Tag Archives: Theater

Sailing Homeward.

Home is an interesting concept to someone in transition. From college, to my parents’ house, to summerstock, to college, back to my parents’ house-I’ve bounced around quite a bit in these past four years. And now, it seems, I’m just biding my time until I move to my next location. I have my family in one location, and my chosen, extended family in about ten others. So, it’s been awhile since I’ve felt truly at home- where all my possessions and all of my life’s loose ends come to rest, neatly tied up and put away.

For the past three summers, I had the incredible opportunity of working at a Renaissance Festival in upstate NY. This entailed living in the woods for three months of improv training, character creating, and laughing at and with my insanely talented castmates. It was, in one word, magical.

This summer, it was time for a change;  however, I have missed my little corner of the woods more than I can say. So last weekend, two of my college friends (Toby and Kate ) and I piled into my car and roadtripped it to their opening weekend.

I’ll admit it: I was a little apprehensive about visiting. Firstly, I had no idea how it would feel to not be acting in the festival. Would I play along (it’s interactive improv-which is creating scenarios that you can pull audience members into)? What shows would I see? And, most terrifyingly, would it be less -well- magical as a guest? Secondly, it holds a lot of memories. And, really, any place that holds that many memories can either be a joy to visit or a painful sinkhole of moments. (I know, that was a little too 14-year old goth chick, but go with me.) Anyway, I was nervous. And immensely excited.

I could spend this blog post commenting on the awesome shows I saw, and this quirky conversation I had with a character, or that hilarious scene I saw played out in front of me, or what it was like to be carried through the mid-day parade over the shoulder of a once alchemist, now pirate, but I’m gonna go ahead and skip to the pivotal moment of my trip: the pub sing.


Now, every faire day ends with a half-hour sing along with the entire cast, all of the musicians, and every guest that is within the gates. I cannot accurately explain  how moving this is, but I’m gonna give myself fifteen words in which to try (lest I spend the next twenty minutes writing some epic poem about it that no one, not even myself, will want to read afterwards): It’s like that moment when you first light a sparkler as a kid…awe-inspiring. Anyway, the songs vary from day to day, but it always ends with the same two songs: Auld Lang Syne and Mingulay. Preceding Auld Lang Syne, one character gives a speech- a moment in which he can reveal something about himself, the actor. The speeches are usually moving and therefore usually bring me to tears (A lot of things bring me to tears. I am not generally able to not cry when things move me, or I, you know, breathe. Or walk. Or eat a particularly good sandwich.)

It wouldn’t be a pubsing without a song about drinking far too much.

On this day, my dear friend Lenny Burrows got up to speak. So, of course, my eyes welled up. He began to talk about returning to the festival-of how leaving for a period of time will make the return mean that much more. Great. Thanks, Lenny. Let’s talk about that today-when I’m returning. Thanks for that. By the end of his two-minute (if that) speech, I am hysterical. Kate and Toby are sitting next to me, I’m assuming wondering if they can sneak away slowly so as not to become associated with this madwoman. But I know, oh boy do I know: this is just the beginning.

Love is pretty much what it comes down to. Love and Music.

The minute the song begins, I fall entirely apart. Sobbing. Not really breathing because I would rather refrain for a few minutes than start wheezing. I can see cast members looking at me, sobbing about 8 rows from the stage, and smiling in that way people do. More tears. Then comes the line, “And here’s a hand my trusted friend…” Traditionally, during this line, the cast will offer hands to each other, then to the first two or three rows of the audience. I look up from my lap, which I have been studying quite determinedly for the past 30 seconds or so, and see about ten of my friends in the cast traversing down the aisle towards me. They grasp my hand, one by one, share a tearful smile, and run back to the stage.  I cannot express, or even begin to make sense, of the amount of love I felt in that moment. But more than that, I felt at home. It all clicked into place- I was entirely and happily home.

And as the cast sang the last song, “Mingulay,” I heard my own voice join in. It was a song about coming home, about returning to loved ones after time away- how could I not sing along?


The End of an Era…and the Beginning of a Dramatic Eulogy.

I’m a talker. I love to talk. I enjoy talking. I like it so much that sometimes, when I’m alone, I say my thoughts aloud. I’ve dealt with this my whole life-from the first time I had to write my name on Mrs. Stolgitis’ blackboard in first grade for talking during class until now. I choose to confidently blame this on my Italian heritage (although I probably get it from my mom, who talks more than I do and is, in fact, French).

Regardless of why I talk so much, the fact of the matter is this: all of that talking has finally caught up to me. I’ve noticed over the past year that if I talk as much as I am used to, my voice gets insanely tired. Very quickly. This has become a problem, as I’m an actor. And a singer. Both of these things require quite a lot of my favorite pastime. And to preserve this future, I have been forced into a false, taciturn existence.  My silver tongue has been silenced, after 20+ years. Lovers of quiet, rejoice.

This might sound a tad dramatic (something I also have a knack for), especially for those of you who have an aptitude for silence. (And if any of you reading this fall into that category, please– Share your secret.) For me, it’s sort of like having my right hand chopped off: I can still write and type and brush my teeth using my left hand, but it’s gonna take a lot longer and not turn out as nicely.

So, as I continue the search for ways to get my voice in shape, I will suffer through hours of silence. I will think my thoughts, instead of say them. I will listen to others spin their stories, and offer no complementary tale. I will- okay, this is actually getting too dramatic for even me.

I will shut up for a while. And maybe do some yoga? That seems to jive well with silence. Any other ideas on things to do while being forced to stay silent?

A Titanic Evening

3D films. They’re becoming the thing to do in the film industry. Remakes, cartoons, horror flicks-everyone’s trying it out, seeing how it affects ticket sales. Fine. I’m all for trying new things, pushing art (or movie making, which is sometimes a separate entity, in my opinion) further and further. I will also be the first to shout my disdain for 3D films to the high heavens. Pointless special effects that induce dizziness and headaches, all while wearing glasses every hipster in the world would gladly tackle you for- Forgive me if this does not sound entirely appealing.

That being said, sometimes you just have to go see a movie that’s in 3D- because you have no other choice. Last summer, I was outvoted in a group of people going to see Toy Story 3. I argued for 2D, even through the previews. Alas, Woody and Buzz flew out of the screen at my unwelcoming face (I will admit that the 3D wasn’t all that distracting in that case. There’s always an exception to every rule).

Last night, the film was Titanic. I understand if you need a minute to hum “My Heart Will Go On” or pretend that you haven’t thought about going to see it too. (It’s okay. Your secret’s safe with me.) I had never seen the film on the big screen, having been a few years younger than 13 when it came out.  Of course, as a theater major with rather eccentric, life-loving friends, it was decided that we should dress for the occasion. No, we didn’t wear floaties and bathing suits (although upon reflection, that would have been almost as fun). We wore clothing from the period.

What started out as a joke grew to an idea, then a plan, then reality as we snuck up to the third floor of the fine arts building of our college, armed with backpacks and large purses. We crept from room to room, flicking through racks upon racks of dusty, hardly ever used costumes, our eyes raking the hangers for signs of anything that looked remotely early 1900’s. Every sound made us jump, panicked at the thought of being found out. A door slamming on the floor below made our palms sweat, snippets of conversation that floated up the staircase to our straining ears caused us to hide behind Shakespearian capes and doublets. Finally, after about 45 minutes of trying on random pieces of clothing, hoping to create some semblance of an outfit, we left, feeling satisfied with our findings.

Now, our dorm is an old brown stone, complete with decked out sitting room and parlor- perfect for a Titanic photo shoot. We dressed and got ready as quickly as we could manage (That stereotype about women taking a while to get ready? Turns out it’s true. Who knew?) and reconvened in the parlor, giggling to ourselves, still unsure if we could really go through with this. The photo shoot commenced- complete with a Leo, Kate, and two random passengers: one a middle class girl, and me, a third class ticket holder (gotta represent everyone). Image
Here we are (minus Leo, who was snapping the photo.)

Fast forward a few hours later, and we’re in line at the concession stand. I was the last to arrive, and was greeted by the ticket holder with a knowing, Finally got here? You’re with the group who’s dressed up for Titanic, right?  Yes, I laughed. Gotta have some fun in life. Our group, about 10 people in total, took up the ends of two rows. I sat down at the end of one of the rows, staring somewhat apprehensively at the 3D glasses I had been given. Resigned, I slipped them on, and readied myself for what might be a dizzying few hours.

Yes, the 3D was unnecessary. Yes, it made me slightly sea-sick (get it?). Yes, I had seen the movie before. But none of that mattered. I got swept away by the familiar tune within the first ten minutes. About halfway through the movie, I had a realization- they have played that same little melody line at least 50 times. I don’t know how this had ever escaped my noticing. It was so obvious, almost grating due to its constant revamping- add a trill here, a slide there, and they won’t even recognize it!

Now, I had readied myself for the onslaught of tears that usually accompanies the viewing of this movie. I was armed with half a box of Kleenex in my lap, my friend’s (let’s call her Kate) hand securely placed in mine for moral support. But then the strangest thing happened. While everyone around me was sniffling (or full-blown sobbing), I felt my body go numb. It was as if my brain was saying You know what? Not today. Let’s just enjoy the film. No matter how sad I knew the situation was, I couldn’t bring myself to feel it. Odd. While it’s easy to blame the 3D, I think it was my brain’s way of letting me fully enjoy my evening. Funny how that works.

And enjoy it, I did. There’s something incredibly freeing about just doing something silly- and allowing yourself to get caught up in it. Yep, I was a part of that obnoxious group who sang along with Ms. Dion during the credits. Hell yeah, I posed on the arcade motorcycle as we left at 12:45 am (Wow, that’s a long movie). And, yeah- we dressed up for Titanic. Call it silly, stupid, ridiculous, fun- call it anything really. I call it a reminder that sometimes it’s the little things in life that make you remember to be grateful for everything else.