Every Day, a Little Gratitude

I am working. Not only that, but I am working at one of the top theatres in the country, making LORT B (second only to LORT A when it comes to regional theatre) pay, and playing two leading roles. It’s a three month contract which means I will get another six months of health insurance. I am housed. I have a car I share with two other actors. This is the DREAM.

Which means I want to remember this feeling when I go back to NYC. I’m already dreading it… that discomfort of not working, that pain of not auditioning, that hurt of wanting so hard you think you might break.

But right now?

This.

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WARNING: numbers

First: it is very odd to me that neither of the gyms I’ve gone to now in AL have scales in their locker rooms… only ONE scale for the whole gym that’s out in the main area. Plus, it’s an old-fashioned scale. In NYC, you have old fashioned scales, maybe, but there are going to be at least three in a locker room. C’mon. What is this nonsense?

At my wig fitting a couple of days ago my hair person said that I’d lost weight since being here. I felt like it might be true– I eat less when I don’t have a nice boy to ask for desserts. Plus, I’ve been working out pretty regularly. A part of me felt a bit nervous about it– but not TOO nervous. My depression is under control, and I know my triggers. I’m not going off the edge, and I know that, 100%, with a confidence that really makes me feel strong.

Today, as I changed back into my clothes after a costume fitting, I pulled the scale down off the shelf and weighed myself in my show slip and socks.

I weighed the low end of what I usually weigh.

Part of me was disappointed.

COME ON, GIRL. GET IT TOGETHER.

I don’t want to lose weight– at the VERY least, my costumes need to fit for the next two months.

I’m not anxious or freaked out. I’m just always amazed at how ingrained our reactions to numbers are. I think that, at least for me, it has less to do with my ED than the constantly ingrained notion in our society (and my biz in particular) that we should always be losing weight… even if we genuinely don’t need to.

Life is weird.

Starting tech tomorrow. Here. We. Go. http://www.bykennethjones.com/elyzabeth-gregory-wilders-white-lightning-new-play-rum-running-racing-romance-premieres-alabama/

An Attitude of Gratitude

I’ve been in Alabama for about two and a half weeks now. I’ve settled into the apartment: figured out how to work the dishwasher and the heat, which way the door locks, and how to angle the showerhead. I’ve learned all my lines for show #1 and we’ll run through the whole thing off-book for the first time tomorrow morning.

IMG_1812I need to remind myself to take a step back and appreciate how incredibly lucky I am.

  1. I am working at one of the best festivals in the country.
  2. I am the only girl in a cast of five in show #1, and I’m playing a lead in show #2 as well.
  3. I like my castmates.
  4. I’m making good money.
  5. This job could have gone to ANYONE. But it went to me. Can you believe it?

I started this blog so long ago, it’s insane. I started it before I had an agent. Before I had my AEA card. Before I had gotten a single job worth bragging about. I was single. I was sick. I was unhappy and struggling and anxious and alone.

And now, look how far I’ve come.

Life is funny like that, and being in my industry reminds me of it all the time. Hard work is part of it, of course– beating my eating disorder was probably the hardest things I’ve ever done, and god knows I wouldn’t be working right now if I hadn’t worked REALLY hard to get the auditions in the first place and then nail the auditions later on– but a whole lot of it comes down to luck, or the way circumstances shift. I used to believe that people “deserved” things, but now I’m not so sure. I think everyone deserves everything– we just don’t always get those things. If everyone got what they deserved, there would be nothing left. We are all just pioneers, trudging forward on a path with a vague idea that we’re headed in the right direction.

So. Alabama.

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My days generally hold the same shape. I get up around 7:30am. Most mornings, I meet M (my costar, who is my age), and we go to the gym. We work out until about 8:45, when we come back to the apartments. I turn on the coffeemaker and hop in the shower. Often I have to be at rehearsal at 10am, but I’m not in every scenes so many times my call is later. I eat a smoothie with peanut butter and oats. I pack an apple for a snack. I walk to rehearsal, through the apartment parking lot, under a small arbor, down the road between the park and the parking lot, and to the rehearsal room, punching in my code to get in the back door.

Rehearsal is slow, occasionally frustrating, but generally fine. I trust my fellow actors (well, I only have scenes with M) and I enjoy being around them, though the director is kind of a weird dude. I have issues with the play, but I know it’s going to be very well-received. Sometimes, that’s enough.

IMG_1825We get out for lunch at 1pm, and if one of us drove the car over (I share a car with M and our fellow costar L), we carpool back. I usually eat, watch some TV, and go over my lines. Nothing too rigorous. We’re back in rehearsal at 2:30 and work till 6:30 or 7pm, depending on the day. We drive back together to the apartments. Most nights, I come home, feel lonely, and eat dinner solo. My brain hurts at the end of the day, so I rarely want to work, even when I know I should. Sometimes I go out with M, like last night, when we went to a Mexican restaurant. We get along well, though we’re quite different. The more we get to know one another, the more fun we can have onstage.

I’ve never had issues with romantic scenes (even when I’m not a huge fan of my costar, I can suck it up and kiss ’em like nobody’s business), but there’s always a negotiation. You want to be the best possible partner for your partner, which means everything from making sure your teeth are brushed to pushing through to the intimacy early (especially as the woman, because men tend to get nervous that they’re doing too much too soon– I like to take charge to ease the tension and show it’s okay to touch/kiss/whatever in a scene).

I go to bed around 10:30/11pm.

We open this first show in early March (I can’t even remember) and I’m excited. And I am SO, SO lucky. Who knew this would be my reality.

xo,
B

There are the stars–doing their old, old crisscross journeys in the sky. Scholars haven’t settled the matter yet, but they seem to think there are no living beings out there. Just chalk… or fire. Only this one is straining away, straining away all the time to make something of itself. Strain’s so bad that every sixteen hours everybody lies down and gets a rest.

–Thornton Wilder, Our Town

#Blessed

I’m not working right now.

Well, not working “in my chosen field.” I still spend long hours at the computer, attempting to put together lessons and exam questions and nonsense I am highly unqualified for. Which is still 1000x better than working in a restaurant.

Fall is supposed to feel hopeful. I’m supposed to feel refreshed. I’m supposed to be breathing fresh, crisp air and not continuing to roll through life unshowered and apathetic. My friend runs cabarets for kid Broadway performers. There are constantly pictures of her events with them. Kids join and leave shows more often than adults (they grow, they age, they get tired because they are still CHILDREN) and it constantly seems as though a small child is weeping about making their Broadway debut. This is actually from one’s Instagram (bolding mine):

I am so incredibly excited to FINALLY be able to announce some awesome news!!! I am both thrilled and honored to be joining the cast of Fun Home on Broadway- making my Broadway debut!!!!!! I am going to be the newest#superswing, learning the roles of Small Alison, Christian, and John! This new journey has only just begun and everyone is already so kind and supportive and I can’t say thank you enough!! I have always imagined myself being able to step out onto that stage as Al, it really goes to show that with dedication and hard work- dreams can come trueeee!!!#funhomemusical#funhome#funhomebroadway#broadway#honored#YAAAAAYY#okimfreakingoutalittlebit#justkiddingimfreakingoutalot!!!!

Yes, sweet wee eleven year old. Hard work.

Like being born in the tristate area.

Like being able to afford to take classes.

Like having a mom to drive you to auditions.

Not that I begrudge any children that. While some child actors are irritating, others (like the girl this one is replacing) are sweet and down-to-earth. I can only speak from my world.

And in my world, hard work don’t make dreams come true. It helps, but you also need relentless ambition, a willingness to make yourself very uncomfortable, the ability to be told “no” constantly and yet still be willing to keep going (in other words, being a masochist), and a really fucking enormous scoopful of luck. ENORMOUS. SCOOPFUL.

I know I always get like this when I’m not working. I try to keep a bright attitude in life, because how else do you make it through?

But here, I can break. Here I can whine. Here I can feel stuck and angry and lost and bitter and JEALOUS OF AN 11 YEAR OLD. That’s where I am today.

Every day is grapefruit day.

Today I close another show. This is how this career is… you’re deep in it, totally invested, your whole day leads up to those few hours at the theatre…

And then suddenly it’s over, and you’re unemployed, and you may never seen your castmates, who have become your family, again, or at least for a long while.

It’s a somber moment, and I’m feeling a bit somber today.

Last night, I went up on an entire speech– I froze onstage and literally couldn’t form words; didn’t know where I was– and it really shook me. It was fine, but awful. I forgive myself, because it wasn’t my fault– I know the speech front and back, I was focused and paying attention– I just short-circuited.

That, compounded with the closing of the show, is making today tough. The rain doesn’t help (thanks NYC).

This was so wonderful.

  • We were a New York Times Critics Pick.
  • We got amazing reviews (my work was mentioned)
  • My parents got to see it
  • I got to do Shakespeare!
  • I made some amazing friends and met some remarkable people
  • I got to work off-Broadway, which is a gift in and of itself.

But more is to come, I know. Including a weeklong vacation in July.

And really, you can’t top what we did at the end of our performance on Friday, June 26. The day was already so joyous. Then we did this, and it was the best curtain call ever:

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Bad Career Week

In this biz, nothing’s ever certain. Sometimes a tiny little trigger (say, a part you didn’t get or a comment that irks) can send you into a hopeless place. Sound familiar, ED survivors?

So, for NEDAwareness week, I’m going to write down these beautiful things that some beautiful people I know wrote on my Facebook a few months ago. Remind me to come back and look, ‘kay?

My post:

EXPERIMENT.
I’m going through a major life change at the moment (moving, job hunting, closing a great show outside the city) and need a little encouragement, I think.

What’s the most useful thing you’ve ever been told? About the “biz,” about life, about “work,” about who to send postcards to… literally anything. It’ll be embarrassing if no one contributes so… like… don’t embarrass me.

Also will be planning a MAJOR clothing swap in October. Gird your loins.

CIARA: “A professional writer is an amateur writer who didn’t give up.”

MARK: “Well all I can think of is a Maguire acting class. So f…. Or fight. You know But in other words. I’m so happy about your show, wish I could see it, when you’re back I’d love to have a check in. I am SURE you’ll find an amazing apartment and more amazing work.

JESSIE: “Be gentle with yourself. Probably the best advice I’ve ever been given… for any situation.

MORGAN: As in acting..focus on and ride the manifestation and energy of the verb, not the construct of the nouns.”

MISSY: “Sh*t or get off the pot.”

TIFFANY: “Our clothing swap will be in October too! Come to ours. That’s my advice. Also wine.”

TIFFANY (another one): “No one can make you feel insignificant without your permission.

RACHEL: “everything happens for a reason.”

BEATRIZ: “Every time you see your reflection smile back at it.

KELVEEN: “It’s just life.”

CHRISTINE: “In life you will regret the things you didn’t do, not the the things you did.

LINA: “Want what you have and give what you need.

MARK (another one): “Make up where you want to be: A place, a life, a challenge, a goal… Use your imagination to flesh it all out in your mind’s eye (helps to write it out) Then … take an immense leap of faith.. And put yourself in a brand new locale — With no net. Live out loud. Be yourself. Trust in Life.

JORDANA: “Just read this and man I dig it: Everything is an opportunity to get to know ourselves better. Truly. Life is about our relationship to it if nothing else. Everything comes and everything goes. There will be fear, doubt, pain, fame, fortune, love, loss, learning, languishing, loathing, wondering, wandering, finding, founding, forming, feuding and overcoming. But how we experience each of these facets of being human depends on how we are relating to them.

CARLA: “I think Jordana nailed it for the rest of us. Hugs!”

HANNAH: “When I first moved to New York and was struggling so desperately to make sense of my life, my father always told me “fall in love with the woman you’re becoming and be proud” It didn’t seem like much then, and honestly I was kinda irritated he didn’t offer something I thought would be more useful. But to this day, every time I try something new, its with the intention to fall in love with the woman I’m becoming and to make myself proud. Maybe this will only mean something to me as it came from my daddy with Spock-like emotions but there it is.”

ANDREW: “Agents don’t matter.”

SUMMER: “Sometimes the biggest hurdles, or the things that are forced upon you via an unexpected change, are actually the catalysts for the most growth that would not have happened if you had stayed in your comfort zone. Literally, the year that my part-time side job — the one that gave me the knowledge that I would always have just enough money to pay my bills — went away, was the same year my acting income tripled and things really began to take off for me and my company. Now, was it scary? Yes. Absolutely. And there were sleepless nights, (sometimes there STILL are — and there always will be I think, because we are constantly challenging ourselves — never to get too comfortable) but I have learned to embrace the shifting tides, and have much more fun riding the unknown waves. You are a massive talent my darling. Truly. It is all going to come together for you, but you have to grab the slippery handles that are this business and hold on for the unknown …. ps: I love you.

MICHAEL: “Longevity in a career means that you endure the shitty times as they come, and remember and use them when opportunity arises.

MORGAN (another one): Whatever happens, when you’re an artist you have better funner friends than everybody else.

DAVID: “It’s not called show-art, it’s called show-business”. An actor’s job is to get the next job. Network, audition, take classes–always do one thing every day that keeps you in touch with being an artist.

JEFF: “As I was sweeping our garage floor, and doing a pretty poor job of it too boot, my dad told me something I’ve never forgotten. “Do every job as though you were the President, because someone is always watching you.” As I type this, it now sounds a bit eerie, but the advice has always stuck…even though I’ve given up dreams of the Oval Office!

ANNIE: “Breathe. Always ask for help. Always keep laughing–particularly when you are having a trying time– when you are hungry, for food AND for creative action, say yes to everything, and IN everything you do. But also remember that you can say NO too, if you instead need to go home and see your mom and dad or go to a movie with your sweetheart, or don’t want to play a playboy bunny who gets assaulted by frat boys. Cultivate joy and peace in all ways, and the highs and the lows of the career seem less Himalayan– but always always ask for help and community, just like you have here! XOXOXO

DAVID (another one): “hang in til you can’t hang in anymore – then stay a little longer.

MORGAN (from before): “Also, go see Annie in Illusions, because it is amazing and rejuvenating to see good theater, always. And hard to find.”

LINDSAY: “No matter what are doing, strive to be the best you can at it. When you get your morning coffee, be the best customer you can be. When you audition, be the best actor you can be. And when you go to your serving job, be the best server there is. If you let your inner light shine, you are unstoppable. Nothing happens by chance, so embrace the challenges. They are a stepping stone to your next success.

FARISO: “You have to do it yourself.”

IRIS: “ set a goal and then release how you will achieve it and then also tell me when you’re clothes swapping, cause honey- ME TOO!

KEVIN: “close your eyes, breathe and give yourself a big bear hug.”

DANIEL: “Two pieces of useful info. 1. No one is coming – i.e. what Fariso notes above is true. You have to be the one to get yourself through any challenge and when you do you will be glad of it. 2. There is a great mystery behind all that is material. Take time to cultivate your attention to larger patterns and questions that emerge as you walk through your life. They will give you clues/signals about the ways forward when things seem to be their most challenging.

TONI: “Be yourself. Always.”

DAVID (another one): “live each day one at a time.”

KATHERINE: “I recently chatted with someone who’s successful in TV and he said that the business can seem so huge and overwhelming, but the key is to make it small: to cultivate people and projects that speak to you and go for those; to create a village of people that you know and trust.

LEAF: “That the universe holds us no matter what and if in the midst of our busyness if we stand still long enough what calls to us will reach our ears.

SAJEEV: “Stay in the present. 🙂 Hope that’s useful.”

JAY: “Your future is determined by every decision you make. Decide wisely.

DAVID (again): “…every decision you make” or decide not to make. Kinda like voting.

HALEIGH: “Keep it simple. – we get tide up in emotions and what we think we should do etc. Just keep it simple.

Wanting It

Acting is a weird business.

You’re not supposed to want anything. WANTING fucks you over.

I want something right now. A part. Even talking about wanting it makes me feel really jinx-y. But I also feel like pretending I don’t want it is actually impossible right now.

The closer I get to the part, the more I want it.

The fewer auditions I have, the more I want to book them.

COMPLICATED.