A Day in the Life

I was just thinking about how crazy different my day is compared to most college students.  I thought I’d map it out for you.  This is a Tuesday, which is my most acting-heavy day.

8:00 am: Wake up.  Consider falling back asleep.  Bargain with myself about what I can give up (ie, “five more minutes of sleep equals drinking only half a cup of coffee”).

8:05 am (approx.): Finally drag myself out of bed and to the shower. Shower. Deal with the crazy curly insanity that is my hair.

8:20 am: choose my outfit.  Most days, this is some super exciting form of black spandex sports wear.  Interesting oddity of my life: I have to wear all black for every acting class I take.  This promotes company bonding, and a blank canvas to work off of.  It also promotes my pawing through my (now extensive) black wardrobe collection to find what I want.  

8:30 am: Eat breakfast and drink coffee while trying to wake myself up by watching the morning show.  Realize I have 10 minutes to finish getting ready and run to the bathroom to fix hair again, slap a little makeup on, pack my bag, and run out the door.

9:30 am: Acting III: Improv.  Love this class. We have an amazing ensemble, and it is just so much fun to play with them.  Today, we did Improv scenes…and people actually laughed at mine! Sorry.  Vanity moment. But yay I don’t suck!

10:45 am: Class ends and I drag my butt to the gym for a thirty minute run and some very light upper body lifting.  I’m working my way into it.  Going to the gym sucks, but I’ve finally decided I am going to do it every day, darn it.  No more cheating for this girl.

11:50 am: Get back to my room.  Rush around trying to figure out if I need to change.  Grab what I need for my classes and run out the door.

12:00 pm: Work! Usually it’s secretary stuff plus homework time.  I leave at some point to get lunch, which I either go in and sneak out of the cafeteria (sorry.  I just have to have hot food sometimes!) or get out of the to go line…not a fan.

2:30 pm: Stage Management!! My favorite class for sure.  It caters to my semi-obsessive list making skills.

3:45 pm: Rush downstairs to begin warming up for Vocal Production, which is kind of like a workout class for your voice.  Start stretching and making really weird noises.

4:00 pm: Vocal Prod begins.  This class freaks me out, which is great! You gotta risk to succeed.  Most days I leave feeling like I failed, but I am always getting better.

5:15 pm: Class is over for the day.  I look around plaintively for someone to go to the caf with cause I’m usually starving.  

5:30 pm: typical caf dinner time.  In times of rehearsal, I’ll get a to go meal and scarf it down in my room while packing my rehearsal bag so I can be there by 6:00 or 6:30

6:30 pm: Right now, this is prime do stuff/homework time.  Somehow I’m already busy, without rehearsal! Craziness. Starting mid-October, this time will be occupied by rehearsals till 10:30 pretty much every night.

11:00 pm: Decide I should probably sleep.  Turn off the lights and stare at the ceiling.

12:00 am: Actually fall asleep! Sometimes…

 

There you have it!  I spend a LOT of my time running around.  And probably more time in class collectively than most “regular” college kids…I’m currently taking 18 hours, which is a little more than average at OCU, but is apparently unheard of at state schools.  Them’s the breaks.  

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I Want to Be in a Movie

That’s it.  I just do.   A period piece, preferably, so I get all the pretty costumes and the sets.  With a hot male lead.  I was watching Shakespeare in Love for the umpteenth time last night, and watched a little “behind the scenes” video about the new Les Miserables film, and I have decided that my dedication to not being a film actress might be waning.  I mean it’s not like I’ve ever actually avoided or wanted to avoid being in films.  Stage acting has always interested me so much more.  But after that…I don’t know. If an audition pops up, I just might have to take it.

Running at the Edge of the Cliff

Well. Yikes. We just had a meeting with our faculty and the sophomore class to discuss our performance in these first few weeks of school.  And it was not good.  We talked about the level of focus being unprofessional about the most basic things: warming up before class, showing up on time, etc.  We also discussed how there are currently 50,000 people registered under Actor’s Equity (the union for actors and stage managers), and that of those, only 10,000 are working at this moment.  5,000 are working enough to qualify for health insurance.  Stuff like that is so. Freaking. Scary to me.  Because I don’t think it’s a weakness, anymore, to realize that I want a life.  I want to get married.  I want to have children.  I want to have a nice and comfortable house, and be able to do fun things with some of my time.  I do not want to be that miserable, single, lonely actor, living in their little 5×5 foot apartment in New York, cursing every audition they have and blaming everyone else.  So when I hear stats like that, two things happen: 1) I think, crap…this is going to be really hard. Eek.  And 2) Let’s do this.

Which is part of the reason being chastised makes me so sad.  I definitely think we deserved it.  The level of focus and professionalism has just not been there this semester.  I think I’ve been doing alright, but I still haven’t been as intent on warm ups as I should be, or as brave and courageous as I’d like to be.  But I want it.  I really, really want this as my career. There have been so many times when I could have just said, “Nope. Screw it. English major at an incredible school it is.” But I haven’t.  Because I refuse to give up on this.

So, from now on, I’m taking two acting notes and running with them.  The first: “Today, I fail epically. Tomorrow, I succeed.”  Our director Lance said this, and I think it beautifully sums up acting…and life in general.  Today may not be your best day.  If you are brave enough to fail, awesome.  Embrace it.  Tomorrow you might be brave enough to succeed.

The second is: “Run at the edge of the cliff”.  Nobody pays to see someone stand there and keep all their emotions inside.  They pay to see you lay it all out on the stage, to rip your heart out and lay it on the floor for them (and afterwards you get to pick it up, dust it off a little, and put it back in to work as normal.  Crazy).  There is no place for fear here.  You seriously just have to take whatever directions the give you, no matter how much you think you will suck or how scared you are to try it, and GO FOR IT.  Don’t run back where it’s safe.  Run at the edge of the cliff.

 

Goooooooooals!

We had to list goals for the semester last night at my sorority house, and I thought I might list mine here.  A double reminder, of sorts.

Lauren’s Awesome Goal List for Fall 2012!

1. No Panic Attacks!

Already broke this one a little.  Basically, I just really want to work on my anxiety, cause that crap has no place in my life.  Everything works out in the end, and I am going to get much better at taking stuff one day at a time. I promise.

2. Healthy Mind, Body, and Soul 🙂

Basically, I’m going to work out and eat healthier than ever before so I don’t feel like crap. But this also means taking what I love about myself to heart, and really appreciating what my body can do!  This is a difficult one for all girls my age, especially in such a looks-focused industry, but I am really going to work on it.  See my “Fitness and Recipes” page for help with this one!

3. Get Out There

With rehearsals, school, and everything else in my crazy life, it can be so easy to succumb to the temptation to just sit around and be bored when I have a free moment.  But not this year.  I am going to take care of myself, but I am also going to go out and have experiences and meet people and try new things.  I want to grow, damn it!

4. Budget and Get Crafty

No longer will I be spending $50 on sushi I don’t even like.  I am just going to work on wisely spending my money and living on a budget while still living.  This means getting crafty in my gift giving, which is actually kind of exciting.

5. Love.

Ah, my favorite word in the whole English language.  This year I am going to love harder than ever before. I am going to let the most important people in my life know that I appreciate them, and I am not going to waste time disliking people that have traits I can’t change.  I’m not going to let myself get walked all over anymore, but I will do it in a loving, always graceful way. And it will be great.

There you have it! I think with a little support and will power, I can accomplish these.  Might have to post them on my wall somewhere.  I refuse to sink into the Sophomore Slump!! It is going to be the best semester yet!

Well Darn

Ah, the life of a theatre student. Today I’m going to talk about those experiences where, no matter how prepared you are, you are just never, ever, EVER going to get cast. I don’t know about you, but those are really difficult for me to accept.  If I didn’t prepare enough for a callback or an audition, okay. It’s totally my fault. If I forget the words, make a huge flub, stand there in silence for my whole audition, I understand that they might not want me back for a role. But it’s those moments when you have prepped completely, you are so totally ready for anything that they throw at you, you know that you HAVE this part…and then, phwa phwa (sad tuba noise), you’re cut.

I haven’t had a lot of these in my life, probably because I’m at school and they’re big into giving everyone a chance. But I know that in the real world, you might go into the callback and they match you with the lead of the show–who happens to be three inches shorter than you.  You realize, even before you start doing the scene, that you will not be playing this part.  And I’m sorry, I’m just as big of an optimist as anyone out there (some would say too much of one), but it is incredibly difficult for me to savor and enjoy the scene when I know from the beginning that they aren’t even considering me.  I had one of these experiences the other night at a callback, for the Neil Labute play The Shape of Things.  After reading the script and getting a handle on the character, I felt like I absolutely had this one in the bag.  I mean, I knew the character inside and out. I was living in her.  This was going to be the most incredible callback ever! That’s a great feeling, by the way, when you can just enjoy having an amazing callback and not worry too much about getting the part. Sometimes it’s the journey, not the destination! Anyway, the callback was kind of all over the place since we had a very short amount of time to get everyone through.  I started taking deep breaths, getting in the zone, when I was handed my scene, and given my partner.  We had about thirty seconds to read through. And as soon as we went in and the first words were out of my mouth, I knew that this wasn’t going to end well.

My partner and I were not connecting. At all.  And they had told us that this scene was all about connections. It was moving slowly, it was clunky and awkward…just not right, and I could feel it.  They cut us off really early, and as soon as I walked out of the room, I started praying, “Please, please, please let me do something else.  Honestly, you have to.  That wasn’t me! I can do better work! I am so prepared for this!” I waited another hour in a stew of praying and bargaining and losing hope and getting it back…until they dismissed me, and kept two other girls to read again. Then my heart dropped into my stomach and I started the long trek home.  After crying it out a little, eating some candy, banging my head into a wall, and cursing the skies for a little bit, I took a deep breath and pulled my big girl pants on, and came to this realization:

This is theatre. This is not a job interview.  You need the perfect conditions to get a part, and sometimes you just will not have that. It’s not a reflection on your talent or how much the people like you. It is simply a moment in which you can do NOTHING to ensure you a part. And that is outside of your control. Therefore, it has to be okay. I say it has to be because I will literally go insane if I worry about that stuff too much. So you file away the few learning experiences you can take from it, put it in your actor memory journal, and then forget about it and press on.  A hard lesson to learn, but I feel so much better for letting it go!

I’m On TV!

Guys…acting classes are crazy.  I think that it’s something you have to take a step back from every once in awhile and realize that if anybody else–Psych Majors, History Majors, whatever–came into an acting class, they would think we were all insane.  And you could never, in a million years, get them to do what we do.  This used to make me kind of self conscious in high school.  How weird were we, that we were willing to run around and make weird noises at people, shout in their faces, and learn from it?  Now that I’m in a safe space at an incredible acting program, however, it doesn’t phase me much.  I willingly do all the craziness that’s asked of me, and usually I am making so many discoveries that I could care less how psycho I look.  Yesterday was one of those reminders, though, of how different we can be from the “real” majors here at my school (by the way, I hate that that’s a stereotype. Grr.)

I have to perform a service learning requirement in one of my classes, which basically means that we help out another school on campus by acting for them.  Often, it’s performing as a patient in the nursing school or as a therapy patient for the psychology students; but I jumped at the chance to help out the Mass Comm kids.  I won’t lie, mostly because it was the shortest length of time of any of the projects yet.  Sorry, guys.  But the description of the service was a little bit intimidating: “You and two other students will be putting on 3-4 seven minute talk shows in which one of you is the host and one is the talent.  Their content is up to you.  The class will be filming you.” Ah, film. I hate seeing myself on it.  I’m not sure why; maybe I just judge myself to much to enjoy it?  The funny thing is, I really like the whole process of creating film–how real everything is, how tense the world can get with the direction and technology all syncing up…it’s invigorating.  But when I walked into the studio and saw three cameras, all pointed on my face…a little bit of the Self Conscious Bubbles popped up (you know how when you get nervous your stomach is bubbly and your face gets red and you start wondering if your hair really looks like that and oh my God, is that really how my voice sounds? It’s like that. But worse.) 

The project itself was easy.  My friend Dallas and I played the stars of new blockbuster films on our friend Liza’s talk show.  It was so fun thinking up the most random ideas and costars for these movies–my personal favorite was a low budget gritty indie film in which I played a drug addicted girlfriend to Johnny Depp’s cold hearted drug dealer, imaginatively entitled “Stone”. Dream come true.  Anyway, what really got me thinking was how fascinated all the mass comm students were that we were just making this stuff up on the spot.  Our first “movie” was a civil war romance in which we said we worked with Meryl Streep.  After we had done our second show, two of the students said, “We were actually completely convinced that you had worked with Meryl Streep, and we were like freaking out that two of the kids at our school got to meet her! How do you guys do that?! We thought you were telling the truth like both times!” I mean first of all…that obviously made our actors egos feel great.  But second, what makes us so different from all these other majors, that we can just make stuff up and fly by the seat of our pants to create magic up on a stage?  It truly gave me such an appreciation for what we do.  We make worlds where there once was nothing…how incredible is that? 

Money Makes the World Go Around

Ah, college.  A time to have fun.  A time to learn.  A time to spend $100 at Walmart on a couple of sticks of gum and some coffee.  I’m exaggerating, obviously, but it has been a very difficult lesson for me to learn these past few years.  I  have been raised to value the money I make, and spending as much money as I do in a month here makes me panicky.  I work during the school year, and make enough to cover my basic expenses…but add in a few sundry items, and I am looking at a negative balance in my bank account.  This issue is at the forefront of my mind right now because I will be making two large investments in the next two days: 1) purchasing some presents for my new sorority little sisters (I’ll explain later!) and 2) plane tickets to sunny California.

 If you’re not Greek, you might not know that we take on incoming freshman as our “Little”, in a kind of mentorship program.  In our house, we give them crafty gifts, a family sweatshirt–little things to make them included.  These add up, however, and I am a giver.  I would rather give a present than get one any day.  The plane tickets are also for my benefit.  I’ll be going out to California to see my boyfriend (aka Navy Boy) for my birthday.  And who knew how much freaking plane tickets cost??? I honestly cannot believe that by clicking a button, I will be saying goodbye to between $300 and $400 dollars.  It’s totally worth it…but still. Moments of panic.

Due to all of the crazy stress that these financial matters are causing me, I have decided to start a budget.  I’ve given it the name

The Super Awesome Budget Plan of 2012!

So it doesn’t suck as much.  Basically, this is how it works:

$100 a month to groceries (we shall see how this goes…my coffee addiction is expensive y’all!)

$100 to personal fun stuff (dinner, movies, cupcakes, fro yo…all good things in moderation! Depressing.)

This will come out of the money I make at my on campus job, with hopefully a little left over for savings.  All the other necessary purchases–ie, those crazy plane tickets and some Little gifts–will come out of the nest egg of savings I made by working my butt off for 40 hours a week this summer.

 

So that’s the plan.  Don’t worry, I’ll be keeping you updated for how this goes.  I’m going to try really hard not to gripe about how sucky it is to turn down cupcakes so I can afford groceries.  We shall see.  Let me know if you have any great money saving tips!

 

The Last Audition…till november

Had another audition last night (in the words of my boyfriend aka Navy Boy: “The madness never ends!”).  This one is actually one of my favorites–Out of the Box! We have this amazing organization that puts up student produced, chosen, directed, whatever plays with absolutely no budget.  There is therefore no set, minimal props, and costumes from the actors’ closets…and yet these plays were some of my favorites last year.  There’s just something so incredible about watching people craft a whole world for themselves that in reality contains a table and a couple of chairs.  It gives me goosebumps just thinking about it! I want to produce theatre like that.  I want people to be fascinated just by what me and my partners are putting out there.  As one of my professors would say, “You just rip yourself open and bleh *mimes dumping heart and insides all over your scene partner*!!!” graphic, certainly.  But that is captivating theatre!  

Anyway.  Getting off my high horse.  The auditions were a little different then usual.  First, you’re auditioning for your peers.  Which is a weird vibe in and of itself.  Second, they had us come in in groups of ten, and perform our one minute selections in front of each other.  Some people absolutely hate this style; others love it.  I’ve grown to be pretty meh about it.  Last year I would have been intimidated, but this time I chose to just focus in on myself, and appreciate the other’s work for its own individualistic merit.  No matter how good I do, I will never be another actress–so why make comparisons and aspire to be just like her?  So I sat in my chair looking at my hands while about four people performed, just trying to get in the zone and focus in on the feeling of my piece.

The monologue I did really needs a running start, which can be kind of difficult to get in this environment–you’re so rushed, you have so little time, that it’s very easy to just word vomit and sit back down thinking “What the hell did I just say??”  So after I introduced myself I took a nice deep breath, focused on my “other” (the imaginary person you’re directing the monologue to–in this case, my best friend from back home), and let ‘er rip.  And felt really good!

It’s such an amazing feeling when you perform well in this setting.  I always get this big post-audition high: I feel accomplished; I feel like I gave them a minute of the absolute best “Lauren” that I could put forward.  It’s all about getting past the point of being perfect or just right for what they’re looking for (because honestly, if they want a 5’8″ model looking blonde, I am totally screwed).  It’s about putting forward your best work, and really making a moment.  A one minute long play in which you are both director and star.  I really loved it, and found out today I got a callback for The Shape of Things…which I now need to go read.  Woops.