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Word for Word

Word for Word is the only way.

Every word the Playwright writes is there for a reason. Quite a simple and seemingly obvious statement, yet too often actors are nonchalant about missing lines and changing words. The more plays I read,  the more obvious it becomes to keep completely true to the words a playwright creates.

Each play is it’s own world. Just like many believe that each star is it’s own solar system and has it’s own version of Earth…humor my metaphor please…each of the countless plays written has it’s own version of Earth. Well written plays should blow your mind at how real it’s world feels. How much the characters’ realities impact you as an audience member or reader.

Therefore, every word, from each monologue to using a vs. the, is greatly important not only to the telling of the story but to the establishing and portraying of the character you are playing.

As an actor, we have the difficult job of reliving what the play is putting us through, over and over again. It’s hard, no doubt, but it is not our only responsibility. We are the vessels of the hard work that the cast and crew has gone through in the making of this production. We are the directing, the words, the characters, the costumes, we live in the sets and under the lights. We carry it all, we represent everyone and everything this play stands for in the moment of experience. So, it is that much more important that we do justice to the words on the page.

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The Collaboration Problem at the CFA

There is a collaboration problem at the CFA. A problem with the conservatory style training that makes it difficult to know anyone outside of your discipline. Collaboration is beautiful and important. It is how we break traditions and revolutionize. Learn to work with different minds and communicate our ideas to people who may not understand fully where we are coming from.

This past semester, I had the amazing privilege of partaking in three firsts at the College of Fine Arts.

The first: Collaborative Transfigurations, a series of movement pieces performed and Directed by students in the School of Theatre and music created and provided by students in the School of Music.

The second: A Reflection of Heart Melodies, a senior piano performance major, Yui Kitamura’s senior recital, where Yui, a School of Visual Arts major Maya Carlisle-Swedberg, and I created multimedia experiences for the audience coming to listen to Yui’s piano playing.

The third: Axis: A Light and Movement Thesis, my senior thesis in collaboration with Kelly Martin, a Lighting design major. With Maya Carlisle-Swedberg, who designed an interactive sculpture, and Jonathan Berg-Einhorn, a costume design major. We worked with 15 movers to create four movement theatre pieces based off of specific topics. I created a rehearsal room that used prompts that allowed the movers to create their own vocabulary which I then structured and clarified within the story we were telling. This devised work is where I thrive the most currently, I love it!

Two out of the Three of these collaborations were created independently from the school and solely by students (2nd & 3rd). The third collaboration (1st) was initiated by a professor at the college. So, the CFA is not entirely void of collaboration at all! But it does have a problem with how difficult it is schedule wise to communicate with and find time to work. Now, in no way am I stating collaboration should be easy to make happen, but I am saying that it should be easy to find! More opportunities should be made to make it happen! Times are changing at the CFA, I am aware, and I know this is one of the considerations, but it can’t come soon enough.

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They fall out of me

Quicker than I can write them

Quicker than I can type them

Quicker than the computer can save them

or the page can turn them


I have to stop my mind some nights

from creating art

My thoughts explore

these wondrous places

While I lay in bed awaiting sleep


Magnificent monologues

Powerful poems

Skillful songs

All come to me

in the wee hours


But they come to me

when exhaustion

has already set in.

When I’m already too tired “to art”

and I must stop myself


I tell my creativity to save it,

place a bookmark at that line

So I can come back to it later.

But I never do.


Sleep erases the budding thoughts

and I have to start fresh the next night

only to experience the same absence

of motivation

and the same influx

of my creative spirits

yearning for attention.

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4 Hours. 30 Minutes.

That’s all it took to make art that brought a group of humans together to address an issue artistically. It wasn’t perfect or even memorized but it was personal an impactful.

#mymatinee, a performance I was a part of, along with roughly 10 other women in the school of theatre, that discussed what it is like to be a female artist in the world and more precisely at this school.

What we created and in such a short time was a beautiful display of the power of art and the power of putting a group of creative minds together to accomplish a common goal. I hope we started a trend that will continue even after I leave the school!

Here is what I spoke at the performance. It was spoken in tandem with another poem that my colleague read, our words woven:

Dear Women


engrained in me and let free

without pause

My eyes see you

but my brain only thinks skin deep

her dress is too tight

does she know how to use makeup?

eh, not my taste

did she look in a mirror before she left?


Step back.

Do I really agree with those thoughts,

or is that jus how I was taught?

It’s a conscious decision

it takes action and effort.

A piece of my mind must always be tuned to how I think and why.

Does she really deserve my words or am I helping the enemy?

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Talking Back

Talkback? Post-show Discussion? Which is better? which is more fruitful? which is pointless?

This semester I’ve been to a fair share of performances with talkbacks or post-show discussions. Now, you may be thinking, aren’t those the same thing? No, not really. The words you use really do matter.

When Baltimore by Kirsten Greenidge premiered through Boston University School of Theatre and New Rep, I had the opportunity of running our post-show discussion. We were told to ask questions such as, What does it take to have a conversation about Race? We had special guest, Kirsten Greenidge herself, as well as the attendance of the entire cast. With the playwright in the room, the discussion turned into asking her questions about her inspiration, process, and history. Our audience was so interested in her story as well as the casts’ connections to their characters’ that we didn’t even get to asking our question. The momentum of the talkback was passionate and wonderful, but was it’s focus helpful to the play itself?

At Milk Like Sugar‘s, also by Kirsten Greenidge, special discussion, as they called it, I found it was much more structured, which I liked. The Huntington Theatre Company moderator began by introducing the guests. Kirsten Greenidge was also in attendance at this discussion, as were a senior and a sophomore at Boston Area high schools. One an aspiring playwright going on to attend NYU and the other was a participant in the development of the play. The final guest was a cast member. The moderator then asked the audience some questions in which we were to raise our hands if we agreed. The final question was, do you think the end of the play was hopeful?, in which we were then prompted to open our eyes to see those who agree or not, and begin the conversation there. After discussing the story and the thoughts it emitted for us, we began to talk to the guests, primarily the senior and sophomore, who discussed their roles in the processes as well as what they experience in daily life at school surrounding the play’s topics. Kirsten spent most of the time listening, chiming in occasionally, when she felt fit. I left feeling inspired by the two young women and in awe of the amazing playwright and cast member.

Finally, I attended the post-show discussion after seeing We’re Gonna Die by Young Jean Lee at Company One. Two of the company’s dramaturgs moderated the discussion. They opened by saying that the space was open for questions about the process, playwright, performance, as well as any comments regarding our experience. The audience aired their curiosities about the show and it’s process as well as how it was different with Obehi performing rather than Young Jean Lee herself. The one woman show/concert led to many questions regarding the trueness of the pieces performed. Where they autobiographical? Were they changed so that Obehi could perform them? The focus was truly on the piece itself.

Neither of these experiences were negative, but they led to different states of mind following the discussions. Obviously, no one discussion is the same, just as no one performance of live theatre is the same. However, there’s something about a discussion that gives a structure that is more than, “let’s talk!”


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We’re Gonna Die

The perfect way to kick start my final week of college, I had the pleasure of seeing Young Jean Lee’s play, We’re Gonna Die.  As a the end of my education approaches and I begin to start my life in the “real world”, thoughts of doubt and concern and confusion and crisis have arose. What is my life going to lead to? Am I on the track I should be on? What if I’m a failure? …you know, typical graduation thoughts.

Oddly enough, I found a lot of comfort in listening to the stories performed by Obehi Janice. Stories that you could connect to about life, and family, and the people you encounter. The hopeful nature of the storytelling provided me with some reassurance that no matter what path I choose, there is only one final destination. Death.

I can understand that this may sound a bit morbid, but it’s true. The fact is we’re gonna die. Our life is simply a trickle in time. Our life really is what we make it. And our death is what we choose to leave behind.

I know what I’m saying isn’t anything new or revolutionary. It’s just a reassurance.

My art is what I want to leave behind. It’s the only way I truly feel like I can communicate my thoughts and opinions in a concise and sincere way.  That’s what theatre is to me. A medium to truly express what my words and actions can’t seem to translate.

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Reevaluating the Director’s Education


In my last blog post, I touched upon the topic of education as it related to Exit Strategy by Ike Holter in a Village Voice article. In this post, I’m not straying far from the topic of education. Over the past couple semesters I’d been exposed to directing and had taken an interest in directing, not fully comprehending what directing truly was. I took a few classes and tried my hand at the directing opportunities that appeared on my radar. That’s the extent of my training as a director: a few classes and two directing opportunities.

This is precisely what this article in HowlRound centers around: the education of young directors and the challenges they face in finding opportunities to exercise their craft within the theater community. It was written by a recent college graduate who is not too far off from where I am at this point in my life. He provided insight into the challenges of merely finding opportunities to continue directing post graduation and how overwhelmingly few avenues he had to exercise his craft: “No correlation: The two variables being studied have no apparent relationship. For example, the career of an early director and the actions they take to find work.”

As someone who potentially wants to pursue directing at some point, it was an article that was fairly informative. “How do we create an environment where, like with young actors and playwrights, we can still learn our craft, but outside of the educational model?” is one of the questions he asks at the end of the article and it really makes me consider what obligations theaters have in creating spaces that allow young directors to continue their education. This article really brings forth the challenges associated with graduating with a fine arts degree and not having the experience or the resume that would constitute being hired by theaters. The author states “But I think there is value in listening to and nurturing the young directing voices in our field, especially when they probably still identify (or want to identify) as a student, as I know I do.” So where do young directors, ready to pursue their craft find spaces that allow them to fail and learn and grow as artists, because that’s a process that doesn’t materialize as a result of graduation but rather experience? I wonder what responsibility communities have in creating these spaces of employment and learning for young artists that depend on their craft to pay their bills.


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