WARNING: The opinions expressed below are DEFINITELY those of The CoLab Theatre Company! Learn more at www.colabtheatre.org!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Excerpt from "Perfect Pitch"

I've been the busiest I've been in years. I haven't posted much. I apologize. I'm past one year since I finished writing the first draft of my full length, which had a reading in October. However, I haven't touched it since. Here's a scene from my July '09 draft. Perhaps posting it in public will motivate me to start writing again...


Perfect Pitch: A Post-Punk Play with Music

By Kenny Steven Fuentes
First Draft 7/12/09
Boston, MA

Characters featured in this scene
Cole, M, mid-20's, former musician.
Shane, F, 19, Songwriter, Musically ambitious.

Scene VIII

Darkness. Cole begins to drunkenly sing Simple Twist of Fate by Bob Dylan. He should not sing the whole song, just what he needs to facilitate the scene change and arrive at the final verse. The stage becomes the couch of Shane's apartment.

Lights up for the final verse, as he sits next to Shane over a bucket. She is singing along with him while sipping Cole's Whisky.


People tell me it's a sin
To know and feel too much within
I still believe she was my twin
But I lost the ring
She was born in spring
but I was born too late.
Blame it on a simple twist of fate.

Cole sings these last few words as he kneels over a bucket. She kneels to him holding him over and making sure he's doing ok.

I love that song.

I do too! You should play it, grab your guitar and play it for me. Ooooo...

You'd have to promise me you won't puke on it? Can you do that for me?

Hmm... you know, maybe that's not such a good idea... fuuuuuckkkk...

Oh look at you... such a mess...

Fuck, I must...shit, be making a good first impression on you.

Cole, we've known each other for a year now. This is like the fiftieth impression. Hundredth, maybe.

I know! I know! I'm just letting you know, I can still joke, which means, I'm not that drunk.

(She takes a big gulp of his bottle, and winces a bit.) Whiskey...really? There's just no classy way to get drunk off of cheap whiskey. You could've tried being a little more classy, maybe gotten some Cognac or Vermouth or something a european existentialist writer would drink.

Heh... you're funny... So very funny. I like you. I like you lots.

Thanks (Pause) Here, I think you're doing ok. (She lifts him up and guides him to the couch.) Let's get you settled in your luxury suite for the night.

He sits. She begins to exit.

I'll get you something to drink.


I was thinking water, actually.


She walks offstage, getting him a drink and listening as he talks.

You know, sometimes I wonder if life would be different if I'd been born in the 60's. All you need is love, right? I think I'd like that. I'd join... the Church of Dylan. Be a free spirit. Shit... there's no job opening for free spirits these days, did you know that? No one's hiring. It's like Dylan predicted everything that'll ever happen in your life before you were even born. But now that I know what'll happen, what's left? I don't know much these days.

Shane enters with water and a big pitcher. She hands it to him and sits.

Thanks. (He takes a huge gulp, down the glass and lays his head down on her lap.) I do know a few things. I don't know what I'd be doing without you right now... cuz like, fuck... I missed this stuff. Writing...playing... going to shows... being an artist...I don't know, I mean, I don't wanna pretend like I'm as amazing as you are. I'm not as strong. You're stronger than me, did you know that? It's a gift you have. You shared that gift.

Don't mention it. It's nothing really.

No, really. You dug a hole to find me. I burrow deep, you know.

I don't make close connections with many people. You know, before I met you and Laurel.... all I had was Ant. And honestly, sometimes that felt like a bad idea. But since I met you, I have a little more...spark.

Yeah...that's the word. Shark...

(She chuckles.) Spark. Not shark.

Sharky sparky Mc Fucky...

(Chuckling more.) Christ, you're fucking adorable when you're shitty.

You're adorable always.


I think I might be falling in love with you.

Silence. Cole is too drunk to realize the line that has now been crossed. He chuckles to himself. He will not remember this.

You're drunk.

No! I'm tober! Sotally! (He bursts out laughing.) That wasn't even intentional!

(She holds his hand. Maybe strokes his head.) I hate you for being drunk right now. That's so not cool.

Sorry. My bad. You don't hate me now do you?

No, of course not!

Shit...I ruined your night...I'm a puking mess... and now you hate me...

No, I don't hate you...

Fuck... don't lie, I know you're mad and I'm sorry. I'm a fuck, I know...I'll... I'll sober up right this moment... right this now...

You're not going to remember one moment of this, are you?

I will...I promise you the world...I will... every moment, every drop of whiskey...

(She holds up his hand to her face and kisses it.) I hate you, you know...

I know....

Lights begin to dim. No music.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Last weekend I spent three gorgeous days in The Berkshires.

For those of you who may not be familiar, The Berkshires is a rural mountain region of western Massachusetts, Connecticut, and eastern New York state. It's an outdoorsy vacation destination for many New Yorkers and Bay Staters. It is also a haven for the visual arts, music, and theatre. Tanglewood, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Mass MOCA, Shakespeare & Company, and a host of other reknowned cultural landmarks (as well as a pleothora of more grassroots organizations) are proud to call Berkshire County home.

The busiest time for artists and arts organizations in The Berkshires is, naturally, the summer, though there are more and more organizations every year expanding their operations to 3/4 year or year round (a HUGE win for arts in MA). And every summer I try to get to see at least one show there. This year I got to see three (and I didn't even have to pay for any tickets, WIN!).

But it wasn't just a theatre excursion this year. Lately I've been feeling very creatively adrift. Lots of things in my personal life are solidifying, which is fantastic, but I don't have anything artistically solid to plant myself in right now. I'm enjoying the creation process of play. but I don't think anyone would call that solid. And after my trip to NYC earlier in the month, this feeling of "coasting" is making me a little insecure. So the Berkshires was my antedote. I find that whenever I spend time there I leave feeling very zen. And zen is word I never use. Ever. But it's a place where I can see amazing professional artists doing work that they love as well as find places to just walk, or drive, and be quiet and think. To take some time for myself. To enjoy a feeling of sanctuary.

The weekend didn't solve all of my insecurities or completely cure my actor-restlessness, but it did make me feel that the work I am doing and the contributions I am making are valid and important. That there are all different kinds of ways to make this crazy kind of life work for you. And none is better or more important than the others.

Monday, July 26, 2010

A Good Day

These are things that happened to me today (in no particular order):

- I worked. I waited on some people from Pittsfield, which was funsies.
- I hugged both Michael Fisher and Kenny Fuentes in Cane's on Comm Ave.
- I saw a little girl rocking in a recliner in the window of Goodwill. This tugged at some heartstrings.
- I witnesses a blind couple (and two seeing-eye dogs) grocery shopping.
- I had a beer with MLM.
- I went for a 3 mile run.

... and I had a productive rehearsal. We had play. rehearsal tonight. OUTSIDE. And it was fun. For me, rehearsal in itself is fun. But this was great. Nothing gets my adrenaline pumping like an audience. And we had a random, built-in, unavoidable audience. We had people give us words of encouragement, teenagers make snide remarks, gaggles of girls giving us weird, confused stares. And some good work grew out of this environment. You have to understand that these actors are taking nothing and turning it into intentions and developing characters. Taking a list of "ingredients" or requirements/instructions and turning them into a storyline. And we had fun. And that's what its about. It was a great end to a great day and it was a day that reminded me that even when you're rehearsing two shows, working forty hours a week, attempting to see your roommates at least once a day, and trying to sleep once and a awhile, that this life is so worth it. I'm going to sleep happy tonight and going into tech for Refuge tomorrow. I wish you a fabulous week. :)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Done Taking Refuge, Ready to Take the Stage

I'm still on a post-rehearsal high. Tonight was a good rehearsal. I mean really freaking solid and I'm pretty stoked about it. Tonight was the night where all of the puzzle pieces fall into place and, in the words of one of my co-stars it became clear that, "This is doable." We've been in rehearsal three nights a week for the past two months and things have been going well, but tonight was the night where we all said, "I can be this person for an hour and guide them through their journey. I can be a character that an audience wants to watch." And I'm so excited to show you all. I'm positively giddy! We've still got work to do - one more rehearsal, tech week, and then eight shows but WE'RE FREAKING READY. As long as we keep our heads in the game, this is going to be a really fabulous run.

The performance schedule is as follows:

7/29*, 7/30, (7/31), 8/5*, 8/6, and 8/7 at 8pm
8/1 at 3pm
8/7 at 4pm

* = Pay What You Can ($5 minimum)
(7/31) = Meet my fabulous parents and brother after the show!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Chekhov and Trivia!

Hey Friends and Colleagues,

I've been super exhausted and stressed lately, but in the way that stems from being creatively busy. I'm directing half of play. and rehearsing The Tempest, while shooting a PSA for a non-profit based in Cambridge. Life is a little nuts, but I wanted to take some time away from my social exile to show off my friend and collaborator Scott Fielding's new website.

Check it out! He's offering more classes in the fall and the website itself is really informative. I recommend a gander if you're even the least bit interested in Chekhov or Meisner.

And on a theatre history nerd note: He refers to "Stanislavski's system" in the correct lowercase spelling, just as Stan himself intended. Do knowledgeable readers know why Stanislavski intended his system to be spelt with a lowercase "s" ?


Friday, July 16, 2010

More Space

Good morning and Happy Friday!

This information was sent to us today and got us VERY excited at the prospect of expanding the possibilities for performance space in Boston. Getting and affording space is the hardest thing for small companies to do and expanding the pool and inviting friendly competition among venues will be good for everyone! Take some time to read this over - we're sending letters of support, and hope you will too!

The Task Force for the South Boston Arts and Cultural Center is submitting a proposal to South Boston to convert the vacant District 6 Police Station into a community arts space! Among many ideas for SOBACC, the task force envisions a 150-200 seat theatre and a 75-99 seat black box space.

Here's where you come in. We hope that you will write a letter in support of this project. Letters from as many individuals and companies as possible, on individual letterhead where available, will really help strengthen this effort. The proposal is due in just a few weeks, so the more letters they can acquire the better our chances of gaining a new venue for the community!

Please consider taking the time to write a letter and send it to:
Dan McCole
SoBACC Task Force
P.O. Box E44
South Boston, MA 02127

For more information check the website and brochure and join the Facebook group for updates!

Erika's Path To "Viewpoints"

Good morning, people of the world! Let me set the scene for you before you read this post. My scene. I'm in my pajamas, sitting on pale green sheets, listening to maintenance men do work to the exterior of my building through my open window. I have a small fan on my dresser, which projects a small yet effective breeze throughout the whole room. Freelance Whales plays on my pandora. (You're welcome, men outside, for the soundtrack. I don't thank you for the creepy noises I woke up to this morning.) A hot, freshly brewed cup of Trader Joe's coffee sits on my bedside table and its sweet, caffeinated aroma permeates my system with each turn of my fan.

Have a mental picture of my morning yet? I believe in the five senses of the theatre. Take an audience by the hand and help them understand the tastes and smells of your world while allowing them to hear the touches and listen to the sounds, and they will buy into your world. This is what we are trying to accomplish in our ensemble-built piece as part of play. For those of you who don't know, I am "directing" seven actors in a quest to create a new piece based on the theme of "Growing Up." How are we doing this?

The first step was to start working with our instincts instead of our brains. To do this, I introduced Viewpoints into the rehearsal room. Viewpoints is a method developed by Anne Bogart and Tina Landau that teaches actors to react instead of act in the rehearsal room in hopes that in performance, the actors will always be discovering, always be reacting. It keeps your mind and your scene always open, always fresh. It also is my new favorite way to get people to starting moving and reacting as an ensemble - a cohesive group. Viewpoints was first introduced to me while I was studying at Brandeis University where I was studying with a professor (and local actress - catch her as Emilia in CSC's Othello in the park this summer!) named Adrianne Krstansky. I'm a big thinker and this particular training method helped me to stop thinking and start doing. Although I took this class during the fall of my senior year of college, it was one of the first times I had truly felt alive while performing and this was a feeling I had been missing. And now, I'm passing it along to my ensemble!

It was scary to start teaching Viewpoints for the first time because there are so many components and I wanted them to make sense and actually be useful for my actors. So far, they've taken my direction and gone above and beyond what I've expected of them to this point in the process. (It is, after all, a collaborative process!) It's definitely been a learning experience - I know when I teach this the next time around that I'll approach different activities from different angles, and I truly understand why some activities are so important now. We start moving from training to actual construction of our piece at our next rehearsal, and I can't wait. This has so far been a very rewarding experience and I know that the end product is going to be an amazing thing to experience - with all five of your senses!

Production Info:
play. - A Night of Original Theatre
Tuesday, August 24th at 8 pm at The Factory Theatre!

Check our website for more info: http://www.colabtheatre.org/upcoming-shows.html

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

An Edict

Two things very near and dear to our hearts here at The CoLab:

1. Supporting local fringe theatre and small companies
2. Staying educated and up to date on American theatre in general

Which sums up in the great words Tadashi Suzuki "There are two impulses in theatre: to be frivolous or to make rules"

Ok so we're generally better at the former but we strive and aspire to be better at the latter. On that note, two things to look into as you plan your theatre quests.

1.) Support 11:11 Theatre Company this coming Monday July 19, 2010 by heading over to The Burren in Davis Square from 8:00p - 10:00p. They'll be presenting "A Knight of Peerless Peril - An Interactive Play of Possibilites". An adventure we definitely don't want to miss. Come one, come all and enjoy good beer and good theatre at the same time.

2.) Keep up with the latest in national theatre as well as actors, actresses, directors, casting directors, and the like by checking in on The American Theatre Wing (you know, the people who give out the Tony awards) blog - The Wing Blog and listening to their podcast Downstage Center. Stories big and small and always relevant coming from some of the most influencial artists and administrators currently working in theatre.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Inferiority Complex

Am I doing enough? My boobs are too small. Am I good enough? Am I doing it right? My teeth are too big. Do I want it badly enough? What can I do to be better? I'm too tall. What can I do to be successful? Do I need to go to grad school? I'm not tall enough. What should I be focusing on?.......

I spent the weekend in New York.

I love to visit New York. See family and friends, maybe a show, and the shopping is the best. Plus where else can you get brunch with three Screwdrivers at 5:30pm for $20? It's an amazing city. But after a few days there my inevitable actor inferiority complex begins to set in. The philosophy of "New York is the only city in this country where you can be a successful artist" has, whether I like it or not, been trained in to me. And even though at my worst I resent it, and at my best I have dreams of changing it, it is more or less true. When I'm not surrounded by the hustle and bustle of the city, it's easier to put out of my mind. To appreciate the successes I've had in Boston and how much I've grown here. And realistically, I'm not cut out for the starving artist lifestyle...I've made it 24 years without waiting tables and I'm not really interested in starting now (not because there's something wrong with waiting tables, but mostly because other people's food kinda grosses me out.) I like schedules and routines, so the come-what-may life you need to lead to act in New York would be excruciatingly hard for me. But it is the place where people make it. And it's glamorous. And risky. And big. And Pinkberry delivers. It's alive in a way that's different from everywhere else. And that draw brings out in me the girl who dreamed of making it big...or at least making it for real.

My goals have changed since then. And so have I. My insecurities as an actor and a person are different. My strengths and confidences are too, for that matter. And I want to believe that Boston, and other cities around the country can, with some hard-work and mindset changes, harbor good art and good artists who can survive doing what they love. And I'm dedicated to being part of that change. But sometimes those insecurities are hard to ignore. And so is the draw of the big city lights. And so it leaves me wondering how to plan for the future and how to prioritize my goals.

But I find that mostly I'm glad to be home. In a city I love. Leaving the struggling, insecure actress a 4 hour, $13 bus ride away.

Friday, July 9, 2010

In Someone Else's Skin

"I've been such a mess this week it was nice just to be someone else for three hours."
- Erika Geller

...even if that someone else is a pill-popping, heroin-snorting, boyfriend-stealing sixteen-year-old girl. Life is hard. If you've read this blog (or simply BEEN A PERSON EVER) then you get it. Things aren't easy. People have jobs. People have have computers that suddenly break down. People have personal lives that blow up and sometimes, it's nice to have an escape from all of the stress of family, friends, and relationships to just live in someone else's skin and deal with someone else's problems. Becca's life sucks. (This is my character's name FYI) But still, this week, it was nice to deal with her sucky life within the confines of the rehearsal room for three brief, yet wondrous hours instead of my own. (Don't worry, Mom, things aren't catastrophic. I'm just 23 and things are hard.)

Maybe I should thank Jessica Goldberg, the playwright, for giving me Becca's words. Words that I can take out my own frustration on while always having the same outcome. No matter how many different things I feel, I'm going to say the same lines, and the play is going to end the same way. In my world, every word I say or don't say effects how I feel. And if actions speak louder than words, the steps I take towards my future effect how my "personal play" ends up. Sometimes it's hard to differentiate between "Erika: The Actress" and Erika, the actress/waitress/hot mess, but during those rehearsal hours, I am the former and the latter gets to take a break and enjoy her chosen career. In Becca's world all of the characters are looking for Refuge from their disastrously sad lives and somehow Becca's world has become my refuge from the real world. Now, I'm definitely better off in my world but Becca's world is almost okay for a few hours. You know, until all hell breaks loose. But you'll just have to see the show to find out more.

Check us here for AWESOME PRESS: http://www.theatermania.com/boston/news/07-2010/steve-martin-jessica-goldberg-plays-to-be-presente_28651.html


General Admission: $16 (7/30, 7/31, 8/6, and 8/7 at 8 p.m., 8/1 at 3 p.m., and 8/7 at 4 p.m.)
Pay What You Can: $5 (7/29 and 8/5 at 8 p.m.)

Monday, July 5, 2010

The American Dream

The 3 bedroom house. The white picket-fence. A stable income, 2.5 kids, a dog, a cat, a car, a television. Maybe a vacation every year. That's what everyone dreams of right? That's what it means to be successful? To be happy?

How about a studio apartment, a guinea-pig, an endless slew of rehearsals and auditions, dinner at 11pm, 2 "survival" jobs, a charlie card, free ABC streaming on a pirated wireless connection, and maybe a summerstock gig that pays, if you're lucky? Any takers?

Most people would consider this second scenario stupid or hellish or both. The life of an actor is so often seen as a sadistic and demented dream of someone with no realistic goals who is paying their dues and will eventually burn out or give up. Hell, sometimes I think that. What kind of life is it to be continually broke, insanely busy, and continually unsure of what comes next?

For me it is surely a life of uncertainty, it's hard to justify to people, and it can be disheartening that my choices and goals are deemed unrealistic. Or worse, of no consequential value in the world. Lately I've been at a loss. With almost 6 months of unsuccessful auditions and a growing disconnectedness to acting I have been wondering why I do this. I mean, I like my "survival" job, it keeps me busy and affords me some sense of a more normal life. If I was doing something that made me want to gouge my eyes out I'd really be up the creek. So why bother with the constant up and down of theatre?

And then I remember it's because my actor life is full of passion and humor. It's a place to exercise my dedication, independence, and love. And I can't think of any one who doesn't want those things in their life.

So that's my American Dream. To do something I care about and speaks to a part of me that doesn't connect to anything else. I want that life to be stable, to be financially sound, to not be looked at like some sort of crazy person when I tell people what I do. I want the life I lead to be valued and appreciated. And there is certainly a long way to go in that respect. But I can keep working toward it. Take the good with the bad. And pursue my life, liberty, and happiness that doesn't include a white-picket fence.