the day to day of a professional actor in the San Francisco Bay Area

mostly the day to day of a professional actor in the San Francisco Bay Area, but also the home of the Counting Actors Project

Friday, October 26, 2012

So Close!!

Did a little tallying of the shows for Counting Actors, and it turns out there's fewer than 10 plays left until the total count is 200 shows!!

If you're reading this, you've probably got plans to see a show, rehearse a show or perform a show before the end of October.  Will you take a few minutes and send the info about that show to the project?  If you don't know what I'm talking about, click on the Counting Actors link in the sidebar to the right.

It would be fantastic to have 200 shows by the end of the month.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Batting Average

A lot of times I don't pay much attention to sports.  It took me 3 years of college at UCLA to figure out that the big building that often had huge crowd out front getting in my way when I was late to rehearsal was Pauley Pavilion (for the non-sports minded, some amazing college basketball has happened there). True. Story.

However, given the amount of baseball I've been watching in the past week or so, I've been thinking about acting, auditions and stepping up to the plate.

The more sports minded can skip the next bit and tune back in in about a paragraph or so.  Cause I'm going to explain what I know about batting average.  Batting average in baseball is calculated as the number of times a player hits a ball divided by the number of times he is up at bat.  Excellent batting averages are anything above .300.  A batting average above .400 is next to impossible, over a lifetime.  Occasionally someone goes above .400 for a season, but it's pretty rare.

What these numbers mean: an excellent hitter in baseball connects 3 times out of every 10 times at bat. Or, an excellent hitter in baseball doesn't connect 7 out of every 10 times at bat.  Professional people, who get paid insane amounts of money to hit a ball with a stick only manage to execute that part of their job 30% of the time!

What these numbers tell me is that what these guys get paid to do isn't actually to hit balls with sticks. Rather,  their job is to be ready, should all the other circumstances line up, to hit a ball with a stick.  And ready means they prepare mentally and physically prior to the event,  they learn about the people who are going to challenge their ability to hit a ball with a stick and anticipate what might happen, and to ultimately, when the time comes and they are called to the plate, they get out of their own way mentally and allow their bodies to do what they've prepped for, and still 70% of the time, they won't actually hit the ball.

It's amazing each time I watch the intense level of commitment and concentration of a batter at the plate.  How all the training & preparation lives in that moment, how so much is out of their control, yet they know what they have control over.

Little acting lessons.  Each time.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Tiny Beautiful Things

Maybe you've read Wild - the book with the big hiking boot on the cover, about the woman who hikes the Pacific Crest Trail, a memoir written by Cheryl Strayed.

It turns out, Cheryl has been writing an advice column for an online magazine called 'The Rumpus' - she wrote her column anonymously as 'dear Sugar'  and has recently unmasked herself, and collected her columns into the book Tiny Beautiful Things.  The degree of honesty, open-ness and 'radical empathy' I found in this book struck me to the core.  Actors, please read.  You'll learn so much.

Here's a quote I particularly liked:

When you feel terrible because someone has gotten something you want, you force yourself to remember how much you have been given.  You remember that there is plenty for all of us.  You remember that someone else’s success has absolutely no bearing on your own.  (italics mine)

For me, I know that when I'm not working, auditioning less, feeling vulnerable about my career and my talent, I start to look at those around me who are hitting milestones, moving forward, gaining momentum and at times seem to be passing me in this race (who said it was one anyway?). The quote above is incredibly grounding in moments like those.

Take a look.

linkage fest - Happy Oktober!

Last Thurs Howlround had a twitter convo on gender parity and diversity.  You can read the collection of tweets here.

I highly encourage you to check out the writing of this articulate, thoughtful blogger who I learned about last week.

Here, she writes about her reactions to 'Peter and the Star-catcher' and subsequent reactions to her reaction when she discusses it with work colleages at TCG.

Here is her update a few days later - detailing reactions to her earlier post.

Here is an earlier 'angry post about gender and theater' which is so right on target and needs to be read by you.  Right now.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Counting Actors September 2012

This project began in June 2011. With the contributions of many theater makers and theater goers,  I'm getting very close to having info on 200 Bay Area shows!  To learn more about the project, including a link to a list of prior posts, and how to contribute stats when you see a show or work on one, go here.

16 Shows Counted:
Crowded Fire/Invasion!
SF Shakes/Henry V (character of Boy played by female actor)
Custom Made/The Play About the Baby
Aurora/The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity
Magic/The Other Place
TheatreWorks/Time Stands Still
Center REP/Lucky Stiff (Director/Choreographer and Music Director counted as 2 male directors below; book & lyrics by a woman, music by a male, counted as 1male, 1 female writer below)
San Jose Rep/Death of the Novel
Berkeley Rep/Chinglish
Foolsfury & Z Space/Port Out,Starboard Home
SFIAF, CARECEN & MCCLA/Placas:Most Dangerous Tattoo (project will continue to perform in San Jose, and potentially tour through CA w/this cast)
Impact/The Fisherman's Wife
BrickaBrack Productions/Stalking Christopher Walken
ACT/The Normal Heart (3 additional local understudies 2m, 1w not included below, also uncredited below is female director who re-staged BWay production for Arena & ACT tour)
Second Wind Productions/Kiss of the Spider Woman (co-directed by a m/f team; this is not the musical, but the 2 person stage play)
Intersection for the Arts, Playwrights Foundation & ESP Project/Dogsbody (production will tour to NY and present  at LaMama w/a cycle of other Erik Ehn plays)

The Stats:
13 male directors, 5 female directors
15 male writers, 2 female writers
100 total actors, 65 male, 35 female
51 union actors, 49 non-union actors
36 union men, 15 union women
68 local actors, 32 non-local

These statistics couldn't come together without contributions from the performers, artistic staff, production teams, and audience members of the Bay Area's theater community.  Thank you to Megan Killian Uttam, Phoebe Moyer, Roselyn Hallett, Karen Thompson Hall, Lily Tung Crystal, Sheila Devitt, Sarita Ocon, Rami Margron, and Melissa Hillman for sharing statistics w/me this month.

October info will go up between November 1st and 5th.  The Counting Actors project is getting very very close to 200 shows logged!  At that point, I'll be able to compile some bigger picture comparisons, similar to what I did back in March 2012, when the project reached 100 shows.  So please send in show info if you see something in October - more info on what goes in the email is here.

Thanks for talking about and sharing this info with your theater friends and colleagues, in either the real or virtual green room, audition waiting room, or at the closing night party.