Monday, December 31, 2007

Great Personality Test


This one really got me dead on- which is probably because it was 11 pages long and took about 20 minutes to complete. It is always fun to see your characteristics revealed on a page, and it is well worth the time. Here's my report:

ABOUT YOU
you are a director


- As a DIRECTOR, you combine an unusual openness and passion for beauty and style with confidence and a down-to-earth sensibility that allow you to realize your vision.
- You are practical and pay attention to the details that others tend to miss.
- By focusing on what is real and concrete, you achieve more than those who always have their heads in the clouds.
- When it comes to what really matters in your life, you are confident in your ability to succeed.
- Having beautiful things in your life gives you pleasure and satisfaction - you have a keen eye for style.
- Even when problems present themselves, deep down you know you will overcome these challenges.
- When routines get too familiar, you become bored and start looking for ways to spice things up.
- You are open to new types of experiences – you are not afraid to take a risk on something new.
- You have a highly developed sense of taste – you know what looks good on you, in your home, and in the world at large.
- Your independent streak allows you to make decisions efficiently and to trust your instincts
- You're not afraid to let your emotions guide you, and you're generally considerate of others' feelings as well.
- You have a strong sense of style and value your personal presentation - friends may even seek your style advice from time to time.
- Generally, you believe that you control your life, and that external forces only play a limited role in determining what happens to you.

If you want to be different:

Occasionally let yourself dream a little more, even if it doesn't seem practical or efficient.


HOW YOU RELATE TO OTHERS
you are encouraging


- Your outgoing nature, understanding of others, and directness make you ENCOURAGING.
- You want others to do well for themselves, and you generally believe in their abilities.
- You often know what's good for people because of your caring nature and your worldview.
- When you care about someone, you don't keep it to yourself: you are good at letting people know that you're thinking of them.
- Because you trust people, you take violations of that trust very seriously.
- You thrive in social situations, and even though you know who you like and who you don't like, you can interact well with many different types of people.
- You have a healthy respect for people who have earned what they have, and you strive to be similar to successful others.
- You are a loyal friend and a good listener.

If you want to be different:

- Sometimes, in the course of being encouraging, you can be a bit judgmental—this can make it more difficult for others to follow your advice.
- While you are an expert at getting the most out of the world and taking advantage of many experiences, you might gain some insight by taking the time to be alone, reflect on things, or just observe the goings-on in the world.


Here are the report links:

My personalDNA Report


Thursday, December 20, 2007

I'm a big winner!


I am an avid reader of "The Casting Corner" a blog put out by LA casting director, Mark Sikes, every week through Actors Access. This Monday, he had this in his column:

"Just when you thought The Casting Corner couldn't get any more interactive, I break down that final wall! For those of you who are still hanging in there this year and reading the column every week or those lucky enough to have popped in this week, you'll be glad you did. I'm going to conduct several generals with readers of my column! I want you to write me an email and tell me why we should have a general. I will read them all over and select a few people who really convince me we should meet. But there are a couple of guidelines.

1) You must be someone I've never auditioned!
2) Please limit emails to 100 words or less total!
3) Please attach a pic and resume, not a link, but an actual attachment!
4) Live in Maine? No problem! I will consider actors from all over the world and we can do our general over the phone!"


So, I immediately sent an email submission requesting a general, and I got it!!!! All I have to do is call his office after the holidays, and I can pick his brain for a few minutes. I could not be more excited. First, I am excited because based on my materials I look like someone he wants to know more about. And, second, because I get to ask all of the questions of this CD that I have always wanted answers to.

Have a question you want answered? Let me know by leaving a comment and I will see if I can work it into the meeting. Click to visit The Casting Corner.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


I just saw this on the CNN website and it made me laugh. THIS IS NOT NEWS! The fire was actually in the 3rd floor of the EEOB, which is somewhat near the West Wing. That is certainly news. But the fact that the president and VP walked several hundred yards to look at their office fire IS NOT NEWS! Newsworthy is when they travel to California to survey the wildfire damage (many days too late, I might add). This is basically, "The president walked down the hallway today..."

Too funny...

West Side Story-Historic Rehearsal with Original Cast

I just found this video on YouTube and actually cried in happiness when watching it. This show is the reason I decided, at a very early age, that I wanted to be an actor and singer. To watch the cast members work together with original choreography is incredible. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.



Tuesday, December 18, 2007

What subways need


You know what subways need? They need to have a button, like a panic button, installed in every subway car, so that when someone throws up on the floor, the other passengers can hit the button and someone from the MTA will come in and clean it up. Same holds true for really smelly homeless people who fall asleep on the subway. I want a panic button that will let the MTA know that there is a stink on the subway and someone needs to take care of it.

Seriously.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Audition Update: Good but Different


I just found out that I was not cast in “Sunday on the Rocks.” I received a very nice email from the producer, but then I also received a message from the Associate AD, who said, “What I wanted to let you know is that when you walked out of the room [the director] was like- 'Yep, just right.' You read exACTly like [she] wanted her...with the grouping, however, she paired the four ladies differently. I am sorry we aren't using you THIS time, but when the next ones roll around- I will be sure to let you know.”

If you ever wanted to know what being an actor is really like, all you have to do is read the above. Even when you are perfect for the role, and even when people really like you, you still may not be cast. It could have been because I was blonde. It could have been because I looked too much like another one of the actors. It could have been... etc etc. The best news is that I will be on their radar for other projects, and that is the very best I can hope for in this situation. I am grateful that my work is being noticed, and I know it will come back to reward me someday.

I have 5 more auditions this week- onwards and upwards!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Audition Log- And So It Goes


Friday night I had a great audition for Ampersand Theater Company (a theater co-founded by my friend, Kristen). Their inaugural show is “Sunday on the Rocks” by Theresa Rebeck, who is known for writing plays with very strong female characters. After picking up an anthology of her plays, which included “Sunday on the Rocks,” I realized that I may have found my next favorite writer. I was thrilled to get to try my hand at the role of Jen for this audition. I came in with some very specific choices about the character and found some humor in the script, and the producers at the audition seemed to be pleased with it. We’ll see if anything progresses from here.

Yesterday I had the callback for Prospect Theater Company. It went well, but I did not get cast in the role. There were 5 women called back for this part and we all looked different but sounded pretty much the same. They asked us to sing a solo number from the show, and then once everyone was done they would pair us up to sing a duet. They called me in to sing the solo piece- I made some choices that ended up being different than what they wanted, so they gave some direction and had me sing it again. They seemed pleased with the adjustments I made, and then they asked me to read a little bit from the script. Then the producer said, “Thanks for coming in.” This seemed a little odd- kind of as though I wouldn’t be seeing him again, but I still had yet to sing the duet. They were running pretty far behind, so I I started to think that they might make a cut before getting to the duets- maybe they knew this when I was singing for them. I waited for about 45 more minutes before the casting director came out to let a few of us know that we wouldn’t be needed anymore. Ouch. Now, 4 of 5 of us women knew we were not going to get cast, but it always feels like a little punch in the gut when you find out that way. The good news was that it only stung for a little while, much like a band-aid being ripped off. But that is infinitely better than waiting around wondering if you are going to be cast.

We only book 5-10% of the jobs we audition for, so this is all par for the course. But I did learn something from the musical audition. I probably would have connected to the material more if I had been completely off book. I have 7 pages of music to navigate through, and though I knew the music well I did not have the words memorized. Had I been off book I would have been able to really perform the material instead of burying my face in the music. And though they may not have cast me anyway (maybe they loved my singing but I was too young, ultimately? Or too old? Who knows...) in retrospect I think that I could have been better prepared. So, I’ll put that in the back of my mind for the next time.

Things are starting to slow down in audition-land, though I am going to go to a few EPAs this week. Will keep you posted...

Friday, December 14, 2007

And... always listen to your instincts


I got another call from Stanley Kaplan Talent today, and something seemed fishy. The person who called, who was very nice, asked me if I was signed with anyone. I said no. Then she asked if I would send her 10 headshots and resumes. This struck me as odd- it is rare for an agent to ask to work with you sight unseen. I asked if she wouldn’t rather meet me first, and she said, “I have your resume in front of me, what more do I need?” She had a point- my resume is strong- but it still felt odd. So I said, “How about this- I will come by your office and drop off the headshots in person so we can meet each other.” She agreed.

And then I looked them up online. Yikes. They do not have a very good reputation out there. Some people like them, but moreover they are listed along with 2-3 other agencies as being one to stay away from. There is some feedback that their name was listed with casting directors as an agency they don’t want to deal with. And since I do have a good resume and a good look, I don’t want to take a chance and ruin everything I have done up until now. I really should have looked them up ahead of submitting, but when you do a bunch of mailings, you don’t really have the time to research.

So, I am going to let them know that I would rather not freelance (which is true). I am so grateful for the help I found from the acting community at Backstage. I feel like I have dodged a bullet.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

My submission got some notice


(And by submission I mean headshot and resume submission, not the kind of submission when you agree to be flogged...)

I just got a message from John at Stanley Kaplan Talent who said he received my headshot/resume submission (I sent a bunch of submissions out using the Ross Reports as a guide.) He complimented me on sending a nice package (they requested multiple photos to be sent) and told me that he is adding me to their files. I am not sure exactly what time means, since they are an agency. I assume it means that they have enough of my type so will keep me on file in case that changes. I would ask for clarification, but in the message John said that I did not need to call them back. So, I’ll just continue to postcard them with updates and see what happens.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

New York Pick-Up Lines


I was on the subway yesterday and a man sitting next to me kept staring at me. It is pretty weird to have someone next to you actually turned in their seat to stare at you (you should try it sometime.) He had a big bushy beard and his clothes were filthy. I would have thought he was homeless, except that he didn’t have the familiar musk that the homeless are wearing these days. I tried to pay attention to my cell phone’s solitaire game, but the staring was pretty strong. I turned to him slightly and smiled as if to say, “Yes, I see you looking at me.”

He asked, “Do you want my phone number?”

I said, “Thanks, but no. I am living with someone.”

He responded, “I don’t even have a phone,” got up and got off the train, which had just pulled into the station. The people around me sort of chuckled. End of scene.

The other day I was walking home and I passed a guy who stopped in his tracks and, as I passed, said, “No one can tell ME you’re not beautiful! No, sir...”

Hmm. It’s kind of a compliment, but in order for his scenario to work there has to be someone else who does NOT think I am beautiful. One vote for, one vote against, which means I am sort of at zero. Not the best way to pick up a girl...

Audition Log: Learned Something Today


First off, let me start by saying that I got a callback for Prospect Theater Company- yahoo! Callbacks are on Saturday. At this point, all I can do is show up prepared and ready for fun- and then they will decide which combination of actors is best for the project. But the fact that I got a callback is really, really encouraging! I have to prepare 2 songs from the show and be ready to read sides from the script. This should be a lot of fun.

Monday I met and performed for agent Cynthia Katz of The Artists Group, hoping get feedback about my audition materials. She was very impressed with the monologue I’ve been using, and commented about how refreshing it was to meet someone who really knew who they were as an actor. What a huge acknowledgement! This is exactly what I have been teaching actors through The Actors Enterprise, and it feel so great to be validated. Cynthia said something very interesting during the Q&A- she said that monologues are not as much about showing that you can act, but really are an introduction of who you are as a person- are you someone they want to work with, to fight for? Very interesting stuff.

Tuesday I got to perform for Maria Higgins of Julie Tucker Casting and Val McKeon, a jr. legit agent with Innovative. This time I performed sides from a TV show. I was originally given sides for a 15 year old ditsy blonde described as having “enormous breasts.” Anyone who knows me is aware that I have nowhere the large breasts mentioned. I was lamenting this fact to my mother yesterday, and I told her that I don’t even have cleavage when hanging upside down. She laughed so hard she had to put down the phone. I’ve never made her do THAT before. So, I don’t have large breasts and, oh, I am not 15 YEARS OLD, so the sides were all wrong for me. I asked to have different sides set, and those were much better- for a 2-episode role from “Damages” which is cast by Maria’s office. I gave it a strong read and Maria gave me some adjustments to see if I could take direction and show another side to the character. I gave a strong 2nd read, and Maria thanked me for making the adjustment. And that was it! Short and sweet. She gave me a chance to ask questions, I wish I had thought to ask about my type or how good my headshots are working, but it is always hard to tell how much of that looks like business and how much looks like desperation or the need for applause. Next time I will be better prepared with some questions I want answered no matter how the session goes. Add one more notch to the “Learned something new today” log.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Rare response from director


I actually got a "thanks, but no thanks" email from the director of the "lap dance" audition. It was short and sweet:

"Thanks for your terrific audition, but we did go with someone else. You should feel good about your work, though -- I thought you came in prepared and made nice adjustments."

It is very rare for actors to get any kind of feedback from an audition. So it was a nice surprise, indeed, to get an email like this. Most likely, my talent (or lack of) had nothing to do with my not getting the audition. It could have been a million different things- someone they have already worked with could have shown up; they could have wanted someone really tall; or really short; or someone with an accent; etc, etc, etc. But when we get rejected so many times (and the best actors do, often) it is hard to remember that so many non-controllable factors go into casting roles. There are things we can control, however. 1) being prepared, and 2) Being Direct-able. I feel fantastic that I was able to achieve everything that was in my power to achieve. I got to practice being prepared and being direct-able. And next time, when the circumstances are right, I'll use those skills to get the part that I am really right for.

Yay for good emails!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Audition Log: Musicals Galore


In the last few days I’ve had auditions for 2 brand new musicals being produced in New York City. I got both auditions by submitting my materials via email, then received audition requests within a week or two after that.

The first one was for a musical revue involving the devil and 3 of his right-hand women. So, I chose two wildly different songs to show my range, and I also was asked to do a monologue. When I gave my music to the accompanist, I commented that the acoustics of the room seemed really great. he responded, “Oh, I think it is rather gloomy in here.” Okay... not a good way to start. I began the first song, and it was obvious that the accompanist was having trouble with my music. Ultimately, this was fine because I was really familiar with it so it didn’t throw me off. When we finished, the accompanist apologized and I said, “Don’t worry- we’re a team and we did fine!” (I wanted to make sure this producer knew that I was a team player and easy to work with, even when things were not going as well as expected- hiccups at the piano can really cost you a gig.) The good news was that the producer asked me for a 2nd headshot/resume, which made me feel great and I sang very, very well.

The second audition was for the Prospect Theater Company and was pretty cut and dry. I showed up, did my thang, and left. This was a cabaret style musical but with non-traditional music, so I came in with a couple of pieces that matched the style of the show and did what I could with them. What was most impressive was the audition facility, which was the Manhattan Theater Club offices (apparently they rented the space.) It was kind of incredible to be waiting in the lobby looking at huge photographs of current and past Broadway shows. In a way it made me feel very small, because (holy crap!) these are the best of the best and I am in awe! But at the same time it made me realize how close I really am to having everything that I have been working for, and it was humbling and exciting at the same time.

If I am called back for one of these shows I will probably know in the next few days. If not, I won’t be notified at all. No bother- I still have many, many auditions coming up so I cannot pause for even a second to contemplate the “what if”s. That’s kind of the nice thing about New York- there is so much going on you don’t have time to give in to your neurosis’!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Wonderful Strangers


Something happened recently that really made me miss my dad (who passed away almost 2 years ago.) I was out having a quiet dinner to myself while waiting for an audition, and I look to my right to see an older couple seated next to me. They looked to be in their early 60s. As they sat down, the man motioned with his head towards my plate.

"How is it?"

It took me a second to realize he was asking me a question. "How is it? Your meal, is it good?" he asked. I told him that it was, and we had a brief conversation about what was good on the menu. Throughout the meal he, or his wife, would ask me questions about New York (they were from Tucson but come to New York several times a year to see theater.) They were kind, jovial, inclusive. And I had a better dining experience having met them.

My dad used to do that. But I used to be embarrassed by it. He would just launch into joyful conversation with complete strangers, and I would always feel like we were imposing and I would get embarrassed. But this companionship with strangers was actually delightful, and it really made me miss the impact that my father had on the world. No wonder that my father's funeral was attended by dozens and dozens of co-workers from 3 different jobs he held over the years that we had never met. No wonder that those who couldn't make it held their own wake at an Irish pub and sent me pictures and video to commemorate it.

Now I have an extra smile for those I don't know, and I feel a little bit of my father with me. It is a little bit wonderful.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Subscription to Annoyance

For those who subscribe to magazines:

Have you ever noticed that you receive renewal letters several times throughout the year, even when you have many months left on your subscription? This happens especially around the end of the year, where they think they can dupe you into renewing early, as though the subscription runs Jan to Dec as opposed to whenever you initially signed up. I know they are not trying to cheat us- they’ll just tack an extra year on to what they already have. But still, what happened to the concept of sending a renewal once a year, close to the time the subscription is up??

I just received a notice from Glamour Magazine, and on the mailing label you can clear see that my expiration date is June 2009 (they duped me into thinking my subscription was up LAST year, and I had 8 months left!) Then we are also bombarded by notices asking us to extend our subscription and buy a gift subscription at the same time. Last year I bought a gift subscription for my sister to The New Yorker- to date, I have received 4 renewal notices by mail and 2 emails. Man, the amount that they are wasting on postage, paper and manpower severely slims down the return on investment on my paltry subscription.

Just had rant about that a little bit... thanks.

Audition Log: Times 4


In the span of 24 hours I had 4 auditions and a rehearsal. Here is a brief overview of what happened...

Tuesday night I had the pleasure of meeting with agent Ben Sands of The Talent Mine. It was a really fun meeting. I performed my favorite monologue, which Ben loved and said was the perfect fit for me. We talked at length about what my goals were, and I mentioned my desire to play Glinda in "Wicked." He asked me if I had ever gone in for the role, and I said, “No, but I am going on for a general audition at their offices tomorrow.” Ben says, “How did you get THAT?” I told him that I had met one of their casting directors at an EPA this summer and that I had been religious about keeping up with postcards. Ben seemed impressed- hopefully he saw how hard I work for my career. I am not simply going to rely on an agent to get me work- I need an agent to fill in the gaps in my own marketing plan as opposed to having him be my entire marketing plan. We finished the meeting with him offering me a warm handshake (literally and figuratively)- hopefully in the future when there is an opening for my type category he will consider calling me in. In the meantime, I will keep him posted on how things are going for me through postcards.

Wednesday morning from 9-11:30am I had a rehearsal for a project I am working on with NYU’s School of Medicine’s Primary Care unit. I work as a standardized patient, with a program that trains actors to portray patients with certain ailments so that medical students and residents can practice their clinical skills in a low-key environment. It is a ton of fun, and it a behind the scenes look at what doctors have to go through to help patients. I love doing this kind of work.

After the rehearsal I had to run crosstown to get to my audition for the Roundabout Theater’s “Crimes of the Heart” which is being directed by Kathleen Turner. The audition was an EPA (Equity Principal Audition) for the understudies- the roles have already been cast with most the of people who did this show at the Williamstown Theatre Festival last year. This particular audition was only for the casting office and they probably saw more than 150 people for these 3 roles (all understudies do 2 roles each.) We were given sides from the show and asked to choose which characters we wanted to read for, Though I am actually in the age range of Meg and Lenny, I chose to read for the roles of Babe and Chick because these are the roles I typically play (plus, the bigger the theater the younger I look on stage.) The audition went smoothly, if quickly- which is to be expected when they see so many actors in an afternoon. The next step will be for them to call in 5-10 people for each role to be seen by the director, pulling from the 150 they saw Wednesday and the countless others who they have already seen at other auditions or who were submitted by agents. It’s a competitive process, but the good news is that I have gotten another chance to strut my stuff for this theater, which will help me be remembered that much more the next time I go in to audition.

After that audition it was time to head to Telsey and Company for my general audition with Rachel Hoffman. Generals are set up by casting directors when they want to get to know an actor a little better than just hearing 16 bars (30 seconds) of a song at an EPA. I was asked to bring 2 contrasting songs that showed my range and abilities. Telsey casts some of the top shows on Broadway, including Wicked, Rent, Legally Blonde, The Drowsy Chaperone... the list goes on and on. So, I was careful to pick songs that I knew would show me off specifically for the shows I wanted to do (like Wicked.) I sang a goofy, comedic version of “Embraceable You” and showed off my legit soprano (when I finished, the casting director laughed and said, “Good for you, Erin. Good for you!” - click to see my cabaret version of this song.) I then went into a contemporary, rock and roll version of the 60s R&B ballad, “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me.” Rachel asked me if I was living in NYC full time now, noting that I had good credits on the west coast. She told me how happy she was to finally meet me- and I believed her (sometimes you never know...) I will be very excited to keep in touch and hopefully I'll be one of those actors she can feel confident calling in for specific projects.

After that, I head uptown to an audition for a staged reading by a playwright that I recently became acquainted with (for those of you who have seen my work- this is the playwright who wrote the “Key West” monologue that I have been having such great success with.) It was an interesting audition which consisted of me reading sides opposite a “reader” who was not auditioning with me but was hired by them to read with all of the actors. She was quite good, luckily. Sometimes they aren't, which can really throw an audition. This playwright’s works tend to focus on sexuality, so my audition consisted of me saying “cock” a few times, and I also had to show off an improvised lap dance (which I, unintentionally, made funny.) Despite what that all sounds like (and despite the fact that it took place in the playwright’s apartment) the audition was wholly professional. Anyone who doubted that would change their mind when waiting in the hallway to enter the apartment- there was a very old woman neighbor (who used a walker) who was so enamored by the process that she kept coming out to say hello. She kept saying he was “a fine, fine playwright and such a nice young man!“ I hope she didn't realize it was me shouting "cock."

My life is nothing if not interesting.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Audition Log #1


I am starting a new feature here at Theatrdiva: In Words, called, “Audition Log.” At Audition Log, I will recount to you information about an audition that has just passed- be it successful, unsuccessful, or so wildly unsuccessful I could perform an entire stand-up routine about how bad/funny the experience was.

This Audition Log is entitled: I DON’T WANNA

This evening I left the cozy confines of my home, battled fierce December temperatures as I traveled by bus and subway all the way to to Columbia University to audition for a student film. Here is the breakdown of the role:

Late 20's to Late 30's, role requires agility and flexibility, ability to bring forth desire, yearning and voracity through body movement and language. You have to understand and relay this woman's desire and desperation with a minimal of facial expression and a maximum of body activity (Upper body only)

The casting director (a student) requested, “Prepare a 3-5 minute monologue- I will also give some notes directly from the script for performance.”

When I got there, the casting director came out and handed me a script, told me to look it over and then come in when I was ready. I read the script, becoming more and more concerned as I flipped through 5 pages. The script is a dramatized version of an old joke where a child catches his mother caressing herself, moaning, “I want a man,” and low and behold, a few days later and man is at the house. The child is so impressed that he/she runs to his/her bedroom, strips down, and rubs his/herself saying, I want a bike...“

It was at this moment that I wanted to back away slowly. I was at the door, ready to walk in, and I was fantasizing about just running away. But, as an exercise in improv and true acting, I went inside ACTING LIKE I wanted to be there. They asked me to do my monologue, and then they asked me to turn my back to them, caress myself in that way that kids do when they pretend they are making out with someone, and improv a scene of saying, ”I want a man“ over and over, with different emotions, until I reached a ”climax“ and they would call ”end scene.“

Well, folks, I did it. I caressed. I moaned. I even added a sung High C at the end for effect (doesn’t everyone do that when they make out with themselves?) I believe this audition is another case of, ”Must read the script before agreeing to audition!!!“

I did sort of impress myself that I did it, though. Maybe I am not as shy as I thought...


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