No strings attached

I auditioned for Wicked today.  When I saw the open call, my heart skipped a beat because I knew I would never get to audition for this through any other method.  It also sank as I began to realize that the chances of them casting anyone for this hugely popular BROADWAY musical through an open call were slim to none.  If it hadn’t been posted through playbill and elsewhere, I honestly would’ve assumed it was a publicity stunt, like when I auditioned for Spiderman:Turn off the Dark.

I began my song selection and began making plans to attend.  First, I thought about the character, and songs that would speak to her type.  Then I thought of songs that showcased my belting range.  I selected a song I love from a show I did a few years back.  I never use any of the music from this show for auditions, because the average accompanist will fumble all the way through the 16 bars and I will be a disjointed mess by the end.  It’s incredibly difficult music to play.  However, I decided that since there was 0.0000000000012 chance that they were going to actually call me back for this, I should do a song I want to do, not something I think is right for them.

I did a voice lesson yesterday to prepare and made acting choices that I thought brought the comedy out of this song, and I felt ready.  When I arrived at exactly the time they said sign ups begin (and NO ONE was to come any earlier!) there was already a line wrapped around the corner.  Fortunately, I found free parking across the street and shuffled to the line with my bag full of snacks, water, nom jiom pei pa koa, and a camp chair.  When numbers were passed out, I was #168.  Holding that paper felt like the golden ticket to the Chocolate Factory.  I was in.  I would for sure be auditioning for Wicked today!

I made some comments to the guy and girl in front of me about the impossibility of them casting from an open call and they seemed deflated, saying that there’s always a chance!  I wanted to logically explain to them why it would not work, but then I realized I’m an asshole and should shut my cynical mouth.  By the time I reached the studio I was sure my vocal warmups were irrelevant by now, so I stepped into a dance studio and began pacing, warming up, and stepping outside to sing my 16 bars.  My high notes were still in check and things sounded good.  I continued this for another hour or so until my group was called.

We were told not to waste any time, just say hello, and give the tempo to the accompanist.  So what did I do?  I made an insipid joke and then proceeded to tell the CD that he looked familiar, and did he cast Spiderman??  Shut up already, Brittany.  The pianist began and the first bar he played was most definitely not the first bar of the song.  I hit the notes right anyways (it helps to be able to sing the song in your sleep) and launched into my performance.  The CD?  Well, he looked up twice, and both times I was staring right at him, acting the crap out of the song to the top of his head.  The pianist?  I was worried he wouldn’t be able to play the music.  He played fine.  But apparently was not aware there was a soft pedal on the piano because the playing was so loud I have huge doubt that the CD was able to hear me belting at the top of my lungs.  I finished, thanked them, and walked out.  I took a moment to breathe outside the room, and when I got to my car I went over it all.

Final analysis?  I’m happy with what I did.  I tore it up regardless of the chances of my getting called back.  I did what I wanted to do, I showed up and I delivered.  That’s all I can do.  Maybe I’ll start auditioning more with no strings attached.  I think I like it.

Me too

Ugh.  This is a hard one to write.  I don’t want any women thinking I don’t back them up 100%.  But with the tidal wave of social media “me too’s” that out the sexual harassment experienced by far too many women (and men), I feel the need to speak up myself.

Have I experienced it?  Oh hells yes.  As an attractive, fit female, I have experienced sexual harassment on an almost daily basis my entire life.  You could say I’ve built up a bit of a wall when I’m in public.  I can’t work in my front yard without cat calls and men yelling at me from their car windows.  It is impossible for me to walk down Hollywood blvd to an improv show without having men jeer and hit on me.  I wouldn’t say I accept this, but I most definitely expect it.  So, I’ve adapted.  I walk with purpose, I don’t smile at strangers and I don’t make eye contact.  Part of me hates that I have to transform into someone I’m not, but I’d rather cut the ugly head off before it has a chance to devour me.

I’m sad so many human beings have been treated as objects.  I in no way condone nor accept that behavior.  I guess what I’m struggling with here is this: At what point did we think humankind had more than 1 ounce of goodness?  Since when did mankind stop being evil, lying, manipulative, lusting, coercing and selfish?  Of course there’s a billion me too’s.

Even if we believe we haven’t participated in objectifying or taking advantage of another human, let me assure you, we are complicit.  The pernicious, seething monster that is objectification is forever at our doorstep, on our TV, on our computer screen, and in our conversations.  Can I get real here?

When we watch yet another movie that has 5 men headlining the cast, and then one woman as, you guessed it- the wife of the main character, we are complicit.

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When we read the article about Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt divorcing and try to dissect their personal lives, speculating who did what wrong, we are complicit.

When we size up another woman based on her clothes, her hair, her makeup, and her weight, attempting to jockey for our position at the top, we are complicit.

When we decide that there can only be one leading lady in Hollywood existence who is overweight, and even then, the joke is about her size, we are complicit.

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When we are thrilled to watch Game of Thrones with its violence, savagery and women as subservient sexual slaves, we are complicit.

Please tell me you see what I’m saying here.  What we watch, judge, read, and support with our eyes or our pocket book matters.  These things only subsist with the complicity of an audience.  And, little by little, the examples we see before us chip away at our respect for human dignity and value.

So, me too.  I am complicit in a society that supports treating other human beings as objects, much as I abhor it.  Question is, what are we going to do about it?

 

Grit

Angela Duckworth, in her seminal work on Grit, and how it makes us successful, lays out the 4 characteristics she believes defines a gritty person.

  1. They’re interested- Gritty people are passionate, excited and enjoy what they do.
  2. They practice- day after day, hour after hour.
  3. They have purpose- they believe their work matters and is meaningful.
  4. They have hope- they believe their dream is within reach.

You can take her grittiness test here.

I’m a 4.3 out of 5 on the scale.  This doesn’t surprise me.  I think I would out work anyone on anything, even if I didn’t care about the project anymore, just because that’s how my being works.  If you asked any friend of mine who was the most driven, disciplined person they know, I can guarantee I would top that list.  To a fault, for sure.  My tenacity often blinds me to what’s important and smarter work habits.  Often times I get so stuck on what I think is the best way to do something I will work myself ragged doing a 32-step process in order to come to the same result someone else could’ve, but with much less effort.

Hard work doesn’t scare me.  After working for 10 hours in the front yard one day this week on an extensive cleanout of the garden, I felt like a 1920’s cotton farmer- not at all blending in with the manicured, clean, callous-free hands of anyone around me.  While running wiring under the house in our crawl space last week, I was disgusted to see this as I army crawled in the 2 feet of space I had to move around:

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Yep.  That’s animal (I hope) bones.  There was a spine, a femur, and other assorted bits of bone.  That I had to crawl over.  <shudder>  But I did it.  It’s dirty, it’s gross, but I did it.  There have been several occasions I texted a pic to my husband of my days adventure in the attic or under the house, or clearing out a 200 pound branch that fell from our tree into the street, often with the caption: Today didn’t go how I planned.

The point of this post is not to praise my inability to be a gentle, polished, lovely lady.  The point is to say, I enjoy it.  The things I do- whether it’s the constant grind of an acting career and people yelling “NO!” or the endless house projects I just have to do and wouldn’t dream of paying someone to- are what make up who I am and the life I’m enjoying.  It’s a process, it’s a non-stop grate, it’s a sweating, dirty, aching, bleeding, crying, despairing, dreaming, exciting, joyful, painful lovely journey.

So when someone asks me why I do what I do- why I put up with agents who tell me to lose weight, or rejection on an hourly basis- or 12 years of solid, exhausting, diligent work and discipline that result in not one single film/tv agent interested in giving me a chance or the opportunity to say one line on a stupid ass CBS show like “I don’t know- He always kept to himself” all I can say is “Because.  Because it is and I am and we are.”  It’s as simple as that.  The work, the grit, the dream, the hope, the process and the journey.  They’re all mine, and I love them, despite their setbacks.  Mine.  It’s me and who I am.  I don’t plan on changing that.

 

Worth

I thumbed through shirt after shirt and rack after rack at TJ Maxx.  Too dark.  Too loose.  Too patterned.  This could work, though it’s not exactly like the pinterest ensemble.  Will my sweat show up on this?  What will everyone else be wearing?  Is it trendy enough?  Too trendy?  Does it accentuate my shoulders or make me look fat?

2 hours, a messy fitting room and endless picture texts to my sister later, I walk out of the store with 3 shirts, a pair of very cheap black boots, and some nail polish.  I feel lonely.  I feel insecure.  I wonder why I just spent all that time in that store, and all the time before it, looking up paired outfits.  Why did I do that?

The answer , if I dig down deep, is self doubt.  I do not feel confident enough in my own abilities for Friday nights’ performance.  So I fritter away my effort on trying to wear the most attractive outfit I can manage so that I might distract the viewers from watching my talent.  Instead, maybe they’ll see a pretty girl and be more lenient with my jokes that don’t land, or the characters that don’t work.

I hate this.  I hate that I feel insecure about my worth as an improv comedian.  I hate that a lifetime of being told I’m pretty makes me run to that shortcut when I feel doubtful.  I hate that it’s possible that’s worked in the past.  But, here we are.  I will likely primp and prep and obsess over my outward appearance for far too long on Friday, but I will also warm up, try for a group mind (though that’s difficult to do with a team you’ve practically just met), and put on my confident alter-ego until she convinces me that I belong there.

And I do.  I feel anxious typing the words, but I belong.  I auditioned for this.  People are paying me to do improv, so they must’ve seen something they wanted to invest in.  I’ve come to the rehearsals, I’ve brought what I have to the table.  I’ve taken my craft seriously, and I’ve attempted to make my teammates look good.

That is enough.

I belong.

Getting in shape

So…..

I MADE THE TEAM!!!!!

I am so pumped to be a part of Live on Fire, Whitefire Theatre’s livestreamed improv show.  We’ll be performing every Friday night in October.  I’ve been to 2 rehearsals so far, and I can say, these are some quality improvisers.  I’ve been on teams with not great improvisers.  It’s a drain.  Being on a team with people who take comedy as seriously as I do is refreshing, and, quite honestly, makes me get my butt in gear to work hard at improving!

The format is short form improv, which is not my forte nor my preference.  I’ve been doing long form for years so it’s been an adjustment to try and retrain my brain for shorter scenes, quicker jokes, faster one liners.  I’ve gotta say, I’m enjoying it!  There’s fun games, the players are great, and I’m just pumping away my comedy squats to get in shape.

As I mentioned before, it is a muscle that has to be kept in shape.  And I am flabby.  But you know how you come back from the gym after a hiatus and it burns and is uncomfortable to lift those 20 lbs, and you get frustrated because you used to be able to lift 40 with no problem?  Then, at the end of the workout, and then the next and the next, you start to feel your muscles responding to the routine and slowly remembering what it felt like and how they’re supposed to act?  It’s like that.  I feel awkward, but not discouraged.  I know I can do this, I just need to get some more reps in.

We’re doing musical improv too, which makes my heart sing.  That’s one area I feel like I can shine, though it’s slightly flabby as well (but not as out of shape as regular short form).  All this to say, I’m getting in shape.  And it feels great.  I can’t wait to see how it turns out and to enjoy the fun journey along the way!

 

Nerves

I have an audition for an improv group in an hour.  I’ve had butterflies since I woke up this morning, because, unlike most other types of auditions, I can’t prepare material.  When I can prepare material, I feel confident because I know I put the work in.  With improv?  It’s show up, try to support your partner (who will be a complete stranger) and try to be as loose as possible.  There is no way of knowing if my group will be filled with bad improvisers.  There is no way of knowing if I will be one of those bad improvisers.

I’m also nervous because ever since parting ways with Roadies, my musical improv team, last September, I haven’t improvised.  I have no team, I have no theatre home.  And believe me when I tell you that improvisation needs to be practiced or you will be RUSTY.  I feel like 70 year old galvanized pipe right now.  (In case you don’t get metal references, that would be rusty)

And, honestly, I want to be on stage improvising again.  Not as badly as I want to do a musical, but I like that fear and trepidation that inevitably comes with a blank slate and a suggestion from the audience.  It’s live, it’s changing, and there is a great chance of failure.  Who wouldn’t want to dive in? : )

I’m doing what I can on my end- vocalizing, warming up over the phone with an old teammate, and trying to keep my eyes open to the funny around me- like the plumbing van across the street that says “If your toilet’s acting silly, call Billy”.  Bet he’s regretting that wraparound.  I went to the gym, so my body’s warmed up, so now all I can do is breathe, stay loose and be available to whatever is thrown at me.  Well, that, and always have a secret gun.

3rd quarter check in 2017

We are in the 3rd quarter of 2017 (ack!) and it’s time to check in with my goals and see where I’m at.  I feel like I’ve done pretty well so far this year, but the knowledge that Halloween decor is already tempting me in the stores lights a fire under my butt to get moving on the rest!

  1. Go into every approach with the mindset “How can I help you?”- So so.  I mostly forget to do this, but it has happened a few times.
  2. costar- Nope. Zero auditions to do so.
  3. agent- Nope, but I did sign with a manager.
  4. play piano– hells yes!  BrittanyPianobw (1 of 1)
  5. musical- sadly, no
  6. train new dog, Scout– yes- even took him through an obedience course.  He’s still not great, but he’s getting there. BrittanyandScoutextreme (1 of 1)
  7. climb mt whitney– What do you think?? : ) BrittanySummit
  8. find another musical improv team- I’ve come up empty poking around for one.
  9. revive my 2 man improv team, Nathan and Brittany- haven’t worked on this at all.
  10. see more of the Meyers (closest cousins in proximity to LA)- Yes!  We’ve camped, swam, hung out and even went on a PACNW adventure together!
  11. give creatively to my church– yes!  I’ve been asked to lead worship (and begrudgingly accepted, done it 2x so far), as well as dramatic readings and performed monologues.
  12. finish Priscilla- I am so freakin’ close.  I am color correcting now, final final final phase!
  13. build the rest of the fence– Yes!
  14. offer a neighborhood woodworking workshop- Nada
  15. new roof- talking with contractors right now- should be done in the next few weeks. (dear Lord, please let money rain down from above to pay for said ridic expensive roof)
  16. write script- I started one, and have the idea for another as well as a novel, but I’m holding off until I finish Priscilla.
  17. kitchen cabinets- Nope.  Not even close.  I’ve built ONE so far this year.

So, my friends, there we are.  9.5/17  Where are you on your goals for the year?  What are you proud of?  What do you really really really want to accomplish before the year is out?