Welcome to a new monthly column which I hope will add some perspective to our trade – sometimes new, and sometimes perhaps tired out from over stating, but yet somehow still needing to be stated again and again. I have been a student of this craft for most of my entire life. Cast in my first summer stock stage production at the age of 9, I developed the “bug” (as we often call it), and never found the cure. I produced and directed my first production in 1993, and there have been 126 more since then, at an average of five productions per year for the last 25 consecutive years. I've seen a lot. I haven't seen it all – yet - but I've seen a lot.
Throughout the past 25 years I have viewed more than 40,000 head shots and resumes; I have witnessed more than 10,000 audition monologues; and I have worked with nearly 2,000 different actors. The range of talent I have seen runs the entire gamut, from children as young as 5, to aging actors in their late 70s; from the greenest of the green, to the most seasoned veterans, and everything in between. Many of the lessons to be learned from working with such a variety of artists are the same year after year, show after show, and the artists who have worked with me repeatedly know that I have certain mantras, maxims, aphorisms, and axioms that some actors have heard so often they call them “Sabelisms.” They are indeed, my twists on the trade.
This new monthly column will attempt to deliver those Sabelisms in such a way as to explain their meaning, relevance, and origins. They have developed over time, and no matter how old I get, or how many shows I produce, they remain an essential aspect of doing the work to get the work. There's one: You have to do the work to get the work.
Most actors are lazy. Don't be offended. Most people are lazy. We are designed to seek the path of least resistance. It is part of the learning process of the human species. Yet the most successful artists I have worked with know that there is nothing easy about succeeding in this trade. It is work. It is hard work. Those who are willing to do the hard work, will continue to find work to do. Those who demonstrate an ability to do the work, will develop a reputation for doing the work, and find themselves sought after when there is work to be found. We hear it all of the time: “She's always working,” or “He is the first to arrive, and the last to leave,” or “That artist is so great to work with.” When was the last time anyone said any of those things about you as an artist?
A vast number of the actors I have worked with have to come the trade with a degree in hand from an expensive school with a major theatre or film department behind them. I always marvel at how an actor struggling under the weight of student loans and stifling debt incurred through their artistic education, can so quickly throw out so much of the education they paid so highly for. Nearly every theatre program I have ever heard of, known of, or have been associated with teaches certain precepts in year one of their program. They teach these aspects in year one, because they are the foundational beginnings of doing the work.
One essential aspect of that training is the importance of a good warm-up routine. Acting is a physical craft. Acting is 90 percent what you DO, and 10 percent what you say (there's another Sabelism). Text Nazis, stringent stage managers, and dramaturgs everywhere often get upset at me for reiterating this aphorism, but it is true nonetheless. Pitch, tone, inflection, and rate of speech are all physical choices made by an actor, just as much as are posture, stance, gait, and gesture. We have all heard – perhaps ad nausea – how important our bodies and voices are as the tools of our trade. Yet every show I produce, I find myself having to remind actors to do their warm ups. It is ridiculous. It is ridiculous for anyone to think that they can ignore the importance of their tools – in some cases, outright neglect their tools – and hope to do their best work. This is true in ANY trade. Imagine a surgeon without a sharpened scalpel. Ridiculous of course, except I have seen so many actors bring a butter knife into the operating room of their trade.
Warm ups are not just a good idea, they are essential to the craft. Finding and creating that neutral physical place to build the character from is just the beginning. Warming up and strengthening the body for doing the work of maintaining the physical character – especially in a two-hour live performance – is the difference between presenting a believable performance, or “phoning it in.” You cannot possibly hope to accurately speak your lines with proper clarity, diction, and projection without first warming up your voice, your face, your tongue (one of the strongest muscles in the body), your jaw, your diaphragm, etc. You wouldn't go out and pitch a World Series game without first warming up your arm…
“But Sabel, not every role I play is equitable to a World Series game.” That's part of your problem. How you view the work, is how you will be viewed in the work, and how you will be viewed by your fellow artists. Treat every role like that starring role in a feature film, or don't accept the role. If you are not willing to do the work, then don't accept the work.
“But Sabel, this isn't even a paying gig.” You cannot expect to receive offers for paying gigs, if you can't demonstrate your ability to properly perform every gig you accept. You have to do the work to get the work.
Warm ups are not just for your body, but also for your mind. They should be a part of your routine that also helps you focus on creating and truly performing the character. Many actors incorporate their lines into their warm up routines. Some actors incorporate exercises that are specific to the physicality of the role they are playing. The great actor, Fredric March, used to walk completely around the outside of the theatre doing his vocal warm ups while he assumed the gait and posture of the character before making his first entrance. He was also known for his intense focus backstage. No chit-chat, no socializing – just an actor focused on doing the work. You cannot hope to walk onto the stage in full character, completely focused on the scene at hand, when three minutes ago you were chatting with a fellow actor about the Dodgers, or skimming social media for the latest click bait.
You have to do the work to get the work, and the work begins with a proper warm up, proper focus, and maintaining that focus throughout the job. The actor who is properly stretching, developing muscle isolation, focusing on breathe control, generating a physical character different from self, dwelling within the mind of the character while warming up the apparatus of performance, is the actor who is going to do the best work. Period. That goes for auditions as well as performances. Nobody wants to hire a lazy actor. Nobody wants to hire a lazy employee in ANY trade. Don't be lazy. Do the work. Now go look in the mirror, and ask yourself whether or not you are willing to do the work. If not: Get out of the way for the rest of us who are doing the work.
Got your nose out of joint? Check back for next month's column on head shots, because I'm just getting warmed up….
LOS ANGELES, October 23, 2018 - LA's most talented and prolific Theatre Critics take to the stage to answer the questions that keep us up at night, "Who are these critics, what do they do, and how do we find them?"
Writers, Directors, Producers, Publicists, Performers, and anyone else who has struggled to get their work reviewed will benefit from this free workshop that bridges the gap between performer and critic.
This event is free and open to the public. Attendees are encouraged to RSVP via Contact@Better-Lemons.com and to bring their questions, comments, suggestions, and elevator pitches.
Panelists will address strategies for connecting with reviewers, pitching productions, maximizing the benefits of a review, and building relationships with reviewers and critics.
The "Meet the Critics II" panel includes:
Vanessa Cate is the Assigning Editor for Stage Raw and the Editor-in-Chief for @thisstage.la. Vanessa is a performance artist, writer, and jack of all trades, and can be found on stage, in strange audiences, and in interesting situations.
Ernest Kearney is an award-winning L.A. playwright and rabble-rouser of note and has worked as literary manager or as dramaturge for, among others, The Hudson Theater Guild, Nova Diem and the Odyssey Ensemble Theatre, where he still serves on the play selection committee. He has been the recipient of two Dramalogue Awards and a finalist or semi-finalist three times in the Julie Harris Playwriting Competition. His play Peddle was selected by the Midwest Theatre Network as one of the best plays of 1997. His most recent work 'The Salt Prince' was awarded honors from the Nathan Miller History Play Contest as well as the Fremont Center Theatre Play Contest. A passionate theatre and history buff, Mr. Kearney's reviews can be found on WorkingAuthor.com and TheTVolution.com.
David MacDowell Blue
David MacDowell Blue has been reviewing Los Angeles theatre via his blog "Night Tinted Glasses" since 2012. He has a degree in Theatre Arts and graduated from New York's National Shakespeare Conservatory. At different times, he has acted, directed, written plays and designed things from sets to lights to costumes. Born in San Francisco, he ended up raised in Florida (where he lived through twelve--yes TWELVE--hurricanes) then eventually landed in Los Angeles.
Tracey Paleo is founder of Gia On The Move. Gia On The Move was established in 2009 as an arts & culture dialog site attracting influencer readers in a variety of industries. In addition to Gia On The Move, Tracey Paleo is the former Associate Editor of FootLights and has been a contributor to Discover Hollywood, FootLights, Tolucan Times, Extra Virgin: Under the Tuscan Gun, among other publications. In 2015, Tracey also spearheaded the groundbreaking 1st Stage Raw Los Angeles Theatre Awards live broadcast and Twitter Campaign, which trended regionally to an audience of over one million views alongside Drake, Madonna and The Avengers movie. Tracey was also a panelist on the 1st Stage Raw 'Visualizing The Invisible' Performing Arts Coverage Symposia.
'Gia On The Move' is Tracey's brand as well as her site and she is an influencer in other places under that moniker.
'Tracey Paleo' (alone) is mostly known as the actress from Scorsese's, 'The Departed' among other things.
Rob Stevens began reviewing in 1973 for the monthly community theatre magazine Showcase, covering the professional theatres in Los Angeles. He served as editor/co-publisher of It's Showtime in 1996-98. He has also been a reviewer/interviewer for Dimension, Data-Boy Magazine, The Civic Star, Frontiers, Frontiers After Dark, Drama-Logue, Backstage West, L.A. Reader, Santa Barbara Independent and a few others. In 1988 he began writing the column West Coast Stages in the national publication Backstage. In recent years he has written for the websites ShowMag.com, TheatreMania.com, and StageHappenings.com. He is the founder of The Robby Awards which began as a listing in Showcase magazine in 1975 and has since grown into an annual awards show. The 30th Robby Awards were presented in February, 2016. He is a member of the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle.
The "Meet the Critics II" panel will take place from 10am to 12 noon @ Theatre West, 3333 Cahuenga Blvd. West, LA, CA 90068
Arrive early, bring your coffee mug, and get ready to get connected!
Parking is available in the lot across the street and also on the street.
Meet the Critics was the event that I needed to help me learn how to network with prominent members of the Fringe community and the LA Theatre scene. I learned the best ways to contact critics, the do's and don'ts of a press release, and ways to draw an audience. I also met some critics who came to my show and gave me reviews that boosted my confidence as a performer and writer. It it wasn't for Better Lemons, I would have been totally lost trying to navigate the Fringe Fest. ~ John Brahan - actor, playwright “Ain't That America”
Meet the Critics panel is akin to learning the trick behind the magician's illusions. Only in this case it's dream making instead of fantasy breaking. Any serious thespian would be a fool to miss it. ~ Cooper Bates - writer, performer “Black When I Was A Boy”
Yes! Another Press Panel! At the Better Lemons' Fringe Critics panel, I was able to connect and form solid professional relationships with the people at the heart of support system for the LA theater community - it's Press. These events are a must for anyone producing and performing in Los Angeles. ~ Jonathan Tipton Meyers - actor, writer and filmmaker “We Are Traffic - A Rideshare Adventure”
The supreme achievement of humanity finds expression in the word “community.” By bringing together artists, producers, critics and all those who have a passion for L.A. theatre, Better Lemons serves to strengthen us individually and collectively. ~ Ernest Kearney, Playwright and Critic
Better Lemons is Home of the LemonMeter and LA's #1 Arts & Entertainment Calendar. Founded in 20016 by Enci Box, Better Lemons aggregates reviews from critics and audience members, and features news and opinion on LA's theatre.
Theatre West is an internationally acclaimed non-profit organization, founded in 1962 by movie star Betty Garrett, and is the oldest continually running theatre company in Los Angeles.
For more information, call Stephen Box at 323.864.7586 or email Stephen@Better-Lemons.com.
Fill out the form below to RSVP and add questions you want us to ask the critics.
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LOS ANGELES: Ovation TV, America's only arts network, has completed an agreement with the Actors Studio to produce and air future episodes of Inside The Actors Studio, the award-winning interview series about the art of acting. As part of the agreement, the network will also curate content from the series' extensive library for additional episodes.
Ovation will premiere the new Inside The Actors Studio in the Fall of 2019. James Lipton, the series' creator, original host and executive producer, will turn the microphone over to a number of rotating guest hosts, who are in consideration now by the network and The Actors Studio.
“It's very gratifying to see the legacy of Inside The Actors Studio being carried forward for a new generation to appreciate and enjoy,” said James Lipton. “I made a vow early on that we would not deal in gossip — only in craft, and Ovation, as a network dedicated to the arts, will continue that tradition with the next seasons of the series. I'm excited to see the new hosts engage with the guests and students and continue to entertain viewers in the U.S. and around the world.”
“Inside The Actors Studio is a series that fits perfectly with Ovation's mission to provide viewers with diverse arts programming, and we're doing it from the heart of New York City with the support of our partners at AT&T/DIRECTV, Comcast, Charter, Verizon FiOS and independent cable operators across the country,” said Charles Segars, CEO, Ovation. Inside The Actors Studio began and will continue to be a televised craft seminar for the students of The Actors Studio MFA program at Pace University. Paul Newman, a former Actors Studio president, was the show's first televised guest. The series has gone on to host a veritable “Who's Who” of award-winning actors and directors over the past two decades, over 200 in all, including Sally Field, Ellen Burstyn, Alec Baldwin, Bradley Cooper, Brad Pitt, Sidney Pollack, Carol Burnett, Jessica Lange, Julia Roberts, Willem Dafoe, Billy Crystal, Shirley MacLaine, Meryl Streep, Spike Lee, Martin Scorsese, Jeremy Irons, Barbra Streisand, Clint Eastwood, Al Pacino, George Clooney, Angelina Jolie, and scores of others. The series has received 20 Emmy nominations in the Outstanding Informational Series or Special category. The series received an Emmy in this category in 2013. James Lipton also won the Critics Choice award for Best Host in 2015.
“Ovation is dedicated to supporting The Actors Studio's commitment to providing the best educational resources for its students. In so doing, we will uphold the high standard set by James Lipton for excellence in producing programming that is multicultural, informational, enlightening and entertaining,” said Scott Woodward, EVP of Programming and Production, Ovation TV. “We look forward to introducing a whole new generation to the craft of acting through vibrant new hosts and guests that we will begin to announce in the coming months.”
“Over the years this series has had a profound impact on the Studio's MFA program at Pace University,” said Ellen Burstyn. “I know my co-presidents, Alec Baldwin and Al Pacino, and our Board of Directors, share my enthusiasm that Ovation has come on board to continue this enduring legacy.”
The series is filmed at the Michael Schimmel Center for the Arts at Pace University's New York City campus. Ovation will continue filming at this venue.
In addition to having exclusive linear and digital rights in the U.S. to new episodes of Inside The Actors Studio, Ovation will also control all international rights to such episodes.
Gray Coleman of Davis Wright Tremaine and Michael Kagan of ICM Partners represented The Actors Studio, and Rob Rader, General Counsel, negotiated on behalf of Ovation.
Photo by Monique A. LeBleu - Director Jessica Lynn Johnson of Soaring Solo, at the Hollywood Fringe Festival Prom Night 2016, Hollywood, California.
I interviewed Director Jessica Lynn Johnson, teacher of Soaring Solo, a how-to series of workshops and individual instruction on creating solo theatrical projects and bringing them to fruition. Jessica is often a one-woman cheering squad for her students, creating unique costumes out of their promotional bar cards and items for Fringe Festival parties.
I first met Johnson at the Hollywood Fringe Festival in 2016, dressed head to toe in a costume crafted entirely from her students' and other producers' show cards. This creative endeavor she makes special each year for the annually anticipated social event, "Prom Night."
After seeing some of her students' shows at the festival and at the Whitefire Annual Solofest, I caught her in action at a recent Saturday morning workshop with LAFPI: The Los Angeles Female Playwrights Initiative at Whitefire Theatre, on Saturday, July 21, 2018.
I later spoke with Johnson, here, where we talked on the mechanics of her process for creating solo artist theatrical projects, her use of inspiring and provocative word prompts with exploring through two-minute on-the-spot writing, the free workshops she teaches at the Whitefire Theatre, and various festivals and creative outlets that feature solo shows such as Solofest, the Hollywood Fringe Festival, the North Hollywood Fringe Festival, and work with The Los Angeles Women's Playwrights Initiative.
The atmosphere in her home studio is designed to be conducive to creativity, both for herself and for her students, and she talked further on how the process that she teaches can go far beyond that of creating a solo show, but lead a deeper path into self-discovery.
On Saturday, June 2, Better Lemons and Theatre West hosted “Meet the Critics!” featuring several of LA's premier critics for a panel discussion of theatre criticism.
The following critics attended:
Shari Barrett from Broadway World
Shari Barrett, a Los Angeles native, has been active in the theater world since the age of six - acting, singing, and dancing her way across the boards all over town. Shari now dedicates her time and focuses her skills as a theater reviewer, entertainment columnist, and publicist to ""get the word out"" about theaters of all sizes throughout the Los Angeles area. Dale Reynolds from Edge Media Network
Dale Reynolds, a SoCal native, has been a critic for theatre, film and DVD since 1970, for a wide variety of outlets in NYC and L.A., including StageAndCinema.com, StageHappenings.com, EDGELosAngeles.com, and for Frontiers Magazine for many years, in addition to being West Coast Editor of A&U Magazine for four years. Monique LeBleu from Los Angeles Beat
Monique A. LeBleu is a reviewer, writer, photographer, videographer, shameless foodie and wineaux. She has won multi JACC Journalism awards for her feature writing, critical journalism, and social media statewide competitions. Patrick Chavis from LA Theatre Bites
Patrick Chavis is the creator, designer, podcast writer, and head editor of LA Theatre Bites. Because of the massive size of the Los Angeles area and its theatre presence, Patrick decided his reviews should take the form of podcasts en lieu of more traditionally written articles. He is also one of the creators of the Orange County based theatre review site, the Orange Curtain Review. Bill Raden from LA Weekly
Since Bill wrote his first review for LA Weekly over 30 years ago, he has covered theater on both coasts, won multiple awards for his political journalism, and today continues to focus on Los Angeles' experimental and intimate stage scenes for LA Weekly as well as for the online stage journal, Stage Raw. Leigh Kennicott from ShowMag
Leigh Kennicott has an extensive background in theatre, film and television and a Ph.D. degree in Theatre, awarded in 2002. A writer, director and actor, Leigh Kennicott began theatrical reviewing at Backstage, followed by Pasadena Weekly and Stage Happenings blog before joining showmag.com in 2018. Katie Buenneke from Stage Raw
Katie has been a theater critic for over a decade, and has been reviewing Los Angeles theater for 7 years. She ran Neon Tommy's theater section for three years before freelancing for LA Weekly for another three years. She joined the LA Drama Critics Circle in 2015, and she's currently a regular contributor to Stage Raw. She earned her BA in theater and MFA in film producing from USC. Jordan Riefe from The Hollywood Reporter
Currently serves as West Coast theatre critic for The Hollywood Reporter, while also covering art and culture for The Guardian, Cultured Magazine, and KCET Artbound. Cover theater for OC Register/Coast Magazine in Orange County and theatre and film for LA Weekly. Assigned beat for THR focuses on touring productions of Broadway shows. Ernest Kearney from The TVolution
He is presently the cultural critic for The TVolution.com. Michael Van Duzer from This Stage LA
Michael Van Duzer has reviewed opera performances, both locally and nationally, for over 30 years in a variety of print and online media outlets. After leaving his job in 2014, he was finally able to add theatre to his reviewing schedule. Ryan M Luevano from Tin Pan LA
Ryan Luévano is a professor of music at Woodbury University and Santa Ana College. During the summers he is a regular teaching artist at A Noise Within Theatre Company in Pasadena. When he's not making music he pens as a theater critic for his blog Tin Pan L.A. where you can read all about the L.A. theater scene.
This FREE Workshop is Sunday, April 20 from 3-5pm.
Provided will be information on how to make the best use of free resources that are out there to promote your show, including using public online calendars and making your social media work better for you! This Meetup is specifically for anyone who is:
~ promoting a theatre production or venue in the Los Angeles area.
~ promoting a film, documentary or short in an LA-based festival.
~ promoting their writing, blog, or is looking to self-promote on social media.
We, from Better Lemons, will be on hand to answer any questions regarding registering with our online calendar and how to make the most out of our website!
Come mix and mingle and enjoy beer and wine tasting in a cool, speakeasy cellar wine bar at Oeno Vino Wine shop and bar in Atwater. Oeno Vino has a wide assortment of wines, craft beers, cheese and charcuterie plates made to custom order and a selection of shareable personal pizzas. (Oeno Vino is in an open mall shared with Starbucks, Link n' Hops, and Crispy Crust, and is easily accessible from the 5 freeway: Northbound, exit 140 Glendale Blvd., Southbound exit Glendale 140B exit, turn Left on RIverside, then turn Left onto Glendale. Oeno Vino is on the Left in the mall next to Starbucks and Link n' Hops.)
All beverages and refreshments are available for purchase on-site and are not hosted by this Meetup.
There is limited parking in the lot, shared by Starbucks and other businesses. However, ample street parking is available at most meters, which is free on Sunday in Atwater, which run perpendicular to Glendale Blvd. and on adjacent streets.
SPACE FOR THIS MEETUP IS LIMITED AND FILLS QUICKLY!
RSVP here at https://www.meetup.com/Social-Media-for-Theatre-Film-Fests-Start-up-Prods.
Female Fusion - The Intersection of Art and Activism
Reena Dutt is exactly the artist that this column is named for. She creates art; theater, film, web, and video, that moves the conversation forward. The subject of the conversation changes, the message is sometimes obvious, sometimes more obtuse, but the medium stays constant. Art speaks and Dutt knows the language intimately.
There are so many stereotypes of what an ardent feminist, an activist, a person of color fighting for representation is; strong, powerful, angry. Dutt is quite disarming and funny. She laughs easily and often. She is petite, pretty and slightly self effacing. read more here
Audio Interview: Barbara Luna (Lt. Marlena Moreau of Star Trek) and the cast of "South Pacific" at La Mirada Theatre
Fire, Glass-Walk With Me: A Revealing Interview With Vixen DeVille
Fire-eating, glass-walking, circus aerial, magic, burlesque, costume crafting, comedy, and acting—British actress Cat LaCohie fits all of these skills into her life and her new solo show “Vixen DeVille Revealed”, coming to the Hollywood Fringe Festival this June.
Originally from Newcastle, LaCohie began her career in London, with appearances at Cafe De Paris, The Ritz Hotel and at the Charing Cross Theatre in West End, since relocating to Los Angeles. read more here
Deanne Bray and Troy Kotsur
Now Casting: World premiere ASL/Spoken English love story “Arrival & Departure” at Fountain Theatre
The Fountain Theatre is now accepting submissions from hearing actors for the world premiere of Arrival & Departure, a funny and poignant new play written and directed by Stephen Sachs that will blend American Sign Language and spoken English. read more here
Face To Face: Street Artist Teachr and Fairfax High School Students Come Together To Teach Peace
Renowned street artist Teachr (Keith Biele) will display his work and highlight the art work of 16 Fairfax High School students he has mentored, on Thursday, May 25th from 4-10 PM.
The art show will take place at Flux Rebellion (7763 Melrose Avenue), who generously donated their space to allow the students to sell their pieces and keep 100% of the income while learning the business of art and harnessing their creative energy in a positive way. read more here
Antaeus Academy Classes Open for Enrollment
Antaeus Academy is offering now 12 classes and this is the time to enroll for these summer sessions! read more here
Larry Harvey during the Burning Man festival in 2011.CreditJohn Curley, via Associated Press
Larry Harvey, the Man Behind Burning Man, Is Dead at 70
Larry Harvey, the guru-like driving force behind Burning Man, the globally celebrated anti-establishment, anti-consumerist festival that he and a friend began 32 years ago on a San Francisco beach, died on Saturday at a hospital in San Francisco. He was 70. read more here
Students in every Putnam City school are offered a variety of art instruction by 95 fine arts teachers. Western Oaks Elementary second-grader Siriwan Adsawathanat practices for a school program in vocal music class.
Interviews: Putnam City school district puts emphasis on the arts to inspire students to success
Whether playing the national anthem at an Oklahoma City Thunder home game or performing an intriguing string quartet cover of the Beach Boys' classic “Barbara Ann” at an Oklahoma Autism Center fundraiser, members of The Silver Strings of Putnam City stay on the move. read more here
Young Audiences Program Brings Teaching Artists To Students
WOODLAND PARK, NJ - Charles Olbon and Beatrice Gilmore Schools have been participating this year in the Young Audience Arts for Learning of New Jersey and Eastern Pennsylvania.
The program brings arts experiences by professional teaching artists directly to students. By doing so, it eliminates barriers to participation and make the arts accessible to students of every background, geographic area, and ability. Both Charles Olbon and Beatrice Gilmore had a creativity consultant working with the teachers, an “artist in residence.” read more here
‘You Did It So Well': Traveling Theatre Connects Shakespeare With Everyone
The team, called “Shakespeare in the Parking Lot,” takes their show on the road, performing at local schools and parks.
“Shakespeare is for everyone. It can pop up, and perform in your parking lot,” said Allison Watrous, Executive Director of Education for the DCPA.
Using an old Ford pickup truck as their set, cast members perform iconic Shakespeare plays like “Romeo and Juliet” and “A Midsummer Night's Dream.” read more here
CPHS teacher to receive national theatre award
Charles Page High School teacher Andrea Campfield will receive the Distinguished Merit Award from the American Association of Community Theatre (AACT).
The AACT Distinguished Merit Award is reportedly presented to individuals and organizations in recognition of contributions made to promote and develop the highest standards for community theatre. The award will be presented at an awards ceremony during the international theatre festival aactWorldFest 2018 June 18-23 in Venice, Florida. read more here
24 Teachers and Teaching Artists Board Educational Theatre Association's Model Curriculum Framework Project
The Educational Theatre Association (EdTA) has named 24 individuals to form its Model Curriculum Framework Project, which aims to expand instructional practices for both teachers and teaching artists around the country.
The project, supported by a National Endowment for the Arts grant, pairs 12 teachers with 12 teaching artists, each selected from a pool of over 100 candidates. The pairs will receive online training in standards-based teaching and assessment strategies before convening in Cincinnati July 12–15. read more here
AROUND THE WORLD
Andrew Garfield in Angels in America. Photograph: Brinkhoff-Moegenburg/AP
EU rule could leave theatres dark
The president of the Association of Lighting Directors warns that a new directive could make all existing equipment obsolete
I am writing to you as the president of the Association of Lighting Designers, and as the Founder of Theatre Projects, an international theatre design company that for 60 years has been at the forefront of British theatre technology, responsible for the stage design of the National Theatre, and for over 1,500 theatre projects in 80 counties. read more here
Antaeus Academy is offering now 12 classes and this is the time to enroll for these summer sessions!
If you're interested in any of the classes below, visit http://antaeus.org/arts-education/academy/academy-3/ and click on the "Enroll Now" button to use the enrollment form on the website.
If you take more than one class, you can get a "buy one, get one 50% off" discount. Friends and Colleagues: Harold Pinter & Simon Gray Moderated by Nike Doukas
Mondays 12-4pm, June 25-August 27 (10 weeks)
$450 (Early Bird Discount $400, due by June 11)
Class Size: 14-16
Harold Pinter and Simon Gray wrote very different kinds of plays: Pinter is terse and mysterious; Gray is verbose and more naturalistic - but they are both darkly comic and subversive. They were great friends and Pinter directed Gray's perhaps most popular play, Butley. In this class, the class will focus on the plays of Pinter (Betrayal, Lovers, The Birthday Party, The Homecoming, etc) but also take a look at some by Gray: Butley, Otherwise Engaged, Quartermaine's Terms, and others. Both men are dazzling masters of language who demonstrate those skills with vastly different approaches. Prepare to be thrilled by the experience of interpreting their work. Myth, Superstition & the Blues: The Poetry of August Wilson
Moderated by Gregg Daniel
Mondays 7-11pm, June 11-July 16 (6 weeks)
$310 (Early Bird Discount $280, due by May 28)
Class Size: 14-16
Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner August Wilson is arguably one of the great playwrights of the 20th century. His ambitious ten-part play series known as “The Century Cycle” chronicles the African American experience during each decade of the 20th century. His work has garnered a Tony Award as well as the New York Drama Critics Circle Award.
In this workshop, the class will examine the themes, sources and personal history that make the playwright's work so resonant. Through scene and monologue work, you will delve into the musicality, rhythm, prose and poetry which distinguishes Wilson's text. As Wilson stated, “the more my characters talk, the more I find out about them.”
This class is open to students of all ethnicities, races and backgrounds. An Amuse-Bouche of Masters: A Scene Study/Technique Class
Moderated by Daniel Blinkoff
Tuesdays 2-6pm, June 12-August 14 (10 weeks)
$450 (Early Bird Discount $400, due by May 29)
Class Size: 14-16
This 10-week Intensive will focus on Chekhov, Stanislavski, and Earle Gister's technique of acting developed at The Yale School of Drama. Whether you have a lot of experience with any of these innovators of the theatre, or none at all, it doesn't matter. Your curiosity and passion is all that is required. Just like the Master's Program at Yale, this class will start exactly where you are and work from there. With a main focus on Chekhov's plays and short stories, the class will focus on The Moscow Art Theatre's approach to Chekhov, examining Stanislavski's scene analysis while combining it with the exercises that The Moscow Art Theatre utilizes in interpreting Chekhov's plays so the actor is no longer thinking about the play but experiencing it in a kinesthetic physical manner. Once this is established, Earle Gister's technique of acting will be introduced as an aid in releasing the work. Through this scene study, focusing on Chekhov and then possibly bridging out towards more modern texts, the class will experience the common threads between all of these master teachers and how they resonate in all different kinds of texts. This class is an opportunity to strip away our own misconceptions with these three masters of the theatre and to experience their approaches in a positive and beneficial way that we can use today. Mind the (Gender) Gap
Moderated by John Sloan
Tuesdays 7-11, June 5-August 21 (12 weeks)
$550 (Early Bird Discount $500, due by May 24)
Class Size: 16-18 Every word a woman writes changes the story of the world, revises the official version.--Carolyn See
In the 21st century, female playwrights are taking center stage (and creating some of our favorite television shows too). But for so many years, the work of female playwrights hasn't been given the attention it deserves. In this class the company will focus their scene study work on plays written by women from all over the world, from the earliest days of the theater to the rich and varied works of contemporary times. Through the exploration of what dramaturg Susan Jonas called "the other canon," the class will challenge our assumptions, expand our horizons, enrich our craft, and add depth to our experience as actors and as people. The Dive In: Othello
Moderated by Elizabeth Swain
Tuesdays 1-5, July 3-31 (5 weeks)
Tuition: $280 (Early Bird Rate $250, due no later than June 19)
Class Size: 14-16
How well do you really know this play? Through deep textual analysis, set against knowledge of Shakespeare's times, the class will dig and dive and gain more understanding of Shakespeare's meanings. In the long held Antaean tradition the actors will read the play together, playing any parts they choose. Occasionally the class participants might stage a scene to clarify (he did intend the plays for performance!) but the intention is to gain a new understanding of Shakespeare's text through extended table work, readying them all for a production. The final class will include a reading of the play, all participants alternating roles. A Holistic Look at Dialects: UK Edition
Moderated by Lauren Lovett-Cohen
Wednesdays 1-4, July 11-August 29 (8 weeks)
Tuition: $310 (Early Bird Rate $280, due no later than June 27)
Class Size: 14-16
It's 2018, and thankfully there are more and more TV/Film/Web and theater projects that include roles from all over the world. The idea of a Standard American dialect or RP or the “correct” way to speak is giving way to the specificity of the who/what/where and the history of each character.
Join Antaeus for this class where they open up a new way of looking at dialects -- with a concentration on the UK for this round -- to give you the tools for getting more work in today's projects. There will be monologues and scene work from various plays penned by British authors from the turn of the 20th century through today. Shakespeare: Making the Bard's Words Your Words
Moderated by Rob Nagle
Wednesdays 7-11, June 6-August 29* (12 weeks)
$550 (Early Bird Discount $500, due by May 25)
Class Size: 16-18
*no class the week of July 4
Why is Shakespeare such a challenge to so many, not only to perform, but also to comprehend? Could it be that we get caught up in the academic, an analytic study of the text through reading it, and then find ourselves neglecting the characters, the people we are attempting to bring to life. In this class, through action and scene study, participants will find a way to use the scansion and the poetry to make them bolder actors — and in so doing, participants will find his words coming out of their mouths as conversational and current, but not casual or contemporary. Fitzmaurice Voicework
Moderated by Scott Ferrara
Thursdays 1-5pm, July 19-September 6 (8 weeks)
$350 (Early Bird Discount $300, due by June 7)
Class Size: 14-16
Whether you work in theatre, film or television, all mediums of our craft call for vocal strength, flexibility, and specificity. This class uses a holistic approach to body/mind/ voice work, to help the participant explore the dynamics between body, breath, voice, imagination, language, and presence.This approach liberates the mind, body and voice by strengthening the connection between what the participants are feeling and what they're expressing. By integrating physical exercises with mental focus, the class will bring the full richness of the actors' experiences to their work. By strengthening the “support” for the participants voice, the class will also add more variety to the expression of the performers use of it, be that in pitch, volume, singing – all without straining the voice or vocal chords. And then the class will combine Classical Text with the voice work, further developing the awareness, trust and freedom with the actors' breathing, body, feelings, imagination, and voice and add more vibrancy and presence in performance. Shaw, Wilde & Coward
Moderated by Kitty Swink
Thursdays 7-11, June 7-August 30* (12 weeks)
$550 (Early Bird Discount $500, due by May 19)
Class Size: 14-16
*no class on July 12 "This suspense is terrible. I hope it will last." Oscar Wilde
This class will engage participants in the wit, craft and social commentary of three of the English language's most celebrated playwrights, Oscar Wilde, George Bernard Shaw and Noel Coward. Participants will learn to contextualize their times, manners and behaviors, and using scene work they will embrace truthfulness, imagination, concentration and living in the actor's body while performing biting satire and high comedy. The powerful combination of technical expertise and emotional truth brings each of the playwrights to life and makes the participants understand why these three have been performed for more than a century. Open to actors of all ages. Shakespeare 2.0
Moderated by Armin Shimerman
Saturdays 10am-2pm, June 9-July 28 (8 weeks)
$400 (Early Bird Discount $350, due by May 24)
Class Size: 14-16
This class is a further exploration of Shakespearean acting skills for people who have already studied with Armin at Antaeus. This class will further intensify the actor's awareness of the text and how to clearly communicate that to an audience. To enroll, participants must apply and be approved. Real, Safe, and Kicka**: Stage Violence for Actors
Moderated by Ned Mochel
Saturdays 10am-2pm, July 7-August 25 (8 weeks)
Tuition: $350 (Early Bird Rate $300, due no later than June 22)
Class Size: 14-16
This class focuses on an exciting, new approach toward stage violence in the American theater that's rougher, tougher, and more realistic. This is not your traditional stage combat class; this class prepares the modern actor to engage in a more realistic, intense style of stage action.
Ned Mochel has been building stage violence for over 25 years. His violence design has been showcased in plays at Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago, on and off Broadway in NYC, Geffen Playhouse, as well as at Antaeus Theatre Company. He's been changing the way audiences perceive stage violence one production at a time. If you've been immersed in stage action in the past or if you're interested in diving in for the first time, this is the class for you. It's a rough, tough, fun approach--an experience you'll never forget. Learn how to make it real, stay safe, and kick ass. From hand to hand fighting and gun work to detailed sword training, you'll find yourself building new skills to set you apart from the others. This is new cutting edge stage action and it's happening at Antaeus. Shakespeare: Getting Started - WAIT LIST ONLY
Moderated by Armin Shimerman
Wednesdays 1-5pm, June 13-August 8* (8 weeks)
$400 (Early Bird Discount $350, due by May 30)
Class Size: 14-16
*no class the week of July 4
This class is designed for those who have never studied Shakespeare with Armin before. It will include monologue/scene study and a thorough approach to acting, understanding, and communicating through language, history, religion, social mores, and - the Rosetta stone to performing Shakespeare - Elizabethan rhetoric. Any fear of performing/reading Shakespeare will be cured. You may laugh as well.
The First Annual Film Con Hollywood, on March 24th, hosted by David Rountree, owner of LA Acting Studios, and Richard Botto, Founder and CEO of Stage 32, which took place at the Los Angeles Convention Center, downtown L.A., presented a day-long convention connecting filmmakers, screenwriters, actors, and industry players. On offer were a full day of panels by executives from Gersh, Netflix, TCA, Amasia Entertainment, Gravitas Ventures, Buffalo 8, Three Point Capital, Bondit Media Capital, directors from Sundance's A Boy, A Girl, A Dream and Angels & Outlaws), and writers from Girls, The Newsroom, and The Affair). read more here
‘Citizen: An American Lyric' at the Kirk Douglas Theatre, 2017.
Fountain Theatre's ‘Citizen: An American Lyric' to highlight new LA arts festival at Grand Park
Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Announces Recipients of 2017 Awards
The Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle announced the recipients of its 49th annual awards for distinguished achievement in theatre last night, Monday, March 19, 2018, at A Noise Within in Pasadena. Wenzel Jones presided over the festivities, and Christopher Raymond served as music director.
There were two winners of the 2017 Production award: Hamilton (Hollywood Pantages Theatre) and Rotterdam (Skylight Theatre). Awards in 17 other categories went to touring hits as well as productions by local 99-seat companies. In addition, the LADCC presented seven previously announced awards, including the Margaret Harford Award for sustained excellence in theatre, to the Los Angeles LGBT Center's Lily Tomlin/Jane Wagner Cultural Arts Center; and the Gordon Davidson Award for distinguished contribution to the Los Angeles theatrical community, to Steven Leigh Morris.
Teenagers from the JumpStart Theatre Program in Ohio; coming to San Diego, thanks to La Jolla Playhouse (Susan Doremus)
La Jolla Playhouse sponsors JumpStart Theatre Program for middle-schoolers
Middle schoolers in San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) will have a rare opportunity to express themselves through the JumpStart Theatre Program, sponsored by La Jolla Playhouse.
The Playhouse was selected by the Educational Theatre Association (EdTA) to be one of two regional theaters to expand the successful program it was running in Ohio.
"EdTA believed we had the right skill set to launch their program on the West Coast," said Steve McCormick, Playhouse's director of education and outreach. "The Stages Theatre Company in St. Louis was the other company chosen for the JumpStart Theatre expansion." read more here
LOCAL FOR KIDS
Debuting in 1948, restored after 30 years dormant last year, this is a show to ROAR about! By popular demand, over 100 colorful and wonderful characters return to the stage, along with some newly restored circus fun, are coming your way!
Lions, elephants, tightrope walkers, acrobatic poodles and sooo much more, this is a not-to-be missed musical variety puppet spectacular!
Saturdays 12pm • The Really Awesome Improv Show • Celebrating an 8yr run!
Fun (and appropriate) for all ages, 2yrs-200, The Really Awesome Improv Show features improv games that rely on audience suggestions and participation, is great for the whole family, and was voted “Best Kids' comedy Show” by LA Magazine! Because there's a rotating cast you'll see a different cast and games each week. Great for birthday parties and family outings! read more here
Can an App Track Sexual Predators in the Theatre?
In a week in which Stormy Daniels could plausibly be called the most famous actress in America, and with the nation awaiting revelations about the private predilections of the serial sexual harasser in the White House, it seemed grimly appropriate that, on a recent evening, a group of theatre professionals in New York would gather to discuss ways that their own industry might combat more routine manifestations of sexual transgression. read more here
Catríona Crowe, Eleanor Methven, Peter Crowley, Phillip McMahon and Sheila Pratschke in discussion at Speak Up & Call It Out, at Liberty Hall, Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times
Accountability fears stymie efforts to change culture of Irish theatre
“As theatre artists we understand the complexity of human interactions. Our role is to explore relationships, to reflect society back to itself – and to ask questions in order to elevate consciousness. We know well how complicated human beings are.”
This is Grace Dyas, who started all this in October 2017 with a blog about an unacceptable experience; she said putting it out there publicly “felt like throwing a grenade” and it started a process where 311 people contacted her to share their experiences of harassment and bullying, in media, politics, arts and theatre specifically. read more here
When the Los Angeles improv community lost venue and teaching institution the iO West Theater in Hollywood on Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018, the folks at Mi's Westside Comedy Theater, Impro Theater, The Pack and The Nerdist, have stepped in and stepped up to help students seeking continuation in their programs by offering discounts, internship opportunities, and a new home.
Same famous alumni that have come from iO West include Tina Fey, Steve Carrell, Kay Cannon, Seth Meyers, Kate Flannery, Stephen Colbert, John Favreau and recent Oscar winner Jordan Peele. Notably, alums Amy Poehler, Ian Roberts, Matt Besser, and Matt Walsh, went on to found the Upright Citizens Brigade.
These established L.A. venues offering to help students in their transition not only already cater to the local improv teaching and performance community, but also have ties to, or are alumni of, iO West.
Photo courtesy of M.i.'s Westside Comedy Theater
Mi's Westside Comedy Theatre Artistic Director and Actor Nick Armstrong (The Office/Grey's Anatomy), has “deep roots” in iO West, with 17 years as a member and with L.A.'s Critically acclaimed Harold Team King Ten. He and the staff at Westside Comedy plan to intake students in direct continuation from their last levels at iO West.
“Improv is all about support, so we thought 'Why not offer something? We need to do something to help our community,'” said Armstrong.
"We kind of just wanted to open our arms and say, 'Hey, we've got your back!' which is kind of a motto in improv,' and that we wanted to help these displaced improvisers, a lot of which we perform with,” he continued.
iO West was a six level program, so community concern was being able to enter into programs at equal levels so students wouldn't have to start over. Westside has seven core levels with training in different focuses, which Armstrong said is on par with comedy intensive training formats.
Photo courtesy of M.i.'s Westside Comedy Theater
At Westside, iO West students can come in at one step level above their last level and those from upper levels offered a 25% discount. The program offers opportunities to workshop in shows on Sundays, and the House Teams pick from classes during daily weekly performances.
Former iO West student and L.A. native Marissa Madsen of online YouTube sketch comedy shows “Those Girls Comedy” and “20's vs. 30's” begins her transition to Westside this week, continuing from level 3. She sees improv as a “good workout as a comedienne” and in honing “gut instincts.”
"I wanted to jump back into classes just to keep my improv skills sharp again because I do a lot of sketch comedy,” said Madsen. “I do miss being somewhat in a performance setting or classroom setting just being able to have a live audience.”
Jacob Sorling, of Colorado, also comes to Westside in March from iO West, where he interned as Stage Manager working in trade for classes. Also working part-time at Second City in LA as a stage manager, and likely again for the upcoming Hollywood Fringe Festival at Fringe Central, Sorling comes to the Westside to not only join some of this fellow students and co-workers, but because the theatre will be honoring his earned credits toward improv classes.
“A lot of the interns at iO were going to be left out to dry because they worked for free for classes that they are no longer going to get any more,” said Armstrong. “So we've offered to honor their classes here at no price.”
The training will fuel Sorling's work on the “Buddy Puzzle” which plays every second Saturday at another Improv venue and school, The Pack, in a show that features ten improv duos performing in five minute monothemes which Sorling co-hosts with partner and girlfriend Anatasha Blakely.
"My intention going in is just to continue in a community that I love,” said Sorling. “Nick [Armstrong] has welcomed me with open arms. I immediately feel like I am welcome there."
Photos are courtesy of The Impro Theatre. Impro Theatre School's Conservatory class performs Tennessee Williams Improvised at Impro Studio on Vermont.
The Impro Theatre is also giving discounts on basic and core classes to students who were at IO West. The Impro teaches narrative and genre improv, using “literary styles as a way to teach improv.”
“I think people take improv for lots of different reasons,” said Producing Artistic Direct Dan O'Connor at Impro. “But those people who did genre who used to be at iO now have a place to come study with us."
With a show in residency at the The Broad Stage in Santa Monica, covering ten months of ten different genres over that times, the Impro Theatre offers students future opportunities to to perform in full length plays with sets, props, costumes, and music. Themed shows like “Chekhov unscripted,” “Sondheim Unscripted” or “Tennessee Williams Unscripted.”
"There's a lot of cross breeding between all of the improv studios in town and it seems like everybody is opening their doors and offering deals to those who are studying that,” said O'Connor.
The Impro does everything: “An all woman, dystopian, YA novel improv group … we have one group that does improvised Star Trek Next Generation ... Shakespeare, H.G. Wells, X-Files, [and] Stranger Things, named 'Stranger Suggestions,'” continued O'Connor.
The Impro is offering $85 off their 12-week courses to former iO students who wish to enroll within the next six months. Students who have completed iO West Level 2 can bypass the Impro Basics course and jump directly into their C.O.R.E. program.
The Pack Theater is offering iO West intern hours up one full free class and adding “additional Level 1's to cover interest” where the teachers will “teach for free” and cover rents.
Students who have completed a class at any level at iO West in the past year will get a 25% discount on their first class at The Pack, and those close to finishing the iO West program—completion of Level 4—can receive an eight week Master Class on Harold for free.
We will also make sure you get some shows up at The Pack. This won't get you the “diploma,” but I think it will finish out what you were pursuing in that program.
Because of the way The Pack's program is designed, they can't offer level transfers or intro levels, as all levels are advanced. IO West students needing discount codes to register online for classes can go to their Facebook page for detail info.
“Since this all has happened so quickly and without warning, these offers will remain in place for the March/April sessions as well as the May/June sessions,” per their Facebook post. “[But] you will all find a new home.”
The Nerdist Improv program is four class levels and offers classes in Improv, Sketch, and Acting. Each level ends with a class show on stage and instructors are trained actors, improvisers and writers.
Classes begin at level 1 and they have internships as well, but iO West students who wish more information can contact them at Classes@nerdistschool.com.
As The Pack reminds on their Facebook page, “The community is larger than a place. The process ends when we die.”
There is a mythology about the starving artist who must struggle to create his or her art. Miata Edoga certainly struggled when she first arrived in Los Angeles with dreams of becoming a working actress.
Hers was a familiar story – huge credit card debt, working multiple part time jobs with low pay and no benefits. She desperately ran from audition to audition hoping that this might be the one to finally stop the spiral she was in at that time.
But then came the day when she nearly missed a curtain.
She was working a hotel restaurant in West Hollywood, and they wouldn't release her the day of a matinee until the very last moment.
It was a horrible experience that caused her to think, "I'm a failure as an actor, I'm a failure as a human being and I'm a failure at everything I said I was going to be." It's a story she has told many times to her students at the Financial Wellness seminar she teaches at the Actors Fund in LA's Mid-Wlshire district.
"I was sobbing, shaking, I barely even remember the show," she says. She went home and cried for days. She can joke about this now, laughing as she says,"Maybe it was a nervous breakdown."
She tells it because this is the moment that shifted her life when gradually, with a persistence and work ethic she inherited from her immigrant parents, she learned to make the financial changes that would let her focus more on creativity, instead of frantically trying to stay one step in front of creditors.
It is liberating, as Elizabeth Gilbert wrote, for artists not to burden their art with the need to make a living, a point very similar to what Edoga teaches. If you create more financial power, you will strengthen your creative goals – something difficult to do if you have $50,000 worth of credit card debt to deal with, as Edoga did at one point.
"The starving artist mantra is one of the biggest disservices to the artistic community," she says. "As a culture we have a tendency to celebrate it." As she tells it, we've all heard the stories of the actress who had 32 cents in their bank account when she got her big break, or the writer who was sleeping on park benches before he had his.
She feels this has created a mistaken belief that because someone was willing to suffer, they therefore achieved success. Possibly this has made some of us passive, waiting for that big break instead of taking charge of our own careers.
"Stories about someone who says I was willing to have 32 cents in my bank account and that was why I ultimately made it is what we hear about, but there are countless more people with 32 cents in their bank accounts who had to go home and quit," she says.
Edoga believes that acting has such a high turnover rate because people cannot financially support themselves, so if financial training was part of what an actor was taught, they could sustain their creative aspirations longer.
She wants us to celebrate artists who choose to be as powerful as they can be, so - from the parents' POV - "when your child comes home and says Mom, Dad, I want to be an actor, instead of dying a little inside, parents can say, awesome, let's talk and see how you can structure your life so that you can support your career choice."
Her class is free for anyone working in the entertainment industry in Los Angeles. This represents an exciting partnership for her because she can meet her clients where they are financially – and not ask them to pay for an expensive class when they already heavily in debt.
Photographer: Christopher Smith - Miata Edoga with Adaora Nwandu, a student and film & television director
All of her students are not coming from a rock bottom place – some of them come because they have just experienced a windfall, for instance after selling a spec script, and they need to know how to properly manage the money they have made so it doesn't evaporate.
She stresses, however, that she is not a financial advisor or a tax expert. She will not offer tips on what specific stock you should buy or whether you should join the mania and jump into the cryptocurrency market. Her company is called Abundance Bound – not Wealth or Richness Bound – because the goal is not necessarily about making a particular sum of money, but rather about finding ways to be financially stable to support creative work.
Dealing with financial hardships requires self awareness and can be a painful experience, especially when we stop ignoring those numbers and instead start facing where we are at this given moment. Edoga does not sugarcoat this or tell her students only what they want to hear. Optimism is fine, but without doing the hard work of identifying expenses and coming up with a plan, she believes it is simply not enough.
This does not imply that Edoga is stern or unforgiving. In person, she is very confident and charismatic, using her hands to illustrate her points, laughing often, her thoughts very clear and precise. You sense a passion behind her words – a love for acting and for any kind of artistic pursuit. She is not in love with money.
"My mission is to help the creative community recognize that we don't have a choice about having a relationship with money – it's just one of those relationships you must have," she says. "It is our choice to make that a healthy relationship, and that takes what any good relationship needs: communication, a sense of humor, patience and persistence."
Her own persistence is probably something she learned from her parents. They both came from real poverty – no running water or a roof over their head, sometimes in war-torn environments. Like so many other immigrants, they had a very strong work ethic.
They became professionals – her father a surgeon, her mother an attorney – and Edoga says they literally changed the course of her family for generations to come. They broke the cycle of poverty cause they simply worked hard enough to overcome it. And this gave their children the security to pursue their own ambitions.
So perhaps they were not entirely thrilled when Edoga fell in love with storytelling and decided she wanted to be an actress. They expected her to pursue something more practical and choose a profession close to their own. Deciding instead to be an artist wasn't something that would have ever occurred to them; it was simply not a part of their own experience.
Edoga discovered she could sing, and after falling in love with musicals, scored her first casting coup around 12 when she got called back for Dorothy in a regional production of The Wiz.
"I came home one day and said to my Mom, I think I might get Dorothy, and she said sweetheart, you will not get Dorothy, maybe you'll get a chorus part, but not Dorothy," Edoga says.
This was her parents' point of view – not negative in Edoga's estimation, but very realistic – "Don't get your hopes up too high, face the truth, and always keep working no matter what setbacks might occur."
As it turns out, however, Edoga got cast as Dorothy.
"There is no question my choice terrified them for many years, but they never issued any ultimatums," she says.
In fact, they paid for singing lessons and sent her to drama camps, and because of her parents, her choice became more possible. She didn't feel she had to fear chasing her acting ambitions.
But they insisted she do the hard work herself. They wouldn't have let her become homeless, she says, but they weren't going to give her handouts if she got into trouble. They gave her the work ethic and encouraged her to believe in herself, but after that, she was on her own.
She wanted to continue training for musicals and went to Williams College – where, unfortunately, musicals are not part of the curriculum. A blind spot in her research. They were not considered "serious" theatre there.
But she stuck it out, and began working with Tessa Marwick, the great South African Drama teacher known primarily for her work in experimental theatre, and found a new love: Shakespeare. She won an award her senior year in college, and with the starting money she received, she read some books, prepped a budget, and thinking she was ready, came to Los Angeles from her native New Jersey. But she was not nearly as ready as she initially believed, and soon began to get into serious financial trouble.
"I didn't expect to be discovered right away, but I wasn't ready for emergencies, for how much things cost, for how hard it was try and get that perfect part-time job with flexible hours, because of course, those jobs don't pay anything," she says.
She had many jobs – SAT tutor, dog walker, nanny, temp, Starbucks barista to name a few – and ran around to different auditions, but without any sense of what her overall goals were, either financial or creative. Credit card debt soon began piling up, and things got really bad when she got rear-ended in a car accident.
"I called my Mom and told her, hey, this accident happened, and things are really bad right now," she says, "and maybe a little part of me was hoping she would offer to send me a little something to help me out, to tide me over, but instead she said, wow, that's really hard; I'll bet McDonald's is hiring."
This could sound very cruel, but Edoga didn't take it that way. Her mother had sympathy for her situation, but as always, she wanted her daughter to take responsibility for her choices. It is a lesson that Edoga hasn't forgotten.
Photographer: Nina Prommer - free workshops at The Actors Fund
Then came that fateful day when she nearly missed her curtain. She was sick of being broke. So she told herself she had to learn how to handle her finances. She had to make money, but also understand it, and have a plan.
"I remember thinking, I'm a smart person, I can do this, and I would go the bookstore, find the financial section and just start reading books," she says.
She took as many financial classes as she could, especially the free ones. She found another mentor, this time Loral Langemeier, a financial coach and self-described money expert who stresses a very practical approach, just as Edoga does now.
"Laurel was inspiring, but also very tough," Edoga says. One step led to the next, and soon Edoga signed for an 8 month personal financing class with Langemeier. It wasn't free, so Edoga had to hit the credit cards again, but this time she viewed it as an investment.
She was assigned a coach who taught her many of the things she now shares with her students. It's not magic, she says, but she got clearer about her finances, stopped working multiple part time jobs and slowly that massive debt began to disappear. She was so focused and determined that at the end of the course she was asked to become a coach herself.
She is certain that this shift would have inevitably occurred even if she hadn't nearly missed her show. Her perspective changed, and this improved not just her bank account, but her creative focus.
"Initially I was just trying to get people to hire me," she says. It was all about how many auditions she could get, finding the right agent, getting that first guest shot, parlaying that into bigger roles.
During a recent 60 Minutes interview, Donald Sutherland called actors who do this "vertically organized"--meaning they are looking at acting only as a career ladder. Process is ignored. This scattershot approach often creates desperation and anxiety, and nothing kills good acting faster than those two things. Or thinking more about what bills you can pay if you book the job rather than the work itself. It's not unlike frantically running in place.
Edoga has not, however, given up on career goals. It is her view of them that has changed.
"I truly want to act and I truly want to be great at it, but the end of the day, I may get hired or I may not – but what I can do is take control of my career," she says. If she doesn't get cast in something, she creates her own projects, sometimes performing a solo show, other times writing a sitcom with her husband, but she doesn't wait for something to happen.
She recently auditioned for the role of Ruth in the A Noise Within's production of Loraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun and spent long hours preparing for the role, throwing everything she had into it, studying the part into the wee hours of the morning.
"I loved every minute of the audition process, because I know I did the work, and no, I didn't get it," she says. "But I had a blast working on trying to get it, and the difference for me now is that I've created a life where I can spend hours working on those sides, sleep in a little bit so I wasn't totally exhausted and go into the auditions totally focused, and when I was done, return to running my company." Totally unlike her earlier audition experiences, when she hardly had time to think about the work at all, and left most of them feeling unsatisfied.
So an honest question Edoga believes we must all answer is what exactly are we trying to achieve, and then develop a clearly defined career strategy that helps fulfill those goals. Maybe you want to write and produce your own project, maybe you're doing showcases because you want to find an agent, but there has to be a game plan behind your pursuit.
She won't accept a student telling her that they don't have time for "this financial stuff, I need to focus on pursuing my acting" because she says she's made all the same excuses herself, and there is no perfect time to do this work.
"I am an actor and that means I have to keep studying and growing and trying new things and failing and trying again, but I am also a human being who has to have a relationship with money," Edoga says. The Abundance Bound curriculum was inspired by other financial books and most of the ideas in it are not new. Edoga has tried to specifically tailor those lessons for people working in the entertainment industry, which is very different from most other careers.
"I want people to have the support and tools and community to keep walking on this road, it's not like, oh, come take my class and you will be done forever. You will have the tools and understanding, but you will have to make choices and practice always."
A former student called Edoga a few weeks ago after her savings were seized because of a past issue she ignored. All of the substantial progress she'd made since taking Edoga's class seemed destroyed, and the terrified voice message the student left was difficult to understand. She was in tears, nearly falling apart.
She was calmer, but still very sad when Edoga reached her a few days later. But as the conversation continued, the woman began to calm down, and it was she who started coming up with solutions to her problem, not Edoga.
And that, says Edoga, is awesome, because, "yes, when our savings account is seized we're going to feel horrible, but during that 15 minute conversation my student moved from being a victim, to thinking, okay, this is what happened, and here is what I am going to do about it.
We shouldn't go to a place of thinking I'm a horrible person when we suffer a setback, according to Edoga. It's an ongoing process. Find solutions, and keep going.
Abundance Bound has been around for 15 years now and at this point does no advertising. People find out about the classes mostly through word of mouth. And as the years have gone by, a community has begun to develop between Edoga's students. Several clients have established creative relationships with one another – for instance, one former student cast her in their film, another opened a barbershop in Los Feliz that counts Edoga's son as one of its customers.
Edoga encourages this process, but doesn't try to control it. "No one has any obligation to hire another graduate," she says, "but why not investigate those relationships, provide some structure and create a community without forcing it to happen."
"You have to believe with total certainty that you will achieve the things you want to achieve in life," Edoga says. "And I genuinely believe that most of us have what it takes to change our lives, but we need support and we need education and we need to able to look at what is true right now." Probably this is why she never makes any claims to being a financial wizard, or an investment manager. She provides you with tools and the knowledge, but the rest is up to you.