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!

Cowan Palace: Don’t Drink Seawater And Other Stuff Kids Know

This week, Ashley’s asking her theatre students to help write her blog.

Greetings, friends! Here’s hoping your week has been full of pie and sans 23 Ides of March stab wounds.

I’ll be honest. I’ve piled my plate a bit too high this year. I mean the Bachelor finale and these Fuller House episodes aren’t going to watch themselves. And between being a mom and working a full time job, I’ve also been busy in rehearsal for Custom Made Theatre’s upcoming production of Middletown (my first full length show since 2013!), trying to be a motivated Maid of Honor for my sister’s upcoming May nuptials, and teaching preschool drama classes on the side.

Because this week was a particularly busy one, I thought I could commission my four year old students to write my blog for me. Their pay? Stickers! Obviously. I’m a pretty generous boss.

So, before we had our warm up and after I had them “shake out their sillies”, I asked my Monday class of five kiddos for their thoughts.

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TEACHER ASHLEY: Why do you guys think doing theater is important?

KID ONE: Where are the stickers?

TEACHER ASHLEY: Safe and sound in my bag; keeping my book and my “Jar of Sillies” company. So what do you think? Why do you think drama class is a good idea?

KID ONE: I got new skies! Can I tell you something? I went to Tahoe!

KID TWO: I’m thirsty. I need water!

KID THREE: Me too! (coughs in sudden thirsty despair)

TEACHER ASHLEY: Okay, okay. Let’s take a quick trip to the water fountain. Let’s make a line and pretend we are giraffes! (Kids quickly line up as giraffes and tiptoe to get a drink. Once there, they consume the water in a craze)

KID THREE: I hate seawater!

KID FOUR: Me too! It’s so salty!

KID THREE: I drank seawater! Yuck!

KID ONE: Can I tell you something? I like my skies.

TEACHER ASHLEY: Let’s come back and make a big circle! Let’s see if we can make it look like a giant pizza!

KID FOUR: Seawater is so gross!

TEACHER ASHLEY: C’mon, guys! Let’s see if we can come back to our circle in ten seconds. Remember, if we get through a great class, we can celebrate with some stickers! (Kids immediately run and form a circle on the colorful carpet) Great job! Okay, does anyone else want to share something?

KID FIVE: When do I get to be a mermaid?

TEACHER ASHLEY: You can be a mermaid when we play our storytelling game! Do you think that’s why doing theater is important?

KID FIVE: I’m going to be Ariel. (whispers) And have magic powers.

TEACHER ASHLEY: I can’t wait to see that. Does anyone else want to pretend to a special character today?

KID ONE: Tiger. But this time he really dies.

KID FOUR: Yeah! I’m a tiger too!

TEACHER ASHLEY: Maybe the tigers can fall asleep and wake up with some mermaid magic.

KID ONE: Fine. But then they’re lions.

KID TWO: I want to be a fairy princess baby! And we all go to the castle to watch a movie.

TEACHER: Great! So… is that why theater class is important? Because we get the chance to use our imaginations, work together, and tell stories?

KID THREE: Can I see the stickers?

Pictures by Kid Five and Kid One featuring a magical princess and mountains, respectively.

Pictures by Kid Five and Kid One featuring a magical princess and mountains, respectively.

Ah. Okay. Well, there you go! The kids and I spent the rest of class playing games and making up new stories. I got hugs and laughs and even some drawings to take home! But most importantly, I got a needed distraction and energy boost to help survive these next few weeks with a very full plate. I also learned that maybe money can’t buy you happiness but it can buy you stickers. And stickers pave the way to happy trails.

Cowan Palace: How To Be A Better Theatre Person In 10 Simple Steps

Ashley invites you to join in her 2016 theatrical resolutions. Happy New Year!

It’s 2016! I hope by now your hangovers have subsided and you’re still feeling optimistic that this new year will be the one you finally overcome your sugar addiction while training for a marathon. You can do it!

For me, 2015 was a year of great heights and low valleys; a real rainbow of emotions. And I’ll be totally honest, guys, I spent way too many months feeling like I was standing in the center of a middle school cafeteria wondering where to sit. Crying because I felt like I had lost my place in my community, questioning my involvement in the local theatre scene.

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I was naive to think that things would stay the same after having a baby. But I didn’t know how difficult it would be to navigate the space between my old self and my new found role. Now, I promise I’m not here to blab about the highs and lows of my introduction to motherhood. Instead, I want to share my list of things I think I can actively do to be a better theatre person. Because I know I can do better. So! Here are 10 resolutions I’m going to be working on this year:

1.) Reach out to someone you worked with (preferably someone who is out of state and who you may not have spoken to in a little while) and say hi.

If you’ve ever done a show with someone and made one of those magical new friendships that quickly solidifies itself over a stressful tech week or a shared love for rehearsal snacks consisting of cake, it’s easy to think you’ll always stay bonded. The truth is, you both get involved in other projects and distance pushes its way between you. So think about someone like that and reach out to them. See what they’re up to and what’s new in their world. Ask if they’re working on anything now then request they keep you updated on it. If they are close enough to see, meet them for cake. If they’re far away, send them some cake. While this won’t help your sugar addiction, it’ll probably be delicious.

2.) For every negative thing you say, say two positives.

You may not know this about me but, wowza, I’m really great at complaining and bitching about stuff. I’m also pretty good at looking on the bright side and trying to see the best in people. I lost my patience easily in 2015 when I felt like I lost my place in my theatre community. Which made me sad. And mad. And other feelings that a first grader can spell. So I’m trying something new. Sure, I can bitch and complain to my heart’s content! But lately, I’ve been trying to then come up with two “nice things” to say to balance it out. It’s a work in progress but a worthy effort, I think.

3.) Don’t Always Talk To Theatre People About Theatre

Talk about literally anything else. Seriously. Try having a conversation with someone in the theatre community and don’t use it as a way to plug a show you’re working on or gossip about a crappy production you heard about or whatever. I’m guilty of small talking people I haven’t seen in awhile and immediately asking them what show or project they’re working on these days. Boring! You can do better, Cowan! At least I’m going to give it a shot. And if anyone out there wants to talk about dessert, I’m so obviously your girl.

4.) Give A Compliment To Someone You Haven’t Met Yet

Did you see a show and love someone’s performance but since you didn’t know the actor personally, you never told them? I do this too often. Not anymore, 2016! Next time I like something, I’m going out of my way to give that praise to the rightful recipient.

5.) Promote A Show You Had Nothing To Do With

Create a simple social media post that advertises some kind of theatrical event that you aren’t involved in. Keep the artistic conversation going and help give a show some press. It’s easy and free so just do it.

6.) Ask Someone How They’re Doing

Like, in a genuine, “I actually care”, active listening kind of way. They could be a theatre person or not. Make an effort to really connect with someone. You’ll be surprised how much it may mean to them. And relating to a fellow human does wonders for your artistic soul, right?

7.) Try Not To Take It Personally

I know I’m waaaaaay too sensitive for my own good. And most likely, 2016 Ashley is going to continue that habit. I so quickly assume no one likes me or wants my company if I haven’t heard from them in awhile. Usually, the other person is just busy and going through their own series of personal roller coasters. Send them a friendly text and then calm the F down. Take that sensitive energy and use it for something productive, like catching up on The Bachelor.

8.) Try A Non Theatre Related Activity And A New Theatre Related Activity

To help keep yourself balanced and entertained, why not try a hobby that has nothing to do with theatre? Want to be a better cook? Look up some recipes online and play in the kitchen. Want to learn to knit? Cool, go pick up some yarn. When you’re done with that, consider a theatrical field you’ve had an interest in but have never pursued. Love costumes? Ask if you can help the next Theater Pub show get on that. Want to write? Check out Saturday Write Fever. Step out of your comfort zone a bit and see where it takes you.

9.) Give Someone New A Chance To Be Involved

Or simply introduce two people who you think may benefit from just knowing each other. If you get the chance to help cast a show or if someone asks you for a recommendation, don’t just go to your usual small list of friends; try to think outside your immediate bubble to those, perhaps, shyer folks who want to be involved but don’t know how to do it.

10.) Be Both Critical And Kind To Your Efforts

Could you be a better theatre person? Yeah, probably. It’s almost always worth trying. And if you can think of something that may make you better or how you can make someone else’s day, give it a whirl. Then give yourself a high five and some credit for being a part of a community and doing what you can to strengthen it. You’re awesome.

That’s what I’ll be working on, anyway. Maybe you’ll consider joining me in a quest to make 2016 our bitch? I mean, our friend? Whatever! Until next time, gang. I hope you’re all off to a wonderful 2016.

Cowan Palace: The Golden Girls Return To Brighten Our Holidays!

Ashley thanks you again for being a friend and spreads holiday cheer with the cast of The Golden Girls!

Happy Day Before Thanksgiving, gang! I like to imagine you’re all spending today in your yoga pants sipping on spiked pumpkin spiced lattes while watching Golden Girls reruns. But in case you’re at work or in the middle of meal prep, I have your Golden Girls fix right here. So grab a warm beverage and read on!

It’s that magical time of year again. The city is full of shoppers and light and of course, the radiant presence and spirit of San Francisco’s favorite holiday tradition, The Golden Girls live in performance. I had the chance to talk to the four stars of this year’s The Golden Girls: The Christmas Episodes (which opens on December 3rd at The Victoria Theatre) and their thoughts are truly hilarious, delicious, and heartfelt. A perfect holiday treat!

First, tell us who you playing in the show?

Holotta Tymes: Sophia

Heklina: I play Dorothy Zbornak, who was of course immortalized by the untouchable Bea Arthur.

D’Arcy Drollinger: Rose Nylund

Matthew Martin: I’m playing Blanche, of course!

Matthew Martin (Blanche), Heklina (Dorothy), D'Arcy Drollinger (Rose), and Hollotta Tymes (Sophia) in The Golden Girls "The Christmas Episodes"; photo by Mr. Pam

Matthew Martin (Blanche), Heklina (Dorothy), D’Arcy Drollinger (Rose), and Hollotta Tymes (Sophia) in The Golden Girls “The Christmas Episodes”; photo by Mr. Pam

If your character was a drink, what would they be?

Holotta Tymes: An old fashioned.

Heklina: Either a Salty Dog or a Rusty Nail. Or a Screwdriver.

D’Arcy Drollinger: A Shirley Temple

Matthew Martin: A Mint Julep on a veranda on a hot night.

Which Golden Girl captures your real life personality?

Holotta Tymes: Sophia for sure.

Heklina: Definitely Dorothy. As I am the most sarcastic person I know. Also, my joke delivery is very dry and I can deliver a withering side-eye. I’m also very much Blanche because I’m boy crazy!

D’Arcy Drollinger: Well, I was born on the same day as Betty White, so I’m going to have to go with Rose.

Matthew Martin: I think there’s a little bit of all of them in everyone, and that’s why they are so relatable to audiences, but sometimes I feel like guileless innocent Rose more often than not, and just play a slut like Blanche onstage!

If you could be stuck on a desert island with only one of the Girls, who would you pick?

Holotta Tymes: Blanche. She’s such a tramp.

Heklina: Dorothy! Definitely not Rose, she’d drive me crazy with her St. Olaf stories.

D’Arcy Drollinger: Again I’m going to have to say Rose, especially after watching “Vacation” episode 8 in season 2 when Rose takes control when they get stranded on a tropical island.

Matthew Martin: Well, I’d say Blanche but that would be myself, and Dorothy is always good company!

Caption: Heklina (Dorothy), Hollotta Tymes (Sophia) D'Arcy Drollinger (Rose) and Matthew Martin (Blanche), in The Golden Girls "The Christmas Episodes"; photo by Mr. Pam

Caption: Heklina (Dorothy), Hollotta Tymes (Sophia) D’Arcy Drollinger (Rose) and Matthew Martin (Blanche), in The Golden Girls “The Christmas Episodes”; photo by Mr. Pam

What has been your favorite part of this year’s production process so far?

Holotta Tymes:
The casting couch. ;0)

Heklina: Well, it’s been a very bittersweet year as I miss my partner in The Golden Girls, Cookie Dough, terribly. Everything about the production is a reminder of her. But getting to work with new additions to the cast has been great.

D’Arcy Drollinger: Rehearsals have been so much fun. It’s hard to get through the scenes sometimes with all the laughing.

Matthew Martin: Lots of laughs with fun people!

What do you think will delight the diehard fans of the Golden Girls the most in this year’s show?

Holotta Tymes: The cast this year is a lot of fun; I think everyone is in for a good laugh.

Heklina: The material and the dialogue, of course. And the outfits. When you put four queens in drag as these characters it’s just comedy gold.

D’Arcy Drollinger: The set is going to be great this year!

Matthew Martin: The addition of Holatta Tymes to the cast. A great performer and person. The greatest tribute to Eddie/Cookie is going on with the show with such a seasoned performer playing Sophia.

To those who haven’t seen the show before, why is this year the perfect introduction to this San Francisco holiday tradition?

Holotta Tymes: Both episodes chosen for this year, I think, are some of the best of the sitcom. Funny and charming.

Heklina: This year is no different. There is never a bad time to attend this show and bask in the camp overload. It’s also the only show I do all year long that you could bring your grandmother to and she wouldn’t get offended.

D’Arcy Drollinger: It deals with friends, family and drag queens!

Matthew Martin: With the faithful fans flocking to The Victoria and growing exponentially year after year, anyone who hasn’t been to The Happening that the GGs is will have an onsite conversion!

What drink or snack can your fans treat you to after the show?

Holotta Tymes: Reese’s peanut butter cups

Heklina: I should say cheesecake, I know, but the truth? A cheeseburger.

D’Arcy Drollinger: Cheesecake!

Matthew Martin: A taco and a Mexican coke. Hey, we’re in the Mission.

Caption: D'Arcy Drollinger (Rose), Matthew Martin (Blanche), Heklina (Dorothy) and Hollotta Tymes (Sophia) in The Golden Girls "The Christmas Episodes"; photo by Mr. Pam

Caption: D’Arcy Drollinger (Rose), Matthew Martin (Blanche), Heklina (Dorothy) and Hollotta Tymes (Sophia) in The Golden Girls “The Christmas Episodes”; photo by Mr. Pam

What are you most thankful for this Thanksgiving season?

Holotta Tymes: My friends, family and the chance to work with such a great cast.

Heklina: To have survived another year in San Francisco! Also, to have opened Oasis.

D’Arcy Drollinger: Friends, family and drag queens! I am joining the cast for the first time this year and I am grateful to be part of such a fun SF tradition.

Matthew Martin: My family and friends and the many blessings in my life.

Where can we see you next? What do you have going on after this production closes?

Holotta Tymes: You can catch me in “Sunday’s A Drag Brunch” atop the Sir Francis Drake Hotel. A drag brunch with attitude

Heklina: Straight into New Year’s Eve preparations!

D’Arcy Drollinger: You can catch me in Three’s Company at Oasis as Chrissy Snow. And in June 2016 as Samantha in Sex and the City Live!

Matthew Martin: Hopefully you can see me on a beach in Hawaii whilst I’m on vacation! Our film of Hush Up, Sweet Charlotte just premiered and will soon be distributed. We are doing Three’s Company next year playing Mrs. Roper, another installment of D’Arcy Drollinger’s Champagne White Saga onstage, filming Dead Ringer with Billy Clift playing Bette Davis twins, my solo show here and there and working on other projects. Busy, busy….

In 160 characters (or less!) tell us (tweet style; so emoticons are encouraged!) why we need to come see the show:

Holotta Tymes: It’s become a new San Francisco holiday tradition!

Heklina: YOUR FAVE X-MAS TRADITION RETURNS #DOROTHY #ROSE #SOPHIA #BLANCHE #XMASINMIAMI #💋🙌 #CHEESECAKEONTHELANAI #WICKERFURNITURE

D’Arcy Drollinger: Season 5, episode 3 The Accurate Conception. Golden Girls and cum jokes. Merry Xmas!

Matthew Martin: It’s become a SF tradition for many and always a feel-good holiday happening. The cross-section of people in audiences to me is the essence of San Francisco: male, female, gay, straight, old, young, all having a good laugh together at Christmastime.

The Golden Girls: The Christmas Episodes – 2015 Performance Dates are Dec. 3 – 20, 2015. Plays Thurs. Fri. & Sat. – 8:00pm / Sun. – 7:00 pm at The Victoria Theatre, 2961 16th St. (between Mission and Capp) SF, CA 94103. Tix available at: http://goldengirlschristmas.eventbrite.com/

Cowan Palace: So You Wanna Marry A Theatre Person

Ashley Cowan tells it like it is.

Well, more power to you! Here are some pointers!

In ten days, Will and I will be celebrating one year of married life. So in honor of our 355 days of husband and wife stuff, I thought it’d be fun to reflect on ten pearls of wisdom I’ve gained in being a “theatre person” matched with a fellow “theatre person”. Plus, “paper” is the anniversary gift inspiration for the first year and like I always say, blogs are basically just electronic paper (someone hurry and put that on a t-shirt and/or sexy tank top).

Yes, And

Theatre people know the value of a script. If they’re any good, hopefully they’re also good with lines. And when you’re in a relationship, there are certainly times when you put into practice those cues that your partner needs to hear before they can move on to their next bit. (For us, a big crowd pleasing line is usually something like, “I’m bringing home dinner.”) But you also need some sweet improv skillz to up your game. Be ready to be spontaneous, give a well timed compliment, or simply change the subject; just keep that scene going!

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Free Entertainment

Every night is a show with The Leschbers! Well, kind of. We do a lot of silly solo performances and we also have rocked many a kitchen duet for fun. We make each other laugh, we’re natural storytellers, and we simply take joy from being able to entertain each other. When something like doing dishes on a Monday night suddenly becomes an impromptu dance party, you’re doing that something right.

The Stakes Are Higher!

Being involved with a creative person often means their sense of urgency and secret desire for drama can often be the third wheel to the relationship. But that also means things can be pretty exciting. Suddenly what to watch next on Netflix becomes a deeply invested adventure and where to order food from is a real heated dialogue.

Creating Space

Yes, you’re a couple and you have a lot of similarities. But sometimes you gotta work on your solo act and encourage your partner to do the same. If you guys were in every scene together, all the time, that would be a boring play. And us theatre folk did not come here to be boring. So book an extra rehearsal room and polish that personal performance (hmm, that sounds a bit dirtier than intended, but you get the drift). It makes the scenes together a whole lot stronger and more interesting to watch.

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Food Is Important

Yes. Your spouse is always worth the ridiculous $4 charge for meat on their breakfast bagel sandwich and yes, you are worth the guacamole fee. While we both love our food, it has also become a vehicle for appreciation and thoughtfulness. Though, I guess this isn’t so much of a theatre person thing necessarily, it may be an all person, universal thing. (Pro tip: I’ve also learned that sometimes part of love is offering the other person a bite of your food and secretly hoping they’ll say no.)

The Laws Of Rejection

Whether it’s not getting a coveted part, desired job, or creative opportunity, rejection is a known presence in any theatre person’s world. And, I have to say, it’s a whole lot easier to have someone to share it with. Even if it’s just bitching about how unfair it is that you were turned down or getting a hug after you cried your eyes out or someone to put a scarf on the cat to distract you, rejection is a whole lot easier with the acceptance of a loved one.

Hello, All The Feelings!

I wear emotions better than I wear black yoga pants to almost everywhere but an actual exercise class. I have a closet full of feelings and can get pretty creative with accessorizing a bunch of those emotions into one memorable outfit. Finding someone who can appreciate those colors and encourage them is awesome and being with a partner that says, “no, you don’t look fat in that feeling, you look sexy!” is just wonderful.

Know Your Part

Sometimes you get cast as the lead and sometimes you’re in the chorus. No small parts, only small actors and all that. This is true in relationship stuff, too. It’s all about balance and knowing your audience. Will and I have a rule that we can get big and emotional but not always at the same time. To be fair, it’s usually me who is overreacting and needing a calm presence to talk me down or ensure that I’ve had a snack but when he needs to steal a scene, I do my best to support it.

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Finding Your Light

Theatre people know light. Whether they’re under it or observing it, they tend to gravitate to it. Find someone who pushes you into the light and out of a dark shadow. When you find someone who can see you for what you are and who encourages you to be seen by others, you should keep that someone and try to return the favor.

The Show Must Go On

Being with a fellow theatre nerd means you both believe in the show, this crazy act of love. Even with questionable production elements or mixed reviews, you keep going because you don’t know another way. You wear your heart on every costume and stay up late reworking Act One. But it’s awesome and it makes you happy. So you eagerly continue, excited for what surprises await in Act Two.

So to all our kindred spirits out there, being in a relationship with a “theatre person” is great! You may not even realize all you bring to the table but keep bringing it because it’s delicious! And to my scene partner, Will, I love you more than I did 355 days ago. Here’s to our wonderful production!

Cowan Palace: Motherhood, A One Woman Show

Ashley’s back from maternity leave, y’all! Hugs, cuddles, and cupcakes for everyone! And this week she’s bringing Cowan Palace back with a performance log of her new role: Mama.

“Line?” I hear myself call out.

Silence.

“Line? Sorry, can someone please… is anyone there? Line?”

Silence. Then I hear my audience start to cry. I sigh. Where is the stage manager? The audience grows restless and the cry turns into a wail.

“Okay. Improv it is!” I say to myself in encouragement and begin singing another Rodgers and Hammerstein classic. I’ve been trying out Cinderella this week after exhausting Oklahoma!’s score last week. My audience weeps again. My rendition of the duet, “Impossible”, must be leaving something to be desired. While I strive to inspire some kind of emotional response from those that have seen me perform, I’m pretty sure it didn’t always result in bringing them to tears. But I love the challenge!

Perhaps my audience is in need of something more from me.

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When I auditioned for this show, it was a total whim. I hadn’t even prepared a monologue and I did not feel confident about that cold read. I was pretty shocked that the production team had decided to cast me. Sure, my friends asked if I had really read my contract before agreeing to the role but I couldn’t pass up the chance to star in a one woman show! What a part! What an opportunity! What could go wrong?!

They asked how I felt about topless scenes. “Gah, these things?” I mumbled awkwardly, “Nah!” I told them it wasn’t really my thing; could we figure something else out? How about a rewrite? Or a body double? But they promised it would be an honest and potentially beautiful piece in the show. I finally agreed when they let me have control of the lighting and my wardrobe.

And speaking of the wardrobe… no one seems to be cleaning the costumes. They keep getting so dirty and the stains are mounting. Has anyone seen the stage manager? Maybe they can help. Until then, I guess I’ll keep wearing them.

Anyway, it seems that the audience responds to my topless scenes, finding nourishment in the performance. I have to admit, in the beginning, I found this part of the play to be a bit more difficult and physically demanding. But now I’ll throw my shirt off in many public spaces and parking lots if the moment is right. I respect the integrity of the production. Who knew this show would be so freeing! I’m hopeful my songs will one day inspire such a reaction.

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Still, the audience appears to fall asleep after those big scenes. I wish I could fall asleep; this show can certainly be a bit exhausting. Is an actor allowed to sleep when the audience does? Is that a real thing? Though, I can never manage to stay backstage very long. While the audience does not always love my acting, they do seem to love theatre and demand that the show continue.

Also, I’m not here to make waves (I like to save my blades and waves for occasional blogs) but, sometimes I wonder if I should inquire with a union. Most days I work long hours without a break. Sometimes I have to wait a long time to eat something or use the bathroom. Again, I’m not complaining, just wondering if that was hidden in the contract? Hmm, I wish I could find the stage manager and ask them.

I shouldn’t be surprised though considering our tech week. And wow, our final dress was a bit traumatic. I mean, over 36 hours is a long rehearsal, right? But you know what they say, rocky dress, great show! And as soon as we opened, I knew I had found the role of a lifetime.

Yes, the show is a bit more interactive than you’d think (but I was in Tony ‘n Tina’s for years!) and it’s certainly the hardest part I’ve had the chance to do but when I’m out there performing for my small audience, there’s nowhere I’d rather be. So I keep singing. I keep dancing (badly). And I keep giving it all my heart. Because even if the audience is small, they deserve a grand show full of big moments.

Lucky for me, the audience seems to be having a bit more fun these days. Sometimes I see smiles and hear the early attempts of laughter. I’ll get there. The show must go on!

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