Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Oh Baloney!

Okay, okay, so I haven't updated this sucker for a while now. I kept thinking about how there were so many things I was dying to write about, but then I got distracted and forgot all of them. Awesome blogging, tdawg. And now, faced with filling out yet another health insurance application that I'm already forseeing being rejected, so in the glorious name of procrastination I declare: I blog tonight!

A. This is going to be short because I have to fill out my health insurance application.

B. Also, I potentially have to get up early and sub for another acting camp teacher. I love kids. (Oh right. Sarcasm is more of a vocal thing.)

C. I wrapped filming on the fun indie movie. So fun. So indie. Now I just have to successfully fax them my transportation receipts so I can be refunded $50 in gas. I'm procrastinating faxing too. Okay. Seriously, here's what I learned from fun indie movie: confidence gets me everywhere. I went into this, from my first slightly inebriated audition (one time only thing, fo reals, yo. It totally loosened me up! Who knew I was such a tightass?) to my last night of filming forcing myself to believe I was fantastic. And it caught on! Because I made the concerted effort to be as outgoing, confident, and intelligent as I could be, it made others around me believe it too, and then, lo and behold, I started believing I was outgoing, confident, and intelligent. Otherwise, I couldn't have done it. I think the secret to keep is that I'm a ball of nerves, and I'm most often scared, and rarely at ease. Shhh. Don't tell anyone. Pinky swear.

D. I just watched all of "Band of Brothers" in two days. Greatest miniseries ever. I dreamt about it last night. Everyone was so good. How do you play someone who actually existed? Or still exists? Without taking away their humanity?

D1. Man, if I was in a war, and lived to tell about it, I don't know how I could not be a pacifist
now. I would be PISSED if I faught in WWII, and survived a veteran, and here, 65 years
later, we're still at war. PS I love Donny Wahlberg.

D2. Why is it that men get to act in "Band of Brothers," but when they make a movie about
women, it's "Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants?! 2!!!"

E. I don't know why I'm complaining. I'm not. I don't want to. I secretly love Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. I just feel like men have movies about living, about experience and journeys, and the majority of movies about women...are about men. Gwyneth Paltrow won an Oscar for a movie about a man. Charlize Theron won an Oscar for a character abused by men, which drives her to kill other men. The movies out right now: The Dark Knight (men killing men who kill the sole woman), Wanted (man trained by sole woman to kill other men), Step Brothers (emotionally stunted men living together), X-Files (crazy man looking for aliens with tag-along sole woman), Mummy 3 (crazy man journeys to center of the earth...oh wait. crazy man kills mummies. sole woman kills mummies and has a grown son, who apparently popped out of her when puberty had just begun) Hellboy (devil man kills other devil men, loves crazy sole woman who sets herself on fire) Hancock (drunk superman flies around. sole woman walks across background) Mamma Mia! (crazy slut mom sleeps with many men, daughter gets confused and has a big wedding in Greece and OF COURSE, can't help bursting into song about those crazy, crazy men) Space Chimps (some stupid man wasted a buttload of money making this shiesty film) AND Wall-E (robot man who loves sole woman with anger problem and giggle like an anime princess saves the universe purely because of the goodness of his little tin man heart). WHAAAAAAAHHHAAAAT?!!

F. Hm. This was supposed to be short. I have to go fill out forms and fax other ones. Now I'm all worked up. PHOOEY!

G. Gah.

Friday, July 18, 2008


Despite it being a sweltering and disgusting day in the suburbian jungle of Philadelphia, it was also a highly productive and rewarding one. Mostly for the 15 children between the ages of 7 and 11 performing in their homegrown, made-with-love play, "The Poisoned Pizza." I co-directed. I kind of was so happy I wanted to throw up. Might have been the humidity, though.

I'm working for my favorite non-profit professional theater company based in King of Prussia, PA, Theatre Horizon, directing four week-long drama camps throughout the summer. This was my first camp, and I was totally nervous. Children, though packaged in cute, small bodies with large Bambi eyes and generally adorable facial structures, are evil. They are maniacal, loud, sassy, mean, and they don't listen. They are messy. They are dirty. They smell weird sometimes. In short, the best free birth control this side of abstinence.

But, jesus christ, did they look like angels in my eyes at 1:30 pm today. After just 25 hours with this pack of scamps, they put on the most fantastic, articulate, and heartwarming play about stolen pizza you could ever imagine. After screaming "Aunt Hilda in the back row won't be able to hear you if you keep talking like THAT onstage!!!!" for three days at the top of my lungs, each one of them projected like pros. Even the girl who would get overly absorbed reading her prop book during runs remembered every single line. And they didn't actually eat the paper pizza this time! They were as silent as chattering mini monkeys backstage, and they were as energetic as twitterpated squirrels before a storm. They were wonderful.

So I have selective memory. So I forgot how I almost ALMOST said "If you touch that MOTHERFUCKING curtain one more time..." or when I ALMOST said, "Watching you yawn onstage while you wait to say your line is so boring, it makes me want to slit my wrists," while making a faux wrist-slitting gesticulation. Eep! I didn't! I didn't, okay? Simmer. But yes, there were times working with this group of kids that I hated everything, and wanted nothing more than to give up on them, on theater, on paychecks, on anything having to do with trying to pass on valuable theatrical information to anyone, much less bratty middle schoolers. And it's not like I haven't taught worse, because I have. It just wears on you. When you focus and focus yourself to keep improving, to keep desperately trying to move up in a professional world, and then you go back to square one and have to enunciate the most basic of rules of's frustrating. And it's hellsa frustrating when they don't even listen. Don't you get it, kids?! This is THEATER GOLD. I'm passing you WORDS OF WISDOM!!! Shut up and take it!!! Oh, god, what karma. I'm sure I did this to Nancy, my summer camp director who would yell at us, "Hellooo?! Is there anybody in there? Did your brain take a trip to the 7-11???" and Joe, our choregrapher, who would scream, "No no no no no no no! Wrong wrong wrong wrong!" At the time, it was funny. Slash terrifying.

Anyway, the important part here is that they ended up doing a fantastic job. Really. I hate them, I love them, they were amazing. Kids who were silent and curled into themselves like snails on Monday were dancing and launching one-liners into the audience like baseballs today on Friday. Their ad-libs (aaarrgh!!! I told you to stop doing that!!!) were riotious. (The queen of ad-libbing, btw, turned out to be the most naturally present onstage because she was completely living in the moment. She was doing so easily what I struggle every time with, letting go of the self-doubt and self-assessment, and acting on every second as it came. Thinking of it, her ad-libs in the rehearsals were actually the ones that fostered the growth of some of the funniest moments of the show. Huh. Look at me, learning from an 11 year old.) The little ones my co-director and I worried would only be able to handle one easy line each blew everyone away with their confidence. Days like today make me even more-than-usual enraged it is arts programs that are cut first in schools. Don't you freaks get it, once kids have a real goal to work toward (ie a show, a band concert, an audition) the skills they lack in the real world become necessary to acquire. They are capable, they just need the forum to cultivate it, unlike their homes where their parents can only command them to mature, to sit up straight, to talk louder, to share themselves with others.

Today was an incredible day. I learned so much, and it was from a bunch of ordinary kids. And I was reminded of my own growth as an actress, from whiny kid to scared adult. How can I be more like them? How can I be less afraid again? How can I remember that I have the power to succeed, to launch my words like arcing baseballs into open rows of audience?

When discussing what it was like to be afraid, to have lost something and then find the hope that it will return, Chloe offered her most poignant knowledge: "It's like when your Mom and Dad go to China. And then they will come back, and everything is okay again." Riiiight.

Except, I guess, she is.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


Oh my, what a whirlwind of a week. Today's the first day I've felt relatively back on my normal schedule after shooting this weekend, and I'm still feeling high about how it all went down. (I just re-read my last post, and I did literally seem a little high. High on sleep-deprivation, that is!!!)

I started my first of four weeks of teaching at the theater camps for Theatre Horizon on Monday. (FYI, Theatre Horizon is a non-profit theater co. in Philadelphia, headed by my sister Erin and our lifelong friend Matt Decker. It started with these shows we'd put on in the summers when I was 14, and then blossomed into music revues, Odets revivals, fundraiser parties, and then finally full on incorporation and state grants. But, like most theaters, the ticket sales don't pay the bills, but their education programs do. Most of them, in fact.) I was nervous, since the last time I taught was two years ago for the Women's Project in East Harlem, and that went badly. Not badly, per se, buuuut...let's just say it only took four 8 year old girls in public school uniforms and some attitudes the size of the V train to rip me a new one and make me feel like the dorky fat kid I was in elementary school. Ugh.

These children, however, have not ripped new assholes for me. Yet. If one more kid asks in the middle of "Zing Pow Boing" if their costume can include a handbag and magenta tights that look just so underneath their favorite new Hannah Montana shirt, my head might explode. (I envision that scene of baby Superman speeding away from Krypton as it erupts into a shower of sparky space stalactites.) These are not tough kids. These are materialistic kids. These are kids who want to be stars.

I can't blame them. So did I. My co-teacher and I bonded today over the fact that we both would sing "Annie" in public places (or my backyard. whatever.) just in case a Broadway producer was standing within earshot and was hit by a bolt of triple-threat-shaped lightning at the sound of my voice. ("Never have I heard a belt like that since Ethel! Wowie!") That's one of the reasons I loathe these children. Here are some other reasons:

1. They never shut up.
2. If you want to be a star so bad, shut up and help me block your stupid scene for your stupid play.
3. They ad-lib.
4. They touch everything.
5. They immediately break the No-Touching-This Rule I just made up five seconds before.
6. They leave their trash everywhere.
7. They scatter like cockroaches.
8. They never shut up.

My only consolation is that in a few short years, they'll be the camp counselors and babysitters that have to deal with little shits like them. Karma, small devil spawn!

But then, that magic of theater hits you. The way they refer to stage directions while they skip across stage is adorable. The way everything about their play is fantastic and magical is inspiring. The intricate details they labor over as they craft their characters excites me. They are each one unique and interesting, and when that moment comes when you can actually hear their stupid lines past the end of the stage...well, it's very fulfilling.

But above it all, it reminds me of my beginning in theater. My first show was Cinderella, and I wore a page boy costume made out of carpet squares and duct tape. I was six. My first theater camp, I was ten years old, and I sweat over every song and dance like it was my job. I dreamed it would be. I told everyone I would be an actress. I kept singing in malls and restaurants and parking lots, when no one was listening. I kept going to camps, and classes, and auditions, and I went to drama school, and I still wanted it to be my job.

Oh man. These kids are writing a show about a poison pizza stolen from a pizza shop. There's a chase sequence. And a random knight. And a toddler who is a rich & famous celebrity. And they love it.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Indie film shoot #1

Ah. Back on the Bolt Bus. It's like the past three days never even happened.

I don't know where to start here. I've gotten two hours of sleep (on the couch of the kid who stars in this indie film and who I've known since Thursday night) and my eyes are unimaginably dry. It's like blinking two sweaters made of dust. It's taken me ten minutes to write four sentences. I'm going to barf out of exhaustion.

Rehearsal for said film commenced Thursday night, in the apartment I would eventually pass out in two nights later, and it started off normally enough running lines and making awkward first introductions. As this film is about a bunch of college guys getting wasted, the rehearsal segued easily into everyone getting wasted. Rock band was played. Cast member's histories of threesomes were discussed. I commented favorably upon an animated X-men DVD box set, and others agreed (revelation of group dorkiness is always a good sign). Common friendships were discovered, and I was really excited to find that I was having a good time with these people. We raised our summer ales and coronas to cast bonding with a joyous hurrah. After getting tanked on 4 beers and no dinner, I returned with my rolly suitcase to my old apartment in east midtown, where I was welcomed by my old roommate Beth and her boyfriend Randy, and my replacement, Steve. We chatted til 2, and I crashed in my roommie's bed til 11 am.

We drove up to Stamford, CT on Friday afternoon for a 5 pm call, and proceeded to shoot in the backyard of a fancy-shmancy house till 5 am the next morning. As soon as we got there, shit started hitting all sorts of Stamford fans. A cop was wandering around with a neighbor, getting riled up about trucks and generators and noise problems, and the owner of aforementioned fancy house got equally furious about 30 crew members trampling his roses and trucking around his pretty house. We, the talent, shut up and hung out at craft services. (FYI, it's always a bad sign when you are served breakfast at 5 pm.) It's always daunting being an actor on a bustling set, because everyone has a job that is really important and busying except for you. You're the idiot standing around at craft services. No one tells you anything. You're not the important part, strangely enough. It's humbling.

And this set was certainly bustling. It's without a doubt the biggest film set I've been on (outside of the sag background work and one life to live stuff I've worked on) and it was fantastic. The quality of the film was fantastic, crisp and full and gorgeous. One of my costars (I sound so pretentious) told me that the camera they were using was so new and strong that it was much more powerful than the high-definition of blu-ray, and that's why the picture is so perfectly beautiful. Okay.

The first night was long and complicated, and there's nothing worse than fucking around at 3 am, killing time and shivering, wishing you could be in bed but knowing you're going to have to be alive and perky any minute now...It's a challenge, no doubt. I chugged two cups of coffee at 3:30 and did some dances in the grass while I waited, which turned out to be not the thing my stomach likes. I didn't have so much to do the first night on-camera anyway, so it was a little anti-climactic, but fun nonetheless. 6:30 am was when my head hit my Holiday Inn pillow, and then it was on to Saturday.

As soon as we got to set on Saturday, we were rehearsing and getting prepped to film. I was really nervous, because it was my little turn to shine. The scene starts with me telling a story, which I was totally improv-ing. (To be clear, I'm not good at that shit. I've never thought so. Everybody thought all my stories were funny at rehearsal, but that could have been a fluke. The insecurities are strong with this one...) It started out a little rough, and I really took 15 minutes to warm up into it, which sucks, especially since it was my coverage first we were taping. As soon as I realized I was choking, I kind of freaked out and didn't know what to do. So, without getting any real guidance as to what to do, I just kind of...let it go. I just started rambling. The things that poured out of my mouth were not mine. They just came out. I parted my lips and din't know what would be belched out. And it worked.

The second half of the night was a hot tub scene, which started off absolutely frigid. It then turned dizzyingly hot and then finally cooled off to a tepid temp, and we settled in. My brain is at the end of its capabilities at this point, so I can't even recall the last twelve hours so well, except to say that it went well. I felt good about it. I feel good that I'm making an effort to make film more of a priority. This was difficult, and I wasn't sure what I was doing, but I figured it out.

The only thing is...I'm sad I'm not in more of this movie. Everyone was so cool, so sweet, and so fun, and I had a fantastic time. I know I've fo sho got one more drunken party scene to film, which will be fun.

PS I'm working. I'm working!

Thursday, July 10, 2008


Never a dull moment! I'm updating from the singularly fantastic BoltBus, a secret that I'm afraid I'm too excited not to unleash upon the Northeast. Not only do tickets from Philly to New York start at $7, it goes from Penn Station to 30th St, it's never crowded, and the bus drivers are the happiest people I've met since that woman selling weedballs at a Phish concert 6 years ago. AND...they have free wifi. AND! Outlets in the seats. Never has there been a more thrilling mode of transportation since the Magic Schoolbus.

Anyway. You may be asking yourselves, "As truly magical as the BoltBus does sound, why the hell are you going to New York when you just moved out, you crackhead? What's the dealio???" Here unfolds the last 25 hours' of events:

5:45 PM: I drive myself over to the opening of my sister's theater company's opening night of "Working. (Check it out: My sister is a genius of an actress, director, producer, and artistic director. If you're anywhere near Philadelphia, I highly recommend them. And not just because I'm their house manager. And founding member. And ex-director of fundraising & special events) On the way over, I hit a bird and kill it dead.
7 PM: Show starts. Applause applause applause.
8:25 PM: I screen a phone call from a mystery number, and hurriedly listen to the message. It's the zombie play director. He loved my read and wants me to play either Maggie or Lauren. It's up to me. That's the nail in the coffin. I decide ix-nay on the ombie-zay play.
9:30: Show ends. Everyone cheers. Reception in the lobby.
10 PM: Donna the Janitor (did I mention this theater is in the theater of the new school in King of Prussia?) hugs me and reminds me she still has the picture of me as Maria in Sound of Music from my sophomore year of high school hanging over her bed and she tells everyone I have the voice of an angel. (Using my high school math skills...9 years. It's been up there 9 YEARS.)
10:30PM: The company celebrates by going to the place to be in KOP, Bahama Breeze AKA place of a thousand margaritas AKA where I spent my 21st birthday AKA land of tiki torches and aruba reds. I drink one gin & tonic.
11:55 PM: I forget to pay for my drink, peace out, and I drive myself home. i'm tired, and I want to talk to my honey. I can't get my windshield to stay un-foggy, and I'm a littly tipsy. No birds are harmed.
12:09 PM: Say hello to my bf Josh just as my email opens and I see the email from the film director saying "See you tomorrow! Filming this weekend!"

Well, shit motherfucker. I'm fucked. I thought there was only a slight chance we'd be filming this weekend, and since I hadn't heard anything from him in 5 days, I assumed that chance had been downgraded to zero. And there was nothing about rehearsing on Thursday night, the night I'm house managing two hours away in Pennsylvania.

So let's review. It's midnight. I'm still jet-laggy since I haven't really been sleeping this week, and a little buzzed, my baby wants to chat, and I'm FREAKING OUT because suddenly all of my plans are screwed up. I don't want to go to New York this weekend! I don't want to re-pack ALL my stuff in a suitcase again. I made other commitments, I got an audition time for Simpatico's production of "This is Our Youth" on Saturday, I have no clean clothes, I feel fat and a little crazed, my life is spread out in a mess all over my childhood bedroom like vomit at a sorority party, and suddenly I'm on film. What if I suck? What if the magic I had at my audition dies? What if I'm not worth all this trouble?

See, there it is again. At the root of all my worrying, my whining and my freakouts, it all comes down to my low self-esteem. I want to push it off me because when it comes down to actually doing the job, I don't think I'm good enough. And the thing is...I like this script. I like this director, and I am honestly really excited to shoot this film. I just want to do a good job. It scares me when I'm actually part of something that I want to do well in, because it's easy to do a thousand Zombie Plays and be like, "You better treat me like a princess, because I'm overqualified and awesome" but when you're part of something you want to really and truly succeed at...well, you want to succeed.

So. I'm on the BoltBus. Going to New York. Rehearsal in 2 hours, and filming all night Friday and Saturday. And then somehow...back to house-manage on Sunday at 12:30. Overbooked. But, like, Theatre Horizon's musical, I'm working. I'm doing it. Maybe for just this weekend, but I'm acting. Get over it, and get it done.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Eagles the Football Team, NOT the band

Today's my audition for the Eagles live industrial. I think I get the gist of what they're looking for, but I'm wondering what the audition could possibly be like. Cold-reading and improv-ing a script? Selling a pitch? No idea.

I'm nervous, and it's odd because I only get really nervous because artistically I want so bad to be part of a production. I'm nervous today because A) I really need this paycheck B) I really really need this paycheck and C) if I get this, I'm going to have to be that horrible flaky actor who fucks up her commitments to everyone else.

Why am I so scared of doing that? Every actor has to at some point, it's the nature of the business. Because my nature is to get everyone to like me, and keep it that way. Argh. It's frustrating, but it's true. The thought of someone being upset with me, or saying "Oh Teresa, what a bitch, she totally dropped out last minute and fucked up my entire project" or just "Oh Teresa. Ugh." Or whatever! Oh god, it's such a lame worry, because clearly you can't make everyone happy. I have a hard enough time just making myself happy.

So I need to just concentrate on that. What would make me happy....Booking this job, calling up my little indie film director and him having no problem with me flaking out on three days of shooting, effortlessly rearranging my teaching schedule for August, and somehow being able to do the Shakespeare performance on the 26th. I want to do it all. I can't. (I don't even know if I can. I signed contracts!)

Tom Logan is probably snorting at me right now. There's so little chance I'll be hired, and here I am, obsessing at 9:30 am in my bathrobe. I've just spent the last 30 minutes on the eagles website and I've learned...that Jessica the Eagles Cheerleader would pick Taco Bell as her last meal. Oh my god.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Busy busy philly bee

It struck me at the lawyering retreat that what all the resort guests had in common (besides blue-clad waiter/lifeguards serving them ice water and sunblock) was that they all had a ton of money. And, undoubtedly, most of them are working really hard to earn a large amount of it. So what happens when you accumulate a pile of moolah? Go gold-swimming, a la Uncle Scrooge circa Duck Tales? Probably not, you probably just go to a resort. And while it is nice relaxing in sunshine, I like being busy, I need to be, and I hope always to be. The goal, I guess, is to have enough money that gold-diving is a very real possibility, but hopefully you'd have better things to do.

Speaking of moolah, I went in today to set up my profile with a temp agency. I've already set up a profile three times with this particular agency; however, I've never actually gotten a job through them. So maybe that was a waste of time. However! I had to watch an office safety video and then (haha!) take a quiz on what I'd learned (ha! HA!) and it was possibly the greatest video ever made. (Definitely a video. My guess: 1988.) The title: Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Perilous Office. Haha! Sherlock Holmes has traveled in time with Watson (who is the POV) to this 1988 office to show what you should do in a perilous office under your temp agency contract. He used the term "Indja" at one point. As in, "I deduce that Tilly the office dunce pulled out two drawers and the filing cabinet fell over and killed her. You should never pull out more than one filing drawer at a time, Watson, or you'll end up head over tail just like that time in Indja!" What?!

I wonder how that actor felt about that shoot. Was it fun? Did he rush home to see his kids? Did he think it was a pile of shit? Are temp agency safety videos exactly what he wanted to do? What was his audition like?! And even though it was a laughable video...I'd totally do that. It looked like good fun, right-o, indeed it did. Tally-ho.

Aaaannd...tonight was my Zombie Play audition, which will not lead to any kind of vat of gold. (I was the possibly tacky auditionee who asked, if cast, would gas money be reimbursed? Let's get real here homies, I can't even afford $5 a gallon on getting to my temp job.) And the audition was...more of an experience than an audition. I realized midway over, after getting off 76, that this audition was most likely in a house. (Sure, I've auditioned in apartments before, most of us have, but only those with doormen. And only when the company had, like, a website not made on a mac.) I started envisioning bloody hypotheses about cute girls being lured into dilapidated row houses, given porn sides and then mutilated and turned into jersey prostitutes. I know, I'm ridiculous. I'm a worrier, I can't help it! But it turned out it was just a funny little audition on the wraparound porch of a peeling mansion in St. Joe's suburbia. Wynnewood. It was a group thing. They were really nice. It like being in camp. I slapped a mosquito dead on my arm during a monologue. The "zombies" in question were kids on aderol, half of them lesbians. There was some face-eating involved in the script. And the kids who were running the audition chain-smoked the entire time. And a kitten hung out for a little while. An experience, indeed.

And, you know, I enjoyed it. They asked the three of us auditioning on the porch together what we thought of the play, if we wanted to do it. Uuuuuhhhhh...I evaded and said, "I really like how collaborative this has been." I don't know if I'd do it, but I had a goshdarn good time. Honestly, I really did! They were nice people, I respect that they've put together a group and are in the Philly FringeFest and that they care about what they're doing. I mean, that's what you want right? To work with people who make something, and love it, and try to share it. So...I might not get gas money. I might get paid in beer. I'd get to say I was in a fringe show. I'd be doing something. I just want to work on something. I'm STARVED. Oh God. I'm an artistic zombie. I'm going to eat someone's face off if I don't do some freaking acting sometime soon!!!!!

It's the Uncle Scrooge V. Sherlock Holmes quandry. For money or fun? Sure, I'm a professional actor, but I want to have a good time doing this sometimes, or is that not allowed anymore? This summer's schedule is rapidly filling up, which is great, but I guess this is more of a question for life. How to schedule your world. Should you pick projects you think will be enjoyable over projects you know will pay? I guess it depends on if you're lucky enough to have a choice of picks. Now that I think of it...I'm not sure I am.

And then there's my industrial audition tomorrow. I've never done an audition for a live industrial. The email my agent sent me had zero practical advice. So, I'm just going to try to cram in as much information about the Eagles as I can find. Apparently, Terrell Owens used to be an Eagle. Who knew? I thought he played basketball.

Oh jesus, this is going to suck. might be really fun. Maybe it could pay well AND be fun. Maybe that could happen.

Monday, July 7, 2008

The End of the See

Since wi-fi in LAX costs $9.99 per day (WTF?!!! What good is having a mac with Airport if the actual airport sucks big fat ass?!) I started writing this waiting for my delayed red-eye in Los Angeles and am posting it the next day in Philadelphia. Yeesh.

So. The end of Operation Los Angeles Go-See has come to an end. (After 14 hours of travel spanning the nation, via changeovers in Newark, Trenton, and ending in King of Prussia, PA. Heeeelllllll.)

But it’s okay, because the rest of the Operation was a hearty success! Hurrah! I got to spend some quality time sitting with my fellow Angelenos on the 101 (sans air conditioning, thank you very much), dined at the #1 restaurant in LA, Lucques, swam with musicians and red seaweed in Malibu, had some lengthy discussions with some awesome actors about how great/horrible/exciting/terrifying it is living in the entertainment capital of the world, took a look at a SWEET apartment I can’t afford unless I start selling my eggs, drove around a hybrid and pretended it was mine, and vomited in a plastic bag in the parking lot of a Holiday Inn the morning after my big birthday bash in a resort paid for by my boyfriend’s law firm. Awesome all around!

Puke aside, my goals for this trip were two-fold: explore LA both as an actor and as a potential citizen. I felt the need to really push myself to do so, or else I’d rock back into that happy little nook of laziness I’ve wickedly gotten too comfortable with in Manhattan; however, I feel entirely satisfied with what I’ve discovered. Not only is Los Angeles chock full of sunshine and blue skies, it’s also crowding with hills and mountains, hazy cerulean ocean, and opportunites to explore nature in every corner. Not to say it’s not as urban of an environment as you’ll find, but the beauty of this town is that you wander down the busiest of intersections and suddenly find yourself surrounded by houses in a picture perfect example of suburbia. You can hide yourself away in a secret neighborhood and forget you’re in LA at all.

And then came the incessant interviews. In asking my college friends, all of whom have lived here for 3 years or less, the general consensus is that the quality of living is better than in New York. All of my friends have settled into sweet homes in good neighborhoods they like and can afford, a rampant problem in New York. But some things never change: muggings, identity theft, perverts, and bad drivers. Urban living is urban living.

In reference to the questions pertaining to the actual business, an actress/writer/director/producer I met through the Tisch Alumni East told me that despite the extreme susceptibility to slide into deep loneliness here (no one gets out of their cars) she was wholly grateful to Los Angeles. She was pushed to discover herself, what she wanted out of herself and her career, what she felt passionate about (theater) and how to bring it into her life (produce her own work and start her own theater company.) Another actress, a friend of a friend, told us over lunch in Los Feliz how creative and how extraordinarily involved the community is. She reassured me that there is work out here, strike or not, there are projects going on, and that creating a life for yourself through acting is feasible. That was the word of the lunch: feasible. What is doable? What can I accomplish?

I am more encouraged than ever by this trip the answer to that is a positive one. I can accomplish whatever I want, whether it is acting or writing, dancing or lawyering.

The positivity is already working! I got called in for more work for One Life to Live, which I can't do anyway, aaaand my agent called me in for a live industrial for the Eagles (whaaat) which will pay me so much money for 2 1/2 weeks that I won't have to worry about my move at all. The bad news is, it literally screws up every other plan I have for this summer. Whatevs, I'm getting carried away.

Anyway. In conclusion. To quote the Decemberists: Los Angeles, I’m Yours. I’ll see you in October? Yes.

Next up: Operation Make a Whole Shitload of Money.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

this is another one about zombies

Okay, here's the much anticipated news about the Zombie Play. It's actually not about literal zombies themselves. It's actually about college students who use prescription drugs that give them the appearance and mental capacity of the walking dead. More "Junk" than "28 Days Later." And, in a too-familiar red flag scenario, there are multiple spelling mistakes in the audition notice. And no periods. Usually, I would have deleted "Zomby Playe" from my mind 2.5 seconds after I saw it, but...what have I got to lose? Time? Yes. Possibly too much of it? Yes, probably. But, I've realized that I say no to things in a way to protect myself from failing, and if I don't just force myself to go, and be the best Zombie I can be, I'll be wasting this time before I go out to LA. I want to work. No time like the present to do some lo-budget crazy theater, when I'm not paying rent, right?

In other news, the beautiful California sun has etched a bathing suit "V" on my chest. Attractive. Need to get rid of that before shooting starts in two weeks for the little indie movie in CT.

And, I'm sending out my follow-up postcards for the Philly Alliance general auditions three weeks ago. It was my first time doing it, and, after doing so many auditions and projects in small spaces and tiny offices, I was really shocked how vocally out-of-shape I was on the huge and gorgeous Suzanne Roberts Theater stage. All the auditors were spread out in the dark little nooks and crannies of the new plush auditorium, and while I felt confident in my choices, I could feel my vocal chords straining a little. I used to really pride myself on feeling awesome about my strong voice, and now it's a lump of oral fuzz. Fuzz I tell you! word from People's Light, who I love so much and called me in for their mainstage show next June. I've worked hard over three years to develop a relationship with them, and they do call me in every year for something (huzzah! hurrah!) and I worry about that relationship failing when I move to LA. That was the benefit about coming from Philadelphia, I always had contacts 2 hours outside of New York I could always draw on, and now I'm moving west and I know, oh well, let me see here, um well, one time I auditioned for OSF, so that leaves, oh well, I mean, oh that's right, yeah no one.

And now there's only three days til I leave. I always get nervous at the end of a trip. What have I gotten out of this? How will life be when I get back? Is it true that if you shine a flashlight under your knees you can prevent jet lag? What will Monday be like? I try to plan, and pre-plan, and over-plan, and plan planned plans, but really, this is the most unprepared I've ever felt about anything. I'm going back to Philadelphia for three months, and I bet work to fill it with something, or else I'm going to go insane and end up an actual zombie, of the actor variety.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

RARRRGH! Whew. I'm okay.

Since this is a research quest (and because I've been spending too much time lollygagging beside the pool/Pacific) summer reading is requisite. And besides the guilty pleasure (I Was Told There'd Be Cake, by Sloane Crosley, about- what else?-New York) it's all been about the business.

1. How to Sell Yourself as an Actor by K Callan: This is the actress who played superman's mom on "Lois & Clark," wouldn't you listen to the woman who sewed clark kent his zesty man o' steel outfit? No, seriously, I love her books. She says things like, "Don't panic. Plan!" I love alliteration.

2. An Actor's Guide: Your First Year in Hollywood by Michael Nicholas: My sister bought me this book when we were at that giant bookstore in Portland last August. It has a big star on the front. I bend the cover back when I'm reading it. (I hate that I do that. I think it's part of this ashamed thing we all do, like when people ask your profession of choice, and you apologetically say in a little voice, "I' actor?" I pride myself on being a Gryffindor, but I act like a real squib sometimes. Goal #1: Stop apologizing.)

And the one that pulled me out of my two-day freakout funk:
3. How to Act & Eat at the Same Time by Tom Logan: I saw it at Samuel French the other day, and then I saw it again at B & N, and felt like...I need more books. I'm going to drive across country in October with an entire Toyota Matrix full of self-help literature.

He says stuff like, "Don't apologize" and "Don't beg" and "There's no logic to the casting process." He also says stuff like, "Just realize that an audition is a special time you've set aside to humiliate yourself," as well as "It's your attitude that could be the most important factor in your success." Huh. Novel idea. (Goal #2: Confidence! ) No, but really, what I liked about the book is that it reminded me this business is difficult for everyone, actors, directors, writers, producers. We all just want to work. Unfortunately, sometimes the desire to search out why the hell that other girl who looks exactly like me except with an overbite got cast in that crappy webisode when they LOVED me and told me they'd definitely be calling me and I saw her last spring in a festival of one-acts written by convicts and she sucked!!?@! makes you go a little crazy and you end up eating a bag of Whole Foods yogurt raisins in bed while reading that scene in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (you know which one, it involved a muggle-utilization of a shovel) for the twelfth time and crying a little.


I just had a whole long discussion with the tech guy today about computers and web design and actors and musicians and Los Angeles and marketing, and he came up with this brilliant assessment of the success of any business:

1. Acquisition (Of clients, a roster of casting directors who know your work, directors who love you, regional theaters that love hiring you every spring season, etc.)
2. Maintenance (Keeping them. Continuing the circle of love. Making them happy.)

Easy enough, right? The freakout is over. It's like candy binges. In the moment, it's like you're never going to stop eating candy, you are a sugar monster raaawwr moooreeee sugaaaar! And then it's over. And you feel like crap. And then you eat a carrot, and life goes on.

In other news, I now have an audition on Tuesday for something which I swore never to involve myself in: a zombie play. I've even previously scuttled past zombie movies, but you know...a girl's gotta start somewhere.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Crazy? Yes, possibly. A Moron? Let's hope not!

Today marks the second day of Teresa's Freakout during Operation Los Angeles Go-See. Why the 48-hour meltdown, tdawg? Because I DON'T KNOW WHAT I'M DOING. I'll be blogging in list form today, because my brain is like a puddle of ooze in a parking spot outside the Kardashian's store.

1. I'm burnt-out, lazy, and unmotivated in New York.
2. I hate being next door to NYU. It makes me feel like I'm still 18, naive, and stupid.
3. I want to work in film & television. Apparently, that stuff grows like cactus out here.
4. My bff's live out here and say everything's better.
5. My man is out here. Most of the time. While he's not in law school in Northern California.
6. My career needs a boost.

1. Constant sunshine is making me feel nauseous.
2. Smog.
3. Traffic.
4. Driving everywhere.
5. My man's 1981 white volvo has no air conditioning. This brings me to:
6. Heat. It's a DESERT.

1. The mountains.
2. The Pacific.
3. The fact that it's different than any other place I've ever lived before and it makes me feel invigorated and excited about acting again.
4. There's more work for my type.
5. I haven't been getting hired for theater work. I look like I'm 12, and in the past year I've accomplished most of my goals commercially, and none of my theatrical ones.

What do I miss? I've been out of there for 2 weeks, and what do I miss? My east midtown comfy cozy apartment. Riding on buses. Crossing Avenues. Ess-a bagel. Getting drunk and getting a cab home at 3 am for $9. Seeing the whole city on one subway map, and knowing I could get from Hoboken to Astoria in less than 45 minutes. Walking down 2nd avenue as the sun sets and ending up in the east village. Feeling like I know what I'm doing.

Ah. The crux of it! Ah HA! What I really miss is feeling like I'm at home. Sure, I start to daydream about McDougal and getting cupcakes at Magnolia, because I've done that before. I know exactly what the street looks like and how the overly-sugared cupcakes taste because it's all been done. I'm freaking out because I have...7 friends in LA. I have no agent. I am having a difficult time equating the neighborhoods in LA to their dopplegangers in New York ("Okay, so if Los Feliz is Brooklyn, is Inglewood like SoHo?").

Two mornings in a row now, I have woken up, looked out the window at the hugest blue sky I could ever imagine, and said, "This is quite possibly the dumbest thing I've ever done."

But then...I can't go back. I can't go back to New York, because I daydreamed for 10 months (or more) about leaving it. I was miserable pretending to be a faux-musical-theater actress. I was bored going to my crappy rent-job, getting sucked in, and not being able to just quit. I was burning bridges because I was scared. This is a move not only to find more work, but to find out who I am and what I can do with my life as an actor.

Also, there's an inherent problem with Operation Los Angeles Go-See. While I am conducting some interviews of some working professionals here (ie a playwright, a theater director, an actual working actor friend-of-a-friend, a producer I met at a Tisch Alumni networking event ooh, a friend who just directed a movie, a friend who just directed a music video blablablaaaa) I am not A) auditioning for anything or B) finding an apartment. I'm on a weird research/quasi-vacation. There's nothing worse than being artistically constipated, and I feel like while I'm challenging myself to get a feel for this strange western world, I'm not acting. Actors act. Right? I'm just...researching. I don't want to waste anyone's time by auditioning and then being like "Oh yeah, well, don't take me too seriously, because I'm kind of wasting your time because I don't live here, and I'll be leaving in 5 days and I've signed a contract to shoot this other movie next week so I definitely can't commit to anything sooooo....peace out, boy scout!!!" and then running off to Zuma Beach. Same with the apartment-searching. I don't want to waste anyone's time.

So. The goal for the rest of the week is to continue with the research. Continue with the delving into maps and goal-planning, push on in the reading those actor books and subscribing to the trades and budgeting and working on my plan of attack.

Oh pish. This is maybe the dumbest thing I've ever done.