Monday, May 23, 2005

Sorry for the Edge

Been re-reading some of my postings below and I'm struck by how crusty I sound sometimes. I don't want to give the impression that I dislike acting, actors, producers, or the business in general. What I find myself growing more and more impatient with these days, however, are some of the excesses and attitudes that prevent our business from receiving the respect it deserves.

Of course, I'm not kidding myself — there are people out there (many of them) who are just plain never going to respect actors, acting, or the performance arts in general as worthy of the sobriquet "real jobs". And, frankly, there's little we can do to convince those people otherwise. What we can do, however, is deserve their respect, whether they give it to us or not. That means, for instance, that we shouldn't bait them, demean them, or reinforce their stereotypes.

So if, sometimes, I get a little thorny over something, it's usually a reaction to sensing some form of disrespect, and I apologize if it comes off as anything else.

Not much happening over the last week commercially. We're now two weeks away from opening the show I'm in. I'm getting antsy because we're still receiving rewrites, and no one has committed any part of the second act to memory yet.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Things Proceed Apace...

Man, the guys in charge of the show I'm in really know how to market. All of it high-class, all of it ingenious, most of it high-profile as well. As near as I can tell, none of it seems "needy" — an affliction which affects many a Chicago storefront theatre. (Most pathetic are the ones who stand out on the street in Wrigleyville, cadging a moment to pitch their show. I've done it before elsewhere, so I understand the whole dynamic, but it's soooo self-defeating. The worst part is they seem to feel it almost makes their show a new and exciting form of guerilla theatre simply by how it's hawked.)

The show itself continues to develop well and, frustrating as it is to not be off-book yet, even given our overly long rehearsals, I think we're pretty much on schedule for the opening. One other cast member bugs me with how staccato they deliver their lines — it's like it's all consonants and no vowells — but no other major worries at this point.

Quite a few voiceover auditions last week, but none has resulted in a job yet. One on-camera audition for the World's Dullest Industrial.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

When It Rains...

I had a higher-profile theatre call me yesterday and "offer" me an audition. I put that word in quotes because it seemed apparent from the get-go that the caller expected anyone he called to fall over themselves for the opportunity to read for a part in any play they chose to produce. Normally, I just note this attitude and put any irritation at it aside because, frankly, it's not entirely unjustified — many, if not most actors would fall over themselves to audition for a show at a prestigious venue (e.g., Steppenwolf, Goodman, etc.).

Still, it annoys me that actors are sometimes their own worst enemies by wearing their desperation on their sleeves (to say nothing of the fact that they feel desperate to begin with), and it annoys me when producers/directors exploit this, thinking it's the status quo. Add to this the fact that the fella on the other end of the phone was calling from an Equity house but said the show was "non-Equity with pay", and I had the definite feeling that the guy was deliberately Name Dropping With The Intent To Exploit (sounds like something illegal, and sometimes I think it should be).

It's silly, and it's petty, but I basically just gave back as good as I got, telling him, "I'm sorry, but I'm replacing Famous Chicago Actor in (play title) which will be going up at Well-Known Chicago Theatre during the rehearsal and performance period you're mentioning." I think I took the guy by surprise, because there was a beat, then he broke out into a pretty hearty laughter. I felt laughed-with, as opposed to laughed-at, so I think we both realized we were playing a silly game. We both eased up on the attitude, then, and exchanged some pleasant chit-chat before hanging up.

Voiceover auditions yesterday for Multinational Car Company, Regional Restaurant Chain, and Nationwide Department Store. First two went well, but the last was a bear, despite it's being perhaps the most straightforward in delivery.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Back Home

All went about as well as could be expected on the shoot. You hope you gave the client what they wanted, and you keep hoping they'll specifically say so, but the fact of the matter is that nearly everyone has their mind on something other than your performance, including the director usually. (It took me several gigs before I caught onto that one actually.) Basically, if they don't seem to be getting frustrated at you, and they eventually say they got it and move on, I figure you've done your job. To expect anything more is just a fragile ego talking.

Saturday I had a first read-through for this play I've committed to. Always interesting to look back on early impressions and early promises and see what actually panned out, so — for the record — I like all my fellow cast members at first glance, and the writer/director doesn't seem to be prone, as near as I can tell, to the stereotypical pitfall of being a "writer/director", i.e., valuing his own script over the production of it.

As far as early promises go, tentative plans call for an 8-9 week production at an extremely reputable venue in Chicago, then 2 weeks at a stage complex in an outlying area, followed by 4 weeks out of state. We'll see how much of that pans out and, if it does, how much money will trickle down to the actors. Pardon me for being mercenary about that last part, but one of the best experiences I've ever had theatrically was this killer lead I had in a well-known show that ran for 6 weeks in Chicago several years ago and then toured Europe — at a final cost to Yours Truly of about $5,000. I'd be lying if I didn't say I loved the experience, but it figured heavily in my coming to realize that I could call myself an actor all I wanted, but I wouldn't be able to call myself "professional" unless I was actually able to make a living at it. Looking back on it now, I have to say that was a good thing to realize; my life (and my art) have been better for it since.