Tuesday, April 24, 2007

If a tree falls in the forest...

Four performances down, four to go of the one act play I'm in. So far our largest audience has been 16 (3 were friends of mine) in a theatre that seats 30. And after having only 9 in attendance the night before (8 were my friends/family!!), 16 felt like a real crowd.

After all the hard work and time the cast and production staff has put in, we deserve full houses. But how to convince people to see our show--a new play by a new company--when there are dozens of established theatres and hundreds of musical performances competing with us?

The actor who plays my son has to write a suicide note, then shoot himself. Each night when he comes backstage, he hands me the note to read. Each letter is different, each incredibly sad. Reading them, I hope, has helped me reach the appropriate level of despair.

Next project: singing Faure's Requiem with a symphony chorus and orchestra.

And in the next few weeks my new voice over site should go live. It will be interesting to see how soon it pays for itself. Note the positive attitude.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Running the Emotional Gamut

Sunday afternoon: As previously reported, I'm in a one act play. The role: the mother of a teenager who commits suicide. The director had seen me do a monologue while auditioning for a theatre festival (which I didn't get cast in) and called to offer me the part. He says I'm not reaching the depths of despair he wants for my short scene near the end of the play and that I'm self conscious on stage. Unfortunately, now I feel even more self conscious.

Just as a lawyer doesn't have to know how to practice every type of law to succeed, an actress doesn't have to be skilled in every type of role. I never aspired to be a dramatic actress, but agreed to do this part to step outside my comfort zone. Well. Some comfort zones exist for a reason.

Of course I want to do well. I made a commitment, even tho I'm not getting paid. I don't want to be the weakest link in the cast and not match the emotional levels reached by my fellow actors.

Sunday night: a friend asked me to record female voices for an animated Web site, for pay. I had to sing three part harmony with myself and create three different characters on the fly....no script in advance. This was challenging but also lots of fun.
After each take, when he told me what he wanted, I knew exactly what he meant and knew I could do it. And I did.

Lightbulb moment: Is that the difference, knowing I can succeed at the VO work even as I doubt I can do the serious drama?
If so, how do I convince myself I can also succeed in the play?

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The Actor and Technology

I'd e-mailed my headshot/resume for an internet hosting opportunity. A few hours later, the assistant producer e-mailed that the H/R looked fine, but they needed to see me on camera.

I don't yet have a demo reel online as more and more actors are doing and more places are requiring. So I set up my digital video camera and recorded the sample questions they'd sent. Now I just had to figure out how to upload the video to my PC and then to YouTube as requested.

I plugged the camera into my PC with the cord provided, and tried several media programs on my PC. Nothing. The software refused to recognize my camera.
Then I realized the cord depicted in the manual looked different than the one in my hand. Fortunately I live above a Best Buy. I ran downstairs with cord and manual. Hmm. They said I needed a Firewire cable, assuming my PC was Firewire compatible (as opposed to USB).

What's up with that? I'm trying to be an actress, not a computer geek! $35 later, I ran back to my condo, new cable in hand.

Can you guess what's coming? My PC was not Firewire compatible. So I unplugged everything from my tower, then lugged it to Best Buy. Fortunately, the guy at their Geek desk was very helpful. $39 and 10 minutes later, I had a new Firewire card. I lugged the tower back upstairs, and reconnected all the cords and cables. The hardest thing: prying the new cable out of its industrial strength plastic package.

Lo and behold, my video zipped straight into the software!!!
Now I just had to figure out YouTube. How hard could it be? Kids do it, right?

Let's just say it took way too long to set up an account and get my video up. Even longer to figure out how to send the link to the assistant producer.

But finally, appx 4 hours and $75 after I began, I had conquered technology, and successfully uploaded my 32 second recording. My reward: the assistant producer emailed her thanks for getting a demo to her so quickly. And, maybe, I'll get the gig?

Monday, April 02, 2007

To Schedule or Not To Schedule

Scheduling for the Gainfully Unemployed can be very frustrating. Particularly for those like me, who prefer to know what they're doing and where they are going every day.

An extras casting company asked for all availability in April (for them you have to be available all day and night). Yesterday I had an audition for a theater festival; you weren't supposed to audition if you had any conflicts Thursday-Sunday for the month of June, and had to list any non-negotiable conflicts for May. As I left a recent audition, the client asked, "You aren't going out of town in April, are you?"

I've already agreed to do a small but important role in a non-paying one act play with 8 performances this month. And I'm singing in a chorus that's performing twice in early May.
There could be days the internet TV channel I'm going to be one of the hosts for wants me to work.

If I say 'yes' to one booking, and then a better opportunity and/or one that pays more comes along, can I cancel the first without seeming unreliable or offending the first person and company that booked me? I've heard that's why some theatres have understudies...it's in the contract that if an actor gets a higher paying gig they have the right to not do the play but go make the money.

I try not to worry about over/under scheduling, but it's challenging when you're at an audition, see when the callbacks are supposed to be and know what you already have in your calendar for those days. Of course I don't know if I'll get a callback. But I wouldn't bother to be at the audition if I didn't think I might.

Should first come, first served be the rule? Or just take what comes and deal with conflicts as they arise? The key question: how to stop worrying about it?

In other news, the adventures of Princess Passion Fruit continue at http://pressstartmovie.com/bonuslevels/endgame2.html