BETTER THAN TELEVISION: Episodes That Breathe and Fart Returns Tonight!

More posters from Meg Trowbridge, enticing you to tonight’s continuing of Better Than Television!

Return to PianoFight tonight and tomorrow night to see the thrilling Season Finales of your new favorite shows!

Watch the thrilling conclusion of the emotional juggernaut:

smoking gun

Shed a tear with…

Meloncholy Cheese copy

And, of course, you’ll want to know what happens to…

POWher Shark

You’ve got two more nights of entertainment that’s way better than the NBC Thursday night line-up. Tonight and tomorrow night, 8:00pm, only at PianoFight!

The Real World – Theater Edition: Interview With Alex Spieth

Barbara Jwanouskos starts your Pride Weekend with an interview with Alex Spieth!

I met Alex Spieth at Carnegie Mellon. She was one of the BFA actors in her senior year and was in a collaborative class in TV Writing/Acting/Directing. Although the class, at the time, was mainly focused on the classic three-camera sitcom format, it was still interesting in that it started to develop a nuanced skill of creating serial work for the camera for students taking the class.

Flash forward, around a year or so ago, Alex and other artists came together to create a web series called [Blank] My Life. It is a low-budget comedy that is self-produced. When I heard that Alex was trying to spread the word, I thought about this space and how we could explore the idea of creating your own work in this interview. After talking initially, she brought up some very good points about theater artists moving to the digital space.

Below is our interview for your enjoyment.

Alex Spieth: The Greatest Unknown Force on the Internet

Alex Spieth: The Greatest Unknown Force on the Internet

BJ: Tell me about your background as a theater artist and how you got where you are now. Is there any aspect of your personality that has helped you get where you are now and into the arts?

AS: One time I was begging my mom for something and she said, “Lexie! You’re so dramatic! You should be an actor!” And I remember it so clearly, because I thought: This is the finest compliment I could ever receive…I must enter…the craft.

So, I started acting in the 6th grade, and would say I became serious about it in high school. I grew up in Nashville, and had the good fortune of getting to work with the Nashville Shakespeare Festival, the Tennessee Governor’s School for the Arts in Acting, and (through a scholarship through my high school) Interlochen Arts Camp. These three experiences shaped my formative years as an artist so clearly and made me very comfortable taking risks at a young age.

When I approached my senior year of high school, I protested that I did not want a BFA, because ACTING SHOULD BE FOR THE MASSES NOT THE FEW. However, after I was rejected early decision from my top B.A. choice, I was like, Fuck my former principles…and auditioned at all the BFAs minus Juilliard (the reason I told everyone was “There wasn’t enough sunlight in the classrooms!”…but I was just scared of rejection? Much food for thought…). I got into Carnegie Mellon, and made the ultimate decision that this was absolutely where I was gonna go and I’d been ridiculous to want anything else.

Carnegie Mellon University was the best. I loved every inch of the four years: the training, neurosis, panic, return to Christianity, departure from Christianity, fun, scenes, and people. While I am sometimes depressed to not be Super Fucking Famous Already, every opportunity I have had since college has come from the relationships I fostered at CMU. Currently, I work a lot with Tele-Violet and Irondale Ensemble (most recently doing a 5-hour production of the 4 Shakespeare plays written in 1599).

I think the aspects of my personality that have helped me get where I am are that I refuse to not work. I want to be working 24/7, and I’m good at creating work and getting in work. Additionally, I have a sense of humor. My sense of humor has helped me when I felt depressed that I am not Super Fucking Famous Already and, In Fact, Have Not Done Much Regionally Either.

BJ: I know you had vigorous training at CMU’s School of Drama since that’s how we met! Can you give people an idea of what it was like? Is there anything that particularly prepared you?

AS: CMU is the best. It really is a completely comprehensive program that will equip you to work in your field. The thing that is hard is that the process of learning often messes you up for practically being able to ACT. Many of my classmates and, certainly myself, seemed to take a few steps backward in getting better. One time at a Bible Study (sophomore year I reclaimed religion before slowly letting it drift away junior year), I said, “I feel like I’ve lost my ability to act!” Which is very dramatic and not true long-term, but it can feel pretty crippling to have a constant “What do I do with my hands?!?!?” thought running through your head.

Carnegie prepares its students to act, collaborate, and perform incredibly well. They accept a student body that is not only talented, but also smart, giving, vibrant, and largely funny. The only change I would suggest for my time there (reiterate: I left 3 years ago, so times may have changed) is to incorporate crowdfunding/a basic DSLR camera utility session into Business of Acting (taken senior year).

BJ: Tell me about [Blank] My Life. How did it come about?

AS: I started writing the pre-season of [Blank] My Life after I got dropped by my agency the first year out of college. It was the first time that the Adelyne Roth Levine Memorial Scholar (aka me) felt like she had Publicly Failed. The options became: Ugh, god, I guess I could continue to do things that will make me feel even worse about myself (sleeping with Evil Playwrights, trying to trap newly single boys into thinking I was The Love of Their Life, etc.) or I could start writing.

If you watch the first few episodes of the pre-season, they are very rudimentary because it was literally my friends and I getting together for a few hours on Saturdays to film. We started in a guess and check kind of manner: making a video, editing it, sending it to YouTube. By the summer of 2015, we had 9 episodes and had gotten the quality and team to a level that I was proud of. I wrote the proper first season of [Blank] in the summer of 2015, and we started filming in October.

Over the year of 2015-2016, we filmed, edited, and released [Blank] My Life‘s first season on no budget. I’m incredibly proud of the product and think it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done. I am lucky to work a fair amount in the theatre although I am tragically not Already Super Fucking Famous. However, creating and producing my own work has given me back the confidence I felt like I lost when I got dropped.

When I first got out, I spent a lot of time and money doing pay-to-play classes and workshops, and I would advise anyone who feels powerless in their career to NOT DO PAY-TO-PLAY CLASSES and spend the money on a rehearsal room, or a venue, or Final Cut Pro, or a DSLR, or knitting material, or a book on gardening, or anything in the world that will grow who you are as a person and a performer. In my experience, it has made all the difference.

BJ: For those perhaps unfamiliar, tell us about the premise of [Blank] My Life. What’s it about? Were you inspired by or responding to anything in particular?

AS: [Blank] My Life is an insecure comedy that just wants to make a connection that follows Susan, an NYC millennial, on her quest to find love and simultaneously not end her life. It’s like Louie if Louie was written by a young lady, it’s like Girls because it features a young lady with more elements of magical realism. While the series is based off of my thoughts/interactions, it’s also just as really based on nothing. It wasn’t in response to anything other than my need to keep creating work for myself.

Promo Shot from 'Ex-BF. Susan goes on a date with the devil in 'Ex-B

Promo Shot from ‘Ex-BF. Susan goes on a date with the devil in ‘Ex-B

BJ: What has been your process of writing and creating the series?

AS: In the summer of 2015, I got up every morning, and I wrote enough until I felt like I had a season (we axed 6 episodes, so I guess it was more than a season). Before I begin proper, I go through a “culling” period where I talk to People Who May Have Insights. Before the pre-season, I talked to a lot of people about the rudimentary natures of Cameras and What They Do, and before the first season I talked to a lot of web series creators about fundraising, location scouting, and SAG queries. All the time spent acting advice is great and often very useful; however, eventually you must kick yourself into high gear and just do the thing.

This time around, the project has a SAG New Media Agreement but wasn’t funded through anything other than myself and the generous donations of my team to the project. This was intentional as I wanted to created a fully-fleshed product before we started asking for money for the next endeavor.

A shoot would usually be planned 2-3 weeks in advance, we would get everyone there, and DO IT. We only went overtime once and we were only late to release an episode once WHICH IS PRETTY COOL.

BJ: What are some of the exciting discoveries or interesting/unexpected challenges that have come from creating the series?

AS: Exciting Discoveries:
–Interesting Casting Choices are Always the Best
–People Turn Up Every Time
–Actors appear to not know their lines and then magically get on set and WILL KNOW THEM ALL.
–NYC will not give a fuck where you film
–You can ask the NYC Parks Department for a waiver but they will nearly 100% not check it.
–People WILL give you space for Free!
–People WILL act for Free!
–There is literally always a Plan B when things fall through. Plan B will be just fine.

Unexpected Challenges:
–Technology will often die unexpectedly (One day after shooting 7 hours, a camera died and we’d thought we’d lost it all and it was all very Jack and Rose from Titanic)
–How to get 1,000,000 million views (or anything above 6K)

–A personal challenge for me was learning how to be a leader. It’s hard to be a leader and have a stick up your ass (which I CERTAINLY do at many times). It’s easier for yourself and everyone else if you let most things be relaxed, keep the vibe generally chill, and only put your foot down when it really matters.

BJ: How many people are typically involved?

AS: Each episode involved me, a director, a DP, a PA/ Boom Operator, and 2-3 cast members; so per episode it’s about 6-7 people total. Overall we’ve had likely 30-35 people work on the first series.

BJ: And do you ever put money into promoting it on Facebook or YouTube (you know like the sponsored/promoted content?

AS: I have put money into sponsored content and am trying to find the algorithm for the greatest yield! We’ve also submitted to a fair amount of web fests, and I’m trying to see what will stick.

BJ: I’m curious about your thoughts on theater artists inhabiting and playing in the digital space. Tell me what you see.

AS: I think all actors should have web series other than maybe the few, few who are gainfully employed most of the time (I Release and Destroy The Need to be Super Fucking Famous Already!) I do not say this because it will lead to lots of dollars and/or success, but it’s a better and cheaper “Acting for the Camera” class than anyone you can take in NYC! One of your friends likely has an iPhone or Android you could borrow.

The digital space is really exciting because it can cut out the middleman. I’ve def not discovered how to get teenagers on my side (and this is where the power is….the power is in the teens), but if you can figure out how to be a tastemaker you can be your own agent, be your own boss, and LIVE YOUR OWN LIFE.

BJ: How has creating your own work opened up other opportunities for you?

AS: It’s made me more confident. When I walk into a room for an audition, I used to feel painfully alone, but now I have [Blank] with me. Wherever I go, I’m not just Alex-Looking-for-Next-Job-Spieth, I’m Alex-the-Person-Who-didn’t-Take-No-for-an-Answer.

It’s hard because I have no tangible proof that this will necessarily lead to anything, but I feel much better day to day. Which is kind of all that matters.

BJ: What are you looking forward to next within the series?

AS: I want to get as many eyes on this as possible. LITERALLY, SF, if you know anyone interested in the quirky musings of a vague Greta Gerwig, send them to [Blank]! If you know anyone that has a taste for female-driven comedy at a no-budget level, send them to [Blank]! If someone ever again says the phrase, “I am bored”, send them to [Blank]!!!!!

And I’m writing the next season. Let us pray for the future.

BJ: Any words of wisdom you have for people that want to do what you do?

AS: Do it. Do it really badly, because it will get better rapidly.

BJ: Any shout-outs or plugs for other projects or friends’ work (especially in the Bay?)?

AS: Yes!!! This summer, My friends Rodney Earl Jackson Jr. (CMU classmate) and Marcelo Pereira run San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Company (Sfbatco) and are collaborating with a young group called YPTMTC (Young People Teen Musical Theater Company) which is an arts education company. They will be creating a new way for youth to get engaged in heightened text in a program called “Not Yo Mama’s Shakespeare”.

Rodney’s one of my great friends, and you should always catch his butt on the Motown tour (for….there….is….no…town…like…Motown…..).

For more on [Blank] My Life, check out Alex Spieth’s website.

Theater Around the Bay: Announcing the 2016 Pint-Sized Play Selections

We are proud to announce the lineup for the 2016 edition of Pint-Sized Plays, our annual bar-specific short plays festival!

From over 45 submissions from Bay Area playwrights, we’ve chosen the following scripts:

Julie Kopitsky’s Bat Mitzvah by Jake Arky

Polling Place by Gabriel Bellman

Bar Spies by Alan Coyne

Don’t I Know You by Elizabeth Gjelten

Where There’s a Will by Tanya Grove

Angel of Darkness by Shirley Issel

Why Go With Olivia by Caitlin Kenney

Beer Culture by James Nelson

No Fault by Christian Simonsen

Cemetery Gates by Marissa Skudlarek

In addition, we are pleased to say that Pint-Sized 2016 will see the return of Rob Ready as the Llama (in a new “Llamalogue” by Stuart Bousel), and that due to popular demand, we have added a fifth performance!

 

See the Pint-Sized Plays on August 15, 16, 22, 23, and 29 in the PianoFight bar space!

Cowan Palace: I’m Not Good At Goodbye

It’s Ashley’s last blog as a San Francisco writer! Feelings!

I’m not good at goodbye.

Truly, I’m terrible. Airports, season finales, and sometimes even finishing a sandwich can make me weepy. Whenever I start to think about having to say “goodbye” to something, my stomach immediately starts to feel like it’s being raked alongside a pile of old leaves and I can almost hear the tears in the back of my eyes high-fiving each other over their power and fighting to take control of my face.

Last night when I attempted to write this blog, I was so overwhelmed I literally put a blanket over the emotions and myself, turned the lights off, and made myself go to bed early. It’s just too many feelings! I teared up reading Will’s blog yesterday and wasn’t sure what more I could lend to the discussion of saying goodbye to this city we’ve called home, this place where we’ve so willingly invested our hearts.

I also want to puke my brains out every time I realize that I won’t be able to properly thank all the people that have been a part of my story here. I wish I had enough hours and resources to find each one of you that’s been a part of this crazy, theatrical, city adventure and express my gratitude. To the directors who gave me a chance and a role, to the castmates who became my friends and family, to all the roommates and sublets across the Bay Area who gave me a place to store my knits and emotions, to all the boys I had silly crushes on who gave me stories to share and pushed me towards my now husband, to the jobs that allowed me to survive as an artist, to the people who read words I wrote, to the city itself for lending its heart to inspiration, creativity, and community. I’ll never be able to thank you all enough.

I hope that when I leave though, you’ll continue to take care of each other the way I wish I could do; that you’ll fight to be kind, you’ll give shy new kids a chance to make a mark, you’ll forgive those that may have wronged you and forgive yourself for holding on to heavier things longer than needed, that you’ll say yes to stuff that seem scary, that you’ll dust off your rose colored glasses and attempt to see the world as a hopeful romantic every so often, that you’ll log miles walking this beautiful landscape thinking through a new idea or practicing your lines, that you’ll try as many new foods and experiences you can get your hands and mouth on, and that you love, love, love all that you can while you have the chance.

And how do I love you all exactly? Well, with adorations, fertile tears, with groans that thunder love, with sighs of fire, duh! (I obviously stole that from Shakespeare and Viola’s line but since I had the chance to be her for a whole summer 6 years ago, I don’t plan to return it.)

So thank you, San Francisco Theater Pub and all of you. I love, love, loved my time here. And since I’m not great with goodbye, I’ll just say, I can’t wait to say hello to you all again.

Ashley Bridge copy

Here’s Ashley a few months after she moved to San Francisco, already fighting back the tears!

 

Working Title: That’s All One, Our Play is Done…

This week Will Leschber bids farewell to the Bay …

Since this is the last blog entry I’ll write while I’m still in the Bay Area, we are going to change up the format, as one is wont to do when times are a-changing. Call it indulgent but I’m confident anyone out there can sympathize with a time of transition.

I’m not sure where to begin. How to sum up the closing of a chapter that has redefined one’s life? We all know that ruminating swell of indigo emotion that accompanies a transition. Whether it be closing a show, semester’s end, season’s shift, a graduation tassel turn, a job change, an impending parting, or a big move: There is a particular bittersweetness reserved for such occasions. As you my know, dear readers, my wife (fellow blogger, beautiful Ashley Cowan of Cowan Palace fame) and I are moving out of the Bay Area. We are journeying due east to see what dreams may come on another coast. Endings lead to new beginnings and the bittersweet feelings remain…

I’ve never been fully satisfied with the term bittersweet. The blanket term of bittersweet doesn’t lock down everything encapsulated in the leaving of a phase of life. There needs to be a term that rolls the jumbled entirety of emotions that may appear in the garbs of… excited to start a new era, anxious about the uncertain future, melancholy for all things left behind, joyful for optimistic possibilities, wistful of times gone by, thoughtful of all the 525,600 minutes that made up each year passed, hopeful for a bright road ahead, cognizant of the fact that these are the last days of disco. The juxtaposed opposing emotions somehow simultaneously crossing vast plains and wide trains of thought.

The Radiant Indigo Fade...or Crimson Wistful Waveaway...the new "bittersweet" should more resemble something of that ilk. If only wordy!!

The Radiant Indigo Fade…or Crimson Wistful Waveaway…the new “bittersweet” should more resemble something of that ilk. If only wordy!!

I knew that feeling when I moved out here 5 years ago. I travelled west to be with the one I love and to move towards a future in a new place and a bright space. I found a small place in the indie theater community here in the City which meant the world to me. Being a part of a living, breathing, evolving beast of creative theater forces was exciting.

12th Night cast copy

Living in a city where every street felt paved with history and character, the light and the dark. Working exhaustive long hours at huge party events from the rolling hills of Napa to the wet cliffs of Monterey where I would not get to attend the affluent galas but I would get to tear down the billowy tents and bright lights afterwards. Living in the middle of the socio-economic divide. Watching the 3am moon kiss the San Francisco skyline from the autumn avenues of Treasure Island in the middle of the Bay.

Treasure Island Living copy

Winking at the final sunset on the roof of our 2nd apartment as we moved into the last apartment we would have in the City. Seeing theaters close their doors when landlords decided they could get more rent. Performing Rent! Performing Shakespeare from bars to redwood forests. Performing my wedding vows in front of 150 of my closest friends and family on a day that could not have been better. Experiencing my first child come into the world and knowing joy unlike any other. Making last plans and saying goodbye… all these things are wrapped in that opalescent mass that color the experience of leaving.

San Francisco U Turn copy

I know anyone who has lived in this tumultuous time and hurly burley place will hear the echoes of my experiences within their own.

I don’t know how to properly put into words the feeling that I know the decision to move on is the right one, yet a part of me will feel as though they never got enough time here. The truth is I am past the point of being able to live and breathe the City. To experience a place fully one needs time and the means to do so. Too often I’ve found myself busy with the act of getting by and being an bill-paying adult to truly enjoy this glorious place. So much of living in the Bay Area within the Theater scene or otherwise feels so transitory and impermanent. But that is the way of all things. The edge of impermanence is just sharper here. Outside all of the sharp edges, I can say in all cliche, I will leave some of my heart in San Francisco. I am so grateful to have known the people I have known. I am so thankful to have been part of the projects of which I was a part. To Theater Pub, to theater goers, to the blog readers, to the bay, to the City, to all co-workers, to the friends I’ve made, the the daughter I made, to love that never fades…thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you.

…Be seeing you.

I leave you with a little Shakespeare and a little rock ‘n roll bard named Tom Petty

A great while ago the world begun,
With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,
But that’s all one, our play is done,
And we’ll strive to please you every day.
~Shakespeare, Twelfth Night, Act V, Sc 1

It’s time to move on
It’s time to get going
What lies ahead I have no way of knowing
But under my feet, babe,
The grass is growing.
It’s time to move on
It’s time to get going…
~Tom Petty, Time to Move On, Wildflowers

Theater Around The Bay: Better Than Television- Episodes That Breathe and Fart- Premieres Tonight!

Artistic Director Meg Trowbridge made some stunning posters to help promote tonight’s exciting new show!

It’s the season premiere of your new favorite shows! Come to PianoFight at 8 to watch the thrilling SciFi nerdiest:

Space Bitch

Fall in love and then have your heart ripped out with the Rothschild family on:

All My Feels

And help Griff and his trusty pup solve another crime by tuning into:

Griff Lomax

There are no re-runs, you cannot DVR these, and even if you still had a VCR and VHS tape, you couldn’t record it! Come binge-watch these fantastic shows with your favorite people! This week’s cast features:

Scott Baker
Danielle Gray
Becky Raeta
Cassie Rosenbrock
Jeunee Simon
Indiia Wilmott
Marlene Yarosh

With host Megan Cohen and Musical accompaniment by Paul Anderson.

With such a talented crew, you know this will definitely be BETTER THAN TELEVISION.

Monday, June 20 @ 8:00pm
Tuesday, June 21 @ 8:00pm
Monday, June 27 @ 8:00pm
Tuesday, June 28 @ 8:00pm

It’s free, though we happily accept donations to pay our actors!

In For a Penny: Playground Rules

Charles Lewis III, a perspective on perspective.

Stop sign copy

“[W]hat is it that constrains the individual to fear his neighbor, to think and act like a member of a herd, and to have no joy in himself?”
– Friedrich Nietzsche, Untimely Meditations

I think it’s safe to say at this point that every theatre person I know took some time out last week to read the Chicago Reader’s exposé on Profiles Theatre. (In the days that followed, Profiles’ AD Darrell Cox released a response statement on the theatre’s official Facebook page, but as of this writing, all of the theatre’s social media channels are shut down. Their official site contains only a statement that the theatre has permanently closed its doors.) If you’re anything like me, the article probably got you thinking. Not just about the stories of the people mentioned in the article, but thinking about your own theatre history.

I thought about my first professional theatre job nearly a decade ago. It was a staged reading with movement for a major theatre and I was (I think) the only non-union person involved. I was very eager to please and didn’t want to look like a fool – or a wuss – in front of all these seasoned pros. So when the director decided that my scene partner and I would perform two kisses described in the script, I kept my apprehension to myself. Stage kisses are fucking terrifying and the only one I’d done before was on a girl’s cheek. Thankfully, my scene partner was a good guy and made it a comfortable learning experience for me. Considering the unspeakable stage acts I would later perform (playing The Soldier in Sarah Kane’s Blasted comes to mind), it now seems kinda silly that I got all choked up over a kiss. Still, it was a decision made about me without my input and I just sat there and said nothing.

I read the article and thought about how years after the above reading I was part of a full production that also required a kiss. The director was insistent that my scene partner and I kiss early into rehearsal, but I wasn’t ready. I want to read and develop a deeper understanding of my character before physical work is done, and it didn’t make much sense to me for physical intimacy to blocked when the entire cast is still on-book. The development I was discovering with my character got me lots of compliments from the cast and playwright, but the director wanted me to hurry up and kiss already; I wanted to find the motivation behind the kiss. This, combined with several other mitigating factors, lead to my leaving the show – a decision I don’t at all regret.

I read the article and thought of a production in which a female scene partner decided to ignore the director’s choreography and got uncomfortably physical with me. The longer the play ran, the more “grabby” she got, to the point where I – in character – would push her away from me. During one show in the penultimate week, as my character was walking away from hers, she grabbed my ass. I stood motionless on stage for a good second-and-a-half (brief, I know) before I regained my faculties and went through with the scene, glad to make my eventual exit. I remember my first instinct being to turn to her on stage, shout “What the fuck is wrong with you?!”, collect my things, and quit right then and there. Instead I finished the run and added names to my list of people with whom I’ll never work again.

I’ll be the first to say that the experiences described above pale in comparison to those described in the Reader article. By and large, I’ve been privileged to have worked with some of the most courteous and professional directors, trainers, and choreographers the Bay Area has to offer. I’ve had the personal comfort of I and my scenes partners given as high priority as that of our personal safety. Although I’m rarely part of union productions, I can usually place good faith in the thought that above scenarios were exceptions for me rather than the standard.

But, as the above proves, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible for those things to happen. I don’t mean accidents, because only so much is our control (an on-stage misstep during last month’s ‘Pub show left me with knee pain that’s only now almost fully subsided). No, I mean situations that could – and should – be prevented but aren’t. Whether it’s an actor being “so into” his/her character that they make their fellow cast uncomfortable, or the director whose “artistic vision” requires bully tactics meant to reduce cast members to tears – none of these acts should be ignored, let alone encouraged.

Artistic collaboration relies on trust – between the creators, collaborators, and even the audience. Violating that trust for one’s own personal interest isn’t a healthy way to make great art, it’s a warning sign for disturbing behavior. People don’t listen to the playground bully because he has something invaluable to say, they do it because they’re afraid of what will happen if they don’t do what the bully says.

And the best way to push back against that is for voices to be heard – on both sides.

Far too often the onus of continued abuse is place on the abused rather than the abuser. I don’t think any theatre or company wants to hurt their collaborators, but they should be transparent in regards to those collaborators. Sure, this director’s last show was extended three times, but how many cast & crew would willingly work with that director again? And when a company sends out casting notices, they should ALWAYS be clear about the fact that the show has material (nudity, violence, etc.) that would make an actor uncomfortable to perform. The company’s job is to make their collaborators as safe and comfortable as possible at all times. Barring extenuating circumstances, failure to do so is the company’s fault.

And yes, actors can and should deeply research a company before auditioning. (Not doing so is a mistake I’ve made before.) The Information Age has thankfully made this much easier than it would have been years before. Is this your first production since graduating? Ask friends on social media what it’s like to work for this company. Look up reviews of shows. See how the season is programmed and if you’d want to do any of the shows in the first place. And always know what your comfort levels are, because you’re the only one who will. Peer pressure was tough on the playground and it’s tough in the real world, but you ALWAYS have the ability to say “No”.

It always breaks my heart when I read stories like these related to theatre. I feel bad for those hurt, in no short part because one of their favorite activities has turned into an absolute nightmare for them. I then feel angry at those who hurt them because it’s often a result of the latter forgetting the one indisputable truth about what we do: this is all make-believe. The sets, the costumes, the make-up, the dialogue – all of it is for the illusions; getting people who watch us to wholeheartedly believe something they know for a fact is not real. Our job is to find the underlying truth of our illusion, but it will remain an illusion. It’s a game that everyone should feel comfortable playing. If you can’t see that, then the problem isn’t everyone else.

Charles Lewis III likes to keep his characters ground by repeating the old Stella Adler quote: “To play dead, darling, you needn’t actually die.”