Friday, March 4, 2011

What is it really all about?

I have been having a rough time lately sorting some things out in my head.

My whole life I have spent dreaming about growing up and going out and living my dreams. There was no question in my head about what life had in store for me after school. Life was about living your dream. That's how I was raised. That's what I always grew up knowing as the natural path to follow. More specifically, I had dreamed of moving to New York and starting a life as a performer. Well already I have learned that that is a lot harder than it sounds but I have been preparing for 4 years at school to deal with those hardships. Then I got married somewhere in the mix of all of this dreaming which was a wonderful addition to my plans.

So here I am living in Boston, choreographing a show, working as a singing waiter, not necessarily satisfying my theatre itch, and it all seems wrong...

My family is 1,800 miles away. They are going through some of the roughest times we have yet to face and I am sitting on my butt in Massachusetts not even able to get to them in a matter of a few hours. My brother and sister now have a "nanny" after school a few days a week and I am completely jealous. My family needs help taking care of my aunt and grandma because everyone is so busy. I'm not! I could do it. But I'm not there...My cousin has called me crying because times are so difficult right now and the best I could do was say "Sorry." I couldn't even say, "Can I do anything?" Because I can't!

I always dreamed of leaving and had my sights set on the destination but never once stopped to think about what I was leaving behind: A mom that wiped my butt, was the "cool mom," was a confidante when my friends were too busy to be there for me. A stepdad who loves me like his own and would do anything for me in at the drop of a hat. A young brother and sister who need a sissy to look up to. A Maw Maw who has been my best friend from day one, who is as weird as I am, who would have my back even when the rest of the world was mad at me. A Paw Paw who gave his granddaughter everything she wanted even when she threw embarrassing tantrums in toy stores. A grandmother who taught me how to cook, bake, sew, knit and have a love for where I came from. A grandfather who loves licorice just as much as I do and admires my intelligence. Cousins who were really brothers and sisters to me, and were there to teach me new things about the world. Aunts and Uncles who would be on my side when I was in trouble and teach me tricks about how to prepare for spankings.

I spent my whole life with these people, growing and learning from them, loving and building memories with them to just one day leave it behind? All of this really makes me question what life is about. Is it about your career? Is it normal to get up and leave everything and everyone that is responsible for making you who you are today? If life isn't about family, then what is it about. God put me with those people for a reason. I have learned so much from them and without them I wouldn't be who I am. Is it right to just say "Thanks. Love ya. Mean it" and hop in a car and drive 30 hours away to "live My life?" There are still more memories I want to make with my family that don't consist of just phone calls and emails. I don't want to be that older sister that has a husband and kids that lives far away and makes her siblings aunts and uncles while they are still in elementary school. But is there anything for me in Dallas, TX other than family? Does it matter if there is anything else there for me?

I used to really be sure about all this but now I just don't know the right answer. It would be so easy to live in Dallas and open a theatre or teach or perform locally but would that make me a failure? Would I feel like I didn't follow my dreams like a million other people in this world? I always swore that I would be the one who "made it." I would be the one that stopped at nothing to pursue my dreams. I wouldn't be a statistic, another person who gave up on their aspirations and settled for an office job. So then what is my motivation? I can hardly tell anymore if I am trying to prove a point or trying to do what I love. If I went back home would I regret it? It would be a lot cheaper. I would like the food. We would have a bigger place, maybe even a house with a backyard for Mellie. We would be close to both of our families.  But are there any opportunities for us there. Would we be fulfilled artistically or would we be settling? If not, is a career really worth being this far away from family?

What is it really all about??

Thursday, January 27, 2011

I will be me week...well...the past few months I have spent sort of sitting around and wallowing. I watch videos, read blogs, even dream about what I want to do with my life but have had zero inspiration to get up and do it. I will watch a video of someone else singing or an amazing dance routine and not get up and sing a single note (seriously) or as much as stretch for weeks at a time. I am having such a hard time pursuing my dreams actively and I guess they just seem so far away. During college, I got so jaded. I didn't feel very talented or valued in that atmosphere and that made think "Well if what I have to offer isn't valuable in a setting of 2000 people, what about a setting of 2 million...or 2 billion!" Things slowly went downhill from there. Now that I am out of that world and into the "real" one I find myself falling back into that way of thinking to the point where I physically can't move to begin to do something about it. Then there is the whole money issue. Should I spend money on food for my family or a dance class to further my career? Should I audition for and accept non-paying gigs that cut into my work schedule therefore cutting into my income? Should I just take these two years off and just work to live and support my family?  So many many questions that I just sit around and think about all day. Literally. With work being so slow during these past few months I have nothing better to do than to sit around.

The first thing I really need to focus on is valuing myself as a talent and an asset to the theatre world. That is so hard for me. I could hardly even type that sentence without inserting some catty remark in parenthesis.
Well, today I have spent the whole day trying to upload videos from a production I directed last spring and I have been singing the lyrics to the opening song in my head all day. They are so inspirational. I think that thinking about these lyrics is what is responsible for getting me up and in the shower and out of the apartment for an hour today and it felt great to be out! The drifts of snow taller than me were a little annoying to handle but other than that, it felt great to outside. If only I could make myself do that everyday. Anyway, here are the lyrics. I hope they can inspire someone else too whenever they are doubting their worth.

I will be wild. I will be wise.
I will not ever compromise.
I will stand firm. I will walk tall
And when my back's against the wall
I will be strong. I will be proud.
I will proclaim myself outloud.
I will be fuel. I will be fire. I will be free.
I will be me.

I may be overly romantic. I may set my heart up to break again.
But this is who I am.

You disapprove of what I'm saying, so I lack the grace of subtler men.
But this is who I am.

I'm sure as hell not getting younger, well I'm not the boy that I was back then.
This is who I am.

**And though my flaws they may be glaring, I'm past the point of caring.
Cause here's the way I see it. I am me. That's all. So be it.
This is who I am.**

I will not fail. I will not fall.
I will rise up above it all.
I will not sink. I will not drown.
I will not think of looking down.
I will fly far. I will fly fast.
I will be who I am at last.
I will be fuel. I will be fire.
I will be free. I will be me.

This is who I am.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The other side of the table

So lately I have taken part in a lot of auditions. Let me clarify... I have been watching a lot of auditions. I have been on "the other side of the table." I still have yet to decide which side I prefer, but that is a whole entire blog in itself. So auditions. I really do enjoy being on the casting end of things. I feel like that is when I learn the most. For some reason it seems easier to watch people screw up and think "Wow, I will never do THAT in an audition," than write down a bulleted list of all the right things to do! Here are a few things I observed in the past few auditions I have been involved in....

Some people think it is ok to come to in and actually use sheet music during the audition. No matter what, it isn't an acceptable choice. It would be slightly understandable for the sheet music to act as a security blanket of sorts if it was held by the auditioners side, but looking at it to the point where it is covering your entire face because you have to hold it that close because you don't know the notes or

So many people are very unaware of their A) Age range. If you are 20, you can NOT play the mom in Next to Normal. If you are 20 and you look 45...maybe. If you are 20 and you look 20...never! and B) If you are get discounts at movie theatres, gyms, or other facilities because you are elderly and you look elderly, you probably aren't a good fit for a contemporary show about teenagers/young adults. 

Mack the Knife in German is almost never an appropriate song choice for an audition.

Do not walk into an audition wearing jeans, a tacky sweater, and moccasins and then BLOW me away. That is just too confusing. You are talented but don't care enough to dress properly? You are unaware that you should dress for an audition? You think all the shows are about grungy teenagers? Or are you actually just a brilliant hipster that I should forgive for your lackadaisical attitude towards dress code for auditions because you were THAT good....

Please, please, please do a tiny bit of research about a show before auditioning for it. A song "in the style of the show" means just that. It doesn't mean that if you are auditioning for a rock musical that you should audition with any ole musical theatre song. It's just silly. 

When auditioners get too close to the table it actually is a frightening thing. So frightening, in fact, that I just might gasp out loud!

And finally...look confident! I saw so many people who looked like they were about to die of shame because they were so embarrassed to share their talent, when they turned out to be really good!

Though these things seem crazy, they actually did occur! I'm sure that mishaps like this happen more often than not. There is something so weird and unnatural about an audition. We performers get all worked up and in our head that what comes out is these odd behaviors that make us look foolish. I'm sure all of the people I witnessed doing these things are all wonderful people but I couldn't help but take their experiences and share them. Hopefully I will remember these things the next time I go in and audition.