's been difficult to try to process the events in Paris tonight. I found out right before rehearsal, and it felt odd and wrong to go rehearse a comedy in light of everything that was happening. After working the scenes, a handful of us stayed afterwards (me, Ben A, Ben P, Bryan, Betsy, Andy, Becca) and just talked...about Paris, about leadership, about dating, about world history, about all kinds of things. At one point, one of us asked, "How do we make it better? How do we make the world better?" And before I really thought about it, I instinctively said, "Keep doing theatre."
But I really believe it's true. It's not quite a direct way of helping. But anything that connects human beings to each other is something that makes the world better. It's harder to kill each other when we all see one another as connected. After rehearsal, I went home and my husband and I wept for the pain that's being felt all over the world tonight. We wept for those who never got to finish the things they started, and we wept with gladness for the good of those reaching out in love and solidarity.
This sounds so cheesy, but I'm reminded tonight of the importance of connecting. Through talk, and through tears, and through laughter. I am so so so grateful for the people I had tonight to remind me of the beauty of humanity, through all of those things.
Write stories. Tell jokes. Make art. Sing songs. Talk to people. Weep with people. Tell the truth, both little truths and big ones. We'll make the world better.

Saturday, November 13, 2015
I prayed for help in overcoming my feelings of competition in rehearsal, both last night and this morning, and felt so much better today. Last night, as I was falling asleep, after my prayers, I had this thought. In order to overcome my sense of competition, I need to let go of my need to please (just like Sarah does). It won’t be a sweeping change, but this is a need that Sarah and I share. I think both my and Sarah's competition is rooted in that oh-so-human desire to just have everyone love me. It was a good revelation to have, and I think it’s helped me.
I also have begun marking places in the script where I think Sarah begins to fall for Dave/Bob—specific moments that make her heart beat a little faster. It’s been fun to discover those moments.
There’s usually a point in every rehearsal process when I am completely enamored of the entire experience. When rehearsing a show feels like falling in love. All I want to do is talk about the show. I am so so so so lucky.

Sunday, November 15, 2015
I’m so madly in love with Beau Jest, it’s all I can do to keep from talking constantly about it.
I’m coming to truly love and care for the cast of Beau Jest. I love that so many members have a lot of improv experience, or at least SOME experience. They are all such good listeners because of it—they “yes and” things so well.
I’m so excited to get the scripts our of our hands—when we’ve got lines and blocking in our heads and can really explore moment-to-moment stuff and timing and relationships.
I’m so obsessed with acting.
I think one of my goals for this show is going to be to balance active listening with staying in character. I am notorious for breaking character, which I’ve been told is actually evidence of strong listening and being in the moment. (I’m choosing to believe that.) But to take my work “to the next level,” I want to improve my ability to stay in it. To stay in the moment AND in character. To not break the momentum because I think something is funny. Generally, the way to “stay in character” has been to sort of put up walls, to harden against the laughter that comes. But in a way, that breaks the momentum too, just not as visibly. It disconnects you from the other actors and from the scene, anyway. The majority of the audience won’t notice it, but the work will not be as strong as it could be.

Monday, November 16, 2015
I love rehearsing. We spend so much time laughing, and it is such a joy. Ben P is losing his voice, and it was both so sad and hysterically funny. (“Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you fall into an open sewer and die.” –Mel Brooks) He also was the winner of the “Kramer Award” tonight (something I just made up), for a 15-second-long battle with the coat rack. It was incredible. That coat rack just turns everyone who interacts with it into Kramer. We got a new one tonight, but apparently, the physical comedy magic is still in that corner.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015
I love my job. I LOVE MY JOB! In the parking lot, as we were all leaving, Ben A said, “Good night everyone! It was a great rehearsal! And not nearly as awkward as I thought it was going to be!” And it was the best description of the night.
Ben A, Bryan, and I were all there around 6:45, so we all sat and chatted with Eric for a little while. Ben said that he was a little nervous about tonight’s rehearsal--it was the "big romantic" one between Bob and Sarah. And I said I was too, but that I figured it would be fine. (I had actually said a prayer in the car beforehand, asking for help to “just calm down and do my work.”) And it was fine! Even sitting there and talking made it feel even more fine.
There’s a bit towards the very end of the scene that we struggled with—we tried it 800 different ways, and we wanted it to be funny without pushing the boundaries. I think we figured it out? I’m confident we’ll get it there, though.
It is such a joy to work with such capable and funny and creative people. I can’t believe this is my job. THIS IS MY JOB!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015
Rehearsed Joel’s big victory today, and both Ben P and Andy did awesomely. It’s such a big shift for both his character and mine. This scene is the angriest we ever see Sarah, and afterwards, I was realizing that the anger will probably need to be tempered with some fear, sadness, desperation, etc. It felt so over-the-top angry tonight. But I also sometimes don’t know if what I’m feeling is what’s being communicated. I’ll watch the rehearsal video and see what kind of balance I need to find. I know I’ll find it eventually. It’s like with the Oklahoma breakdown scene. I had to do it a few different ways for a little while before I could find what it truly was—what the show truly needed.
This is a scene that I feel confident will “arrive” after we’ve spent more time in it. In the meantime, onward and upward!

Thursday, November 19, 2015
Did promo shots today (the promotional pictures that will be used for the press). The wig combined with the floral print dress is the greatest thing—it’s a fantastic wig, and I look like a totally different person with it. Just got one of those faces, I guess.
On an unrelated note, the floral dress is “quick-rigged,” because every single costume change in this show is a quick-change. It has snaps all down the front, and I can’t express how tempted I was to just rip the snaps open! But I couldn’t quite get myself to do it in mixed company. I did do it when I changed out of it, though. I felt like the Incredible Hulk.
We were a little short on numbers for rehearsal tonight—two out sick and one late. But we were able to get things down pretty well.
The great thing about doing a show with so many improvisers is that when someone makes ONE joke, there are dozens that follow. Despite the jokes that are CONSTANTLY happening, we did get to some serious stuff tonight, and it took a little work for me to really be genuine and vulnerable. I think it will be easier when I don’t have a script in my hand, but I really REALLY have an opportunity to use some of the skills I developed in Ben Hopkin’s class towards the end of Beau Jest. I don’t think it will be terribly difficult—I found myself getting teary-eyed tonight already. But I do want to make sure it’s honest, and not forced or anything.
There’s the most awful flu going around the theatre—and it’s not just us, it’s EVERYONE. Christmas Carol, Big Fish, Beau Jest, staff. Tammy told us we’re not allowed to kiss each other. Ben A is sick, but Becca, Bryan and I are all fine, so I told Becca that as long as she and I don’t kiss, we should all be fine. I feel a bizarre sense of pride in not being sick. I suppose I should find some wood and knock on it.
Tomorrow is the LAST NIGHT OF BLOCKING!!! And then we have a show, and we’ll just be working on scenes. Wit-whoo!

Friday, November 20, 2015
I spent part of this morning going over lines and then reading through some notes from Ben Hopkin’s acting class. There are some great reminders there about connecting and vulnerability.
Tonight’s rehearsal felt a little bit rough…rougher than any of our previous rehearsals. We were all so tired, and it was the LAST blocking rehearsal, and half of us are sick, and the scene is kind of naturally slow. Between the naturally slow scene and trying to read our lines and blocking, it was just so so so low energy. But I know it’ll get to where it needs to be with time.
Although, tonight, at Andy’s suggestion, Ben LICKED my FACE onstage instead of kissing me on the cheek like he’s supposed to. Which, of course, meant that when Bryan is supposed to dip and kiss me, he dipped me and licked my face too. So many germs. Both cheeks.
I’m excited to start reviewing scenes and working them—this is where the real fun begins. Now to buckle down on memorization. (Deadline is in a week?!)

Saturday, November 21, 2015
There were some great moments in today’s rehearsal, even though it was a little rough—the show is completely blocked, so we reviewed all the new blocking in one big chunk.
I had this realization about Sarah today. She (like pre-married-to-Jacob-me) avoids communication at almost any cost. The thing she says to Chris more often than she says anything else to him is “I’ll talk to you later. Now is not a good time. I’ll call you tomorrow.” She never talks to him directly. And she often chickens out of other important conversations…she chickens out the first time she asks Bob about the David kiss/Bob kiss, and when he first tries to explain the Dave/Bob situation to her parents. It’s cool that the audience gets to see her transformation into someone willing to say things. Almost losing her father is the thing that helps her realize that it’s always worth it to be honest.
On a lighter note, there were some funny moments during rehearsal. At one point, Andy reached for a candy from the candy dish on set, but he did it in this funny way, and Bryan thought he was fist-bumping a nearby plant. So we decided to start fist-bumping inanimate objects much more often.
Also, this conversation happened…
Bryan: Hitler's kids could be anybody, if they changed their name.
Me: It could be like Shia LaBeouf or something.
Ben: I had such high hopes for him. 

Bryan: Who? Hitler? 

Ben: No, Shia LaBeouf.
(We were all laughing about this exchange when I got a text message from Andy, who was onstage, that said, “Stop having fun without me.”)
We start working rehearsals this next week—yippee!!

Monday, November 23, 2015
FIRST ACT = MOSTLY OFF BOOK TONIGHT! Boom! We definitely stumbled through bits of it, but the fact that we still have a month and we’re already mostly off-book is so awesome.
I was realizing how cryptic my notes from rehearsal are. I think I can interpret them, but it’s so funny to read them out of context.
- Chris missed kiss “not in front of Bob” gesture
- add click click to whit-woo
- hearts/brains? No hint to Dave/Bob
- smile/freeze/drop/“what” on video bit
- shush Joel like a cat bit
See? Nonsense.
Tonight’s rehearsal was actually kind of strange for a number of reasons. Onstage, things made sense. But offstage: I got a FB message from a friend basically asking for advice on entering the LGBTQ world, and Andy sent me a link to all of these terrifying paranormal search and rescue stories, and I was texting Kieffer about moving to Utah. It made for an overwhelming time. And I’m still terrified about those paranormal search and rescue stories.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015
Things that kept distracting me during rehearsal today: My belt buckle! It’s a new belt I got from DI today, and the clasp is this gold seat belt thing, but if you unbuckle it, one side looks like the pinchers of a bug. I spent a lot of rehearsal today pretending it was a bug. Sort of a roaring bug. Maybe I need to wear a different belt to rehearsal.
I feel like with every show I do, I am required to be more and more vulnerable. (Well, not every show—not “Damn Yankees.”) But from Maggie in “Dancing at Lughnasa” to Eller in “Oklahoma” to this role, each one is progressively more open to sharing my inner experience. I noticed during the confrontation scene with my parents, I was getting into “sincerity pose” and “sincerity hands.” I think we do that as actors to try to protect ourselves from the emotional experience of the scene. It’s pretty scary to just feel all of that, and to let the audience see into you. I’m going to work on it a little on my own.
Our lines were a little rough as a cast, but I can tell we’re in a great place. The off-book deadline isn’t even for a week! Eric pointed out that usually at this point in rehearsal, he’d just be giving us notes about blocking…making corrections, etc. He is making a few of those, but he’s mostly giving character notes, or asking us to try small adjustments. In his eyes, we’re way ahead of schedule.
I’m actually kind of really sad about not having rehearsal over break. I will love being with family, but I know I’ll miss everyone and the chance to act. I really love rehearsals, and I really love acting.

Thanksgiving Break
Wednesday, November 25 – Sunday, November 29, 2015
Since Beckah and I have arrived in the Bay Area for Thanksgiving, Oma has demanded that we take pictures, because "when we have the family together, it's special!" and interrupted a game of Uno to tell embarrassing stories about our childhoods. It's kind of like rehearsing Act One of Beau Jest.
I’ve been thinking a lot about Sarah’s relationship with her parents, and my relationship with mine. On Thursday, Beckah and I found out that Dad is in the hospital in Germany, with abdominal pain. They were thinking about medi-vac-ing him to Washington DC, which is still a possibility, but they’re doing what they can for him there in Munich. Apparently he’s got a blockage in his liver or gallbladder duct. They did dozens of tests to try to find it, and exploratory surgery to try to relieve it, but not only was that unsuccessful, but it also caused his pancreas to become inflamed. They finally brought that down, so they’re going to try and find and release the blockage again tomorrow. In the meantime, he’s on a liquid/bread diet, and laying around in the hospital.
I can’t help but think of how Sarah's relationship with her parents. The idea of something actually happening to Dad—of actually losing him—is so terrifying I can’t bring myself to imagine it. I know I’d survive it, in theory. But I can’t get my brain to process the possibility. Not yet. Not now. But I feel like I understand just a tiny bit more of Sarah’s experience.
I want to bring all of this vulnerability to my performance as Sarah. I think it’s meaningful and human to do so, and there is great capacity for communion in it. But I also want to stick to Eric’s vision. I will try to go where it feels right to me to go, and maybe I’ll just tell Eric to pull me back if he thinks I need it.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015
Finally got some real Jews to help us out! The Ginsberg family came and helped us with the Seder and Shabbat meals, and it was great to have all of our questions answered (and lines pronounced!).
I kind of got stuck in “character acting” for a minute in rehearsal tonight. I want to be open to BIGNESS in my acting, but at one point I realized that I was doing so by closing everything about myself off. It was a nice moment to check back in. I know I can balance the two—big comedy and honest vulnerability, and I’m excited about the journey to finding that balance. I LOVE ACTING.
We’re kind of struggling with lines—I could tell Eric was getting frustrated. (Or maybe I’m projecting?) We’ll get it. It’s just been a long while since we’ve done this. Almost a week. Bleh. We’ll get there.
Ben P, Bryan, and I also spent a few minutes trying to balance umbrellas on our chins, because for some reason Sarah has like, SEVENTEEN umbrellas in her house. It sort of descended into “That’s what she said” type innuendos, but I sure don’t remember how.
Andy, Ben A, Ben P, Bryan, Becca and I have gotten into this habit of talking in the parking lot after rehearsal. Which I like. In my mind, I've begun calling them "Parking Lot Talks." We stand and shiver and talk and laugh. We did it last night, and tonight as well. It’s cold outside, but the time there warms my heart.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015
Had a fun, productive rehearsal tonight. I started it wearing the most well-coordinated outfit, but kept shedding layers as the night went on—things get athletic in scene #2 and I was roasting by the end of it. We discovered a few new moments and solved a few problems. This cast makes me laugh so much—I love them.

Thursday, December 3, 2015
Had a fun talk with Ben A, Bryan, Andy, and Ben P before rehearsal today. Topics covered included cartoon animal clothing (a continuation of last night), modesty, and Star Wars vs. Star Trek.
Rehearsal itself was a delight. One of those times when, even though everyone is still kind of searching for lines, moments of magic are happening. People kept making these wonderful discoveries, and I spent half of rehearsal laughing hysterically, and the other half feeling funny and confident about my own work. Those days are nice—to feel proud of what you’re doing. And I feel like I’ve come to a good place, learning from my double instead of competing with her. Although offstage, there are a number of things I got distracted by: the books on the set (including a travel book about Paris which featured a New Kingdom obelisk from Egypt), and whisper-singing through an entire verse of Smashmouth’s “All Star” with Bryan before getting shushed by Tammy.

Friday, December 4, 2015
RECORD-BREAKING AMOUNTS OF DISTRACTION TODAY. I just have too much fun! The people are so fun! Tammy is always shushing me. And Bryan. It’s a little bit of a problem, even though there is a general spirit of fun and laughter—Today, during notes, Eric said I’d have to stay after one minute for every time he had to tell me to focus. But I was focused when he was giving ME notes! But it’s not just me. It’s Bryan and me. Bryan just always makes me laugh. At one point, after we got in trouble (again), Eric said, “Ugh. You two are just…sittin’ in a tree,” and Bryan swiftly replied, “Uh, she’s M-A-R-R-I-E-D.” Which is brilliant. And true.
Not much else to report from rehearsal itself. We’re in that awful phase when we’re like 85% on lines, so enough to rehearse without books, but not enough to get a good flow or pace since we keep having to call for lines. But we’ll get there! (I know I keep saying that, but I believe it!)

Saturday, December 5, 2015
Ugh. Rehearsal felt ROUGH today. It’s just that awful situation with lines. For ALL of us.
My cast stumbled through Act One first, then watched as the other cast did the same thing. And we certainly stumbled much more than they did. A few rehearsals ago, I talked about how I felt confident about my work that night. Well, today was the opposite. I felt not good about my work.
My goal for Monday is to have a smooth Act Two, and to also finalize the placement of all those damn dishes. We’re gonna set it up like a prop table—labeling spaces for things, etc. I took lots of notes today, on both what I did and what Becca did, so hopefully we’ll be able to figure it out between all of us.

Here's to four more weeks of rehearsal!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Mid-NaNoWriMo Thoughts

I feel like I'm trying to crash through brick walls on my NaNoWriMo novel lately. Partly because I planned this novel VERY poorly. And partly because I'm working on like, two other writing projects simultaneously. And partly because I have a crush on "Beau Jest" (the show I'm rehearsing), and it's all I can think about. But whatever the factors for my struggles, the point is that I'm struggling. So to give me a break from trying to novel-solve, I thought I'd share this bit of inspiration.

Ray Bradbury once told a story about how when he was 12 years old, he decided he wanted to be a writer. He had taken to learning magic tricks, and helping with carnivals that came to town. One day on a trip near Lake Michigan, he met a carnival magician named “Mr. Electrico.” (You can read the whole story of Mr Electrico in Bradbury's words here.) Bradbury wrote:

Mr. Electrico was a fantastic creator of marvels. He sat in his electric chair every night and was electrocuted in front of all the people, young and old, of Waukegan, Illinois. When the electricity surged through his body he raised a sword and knighted all the kids sitting in the front row below his platform. I had been to see Mr. Electrico the night before. When he reached me, he pointed his sword at my head and touched my brow. The electricity rushed down the sword, inside my skull, made my hair stand up and sparks fly out of my ears. He then shouted at me, "Live forever!"

A few days after that experience, back home in Arizona, Ray Bradbury began writing. He wrote one thousand words a day, every day, for ten years. Finally, when he was 22, he sat down at his typewriter and wrote the words “The Lake.” And then he just started writing whatever came to his head—a beautiful and sad tale about a boy who’s childhood best friend drowned in a lake, and when he revisits, he discovers that her body has been discovered, and it’s been preserved, small and unchanging, while he’s grown. And Ray Bradbury sat back from his typewriter, and he wept, because he knew that for the first time in his life, he had written something good. He wrote every single day after that, until the day he died, sixty-nine years later.

I’ve always loved that story. It reminds me that being good at something takes patience. I can’t imagine doing something every day for ten years if I wasn’t any good at it. I’d get discouraged. I’d give up. I do give up. Because it seems like MADNESS. To stubbornly persist in doing something you don’t think you’re any good at. I think back on my own life, and even things I’m pretty good at now, I feel like I’ve always had some small portion of talent. Granted, it’s very very small, and I’ve grown a lot through doing. And I suppose it’s possible that Ray Bradbury’s first ten years worth of writing was actually good, and he just had super high standards.

I feel like I’m rambling.

But the point is that any time I get discouraged in trying to write this story, or when I don’t get a callback or a role, Ray Bradbury’s story helps me. Just keep doing. Just keep working. If the end result of this exact work isn’t great, it’s simply practice for the work that will be great. And you can’t be great without the practice.

So here’s to the practice. For forging ahead in your writing when you didn’t plan things out well. For working that audition song when you’re sure you’ll fail. Just fail. You’ll probably survive your failure better than you realized you could.

photo via

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Calling Writers Anonymous

I'm in the middle of NaNoWriMo. And it was rough for a little while, but the last couple of days, I've been flying through my daily word count. I'm also working on two, no three, other writing projects--a journal of "Beau Jest" rehearsals, the Non-Paper Poetry Project, and this other secret project that I'll tell you about later. And I just signed up for grad school classes which will start in January, for my degree in Writing.

And now I'm blogging because I just want to KEEP WRITING.

I think I have a problem.

Monday, November 9, 2015

What I've Learned About Acting in Salt Lake City, Part 3: The TV & Film Scene

Welcome! This is Part 3 of a 3-part series! Part 1: Getting Serious, Part 2: The Theatre Scene, and Part 3: The Television & Film Scene. 

DISCLAIMER: I'm still fairly new here! My info is limited to my own experience. There are plenty of other actors out there who will have different advice and different insights. I am not any kind of resident expert--just sharing what I know.* So ask around--lots of other folks ARE resident experts. 

I've been doing theatre for a long time, but when we first moved to Utah, I was pretty new to the screen. I still feel like I am. But here's some of the info I've found helpful on my journey.

1. Get with a good agency. 
This is the best way to get great auditions. Most major films and television shows DON'T have open auditions--they just don't have time to weed through everyone. So they'll contact the local agencies and run auditions through them. I'm with McCarty, and I love them. They're one of the two big agencies in the area--the other is TMG (Talent Management Group). They're about even as far as how good they are, but TMG is a little harder to get into. If you know someone with them, or have a ton of IMDB credits, that will help you. But I'd suggest keeping an eye on McCarty's website for open auditions (that's what I did), or stop by with a copy of your headshot and resume. Both McCarty and TMG represent both actors and models.
BEWARE ANY AGENCY THAT ASKS FOR MONEY UP FRONT. Reputable agencies in this area will take a fee from your paycheck anytime they get you work, but they won't require certain classes or headshot sessions or initiation fees. They may recommend or ask that your headshots are of a certain quality, but  (For example, do NOT join Urban Talent Management. They have scammed a handful of people I know, and you'll take five steps backwards in your career.)
Most of your auditions through an agency will be with Jeff Johnson. He runs a casting studio in downtown Salt Lake, along with Robert Andrus, who usually does most of the readings. They are both awesome guys.

2. Become eligible for SAG-AFTRA (Screen Actors Guild), but don't join. 
This may be different for every situation, but if you're living and working in Utah, this is the way to go. You become SAG eligible by playing a lead role in a SAG film. Then you can put "SAG Eligible" on your resume, which makes you sound a little more legit. But Utah is a "right to work state," which means that non-SAG actors can still work on SAG projects and get paid SAG rates. But if you do decide to join SAG, it may disqualify you for other work, because you HAVE to be paid SAG rates.

3. Build your IMDB credits. 
This is becoming more and more of an important "resume." It's easily accessible to everyone in the industry (they don't have to know your personal website URL to get info about you). You can put your demo reel and your agency contact info on your page. And you can't fake any credits on IMDB. In order to gain control of your IMDB page, you've got to create an IMDB Pro account, which runs $150 per year, or $20 per month. Your IMDB page will be created automatically if you get cast in something that the film creator puts on IMDB, or you can create your own page and add your own credits. You have to submit your acting credits, and they have to be approved. You can check out my page here.

4. Create a demo reel
This can be tough if you haven't done much film. BUT, you can use what you have to your advantage. Don't have anything? Then create your own stuff! Find a few scenes or monologues, and film them. There are a handful of folks in the SLC/Provo area who will help you create a demo reel for a small fee, or you can do it yourself on iMovie or a similar program. Just make it look as professional as possible--this is a casting director's big chance to see your work! Check out my short reel here.

5. Keep your resume simple
Include relevant information, but make it easy to read. Film folks are trying to do a lot of work in a short amount of time, and keeping your resume to-the-point is the best way to show that you're a professional. You can check out my screen resume here.

6. Do background work! 
Seriously. Being an extra is one of the best ways to get into the business. First, I do have to clarify, that it is EXTREMELY RARE for anyone to be "discovered" by doing extra work. I can almost 100% guarantee that it will not happen. BUT, there are a few other important reasons to do background work.
- It's a source of income! Standard background pay is $101.50. Not bad, eh?
- It connects you to other industry professionals, whether that be directors, makeup people, production assistants, or other actors. It's helpful to make friends in this business.
- It builds your resume! Even if you don't have a speaking part, you can still credit yourself on IMDB and include it on your resume. You can give yourself a "name"--not a specific one, but one that just explains what your role was (bar room patron, nurse, airport patron, party attendee, etc) (NOTE: I'VE HEARD A LOT OF DEBATE IN THE INDUSTRY ABOUT WHETHER YOU SHOULD INCLUDE BACKGROUND WORK ON YOUR RESUME. Some say yes, others say no. The answer for you may depend on what kind of work you're looking for. Some have also suggested that you can put it on your resume if you don't have ANYTHING else, but to take it off as soon as you build some other credits. Ask around and see what others have to say.
- Most importantly, it's the best way to learn how film works in a low-pressure environment. In film, time is money, and there's a specific way of doing things, and there's all this jargon, and if you've never done film before, it can be a little overwhelming. And if your first time on set is doing a speaking role, it's...intense. So do background work, so you can learn all the little details about how a film or television show is made.

7. Use the internet!
There are a couple of sources outside of my agency that I check in order to find work (especially background work).
- Utah Actors NING (background, speaking roles, non-speaking roles, paid, unpaid, etc)
- G&G Casting (they do a TON of background stuff)
- Yun Casting (lots of background stuff as well)
- Facebook Group: Utah Filmmakers and Actors (great place to start for all kinds of projects...Gumby of G&G Casting often posts for projects here)...this is a closed group, but just request to join, and it's pretty easy to get in
- Facebook Group: Utah Film Gigs (same)
- There's also Backstage Utah, which I never use, but it's another resource to look into

Maybe sometime, I'll go into some of the things I've learned regarding screen work, but in the meantime...

Have anything else you'd like to add? Give us your tips and insider info in the comments!

* Like, seriously. Part of me feels like I don't have any right to be giving others advice. But others helped me on my journey, so I want to pay that forward. 

Thursday, November 5, 2015

What I've Learned About Acting in Salt Lake City, Part 2: The Theatre Scene

Welcome! This is Part 2 of a 3-part series! Part 1: Getting Serious, Part 2: The Theatre Scene, and Part 3: The Television & Film Scene

DISCLAIMER: I'm still fairly new here! My info is limited to my own experience. There are plenty of other actors out there who will have different advice and different insights. I am not any kind of resident expert--just sharing what I know.* So ask around--lots of other folks ARE resident experts. 

Here's the big pro: There are TONS of theaters out here! Mormons love the arts, and there are dozens of community theaters and a hearty handful of professional theaters.

Here's the big con: There may be tons of theaters out here, but everyone who works at them knows each other. It's one big incestuous theatre family. BYU has a huge musical theatre program and a huge acting program, and UVU's theatre department is INCREDIBLE. And the teachers from those programs also direct at several of the theaters. And most of the directors direct at multiple theatres. So it can be kinda tough to "break in" as a new face. (I seriously just got lucky with "Damn Yankees.") Persistence will be necessary.

And here's something that's either a pro or a con, depending on you: There's a BIG emphasis on musicals. There definitely is interesting, push-the-envelope, amazing theatre going on, but it's generally a little smaller, and doesn't always pay quite as well. So get comfy with musical theatre. (And you may be able to sing, and you may be able to dance, but the people at auditions with you have been doing both, with professional teachers, for 15-30 hours per week, for YEARS. So either get hella good, or get hella good at selling whatever you've got.)

So here's what I'd recommend:

1. Build your audition repertoire. Buy a binder and fill it with sheet music of songs you know, and make 16-32 bar cuttings of them. Bring it to auditions. Have a handful of monologues memorized or handy (30 seconds - 1 minute, both comedic and dramatic.) Practice often. Build variety. Know your strengths and play to them.

2. Get audition coaching. Starting with my "Oklahoma" audition, I've been going to Audition Advantage in Bountiful, and IT'S SO AWESOME. Erin, Jean (spelling? Sorry!), and Anne are all amazing. They can help you find a song, give you inside info about the production team and what they'll be looking for, coach you on the acting and singing, help you cut your music, help you pick an outfit, RECORD A REHEARSAL TRACK. I love it. No matter how good you are, it's always helpful to have fresh eyes. When I went there with my audition song for "Oklahoma," I was thinking I don't know what else these ladies can do for me. But Erin helped me break down the song and fill in the gaps, and I don't think I would have been called back without her guidance. It runs about $60/hour, but they'll also pro-rate that if you take less time. More info here.

Three frequently asked questions:

1. How do you format your resume?
For a long time, I approached that question like a graphic designer, and made GORGEOUS resumes. But in the acting world, straight-forward is actually best. Times New Roman, Helvetica, or similarly familiar font, no big graphics or flashy colors. You can see my current resume here. Print out a dozen copies, 8x10, ready to go so you don't have to worry about it on your next audition.

2. Should you join Equity? 
That's up to you. There are pros and cons, and it takes some research, but for most people, the answer is "no." Not unless you are living in New York and acting full-time. Because there just aren't enough Equity theatres in Salt Lake, and if you're Equity, you can't always work at non-Equity theatres. Joining a union always includes this dichotomy: You'll get less work, but it will probably be better paid work.

3. How do you find out about auditions? 
Most theaters will post their audition info online. You can also follow a handful of Facebook Pages to see audition notices (Audition Advantage is a big one, along with Theatre People of Utah Valley.)

Finally, here's a little info on some of the big theaters around here. (There are SO MANY theatres, you guys. I'm just listing the ones I've heard the most about or worked with personally.) Each of them hold regular auditions...the best thing is to keep checking back on their websites (some also have an email list that will notify you of upcoming auditions). If you're OCD like me, you can even make an organized list of these auditions.

Pioneer Theatre
Salt Lake City
Professional LORT venue. They hold auditions in New York and Salt Lake. They rehearse during the day for 2-3 weeks and shows run for about 4 weeks. Paid (equity rates). Audition info here.

Hale Centre Theatre
West Valley (close to Salt Lake)
Hub of musical theatre and comedies! (Think family-style theatre.) Very professional--take good care of their cast and crew. Shows are almost always double-cast. Rehearse for 6-8 weeks in the evenings, shows run 4-8 weeks. Paid ($15 per rehearsal, $25-$65 per show). Audition info here.

Hale Center Theatre Orem
Orem (close to Provo)
The smaller, more intimate cousin of the Hale in West Valley. Same details as above, but pay is a little lower ($15-35 per show). Audition info here (click on the side link that says "Auditions).

Egyptian Theatre
Park City (about 40 minutes east of Salt Lake)
Serves as both a venue for concerts, stand up, recitals, and films, and occasionally produces shows. Rehearsals and run times vary. Occasionally paid. Audition info here.

Grassroots Shakespeare Company
Orem (close to Provo)
Founded and run by a few college-aged enthusiasts, they take an awesome sort of "punk" approach to Shakespeare. Or an "Elizabethean" approach, depending on how you look at it. Just like in Shakespearean times, actors rehearse very little, bring their own costumes and props, and perform in an outdoor space. A few of their past productions include a production of "Titus Andronicus" with a "splatter zone" audience area, and a production of "The Little Mermaid," told through verses of Shakespeare's plays and sonnets. Minimal rehearsal, shows run 3-6 weeks, with occasional exceptions. Also produces 3 plays as part of its touring company. Unpaid. Audition info here.

Salt Lake Acting Company (SLAC)
Salt Lake City
Home of some of Utah's "edgier" theatre. They do everything from musicals to comedies to dramas, as well as develop new plays. They also do a yearly show called "Saturday's Voyeur" (har har), which is an irreverent satire of current events, focusing on local culture. Rehearsals vary. Shows run 4-6 weeks. Often paid, but rates vary, and sometimes unpaid. Audition info here.

Utah Repertory Theatre
Salt Lake City
A tamer cousin of SLAC. They also produce musicals and straight plays. They provide detailed content advisories for their shows, but will still do theatre that wouldn't work at places like the Hales. Rehearsal schedules vary, but generally evenings for about 6 weeks. Shows run 2-3 weeks. Occasionally paid (rates vary, usually not more than a few hundred dollars). Audition info here.

Centerpoint Legacy Theatre
Centerville (about 30 minutes north of Salt Lake City)
Big fancy theatre that does lots of professional shows. Their season usually features similar fare to the Hales (family-oriented musicals and comedies). Rehearses in the evenings for 6-8 weeks, shows run 4-6 weeks. Unpaid. Audition info here.

Orem (close to Provo)
This venue is both a movie theatre and a live theatre. They have both an indoor space and an outdoor space. They have a big focus on education, so they do a lot of theatre for young audiences. Generally rehearses in the evenings. Shows run 2-6 weeks. Unpaid. Audition info here.

Utah Shakespeare Festival
Cedar City (about 3 1/2 hours south of Salt Lake City)
Summer-stock theatre, repertory style. Auditions are held in late summer/early fall for the next year's season. Full-time summer work. Paid. Audition info here.

The Grand Theatre
Salt Lake City
Focuses on musicals. Rehearsals run evenings, about 6 weeks. Shows run 3-4 weeks. Paid. Audition info here.

Desert Star Playhouse
Murray (10 minutes south of Salt Lake City)
Dinner theatre that does locally-focused parodies of well-known works (stuff with titles like "Star Wards" and "Murder on the Frontrunner Express"). Open auditions are held seasonally. Shows are usually double-cast and run for about 3 months. Paid. Audition info here.

PYGmalion Theatre Company
Salt Lake City
Theatre focused on women and women's stories! They put a big focus on original works, but also do well-known plays as well. Shows are usually cast for the entire season during one audition process. Paid (around $1000). Audition info here.

The Echo Theatre
Small community theatre--actors usually assist with costuming, set construction, etc. A great place to work and create collaboratively. Rehearsals run in the evenings, usually about 6 weeks, and shows run 3-6 nights a week for about 2-4 weeks. Also runs short play festivals. Unpaid. Audition info here.


Have anything else you'd like to add? Give us your tips and insider info in the comments!

* Like, seriously. Part of me feels like I don't have any right to be giving others advice. But others helped me on my journey, so I want to pay that forward.