The Vagrancy’s Tactical Reads of Megan Breen’s “My First, My Fist” at Studio/Stage in Los Angeles
It seems that Spring is the time for Readings! And I’m thrilled. It’s been a while since I’ve done a reading, let alone so many, but they are back– in droves. Perhaps there is just a creative resurgence? Screenwriters, playwrights, poets, aspiring and otherwise. Or, maybe it’s just coincidence. Who knows.
But in the last couple of months I’ve done a staged reading with my new artistic home, The Vagrancy, as part of their Tactical Reads series (which pairs female writers with female directors), a living room table read of a friend’s screenplay, a staged reading of a beautiful play, Tree of Fire, at Occidental College as part of Incarceration Awareness Week, another living room reading of a friend’s original webseries, and then this Wednesday I will be hosting a reading of my very own first ever full length play! That’s a lot of readings.
Readings are great because with little commitment you can keep your acting muscles moving, you have the opportunity to play parts you might not normally be cast in, you learn about writing and workshopping, you can be a part of a project from its inception, you can meet other cool actors but also directors and writers, and the list goes on. And, as I always like to say, you never know where or when these seeds you plant will begin to sprout =)
Sometimes you don’t know where life will take you, the adventures and opportunities that arise. That’s what’s fun about tracing the steps, especially in this biz. You spend so much time planting those seeds, that by the time one sprouts you forget where it came from. I had an amazing life adventure meets acting opportunity (best of both worlds!) moment recently and when I sat down to think about it, I realized the steps that took me there.
About two and a half years ago I saw a show, a short play festival at this little black box theater in Boyle Heights I’d never heard of if it weren’t for the fact that my boyfriend was in the production. The festival was wonderful, the people I met were even more so and when this company was having auditions for their next festival I jumped at the chance. I got in and got to work with some of these awesome people I’d met at the show and then some. I continued hanging around… One night, at some theater event or afterparty I was talking to the producer of the fest and expressed my interest in directing as well as acting. I don’t know how it happened but by the end of the evening I was slated to direct year two of that original festival I saw two and a half years ago.
And then, bam, last October was my directing debut with this wonderful company. The festival did very well and it was a lot of hard work and fun. A few months later, I get a call that six of our short plays were accepted into an International Theater Festival in none other than Dublin, Ireland. Holy crap. And not only that, but since not all actors could commit to going, would I be interested in attending as an actor. Um, YES PLEASE!
A few months after that call, I was on a plane on my way to performing for the first time on an International stage. I got to perform in pieces I’d directed just months prior, working across talented actors I’ve grown to love. Not only that, but I got to do it in IRELAND!
The week was magical. Getting to do what I love with people I love and exploring a great new city across the seas was more than a dream come true. And it all happened because I saw a little festival a couple of years ago.
There’s so much swimming through my mind…
Passion. Endurance. Desire. Persistence. Resistance.
A lot has gone on these past few months. Kind of all over the place, but also kind of related: grad school for literature and film, teaching theater and journalism, and all while keeping one toe in the pool of acting. But as these days and months go on it’s becoming clearer and clearer that the toe just isn’t enough! I’m always hungry for more. My memory isn’t so awful not to recall that when I did have more time to dedicate to my career I was still wanting more. More auditions. More plays. More work. More quality of work. More, more, more! And I guess that hunger is a good thing. I suppose that’s proof I’m following the right career. Last weekend’s Brown & Out performance left me on a high. The mere two hour shoot I did on a fun little comedy short my friend wrote made my weekend. Watching a friend perform an outstanding show, and then talking about it, got me inspired and motivated. I want more of all of this. It’s up to me to get it.
So I’m putting things in motion… planting more seeds… and hopefully there will be MORE.
I’m trying to keep a positive outlook. Chalking it all up to experience. All that I do (not just the acting stuff) are great experiences. Who knows where any of them will lead. I just need to trust. That’s the magic of life, right?
It’s really easy to talk ourselves into or out of almost anything.
For instance, talking ourselves out of doing what we love because it’s “too hard” “too impossible” “too impractical” etc. etc. And it’s easy to talk ourselves into doing what we aren’t all that crazy about because “it’s not that bad” “it’s comfortable” “it pays well”and so on and so forth. And then you get used to it– the mediocre job. It becomes habit. What you know. You really convince yourself that you’re kinda sorta I guess perhaps sure why not happy there. And before you know it, months or years have past and you’re still doing that mediocre thing that your heart is simply not into but you’ve somehow managed to believe is the right thing to do!
And then… despite your crazy busy schedule and exhaustion, you’ve managed to force yourself to go to an event, one that is not in the world of your day job, but in the world of your dream job, and suddenly you remember what happy really feels like. “Oh yeah!” your heart says. “This feels nice.” You want more. You want to be surrounded by those people, talking about those things. And you just have to admit it. ADMIT IT! (I’m yelling at myself now here). THIS is what makes you happy!
A fellow artist shared this great 3 minute video narrated by Alan Watts. It cuts through a lot of that compromising talk artists find themselves thinking and gets to the heart of it all: find what makes you happy and keep doing it.
Every time I find myself straying away from doing the things I love, I get the inevitable itch that subconsciously pulls me to some sort of artistic event– a play, an artist talk, a gallery opening, a writing workshop, etc. I come away from the event feeling motivated, creative, happy. This isn’t new, I know. I’ve written about such an experience before. I just have to keep reminding myself (and lucky you, that usually happens publicly on this blog) what it is that makes me truly happy and trusting that instinct. It’s never steered me wrong.
So, ADMIT IT. What makes you happy?