Bookings, Auditions, Inspirations, Stories of the Month and more!
Synchronicity is happening all around me and I most often miss it. I can see it maybe once or twice a day. But I damn sure well see when I’m out of sync. Ah, humans; we of enormous potential of which we are ignorant much of the time. I read a book once that was mostly terrible really really terrible but for some reason felt I should continue and got to the part where the woman asks the leprechaun to create a pot of gold. And he does. She asks why humans can’t do that and he explains that humans have manifesting powers much greater than leprechauns. BUT, while leprechauns think of a pot of gold and it arrives, we humans think of a pot of gold then immediately tell ourselves how that’s impossible. It was worth the read to get to that part. That made sense to me and I watch myself on this one. A lot.
I saw a play a couple of years ago on Broadway, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike by Christopher Durang that obviously was well-liked (Tony Award, Lucille Lortel Award, Outer Critics Circle Award, Drama Desk Award, New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award, Theatre World Award, Off-Broadway Alliance Award, Artios Award). This play both set me on fire and liberated me. I was so deeply moved that I sent a handwritten note to the author, and he ironically (with full acknowledgement of the irony on his part) replied to me in email vs a handwritten snail-mailed note (see: Vanya’s rant in the play for the irony, or see a brief explanation below*). After some time when the dust from the experience settled on me, I hoped for a chance to perform that play. I could posh up and wig up play Masha; I could dump down and play Sonia; I could do it. Submitted quite a number of times, I never even got an audition. And so it goes.
A few weeks ago, there came a breakdown on Actors Access. You know, that hopeless place that maybe gets you a student film or a web series or a showcase. Originally it wasn’t a hopeless place for me as I was just returning to working as an actress and needed to make connections and I needed to work. And I did. I got a lot of mileage out of Actors Access. So when I saw this breakdown for V&S&M&S, I kinda without much hope submitted myself. The without hope part was mostly because they clearly stated they were not holding auditions in NYC, just in LA, but would consider self-tapes. Right. A regional theatre is going to hire from a self-tape. Probably some union rule that forces them to say that. Sure. They’ll be all over that.
And I got an invitation to send in a self-tape. OK, that was unexpected and most welcomed. Then my non-leprechaun mind set the stage: this is crazy and a waste of time, there are three scenes here to self-tape, I’ve got a shoot that unexpectedly rescheduled for a week early, OK OK I’ll figure it out and get it done … and then the day the submission was due, I was hopeless about not having completed the damn taping because of the impeding schedule plus (equally likely) my non-leprechaun mind. So, I sadly sent an email to the artistic director explaining the fix I was in and would he accept my submission a day late.
Then, I started to feel bad. Really bad. Really really bad. FGS, I’m a creative person, why can’t I just figure out how the hell to get this done in spite of a fully booked day? And then a little crack opened in the day and I decided I was going to do this, in spite of how hopeless it all seemed.
I try to avoid asking my wife to help me with these things. She’s a fab filmmaker and videographer and by god she’ll have you on the floor when she performs her musical numbers impromptu with her gorgeous voice and sharp eccentric humor, but she is not eager to read a scene with me (who would?, after you read how it usually goes) while I’m jerryrigging my iPhone to get a shot and jumping from whatever character I’m to be and back-again between cranky Sheilagh-why-don’t-they-just-call-me-in-this-is-so-impersonal-I’m-an-actress-goddamit-I-need-to-be-in-person-not-talking-to-a-phone-screen-that-has-me-talking-to-my-phone-screen-face-on-it-I-feel-like-Being John Malkovich-here. But I did ask and without hesitation she agreed, so at 8pm the last day of submission we started.
It took 90 minutes to accomplish the taping. We were both exhausted before we started and were somewhat energized or at least satisfied by task’s end. Since the three scenes were each very different takes on the character, and since I was in my apartment anyway, I took the liberty to make slight costume and makeup/hair changes for each – what the hell, I may as have fun with this exercise in hopelessness, right? And we got it done – heavens bless you Cayce Crown, heavens bless you, you with nary a complaint - and it took 2 hours to upload to Dropbox (thanks a bunch Time Warner) and I was all the time thinking what a waste of time countered by geez I did this I really did this and ain’t that grand.
I collapsed (after sending the submission) into a long hard sleep.
JMJ, 27 hours later there’s a voicemail from Sonora California. Nothing more powerful than the mind, I think omg it’s “them,” immediately followed by “hmmmm, what a coincidence that someone from Sonora other than the theatre would call me just now.” My mind is ridiculous at times and laughable in retrospect. Now, this voicemail was retrieved after just so happening to come in during my weekly therapy session (come on, if you’re not in therapy, why the hell aren’t you?), wherein I was complaining about how hard I had made the damn taping and how I wanted to live easier and my therapist (brilliant and kind and generous) suggested maybe I was just going through my process and blah blah blah and maybe I was being hard on myself and unnecessarily glass-half-empty-thingy and I said I would cautiously take that under consideration maybe he was right but maybe he wasn’t. Only, the voicemail wasn’t retrieved. It was unretrievable. Damn iPhone. Very funny, powers-that-be, very effing funny.
I looked at that voicemail for a while, willing it to be retrievable. Nada. So I just called the number back and of course it was the theatre, not some random lost love who had relocated to Sonora California and just wanted to say hi, and I hit a couple of prompts that led me to the artistic offices and no one answered and I left a voicemail. Hmmmmmm, now what do I do. And the phone rings and delightful funny-laugh-out-loud supportive conversation with the artistic director and the deed is done. I’m Sonia.
Holy poop. Could anyone have predicted this? Well, we all could have but we probably wouldn’t have because my human mind is likely very much like your human mind.
After calling my manager to give the good news and his being in touch with the theatre, I realized maybe I should have gone in and discussed the offer with him before I agreed since he didn’t even know about my submission in the first place. Maybe I failed at protocol; maybe I insulted him. The deal was very simple; favored nations, no negotiations, here’s what we have for you and it worked for me and I said yes. But since this relationship with my manager is fairly new and I’m not used to reps really taking care of me, being all-the-time available to me, always being supportive and honest and human and humane with me, I didn’t think of discussing it. And the next day when I went in to see my manager, I mentioned it, and he said there’s no discussion unless I don’t want the offer. Whew, no protocol failed, no insult taken.
It’s all much simpler than I can make it.
I’m not so used to having people support me, be responsible to me. And I’ve just become aware of that, and am changing that set up. I want support, I want my peeps to be responsible to me, and so I’ll succeed with changing that now that I know about how I’ve lived without some ease that is available. (if you don’t understand that, you’re either on Planet Clare or are an earth-walking goddess/god and what the hell are you doing here anyway)
So, I’m gleefully scrambling to finish out two weeks of the day gig, gleefully accepting all auditions that come in (I could use a good National Spot, couldn’t you?), and gleefully preparing Sonia to bring something to the company, which will then help her come to fruition. And once I realized I’d miss the planting season while in California, somehow I’m going to gleefully squeeze out some hours to plant the terrace for my wife’s enjoyment while I’m Sonia-ing in Sonora. A Spring garden is the least she deserves.
*From Wikipedia: Vanya, who is secretly writing a play inspired by Konstantin's imagined symbolist drama in The Seagull, is convinced by Nina to let her read it in front of the others. During the reading (which stars Nina as a molecule and takes place after the destruction of the earth), Spike rudely answers a text on his phone, and dismisses Vanya's suggestion of a handwritten response. Vanya reacts by launching into an impassioned rant, criticizing America's cultural regression in communication and media, while fondly and wistfully recalling the surroundings and memories of his childhood. Concluding that the intent of such progress seems to make people like him feel lost and forgotten, he retreats into the kitchen in tears.
It's been a while since I’ve posted and the good news for me is not that I’m lazy or lost interest or forgot, it’s that I’ve been wonderfully engaged in life so that a few hours of creating a monthly post is now a thing of the past. And, honestly, while you may or may not have become bored with the details of my life, I have absolutely so. I no longer have any need to count how many Yoga or voice classes I have, what films or theatre I’ve seen, what auditions or bookings I've enjoyed – in my sixth year back to being an actress, a storyteller, I’m in the life, in the swing of it, and it is a routine – ever-changing, but a routine nonetheless. What have I been up to? Living the full surprising life of an artist.
I audition, I do readings, I do my vocalise, I write, I study with my voice teacher, I use the SAG-AFTRA Foundation voiceover lab, I attend festivals with my films in competition, I receive awards (two recently), I go to theatre and film, I meet with friends and we swap highlights of our lives, I attend cast and crew screenings of films I’ve worked on, I meet with my manager, I get callbacks and get put on hold for a TV spot for the fourth time (getting closer and closer), I read plays and scripts, I attend meetings … and I take a day off here and there, I work a day gig, I stare out the window and let myself be, I sell a country cabin and enjoy NYC full time again, I stand on my head pretty much once a day (I find the view incredibly humbling and enlightening), I laze through the Union Square Market and make delicious food at home, I get lost and hope I don’t get found too soon, I exercise (wobble board, Yoga, walking walking walking, dancing, and please don’t overlook how-the-hell-could-anyone-overlook those unending subway station stairs), I visit the flower whisperer at 2nd Av and 6th St and watch her or her son create such joy-in-a-vase for us @$15, I wonder a lot, I dream of Uganda and mountain gorillas in November, I get married (New Year’s Eve, New York City Hall – there HAS to be a documentary of that Marriage Bureau some day – unending fascination) and I go on a honeymoon for the afternoon (The Ziegfeld, Star Wars, with root beer AND popcorn – fancy, so very fancy uptown honeymoon).
Life has brought a lot to me over the years – heavens, it’s been a full full life and I hope it’s no more than half done - but the last six months in particular have been notable in the amount and expanse of experiences. Instead of looking at the details, I’m looking more at the big picture. It’s funny how the details seem to take care of themselves when I do that. I read an article recently about Seeing Through The Heart’s Eye posted on FB by Gerit Quealy, and it put a term on how I try to live, albeit with earnest fumbling. I find the heart’s eye sees both ways. While I may be very happy and excited for a friend’s success booking a job or a film being picked up or finding a new rep, that can also bring up thoughts of “when is it my turn?” or “how much longer must I be a doctor to pay most of my way through life?” And to look at the friend’s situation through my heart as well as to look at my response through my heart is a more full experience. Why I and some of my friends think we’re not “as far as we could be” is a mystery to me and honestly such an effing waste of time. I believe we are the only beings on earth who don’t live in the now. Is that a worthy price for increased cognition? Well, maybe, yes, I think it is. It adds another ring to the circus. And each thought of not being content that creeps in demands to be rethought or I’ll lose it. What’s the it? My heart.
Compassion. Compassion. Compassion. I try to look for the compassion. And when in the face of a monster, someone or something undeserving of anything but compassion, I back away. Quickly. More quickly than ever. Compassion from afar.
Dorothy’s Tin Man lived his life looking for a heart. He had it all the time, but he thought he had lost it. We all knew deep down that he always had it; we weren’t really fooled at all, we just pretended we were. We saw him love Dorothy and The Lion and The Scarecrow and Toto and much of life and all the while he didn’t experience his own heart. I had a couple hour voiceover class with Paul Liberti recently through the SAG-AFTRA Foundation (animation and character voices – who knew I loved being a character?), and he opened the class looking us in the eye saying we all must lead with our hearts; please uncross our arms and legs and lead with our hearts. I thought that was extraordinary. If I only learned one thing from Paul that day (and believe me, I learned a bunch more), it was that he is a man who is not only seemingly unafraid of leading with his heart, he demands we do as well.
I demand you lead with your heart. I demand I lead with my heart. And we’ll do our best … Like I wrote above: Compassion. Compassion. Compassion.