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, January 29, 2012

After the Audition

There's lots and lots about before the audition.  Even I've written about it here! (And for those doing Theatre Bay Area Generals next week, that post includes a link to a great post about staging general auditions).

So what about after the audition?  Here are somethings I try and do.

1) treat myself - I put a lot of prep and effort into auditions.  So that effort deserves a reward - anything from a piece of chocolate to a fancy night out - any kind of indulgence that I can look forward too, just not one with a tight time pressure, in case the audition runs super late.
2) log it - I head over to my audition spreadsheet, and write down who was in the room, what pieces I did, and what I wore.  If there was something specific I wanted to follow up on, I log that too.
3) assess - what did I do well?  where can I improve?  I like to make sure I give these questions a little time (rather than obsess about things I can't control).  I'll figure out what I need to do to repeat (or change) my process for the next audition.
4) follow up(short term) - usually I wait a few days, then send an emailed thank you note to whoever was in the room.  I might make comments related to projects that they are working on, give specifics on what I'm doing (offer a comp if I can), or point out my professional website and encourage them to visit. 
5) follow up(long term) - I figure out how I'm going to continue my relationship with the individuals I met in the audition and the institutions that they represent - do I need to watch for a season announcement at a company's website? connect via social media so I can keep up on news and goings on for that individual?  When am I going to follow up again after my initial thank you note?

For those auditioning at the TBA Generals, best of luck and break all the legs you can!!!  I sincerely hope you make some time to plan a big treat for afterwards.  You deserve it!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Count Some Actors (and Directors and Writers)

Looking forward to posting results from January for the Counting Actors project, but would love to get some more data on more shows. If you're in a show or saw a show with January performances, please follow these instructions and send me the info.  And, if you've got a project with February performances, you can go ahead and send that info too!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

fun with spreadsheets 2: the actions/relationships list

Another glimpse into how I use excel spreadsheets to manage my career.  When I joined Actor's Equity, I made a list of theaters in the region that offer Equity contracts.  And then I rated them based on how much of an 'in' I have at those theaters.

Like this:
0 = I don't know anyone there.
1= I've met someone from their casting/artistic staff.
2= I've done a general audition.
3= I've been called in to read for a specific project.
4= I've had a callback or done a reading/small project.
5= I've been cast at that theater.

So my spreadsheet has 3 columns: rating, company name, and next step.

Having this spreadsheet helps me know where I'm at with each company, and what my next action should be with each different theater.  For some companies, I'm looking for an introduction to their casting director, for others, I want to make sure I do their generals next time they come up, and at others I'm pitching myself for appropriate roles in their next season.

Since I've got everything in one place, I can develop specific targeted strategies to move my relationships up the ladder.  I know that zero doesn't turn into 5 overnight - this is a marathon, not a sprint - and that building and maintaining relationships over time is one of the keys to a long career.

I'm going to be sharing info like this at the class I have coming up on February 11th from 1pm to 2:45pm for Theatre Bay Area called 'Navigating Your Life as a Bay Area Actor'  which is part of TBA's ATLAS program, a career development program for performing artists.  If you'd like to take my class (or want to recommend it to someone), it costs $25 for TBA members/$40 for non-members, and you can reserve your spot by calling (415) 430-1140 x10 and speaking to a TBA Membership Associate, or by emailing  There are a bunch of other great classes too, on topics like time management, goal setting, and PR/Marketing for the actor.  Worth checking out!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

more links: successful people and odds of pilot success

Here are some more great links from recent reading:

Marc and Angel Hack Life has a great post listing the 12 things successful people do differently.  It has links to book titles and lots of good ideas on things like goal setting, finding balance, and measuring/tracking progress.

And, for a dose of Hollywood TV land reality, take a look at Ken Levine's blog, where he writes about the process of creating and casting a hit series.  Keep reading until the comments, where you'll see a lot of people say things like 'yikes! I had no idea it was this hard to be an actor!'  

Lastly, over at 2amt (a blog/twitter hashtag where you can share your 2am thoughts about theater and theatermaking), there's a post by playwright Laura Axelrod entitled 'Can Women Write Good Plays?'  And, even more awesome is the birth of a new twitter hashtag: #2femt, which looks to be a place for discussion of women's representation in theatermaking.

Monday, January 23, 2012

links on Shakespeare&gender&sexism

Both from the UK's Guardian -

Link #1 is an examination of the current usage of single gender casting in Shakespeare plays. My favorite part:

"By making the familiar unfamiliar and levelling gender differences, single-sex casting can make us look afresh at plays that have become an accepted part of our cultural fabric. This allows audiences to reassess not only the gender relations in these classics, but also the ways in which men and women still treat one another in today's society."


Link #2 looks specifically at Taming of the Shrew - and asks Brit actors and directors who've tackled the play in recent years how they interpret a play that often gets called barbaric and mysogynistic. Go here to read!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Don't Miss These Posts!

It's now been over a year that I've been blogging here, and I'm really thrilled with how the readership is growing.

But there are a few posts that for some reason (glitches w/the feed to facebook, posted at weird times), really didn't get the number of readers that they deserve.  Here's some links to check out!

1) How is success like flossing? This post links to a post by Chris Brogan, a media/business/technology guy - I think it's really relevant to the actor's day to day.
2) Why Kneehigh? A post with thoughts about local casting vs. non-local casting that compares the issue to the local food movement.
3) The Actor and Social Networking culls the thoughts of a few experts on how actors can effectively use social networking tools for their careers.
4) A Checklist will help you take a look at the different tools we use to audition and solicit work, and get them in top shape!

5) making habits, getting productive is a post about a super simple online tool that can help you create better habits and get things done!

Also, in case you didn't notice, I'm now taking requests!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

girl walk all day

For me, sometimes creative works can become talismans for my own creativity - they inspire, recharge, provide glimpses of recognition - like this and this have done. 

But this video project has completely undone me and moved me greatly.  If you're not up to speed, Girl Talk is a DJ/musician known for mash-ups and sampling.  His album All Day is roughly an hour of continuous hip-hop, 80's/90's riffs, and your favorite bit of almost every pop song. (and is great to blast when I need to motivate for major cleaning projects). The team at Girl Walk decided to take the album and make a dance music video to match it - they've been releasing it online in chapters since November, and concluded it this week. 

The narrative focuses on 3 dancers and a day in NYC where they interact with each other, with other dancers, and with the people of New York, who sometimes dance with them, sometimes don't. 

I am in awe of the scope and ambition of this project.  Of the making of art in public spaces.  Of the bravery of the dancers for dancing on boats, scooters, sidewalks, and even at I think Yankee Stadium. 

The story tugs at me - the quest to find the community of people who speak your artistic language or are willing to learn/accept/try, and the surprising places where you find it; the willingness to march to your own drummer and get others to be in the parade. 

Watch for yourself.  Here's chapter one:

The website for the project is

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Me and my agents: how we met

For years, I sent cover letters, headshots and resumes to different agencies in the Bay Area.  With very little success.  I would get a thank you form letter saying that they had enough of my type, then I would grumble about how I was a real artist and didn't need to sell myself, and go back to doing theater for another year or so, and then repeat the whole process.

However, I also started to build up some independent film credits and some comfort in front of a camera.  I took classes in on-camera/commercial acting (at a school that has closed its doors), and then classes in voiceover at Voice One.  A few different classes at Voice One included 'one session w/a San Francisco Talent Agent!' as part of the class.  I met a person from my agency at one of those classes, and was asked to come in and audition for them, or 'go on tape'

I came in w/a monologue and also got handed a piece of commercial copy to prep on the spot and record on camera.  And I didn't hear anything.  I followed up via email.  A few times.  I heard that they hadn't had time to review my tape yet.  I asked a colleague who was repped by this agency to follow up w/them.  Months went by.  Nothing.

Almost one year later, I took another class at Voice One that had one of those 'Talent Agent sessions!'  and it turned out to be the exact same person as before.  He asked to talk to me after class, said I looked familiar and how did we know each other.  I said that we'd met roughly a year ago, and I'd taped for the agency and then never heard anything from them.  I got a funny 'Oh!' and he asked me to come in and tape again.

So again, a monologue, reading some commercial copy and having these both filmed.  This time I was told to wait, they might be reviewing my tape right away, but then after the session person checked with other folks, it turned out that it was going to take them a few days to get back to me.  By the end of the week, I'd been offered a contract, and started going on auditions. 

And the rest, as they say, is history.

I'm not sharing this story because I think it has a moral or a lesson - each of us is on our own journey through the business.  These are just a few steps of mine.

And hey, if you're into early Eugene O'Neill, and you're out in Danville (home of Tao House, former home of Mr. O'Neill) tonight or tomorrow afternoon, come and see this reading that I'm part of!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Counting Actors for December

This project began in June 2011 and has counted 76 shows so far.  Links to results for past months (as well as how to send in a report in the future) are here.

7 Shows counted:
Marin Theater Company/Glass Menagerie (this production added a 5th actor onstage as 'Trumpeter/Father')
Berkeley Rep/Wild Bride (All actors in this production were European, performing with permission of Actor's Equity, so although not AEA members, they're being counted as union actors.)
SF Playhouse/Period of Adjustment
No Nude Men/Ladies in Waiting (this was an evening of 3 one acts, so has 3 directors and 3 writers)
Golden Thread/Language Rooms
Shotgun Players/God's Plot (writer and director are same person)
Willows Theater Co/Nunset Blvd (writer/composer is also director)

The Stats:
3 female directors, 6  male directors
3 female writers, 6  male writers
46  total actors: 27 men, 19  women
22 Equity actors, 24 Non-equity actors
12 Equity men, 10 Equity women
38 local actors, 8 non-local actors

Folks who shared results this month include: Roselyn Hallet, Marissa Skudlarek, Kendra Oberhauser, Anna Bullard. Lauren Bloom, Dan Wilson and Evren Odcikin

Thanks for reading!  If you've got a few minutes to tweet, fb, +, or otherwise share this post, it would be much appreciated!  And, if you're working on or see a show with performances in January, please send me the stats for the next round of results, which will be posted between Feb 1st and Feb 5th.

Look for another round of results between Feb 1st and Feb 5th.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Why Kneehigh?

For those of you who closely follow the monthly Counting Actors post, and wait breathlessly for its arrival each month, you may scratch your head when you see the next one.

Because you remember reading this post, but you'll see this show in the December count.  And both shows are British in origin.  Why is one outside the count, and the other one included?  What's the difference?

Richard III was a commercial production on a national tour.  There were no opportunities for local artists to participate artistically in the show, and there never would've been.

The Wild Bride is being produced at Berkeley Rep,  a non-profit theater.   A Bay Area based company, with its own performance spaces, administrative offices and staff all here.   And this is why the show goes into the count.

Berkeley Rep often, but not always, works with local artists.  Directors, designers, actors, and writers based here in the Bay Area.  One of the many purposes of the Counting Actors project is to track what choices our local companies are making - when do they choose to hire local actors, and when do they hire actors from out of town.

The local artists/non-local artists issue is a huge one that I first became aware of when I heard actors make jokes about having to move to New York to get hired at XXX (large local regional company).  As someone living in the SF Bay Area, I'd like to have opportunities to be hired by local companies.  At the same time, productions using artists from other regions can be artistically exciting and challenge and inspire us to make richer work here in the region.  I have been inspired by seeing SITI Company's Midsummer produced at San Jose Rep, the co-production of Time of Your Life at ACT directed by Chicago's Tina Landau and featuring actors from SF, Chicago and Seattle, and Tadashi Suzuki's Tale of Lear at Berkeley Rep, which featured actors from 4 different US regional theaters who had all gone to Japan to train, rehearse, and create their production of King Lear with the renowned Japanese director.

My metaphor for this issue is the local food movement.  Lots of folks have gotten super excited about eating food that comes from within 100 miles of where they live.  Supporters of local food say that by eating locally, you're keeping your money in your community.  Fewer resources are used to get the food to the eater, which also saves money, and decreases pollution.  The food is fresher, therefore tastier and more nutritious.   The first two points here are also good arguments for supporting local artists.  The money stays in the community, and the theater doesn't have to use its resources to transport artists or house them once they get here. 

A big con of local food is that it lacks variety.  People in Kansas wouldn't get to eat lobster, and no one in North America would get to have coffee, chocolate or bananas.  You lose the opportunity to try new things and broaden your palate - like when I went to my favorite Burmese restaurant, and my favorite dish, the fermented tea leaf salad, was off the menu that week, because they hadn't been able to get any of the main ingredient in from the homeland.  So, I appreciate artists from outside the region too.  They broaden my artistic palate.

Here's what I'd like to see:
1) A greater awareness in the region of who the local artists are and what companies are using local artists - perhaps a symbol in the programs (like an Equity *) that means the artists live somewhere in the 9 county Bay Area, and have done so for at least 1 year.  My grocery story puts a state of California icon next to items that come from within the state - it could be kind of like that.
2) A greater level of consciousness on the part of companies about their choices to hire folks from out of town - is that Florida strawberry going to be better quality than the one grown near Pescadero? Maybe, maybe not. 

Monday, January 2, 2012

Linking into 2012

Alona Bach over at Up Next has a fantastic post about the theater she saw in 2011, and the highlights and lowlights of seeing theater in the Bay Area as a teenager.

Mariah who blogs at A Rehearsal Room of One's Own has some terrific ideas about what generous means.  Ideas that are worth putting into practice.