As artists, we must grow accustom to facing rejection. It’s a natural part of the business. My acting teachers used to say, “Auditioning IS your job.” Booking the part is a bonus. And while we may post audition day selfies to social media, few of us post socially about our rejections. We only post the good news—the best news! It can be especially hard when it seems like everyone around you is posting pictures of their latest successes and triumphs and you have nothing to share but another picture of your breakfast or your (admittedly adorable) cat.Read More
Spring has FINALLY sprung in Kansas City and it couldn’t come soon enough.
We’re two weeks into rehearsals for The Light Burns Blue by Silva Semerciyan. This play, inspired by the true story of the Cottingley Fairies, centers around two young cousins, Elsie Wright and Frances Griffiths, who in 1917, having purportedly taken photographs of real fairies near their home in Cottingley, Rorkshire, were invited by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (the creator of Sherlock Holmes) to speak at a conference in London about their supernatural encounters. The play was commissioned by Tonic Theatre in partnership with Nick Hern Books as part of Platform, an initiative comprising a series of big-cast plays with predominantly or all-female casts, written specifically for performance by school, college and your-theatre groups, with the aim of addressing gender imbalance and inequality in theatre.
There are 45 speaking roles in this play, divided among five actors. I have the pleasure of playing Frances Griffiths, a dramatic young girl with a penchant for story-telling, Vive, the fun-loving prankster, Madame Blavatsky, an aristocratic theosophist and many more. It’s been such a joy to work on a children’s theater piece again, especially with such rich source material. This script invites us to ask, “Does the world need artists?” (Me: um, yes!) and if so, why?
Our production is made possible by StagePlay. StagePlay is an immersive, performing arts field trip for children grades K-8 that adopts a holistic learning approach designed to satisfy Kansas & Missouri State educational standards. StagePlay is singular in its formation, holistic in its practice, and unique to Johnson County. It is the ONLY performing arts, education-based field trip providing three days of classroom curriculum, a theatrical performance, and engagement activities (including S.T.E.A.M.) facilitated through a field-trip model for area school districts.
Content is geared towards grades 3rd-8th.
Our Production Team includes Director Patrick Pribyl, Artistic Director Elena Stephenson, Scenic Designer Morgan Cole, and Costume Designer Arwen White. Our cast includes Lauren Bailey, Matthew Henrickson, Lydia Miller, Jamie Turner, Alex Walters, and myself!
If you want to know more about the true story of the Cottingley Fairies, check out the video below…
A BIG “Thank you!” is in order. After one four-hour rehearsal lead by director Emily Swenson, our creative teamed (R.H Wilhoit, Laura Jacobs, Emmy Panzica Piontek, Amy O’Conner, Nick Uthoff, and Chloe Robbins) staged a reading of my play Wicked Creatures. This version is significantly re-written from previous versions I’ve shared. Wicked Creatures received a staged reading as part of the Harold Clurman Division New Playreading Series at the Stella Adler Studio for Acting in New York, NY last summer, and this draft is an improvement from that.
Wicked Creatures centers around three women in the Victorian era: Sonya Smithson, a cross-dressing scientist, determined to create a the ultimate female contraceptive; Emily Clwearwater, a meek yet moral “angel of the house” who dreams of a normal life with husband and child; and Clara Hollowell, a foul-mouthed fallen woman, determined to raise her status in life.
The readings went better than I ever expected and my new goal for this piece is to get it up on its feet, one way or another! So if you’re looking to produce a period piece with strong female characters that explores gender stereotypes, classicism, and a person’s right to their own body, boy do I have a play for you!
In other news, last night I had the pleasure of dressing up as one of Sterling Witt’s beautiful paintings for his new Explosive exhibit, now on display in Albrecht-Kemper Museum of Art in St. Jospeh, Missouri. It was my goal to embody this beautiful painting, now named “Emma.” I can honestly say I’ve never had, nor did I ever expect to have, a painting named after me and I am so so beyond grateful for the honor. I was joined by many other beautiful women, each embodying a painting of their own. Visit Sterling’s website for more information.
Heads up: From this point on all New Year, No Diet posts will be located on their own page under the “NYND” tab so that I may dedicate this blog space exclusively to sharing information on creative projects.
Like for instance…
A staged reading of Wicked Creatures at the Uptown Arts Bar
3611 Broadway Blvd, Kansas City, MO 64111
Free and open to the public.
Wicked Creatures recently received a public staged reading at The Stella Adler Studio for Acting in NYC as part of the Harold Clurman Division New Play-reading Series. It also received a staged reading at The Living Room Theater in Kansas City and was selected for production at TLR as part of Kansas City's Fringe Festival, 2016.
Hope to see you there.
TG: eating disorder, disordered eating
You don’t have to read self-help books, see a therapist, or do self-work on a regular basis to be familiar with the term “perfectionist” or “perfectionism.”
It’s not uncommon for someone to refer to themselves as a perfectionist with a sense of pride, however whenever I hear someone use this term to describe themselves, I cringe interally and make a mental note to buy them a copy of the “The Gifts of Imperfection” by Brene Brown.
New York Times bestselling author and self-described shame researcher Brene Brown might be most commonly know for her viral 2010 Ted Talk on The Power of Vulnerability. It is one of the top five most viewed TED talks in the world. However, that same year she also released her book, “The Gifts of Imperfection; Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are,” which I can’t recommend enough to anyone who has ever felt like a born failure or struggled with shame and self-loathing.
It was the first resource that helped me after I graduated from college, aware that I was engaging in disordered eating and fitness habits, but unsure what to do next.
Like many, my disordered eating started young, when I was in high school. I identified as a “chubby kid” in late elementary school and all of middle school. I was bullied, not specifically for my weight, but by the time I reached middle school I’d seen enough images of beautiful women on television and in movies, within the pages of shopping catalogues and on the covers of magazines to know being overweight made me worth less on the totem pole of society. With no “real life” friends, a lot of anger and resentment, and very little self-worth, I was a miserable, angsty teenager who pushed everyone away and found solace only in books, writing fan-fiction, and online role playing games.
Until high school. A time of new beginnings. By that time I knew I liked telling stories, and performing in plays became my main outlet. I began to make friends who shared my interests. To find acceptance. And when I was asked to the prom my sophomore year, I received “the push I needed to finally get fit and lose weight!”
I was fifteen.
It started harmlessly. I really did want to get healthy, to feel good in my body for once. I had never been athletic so I started by going to Curves with my mom. The environment was actually very sweet and supportive, mostly women in their 50s+. Then came counting calories and eating meal replacement bars or weight-loss snacks. I was a devoted follower of the Biggest Loser at this time and devoured each weight-loss tip and trick religiously. We had a treadmill in our house and I would walk on it for an hour a day, watching BL and America’s Next Top Model. When I finally got to a point where I didn’t feel embarrassed to work out in public I started going to the YMCA every morning before school, burning my calories on the elliptical and building muscle on the machines. At my lightest, I lost thirty pounds. People--cool kids--started complimenting me. Other boys started noticing me. Everyone was so proud. I got cast in bigger parts in school plays. I could finally enjoy going shopping for clothes. I became a happier person which in turn made me a friendlier person. I became kinder, soft-spoken and demure. I felt beautiful for the first time since I was a little girl. It was a Cinderella story.
Until, of course as you all know, I plateaued. I couldn’t cut my calories anymore. I couldn’t ampt up the length of my workouts. I couldn’t keep losing and I couldn’t maintain the weight loss. Enter: binge eating.
“Binge eating disorder (BED) is a severe, life-threatening, and treatable eating disorder characterized by recurrent episodes of eating large quantities of food (often very quickly and to the point of discomfort); a feeling of a loss of control during the binge; experiencing shame, distress or guilt afterwards; and not regularly using unhealthy compensatory measures (e.g., purging) to counter the binge eating. It is the most common eating disorder in the United States.” - www.nationaleatingdisorders.org
I was a regular binge eater from somewhere during my junior year in high school to my second year of college, so just about four years. The cycle was simple: eat as “healthy” (as little and as restrictive) as possible for as long as possible, “fall off the bandwagon,” and then compulsively eat as much food as I could stomach with the promise that tomorrow I would “make up for it” by “cleansing” for a day (only eating fruits and vegetables or something light like cereal.) *Note: I am not saying all cleanses or vegetarians are wrong, just that for me in this time and place it was definitely not a mentally or physically healthy choice.
One ordinary day, second semester of my junior year of college, I was speaking with a friend about my current calorie restrictions (less than 1000 a day) and she simply pointed out, “That’s not healthy. You can’t live on that.”
Silly as it sounds, I realized she was right. That’s all it took. A little outside perspective. A reality check.
The Hermione Granger in me knew what to do next: visit the library.
Only after reading up on the various types of eating disorders, disordered eating, and unhealthy behaviors related to weight loss did I realize I needed to make some changes to my lifestyle.
All of this to say, once I finally got to a place where I could start trying to work through my issues surrounding food, fitness, and body image, it became apparent one main cause for my disordered eating was perfectionism.
“Perfectionism is not the same thing as striving to be your best. Perfectionism is the belief that if we live perfect, look perfect, and act perfect, we can minimize or avoid the pain of blame, judgement, and shame. It’s a shield. It’s a twenty-ton shield that we lug around thinking it will protect us when, in fact, it’s the thing that’s really preventing us from flight.” -Brene Brown
Perfectionism. For me perfection was about feeling like I belonged. That friendless pre-teen “loser” was still living inside me and she was terrified. I wanted to feel worthy, to be well-liked. To know I was good enough, without question. This meant getting outside validation, because it sure as hell wasn’t coming from the inside.
In college it meant being within the top ten percent of my class. Always being prepared--studying the material backwards and forward so that I would never be caught not knowing an answer, for not knowing would mean I was failing.
In regards to my body and disordered eating, my perfectionism manifested in this way:
- feeling superior for eating “clean,” “safe,” “good” foods
- feeling like a failure after eating (or binging) on “bad” “unclean” foods
- eating as little as possible for days at a time to make up for eating “bad” foods
- binging after these periods of starvation - most often on junk food
- sometimes taking laxatives to try and manage this cycle
- hating my body, constantly scrutinizing it, anxious about how others perceived it
- scrutinizing other people’s bodies, comparing myself to theirs, seeing their body as a marker of their worth
- spending a large chunk of my time obsessed with food, exercise, weight loss, and my body when I could have been making memories and trying new things
- feeling worthless, disgusting, like I was born wrong
- feeling that I didn’t belong and was unworthy of love
- suicidal thoughts* (I never intended to kill myself. I fantasized about it but never wanted to die)
So. How did I get from there to here?
A lot of damn hard work, that’s how. Work that included reading “The Gifts of Imperfection,” and “Rising Strong,” another one by Brene Brown, THERAPY, sharing my story with a select number of supportive friends, bawling my eyes out, growing up. Honestly, I’ll have to write a completely separate post to go into more detail because it’s been (and still is) a long road.
But the good news is I’m here now, past the worst of it, and I haven’t had a binge like the kind I used to have in over five years (if my memory is accurate)!
I’ve decided to share this story NOT because I want sympathy or attention, but because it gives some context as to why I am the person I am today and why I want to dedicate this blog in part to figuring out how to live a normal healthy lifestyle, without dieting.
I’ll close by leaving you with Brene Brown’s Ten Guideposts to Whole Hearted Living. It’s not quite the same unless you’ve read the book, but I love this bomb ass poster made by Leonie Dawson. You can actually download the poster, print it, and color it in yourself if you like.
Do you remember the person you were five years ago?
Twenty years ago I was six years old. I don’t remember much about that time, but I know I was happy. I had a loving family, a safe home, and plenty of space to be a child.
But I wasn’t a happy person fifteen years ago, or ten, or five. Maybe not even two years ago.
There were definitely moments of triumph, achievements I’m proud of, and relationships I’m eternally thankful for, but no manner of professional or personal success can make up for a lack of emotional well-being. No manner of outside validation can make up for a lack of self-worth.
Hi, my name is Emma and I struggle with disordered eating.
Or I used to. For years now I thought I’d moved past it, but it’s January 1st, 2019 and after eleven years of diet and exercise regime experimentation, after eleven years of bouncing from Weight Watchers to calorie counting to dairy-free, gluten-free, sugar-free, paleo, vegetarian, juice cleanses, diet teas, and back again I still haven’t managed to reach and maintain the body of my dreams.
And I’m tired.
So this year, instead of kicking off my year with the traditional hard core diet and exercise regimen, I’ve decided I’m just going to...not diet.
Instead of dieting I’m going to try and tackle what should be the easiest thing in the world but in our society today seems apparently impossible for the vast majority:
I’m going to figure out how to eat like a normal person.
A healthy normal person, yes, but one who enjoys treats in moderation, without feeling like she’s “breaking rules.” A normal person who can enjoy eating out with friends, instead of seeing it as a “cheat meal” or something to “make up for later.”
A healthy normal person who happens to eat all the food groups. No shade intended towards vegetarians, vegans or anyone with a food allergy. I just happen to enjoy meat and dairy as well as fruits, vegetables and grains, and they don’t make me sick, so I’m going to choose them for myself.
Some of you might be saying to yourself, “whoop-dee-freakin’-doo, Emma.” And that’s ok. Others might be offended by what I’m saying, or feel like I’m attacking their choice to engage in restrictive dieting, and I apologize if it comes off that way. Above all, I respect every human’s right to do whatever they want with their body. You know your body better than anyone, and you know what’s right for you.
But I’m guessing if you’ve gotten this far, a number of you might be feeling the same way I’ve been feeling. Maybe you have a similar relationship to food regardless of your food preferences. And if you do, I invite you to join me this year as I explore the intersection between wanting to feel good and look good (by my own standards), without sacrificing my mental health in the process.
I have a lot of territory I want to explore and questions to ask.
“Is it possible for those recovering from an eating disorder or disordered eating to lose weight in a “healthy way” without falling back into unhealthy behaviors and cycles?”
“How can we say, ‘All bodies are beautiful,’ and love our friends and family no matter their size but then turn around and judge our own bodies?”
“How do I even cook food that isn’t “diet” food?”
If you’re game to participate in the conversation, thank you. If not, that’s cool too. I wish everyone the best in your journey to “making peace” with food and your body in our body-image warping society.
My next post will include a little background on my own struggles with food, body image, and perfectionism. If you care to hear where I’m coming from, click this link, and if not stay tuned for future posts in which I’ll share videos and articles, and pose and try to answer questions about food, body-image, exercise, and the pressures of society that keep us in a constant state of feeling like we’re not enough.
Until then, I’ll leave you with this #truthbomb by Danielle LaPorte.
Today is the daaaaaaay
And I’m home sick with the flu. :(
Silver lining: I’ve finally had time to catch up on some playwriting work, mainly, uploading scripts to the New Play Exchange and updating this website!
Today I went back, read all of my past blog entries and thought to myself, “Damn…I’ve done a lot!”
And not just this year. Last year too, and the year before that!
First and foremost, I adopted an adorable cat named Lux. Follow me on Instagram if you want this fuzzy face flooding your feed.
But back to theater.
(To be perfectly honest, this is my second time writing this half of the post because the first one was accidentally deleted, so I’m just going to cut to the chase.)
A little over a year ago I decided to transition from working as a part-time ticket clerk, part-time artist to a full-time freelance artist. My goal: try to survive for a year on all my theater-related jobs patched together, apply for graduate school, and focus on writing.
Well, it’s been a year and I’m still alive so, check.
I worked my butt off applying for graduate school, received one offer, and turned it down because it didn’t feel right.
And I’ve written two new full-length plays in that time, one a musical, one a straight play.
Of all my goals, that last one feels like the one I didn’t quite meet. I thought being freelance would give me more time to write, but not so much. There have been pros and cons to going freelance.
Pros of Going Freelance
Make money doing what I love - not soul crushing
Flexibility of schedule - I don’t have to “ask off” work, I control what jobs I accept and don’t accept
Always a new adventure - I’m not stuck behind a desk, in a windowless office, with a phone in my ear. Some days I’m dancing with preschools, other days I’m filming a Fruit Loops commercial in someone’s pool.
Opportunities to work from home - Again, not stuck in an office, I have time to actually spend in my apartment with my cat!
Cons of Going Freelance
Financial instability - always nervous about having enough money to get by
Divided attention span - sometimes I do 2-3 different jobs a day and by the end of it I am mentally exhausted from switching mental gears and driving all over
Feels like I’m not a real adult - I don’t have a house, a 401K, a baby or a marriage. Compared to some of my friends, I don’t feel like a “real” adult.
Ultimately unsustainable - I haven’t been able to save money, only just get by.
So I’m at a crossroads right now. I could either…
Try to find a way to make freelance life for sustainable (like, improve my skills and work as a grant writer or a copy writer, not just a teacher/actor)
Get a full-time day job, with benefits, that I actually like
Apply for graduate school again and maybe do that
Marry rich or inherit a large sum of money from a long-lost relative
We’ll see what happens. (FYI universe, I’m open to any of these paths, so uh...let’s start manifesting, eh?)
Let me be clear though; I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished. I’ve worked a lot this last year. I’ve grown as a person and an artist. I’ve pushed myself. I’ve taken risks. I have experienced some crazy things. And I’ve made the world a better place through the work I’ve done.
No matter what happens next, I will never regret choosing to jump into freelance full-time. I will never regret this time in my life.
And just in case anyone is curious, here’s a list of all the gigs I string together on a regular basis. This is my version of being a freelance artist:
Standardized patient for two different colleges
Pre-K ballet teacher with Tippi Toes
Teaching Artist with the Johnson County Arts & Heritage Center
Teaching Artist with Kansas City Young Audiences
Teaching Artist with The Coterie
Scavenger Hunt Host with Watson Adventures
Actress with Dinner Detective Kansas City
Radio VO actress
Commercial actress/print model (occasionally)
Box Office/Front of House
Girl Scout empowerment workshops
Creative Carnivals attendant
Alright, time for this sicky to hit the hay. Until next time. Happy Halloween!
As usual, it’s been too long since my last post. It’s hard to keep up with documenting your life when you’re too busy living it.
This was my first opportunity to play the lead role in a fully staged production in Kansas City! Let me tell you, I was pretty nervous stepping into a company of talented actors who (except for Damian, Hollis, and I) were reprising their original roles, however, as rehearsals progressed I started to find my Mary Sue and figure out how she fit into the crazy world around her.
After a whirlwind eleven-day rehearsal/tech process we ran for two weeks. I only wish we could have spent more time together, because one of the best aspects of being a part of this show was the company involved. Every single person in this cast and crew is someone I feel lucky to be working with for the first time, or was overjoyed to work with again, and now and I hope to work with EVERYONE in the Glitterbang company again very soon.
So what’s up next, you ask? Pull on a sweater, order yourself a Pumpkin spice latte and saddle on up for some spooktacular storytelling, because Kansas City Horror Play Festival is back! We JUST closed submissions for ten-minute plays from local playwrights. This year I’m participating as a director alongside Matt Rapport, Jesse Ray Metcalf, and the event’s creator, Erika Baker. More news to come…
Woof, this month has been killer! But in the best way...
This month kicked off with a staged reading of Carolyn Kern's WOMEN OF MEANS, a pilot episode for a TV series I sure can't wait to see come to life. I read for the lead role of Dora, AKA "Missouri Mae." Under the fearless direction of Emily Swenson our fantastic cast, which also included Katie Gilchrist, Nancy Marcy, Sam Cordes, Brianna Woods, Ellen Kirk, Stefanie Stevens, J. Will Fritz, Curtis Smith, and Lydia Miller, we put together a reading with only one four-hour rehearsal. A big thank you to Squeezebox Theater and to everyone who attended! I can't wait to see where this series goes.
We're not in Missouri anymore...
Two weeks ago I had the pleasure of spending five days in the lovely Independence, Kansas home of Pulitzer prize-winning playwright William Inge and host of the William Inge Festival Play Lab. As one of twenty playwrights I got to meet honoree Carlyle Brown, and receive feedback on my play RANK from panelists Beaufield Berry and William "Missouri" Downs. I also participated in the festival as an actress. It was a fantastic chance to meet fellow playwrights and take a mini vacay. (Fun fact: William Inge actually taught at my alma mater from 1938 to 1943.)
Now that I'm back in KC I'm looking towards the next project...
WICKED CREATURES will be receiving a staged reading on June 13th in New York City as part of the First Breath New Play Reading Series, presented by the Harold Clurman Division and Stella Adler Studio for Acting.
This event is FREE and open to the public. Please note: there will be no late seating! Readings will be presented at the Stella Adler Studio, 31 West 27th Street, Floor 2, NYC 10001.
Synopsis: Three Victorian women living on the outskirts of society kidnap a young scholar and force him to take part in their scientific experiments, all in pursuit of creating the perfect female contraceptive.
"About First Breath: One year ago the Harold Clurman Playwrights Division launched a search for new plays by women playwrights. Out of nearly 100 plays submitted, four will be read in the First Breath New Play Reading Series. New plays by Emma Carter, Jordan Puckett and Julie Richardson will be part of the series from June 11-14, 2018."
This reading will feature:
Jamie Linn Watson
and stage directions read by Adriane White.
May...you've been okay!
WE'RE OPEN! And the reviews are coming in!
This last month has been a truly magnificent experience. My heart is so full from spending me time surrounded by such talented, experienced, professional artists. Rehearsals for The Mascot were both challenging and gratifying. New works can be tricky, especially when they've never been performed on their feet before! But we found our footing, we found our characters, and we created a world together: playwright, director, actors, and designers. I am so thankful I've had this opportunity.
Everyone involved has been nothing but generous, kind, and supportive. Our director, Peter Zazzali has brilliantly orchestrated the wackiness of this world. Our playwright/producer Jerry Hickey is an absolute sweetheart, and he's been wonderful enough to give us some creative freedom with ad libs or line adjustments. I can't express how amazing that is. I've gained a whole new level of appreciation for both actors and playwrights when it comes to producing new work, something I hope to carry over into future productions.
I'm lucky enough to be playing the diabolical Dia. She's dramatic, she's dynamic, and she's a TOTAL badass. You may find her practicing monologues in her gothic-nun get-up or breaking into the boy's dormitory like the ninja that she is. She uses her sexuality to manipulate the story's protagonist, Knute, into eliminating her arch-nemisis Dooley, but ends up falling in love with Knute before shows end. It's a nice little arc and a ride I enjoy taking night after night.
So if you're near KC, join us for a night of mascot mayhem! We run Thursdays-Sunday until April 29th. Get in the game!
Happy St. Patrick's Day! Today, to avoid the craziness that is Kansas City's St. Patrick's Day parade, I walked 40 minutes from my apartment to the Living Room Theater, where we rehearsed for THE MASCOT, a new play by Jerry Hickey and directed by Peter Zazzali.
"The Mascot is a satirically comic coming-of-age story about an obsessive father, a starry-eyed son, and the drama that ensues when a father’s pursuit ofhis unfulfilled aspirations torpedo the dream of his son. The play’s unconventional and unforgettable characters will quickly prove if there’s one thing they can win at… it’s losing."
I'm taking on the delightful role of Dia: she's dramatic, she's acrobatic, and she goes after what she wants without hesitation.
I'm working alongside a stunningly talented cast, which includes Sam Cordes, Jen Mays, Matt Rapport, Hollis Wilhoit, Coleman Crenshaw, plus the lovely Alisa Lynn, and more! I'm thankful to be part of such a powerhouse team. THE MASCOT runs April 5th - 29th at The Living Room Theater. Experience the mascot madness!
Last weekend we performed "Seven and Ten" by Prisca Jabet Kendagore at The Pearl in Kansas City, MO. Last night we brought our reading to The Monicle in St. Louis, and we have one more performance tonight. It's been such a treat to dig my teeth into this beautiful script full of complex characters. I read for Sara, a young, white, Christian woman who dreams of being a wife and a mother. She's known since she was twelve what God has planned for her, and although she is strong in her faith she struggles to thrive in the mold the church has given her. I've never had the chance to play such a real, flawed, earnest human and I can't thank Prisca and the universe enough for giving me this opportunity.
I have two projects cooking for next week: SPELLBOUND qualified as a finalist in the Olathe Civic Theater New Works Playwright Competition! We're presenting a ten-minute teaser of our musical on March 2nd and 3rd at the Olathe Civic Theater, along-side four other finalists. The audiences who attend these teaser nights will then vote for which show they want to see fully staged in a workshop production! It's a fantastic, local opportunity and we're so excited to be participating.
On top of that I'm directing for the Fishtank Theatre’s Along The Line New Play Festival, a rapid-fire, theatrical response to a specific moment in history. This production contains 75 very, very short plays. (60 seconds or less.) It is a collection of the community conscious, a tool that contains, supports, and expresses many voices in one given community in one theatrical event, giving each voice equal weight. This work is about what the group has to say, not about individual plays. It’s not about “short attention span”, or “twitter theatre” or a “time race.” It actually requires great concentration to take in and process what this many voices are tuning into. It’s closer to epic theatre, than short form theatre in most every way. It’s one body of work, one cohort of artists, and one program.
I'm both a writer and a director in this process. At this point my responsibilities include directing a chunk of twelve one-minute plays with my ensemble of fantastic actors, who include Matt Leonard, Margaret Shelby, Melissa Fennewald, Dashawn Young, Alexis Dupree, Joseph De Maria and Liz Kerlin. So far I love working with my playwrights, cast, and our BA stage manager Sonia Jacobsen. I can't wait to see all of the other plays in tech!
"Today the kingdom has its happily ever after,
a wedding filled with joy and love and laughter!
Something to celebrate! Two kingdoms joined as one!
It's been so many years since we've had a queen..."
This Monday, SPELLBOUND received its first ever staged reading at The Living Room Theater. We performed to a SOLD OUT HOUSE! 80+ people were in attendance!
Spellbound is the story of Princess Emalia of Highguard, a timid young woman cursed to transfigure any man she comes into physical contact with. Ten years after the death of her mother, the beloved Queen Beatrice, Highguard's golden boy, Prince Dashing is set to marry the mighty Warrior Princess Kalianna of Seaborn. Their marriage will signify the merger of two great kingdoms; Kalianna's people are refugees of a highly advanced civilization in need of a home, and the citizens of Highguard are desperate for a new queen to bring them hope, however they are suspicious of the outside world.
When Prince Dashing mysteriously disappears on the eve of the royal wedding, Kalianna, Emalia and Sir Philip the Philanderer team up to rescue him. Along the way they meet Ameerah, another princess in search of her prince. Together, this motley crew outsmarts a powerful warlock to rescue Dashing. What they don't know: Dashing is working with the warlock to escape his loveless marriage. Back the palace, Dashing claims HE was the one to save everyone else and scorns Kalianna for her strength. Dejected, but determined to honor her duty to her people, Kalianna goes through with the marriage only to fall under an enchanted slumber (by Dashing's design). With Kalianna down for the count, only Emalia and her friends can wake the sleeping princess and stop Seaborn and Highguard from turning on one another. In the musical's climax, Emalia awakens Kai with the one cure to an enchanted slumber: true love's kiss.
I am so proud of our team. Krista and I spent over a year working on Spellbound, and although it is still a WIP, it certainly has a strong foundation. Our performers learned the entire show in about four rehearsals and their performance surpassed my expectations. Being on stage and reading stage directions for them was pure delight. I am very, very grateful to everyone involved.
From here we'll make some edits (a lot of cutting down), and cross our fingers for some upcoming opportunities!
2018 is here and I can't wait to see what it brings.
Just a few weeks ago I finished off 2017 with a short trip to NYC where my play Wicked Creatures received a private table reading at the Stella Adler Acting Studio as part of he Harold Clurman First Breath Play Reading Series. The public reading will take place in June of this year, with an all Stella Adler acting alumni cast.
And that's not all I'm looking forward to this year. Next up: a staged reading of Spellbound, a new musical collaboration between Krista Pojman and me. Ever wish that Disney would make a princess movie with a a homosexual protagonist? Wish granted. Come by the Living Room Theater in KC, MO on Monday, January 29th at 8:00pm to see this fairytale unfold.
Next month I'll be performing again in 7 & 10, a new play about marriage and the lives of young Evangelicals, by one of my favorite playwrights and closest friends, Prisca Kendagore. We'll be doing script-in-hand performances in KC Feb. 18th & 19th AND in St. Louis Feb. 23rd & 24th.
I won't bore you with my entire year's schedule, but 2018 is already looking to be a good one.
In other news...last year, when I started this blog-of-sorts, I'd just completed Danielle LaPorte's Goals With a Soul. So this year I revisited that program, and although this blog will remain forever and always "The Mindful Badass," I have some new core desire feelings for this upcoming year. I want to feel...
True. Hopeful. Faith. Connected. And Sheroic.
I want to feel True to my best self, to my moral compass, and to those I love.
I want to choose Hope over Fear. To believe the universe can be abundant, reconciliation is possible, and that each of us can make a difference.
Faith in myself, those around me, and the universe as a whole
Connected on all levels. I want to strengthen my friendships, personal relationships, working relationships, and sense of community and belonging.
And Sheroic in that sense that I still want to feel like a powerful, positive badass in all areas of my life: physical, mental, emotional, creatively, and spiritually. (I cannot take credit for this wonderful phrase. Check out the Sheroic podcast if you're looking to be a shero in your own life.)
How do you want to feel this year? You don't have to tell me. You don't have to tell anyone, so long as you know what your core desire feelings are and that every step you are taking is getting you closer to your truth.
~ Happy New Year ~
Phew, the times flies when you're crazy busy. Here's he scoop on what I've been up to:
Last month, I participated in The Fishtank Theater's The Insubordinates, a post-apocolyptic, ensemble-based intensive. It was great fun, and I made some new friends! (This is me in my crazy, apocalyptic circus costume.)
As soon as Insubordinates was struck, I dove right into my favorite annual event: NO SLEEP NOVEMBER at The Living Room Theatre. Check out my badass team:
In 24-hours I wrote and directed a new ten-minute play, Dragon Slayer: Quest for the Egg of Armagon, staring these amazingly talented actors. (Shea Ketchum, Pancho Javier, Erdin Schultz-Bever). We follow Shadowfox the Sure-footed and Tammy as their guide, Silver Stallion takes them on an adventure of teamwork and self-discovery (and dragon slaying, of course.)
This month another new ten-minute play of mine, Friend Love, had it's debut as part of the Barn Player's annual 6x10 Play Festival. I also had the honor of writing content for the Fishtank's annual 12 Plays of Christmas. Check out this action shot of Fishtank Curator/Actress Heidi Van:
And last (but certainly not least), the REASON for this blog's title...next week I will be flying to NEW YORK for a rehearsal of WICKED CREATURES, which is receiving a staged reading in NYC as part of the First Breath New Play Reading Series at the Stella Adler Studio of Acting! I am beyond honored and excited. Also a little bit terrified, but hey, what's life without a little adventure?
I promise to write another blog post very soon, all about my experience in New York! Stay tuned...
Tomorrow will be the first Saturday morning without rehearsal for Checkmate, our new one-act musical written and performed by twelve fantastic middle schoolers, and facilitated by Krista Eyler, Arwen White, and myself. (Badass lady boss team FTW.)
Checkmate is a game of choice, change, and challenge. Characters are taken from their everyday lives and forced into alternate realities or times where they must make a choice, fight for change, or face a challenge. They play at the mercy of the Game Masters, but as the game unfolds our characters learn they might have to bend or break the rules if they want to survive.
Behold our fearsome team:
We wrote this musical over the course of two months, meeting for five hours every Saturday and Sunday morning. We started from the ground up, brainstorming for a theme, creating characters, and inventing scenes together. Throughout the entire process these kids were creative, hardworking, and most of all kind. We had no drama. They were nice to each other. They listened, offering suggestions without tearing one another apart. They played together and included one another, or respected each other's space. I couldn't have asked for a better group of young artists to work with.
On opening/closing night Krista told our team to always "Stay Humble. Stay Kind." I couldn't agree more. Too often as we garner success it's easy to lose sight of where we've been and to remember that we're all in this together. The professionals I most admire are the ones who don't let their ego take the lead, the ones who learn my name and chat with me back stage even if we don't have a scene together and who treat every person in the room with respect, from stage hands to designers to producers.
I'm thankful to the universe for sending me a reminder of how wonderful the artistic process can be when everyone stays humble and kind.
While on vacation with my mother and best friend back in July I made the decision to leave my part-time job in ticket sales and sustain myself entirely on freelance work. It was a big leap of faith for me, but one I finally felt courageous enough to make. Worst case scenario: I fail, and as we all know if you're not failing you're not taking risks, and if you're not taking risks what the hell are you doing with your life?! (Confession: It was actually this book that inspired me to finally take the leap. Follow-up blog post to come.)
Since leaving the security of the Kansas City Symphony I've taken up an array of new jobs. First, I was selected to be the playwright in residence at the Johnson County Arts & Heritage Community Center, where I'm working in conjunction with resident artists Krista Tatschl Eyler and Arwen White to guide a group of middle schoolers as they write and perform a brand new musical one-act: "Checkmate." The program is free for students and funded entirely by the National Endowment for the Arts (w00t w00t!) We just wrapped up writing the script and dive into rehearsals this Saturday. We're the first resident artists to lead this particular program so everything has been one big test lab, but I'm very proud of our funny, creative, enthusiastic students. It feels good to be doing work that is both financially and artistically rewarding.
I was also hired on as a peer educator in The Coterie Theatre's Dramatic Health Education Project, a sex ed program geared towards high schoolers. The material for this has been beastly to learn (ask me anything about STDs. Go ahead, ask me!) but ultimately very rewarding.
With moving to a new apartment, starting multiple new jobs, living the life of a bridesmaid for a weekend, and participating in the Midwest Dramatists Play Conference (which could be a whole blog post in itself), AND beginning my grad school application process (top choice: UCSD!) I haven't had much time for the one thing I do best: writing. Something I intend to fix PRONTO. As Dr. Who would say...
I thought I was going to take the summer off this year, but the universe had other plans.
This July I was fortunate enough to produce Bed Play: The Elements of Intimacy at The Living Room Theatre, July 8th-15th. With Director Katie Gilchrist at the helm and PSM tech goddess Lacey Pacheco we mounted this workshop in just two short weeks. Our cast included R. H Wilhoit, Alisa Lynn, T. Eric Morris, and Kyra Weinberger.
This was a major learning experience for me! Mostly, once again I realized I'm capable of way more than I thought I was. However, I couldn't have done it alone. I owe a big thanks to our show sponsors: The Living Room Theater, Ron Simonian, Carter Publishing Studios, Melinda MacDonald, Rebecca McMillan, Ben Mayne, Morgan Myers, Leah Wilczewski, Zach Faust, Jen Benkert, Pete Bakely, Nancy Erickson, Amanda Davis, and Kristin Cook.
Next up: my first musical! I'm soooo close to finishing draft one of "Working Title: Spellbound." This is a collaboration with composer Krista Pojman and we plan to have a stage reading in January of 2018. Stay tuned!
25. A quarter of a century gone by, a fourth of which I can't even remember. Some women my age already have husbands and children. Some have comfortable jobs, a stable income. I have amazing friends, adoring family, and a pillowcase emblazoned with Nicholas Cage's face.Read More
Happy New Year!
Welcome to my professional website, and to my newest (attempt) at a blog. Do people still read blogs? I don't know, but I'm going to start one anyway. You're welcome to come along for the ride. I can't promise I'll post consistently and I can't promise to write about one specific thing, but if you're at all interested in anything I've written before (or if you're related to me: hi mom) I can promise to at least keep it interesting.
This year, instead of setting the usual "new years resolutions," I dove head first into Danielle LaPorte's "Goals with a Soul." The takeaway? This year I'll do whatever I can to FEEL the way I want to feel: open-hearted, mindful, and badass. Hense, "The Mindful Badass."
Part of my plan involves eating healthier, part of it involves working out consistently, but instead of setting my sights on "giving up gluten" or "losing 20lbs" I'm focusing on working out "like a badass" or being "mindful" in my eating. Choosing to be proactive: "DO eat more vegetables, DO choose yoga this morning" vs. "DON'T eat sugar, DON'T skip a workout."
This year is about finding the balance between work (for money), work (for love), friends & family, my personal life, self-care, etc.
I'm proud to say all of this self-work has already resulted in "Bed Play," my first new play of 2017. The majority of the work was done in four days because I CHOSE to make time for my writing. No excuses. "Bed Play" is scheduled for a public reading at The Living Room Theater on Monday, January the 23rd, 7:00pm. It's Pay What You Can and BYOB. For more information, check out http://www.thelivingroomkc.com.
So, I'm feeling pretty good right now! Determined to make 2017 a year of writing, a year thriving, a year of feeding my core desire feelings every. single. day.
Won't you join me?