Two more chances!

This weekend is the last I will be playing Sister James in “Doubt,” by John Patrick Shanley, a part I have wanted to play for a long time!

Your last chances to see it are:

Tonight, at 7:30pm

Tomorrow at 2:00pm

And then the four of us will do that thing actors must do when their performances come to an end: Say “Goodbye” to this pattern of doing things in a particular way, with a particular set of blocking, props, costumes, set dressing – essentially to something that will never be this way again.

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Theatre is such a powerful and temporary thing. I used to marvel in college at huge and beautiful sets being built up, used for a number of weeks, and then torn down again. It really made me realize that even if we all did the same show years from now, it would never be the same show again.

Theatre can be a reunion, an introduction, or a mingling of the two..but it ALWAYS ends in a figurative and literal..break up.

This show in particular is 90 minutes of non stop emotional escalation. I’ve carried Sister James with me everywhere I’ve been this late spring / early summer. Her experiences have infiltrated my dreams ! It’s creepy, but also tells me that I am in the right place.

I’m proud of this production of Doubt because it’s never black and white, and our awesome director, Hunter Parker, never intended it to leave people with a comforting feeling of “I know who did it.” Instead, it gets people thinking.

Every single person has a different response at the end of the night. I see that as a good thing. Theatre is best when served with thought. There’s a name for a theatre group in there somewhere.

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To my friends, colleagues and show patrons who have come out to see the show -Thank you so much. It has been a pleasure sharing this show with you. So please spread the word! Looking forward to leaving it all on the stage these last two performances.

3 Steps to Making a Connection.

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“This business is all about relationships.”Asta and Casey

“It’s all about who you know.”

As actors, we may hear this phrase so many times it ceases to lose its meaning. But think about it. From meeting casting directors, actors, directors, to producers – jobs get booked and not from nowhere.

Starting out, it can seem daunting to try to network and meet new people. Who should you meet? Where do you meet these people? If you haven’t met them yet, how are you supposed to meet them?

I agree with many others when they say you should put yourself out there and go to screenings, go to networking events, and of course, auditions. But I would argue that it starts where you are sitting right now.

 

chriscaseyamie

  1. Be NICE.

Having a crappy day? Let it go.

Feeling nervous? Doesn’t matter.

Someone cut you off outside? That’s life.

As an actor, it is our literal job to stand in someone else’s shoes and think about what makes them tick. Your audition does NOT begin at 1:05pm in a hot studio in Brooklyn. It begins at 6:30am with the sound of your blaring alarm.

Yes, you are entitled to be in a crappy mood whenever you want. But it’s not a mood most people are going to want to be around. Being nice is also not the same as being fake or pretending to be someone you’re not. It’s being nice because it’s a courtesy to others and you just never know how worse someone else’s day is going!

Be nice to the people walking down the street. Be nice to the person holding the door for you. Be nice to the office manager who tells you which floor to take. Be nice to the assistant. Be nice to the reader. Be nice to the casting director. Be nice to your fellow actors.

If you have no interest in being nice for the sake of being a ..nice person, then remember this: being nice may not mean you’ll be remembered, but being an ass definitely will.

Chances are, if you are nice, you have already made a solid and intentional step towards connecting with another person.

 

    2. Listen.

When you meet someone for the first time, take them in. Notice how they’re behaving, what they’re wearing, and what they are talking about.

Don’t bore us all with you you you blah blah blah. Instead, do another actory thing…and observe. Pay attention. Does the assistant have nice hair? Tell her. Did that actor just blow you away with his singing voice? Let him know. Pay attention. LISTEN. Making a lasting connection means that you have learned something new about another human being. If you have succeeded in this, you are in the progress of making a real connection.

  3. Follow Up.

Frankly, it can be quite easy to take someone’s business card or email and never talk to them again. But it is genuine, proactive, and sound business sense to turn on your computer the next morning and jot the person a note.

Hey, it was cool meeting you cause x y z.

Last night at the event, I told you I would send you a link to a great film resource. Here it is!

Following up seals a new connection. It solidifies the fact that you met someone who you would like to keep in touch with. This doesn’t happen on its own. You must be proactive and let the person know that you enjoyed the interaction.

Also – it doesn’t stop there. If you find an audition, book, film, salon!? – that you think someone would find useful, or better yet, another person you think would be a great connection for them, follow up and let them know!

It can be hard to remember that we are all human beings with complicated, crazy, beautiful lives. We are not names on a spread sheet. We are not meant to be compartmentalized.

The moral of this is: Treat industry connections like friends.  Because chances are, they will be your friends. And in this business, people want to work with – you guessed it – their friends.

 

 

In Review

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It is a balmy 50 degrees the day after Christmas. It hasn’t been a white one, but I am perfectly content with that. The afterglow of the holiday is still lingering in my house and I am grateful for the opportunity to have my family spend time here over food, drink, games, and stories.

This year in a word has been: unexpected. I could not have predicted the events if I had tried.

Coming off the whirlwind of 2014 with travel around the world, production planning, awards ceremonies, and film premieres, I was left feeling shocked, happy, and a bit unsure of my next step. So, I spent the majority of last winter writing up a storm while trapped inside due to the stormy weather outdoors and did a lot of thinking. Those who know me well may say perhaps too much thinking.

So for me, 2015 was a lot about boiling everything down to the essence of why I was doing art in the first place. It wasn’t until I decided to give up trying to perfect the search of the next “career move” that it found me in a series of fortunate synchronous events.

I made a drastic choice that left a lot of my family and friends scratching their heads. And I couldn’t explain why, but I knew that this year, if I did something completely new and different and perhaps off the course, I would find what I was looking for. I couldn’t explain how I knew this, but I did.

I was right. It took some pain this year and it took some tears, but I arrived at a fresh perspective in my acting work. Right near the end of the year, I landed a wonderful role in a feature film I was able to work on with old friends in the industry, as well as new friends whose work I had admired on the big screen from a young age. Around the time I booked this job, I suddenly had this familiar sense of clarity that I honestly don’t think I have had so viscerally since I first graduated college, determined to make a go of this whole acting business.

I know what to do now because I know how to listen to myself. 2015 was about scraping away the gunk, shaking off the old, unplugging from beliefs and throwing out the same stories to get back to the whole point of performing and bringing joy into other people’s lives by virtue of what I do.

My January 2016 is already booked solid with work. This fall, right after my birthday, I gave myself the best gift of all: the gift of yes and no, determined by no one else but me. I am only going to work on projects that make my heart race with excitement. I am going to work with people who respect my time and want to create beautiful collaborations together. I want to share my creative talents to make the world a healthier and more fun place to be.

You know that Tolkien line, “Not all who wander are lost”? That’s exactly how I feel. I knew I needed to wander a bit to get back to where I was always headed in the first place. I highly recommend wandering, and letting go of the need to control everything. Because once you do, only the important pieces of your life stay in place. The things that are holding you back and holding you down will simply fall away.

Business people might tell you “organization and planning is key” to any successful venture, but I would argue that things need to get messy first. Sign up for that class you always wanted to. Go for a walk. Go drive somewhere and get lost. Once you have struggled a bit, you’ll come back to your office or studio and look at everything in a new light. You’ll know what to throw away, what to keep, and more importantly, what organization principles will work best for you.

Biggest lesson of 2015?

Joy should be easy. And your work should be your joy.

PS. If you haven’t read this book yet, do it. It’s a game changer. But go take a hike first 🙂

Balancing Act

You know what phrase I cannot stand?

goodneighborconcierge.com
goodneighborconcierge.com

“Life – work balance.”

Does anyone truly know what the hell that means, anyway? I am sure if you google it right now you will come across a gazillion blog posts about it, as well as a lot of “ten steps to life-work balance” type content as well.

I’m going to go ahead and throw out a crazy idea..what if there is no such thing as life / work balance? I say there isn’t, and here’s why.

The entire assumption that a balance between life and work is needed implies that there is something wrong with you. As in, you either are spending too much or not enough time at work or home or vise-versa. Everyone’s looking for the “secret” to success. “What does it take to have it all?”  It also suggests that your life is compartmentalized. Um. Your life is just your life!

I think there’s a new way of looking at this all together. What if we just start accepting that parts of our lives are going to sometimes be more chaotic? That some of our time is spent having fun? that sometimes life gets outweighed by certain things more than others because hey, they good and the bad both happen when you least expect it and adjustments need to be made accordingly.

An example of things not going to plan.
An example of things not going to plan.

But just because something may be chaotic, or you might have had one too many GTs at the company picnic or didn’t get that gig yo uwanted..it doesn’t mean that you have to get riled up over it. Right? I know, easy for me to say.

To get more specific, in this world of acting and the entertainment business in general, there are a lot of misconceptions. Some common questions:

How can you drive that far?!

Is it really worth it?

Don’t you get sick of auditioning?

And the list goes on and on from there. I think that what happens to a lot of us is we try to fix problems.PROBLEMS. You know what I say? I say there are NO problems. I say

from pinterest
from pinterest

EXCUSES.

I can’t do this because I don’t have this

I can’t do that because I don’t have enough money

I can’t work out because I don’t have enough time

I don’t audition past the state line because it’s too time consuming.

But what do all of those things really even mean?!

I think there’s a whole lot of stress getting shoved around and mislabeled and overdiagnosed with medications and distractions when really, a lot of the time many of us are just afraid to live.

For example, I used to get (ok and sometimes still do) extremely stressed out when I looked at my schedule for the week (See Episode 2 of Holding) and didn’t understand how I was going to get from point A —–> Z without running on fumes or without failing miserably or whatever, really.

running on caffeine
running on caffeine

I am not saying that this is the same thing as overbooking yourself. That is something that needs to be determined on an individual basis and I am happy to explore that in another post because I have a classic case of burn out in my repertoire.

Anyway…

What’s the big deal? You got big dreams? Well, chances are you won’t have a lot of down time. There will be a lot of doing and trial and error. Sometimes you may have stretches of nothing on your schedule and that doesn’t mean anything bad either. It doesn’t mean that you are not perfecting the “work-life” balancing act. Cause guess what? It’s just some construct some uppity person with too many degrees decided was wrong with the overworked working class.

Start from where you are. Accept that you have chosen a life for yourself that is not always full of certainty. Hell, even if you have a stable job there is always going to be uncertainty. Live one day at a time. Then one moment. You can do it. You can get everything done that you set out to (IF that is what you really want to do!) Just believe.

And here’s my run down of Don’ts

Don’t judge:

that you haven’t gotten enough sleep

that you didn’t get that part / job / internship / contest

that you haven’t had a vacation in…ever?

Don’t listen

to people who tell you you are “doing too much” (they are probably just jealous or shocked or both)

DO:

Give yourself time to breathe every day.

Enjoy each moment

treat your life, work, and play all with the same integrity. It’s your life.  Compartmentalizing things physically and emotionally doesn’t work in the long run. Screw life / work balance. How about just living with integrity?

Let yourself be YOU. That’s all any of us can do anyway. 🙂

Scam Artists

I would like to bring up a subject that is all too often in the news and gossip pages, but can easily be avoided with a gut feeling and some good old fashioned common sense.

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I am going to divulge some information without getting especially specific. If you really want to know more, shoot me an email.

The other day I thought I had stumbled upon an “opportunity.” I showed up to a wealthy town in CT (that sounds redundant but it’s not), “old money,” as it were and met up with some people who were interested in similar things as me: writing, meeting new people, and making money.

From what I understood in the email I received, I would be using a particular skill to get particular information to form it into a creative product. (See, told you I wouldn’t be TOO specific). This sounded like not only a lot of fun to me, but something that simply gives you the warm and fuzzies.

You know how sometimes things just don’t go “right?” And upon reflection AFTER the fact you go “Oh, duh! I should have known right then!” Well. I was late. I walked into a lobby that was dusty and full of old…. things. An older…gentleman asked me if I needed any help. I almost left right then but I didn’t know why I wanted to. So I thought I must just be you know, over-thinking or something.

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He directed me to the room where a meeting was taking place. There were probably 6 people total, all from completely different backgrounds. The ringleader, as we shall call her, was going on about this great company and how we could all be small business owners too!

RED FLAG RED FLAG!

After browsing through the products they were offering and biting my tongue several times for wanting to mention that you need to use proper formatting and dimensions on a photo or it’s going to look like crap, per the object I was holding in my hand, I realized this was nothing like how I thought it would be.

Let me break it down in my list of
DA-DA-DANGER ZONE!!!!!

-for a small fee of of four ten dollar bills, you could order you own business cards THROUGH the company. (Have these people never heard of Vista print?)

-you had to buy your own equipment. I almost choked on my cough drop.

-It was totes a pyramid scheme to boot. I loved how she tried to cover it up by saying “This isn’t a pyramid scheme BUT…”

-Also you had to purchase a custom name badge. RIGHT.

Obviously, by the time this thing was over, I knew right in my gut that this was terrible. I looked around at the others in the room and I was horrified. They were eating it all up, probably desperate for any kind of job. It was then that I realized that it’s not only in the entertainment industry that people get ripped off repeatedly. It’s everywhere, man. People will do anything to make a buck.

The way I pinpointed that she was a definite fraud was that she mentioned she was good friends with someone I have known for several years and I could see she was lying through her teeth. Amazing!

I just wanted to share this with you all as a reminder that even though you might have been fooled once or twice in the past and sort of know the scent of a liar and scam artist, know that they are lurking around everywhere!

After having several unsavory experiences all in a row upon graduating college and getting into the entertainment business, I can spy:

A) A harmless, selfish, in-it-for-the-money-go-getter (not quite a scam artist)
B) A scam artist that doesn’t know s/he is a scam artist
and
C) A full blown scam artist who walks it, breathes it, lives it.

Once you can see past the sparkly optimism that you have carefully cultivated over the years, you learn to balance a healthy level of optimism and skepticism in matters of your overall well being.

This especially goes out to people NEW to any kind of business, whether young or old: If it is too good to be true and you have that nagging feeling in your gut, don’t ignore it!

The lesson I learned this time was just because it checks out on paper does NOT mean it will in person. Unfortunately, I haven’t quite developed the psychic internet sense yet, but when I do I will let you know.

I am hoping I will be able to go into this topic more in the form of a new project I am creating with a colleague of mine.

For now…watch out for those sketchballs!

ACTORS – get creative with your creativity

This is a shout out to my fellow acting peeps out there. First of all, let’s draw a big X over the cliche of the “Aspiring Actor.”
There is nothing I detest more (mild exaggeration) than when someone says to me or one of my fellow actors, “OH you’re aspiring to be an actor.”

Definition of Aspiring: to long, aim, or seek ambitiously; be eagerly desirous, especially for something great or of high value

So, after you just explained to someone that you act in theater, you do commercials, etc, they negate everything you just said by saying you aren’t there yet, which is insulting. I am pretty sure what people mean to say is “OH you’re hoping to be famous and rich and be a well-known actor!” OK so part of this may be true but if actors were defined by this, then there wouldn’t be very many actors.

Let’s look at more stereotypes:
-waiter / waitress
-live in NYC or LA
-agents get all the work for you
-you must be broke
-you must be a “struggling artist”, which I think sums all of this up.

So how can we empower ourselves to use our talents to work in non-conventional ways while we wait to hear back from that audition or agent or casting company?

I have a couple of ideas for you! First of all, I think it is important to find a way to give back. And no, I am not saying giving away your talent for free. Yes, a few unpaid student films in the beginning of your career are awin-win for both parties, but if you’ve been at this awhile, it’s time to buckle down and creative with your creativity.

TEACHING HOSPITALS
It doesn’t matter where you live. Reach out to your local hospital and / or university and seek out a professional in the medical program. Ask if they have a simulated patient program and explain that you are an actor. And you are brilliant and so on. This is one of the most empowering and “good vibe” generating experiences you can have as an actor. You are acting in real time with a fully loaded character using crazy improv skills AND helping a medical student learn how to interact with patients. It can also pay very well too.

ACTOR COACHING / TEACHING
If you are a trained actor with a lot of experience, particularly on film, coaching can be a profitable and viable option for you. Start out by branching out in your community, seeking out actors at local and / or community theaters and schools and try to find the green actors (note how I didn’t say aspiring). This makes you feel good because you are helping others AND using your talents to get paid for it.

Teaching can be an iffy one. But I think it’s important for everyone to try it out at least once. Find out if you like little kids, older kids, college kids and then you can seek out drama schools, programs, etc in the area where you live and offer your services. This pays more if you have a Masters Degree, but in my experience it is not always necessary! You can even offer private teaching on your own and make some money helping to shape the young creative minds of the future. That is never a bad thing!

THEATER GIGS
Of course, this can go as paid OR unpaid but I am putting it out there because either way it will save you money. typically if you usher at local professional theaters you can stay and see the show for free! We all know how expensive theater can be these days. You are helping out a local theater while saving some cash!

Some theaters pay their ushers too which of course would be the ideal situation. Ask around!

Sometimes as artists, it is good to get out of our heads and go out there and serve someone else instead of chasing after the next audition and constantly worrying about how we are going to get hired or put food on the table. These are just a couple of ideas and I encourage you to leave some of your own and let me know if you have tried any of these already!

Have a great week and get creative with your work!

Cheers
Casey

“Autumn…the y…

“Autumn…the year’s last, loveliest smile.” – William Cullen Bryant

This quote is how I feel these days, especially with wrapping up and beginning new projects that are slated to be presented within the next month.  I am busy with class, editing, rehearsals, applying for an important internship for next year, working on getting “Holding” out to all of you, writing, and I just feel so grateful to have this beautiful season in which to complete it all.