04 May, 2016

'Secrets of Adulthood' - Part 2

6. Use 100% of what you have TODAY.

In The Four Agreements, Miguel Ruiz tells us to “always do y/our best.”

“Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.”


7. You can’t change anyone other than yourself
Ever.


8. THERE are no victims, only volunteers.

You have to be okay with not being a victim. There are a lot of benefits to never getting your shit together and feeling sorry for yourself and your lot into infinity.

First of all, you get to be right all the time because ‘poor you.’ Next, you get heaps of attention. Then, add a heaping scoop or two of never having to take any risks because you’re such a sad sack, plus ignoring the sometimes super-annoying responsibility of truly dealing with your own life. What a drag. Maybe being a victim and ignoring reality, having your friends pay for lunch, and your parents do your laundry ’til you’re 40 is just like, ya know: better.

I jest of course, but these benefits aren’t really all that laughable— many people set up camp inside these benefits for weeks, months, decades at a time because, frankly, it is nice to not ever pay for lunch— not to mention taking responsibility for your existence is really hard work! Victim benefits aside, there are even more positive results if one chooses the other route. Acknowledge that you are benefiting from the victim mentality, reject its rogue benefits, and move forward like a grown-ass person.

Remember: it is not about what happens to you, but what you choose to DO WITH what happens to you that truly defines who you are.

So what are the alternatives?
I recommend
     radical self awareness
     tons of gratitude
     outward-focused goals and concerns
     and a life full of forgiveness.


Which brings me to:


9. Forgiveness sets YOU free

    “When you hold resentment toward another, you are bound to that person or condition by an emotional link that is stronger than steel. Forgiveness is the only way to dissolve that link and get free.” —Catherine Ponder

It’s easy to get wrapped up in thinking that forgiveness is just about something you “should do.”
But forgiving is a gift you gift yourself.

An ‘unforgiveness’ lingers like a nasty wound—you are linked to the Unforgiven; your thoughts will return to the person who wronged you over and over again. The emotional link between the two of you is so potent, and continues to inflict suffering in you and (as a result of your inner turmoil) most often, in other people around you too.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu says:
"To forgive is not just to be altruistic.  It is the best form if self-interest.  It is also a process that does not exclude hatred and anger.  These emotions are all part of being human.  You should never hate yourself for hating others who do terrible things:  The depth of your love is shown by the extent of your anger.
However, when I talk of forgiveness, I mean the belief that you can come out the other side a better person.  A better person than one being consumed by anger and hatred.  Remaining in that state locks you in a state of victimhood, making you almost dependent on the perpetrator.  If you can find it in yourself to forgive, then you are no longer chained to the perpetrator.  You can move on, and you can even help the perpetrator to become a better person, too.”

When you forgive you do not only release the other person, you set yourself free too from agony; it is not forgetting, or dismissing accountability, or condoning a hurtful act; it’s the process of taking back our lives so we can move forward and truly live. 


10. Don’t wash wool.
Just … just trust me.

03 May, 2016

May 3, 2016

This morning I celebrated the Fiddler on the Roof Tony Award nominations with my students at Pace School of Performing Arts.

What a joy.

I could not be more honored or feel more privileged to be ANY part of the Broadway community—to recognize the present, and all it offers in this incredibly landmark season.

But what will always linger in my memory for years to come...?

The simple fact that it was actually a greater joy to be in the presence of the future of our art form, hard at work with them on a day we didn't even officially have class. 

On this "study day" we all agreed to meet anyway—that is how driven we all were to grow together... 

Sometimes people lament the future of "The Industry," but I have peered into the time capsule of the future, and let me tell you: if my babies in that room today are any indication?

The future is bright indeed.


02 May, 2016

In My Life: The Original "Babies"

My original babies (my "Origies") are Seniors in college.
As of today they are out in the big bad world as real-life human actors and people-to-be.

I love them I love them I love them.
And I'm so proud to have been any part of their journey.


Pace University Musical Theatre Class of 2016
New York, NY
©2013
 

18 April, 2016

from 'In the Shadows,' Sonnet 1 by David Gray

If it must be if it must be O God!
     That I die young and make no further moans 
That underneath the unrespective sod 
     In unescutcheoned privacy my bones 
Shall crumble soon then give me strength to bear 
     The last convulsive throe of too sweet breath!
tremble from the edge of life to dare 
     The dark and fatal leap having no faith 
No glorious yearning for the Apocalypse 
     But like a child that in the night time cries 
For light I cry forgetting the eclipse 
     Of knowledge and our human destinies 
O peevish and uncertain soul! obey 
The law of life in patience till the Day.

© hula seventy

12 March, 2016

Ask Al: Keep it Up!

Hey Al,

I was the 'Tzeitel' that emailed you a while back. I had a really hard time getting the tempo right on my 'Matchmaker' solo. My director decided to give half of it to Shprintze about three weeks ago and now on opening night she is trying to give her the rest of it... What do you do when you struggle with a song so much? How do you handle knowing that you are disappointing your director on opening night? I just worry about being able to do this as a career if my first time as a lead role is ruined.

Thank you, 

Tabitha

 *

Dearest Tabitha,

Hey girl. Well you know what? Ouch. No way around it: that legitimately stinks. You are allowed—I give you a hall pass AND a permission slip to be sad and hurt about this. It is a painful, icky thing that you will have to endure and get through. But you WILL. Because you are a person of character and dignity and you are going to choose to use this experience to grow, rather than to wilt!
Right? OF COURSE RIGHT!

But how? I know I know, that part is hard.
Your ego has taken a beating and you don't know how to proceed.
Never fear, AlSilbs is here.

1. HELP IS ON THE WAY! 
The good news is – you reached out for help and look! You’re getting some! Asking for guidance from a select handful of people you trust is not weak or “silly—“ it is responsible and brave.

My father always told me that the surest path to ignorance was PRETENDING to know— by asking, sure you risk not looking like an expert for 3 seconds, but then, when the question is answered? YOU ACTUALLY KNOW THE ANSWER. Don’t go polling every acquaintance’s grandmother, or random sage on the subway, but have confidence that asking appropriate people for advice, guidance, and assistance is part of being a responsible adult human who has a modicum of self respect.

As I’ve told you before: JUST ASK. And you did— good job.


 2. Career-Scmha-reer 
You are probably writing to me because of an interest in theatre. Luckily this part of me was encouraged in my childhood and teens (by mega-supportive parents and mentors and teachers extraordinaire – thank you Nina Machus, Ailie Crockford, David Montee, Robin Ellis, and many many others) and eventually, through a lot of innate ability, skill-honing, research, countless hours of passionate hard work, and a Universe-smashing moment of good fortune in my final year of college, it became a career.

Many MANY others are not so lucky.

But this does not make them less valuable human beings, or less worthy of doing what they love, somewhere, somehow.

Our society has a LOT of MYTHS about creativity and what is and is not “legitimate” and “good enough.” (In fact, Elizabeth Gilbert has written an entire (amazing) book about this subject that you should go buy and read right now). But here's the gist: whether you consider yourself an “artist," a definite "NON-artist," or anything in between—feeding your creative hungers is one of the PRIMARY concerns of our basic humanity thankyouverymuch and it doesn’t matter one solid scrap whether it is the label on your tax return.

If you ask me (and you are), I am a huge believer in, and supporter of, the concept of The LIFE LONG ARTIST. Tabitha? If you don’t become a professional actor, if no one EVER pays you to act, that DOES NOT MEAN YOU ARE NOT AN ACTOR, nor does it mean that you have no value on planet earth. You are still a valuable and a creative human being with lots to offer this  planet of ours.


3. Keep creating. 
Our society is filled with horrible stories of little kids being told by their mean teacher that they sky is BLUE not purple, and their drawing of the Mantigriffopottamus is TERRIBLE—cue the the mournful John Williams soundtrack as the camera zooms in upon that child’s devastated face, indicating that that child is currently vowing never to draw or create a single “weird” or “terrible” thing EVER. AGAIN.

Every child is an artist, the problem is staying an artist when you grow up” – Pablo Picasso 

We all have some kind of story like this. My 8th grade Art teacher told me I wasn’t allowed to do the 'special' art projects/be good at visual art because I “had my singing and my theatre stuff” and that was what I had a right to enjoy and be good at in life ONLY.
Right.
Cool.
Thanks Mrs. Whateveryournamewas.
Ya now, she was probably a very ordinary and perfectly nice lady with her own very real baggage about being an 8th grade art teacher and not a [Insert Thing Mrs. Whatever Thought Was Better HERE]. But she shamed me really thoroughly, and I
     1. Never forgot it
and
     2. Pretty much never legitimately picked up a pen to draw anything in earnest ever again.

Expression of creativity is key to living a contented, passionate, life. You don’t have to have “ARTIST” listed on your tax return to give yourself permission to play the tuba in your living room. Heck: you don’t even have to be ‘GOOD’ at what you love. You simply have to love it. AND? Do it. That’s the biggest key: to just DO. Create.
Make things!
Bake those gluten free cupcakes!
Counter-cross stitch the face of President Garfield!
Blow Gabriel Blow’ that trumpet in your weekend Indie band!
Whatever.
Do something creative in your own way, EVERY. DAY. SUCK at it—suck RULL HARD. Who CARES? What? Are the Creativity Police gonna come and drag you away to Suck-at-Drawing-A-Traz? The point is to to give yourself permission to enjoy the basic human RIGHT of creative flow.

Love your art, take pleasure in getting better at it every time you practice, and ultimately, have fun with it. You can be the best gosh darn [Enter Kick Ass Adult Role Here] EVER, and do plays in your living room, or sing in the garage, or write poems no one ever reads, or teach little kids, or KILL IT as Ado Annie in community theater and LIVE YOUR BEST LIFE. As I’ve said before, success is not about what you do, it is how you FEEL about what you do.


4. “KEEP IT UP”
AKA, Keep your frequency high.

“Keep it UP” is a phrase (and little hand gesture thingy where your hands flutter up toward your face) gifted to me by the great Billy Porter: Tony, Drama Desk, Grammy Award winning actor, musician, artist, and general artistic warrior extraordinaire. This man knows ALL about trying and failing, and trying again. After Carnegie Mellon, Billy spent years (years) making art, writing, teaching, and being generally misunderstood by the industry, rejected over and over again, and then one day? Boom. Kinky Boots. Tony, Grammy, stardom.  And if Billy Porter can wait until he is 46 to get that validation from the world, if Brittany Spears can get through 2007, and if all of us can just get through this 2016 election, well girl, I’m banking on you getting through your college production of Fiddler.
I believe in you. So: KEEP IT UP.

What does this mean? Well, to be very specific, it means AlSilbs is giving you get exactly 48 hours to wallow in your fully-catered self-pity party before you pull up your big girl pants and get a grip.

Ask yourself how you can learn and grow from this difficult situation rather than allowing it to totally torpedo you.
What got hurt: Your pride? Your ego? Your dreams?
How can you truly heal it and make it / yourself stronger?
I'm actually asking. And when you answer, be specific.

If we use bad experiences as hard-core “evidence” of our suck-i-ness, and if we get aaaallllll jealous, comparison-y and meany-pants about our friends and colleagues, well then we are signing ourselves up for a life of misery (and zero lesson learning!)

But! If you USE this situation to be a gracious, grateful human being, I promise you the Universe WILL reward you with showers of rainbow-colored-unicorn blessings. (But seriously.) When we keep our “frequency high” we attract lessons, blessings, goodwill and every possible happiness our way no matter what crap is slung at us. So KEEP IT UP, girl!

Hang out with visionary people.
Read blogs, books and websites about things you are passionate about, and that inspire you.
Read a self-help book (or three) anchored in Truths you dig (recommendations HERE)
Do things that you love (this includes rocking out to Bernadette Peters in the shower)
Engage with people and things that invigorate you
Exercise and Meditate (both)
Laugh yer ass off
Basically? Go to the spiritual gym.

 Finally? Let’s end with a kick ass quote:

"The ego is a living, active individual, and it's life consists in making its individuality real in its own eyes and those of others, and expressing itself, and bringing itself into appearance. For every man, by living, tries to realize himself and does realize himself. Now in relation to beauty and art, this acquires the meaning of living as an artist and forming one's life artistically. But on this principle, I live as an artist when all my action and my expression in general, in connection with any content whatever, remains for me a mere show and assumes a shape which is wholly in my power." — Hegel

10 March, 2016

Recording "Matchmaker"

©TheaterMania
TheaterMania goes inside the recording booth with Alexandra Silber, Samantha Massell, and Melanie Moore.

Since opening the latest revival of Fiddler on the Roof, Alexandra Silber, Samantha Massell, and Melanie Moore have become Broadway's favorite sisters. As Tzeitel, Hodel, and Chava, respectively, their familial chemistry is evident when they sing Sheldon Harnick's signature trio "Matchmaker" on the stage of the Broadway Theatre. However, their bond is even more palpable when the women deliver the number while scratching longingly on the glass walls of a recording booth. Go inside the making of the Broadway cast album — available March 10 exclusively at the Broadway Theatre and in stores March 18 — and see history in the making as these powerful ladies lay down another "Matchmaker" for the books.


08 March, 2016

"Dear Sweet Sewing Machine"

“Dear Sweet Sewing Machine” was cut from the original Broadway production of Fiddler on the Roof before it opened in 1964 and did not appear in subsequent Broadway revivals. When the current production of Fiddler hit the recording studio for the cast album, they decided to add the Sheldon Harnick and Jerry Bock tune back into the mix. The song finds Motel and Tzeitel pledging their fealty to a newly purchased (and formerly mistreated) tool that will allow them to make a better life for themselves. In this exclusive music video, Adam Kantor and Alexandra Silber perform as Motel and Tzeitel both in the recording studio and onstage to bring the oft-overlooked tune to life. The video features a special appearance by Harnick and was directed and edited by Ben Gettinger. The song was arranged by Oran Eldor and produced by David Lai for Broadway Records and features Ted Sperling on piano, Mairi Dorman-Phaneuf on cello, Kelly Hall-Tompkins on violin, Joshua Camp on accordion and Jim Hersh on guitar and mandolin.

19 February, 2016

'Secrets' of Adulthood: Part 1

1. Have integrity.
C.S. Lewis said:
Integrity is doing what is right even when no one is watching.
And Brené Brown defines integrity as:

    Choosing courage over comfort
    Choosing what is right over what is fun, fast or easy.
    Practicing your values, not just professing them.


At any and every age we wrestle with being true to what we CLAIM our values to be, and struggle with ACTING upon what we believe to be right. Integrity is easy to admire in others, but desperately difficult to fight for and maintain firsthand.


2. Things ALWAYS look messier before they look tidier.
Ever try to clean out a “stuff” drawer? Yeah. You start with vigor! Zeal! Then slowly you realize just how stuffed to the brim with utter crap it is, and after about half and hour the contents of said drawer are all over the room and you wondered why you began in the first place… for some, that is the moment when they give up. But if you persevere, and embrace the temporary mess, moments later you have ditched the unnecessary “stuff,” reorganized the contents, and the entire project has been worth it.

That drawer metaphor? Yep. Just like life. Usually, when you attempt to “fix” something, things gets a little messier before they get tidier— meaning, they get more complicated before clarity arrives. Don’t panic. See it through. Persevere. It’s worth it.


3. True ladies (and gentleman) can fit in anywhere.
Whether you are at home with your cat watching Columbo, on the red carpet, playing poker in a basement, feeding the hungry, eating humbly in a soup kitchen or dining in a penthouse at the top of Manhattan, TRUE ladies and gentleman can fit in anywhere.
They are not concerned with class or creed, they are not fearful snobs or hateful of plenty.
     They wear a tuxedo as easily as a set of work clothes
          and see humanity and universality in everyone and everything.

THAT is the definition of gentility.


4. Quit sugar.
Guys. Guys. Sugar is EVIL—and we are the victims of a very powerful Sugar Machine because it has been scientifically determined that sugar is more addictive than COCAINE. Health circumstances forced me to face this universal human addiction, and the results were life-transforming. Trust me.

Let’s review some reasons why you should do everything in your power to quit sugar YESTERDAY:

SUGAR:
Slows you down
Is expensive
Disrupts your metabolism
Hampers mental activity
De-activates your immune system
Destroys your liver, kidneys, heart and skin,
Leads to cardiovascular disease
Is the primary cause of diabetes,
Makes you smell bad
Makes you moody and sluggish
Makes you fat
Ages us
IS A LIAR (makes you think you are hungrier when you are not)

Quit.


5. A painful truth is better than a pleasant lie.
It might be true that you are angrier, fatter, more judgmental, crueler, messier or WRONG-ER than you hoped. Bite that bullet and hear the truth, for no matter how painful that truth may be to stomach, when you deal in and WITH The Truth, you deal with REALITY, rather than operating in a fantasy that will truly keep you from your best life.

As the Russian proverb states,

    Better to be slapped with the truth, than kissed with a lie.

© hula seventy

14 February, 2016

The Archipelago of Kisses by Jeffrey McDaniel

To love, dear readers.
To love.

Happy Valentine's Day. 

*

We live in a modern society. Husbands and wives don't
grow on trees, like in the old days. So where
does one find love? When you're sixteen it's easy,
like being unleashed with a credit card
in a department store of kisses. There's the first kiss.
The sloppy kiss. The peck.
The sympathy kiss. The backseat smooch. The we
shouldn't be doing this kiss. The but your lips
taste so good kiss. The bury me in an avalanche of tingles kiss.
The I wish you'd quit smoking kiss.
The I accept your apology, but you make me really mad
sometimes kiss. The I know
your tongue like the back of my hand kiss. As you get
older, kisses become scarce. You'll be driving
home and see a damaged kiss on the side of the road,
with its purple thumb out. If you
were younger, you'd pull over, slide open the mouth's
red door just to see how it fits. Oh where
does one find love? If you rub two glances, you get a smile.
Rub two smiles, you get a warm feeling.
Rub two warm feelings and presto-you have a kiss.
Now what? Don't invite the kiss over
and answer the door in your underwear. It'll get suspicious
and stare at your toes. Don't water the kiss with whiskey.
It'll turn bright pink and explode into a thousand luscious splinters,
but in the morning it'll be ashamed and sneak out of
your body without saying good-bye,
and you'll remember that kiss forever by all the little cuts it left
on the inside of your mouth. You must
nurture the kiss. Turn out the lights. Notice how it
illuminates the room. Hold it to your chest
and wonder if the sand inside hourglasses comes from a
special beach. Place it on the tongue's pillow,
then look up the first recorded kiss in an encyclopedia: beneath
a Babylonian olive tree in 1200 B.C.
But one kiss levitates above all the others. The
intersection of function and desire. The I do kiss.
The I'll love you through a brick wall kiss.
Even when I'm dead, I'll swim through the Earth,
like a mermaid of the soil, just to be next to your bones.

— Jeffrey McDaniel

Image: © Nick Bantock

10 February, 2016

We do it for THAT Guy

Whenever I meet new people the question “How did you end up in the UK?” is almost always at the top of the list—and the answer, of course, is extraordinarily complicated because the winter of 2002, I experienced a very strange chapter of my life that I rarely talk about for various reasons.

Thus, I do what we all do: I ‘Cliffs Notes-it—” that is, I give you the gist. Ya know: I skip over this weird four-month chapter of Twilight-Zone-Level weirdness that no one could possibly understand unless they were to be told the entire story, or perhaps, they were, by some miracle, there.

So whenever I tell what is the “Cliffs Notes story of my life” it goes like this:

    My Dad died.
    I moved to Scotland.
    SCENE.

That is… highly abbreviated. Because, of course, in between those events, I spent the entire winter and spring of my psychotic year-of-grief in a little coastal tundra-town known Alpena, Michigan.

It isn’t a very clean form of life-story-telling. It is much simpler to say “Well, my Dad died and I moved to Scotland” But it didn’t really work that way. My Dad did die. And I did move to Scotland— but meanwhile back in Grief-ville, I had to go back to the University of Minnesota and clean out my dorm, and drop of out of college to grieve-but-not-grieve.
None of it was tidy.

So, here we go. Let me set the scene:

As one is want to do in a time of crisis, 18-year-old grieving Al made a series of incredibly impulsive decisions shortly after the new year.  In an attempt to “get on with things” I decided to:

    1. Get a job. Perhaps at the mall. Perhaps at the diner I’d worked at all through high school.
    2. Maybe try out for some community theatre! Heck, I was pretty good and the Village Players were doing Our Town!
   
This lead me to trawl the (still-baby-fresh) WORLD WIDE INTERWEB for options. I scrolled around for theatre gigs in my area to maybe “do some plays” while I worked at previously mentioned diner, got my freaking life together and I duuno like maaaaaybe re-auditioned for schools… buuuut also maybe curled up and died— Jury was out on that.

Then one day? BOOM: a very very weird thing happened.

I clicked on a link on Playbill.com:

A semi-professional theatre was looking for a young woman aged 18-24 who could sing to play in their winter season— The Mousetrap, The Fantasticks and The Pirates of Penzance.
You’d get $125 to build the sets, make the costumes, do all the marketing yourself, and be in the shows, and oh, you got to live above the theatre for free and share a single landline phone in a hallway with everyone else who was CLEARLY running away from their lives…Helloooo? Was the computer talking directly to me?

I called the theatre and sold myself harder than an info-mercial, and 20 minutes later I had the gig.

The only catch? This theatre was five hours north of Detroit in a tiny little town on the coast of Lake Huron called Alpena, Michigan.

Alpena: mean January temperature 12º.
Alpena: suuuuper Catholic.
Alpena: where you were awakened every morning by the train that ran directly next to said theatre at 5am with a coal delivery from Cadillac.
Alpena: where the two main restaurants were Bob’s Big Boy and… the other Bob’s Big Boy.
Alpena: With the weirdest, most provincial, Twin-Peaksy, and KINDEST gosh darn people you’ve ever met in your life.

Oh Alpena.... BRING. IT.

I packed the Jeep and drove there in the middle of the night with my also-grieving-mom who helped me move in and, miraculously, sort of…let me do this very, very weird thing.


And thus, once, long ago, in a mystical land known as Alpena, Michigan, several very magical things occurred that I shall never forget as long as I live.

- There some seriously eccentric adventures all in a very sketchy white van called “The Deer Slayer”
- I went to some seriously peculiar social events (a few of which included babies in bars)
- I learned all about running a theatre.
- and I did three plays— two of which were pretty good.
- Crucially, I met some quirky, damaged, weird and totally wonderful people all just as lost as I— and we held one another, lifted each other up in a very dark time.

I don’t know that I’d consider many of these people close friends to this day, but I do know that whenever I spontaneously run into them, or see them on social media, or come across a photograph or memory of that era— my heart swells with gratitude the way I assume an aggregate of shipwreck survivors must feel. Because like it or not we went THROUGH SOMETHING together—and those feelings and memories are ever-present. And I am grateful to those people who held me when I was a child on the verge of womanhood, at my very lowest.

There were a lot of stories.
But this story?
This one was the most important of them all...


* * *


I had a philosophy teacher in High School who once advised never to make life-changing decisions in February— and he certainly had a point. This? This was one of those Februarys. It was deepest February in Alpena Michigan—12 degrees Fahrenheit and life was cold in every sense.

The theatre had recently completed its not-so-stellar run of Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap, and we were all in a deep funk as we began one of the most beautiful musicals of all time— The Fantasticks.

The thing was? It was February. In ALPENA. A blue-collar town of roughly 10,000 people.
9.23 square miles.
One high school.
A lake.
Like maaaaaybe 5 restaurants.
And a set of railroad tracks.
Oh! And the World's Largest Cement Plant wouldn’t ya know?
Who on earth was going to schlep through all that snow to GO TO THE THEATRE?

But here’s the thing: in the middle of deepest February our motley little crew of broken people was bang in the middle of the doing The Fantasticks, and you know what? The Fantasticks was… good.
Really good, actually.

It wasn’t ideally cast, or sung, or particularly gorgeous to look at, but man: every single person in that cast knew what it meant to lose something, to break apart and put yourself back together. Every single person on stage knew what the heck was UP with that beautiful little play, and we were giving it to you with every scrap, every single fiber of our fragmented beings.

Kent flew in to play the young lover Matt so we were re-living our Interlochen magical fantasies, our professional cast of lost-but-talented-actors-living-above-the-theater were filling the roles beautifully, and we had a duet of local men playing the Dads so beautifully it evoked extreme emotions in everyone.  Something about this work felt important, and universal and like it deserved to be shared.

Basically? This production was one helluva little wonder, and we managed to play… to NO ONE.  And when I say “no one,” I mean it: there were days when thirty-six people were in the audience.  There were days when there were SEVEN people in the audience—and I would know: I ran the freakin’ box office.

So tra la la: there we all were— bleeding away, baring the beautiful nakedness of splintered souls to NO ONE, in the asshole of winter, in the middle of freakin' nowhere.

It was bleak….
…and heartbreaking.
    …and soul-crushing.
How could it not be?
No one was out there—if a tree falls in the forest does it make a noise?
If seven people see your beautiful play does it even matter?
What and WHO on earth are we even doing this for?


And then one day… a miracle happened.


We had just completed a midweek matinee where we had played to our smallest house thus far— a house of six. Six people. I changed out of my costume. I locked up the office, and, as one had to do between shows, I walked through the lobby in order to exit the building and re-enter immediately next door to the resident entrance of our apartments above the theatre. I moved swiftly—after all, I had soup to make and tears to shed about the state of my life.

And there he was: a man, probably in his mid-fifties, dressed in thick winter trousers, heavy-duty boots, a buffalo plaid winter coat, and a John Deer hat. This man was a living stereotype of typical Northern Michigan GUY—what on earth was he doing sitting by the entrance of a theatre? And why did he look so pensive? Was he lost? Was he ill? I approached him very slowly and asked:

    “Sir? Hello there, can I help you?”

He made no reply.

    “…Is everything okay?”

The man shifted on the bench beside the door, eyes locked firmly to the ground, and it was only then that I could see he had clearly been crying.

    “Oh, yeah” he said in a voice that evoked one scoffing off feeling “I uh— I just had the afternoon off and I saw that this play was happening and I thought, heck, why not? So I came in and uh… yeah. I guess I didn’t expect it to uhh— ya know, hit me so hard…” His voice, laced thickly with his Michigan accent was breaking, “I— I thought it was really good. It uh— it made me—yeah. I’m fine I just … I… I really need to call my daughter…”

My insides lurched. It was as if the Universe was shining a spotlight on this man, in this lobby, at this particular moment in my little life.

...Who are we doing this for...?

We do it for THAT guy.

Because reader? THAT GUY IS ALWAYS OUT THERE.
Every show, in every audience, in every part of the world.
Even Alpena, Michigan.
In an audience filled with six people.
Because that day?
That day where six people were in attendance…? THAT GUY WAS THERE.

And when I tell you I think of That Guy every single day, I mean it.

So thank you, dearest and most beloved man I will never know or see again— you were a beacon of light in the darkest of days, and shine brightly in my memory, and continue to ignite every corner of my sometimes doubting heart.

It was all worth it.
It continues to be worth it.
Because then, now, and evermore: I do it for That Guy.

Alpena, Michigan

09 February, 2016

Recording the Fiddler on the Roof album

From Theater Mania:


Danny Burstein, Alexandra Silber, and more give us a first taste of the show's upcoming cast album. For any Broadway actor, getting to record a cast album is the epitome of a dream coming true.

But when that cast album is Fiddler on the Roof — and Fiddler on the Roof is your dream show — the experience is even more special.

TheaterMania followed Danny Burstein, Alexandra Silber, Samantha Massell, and the emotional cast of the show's latest Broadway revival as they took to the studio to preserve their stirring vocals.

The tradition lives on.

06 February, 2016

from ANTIGONE

ANTIGONE. [An aperture in]  …I’m tired, Father.

OEDIPUS. [Beat.] When you were born, you were hard on your mother.
    you came in to this world early, and raging.
You could not wait to be alive.
You do not yet belong here with me.

[SHE places HER hands upon HIS missing eyes… this is theirs, the ultimate gesture of intimacy.]

ANTIGONE. Father,
You gave me life.
It came with purpose—
    both were gifts.

[ANTIGONE exits.  OEDIPUS is silent for a few moments.]

OEDIPUS.
Love for this earth
    For life itself,
    And love for you:
There is nothing more.

And in the end,
    may silence make you strong…


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