So I was realizing recently that while my twoevilactors partner-in-crime does a lovely job of posting about things relevant to our mission of chronicling our acting-career-journeys, I tend to get real philosophical when I’m writing this here blog and talk about abstract concepts. Well, as Britt and I often say to each other: “Everything is raw material. Everything is relevant. Everything is usable.” –Twyla Tharp …Part of the joy of writing is for us to digest the things that feed us artistically, and the world at large offers a whole lot of food for thought, so I get distracted. I’m like a kid in a philosophical candy store. …Actually, a kid in a philosophical candy store would probably be pretty miserable. He’d be like, “Where the hell’s the candy? This philosophical candy SUCKS!”
…Moving on…. Have you ever thought to yourself, “What the hell does Dani do with her time?” Well wonder no more, dear friends!
I’m in the MFA Acting program at USC. What does that mean, you ask? The longer version of that sentence is “I am working on my Master of Fine Arts in Acting at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, California.” That means that after getting my liberal arts Bachelor’s degree in Music and Drama, I took a year off from school, did some acting (and worked some day jobs) in Portland, then went back to school to complete this three-year-long master’s training program.
Actors all have different needs as far as what kind of training they want/need to get, and how much time they want to spend in classes and/or training programs. It can be kind of a contentious subject, actually. Some people think it is a waste of time, some people see it as absolutely necessary, some people think that it is a sign of weakness, some people think it is about artistic integrity, etc.
What I can say with certainty is that this training and this program are exactly right for me as an artist and as a human being at this time, and I feel so lucky to be where I am. I wanted to get more training because I felt like, although I had had some success as an actor, my approach to the work felt inconsistent, incomplete, and unreliable. I threw myself into the work and sort of hoped for the best. And I really take this work seriously–I think it is valuable to society. I think storytelling is important and I want to be good at it. I am going to stop myself RIGHT HERE before I get super “meta,” and take a leaf out of Britt’s book to tell you a little bit about…
For the past 2.5 weeks, two of our core instructors have been out of town auditioning folks for next year’s incoming class, leaving us first-year MFAs to a Shakespeare intensive with this guy Rob Clare. He totally exploded my understanding of Shakespeare and made my brain melt. In a very, very, good way. One highlight was working on:
with my shockingly gorgeous classmate, Kimberli Alexis Flores, featured below.
She is standing on the shoulders of my homeboy and my very first scene partner at USC, Amador Plascencia. On Fridays we have Clown class with the hilarious, formidably talented, and casually ingenious Matt Walker, featured in this picture in the maroon pants. He is teaching us brutal-clown-honesty and badass-stunts. I don’t have any pictures, but like Kim, I got to be hoisted in the air and climb all over my classmates for a couple hours. It was glorious.
This weekend was the opening weekend of the MFA Class of 2013‘s Three Play Rep! The third year MFA actors each year rehearse three productions which they run in repertory for over a month starting …NOW. That means 6 performances a week of three different shows, which means months of rehearsal and a lot of hard work. They are an incredible ensemble, and an inspiring example of where my class will be in Spring of 2015. Check out these sexy beasts, and check out their website: dirtythirteen.com
I get to be at almost EVERY show of the Three Play Rep, working as concierge to the patrons or working on tech. The first years do this so that we can get an idea of what our lives will be like when we are in our third year. Actually, most of my classmates are not at so many of the shows…. My shockingly gorgeous classmate Sedale Threatt, Jr. and I are working as concierges, because we love our third-years so very very much. Check out my classmate Sedale, cuz he’s super hot. 😛
Sedale is going to hate me for that. Suck it up, Sedale, it’s all a part of the master plan!! BWAHAHAHA! (Sedale and I are evil geniuses. Don’t even worry about it. Britt, I promise it won’t interfere with our plan for world domination.) In that picture he is staring lovingly at my main squeeze, the beautiful Amaka Izuchi.
You will notice that the lovely photograph above was taken by Michael Bernardi, another one of my incredible classmates (there are 11 of us total), who has a great eye for photography, film, and editing. He has gotten to flex this muscle in a class we have called “Free Play” in which our fearless instructor Ntare Mwine facilitates our class in filming, well, whatever the hell we feel like filming. It’s FREE PLAY y’all!!! I love my life!!! Our last project was to film a “documentary” about professional-league Hide-and-Seek players. Check out my segment as Beverly “Blackout” Smith, professional Hider. Shot and edited by the incomparable Michael Bernardi.
So there you have it! Those are some of the faces, sights, and sounds that light up my world. More to come!