Saturday, April 2, 2016

It's not always about Acting...

It’s been a while, I know…
Many entries seem to begin with that passage, it seems.

Perhaps it might be because I’m finding it’s all about the same stuff..?

Career woes, goals and aspirations
A new show
Veiled jealousies brought on by the seeming successes of former colleagues and classmates

Blah
Blah

BuLaaaaah!


It’s all the same shit.

Nothing makes those kinds of realizations clearer than a solid dose of real life.
Real things; things that change you, things that change your life.

For instance, Sonia’s father passed earlier this year.  A tremendous loss for her and her family.  An event I witnessed, for which I was present.            
Profound.
A life-changing event; its impact to be felt forever.


….on to a happier note –

Sonia and I are engaged!
The question was popped and answered on Valentine’s Day (I know, I know…maybe a little sappy however, if you could swallow down your vomit, I promise you it was logistically the best time. The timing of other events determined the timing of this as well).




Anyway…we are both very happy. While the planning of the event has yet to begin; it will commence as soon as we’re able to regain some sense of normalcy.
Between both our families, there are a lot of adjustments to be settled.
So, there's that.


Oh, and since this is a BLOG about Acting, written by an Actor –

I am working on a new show!
My debut at Luna Stage.


I am proud to be sharing the stage with the amazing talent, Kim Zimmer!
Not only is she a talented and generous actor, but it is also an education just to witness her process. 
Learning so much.
Very Grateful.

We start previews soon, then open in the middle of the month.







Saturday, December 12, 2015

Final exams and buzz-cuts...

It's been an exciting few weeks...

Another semester has come and gone. I'm currently in the midst of grading.
After some uncertainty (low enrollment issues), it seems that I will be keeping both classes that I'm slated to teach in the Spring (excited to teach American Contemporary Theater again!)

Oh, and I booked and shot a co-starring role for the show Limitless!
Very exciting...my largest TV role to date. In addition, the role required me to get a buzz-cut - which was filmed for the show! To be clear, my new hair cut will be televised for all to see!



Crazy and exciting!

Interesting occurrence during the filming of my hair getting shaved (yes, it will be televised) - as it was happening, the actor in me knew all too well that the "scene" wasn't really about me, about the feelings of the character I was portraying, it was about the event itself (there is a reason why my head is getting shaved that further's the episode's plot line). That said, I had to be certain to really do nothing but sit there and let it happen; anxieties festering out in the form of nervous laughter, eye rolls, etc. I had to kind of "go zen," breathe, and just be. As the cut continued, the strangest thing happened - I started to get kind of emotional.

I never had my head shaved before and, admittedly I always had a bit of vanity surrounding my hair; it was a mild source of pride.

Ironically, I had been considering shaving my head for a while. Sonia had advised me to wait a while (good thing I did!).

I must admit, I like the new do; it's easier to maintain and it makes me look like a bit of a badass methinks. Sonia seems to like it too (that's most important).

I'm getting new headshots taken next week.
....gonna see how this works on me for a while.

Perhaps this is the start of a literal new chapter in my life and career....?


Monday, October 5, 2015

It's not always about Acting...

Yes, it's been a while since my last post however, a lot has been going on....and it's not all about Acting.

It can be easy to forget at times; this career pursuit can often be all-encompassing, and that's not always a good thing. Sometimes we have to take a step back and remember the other facets of our lives, sometimes the other parts of our lives give us no choice; forcing our shift of focus. Either way, for better or worse, it is a good thing to have a life outside of this oft-beleagured endeavour.

Where to begin....

Being invited to teach at RSAC was a pleasant experience. I was working with another instructor; I took the 1st third of the program, she took over the remainder. To keep continuity and consistency for the students (great kids!), I popped in a few times throughout the entire program. Was a rewarding experience and hope to be invited back.

After long last, I found love again..aaahhh!
More on that later. In a nutshell, we took an amazing trip together to Puerto Rico.
My first visit there was amazing! I LOVE IT THERE!!!
We are in the process of exploring some real estate possibilities....yes! they're there.
Excited about the potential...
And...she's moving in. It's been a long time since there has been real activity on the love-front. She's terrific, and it's all been worth the wait.
Perhaps everything has led me to this?
Meant to be...?

Finally, Dad found himself in the hospital again. Before you sweat it too much - he's home and well on the road to recovery.
In a nutshell, he had 2 major heart surgeries last month.
1st, an Aortic valve replacement. No, it was not open heart surgery (was a TAVR - new valve inserted via a catheter up through the groin), but serious nonetheless.
2nd, after the valve was replaced, a pace-maker had to be inserted.
Again, in the end...all went well.
He's better than he has been in years. Very grateful.
Now it's about easing things for Mom....we'll see..? She's the one I worry about.

The Fall Semester is underway. So far so good.

...'nuff for now.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Conquering, fighting and Doubling-down...

Another semester comes to a close
Doubling-down on the acting pursuits
Conquering a few fears
"fightin' the good fight"

Almost a month ago I finished yet another academic year. A year marked with some of my most cherished experiences as a teacher, as well as working through some struggles to find my way. I embrace the experiences and working to sit with myself and process the lessons. Maybe this is true with many vocations, but working and living in the artistic and educational communities, I find I am always learning.  Perhaps that's the secret?
Being open to learn, and constantly questioning things (the world around you as well as oneself).

Despite it's ups and downs, I'd have to declare the '14/'15 Academic Year a success.

I will continue my teaching in the fall semester at both Rider and Rutgers.
I will also be teaching at RSAC again - teaching Acting to the kids in that program; excited to be back

While I'm not the type for New Year's resolutions (I know, I know...it's June - bear with me), I did resolve to "double-down" on my Acting efforts; trying to abate the constant actors' struggle against stagnation.
That said, I've been meeting and re-acquainting myself with the prominent CD's in the area.
With all humility, that effort so far seems to have been met with positive results. My work brought to classes and seminars has met expectations and on more than one occasion, I've been called in afterwards for auditions for specific projects. That's the goal, always...familiarizing more and more industry professionals with my work. As I tell my students quite often (and was confirmed by one of the most prestigious CDs in the area) - it's not about booking the role, but showing up and bringing solid, prepared work. Booking he role will come when it comes (there is so much out of our control), all we can do is show up prepared. There's nothing better than a CD knowing your work and knowing you "bring it" every time (or at least most of the times).

Of course, I've come close a few times lately (was "pinned" for an episodic last month)...
You can guess the outcome.
C'est la vie!
More importantly, that CD will assuredly bring me in for something else.
The same old story...but I remain comforted that I am building a solid reputation.

On the fear front-
I'm taking another Improv class, and ventured into directing.

Improv (that shit is HARD) - I am in the Level 1 class at The PIT
I've gone through Levels 1 and 2 at UCB, which was terrific. I just figured another point-of view might be interesting. Plus, I have no problem starting over with something like this....nothing but humility here. It's so hard (for me, especially) and I could use the repetition.
We'll see.

Directing (HARD too) - I decided to put my fears aside and go for it.
I had my directing debut with AMIOS this past month.
It was a great piece Always by your Side by Conor O'Brien
starring Lauren Berst and Zach Evenson. A terrific cast, a wonderful writer.

He gave us a chilling 3-scene play. During the rehearsal process I let the actors feel it out; I believe in seeing what they bring (some of my best experiences occurred when the directors allowed the actors to bring in their own ideas and work off that). Of course I provided a context for it all, based off of the world that Conor created. But still, theater works well within collaboration - I believe.


That said, I took a big risk that I think paid off.
During rehearsals, inspired by what the actors were doing physically (i.e. body language through their commitment to their respective objectives) - an idea emerged. As I pondered this idea, I also realized that the actual dialogue in Act 2 had no new information in it (we didn’t get any info that wasn’t covered in Acts 1 & 3). In addition, the playwright was really interested in telling his story in 3 Acts. So, I did a little experiment in rehearsals with music: I challenged the actors perform Act 2 MOS 
(a film term reference -I heard it was Ingmar Bergman who had a hard time with “W’s” - so when he would say “Without Sound” it sounded like, “Mitout Sound” - the term then got abbreviated to MOS...  a little film history there, for you - if you’re interested).
The actors were clearly telling the story physically (via the body language). I had Rufus Wainwright’s I can't Give you Anything but Love underscoring the Act. The more we worked it, the more I liked it
It’ was risky, the actors were a bit confused when I proposed it - but it paid off. The playwright liked it too, even though it confused him at first (I realize it’s a delicate thing for a playwright to have so much of their words cut). After a back and forth, he acknowledged the story was still clear (my primary concern, always). I know there were a few Shotz! veterans that were taken aback by the decision.
Again however, it paid off.

It was cool to feel the audience “lean in” when Act 2 happened…
”what’s this?” 
“what’s going on?” - you could feel it - very cool.

To add a little spice to that - one of my actors had a serious bike accident late in the process (broke his elbow, tore his rotator cuff…bad). Between our last rehearsal and TECH (we lost a rehearsal and a few days), I only spoke to the actor; his arm was in a sling, and on major pain meds.

I was prepared to go up myself as a plan B. 
The night of the performance, I wasn't fully sure about who would go up...a little bit of added excitement.
Again, thanks to a wonderful playwright and fully committed, talented actors!
A true privilege.

Added to that, I've had a few small acting projects: a couple of 1-Acts, a short film shooting later this month, another has been in the Film Festival circuit.

February, written and directed by the wonderful Jessi Shuttleworth of Scabland Productions.
I had the privilege of seeing this with mom last month at the SOHO International Film Festival. I was/am so impressed by the film, so proud to have been a part of it. A powerful story, effectively shot and told beautifully. There's talk of my working with her on her next project - I'm so there!
It was/is rewarding to see the work going out there and being received by so many...I like that feeling.

I want it to continue...


Saturday, March 21, 2015

The Winter of my Discontent

Ironically, as I write this, we get nailed with another blast of snow on the 1st day of Spring!
Ha!
Funny...

Another brutal winter.
Bitter, bitter cold.
Though, gratefully, we did not receive the amount of snow that was dealt with last year.
Reminder - as I was in transition last year (geographically, thank you), I was based out of the Philly area last winter for the majority of the season. What Boston got his year, Philly got last year (admittedly to a lesser degree, but it was still brutal).
Anyway....I'll take it. Much less snow to tend with; easier on the back and body - little to no shoveling.

But it was still a rough season, not just pertaining to the weather.

I'm going through something.
I have been for quite some time, actually; this winter just seemed to intensify it all.

Changes within myself: physically, emotionally, spiritually (?)
Changes outside myself: family, career, relationships (some redundancy there as my relationship with my family is changing)

Anyway...as this transition persists, I find myself challenged more and more by anxiety.
It is that anxiety that has been manifesting itself throughout my body

A nail-biting habit has reemerged.
Fortunately, I've been though this cycle before allowing me to recognize it early and deal with it before things got really bad (hypno-therapy works folks...just saying)

My back has been a source of pain and struggle too, over the last several months.
Things were actually going well, progressing for some time - until an unfortunate chiropractic visit set things off in my back. The morning after the adjustment, I woke up with the ability only to crawl. Since then, I've been living with a new types of pain and sensations along my spine.

To cope with this new obstacle I've tried different things:
*A light adjustment at another chiropractor
*Visited an acupuncturist for the first time (and I HATE needles!) - THAT was interesting, and wildly effective. I felt tremendous afterwards and have since gone back.
*Saw my old Alexander teacher to work on some posture stuff
* changing my work-out routine (I have since learned that my former routine my have been one of the aggravators...?)

Anyway...all indications lead to the conclusion that
1) There is no serious, nor physical injury to speak of
2) All issues are most likely a result of anxiety and stress

Hmmm - YA THINK!??

Short answer- all this is is likely my mind and my body adjusting and adapting to this period of change.
I feel some major ones are in my near future.
I constantly question the status and progress of my Acting career; I sincerely wonder if I have the stamina to continue...what is progress? what is growth? (the same ole questions)

I receive so many mixed signals.
On one hand, seeing what some of my contemporaries are doing - I feel stagnate.
On the other hand, many of the aforementioned contemporaries have many other things going for them: i.e. diversity, gender, extreme character cast-ability, etc.

On the other hand (Yea...I know...we only have 2 hands. May I borrow one?)
I receive much encouragement through the classes I take, seminars attended (a prominent CD called me in almost immediately after I took a "class" with her - not the 1st time that has happened) and projects in which I participate.

Just last night, I shared the stage with a bona-fide acting "hero" of mine: Mr. Frankie Faison.
(respectfully, you may not know the name off-hand, but google him - I guarantee you, you will recognize his face immediately!)
I call him a "hero" because he is truly one of those guys who is everywhere and just does great work ALL the time; from The Wire, to all the Hannibal Lecter films (he is the only one to be in ALL the films, even Michael Mann's art-piece, ManHunter (based on Red Dragon).
Anyway...to work with an actor of that caliber, was a privilege. The only other time I was this excited to work with another actor was when I did a reading at EST with James Rebhorn, another one of my heroes (may he rest in peace).
Both men were kind, generous, and a joy to work with.

These are guys whose careers I aspire towards.
The journeymen/master actors who are everywhere. You may not know the name, but you most assuredly know their work and their faces. The extreme example of this type of actor is the now more-famous-than-ever-Oscar-winner, J.K. Simmons (of Whiplash, if you haven't seen it yet, RUN do not walk!).
These guys are amazing!
Period

The occasion that provided this wonderful opportunity is another one of those positive indicators that I referred to; little signals telling me that perhaps I should stick with this.

Back to working with Mr. Faison; last year I did a reading of a meaningful new play, Redeemed, by a young new playwright, Keli Goff.
She had another reading of the play last night, and she, personally, invited me to return to play the role of Jack. I was the only one from the original reading to continue on...a compliment I do not take for granted.
These little signals happen now and then; all welcome.

Anyway....I digress.
While I am what seems to be right in the middle of this transitional period (feels like forever), I don't feel I could ever give up on my dreams of acting; however, I am exploring my options beyond teaching.
Last semester opened my eyes to a few truths.
I'll get into that later...

Spring is here.
New beginnings
Rebirth
I am hoping the season not only brings with it a lovely thaw, but perhaps it will also provide some answers, or at least some opportunity that will guide me on my path.

I will keep my eyes open as we head out of the hibernation of the winter of '15.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

New Year's

Wow!
Another year has passed.
I know it's a cliché, but time really does fly (especially as I'm getting older, I find). I remember reading somewhere, or it may have been listening to a podcast, or...whatever, not important where or how I heard this, anyway....it has been discovered that as a person ages, time actually does move faster. Apparently, as we age, our perception of time speeds up. Remember when you were young(er) - bear with me here - and you had to wait an hour for something? Maybe it was an hour before the family was off to leave for the vacation, or the hour before your birthday party was about to start...?
It felt like an eternity, right? Studies have found that a child's perception of time is much, much slower than that of an adult's.

Fun fact.

Anyway, this is a notion that's been on my mind more and more these days...was it just a year ago I returned from a show in Florida looking for a new home?

Was it just a year ago I was nervously prepping for the spring semester containing two Acting classes and a new class, American Contemporary Theater?

Was it 11 months ago I purchased and moved into my new home in Hoboken?

Was it 6 months ago I was performing in The Peddler's Tale in the city?


Was it 4 months ago I began my busiest semester in 2 years?

Was it 3 months ago I booked 2 plays and an episode of Blue Bloods?


Was it 2 months ago I was released from both plays due to my teaching restrictions?

How did Christmas come around again so quickly? How is it all over so soon?

What a year it's been.
Many triumphs, many defeats.


Here's to the best of 2014 being the worst of 2015.

Friday, December 19, 2014

The times they are a-changin'

-Bob Dylan

As this semester concludes, I am in a period of self-evaluation and reflection.

While, in some ways, this semester has been my most successful with regard to my teaching; it also has been my most challenging.
True, the word "challenging" does not mean "bad," but in this case - it might a bit.

On one hand, I was given a class that teachers dream about; it was all about the work.
Among the whole class, there was generosity, openness, willingness to do the work...trust. In a weird way, we were all the teacher and all the student; we all learned from each other, myself included. I cannot possibly expect to have another class like this again. I can hope...

On the other, not as much. That is not to say that the experience was bad; but it was hard work. Mind you, am not afraid of hard work; quite frankly, anything worthwhile is hard work, I believe.
But this is different:
I must be clear that there were some real gems in all my classes, some of the students were just absolute delights. Unfortunately, amongst the "gems" were some students that were challenging, at best.

I have been faced with several forms of resistance; the likes of which I fear I am neither equipped, nor interested in dealing with. I am speaking of the forms of resistance that are based in laziness and/or arrogance; I have no time for it. Moreover, I do have to question if these students are even aware of the kind of work this craft requires. Asked another way - I wonder, do they wish to learn the Art of Acting? or are they merely interested in fame? Trust me - they are two very different things. One requires years of dedication and intense training coupled with an acute sense of self- awareness; the other - the release of a sex-tape released on YouTube.
Take your pick. No judgements.
...but know what you want.

But it's not all on them...what I mean is I do ask the question, "What can I do better?"
...a question I constantly ask myself.
Though I balance my role as an educator.

There was some criticism that found its way back to me: that my class might not have been as "fun" as other classes offered. I hear it, but it confounds me for two reasons:

1) we played a great deal of theater games. Maybe I emphasized the "lessons" too much? maybe I should have just let it be and play the games and let the students draw their own sense of relevance?

2) For me - the work IS the fun. Not only the research and rehearsal, but also the doing of it; the living in the crafted circumstances....I don't know.
My opinion.
I do believe there were some that just weren't interested in doing the work, period. Perhaps I shouldn't admit this - but I do not have time for that type of student. I teach to the top of the class; that is, I give  to those students who put in the work.
Said another way, I'm struggling with my role as teacher here...vs. entertainer.

Add to that - this semester cost more than I would have liked.
Because of my schedule limitations (brought on by my teaching schedule) I was released from two plays that I had booked, and missed two significant auditions. This has caused me to rethink my priorities a bit.

I always maintain that I am an actor, first. I hate missing opportunities; I do not plan to allow that to continue.

2015 will be better, different.