Persons of Interest Blog


Thanks for checking out the LA FPI “tag team” blog, handed off each week from one interesting female playwright to another.

Who are they?  Click Here


Waiting for the Shoe

I read Moss Hart’s Act One (more than once). I absorbed Hart’s memoir into the fabric of my being, not unlike how I learned to drive, knowing just the right amount of pressure I needed to apply to allow for the tension in my brakes. Point is, I learned to have expectations; playwright expectations. These expectations have led me, over the last seven years that I’ve seen my plays read or produced in Southern California, to many a raw moment. Consequently, I’m learning to just be grateful. I’ve discovered that changing my nervous, expectant, perhaps entitled, behavior to appreciation has made for happier interpersonal communications between others and me, which has led to happier results.

A review of Bender is coming out tonight. And, I am giddy with excitement, waiting for the notice, expectant and afraid, at the same time wishing I was in New York at Elaine’s in 1955 waiting for the Times to come out in print. Isn’t that odd; to write something, purposefully, for human consumption, and then be afraid of being poorly judged?

I wrote a song about a shoe. Not a good song. But a fun song. About a shoe I saw laying by the side of the road… Have you ever wondered how something got to where it is? Where did that thing come from and how did it get there? I think that I like to write plays because I’m curious to know how all the pieces of our lives fit together.

Fact into Fiction

By Erica Bennett

 

Ruby: You make me feel like I’m nothing but the pimply-faced girl sitting in the corner at my own debutante ball.

Last week I experienced the most profound of four evenings. Four. In a row. I went from dress #2, to final dress, to opening night, to 2nd show of Bender, my new play with music. Each experience became progressively more and more fulfilling. I realize how rare these moments are, and I am extremely grateful for them…

However, as if I had some perverse need to break the winning streak, on the fifth night, I visited my high school reunion for three hours…

For four days I heard beautiful fiction. And, then, I remembered one font from whence the fiction sprang…

I’ve been told to write what I know. I don’t think I’m unique in that… Try explaining it to the folks…

Everything I write is dreadfully personal, and is at the same time, absolute fiction. For, while I didn’t have a debutante ball. Or a Bat Mitzvah. Or a Quinceañera. I did experience teenage acne, and Big dreams of getting out…

Sheriff Frank: Here’s to getting out.

Here’s to Bender for making me to forget what it feels like to be alone in a ballroom full of people.

2 more performances, August 30th and 31st. Check Women at Work Onstage for more details.

Insurance for an Artist

by Tiffany Antone

A slightly medicated post from post-surgery land…

A little over a year ago I was diagnosed with Grave’s disease, which involves an unfortunately over-active thyroid messing up all kinds of metabolic function.  I didn’t have insurance at the time I was diagnosed, having let it lapse due to my near-impoverished status at the time.  Once diagnosed, I was able to reinstate my insurance, but with the policy’s insanely high deductible, it did little to curb the cost of necessary tests and specialists visits.

At the time, doctors recommended I get the thyroid removed, but I couldn’t even imagine doing so because I’d have to cover the first $8,000 of any operation out of my own (empty) pocket due to my $5,000 deductible/$3,000 co-insurance policy.

So I went on anti-thyroid meds and set my sites on the ACA rollout date as a bastion of insured hope.

Last week I finally got my thyroid removed.  I received excellent medical care.  My deductible was only $500.

(cue choir)

I’m an artist, and an adjunct faculty member at a community college.  I am also a substitute teacher who writes for an online magazine.  I produce a female playwright festival and I teach youth workshops. None of these pays very well, and not a one offers me insurance like I’m able to get through the ACA website.  I work hard at all these under-paying gigs because I enjoy the work and because I believe I will one day find a full-time teaching position at a university (the power of positive thought!).  In the meantime, the Affordable Care Act really changed my life in a huge way.

I’m still a little groggy as I recover from the operation, but I’m also really grateful for all the fight that went into making it possible for artists like myself to get the medical help they need.

I just wanted to share some of that gratitude here.  I know I’m not the only one.

~Tiffany Antone

 

A Pilgrim On the Edge

 

by Analyn Revilla

The seed I planted in my mind before leaving LA was to experience the open road to rediscover my edge.  I felt I had lost it during the past few years in trying to survive living in a big city.  I’m no longer surprised, but happily accept, when events endorse my faith that the universe will give you what you ask for though I may not know when or how it will manifest.

Homeward bound along the I395 we spent our last night of our vacation in Lone Pine, CA.  The magnificent Mount Whitney, at 14,505 feet, is a beautiful backdrop to a “small town with lots of charm”.  This town has grown to become a mecca for travelers, hikers and tourists since the Mt. Whitney trail was completed in 1904.  I discover that I came here as a pilgrim.  There was time when I looked at a mountain and I would imagine the traverse up, studying the contours and ridges to determine a way up to the top.  When we passed through Lone Pine two weeks ago, I described to Bruno my feeling of loss – why wasn’t I surveying a trail to climb up?  What a strange feeling to be aware of the loss, and then accepting the loss.

I haven’t hiked very much since I moved out here.  My excuse was the heat and dryness of the mountain ranges in SoCal which I was not accustomed to, compared to British Columbia, where the forest and meadows are lush and the flowing creeks spray cool mountain waters.  I had allowed this joy for the wilderness wither away as I embedded myself into the living of a desert city, yet a mosaic of cultures.  The tiles of faces, languages and smells from the streets are both an invitation and assault on the senses.  Which one to choose?

Riding, alone with my own thoughts, and only the wind to brush my jacket and pants, and whistling in my ears, I focused on the terrain.  There’s always something to be prepared for:  debris, crossing deer or elk, open cattle, falling rock, weather pattern changes, looking to see if Bruno is still behind me, the curve coming up, state patrol, the unwrapping scenery of mountains, valleys, basins and rock formations.  This is a beautiful country.  Every turn is breathtaking.  As one local in Snohomish Valley described, ‘God couldn’t have painted a better picture’.  Certainly, people are more apt to look at the bikes with its zig-zag of bungee chords to tie down whatever we deemed as ‘necessary’ for the journey.  That too changed on a daily basis.  We made trips to the post offices every few days to send back home the  simple little treasures , souvenirs and dirty clothes we had accumulated.

The daily grind of the road didn’t wear me out, except for a fresh fatigue from the intake of conversations, scenery and preparing for the next day.  I tried to meditate on ‘the edge’.  How did ‘Stella Got Her Groove Back’? (I never saw the movie, but the title was apt for my situation.)  How will I relearn to look at a mountain and have that joyful curiousity to climb it to the peak?  It took miles and miles of riding alone and just letting things happen.  Without expectations we chewed up the miles between LA and Hayden, and back down to LA again, doing a loop that closed again at Lone Pine.  I don’t know how it happened, but it happened – not by design – but simply accepting what was present at the moment, and making choices and adjustments as needed.

The choice between forging ahead into unknown territory or staying one extra day to fix the bike; the choice to decline the offer of a shelter overnight from a stranger because of the rain and lateness of the day; the choice to accept a round of beer at the saloon from a traveler who cared to ask, ‘Where are you guys from?’.  Regardless of the choices made, I see now that there is not a right or wrong.  It’s a matter of accepting the results of the choices made.   I’ve always pondered the quote from Miles Davis:

If you hit a wrong note, it’s the next note that you play that determines if its’s good or bad.

- Miles Davis (1926 – 1991)

We rounded back to Lone Pine because we had determined we didn’t want to take the I5.  I’ve traveled along this path many times before, and I had never seen the Sierra Nevada, so it seemed to be the natural choice to make.  The first night into California we stopped at Susanville.  The motel owner welcomed us with the ‘biker special’ at $50 for a simple and clean room stocked with a fridge and a microwave.  By this time, we had learned to make nutritious and delicious meals using simple ingredients and cooking in the microwave.  I was still masturbating my brain to figure out how to get my groove back, but I was fully absorbed in fullness of traveling and the ripening of the end of a trip.  I had seen a lot of faces of the desert with its terrains and living and non-living habitats, such as the family living in Middlegate, Nevada running on a diesel generator and the beginnings of a solar energy.  Certainly these inhabitants of the desert are pushing to maintain a type of life on the edge.

Black Rock Solar is solarizing one of our country’s historic roadhouses. It’s Middlegate Station, on the loneliest road in America – Highway 50 in Nevada.

If you’ve stopped in whilst bumping around in the desert, you were probably glad for the cold drink or ice cream sandwich to wash the dust from your lips. But cold in the Nevada desert doesn’t come cheap. Off the municipal electric grid and powered 24/7 by a diesel generator, Middlegate’s future is in doubt after years of rising fuel costs.

Middlegate’s owners – Fredda and Russ Stevenson – and Black Rock Solar have secured a State Office of Energy loan and are working to secure more funding for a larger array to keep Middlegate Station viable with the power of the sun.

(http://www.blackrocksolar.org/news/2014/the-last-nevada-roadhouse-needs-your-help/)

The story above is the beginning of yet another blog I’d like to write about, as it is a story in itself.  But it watered the seed of my initial inquiry about getting the edge back.  One of the crew members, a bold and wise young woman, told me that you never really lose the edge because you always have the edge.  It didn’t dawn upon me till today that it’s like the knife that loses its sharpness.  A knife will always have an edge, but how it is used and maintained defines the kind of edge it has.  Using its metal against ceramic or breaking open a coconut shell with the wrong type of knife will chip or dull the edge.

A journey is the process of letting the inner wisdom spring forth, and giving that joyful creation the environment it needs to self-acutalize.  A journey into the desert just as prophets and gurus have practiced emptying oneself to transform was what I had been doing.  I had an intention but I didn’t have the ‘know-how’, and was left without a choice but to accept – accept what I had become, and then re-orient myself to move towards where I want to be.  There will be a re-learning to develop better habits to replace others which I have decided I need to out-grow.  Like a river that meanders around the bends and creating oxbows as it matures, there is a wholeness in both edges of a knife.  I’ve pierced sharply up a terrain and I’ve also shredded down loose scree from the top, and tumbled on my hands and knees; and bounded back up with a richer perspective.

My pilgrimage to Mount Whitney has just begun.  I left Lone Pine yesterday with a map and couple of books about ascending Mt. Whitney, along with tips from a local guide in the adventure store.  I feel the butterflies dancing in my belly and the perspiration on my palms thinking about the possibilities.  I could try to hike in the winter geared in cramp ons and ice picks.  That would be my first time, but it is a possibility that the guide described to me.  Staying on the edge has many possibilities.

 

Possibilities

On the Road Through Oregon

by Analyn Revilla

The signs of the road is a language in itself.  After 3000 miles of tracking across Nevada, Idaho, Washington, Oregon and California I’ve decided that it’s a language which I had taken for granted.  It was riding through Oregon’s  highway 31 that I took notice of two signs which to me was an oxymoron.  When leaving a small town the speed limit changes from 25 to 45 and upwards, and during this transformation there is a pair of road signs in this order.

1.  ‘DO NOT PASS’

2.  ‘PASS WITH CARE’

There is very little distance between these posts (maybe less than a few hundred yards).  I decided to interpret the law as ‘Do not pass’, but if you’re going to break the law, well you better ‘Pass with care’. i.e.  Make sure you don’t get caught.

I tried to find more information about this and found something in the internet was from Oregon’s Department of Transportation manual that describes the technical details of how to implement this law.

2. 2B-28 DO NOT PASS (R4-1) should be installed approximately 1000 feet in advance of the taper that begins the passing lane.

Minimum Size 36” x 48”

3. 2B-30 KEEP RIGHT EXCEPT TO PASS (R4-16) should be installed where the passing lane attains full width or at the beginning of the first skip stripe.

Minimum Size 36” x 48”

4. 2B-29 PASS WITH CARE (R4-2) may be installed in the two-lane section approximately 1000 feet beyond the end of the taper (if sight distance is adequate to permit passing).

Minimum Size 24” x 30”

source http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/HWY/TRAFFIC-ROADWAY/docs/pdf/english_chapter_3.pdf

And with that I have my  aha moment.  It is with these technicalities that we can sometimes become non-sensesical in our well-meaning intention.

I dug a little deeper and looked through the driver’s manual, and found multiple scenarios of when a driver should not pass:

No Passing

Do not cross the center line to pass when:

  • You are in a no-passing zone, which is an area that is marked for no passing by a solid yellow line in your lane. A “DO NOT PASS” sign may also be posted. Do not attempt to pass a vehicle if you cannot safely return to your lane before entering a no-passing zone.
  • Your view of oncoming traffic is blocked because you are on a hill or in a curve.
  • You are approaching an intersection, railroad crossing, or other area where your view of oncoming traffic is limited.
  • You are at or in an intersection.
  • You are at or on a railroad crossing.
  •  The vehicle ahead is stopped at a crosswalk to permit a pedestrian to cross

Well that was boring.  I just think it takes common sense.

One of the most interesting signs along the open road was on I97 which I’ve traversed for the first time yesterday.  It was the sign post for the 45th parallel.  When I lived in Salem (and was working on a project of ODOT – ironically) I would take my little Toyota Tercel on the I5 to Portland and cross the 45th parallel frequently during my jaunts to meet with friends at one of the many local breweries.

(I didn’t stop to take a picture of me at the 45th parallel, but pretend that GMC truck is my red Suzuki SV650.)

The 45th Parallel on I97 from Shiniko Junction

One thing I’ve decided on (and I kinda knew this all along, but this trip has reinforced what I’m looking for in life now), is my enjoyment of the open and friendly nature of small town folks compared to bigger towns and cities.  There’s a naïveté that comes from living in a small place where you know people by name, or at least by habit of seeing them, and extending that warm hospitality to strangers when they’re passing through your home.

Yesterday, one of the bikes had an electrical problem.  We had to stop every hour to cool down the engine while traveling along I97 into the city of Bend.  I was in Bend 20 years ago, and it was a smaller community to what it has currently grown into.  I almost wish Bruno had a chance to experience it as it was then because today it feels like another large cosmopolitan city.  The downtown core boasted nice restaurants, boutique shops and microbreweries along the river; and the city had its fair share of Subarus also.  Definitely, Bend has come into its own as a world class destination.  The State Patrol man who pulled me over for riding my bike between cars told me so.  He was nice.  He didn’t give me a ticket, but reminded me that though they practice lane sharing in Europe and California, this is not so in Oregon.  After checking into a motel we found a place to eat with good food and wine.  Despite the basic needs being met, we felt a little let down, because we missed the warmth of small town folks.  We noticed that the restaurant was rather quick to move us along.  In our minds, we thought maybe because we were tourists, and not the usual suspects who were repeat customers.

So, we spent a so-so night in Bend, and the next day decided to steer clear of bigger towns.  We got as far as La Pine (30 plus miles south on the I97) where we filled up the tanks.  I asked the gentleman who pumps the gas if he knew of a motorcycle mechanic between his town and the next big town.  He  recommended a place called Peak Performance.  We rode around a little while and asked for directions from other people, and found the garage a mile down from the main drag.  A large man with a beard was cleaning his fingernails with a knife.  ‘What can I do ya for?’ he asked.  We got off the bikes and Bruno explained that his fan wasn’t turning on and he was loosing coolant.  The big man thought glanced at me then said, ‘It’s all her fault’.  His words broke the ice and gave me relief.  After he suggested some reasons as to the root cause of the problem, he said he’ll be right back.  Within minutes he returned and told us to ride the motorcycles to the back where somebody was waiting to help us.

We talked with the mechanic who tinkered a bit, and feeling like we were in his hair, we asked if we could leave him with the bike for a couple of hours.  Sure, he said.  We told the owner our plan to stay the night in La Pine.  He recommended a a simple and clean motel.  Cool, that’s all we want.  Before going, we asked for his name.  Mark, he said.  Later, we checked into ‘The Highlander’ where we dropped off some gear and got something to eat at the nearby Harvest Hut.  In less than 2 hours we were back to check on the bike.  The mechanic, Alan, said the problem was a loose wire and showed us the spot in case it happened again.  When we asked how much for the repair, he said, ‘Well I didn’t really spend very much time on it.  $20.’  Unbelievably cheap for the quick service and fixing the problem.  We gave him $40, and he smiled such a wide grin.  ‘Where are you folks staying?’ he asked.  We gave him the answer, and he wished us well.

We all leave our impressions in this life in many forms, including sign posts.  Certainly being earth friendly is a good thing all around, but more impacting is being heart friendly.  It’s genuine goodness that does not mean to be a passing trend but a lasting legacy.

P.S.  If you like wine and you’re passing through Lakeview, Oregon towards the California border, there’s a place called ‘Stringer’s Orchard’ in New Pine Creek.  It’s a good stop before crossing into California for some wine tasting and homemade preserves.  The winemaker specializes in wine and spirits from the wild plum, and the taste is very special in a good way.

 

Stonehenge in Maryhill Washington

by Analyn Revilla

Live from Goldendale, Washington, while listening to Hank Williams on my laptop, and my hubby is packing up the motorcycles with our gear; I’m thinking of what to share with you that will give your day a panache.  Been on the road since last Monday, over one week ago.  We started from LA and drove through California towards Nevada taking the backroads on a pair of two wheels each.  I ride a Suzuki SV650, and Bruno rides a Honda Shadow 1100.  We’re traveling with my electric guitar and a Line 6 XT with headphones, so that I can noodle at the end of the day when we pull over after a day’s ride.  Our destination was Hayden, Idaho.  It’s just a few miles north of Coeur D’Alene.  We left his buddy Jean Pierre and his family just yesterday.

What’s over here near Goldendale?  There’s a life size replica of Stonehenge in Maryhill.

Stonehenge in Washington State

This was a memorial that Sam Hill built to help us remember that war is not the answer.  Sam Hill was Quaker and was a proponent of peace.

Hill constructed two notable monuments. The replica of Stonehenge, at Maryhill, commemorates the dead of World War I, while the Peace Arch, where today’s Interstate 5 highway crosses the U.S.–Canada border, celebrates peaceful relations and the open border between the two nations – Wikepedia

We visited Stonehenge two hours ago; the replica was impressive as it sat on the edge of the Columbia River, and to the west was a view of Mount Hood.  A few yards away from Stonehenge stood a war memorial dedicated to fallen soldiers from the surrounding area.  The period spanned from WWI thru Afghanistan.  Despite the impressive site, we noted the bare flagpole stand.  We found this strange.  The flowers were dried.  The other two cars that drove to look at the monolith site did not bother to visit the war memorial.

This monument that Sam Hill created has not made the lasting impact he meant it to have.  I stood beside Bruno at the memorial to make a silent prayer.  I thought, despite his efforts to help us to remember that ravages of war and how it only tears families apart and distances cultures from one another, we still continue to carry on with our prejudices.

Traveling through backroads of Nevada and Idaho, I was a little apprehensive, because of my racial background.  I was not sure if I would encounter blatant racial prejudice.  When a dog smells the phenomes of a fearful person it makes the dog fearful too.  Don’t be afraid, I told myself.  Face your fear, and I discovered that 99% of my fear is in my head.  I have met wonderful and kind folks through this part of the country that have been labeled as red-neck country.

I ride on and open my heart, open my mind to the open road.  Take it as it comes, and face your fears.

Facing the ghosts: Eugene O’Neill and Tao House

This wonderful article:

Facing the ghosts: Eugene O’Neill and Tao House

by Laura Shamas can be read on the HOLLYWOOD JOURNAL website under the “Industry Impressions” section.  I found Laura’s article to be well written, informative and to be honest comforting.  We, artists, have our ways of being that make us who we are and who we are is what sets the pitch and frequency of our voices and the stories we tell…  Please go here to read it.

 

http://hollywoodjournal.com/industry-impressions/facing-the-ghosts-eugene-oneill-and-tao-house/20140728/

Did You Have Fun? One Step At A Time

by Andie Bottrell

Andie Bottrell

As Gay Wellington in Tent Theatre’s You Can’t Take it With You

These posts have become a sort of check-in, reflect and documentation of my journey of being broke, moving back home, and trying to survive while still moving my career forward. It’s not really what I thought I would be writing about when the incredible Jennie Webb asked if I would be interested- I had high hopes of theatrical and playwriting insights and dissections, but these were quickly ousted by the avalanche of upheaval I experienced and my own inability to do anything but focus on it. I’m grateful for that and as hard as some of these days are to live and to document, I hope at some point and in some way it can be read as an encouragement of sorts for others in similar positions of trial and teeth sharpening.

I can’t know how much longer my Missourian exile will last, other than to say it will be much longer than I thought and hoped. And I can’t know what highs may be on the horizon for me here, but feel I can say with some confidence that one of the highest of those peaks has already come. Last month I got to take a few weeks off from my cubical prison to be a part of Tent Theatre’s You Can’t Take it with You. Instead of sitting in a cubical 8-5 Monday through Friday calling, emailing, doing math, collecting, making spreadsheets, getting headaches and giving credit meetings, I got to go to rehearsal. I got to play with incredibly talented people from all over the United States. I got work on my Russian accent. I got to pretend to be drunk and sing “I Wanna Be Loved By You” while fellating my cast-mate’s nose.  I got to laugh and make other people laugh. And, I got paid for it. Let me say the obvious here: THERE IS NOTHING GREATER THAN THIS ON EARTH.

Andie Bottrell

As Olga Katrina in Tent Theatre’s You Can’t Take it With You

One day some of the cast and myself went up to Branson to go zip lining. I had never been before but thought it looked fun. It was fun. Then, it wasn’t. After you zip line you reach this 100 foot tower and the only way off is to jump/fall straight down. I was trying very hard to maintain a head-space of fun and adventure and when the other woman with me began panicking at the edge. I was able to confidently summon up, “You got this! It’s gonna be so much fun! You can do it! Whoo!” And over she went along with four screams of “Oh my God!”

But then it was my turn and as I stepped the 6 inches forward to the edge, I suddenly saw what she’d seen. Imminent death. There was no way to survive. And to call it “fun” was psychotic. All the brakes inside my body locked down and I looked back at the one remaining cast mate to go after me and said, “I can’t do this.” The guide kept saying, “Let go of the edge. Take a step forward. Let go of the edge. Take a step forward.” You are still attached to this line that is supposedly going to slow your fall as your reach the ground, where a man stands yelling at you to “Land on your feet!” There is no resistance felt at the top, though, so it just feels like you decided to jump off a tower and commit suicide.

I have no idea how or when the switch occurred in my brain from red light to green, but at some point, squatting into almost a fetal position I managed to teeter myself over the edge, losing all control of my body on the way down. “Land on your feet! Get your feet out!” the man at the bottom screamed, but it was futile. For all practical purposes, I had resigned myself to death. Then, my butt hit the ground and I realized I was still alive. “Did you have fun?” He asked. I looked at him and laughed maniacally, “NO!”

Branson Zip Lining Free Fall

Branson Zip Lining Free Fall

I thought about that moment, looking down, every night during the show while I waited under the hot blanket for my cue to jump up, the forgotten Gay suddenly animated and locked in on the rigid guest Mr. Kirby, “Now, listen! Big boy….” It’s not in the script, but it was an improvisation they let me keep. Every night from the first rehearsal to the last performance I worried they wouldn’t laugh. It felt like jumping off that tower. It would either be a fun adventure or the stupidest way to die. I am happy to report that every night was a fun adventure.

And I think about that moment today and how moving back here felt that way too. While there have been moments of fun, if the whole of my experience were a summary I was forced to answer about, I feel my answer would also be, “NO.” I’m exhausted. I work constantly and still am no where close to being financially able to move back to a land of greater opportunity for my career and living my own independent life. I have not been writing as much as I want/need/expect myself to because after working all day and night on a computer, my eyes/head/hand/neck/shoulders/will are knotted with tension. I see friends getting together, going places, having adventures and I wish I could be out having fun with them, but I have to work and I don’t have money. I dream about love, romance, partnership, and sex- and that’s about as close as I get to a dating life. There’s no time.

It’s hard to move at the pace life hands you. I’ve been behind schedule since I was about 8, but then I’ve always had pretty big expectations for my life. All I can do right now is focus on one moment at a time, because the big picture is too overwhelming. I am grateful for acting for many reasons but in particular because it taught me about moments- living in them and appreciating the hell out of them. I remember playing Emily in Our Town at 16 and listing all the things she was saying goodbye to and realizing the grand depth of comfort and beauty in the little things. It’s overwhelming in it’s own way- the simple beauty of a bath, a look, a touch, a flower, a breeze, coffee.

On the horizon is a series of one-acts I’m acting in, some sketches for a local TV station, lots of work work and hopefully some pen to paper story development because goddammit I’m itching to make something and I’ve got about a million story’s sketched down waiting to be fleshed out. Right now, however, I want to take a small moment to be grateful for this moment:

My EMC card!

12 years after playing Emily in Our Town at the Avenue Theatre in West Plains, MO, 7 years after graduating from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City, after 5 years and 4 plays and three days worth of sitting at Equity Open Calls for plays I never got seen for because I was non-union in Los Angeles, and 7 months after arriving back in Springfield, MO… I got my Equity Membership Candidacy card. It’s a small step, that took many years. It’s a piece of paper that takes me one step closer to doors of bigger opportunities. One step at a time.

Get After It…

“Get after it.”  French Stewart

by Robin Byrd

Last month we had a LA FPI Night at the Pasadena Playhouse.   We all went to see STONEFACE The Rise and Fall and Rise of Buster Keaton by Vanessa Claire Stewart on June 13, 2014 and afterwards, there were Micro-Reads with the actors from STONEFACE.  Erica Bennett blogged about it in her article To the Readers! the next day.

It was very hard to select 400 words from a play that gave enough of a storyline, showed the style of the piece, and embodied the essence of the piece and I only wanted to use the female characters. My 400 words were pulled from my play The Grass Widow’s Son. Seema Sueko, Associate Director at The Pasadena Playhouse, did an excellent job of casting it. The actresses, Daisy Eagen, Tegan Ashton Cohan and Rena Strober, with Seema reading the “active” stage directions were excellent in their cold read. The audience clapped – no awkward pause after the reading; I was a happy camper. All of the reads went very well; these thespians knew their craft. It was amazing to watch them deliver on the spot. Their performance in STONEFACE was phenomenal as well.  And, French Stewart’s voice – have you heard it? – reaching the balcony in full resonance – something to behold.   I personally had never seen a play like that in my life. I knew of Buster Keaton; my mother used to talk about the silent film stars who transitioned to talkies and the ones who just faded away. French Stewart’s portrayal of Buster Keaton was like watching the real thing.  It felt as we were all transported in a Pleasantville sort of way back in time. It was a documentary, it was film, it was alive, it was spectacle, it was theater…  I loved the way seeing something new and unexpected made me feel.

I stopped to tell French Stewart how much I enjoyed his stellar performance and to thank him for participating in our micro-reads when he commented about liking my 400 words and said, “Get after it.”

It hit me like an arrow, jump started my heart, woke me up out of a lull.  French Stewart just told me to get after it like he knew I counted, like my 400 words were all he needed to know that I belonged.  I thanked him, wandered about the Carrie Hamilton Theatre area a bit, found myself standing looking down into the courtyard when he approached me again and said, “Get after it!”   Okay, twice in  one night – I heard it!  This was not something I was going to put in the “oh, that was so nice” area of my memory.  I confessed to him how much I needed to hear those words, how much they meant to me, to my soul…

Then, I shook myself and made a conscious effort to get after it…again…  Battle bruises had left me numb – more numb than I realized but  I decided that as long as I do something creative whenever I get the chance, in between submissions and rejection letters/emails and writing, it will keep me from being too vulnerable to the drop-of-water-on-the-soap syndrome.  I bought fabric and patterns to start back sewing, bought more music for my fiddle, bought some running shoes and put more me time in my schedule.  It really helps to be doing something creative – anything creative – at all times…

Funny thing about art, it hurts to do it and it hurts worse not to do it.  Back on point getting after it…

Thank you French Stewart!

 

 

Zombies, Regency and Women on the Fringe 2014!

by Sue May

I was excited to be back at the Fringe viewing new work by women playwrights for LA FPI’s Women on the Fringe. And thank you Hollywood Fringe for having us (LA FPI) back.

Susan Sassi is one hard-working writer, producer and actor!  Sassi’s Victorian Courting & Zombies is a hilarious musical romp where zombies run amok amongst aristocrats of the Regency period.  Much like we all (projecting) run amok at the Fringe while trying to dodge traffic, find parking and our seats (with camera in tow) in the nick of time, but in much more comfortable clothing.

Due to the Regency period’s societal hierarchy, the upper class were most often viewed by the common folk as sublime and fantastical, fiction-like, or in this case, as zombies who run with the “in crowd.” Inspired by Jane Austin, the work structurally and ideally mimics the period by using fantastical creatures who rub elbows with Dukes, attend formal balls and even propose all in zombie-like fashion.

I loved the comedic timing of this work. The actors’ chemistry and energy billowed throughout the audience and beyond, making me want to jump right in and sing along (something I never think of or happens!).

Susan, thanks for the great writing and fun times with the Funktard sisters.  I can’t wait to see what happens to them next!  I could watch your show again and again. What can I say, I’m a sucker for zombies.  Enjoy the video.

A special thank you to Susan Sassi and the cast and crew.

Directed, Shot and Edited by Sue May

Produced by Simplexity MediaWorks

 

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