Cowan Palace: I’m Not In San Francisco Anymore, Toto

Somewhere over the rainbow in Connecticut, Ashley shares her first audition back.

Well, it’s been about six weeks since I moved to Connecticut and it’s been theatrical to say the least. But, in the middle of battling new-apartment woes resulting in a lack of hot water, electricity, and a working door, I decided to throw myself into the local audition scene. Because in times of rainbowed chaos, why not throw another color into the mix, right?

I was auditioning for the role of Sylvia the dog in A.R. Gurney’s play of the same name. I unpacked some makeup and found my Goodwill purple dress covered in patterned dogs to wear. Unfortunately, I was unable to find an iron to take out some of the wrinkles but that didn’t stop me!

The theater company was only a town over but in order to get to their space, I’d have to take a twenty-minute trek on the highway. Now, I get that this mundane task sounds easy to many of you. But for someone who hasn’t been driving in eleven years, it was a big deal to me. To add more fun, on the evening of my audition, we experienced a massive thunderstorm and I found myself having to do the commute in pouring rain and ill-timed foggy conditions. I also turned on the Into the Woods soundtrack a bit too loud to try and pump myself up and I managed to miss the audible directions provided by my phone so my journey took even longer and resulted in having to take a dreaded left-hand exit. YIKES BIKES, a moment in the woods, indeed.

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But I made it! I walked in, filled out my audition form, tried to find the most comfortable chair, and read over the sides. It then started to hit me that I wasn’t in San Francisco anymore. Back in the Bay Area, I would have known at least five people in the waiting room and would have been trying to inappropriately gossip with all of them; I would have been familiar with the space in some capacity, either as an audience member or from working there before; I would have known more about the company, the production team, and their history than what I was able to quickly learn online. But here I was, the new girl in town, wearing a purple-patterned dog dress, quietly waiting her turn.

Don’t look at me like that, Dorothy. You would have worn the dog dress, too.

Don’t look at me like that, Dorothy. You would have worn the dog dress, too.

When they called me in, I had a moment to introduce myself as they found someone to read with me. Immediately, in my heightened nervous state, I did what I always do: ask as many questions as will fit in my mouth. I asked what show was currently in the space, if they were working on anything other than this, how long they had been doing theater with this company, and how auditions were going, in a record ten seconds. ZING! WELCOME TO THE NEIGHBORHOOD, COWAN! Luckily for them, my scene partner soon walked in and we took a go at things.

After completing the first side, I was asked to do some physical improv exercises to show off my dog sensibilities. These are always fun but I never know how far to push the limit and if I should cut myself off at any particular moment. While I’m glad that I really committed to whatever action I was doing at the time, at one point, I chose to run up on a ramp, lie on it, and then slide down it as the audition panel asked each other, “is she allowed to use the set like that?” Whoops. Lesson learned, you probably don’t want to distract the people who may be interested in casting you by putting the stage in danger.

Once that was over, my small talk returned! Upon mentioning all I had learned from my own dog, I proceeded to say that I had adopted her the day after Obama had been elected President because I was young, new to San Francisco, and feeling extra hopeful and inspired about life. I cut myself off after I had a moment of, “you’re not in San Francisco anymore, Cowan” wondering if I should try to keep any political opinions, along with my dangerous physical ways, outside the casting room considering I was trying to make a good first impression based upon my acting abilities.

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After reading one more scene, I sincerely thanked everyone for their time and went to find my car. When I got home, I literally high-fived myself because, sure, I was proud of myself for trying but honestly, I was so excited I had completed the journey by car alone. The next day, I was asked to come in for a callback and I felt like a fearless pro as I navigated the streets to the theater. I read a few of the sides from the evening before and found myself with the same question I always have at callbacks regardless of location: do I do the scene with what seemed to “work” last night and attempt to recreate some of those beats or do I try something totally new and fresh with the same sides to show them something different?

I ended up trying to do a little of both and I’m not totally sure it worked. Moving forward, gang, I would love to know what you think is the best way to handle a callback so that I can hopefully keep improving my ways. I didn’t end up getting the part but I did receive a truly kind and greatly-welcomed phone message letting me know and encouraging me to audition again. Which, yes, I absolutely will, if even simply to be able to write about the experience. Though I may need a new audition dress…

Well, until next time, friends! You’re always in my thoughts and heart. I hope the view over your San Francisco rainbow has been full of theatre beauty!

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Theater Around The Bay: Cowan Palace Goes Portal

Ashley may be 3000 miles away but it’s like she’s right next to you, singing in your ear about her interview with Kirk Shimano and Sang Kim, who prepare to rock San Francisco Theater Pub with Portal: The Musical!

Hello there, my San Francisco friends! Wow, what a few weeks it’s been, huh? Lots going on all over the world but I have to say getting the chance to interview writer Kirk Shimano and director Sang Kim was a real treat. This dynamic duo is currently working on San Francisco Theater Pub’s latest show, Portal: The Musical.

The cast features Alan Coyne, Jamie Lee Currier, Dan Kurtz, Courtney Merrell, and Karen Offereins with musical direction by Liz Baker, voice direction and production design by Renee LeVesque, and Paul Anderson and Spencer Bainbridge rounding out this rockin’ team as the band. The show is set to the music of Jonathan Coulton and this theatrical piece is sure to be unlike any other production you’ve seen this millennium.

Kirk Laughing!

AC: So firstly, what are audiences in store for when they sit down for Portal: The Musical?

KS: I think the experience will be pretty different based on what the audience member is bringing in. Fans of the video game are going to get to see the story they love brought to life in a totally different way. Jonathan Coulton fans will get to hear their favorite songs for the first time again when they’re sung by our characters. And people who don’t know anything about either are going to discover a whole new world that they never knew they were missing.

SK: A lot more feeling and earnestness than you’d expect for a video game based on dimensional rifts and psychotic artificial intelligence. Also – this show passed the Bechdel Test with extra credit! Good Job sticker for us!

AC: So, how did this project come to be?

KS: I played through the original Portal in one sitting and it’s been a favorite ever since. And when I found out the guy who wrote “Still Alive” had a whole repertoire of other work, I got my hands on all the Jonathan Coulton music I could find. But this all really gelled for me when I heard the song “Code Monkey” on the Best. Concert. Ever. album. As soon as I heard that, I immediately knew there was a character behind this song and wanted to bring it to life in a full musical.

SK: Kirk emailed me back in June 2013 after he punched out a first draft during his stay-cation. I replied back and said yes to working on this. I wish it was more dramatic and suspenseful, but there it is. How about we just pretend Kirk threw the script into a Thunderdome death pit and I emerged the victor and claimed the musical as my prize.

Sang Directing!

AC: What’s been the biggest surprise you’ve experienced while rehearsing a musical about a video game?

KS: I’d say it’s just seeing all the passion that people have for this source material. There’s always a great level of support among other members of the theater community, but it’s been wonderful to also see friends who wouldn’t necessarily consider themselves “theater people” get really excited about this project because of their connection to the source material.

SK: Agree with Kirk. It’s gotten to the point where rehearsals are going long because there’s too many ideas and too much fun being had. And, oh Lord, the spontaneous singing. Always with the spontaneous singing. People singing and making up lyrics and breaking into song. It’s like witnessing a karaoke playlist for ADHD show choir students on meth.

AC: What’s been your favorite moment so far while working on the show?

KS: I’d have to say it’s those moments in rehearsal where we’ve had everyone sing along together. Our cast and creative team has been wonderful to work with in general, but that’s the moment when I just feel we’re all the most connected.

SK: Yes. This.

I played viola in the orchestra so the power of group singing has never made an impact on me until this show. I finally understand why the Grinch’s heart grew three sizes that day.

AC: What drink do you think would pair best with the production?

KS: Maybe one of those novelty drinks that comes in a beaker and has some dry ice to make fog spill out over the sides? Because something that is fun and a little creepy with a chance of killing you is basically the character of GLaDOS.

SK: Anything garnished with olives – just one olive so your drink is looking back at you which reminds me of all our little robot friends from the game.

The Creative Portal  Team

AC: What’s been the hardest challenge you and the cast/crew have faced while bringing this story to life (and song!)?

KS: I feel very fortunate in that Sang has been taking on the HUGE task of all the scheduling and coordination of bringing together all of the talent need to bring this together, and I just get to watch. But one challenge that comes to mind was having to cut a couple songs from the script that I really like but that weren’t serving the story (sorry “I Crush Everything”).

SK: Kirk is gracious but having this specific group of talent has been worth all the wrangling. The hardest thing is to pull the show back for a staged musical setting at Theater Pub. I think a lot of past contributors have excelled in presenting fantastic shows in such an unconventional setting. But the scope and creativity of Kirk’s musical, the Portal universe, Coulton’s songs,along with the talent involved have actually been an embarrassment of riches. Having limited time and resources means picking and discarding your darlings.

AC: Tell us more about what you’re up to after this show! Any fun new projects on deck?

KS: Next up for me will be the San Francisco Olympians Festival, which I’m happy to be returning to for the sixth year in a row. I’m looking forward to sharing a night with three other playwrights (Barbara Jwanouskos, Julianne Jigour, and Alan Coyne) as we present three very stylistically different approaches to the gods of sleep and dreams.

SK: After some rest, I’ll be helping co-write Thunderbird Theatre’s next original play. It’ll be a creative collaboration with The Mess sketch comedy, which also has a show up this November.

AC: What Bay Area show (other than this) are you most excited to see this summer?

KS: I’m a big fan of musicals in general, so I can’t wait to see City of Angels at the San Francisco Playhouse and Chess at the Custom Made Theatre Company. I’ve been a big fan of the cast albums of both and neither is a show that you see performed all the time.

SK: I was glad to see The Rules and the Loud and Unladylike Festival, but they both closed this past weekend. After that, probably my usual summer and fall diet of Pint Sized Plays and the Olympians Festival before I hibernate for the winter.

AC: Using only emoticons, how would you describe Portal?

KIRK: — 0 0– >

SANG: 🍰🤔

AC: If your directing/writing style was a song, what would it be?

SK: For this show? “Bizarre Love Triangle.” You’ll see.

KS: Want to be: “Everything is AWESOME!!!” But, actually: “Still Alive.”

See Portal: The Musical only at PIANOFIGHT (144 Taylor Street):, July 18, 19, 25, and 26 @ 8 PM.

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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.

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

 

Cowan Palace: You’re Not a Failure

Ashley’s here today to talk about dreams and moving on.

In case the news hasn’t quite reached you yet, my palace and I will be moving east in a few weeks. Along with me, I’ll be taking my husband and fellow columnist, Will Leschber, our daughter and pets, and all my dreams.

But Ashley, doesn’t moving back where you grew up mean you’re giving up on your dreams and that you’re a gigantic failure?

No. Also, I really don’t like your tone.

You’re welcome to disagree with me here, I’ll try not to take it too personally, but I don’t consider our decision to move to Connecticut a failure. Sure, if you had asked me a few years ago, when I had graduated high school if I ever planned to willingly move back within a fifty mile radius of my small town of Avon, I would have rolled my angsty teenage eyes and pointed to my journal containing a sad poem about the need to get out on my own and follow my dreams.

And I did follow those dreams. I went to New York City and auditioned as much as I could with varying levels of success. My first off, off-Broadway show was kind of an anti-abortion play that I still feel weird feel talking about, I got to be a featured extra covered in blood for the film “Across The Universe”, and I got to sing and dance my heart out a few miles from the Broadway stages in a small church in Queens doing a production of Godspell. But mainly, I auditioned for more projects than I could count and learned new colors of rejection which ultimately led me to a small job posting on Playbill.com for a theater in California.

So I chased the dream across the country to a state I had only ever read about and watched portrayed in the movies and ultimately landed in San Francisco, a Never-Never Land for dreamers. Surrounded by beautiful landscape and passionate people, I said yes to every single opportunity that came my way. Life was messy but delicious, complicated but beautiful.

Along with my grand theatrical dreams, though, I still had more hopes for my life. As much as I wanted to always be on stage, I also wanted to fall in love and one day raise a family. And the San Francisco theater scene gave me that chance! Thanks to an opening night gala, I met Will, fell in love, and (quickly) started to raise my family. It was a dream come true.

And it’s still a dream. But life after ever after is really hard. While I love living in a creative city, it became a lonelier place as a working mom. To afford our one bedroom apartment and cover childcare, Will and I had to split our schedules so that we couldn’t have a day off together. We kept acting and writing (though, we had to take turns) and we kept fighting for our dreams. But we were missing a lot of the joy and happiness that had once come so easily to us. We were endlessly exhausted and I found myself much sadder than I wanted to admit. How dare I be unhappy when life had been so kind? But, I wanted more! I longed to be closer to my family and many lifelong friends. The people that had known me the longest and had encouraged me to follow my heart and believe in myself, the forever dreamer.

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After months of daily tears and pros and cons lists, we made the difficult choice to say goodbye to our life in San Francisco for now. We’ll never know a love like the one we have for this city and our time here. But we’re confident it’s the best choice for our future.

Some dreams are obtained, some dreams are always chased, some dreams fade, some dreams change. Let them. It doesn’t make you a failure. Allow yourself to keep dreaming and never stop seeking your happiness.

That’s what I tell myself anyway. Maybe it’s just a way to bring me peace from what was a hard choice to make but it keeps me going. Yes, I’m moving to Connecticut and seeking out a different support system to help me but I’m never going to stop writing or auditioning or searching for a community of other artistic folks who fancy dreams. Cowan Palace may be changing locations, but the structure is only getting stronger. Thank you for giving me a home here, a safe space to follow my dreams. For not making me feel a failure. Cheers!

Cowan Palace: Find Your Biggest Fan

Ashley encourages you to find your biggest fan and hug them until they force you to stop it.

Katelyn and Ashley... while Ashley’s in a show playing The Maid Of Honor! Weird!

Katelyn and Ashley… while Ashley’s in a show playing The Maid Of Honor! Weird!

My sister is getting married on Saturday so my mind has been running in an endless list and I’ve been staying up late pretending to work on my Matron of Honor speech. There’s just so many things I want to say and know that I can’t possibly articulate about the whole thing so I end up writing a word and then distracting myself with House Hunters reruns. That scripted dialogue about buying a home is oddly soothing sometimes.

But I got to thinking about an old joke my sister and I have; I honestly can’t remember who first titled her as my “biggest fan” but she’s been lovingly teasing me with that title whenever it seems like a funny time. In her college dorm ten years ago, she hung up the new fancy New York City headshot I used all my savings to take and then print, and put on a star on it, declaring herself Ashley Cowan’s biggest fan. It was awesome. I felt like I had made it.

My sister Katelyn has been the best biggest fan. She’s seen me in more shows than anyone else, even ones I may have been less proud of… She’s seen me play all of the female characters in Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding (which, come on, that’s a lot of interactive performance to willingly endure). She’s honest when I need the feedback but terribly kind with it because she knows I’m sensitive. She’s the one who I ask to bounce things off of when I’m encountering a writer’s block and often she makes me go around the block by suggesting a brilliant new path. I’ve even sent her several Theater Pub blog entries before I send them off to Stuart just so I can get an extra pair of eyes on my latest words.

Katelyn’s also the one I text before I buy almost anything just so she can tell me if it’s cool or not. My knowledge of makeup and fashion trends is almost 100% based upon those text exchanges punctuated by various emoticons. But for me, I need my biggest fan to keep up my star identity.

So Katelyn, even though we joke about the term, I thank you for the pushes to keep doing the things that I love; to have the courage to audition, to actually write the ideas that seem silly or stupid in my head; to keep reaching for my place in the stars. I’ll never be able to express enough gratitude for it.

And to everyone else, I say, go find your biggest fan! Thank that person who believes in you, loves you, and makes you better than you are. Give them a hug or like, a winning scratch ticket, they’ve earned it. Sure, we should all strive to be our own fans but finding your very own biggest fan? Well, there’s nothing quite like it. Now excuse me while I pause House Hunters and attempt to write some more words for my sister, my friend, my fan.

Cowan Palace: Yeah, What DO You Say To An Actor Who Just Bombed On Stage?

This week Ashley interviews herself.

Earlier this week, the Chicago Tribune ran an article titled, What do you say to an actor who just bombed on stage?

Oh, juicy topic, right?! What DO you say?! The piece explored the thoughts of a few local artists and while San Francisco may be miles away from Chicago’s scene, many of the opinions of those interviewed are universal and quite relatable. Whether you’re the actor in a show that may be more “bomb” than “da bomb” or whether you’re sitting in the audience as a friend watching an explosion, talking about the experience afterward can be awkward, uncomfortable, and unpleasant.

What are the expectations of those in your creative circle? Are you on the side of, “if you don’t have anything nice, don’t say anything at all”? or are you “Team Nice Guy Even If I Gotta Lie”?

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I decided I’d answer some of the questions in the Chicago Tribune article because I’m sure they would love that. Here are my thoughts:

What’s going through your head when you’re watching a terrible show?

Sometimes I’m thinking, “Yikes. I’m glad I didn’t get cast in this.” or to be even less humble about it, I’m thinking, “Huh. Would I have been this bad?” But most of the time I’m hopeful until the very end. I’m one of those people who can not turn off a bad TV movie until the very last second. Even if I HATE it. And I’ve never left a play until curtain call either because I honestly have hope until it’s really over that there’s still time for it to magically come together. Even though it almost never does.

While I’m a terrible liar, I’m also a known “nice girl” but it’s not usually that hard for me to find something that I enjoyed from a performance. Usually, after I show, I’ll say something like, “wow that was something! I don’t know if it’s the script for me but I liked _______” and then fill in the blank. If I’m there supporting my actor friend, I’ll find a moment of their performance that I liked and focus on that. So if I’m in the middle of a terrible show, I purposely try to seek out those moments of good so that I can use them as discussion points later.

When you’re the one performing in a show.

Yeah, been there, done that, will inevitably do it again. As much as I’d like to have tougher skin, I’m still sensitive and super vulnerable after any performance. And when I know I have friends in the audience, I’m even more aware of it. It does break my heart when I know I have a pal attending the show and then that person conveniently disappears immediately after curtain call and I don’t hear from them. That cold silence sometimes feels quite cruel. While I don’t want to make them uncomfortable or force them to say harsher words for the sake of being honest, sometimes you just want your friends to quietly hug you and simply appreciate your attempt, your work; regardless of how they felt about the show.

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Ever skipped the hellos?

I’m sure I have! Sometimes I have to catch a bus! But if I do leave, I try to reach out to my friend in the show and leave them with some kind thought. This year though, I challenged myself to stay around after a show to say those kind thoughts in person. Considering I don’t get a ton of social nights out anymore, I also relish these hellos because often it’s a chance to talk to a friend I haven’t seen for awhile.

As an actor, I have stayed in the dressing long a little too long after a show because I’ve been scared of facing certain audience members, assuming they hated it and not feeling brave enough to meet their eyes. I’d like to keep working on that.

Do you have a go-to line that you rely on?

I don’t. And I kind of encourage you not to because each performance is a different, unique thing. My advice is this, if you’re in the audience, allow yourself to have an honest opinion but give the show a chance. Try, try, try, to find something good. Even if it’s teeny tiny. I get it, sometimes shows are trash! But as a member of a small creative community, it’s a nice thing to try.

What do you guys think? How do you handle “terrible” shows? Do you think San Francisco fosters a different post-show environment than Chicago? As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts!

Cowan Palace: Why Closing A Show Is The Worst

As Ashley prepares for Closing Night, she reflects on the hardest parts of the process.

Back in early February, closing Middletown seemed so far away. 2016 had only just started and I was feeling both anxious and excited to dive into my first full length show in three years. Rehearsals were only just starting, lines were still new and not memorized, and I hadn’t even met the entire cast yet. It seemed like we had a long road ahead.

I’m a believer that sometimes plays find you. They grab a hold of you before you even realize it and strive to teach you something, leave you with something, before that grasp is forced to let go. It could be the language in the text, an emotion it brings out, or simply, just a shared quiet moment between you and an audience member. And so, here we are. Months later. The long road approaches its finish line. Our last four performance of Will Eno’s Middletown at Custom Made Theatre start tonight and by Saturday evening our show will be closed.

Sure. We’ll all get some more personal time to catch up on our poor neglected friend, TV and maybe get a little more sleep to dream about TV. But there’s a lot of stuff that sucks about ending a show, too. Here’s just a few things I’ll miss

1.) Justifying a dinner consisting of those delicious individual sized Sabra hummus and pretzel cups, a Quest bar, and a venti Starbucks caffeinated beverage

Oh, hummus. I think I’ll miss you most of all. Nothing compares to you. Certainly, not a bigger hummus container of the same flavor at home.

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2.) The cast and crew
I mean, duh.

3.) Big Booty
Okay, I love cast warm ups. They’re such a great way to connect with your team before you’re out together on stage and sometimes they offer enough physical activity for me to sort of feel like I’m at the gym! Big Booty. Whenever someone suggests we play it, I’m filled with an incredible anxiety and excitement that can not be matched! If you don’t know the game, look it up. It’s a crazy rush!

4.) The play within the play
There’s a lot of beautiful stuff that happens backstage. Between the very tight quarters and our large set pieces and some creaky floor boards and a big cast, there’s a delicate dance that goes on each night that the audience never gets to see. Sometimes it’s not so delicate and suppressing some of the giggles that result from those more difficult maneuvers can be a challenge but that just makes it all more fun.

The cast (and stage managers) of Middletown snuggling in the Green Room!)

The cast (and stage managers) of Middletown snuggling in the Green Room!)

5.) The constant stream of lines running through my mind
When I hear a certain word or phrase that is either in the show or reminds me of the script, I’m immediately transported to where I am when that moment of the play is happening. I know when the show closes, this feature will start to fade away as it always does, which makes my heart ache just a bit.

6.) Those moments when you’re putting your makeup and first costume on while someone else bares a life story you’ve never heard before or shares a secret.
Like I said earlier, I think plays find you. And sometimes that’s to bring new cast mates together. When I think back on this production of Middletown, I know I’ll remember those surprising moments in the girls dressing room (lovingly called, “The Boudoir” when we’re in the middle of a show) when we sat putting on makeup and someone told a wondrous story from their past or quietly offered a truly honest, bare event from their life and how it’s shaped them. Mainly we laugh together, but we’ve also created this space that allows us to explore some other colorful feelings, as well. Those moments have made me so thankful and emotional, which I think is a big lesson from Middletown and I know I’ll forever miss it.

So many feelings, only so much hummus to sustain them all.

So many feelings, only so much hummus to sustain them all.

7.) Taking a moment to dedicate each show to a past me
As part of my own personal, pre show ritual, I take a moment before each performance and “dedicate” the show to a past version of myself. To the 4 year old who told her parents she wanted to be an actress, to the 12 year old who hated looking in the mirror and longed to grow up, to the senior in college scared that she’d never be cast in anything in the real world, to the young twenty something living in NYC waiting hours just to sing her 16 bars at an audition, to the woman who moved to San Francisco on a whim, to the February Ashley who worried that it’d be impossible to manage being in a play again with a baby at home, etc. The ritual helps me to focus and be grateful to be exactly where I am.

Closing a show always makes me cry. Even thinking of closing a show gets me teary eyed. Not gonna lie, I’m probably crying as you read this. Closing a show is the worst. But the journey, the whole experience, is as beautiful and wonderful as you allow it to be. So, to the cast and crew, those that shared this story with us, and to the folks we hope to see in these final four performances – thank you. While closing is the worst, I think you’re all the best.

You can see Ashley either crying or not crying at Custom Made Theatre’s Middletown playing tonight at 7:30 and Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at 8pm!