April 29, 2014 § Leave a comment
I’ve eulogized fish before. After his successful run in the New York production of Laika Dog In Space, cast member and goldfish Patrick McGoohan retired to a comfortable bowl in my apartment only to pass away quietly some months later. He was honored with a short play in Too Much Light which ran for just one weekend.
But this is not a eulogy, per se.
I swear that Pierre was acting crazy yesterday. He was staring right at me and frantically flapping around in the water, wriggling back and forth. “Sorry, Pierre. Here’s some food.” But when I woke up this morning, he wasn’t in his bowl. Whether his suicide was intentional or not, he’d leaped out of his bowl and flip-flopped his way all the way to the window some 18 inches from his bowl. He was folded over on himself and a bit dried up. Still, when Pierre’s predecessor, Maurice, pulled a similar stunt, although he was notoriously dried out – “his tail was like a potato chip” – my mom plopped him back into his bowl and he came back to life, fully recovered in about a day. Maurice lived to be five years old. We were, alas, not so lucky with Pierre who after a morning back in his bowl had still not un-folded. Also, the whole situation really detracted from the pleasure of finally being able to actually sleep in a little this morning (7:30! woo hoo!).
As the saying goes: life throws curve balls.
As my toddler succinctly put it when asked to relate what had happened to Pierre: “the fish jumped out of the bowl and mama was sad.”
April 28, 2014 § Leave a comment
I can’t believe what I’m about to type but . . . I saw something AWESOME on buzzfeed this weekend. It’s so awesome that I’m sending you to look at it right now. Here it is: “33 Amazingly Useful Websites You Never Knew Existed.”
Don’t get me wrong: I love knowing that as a New Yorker I should either live in Astoria or the Upper West Side, that I’m “Kevin” from Welcome to Nightvale, and “Willow” from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, that Pharrell’s hat and I are soul mates, and that really, I should go live in Paris. I am mostly but not entirely kidding when I say “Hey. That Buzzfeed really gets me.” But it’s because buzzfeed is usually a source for useless fun, that I was that much more excited to see this EXCELLENT post full of websites I really didn’t know existed.
Anyway, next time you’re trying to kill ten minutes, click over and take a look. You’ll find so many cool things (10 Minute Mail, Camel Camel Camel, Mailbox finder) you won’t even feel like you’re procrastinating (even though you are). And make sure to keep scrolling down for my long-time favorite: The Rasterbator which, over the years has allowed me, among other things, to create giant Warren Buffet heads as props for a play (click link to hear the song; see photo below) not to mention giant heads of my then-one-year-old which were officially decorations for his birthday party but which had the bonus effect of making him look like a baby-dictator whenever he sat in his highchair (photo missing! I’ll try to find it and post it here).
Credit to Gary Belsky for posting the Buzzfeed article to his Facebook. He’s an intelligent and discerning fellow.
April 20, 2014 § Leave a comment
It’s a bit self-congratulatory, which is totally NOT how I mean it, but I can’t help loving this audio from an Easter-themed play I wrote for Too Much Light back in 2007. My husband helped me make the mash-up (which I could hear in my mind but couldn’t execute without his expertise) and also did the VO. I hear it from time to time in the shuffle of my iTunes and I’m always tickled.
(If you’re curious, the visual featured Jeffrey Cranor as Jesus, frozen in an iconic pose of blessing, who is beset by two creepy rabbit figures who remove his Jesus costume and re-dress him as an Easter bunny like one of them and then exit. Hold on creepy blessing-pose-bunny-man.)
April 18, 2014 § Leave a comment
I performed at the Incubator Arts Project (which was called the Ontological Incubator at the time) for the first time as part of their Tiny Theater Festival back in 2005. Rob Neill cast me in his piece; it was a great festival and a great experience.
Rob, my husband, Carl, and I created a piece together for Tiny Theater the following year. Awesome again.
In 2009, Rob, Carl, Jill Beckman and I created and performed Laika Dog In Space at the Incubator. This past fall, after a Too Much Light performance, and audience member came up to me and said “You did that show Laika Dog In Space, right? That was one of the best things I’ve ever seen.” I replied, “It’s one of the best things I’ve ever made.”
That’s what the Incubator did. It helped artists create superlatively great work. No vision was too esoteric or singular, no message too full-throated or open-hearted. I found tremendous value in everything I saw there and always wished I could manage to see more. Working there meant stepping into a highly functional (rare!) and highly enjoyable collaboration with the folks running the place, folks who always looked for ways to say yes to whatever it was you were asking for. It may be my favorite space ever in which to create and perform theater – I love that room, with its crazy support pole and it’s metal steps to an ad-hoc balcony in the back corner, never mind that its square footage is of luxurious proportions. Working there brought me in contact with so many other great artists in the community, I can’t even begin to list them; so much imagination and talent and passion and the Incubator helped it all find its voice and an audience.
While loss is constant and everywhere – a famous author passed away, an avalanche, a mudslide, an exploded building – we still have a few months to spend with this particular loved one. Call it theater hospice. Call it the eleventh hour. Whether you’ve been to a performance at the Incubator Arts Project or not, make sure you go before you can’t any more. And then make sure you go support the art somewhere else. It’s what the Incubator would want.
April 12, 2014 § Leave a comment
I worked with Mickey Rooney, who died this past week, when I was a little girl. I remember doing not-much-at-all in one scene of something-or-other and being totally confused about which guy Mickey Rooney even was for most of the time, but I remember that it was a BIG deal to the adults in my family. Mickey Rooney was a big deal and rightly so. He was also the rare individual who managed to start acting as a kid and sustain that career into (and, in his case, through) his adulthood.
A couple of months ago, Gillian Jacobs (who you probably know from the TV show Community) was interviewed in Backstage and had this to say about her own transition from being a child actor to an adult one:
“I had a very difficult time at school. I think when you have some success as a kid, your notion of being a good actor is pleasing the director, doing exactly what they tell you to do,” she says. “Juilliard wanted me to realize I had agency in my role as an actor: It was important for me to make decisions and have opinions and not just do what they told me to do to the best of my ability. I think that’s a big paradigm shift.”
I’ve been thinking about this passage ever since I read it because it is such an excellent and succinct articulation of one of (THE?) biggest difference between going to auditions as a kid and going as an adult and why it can be so hard to find success as an adult after a childhood career. I remember when I was re-embarking on an acting career after college, the adults around me – my parents, my childhood manager and agent – all said “you know what you’re doing.” And, in retrospect, I’m not at all convinced that I did. I’ve spent the intervening years trying to make sure I do know what I’m doing and discovering that I not only can but SHOULD have my own point of view as an artist – even as an actor saying someone else’s words – is a more exciting opportunity on any given day than pleasing someone else.
Still, going in with that need to please – equating pleasing others with “success” – is a difficult habit to break, particularly when one has received so many positive strokes for that very thing growing up. It’s something I continue to work against – with mindfulness and practice – in the interest of being a truly excellent artist. Even more, though, I don’t think that this people-pleasing as an undermining factor in living a fully self-actualized life is limited to former young performers. It seems to me that we get stuck in lots of roles we played as people growing up and that determining who we really are (and who we really want to be) is a huge part of becoming an adult and finding personal success for all of us.
Mickey Rooney had his share of ups and downs. In his NY Times obit, Aljean Harmetz writes:
Although his career was one of the longest in show business history — almost 90 years separated his first movie from his last — it was crammed with detours and dead ends. (“There have been crevices, fissures, pits, and I’ve fallen into a lot of them,” he told The Times in 1979.)
It would be facile (not to mention presumptuous) to assume that those ups and downs all stemmed from a people-pleasing need, but hard not to suspect that that impulse wasn’t at least one of the challenges in Mr. Rooney’s mix.
What outdated aspect of your identity are you still carrying around or wrestling with? How have you moved beyond that limitation and what has that meant for you? Tell us all in the comments!
April 4, 2014 § Leave a comment
I’m not a big shopper; I like to shop, there just isn’t a lot of time these days. But this week I had not one, but TWO stand-out retail experiences.
I found myself at the mall at 9pm the other night running a time-sensitive errand on behalf of someone else. I was looking for the Old Navy but first I was looking for a map so I could find the Old Navy. No map. So, with less than half an hour till the mall closed, I stopped some guy at a kiosk to ask where the Old Navy was. “There’s no Old Navy in this mall.”
“Seriously.” But then he gave me a face cream sample and a eye cream sample, so that was cool and I was about to be on my way when the subtle spiel began.
I was tired. I was super hungry. I was vulnerable.
He sat me down in a chair. He started to put some goop under my eyes. It was nice to sit down. The stuff felt good. The secret of the goop, he told me, is diamonds. There are ground diamonds in all of the products.
“What?! That’s insane! That doesn’t even make sense!” He thought I was funny. I wasn’t trying to be. He said something about how diamonds are the only material the body doesn’t reject. Wha . . . ? I did not ask him if they’re blood diamonds. That seemed a little too edgy for a mall kiosk. But maybe I should have because I needed to get out of there. Now he was exfoliating the back of my hand with facial cleanser. “Does it have the microbeads that are ruining the water supply?!” I asked. He didn’t know what I was talking about, so I told him. He assured me no. What do the diamonds do to the water supply, I wondered.
I told him I had to go. I had this errand to run. I had fifteen minutes left. “okay okay” he told me. He wanted me to have the product if i wanted it. If I would buy one set of products ($300), he’d give me the other set ($240). It was a good value . . . if spending $300 on eye cream with diamonds in it makes any sense at all in the universe. I’m pretty sure it doesn’t. A couple more back-and-forths and I managed to tear myself away. We bid each other forlorn farewells.
Epilogue: I rocked out my errand at The Gap (where I also snagged a cute super-on-sale t-shirt) and Uniqulo in about 18 minutes (Uniqulo closed right before I paid). And I still have the fancy diamond dust samples in my coat pocket. Win.
The next day, I was running a couple of errands which brought me near a j. crew. I had a very old return to make so I brought it in with me thinking I’d pop in and end up with some store credit. But, no. My return was so old that the sales lady, throwing me a bone, told me I could do an exchange for something else BUT I had to do it right then for whatever was in that store. Suddenly, I was on some fashion-themed game show – The Price Is Right meets What Not To Wear’s first day of shopping segment. She told me how much credit I had and about all of the sales and deals and, with only about 15 minutes to spare (I’d planned for this to be a quick errand) I was off.
It was super fun.
I left with a sweatshirt, two long-sleeved t-shirts (my favorite kind), a cute stripey top for going out, three pairs of socks and a t-shirt for my little boy. Bam! Success.
Lately, whenever I have gone shopping, it’s been so stressful – trying to find the right thing for an audition or trying to find the object I’m picturing in my mind – and often unsuccessful. It takes forever, and the lack of success is compounded by the time lost. In contrast, these super-quick and rather successful episodes this past week have me wondering if shopping fast might not be a good approach, or at least a helpful goal/modification. I wasn’t shopping for anything serious so I wonder how well fast shopping would work for, say, a fancy dress or nice pair of trousers, but I think I may have stumbled onto something . . .
How do you shop? Do you have a plan? Pieces you go in needing or wanting? Do you just wander and see what you like? What’s your strategy?