Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The process ... Rehearsing

When you are a featured player, this is to say that you are not a principal and not ensemble, you have a lot of time on your hands. You can run your lines and read a magazine... A lot of times though, I watch people.

The director's method is always of interest to me. This director likes to run the scene and stop. He then gives notes and works all the kinks. This is very effective for this group... They need the immediate feedback. It makes for slow going.

At first I really didn't want to have to sit around ... I have social anxiety and I am afraid of new people. Now, I realize this time is giving me an opportunity to analyse the characters I interact with. I am able to create sone back stories based on what they are doing and what the director is saying to them. I guess it also generates commeraderie because I am here with them.

Anyway, that's all from the rehearsal hall...

Friday, March 18, 2011

Mama Morton research

So my first dig came up with some background on the show, the time period and who my character was designed after.

I went with the last clue because I had actually heard of the woman before and wanted to know more. She was based on Sophie Tucker - a brassy vaudevillean from the 1930's. She initially performed in blackface ( if you dont know what that is, it is a style of minstrel show done with white people painting thier faces black and doing clownish "coon" songs - hugely popular - HUGELY offensive... but it does give some context) Sophie went so far as to hire black performers to teach her to "be black". Hmm.

I was taken aback by this a bit and I still dont quite know what to do with that information. Is Mama a nasty "coon" character? I suppose I could play it that way and people would enjoy it. But maybe there is more to it.

Looking at Sophie Tucker, her history and choices... I think she might actually be a good place to dig deeper. I think I am going to get a biography of her. How does a Russian Immigrant become a vaudeville star? How does that influence Mama Morton. Stay tuned...

Being intentional about art

I am an artist. This is true. I am often unintentionally so. I do it cuz I can.

I am trying something new in my journey. It's inspired by my small group THE ARTIST'S WAY. It is important to be intentional and to do what I do on purpose.

To this end, I begin blogging about my process for developing the character of Mama Morton in CHICAGO. This is one of my favorite kind of roles.... one that is more of a cameo than anything else. Two songs, two scenes be fabulous and I'm out! The risk in that is I can easily zone out and not put any effort into my process.

That is why I am doing this. If I claim to be an artist, and I long to encourage and teach others to honor thier process, I should actually be intentional about my process.

Today, I am thinking about how to go about developing a character. The writer and the composer have given me the skeleton, the outline of the character. I bring my own nuances and personality to the mix. To start with I am going to write a biography for my character. I'll take the information that I have been given - the clues that lie in the script and in the words of the other characters and develop an idea of how and why she is who she is.

One of the challenges of doing this process for a musical theatre piece is that the potential for one dimensionality is so high. You have to make a choice to be real on stage. I think it is the difference between the performer and the actor/artist. I have to be truthful, I have been known to perform. Just go out there and do "my thing". Realistically, I dont think most of the audience will know the difference or care - especially if I sing the heck out of the numbers. But I will know. And for the first time in a long time, it actually matters.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Spending time

I'm once again moving into a new place in life. It isn't a dramatic move... It's more like when you're on stage and they tell you to move a little to the left or to the right. Thus is usually so you are in your light. That's what this feels like. Like I am
making adjustments and each one places me more in my light.

I don't know how I feel about it. Some days it's all good and I'm like,awwwww yeah spotlight baby! Somedays I feel like I am getting a sunburn from the heat of the light. Today I feel a little toasty, but not burnt.

I think it may be how I spend my time. I can be very very busy. When I get that way I neglect myself unmercifully. I don't eat.... Then I eat too much, or I eat the wrong things. I don't do laundry, I don't clean, I don't count my money, I don't count my blessings.

When the busyness stops for whatever reason, I am left empty, ill and often very depressed. I have bankrupted my body and soul and have to rebuild. This time, in the middle of the busyness, I have been doing things like a little laundry... Staying on program... Well for this week . We'll see how I spend my time next week.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


I have bad skin. The older I get the worse it gets… not wrinkly (cuz black don’t crack) but bumpy and easily irritated. I also have a tendency to mess with anything on my skin… hairs, bumps, scars. That only makes it worse. I see pictures of myself from even ten years ago and my face was so much clearer… not some spotty mess. It embarrasses me more than I can express. It’s like my personal failures manifest on my face. You can’t hide them… the world sees it all.

I realized today that part of the reason that I messed with my skin so much is that it was itchy and dry. So I started applying lotion. Simple, right? Just that little soothing gesture alleviated the need for me to pick and pull and scratch at what was irritating me. Isn’t that they way it is with everything? Sometimes, all we need is a little soothing – a balm to ease the hurts and the itches, to moisturize the dry patches of our lives.

We wear the scars of when we pull, scratch and fight. Some of wear them on our faces, some of wear them on our hearts. I hope that all of my friends who read this know that I feel what you feel and I am praying for your balm…for your solutions too.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Follow Your Bliss ( reblog)

This is a re post from the Women of Faith Blog. I know, I know, I promised some reflections on the cabaret - but it has generated more than a simple blog post. I think it may have been the catalyst for a life change. I am stepping through the door God is opening... I think. I will fill y'all in on it when everything is sort of in place. In the meantime, I think this is good food for thought.

(PS: the author of this post (Anita Renfroe) is HILLARIOUS... go to You Tube and type in her her go - she's v v clever)

My heart took delight in all my work, and this was the reward for all my labor. — Ecclesiastes 2:10 niv

"I saw Anderson Cooper (of CNN) give an interview recently, and in it he responded to a question regarding the best advice his mother (Gloria Vanderbilt) ever gave him. He responded that she advised him to follow his bliss and the money would come. He had a dream to be a reporter and he now anchors each weeknight with his own news show. I don’t know what your “bliss” might be, but I urge you to find a calling in life and attach it to your work.

Whether you have a job and wish you didn’t, or don’t have one and wish you did, or if you wish you had different people to work with or report to, the dailyness of your workplace can become a mental drag if you don’t choose to see it as a place of purpose and mission. The Bible gives us clear principles regarding whatever labor we undertake.

Read Colossians 3:23, Luke 9:62, Romans 13:1, Matthew 7:12.

These scriptural principles allow us to see that we are working for more than a paycheck, that we are committed to endurance and excellence in any undertaking, and that our Real Boss doesn’t inhabit the corner office, but has it all in his hands.

— Anita Renfroe"

Friday, July 23, 2010

On being alive...

The thing is, it shouldn’t take the death of one of your peers to remind you that you should be a better steward of yourself. But…

Last night, I found out that a man younger than myself, a mainstay in the Washington theater community collapsed and died. Last night. This guy had potential, he was very heavy though and didn’t get cast because of that.

I have been struggling with back pain all this week and I turned my ankle on Wednesday and have been hobbling around all week. I know that the reason that my back messed up again is because I ate my way through my mom’s surgery. I was worried and sad and bored and stressed… so I ate and ate and ate- as though her convalescence was some kind of holiday from self control.

I’m so messed up y’all. I know there has to be a better way… I just haven’t found it yet. I am still doing weight watchers and I am back on the wagon. I suppose that is something. I just don’t know what else I can do to get my mind right about this. It’s an addiction, clearly. I abuse food.

But I am alive, praise God. Every day that I wake up is another day to get it right. In church they asked us if there was anything that we were believing in God for – something so large and audacious that I could not do it without Him.

I think this might be it.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Falling off, jumping back on...

Today is another day.

I have sucessfully put back on the weight I lost during my time at weight watchers. It took two weeks. It took me months to take it off and TWO WEEKS to put it back on. Stupid.

Now my back hurts and I twisted my ankle and I am just miserable about this.

I'm back on the wagon now - but it's really really hard.

I have to admit how I actually feeling instead of smoothing it over with food. Dag nabbit.

Right now, Im bored ... and anxious... and hungry ( but it's almost lunch time and I built a gorgeous salad for lunch)

Back on the wagon, back on the wagon, back on the wagon.