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

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

I am not anonymous!

A few weeks ago, a directing colleague shot me an email to ask if I was (or knew) the anonymous source who sent an email to many Bay Area artistic directors with diversity statistics from local theaters.  It wasn't me, and I don't know who it was.

I have not seen a copy of this email (I sure would like to if anyone has it and can forward to countingactors (at) gmail (dot) com), so I don't want to comment on content.  I understand the impulse to share this information anonymously - an individual artist who may also be seeking work at these companies may not want to point fingers publicly.   The Guerilla Girls are a fantastic example of folks who solved this conundrum with creativity, humor and style. 

In the meantime, there's Counting Actors.  One full year now of adding up and sharing numbers from shows that myself and others have seen or worked on.  June results in the next week, so send me stats now.  Don't know what I'm talking about?  Go here to read more!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Monday Thoughts

are coming in from all sorts of sources:

1) A NYT article about and other web businesses that are changing 'the distinction between professionals and hobbyists and what it means to call yourself an artist when anyone with a cellphone can be a photographer, anyone with the right apps can be a designer, anyone with a Facebook page can amass a following, and anyone at all can dream up a concept and find a place to pitch it'

Live theater isn't mentioned explicitly, nor is acting, but there's lots to think about here.

2) the eloquent Polly Carl over on Howlround preaching transcendance over transactions.  It may be Monday, but this sermon is worth your time.

3) and finally, a huh? what were they thinking pair of literally hot pants.

BTW, I read all of these thanks to my feed reader.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Nathan Lane and Laurie Metcalf on O'Neill

It's an email exchange turned into an article for the NYTimes - he's playing Hickey in Iceman Cometh in Chicago, she's playing Mary Tyrone in Long Day's Journey in London.  Full of insight into process, backstage rituals and the challenges of O'Neill's characters.

I love that Lane makes sure to say hi to the two actors backstage who enter before him and talk about having seen Hickey when they enter.  I was fascinated by the facts that Metcalf wears prosthetics on her hands and prefers to be slightly hungry while performing a show.

A quote that resonated for me from Nathan Lane:

"Even after months of preparation you don’t really start to figure something like this out until you’re in front of an audience. You need time. In some ways just to get through the terror of taking this on, I think I had mapped it out too much and needed to let go of everything and let the play happen to me more." 

It's a really great article.  RTWT.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

I'm an artist and I vote!

Thanks to Barry Martin, theater artist blogging here, I saw this info Monday, which shows the gender gap in male and female voices quoted in news and media, specific to the 2012 election, and women's issues.  It's stunning.  Take a look and then come back.  I'll wait.

I've also seen multiple posts reminding me that on June 4th, 1919, the 19th Amendment was passed by the Senate, after a lengthy state ratification process, and passage in the House a few weeks prior.

As an actor with an every day is different schedule, casting a ballot can be challenging.  But I can't let myself throw away something that women fought for, stood in the cold for, were beaten for, went on hunger strikes for.  I can't throw away my voice when voices like mine are underrepresented so drastically in news and media.

In California, we've got permanent absentee ballot status for anyone who wants it.  Your ballot comes in the mail, and you mail it back, or drop it off at a polling place on election day. Go here to set it up, fellow Californians.  Permanent absentee ballots are also available to residents of Maine, Maryland and South Dakota.  Oregon and Washington are mailed ballots only, and there are 22 more states where one can vote absentee on an election by election basis.  You can also vote early in many states, by visiting your local city hall, usually starting one month prior to the election.  Visit the web page for your state's board of elections to find out more.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Why I'm not an actress

I introduce myself as an actor. It's right there in the name of this blog. I can't remember when I last chose to call myself an actress.  I don't know if it was conscious at first, but here's why.

I'm an actor because actors have more options.  Actors play the hero or the comic relief or the villain.  They're at the center of the action, the one the story is about.  That's who I want to be.  Actors are the total package - a voice and a body and technique and more.

I can feel objectification in the word actress - it's not too different from the word starlet, somehow.  And starlets are usually hot or sultry or sexy, and not much beyond.  For me, there's also something in this word that connects to the ideas in the poem/story  'Ladies First'  written by Shel Silverstein and read by Marlo Thomas on Free to Be You & Me, the supremely awesome 70's collection of poems and songs and stories with an anti-gender stereotype message.  The protagonist of 'Ladies First' is a 'tender sweet young thing' who goes on safari, and keeps insisting on special treatment, and meets an untimely end.  I'm not looking to be treated differently because of my gender, and identifying as an actress feels like I'm asking for that.

Ultimately though, it comes down to this: there are women's films (chick flicks), women's novels (chick lit) and women's plays.  But the other category isn't men's films, men's novels or men's plays - those are just called films, novels and plays.
I'd like to see the various 'stories for women' categories become 'stories for humans' categories.  And I think part of the way to get there, is to use a gender-neutral term for what I do.  I act.  I'm an actor.

Do other people feel this way about the word actress?  I'm very curious...

Friday, June 1, 2012

Counting Actors May 2012

8 Shows Counted:
ACT/Play & Endgame (count below does not include local union understudies 2m,1w)
Aluminous Collective/Dusk Rings a Bell
Playground/Best of Playground 16 (festival of 7 short plays with 7 directors, 7 writers and 2 composers incl. as writers below)
San Jose Rep/The Understudy
Shotgun/Great Divide
Cutting Ball/Tenderloin (the director and writer are the same person - piece is a collage of first person interviews collected by the artists involved)
Berkeley Playhouse/Lucky Duck (not credited as actors below are 21 youth performers, 19f, 2m, 2 credited as directors on this piece are director and music director, 3 credited as writers are the music/book/lyrics writers)
City Lights/In the Next Room or The Vibrator Play

The Stats:
5 male directors, 11 female directors
12 male writers, 7 female writers
63 total actors, 34 male, 29 female
21 union actors, 42 non-union actors
12 union men, 9 union women
60 local actors, 3 non-local

Thanks so much to all who helped count this month, including Melissa Hillman, Karen Thompson Hall and Alona Bach

Please share these stats with others, use them to start conversations, and if you see a show or are working on a show with June performances, go here to learn more about how to share the stats w/this project. 

June stats will go up between July 1 and July 5.