2014 Buzz

Bookings, Auditions, Inspirations, Stories of the Month and more!

December 2014 (check out my Story of The Month at the End)

PERFORMANCES!  I had the delight of rehearsing and performing in Less Than Rent’s Christmas Show, a play called Snow Leopard by Ben Diserens and Tyler Grimes, wherein those very naughty boys wrote an outrageous Mrs Claus that I got to bring to life.  More on that later.  I also rehearsed for the Gertrude Stein project, in development with Adam R Burnett, for January performances at The Bushwick Starr next month.  More on that later, too. Thrilled to note that both Less Than Rent and Adam R Burnett are in the Indie Theater Hall of Fame People Of The Year roster for 2013 – I’m in excellent hands.

AUDITIONS!  One for theatre and two in the arena of “pay to play” for delightful casting directors who are busy busy busy yet don’t call me in - yet.  I just don’t know any other way to get seen short of an off-Broadway and Broadway contract, so until those delights come next, when it seems important to pay to play, I do.

SONGFESTS!  In spite of submitting me for musicals based on overall talent and trust, my agents had never actually seen me sing except for a very unusual part I played in Andre Gregory/Wallach Shawn’s Master Builder project, and that singing was Bruce Odland’s originally created mood music a capella in four part harmony often mimicking events happening simultaneously on stage such as losing one’s mind or an oompah band playing or someone’s last dying breaths – more like glorious vocal gymnastics on acid rather than traditional theatrical legit singing.  So, a songfest was had at my vocal technique/coach/guru Jeff Halpern’s studio for two of my agents.  I loved prepping and doing it, and a fun productive time was had by all.

KEEPING ME JUICY!  Five Yoga classes, four voice lessons, continuation of David Cady’s commercial class and four improv classes with The Pit. 

NUTS AND BOLTS!  I asked my agents for my submission sheets for the last three months so I can continue to track who is consistently not calling me in.  I made appointments for early January with two strategizers to see what’s to do about this.  I mean, really – why would someone NOT call a talented, professional booker in to solve their clients’ needs?  This we will have to resolve.

INSPIRATION!  Thanks to SAG Film Society I saw The Imitation Game, Into The Woods, and The Gambler.  Thanks to New York Women in Film and Television I saw Big Eyes, with a talk back by the writers/producers.  I also had lunch with gorgeous fab actress Karin de la Penha, during which a duo performance was suggested.  More will be revealed on that one!

SCREENINGS!  A project I worked on in August, the film Roman Citizen, is near post-completed and a February screening for cast and crew is scheduled.  A nice reunion plus a good film are in store!

Story of The Month

In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Polonius says quite correctly: “This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.” But, admittedly, sometimes this is not so easy.  After nine hours of rehearsal and a buncha hours studying at home, I realized I am not suited for the Gertrude Stein project scheduled for January.  Why? ‘Tis of no import, that.  But so difficult to call the director and explain the situation, especially when I like him so much.  Yet, decline the project I did.  Now, that makes - for the first time ever on my path - two showcase projects I’ve been involved with in the last two months that I’ve had to decline before getting too far into the process, so look – when it’s clear you’re on a horse, you better just ride.  And it seems I’m on a new horse and it’s time for me to ride it into different types of projects.  So, here’s to the LORT and Off-Broadway and Broadway opportunities coming into reach.

BUT that’s not saying I’d turn down a showcase if it rocked my boat.  The Less Than Rent project was a showcase and I really can’t tell you how much I learned, the fab people I met and worked with, and how much outrageous fun I had.  Grimes’/Diserens’ Mrs Claus was aggressively sexual, I mean really outrageously hysterically sexual, and I had to commit and recommit each rehearsal to just doing what the script called for.  I assure you, Sheilagh Weymouth would, for better or worse, never ever be seen or heard doing what Mrs Claus did. I had major considerations about a woman of a certain age behaving so – too old to be a Cougar; Mrs Claus was old enough to be called a Snow Leopard! – and being viewed as laughable, as trying too hard to be young, expecting the mostly youthful audience to be embarrassed for Mrs Claus and their feeling icky about old people having sex (although heaven knows we do and enjoy it immensely!).  Backstage a few minutes before we were going on, I turned to my three male castmates and said “What if they don’t laugh?” They looked at me with great puzzlement, I realized this was a personal problem, and immediately redirected my mind back to whatever we do just before curtain that is actually useful for the performance.  Well, the audience had a damn good time with the four of us acting out such antics AND four twenty-something female audience members came to me after the show and said they loved Mrs Claus and hoped to be as cool as she was when they got older.  So, here’s to commitment saving the day and here’s to theatre, film and TV work that gets us all to a new level.  I’m proud to be a Snow Leopard.  Bring those roles on!

November 2014 (check out my Story of The Month at the End)

There was a theme to November, which was Connections.  See my story of the month below to find out how I booked two shows and referred two friends for two other projects that they also booked – all because of connections. 

BOOKINGS!  I wrote this last month and I’ll write it again:  I love auditioning (honest, I do) and I love booking.  But I love when someone offers me work without having an audition even more.  So I’m happy to announce I booked two auditionless theatre projects this month, one with Less Than Rent Theatre Company (everyone is adorable so damn nice and uber talented at LTR) for their Christmas Show in December and the other with multi-talented Adam Burnett for a developing Gertrude Stein piece to be performed at the very hip Bushwick Starr in January. I am totally psyched for each of them, and my roles couldn’t be more polar opposite.  Come see unabashedly sexy me with LTR and something Gertrude Steinish me at the Bushwick Starr.

BOLD FACED NAMES:  I was invited again to read a new play in development, A Homecoming, by Joe Beck, produced by Christopher Carter Sanderson.  It was a private reading and neither I nor Joe nor Christopher are true bold faced names – yet! – but Brian Dennehy played my husband.  I have to tell you, he is a talented talented talented actor and it only brings out the best in me to work with such talent.  It was a memorable afternoon.  Thank you Joe and Christopher for letting me bring that fab gal to life again.  There’s stuff in the works with this project, and as Cayce Crown always says:  “more will be revealed.”

AUDITIONS!  I had five for theatre, one for film and one for TV.  Amongst the role challenges were cranky mother, bubbly suburbanite, Irish Ma, acerbic Viennese psychoanalyst, dead wife encouraging her lonely living husband to get laid, and an Irish nun you’d never ever ever want to run into – Genghis Khan would be an easier foe.  Now, why wouldn’t I love to audition?  So much fun finding each of these gals and bringing them to life – even if it only gave me five minutes of performance.  I know technically speaking that paying to meet a casting director is not an audition … but it is, really, isn’t it?  You’re damn right, it is.  And while this was unethical back in the day before I had my twenty year hiatus from acting, it is de rigueur today.  And I’ve de rigueured plenty in the last four years, with great success in making much-needed connections with people who can help me book work – and they do.  So, I actually had two more auditions in November, but they were more playing the game in hopes of getting called in for real jobs vs merely auditioning for a real job opening.  My agents gave me my recent submissions list and showed me who is consistently not calling me in, and doncha know neither of these casting offices knew my work, and now they do. 

KEEPING ME JUICY!  Eight Yoga classes and three voice lessons, and David Cady’s commercial class continues.  Juicy galore. 

INSPIRATION!  Speaking of galore … lots and lots and lots of inspiration.  First of all, my favorite type of in-person inspiration is with fellow artists, and I had two lunches with two of my very talented ginger actress friends - thank you Amanda Barron and Winsome Brown.  I saw six theatre pieces: thanks to TDF, I saw The Country House; thanks to $25 tickets at Signature, I saw both A Particle of Dread and Sticks and Bones; I saw good old Lois Weaver and Peggy Shaw of Split Britches fame perform What Tammy Needs To Know at LaMama, and I saw a show which will go nameless because I was offered the lead, turned it down, and bejaysus I dodged a bullet on that one, I surely did, yes I did, dodged an effing bullet.  For films, I saw Elsa and Fred thanks to SAG Film Society, I saw Tom O’Brien’s (and MrO’B himself) Manhattan Romance , and I saw God’s Pocket, Go For Sisters (John Sayles’ latest – I’ve never missed one of his films), Birdman and Interstellar.  I don’t like to give reviews because who the hell wants my opinion, but I will say I was entranced by the latter two - big time. 

PREMIERES AND FESTIVALS:  Manhattan Romance, Tom O’Brien’s latest, had its New York premiere at Tribeca Cinema in the Big Apple Film Festival’s lineup and was sold out, which it totally deserved to be, and congratulations to Tom.  He’s a good filmmaker, a good actor and helluva nice guy. I want to work with this man.

NUTS AND BOLTS:  I’m continuing to work with my beloved vocal coach Jeff Halpern as we set up a little December show for my agents.  We’re having so much fun setting the stage. 

My Story Of The Month

I know I’ve written this before, but it demands writing again:  some of the very practical advice my agent Judy Boals gave me on my signing day was that this is a small community and to meet people whenever and wherever I can; that there are a lot of talented people and people who know people tend to book jobs.  So, an audition I did maybe three years ago (and booked) hooked me up with talented playwright/actor Sean Patrick Monahan of Less Than Rent, and not only did Less Than Rent just offer me a gig for December out of working with them before, but I also recommended Sean Patrick for a gig - which he then booked!  A couple of years ago I was at a SAG Casting Access Project and met gorgeous actress Karin de la Penha, and I suggested her to a filmmaker who was a PA on an Indie short I did last year and don’t you know Karin booked that job!  When I worked with Less Than Rent a few years ago, one of the cast members was Michael Karp, who recommended me to Adam Burnett for the Gertrude Stein project and with Michael’s rec and one meeting in a coffee shop, Adam offered me the role.  So, did I ever plan on making these connections so I could book jobs and recommend friends?  Nope.  I went on an audition (yes, the damn SAG Casting Access Project is in effect mostly an audition only you don’t have to pay for this one), did my best, booked the jobs, and out of that came more opportunities – for both me and my friends. 

I’ve been told my life looks like The Devil is chasing me, and I’m outrunning him – so far.  I’ve been told maybe I don’t have to be so proactive with my work and finding it, maybe I can let things come to me, just visualize and magnetize.  So, OK - maybe The Devil is chasing me.  So, OK - maybe I could slow down a little.  But what the hell else would I do, honestly speaking, what the hell else would I do?  I love life, I love working, I don’t always like it, but I always love it, so active I am, motivated I am, passionate I am – and I’m not ohm-ing my success nor am I outrunning anyone or anything  – I’m trying to keep up.  Heads up, December – here we come!

October 2014 (check out my Story of The Month at the End)

There was a theme to October, which was Shaking It Up.  All sorts of things were different - maybe out of sync but maybe just resynching, who ever really knows? – and the course of course to follow was to go with the flow, even if the flow seemed so odd.  My day gig is undergoing an unexpected staffing change, my sweetheart was out of town for five days, my voice teacher was out of town for two weeks, in October’s Buzz I mentioned a theatre offer which was in negotiation and that just didn’t work out in a way I could accept, and I spent six days out of town myself at a film festival which was an unexpectedly odd experience (the job refusal and the film festival are in My Story of The Month below).  I was put on hold for a print job (KaChing!) and was subsequently released (sigh).  I had a TV audition and a film audition, the latter resulting in a callback that hasn’t happened yet, so fingers crossed on that.  There was activity, but a lot of it felt just plain weird.

BOOKINGS!  I love auditioning (honest, I do) and I love booking.  But I love when someone contacts me to work without having an audition even more.  And a producer I’ve worked with twice before recommended me for a juicy steal-the-scene role in a film and our schedules worked out for it to happen.  Much laughing and laughing after each of many takes (not my bad – just a lot of people and a lot of movement and a lot of coordination) and the director was happy, so I was happy. 

KEEPING ME JUICY!  Two Yoga classes and three voice lessons, plus I started an eight session commercial class with David Cady.  And as a result of my new membership in New York Women In Film and Television, I took advantage of an hour gratis career coaching session.

INSPIRATION!  Lots and lots and lots.  I saw seven theatre pieces: Karen Finley’s Written In Sand, Belfast Blues, A Walk In The Woods, The Last Ship (thanks TDF!), Moment, Sweet Sweet Spirit and 4:48 Psychosis.  Thanks to SAG Film Society, I saw Men Women and Children.  Vancouver Film Festival gave me my first audience screening of my film Rattlefly (talkback after), plus Miraculum, Boychoir, Mr Turner, Noble, Living Is Easy With Eyes Closed, Beloved Sisters, and Whiplash.  And the in-flight film Fading Gigolo was a great find.  Musically, I bought Tony Bennett’s and Lady Gaga’s new release album Cheek To Cheek, and it is a huge inspiration for jazz singing, composition, technique and entertainment.  I know MrB is a master of masters, but Gaga is surprising me all around with her mastery as well.  So, I listen and groove plus I listen and learn. 

PREMIERES AND FESTIVALS:  Rattlefly is happening.  From over 550 short film submissions to the Vancouver International Film Festival, it was chosen as a featured short among the 35 that made the cut, and was placed in the coveted last slot for its program’s screenings.  The programmer, Sandy Gow, couldn’t say enough good about the film.  And it also won a slot in the San Diego Asian Film Festival for this month!  Go Rattlefly

NUTS AND BOLTS:  Speaking of masters, I’m working with my vocal coach Jeff Halpern as we set up a little December show for my agents (he’s the master, not I … yet).  I’ve only been singing with serious vocal technique for four years, and have been auditioning for musical theatre, and now I get to strut my stuff for The Team. 

Story Of The Month

For me, expectation is good, especially if the expectation is a good one.  And I’m used to expecting and receiving good in my life.  But October had two disappointments for me that were really unexpected and really not good.  A theatre role I was offered in September was terrific in so so many ways, but the new play ended with such a horrid message contrary to the message of the whole piece that it just didn’t make any emotional sense.  Look, I’m an actress, fully committed, and if the script calls for me to kill babies and it makes emotional sense, then I’ll kill the babies and nobody will do it better.  So while the director of the project agreed with me that the ending was just so so wrong, and agreed to speak with the playwright about a minor adjustment, the playwright was wedded to the wrong, and I couldn’t see my way to accepting the offer.  Now, this has never happened to me before and I wonder if as an actress my job is to recreate the playwright’s words guided by the director and just hush up.  Well, I’ve never been good at hushing up, so while this is still a question for me, and I’m at loss about the opportunity, when it really came down to it, it wasn’t such an opportunity. 

But then, the weird continued when the Vancouver Film Festival trip turned out to be very disappointing.  How could a trip to a fancy big film festival where I have a film playing and I’ll be part of a talk back panel go wrong?  In spite of my descriptive emails back and forth to the coordinator of guests, which emails included my desires to connect with other film industry professionals as the number one purpose of the disruptive and expensive trip and to please suggest which screening date of my film would be the one to attend in order to be both at the screening plus meet other working professionals, the damn hospitality suite for professionals closed the day I arrived – even though there were six days left to the festival.  The festival coordinators were sorry, yadda yadda, blah blah, but there I was in Vancouver – a nice place if you like suburban feel (and I don’t) and if you like to be a wandering tourist (and I don’t) and if you don’t mind six hour flights (and I do), so not such a nice place for me at all.  Yes, I saw gobs of films, most of them quite good, but a New Yorker has every film in the world available to her right here!  Yes, I relaxed, but I’m a doer and my doing is often my relaxation.  So, blech on the Vancouver Film Festival.

So, what’s the upshot?  Not much more than October was weird and I’m looking November straight in the eye – for what that’s worth.  We’ll see!

September 2014 (check out my Story of The Month at the End)

BOOKINGS!  One offer, which is in negotiation.  I’d like very much to do this new play where I would help created a bigger-than-life trans woman who is the lead character in the show, but some things have to be ironed out before I can accept.  So, fingers crossed …

AUDITIONS! One for TV, two for film, three for theatre.  And, boy did these parts show diversity!  Early 20th Century German immigrant, the afore-mentioned trans woman, tough but good-hearted Brooklyn woman who dons the persona of a dramatic Russian fortune teller, Midwest conservative mom, a musical theatre dancin’ and singin’ happy lady, and a woman participating in a ritual to help her fully experience a pleasant event from her past.  This last character was auditioned for via Skype with the London filmmaker, which was a new and fun experience.  I totally enjoyed preparing for each character and even had a blast with a couple of them. And I really disliked the musical theatre audition because the folks were just plain skeevy and amateurish.  Don’t have to see them again!

KEEPING ME JUICY!  Twelve Yoga classes and four voice lessons, plus thanks to SAG Foundation a meet/audition/greet/whatever with a busy casting director from a busy bi-coastal agency.  Thanks SAG Foundation – always a worthwhile event.  I also had a chance at the SAG Open Door Lottery, but wouldn’t you know the slot I pulled was for the one day of the Lottery when I’ll be out of town next month for the Vancouver Film Festival.  So we take the chance and get what we get and good for us.

INSPIRATION!  I saw two theatre pieces: Laoisa Sexton’s The Last Days of Cleopatra (Laoisa wrote and starred in), and a season’s-end bonus at The Delacorte, The Winters Tale.  There is simply nothing on this good earth as fabulous for me as to spend time at The Delacorte.  And thanks to SAG Film Society, I saw films Good People, Lilting, A Walk Among The Tombstones, and The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby.  An extra treat was to see Masters Of The Galaxy at the only large screen left in Manhattan, the venerable Ziegfeld. 

PREMIERES and FESTIVALS:  American Gladiators was accepted into the Mill Valley Film Festival!

NUTS AND BOLTS:  I had one more meeting with my editor, video vixen Cayce Crown, to complete clips from recent projects and they are all up on my website and Actors Access, being enjoyed by prospective employers and fans and friends.  I’m proud of this new bunch.  I’ve worked with a lot of great filmmakers this year and the proof is in the pudding.  Take a look at http://sheilaghweymouth.com/videos.php  My new reel will be up by next month’s updates.

Story Of The Month

My September is a true example of the ups and downs of the business, if not the ups and downs of an engaged life.  But, honestly, I don’t really have downs.  I’ve been around too long to have downs.  Each day is embraced once you’re into the long-ish life era.  What I have are ups and status quos. August was full of excitement what with two films in principal photography, one out of town and as the lead, one in town as an outrageous character. And September was pretty much status quo; auditioning, singing lessons, yoga classes, working the day gig, seeing theatre and film, living expectantly, enjoying others’ excitements, enjoying the status quo. Operative word for September:  enjoying.  See you in October!

August 2014 (check out my Story of The Month at the End)

BOOKINGS!  One for August, a film Private Space where I played a randy yet well-meaning lesbian NYC apartment super who goes for any clogged toilet and/or cranky radiator and/or female tenant within reach.  We shot late August with much gusto and hilarity.  And the film project I’ve been involved with since April, Roman Citizen, shot in Louisville.  That’s my Story Of The Month below.

AUDITIONS!  I was out of town for eleven days this month and still managed one for film (a musical), two for theatre (also one for a musical), with a callback for the theatre musical.  I have to say that the film script reminded me of a trip I WISH I had had in the ‘60s.  Sorry to not book that one. 

KEEPING ME JUICY!  I had one voice lesson and nine yoga classes.  And, of course, working on two films keeps a gal juicy as well.

INSPIRATION!  Thanks to TDF I saw Cherry Jones in When We Were Young and Unafraid, and Bullets Over Broadway and loved each.  Magic got me a seat at King Lear at The Delacorte, my yearly number one absolutely most favorite thing to do in NYC.  An attempt at inspiration from The Emmy Awards … (end of sentence). I saw Get On Up thanks to SAG Film Society, plus Boyhood (wowzer!), Blue is The Warmest Color, Union Square and a series of Silent WWI Comedy shorts at MOMA, the latter thanks to Hardy Phippin.  I also want to say an intriguing director with whom I’ve worked, Lisa Wolpe, is on the shortlist to replace Joe Dowling as the artistic director of The Guthrie.  That would be Guthrie’s incredible gain.  Congratulations to Lisa. She is always an inspiration which is why she and her good news is included here. 

PREMIERES:  Rattlefly, my only film so far wherein I get to spit soup right in my daughter’s face (and spit I did, with great intent), was chosen as a semi-finalist at the NBC Universal 9th Annual Shorts Festival at The Walter Reade theatre, which I missed because I was shooting out of town.  Fingers crossed it becomes a finalist when the decisions are made in September.  Rattlefly was also accepted in two more festivals: San Diego Asian Film Festival and Vancouver International Film Festival.  A Master Builder, Jonathan Demme’s film of our stage project with Andre Gregory at the helm starring Wally Shawn, from Mr Shawn’s translation, does incredibly well with the “numbers” reported from its international release last month. 

NUTS AND BOLTS:  I had two meetings with my editor, video vixen Cayce Crown, to gather clips from recent projects completing post, and get them ready for display, soon to be a part of an updated reel.  Geez, I have all the respect in the world for film editors.  This is an exacting science, a singular art and incredibly time consuming.  Thanks to Cayce, it all goes with much fun and expediency. 

Speaking of meetings, I had a short one with Italian producer Valentina Cimino when she was in town this month before she left to check out Roman Citizen’s progress in Louisville.  And I had a long one with director Luca Elmi when he “flashed” into town to have lunch with Cayce Crown (shooting The Making Of Roman Citizen), Laurel Casillo (co-starring in Roman Citizen), and me.  Finally, at an August celebration of friends’ marriage in June, I was introduced to playwright Marsha Norman, thanking her for all the wonderful entertainment she’s given us over the years, as well as re-meeting Emily Mann, Artistic Director of McCarter Theatre, whom I hadn’t seen in 18 years.  One of us didn’t age.  That was not me. 

Story Of The Month

Roman Citizen.  A seminal event in my life.  Luca Elmi.  Hunter Curry.  Drew Ingram.  All men who allowed for this seminal event, this pioneering and formative influence.  Here’s why:  Not only was I fortunate enough to have the lead in the film shot in Louisville Kentucky in August, I was fortunate enough to have a director, Luca Elmi, who invited my collaboration.  I was able to speak with Luca about anything and everything that came up during my days involved with the making of this film, have my ideas considered, allowed freedom to try whatever, given adjustments when something didn’t fit.  And even before principal photography began, Luca allowed for free email exchange (he in Milan, Italy and I in NYC) for all my many questions and concerns while bringing his Lieutenant Elan Gallagher to life.  Hunter Curry and Drew Ingram, producers, gathered such a professional, talented, supportive and kind group of folks to run the show that I had nothing, absolutely nothing, positively nothing to do but bring this Gallagher gal to life and see to her needs.  It was so extraordinary, yet very ordinary.  Without thinking about it all at the time, it was very natural.  It was how filmmaking can be.  It flowed.  It lived a good life.  It is only in retrospect that the extraordinariness of it all is revealed to me.  Every single actor I worked with was prepared and met all the joys and flaws of creation during the shoot.  Cayce Crown, gathering footage for her The Making Of Roman Citizen, was always present with her eyes on her camera lens and her ears covered with headphones, like a silent hungry cat waiting for the crumbs of creation to fall into her realm. There was a craft services gal, Mama Maggie, who prepared my very own cooler of food every day – did I say just for me?  There was second AD Rob Higginbotham who overheard me speak of the New York Times and then had it on set for me, always corralling me with kid gloves, a gentle smile and a warm heart.  There was first AD David Stickler who listened ever so intently and always said “Yes, Ma’am” at the end of our conversation.  There was Andrea Ahl and Kelsey Forren and Heather Harrigan and Crystal Van Arsdale of wardrobe, hair and makeup who always asked if I was happy (they don’t understand that New Yorkers aren’t really happy, we’re just people who eat life up like there’s no tomorrow). There were production folks who never let me walk past them without asking me what I needed.  There were production folks who were silent and respectful and busy as hell doing their jobs with methodical choreography.  And then inevitably there was the call of “That’s a wrap!” and everyone relaxed and smiled and let their shoulders down a little and shook hands and hugged and grabbed Roman Citizen T-shirts, as is a filmmaking family’s routine.  I shot another film a few days later in NYC and I was a different actress, hopefully a better actress.  I have been a different actress at my auditions since my return.  I am a different person, more confident, more accomplished, more aware than ever of how much there is to learn and how many people there are to help me and how I might contribute to this circus.  A seminal event, no doubt, this Roman Citizen. A seminal event. More, please.

June 2014 (check out my Story of The Month at the End)

BOOKINGS!  Two for June.  That’s what I like!  One for theatre for {Your Name Here} in the play Singer Clashes With Cougar (I’m NOT the singer in this play), directed by Christian Coulson, with performances in July in NYC as a part of PrideFest.  I am fascinated by the development of this character in the play for July, guided with gentle power and heartfelt insight in rehearsals by Christian and coached by magical David Anzuelo for movement.  AND THE OTHER IS THE LEAD IN A FILM (can you tell I’m excited?), which is a nice nice story, and is the subject of My Story Of The Month below.

AUDITIONS!  Two for TV, three for theatre, one for film, and one for an award-winning webseries.  These characters ran the gamut from haughty busybody to enraged grieving citizen, born-again homophobic grandmother to Old-World Italian restaurant owner who may also be a singing witch, a shapeshifter, and an Amish Little Person (who would be required to act on her knees).  If nothing else, interesting, right?  O, I did have another audition booked for an Indie short, but when I received the script (after having to ask, then wait quite a bit for its arrival), I saw the breakdown had been misleading as it turned out to be “featured background” work.  Do you think I told the producer what I thought about that?   Yep.  Sure did - calmly, professionally, without hostility, simply and directly.  NOT that whooping and hollering is beyond my grasp, but I do try to take the more sane road when within reach.  BTW, I don’t have anything against background work.  I just don’t do it.

KEEPING ME JUICY!  I had four voice lessons; seven yoga classes; and thanks to SAG Foundation, a wild two hour ride in the audience with 86 year old Estelle Parsons being interviewed about her life (fascinating, amusing, inspiring, fun, outrageous, shot from the hip).  That National Treasure is all there.  Totally all there.

INSPIRATION!  Thanks to TDF I saw Broadway’s Casa Valentina; thanks to Chuck O’Connell I saw Off-Broadway’s Sea Marks; thanks to SAG Film Society I saw The Fault In Our Stars and LeChef; and thanks to Netflix I saw Wolf Of Wall Street.  I was so eager to see the pilot of HBO’s new episodic The Leftovers and I was mightily impressed.  I loved the book, casting has called me in a number of times, and the quality of the show only increases my eagerness to be a part of.  I suppose I might have included Ms Parsons’ interview in this category, but the reality is that she was major juice factor, so there she reigns.  I also had a lovely lunch meeting with Italian producer Valentina Cimino, during which she not only told me of her inspiring early stage project development of the story of Southern Italian women’s plight after WWII, but also mentioned my getting over to Italy to work.  Yes, is the answer to that.  Yes, Valentina.  Yes. 

PREMIERES:  A Master Builder, Jonathan Demme’s film of our stage project with Andre Gregory at the helm starring Wally Shawn, from Mr Shawn’s translation, was announced for an international release in July.  I am invited to be on the talkback panel at Film Forum in July for the NY premiers, so stay tuned for that story next month. 

Story Of The Month

Before the ink was dry on the contract with my agency four years ago, I asked Judy Boals what I could do to help her find me work.  She gave me some do-able suggestions, all of which I did and still do, all of which have been highly rewarding, but the last one was the one that plays over and over again in my head, and it goes something like this:  “it’s a small community, meet people and forge relationships, a good reputation only helps the talented.” That felt right.  It is a business but it’s a business among people who are driven by their hearts, so the quality of the relationships has to inform the daily enjoyment of the journey.  I’ve been fortunate to meet and work with a staggering number of people I admire and enjoy.  One of my very first films, from January 2011, was a Columbia student short called Merry Christmas, by filmmaker Layla Ji.  Layla was on the producing tract and shot that film in a day, completed post in two weeks, had it on IMDB and shopped to festivals in a wink of time.  Layla is in Hollywood now, and we will all know her even better as she corrals the forces on the other coast.  Merry Christmas was accepted by a number of festivals, and CENFLO in Florida August 2011 seemed like a do-able trip, so I corralled my own forces and went to see what would be in store as an actress of a film in competition.  I loved the festival, but the most impressive part was that all the filmmakers and actors and producers and audience members and press and local community had at least one chance if not two every day of the four day festival to meet with each other and talk and laugh and learn and have fun.  There were two stand-out non-student shorts that grabbed my heart and mind:  Glenn Camhi’s The Bunglers and Luca Elmi’s Do No Harm.  They were so smart and so engaging, so provocative and so beautifully shot, so professional and I attended more than one screening of each. The judges obviously agreed, since Glenn’s film was a finalist for Best Comedic Short and Luca’s won Best Foreign Short.  When I came upon Glenn and Luca at the first gathering, I excitedly introduced myself to them and thanked them for their wonderful work.  Each day, we met up and talked more and laughed more and we’ve kept in touch and I count Glenn and Luca as beloveds now.

Glenn is out in LA and is busy enough there to pretty much stay put, and the few times he’s made it to the right coast haven’t worked in our favor to meet yet.  Luca is wont to sweep into NYC from time to time from Milan Italy and treat us to not only his gregarious and intelligent heart and soul but also to the finer things of NYC.  He calls us “You Girls,” and at this age I conveniently throw feminism aside and hold that as a welcomed compliment!  I wouldn’t want him to ever refer to us any other way.  When he’s here, he may come to a show I’m doing, or treat us to a show, we listen to his engaging stories about Italian show biz (he’s also an actor and producer, on stage and of film), and have a splendid time, hugging sadly goodbye as he takes his leave.  In April he flew in for one evening, took us to Raisin In The Sun, then Sardi’s to dinner, and over dessert he shared he had finished his new script and was filming for the first time in the US.  In fact, he was leaving for Kentucky the next day to scout some locations with producer Hunter Curry (whom Luca also met at CENFLO), and set up the film’s bank account, etc.   Wonderful news!  Congratulations!  Terrific!  Bravo!  A slight pause in the excitement allowed Luca to continue:  “And, Splendida, if you like the script and I can afford you, I would like you to play the lead.”  I think every woman in her right mind would melt with a charming and talented Italian man calling her Splendida, which Luca has done for some time now.  So, first of all I melt.  Second of all, I take a breath and say yes. 

All the time I’ve spent with Luca, from the first meeting at that humble (but darn good) film festival in Florida, brought there by that humble (but darn good) student film, to all the emails, to the short meetups in NYC, over the 3+ years has led to this.  And all I was doing was enjoying a wonderful growing friendship. 

The business stuff has been settled; agents and producers have done their things.  I’m off to Kentucky in August for a week or so of principal photography.  Luca promises to bring the music so we can dance and laugh and have fun while shooting a film where the dialogue was written with my voice in mind, where I play a very good but very tired-of-it-all detective facing how to solve who committed a very serious crime with some heart-tugging complications.  The script is excellent, smart and surprising.  The company is grand.  The producer is excited.  And Judy Boals is proven right again: it’s a small community and good relationships can sometimes lead to more than friendship and admiration.  O, note to Glenn Camhi: get cracking on the part you’re writing for me.  We’re starting a trend here.

May 2014 (check out my Story of The Month at the End)

BOOKINGS!  Well, I promised a full story on the film offer for August, but no contract yet, so no story yet.  Keeping fingers crossed for full disclosure by June updates!  And, darned if I didn’t try, but no bookings for May. 

WORK!  I had a short and lovely ADR session for Charlee Sarah Harrison’s Switch.  Post production sessions always offer reunions with beloved cast and crew.  Rehearsals followed by a fierce and funny staged public reading of Richard III directed by Christopher Carter Sanderson and starring Aedin Moloney as Richard himself … er, herself.  Ah, I have to admit I fell in love with Queen Elizabeth.  When someone said they weren’t too familiar with the play and asked me how things go down between Queen Elizabeth and Richard III, I summed it up with “Let’s just say at the end of the play I’m alive and he is not.” This was an all-female cast of damn powerful actresses, whose performances had me so rapt they made it difficult for me to focus on my cues – but, none were missed!  I want more of this.  More.

AUDITIONS!  One for TV, one for a new webseries, one for a feature film and one for theatre.  They were all fun, one bordered on absurd (see my Story Of The Month below), and the theatre audition was my most memorable.  It was my first for a very busy regional and Off-Broadway musical theatre casting director booked through my agency, AND I really wanted to make a good impression AND I couldn’t see my vocal coach beforehand, SO I was on my own.  And, behold, I was very well received and asked to sing another song.  A win. 

KEEPING ME JUICY:  One Yoga class (finally was able to get back on that lovely horse), and five voice lessons with the master Jeff Halpern.  I wrote above that I was on my own with my musical theatre audition, but Jeff is always with me when I sing.  Three and a half years ago was my start with Jeff, my very first serious study of vocal technique, and here he’s got me auditioning for the big stuff.

INSPIRATION:  I saw two theatre pieces: One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest at Hudson Theatre Works and Jay O. Sanders’ incredibly jarring and moving Unexplored Interior.  I enjoyed three films, The Love Punch (thanks SAG Film Society), Million Dollar Arm and Frances Ha.

PREMIERES!  Two shorts I’ve worked on, American Gladiators and Rattlefly, had their public premieres at the Walter Reade Theatre (that marks my third and fourth film premieres at the Walter Reade), with both voted to receive another screening, and Rattlefly won Best Producer Award.  American Gladiators, not to be outdone, was accepted into the Palm Springs International ShortFest!

NECESSITIES:  I moved my day gig’s office May 1 and spent the rest of the month being dogged by a seemingly unresolvable punch list.  My agent called me in the middle of the day of the move with a last minute audition and – the worst for me – I had to decline.  Curses.  If one more person tells me getting reorganized will increase my creativity and opportunities thereto, I may just believe them.  But, let’s have this reorganization done, please.  Now.  Like now.

Story Of The Month

So we all know how kooky casting breakdowns can be.  In fact, I have a friend who’s made a blog out of the more absurd listings and it’s amazing to read.  So my new webseries audition breakdown said “Strong improvisational skills a plus.” Now many of us know this can be a red flag, indicating the writers really don’t know where to go and are hoping the actress fill in the blanks, or – worse yet – take the auditioning actress’ improv and then insert it in the script without hiring the actress, plus what good actress doesn’t improv anyway? - but as it is said – whatever! – and so I accept the audition invitation in spite of the second red flag that listed the co-creators as being the directors as well as being the casting directors.  Now that is way too many hats for way too few heads and if something better came up, I would cancel, but it didn’t, so I went.  When I was sent the sides to prep for the audition, there was one part near the end of one scene which gave my character a line, followed by an ellipsis indicating a trail off in speech, then “(character goes off on one of her rants here)” and then the scene gives one line for the end of the speech.  It kind of looked like this:  “Let me tell you about Dinah …” (insert improv) “… and that was the last time I saw Dinah.” Well, the breakdown said improv skills were favored, the script actually had an insert for improv speech, so I made up an improv and brought it into the audition.  I thought it was hysterical (quite possibly this story’s third red flag).  First of all, let me say, this is a comedy webseries, yet the audition room had a deathly pall weighing it down.  The co-creators of the webseries were the least funny, least joyous, least welcoming folks I had encountered in a long time, but, hey, you get what you get.  They asked me to read the scene, I did, I went off on my improv rant, finished the scene (dead silence throughout) and I heard from one of the folks:  “That was very funny Sheilagh.  Very funny.  Now, would you take an adjustment?” (Sheilagh nods “Yes”) “Would you do that scene again only leave out the improv?” The adjustment was seriously offered, seriously taken, I in fact re-read the scene without the improv, they in fact asked me to read the second scene, I wasn’t cast, and I’m still laughing.  May I end with “WTF?” 

April 2014 (check out my Story of The Month at the End)

BOOKINGS!  No contracts signed yet, but an unexpected and thrilling invitation from one of my very favorite filmmakers for the lead in his next film, shooting in the US in August.  The details surrounding the invitation will be a fun story of the month for May … fingers crossed.  And for a booking of another type … I had two sessions for photo styling and still shooting with the 21st Century Renaissance Man Marc Geller – a rich time with provocative results.  See my Photos page for some of the characters we created.

AUDITIONS!  One film and one theatre audition.  The theatre audition was a first for me in that I was asked to prepare a song from the new show.  That initially felt daunting, but as I worked on the song I realized it was a great creative opportunity, never having seen anyone else do the piece, and I could create what I wished with the freedom of a tabula rasa.  Both auditions were relaxed and lotsa fun.

KEEPING ME JUICY:  Four voice lessons with the master Jeff Halpern.

INSPIRATION:  Boy did I see theatre!  Randolph Curtis Rand (a director I worked with last summer) among the cast of Everything That Rises Must Converge; Act One (with my friend Laurel Casillo making her brilliant Broadway debut); Raisin In The Sun (thanks Luca Elmi!); thanks to TDF both Annapurna and The Velocity of Autumn; and the film Locke (thanks SAG Film Society!). 

NECESSITIES:  I spent the better part of April preparing for my day-gig’s office move.  Do I wish I didn’t need a day-gig?  Yes.  Do I understand how well-positioned I’ve made myself for flexibility so I can clear my schedule for every audition, every rehearsal, every gig?  Yes.  Is that flexibility only enhanced by having my own new office?  Yes.  So I have a much better situation in place that strengthens my foundation so I can fly by the seat of my pants when so called.  But, really … who likes a move?  

Story Of The Month

The first time I saw a bidet was in Italy when I was 17, and I thought it such a thoughtful addition to a bathroom, this little washup bowl.  None of us high school girls had seen one before and questions were thrown out as to what it was, and I quickly understood exactly what it was, so we all took turns under my authoritative direction washing hose and undies and even dusty feet.  I can hardly imagine how innocent and/or ignorant I was, but I was. As years passed, I more fully understood the uses of a bidet, and have a strong desire to some day have a bathroom large enough to have my own.   Jump ahead many decades to April 2014:  I snagged a TDF ticket to see my friend Laurel Casillo’s Broadway debut in Lincoln Center Theater’s Act One at the Vivian Beaumont.  The show is de rigueur for anyone of the theatre.  I remember reading Moss Hart’s autobiography, from which the play is culled, over and over again when I was a twenty-something, devouring all bios of actors and actresses in hopes of finding out how to be a working actress (here’s what I learned: stop reading and start doing).  I loved everything about the show; the story and how it was crafted, the acting, the choreography, the set the set the set, the direction, the costumes and props and wigs – and each time Laurel brightened up the stage was thrilling.  She’s one of those performers whose glow forces your eyes on her, and you’re always rewarded.  I’ve learned to ask for a backstage pass, it was granted, and Laurel gave me a tour of the stage (yes, I’ve been on the Beaumont’s stage now!), and the dressing rooms/costume/wig areas and then we went to tea to catch up.  In addition to all the obvious thrilling reasons, it was notable for one more:  I felt at home.  I always feel at home on stage or on set, and this had been the closest rub with all that’s Broadway, and I felt right comfortable – even down to the bidet in Laurel’s dressing room.

March 2014 (check out my Story of The Month at the End)

BOOKINGS!  A webseries and a public reading – both top notch experiences.  The webseries, Artistically Challenged, gave me three whirlwind fun fun fun days playing a sassy powerful wealthy and ambitiously competitive art collector. The producers told me at our first day of shooting that I was the only actor to “drop the F Bomb” at the audition.  I don’t remember it, do believe them, and admit it was totally appropro for the character.  It’s sometimes a little difficult at an audition to immediately switch gears from a character reading copy to myself, and the character can bleed over into normal conversation – hence the apparent dropped F Bomb.  Younger folks are often amused to find older folks to be sassy and funny and irreverent and sexy.   I’m tickled to show them all that and more.  I was invited to do the public reading of a play by Tadeusz Slobodzianek called Our Class, directed by the esteemed Cosmin Chivu, reuniting Grant Kretchik and Brad Fryman and me, performed at The Drama League.  Sheesh, what a story, what a stunning script, focused on the lives, from youth to death, of a group of ten Polish Jews and Catholics from early to late 20th Century Poland.  If the stars are aligned, this will be a full production as a New York premiere.  So note to stars:  get thee aligned!  Thanks to the casting folks – I had rich times with both projects.

INVITATIONS!  An informal reading of a new translation of Uncle Vanya for April plus a workshop of an all-female production of Richard III for May are on tap.  Nothing definite yet but super great folks involved in both projects, so I’m eager.  Details to come.

AUDITIONS!  I was only in town for half the month yet still managed two for TV, one for film and one for the webseries I booked and shot this month.  I played a Brit wardrobe mistress, a Midwestern cranky Mom, the aforementioned wealthy New York art collector and another wealthy New York society gal who is boredom personified ala Chatty Cathy – all funny ladies.  I’m starting to get more calls for comedy, which is such a nice mix-up from the powerful or angry or nasty women I often play.

KEEPING ME JUICY!  See my Story of the Month for the juicy factor.

INSPIRATION! Notables are films Enemy, Non-Stop (thanks to SAG Film Society for both), The Tourist, Othello (Laurence Fishburne) and The Book Thief.  I saw a new play at The Cherry Lane, Ode To Joy, and started to watch Delroy Lindo’s new TV series Believe.   Mr Lindo is a grounded, focused, kind and powerful man and that all shows through – plus more – in his new show.  Best wishes for a long run to Delroy!

Story Of The Month

I studied with E. Katherine Kerr back in the 80s.  Katherine was a very empowering teacher, and not just for acting.  Katherine would often encourage us to follow the roads life put before us, whether it looked as if they were leading us to our desires or not.  Katherine would explain to us young actors that to be your best actor is often dependent in great part on living a full and varied life.  And Katherine’s words helped me to make the transition out of acting at the time; a transition that was crucial for me to make.  So, when the recent opportunity to travel to Costa Rica for eleven days to participate in a very special Equestrian Workshop arose, it took me a New York Minute to say yes.  Some times we don’t know how we’re going to do something, but we know we gotta do it.  So I did it.  The horses at the retreat are treated so well – bitless bridles, no shoes, highly respected – yet are treated like horses all at the same time.  We, as riders, did not choose our horse for the workshop - our horses chose us.  Envision workshop participants sitting in a circle, face out, blindfolded as horses were led into the paddock two by two; some horses would take a walk around and leave; some horses would take a few walks around, ponder and choose; some horses would go directly to a participant and choose.  That’s likely all the detail I need to give you to explain the magic of the experience.  The days only grew more purposeful and real as they passed.  I learned to ride for the first time, swam bareback in the river on my horse, giggled when he would trot unasked, and laughed unroariously when he would break into a full gallop – also unasked.  I had an injury (unrelated to my horse) and the day after when I greeted my horse he nudged his face up and down exactly where I was pained. This horse, Cosmo, took such care of me – such care that I’ve never experienced.  It was so nice to escape the winter, so nice to have a change of scenery, so nice to have meals and beds made for me – but the essence was all about the horse.  I am now an experienced and quite capable beginning equestrian and horse whisperer.  And I am on the search for local-ish horses who are cared for as I am used to so I can continue my equestrian life.  Why is this my “acting” story of the month?  The experience brought me closer to myself, so much closer to myself. Knowing myself is what helps me in trying to bring full characters to full life.  And bringing full characters to full life is my job, not to mention my essence.

February 2014 (check out my Story of The Month at the End)

BOOKINGS!  A commercial and a webseries, now THIS is what I’m talking about.  I love to work.  What’s especially important to me about both the jobs is that I didn’t audition.  Each director - with whom I have established professional relationships - contacted me personally and offered me the jobs.  I like to look at milestones, and two direct offers in one month is two milestones for me.  Thanks directors!  I want more.

AUDITIONS!  Five for theatre and two for TV, spanning requirements for a Minnesota accent to a Dutch accent to a British accent, plus a song with the darn Minnesohta accent dohncha knohw, seeking to play  characters ranging from a Republican matriarch to a mysterious kooky psychic  as well as a counterintelligence agent and a Midwestern church basement lady.  Confusing?  Not to this actress.  Enlivening!  And thanks to SAG NYCAP, I finally met casting director David Cady and understand why he gets raves as a commercial teacher. I very well may have more to learn from Mr Cady than commercial technique, and look forward to those studies.

PREMIERES!  Rubbing shoulders, sharing hugs and kisses, laughing and loving with the boldfaced names whilst enjoying Jonathan Demme’s private cast and crew screening of Fear Of Falling – not bad, right?  I have always had a very rich time playing with André Gregory and Wallace Shawn’s stage project of The Master Builder, which is exactly what Mr Demme filmed.  Don’t blink or you’ll miss me.  Mr Demme had a different vision for my role from the visions of Mr Gregory’s and Mr Shawn’s, I’ve been assured it is nothing personal, in fact have been apologized to – twice!, I have a lovely credit, was paid extremely well for my three weeks on set, have residuals to look forward to as well as a percent of the profits, yet nothing tops the opportunity and the memories.  I had returned to acting for one month back in 2010 when casting- director-and-more Jack Doulin introduced me to André, who then cast me in the play, and that was an auspicious start to what’s turning out to be a career.

AWARDS!  One of my very favorite feature film jobs, created by Amos Posner and Joe Uchill and April Lamb, the sweet romcom film B-Side starring the incredibly funny and charming and kind Ryan Eggold, has won yet another award – Best Soundtrack, awarded by Beloit International Film Festival.  YAY B-Side!

KEEPING ME JUICY!  Two voice lessons, six Yoga classes and four theatre dance classes, including completing the Absolute Beginners workshop at Steps – which liked to kill me – but I completed it.  It was ABSOLUTELY NOT for absolute beginners and 90 minutes of character building the hard way through humbling combination after humbling combination across the dance studio floor for six weeks each Sunday was managed only with a helluvah lotta chutzpah coupled with attending each class with another theatre rat friend, then diner sit-downs after to rehash and recover.  Honestly, the “real” theatre dance class I attended once the absolute beginner series was completed was not only way more fun and way more friendly but much more manageable.  Note I didn’t say it WAS manageable, but that’s what a dance class is for, right – to strive towards some goals while saving a little face with some achievements, no?  So I say YAY! to Broadway Dance.  I’ll be back.  In fact, I’ve bought my new tap shoes to expand my reach beyond theatre dance and will be tapping my way through March.

INSPIRATION! Notables are films Gravity (how could anyone be bored?), Hannah Arendt, Becoming Traviata and thanks to SAG Film Society Jack Ryan, Shadow Recruit (how does Mr Brannagh both direct and co-star so damn well?).  My favorite TV show started its new season – The Americans; I saw the entire new season of Netflix’ House of Cards and finished Orange is the New Black (I’m not sure yet if I like this binge watching thing; I may just be an old-fashioned one show a week kinda gal).  I stopped catching up with Breaking Bad after 3.5 seasons (the recent overdose death of Mr Hoffman put me off a show which subject matter was a little hard for me to take in the first place).  And I saw such a wonderful play, House of Connelly, finally getting the chance to be delighted by Sheila Mitchell Simmons’ warm and welcoming performing expertise.

May I tell you that all of the above was in spite of being homebound with a five-day flu. Sheesh, what a winter on this East Coast, right?

Story Of The Month

When I first came to New York in 1981, back when I initially knew Joe Papp was waiting for me and when I eventually found out that Mr Papp was not waiting for me at all and that I really wasn’t ready for what is demanded, oh yes absolutely demanded, for a working acting career, I was like that kid in the candy shop you hear about. Each audition, each class, each show and film I saw, each conversation with another actor was like going from candy display to candy display with an empty pocketbook; always seeing and smelling the goods, imagining what they might be like, but never tasting.  I regularly wondered how I even got to each experience.  What was a poor kid from a Philadelphia Irish Catholic Ghetto within spittin’ distance from the wrong side of the tracks doing in New York City?  How might I maybe, just maybe, have some of the candy, wouldn’t someone give me a little, just a piece, just a lick?  But it was never really mine to have, according to my self-imposed blueprint at the time.  Yet, that “desire without fulfillment” never ever ever dulled the wonder of it all for me.  I had a lot of stuff to take care of once I left the business back then, and I took care of it.  It’s funny when you’re doing something – you know, you’re just doing it, never thinking of what it means for anything but the just doing of it.  Now, I often see how that stuff I took care of informs the difference between the “that was then” and the “this is now” of my present experience of answering, oh yes answering, the demands of a working acting career. 

I had occasion this month to take a new pair of Capezio character shoes to have their taps put on so I can start the tapping again.  Capezio sent me down the street to “the place across from Wicked.” Walking through the open door to Vasili’s - “Sam Vasili, For The Best Looking Shoes in Town Go Where The Stars Are!” - just walking through the door, kinda took me back yet brought me to the moment.  San Vasili’s Shoe Shop, with old cranky Sam behind the cash register, old cranky Sam who never utters a word more than one syllable – did I say “word? Ha! it’s more of a grunt than a word - with the row of three shoe shine chairs guarded by the most eccentric looking shoe shine woman you could ever imagine, with the dated headshots of Broadway hoofers alive and dead as wall covering, old greasy Broadway show posters hanging by threads, everything breathing and pulsing and smelling like the real deal, like every level of its sheer existence is the real deal, is like the candy shop.  BUT this time I get the candy.  And they put the taps on very nicely, thank you – for thirty bucks!

March … but a short dream away.

January 2014 (check out my Story of The Month at the End)

And a busy New Year it is!  While January was still under the auspices of the Chinese Lunar Year of the Snake, the January 31 welcome to the Year of the Yang Wood Horse seems to have come in early, because I’ve been galloping since my return from holiday on the 6th.  Saddle or bareback, is the question …

I enjoyed a beautiful film shoot day in lovely Hudson New York, especially when Mother Nature gave us a surprise backdrop - a light snowfall – so appropro for a film called Christmas Shopping!  Cast holding was in a quaint chocolate shop, and the peaceful Amtrak ride up and back enjoying the icy Hudson River views clinched the day as a total win.  The film, directed by Alex Peace, allows me to play another cranky, nasty Mom. Looking forward to the final cut on this one!   

I was invited to do a playwright’s new play read, and what a fun part that was!  Matriarch in middle stages of Alzheimer’s, who comes in and out of it, ending the play being fully present, telling her family one by one how much they mean to her, acknowledging it may be the last time she’s really with them.  Get out yer hankies!

And auditions were quite interesting this month.  Well, really, they’re always interesting, being little dramas in and of themselves, right?  I had three for theatre, which ran the gamut from British WWII anti-bombing activist, to a punk Richard III (what fun to dress for that one), and another British play as the matriarch.  I had an audition for a webseries, which was kinda weird, kinda creepy, kinda interesting and when I discovered later I had auditioned for a convicted felon who has served four years in prison and has been associated with connected folks, it all made sense.  How this guy got his audition notice on a legitimate site with a very legitimate casting director listed (of course, she was nowhere to be seen), and a boldfaced name purportedly already cast as the lead, I dunno.  But he did, and I went, and I take it in stride.  I also had a TV audition for a new episodic, directed by a man I much admire, cast by a terrific casting office, based on a recent book I loved reading.  See more details on the audition scene in my Story Of The Month below.

I had two student filmmakers contact me for projects and scheduling didn’t allow us to work together.  But I have to say each project was intelligent and provocative and fascinating, so go MFA folks!

What did I see this month, other than the fascinating scenes of everyday life?  Films Enough Said and Mandela; the play Row After Row, and the first three episodes premiere of Ghostlight, the web series.  And, fgs, will the Netflix viewing of Breaking Bad never end?  Maybe being near the end of Season 3 is just a bit of a slog and Season 4 will re-ignite me.  That story line is tough to take.  And of course, I saw the Golden Globes and the SAG Awards.  I’m quite proud of the industry this year.  Not perfectly proud, but quite.

Keeping Juicy Department:  three voice classes, nine Yoga classes, and 3 dance classes.  The dance classes are my first in 25 years.  The term Absolute Beginners Theatre Dance Workshop is a bit misleading.  This class is not for absolute beginners, no way no how, but I’m a trooper and bob and weave the punches and am less laughingly bewildered each new class – but still laughing.  It helps that a theatre friend is taking the class with me, and our glances and asides during the class keep me going. 

Stiff upper lip required when director Andre Gregory asked the cast of Wally Shawn’s The Master Builder to receive our costumes from the play and subsequent Jonathan Demme’s film of us called Fear Of Falling (premiere for cast and crew next month).  While another production of the play is “not out of the question,” there’s nothing scheduled now, and the sight of each piece brings fantastical memory after memory.  I will never, ever forget how the play left each audience – transfixed and transformed.  Fingers crossed Andre is correct that another production is indeed not out of the question.  Fingers crossed. 

And February is already brewing up a Winter’s Tale …

Story Of The Month

Auditions.  Ask any of us who do them, who run them, what they’re like, and you’ll get more answers than Ketchikan gets raindrops.  They are fun, horrid, surprising, exhilarating, boring, a creative stretch, irritating, frightening, mysterious, thrilling, ironic, and more, much more - filled with meeting new people who always surprise as well as familiar faces who are always welcoming.  And once I finish the audition, the situation is, statistically speaking, likely done, but the experience often lives on until any and all questions in my mind extinguish themselves, or at least fall to quiet embers.  The idealistic goal is to get the job.  The realistic goal is to do a great audition.  Those two goals live in the same heart.  And sometimes they don’t jive. 

After a TV audition this month, the casting director looked me in the eye and said “That is exactly what I’m looking for.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.” OK, I can likely put that one in the “did a great audition” file.  My agent calls me two days later to tell me the CD called her to say “she loves you, you’re shortlisted and it’s a short list, the show tapes Feb 14, if she doesn’t get you on this one, she’ll keep calling you in until you hit.” Done – absolutely on the “did a great audition list.” Will I hear back?  Dunno.

After a theatre audition this month, during which the director and his assistant were howling throughout (which I was hoping was a good thing, having never seen the play and creating a comic take on what may well have been a tragic scene), the director says:  “We’ve been trying to get people to do that all day.  Thank you so much.  You were great.” And then … nothing.  Not even a callback. 

What’s to do?  Try my best to process it all, laugh at the irony, let the frustration of not getting the job motivate me to get the next, be strengthened by the unexpected and welcomed terrific feedback, and continue to do my work.  Basta!

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