Songs for the Struggling Artist


Devices in Auditions and Rehearsals
March 9, 2017, 11:42 pm
Filed under: art, Social Media, theatre

My company’s auditions for our project were meticulously planned. I did a group audition because I care about how people work together. I started with drawing, because it’s a script-flipping task that tends to calm jumpy actors down and it tends to signal that we’re doing things differently. I did a bunch of low exposure group acting explorations to get a comfort level going in a room full of strangers and then I had them play with materials to take everyone out of the context of performance and into creating.

Then I took a break. A long one. Because I wanted the group to have some time to chat and get to know one another without someone controlling their experience. It’s useful for me to see people with their masks off for a minute while they talk about their cat, or whatever. As in rehearsals, a lot of the art actually happens in these cross-pollinating moments.

But. In my recent auditions, this whole plan went completely off the rails at this point because rather than chatting and getting to know one another, almost every single actor took out their cell phone and sat against a wall. The room was silent. I was shocked. And scared for the future.

Technology has changed all of our lives in so many profound ways but until this moment, I hadn’t noticed it intruding on my art-making experience too much.

I think this is because in smaller groups, it is less obvious, this disconnection. When working with one or two other people, when someone steps away to take a call or write a text, it is an event. Someone says, “Excuse me, I need to check on my son,” or something like that. And when they return, there hasn’t been a major break in our momentum.

When everyone’s first impulse at a break is to unplug from the group and plug in to Facebook or emails or whatever – the entire momentum of a process shifts.

Theatre making is delicate. When I make something, I work very hard to create an experience that takes people out of the every day and into the world of the play. I want my shows to have this quality and I want my rehearsals to have it as well. Every intrusion from the outside world is a disruption. At our break, one actor checks Facebook and sees that an ex is getting married. Another gets an email about an audition next week that makes him nervous. And so on and so on – and so on everyone’s mind is somewhere else – and it takes effort to bring them back.

This isn’t a judgment on my actors. I fully understand why in an awkward moment, surrounded by strangers, everyone reaches for a phone. It is almost automatic. And I suppose it is that automatism that concerns me.

Back when I was an auditioning actor, no one had a cell phone to turn to in a break, and so we turned, however awkwardly to one another. I made some life long friends this way.

And those relationships led to making more art which led me here to auditioning new performers – and their phones. It’s like everyone’s a package deal now – the actor and everyone they’ve ever known, to whom they are connected via the internet. I am curious about how others handle this landscape. How do you negotiate the phones in your art-making midst?

Help me sort through this new world of creating

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This blog is also a Podcast. You can find it on iTunes. If you’d like to listen to me read a previous blog on Soundcloud, click here.screen-shot-2017-01-10-at-1-33-28-am

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Writing on the internet is a little bit like busking on the street. This is the part where I pass the hat. If you liked the blog and would like to give a dollar (or more!) put it in the PayPal digital hat. https://www.paypal.me/strugglingartist



My First Troll

You guys. I’ve been on the internet making and doing things, writing and posting and sharing for years. I’d assumed the trolls would be coming for me at any moment because I have heard all these stories about what it’s like to be a woman on the internet. But the trolls mostly left me alone. (My guess is that this is due to my only real viral posts being theatre related – and there aren’t a lot of theatre trolls, luckily.) Then when I retweeted John Patrick Shanley talking about artists and added my own…a troll emerged. A troll, a troll! My very own real troll!

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First, I was stunned it wasn’t a rape threat and then shocked that it’s basically a knock on artists. I mean, I know trolling feminists is a thing but they’re trolling artists now?

Anyway – the good news is that it didn’t break me. During all these years of posting blogs and what not, I was afraid that too much of a public profile would lead to this type of experience – one which this conflict-averse artist would generally like to avoid. But it’s not as bad as I thought it would be. And it feels worth the risk at the moment.

I mean, it’s a risk to be a woman in public in any way. It is a risk to walk down the street in most places. And the internet is just another version of the street. I go out into the world, despite the possibilities of harassment, rape or general sexism. I don’t let it keep me in the house.

Nor will I let a troll keep me off the internet, I find. I thought I would cave. I thought I would get a tweet like this and run. But I will not run. I’m celebrating that I have raised my public profile enough that an asshole wants to troll me. If I’m making enough noise to activate a troll, I’m on the right track, I figure.

I recognize that this could all change. If I started to receive the treatment of Lindy West or Anita Sarkeesian or Leslie Jones,  I have no idea how I’d get through that. But here, with my very first troll, I can at least recognize that it will take a lot more to silence me than I previously thought. I’m stronger than I thought. More willing to fight. Tougher. Fiercer. More unafraid.

So I celebrate this rite of passage and honor you, my mean little troll. In the same way that most women will always remember their first street harasser, I will always remember you. But I’ll also never hear from you again, either, cause you’re muted, troll.

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Would you like to help fight the trolls?

Become my patron on Patreon.

Click HERE to Check out my Patreon Page

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This blog is also a Podcast. You can find it on iTunes. If you’d like to listen to me read a previous blog on Soundcloud, click here.screen-shot-2017-01-10-at-1-33-28-am

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Writing on the internet is a little bit like busking on the street. This is the part where I pass the hat. If you liked the blog and would like to give a dollar (or more!) put it in the PayPal digital hat. https://www.paypal.me/strugglingartist



Sundance was (almost) my Middle Name
May 3, 2016, 9:13 pm
Filed under: Social Media | Tags: , , , , ,

It was a different era and if I’d been born a boy, I’d have been Joshua Sundance. I’m telling you this random fact because my blog recently enjoyed a small burst of popularity on Twitter, for days, on a post that was really nothing special. I wondered if Twitter has some algorithms now that promote tweets with certain words. I wondered if simply having the word Sundance in the title of my blog post encouraged Twitter to promote it. Maybe Twitter has some deal with Sundance Festival and gives boosts to posts about it.

So this post is actually an experiment. Will Twitter promote this post the way it did my post about my rejection letter(s)?

The previous one was one of many that are part of a project to document the many rejection letters I receive – it was a post I expected NO ONE to read. Except maybe my Dad. Or my Mom. But it’s gotten dozens of views via Twitter. Posts I’m very proud of got nowhere near that kind of push. So I’m playing with the tools of social media by manipulating my own language and posts.
I’m extremely curious about how all this stuff works. I imagine you might be, too. Everyone who tries to get people’s attention on the web is curious about what makes someone click a link. Twitter is mostly a mystery to me – but now, for the first time EVER, it’s gotten me more than a view or two.

It’s a baffler.

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Become my patron on Patreon and, for as little as a dollar a post, you can make a big difference in this artist’s life.

Also – this blog is now a podcast that (at the moment) only my patrons will be able to hear. If you’d like to hear a podcast version, become a patron!

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Click HERE  to Check out my Patreon Page

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Writing on the internet is a little bit like busking on the street. This is the part where I pass the hat. If you liked the blog and would like to give a dollar (or more!) put it in the PayPal digital hat. https://www.paypal.me/strugglingartist



The Best Time to Post
January 7, 2016, 9:38 pm
Filed under: Social Media | Tags: , , , , , ,

My blog generally gets about 4 or 5 views right out of the gate when I post on Word Press – which simultaneously posts to Twitter. Night or day it’s about the same. Those view go up when I post that blog to Facebook. That’s where I usually get between 25 to 50 views – which is where I generally max out on a post. These numbers are actually bigger than they appear. WordPress doesn’t count views that happen in peoples’ emails or RSS feeds, for example.
I looked up when the best time to post was – and believe you me, in this age when everyone is promoting SOMETHING via social media – there are dozens of articles on this topic. The consensus was that the best time to post was generally Thursday and Friday after lunch. The reason was that views spiked then because people were more inclined to mess around on the Internet as the week winds down. The idea here being that you’re reaching people in their offices at an attention vulnerable moment. I tried posting at those times and it made absolutely no difference.

I’ve also tried posting blogs I wasn’t so sure I wanted to promote at non optimal times – and saw my views rise slightly. The analysis of optimal times is clearly bananas.

But perhaps only bananas when it comes to my posting. These analyses are clearly predicated on an assumption of some things. 1) It assumes your readers are in an office at work 9 to 5 2) It assumes your readers are in the same country, and not even just the same country but the same time zone as well. And probably for some businesses, this may be accurate – but for people who live freelance lives and talk about things of international interest to people around the world – well, it’s always after lunch somewhere, sometime. And those of us who live a freelance life – we are just as likely to be working (or avoiding work) at 11pm as we are at 2pm. I’m coming to the conclusion that there is no real optimum time to post and only a handful of non-optimum times (Saturday morning. Saturday afternoon. Maybe even Saturday night. Skip Saturdays in general. Unless it’s raining ALL OVER THE WORLD.)

I’m not a great promoter of myself. Posting a blog over on Facebook is about the extent of what I’m willing to do self-promotion wise so I want to do it when it will hit – but I’ve realized that it’s a little like throwing a stick in a river, you can’t really control where it will go. It might get hung up on a rock and never go anywhere or it could get caught in a current and speed far away from you. Unless it’s a sunny Saturday and then it’s pretty good odds it’s going nowhere.

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You can help make a difference for me by becoming my patron on Patreon.
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Click HERE  to Check out my Patreon Page

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This blog is also a Podcast. To hear it read to you (along with some other stuff) click here.

Writing on the internet is a little bit like busking on the street. This is the part where I pass the hat. If you liked the blog and would like to give a dollar (or more!) put it in the PayPal digital hat.  https://www.paypal.me/strugglingartist

 




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