First Post of 2018

I've been quite busy as of late. Most of it relates to getting ready for grad school auditions. I've been getting coached on my monologues by the inestimable Kate Powers, working on my monologues on my own and with friends, and working out at CrossFit Kingfield five days a week. Depending on how far back we go, we could also say that my Simple Clown workshop with Jon Ferguson back in July, or my training with Mike Lubke in Stage Combat was also part of grad school preparation. Or, more likely, those are just examples of me creating my own MFA. 

In other news, I've been given an amazing opportunity by Shawn Judge, creator of the Artists 2 Artists program. Through this program, up-and-coming actors like myself are paired with veterans of the Twin Cities theatre scene. Lucky me, would you believe I got paired up with Sally Wingert?! Sally is great; a great person, a great resource, and a great actor! It's truly a gift to be able to pick her brain, talk with her about her craft, and I even got to sit in on a rehearsal of Blithe Spirit at the Guthrie. 

I know these blog posts aren't the most consistent and I'll work on that in the future. For now, just know that things are going good :)

The Summer of George!

I'm not sure if anybody really reads these blog updates so I'll keep this brief. 

* I had an absolutely amazing time performing in W;t. Working with Sally Wingert and the rest of the cast and crew was a career highlight for me. I hope it's the start of better things to come. Also, we touched so many people with this play. I know from talking to the audience. It was really cool.

* I'm gearing up to debut as Lysander in Shit-faced Shakespeare on June 17th at CAMP Bar in St. Paul. Come see me!

* It's not who you know; it's who knows YOU. I was recently in Swandive Theatre's Veggie Stock Theatre and I'm pretty sure that the only two reasons are because of Bryan Grosso and Erin Roberts.

* Speaking of Erin Roberts, I'm currently taking her Audition Intensive class right now, along with my good friend, Lauren Diesch of Theatre Coup d'Etat fame. It's going swimmingly. Friend-plug: go see The Baltimore Waltz by Paula Vogel. Diesch directed it and I hear it's great. No, I don't have the address; use Google or Facebook like a normal person.

* Speaking of classes, I'm super excited to take Jon Ferguson's Simple Clown class happening in late July. I've heard only good things about this man and his company, which is now called WLDRNSS

* I'm hoping to enjoy this summer by NOT Fringing and just taking it easy until the next acting opportunity comes around.

Keep on Truckin'

Not a lot has changed since my last update. And yet, it seems like it has. The main thing that happened was my round of MFA auditions in Chicago. I had been feeling restless and dissatisfied with the acting work I had been getting here in the Twin Cities; I needed a change. After giving it some thought, I thought that an MFA was a smart choice in so far as it could help me to advance my career. I auditioned for Tisch, Brown-Trinity, Case Western, DePaul, American Conservatory Theatre, and Asolo Rep. I didn't get into any of the aforementioned schools and that has to be okay for now. There are three important things for me to take away from this:

1) White guys in their mid-20s aren't a rarity. Even If I was really good, it's still a numbers game.

2) I never felt bad about any of my auditions. In fact, two of them (Brown-Trinity and Case Western) went really well and I got put on the waitlist for DePaul.

3) I know what to improve upon for next year.

The big thing that has changed is that I got cast in W;t by Margaret Edson at Artistry. This is huge for me on so many levels. First off, I get to act with Sally Wingert! I saw her for the first time in Terrence McNally's Master Class at Theater Latté Da and was blown away. I saw her in a few other plays throughout the Twin Cities and, in doing some research, realized that I was a bit late to the game. Apparently, everybody else already knew she was a big deal. Give me a break though; I had barely been here two years at that point.

Another show I saw her in was And So It Goes... by George F. Walker, which was directed by the same person who will be directing W;t: Benjamin McGovern. Assisting him in directing W;t is Mel Day, who directed one of my favorite shows of 2015: Extremities by William Mastrosimone. Both of the aforementioned plays were produced by Dark & Stormy Productions.

I said being in W;t was huge on many levels? Well, aside from the awesome people I'll be working with (including Cristina Castro and Mike Swan), this play is very well-written and I have high expectations of it being a very artistically-fulfilling play to work on. Oh yeah, and it pays pretty well.

Another new thing for me is learning Stage Combat, specifically how to fight onstage with a knife. Mike Lubke was my teacher and at the end of our showcase, I was presented with a Recommended Pass from the Society of American Fight Directors

I've said it before but in this business, it's feast or famine. I was going through a shitty point in my career in the months leading up to the audition for W;t. I'm hoping that this is the beginning of a big ol' feast. I know that this all seems like bragging but I find that I'm able to keep it in check with bouts of severe self-loathing and overeating :)

PS. Speaking of overeating, I lost 40 lbs since September. Go me!

A Need to Recharge

I finished performing in the Hero Now Theatre production of The Oresteia, written by Aeschylus, adapted by Rob Hardy, and directed by Kristin Aitchison. Our final show was on September 18th. Some people liked it and some didn't; it was a mixed bag. It was definitely a challenging role as the Watchman. Not challenging in the "how do I deal with these heavy emotions every night" kind of way, but heavy in the "how do I make exposition seem not so exposition-ey" kind of way. All in all, I'm glad to have performed in my first classic Greek play.

A truly awesome event happened in my life since August 3rd and that was being a Teaching Assistant for a Michael Chekhov technique workshop that Rich Remedios was teaching. Earlier in the year, he went to study with the Great Lakes Michael Chekhov Consortium and began learning the tools of the technique. He decided to start teaching and exploring this technique with some of his Meisner students and other colleagues of his. I asked if I could be his teaching assistant since I had previous experience with the technique and he said "sure". I'm not engaging in hyperbole when I say it was one of the coolest experiences of the year. Being able to teach these professional adult actors something they didn't know much about was very fulfilling! The way their eyes would light up when they really engaged with the work or the sheer joy on their faces and being able to create little bits of art while in the classroom was truly remarkable. There were only four classes but I hope that they learned enough to be able to apply at least some of it to their next project or audition. I also encourage anyone reading this blog to read To the Actor by Michael Chekhov and The Michael Chekhov Handbook: For the Actor by Lenard Petit if you have an interest in the technique.

Up next on my plate is.....nothing. And this isn't a bad thing. When I first moved here in 2013, my goal was to just get paid to act and take whatever was offered. I did that and for over two years, I've only done paid work (except for shooting a web series that will probably never see the light of day). But now, I've come to the realization that just getting paid work is not enough. The work has to excite me, has to remind me of why I became an actor in the first place, has to be of high artistic quality. I don't say this to sound elitist or to shit on anybody's work. I say this because life is too short to devote weeks or months of your time to a project that doesn't stir up your creative embers. It is for this reason I have decided to take a break and get back into training. Aside from my Meisner class earlier in the year, I haven't done much training. I'm changing that by taking an 8-week Shakespeare class with Alison Edwards through Remedios Creative LLC and then I've also got a couple workshops with Bob Rosen scheduled for November. I'm thinking about taking a class on Alexander Technique as well. I'll end with a quote from Prince Hal:

"So, when this loose behavior I throw off
And pay the debt I never promised,
By how much better than my word I am,
By so much shall I falsify men's hopes;
And like bright metal on a sullen ground,
My reformation, glittering o'er my fault,
Shall show more goodly and attract more eyes
Than that which hath no foil to set it off.
I'll so offend, to make offence a skill;
Redeeming time when men think least I will."

The End of My 27th Year of Existence

Since my last update, I was in a play called Celebrity Exception by Katherine Glover, directed by Callie Meiners. This play had premiered elsewhere in the country but ours was the first Minnesota production. Through the support of Arts' Nest, we were able to put this show on at the Phoenix Theater in May. We are currently remounting it for the 2016 Minnesota Fringe Festival

Once June came around, I started rehearsing in Minneapolis for a play that would eventually be performing in the small, lakeside town of Washburn, Wisconsin. The company was Sidekick Theatre and the play was Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery by Ken Ludwig. Brian Pekol was the director and I am very grateful that he decided to take a chance on me. Not to be self-deprecating but I honestly felt that I was the least talented and accomplished of those who were cast. Anyways, near the end of June, Brian, the other co-artistic director Tim Stolz, and fellow actors Sean Michael Dooley, Randy Schmeling, Tara Borman, Jordan B. Wolfe, and I drove up to Washburn to settle in for the run of the show. While there, I had a blast eating and drinking at the local coffee house, stuffing my face at the local Italian eatery, and I even did some shopping at some local arts & crafts purveyors. It was apparent that the local patrons were very grateful for our performances. Word to the wise: if you're ever driving up in that part of the country watch out for the deer.

The Ludwig play ended about the second week of July and I came back to my new apartment in Uptown. I had about a week free before I went back to the grind of auditioning. I had two particularly awesome auditions. The first was for Sandbox Theatre, a company who focuses on devised theatre (a term that artistic director Derek Lee Miller hates) for their upcoming season. I haven't heard back from them but I had a lot of fun and even the audition itself seemed like a small piece of art. The other was for Theatre Coup d'Etat and their production of Antigone by Sophocles. Theirs actually occurred before the Sandbox audition and it gave me the confidence needed to do the Sandbox one. This is important to me because, while I have taken a Devised Theatre class in college, I always feel a little strange when I'm asked to

1. Choose a text

2. Add Music

3. Add rhythm or movement

4. Use a prop 

which is exactly what Meagan Kedrowski, director of Antigone, required for the audition. I was scared because I simply didn't feel that creating in this way was my strong suit. I still don't but I feel better now moving forward. They told me I did really well at the audition and I felt I did really well at the callback as well. Ultimately, I didn't get cast in Antigone but I still consider it a great audition and callback. 

Check back in a few months to see my updates with my upcoming play The Oresteia by Aeschylus, adapted by Rob Hardy, and directed by Kristin Aitchison. 

I hate titling my blog updates

Since coming back to the Twin Cities from my tour in Virginia, quite a bit has happened. First, I was in a show called An Evening with Krampus by Sam Krahn. Next, I got involved with a nascent company called Hero Now Theatre, based out of St. Anthony Village, MN. This is a cool company worth supporting. It's run by the wife and husband duo of Kristin and Peter Aitchison, as well as David Severtson. They cast me as Wilson in the outdoor (yes, in a tent in January) production of Terra Nova by Ted Tally. We got some good press and had great discussions with the audience post-show. Unfortunately, they didn't recoup the expenses that it took to stage the play. So, if you could go to their website and donate, I'm sure they'd appreciate it. 

In February, I traveled down to Memphis, TN to participate in UPTAs. I got four callbacks (I have to give credit where it's due and Kate Powers gets a good portion of it since she helped me craft the monologues that I took to UPTAs)! The two most interesting theatres that called me back were the Hampstead Stage Company and Prairie Fire Children's Theatre. Hampstead wanted me to apply but they also wanted me to train for the first two or three weeks for free. Ummm, sorry but fuck that. I'm sure they do good work  but that's a joke. PFCT actually ended up offering me a summer touring gig but I had to turn it down, partly due to money issues and partly due to my feeling less and less excited about children's theatre. Nothing against children's theatre, but I find myself drifting in other directions, namely Shakespeare festivals, and I don't think that doing children's theatre is getting me to where I want to be. 

The only projects I worked on during February were A Drinking Game - Minnesota put on by Shadow Horse Theatre and A Midsummer Night's Dream (the event itself was called "A Midwinter Night's Dream") by Shakespeare. This was a Valentine's Day event that was product of the temporary marriage of Theatre Coup d'Etat and the Positively Charmed. I've always wanted to work with Coup d'Etat ever since I saw a production of theirs a few years ago and now I can officially cross it off my list; I was Snout the Tinker, if you must know. 

Sometime in February, I also got cast in a play being produced by Mission Theatre CompanyEverything's Free! by Sam Graber. This play came about after the Mission Theatre folks approached Sam to write a play based around the topic of homelessness and poverty. We are currently in rehearsal and I have no idea what the final product will look like but I'm excited to be working with this talented and inquisitive group of artists. Concomitantly, I'm studying the Meisner technique again in the classroom with Rich Remedios. This is the third level of the classes he offers, dealing mainly with impediments, doings, and character work. I highly recommend taking his classes if you can.

It looks like this year may end up being devoid of touring and that's alright. I don't know if I'll participate in the Minnesota Fringe Festival this year; it's too hit-or-miss for me. So, what's my next step? Well, my girlfriend and I are moving soon, hopefully closer to the cities, where all the action is. And aside from that, I don't know. There are plenty of options but the ones that keep running through my head are applying for grad school (MFA in Acting), targeting specific companies inside and outside Minnesota for whom I want to work (Shakespeare Festivals, mainly), or moving to a different market (Heads, Carolina. Tails, California). It's still too soon to decide and I'm still young. I want to do great work and make a living doing it. I'll keep training, auditioning, and mapping out the road ahead of me. Making friends along the way, hopefully. Thanks for reading :)

PS. I also got new headshots, thanks to Craig VanDerSchaegen. Check them out on my Headshots page.

PPS. I just booked my first industrial video thanks to Ruggiero Models & Talent

NTC - Virginia Beach, VA

Greetings from Virginia Beach! Today is the last day of a three-week tour with The National Theatre for Children. I had an amazing time teaching children all about water conservation with the talented Ali Daniels. It's amazing how the skills needed for doing children's theatre are so applicable to other forms of theatre: engaging with the audience, being able to solve problems, being able to go from one extreme emotion to the next in a split-second, etc. Children's theatre has also taught me how to really value those "beautiful accidents". Those moments that you totally did not plan but they happened and they were fucking wonderful and it's real and it affects you, your partner, and the audience. One day, my energy was soaring during my downfall as the Pirate Pie-Rat (he's a rat and he likes pies) and I caught a teacher's face who was laughing, which made me laugh, which made Ali laugh, and it immediately took us off autopilot and placed us smackdab in the middle of the moment. Obviously, I'm not fucking suggesting that breaking character onstage is categorically acceptable  but that's just an example of a beautiful accident. It was great.

As much fun as I have had on this tour and the previous tour with NTC, I will not be taking any more short-term tours. If something like a 9-month gig at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival comes along, sure. But these three or four-week tours are a pain in the ass when it comes to finding a job at the end of the tour. Maybe if I was finding secure commercial or promo work or something but as it stands right now, I'm going to find a steady day-job and focus more on working more in the Twin Cities. Fingers crossed for more stage work and some commercial gigs!

Up next for me is An Evening with Krampus by Sam Krahn at the Phoenix Theater in Minneapolis, MN. It's being directed by Jenna Papke and it premiers on December 5th. Also acting in it is my tour partner, Ali.

Tour highlights:  Getting to see a production of The Winter's Tale at the American Shakespeare Center in Staunton, VA. Going for a swim in the ocean. Eating really good sushi.

Summer Happenings!

The Third Annual One-Minute Play Festival happened last month at the Southern Theater. A good amount of gratitude goes to the Walking Shadow Theatre Company, who made it all happen. When I first heard it was happening, I wanted to be a part of it. Not due to any hunger for activism or because I thought the plays were going to be spectacular. No, I wanted to join because I thought it would be a good way to keep my acting chops fresh and also to network a little bit. Pretty selfish and douchey, right? That being said, what I got out of the 1MPF was a lot cooler than what I expected. Dominic D'Andrea was the host and organizer of the whole thing and he said that we were performing an "investigation of the zeitgeist". That phrase really stuck with me. Even though empathy is not a natural talent of mine, it did really help me to enjoy the process as opposed to the product. To think that we might be somehow changing things was really inspiring. Not all of the plays were great and not all of the actors were amazing but the whole was really greater than the sum of it's parts that day. It felt good. Side note: please check out the website of my director for the 1MPF: Kate Powers. I told her this already and I'll say it again here: I think she's going to do something important here in the Twin Cities (she's from New York) and I want to be apart of whatever that is. You should want to, too. She regularly studies with Kristin Linklater, for Christ's sake!

Now, this week began the rehearsal period for Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare, presented by Apple Valley Live! I'm equal parts nervous, excited, and honored. The people I'm working with are extremely talented and I've wanted to work with them for awhile now. One of them even has a website: check it out! I've worked with most of them in some capacity since my time here but not all of them as fellow actors. In sports, we often say that a team will "play to their level of competition". It's not something I've ever done intentionally and my fellow actors in this show aren't really my competition but the sentiment still holds true for me. My director and castmates are really fucking good and I'm planning to bring my A game to give them what they give me in turn. The show goes up August 1st in Kelley Park in Apple Valley and continues on the weekends in August! Have a great summer, y'all! Oh, and happy Fringing!

Feast or Famine

As with many vocations, it's feast or famine in the theatre world. Either your life is a depressing quagmire where you never get cast and you have no talent, or you have 50-million projects going on at once. Well, right now, I'm feasting and I'm relishing every minute of it! The first part of my meal is on May 30th. The players of Shadow Horse Theatre's Masq will take the stage at Phoenix Theater and deliver 60 minutes of high-energy physical theatre, in the style of Commedia dell'arte, a form of theatre that originated in 16th-century Italy. And since I like to promote my friends, you should check out the websites of Ware Carlton-Ford, Billie Jo Konze, and Ilana Kapra. They're all really talented, smart, and oh-so good looking!

I recently had a callback at the History Theatre for Complicated Fun by Alan Berks. It's a very big deal because it was my first callback for an Equity theatre. Also, I had an acting breakthrough: the biggest reason as to why I bomb an audition is due to an over-rehearsed monologue. I used to beat the monologues to death in my apartment. An over-rehearsed monologue is like a suit that's too tight. It makes you rigid and predictable. Since coming to this realization, I've changed the way I've prepared for auditions and it has proven beneficial. Until next time, break legs, folks!

Big callback tonight!

It's been a busy month as I'm sure it's been for everyone. I feel like actors always lead a busier life than almost any other profession, except maybe parents but all they get paid in is crockpots and bad neckties and what can you buy with that? Anyways, it's been busy and yet not busy at all. I've been unsuccessful in securing a day job. Or rather, my temp agency has been unsuccessful in finding me a day job. Temp agencies make it real easy to be lazy. Also, working on this damn website takes up at least 45 minutes of every day, not to mention writing cover letters to agencies, checking MN Playlist every 10 minutes, the usual, etc.

Onto my actorly news, cause that's why you're here, right? Well, I have a callback today with Peter Moore for Play it Again, Sam at the Bloomington Civic Theatre. I'm also going to be apart of the One-Minute Play Festival. I'll be on Kate Powers' team. From what I can tell, she's a very friendly director from New York.

Also, I saw Pussy Valley by Katori Hall; a world premiere at Mixed Blood Theatre. Very heavy play. The script and the performances were absolutely stunning, even if the script itself was a bit too long. Hopefully, next time I will have many good things of which to type. Take care!

My night out in Sturgeon Bay, WI

So, I'm on tour, right? Well, one of the things a good tour partner does is give their tour partner a night to themselves. So, I left Nate to himself at the Holiday Music Motel. This is a really cool hotel with real metal keys, wall-lamps shaped like ears (I mean, they're shells but whatever), and just a 1960s coolness factor to it. So, I figured I'd go to the movies, studying the craft, right? Well, holy shit, did I pick a stinker. I saw Insurgent starring Shailene Woodley. Anyways, this is a good example of a bad movie with good actors. No amount of Kate Winslet's talent or (that kid from Whiplash) could save that awful film. I should have just sat in the parking lot and stared at my thumbs for all the good it did me. Two big auditions this weekend though!

First blog post!

Hello there! Well, I finally did it. I started a website and, by extension, a blog. First things first, I'm currently on tour with Nathan Gebhard, a fellow Twin Cities artist. He's a really cool guy and he works with a really cool company. We are touring a show called The Energized Guys: Daylight Savings Crime for the National Theatre for Children all over Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I've never had a blog before and, to be honest, I'm not quite sure how this is supposed to be different from Facebook but it's all good. Today, we are in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. I'm sitting at a really cool coffee shop. That's all for now, folks. I'm preparing for some really cool auditions on the 25th of April; namely, for the Candid Theatre Company's production of Bug by Tracey Letts and the Unified Auditions for the 2015 Minnesota Fringe Festival. See you soon!