Sorry I haven't written in a while! With all of this lovely weather we've been having, things have been a bit crazy on the road. You gotta love driving around the country during one of the worst winters in the past several years...
But enough about that. Because we had a meet and greet yesterday, I'm in the mood to share some really sweet stories about the interactions we've had with the kids either during the show or afterwards. To be honest, I didn't expect to enjoy performing for children as much as I am. But if you think about it, at least you always know where you stand with kids. I can't even begin to count all the times I've finished a show and been like, "I have no idea what the audience thought about that." With kids, you always know if they're engaged or not. And if they're not, okay, that's too bad, but at least you know and can work to win their attention back. And when you do have them captivated, it's so rewarding. It fuels you throughout the scene in a very exciting way.
So here are ten moments (in no particular order) that I've had so far. These are the moments I find myself thinking about whenever I have to get up before 6:00am or we have to drive in the car for 7 hours. And then it doesn't seem so bad after all.
1) During the show, when I ask the audience, "I promised to save his life and I'm determined to keep that promise. But how?", one little girl in the front row promptly responded, "Use the web!". The same little girl also exclaimed "That's sad!" when I told Wilbur I was dying.
2) It melts my heart every single time when I make my first entrance and children gasp or exclaim, "It's the spider!" or "Charlotte!". Every. Single. Time. (They often don't say spider quite correctly; usually it sounds like, "it's the spwider." Which makes it even more difficult not to stop the scene and go 'Awww!')
3) A girl came up and hugged me during a meet and greet. I then asked if she wanted an autograph. She said no, she already had one. She just wanted to come back for a hug.
4) I also love when the kids figure out (sometimes loudly during the show, sometimes when talking to me afterwards), that I was the baby spiders. I particularly love that most of them curiously ask if my hands were the baby spiders and when I say yes, they proudly go, "I KNEW it!"
5) When I told Wilbur I had laid 514 eggs, one girl shouted--actually shouted at the top of her voice--"OH MY GOODNESS!"
6) One boy obviously had been to the theatre previously; he shouted "Bravo!" repeatedly during curtain call.
7) Transcript from a meet and greet where I was not in costume (so some people didn't recognize me right away):
Me: What was your favorite part?
Cute little girl: The spider.
Me: Yeah, the spider is my favorite part too. Good choice!
Mom: (laughing--to her daughter) Do you know why that's her favorite part?
Cute little girl: ...because the spider was sparkly?
Mom: (still laughing) No, because she WAS the spider.
Cute little girl: OH! (immediately ducks behind her mom and is too shy to speak to me any longer)
8) A boy came up to me and informed me I played 4 characters in the show. I told him, no, I was actually 3 people: Mrs. Arable, Charlotte, and the baby spiders. He then pointed out, "But there are TWO baby spiders. So that means you're FOUR people." I now tell anyone who asks that I play four characters in the show.
9) There was a performance where the audience kept applauding while I spun the words in the web. The only thing was they kept applauding earlier and earlier. So by the time I reached the last song, they applauded after the first lyric and all throughout the rest of it so I couldn't hear the music. So it was one of those odd flattering moments when I was touched that they liked it so much, but at the same time, I wanted to shush them.
10) Overall, there is nothing quite like making children laugh. Actors always enjoy getting a laugh from audiences, but when 2000 children laugh at something you've said, it's absolutely incredible. I wish I could describe it more articulately, but you just get a warm glow in belly hearing it that fills you from head to toe.
Hope that put a smile on your face on this Sunday afternoon. Until next time!
First of all, I have to start off this blog by noting that I've had my first snow day. In Florida. That's right: school was cancelled in Florida due to snow so I have an unexpected day off. Life is funny sometimes.
I wanted to write a quick little something about what I've been noticing throughout the tour about the treatment of actors, particularly by the venues we perform in that are actual theatrical spaces versus the venues that are non-theatre spaces.
I know there are a lot of people out there who don't understand how difficult this profession is. Even my own family, who has always been unbelievably supportive of my artistic endeavors, didn't fully get it. My father wanted learn more about the theatre world, so about 8 years ago, he played a walk-on role in The House of Blue Leaves, which I was also in. Act II is one long, mad-cap, farcical scene that had to be carefully choreographed and rehearsed repeatedly in order to get the timing right. After we opened, my father said to me that he couldn't believe how difficult rehearsing that scene was. I said in response, "What--did you think we would just get up there, run around, and have fun?". And my dad said, "Actually, yes." He never realized, until he experienced it first-hand, how much dedication, specificity, and hard work it takes to put up a show.
I can see the same misinterpretation in every non-theatre venue we've performed in thus far. They seem to think that for us, this is just for fun, and unconsciously end up talking down to us, because they don't see us as professionals. Now, don't get me wrong: this show is a blast and if we didn't love what we do, we wouldn't have signed on for a 6 month tour. But just because we're a traveling troupe of artists in their 20s who are clearly enjoying their job doesn't mean we're incompetent. There is a common misconception that somehow young artists are less motivated, less reliable, and less qualified than those who have administrative, business-based, or what it is deemed a more intellectual career. And this couldn't be farther from the truth: some of the most driven, self-sufficient people I have ever met have been artists. We work incredibly hard in this business, and it bothers me to think that there are many individuals out there who automatically assume that we are going to be flaky or unreliable or "overly artistic".
I don't know how we can reverse this presumption about artists. Maybe just by going in and working with the highest level of professionalism possible is enough to change those people's minds. I certainly hope so. And if it doesn't, well, at least I know that I am an awesome professional in this field, which is something I can remain very proud of.
Enough about that. I'm off to enjoy the snowy madness. In Florida. Florida. I still can't believe it.
Until next time!
Charlotte's Web has opened! We've had 10 performances in South Carolina and Florida thus far. It feels like we've been on the road for months and it's incredible to think that we have five and a half more months to go. It's a long time to spend working on one show.
It's also a long time to be away from home, which I didn't really think about until now. During rehearsals, you get so swept up in preparing for performances that you don't really think about the fact that you're leaving behind your life for several months and entering into an entirely new way of living.
And making that adjustment is difficult. You spend most of the day in a car. You live out of a heavy suitcase that you have to carry up and down stairs everyday. You get tired of the limited food options very quickly. You spend more time loading/unloading the set than you spend performing. No matter what you do, you always feel tired and a little dehydrated. You miss your friends and family back at home. You miss your apartment. You miss being able to walk everywhere. Hell, you even miss MTA, because even they aren't as bad as the exact-change only Florida toll booths that make no sense whatsoever.
It's hard way to live, especially for several months. So when you experience the moments that make it all worth it, you cherish them with all of your might.
Luckily, I've already had a few of the moments. The kids we perform for are amazing. I have never performed for audiences primarily composed of children, and it's a vastly different experience. For one thing, you know instantly if they're are engaged or not. They vocalize everything they are feeling. So while it can be discouraging when you can hear them getting bored, it's an incredible feeling when you know they are riveted and amazed by your performance. For most of them, this was their first experience seeing theatre. Hopefully thanks to me and the rest of the cast, they will want to see even more.
So whenever I become overly-cranky from getting up at 5:00am for the past several days, I can think about the little girl who hugged me after the show as if we were best friends as her mother took her picture with me. I can think about the second performance when I made my first entrance and the crowd happily gasped "Charlotte!". A life in the theatre can be really difficult, but it certainly is never boring and always full of surprises. And no matter how frustrated or tired I may be, I wouldn't have it any other way.
Until next time!
We've just finished day 11 of rehearsal and we are in fantastic shape. In fact, we're in better than fantastic shape: we're more than ready to hit the road and have an audience! That somehow doesn't seem to be possible, with so few rehearsals, but somehow it really feels like that we've been rehearsing for a month. I've never had to move so quickly in a rehearsal process and while it has been overwhelming and exhausting at times, it feels rather great to work at such a brisk, lightning-fast pace. It's a wonderful feeling to come home from every rehearsal and feel that you've accomplished so much in just a few hours.
It's also great to feel I have creative ownership over Charlotte. Even though this is a remount with a production that's been performed for many years, I feel that this version of Charlotte's Web is ours: mine, Aaron's, Kimberly's, Neal's, Dan's, Emily's, and Joe's. There have been many past variations on Charlotte, but mine is unique and very specific to me, which makes me even more excited to travel across the country and share this production with our audiences.
Favorite moments from the past several days include:
But the best thing of all has to be that I am working with an amazing, generous group of artists. When you tour, you're always super nervous about who is in your cast, as you will be with these people A LOT over the next several months. But I really did luck out this time. Without sounding too corny, I am excited to see these people every morning and even more excited to perform with across the country. I am certain that we will bolster, strengthen, and enhance this production every time we perform it. It's only making more and more excited to show it!
So that's where we are right now! We have one more day of rehearsal, and then on Wednesday, we begin the drive down to South Carolina. Our first public performance will be in Clemson, SC on Friday morning.
More to come soon. But now, I must tackle a difficult predicament: trying pack for two months worth of traveling in a variety of climates in this suitcase...
Here goes nothing...
Thanks for reading this far! Until next time!
Please note that the views on this blog are my personal opinion, and not those of Theatreworks USA, any of the theaters I will be performing at, or the Internet at large.