My Biggest Acting Challenge Yet

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I was recently contacted about being in a short about 2 German immigrants. They asked to just read the English with a German accent for the audition. Luckily I’ve always been really intrigued with accents and tend to pick them up quickly and do fairly decent job. They liked my audition and signed me on. The director then wanted to meet to see how well I might be able to handle the actual German dialogue. I’ve never spoken German in my life, but I have a very intuitive and natural understanding for languages. This was the first time it had ever been put to the test though. He literally just had me read the German script, totally cold (which I found an exciting challenge). He actually was very pleased with my reading and said he felt confident that I could do it and therefore was going to leave the script as it was instead of paring down the German and making it more English with a German accent.

Also lucky for me, my co-star is actually German and from the specific region of Germany as our characters. She was kind enough to send me a recording of all my lines so I had an authentic reference to refer to.

So now I just have to memorize the entire German script and understand what it is I’m saying as well, and act while doing it. I am terribly excited to take this on.

Dream Theatre 22

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In last night dream I was part of a live sketch show at a place not unlike The Institution Theater. Steve Glazer was directing the show I think and at the last minute someone didn’t show, so Steve filled in at the last moment since he knew the part. He came on as part of a trio and was dressed in a pink furry one piece kind dress thing, sort of like The Flintstones wore. It was not very long and Steve was not wearing underwear so everyone kept getting glimpses of his bits and pieces. When he sat on the ground with his knees up, he was full on flashing everyone.

After that act, I was up next. Me and a partner were lip syncing to “Mahna mahna.” However, instead of a backing track they were using some really old, crappy recording that was really hard to follow and that was very erratic rhythmically almost like if a really inebriated person was trying to sing it. Consequently, the lip syncing did not go well. I remember wondering why they didn’t just use a karaoke like track for it like the one Ralph Garmin and Kevin Smith use on the “Hollywood Babble-On” podcast when Ralph sings “Mahna Mahna” in various character voices.

Macbeth, I Hear You Calling

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During one of our first Macbeth rehearsals, I sat down at a piano and started singing “Macbeth” to the tune of “Beth” by KISS. This inspired both Brian Villalobos and I to write parodies. I painstakingly recreated the music and we recorded both versions.

Macbeth
Macbeth Duet

My Role in “Heelers” and “My Best Friend”

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Wow, I really have become crap at updating my blog. I’ve written about how since Facebook and Twitter have taken over my poor blog has been neglected. People don’t seem to want to go outside these “walled gardens” to external websites much anymore. The one advantage I’ve found about posting here is that it’s really easy to find something if I go back looking for it later, which is not true on Facebook and Twitter. So today after watching the latest Big Bang Theory episode where Howard sings a silly, romantic song for Bernadette for the anniversary of their first date (a song written by Garfunkel and Oates for the show), it reminded me of this song I wrote for the web series, Heelers. I was surprised to find that I, apparently, never wrote about it here, but I guess only on social media.

Heelers tells the story of a some workers at a veterinary practice. I play Glenn, a sweet if slightly awkward guy who often beings his dog or other animals he’s found to the clinic, at least partially because he’s in love with Brit, one of the girls who works there (who has no interest in him but likes the hunky veterinarian guy). For the last episode I filmed they wanted me to make an appearance at the company Christmas party and possibly play a song, so I wrote what I felt was an appropriately “Glenn” song for his to sing to object of his affection. Kind of endearing, kind of weird. Like Glenn. I found it surprising that apparently a lot of guys outright refused to read for Glenn because he’s kind of weird and unflattering. I loved Glenn from the start because I thought he’d be a blast to play, and to try and make him endearing as well as awkward and a little creepy. It still amazes me when actors are so vain that they don’t want to play a part that is not flattering or impressive. I love interesting characters and playing off-kilter flawed people can be so interesting and fun.

Of course, I’ll post when the web series actually comes out for public consumption but in the mean time, here’s Glenn’s song that he sings to Brit at the Christmas party.

My Best Friend

VH1: Behind the Pants

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I’m currently in a production of Macbeth with some of the most awesome people around. The banter that goes on backstage generally ranges from amusing to genius. So many intelligent, funny, talented people. One night after the show as we were all getting dressed, I started randomly singing “PANTS TIME” and we all started taking turns improvising lines. This went on for some time and I was inspired.

The next day I started recording. In an effort to retain the original tone and atmosphere, I didn’t write anything before hand. I basically recorded the vocals line by line, figuring it out as I went along and trying to incorporate as many references from the previous night as possible.

The next day, my cast mate, Elly, was kind enough to come lay down a trio of backup vocals.

Take your pants off or put your pants on, and give a listen to:

PANTS TIME!

The Key To Memorization Is Not Repetitive Reading, But Recalling

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I’ve read several articles such as this one (I can’t find the original article that I read about this, but there’s plenty out there) that talk about how the key to memorization is the act of recalling. So repetitively reading a script or passage will only go so far (this is the phase where your brain is loading it into your short term memory) but it’s the crucial recalling of that information that forms and strengthens the neural pathways, so the quicker you put down that script and start trying to remember it, the quicker you will strengthen those neural pathways and have the text memorized. Don’t spend hours re-reading something a thousand times. Only once you put it down and begin actually trying to remember it will you start the important phase of the process.

Dream Theatre 21

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In last night’s dream, my old friend Zoë Simpson Dean and I were a Fringe duo (as in the TV show Fringe, where they investigate weird, supernatural stuff, kind of like X-files). She walked over to a wall that had some plant growth on it, and she suddenly phased out and disappeared and some blue flowers immediately bloomed on the wall right by where she was. I was panicked and knew that she had phased to another dimension. I went back to my hotel, which I remember being very cool and unique, though hard to describe here. The rooms were up on the second level and all had glass walls looking out to the scenery around. It was very square and angular, with a distinct 60′s or maybe 70′s feel. I remember external stairs leading up to the second level and that the second level was larger than the first level (lobby) so the second level actually over hung the first.

My cell phone rang and I saw from the caller ID that it was Zoë. I expressed mt relief in hearing from here but she was very disoriented. I tried to explain that she was in another dimension but she seemed to think she was in Japan and was kind of out of it and a little incoherent.

I think that’s where I woke up, or at least that’s all I remember.

My September 11, 2001

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Wow, I can’t believe that this isn’t documented anywhere on my blog. Weird.

In September of 2001, I was dating a wonderful woman who lived in England who would later become my wife (and then later, my ex-wife, though I hate that term as it seems to carry a negative connotation which is not at all apropos in our case). We had met on a Buffy The Vampire Slayer message board (which is a whole other story unto itself) and pretty immediately felt a connection like we’d never felt before. Several other people on this message board had ended up dating (and eventually getting married), and I think we were both sort of in the camp of “Hey, more power to you, although I don’t really see how you can know someone well enough on the internet to fall for them.” Then it happened to us and we were like “Ohhhh, that’s how that happens.” Jess came over for her first in person visit on September 9, 2001.

Two days later, we were getting ready to go to my job where she was going to spend the day with me and meet my co-workers. We had been in the shower and she had got out to get dressed and such while I stayed in to shave. I heard a disturbing “thud” noise and I pulled back the shower curtain to see Jess on the bathroom floor. Beside her were two of her teeth, knocked clean out roots and all and little bit of blood. I leapt out of the shower, in a slight panic. After a moment she was conscious and lucid but unaware of what exactly had just happened. I thought that maybe I should keep her from looking in the mirror in case that sent her into a panic, but she got up and looked at herself missing two teeth and with two more barely hanging in there and I think she just laughed. I had already called an ambulance, so I grabbed some of my sweats and got her dressed.

The medics arrived and got her onto the ambulance, and I climbed into the front of the ambulance for the ride to the hospital. That’s when I heard something on the radio about planes and the World Trade Center. I asked the ambulance driver what that was about, and he said “Oh you haven’t heard?” He explained the situation and we went to the hospital where they tended to Jess’s split bottom lip (stitches, I think) and told us we would then have to go to an oral surgeon to see about the teeth (I had kept the two other teeth in a container of milk, as I was instructed in case they could save them). I asked her if she wanted me to call her parents but she said she wanted to wait until she could actually speak to them herself so as not to cause more worry than necessary. Someone from the hospital took me home to get my truck and while I was there I finished shaving, since thus far, I’d been wandering around with a 1/3 shaved face. I returned and watched the news updates with everyone else in the waiting room.

They released Jess and I took her to the oral surgeon who removed the other two teeth which were barely hanging on anyway. They gave her some lovely drugs as well. When we finally got home that night, she called her parents. Of course, they immediately jumped straight to “We’ve been watching what’s been happening over there!” to which Jess replied “Yes, but there’s something else I have to tell you about…”

She spent the next two weeks meeting my friends and family with no top four teeth and making jokes about how she lost them. That day will always be very memorable for very personal reasons as well as the reasons that the rest of the world will remember it. They never figured out why she fainted. The best guess was a combinations of jetlag, not having eaten since the night before and the hot shower. We later figured out that she passed out right about the same time that first plane hit. I think she “felt a disturbance in the force.”

Dream Theatre 20

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In last night’s episode, it’s kind of fuzzy, but I think I was in another movie with Rachel Carothers (one of my co-stars from Moving Day). I remember the distinct feeling that it was interesting because this movie was a kind of juxtaposition to Moving Day though I can’t remember exactly how. I believe that it took place on our characters’ wedding day but that we weren’t getting married for love, but for some practical reason, or some kind of marriage of convenience. That night after the wedding, she was really upset about something. I can’t remember for sure whether it was Rachel herself or the character who was upset. I feel like it was one of those bizarre dream logic situations that don’t make sense where it was sort of neither and both, but it was definitely within the “post-wedding” scenario which means it must have been the characters although I also have to wonder if this dream is kind of a statement or indication about how weird acting can be as far as portraying fictional scenarios while trying to make them “real.” It was all sort of “The movie” and real at the same time, if that makes sense (which it really doesn’t).

I remember Rachel (I don’t remember a specific character name so she shall henceforth be referred to as Rachel) sort of isolating herself in the upstairs portion of the house where we were and only her immediate family were having any contact with her. I remember thinking “how strange to have just married someone but then be isolated from her and kind of distant.” I know that she wasn’t upset with me but that I was just trying to be respectful and give her whatever space she needed and not intrude.I sort of hung around the periphery, concerned about her and getting some updates from family members on how she was doing. I think at one point I was reassuring her kids that she would be alright and there was nothing to worry about. I think that everyone was pretty much up all night, and the next morning I did see her as she came down and she and some family members went to an SUV to go somewhere else. The whole I was sort of this isolated outsider, wishing I could help. I think we acknowledged each other and exchanged a sympathetic/understanding look as she passed and got into the SUV.

To Be Or Not To Be…A Jerk Who Won’t Take “Minor” Theatre Roles

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I was raised doing theatre. It’s where I planted my acting roots. As the years went on and I transitioned in to more film and television, I rarely get to do theatre any more. First and foremost, it’s very rare that I’m actually available for the run of a show, much less for all the rehearsal and such as well. I almost always have several other film or band projects somewhere in there, so it’s almost a miracle when the stars align and I happen to hear about a play that’s casting and I happen to be available!

Now, even when that happen, every single time without fail that I agree to do a play, I end up having to pass up something else, or several something elses that come along after. There’s also the time commitment. You have however many rehearsals over a month or three, depending, plus the actual run of the show. In the time it takes to do one play, I sometimes might have done many projects (my highest being 40 projects in 3 months). And it’s probably quite annoying for my agent who is trying to get me work when I’m not available for a large chunk of time.

For this reason, I have to be pretty judicious about if I choose to do a play. Many times I just can’t take anything less than a lead role or at least something major or that I feel is really worth the time as something interesting or “meaty” in some way. I hate this, and I hate addressing it so I usually just don’t audition because I don’t want to have to say “I’m afraid I’m only interested in the lead.” I know that this should be fine. Every time I have, people have been totally understanding (or at least seemingly so) but I can’t help feeling like an egotistical jerk who comes off as “I’m too good for smaller parts.”

On the other hand, I’ve spent 32 years working on my craft and advancing my career and I do have not only a responsibility to be practical and a little more choosy, but I should have the right as well. And not just me, anyone should. Maybe when you’re just starting out you might need to be less picky (like when I used to do any and all extra work I could get into) to get some experience, but we should all have the right to choose to some degree.

Amazingly, this has come up twice recently. I ended up taking a smaller part in Macbeth because I like the director and trusted his judgment when I’d laid out my feelings and he felt these roles were worth my time, and because I wanted to work with him and my friend who is the lead (I did audition for the lead as well).

Now I may be facing it again as I have a callback for another play tomorrow and I think I’m only being considered for a minor role. Part of me thinks maybe I should turn it down (if I’m even offered a role) but there’s always a part of me that doesn’t want to miss out. Part of me who knows that you never know who you might meet or where any particular road might take you. Often, it’s the most unexpected path that ends up going somewhere interesting. There are certainly things I like about this show, and I like to believe the old “There are no small parts, only small actors” and think that I could really do something memorable with whatever I’m given.

But I also don’t want to seem like an egotistical, ungrateful twat either. I guess I’ll just see if there’s even a decision to be made before worrying about it. Or as I like to say, “I’ll tackle that boat when I come to it.”

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