Saturday, March 26, 2016

Playing With Fire (And Winning)

Writing comes to me in phases. And I think it's a sort of feedback loop, too...the more I write, the more I want to write, and the more I want to write, the more I write, etc. And I just haven't been writing as much, so this blog has been quiet. But I'm aiming to change that.

(Although I don't know why I'm blogging right now. I'm having one of those times when my brain is struggling with sentences. This happens to me now and then, when I'm very tired. I just can't quite get English to work right. But f*** it, Ima publish this anyway.)

Anyway, I'm playing Bertha in "Jane Eyre" at HCTO (among other roles), and it's hard. And awesome. And hard. Only because it's hard to go to that crazy place. It's kinda scary. (For those unfamiliar with the story of Jane Eyre, Bertha is mentally insane.)

When I'm in my deepest phases of anxiety, one of my biggest fears is that I'll go crazy. In my early twenties, during the very worst times of panic attacks, I sometimes wished I would go crazy, just to escape my fear of it. I figured that if I was completely out of touch with reality, nothing could scare me. Years ago, during one of my worst anxiety episodes, I read a short story called "The Yellow Wallpaper" for a class, and it messed me up for YEARS. Now that I'm in a better place emotionally, I can appreciate the story for its literary merits, although it still sends shivers up my spine. I re-read it in preparation for playing Bertha. (I also sent a copy to my double, who was equal parts disturbed and appreciative.)

The awesome news is that the wig I'll be wearing is EXACTLY, PERFECTLY what I had envisioned. It's long and black and sort of tangly and big. It's perfect. After getting the wig, I've started wearing a long scarf in rehearsal as a sort of "stand in wig"...something to play with in character. Man, I'm excited to show you guys. Seeing myself in that wig made me feel way more connected to Bertha than I had been, but I was still a little scared.

Then, this week, we blocked a scene with Bertha in it. And it's the last scene we've blocked with Bertha in it. And I feel like I FOUND Bertha in that scene. I felt better about my work in that scene than I did in any of the others, even though in that scene I was the CRAZIEST. Violent and out of touch and sad.

And I think it's because I just allowed myself to just go there. To just go for it, without worrying about what other people will think, or even what I thought. It was sort of the equivalent of jumping into the water when you know it's freezing. You just gotta do it. You just gotta rip off the band-aid. I didn't give myself time to think or be scared. And it was a BLAST. I loved rehearsing that scene. I can't wait to do it again.

Now, of course, I'm trying to figure out how to bring THAT Bertha into the other scenes. There's one in particular that I'm struggling with--partly because I'm having trouble with the direction I've been given...I'm just not able to motivate it very well. I think I can make it work; I just have to sit down with the underscoring and figure it out.

It was a cool little acting lesson for me. Here's what I learned: I was scared to go to that crazy place because it's a place that I'm afraid actually resides in me. And I felt sure that if I reveal it, everyone would quietly turn around and abandon me, because who could ever love someone with something so scary and dark and mad within them? But for all my preaching about the empowering nature of vulnerability, I wasn't very good at it. I saw during that one rehearsal how safe the world of theatre actually can be. I faced that demon and it shrunk. I'm still kinda scared...I think I always will be. Both of being judged (either for the dark craziness or for the crappy acting), and of not being able to get out of that crazy space.

But I proved to myself this week that A) no one is judging me nearly as harshly as I think they are, and B) I can go to that crazy space and totally come back out again. Not only that, but it's THRILLING to do so. And bizarrely, a lot of fun. There's something liberating in just pacing like an animal and trying to scratch faces and being dragged away to a chair with shackles. Man, I love acting.

So go for it, you guys. My fellow actors, just commit. It might be way more fun than you realized.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Three books, two bags, one me

Jacob and I just got back from a whirlwind trip to New York City, and I'm going to write about it.

So, both Jacob and my brother-in-law Dave made it to final callbacks at The New School. And I was free, so I decided to tag along and splurge on a few shows while I was there. We took the red-eye on Friday night, arriving Saturday morning, and then left again on Monday. So it was a SUPER SHORT trip, but we managed to pack some good times in there.


1. Winning the lottery for Hamilton, even though we entered like, 3 times.
2. Running into Daniel Radcliffe and becoming friends with him, in a platonic "meet-cute" sort of situation. (Before we left Utah, I told Jacob that I had a daydream about this, and he replied, "You've had that daydream every time we've gone to New York." Which is true.)
3. Me opening Snapchat and singing "History is happenin' in Manhattan and we just happen to be in the greatest city in the world!" while wandering Manhattan. Even though I was tempted. Like, every 15 seconds that I was in Manhattan.


Here it is in verbal form.

1. Jacob and I stayed with our friends, Sean and Danielle, whom we know from Rexburg. They recently moved to New York and we spent hours picking Danielle's brain about the acting work she's been doing.
2. Danielle and I got catcalled by a guy in a bagel costume. The catcalling thing would usually annoy me, but the addition of the bagel costume made the entire thing so ridiculous that I had to just laugh at it.
3. We were also able to run around with friends Omar (who was there doing acting career research) and Jeff (who lives there). Good times were had in the Drama Bookshop and Shake Shack.
4. Jacob and Dave did callbacks, which culminated in a  24-hour play festival, which I got to watch.
5. Saw an SLC friend Ben's one-man show, "The BYU/Berkley Plot."
6. Saw two Broadway shows, which I'll devote separate paragraphs to.
7. Wandered the Met by myself for a few hours.
8. Had this bizarre encounter while waiting in line for a play...

People behind me in line: "I think that show's closed. It's in Salt Lake now. Is it? I can't remember."
Me: "It is. I'm from Salt Lake."
People behind me in line: "No kidding! We are too!"
Me: "No way!"
People behind me in line: "So where in Salt Lake do you live?"
Me: "In South Salt Lake, near --- South and --- East. How about you?"
People behind me in line: "Whoa. We live at [names an address roughly two blocks away from our apartment]."

Of the 9 million people in New York City, we bumped into each other. The universe is bizarre, man.

And if you don't follow me on snapchat (@lizannechapman), here's the trip in snapchat story form.

And here's a brief, geeky drama kid earful about the two Broadway shows I got to see.

I just re-read this book for my YA Lit class, so I was especially excited to see it adapted for the stage. And boy, was it adapted for the stage. The National Theatre just knows how to utilize THEATRE to tell a story. There are things you can do in theatre that you can't do in any other medium. And you guys. The sound design. The set design. The costumes. The concepts. THEATRE IS SO FRICKIN' MAGICAL. The show won Tony's this past year for Best Play, Best Direction, and Best Lighting Design, Best Scenic Design. It was nominated for Choreography, even though it wasn't a musical. Alex Sharp won Best Actor for his portrayal of Christopher. I saw his replacement, Tyler Lea, who was perfect and sympathetic and charming and wonderful and honest. I was so impressed by his work. 

Here are two clips, showing some highlights of the show. There aren't any good (legal) clips of specific scenes, just because the nature of the adaptation doesn't really separate the plot into tidy "scenes." Things transition pretty quickly. But these still give a good glimpse of the show.


I was debating between seeing Fun Home and Something Rotten for my last show. But I finally decided that Curious Incident was a thought-provoking, moving piece of theatre, and that I should end my trip with a "big and shiny, mighty fine-y, glitter-glitz-and-chorus-line-y, bob-your-head-and-shake-your-hiney musical." So "Something Rotten" it was. And it was perfect.

First of all, Christian Borle. You know, the guy who won a Tony for playing Shakespeare in "Something Rotten"? Who won another Tony for the role of Black Stache in "Peter and the Starcatcher"? Who played various roles in the original cast of "Spamalot," including the Historian and Prince Herbert?

Yeah, him.

I got to see him. And he was totally deserving of that Tony Award.

The show was funny and dazzling and charming. There weren't any deep, dramatic messages, but there was joy and talent, and it gave me a song to sing for when I'm blue.

Here are a handful of clips from "Something Rotten." There are a few more of these, just because the show lends itself better to performances of certain numbers.

"It's Hard to Be the Bard" at the White House

"A Musical" at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

Mashup of "God I Hate Shakespeare" and "Will Power" from The Today Show

Jacob and I have no idea if New York is in our near future. He went to grad school auditions at several different schools around the country, and who knows what the results will be. And it could be that we decide to just stick around Salt Lake for a while after all.

But I left New York filled with the reminder that no matter where my life and career take me, I'll always always always adore theatre. My heart is just there, and I can't imagine that I'll ever be truly at home anywhere else. I belong to the theatre, undeniably and unavoidably. It was good for my soul to remember that.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Before I blog about NYC...

I wanted to announce that I now have a Patreon page!

If you've never heard of Patreon, it's awesome. It's the best way for artists, writers, filmmakers, etc to make money with their work. Patreon is a pledge system..."patreons" (or patrons) find work that sounds interesting to them, and pledge so much per month or per work. Artists get to avoid working with advertisers, and patrons support art directly, and it's awesome. And usually, as a thank you, artists give special rewards/benefits to Patreon supporters.

So if you'd like to get an exclusive blog entry from me once per month, feel free to pledge! Click on the button on the right, or here.


(And I really am gonna blog about NYC. Stay tuned.)

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Dear Diary

Well, it's been a while since I last wrote. I was gonna blog about Donald Drumpf at some point, but what more can I say than what has already been said? Thanks, John Oliver. I'm too tired to write at length about politics. I'm writing at length about writing, nowadays.

My MFA is going well. I kind of wish I had taken 3 classes instead of 2...I'll probably do that after these semesters are done. I'm taking poetry and screenwriting next semester--woo hoo!

I recently blogged about all the awesome stuff I have to look forward to. I've accomplished a few of them, and added a few more items. Disneyland was AMAZING. We rode Indiana Jones as a family 3 times, and all 3 times, Beckah got to be the driver. (Which meant that I spent most of the ride yelling at her to find the lights, step on the gas, and "get us outta here!" Apologies to our fellow riders, who didn't realize they were getting drama kids in their group.)We also introduced Beckah to Space Mountain, which she'd never been on. At the end of the ride, we all turned around to ask her what she thought, and she just looked at us and unsmilingly shook her head. Happy birthday, Beckah! Other highlights included watching a fireworks show from Main Street, almost crying on the Peter Pan ride, and, according to my FitBit, walking 57,342 steps in two days. (Daily average is about 8,000.)

(In line for Indiana Jones. Beckah and I have never looked more like sisters in a picture than we do in this picture. Even though all of us look kind of like cartoons.)

The trip to Rexburg last weekend was lovely, and I was reminded (again) of how lucky I am to have such amazing in-laws. Think of the best cast you've ever been in, or the best improv team you've been part of, or your best group of friends. Now realize that those people will be your actual family. FOREVER. It's so awesome.

In stuff added to the list of Things To Look Forward To, I don't start rehearsals for Cabaret until June, and I noticed that the Hale Orem was doing Jane Eyre, which closes June 4th, so I auditioned last-minute, and GOT CAST. I get to play THREE roles: mean ole schoolmarm Miss Scatcherd, the aristocratic Mrs. Dent, AND crazy, locked up Bertha Mason. I'm most excited about playing Bertha. And I get to be double cast with Lauren Hughes, one of my favorite fellow actresses.

I don't know what cast I'm in yet, but the show runs April 24th - June 4th! Details to follow. There are some familiar faces in the cast--folks I worked with during Damn Yankees and/or Oklahoma, and I'm excited to get to know them better, and to make new friends as well.

Of course, I don't know the music from this show AT ALL. And I was reminded last night at rehearsal that I suck at sight-reading. I spent twenty minutes tonight trying to plunk out notes on our keyboard. Why are the alto parts of awesome-sounding chords so HARD?

Also, I've been keeping this hush-hush for a while, but Jacob and I have been writing for a Late Nite type show exclusively on youtube, and we're filming the first episodes this Saturday! Well, they are. Jacob and I will be in New York. But our jokes will be spoken. The show is called That Late Show (with Cassidy Hilton) and the guests are all social media stars and it's gonna be awesome. We had a final planning/writing meeting tonight, and man, these people all know what they're doing. They're great comedians and storytellers and entertainers, and I'm just excited to be part of something like this. I'll post links to new episodes when they're uploaded! Aaaaaand if you're in the Salt Lake Area this weekend, go be part of the studio audience! There will be pizza, shirts, hilarity, and other feelings. Check out the Facebook event here.

Oh! And I've been snap-chatting a lot lately. I recently re-downloaded snapchat, and this time around, I'm a huge fan. My stories usually include cute snaps of my nephew, me rapping Hamilton, thoughts from my car about auditions, and other stuff that's interesting enough to share, but not interesting enough to share on Instagram. I hella snapped Disneyland, too, and I'll probably do the same with New York this weekend. Feel free to follow! Username lizannechapman.

Welp. Jacob and I are leaving for New York on a red-eye in less than 24 hours, and I'm starving, and my Kindle is calling my name, and the spot between Jacob's shoulder and jaw is missing my head. (I think that last part was romantic, but I'm not quite sure--it doesn't quite ring the way I wanted it to...the point is I want to cuddle?)

Sleep well, my dearies.