I've been lazy about writing on my blog for which there's no excuse. Since my last posting I've been rehearsing and am currently performing in "As You Like It" at the Orlando Shakespeare Theater. It has been a wonderful learning experience for me. The show's magnificent director Dan McCleary is a member of Shakespeare and Company in Massachusetts and his detail-oriented approach to text and character falls in line with the methods of my friend Sally Wood former Artistic Director of The Theatre of Monmouth who directed me in "Othello" and also spent time at Shakespeare and Company. I'll tell you what, when the day arrives that I make some good money from acting one of the first things I'm doing haste post haste even on the instant is enrolling in classes at Shakespeare and Company.
In "As You Like It" I play Charles the Wrestler which is the first time I've ever played a character with the same name as mine. The character to me in the beginning of the play seems like an ill-tempered sort but later I realized (with the help of Dan) that in reality he's just doing his job of beating up all the men he encounters, that is until he faces the character of Orlando (played by Tyler Hollinger, a hard working actor with a bright future ahead of him) who opens up a can of whip a** on yours truly.
I've learned so much about stage combat from our fight captain Ben Cole a patient, intense, giving man whom I have a lot of respect for. As a matter of fact I think that sums up my experience so far at OST...respect. I respect the cast and crew so much for the hours all of them put in to make this show a reality. I'd like to give a special shout out to our Assistant Stage Managers Annie and Andrea for being so kind and upbeat no matter how much grunt work they have to do. Another shout out goes to our Wardrobe Specialists AraBella and Erin, who get our costumes ready and without whose help I wouldn't be able to do my quick changes during the show. I have a feeling they're getting tired of me saying "thank you" to them so much yet I'm going keep doing it because it comes from my heart.
I've been asking lots of questions about acting and about life from some of the actors in our cast, a few of whom have been acting professionally for many years. Eric Zivot who play Jacques and Brad DePlanche who plays Touchstone are seated on opposite sides of me in the dressing room and both couldn't be nicer and more giving with advice on how to keep your head above water in this chaotic business. I've also developed a deep fondness for the 2 female lead actors who may have years of experience but are as young as a rose and a buttercup blossoming on a spring morning. Polly Lee who plays the lead role of Rosalind and Susannah Millonzi (another Shakes and Co. alum) who plays the role of Celia are a pleasure not only to watch but also to listen to as they speak Shakespeare's beautiful language with clarity and purpose. From observing them I actually started using their method of collecting one's thoughts and staying within one's self before going onstage. Prior to that I use to mingle while waiting in the wings which I noticed would sometimes throw me a little off-kilter when I got onstage and it would take me a couple of seconds for me to focus. However since I started using their method I feel more focused and in the moment when I go on stage and hence I feel my performances are better. So thank you Susannah and Polly, you both motivate me to do the best I can just like Sally Wood did when I was at Monmouth.
I believe in mining as much out of any experience as possible (especially in your chosen profession). Personal and professional improvement are as vital to a human being as breathing.