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

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Foodies and Alcoholics Rejoice! Gelology!

A few mondays ago, I performed in a fundraiser produced by Fort Point Theatre Channel. In addition to being paid a sweet stipend, there was also free food and free drinks. Normally, the actor's life is hard... but sometimes, things go really well. And sometimes... you discover a brilliant idea that you wish you'd thought of first...

Gelology: "Hello all. I am the resident Gelologist. No, not a GEOLogist, but a GELologist. I love to create gourmet gelatin shots and share my disco..."

He has a blog on this brilliant passion. I sampled many of the shots themselves, and I declared that night that I would spread the word on The CoLab blog! The blog offers recipes, photos and even a brief FAQ with important tips, including how to make Kosher gello shots!

bLimey- gelatin shots that glow!

I'm pretty sure these were cooled in a nuclear reactor just outside of Tehran.

Pineapple Mojito shots

Nature's candy, in my humble opinion!

Check out the blog! Be creative!


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

An Actor's Labor

For the past few years, it seems there has been much talk of “The emerging Boston theatre scene!” In the months leading up to the upcoming Boston theatre conference, there have been many musings and much lauding of what we’ve accomplish. The community, the growth, these are all great accomplishments. Small theatres are growing, increasing their budgets, and expanding their programming. But how much can we let these budgets grow before we factor in the labor of our actors?

In a previous post, we talked about one of the tenants of “Laissez-faire” economics as it pertains to theatre: That our labor is worth what we’re willing to do it for. Minimum wage laws and collective bargaining aside, each job and industry seems to have its own evolving standards of what labor becomes worth. You probably won’t find a hedge fund manager willing to work for 30k a year. You’ll find plenty of service workers and “unskilled” laborers who dream of that same amount, but work for barely above poverty level. (For the curious, a standard 40 hour work week at the federal minimum wage comes out to just below 16k, only about 5k above the poverty level).

Now here’s a question: How many of you consider yourselves professional theatre artists? Freelancers? Or even just an actor who likes to make side money?

How often do you get paid for your work?

Like many artists, the actor finds his or herself willing to work for free more times than not. This is true of many markets. However, one of the great appeals of the L.A. and New York markets is the larger number of available paid gigs. Granted, the odds are still stacked against you and often times you’ll be working for peanuts. But wouldn’t that be an improvement? I preferred salted, but I’m not picky…

My labor is worth more than nothing. Of course, we don’t act because we week wealth. If that’s why you’re in this business, you’re barking up the wrong tree. But as professionals, as people, as members of a productive and capital driven society… What is the incentive to work for free forever?

In past years, we’ve discussed the rise in Boston’s artistic scope and growth of opportunities. However, when actors come to Boston from New York… Many feel they’ve taken a step backwards and are dumbfounded by how rarely we pay our actors. I think that this one of the major challenges facing our community in the coming years. We must create a sustainable local theatre economy where we value our labor and encourage our best and most talented to work hard. How do we do this? By being competitive and creating sustainable business plans to start paying our actors in the next few years. Of course, not all companies can start paying from day one. But we have to be proactive and make those decisions when our companies can afford it.

Paying our actors, is an investment. Even the smallest of investments can yield large returns. And the most brilliant of business models don’t invest expecting a return in one year. They invest expecting returns in 5 or 10 years. And that idea should start at any level where producers expect professionalism and dedication from their performers. So as a small company investing in a future as part of the Boston arts scene, actor pay is something we are already working into our production budgets. As our local talent develops, and others look to Boston as a possible destination to practice their talents, we need to be proactive in creating a sustainable functioning labor market in order to continue our march towards the forefront of the American theatre.

A great man once wrote “With great power, comes great responsibility.” If I’m not mistaken, they turned his book into a musical recently…

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Food For Thought


If you're in the industry, it's on your radar.
But why?

Size is something I consider a lot when I'm headed towards an audition. I'm not the skinniest girl in the world, but I'm not that large either. I work hard to stay in shape and maintain my figure as best I can, but I also work 40 hours a week in a restaurant. I don't eat specialty meals prepared by a hired chef to keep me at a size zero for the red carpet. If I work too many doubles in a row, an extra hour of sleep often takes precedent over an extra hour of gym time. And that's just the way the cookie crumbles.

The New York Times published an article this week about actresses and documented instances of public eating or DIPEs. The article discussed America's obsession with wanting to hear about skinny actresses eating high calorie foods. The article suggested several conclusions: Men want to hear about women eating because it's sexy. Women want to hear about it makes famous actresses seem just like them!

But they never touched on the fact that maybe, just maybe, we want to hear about actresses eating burgers and fries because it helps to create an illusion. In this era where we're obsessed with obesity, we look at a glamorous woman with a basket of fried chicken in her hand and we think, "Well, she's skinny and she eats that so I'll be okay if I do so as well." And that's just not true. Everybody's body is different. I'm sure some of those women can eat what they want and stay thin, but they STILL work hard to be fit and toned. As someone who spent the last month getting out of shape and has spent the last week realizing how hard it is to get back into it, it's a lifestyle. It's a mental decision to say, "I'm going to cook healthy and skip dessert some nights and cut down on the drinking. I'm going to work out six days a week, even if it's just for 30 minutes on the elliptical." And knowing how hard it to get into and stay in shape made me a little angry. These women work hard to look the way they do, so why should they have to pretend that they don't? And isn't that sending the wrong message to America, especially to young girls who look up to celebrity figures? Exercise and diet is the key to a healthy lifestyle. And honestly, having a piece of chocolate cake (and I LOVE chocolate cake) every once and a while is way more satisfying that bingeing on it every evening, wouldn't you agree?

The article ends with this quote from former Jezebel editor Anna Holmes, “We would all appreciate it if you had an interview with an actress who says: ‘You know what? It’s my job to be a certain size, and it takes a lot of work for me to do so. I tend to eat very healthy, small portions, but once in a while I splurge,’ I would like to hear that. That it’s not easy.” I agree. Which is probably why I subscribe to SELF and not Cosmo, but the size of the problem continues to stand out to me. I tend to discuss this a lot with people, especially because I used to be hyperaware of my size next to other actresses. Now, although I'm still aware of it, I realize that my size is my size and I can only take care of myself to the best of my ability. I look the way I look, and when that look is right for the part, that's when I'll be called in.

So, I guess my point is this, I'm not a famous actress. (Yet.) I don't have an on-call personal chef or trainer. But I'm keepin' on keepin' on in this body I've got in this business I can't live without. And while I'll discuss the size issue, I'll continue to wonder, why it's more important to know that Jennifer Lawrence always orders eggs benedict when she goes out for breakfast than what it feels like to get an Oscar nod at 20 years old. But, maybe that's just me. Plus, if you wanted to see a good looking girl enjoying a not-so-healthy dish, all you had to do was ask!

Monday, February 14, 2011

A Song to Pass the Time

I had begun writing an entry yesterday morning, shortly before heading off to rehearsal for a reading I did tonight. I came back last night and reviewed what I'd written and decided it simply wasn't appropriate for this blog. I'm not sure if it was really about Valentine's Day, or some silliness like that. But here I am on the day and now I feel compelled to do something productive. To write about the post I never posted. Meta, right?

I never really cared for Valentine's Day. It's funny, I realized that this marks two Valentine's Days in a row where I played a sexual deviant. I have a few types of roles I will often play. But I do find that these days I find myself longing for a place to be myself. I'm not saying that I'm not honest with my relationships with people, but I find that there are really only a small number of people out there I can be completely unguarded around. You know those people with whom you can literally say nothing at all and it's all okay? Yeah.

I've never been one of those "I hate Valentine's Day" types. I've also never really been known for being particularly romantic of Valentine's Day. The exception being February 14th 2006, when I made a totally awesome mix CD for my then girlfriend...

I've grown up alot since my emo rocker poet days. I find what I long now is no longer a feeling of validation. I don't want a girlfriend right now, to be honest. Frankly, I've enjoyed my "rock star phase" these past three years.

The things on my mind are a little more complicated than "I want love" or "I want to be free". What I want is for something to make me want things I never knew I wanted...

Did that make any sense at all?

The CoLab is giving me direction right now. For my career. I have a direction, career wise. As a young man, I'm still a little lost.

I put everything on the line last year. I won't go into details, but I was very close to "running off and joining the circus." Except replace "joining the circus" with "grow up and settle down."

It didn't happen. And I suppose that's not a bad thing.

So in conclusion, I guess what I'm trying to say about Valentine's Day this year is this:

Why should I go about looking for someone I love when I thought I'd already found her?

I'll let Mr. Oberst do the singing for me.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Business of Laughing At and Laughing With

I recently returned home from an EPIC West Coast trip which included fabulous company, weather, sightseeing, food, and (of course) vacation! The traveling itself was less fabulous due to the relentless East Coast weather - I dealt with three sets of cancelled flights. In fact, last Tuesday morning I left the house at 3:30 a.m., flew from San Francisco to Phoenix only to return to SF by noon due to Logan's snow situation.

(This is me flying in and out of Phoenix twice in three days - see me? I have a window seat!)

But, I digress. Due to some luck and connections we landed tickets to two different performances of a San Fran tradition, Sketchfest. Sketchfest is an event celebrating its 10th anniversary as a showcase of known and unknown comics. From its humble yet hilarious beginnings, Sketchfest currently stands at the top of the hill when it comes to comedy festivals on the west coast. (That's a SF roadways joke - laugh. Good. Moving on.) On Friday night, I attended a night called Tig Has Friends featuring the talents of The Sklar Brothers and Zach Galifinakis, among others. Each act was wildly different but one thing was the same - each was putting a piece of their lives out in the open for the amusement of a room full of strangers. And a thought struck me - how incredibly brave.

As actors, we put ourselves out there as other personalities. Now granted, each comedian has his or her own stand-up persona that varies from an offstage alter ego. However, a number of the stories told were about things that actually happened to them. Some of it is funny because of its irony, and some of it is funny due to awkwardness of embarrassing situations, there is still another category of current and/or celebrity events (but you've all seen stand-up before, so I'll stop listing categories now). :) All of it, however, takes courage and humility. As actors, we enjoy getting laughed at AS SOMEONE ELSE but it takes a whole different type of courage to go onstage as yourself. A scripted courage, and I for one, have a new found respect for "the comedian." If you want to check out some of what I saw you can check out the SklarBro Country Podcast HERE.

(As you may have noticed, that wasn't actually me in the jet before. Check me out actually taking in the sights of SF.)