This week was really good in so many ways. I literally had something going on every day that motivated, inspired, and taught me. Very rarely have I experienced weeks like this one. I hope I will have many more in the months and years to come.
On Monday, I had the opportunity to see The Bechdel Group’s staged reading of “We Will Not Describe the Conversation.” It was a great play with two phenomenal actresses, and I got to see it with my good friend, Lena. The Bechdel Group’s mission is to create roles for women that go beyond the romantic storylines that are, often, all we get to see. This play featured two women, who, rather than discussing their love lives, discussed things like morality, power, and human nature. Powerful stuff. Afterward, Lena and I ventured home together, and since she lives in my neighborhood, it was easy to continue our conversation into life’s challenges, and how we overcome them.
On Tuesday, I had a voice lesson with my pastor and neighbor, Jenn Petersen, and then we went to the Senior Center to sing for them during their lunch hour. It was really beautiful to get some voice training, and then join Jenn as she used her beautiful gift of music to serve the senior members of our community.
On Wednesday, I joined Turn to Flesh Productions in their Monthly Muse Project, where I was able to read, hear, and respond to new plays in development. The stories that each playwright brought to share were so different! There was a Sci-Fi/Horror piece about a Catholic colony on Mars; a recounting of the women of the Wesleyan College class of 1902 that produced As You Like It; a new verse play with a complicated plot that involved arranged marriages, a duke disguised as a nun, and a brother and sister both in unrequited love with the same man; and finally, a rhyming, new verse, French farce. There is so much new stuff happening, and I want to be part of ALL OF IT!!
On Thursday, like I usually do, I attended the Open Workshop at The Shakespeare Forum, and performed Phebe from As You Like It. The first question the Forum asks anyone who decides to work is, “Why this piece?” Why did you want to work on this piece today? I brought Phebe, because that particular speech (Think not I love him… (III.v)) is a lot of fun! And I wanted to know if the audience would believe me as Phebe. I’ve discussed my “type” before. I’m tall, so I’m more likely to be cast as Rosalind, or characters like her. Which is great; I mean, I love Rosalind, and would love to play her someday, but it leaves me wondering what would happen if I did play something that isn’t my “type?” So I brought in Phebe, and asked the Forum what they thought. And one of the actors who comes to Forum all the time paid me the greatest compliment I can remember receiving. He said, “I’m sitting here, watching you, and I’m thinking… I don’t think there’s a single Shakespeare role you couldn’t play. I could see you as Lady MacBeth, as Ophelia…I can’t think of one that I couldn’t see you as.” Now, I don’t know if I wholeheartedly agree with him, but it was definitely flattering, and encouraging, to hear someone say that to me. I’ve always thought I have the ability to play a variety of roles, but to hear someone else, who doesn’t know me very well, say that, and hear many others in the room agree with him, was extremely encouraging, validating, and humbling.
Then came Friday. Friends, this next paragraph or so is something I have been waiting to talk about for MONTHS. So buckle in.
Back in February, I hadn’t booked anything in a while, and I thought, “If other people don’t want to cast me in things, I’ll make my own project and cast myself!” So I started looking for inspiration, and I found it in my own life. I called up several of my friends, and I asked, “Hey, would it be ok if I created a character based on you?” And each one of them not only said, “Yes,” but were actively enthusiastic about their “Yes,” even offering suggestions for their fictional selves. So I wrote up a basic concept, and came up with some character descriptions. The problem was, I hadn’t ever written a screenplay, I certainly had never directed anything on-camera, and most of my acting experience is on stage. So I was going to need some help. I asked my good friend, Sarah Teed, if she would be interested in coming on as a director, and she asked her good friend, Erin Moughon, to come on as writer. The three of us met up for dinner, and discussed the project, and we developed the plan: write a 22-minute Pilot episode for “LadyBro.” Then we’ll cast it, crowd-source funds for it, shoot it, submit it to festivals, where it will win all kinds of awards, get a network to pick it up, and we’ll all celebrate our collective accomplishment!
Now, obviously, we as a creative team can only control up to a certain amount of this project’s success. We can’t control what, if any, festivals it will be accepted to, what, if any, awards it will win, or if a network will be interested enough to pick us up. But last night, we took the first major step towards getting things done. We asked some of our actor friends to participate in a Table Read, so we could hear the dialogue, and get an idea of revisions, clarifications, and other needed changes.
“LadyBro” is, essentially, a fictionalized account of my life, if teaching had been my true calling. Obviously, names are changed, and stories are different, but Kaye, our leading lady, is the one female amongst her friend-group. She has a roommate, Chloe, and a professional rival, Rachel, but Kaye’s closest friends are her Bros. A new guy enters the scene, and hilarity ensues. The reading went very well, and the actors all enjoyed it. We got some really great feedback, and I’m looking forward to the next stages. Sarah, Erin, and I will be meeting in the next few days/weeks to set some deadlines, schedule auditions, and set up our crowd-source campaign, but I’m really excited for where “LadyBro” is headed. Keep watching for updates, because they will be coming! My heart is so full from this week, and from last night, especially.