“My life has been a complete scramble recently. It’s been delicious. I love a good scramble, but there are moments I bite into and get a totally different taste than I was expecting. I’ve been taking steps that I’ve taken before, but all of a sudden I am stepping onto shaky foundations with a quivering body. Some of my grounding sense seems to have leapt away for a moment in the scramble.
This morning, Emily Kron and I braved the RENT Off-Broadway open call which wrapped from the doors of The New World Stage Theater, through the plaza, and all the way to 50th street and 9th avenue. There probably were over 1000 people there no joke.
As Emily and I sat and chatted on the corner of 49th and 9th with hundreds in front of us, our conversation brought to light that in order to move forward confidently and profitably, you have to step back and see what you’ve completed. That is what this blogging experience has been for me; this online journeying has allowed me to have a record of where I’ve come from to then be able to look forward onto a clearly lit path.
I haven’t blogged in a while, and I’ve had so much to write about. Everything has been piling up day after day, and instead of sitting down to blog and look back on my recent experiences, I’ve been watching RuPaul’s Drag Race and 1 Girl 5 Gays on Logo, telling myself I just need to “relax”, and watching gay T.V. will do just that.
Now, I’m not saying that I’m relying on blogging to keep me sane, to keep me happy, but I’m saying that it helps me, and I recognize it for all this process brings me and my growth in the biz.”
I wrote those paragraphs over a week ago and am now just getting back to finishing this post. Yup, I’ve been that busy. Surprise? Not really. I have finally made myself stay at home, rest up after a long week, do a lot of laundry, and make sure this next week is organized to benefit all levels of my being.
The first thing to do is finish this post.
There is too much that has happened to go through every little detail, so I’m gonna do a bit of a speed through with parts. There is no use harping on the past with its nitty-gritties, but there is purpose in recognizing what has become a part of my experience, to see how it will positively further me as an individual in this city. Thus is the reason this blog exists. Thus why I make it a thing to do.
“The Artist’s Way”:
I have finally started. But there have been hills and valleys in my dedication to the progressive process that I have begun to experience. It really is an amazing process, even in just the first week. The ways that Julia Cameron phrases how our own artist wishes to come out and how best to aid that ascent in a naturally simplistic way really connect with me. Throughout her writings, whether in the introduction or explaining the tasks, she dabbles in little gems of inspirations. While the quotes that I have collected from the first 50 pages would fill a whole post, I thought I would pick out a few of my favorites that have really connected with me:
- “[Keep] things simple because they really [are]. Creativity is like crabgrass - it springs back with the simplest of care.”
- “Creativity is our true nature.”
- “Get out of the way. Let it work through you.”
- “Leap and the net will appear.”
- “As artists, we must learn to be self-nourishing.”
- “In order to function in the language of art, we must learn to live in it comfortably.”
- “... establish a sense of safety which will enable you to explore your creativity with less fear.”
- “You can do it better if only you would let yourself do it!”
- “... going sane feels just like going crazy.”
- “More than anything else, creative recovery is an exercise in open-mindedness.”
I did pretty well with all the activities and tasks for the first week, only missing a few. Come the second week (this past week), I barely did any of this work with my hectic schedule. So I will be trying Week Two over again this next week and be more committed. It really is amazing how my thought has already changed when it comes to how I create myself and see other artists’ work. But I’m still letting it set in, seeing where it continues on to.
“Angels in America”:
A few weeks ago I was introduced to Billy Porter after a show some of my good friends were in and a part of (it was a five-hour Greek Tragedy, done in a living room, and absolutely amazing - and that’s coming from a guy who lives on song and dance...). Billy has done countless work on stage and in the recording studio and is s talented. Currently he is starring in the revival of “Angels in America” as Belize and Mr. Lies at The Signature Theater here in the city.
We got to talking about life in the city and the different paths of our art and where we are on them. I was instantly drawn to his life experiences, hearing about all that he has learned from them and where they have taken him in return. While we are definitely in different points of our career, his words became a mentor’s advice. The point that he made most apparent and that really clicked with me was that all I need “to create” is me; I am enough. Sure there are classes and lessons, but when it comes to creating, all I need is myself and my own experiences. This is even the case when creating characters that aren’t in “my making” or are “unlike” me. I always felt that when I have to play straight characters, I have to morph everything about me to create a complete man for the stage. But what Billy was telling me was that that isn’t the case; “Just play the scene” and the character will just come from there.
What I was seeing all of a sudden was that the work didn’t have to come from exercises, that it didn’t have to come from the outside, penetrating my being, creating a tremor of illusion for the story’s sake. It all comes from me when it comes down to the base of it all. All the tools that I have learned are right there at the base with the rest of my experiences that have shaped me into the man I am today.
Billy invited me to see both parts of “Angels in America” the following week. This is the play that was with me right when I was coming out. In my second semester freshman year, I was honored to act in a scene from it with my first boyfriend for Emily’s final Directing 1 scene. It was the scene on the beach. Adam played Louis and I played Joe. It is such a beautiful scene amidst a beautiful connection of these two souls. This was one of those processes and collective moments on stage that I will remember forever. The final showing of it was probably the hardest thing I have ever had to do onstage. I had recently just broken Adam’s heart, breaking-up with him only a few days before this final performance; I was all of a sudden seeing the upcoming summer away from this new reality in close sight and was terrified what that could bring. Then here we are in a scene together having his character leave this relationship with a “gay-virgin” (my character) stripped on a cold, gray beach. It was ironic, awkward, and gut-wrenching all at the same time, but Adam and I got through it for the beautiful success of the scene. Never again have I treaded so lightly on the stage.
That summer, I had gone into a book store and picked up a copy of “Angels in America” and proceeded to read it cover to cover. It’s pure beauty on every page. Every scene is a work of artistic achievement through every character, word, and punctuation. I was seeing how the writing of a piece of theatre can truly make the show so much more powerful. As I came to my scene with Adam, guilt, sadness and love crept in. I knew I could never experience that scene any other way for the rest of my life.
Jump two years ahead, I’m now in Directing 1 myself, and I knew I wanted to revisit Joe and Louis’s relationship. Through an amalgamation of two different scenes, my two actors and I continued the discovery of these people. It was an alluring opportunity to bring my own vision to this amazing and life-changing piece of theatre. It was the time too when the directing bug bit me. I saw how much I truly love to create a full moving picture onstage, giving me a springboard into this realm of my career.
So now, here I am, in the audience of the 20th year revival of this ground-breaking theatrical production. After seven and a half hours of these stories, I was spent and energized all at the same time. Sure, I had seen the HBO series and was blown away. But this piece is meant for the stage. Nothing can compare to the experience I had sitting in that audience and seeing this play that has been such a part of my being true to myself. It was a dream come true. And of course, when that beach scene came up, and the gray light filled the stage, my heart bounced and throat clenched just as I knew it would. It was pure beauty.
My mom’s sister, Aunt Morgan, passed away recently. It was quite sudden and unexpected, and our family found ourselves doing everything we could to support each other from around the country. Morgan went to school for Musical Theatre and has always been an advocate for my career. While we weren’t the closest as I grew up, just in the past few years our relationship truly grew. She was able to make it up to Middlebury from Tennessee to see my senior thesis work. I’ll never forget her sitting in the front row balling her eyes out for the second half of the show. “I’m just so proud of you!” she said afterwards.
My last conversation with her was this past October. She was the one who gave me the advice and courage to really look inward when it comes to advancements in my career. It was right then that I was deciding if I wanted to go on with the Essex Steam Train for the Christmas Show. “Just because you’re being paid doesn’t mean that it’s the right place for you to be,” she said to me. She also always told me to not run myself too thin, to give myself time to rest, recuperate, and recount. It’s all of this advice that I am taking into account in my daily travels here in the city. While there was no good time to talk with her before she passed, I’ll always hold onto that long phone conversation we had that one night in October.
I love you Aunt Morgan. Thank you for everything you have brought to our family.
The other night I was out to dinner with a wonderful guy, Brian, who brought up that later that evening there was a performance that a couple of his friends were in and wondered if I wanted to go. It was the 8-Minute Musicals Festival, a two week process where composers/lyriscists, writers, directors, and actors come together to create and perform brand new work, more specifically 8-Minute Musicals... :-) Brian had performed in the previous festival and was raving about the whole process and production quality.
The theme for these musicals was “Imaginary Friends”. All eight shows were wonderful with a perfect balance of humor and depth in the telling of these stories. With a simplistic setting and lighting design plus a simple upright piano onstage, the small black box allowed our own audience imaginations to transform effortlessly along with the different stories portrayed. Not to mention the actors’ performances were absolutely wonderful on all levels. Just sitting there in the audience and being a part of this new work gave me a new sense of excitement to be a part of the movement for more productions like this. But it also made me nervous; “How can I do that? Am I talented enough like all of them?” I knew that this was merely fear trying to creep in to overtake me for the worse, stinting my own growth and possibilities. All they were doing was truly good work at the core, so how can any bad thoughts or fears come in in response to that? The answer is none!
Afterwards Brian and I went out with the cast and production team of the show. I was introduced to so many wonderful people who were a part of this creation. I can’t wait till they have another festival and to hopefully be a part of it in some artistic way whether acting or directing.
Be sure to check out their website and follow them on Facebook and Twitter!
I’m now in rehearsals for “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” and it’s going well. There’s a lot to do in the next couple of weeks, but it’s totally doable. Chip is a really fun part to play both as a character as well as vocally speaking. The challenge that I love taking on is that I really didn’t like this character when I first saw it. Sure, his big song was super fun, but I found the character annoying and selfish. As I continue to work with him, I’m seeing that there is more to him than I had seen prior. Sure, he is self-centered and thinks he’s the best thing since sliced bread, but he also has his Boy Scout mentality that ingrains a gentleman’s sense into his being. So that’s what I am currently playing with.
Here are the dates and times of the performances:
Saturday April 9th at 8:00 PM
Sunday April 10th at 3:00 PM
Wednesday April 13th at 2:00 PM
Friday April 15th at 8:00 PM
Saturday April 16th at 8:00 PM
Sunday April 17th at 3:00 PM
The following link can provide directions and the phone number to call for ordering tickets. For people coming from NYC, it's a quick ride on the MetroNorth Train from Grand Central to Mamaroneck with a short cab ride or 15 minute walk to the theater from there.
“Broadway Comes to Stratford”:
Just a few days ago I was asked to perform a set for the Stratford Library Annual Benefit, “Broadway Comes to Stratford”. I was referred to them by Kate Hosfelt who was in charge of booking the space at the James Blackstone Memorial Library where I did my first performance of “Another Staged Experience”. After a quick phone chat, hearing that their talent had backed out at the last minute, I was booked to sing a half an hour set twice for their benefit event. I get to put together the set and choose any show-tunes I’d like. My goal is to do some kind of version of “Another Staged Experience”, just shortened with not as many stories and a few new songs. I’m looking so forward to this and creating a new piece to have in my back pocket along with my first cabaret. John will be playing for me again which will be perfect.
The benefit is on April 30th at the Stratford Library. Follow this link to learn more about what the Stratford Library does and ticket information...
Wow... That was a lot. Now it’s time to have a productive week of rehearsing, auditioning, finding more part-time work, and creating. While the buzz of New York City has been overwhelming at times, freezing me periodically in all its motion and noise, day by day I am learning more about how to use it to my advantage, letting the energy propel me forward. Sure, things may be scrambled at times, but it can still be deliciously life-changing when I look back.