February 26, 2011

My Two Left Feet

So it has been a while since I've updated.

After my last post I unfortunately got insanely sick, woke up Saturday morning with almost no voice and spent the entire weekend on my couch. Thankfully it was Valentine's weekend and I was able to take advantage of all the cheesy chick flicks being shown all weekend. Not-so-thankfully, my Valentine this year was a studly man by the name of Nyquil. Although he and I hadn't seen each other for a while I was happy to have him back for this year's holiday. The nights were just getting so rough without him! The only time I left my apartment that whole weekend was to hit up Whole Foods for some delicious vegetable soup and orange juice. Like I said, it was a really raucous weekend.
The weekend after that was much more enjoyable despite the rain. I went back to LA and managed to have some good girl time with friends. Saturday night we went out in downtown Culver City which was a relatively good time. I think he highlight of that night was having a very drunk man, attempting to hit on us, tell me that "at first when I saw you I was like, this girl can get down. But now I'm thinking you probably can't dance at all." Yes, my drunk friend you are right. The booze you've consumed has given you extra powers at deciphering a woman's ability to break it down on the dance floor. Thank goodness I don't dance and perform for a living. And thank you for putting your hand on my waist when I have no idea what your name is and I am pretty sure you will be falling over somewhere near a toilet within the next hour. A word to my male friends out there, try not to grope uninterested girls while mildly offending them. For some reason it just doesn't quite work.
This past week of shows have been oddly difficult. Having Monday off we all thought we would breeze through the week. We had been mentally prepared for the week prior because we had known that we had to switch schools almost everyday AND had an added show bringing the week's total to 10 performances. All of this was no easy task, but we knew that. We had a game plan, I went to sleep even earlier than usual (if that's possible) and we all survived. This week we were not so lucky. Tuesday marked our earliest show yet. 8:30 am. Oye. Luckily that day we were at one location and since the second show was at 10am I was home and through with work by noon. Later in the week we had a day of changing locations. The first school was way South in San Diego County and the second was a private school WAAAAY in the hills of La Jolla. Not only was I a little scared for my life as our van was winding up the narrow road, but our un-loading spot was no where near where the performance room was set to be. Apparently private schools don't have loading docks. This being the case we were forced to take smaller things down to the space via the smallest elevator ever and the larger things had to be wheeled down hill on the sidewalk of a busy street and then up a zig-zag ramp into the performance room. Like I said, not easy.
After that load, and the quietest audience we had ever had, we were sure Friday would be a breeze. Although the shows were early, we were in one location all day which usually makes us very happy. Until we got to the space. Our show, best case scenario functions in a 20 ft wide playspace. The smallest we generally allow is a depth of 15ft. This school's stage was 13.5 ft deep. Man oh man. We managed to make it work, but the set up and tear down took much longer and some of the actors had to completely change their placement onstage and their traffic backstage because the space was so tight. It made for quite a tense morning and not the greatest way to close out the week. But then again we just try to smile and say "Ahhh the joys of touring." I cannot express how much this is teaching me about being a flexible actor and keeping a role and show alive for an extended period of time. Yesterday we hit our 35th performance. That's more than I have ever done before. Look ma, I'm a workin gal! It's pretty astonishing, and thankfully, for the most part, I am still having a blast.

Here's to more fun road stories to come.

February 11, 2011


Thank goodness it is Friday!

As our second week of touring comes to a close I am fighting off a sore throat/cold like it's the plague. I woke up Thursday morning with a very sore throat and haven't been able to kick it since. Luckily yesterday was an easy show day. Just one performance at 10:30 am. I was back at my apartment before 1pm and got right back in bed. One perk of morning performances is that our work is generally done pretty early in the afternoon. Today's schedule unfortunately was not as pleasant for those of us struggling to belt out our music. We had a two show day with no real break between each performance. The first was at 9:15 and the second was at 10:45. Once again I was home early, but believe me when I say I am very happy it is the weekend.

Once again we had our share of fun road stories. I feel a little ashamed to say though that a lot of the schools and kids are already starting to blend together. I find myself asking 'wait what school was that at?Were we at the catholic school on Monday or Tuesday?...and what day is it today?' Overall the students have continued to be very receptive of the piece. Today's younger audience was our biggest struggle yet. The teachers had to continually ask the kids to be quiet and sit on their bottoms. And each time we made them laugh it took a good 30 seconds for them to calm back down and listen to us again. A little frustrating especially when you're losing your voice. Competing for the attention of a room full of kids under 8 is like competing against a small army. You can probably put up a good fight, but when alls said and done, you're probably going to lose.

Another wrench that was thrown into our first show this morning was an impromptu prop switch-eroo. A certain prop that is supposed to be preset at the top of the show had been forgotten. Nothing too major. But it did give us a great exercise in first of all thinking on our toes and second of all how to communicate with another actor without the audience knowing. Luckily the message went through and we were able to retrieve the prop just in time for the scene it was needed for. Phew, it was a close one.

I hope I'm not jinxing us, but we have been very lucky in the tech/props department. Very few things have gone wrong. Unfortunately I cannot say the same for our poor POP tour van. I'm not sure if I mentioned our realization that the breaks were practically shot. But earlier this week while we were driving back to La Jolla we heard an loud alarming sound that sounded like our tire had popped. We pulled over on the left shoulder of the 5 freeway to find our tires were all in tact. Puzzled and confused we had to call our company management people to save the day. Turns out something didn't get fully screwed back on after they fixed our breaks. Thanks car people, I feel really safe now in this van now!

Then a day later a strap of someone's bag got caught in the latch of the trunk causing it to be jammed for a day or so. Thankfully after our show yesterday the boys in our cast were able to force the door open from the inside and save the day (and her purse). Now I remember why it's good to keep boys around sometimes.

Anyways, I must be off. But many more stories to follow, and hopefully some recipes too! I've been cooking quite a bit, including a huge fajita feast for my cast, but I have failed at taking pictures. Oops!

Happy Weekend!

February 6, 2011

'I can be brave like Frida'

So this time around I am not writing from a fun, blind date filled Coffee Bean. Instead I am writing from a random vegan cafe in Culver City that is conveniently close to where my car is getting fixed this Sunday morning. This is, in no way how I anticipated spending Super Bowl Sunday, and I will have to warn you this entry may be fraught with a tidbit of pouting and a drop of disdain for my car that has died at a quite inopportune time. Aside from possibly missing the game, if the car cannot be fixed right away I could be in some trouble as far as getting back to San Diego for work tomorrow. This has my stress level spiking and my hand reaching for my drug of choice, hershey's kisses, much more frequently than is probably good for my health and my waistline.

So far since I've been here I've enjoyed some very bland oatmeal (they were out of brown sugar...on a Sunday morning. Are they crazy?!) and green tea. I feel pretty useless being in an area of town I don't really know with a few hours to kill. I'm sure the mechanic is busy, especially because it was the only one I could find that was even open on a Sunday but still, I need to get my bum back to San Diego ASAP. A word of advice to those who make the working hours at auto repair shops: Cars die and break down at all hours of the day, seven days a week. My car is not going to hold out until 9am on Monday morning. In fact in the past few months any time I have had car trouble is has happened either at 5pm on a Friday, or 9am on a Sunday. Both excellent candidates for the worst possible times and days there are. 

In completely unrelated news I have some fun stories from our first week on the road. Including some important lessons learned and entirely too many adorable children to count. Day one was at Freese Elementary. The kids were full of energy and a joy to perform for. Our second day was by far our worst show to date. I would chalk it up to second show blues, thick carpet, and performing in the strangest configuration we will probably see the entire tour. 

All of our set pieces are on wheels and each space is completely different from the last. Sometimes working on carpet is not an issue. Other times though, it makes our jobs, specifically those in the cast who are constantly moving the large flats and pushing me around on ladders very tough. Our morning show on Friday taught us that sometimes it may not be worth all the people/ladder moving. The actor who plays the teacher is perched in a rolling ladder to appear larger than life. But at the end of one of the scenes the ladder just wouldn't budge. The actress who pushes him was pulling and maneuvering as best she could but it still couldn't keep Maestro on his ladder. After almost plunging forward, all of us broke character and had a momentary, 'wtf do we do now?!' moment. An expert at thinking on his toes, the actor turned it into a schtick and although it took me a second to recover we managed to finish the show unharmed physically, and only partially terrorized emotionally. 

All of the drama of that show was wiped away though when we had a chance to perform that night for an organization that specializes in education for the children of migrant workers in San Diego. There was a handful of kids and their families and the show and all of us couldn't help but feel that the performance was extra special. They understand all the Mexican references, they have a knowledge of Frida Kahlo. It was so touching to see the kids in the front beaming up at us. For most of them it was probably their first experience with theater, and how amazing that we could bring them something that was so relevant. What a delightful way to close out of first week on the road. 

Overall the kids have been wonderful. Only a handful who think they're too cool or too young to pay attention. But their feedback makes all our work so worthwhile. I'll close this post with something a little girl at La Jolla Elementary said to me after the show. She came up to me in the middle of the crowd of kids and said "I used to be shy, but now I can be brave like Frida." Talk about melting my heart. 

More tales from the road very soon. 

February 1, 2011

E-Harmony's Coffee Bean

Okay, so today I am writing to you from a random Coffee Bean somewhere in San Diego. After our show this morning I decided it was far too beautiful our to spend the day in my very beige apartment. So I ventured out of my secluded neighborhood to a Borders and consequently a big outdoor mall. I've been sitting here for about an hour, sending emails, updating resumes and all that wonderful stuff and it has become apparent to me that I am surrounded be people on first dates. Most of which seem to be blind dates. Over and over now I've watched people walk up to each other hesitantly, laugh awkwardly while shaking hands and murmuring nice to meet you. What is this place I have entered? Is there some dating site that suggests this specific Coffee Bean as a good neutral place to meet your future mate? Luckily everyone seems to be having a good time. I haven't seen any of these daters running out screaming and running for this hills. Most are deep in conversation and hopefully unaware that I am totally stalking them. Maybe all those e-harmony or match.com commercials are true...?

In other news Frida Libre is going gloriously! Well I should rephrase that, I am having an amazing time performing in what I keep calling a total gem of a show. Today's performance though, (our last preview before we officially open tomorrow) was rough to say the least. Yesterday the kids who got to see parts of our rehearsal process finally saw the whole thing with costumes and sets, the whole she-bang. And that show went great. The kids were so receptive and delightful. After the show we have a small question and answer period and it is really interesting how perceptive some of the kids are. Sure we get the usual little kid questions such as "do you really like to paint?" or "do Alex and Frida loooove each other?" but sometimes they are truly insightful. As if I couldn't love kids enough, hearing their awe and laughter is truly amazing.
Today's show however was our first one in a brand new space we had never seen before and boy did it make us work for our money today. That's the beauty and pain of touring. Showing up, seeing what you got, and making work as best as we can. The space was a sort of inverted "kiva" as they called it. The kids sat on stairs while we performed on the flat space below. On top of that they were seated in a thrust formation. Meaning instead of having audience just in front of us there were little people sitting on THREE sides of us. Talk abut making adjustments. Unfortunately this meant masking the backstage was impossible and a handful of kids saw EVERYTHING we were doing back there, but hey, it's an educational experience right? Watch a fun show and see how all the magic happens behind the scenes. On top of our thrust formation the room was thickly carpeted which made it very difficult to move our sets and props that were on wheels. Oye, apparently at one point our big flat almost tipped over on me and the amazing Rae had to save the day. I had no clue until after the show...oops

I think tomorrow will be our first real test. Sadly, all the creatives have now left us, and from what I understand we will be entirely on our own for the set up and strike of the set. Once again we will be in a new space figuring it all out all over again. There are trying moments, and heavy pieces which will hopefully turn into nice ripped biceps by the end of the run. I cannot express how much fun I am having. It's such a wonderful little piece of theater with a lot of sophistication that most would never expect from a children's show.

Along with my adventures as Frida I have been choreographing a dance piece to be a part of Dance in Flight as Pepperdine University which also runs this weekend. I spent my day off driving up to Malibu to tech and light my dance on the stage before rushing back to San Diego for an 8:30am call time on Monday. I am so proud of my dancers and the whole show in general, directed by the amazing Bill Szobody whom I've assisted in the past, is going to be fantastic. I can't wait to see it this weekend.

Many more stories and fun to come. Who knows maybe I'll come back to this Coffee Bean just to people watch and witness more blind dates. Or is that creepy? ;-)