Sunday, August 10, 2014

The Flatrock Blog.

There are only two weeks left of Miss Saigon. 
Fourteen days, sixteen more shows, and not enough time. 

Diana Huey (Kim) and I at Dark Night. 

Each experience we are often ushered into gives us lessons to learn. Sometimes we see them, sometimes we don't. Sometimes we do see them, but choose to ignore them. This summer has been one of the best summers of my entire life. I've never worked harder. I've never been happier. It seems as if every week I have been faced with a new challenge, ending in a new lesson -- all crystal clear. 

A few things I've learned at Flat Rock Playhouse:

1) Work my ass off.

My cast is pretty big. There are 13 equity actors and the rest of the cast is part of the apprentice class. 
Flat Rock Playhouse runs a conservatory-esque summerstock that has a staff of apprentices and interns that are both part of my cast and crew. Most of them are theatre majors in college or recent graduates that seek professional regional theatre credits and experience.

 Not only do they help with building sets for the shows, painting, costumes, set changes, pre-sets and even helping park patron's cars at hour until curtain, but they put on a morning show with the Youth Theatre program here in Flat Rock, partake in all fundraising activities, have master classes and an end of the year showcase. 

Oh yeah, they're also IN Miss Saigon too.

Apprentices! Credit: Nicole Sheehan

Although sometimes it sucks seeing how exhausted they are, I am always reminded that there are people that work harder than you do. So stop complaining, Jackie. 

Respect and appreciation are the two words that come into mind when I think of the apprentices. I admire their work ethic, hunger, and am somewhat jealous of the new and raw talent that I see emerging. Vagabonds, indeed. Slash, can I be 21 again? #old 

2) Support, opportunity, preparation.

"Coo Coo Princess"  on August 7th, the 8:00pm show.

This week, I went on for Kim. 
Like, for real. 

Once for the matinee, and again for the evening show. Diana Huey, my main squeeze -- who fabulously plays Kim on the regular, was having vocal fatigue and just needed a solid day of rest. So as her cover, it was my job to fill in her shoes and continue to tell the story we all so much care about. Other than missing a few entrances here and there, I felt no major hiccups in the show and couldn't have had a more supportive team that day.

My understudy was prepared. 
The dance captain was prepared. 
The cast and crew were all prepared. 
It was quite amazing to see. 

I had only one 6 hour understudy rehearsal a week ago which only consisted of touching base with a piano and a few scenes on the stage. But most of my homework I did on my own. 

Never under value the need to be prepared, no matter how experienced you are. I pride myself in my work ethic, and this week I was able to put that into action when I had to step up to the plate and deliver. Homework. Do your homework. 

3) Make friendships really count. 

Ask questions. Answer questions. Share. Don't spend all your time on your phone. When friends hug you, hold on. 

I have made some of the best of friends here. Especially my Equity women. I could go on and on about the crazy shit that we talk about. Yes, Jamila girl -- we will make sure you learn how to clap dat booty.  I constantly make sure I seek meaningful relationships because why would you want it otherwise?

By nature, we all share a dressing room which in turn becomes a haven for expression and deep meaningful conversations. I have never felt so at ease being in a room with such beautiful women who inspire me to be better every day. 

Every single day I am learning something new about my newfound sisters: a fear, an insecurity, a piece of joy, light, solitude or shared love of music. They are my heart! 

4) There is always an opportunity to love. 

Doing theatre and acting in 8 shows a week can be emotionally draining. We are constantly focusing on telling a story on stage that we forget to translate it into real life. I forget that a lot. I'll be zoned out on Facebook or Instagram. I'll binge watch Netflix. I'll close my door and lay in bed for hours. Maybe I'll just ask someone how they are, but not really listen, not continue about the conversation and keep walking.

Austin Ku, who plays our Thuy in the show just celebrated his birthday this week. His parents invited us to a delicious Chinese food birthday dinner in Hendersonville. It was a time to gather around to share the love that we not only had for the amazing food, but for each other. We laughed. We ate. It was simple and perfect. And I sat there as we all sang 'Happy birthday' to Austin, thinking, 
"We are so lucky."
There have been numerous times where I've been frustrated or felt disconnected. This dinner and these people that surrounded me was such a lovely reminder.  
Wake up, remind yourself to love someone or something with a little more "oomph". 

5) Jump.

Going for what you want and saying how you feel is scary as hell. 
It is not easy to shed your skin and reveal what's really going on on the inside -- to a friend, a colleague, a boss, a new love, or even to yourself. 

I don't know what it is about this little town in North Carolina, but so much of my time spent here has been spiritually freeing. I'm speaking my mind more, thinking a bit more clear and letting my heart feel.

But why waste any more time? How valuable is time when we see that it isn't abundant? 
I don't know about you, but I want to continue to live fully, feel deeply and love with every morsel I have left in me.

Sometimes, tip- toeing doesn't work. 
You just have to jump. 

I sit on my porch writing this as the rain hits the trees and my surroundings here at Actor's Housing. This is where all the Equity actors stay during the run of Miss Saigon. It's quaint, quiet, and just enough. We run home after a long, vocally draining 2.5 hour marathon of a show and sometimes gather on the porch together to laugh and relate. Or we make a fire, throw together some S'mores while Eddy Lee plays Jason Mraz on the guitar. Those are some of my favorite times at the Rock. I'm excited for the last two weeks and hope to cherish every minute. 

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