the journey to paid professional performing artist

fun show

Never discount how great a fun show can make you feel.

I recently performed in the Tap Pups “Encore Performance: The Show.”  It was so fun, I wish I had joined the group earlier!  It is a very special group.

Vicki’s Tap Pups is a group of adults who tap dance.  Some danced when they were younger, some took it up as adults.  But the thing they have in common is their energy.  Everyone is so welcoming, supportive and positive.  Even the instructor makes you feel like a million bucks.  She has the talent of pushing her students to their personal potential.  If you have an injury or condition that prohibits movement, she understands.  But if you don’t, you’d better be full out!  It’s wonderful!

And the production was more elaborate than I thought it would be.  A professional production crew mixing music, video, lights and stage dressing.  It was really quite a spectacle.

This show is the first time I’ve danced on stage for more than a year, and the first time doing a dance-only show in almost three years.  It was great to be on stage, surrounded by people as joyful in dance as I am!

"insane" Anna

So, in the last post I wrote that I wasn’t comfortable with interactive theater yet.  At the time I wrote it I had had one really good show, and wasn’t sure if it was just a fluke or not.  Well, since then I have had two more dinner theaters, and they have both been loads of fun!  I don’t know what happened, but I’m glad it did.  I was getting worried that this was something I’d never enjoy, that it would be the first performing experience that I wouldn’t master.  I guess I was wrong!

I have been trying to learn from the more experienced actors around me, like I did when I performing in Sylvia

1)  I have been taking more time to figure out things about my character.  Since the actual script doesn’t encompass all, or really even half, of what you will say all night, you’re free to make up a back story for your character.  Taking cues from the script, and then running with it.  And if for some reason another actor discounts what you said about yourself, so much the better.  It will make one of you look guilty.

2) Pay attention to the guest characters and how they can help you.  We, the actors, are given the situation of the characters given to some of the guests.  The guests don’t know however.  I’ve been working out how they relate to my character, so when I come into a room I have at least something to say to that person.  If a room is quiet, it’s a good way to get people going.

3) Figure out random things to say.  This is good for me, since improvising right in the moment is difficult for me.  Having not taken classes, I’m not sure if this is how other actors do it as well.  This really worked with the last show I did, since my character was insane.  If a guest was pestering too much on a subject and I wanted distract, I would just say one of the random phrases I had come up with.  For example “my cat likes to chase butterflies under the water.”  The guest of course asked “where is your cat?”  And I respond “yes,” as in my cat’s name was Where.  Would have worked with “What’s your cat’s name?” as well.  And then that “who’s on first” sequence went round and round for a while.  It was perfect!

With a few strategies to get going, I now am having a much better time.  Hopefully I can get into the dinner theater in my new town once I move.  I’ve been told I’m funny, which is easy when you’re playing a crazy person.  But still, I never thought of myself as funny.  I wonder what more there is out there that I can do…

renewed

So, the past few months have not been stellar for me.

I have been dogged by a couple of not-so-fun productions and a series of unsuccessful auditions.  This would get any performer a little down.  There is also now the probability that I will be moving, which means learning a new area and building my theater self again.

But thanks to one Ballet Hispanico master class that I (thankfully!!!) decided to go to at the last minute, I think I’m back!

To be a performer, you have to be stubborn.

You have to go to every class, every audition, practice every day, even if you don’t want to.

The past few months have been a total failure.  And I have learned some things from the stress of the not-so-good times.

I am getting paid to act in a murder mystery dinner theater now.  I guess that means I’ve reached my goal of being a paid performing artist.  Though I’d like to be paid to dance, but this is a start.  It’s very interesting and very different, and I can’t say I’m used to it yet.  Interacting with an audience can be nerve-wracking, and acting improvisation is something I’ve never done.  Dance improvising I could do all day, but make me open my mouth and it’s not so good.  But I think I’m learning.  It’s just not consistent performances so it’s difficult to get into a rhythm like I do with stage shows.

I have learned that I like a more hands-on director.  After experiencing both, I definitely like one that has a clear picture of what they want and doesn’t compromise.  Now I have to learn how to work with the other kind and not be miserable.

Most importantly, I have learned in the past few years what I have to do to get established in an arts community.

1)  Audition for community and professional theaters.

2) Keep taking classes wherever and at as many places as I need to get what I need.

3) Send my materials to all the production companies in the area.  (I know I haven’t done this so far, but I’ve been thinking about it for a while and I think it would be helpful.  They are always looking for new faces.)

I think it’s imperative to do this as quickly as possible.  The more you get out there, the more you’ll be informed about what’s going on in your new arts world and be able to take advantage of it.

The other thing I’m going to do is find a voice teacher ASAP.  I have a new place full of people who don’t know I’m not a confident singer, so if I can brush up on that aspect of my performance, I should be golden.

Me as Wendy Carey in The Uninvited

I know it sounds odd, but tonight was the first time I cried in character on stage!!!

Here’s the review, with my call-out:

“In her first straight dramatic role, Sylvia Cagle as Wendy, the Ouija-board psychic, provides a much-needed and essential center of wisdom and gravity. ”

http://blog.pennlive.com/go/2011/10/theater_review_the_uninvited_a.html

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For my next foray onto the stage, I will be performing the role of Wendy Carey in Little Theatre of Mechanicsburg’s The Uninvited.  This is not the Uninvited of the recent movie, but of the 1940s movie.

The challenge here, you know I always need a challenge, is that I have to speak with a British accent.  I thought I could do this, living in Canada when I was young, but it’s not an easy thing to do. 

In my nervousness or something, my first rehearsal I enunciated too much.  Without that I found myself slipping in and out of the accent.  Then, there were words that I didn’t know how to say or didn’t say correctly.  I’m wondering if growing up in Canada helped or hurt me for this accent.

It’s also been a long time since I lived there, and accents fade.  When I first moved here I remember people thinking I was from England, and that is no more.

I’m very grateful to my director for taking the time I go over things with me.  Hopefully I will give a convincing performance.

This experience has made me want to learn more accents.  I think they are valuable to an actress.  I tried out earlier this year for a role that needed a Cockney accent; my little British accent wouldn’t do, and I couldn’t learn Cockney in time for the audition.  I admire people who can imitate really well.  Perhaps if I had started doing this sort of thing earlier in life, it would have helped.  Though I am not one to let that stop me!  I wonder if those mp3 classes you can buy are any help…

Every director has their own style.  and you have to adapt to each one.  I have now run into one that took me a while to adapt to.

This director had a very laissez-faire style.  In my acting so far (that’s only three shows before this one I’m talking about) the directors have been very specific on what they want you to do.  If it is ad-lib, they narrow what you’re supposed to be doing, and let you know right away if it’s not what they want.

From this one, I have been given zero direction on how I’m to deliver my lines.  She has corrected a couple of people on their delivery, so I must be passable if she hasn’t said anything to me.  It just makes me nervous because I’m not that experienced and actor and would appreciate some feedback, even if it is just that I’m doing well or on the right track.  It also makes me feel like she doesn’t really know what she wants maybe, and just letting us di whatever we want.  I know it’s community theater, but we still want it to be the best!

I don’t find this particularly suprising, but I liked that they put pictures with it.  A picture is worth a thousand words, right?  Portions on some foods have almost doubled or more in just 20 years.  Keep this in mind, and it might be easier to keep less of you on the scale.

 bagels then and nowBurgers then and nowSpaghetti and MeatballsSodablueberry muffinfrench fries

Photo Credits: NHLBI, NHLBI, NHLBI, NHLBI, NHLBI
Read the following article for exact increases:

American Portion Sizes Growing – Delish.com.