Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Good Folk, Bubbles and Smoke

I spent a few hours with some former classmates at a hookah bar last night. (Don't smoke! It's a filthy habit. But if you do, the mango-flavored tobacco is particularly yummy.) I met this lovely and talented group of people through the UCLA Extension acting program. We had some great times hanging out after class, but I hadn't seen them in months when it hit me that they might be drifting away. So I made a beeline for Westwood to make sure I got at least one more look at them. I'm glad I did, especially after learning that two are leaving L.A. soon. Oh, it's not like they're going to another planet and never coming back, but it will make seeing each other less likely for a while. There are lots of things I love about acting, but the people I've met probably top the list. As a journalist I've interviewed and written about some famous and fascinating subjects, but there are so many other gifted people out there to be appreciated. Working with them in this way creates connections on levels that are difficult to reach in other aspects of life.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Simon Says, "Look Away!"

Tonight I reunited with some of my improv pals (see previous post) at an audition. It was great reconnecting with them and experiencing some of that old magic that we last felt, oh, six long days ago. In the audition, my scene partner intentionally made me his lover and I accidentally made him a kangaroo. Things like that happen when you improvise, I guess. Actually, when I think about how some of my real-life relationships have ended, that's not so bad. From there the night just got weirder, as I rushed to Universal Studios and had the otherworldly experience of sitting in a dark theater, surrounded by strangers, watching myself take a shower on the big screen. Well, that's show business. I played a character named Simon in a short film called The Sensualist. He's a quirky cultist who handles the bulk of the film's exposition, helps set the mood and facilitates the final, brutal confrontation between protagonist and antagonist. The shower segment is mercifully brief and contains only what we in the biz call implied nudity; basically just my head and shoulders are exposed. Still, I squirmed and wanted to shout, "I'm wearing shorts!" For the bulk of my screen time I'm fully dressed, and I get to deliver some juicy chunks of dialog and take some interesting emotional turns. I did get some nice comments afterward -- on my acting, not my milky white skin. Thanks to director Angelica Rodriguez and writer Gabriel Fregoso for making me part of this stylish and intriguing project. After the screening, there was free food. Actors love free food.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

A Week Without a Script

I'm still buzzing from a wild week in the world of improvisational acting. Here's the main thing I learned from the Immersion Workshop at The Second City Los Angeles Training Center: Improv is hard. But it's exhilarating too. I also learned to be more deeply aware of my partners, accept their offerings, try to give more back, and let things move forward organically in a framework of trust and mutual support. If that sounds more like a relationship seminar than an improvisation workshop, I guess that's the point. The Second City teaches "connecting emotionally" more than "making up stuff." The one-week course comprises five consecutive days of six-hour classes (including breaks) culminating in a performance before invited guests and paying audience members. To tell the truth, I took it mainly to have something else to put on my acting resume and to help with auditions, but if I'm not careful I could become addicted. I even went to an improv jam last night for another fix. I don't know whether to blame the sheer thrill of performance or the infectious enthusiasm of the faculty: Amazing Amy Seeley, Musical Michael Pollock, and most especially Rockin' David Razowsky. I already miss them and my fun-loving improv-class buddies. I hope we meet again soon.

The Course