The Buddhist Actor and the Audition

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The Mental Life Cycle of an Audition

If there’s one thing that hasn’t changed in the past 20-some years of acting, it’s the twisted, complex labyrinth of psychological grief I embark upon each time I lock down an audition.

Step one: What a cool opportunity, I’m not going to get hooked on the idea of getting the role, it’s just great to go. Yay me.

Step two (approximately an hour later): Great!  I have officially figured out all the logistics of how to schedule/travel for this role if I get in the show, but totally won’t count my chickens before they hatch.  If I don’t get it, that’s cool too.

Step three: Irrational confidence/justification stage: It’s a small theatre in a small town so I bet they won’t get that many women and I know that guy through that lady who I think is stage managing so I feel really good about this one.  Also, I’m now obsessed with the character.

Step four (the night before): Maybe I shouldn’t go, maybe this is dumb and it would stress me out to go anyway.  They have other people who would be perfect for it, and I’m really not feeling prepared.  Also, I’m totally getting sick.

Step five: The audition waiting room: Everyone knows each other but me. They’ve all apparently been working constantly.  I’m gonna sit here and stress over the weird shoes I’m wearing.

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Actor Poll: What do you do when you’re not acting?

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One of the trickiest things for me about being an actor is the space between classes and gigs.  Unlike singing, dancing, painting, or writing- tactics to develop your acting are not as obvious on your own.  And days locked to a desk at your 9-5 can be even harder, no matter how much you enjoy the job itself.  So this is less of a post, and more a call for advice:

How do you continue to work on your craft when you’re in between classes and shows?

or even further…

How to do you continue to grow when you are not even in a (logistical or financial) place to audition for a new project?

At the moment, I am lucky to be in a class with a new scene or monologue to work on each week.  Simply having that teacher to hold me accountable and provide feedback each Sunday is invaluable.  And yet when I am in between classes, either due to my schedule or cash flow, there are only so many times I can run a new monologue to my frightened cats.

As someone who needs to create to keep from going insane, I find other ways to produce art forms outside of theatre – this blog for example.  I sing, I run, I do yoga, and I read like a madwoman.  And though I know this adds to my acting on a personal level, working on the craft itself often eludes me without a structure or schedule.

These tasks are a reminder that I am an actor, even on days when I spend three hours making photocopies in an office.  I have gone long enough questioning if I will ever give it up, only to come around each time to the fact that I am am actor whether I am actively pursuing it that month or not.  But when I go without a project for too long, I become more and more creatively stuck.  And then, these dry patches away from theatre hurt my acting.  When I return, my acting is calculated, blocked, and disconnected- decreasing my chances to get cast in a new project.  And alas, the cycle continues.

So I would love to hear from you about tips, similar questions, or your general experience.  What do you do, day-by-day to work on yourself as an actor, even when the structure is gone?

The Compass Podcast – And Why You Need to Listen to It

I need to tell you a little bit about The Compass podcast.  Because it is fantastic and was created by a fantastic lady.

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As you all know, I struggle a good deal with the inconsistent, and often discouraging, artistic lifestyle that goes along with being an actor.  As I sit here at my desk in a school in North Jersey, I don’t exactly feel like a professional artist.  It’s actually a shock to my coworkers when I tell them I am a union actor, which is understandable because I work here full-time…so how does that make me an actor?

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Updated Website! Woohoo!

Hello all and happy first day of football season!  I am post-less today but I have some cool announcements on the horizon.  In the meantime…

Ginny BartoloneI updated my website!  Please check out GinnyBartolone.com and let me know if you have any layout/content suggestions.  Really, anything.  Since this is combined with my acting website, I have been trying to strike the balance between fancy serious actress and blogger that writes about cat hair and eye brows.

 

 

 

 

jc fridaysI have a show tomorrow night!  Around Jersey City and looking for a free event?  I will be performing with Speranza Theatre, an incredible company I have been working with for a couple years, on a new reading series.  The plays are fun and exciting and I cannot recommend this wonderful company enough.  Also, we can grab a drink afterwards!  For more info, check out our Facebook Page!

The Benefits of Being a Multi-Artist

Feeling artistically stagnant and starved is something I didn’t understand when I was little.  If I was in a grouchy mood for days at a time, I was often told, “You just need a show!”  But I didn’t truly understand the validity of this until my twenties.  I did legitimately need to do something artistic, to create, ANYTHING.  And since theatre was my thing, I would riffle through the local newspapers and Backstage every Thursday, hoping to solve the theatrical dry spell.  Usually it worked.  As I got older, it worked less.

Kindertransport in 2001.  Photo credit: Barntheatre.org.

Kindertransport in 2001. Photo credit: Barntheatre.org.

Turns out, I am not the only female brunette 20-something aspiring to be an actor.  So back in 2010, my husband very wisely suggested I take up writing as an outlet for this all-too-familiar theatrical dry spell.   As he always says, “No one needs to hire you to write!”  It was a definitely a breakthrough for me.  With theatre,  I could perform my monologues to the cats all I wanted but at the end of the day, unless I took a class, was cast in a show, or produced the whole thing myself from the ground up, I wasn’t creating.  Writing was my savior during those days.

“So are you a writer now?”

One of the unfortunate negativities I have come across in my career is the “throwing in the towel check-in.”  Even if they don’t realize it, there are a group of artists out there that like to ask the questions, “Oh so are you like, not an actor anymore?”  Will you cool it please?  I realize that this is just a projection of your own instability as an actor, but working on another art form or career does not mean you are giving up your passion.  If life was as easy as waking up one day and following your dream, then would no one would write about it!

The truth is that writing has put me more in touch with my acting and acting as put my more in touch with my writing.  I currently work in the Curriculum Office of an Independent School and I am reminded every day of the importance of interdisciplinary education.  If you think back to middle school, you’ll remember it.  “Huck Finn rafted down the Mississippi.  How many miles did he float down the river if the speed of the current was….” and then there would be a lot of math and I would go to la-la land.  But you get the idea.  We make these connections with different parts of our minds to better understand them.

Put on your writer pants

Sweatpants are great!

Sweatpants are great!

Discovering my love for writing was like finding out that I could wear my pajamas to work.  I have always considered myself an introvert.  When you’re little, they just call this shy, and you assume it’s a phase when you hide behind your parent’s knees when a stranger tries to talk to you.  And yet the feeling to hide behind things on some days never quite went away.  And then suddenly, the creation of Buzzfeed and the internet’s obsession with lists taught me that there are other introverts out there that ALSO want to hide behind things!  And apparently that’s cool now!

Being an introverted actor is often difficult.  A good deal of the business is networking and building your community.  Performing is actually one of the most personal and introverted portions of the field.  Standing in line with 30 people that look just like you who are talking about going on their 5th world tour of Midsummer, while practicing scales in between each sentence, is not as bearable.  There are days when I just don’t want to put on my actor pants.  I don’t want to wear makeup or curl my hair, or bring a change of heels.  I don’t feel like maintaining my “I could take this or leave it” persona while being graceful and welcoming, all the while remembering the words to my monologue.  Sometimes, I just want to throw my hair into a pony tail, find some flip flips, throw on my college hoody, drag myself to the nearest back corner of a coffee shop, and write.  The only person who has to deal with me sounding/looking like a recluse is the barista, and I know from experience that she has seen worse.

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And by cafe, sometimes I mean my couch.

No one needs to give you permission

The most wonderful thing about writing?  When you sit down and create something, you are a writer.  Congratulations!  Some days, you just need this freedom.  No outside force is telling you yes or no.  And the best part?  When I do return to auditioning, I am not so artistically starved that getting the role is the only salvation from insanity.  Because as I’ve heard before, desperation is always louder than your audition.

An actor friend of mine relayed this idea from a teacher to me once, “Theatre is like a healthy romantic relationship.  You need other passions in your life other than just that person, otherwise you’re not growing, and all of you happiness is dependent on things working out.”

So, Theatre, to keep myself from being a needy girlfriend, I will be over here writing in my metaphorical sweatpants.  When I’m ready to put a dress on again, perhaps tomorrow, perhaps next month, I will be back.

I strongly encourage the opportunity to explore other art forms without permission.  The difference between someone who is judging what you created, and you, is that at least you created something.  So if you are worried about judgment due to lack of experience, training, or a relevant career, throw that aside.  Creating art is never for the critics, so you might as well give it a go.