Monday, November 27, 2006

On Thanksgiving and Stuff

Well the Thanksgiving break is over already. This year marked the first celebration of the holiday in many years in which I was not with my extended family in Utah enjoying Grandma's celebrated home-style cooking, but I was able to make it enjoyable none the less. Yes, the day is all about family, but what is so great about the holiday (and what makes it perhaps my favorite of all holidays) is that people who aren't family, who are in fact perfect strangers, go out of their way to make a family together, if only for that one day, for that one meal. I ate the feast with a group of local transplants from Utah, like me, and though I barely knew them we became a family together as we enjoyed the meal and gave thanks for how lucky we really are. So while I missed my family terribly, I was far from lonely on the big day.

Besides the expected self-indulgent food rampage on Thursday, my weekend also included a trip to Savannah, Georgia with some of my dear friends (for pictures, look me up on Facebook). This year I learned a lot of things about life over the holiday break. One of which is make sure you pee before you walk around downtown Savannah, because they don't believe in allowing the public access to restrooms there. Little tidbits like that really add to one's overall wisdom.

I wish to say a few words on the subject of wishbones. My previous philosophy regarding the proper way to make a wish on a wishbone was to keep it simple, specific, and fathomably attainable. This prevents one from wishing for something beyond the power of a mere wishbone to possibly grant (world peace would be nice and all, but really, its just a little bone). Well I learned this year that there's also a danger in making the wish TOO specific or time-limited, because then the slightest little thing can prevent the wish from happening. My wish, for example, was foiled by bad breath brought about by an exotic arabian food dinner. Better to give the wishbone time and a range of options in its effort to help you out. Well, live and learn.

Thanksgiving never fails to remind me what an ingrateful jerk I am. I spent the weekend meditating on my little hissy fit last week and boy am I embarrassed. The pettiness, the jealousy, the indignant arrogant outrage! They are rampant in this business and I guess I get caught up in it all. But thats not the person I want to be. It's my choice. Every day sends undeserved blessings, each one part of the joy of being alive. I'm done with my complaining. I'm going to start celebrating. Dear friends and loved ones, please hold me to this and call me on it if I start getting petty again. I don't want that life.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

An Endless Cycle of Discouragement

It is a truth universally acknowledged that the forces of Fate are combined for one ultimate purpose: to defeat and destroy me. That may be dramatic and illogical, but it does give me a sense of importance I would otherwise lack; and, as I've said before, it is easier to accept cosmic enmity than cosmic apathy.

Not too long ago I was riding on a new surge of confidence after a highly successful audition for summer work. That confidence has been challenged by a grueling weekend of auditions for our upcoming mainstage shows. First off, let me say that I was screwed in the beginning, before the auditions even happened, because of the selection of the plays. They are great plays stuffed with great parts that I cannot play, for one reason or another. Most call for an age or a look or quality that I do not possess, or, even more likely, am not perceived by the powers that be to possess. A good chunk are beyond my admittedly raw and yet untrained acting capacitiy. So I went in to the process with modest expectations, not expecting a lead or anything of the sort. But I had in mind the kind of roles that I would probably be considered for. This was based upon years of being in shows in Utah, where I developed a sense of what people would cast me as. That sense, it turns out, is completely wrong in this new location.

In Utah, I was typecast as the young male lover: Romeo, Lysander, Claudio, Orlando, Sebastian - that sort of thing. Here, they have apparently decided I am a character actor. I will be playing Sir Andrew in an MFA directing student's production of Twelfth Night, which will be fun as it will be a lot of me prancing about the stage acting silly, trying to be manly, and crying a lot, but will hardly be demanding (I mean, it won't really require any acting, will it?). I will finish off the glorious semester in the mainstage production of "As You Like It" (which is nearly indistinguishable from Twelfth Night really... doing them back to back seems absurd) where I will be playing Amiens. If you don't remember the character, thats OK, I didn't either. Basically, I'll come on in two scenes and sing a song. I do like to sing, so this may not sound like a problem, but you should see the parts my fellow MFAs will be doing. My roommate, for instance, really has a chance to work and grow this semester as he plays Orsino in Twelfth Night and Orlando in As You Like It (albeit the two roles, like the two shows, are nearly indistinguishable). This isn't about ego or beng jealous of those in the limelight (well, its not completely about that). This about feeling like I'm not part of the team, not pulling my weight. Its a baseless insecurity. Its simply about the fact that I have less experience and polished technique and there were no roles that, in the opinion of my instructors, really suited me - things I don't really have control over at this point. So why should I freak out about it?

My old roommate Nick always tells me I need to develop a "screw you" attitude (thats the toned down version), so here's my shot. Screw you, bad situation! Screw you, fates! I must remember my commitment to idealism in despite of the harsh realities of life.If I don't feel like I'm really getting a shot to have good practical experience at becoming a stronger artist this semester, then I'll make my own experiences. I'll work extra hard outside of the official curriculum and take advantage of other opportunities to really stretch myself. There is such an opportunity coming up, and you better believe I'm going to take as much advantage of it as I can. I don't want to make it sound like a sure thing, because its not. And I don't want to say TOO much about it, because even if I get it I'm not at all sure how my friends and family will feel about it. But for a certain select few of you who are in the know, here's a little clue:

You think I'd look good in a wig? I have one in a box.

Friday, November 17, 2006

A Disturbing Tale of Disturbingness

So the story goes like this:

I am sleeping, snuggled up comfortably on my inflatable single bed, dreaming of peaceful shores and relaxing breezes. I feel a delightful tickle on the back of my neck, like a cool breeze on a summer's day. I feel refreshed and peaceful. The tickle then moves to the front of my neck, on my chin, and then on to my face. It is at this moment the realization pierces through my sleeping brain that there is something alive and crawling on my face.

You never have seen something go from so inert and inactive to alert and active. You never have seen someone jump up five feet into the air from a prone position. You have never seen someone bolt out of their little room in seconds, the blink of an eye. When the light was turned on, the culprit was found. A very large coakroach sitting innocently on my pillow, looking at me as if to say, "What? Yeah, I crawled on your face. You got a problem with that?" Unfortunately for him, I did. Down the toilet he went, banished into the nether sewer realms for all time.

I didn't get much sleep after that, as you might imagine. I refused to step foot in my room again, so I camped out on the couch, trying not to revisit the sensation of those little tiny feet flitting across my cheek. It was a restless night.

I am proud to say, my friends and loved ones, that I took this as a sign from the heavens that something had to be done with my room. You see, in classic Matt style I had never really finished moving in, and there were still half-empty cardboard boxes thrown haphazardly into the corner. My roommate, who happens to be a licensed exterminator, says that there's nothing roaches love more than cardboard boxes. So the next morning I was up at 7:00 am throwing out boxes, putting things into sealable plastic containers and generally making my room liveable at last. While I'm at it, I've decided to seek out some simple decorations to put on the walls. I'm sick of this barren empty whiteness. So I guess I'm making the best of the situation.

I'm still traumatized for life, though.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Pictures

Check out the production photos from "Good Person of Setzuan" and you'll get an idea of the craziness that has been my life for the last two months. Points for you if you can recognize me in any of the pictures!

Production Photos

Sunday, November 12, 2006

A Most Wonderful Day

Yesterday I had a great day! I've been having a very rough couple of weeks where I have been greatly depressed about a great number of things, including my acting ability. I have this recurring nightmare that I actually suck and nobody is brave enough to tell me. Well, I received the perfect confirmation that I am exactly where I'm supposed to be yesterday, when I went to some screening auditions for summer work. It was a ridiculous cattle call style audition, with group after group of would-be actors filing in and trying to impress auditors in only 60 seconds that they are good enough to be considered for professional work. It was even scored on a points system, with those receiving the highest points being passed on to the actual audition for professional companies in March. Out of a possible 84 points, I got 83! Here were some of my comments:

"Excellent."

"You are instantly likeable."

"Easy to follow, clearly spoken."

"Well done - you know what you're doing."

I don't reprint these comments to brag or boast. It's just that I wanted you all to know that this was exactly what I needed to hear. I mean, I was thinking a few weeks ago about dropping out of the program because I sucked so bad and couldn't keep up with my fellow classmates. But now I feel very optimistic about my odds of getting professional summer work, the first step towards establishing something of a career. And that was only part of my wonderful day! The rest is a mystery...