Monday, December 31, 2012

2012: The Year in Review

Yes, it's that time for me to dust off my blog in oh a year and a half and talk about the year 2012.  Dear god, I think this is one for the history books.  I'm not sure on a grand scale and society at large, but for me.  I think I'm going to be thinking...and drinking about 2012 for some time to come.

I started the year off in London, the Washington Mayfair actually, watching the New Years fireworks from inside the hotel as it was raining and our previous plans were dashed due to weather and expensive bars.  I crossed an item off my bucket list that night, I ordered a round of shots for everyone I was with.  In hindsight, it was a lot of money...none of it was my own.  Thankfully, my parents were considerate and understanding and there were not any repercussions for what happened.  Aside from that, we played a few games in our hotel rooms, most of them I can't remember as I was drunk out of my mind.  Oh, you have to love England and its legal drinking age being 18, bless.  In the remainder of my time abroad, I got to see Michael Sheen as Hamlet and Mark Rylance in Jerusalem.  If you have never seen Mark Rylance act in your life...find whatever stage he is currently on, doesn't matter the show and just watch him.  He is worth it.  I mean it.  The man is an acting god and should be worshiped.  Enough with my geeking.  I got to visit the White Cliffs of Dover, Stratford Upon Avon, Notting Hill, so many wonderful places.  And with some of my best and closest friends.  We often talk about those experiences that we're not going to forget any time soon.  I doubt there is a minute of my time in London I will forget.  I could go on but the remaining time of 2012 is short and I still have eleven and a half months to get through.  I might go back and blog about my London adventures in further detail.  If I have time and if I stay true to my new years resolution.  More on those in a minute.

Once I got back from London, it was time for the spring semester auditions.  Most of them I had thrown together in the last minute, memorizing on the plane ride back, mind you this is a twelve hour plan ride so doing so isn't that much of a mad dash.  I auditioned for two plays and one musical for mainstage, and by extension one play and one musical for studio 307, the student directed series.  I was called back for all three shows, including the musicals.  There were things I was surprised about that these callbacks, who I was  reading for, what I was asked to do, how the hell have I lasted this long in a dance call, but it was all in the heat of the moment.  I wasn't cast in any of the main stage shows that semester.  Or for that matter the studio 307 musical.  I talked to each of the directors and they all told me that they liked my audition, they liked the work I did in the callback, I just wasn't quite what they are looking for.  That's one of the more disheartening things to hear in my line of work.  They all told me I was getting stronger in my work and that they liked what I did but still didn't have anything to show for it.

In the days that followed this series of less than heartening news, I was in the green room with my friends Andy and Drew.  Drew was the director of the other Studio 307, Beyond Therapy by Christopher Durang. He was asking Andy if he would be able to come to his callback later that day.  Andy told him he wouldn't as he was already cast in The Farnsworth Invention.  Drew was disheartened.  This was when I chimed in.  "You know Drew," I said, not all that slyly but with feigned sarcasm, "I'm not in anything this semester."  He gave me that look that friends give when they don't want to give bad news.  "I would man," He ekes out, "but you're not the right type."  Andy, still in the room, turns to Drew, and just plainly asks, "Just call him back man."  With that gesture, Andy made one of the many gestures that has put him into my list of not just my top people of 2012 but one of my best friends of all time.  More on that little nugget later.  Drew told me to go ahead and come to the callback.

Most people who know me, know I am particularly hard on myself.  Especially when it comes to my acting and my auditions are the area where I beat myself up to a bloody pulp.  So when I tell you that I rocked my callback for Beyond Therapy, just know that I do not mean that lightly.  I aced that baby with flying colors and landing my first lead role.  Not only that, I was being directed by a good friend, in a show with one of my good friends, and another person who will also end up on my list of amazing people in 2012.  Beyond Therapy was a tough time for me.  First, it's a comedy, Durang no less who isn't the easiest author to work.  Second, my character, Bruce is a leading man, incredibly impulsive and highly emotional.  At the time, I was none of those things, I've come closer to becoming at least one of those.  I was constantly doubting myself, worrying that I was the weakest member of the cast, that I wasn't delivering on the laughs, and just tearing my confidence to shreds.  I kept feeling that whoever was my partner in the scene that I was miles behind them in terms of performance quality.  I talked to my director about, I talked to my professors about it, if I had a shrink, I'd probably talk to them about it as well, but I didn't and still don't.  I probably should though.  Beyond Therapy was a show of growth for me.  Both in terms of getting out of my head, performance quality, and how I approach a role.  It laid the ground work for I how I would work on the other Studio 307 I did this year.  I was complimented a nice deal for what I did with Bruce and honestly I'm still proud of what I did with that role and the time I had.  There were a couple people I met during that show who I would become really great friends with, even if I didn't hang out with them at the time.  Even though I wasn't part of any of the mainstage shows in an acting capacity, one of them in hindsight I would have killed to have been a part of, I still got to participate.

I almost forget...I also made BFA.  After two tries and two years, I finally achieved what had been elluding me since I first auditioned at NKU.  Looking back, getting BFA status isn't the end of the world one way or another, it just feels like a divider within the department.  Before I got BFA, I felt like I was on the wrong side of that divider and needed to correct that.  What made this time different was that I had earned it.  I didn't walk into the audition feeling entitled from either my high school experience or the turmoil of a less than successful freshman year but rather I knew that I had to earn that extra letter.  I knew my limitations, the past year and a half knocked some sense, not a lot, and humility into me.  I knew everyone on the other side of that table.  I no longer had to fear the once older unknown professors sitting in judgement of me.  I walked in there as I would their office and trust me, they've probably gotten sick of the number of times I've done that. More than anyone else, the person I had to sell on that board was Mike.  Mike, the Dr Cox to my JD.  The begrudging mentor figure.  He had been particularly hard on me the past two semester in both the show he cast me in and the classes he was teaching.  At that board, he spoke the least.  He made only two real comments.  One was "I'm disappointed in your GPA," said with full sarcasm.  The other being, "Have you always had your beard?"  When the toughest question you get at a board of review is, "Have you always had your beard," you know you've done right.  So I did it.  I achieved a status that had eluded me and even made my cry my freshman year.  It was a nice way to cap my sophomore year, and it wasn't even over yet.

Next up was My Favorite Year, I ended up as a member of a highly efficient run crew for the show.  The show itself was incredibly fun and the cast was warm and inviting, two of cast members were also in Beyond Therapy with me.  As for the rest of the crew, there were some problem members but that didn't take away from the overall grand experience of my time on that show.  I was working crew with two of my other close friends, Becca and Victoria.  I've known Becca for almost three years now and we've been very good friends for about two or so.  I have this pattern with people, where initially we don't quite see eye to eye but eventually I win them over and these people usually end up being my closest friends.  This was pretty much the case with both Becca and Andy.  Victoria, I had just met with my previous show, Beyond Therapy.  In that show, she played my therapist.  You know that funny little saying about "Life imitating Art," yeah, that's not true in this situation at all (The previous statement is a lie.).  One of my many favorite portions of My Favorite Year was that there was a chair, a nice big comfy chair for me to sit in and nap before showtime.  There was a lot of downtime before the show began as a run crew didn't require that much preparation, so my napping is justified.  While I was napping, Becca and Victoria would often come visit and perch themselves on the arm of the chair.  We'd have some nice little talks about life and the department and all those good things.  I can't go into full detail because I like to keep some of my conversations private and well..this entry is already five paragraphs long and I'm not even to summer yet.

In the summer, not only was I working my first real job, I got job at Kohls (hold your applause), but I was also working my first professional acting job, the bellhop in Plaza Suite.  Yes, I was being paid money to prance around onstage in a bellhop costume moving set pieces around.  My role is very minimal but the pay was still just as good and I got to work with some great people.  The majority of my time was spent backstage on that show.  Just chatting it up with the boys in the back: two older guys, Mike and Dave, and a guy my age, Jordan.  For the entirety of the three week run, we just shot the shit, music, movies, tv, girls, books, the like.  Every now and again, I'll still go out with the older gents, including the director Greg, to Price Hill Chili, discuss theatre, sports, politics, and of course women.  You can't go anywhere with dirty old theatre gentlemen without discussing women.  Oh lordy, the things these men say, I can't repeat it.  Once the show was over I also moved into my first apartment.  Yes, I went "off the reservation."  It's nice to have a space I can call my own and be able to do pretty much anything I want without incurring the rather of the RA.  My summer was blissful but rather uneventful.  I went off the reservation but not much else happened.  Sad to say.  However, when we get back to school in august.  That's when it gets exciting.

As always, I auditioned for all three shows, this time though, it was required as I now had BFA status.  I got called back for You Can't Take It With You and Royal Gambit, a show where the only male lead is Henry VIII.  Guess which show I got cast in.  With You Can't Take It With You, I got to be a part of a killer ensemble cast.  If you had to ask me the smoothest ensemble I have ever been a part of.  I would have to say You Can't Take It With You.  There wasn't an ounce of drama from the moment we started rehearsals to the moment we took our final curtain call.  If anything, me breaking my wrist halfway through the rehearsal process was probably the biggest speed bump.  If you didn't already know, I broke my wrist while biking to school on day.  My arm was put in a cast for the entirety of the run.  In the end, not even the cast could get in the way of what was the highest grossing non-musical play in NKU's history.  It had every right to be.  This was one of those shows where everything just fell into place.  The cast was in-synch, the crew was on-board, the costumes, the set, the lights, the list of everything that show did right is a mile long.  Granted, I did have to have a mustache for that show, which was probably the biggest drawback, more so than the arm in the cast.  It was also then when I realized that Mike, the director and the same Mike from above, likes to cast me as fuddy-duddies.  In a show full of soldiers and emperors, I'm the school teacher in the dress.  In a show about eccentric artists and lovers, I'm the IRS agent.  Ain't life something.  Didn't matter, as the next show on the roster is a huge contrast from both this show and everything I've done before or since.

Luv by Murray Schiscgal and directed by my friend Becca and starring alongside my friend Andy and Erin.  You can see why Andy and Becca have both made my favorite people list, they tend to pop up in my life quite a bit.  Milt Manville is the most charasmatic, most grounded, sleaziest snake oil salesman I have ever played.  And I wouldn't mind going back for a second round.  Not that Luv wasn't a damn hard show, it was a nerve-wracking down-to-the-wire sort of show.  My confidence was on the fritz.  I was acting alongside one of my best friends while one of my other best friends directed me.  My biggest hurdle was not to disappoint either of them.  In reality, that hurdle wasn't as big as I had made it in my mind, where it was pretty damn big.  Neither of them were disappointed in me or my work.  Both of them, at one point or another, spent time reassuring me that it was all in my head and that I should just chill the fuck out.  Even if there was that one time when I managed to injury every member of the cast, myself included in a single rehearsal.  Luv is one of those shows I wish I had more time with, both in rehearsal and in performance.  It was a short rehearsal process, four weeks, and an even shorter run, five performances over two days.  Our houses weren't as sold out as we'd have liked them to be but the audiences we had seemed to really enjoy it and so did we.  In fact all the shows I did this year, I wouldn't mind having longer runs with.  They were all just really fun experiences and I learned a lot from them, both as an artist and as a person.

Well, as the year closes with hours to spare and I'm already working on a sixth show and my third leading role for the year, I can't help but look back on an incredible year and just say "Wow."  It's had it's ups and downs, public and private, but who am I to dwell on such things.  It's going to be a new day soon, a new year and there are just as many fun and exciting things just around the corner.  So I think I'll close with my list of favorite people, in the only way I can, with thanks.

I had specific thank yous I was going to put along side these with examples and such...but they're kind of personal so...sorry.  But I will name names.  To Andy, Becca, Victoria, Erin, Drew, Mike, Claire, Luke, Tony, Zak, Wes, Mac, and sundry others.  All I can say is thank you.  Thank you all so, very, very much, for  an amazing year.  For being there for me, for asking me if I'm okay, for congratulating me when I'm doing good.  For calling me out on my shit when I'm doing wrong.  Thank you all so very much.  Happy New Year and let's ring in 2013 like there's no tomorrow.