Thursday, April 10, 2014

Sunday, February 16, 2014

#1. Blackadder Goes Forth

Alright, real quick: Theatre on Fire did the second season of Blackadder live, and now they're doing the fourth season, too.

I needed a comedic monologue in British accent. I did this.

It worked! I'm in Blackadder Goes Forth: Live!

9 headshots remain.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

#10. Three Days of Rain

I swear I must have auditioned for Three Days of Rain once before. I probably have a post about it around here. Oh, well. Anyway, I'm trying again! This time with the Hub Theatre Company.

Auditions were at the First Church of Boston. I have memories of this place. I was in an unusually effective performance of The Last Days of Judas Iscariot here. I played a guy with the 30-second memory span here. As a space, it requires a lot of attention to detail to keep from looking damn weird and drab.

Looks pretty cool from the outside, though.

I was among some of the first to arrive. I met some familiar faces, like Tim Hoover and Mary-Liz Murray who I had seen most recently in Exit Pursued by a Bear.

The lousy thing about the situation, and the reason I almost didn't audition, was that one of the three roles was already filled - the role I thought I would've been most suited for. Still, I figured, "What the hell, type be damned."

I still haven't read the whole play, but the sides provided were really good. After me first read with the directors and producer, I was paired up with Marty, who works at the Emerson College library.

Then we waited a while. We were told more than once that we were up next to read, but newer actors came in and got precedence. The length of time was enough to get excited about the side, get bored of it, and then, fortunately, get excited about it again.

Auditions must be hard. I admit, I have yet to run one myself. Schedules; having to stick to them; people who don't know the schedule being active parts of it.

I guess the time commitment wasn't such a big deal since it kind of doubled as callbacks. The director made a point of making an adjustment to my reading. It felt like we got a surprising amount of mileage out of the scene.

Still... I would've been better for the other guy.

No headshots remain.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Starving Actor: Carbonara 2.0

"Terry, you've really done it this time."

"I've been making it every day for the past year!"

"The Nobel Prize for Carbonara goes too..."

Yes, thank you. These are all familiar phrases to me now.

But it's time to confess: I've been misleading all of you.

I've given you all a fool's recipe. It's all BULLSHIT, and it fails to unlock the full potential of carbonara.

I was never the King of Carbonara.

But I am now! With help form America's Test Kitchen, I am able to bring you the TRUE definitive recipe for carbonara. It's a lot like my old one, but with some key differences when it comes to pulling off the finishing touches.

So here we go again.


Half a package of bacon (about 1/2 pound)
A medium-to-large-sized onion
Half a package of linguini (about 1/2 pound)
2 jumbo eggs (OR, 3 large eggs)
1 cup of Parmesan cheese
Some olive oil
Some salt
3 or 4 medium-sized cloves of garlic

1. Chop your bacon and onions and garlic. Bacon is easily cut into "matchsticks" while cold - or even frozen! - and just out of its package. Your onion can be cut to desired fineness. The goal is to achieve a 1:1 ratio of bacon to onion. The garlic should be minced.

2. Get your water boiling. You know, for the pasta.

3. Put your cheese into a large bowl. This'll be your serving bowl, too, so make sure it's spacious enough. HOPEFULLY, you've grated the cheese from a larger block, 'cause it'll taste better and it'll save you money. The important thing is you end up with about a cup of Parmesan cheese.

4. Add the eggs.

5. Mix it allllll together, until it reaches a consistency in which you can see the path of your utensil. If it's too liquidy, add some more cheese. If it's too dry, add another egg! I would not go above three, though.

In the old recipe, I had the eggs and cheese as the very last step. I was a monster, and though I don't deserve your trust now, I can tell you that mixing this sauce beforehand does a lot to prevent it from overcooking and becoming tough. It's also just so much easier.

6. Add your minced garlic, and give it another stir.

This is probably the most important difference in the new recipe - fresh garlic. I used to add garlic or garlic powder in with the other ingredients and cook them all together. Bullshit! This was a stupid thing to do.

By adding the garlic fresh - UNCOOKED - it keeps its strong, garlicky taste. Super fragrant. It's the best part of the recipe.

Ever since this discovery, any time a recipe asks for garlic, I always add it last, barely cooking it at all. It makes a little garlic go a long way.

This is the True Way.

All of this stuff with the eggs and cheese can be done while you're cooking during the following steps:

7. Saute your bacon over medium-high heat in a largish pan. Bacon is mostly fatty enough to cook on its own without oil or butter or anything, though a dollop of olive oil will keep it from sticking to the pan. Stir once in a while to keep it all cooking evenly.

In my previous recipe, I said it was alright if the bacon was still pink. That is still true, but I find getting it a little closer closer to red - to a medium crispness - results in a more pleasant texture. This will result in more bacon grease in the pan, which will stymie the cooking process - pour it off if there's too much.

8. Set the bacon aside on some paper towels. God rest you, bacon.

9. Hopefully your water is boiling by now, so cook that pasta. Linguini, we found, is just the right thickness for the recipe, but any of your long pastas will do in a pinch. (Add some salt and a touch of balsamic vinegar if you want some help in keeping it from clumping)

10. Leave a touch of bacon grease in the pan (like, a table spoon), and toss the onions in the same pan at medium-high heat. Add some salt, and stir until they're all coated evenly. You'll know, 'cause they'll all be shiny. If they seem at all dry, you can add a little olive oil.

Cook and stir occasionally to make sure they're all cooked evenly, until they start to get soft or when you start to see them brown lightly in some spots. You shouldn't let them get browner than this.

11. Reintroduce the bacon to the onions, give 'em a mix, and turn the heat off while the pasta finishes.

12. Strain the pasta. Let it sit aside for about a minute to cool down.

13. Mix the pasta into the cheese/garlic/eggs mixture. The heat from the pasta will cook the eggs gradually, resulting in a creamy sauce. If you combine the sauce with the pasta too quickly after straining it, you'll get a clumpy sauce that I bet you won't like.

14. Once the pasta's thoroughly mixed in, add the bacon and onion, and stir again.

You did it! You made carbonara! Great going. Serve with salad, crusty bread, some wine, and salt and pepper to taste.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

#Z. Two Wrongs

Brown Box held auditions for a comedy called Two Wrongs. Like most of their productions of late, it opens here in Boston, and then tours down to Maryland. Fun, and funny!

Now, I didn't (read: forgot to) bring a headshot to my audition, but I'm writing about it anyway for one main reason.

The auditions were held at the mysterious Huntington Theatre Company offices on Huntington Avenue. Well, "mysterious" mostly because they're beneath below street level, under a convenience store.

But this waiting room! Talk about comfy. That armchair in the foreground? That couch to the side? So inviting. So warm. With the right mix of people, it also makes for a very collaborative, communal space - as occurred very neatly during callbacks.

So here's some REAL advice for you actors out there. If you're ever asked to audition at the Huntington Theatre Company offices, show up early, 'cause these seats are HOT.

Oh, yeah, and

Still, 1 headshot remains.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Here's why actors don't like linereadings.

Acting is a form of reasoning.

Using clues in the text, reacting to choices made by others in a scene, and interpreting notes from a director, an actor makes the choices that ultimately result in the actions we see and the dialog we hear.

Acting is a translation of assembled information into something more specific and more complex.

Although everything the actor has received through the text and the direction has been distilled into a single action, that action is still made up of all the deductions made by the actor up until that point.

No, y'know what? Acting is making a sandwich.

Let's say you have a personal chef. It's lunch time, and you'd like a sandwich, so this chef you hired is going to make one.

So you are going to supply your chef the ingredients they need and your chef will make that sandwich.

Naturally, the sandwich will be made to your order, but you are counting on this chef - whom you have proven you trust implicitly, as you hired them - to interpret your orders in a way that results in a sandwich that reaches its fullest potential while agreeing with your assumption as to what the sandwich should be.

Your chef will select the proper quantities to balance the flavors, your chef will choose the type of spread and apply it with their personal flourish, your chef will toast the bread to the crunchiness that will contrast with the texture of the rest of the ingredients while maintaining its structural integrity.

They do this, for this is their job. The result is a sandwich made carefully and deliberately, for it reflects their craft and their pride in their work.

If in their efforts an actor reaches a conclusion that does not support the scene or the work at large, a director will discuss other sensible approaches based on the text, identify an actor's motivations and reinterpret it to reach a compromise, or propose different actions to take that will influence the outcome of the scene.

This is all to direct an actor toward a conclusion that fits the director's vision and still reflects the depth of that actor's decision. That's why they're called directors and not tellers.

A director could choose instead to give the actor an emotion to play, or read the line to them in a way they would prefer it be said, with all the same inflection.

What this does is make an actor work backwards. Now that they have the conclusion they must now go back to look for the evidence.

This can result in two things. Upon being told to read a line "more loudly" with "more anger" an actor may begin to think:

"Okay. Am I angry because of a perceived sleight, or am I angry because of someone's stupidity? Am I loud in a way that I don't want to be here anymore, or am I angry in a way that I want to be listened to? Maybe I'm trying to make THEM leave..."

What you are doing is making more work. If there is nothing to suggest loudness or anger in the text, the actor will start to manufacture their own clues, resulting in a broad decision that may need to be corrected anyway.

This is the best case scenario. Otherwise, an actor might take your linereading very literally, down to the exact detail. What you are doing is setting a precedent in which an actor will do noting but what you say. This could result in an actor who makes no bold choices at all, or an actor who will ask you to vet every one of their decisions. "Should I walk over here now? Is it okay if I sit before that line? I'll sit after that line, but can I drink from the glass after I sit?"

PROTIP: Rather than telling an actor how they should feel when saying something, tell them what they should try to accomplish by saying it. "Make them regret it" or "defend yourself" or "convince them to stay" are all playable actions which can result in movements, tics, and emotions with more facets than "angry" or "upset".

So, all I'm saying is

when you give a linereading to an actor

what you are doing

is asking your chef for a sandwich

and then handing them this.