Summer 2017

You might have noticed that I haven’t been updating this blog as regularly as I usually do, so I am going to tell you a bit about what I have been up to this Summer, then get back into a more weekly groove once you’re all caught up.

To start, I had the awesome opportunity of being on set a lot in June and July. I had one of my top background experiences, but I also spent weekends on set with speaking parts I can’t wait to share with you. From an aspiring actress in Overexposed, to a determined young woman in The House They Lived In, without forgetting my last days on Deep Web, and a reshoot for the short I wrote.

I continued working at McGill, being a reader for a casting director and even ‘directed’ a few sessions. I got to see a little behind the scenes on a tv show currently in production when I was hired to read for the actors that were out of town for rehearsals and table reads. So much fun! I also got to go around beautiful locations in Montreal and get photographed on 2 separate occasions, once for props in a short film (the pictures are beautiful, I can’t wait until it comes out so I can show them to you) and once for a slightly impromptu headshot session with the ultra-talented Owain Thomas. Seriously, you could not ask for a better photographer. The time flew by, he made me feel confident and comfortable (and super entertained) and the shots he got are amazing.

Amanda Lynn Petrin

If you’re wondering how the short I wrote is coming along, we have put the footage together, and are now working on synchronizing the sound and getting color correction. I’ll have to ask for some help with the music soon, but it is coming along really well, thanks to my awesome cast and crew, and talented editor. Not to mention, we now have a title. Instead of Really Short Short (or RSS) as I have been calling it, it will now be The Anniversary. There have also been some gut wrenching setbacks on this journey, but I am not letting that stop me or get me down.

In July, I attempted to win Camp Nanowrimo, the venture where you write a book in a month. The first few days were right on track, but then I spent 13 days on set, and started Get in Gear for the Next Tier, Bonnie Gillespie’s hundred day program to bring your career to the next level. These aren’t excuses, I know that I ‘failed’ Camp Nano, but it was a conscious decision. That might be worse, but I had the choice between writing, working on my career or working on me, and I chose me. Instead of sitting alone at a table and writing, I became somewhat of a social butterfly, getting to know everyone on set. It was completely out of my comfort zone, but the more I did it, the more comfortable I was going up to introduce myself and start a conversation with a stranger. By the time I finished those 13 days, there were very few strangers left on the set. And as far as my time off the set…I tried actually living my life, rather than living vicariously through the characters and the stories I write. It was more exciting, more painful, and a lot scarier than when I write, because I wasn’t in charge of the story, or the other people, but they always say “write what you know” and I know a lot more things now.

In class I have had the pleasure of stepping into characters from Kissing Jessica Stein, Scandal, Ozark, The Big C, Episodes, Prime, Ferris Bueller’s day off, Flight and Girls. Some called for kissing and accents, others for pain, anger or comedy. Every one was a wonderful learning experience.

I took a singing lesson with Caroline Gauthier, which wasn’t so much about the singing as figuring out how and why I try so hard to hide my voice instead of sharing it with everyone. She was absolutely lovely. As was Patricia Chica, who gave a Chi Energy workshop back in July, and hosted a Table Read for her script, Montreal Girls, just the other day. The workshop was definitely an exercise in sharing my vulnerability in front of an audience, which is something I would usually try so hard to keep hidden. Lots of discoveries and magical moments in that one day, so I can only imagine what will happen to everyone who signs up for her 3 day workshop in October. As for the Table Read, any opportunity to act and step into someone else’s shoes is a gift for me, so being able to meet new actors and work with a script that hasn’t been produced yet…it was a wonderful experience.

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In an attempt to convince the casting gods that I can be a kickass heroine someday, I took classes with my dad so that I can work with firearms. This isn’t necessary when it comes to film sets, but I am thinking it can’t hurt. And it was a lot of fun.

Another thing that can’t hurt is the bimonthly actor’s meet-up a brilliant friend of mine initiated. If you happen to be in Montreal, every 1st and 15th of the month, we will host a meet-up for actors to get together and act. Every actor will bring 2 sets of sides, then we will pair off and run the scenes. Cold reads at first, but we can get familiar with them,  switch roles…it’ll be a chance to network, of course, but the main goal is to work that muscle so when auditions come along, we are so used to working through scenes that it is fun rather than new or stressful. It’s an awesome addition to classes, an opportunity to learn from fellow actors, and something to keep your tools sharp when you can’t make it to class.

Finally, I sent in a few self tapes, booked 2 of them, and went on 3 auditions. One I didn’t get, one I haven’t heard back from, and the other one I booked. Well, I booked a part, not the one I auditioned for, but it will definitely challenge me a lot more as an actress than the ones I auditioned for would. I am more used to challenging myself in class than on the set of a really beautiful feature film I am honored to be a part of…but I tend to react well under pressure, and I have complete faith in the director/writer/producer who gave me the part.

As far as personal developments, I think I have grown a lot this summer. Not literally, but I have learnt a lot and experienced all kinds of new things. Some of these were amazing, some made me stronger and some simply broke my heart. But that’s okay, because I put myself out there, I was vulnerable and I gave it my all. Which is the point of all this, right?

To be more specific, I spent a bunch of time with my family, I went out for brunches, coffees and ice creams with friends, I volunteered at Comic Con (which let me see so many amazing panels), I had what I would best describe as a summer fling, found my confidence only to put it through multiple tests, spent 3 days at the same hospital for 3 different people (we’re all okay), finally got called Auntie Manda and started to believe that maybe, I AM ENOUGH.

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“All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.”

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Stand Up For Yourself

This post is a bit of a TBT. It was an experience I knew I definitely wanted to share, because there was a very important lesson that was learnt, but I also didn’t want to make people feel bad, or blame anyone, so I put some time and distance. I kind of also didn’t want certain people to know how I let myself get treated, but you live and you learn, right?

The same day I finished rereading Year Of Yes, I was on set doing something that definitely put me out of my comfort zone, but it was something I felt I needed to do. I was playing a murder victim, and from my understanding, I was basically going to be a corpse, like the ones you see on an autopsy table. I had been trying to be more comfortable in my skin, which includes showing some of that skin. As in being comfortable in a bikini in public. Or in this case, a strapless bra and underwear, since it is basically the same thing. The show was on a network that wouldn’t show nudity anyway, so I thought it would be a nice learning experience, to get me to expand my comfort zone. At McGill, we often do ultrasounds, where most of the girls wear sports bras, but I always wear a bikini, because for some reason, I feel less exposed. Someone once told me it’s different because you wear a bikini expecting to be seen, but bras and underwear are intimate, for people you choose to show, so the same amount of material brings a different level of vulnerability.

The point is, I went there pretty nervous that I would be in a bra and underwear on set, but this was something I wanted to be okay with, because of all of the romantic comedies in my future. I spent a lot of time waiting on set, reading my book, until the makeup artist was ready for me. Instead of the usual facial makeup, I needed the corpse treatment, so I was sent to get into costume. When I showed my options to the woman in charge of costumes, she first joked that I was actually going to be naked, before handing me 2 tiny flower nipple pasties, and telling me to choose whichever beige underwear I preferred. Shock was my first emotion, before I decided she was probably joking again. I told her I was supposed to be in a strapless bra at the minimum, and showed her my options. She insisted I wear the pasties and gave me a robe.

I went to the little changing booth and tried it out, feeling really uncomfortable. So I wore a second pair of underwear with more coverage, but didn’t know what to do for the top. The makeup artist was someone I had worked with before, and she seemed to understand that I was really uncomfortable, so she let me keep the robe on most of the time that she was spray painting my body. I figured this was something that had to be done with the least amount of clothes, so I would make my stand once the spraying was done. Until then, I clutched the robe and kept an arm over my chest.

The makeup process was pretty long, during which I was able to go over it in my head repeatedly. I kept going back and forth, trying to figure out if the lesson here was to speak up to someone and stand up for myself, or if it was to do this thing that scares me. I kept asking myself, “Why am I afraid of this?” I know that lots of actors do nudity. I have been offered auditions for parts where I would be topless or naked, and have refused every time, even when an ACTRA credit was on the table. Was this just me being afraid of leaving my comfort zone? I considered trying to be comfortable with this, so I could start saying yes to those auditions, but as I lay on a table, holding the robe over myself while the makeup artists drew lifeless veins and random crew members stopped by to change the garbage or have a conversation, I decided that this was not about me being comfortable with being taken advantage of. This is my body, and it is my choice how much of it people get to see.

I felt guilty, like I shouldn’t have agreed to this if I wasn’t okay with it, and also like I couldn’t back out, because they had cast me, and I made a commitment. I kept having to remind myself that this was not actually what I had agreed to, and I had every right to ask for what I had been assured.

When the makeup artist took a break, the set photographer came with pictures of another actress who was currently off playing a corpse in the scene they were filming. This actress was hanging out without a robe, but she also looked more like she was wearing a bikini than naked, because she had full, thick cups covering her breasts, not just her nipples.

I asked the woman in charge of costume if I could have something like that, so she called an associate, and I found out that I was supposed to get the exact same thing, but they had 3 corpses today and had only planned for 2 in the costume department. So she had improvised. Relief flooded me as I realized I wasn’t just being difficult and reneging on a deal, I was legitimately not supposed to be in this situation (looking back, I do know that I had every right to speak up, even if I had just misunderstood, but at the time I was equally terrified of causing a fuss and having them not want to work with me again. I had a lot of trouble saying no to things back then)

When the makeup was done, a bra was cut up and the cups used to give me more coverage. It was a makeshift solution, but at that point I was so relieved to have anything.

I ate supper with the cast and crew. I hate that I was apprehensive of everyone at first, because I had felt so vulnerable and exposed for the past few hours. Everyone was incredibly nice and slowly, I started breathing easier.

Once I actually got to set, everything went a lot better. Being a corpse meant that I got to wear contacts that made me nearly blind, but I am told I looked really cool. The scene was filmed at night, outside, so it was pretty cold out, but two of the cast members took care to cover me with a wool blanket between takes, going so far as to wrap it around my toes to keep them warm.

At one point, one of the leads flubbed their line after countless flawless takes. When someone asked her what happened, she explained that a creature had been crawling up my arm and she couldn’t make me sit still through that. Needless to say I loved her for it.

Some parts of it were awkward, and I did end up being comfortable with more than I was when I woke up that morning, but the entire debacle up to that point had been completely unnecessary. For the actual scene, I had a sheet covering most of my body, so I could have been wearing a tube top and shorts without anyone knowing the difference.  I could have been so much more comfortable and less exposed, but I learnt a valuable lesson.

In response to my earlier debate about what I was supposed to learn, the lesson was to stand up for myself and not be afraid to ask for what I need. Even if that upsets people, or if they wouldn’t have wanted to work with me again. Because I am worth more than the hours I spent being terrified and feeling exposed and kind of violated. Especially for no reason. I want to do things that scare me, or make me nervous, so I can expand my comfort zone, but I should never let myself do things that make me feel that way. I have hard limits for a reason, and nudity is one of mine. Some day, maybe I will decide that it’s the kind of uncomfortable I want to get used to, for an incredible part or a project that I really believe in and want to do. For whatever reason, if that day comes, it will be because I decided that I wanted to, not because I was too afraid to speak up and say no.

 

As a P.S. for anyone who recognizes the project or the part they played in this story, I don’t really blame anyone. At any point, I could have said no or insisted on more wardrobe or…there wasn’t a single person on the set that I think would have made me go through with it if I had actually told them how uncomfortable I felt rather than trying to be easy to work with.

“You teach people how to treat you by what you allow, what you stop, and what you reinforce.”

-Tony Gaskins

 

Masking, Sets and Reboots

Since last week was the last in June, we had our audition classes with Suzanna. On Monday, I chose the Rabbit Hole scene, because I figured it was the one I had the most to work on. I volunteered to go first, and my first take was definitely my best take. Not to say I shouldn’t have done the others, because they were very useful, but the first time is where I connected the most emotionally. There is a part where I talk for a paragraph, so my reader looked up at me, and at first it felt off, but then I just felt it and connected.

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Suzanna asked me about my moment before, because she felt I was coming in already expecting what was about to happen in the scene. Having done my homework, I explained that I wasn’t reacting to what I knew was coming, but to what I had been doing in the scene before this one. Which is true, I got the core right, but I needed to cover more, at least in the beginning, because the thing upsetting me is something I don’t want to share with my husband.

For the last take, Suzanna had me try it angry with my husband, so I try to leave and get offended with his accusations rather than just hurt. There are some moments that felt so much stronger with the anger rather than the pain, but a lot of moments truly benefit from the raw vulnerability I usually play it with.

I recently had an audition where we had to send in 2 different takes of each scene, and I think it’s a good thing to try while prepping all scenes. If I do the whole thing angry, then the whole thing sad, there are obviously moments that won’t work, but hopefully a combination of the two will bring a richer, more moving performance. And I always have to remember to mask my core.

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For our actor roles and auditions, we were all paired up, so I was the bubbly and overexcited wife with Nick and Sean, then a receptionist who is going on a cruise for the second one with everyone. Often when we do commercials I wish I could have done an Actor role instead, but these were sooo much fun, and I can only imagine how hilarious it would have been to actually get to film them.

On Tuesday I did a bit of background with some awesome people, discovering that someone I admire is even more of a class act than I already assumed them to be.

Wednesday I was all over the place, starting by helping a friend with a Self Tape. She thought my original offer was for a limited time only, some kind of resolution I was trying out, but no, I am actually committing to help out with readers and self-tapes and running lines and what not for however long people need me, as long as I am available. Why would I say no to the chance to act and help out a friend, all in one?

Next I went to meet Carolyne so we could catch up and talk about the industry and our lives. As always, she offered insightful advice, reminded me why I need to stand up for myself more, and we left emphasizing our Compass Feelings. If you didn’t listen to Dallas Travers’ 5 Day Acting Reboot, you probably don’t know what that is, and neither did she. At least not with that terminology. Basically, Day 1 of the reboot was about finding a feeling that we want to drive our careers and our lives. Instead of what goals we want to accomplish with our acting, we should be asking “How do I want acting to make me feel? How do I want to feel every day?” I chose Confidence as my Compass Feeling, because it has more to do with how I feel about myself, rather than how I think others feel about me. The whole reboot was pretty awesome, if ever you do want to check her out and find out more secrets. I was lucky enough to be featured in one of the Live Q & A sessions:

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In class that evening, I chose to do the Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind scene, because drunk is still an issue. Unfortunately, I was pretty off. The first take felt like I was just running lines, and the second like I was playing anger more than feeling it (she told me to try being angry rather than a giggly drunk). The third take I sat on the chair rather than just standing, but like the wall from last week, I think I was using it as a crutch to drive the performance. And I focused again on the being drunk rather than the heart of the scene, which I did work on, but did not internalize.

I was on book for the actor who came after me, and was truly inspired by the fact that he brought a monologue rather than doing one of his scenes over. Although sometimes I think I really benefit from an extra chance to work on a scene, I think it would be incredibly beneficial to start bringing in scenes from my target shows, or monologues I want to work on. At least when I feel like I already did my class scene justice.

I had to leave class early for an interview, to see if I could attend an acting class in Los Angeles. This is definitely progress, because almost all of the really cool classes I have taken were chosen, not entirely, but very much because there was no audition process. I have often taken an entry level class, when I know an intermediate class would have been so much more useful for me, because trying for the intermediate class would have meant auditioning. And the possibility of being turned down. This time, I had to pull out an old monologue, and answer all kinds of questions no one has ever asked me before. It was a very interesting process.

On Thursday, I was back in Quebec to film some scenes for Deep Web, which were incredibly reminiscent of the Dark Shack. There were less ropes and someone different was wielding the knife, but it almost felt too close for comfort.

 

“Your future depends on many things, but mostly on you.”

-Frank Tyger

Dick : The Movie

A few weeks ago I had the awesome opportunity of being on the set of Dick: the movie. My friend asked me to come and do some background, which you usually don’t do for free unless you’re starting out and need the experience, but friends are an exception. And really, I would rather be on set, in any capacity, than almost anywhere else.

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I was prepared to get there and hang out in the background, watch some acting, maybe meet some new people. The friend in question, Danny Malin, is someone I had wanted to work with eventually, so I thought it would also be an opportunity to see how he works as a director.

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It turns out that I was right, but also very wrong. I did get to watch some incredible acting, and met a few new people, but most of the cast was people I already knew to be awesome. And I did not hang around in the background. True, I didn’t speak, but I was not once treated like an extra. I was even included in a behind the scenes interview thing, which I had not been expecting, and would have better prepared for if I had known. As it is, I’m not sure if I made any sense, but it was my first time being interviewed, so I probably spent most of it nervously laughing.

Once I wasn’t needed for my background skills anymore, I offered to be on book as a semi-script supervisor. Call me crazy, but as I said, I would rather be on set than almost anywhere, and if I am on set, I would rather be doing something, learning and contributing than doing nothing.

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It was an incredible experience and I learnt so much on this set, not just by watching everyone work, but by talking to them. I am so glad that I got to be a part of this project. Everyone was so welcoming, and I hope to get to work with them again. And again. And again.

 

D33P W3B

Last week I was in Quebec City, not for a delicious French restaurant, but to film a part in an independent thriller, D33P W3B. I play Kristina, a girl who is very into gaming and sort of gets in a little over her head.

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The director/writer/producer/cinematographer is Jessy Dupont, who was also behind The Dark Shack that I did years ago. He asked if I would come and be a part of his new movie and so I came. There were so many familiar faces involved in the project (from Dark Shack as well as other ventures) but I only ever had scenes with Daniel, who played my boyfriend in the last film (one of the actors actually filmed his part from Vancouver).

It was a very different atmosphere from last time. Our previous shoot was two weeks long, with almost everyone staying in the same house for the entire shoot, including a set photographer and a sound guy/stand in/I’m pretty sure he did everything. This time, I was the only staying at the house, and we filmed at night, once the guys finished work. We were also just 4 of us on set; our fearless leader Jessy, my costar Dan, his girlfriend and me.

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One thing that hadn’t changed was the guarantee of good music while riding to set with Dan. We took advantage of this travel time to run lines, and he insisted that I had to try a poutine from Ashton’s, since we don’t have those in Montreal. In case you’re wondering, it was really good, but I still think we do it better over here!

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I don’t have a lot of set pics, because I left my phone in the car in an attempt to be more present, but I did get to watch the scenes we filmed after the first night, and snuck a few pictures. I might be biased, but it is looking pretty good. The second night I didn’t get to see them because I drove home instead.

Last week was definitely easy scenes when compared to what I will be doing this week, but you’ll have to wait until the movie comes out to know what I’m talking about

 

“One of the things I like about looking at pictures when you’re young and also meeting back with old friends you haven’t seen in a long time is, for me, it’s a glimpse of who I was.”

-Lea Thompson

Eternal Sunshine

Last Wednesday’s class presented a whole new challenge; that of being drunk. I was tipsy in a comedic scene over a year ago, and worked on being drunk in my first ever Tom Todoroff intensive, but it isn’t quite something I have mastered yet. Which was largely due to the fact that I am usually too shy to really go for it, but this time it was more about not really having the life experiences to back it up. Which is a frequent problem of mine, and the reason I am trying to get me some life experiences now. Not necessarily getting drunk, because I don’t generally drink, but I am trying to do all of the things that scare me. And live more in the real world, rather than mostly vicariously through books and writing.

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Our scene is from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, where I play Clementine. We ran it a few times before class, where playing drunk got me nervous so I was shaky on my lines the first time, but I fixed that. He had trouble with one so he changed it, and I told him it was okay as long as he said something mean to get me upset.

I was on camera for the first scene, and then it was our turn. Suzanna had returned a hat she borrowed from me, so I used it as a bit of business at the top of the scene. I would walk in wearing the hat, throw it across the room while taking off my shoes, then lean against the wall, which was the biggest proponent of my drunkenness.

Our first take, Suzanna congratulated me for going there, but she wanted me to be less of a cute and giggly drunk. I tried to get offended more, to be more defensive. When she told me to try and get a rise out of him, we talked about my goal and I realized (what I should have much earlier) that I wasn’t just coming home drunk and unaware of what I was saying, I was purposely trying to start a fight so he could break up with me now rather than when it would destroy me. That definitely helped. And although I thought it didn’t matter what he said to me as long as it was mean, when Suzanna had him say the actual line, I wasn’t just sort of upset and leaving because I was supposed to, it actually hurt. The improv before our last take was also kind of weird, and veered sort of off topic, but it was informative and fun.

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In addition to class, I had an audition for a webseries, with the same team from Talion’s Law, which was awesome, because they’re a great group of people. And I found out this weekend that I actually booked one of the parts I auditioned for. Was it because of my incredible acting, or was it predestined that I should play Amanda? The world will never know…

 

“I’ve always been spontaneous and outgoing…I’ve tried lots of things so I’ve got some good life experiences, which is great ‘cause it means I’ve got lots of material to work with as an actor.”

-Leonardo DiCaprio

Playing House

On Monday, Michelle and I had planned to meet early and rehearse, but unfortunately, life got in the way. Luckily, I knew my lines and had worked on the text on my own this time. So, when we got to class and went to run our lines before going up, I should not have been completely thrown when she asked me, “What is Bruce doing here?” Someone once told me that a great acting exercise is to go out in public and run your lines, then see if people can tell you’re rehearsing, or if they think you’re genuinely having that conversation/argument/falling in love or whatnot. Michelle was super natural and awesome, as always, but I was not confused because I didn’t think she was acting. I was confused because her line in my script was “Why don’t you tell me what happened down there.”

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We quickly figured out that Suzanna had been debating which of two scenes from the same show (Playing House) she wanted to give us, so although she did choose one, she ended up giving us each different scenes. She solved it by saying I would learn Michelle’s scene and do the other one as an audition, because I am good at learning lines and so that it wouldn’t be wasted (I had researched angry raccoon noises). However, once I learnt Michelle’s scene, we still had a bit of time, so I suggested Michelle try learning mine, if she wanted, so that we could do both scenes and neither of us would miss out on doing our scene with the connection of a scene partner. Obviously, she nailed it.

We did my scene first, since it came earlier chronologically. We opted to sit Indian style rather than overlapping each other scissor-style, and got Atena to do additional raccoon noises. The first take was mostly to get the lines out, but our connection was really good. My note was to go deeper, which made sense, not just because timeline wise, I had just found out I had been betrayed, but because I was trying to play it more straight and comedy than with heart and how I would actually react if this was happening to me. I believe my second note was to go even deeper again, and for Atena to make more raccoon noises for us. And to push the diamonds and the craziness. It was a cute scene and a lot of fun.

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For Michelle’s scene, we had to fight more (I had to get more defensive), and then I had to go slower and remove all the okays that I was slipping in. When I got rid of the okays and went slower though, I also lost all of the energy. So we did it one last time so I could get the pace, remove the okays and keep the energy. One okay still slipped in, but it was a petty good take, and Michelle really looked hurt and affected by what I said, so she meant it when she wished me butt rabies. Well, not Michelle to me, but Emma to Maggie. You know what I mean.

I ran camera for the next scene, so kind of sad I didn’t get to see both sides of what sounded like an incredible performance (and was from the side I could see), but then I was on book for the last two. We went more than a half hour past when class was supposed to be over, but this time I was able to stay until the end. Which is good because Atena, whose scene it was, had to leave, even though Suzanna was still working on something with her scene partner. Always ready with solutions, Suzanna had me go up and be a therapist from 50/50. We did it 3 more times and although we didn’t record it on my SD card, I will definitely be asking for them tonight, just to see. After the 3rd take, when Suzanna asked him how it went, he said “I feel like I have to say good so everyone can go home.” Which we all thought was pretty funny.

 

“I’d rather have the hard road into excellence than the easy road into mediocrity. So I’m not complaining. And it’s important that I say this: If we have any Latinos or any immigrants listening to this, this is an invitation for us to wake up and be excellent at anything that we do.”

-Salma Hayek

Rabbits and Trolls

On Wednesday I had a scene from Love, where I was Mickey’s roommate, Bertie, who was described to me as weird and eccentric. With this (and my recent Seeking White Female scene) in mind, I forgot that even if you are playing the crazy character, you usually shouldn’t think of yourself as crazy. The trick to nailing those characters is to play them like you’re the most sane person in the room and everyone else is crazy. In this case, Tracy and I ran the scene in the back to figure out the blocking and make sure we had our lines, and then we did it 4 times. I would say it took me until the last take, after we did the subtext improv, to truly embrace that I am not crazy, I am just a little weird because I am trying too hard to get her to like me. I obviously have some sociopathic tendencies, but I’m sure it’s pretty common for children (…or adults?…) to play with already dead animals and not turn into serial killers.

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For a breakdown of the takes, the first one I was playing weird on purpose, and it was kind of superficial. The second I was trying to be her friend, but still as a weird roommate. The third take I started to get the beginning and the end, but there was a really weird transition. Finally, the last take I got the nervousness and the “Like me” plea that had me trying too hard. Also, every take I completely threw away my ‘virile’ line, because how do you say that word in English?

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That would have been it, except someone cancelled, so I was asked to do a second scene, with Jerome. It was from Man Seeking Woman, and I had done it before, so it wasn’t too hard to pick it back up when we ran the lines a few times in the back. Other than not blocking his camera when I point in this scene, I can’t remember any notes. Which is possibly because it wasn’t really my scene, and I also may have gotten a bunch that I am just not remembering, but I prefer to think that I did a pretty good job with this one. Although I did notice a lot of ‘okay’s slipping in when I rewatched it, so I will have to be careful again.

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We ran incredibly late because we really spent time working on each scene, so I had to leave before it was done, but like always, I love this class, both acting in it, and watching other people act.

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“A question that sometimes drives me hazy: am I, or are the others crazy?”

-Albert Einstein

Rabbit Hole

This week I tried something different. Johnny, who teaches me Meisner, was telling me about the amazing opportunity we have in this class, to rehearse scenes with each other before filming it in class, being able to watch it afterwards…I realized that I wasn’t taking advantage of the rehearsing with scene partners between classes, so I did something about it.

My scene is from Rabbit Hole, which is some pretty heavy, emotional stuff. Last week, we all teared up, but for me it was because it’s a sad scene, not because I was internalizing any of it.

Usually, I am nearly off book from the first class where we cold read the scene, so during the week I will maybe think about who I am and what I want, answer some questions I have come up with over the years, then I learn it on the day of. I don’t want to be late or driving in rush hour traffic, so I leave home hours before class, park my car, then I walk around or sit in the car and do vocal exercises with my lines, making sure I have them. This system gets me off book and doesn’t take too long, but it also leaves a lot out.

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I had wonderful intentions for this week, and I won’t make excuses, because I really don’t have any, other than I didn’t put in the time. I read the scene a few times over the week, and tried to imagine what it would be like to go through the loss of a child, but I couldn’t really bring myself to go there. I also got busy and sidetracked and did not make the scene a priority. I knew I had asked my scene partner to meet me and rehearse together a couple of hours before class, but it didn’t register with me that I hadn’t learnt my lines. The scene was longer than our usual scenes, and a few of the lines repeat themselves, but had I put in the time (even the minimum amount of time) I would have nailed them.

This meant that the rehearsal I had asked for, which would have been a lot of fun to use some of the new Meisner techniques I am learning, or just play off a scene partner rather than running lines on my own, was instead spent learning lines. This would have been really helpful if we had done it a few days before, then met up again for the actual rehearsing, because it is so much easier to learn lines when running the scene instead of on your own. It still was a lot of fun; running lines and catching up, but even at the end, I didn’t have time to go over the trouble parts and make sure I had them, we just went to class, where we were first.

Our first take was okay, in that we both got the emotions, but we weren’t connected. We were two people mourning, but not together, which is also what’s going on in the scene, but not what we want as actors. And there was a little hesitation on the lines, but I luckily remembered what I was supposed to have said and added it in so he could say his line.

The second take, I said a line wrong, which completely threw my scene partner, so we had to restart. The third one was better, although I was not in synch. My eyes would well while my voice would be normal, then I would sort of force it to sound sad and…we got the lines and there was a lot of emotion, but there were also a lot of pauses (from me, it was all my bad for not working on the scene and leaving it to the last minute, when I should have known I couldn’t) and I was a bit all over the place emotionally.

The fourth take is probably my favorite. There was less hesitation with the lines, and then somewhere near the end of the scene, at the place where I usually go out of synch, something happened where my voice dropped and I was connected. I didn’t just try to have the sadness on the surface, I felt it in my chest, and the tears started falling. I broke down and it felt awesome.

The last take, he broke down and I didn’t, but I am told it was the most connected of all of our takes. I have a theory that we couldn’t both break down at the same time.

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Unfortunately, I learnt two things from watching the different takes. First is that Johnny is right about my weird facial expressions and neck movements, that I definitely need to get under control. Second is that even when I broke down and had tears and everything….I still look like I’m smiling. Basically if my mouth is open and you see my teeth, I look like I am smiling. So I will have to work on keeping my mouth shut.

I am proud of what I achieved in this class, but also ashamed of my lack of preparation, when I know that I need it. I set out to do more work this week, and ended up doing even less, which I am really not happy with myself about, but I am going to do things differently from now on. I will still go over the scenes when I get to class abnormally early, but I am going to make it a priority to do all the work of my process and getting off book within the first couple of days that I get the scene. And I’ll try again for the scene partner rehearsals. But this way, even if I procrastinate and plan other things before class, all I will need is a quick review because I will already have done all the work.

 

“Success isn’t always about greatness. It’s about consistency. Consistent hard work leads to success. Greatness will come.”

-Dwayne Johnson

Leave the Therapy, Take the Cannoli

Hey everyone! For the past month or so, I have been helping out with a play that Premieres tonight as part of the Montreal Fringe Festival. For those not in Montreal, or who are simply wondering what the Fringe festival is, it’s an amazing opportunity for artists to showcase their skills and passion. For about 3 weeks, all kinds of theatres and venues across town welcome a multitude of plays, cabarets, musicals and performance pieces. Tickets are incredibly affordable and the artists are completely uncensored.

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The play I have been helping out with is called “Leave the therapy, take the cannoli” and tells the story of an Italian family that decides to try therapy to work through some issues. A lot of hilarity ensues, but also a lot of heart. I am told watching the play is just like spending an hour with your Italian family, in the best way possible.

If you’re wondering how I got involved and what part I play in all of this, “Leave the therapy, take the cannoli” was written by friends of mine. One of these friends, Luigi Buffone, who is also directing the play, asked if I would be his stage manager. My answer was “No, I have no idea how to do that.” Luckily for me (because it was an amazing experience), although probably not for him (because I really have no idea what I am doing), he kept asking, explaining that he didn’t so much need a stage manager as just someone who would help out. Which I can do. And have been doing. He still introduces me as the stage manager, which really isn’t the case, but it has been a pleasure so far to be a part of this wonderful story, and to watch this incredible group of people go through this adventure.

There are 6 shows in total, with the first one tonight at 9:15, and the last one June 18th at 3:45, at Mission Santa Cruz (60 Rachel St. West). Our venue houses other great shows you might want to check out, and the entire festival is an amazing opportunity to see a huge amount of incredible performances.