After a sold out and successful run of the Addams Family at Beaverton Civic Theatre last October, our show was entered into the American Association of Community Theatre’s annual competition, starting in Salem, OR, with the possibility of heading to nationals in Minnesota in June. Yesterday was our time to share our offering in Salem. And… drum roll, pleeeease… pause… Minnesota is not to be. Although we were acknowledged as ‘outstanding’, a two-man duo from Salem will move on in the process. Kudos to them.
Now, a word about competitions and then I’ll spill more….
I think competitions, particularly having anything to do with the arts, are silly. It’s all so much apples and oranges to me and I like, both, apples and oranges. Well, I actually don’t… I’m more of a donut girl myself. So in my case I’d be comparing a basic old fashioned to a vanilla frosting filled, powdered sugar covered. Anywho, I think I’ve made my point. When you’ve got, usually, three ‘judges’ deciding to pick who’s ‘best’? I’d just rather not go in that subjective direction.
In this particular case, entering into a competition as matriarch of the Addams Family, I played along. Why? Even though the idea of pitting the ethics and principles of community theater oxymoronically against the paradigm of competition, the requirements of the event were interesting to me. And, I always love an opportunity to travel, via work rather than as just a tourist. And, at the end of the journey was the possibility of taking in some of the best community theater in the nation. Sounded fun to me.
The requirements? Each company is initially required to wrangle and configure their set into a taped off, 10 X 10 box. At the start of the clock, they have 10 minutes to get their set on stage, ready to go. They then have 60 minutes to perform their show. Lastly, they must wrangle their set back into the 10 X 10 box, within 10 minutes. One second over these time contraints follow with disqualification. Other rules apply that make for a sense of we-really-have-to-have-our-shit- together-to-pull-this-off.
Our set? A monstrosity! Pun intended. So, what have we been doing since mid-February? Unloading our entire set from a U-Haul into a local community center, putting the pieces together into a few larger pieces, putting those large pieces together and wrangling that into a taped off box of appropriate dimension. Over and over again. Our goal? Get ‘er done within 10 minutes. My particular task was to co-assemble the stage R and L, head high, scaffolding… put the frame up, climb up top it, zip-tie the front piece, hold up the back piece while others zip-tied, slide the sliding doors on, and put in place. Done. All while other comrades are assembling the rest of the set. Together, we did the job. Key word, together.
Our show? Most shows, usually straight theater as opposed to musical theater, will opt to perform only one act of a multiple act show and call it good. Not us. We wanted to tell the whole story as best we could. So, our beloved directors, set upon the script and music with the sharpest of scalpels (with blessings and final approval from the powers-that-be) and meticulously cut bits and pieces out, leaving one, condensed, impactful story. Heartbreaking, was the cutting of our ancestors, leaving the immediate families to tell/sing the story. So, what have we been doing since mid-February? Rehearsing our abridged script to bring it in under 60 minutes. Together, we did the job. Key word, together.
Mix, stir, bake, and what do you get? A show, ready to take to competition.
Saturday, March 18th was the day.
Up at 5am. Load the car. Drive to Salem, to the jaw-droppingly beautiful Grand Theatre. 7:30, unload the truck and place our set pieces along the sidewalk. Backstage doors open at 8 and, go! Get that set assembled and in our box within 45 minutes. Check. Have a production meeting with the organizers. Check. Receive a tour of the facilities. Check. Then, 80 exact minutes to rehearse our finely-tuned choreography. Set up in 10. Check. Show run in 60. Check. Set down and boxed in 10. Check. We did it with time to spare, thanks to all our practice and team efforting. Bam.
Lunch. Sweet lunch.
Then, back to the dressing room to crawl into the skin of our characters and ready ourselves for our show time of 3pm.
We. were. solid. Our audience and our adjudicators agreed. We were the best vanilla frosting filled, powdered sugar covered donut we could be.
After show, our three distinguished adjudicators had 7 minutes each to share their thoughts with us. All validated our efforts and the things that matter most, to me. Most important of all, we were recognized for walking that fine line between the schtick that is ever-present in the Addams Family musical and also, for successfully transmitting the sincere, loving and deep relationships that the Addams Family share and how they come to love and embrace the ‘normal’ family of their daughter Wednesday’s love, Lucas, and his parents, the Beinekes.
Relief. Sweet relief. We did it!
Tear down and put everything back in the U-Haul.
Dinner. Sweet dinner.
Then, back at the theater to wait for the results. We waited a while. The judges took their good, sweet time. Oh, to be a fly on those walls.
As I previously indicated, we weren’t chosen to go on to Idaho for regionals. I could spin my wheels forever to try to figure out why. But I won’t. It doesn’t matter.
As I gathered with my cast and directors and crew before we all left for home, I was abundantly clear that the tears I was shedding were not because we didn’t ‘win’, but for the fact that I wouldn’t be playing, together, with these wonderful people, in this particularly sweet configuation, as Morticia Addams ever again. It was a viscerally felt farewell.
Drive. Home by 11pm.
A succulent, 18-hour day.
It took me negative minutes to fall asleep.
I woke up this morning… feeling like I’d been run over by a train. My body is sore. My brain is slow. My heart is tender and I’m still leaking tears out my eyes. I know I’ll never look at a U-Haul truck in quite the same way.
As a performing artist who typically works my set and stage with great appreciation, yes, I was humbled into full understanding… I am left in awe, having been deep in the guts of my Addams Family set. The bulk and weight of it. The wood. The metal. The screws, velcro, eye hooks, and hinges. The paint. The tape. The designers who so elegantly fit all those puzzle pieces together to make Morticia’s magnificent mansion.
As part of the ensemble… to have this added layer of hauling around and assembling and disassembling our set together… to have the tight time parameters to operate within… we laughed, we cried, we argued, we worked together… key word, together… on steroids.
As Morticia… to be thrust into a situation where I did not have the normal pages to build the arc and develop the story, but mere lines. Nothing like it. Challenging. Thrilling.
I’ll miss her most of all. I’d never seen her move in a full length mirror before. In our fully mirrored green room, waiting to go on, there she was. I walked with her, in her velvety dress, slithery tentacles moving underneath and behind her. How delightful. How her voice drops into sultry, bottomless tones. Her passion. Her truth. Her stubborness. Her hurt. Her love for Gomez and her children. Her songs. Her dance…
As Morticia says to her ‘little cockroach’, Pugsley, in an effort to ‘cheer him up’… “Life is a tightrope, my child, and at the other end… is your coffin.” I feel the poignant truth of this, as it relates to the ‘creepy and kooky’ tightrope I’ve walked upon these last many months.
Listen in on my conversation with vocalist and songwriter, Meghan Wilson, and composer and performing artist, Allegra Jongeward.
In this Times2 video — We talk about the PATH of Authentic Voice, in ACTION, and explore what it means to be in right relationship with Power, Acceptance, Truth and Heart –not only relative to Creative Process but in Life!
Realizing exquisite acceptance of delicious yesness
Auditions. The unavoidable and, oftentimes, unsavory part of the wonderful world of musical theater. Here in Portland, auditioning isn’t nearly as brutal as it is in New York. The song Climbing Uphill from The Last Five Years by Jason Robert Brown spells it out with unsettling accuracy.
My first audition was in 1977, in the auditorium of Sunset High School. Miss Barry, my grade school music teacher and the first of four significantly supportive music teachers during my K-12 schooling, suggested I try out for The Sound of Music. I had no idea what to expect and decided to do it. Why not?
I’ll never forget walking into that, from my wee-self perspective, ginormous room and onto that expansive stage. Musty-cool theater smell and air filled my nostrils. The chairs, seductively squeaking as various people went from seats to stage, back to seats again. That gorgeous red velvet curtain hanging so majestically. I felt uncommonly comfortable and at home there. Who knew? I did get cast, as Brigitta, the smart-ass kid. I know, big surprise. It was a wonderfully life-changing experience, although I did lose my girlfriends over it. One of my closest friends auditioned too and didn’t get in. She decided to give me the silent treatment for the rest of the year and encouraged my other friends to do the same. That sucked, but I had caught the bug. What price, bliss.
Soon after, I auditioned for Oliver at, the no longer existent, Portland Civic Theater. I didn’t get cast, which spooked me and I didn’t audition for anything again until high school. Since then, I’ve stumbled and waltzed through many an audition and have been involved in numerous musical theater projects as either a singer/actor, pianist, or musical director.
Over the past few days I’ve been auditing a city-wide audition extravaganza. Multiple people, theaters and companies gathering together to hear hundreds of hopeful auditionees. It is an intense experience to witness the inner workings of so many hungry people and take in their resultant outer presentations. My heart bleeds for so many and I can’t help but wish to impart some guidance to support their endeavors.
Although I am by no means the world’s foremost authority on auditioning and auditing. I do think that my many years in the trenches have provided me insights that can be and have actually proved to be, via my own experiences and those of my clients, helpful to all concerned.
So here it is. Beth’s audition suggestions for not only surviving but thriving, while navigating the process of auditioning. Take what you like and leave the rest and know full well that I most certainly practice what I preach, with varying degrees of success, right along with you!
Let’s start with appearance and move on from there…
Ladies, leave your stilettos at home.
Really. Unless you’ve mastered the art of walking with those things on your feet over a wide variety of terrain (see various video tutorials on YouTube!), leave them at home lest you scuff and clomp like a Clydesdale. There are plenty of other shoes out there that are stylish that will also allow you to walk with grace and ease. And, shoes of black, neutral or subdued in color. Please. If you are wearing bright red shoes, I’m going to be looking at your feet most of the time… wondering where you got those babies!
My, your skirt is short.
Yes, it’s good to see those beautiful gams, but keep your skirts just above your knees. I feel like an old lady saying this, but even if you’ve got spanks on under that skimpy piece of fabric… yeah. Where exactly do you want your auditors’ attention to fixate? And on that note…
On being a woman.
I don’t know that there’s any way around this. It is a sad and unfortunate truth that men auditioning are judged differently than women auditioning. Men receive comments about their voices and/or their acting ability. Women? How cute, how pretty, how sexy. How attractive, or not. Yes, that. The dress that did or didn’t work, etc. This is not an isolated incident. All the more reason to get your skill set down and lead with that. You do, after all, want to be seen as more than just an ornament, yes?
Jeans? Really? Grape FANTA shirt, really? (OK. It was a cool shirt and I wanted to know where to get one – I wonder if that’s what he wanted me to be thinking about, though.) Dress up a bit, would you?
Audition material and the person who’s covering your butt.
As a seasoned accompanist I cannot stress this enough. If you’ve got me as your accompanist, I could likely play anything for you, including splattered paint. Not so, most accompanists you’ll be working with. If you’re smart you’ll choose a song that any hired accompanist can play on sight and handily (pun intended) play well. Don’t throw them some complex piece of crazy. If they fuck up, guess who looks bad? You do. We, the auditors, would much rather hear you sing a simpler song and really sing it well with your accompanist right there with you. Put the Sondheim, Guettel, and Jason Robert Brown back on your shelf. Immediately. You’ll be doing yourself an enormous favor. If you really want to do that stuff, bring an accompanist you’ve rehearsed with (paying them well, of course), if it’s allowed.
In addition, when putting your music together, collate it in such a way that your player has minimal page turns.
And, PUT YOUR MUSIC IN A BINDER!!!! Otherwise, [insert ugly, worst-case scenario here].
Louder is not necessarily better. In fact, it almost never is.
Good Lord. Yes, I’m glad to know that you can belt. Clearly, you can. Please don’t scream in my face for 2 minutes. Show me you’ve got it, then back off. Show me your tender. Show me your subtle. Give me a wide range of dynamics, color and texture. Yes.
Bring your body along with you.
So, yes. You might have great chops and you might have a great time step. That’s not enough. Are you connected with your body as your instrument? If not, do something about that. Dance classes are fine and dandy, but I’m talking about being comfortable in your body, to the point where you could do your audition naked. Yes, naked. If you and your body are at odds, let the healing begin. Take a yoga class. Take Movo:Dance with me. Do anything that will foster loving intimacy between you and your body.
Never think you’re a shoo-in.
I don’t care how many shows you’ve been in, if you’re best buddies with this or that director, the ‘darling’ of this or that company or how wonderful you think you are. Approach every audition with humility and as if it’s your first time being seen and heard, caring very much about what impression you are making. Presumption will be your undoing. Who are you now? Are you actively growing as an artist. Or, are you calling it in? Don’t do that.
Peek-a-boo — I see you, too.
Yes, we who audition are submitting ourselves to the scrutiny of others who will decide if we are ‘worthy’ enough to work with or not. But guess who is also scoping things out? We are. When you are auditioning, realize that you should be checking out who you’re auditioning for as much as they are checking you out. Do you want to be working with these people? Maybe so, maybe no. Choose wisely.
Get this. Some people are going to like and/or love what you have to offer. Some are not.
Recently, I had a couple of auditors sitting right behind me and after every singer they’d start yacking it up about them with great authority. Most everything they were saying I thought was complete bullshit. Simply do your best. Worry not the rest.
Do you know what you look like through the eyes of others? Can you bear knowing the answers to that question? Sing your material in front of a mirror. A big one. Get used to your face. Contort it in weird ways. Play with it. Move your body and see what you see. Are you transmitting what you wish to be transmitting through your facial expression… your body expression? Video yourself. See what’s really there, not just what you think is there in your head. This level of awareness will up your game significantly.
Ask for honest feedback.
I have a few key people in my life I can go to and ask them for feedback… honest feedback. Sometimes it’s an ego blow, but so worth it. It’s just an ego after all. Surround yourself with people who are going to be real with you and not just tell you how wonderful you are.
We want you to do well.
Guess what? Your auditors piss and shit just like everyone else. It’s true! We’re all in this together, and it’s heartbreaking (yes, we do have hearts) for us when someone obviously doesn’t feel they’ve done well and turns it against themselves. Like the young man I met yesterday. He left the stage with his hands cupping his face, shaking his head dejectedly as he left the audition space. I wasn’t convinced he wouldn’t harm himself in some way after he’d gone. Please be kind to yourself. Learn from your experience, yes, and go at it again with new wisdom. Ideally, you can walk away from the audition and feel good about how it went down, whether or not you get the call. If not, perhaps it’s time to go outside and take a walk. Smell some flowers. Hang out with a loving friend. Be willing to never be in another show again. Yes, that’s right. Be willing to never be in another show again. Have a life outside of the theater that is at least as rewarding. Be balanced. Unless, however, you enjoy living in abject misery, then you should move to New York right away and play that game.
Give it a rest.
Fear not time off. If you feel the need to indulge in show after show, audition after audition… why? Just like people who talk all the time for fear of silence… what would happen… what would present in the empty space… if you just slowed down or, gasp, stopped. Even if only for a little while. Catch your breath. Let your talent lie fallow. Let your soul soil get rich again. Wait for that compelling and irrefutable yearning to create again. You will re-enter the arena with fresh perspective and more life experience under your belt, which makes everything infinitely better.
Good things come to those who wait.
Back in 2008 I was the pianist for a high school production of Into the Woods. I knew right away that I just had to play Witch. An opportunity to audition for that show arose several years later. I didn’t get the part. I ached about it and wrestled with impatience for another few years, and kept on holding the desire and the vision. Another opportunity did, magically, arise – six years later – and I played the part, with just the right people at just the right time. Breathe. Trust. Shake it off and go for another walk. This, or something better will come to pass.
Giving or taking.
It is very evident to me which auditionees and performers are about being of service and giving… to the music, to the composer, to the story, to the audience, to themselves. Just giving. And then there are those who are taking. If you feel insecure, you’re more likely to need external validation and unconsciously suck off your audience like a vampire. Get that shit handled. Repair any leaks in your love tank so that it can fill itself to overflowing so that you’ve got an abundance of love and grace to bestow upon yourself, your craft and your people.
Work on your personhood as much or more as you work your material.
If you get ridiculously nervous when you audition, something’s up. Work on that. If you’ve got an attitude (do you even know whether or not you’ve got one?), check it at the door. If you’re devastated when you don’t get a call back or that part at that place… why?!?! What meaning are you giving that? Know yourself. Wherever you feel disempowered, there’s your growing edge. Come see me.
So fucking what? So, yeah. You’re not on Broadway. Act. as. if. you. are. Every gig is significant. Every audition is a blessed opportunity to share your gift and your sweetest self. Carry yourself with dignity and respect and extend that generously to those you are fortunate enough to work with, and vice versa.
Now, go out and break a leg!
“this is the 21st century and we need to redefine r/evolution. this planet needs a people’s r/evolution. a humanist r/evolution. r/evolution is not about bloodshed or about going to the mountains and fighting. we will fight if we are forced to but the fundamental goal of r/evolution must be peace.
“we need a r/evolution of the mind. we need a r/evolution of the heart. we need a r/evolution of the spirit. the power of the people is stronger than any weapon. a people’s r/evolution can’t be stopped. we need to be weapons of mass construction. weapons of mass love. it’s not enough just to change the system. we need to change ourselves. we have got to make this world user friendly. user friendly.
“are you ready to sacrifice to end world hunger. to sacrifice to end colonialism. to end neo-colonialism. to end racism. to end sexism.
“r/evolution means the end of exploitation. r/evolution means respecting people from other cultures. r/evolution is creative.
“r/evolution means treating your mate as a friend and an equal. r/evolution is sexy.
“r/evolution means respecting and learning from your children. r/evolution is beautiful.
“r/evolution means protecting the people. the plants. the animals. the air. the water. r/evolution means saving this planet.
“r/evolution is love.”
~ Assata Shakur
1. the combination of simultaneously sounded musical notes to produce chords and chord progressions having a pleasing effect.
2. agreement or concord.
“A bridge of silver wings stretches from the dead ashes of an unforgiving nightmare to the jeweled vision of a life started anew.” ~Aberjhani, Journey through the Power of the Rainbow: Quotations from a Life Made Out of Poetry
Photo by Barbara Paulsen, 2015.
Thinking of you with Love, Dear Ones, this Eve. Peace and Light to all…
I was born in the wrong era. What I wouldn’t give to hang with Frank. Swoon.
… and ride ’til dawn.
“All us real witches, all of us caregivers whose work goes untweeted, all us priestess warriors done colluding with the good-vibes-only white lady spirituality scene are rising the fuck UP.
“Women: get a bit more fierce. Not in an 80’s-shoulder-pads-at-the-office-act-like-a-man kind of way, but in an instant Kali’s gonna get you kind of way. Say the unpopular but true thing that makes people uncomfortable. Like Marianne Williamson said recently, “If what you’re saying is always getting applause, you’re probably not yet doing the right stuff.” Be exquisite with your boundaries. Encourage our boys and our men to explore and embrace gender non-conformity.” ~Rachael Rice
See the full article here: More Than A Prayer: Mass Shootings + Masculinity
Uh-oh is right. Whilst shopping at Trader Joe’s today this song came on and I hadn’t heard it since high school. I remember really liking it, at least the music of it. Listening to the lyrics today made me ugh. Another one of ‘those’ songs that glorifies and romanticizes relational whack. Let’s call a spade a spade. *Falling* in love = weakness, angst, jealousy, deception, fear, confusion, worry, competition, etc. *RISING* in love (as my dd Olivia calls it, bless her) = empowerment, partnership, truth, intimacy, deep pleasure and satisfaction, expansion, healing, respect, etc. It’s time, now more than ever, for a re-write. Let’s waste no more time with silly games and Play Big. Are you a Lover, RISING in Love? P.S. I still like the music.
The first in a series of ‘Candid Conversations for Transformational Times’!
My first comrade in conversation is Soul Sister Robin Johnston — Artist, Healer, Dancer, Singer/Songwriter and so much MORE!
In this Times2 video Robin compellingly shares about her unique creative process and powerful healing journey, lovingly ‘shows and tells’ three of her cathartic works of art, joyfully speaks to the significance of dance in her life, playfully sings an original song, heartfully describes how motherhood, purpose and passion co-exist and spontaneously joins me in a lullaby to the world!
Please note: Contains adult subject matter.
“The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater.” ~J.R.R Tolkien
Breathe. Time is irrelevant.
“It didn’t take long for me to realize that I was learning more than just music. We rarely talked about it, but in the few days that we were together, he taught me more about life than anyone else ever has. “Music, Life, Life, Music: What’s the difference?” I could hear him saying.” ~Victor Wooten
Get the book here!
Get a taste of the book here:
Take a closer look at our ‘leaders’, potential or otherwise… what do you see?
Craig Malkin, PhD, invites us to look through a new filter before casting our vote.
A Psychologist’s Open Letter to U.S. Voters by Dr. Craig Malkin.
“When I look at narcissism through the vulnerability lens, I see the shame-based fear of being ordinary. I see the fear of never feeling extraordinary enough to be noticed, to be lovable, to belong, or to cultivate a sense of purpose.” ~Brené Brown, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead
Contrary to the command of the Great and Powerful Oz, dare greatly and PAY ATTENTION to the man behind the curtain…