Summer So Far

I know it has been a while since I have posted. The break isn’t from not having any news to share – it is from being very busy and putting the blog on the back burner. In this post, I am going to talk about In This Moment, classes with Sam Borowski, cold read work with Kimberly Graham, two upcoming staged readings, festival news for Wedding Season and a supporting role in a sci-fi film by Cody Clarke.

Last month I filmed In This Moment, a short film about understanding and accepting both love and loss. Daniel Roebuck (Lost, Matlock, Final Destination, Getting Grace) stars as the male lead, opposite of Sara Harman (Orange is the New Black.)  I had met Danny a couple times before at two different screenings of his feature Getting Grace, which had a limited theatrical run and has gotten DVD/BLU-RAY distribution from SONY Home Entertainment. Danny has worked with lead producer (and my mentor) Sam Borowski six times, and both Danny and Sam were excited to film in Bethlehem, PA. (where he filmed Getting Grace.) This short film came to fruition after fellow classmate Sara Harman reached out to Sam with a short story that her sister wrote. Sam thought that the story was topical, but he wanted to bring on a female director – Taylor Salotti, who he refers to as his protégé. As you probably know if you read my earlier blog entries, I attend Sam’s acting workshops once a month. In one class, Sam had me read the role of Deborah from In This Moment. The next week, Sam called me and offered me the role in the short film and asked if I would like to help behind the camera as an associate producer as well. I accepted and got to work – I brought on board one of In This Moment’s executive producers and supporting actor Mike Vezza and helped with the casting process. I know Mike from the festival circuit. My sketch comedy short Awkward Favors frequently screened in the same block as Mike’s Reality Disorder.

As I mentioned earlier, we filmed in Bethlehem, PA. on a Saturday and Sunday. My scene was scheduled for Sunday, so I spent Saturday helping on set. For the first five or so hours of the day, I worked the slate which definitely kept me busy. We also had a new actor come on board Saturday morning – He hadn’t ever acted before and was very nervous. I made a point to coach him and make him feel comfortable on set with the rest of us. He even came over to the hotel later that night, and we did some acting exercises together. On Sunday, we arrived at the location and started setting up. Two wonderful MUAs/hair stylists (Laura Dickerhoff-Davis and Jessica Scott) worked magic on me inspired by Jackie Onassis Kennedy. Side note: these are my blue dress and ballet flats – they happened to work perfectly for this period flashback scene. Right now, In This Moment is in post-production. Go “like” the Facebook page to stay updated on screenings and press.

I attended two of Sam Borowski’s acting workshops since my last blog post. Sam brought special guest Scott Essman to the June class. Scott works at Universal Studios and is a film professor at University of LaVerne. Scott was a particularly special guest as he genuinely cared about each of our backgrounds – he even asked me what I have been auditioning for lately and wanted to hear about my work in cancer research (yes, that is my regular job.) Scott also gave practical advice, such as physically having a task during dialogue scenes so that actors don’t look like they are all standing around staring at each other. Ha! I remember having a conversation like this with Taimak (The Last Dragon) when we were rehearsing his short film years ago. Sam gave me some special roles that he thought Scott would enjoy: The Wicked Witch (The Wizard of Oz) and the opening monologue from Frankenstein. Overall, it was one of my favorites of Sam’s workshops. The wonderful guests are probably my second favorite facet of Sam’s classes. My absolute favorite is that I now feel much more comfortable with dramatic scenes, particularly crying scenes. If you have seen much of my work or been following my career, you know that I do A TON of comedy (improv, sketch, film, etc.) While I absolutely love comedy, it feels good to get comfortable with my range as an actor and artist.

In June, I worked on my cold-read technique with CD Kimberly Graham (Homeland.) In this session, Kim would assign sides and give students fifteen minutes to learn them. Then, we would film one take with the sides still in our hands and another take with the sides away from us. Kim started the day off by saying that I would be surprised with how much I memorized in one day, and she was right. I memorized three different scenes during the day (all in a total of 45 minutes.) This is applicable to my work in that actors often get sides and are asked to audition on vary short notice. Even so, actors are still expected to do their jobs: learn the scene, make a choice and execute it. I worked a lot on level of my voice during scenes. This makes sense as theater was my first training experience – I am used to having to project to an entire audience. Afterwards, Kim emailed some of the scenes that she filmed. I also found watching the scenes to be a learning experience – I watched how some of my choices (both physical and emotional) played on camera and took notes of what landed. Check out a couple of clips below.

So, I have two staged readings coming up. One of the readings is August 4th at 2pm at Primary Stages. This reading is with The Playground Experiment (The PGE.) If you read some of my earlier entries, you know that I have participated in some of The PGE’s events in the past. Mike Lesser, the curator and founder, has since recommended me for multiple projects and been unabashedly kind and generous. If you are looking for a supportive theater community, click on this sentence to learn more about The PGE. The play that I am reading is called Let There Be Love, a story about knowing yourself, developing meaningful relationships and allowing yourself to be vulnerable. Let There Be Love is written by Mrinalini Kamath (fellow The New School alum) and directed by Kat Yen (Yale Rep alum.)  You may want hear more about the play: “A mash-up of D.H. Lawrence’s Sons and Lovers, the Greek myth of Eros and Psyche, and online dating and modern matchmaking, featuring a mother-son matchmaking service, a potential client, and a self-described “algorithm automechanic.” If this sounds interesting, you can grab tickets by clicking this sentence – It is FREE.

I am also participating in a reading called Queer Monologues and Short Plays by Yvonne Hernandez. This reading will be at Alchemical Studios on September 14-16. I met Yvonne about a year and a half ago when she and I performed in Summer Dawn Reyes’ In Full Color show in Jersey City. The evening will consist of “readings of joy, loss, family, lovers, and friends of the LGBTQ. Add a touch of our history and experience a breathtaking evening that will have you laughing and crying the night away.” To reserve tickets, clicking this sentence will take you to the Eventbrite portal.

Wedding Season is now a competing film in another festival: Broad Humor Film Festival (California.) Our team couldn’t be more excited! This film was a collaborative and memorable experience – we each brought something special to our roles. We will have cast at the festival –  If you are in California and want to see our work, please do reach out.

Cody Clarke, an indie filmmaker in NYC, asked me to join the team of his sci-fi film Mute Date. I worked with Cody in 2012 on a documentary called Rehearsals, and I have been following his career, including going to a screening of his feature Ramekin (a college girl is terrorized by a ramekin.) Cody has already shot a huge chunk of the film – we are shooting my scenes this coming Sunday! Here the movie’s poster:

To wrap up this blog post, I will touch on a few other topics. We are finishing up post-production of The Making of Meathook in the Mountains, on which I am one of the writers, performers and producers. After that, director Ryan Reid and I are already talking shop about writing another screenplay together – good things happen to those who work hard. Secondly, I will be directing another film project very soon with Emily Rahm (producer) and Erin Moughon (writer.) I can’t get into details on the project yet, but it is very exciting to be working alongside two of my dear friends and colleagues. I met Emily back in Arkansas when I attended Hendrix College – we had scene study and Alexander Technique coursework together. She is officially the person in NYC who has known me the longest. Erin and I met a few years ago. My friend and theater festival producer Kendra Augustin performed in one of Erin’s off-Broadway theater festival runs. They were kind enough to offer me a ticket, and then Erin cast both Kendra and me in a staged reading of hers with The Bechdel Group. Finally, I am still rehearsing and performing with my indie improv team My First Tattoo. We had a show last week, and the consensus was that we really enjoy the direction that our team is taking. The free-form that we use makes it easy for us to find “the funny” and quickly move on if a joke lands flat. Our next show is August 24th at 9:30pm at The PIT Underground. Come check us out. Before I sign off, here a couple pics that I took while visiting The Second City in Chicago – it was one of the most memorable, fun and inspiring environments that I have ever experienced.

Until next time,