One Big Union

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So excited to see this show today! Joe Hill was a labor activist and musician who was executed 100 years ago for a murder he may or may not have committed. This Plan-B Theatre original play contains Hill’s own songs, recently released to the public domain, and also highlights his work with Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, who visited him in jail here in Salt Lake, and went on to co-found the ACLU.

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Elizabeth Gurley Flynn was the inspiration for this 1915 battle hymn.

Plan-B is the only theater in the United States that produces entire seasons of original works by local playwrights, with emphasis on socially conscious themes and issues. It’s owned by one of my dearest friends and his husband. http://planbtheatre.org/

It’s a relevant stage experience, following a week that has seen boys at a local football game chanting, “Grab her by the p*ssy!” and a white van trolling Rose Park, a Salt Lake City neighborhood rich with immigrants, screaming, “Trump is President! Build the wall!”

Don’t mourn… ORGANIZE!
joe-hill

*****

It was amazing! Very emotional at times, as they were describing precisely what we’ve been living with this week and for the last 18 months.

I have to go to more shows at Plan-B! I’m so cheap. I always say, “Next time,” and next time never comes. If nothing else, I should be supporting my friends. The real reason, of course, is that theater transforms us! It makes us think, laugh. It gives us a break from everyday and all that that entails, but it can also light the fire of our own creativity. Above all, theater connects us. This was wonderful.organize

Soli for Solstice!

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We started a new session today. 2 new things happened. First, I could not get my part. I don’t prefer to play any of the 3 drums in dunun. I’m not very good at it and I’d rather do djembe, but, struggle though I may, I always eventually get it. Not today. We ended the segment before I ever found my “on” switch, you know? That’s a little frustrating. It’s very frustrating, actually, because the rhythm wasn’t that hard! It was simple, conceptually, but I just couldn’t put the 2 hands together. Yet. I will. So, there’s that. No biggie.

Next, oh man! I rolled for the first time today. Ha! Quinn taught us an arrangement with rolls. That was intimidating! I got it, but not consistently. It’s very exciting to imagine how far he’s gonna push me this time. Wow!

No longer do we brush-up on mechanics and technique. We warm up with a rhythm we already know, and jump straight into something unfamiliar. Quinn called today’s accompaniment “the building blocks of solo work.” What?! No way! I don’t see myself ever tearing it up freestyle with a steady chorus backing me up – except in musical theatre, hehe. Maybe I should. Maybe I should start to imagine myself as a bad-ass drummer.

What an awesome class. It pays me back again and again and again. I love djembe!

Speaking of theatre, today this quiet girl teased me (a great drummer with killer rhythm). It doesn’t take long for me to let loose, and I’m used to these people now. I have no idea what I said, but she laughed and laughed. “That was so dramatic!”

Oh. That.

I know I’m theatrical, but every once in awhile it surprises even me how over-the-top I must be. I don’t think I’m that animated, verbose, outrageous, but… people do. 🙂

I love these people. I love djembe!
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Soli is Malinke, from Guinea, played for male initiation.
solstice

9 to 5, The Musical

Remember last year when I wanted to play a dancing secretary, then got cast in a completely non-dancing supporting lead? Well, now I’m a dancing secretary! I just accepted a position in “9 – 5, The Musical.” I’m in the ensemble, which sings every number but 4, and I get to dance to that glorious 80s anthem! What could be more fun and funky? I may not work 9 – 5, but I’ll be in a musical about it!

It was a real honor, because I didn’t even audition. Maurie, who directed me last year in How To Succeed, called and invited me personally. It’s such a compliment to have your work ethic recognized. I feel like I earned it, and that’s not something I could have said in my twenties. I worked hard, but was unable to enjoy it and made myself (and others) miserable. Falling short in my performance made me endlessly unsatisfied. Not anymore! Don’t think for a moment that there aren’t things I wish I’d done with Hedy LaRue – I’m still thinking about her a year later – but I’m happy with my performance. I like the Hedy that I created. I’m proud of myself, and I’m so excited!

Already, I’m thinking of external things I want to do to distinguish my ensemble character from my small speaking role. For one thing, I need a wig. The only redhead in the show won’t blend. And I’m changing bras, haha! For regular stage life I have an industrial, padded costume bra, looks great from stage and I don’t appear… inverted, if not the promised C on the tag. I’m wearing a regular, padding-free brassiere to play Hart’s wife (Dabney Coleman, you know, the worm). What better way to juxtapose his lust for Doralee? (Our Dolly Parton character is equally busty, bam! and gorgeous.) From there, I immediately saw Missy as this fussy mother-type he goes home to every night, while Doralee is the bombshell he spends his days and dreams with. I’m going to spit-clean his face in our scene together!

I love the creative process! Give me any part, and I immediately begin sculpting her, feeling her, envisioning her, becoming her. I haven’t even seen the script! I love theatre. There’s something about the stage that’s different from all of my other creative pursuits.

I’m so excited for this show! It wasn’t on my radar at all, and it feels like a gift.

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Here’s how Missy and Frank ended up:mr and mrs franklin hart jr
In the program, I was described as “the bubble-headed wife of Franklin Hart, Jr.” I’m starting to notice a trend. Do I think I’m smart, but everyone else sees a ding dong?

War Horse

war horseAn acquaintance is in the National Touring Company of War Horse and got me a ticket the week they were in Salt Lake. Last week, my birthday. It was a great present. I still can hardly speak about the impact this production had on me. It’s the best thing I’ve ever seen. Just amazing! It’s truly unbelievable what they accomplished on that stage. I’m still thinking about what I saw and felt.

Since I am yet monosyllabic about the fact that puppets were breathing, I will talk about a life-altering moment I had regarding munitions. In one scene, the English cavalry gallops into enemy lines and is mowed down by machine gun fire. In WWI this was new technology! I’d never thought of that. It never once occurred to me what it meant the day the military advanced that way and, worse, the day it was introduced in battle. Horses and men with swords charged a fortified wall of automatic weaponry! There was a moment that I was completely transported from the present day. “Oh my god, the world just changed.” Right before my eyes.

Image by Shaun Anders

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I didn’t mean to have my hair in a ponytail, but it’s the one I like best. By a long shot. He asked if I had an elastic almost like an afterthought and said, “Pull your hair up for ‘Soccer Mom,’ and we’ll do a couple more.”

“Oh good,” I thought, “we’re done,” having no expectation of a haphazard up-do for my headshot. I guess that’s what it takes. Convince yourself it doesn’t matter, and get the pic. Photoshoots are, for me, as bad as auditioning. Worse, maybe. Auditions are over in 30 seconds. Photoshoots take hours! With that lens, always that lens finding every flaw.

This was among the last ten, I’d say. I think it took all that time to bloody relax.

(P.S. Shaun was great to work with, I have to say. This was the least painful photoshoot I’ve ever done. In fact, there were several other shots that were flattering, expressive, interesting, and/or evocative. The truth is, my hair was ghastly! Blerg. I cut off 3-plus inches a week later, which won’t affect the relevance of my headshot, as the ponytail looks relatively the same. I’ve been resisting/pretending, but I acquiesce: I don’t get to have long hair anymore. Mid-length at midlife for this old broad! That sad truth aside, Shaun gave great tips on how to beat the nerves, and helped me understand angles, mood, even the market, what’s current. He knows his shit. It was… fun. Almost.)

Hell Week

The agony of Hell Week was mitigated by the ecstacy of falling in love. My show opens tonight.

Dave and I love each other. I know, I know. It’s only been 2+ weeks! And many of you loyal readers may have picked up on my tendency to love falling in love more than I love being in a relationship, but that’s because I’ve been in relationships with the wrong man.

I never believed in The One until I found him.

Hedy Blossoms

Last night, I got a ride home from rehearsal. My castmate paid me a great compliment when he said, “You play Hedy very real.”

That’s exactly what I was going for! I think Hedy’s charm and beauty, and her humor, lie in the fact that she just plain means it. She’s just plain ditzy. She’s just plain sexy. She’s just plain gonna pull a few shrewd (harmless) punches to get what she wants. She’s darling! I’ve fallen in love with her. She’s sincere. I don’t want her to be a caricature.

It’s the last thing I wrote in my journal 8 days ago. I never write there anymore. You are my journal, Virtual Faceless Public. That’s just a food tracker these days.

“It’s so easy to play for laughs,” I wrote. “I’ve always wanted to be seen as funny. But honest is funny. Hedy doesn’t mean to be funny. She means it! And that’s funny.”

So… Now that I’ve succeeded in establishing that piece of this beautiful girl I love, I get to PLAY!!! I get to add character. I’ll continue to do my homework and get her accent as close to authentic something-outta-New-York as I can (I’ve never even been back East), but let’s face it: It’s suburban Utah. A caricature-ish version of Brooklynese will serve. What I most look forward to playing with are her juicy layers! All of her reasons, her fears. I will live her laughs large, but never milk them to the point of pulling focus or being anything other than the wonderful, outrageous, hilarious, sensuous, ambitious girl she is!

Remember when I was an ungrateful twenty year-old tired of the same old part? (Boo hoo, pretty ingenue.) Hedy is why! She’s so fun! I love worrying about her. I feel alive again. “Ugh,” I complained sixteen years ago when I turned my back on show. “Maybe I’ll get back into theatre when I’m forty and the parts are interesting.” (Yeah, I wanna smack that kid, too, bless her heart.) Forty Fabulous Forty!

Hedy blossoms elsewhere, too.hedy blossoms 1anerf cups39,22,38Well, if a drag queen can do it…