Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Crunch time

When everything somehow times out so that you end up doing nothing for ages then everything in a week it's a lot to process

I feel like I'm doing a not bad job though, with the ace support crew to be given full credit for their role in keeping things rolling.

Tomorrow night we have Plays n Pints - an FTP event that hasn't happened for a very long time but needed resurrecting so I was given the task of doing just that.  Lots of last minute things - do they have music stands at the venue? Where's the cashbox in Sam's apartment? (Sam does not know) What's the ticket split between us and the bar? How many 3-ring binders do we need?

But it's all coming together and tomorrow night will see a great cast of 9 plus me filling in extra voices here and there do a staged reading of 'The Best Man' by Gore Vidal at Ryan's Daughter, an Irish bar on the Upper East Side where Plays n Pints has historically taken place.  It's a very casual night where we encourage people to enjoy beers while they enjoy a play - we choose plays that lean towards comedy, the actors have drinks in hand too, and everyone has a low key grand time.

Of course I've never been responsible for organising one before (and I'm really co-organising, Ali has been acting as my second brain and picking up things I missed) and I honestly never realised how many details there were to something that seems so simple.  Now that I've done it once however I have a checklist of everything so if I do it again I'll have a template to work from.  Yay learning!

I've been staying at Sam and Val's for a week looking after Bobby, so I'm factoring his walk and food needs into the rest of my timetable but it's been working out well, somehow.

And of course Freaks Don't Cry opens next week and I am so thrilled at that prospect - like with The Unseen, the whole show is kind of like a mystery to everyone because most of us won't ever get to see everything that happens, since there are sometimes multiple scenes happening simultaneously.  Everything I have seen is crazy cool though.  I can't stress enough how cool.  There are so many fantastic elements mixed in, as if the beautiful storytelling isn't enough.  It's very special to get to develop a piece the way we do, with movement coming from the performers, because it adds a personal uniqueness to everything making it all the more authentic and touching.  IMO.

I'm also thrilled about the physical changes I will have to/get to undergo for this show - watch this space it's going to be so effing cool!

Having spent the day so far ticking off items on my huge to-do list with an unexpected and slightly alarming efficiency I'm going to head into Manhattan to drop off a script and print programs.
Which are also on my to-do list.  It's a long list! I love lists.

Tapping in Diana Brooks' class last week - note the intense concentration on my face, then note that I'm still on the other foot from everybody else.  Also note the spiffy tap shoes!

The Mystical Madam Ma...what's she hiding under that veil?

That is a pile of broken glass. Shan is standing on it.  Everything's fine.

Coney Island boardwalk on a beautiful February Monday

My brief respite this morning from the long list...small moments matter big

So, I learned this about myself today - I have a huge wingspan! I never really thought about it before but my friend Keola stopped by to pick up his script for tomorrow and I got him to take a couple of pictures that I need to send to the Freaks Don't Cry team, and he immediately commented on my reach - we compared and I match him.  He's a 30something surfer dude.  According to him I should be playing pro basketball or volleyball - sadly these are like...the two sports I have the absolute least mastery of.  Whenever we played these at school in P.E. lessons I spent a lot of time ducking, and I can't play basketball cos I just default to netball.  So those are out...he did also suggest boxing, which I'm super into - these hands, they make pretty hefty fists! So that was a fun discovery today.

If this doesn't make you smile I don't know what would.  Bobby+Lauren <3<3<3

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Cramp roll models

This title is a pun, it's funnier if you know what a cramp roll is but it's basic tap terminology so you get the gist

Something I've been going to but have failed to blog about thus far is a fantastic tap class taught by Diana Brooks.  She is a former professor at University of Oklahoma and recently moved to New York.  Apparently every tap dancer I've ever met here is a former student of hers and one of them let me know that she would be starting a class in the evenings.  It's affordable, it's at a time that I can actually make and she is a brilliant teacher and all-around super cool lady.  Good to have more gal tap role models - it's too much of a boys club, though as you can see from these pictures there's no reason for it to be other than 'tradition'.  Smash the floor, and the patriarchy

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Call Me IshWonderWoman

Often – lately, in particular – I find myself gnashing my teeth as an unconscious reaction to the predicament of trying to fulfil multiple roles simultaneously.  In one part of my brain I’m Tessa the babysitter while another part scans through the database of upcoming auditions that I’ve stored in there along with what I’ll need for each one, and a third less senior section of brain mentally budgets the next three weeks AND responds to theatre company related emails (some part of the brain are somewhat understaffed).  If it sounds a bit much, it’s cos it is really, and it can feel like being made to juggle champagne flutes while standing on one leg on a skateboard going backwards down a hill – why would anyone put themselves under that much pressure?

Having said that, I sometimes astonish myself with my ability to be in three places at once and accomplish everything that needs to be accomplished.

Today was one of those days that leave me sort of drained and exhausted but pretty satisfied and proud.  I had a meeting that ended up being three meetings in one, I went to work, I went to a long and challenging audition from which I emerged feeling super proud of the work I presented and I went to other work and along the way I planned social engagements, rehearsal, negotiated an errand to pick up a crucial rehearsal prop, drafted emails for an FTP endeavour I’m co-producing and…I’m sure there’s something else but y’know what? Brain has done enough today.  Brain can clock out.  Brain employees need to go home to their families.  Well done brain, also well done body, both outdid themselves today.  All on about five hours sleep which is not enough but I’m thrilled at the prospect of an amazing night’s sleep tonight.

Yesterday we had the first real blizzard of the winter – let’s hope we stop at just the one.  It was fine, not debilitating, in fact I found it quite bracing trudging down 7th Ave while snowflakes divebombed my face.  It sort of felt like getting really intense microdermabrasion.  Also, the area around where I work is where I lived the first time I ever came here.  Work is 28th St and 7th Ave and the first time I ever saw NYC I arrived in a blizzard to an apartment on 26th St and 7th Ave.  So I spent my first few days here doing exactly what I did yesterday – battling through snow and slush, cautiously picking my way over icy patches.  So it’s cold, it’s abrasive, it’s hazardous but it’s also very nostalgic for me.

I laugh when I hear people say things like ‘a little snowstorm and all the schools are closing? I thought this was NYC not British Columbia!’
I know everyone likes to talk tough cos New Yorkers are genuinely unphased by most things, and to admit that a blizzard shuts down the city is a source of shame.  I encourage those people to consider what it would be like if everything did stay open though.  Most businesses do, the trains still run and snowploughs and gritters are out in full force making the roads useable.  Schools, some banks and other public entities close if the threat of snow is heavy enough.  This makes sense.  There are a LOT of people on a relatively tiny island.  If everyone came out and went about their business as usual during a blizzard…I mean, hordes of kids trying to ride buses on icy roads? The usual level of pavement crowding on busy streets, people trying to rush by slow walkers – added to the giant puddles that form by the curb and proprietors trying to shovel the area directly outside their business, or home? That is not a good idea! Not everyone needs to stay home or close to home but if you can during an NYC blizzard I firmly believe there should be no shame, in fact you should be commended for doing your part to keep the streets a little safer.  Oy. Just one hero’s opinion!

Ok I think my skull is starting to melt with the energy my mind’s exerting to keep making sense.  Over and out – so much love and warmth and hugs to all my nearest and dearest who never fail to lift me up when they sense it’s neededxxx

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Best of 2016

I am just realising that I haven't written a 2016 retrospective blog post and I should because so many things happened that deserve recognition and remembrance.

In 2016 I

Jan - Started in Scotland with the Downies!

March - Made a speech in front of and took a picture with Alec Baldwin and the late Sir Peter Shaffer

April - Ran a 10k with a best friend alongside me, turned 26 surrounded by outstanding people

Spent a lot of time in dance studios

May - Had a visit from my fab cousin Em, took in a rare Broadway show

Went to the wonderful wedding of Sam and Val

Learned to swing dance (...ish)

June - Attended a Comic Con and the Mermaid Parade as a promotional costumed character?? That was a weird one

Visited upstate New York for the first time with Daddy, my first mini road trip in the US, a literal wooden cabin, waterfalls and barbecued steak - bliss

Got to act alongside Lauren in a brilliant play by an English writer

July - Saw THE CURE at Madison Square Garden

August - Lived in Red Hook and had a dog and and a cat for a month

Had a visit from my long distance sister from another mister Lola

Found the dance company with whom I feel at home

Created an immersive dance piece in one week with a dear friend

Said a painful goodbye and shared loss with my loved ones

September - Became a voice actor

Went to Puerto Rico, rainforests caves and beaches included

Became a dancer with the Linked family and created a role in an astonishing piece of dance theatre

November - performed in The Unseen

Made and ate some epic Thanksgiving food

December - And an epic lasagna

Made dance videos with Rosie and David in two weeks flat

Said farewell to same Rosie but she conveniently moved to London so more of a see you later

And in amongst all these things I met some new people I now count as solid friends, further deepened some existing friendships, celebrated birthdays and achievements, ran, rode my bike, cooked, wrote, saw movies, found new music and a host of other things that I think are positive contributions to me as a person and I hope the world at large in a karmic sort of way.


A couple of rehearsal pic, Steve, Jordan, Shan and myself.  If you look close you can see I've got the giggles.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Freaks Don't Cry

It's here! Roll up roll up, help save the Coney Island Sideshow!


Thursday, February 2, 2017

Sisterhood of the Travelling Pyjamas

I had the first of my visits from England this year, to the tune of THE Ellie Haines and other half the charming Nick Brooke. They were over for a week's holiday and had scheduled me in to a packed agenda. We had dinner Tuesday night at Burger Joint - a no-frills burger bar stashed behind a curtain in a fancy hotel. Points for novelty, atmosphere, price and food - wins all around.
But the real points go to Ellie one of my oldest and dearest friends who proves once again that time and distance are no matter when you're really true friends. We had so much fun talking a million miles an hour (until we had to be asked to leave so they could close, in fact) catching up on all kinds of news and setting the world to rights. Not only were the pair of them great company but she really came through with a bag of presents for me - absolutely spoiled rotten. I got nail varnish, I got a huge supply of Dairy Milk, I got a mini bottle of prosecco, I got a hand mirror from the Globe, face packs and pretty spectacular set of Toy Story pyjamas, because any friend of mine knows how much I LOVE Toy Story! So my pyjama collection now includes Toy Story, Hello Kitty, Moomins...I'm sensing a theme. What an absolute heroine is she! So I was left full to bursting with the kind of warm joy you can only get with that kind of long overdue catch up with important people. Next up, the family Bradley - can't believe I get two besties in such a short span!