19 September, 2006

Letter to Kit


Apologies for 10 days to reply.

I went up north to the woods to see Interlochen, see D & R, reflect on the passing time, teach the "kids," (a phrase I am not entirely used to...) I didn't know what to say. I decided to do it in two parts. One, to make a list of things I have learned over the "years," Two, to answer their questions.

A sampling:

Things I've learned:

1. Wearing panty hose with a dress may feel a little, well, bulky but honestly it is pretty slutty not to and we all know that is how you get yeast infections...

2. Life isn't fair. You are entitled to nothing. The sooner you get over that, the better.

3. Never wear shoes wear the toe points up at the end, unless you are auditioning for the role of an elf, and even then use extreme caution.

4. Never sing medleys. Ever.

5. Less really is more. Always.

6. No matter how much you may think you love someone, NEVER EVER merge your money with theirs. If they take out a mysterious life insurance policy on you, you are not being "paranoid" if you are concerned for your life.

7. I don't believe in luck. Not really. Doors open all the time, but if you haven't worked your entire life getting ready to storm through them when they open themselves for you, then forget it.

8. If you are beige, don't wear beige.

Then I answered their questions.
The questions were laborious and I will not print them, but the answers were:
1. Los Angeles, California, 1983
2. Yes
3. Abolutely not.
4. Ben and Jerry's half baked
5. The northern line, people who are rude to children and the elderly, people who are rude in general, people who say foyER, people who don't understand the very obvious boundaries of personal space, arrogant cyclists who can't decide whether they wish to be motorists or pedestrians, and don't even get me STARTED on the London Aquarium.
6. Weather and making salads
7. I'm fine, thank you.
7a. No.
8. Frankly, I don't think that is any of your business young man.
9. Sixteen
10. Someone once asked me what the capital of South America was. And I had this "music teacher" (note the quotation marks please) at RSAMD, who tried to convince me Rodgers and Hammerstein wrote West Side Story. Not only that, but that it was in fact their greatest work. But I have said some real stupid zingers in my life too. Take my uncool story about working with John Cusack. [insert story here]

What can i say?

Pffffft... [Gallic shrug] ]Your emails are great. Have no clue when I shall return. I'm hiding in Michigan. Don't tell anyone. Dark days. I suppose I will have to return to do that show I am working on. Well, we'll see.

How is life on the other side of the drink?

-- A x

Sound the call - Installment 4

I realised this morning it was Rebecca's birthday, and I had no way of contacting her.
It made me upset. Her phone number doesn't work. And I'm in the middle of the woods.
So I will send this out to the universe:
...Happy Birthday Rebecca...

* * *

Today I taught. It is a wonderful thing to be allowed the oppourtunity (or perhaps forced??) to articulate (as in out loud) my experiences and thoughts on this art, this business, this crazy profession. And to also be forced, in a way, to view it both realistically and yet, positively. There is nothing like having to find the words... when there are sometimes just empty expanses of dull, cold suffering. It was great for them, but also really inspiring and affirming for me as well.

A lot of them asked me about various colleges, and my thoughts on types of training, auditioning, business detail things. And of course the WIW experience. I don't know if those thoughts are particularly interesting in this kind of forum.

But then some really thoughtful questions about the business versus the art, and one thoughtful boy asked me about failure and disappointment. Interesting. I was sort of caught off gaurd by these two words. They are thouhts that come up so often in the artist's conscience, and yet they can be confused with one another...

I was able to really delve into the serious differences between failure and disappointment, and it was helpful for me to identify how I felt about those things. Sometimes we cannot help the fact that we have completely different reactions to certain projects. Sometimes an audition becomes about something else entirely. One desires the validation far more than the job itself. Getting a job can become about approval from others, at times it can even be taken the extent of a confirmation of your existence and overall worth. This is obviously bad. Really, Silber, what would Howard Roark say...?

Take Project E: Exciting. Huge. An unbelievably big deal. Amazing revival, amazing role, director, choreographer. Probably glory, money and all that jazz associated with getting it. ... Didn't care. Why? Who knows. The world may never know. Auditioned. Got down to the last four with some VERY accomplished people, people I couldn't ever DREAM of being the same room with, let alone up against for a role like this. Ridiculous. Didn't. Care. Auditioned. I was fine (aside from the 10:30 in the morning thing). And I didn't get it. And I still didn't care. Onwards and upwards.

Take Project Five: Small. Barely paid. Unglamorous. Actually a pretty bad piece of writing, and an utterly il-portrayed character when you get down to it. Would have done nothing for me but fill a time gap, and keep me busy. No glory, no artistic merit, no money. Nothing. And I needed it more than anything. I auditioned something insane like 5 or 6 times, I got the impression the liked me quite a bit. And yet I knew I hadn't gotten it. And I was devastated beyond articulation, all belief in myself thoroughly shattered.

Now WHY was this job/situation different from others? Other job prospects came and went without a thought. At first I had no idea,Ii just swam around that day in a fog. I wasn't simply feeling low, but silently verbally abusing myself in the most damaging and toxic of ways. That "VOICE" one gets... the one that tells me I just "don't have what it takes" or "some people have it, some don't and YOU DON'T" and as it gets worse and worse and worse "You are worthless. You are inferior to everyone around you."

And as an artist it is difficult. So many people in life feel a status, a validation and purpose associated with their jobs, however menial or distinguished. One can feel constantly inferior to their friends and non-artist peers because their peers often have a status associated with a job, while we often, do not. The validation must come from you, and you alone.

Referring back to the original question: I suppose I believe, after it all, that disappointment is more often than not associated with circumstances, and the way we choose to view those circumstances; while failure is about The Self, and also, quite often, a choice. One may fail to get a role, but one is not a failure, unless one chooses to be. Ultimately, the only choice we have as artists and thus, sensitive people, is to use these moments as opportunities for evolution and growth. That is what life is all about: choosing growth, choosing to rule over the evil, the negative, the toxic, the damaging. "Timshel," Thou Mayest...
...And we have to understand that they are more often then not, these professional things are totally arbitrary.

At this point I needed a sip of water. And David's kind eyes twinkled from the corner of the room. I needed those too.

The boy looked at me after that longish answer. He paused for a while, then smiled.
"If you HAD gotten Project E or Project 5, would you be able to be here at Interlochen right now?"
I said no.
"Well then, I'm really glad you didn't get them... "

Thank you, thoughtful boy. I owe you one. I did not, in fact, do all the teaching today.

17 September, 2006

Sound The Call ... Installment 3

David and Robin are wonderful people.
They are my family.
I feel closer to them more than ever before, and my respect for them as educators and creative people only grows with time. We have had so many talks, so many discussions about theatre, acting, and art; but also about time, age, evolution, growth, life.

Yesterday David and I went "messing" (as my Dad and I used to call it) and played a game Dad invented called 20 turns, where every time you come to an intersection you have to chose right, left or straight, and after 20 turns you find something fun to do. It was wonderful. After 20 turns we got slurpees and chinese food and spent the day LAUGHING and talking and it was one of the best times I have ever had with him. He loves me. And I him. And it just means so much.

Sound the call - Installment 2

I went around to Judy ("Lady") Chu's yesterday for brunch. She is expecting and looks amazing, one of those women that gains exactly 8 pounds and just genuinely healthy, perfect, gorgeous and "glowy." I didn't realise her and husband Robert were "older parents," and because of this she explained Madeleine would be her first and last child, and I waxed on about the joys of having older parents, and on the pros and cons of only-childhood.

Robert cooked us some beautiful omelettes, complete with fresh vegetables (courgettes, mushrooms, peppers, tomatoes...) straight from their GLORIOUS garden in the back! Judy had also made lovely savoury muffins, still warm from the oven and garlic butter they had made themselves (who does that?! It's remarkable). I was so overwhelmingly impressed by their life.

They are both such interested and interesting people. A joy to talk with, and both endowed with this fantastic quality of observation-- noting and cataloguing things the average person might miss. And these details they discover and reveal to you with such beauty. It makes one experience that buzzy, "a little bit more alive" feeling... Their lives must be so rich. And how amazing parenthood will be for them, and childhood for Madeleine.

And it is sweet to see how nervous they are about screwing up their child. I think I intellecutually understand. Like Steve Martin's character says in Rob Reiner's "Parenthood," "when they are brand new, fresh out of the womb, it is like they are pure, you haven't screwed them up yet..."

They will be fine. As I reminded them, plenty of people have absolutely insane parents (look at both of my parents!) and they turn out just fine. At this, Robert brought up the concept of "Insanity Insurance." Insurance for your kid before they are born to pay for therapy and prozac, should you really fuck them up. I think it's a great idea, and I bet it would be a real seller.

Well anyway, it was gorgeous and I was so happy to see her. She is my friend. A very special and important person in the chronicles of my life, and I was happy to discover on this trip that perhaps I am that for her as well. I love when in life, you receive a confirmation that a relationship is reciprocated as you hoped it might be... those moments are vital.

David and Robin picked me up from Lady Chu's house and we drove up the coast to the very edge of michigan! It was beautiful, and we had a gorgeous drive. We stopped at the coast to look for rocks (in michigan we don't really have "shells" to speak of) and then in a small viallage called LeLenau and ate at The Bluebird reteraunt before heading home. A perfect day.

Tomorrow I teach a few classes and speak to the students. I am nervous.

16 September, 2006

Sound The Call - Installment 1

I am sitting here in beautiful Traverse City on a breathtaking day. The air is clear and crisp, and smells so clean and fresh. It possesses juuust that hint of autumn that makes one feel so thoughtful, and makes one feel so connected to universal sorrow and joy. Hard to explain I suppose, but this place does render me speechless at times. I have just returned from a glorious drive through the countryside seeing all of the sparkling freshwater lakes to the various fruit orchards and and vineyards. Northern Michigan is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen... certainly a worthy addition to a list of paradises.

I arrived saturday after a brief (35 minute!) flight. David greeted me at the "airport" (more like glorified runway), to pick me up and take me to the campus. It was amazing to see him, and he greeted me with such excitement and familiarity, it felt so wonderful. He is in every way a father figure, and his opinion and guidance is more meaningful than ever.

Once on campus, he escorted me into the theatre and showed me around all the new facilities! About three summers ago I sang at the groundbreaking ceremony and actually physically put the first shovel in the dirt outside the theatre on what was to be an extension-- and now to see it in all its glory, my...

I am so proud of this place, and to see it growing and improving fills me with additional pride. Anyway, a huge new rehearsal room (identical to the theatre dimensions--how practical), a massive new set and costume shop underground, new fly space, offices for all the teachers and a full dressing room area. All of these things would certainly outdo my own drama school, and I am sure the dressing rooms alone are nicer than any off-broadway or fringe facilities. I was impressed. It was really remarkable and I was beaming.

There are also so many new things. The most beautiful hunter's lodge-esque library full of academic and artistic reference books, and an entire music library on the ground floor. Every play, video, CD or sheet music you could ever dream up is there...

A new greek amphitheatre!
A new creative writing building with a poetry recital stage.
A new MOTION PICTURE ARTS major and a full professional editing studio and movie theatre! (this is the swankiest thing i have ever seen)

So beautiful...

I was then let loose for an hour or so to explore the rest of the campus and I had quite a trip down memory lane.

My old summer cabins - Intermediate Girls Cabins 1, 4 and 18... I saw my name written in permanent marker all over the boards when I peeked through the windows. I felt the ghosts of childhood all around me. My father's smile was right behind me.

I walked along all my old paths, put my feet in the lake, sat in he gazebo and in my favourite, and very special tree outside the dance building.

The smell of the place: musty, a little mouldy and damp but naturally damp. It penetrates the nose and fills your chest with the essence of pine...


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