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

Monday, August 27, 2012


So I've just learned about this word/concept and it's been making me stagger a bit.

It's Greek in origin, and the Greek word means something like 'having a goal' or 'creating completion'

Aristotle uses it when talking about plants and seeds.  It's the essence of what's in a seed that makes it grow into the right kind of plant - the essential thing that makes a tomato seed grow a tomato plant or a pumpkin seed a pumpkin vine.  In other words, the entelechy of the acorn is an oak tree, the entelechy of a caterpillar is a butterfly and so on.

It's a fantastic word that holds in it the concepts of soul, potential, growth, transformation, self-actualization, possibility.  It's a way to name one's purpose and reason for being.

What kind of oak tree is already there, waiting for me to manifest it?

Friday, August 24, 2012

Open-Gender Casting: read about it over at HowlRound

I love this HowlRound post not just because it gives me a newer, better piece of vocabulary: open-gender casting - the idea that a character can be played by an actor of either gender as their own gender. An example from my resume: playing Toby Belch as a female character.  Another example of this would be a playwright writing characters with the intention that they can be played by either gender.

The other term I've been using as a catch all is cross-gender casting.  Moving forward, I'll be using this term to describe scenarios where a character is played by an actor of the opposite gender as the gender of the character.  An example from my resume: playing MacBeth as written, as a male character.

The post over at HowlRound by Susan Stroupe is intended as a conversation starter on this issue.  So head on over, and make some comments!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Audition Attitude

Man!  I was at an industrial audition this week with some needy actors!  Do you know what I mean? Apologetic body language during slate and profiles.  Afraid to point out that there was actually one more character in the side than actors in the room so the assistant would need to read in.  Needing the job so much that they hadn't prepped the sides well enough to get off the page and deliver lines to camera, and therefore weren't able to pick up the pace when given the direction to do so.

One of the things that makes auditions so terrifying/excruciating/difficult is the power dynamic.  The people on the other side of the desk or camera are the ones making the decision on who gets the gig and who doesn't.  And when we NEED those people to choose us, the energy in the room gets really hard to deal with, not only for the other actors in the room, but for the decision makers too.

How does one get past the neediness?  Observe an audition from the other side - be a PA or a reader or find some other way into the room and you'll see how many factors go into casting that you never considered.

More importantly, cultivate an audition attitude.  Lighten up and don't take it so seriously.  Get to a place where you can take approval seeking out of the equation.  Know yourself.  Do your homework, take classes, get comfortable with the process of auditioning.

And flip it - the people on the other side of the table need you!  If you come in and blow the house down, they can relax - you made their script sound good, their concept works, their story makes sense - because of you and your skill and talent.

And you might just want to listen to the song I've got below.  I often make sure that the last thing I do before I leave the house is kick off the audition shoes and dance and sing along w/Jill Scott.  And I take the amazing  ladies of The A Group to the audition with me in my mind, to back me up with moves and harmony and all their red sequined awesomeness.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Reading Assignment

I just keep giving you homework, don't I.

Two things to read:
1) over at the NY Times, there's a feature in their opinion section called 'room for debate' - several opinion columns on the same topic from different writers.  A recent topic in this section is 'How Can Women Gain Influence in Hollywood?'  It's focused on writing/directing/producing and has lots of great thoughts and perspectives.

A couple of points I like:

I don't believe men maliciously choose men over women in employment decisions, but there is a certain laziness that has set in from habit. Why cast a female soldier when we are used to casting a male one? Why create a marketing campaign for girls when we already know how to market to boys? 


When Hollywood’s business side finally and consistently matches women's storytelling prowess with a recognition of and commitment to the evolving communities that engage around their story worlds, women will rise everywhere as a result.

The entire thing is here.

2) The super fantastic Alicia Coombes has an article up on a new online magazine called Art Animal, a magazine focused on women's art.  Her article is about the Bay Area's gender parity company Symmetry Theatre, and also has a few quotes from yours truly about the Counting Actors project.  Take a look here!

Monday, August 13, 2012


In honor of their 30th anniversary, San Francisco Shakespeare Festival is running an ambitious and fun project they're calling 'Free Shakespeare in the Parklet'  They're doing 30 stagings of scenes from Shakespeare in parklets and other open spaces throughout the city.

It's kind of like a Shakespeare flash mob or pop-up.  It's really cool to see how the audiences respond, and to think of how San Francisco and the stories of Shakespeare fit together - putting the Macbeths' in the shadow of the Transamerica Pyramid, or Kate and Petruchio in a playground with a water feature.

Tomorrow, I'm playing Adriana in a scene from Comedy of Errors.  We're at 5:30 in the Fisherman's Wharf area - specific location tbd by end of today.  I'm so excited to reunite w/castmates from the production we did a few years ago.

The facebook listing is here.  You can and should follow/friend SF Shakes on Twitter and Facebook for info on the rest of these FREE performances.

Friday, August 10, 2012

your homework for the weekend

Over on the 2amtheatre blog, Travis Bedard has thrown out a challenge - what season would you program?

I've weighed in in the comments, and you can too.

Take a look here.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Likeable female protagonists & Patton Oswalt on gamechangers

Must Read #1:
Stealing the Herd by playwright Carolyn Gage over on Howlround is about 'likeability' of protagonists in Broadway musicals, and it's fantastic.

Here's a few quotes:
It would appear that there exists a significant double standard for what is deemed acceptable behavior for male protagonists and female ones.

What they know, and what I am learning, is that “likeable” means feminine. Even if the protagonist is the world’s greatest sharpshooter, she must still throw a match to get her man and take a number that says “I enjoy being a girl.

Fantastic - go read it!

Must Read #2:
Patton Oswalt delivered the keynote at Montreal's Just for Laughs in Montreal a week or so ago.  If you haven't seen this yet, it's got some great thoughts for any creative art maker - just substitute what you do any time he uses the word 'comedian'

He writes 2 letters, one to the 'comedian in 2012', and one to the 'gatekeepers':
I need to decide more career stuff for myself and make it happen for myself, and I need to stop waiting to luck out and be given. I need to unlearn those muscles.
 Our careers don’t hinge on somebody in a plush office deciding to aim a little luck in our direction. There are no gates. They’re gone.

Highly inspiring - check it out 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Counting Actors, July 2012

This project began in June 2011. To date, we've counted 152 Bay Area shows.  To learn more about the project, including a link to a list of prior posts in this series, go here.

14 Shows Counted:
ACT/Scottsboro Boys (3 male writers credited on this production - book, lyrics, music)

Berkeley REP/Emotional Creatures
Mime Troupe/The Last Election (2 male writers on this production - script, music & lyrics. Also script writer and director are same person)
Shotgun Players/Truffaldino Says No
The Stage (San Jose Stage)/Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson (male director, female music director, male writer, 2nd male writer for book/lyrics. Cast includes double cast M child actors)
One Heart Productions/Angel of the Poor
TheatreWorks/Wheelhouse (3 writers on this project are also 3 performers in project)
Bay Area Childrens Theater/Click Clack Moo (adaptation from book by woman writer; 2 writer team is co on lyrics, 1 did script, other music; female director, female music director)
San Jose Rep/Bill W and Dr Bob
TheatreWorks/Upright Grand (one of male actors on this project has a low line load and plays the piano)
Impact/Great Zamboni (solo show written by the performer)
Marin Shakes/King John
Aurora/Salomania (writer and director same person; one female actor played both male and female characters)
Cal Shakes/Spunk (adapted from stories by F writer, male adaptor, male music writer)

The Stats:
7 male directors, 10 female directors
20 male writers, 4 female writers
141 total actors, 91 male, 50 female
61 union actors, 80 non-union actors
36 union men, 25 union women
114 local actors, 27 non-local

Giant thank yous to all who shared stats with me for July: Karen Thompson Hall, Sofia Ahmad, Megan Killian Uttam, Scott Ragle, Lily Tung Crystal and Melissa Hillman.

I'll post stats for August between September 1 and September 5.  If you see a show or are working on a show with performances in August, please go here to learn how to submit the statistics. 

Thanks for tweeting, liking or linking this post, or talking about it in the green room, dressing room, rehearsal room, or at the bar after the show.