20 November 2006

The Legend...

Of Robin Hood! That's right my readers (I know there are at least three of you). I am dedicating an entire blog entry to the wonderful new BBC TV series on Robin Hood. I'm not exactly sure what incredible things I can say about it that would do it justice but I will attempt to not make this little bit of "well mannered frivolity" a waste of your reading time!

There was a time when American's produced shows like this. Great, (usually western) shows that promoted good values and had horse riding and sweeping landscapes and beautiful music scores. And then the WB (now CW) phenomenon took over and we were treated to shows with different family values. Shows like 7th Heaven where every week there was a new boyfriend (the girls were about 13), or a new drug addiction. Gilmore Girls and Smallville which (I admit) to watching until recently when all of the fun turned to sex and drugs and dark themes and arguing nonstop. Or crap like That 70s Show. And these are the shows American's watch. Soap operas and crime investigation and hospital dramas and American Idol.

Whatever happened to clean, good natured sitcoms like Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman?! Now, I know that those kinds of shows aren't everyones cup of tea. However, it would be (in my opinion anyway), hard to deny that finding decent, family entertainment on TV is hard any more. There just aren't many options. You can watch the never ending drama of reality TV where the "bad" guys usually win (see Survivor) and the cut-throat and dishonest people win the million, or you can watch sex-driven trash.

This is where something remarkable happens-the BBC! I love the British. Granted-not all of their shows are that good either. In fact, most of British television is worse. But the BBC (thankfully) still manages to produce nice little TV shows and Robin Hood is one of them. The plots are fairly contrived, the humor is usually too cheesy to be true, but none of that really matters. The point-is that (like the other Robin's that have gone before), the good side does win. (With a bit of arrogance, it's true-Robin is flawed), but for the last few days I have enjoyed watching that show a great deal. Regardless of dorky plots and the occasional historical error (Marian's clothes are sometimes quite modern-and did they even have the word 'strike' in reference to the work force?) the show is great fun.

So all you poor, sad, unfortunate souls who have not yet been graced by the presence of Robin of Locksley, shoot me an email and we'll watch them.

Going along with the Robin theme, I really enjoy they way they portray Marian in the show. The basic premise of the series is what happens after Robin comes home from fighting in The Holy Land for five years. He and Marian had been childhood sweethearts but he left, and the Sheriff of Nottingham changed from Marian's father to the icon we all know of, and now she's bitter. But beyond that, she's doing something about it. Her storyline is almost more interesting to me than Robin's, because everyone knows what will happen with Robin. He'll come off on top because he's Robin Hood! He has to! But Marian isn't (exactly) a damsel in distress. She is a damsel, and she is occasionally in distress, but by the time Robin comes back she's already up to her ears in her own plans to stop the Sheriff. Fast forward a few episodes and she's in very deep. Unfortunately I still have to wait until the next episode to find out what happens...*grumble*, but...anyway. I'm rambling a bit now.

All I have to say, is that if you can get your hands on it, do. It's nice, good fun.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

17 November 2006

Stagelight Moth

I had my performances of The Importance of Being Earnest yesterday. I have a call back for another show on Saturday. And as a result, I've been thinking of my "career" as an actress. It's been going on for as long as I can remember, and I've been trying to figure out why exactly I do what I do-why do I put myself through hellish auditions and sleepless nights? What do I get out of it? Do I perform for recognition? Or for some other reason? So this will be an entry run primarily on stream of conscious thought-work with me here.

My first real play was when I was five. I was always a performer though. Ask my mother. I would act out TV shows in my living room. I had Charlotte's Web memorized. Since my early beginnings as a bird in Cinderella-I've risen to more mediocre roles and a few good parts here and there- and based on comments from friends and directors and judges when I did competitive drama, I'm not half bad at what I do. I'm not brilliant-but I do have occasional moments of greatness on stage.

Of course, I also have occasional flops. Or not even flops-but moments of failure. I have been thoroughly torn apart at auditions. I have let my hopes get so high at times, that not getting a part crushes me. Last year at Thanksgiving. A month later. I auditioned for four shows last year, and I made two. One of which doesn't count, because it was a High School production that everyone was cast in. This year, I was put through five hours of a call back for A Christmas Carol before I was sent home hoop-skirtless. It is a hard business. Hard because at least 75% of the time, whether or not you get cast depends on how you look. Or how the other people who audition look. Directors don't cast individuals, they cast ensembles. Everyone has to be able to work together at a similar level. It's hard. People who don't handle failure and disappointment well should never be in theater. It would crush them.

So why do I do it? Why do I subject myself to it? I think-for me anyway-it goes back to a nature/nurture debate. Was I just born this way? Was I-for whatever reason-predestined to stage-work? That's something I'll have to get back to you on after I die. I would imagine that I was though-in a way. Because working on stage has, over the years, given me confidence that I need to handle speaking in church, for example (though I've never really been afraid of that). Speaking in public in any venue then. I don't get afraid of speaking in front of people.

Taking on different roles also helps me change and evolve. There are bits of me in every character I've played. Not all of me-I'm not Polish, or mad, or a professor, or a pig. But I do like to take charge. I enjoy loud spurts of laughter. I'm aspiring to be a teacher, and sometimes I'm too innocent and naive for my own good. When I find parts of me in the characters I've played-I learn something about myself. For me-it's a process of refinement. I question who I am and see how I can alter my flaws or enhance my strong points to become a better me. There are ways to do this outside of theater-but theater is where I have grown.

Then of course, there is the highly superficial part of me that loves the costumes. And the recognition. There are very few professions where you get almost instantaneous responses to a job well done. In live theater-you will know if an audience liked a show. You will know because you will see it in their faces when they leave. You'll hear the laughter or feel the sadness or sense any other emotion that will let you know after two hours of work that you did something good. (Or bad). I love that feeling. I love knowing that for two hours I have given someone something to smile about, or cry about, or feel something for a while.

I do theater because I love going to theater as much as I love doing it. I understand what kind of work goes into making a show successful, so I love imagining the evolution of a show I never saw. The boring first-read of a script...blocking and re-blocking...costume day (which can be very frightening if you have a bad costumer...)...I appreciate it all a little more than those who come and don't think about the time that was put into the show. I love observing a show that can move me just as much as I like performing in one that would move others.

You know...none of this is very clear. I don't think I could pin point exactly why it is that I overload myself with stress. I don't know why I feel desperate and almost more stressed when I'm not in a show. I'm not sure there's an answer at all. But-there you have it. My eclectic attempt to describe why it is that I love theater.

06 November 2006


I've had an interesting last week or so with things going on at home. They're too personal to discuss in a public forum type location here, so just take for granted that certain things I never thought I would hear. Let's just say that today I am glad that I am worthy. I'm glad that I can honestly hold a temple reccommend and have the spirit in my life to help me. It's so important to have that connection. CS Lewis was right when he said that God is holding his arms open to us. He wants us with Him. But that chance won't last forever. So today I don't really have anything remarkable to say, except I am so glad to be worthy to have the companionship of the spirit in my life. I'd be lost without it.

03 November 2006

Why I could never be a politician...

I'm going to wax lyrical for a second. Or something like it. I've been thinking about politicians recently and how they work. Most of this is because of a project I'm working on for my Pen and the Sword class where I'm comparing rhetoric of politicians and seeing exactly what it is about a speech that moves a crowd. I'm using two speeches from the same war (Peloponnesian War) on opposite sides, and a speech from Churchill and Hitler in World War II for the analysis. And I've been thinking about reasons why I could never enter politics as a result.

One reason is that I'm just not competitive enough. I like competition-sure. Ask anyone who has ever played me in a game of Harry Potter trivia. I'm a menace. But stuff like that (I can't believe I'm saying this!), doesn't really matter. Out trivia-ing someone doesn't really make a difference in the universe and politics can. I'm competitive, but only in things that don't really matter.

Going along with that is my desire to see both sides of an argument. This happens when you're an English major. You're taught to see both sides of an argument so that you can successfully crush your opponent to dust in a debate or a paper, etc. My problem for major arguments is that I can see that both sides have a valid point and I can't pick which one is better. (Guess this means I couldn't be a lawyer too). I end up using the typical "it depends on the circumstances" routine (which I guess would make me a decent modern politician, wouldn't it?) Either way-I'm not very decisive. I take the middle ground more often than not and I don't think I really want to be adopted into either party because of the extremes.

The last, and probably biggest reason is one that everyone knows about-the mud slinging campaigns that have become the trend. I find it so ironic that politicians spend so much time attacking the character of the opponent. Shouldn't a viewer of a commercial/ad/whatever find it funny? I do. Politicians are, essentially, making themselves seem petty while they try and make their opponents look that way too. (Or at least their campaign managers are). How often do we hear politicians discuss actual issues without pointing fingers? It's ridiculous. And most people agree on this, but no one is really willing to change it so my soap box here is completely wasted. I do think, however, that it is unfortunate.

And I'll keep you updated on the report I'm doing. I think it could be kind of interesting. I may have to modify my comments afterwards...