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

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Put down your suitcases

At my very terrific voice class on Friday we had a great conversation about recognizing tension.  One of the first things pointed out is that a beginning student may have trouble even knowing what tension is. When starting out, you need to develop a level of awareness about your own body.  Then, as your self-awareness develops, you can begin to understand where you are holding tensions that are new and different, and eventually you work your way towards the deeper tensions - the habitual ones that you've held so long they seem like the normal state.  We made an analogy between tension and luggage (emotional baggage anyone?).  You can think of different areas of tension as different pieces of luggage you carry around on yourself.  Learning to release tension is about learning to recognize when you can put down one of those pieces of luggage because you don't need to carry it anymore.  I think it's helpful to think of tension as luggage because of the resistance to letting go of the long held tensions - if you know you're just putting down a suitcase for a little while, you can always pick it back up if you miss it.  But it's also possible that you'll realize you can travel lighter.
I'm finding this suitcase analogy really useful for other things as well - I have so many compartments to my life these days - day jobs, side projects, auditions, etc.  And it doesn't help to try to carry all of those bags at the same time.  If I bring the day job bag into an audition, there goes the audition.  If I bring the audition to the side project, I'll end up saying the wrong lines!  And if I bring any or all of those home to the dinner table, I'm going to be less present for the important people in my life. 
To be even more specific, it's a great analogy for how to deal w/auditions after they're done.  Put the suitcase down.  Once you're done, you're done and it's up to someone else to make the decision. 

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Resource of the week: weird actor day jobs

Substitute teacher, santa's elf, fake medical patient, dental office front desk - all of these are jobs I've held while pursuing work as an actor. 

And, I just found a cool new source for odd jobs that is pretty complimentary to actor hours - it's called TaskRabbit - it's a website where people post things that they need done, then designated TaskRabbit 'runners' bid on those tasks, and get paid when the task is completed.  A lot of the tasks are 'can you go get this thing and bring it from one place to another?' There's also moving help, housecleaning, and some things that are a little bit more odd.  The first thing I did on TaskRabbit was make a list of 10 pizza places in SF that were open until 10pm, had a table big enough for 15 people to sit together, and weren't too loud (the person who was posting the task had a group who wanted to meet regularly and practice their english conversational skills) - I thought about places I know and like, used yelp to flesh things out, and it took about an hour - I got $25 for it. 

At this point TaskRabbit is only in the SF Bay Area, and Boston, but I'm sure they'll be expanding soon to other cities. Check it out!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Resource of the Week: Feed Readers

My sister's in librarian schools, so she's teaching me how to manage my information streams.  I thought this was a pretty basic one, but after explaining it to three different people in one week, I realized that maybe it's not.

Are there websites that you visit regularly to see if they have new content (blogs, websites for newspapers, weekly columns on-line, etc)?  If so, streamline your time and subscribe to these websites using a feed reader such as Google Reader or FeedDemon.  Then, you just have to open your feed reader, and it'll show you all the new content that has been put up on that website.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Some good books

Here are some books that are on my shelf and about acting.

1. The Actor and the Target by Declan Donnelan - author is the artistic director of England's Cheek by Jowl, and this book is his ideas about what acting is, based on the idea of getting around what is 'blocking' an actor.

2. The Viewpoints Book by Anne Bogart and Tina Landau, A Director Prepares by Anne Bogart, And then, You Act by Anne Bogart - the first book has more of a workbook quality, and outlines the technique of Viewpoints.  The other two books are more collections of essays by Anne and her ideas about making theater.

3. Actions: The Actors' Thesaurus by Marina Calderone and Maggie Lloyd-Williams is a slim volume filled w/playable verbs, and synonyms for those verbs.  If you are the type of actor or director who likes to think about playable actions when analyzing text, then this book is indispensable, I'd think.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A big one!

I've been a light poster the past two weeks.  And I had a good reason.  TBA Generals.  This is maybe the biggest audition for theater that one can do in the San Francisco Bay Area.  Non-equity actors get 2 minutes, equity get 3, and you get seen by just about everyone who casts anything live theater in the region, as well as maybe a few folks who cast film, tv, etc. 

So mine was on Monday, and I got through it with no major disasters.  No line flubs, no wardrobe malfunctions, no person before me doing my exact pieces.

Phew!  Something that kept me really grounded, day of, that I'm going to try and start incorporating into more audition days was a written timetable of what I'd be doing to get ready and when.  Wake up 8am, warm-up 8:30-9:30, shower 9:30, get dressed 10, leave for BART 10:30, take BART at 10:54, arrive Berkeley at 11:30, audition 12:15.  I had a schedule and I stuck to it.  I often do this in my head, or know that I've got to leave the house by a certain time to make the audition, but never have I made it all so clear for myself.  It really helped.

Maybe more about the TBAs in the next week or two, and resource of the week will be back next week.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Resource of the Week: Classes

Do you take class?  I do.  Here's a list of my reasons why: fitness - this is part of the movement work especially - having a body that's ready to work, not sore, tight and flabby.  Grounding and connection to breath - I definitely get this in my voicework, but can find it in the movement work as well, and then test it all in my acting class.  Socializing w/other actors - at class I can find out who is reading for what, who is casting now, etc.  It's not my only source for this info, but it's definitely one of them. A place to practice being the actor I want to be, but without a result attached to it - there's no role on the line, no critic watching, just me and my classmates and the person teaching.  It's a place to grow.

From the list below, I usually do 2-3 per week.

Acting class:  I'm in the Seydways Studios Professional Actors Lab.

Voice class: I take a Fitzmaurice voice workshop taught by Cynthia Bassham at Seydways in SF.

Seydways website is here.

Movement classes:

Suzuki technique with Jeffrey Bihr

Yoga at Yoga Mayu with Gisella or Christopher

Fusion Rhythms Dance Workout at Rhythm and Motion