britt runs THE BIG MEAL at Artists Rep

It’s been a while since we’ve caught up, friends. But I’ve been stuck in a world. A powerful, overwhelming, beautiful whirlwind of a world. 

Britt Harris, Andy Lee-Hillstrom, Val Landrum, Scott Lowell, Vana O’Brien, & Allen Nause (c) Owen Carey

…Yup, that’s the one. 

A world where I feel drunk all the time and throw my hands in the air like I just don’t care and wear pink sweaters.

THIS is the World of The Big Meal. 8 actors, 5 generations, and 26 characters… in 85 minutes. I’m not sure that I ever want this crazy carousel to end.

This incredible show opened on Saturday, Sept. 7th at Artists Repertory Theatre in Portland, OR as a West Coast Premiere. I have been rehearsing this show since August 5th (you may recall me gushing about it earlier during the whole rehearsal process). This play has been on my mind in my heart since the day I auditioned. It is very special to me and has changed EVERYTHING. I wish I could explain this in a way that makes sense on paper, but I can’t quite articulate it. It is too personal and too universal. Too simple and too complex. I don’t have the vocab to pinpoint what this story has meant to me and my life, and my growth and fulfillment as an artist and a human.

But I can say this: I found family.

We, as actors, are very lucky to find fast families in every cast we are a part of. But this one is truly something special.

I mean, just look at us.

So much FAM! (c) Owen Carey

Agatha Olson, Britt Harris, Allen Nause, Scott Lowell & Andy Lee-Hillstrom (c) Owen Carey

My fam. The cast and crew of The Big Meal.

My fam. The cast and crew of The Big Meal.

Disgusting, right? We are pretty fucking cute. And we love each other a whole helluva lot.

Meet my family:

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Allen Nause, Vana O’Brien, Val Landrum, Scott Lowell, Andy Lee-Hillstrom, Britt Harris, Agatha (Gertie) Olson, & Harper Lea

I laugh and cry daily with these folks. I even laugh until I cry. Or laugh until I pee.

Speaking of– I documented some of my fave quotes during the rehearsal process of this show for your reading and judging pleasure. Enjoy.

-“So, I’m taking a picture here and he’s over there dying.” -Vana, “Woman #1”

-“Juice it up with your spit.”- Harper, “Boy”, 10-year-old castmate

-“Britt, Scott, you need to tighten up the Hand Work.”- Damaso, Director

-Butthole under the table” -Val (“Woman #2”) to Gertie (“Girl”, and other 10-year-old castmate)

-“Three-mouthed pitcher. That used to be my stripper name.” – Scott (“Man #2”), re: reading the tag on the water pitcher

-“FINGER BATTLE!” -Andy, “Man #3”

-“Asshole in the clear!” – Allen Nause, “Man #1”

-“Kegel up that scene.” – Chelle, our Stage Manager, to all of us, at different times

-“…And then you can go back to your wine cave.” -Damaso to Val

-“Do you have your Kegel Rewards Card?” -Andy

-“Oddly enough, I want to add more time to Group Love.” -Damaso

-Harper, to Vana: “What’s wrong with your eyes?” Vana: “I’m not wearing mascara.” Harper: “Oh.” Vana: “I know, I know, I look like a hamster.”

-“Let’s do less Skin Work”- Damaso, once again, to me and Scott

-Vana: “ET! Come home!!!” Scott: “Well, I guess we have to change all of the posters now.”

…And those were just the tame ones. Goddamnit, I love us.

Okay, okay, enough of the Big Meal lovefest. Let me catch you up on the other lifestuff that’s been making me feel warm and fuzzy inside.

My Past Few Weeks:

What a surreal blur this month has been. I am feeling so incredibly grateful and overwhelmed and busy and giddy and freaked out and full of love and just… Everything. All of the emotions. ALL of them.

Yeeesssss. So let me regale you with some of the highlights, hmmm?

Well, first off, let me just shout from this metaphorical mountaintop that I….. MOVE TO LA IN LESS THAN TWO WEEKS!! (Get ready, Dani and Suz!!)

…So there’s that.

And, of course, during this emo-month-blur, we opened The Big Meal at Artists Rep and enjoyed a splendid Opening Night Celebration! It was pretty fuckin rad.

Britt sandwich with the lovely Chelle Jazuk (Big Meal stage manager) and sexy Amy Newman

Britt sandwich with the lovely Chelle Jazuk (Big Meal stage manager) and the sexy Amy Newman (to appear onstage with ART later this season)

This past week I took another day-tip to Seattle for a couple of commercial callbacks (awesome podcasts + new music heaven = car nirvana. Take that, I-5),

and had a voiceover session for the film Goodbye, First Love at KBOO.

Inside the KBOO studio...

Inside the KBOO studio…

I also started going through, like, everything I own in anticipation for The Big Move. My rule is this: Anything that doesn’t fit in my Hundai Elantra ISN’T GOING. Period.

Inventorying my wall art. From L or R: "I Left Accountancy for Booze" poster, my Radiohead poster, and a show poster of me in a bikini. Pretty much Britt in a nutshell.

Inventorying my wall art: “I Left Accountancy for Booze” poster, my Radiohead poster, and a show poster of me in a bikini. Pretty much Britt in a nutshell.

…At least I can fit all of my wall-art in the trunk. #brittwin

Once the show opened, I went back to the office.

office

…it’s a trap.

Okay. So it’s not reeeeeeallly how I’d like to spend my last weeks here in Portland, but this sister needs the MONEY. STAT.

This past month I also had the honor to witness two of my very dear friends (finally, after 23 years!) get MARRIED!!

CONGRATS Gary and Jamie!!

CONGRATS Gary & Jamie!!

AND I had the honor of witnessing my cousin Charrise’s marriage to Nancy (finally–AGAIN!–after a decade!!).

CONGRATS Charrise & Nancy!!

CONGRATS Charrise & Nancy!!

This wedding was especially fun because I was able to spend quality time with my family in Tacoma, WA for the festivities! Can you tell we’re related?!

Fam!! Our generation is pretty damn hot.

Fam!! Our generation is pretty damn hot.

My little second cousin/niece/whatever, Tessa!

me and little Tessa!

I was lucky enough to go wedding dress shopping with the incredible Liz and the rest of the Evans clan. You wanna know how awesome my Evans family is? THIS awesome:

For those of you playing at home, Liz is wearing a bra on her head. Veils are a thing of the past.

For those of you playing at home, yes, Liz is wearing a bra on her head. Veils are a thing of the past.

Ahhh. Family. I’ve been thinking so much about family these days. My Big Meal family. My Portland family that I have built. The time I want to spend with family in Tacoma before relocating down South. I know that as I leave one family in the Pacific Northwest, I will be welcomed home to a new family that is already waiting for me in Los Angeles. I am one lucky girl. I am taking pieces of my chosen family with me, everywhere I go. And for that I am so, so grateful.

During this crazy and unpredictable time in my life, I could not be happier.

Love to you, my family and friends,

~britt

dani hides like a sneaky little weasel

Human beings are slippery little creatures. Do you have any idea how easy it is to hide from yourself?

I feel like as human beings we spend a lot of time skirting the issue, avoiding the confrontation, masking our feelings, and hiding from the things that are actually the most important to us–the things which are so important, in fact, that they are major motivators for us and dictate our behavior. But we are so clever at hiding from ourselves (and others), that we don’t even know that we are hiding! Humans are so smart!

Oh my God! In fact, the truth is that I’m actually avoiding the real point of this blog post by speaking in general terms and skirting the issue RIGHT NOW!

I have barely written a word since being back from India, either for my self or for this blog, and I’ve come up with excuse after excuse to avoid addressing it. To be honest, I’ve been deeply unhappy and confused for the past month or so. I’ve felt totally lost and fragmented. There were so many things that I unearthed in India–deep aspects of my personality and past that I discovered as things that are hidden motivators for my behavior. We all have them, and sometimes you have to take yourself out of your comfort zone in order to shed light on the things that usually lie in darkness as they dictate your behavior in your day-to-day life. My major discovery was that perhaps my biggest motivator–the dynamo that is the engine for every good thing I’ve accomplished in my adult life and for every bad thing that I’ve brought on myself as a form of self-sabotage–that motivator is a sense of self-hatred. I sense that I am not enough and so I have to do X, Y, and Z in order to prove my worth to myself and to the world.

This might seem like a heavy thing to share in a public forum, but I feel motivated at this moment to do so because I know for a fact that I am not the first person to feel that way. In many ways, it is a fundamental aspect of American consciousness, which is maybe why I needed to go to India and experience another way of being in the world in order to identify it as my personal truth. Being back in LA has been extremely difficult, and I think the major reason it has been difficult is carrying around this new self-knowledge in an old environment, and seeing my own insecurities so clearly reflected in the world around. For example, show me a twenty-something in LA who ISN’T insecure about her body and I’ll show you a thousand women crammed with false images from the media who hate their own skin. It’s not a comfortable fact, but it’s a true one.

I also feel that as a writer, as an actor, and as an artist I can’t move forward in my work until I acknowledge my personal truth. I felt artistically crippled. I couldn’t write in my journal, I couldn’t write this blog, I couldn’t be more than 90% present in my acting work because I quite simply did NOT want to know the truth about what was going on with me. I was hiding from myself.

So yeah, I guess that’s what I wanted to share with you all today. There is no point in hiding from yourself, in denying what it is that is really going on with you, because the things that you hide from the most are also the things that motivate you the most. Whatever inferiority complex I have, it has made me move to Portland by myself at the age of 17, it made me take a million credits per semester in college and get a super pimped out resume, it made me a major player in the foundation of a nonprofit opera company, it made me go to grad school and move to a city I never thought I would be ready for. It’s that inner dynamic that helps move me both towards and away from my dreams.

Even though this underlying dissatisfaction has been an omnipresent force for the last several weeks, here are some of the fun activities I’ve been doing to distract myself and lighten my spirits in the meantime! It’s been kind of a love affair with LA in a weird way, because despite the angst which has sprung out of transitioning back into my life here, I’ve been exploring all that this amazing city has to offer. And LA is actually really fucking rad, you guys.

My month:

ImageHiking adventures! We got a huge group together to go hiking/swimming/cliff jumping at Hermit Falls. This is Sean and Suzanna, who invited us to a huge warehouse party in downtown LA, successfully giving us the most “LA” day in the history of time.

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Hollywood Forever Cemetery movie screenings! Cinespia hosts huge events over the summer in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Thousands of people turn out with blankets and picnics to watch their favorite movies projected on to the side of a mausoleum, and it is AWESOME. My favorite night was all-night movie night, which was a vampire-themed triple feature of The Lost Boys, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Interview with a Vampire. At least, that’s only how long I was able to stay awake. Movie enthusiasts in LA will watch obscure French lesbian vampire porn until dawn. I am not that enthusiastic.

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Beach trips! Most of the time my Silver Lake home is just too far from the ocean to see my Mama Pacific too often, but in the summer it is all palm trees and hot white sand. Bliss.

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Visiting family! I am lucky enough to have a bunch of family about 4 hours north of LA in the scenic town of Guadalupe, California. Ahhhhh the smell of broccoli.

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Reuniting with friends! That beautiful woman is one of the very very VERY best friends of Britt and I. She is now living in my house in LA, where Britt will soon join us, and she is a social activist and social worker and Master’s student at USC. We are in love. We are also both in love with Phil and Connor, two of my very best friends and two of the very best sexy man-actors in the history of the world. All of these people are part of the Portland takeover of LA. Watch out, world!

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Bachelorette Party?! That beautiful woman in white is now a Mrs., and she came down to LA to celebrate her last weekend of bachelorette-dom in the sunshine with her ladies. In a stroke of madness, she left the bachelorette party planning to me and another LA-based ex-Portland artist-friend, and we had a magical weekend of beach-time and debauchery in Santa Monica. Needless to say, Batman was our designated driver that night.

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School resumes! I just finished week 3 of year 2 of my MFA in acting, and I am pretty damn excited about all of the work we are getting to create for the next two years. How many actors in LA actually get to ACT for 13 hours a day for nine months? I am a lucky mofo. Lucky, lucky, lucky. This pic is of my ensemble playing with letter pillows in voice class. Life is good.

Much love,

Dani

britt goes viral…. again!

Things have been very exciting lately in Britternet Land. As you may recall from my last post, I got drunk in space for hundreds of thousands of people to see. 700,623 documented viewers–to be exact (as of 12pm, Sept. 4th, … Continue reading