Let’s do the Time Warp!

It’s been 3 months now since I’ve graduated from grad school.  I’ve done almost no acting.  But… ….Today, I have a rare day off, and it makes me reflective as F***. See how reflective I am??  SO REFLECTIVE! So I started … Continue reading

dani and britt kicked 2013 in the face! happy 1st bday, Two Evil Actors!

Holy moley. Did we have a year, or WHAT, Dani?!

Holy shitballs, Britt.  It was crazy.  What do you think was the craziest thing we did in 2013?

Start this blog, obviously. 

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, BLOG-MATE!!

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, TWIN-WIN!! 

Today is the One Year Anniversary of Two Evil Actors, and we thought this would be a good moment to take a look back at 2013 for a little highlights tour. To get a juicy, in-depth look at the crazy shit that happened to us this year, click on the sexy pink hyperlinks. Obviously, the first stop on this tour is…

We are BORN!!

NANTS INGONYAMA BAGITHI BABA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Yo, Britt, did you know that those were the words to the Lion King song?  

Yes. Because I know ALL of the words to The Lion King. All the lines, and all of the lyrics. 

Damn, dude, I’m impressed.  I always thought it was “Ahhhh svegenya swuhduhgee vuhdada!!”  Turns out the lyrics are Zulu for “Here comes a lion, Father.” 

Of course it is.

Well.  Now that THAT’S cleared up.  We’ve veered off course as usual.

Typical.

 BACK ON TRACK, EVIL MOFOS.  And now for… (drumroll please)  THE YEAR 2013 IN REVIEW:

Britt goes viral

… but in a healthy, Internet kind of way.

Dani goes crazyballs

The winning rant. Based on charlie sheen and his crazy ways.

…in a losing-my-mind, grad school kind of way.  WINNING.

Britt comes out of the closet and moves into a closet

I came out of the closet about my secret dream to move to LA… but moved into my little brother’s frat boy basement like a real adult first. 

Dani gets a smartphone

This was MOMENTOUS for me.  Now I can check my email FROM MY CELL PHONE.  What will they think of next?

Britt stars in a movie

10 life-points earned! 

Girl, that’s like 1000 life points.  Truth be told, my girl was involved in too many badass projects in 2013 to even include all of them here.  My sista found some great collaborators and art-ed all over the place.  HELL yeah. 

Dani learns some damn discipline

Apparently I had to go to grad school in order to learn how to be an adult.  Just trying to whip myself into shape here, people. 

Britt and Dani are reunited (and it feels so good)

Watch out, Society. Total World Domination = Imminent.

Britt’s house burns down

I promise you– I am not making this shit up.

Dani goes to India

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There is no way I can sum up that two months of my life.  All I can say is that it was incredibly life-changing. 

Britt has a cancer scare

Everything will be okay.

Dani and Britt have hotswetymonkysex

WakingUpTheNextMorning 2

Ewww not really.  That would be incest.  But we did have a blast playing “the googlesearch game,” AKA What-the-hell-are-people-looking-for-when-they-stumble-upon-our-blog.  Turns out, people google some weeeeeiiirrd shit.

Britt quits her day job

And it feels so good.

Dani gets culture shock… in America

I had a hard time adjusting to being back in the United States.  I smoothed the transition with alcohol and had an EPIC August in Los Angeles.

Britt goes viral… AGAIN

I got drunk on a spaceship. Truth.

Dani has an existential crisis

It was a weird Fall.  Incorporating my experiences in India into my life in Los Angeles, Writing a one-woman show, Rehearsing a million things for grad school…. WHO AM I??

Britt eats a BIG MEAL

I have the time of my life working on an incredible show at Artists Repertory Theatre.

Dani stops eating everything

That’s right.  Everything.  I find out that I’m essentially allergic to wheat, corn, dairy, sesame, sunshine, and air.

Britt moves to LA!!! (And Dani’s poppin’ bottles)

We’re everybody’s favorite shitshow.

Dani has the Time of her Life

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Check out that sex-machine.  I got to play a boy in The Time of Your Life and act my ass off in a bunch of other stuff at USC.  Confession: I kinda miss having a dick.

Britt survives the jungle

I’m Queen of the Urban Jungle, baby. Or–at least–the Queen of being Dirt-Ass Broke.

Wow.  Between the two of us there were some super high highs, some super low lows, and just about everything in between.  I have to say though, I am so proud of the resilience and strength of my Britt, because she had one topsy-turvy year.  That is a lot of artistic creation and a lot of major life change for one person in one year.  

And I could not be more proud of my Dani girl. Her passion, bravery, and big open heart led her halfway across the world for a quarter of a year to immerse herself in a different culture and way of life, and those same Dani qualities inspired her to create bold and beautifully honest work in her intensive program at USC in 2013. That is a lot of artistic creation and a self-discovery for one person in one year.

As for myself, it’s hard to map the subtle changes that have taken place in me over the past year, but from where I’m standing, my internal terrain has shifted drastically.  I feel more honest, more myself, than I have ever felt.  For better or for worse.  

And from a Britt perspective, a Brittspective, this year has transformed me more than any other. It inspired me and shook me to my core. I have felt broken, I have been afraid, I have had moments of extreme clarity and have been surrounded with more love than I have ever experienced. And although I am far from having it all figured out, 2013 has made me the luckiest woman I know and I am so, so thankful.

In my opinion, we did 2013 right, even if we didn’t know what we were doing half of the time.

(…Typical.)

Yeah, that seems about right. 

Let’s ride that Furry Tractor of Badassedry right into 2014.

Bring it ON 2014!!

We love you guys.

~ dani & britt

 

dani sings hallelujah

There is SO MUCH to celebrate!!!  

I kind of can’t contain myself.  Let’s just try to count the things.

1.  I have returned to blog-land! 

I kinda look like Steve Buscemi right now. It’s been a long semester.

Oh man, I’ve missed you guys.  This week marks the completion of my 3rd semester of grad school, and I’m pretty sure that they were actively trying to kill us this time.  It has been an incredible 16 weeks, but I am so thankful I get to come up for air for a month before diving back into the deep end again.  So now I just get to enjoy…

2.  Christmas time!  

Even though it is a “frigid” 50 degrees and sunny here in Los Angeles, it still feels like Christmas for some reason.  I don’t know if it’s my newfound Christmas Break freedom or what, but I literally want to kiss everyone I see and sing love into their hearts.  Wait a second, I know where this “joie de vivre” is coming from…

3.  Britt!

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A beautiful Britt in a beautiful backyard.

For the past two months, I have had 70-hour weeks at USC.  And for the past two months, all I’ve wanted to have is 70-hour weeks in Britt‘s arms.
MY BESTIE IS IN LA, Y’ALL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I can’t even handle it.  

This dog who is so freakin' happy, he just physically CANNOT.

This is the only photo that captures how much I CANNOT EVEN HANDLE my Britt-related-joy right now.

We were too busy hugging each other in our rare spare time to write any blogs together, but we’ve got something in the works, never fear.   But one thing that is so exciting to me now that I have a moment to catch my breath is how fuckin’ PROUD I am of my girl.  Britt is KILLIN’ it, y’all.  She would be the last person to say that probably, as she is keenly aware of her own struggles and challenges, as are we all, but seriously, she is DOIN’ it.  Moving to LA is hard.  I don’t think I felt at home in LA until… right now.  Or at least not until the last couple of months.  It wasn’t until I had struggled to adjust for 9 months, spent 2 months in India, and then all my best friends moved here.  So really, I just got lucky because I got to go to India and then move in with my best friends.  LA is a whole can o’ worms… Oh!  But this leads me to…

4.  The house!

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Suz cannot even handle her excitement about the new soaking tub.

Oh. My. God.  We have a home.  I believe Britt has introduced you all to our roommates: Suzzane, Dean, and last but not least, Napoleon.  You know.
This hottie: 

Just kidding.  Napoleon is a dog.  He IS ACTUALLY a stud though.  If anyone wants their dog to be mounted by a purebred Pomeranian, go ahead and contact us through our blog.  Seriously, Dean could use the money.  We’re ready to start whoring out the dog.  

5.  Art!

As exhausted as I am, it has been a hell of a semester.  My ensemble, the Class of 2015, The Ten Commandments, The Ten Fingers, The Bad News Bears, whatever the hell you want to call us, put up it’s very first full production.  The ten of us tackled William Saroyan’s Pulitzer Prize-winning 1939 script The Time of Your Life.  Our ensemble of 10 took on a cast of 25 characters who float in and out of Nick’s Pacific Street Restaurant, Saloon, and Entertainment palace.  We cut a few characters, but long story short, I got to play a boy…

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Willie Faroughli: Marble-game-maniac and ultimate CHAMPION

AND a girl….

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Elsie Mandelspiegel: “A dark, dreaming girl…” Although I look pretty happy backstage.

…within one two-hour play.  My Mom touched my hair wistfully after the show and said, “It was interesting to see what you would’ve looked like if you were a boy…”  Aw comeon, Mom, didn’t you like having a daughter?  Just kidding, I know that you don’t secretly wish I was a boy. …Right?  But I also had one gay dude and two straight girls say that I was hot as a boy.  MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.  And I tricked my Grandmom completely–my Mom had to tell her who I was.  

But in all seriousness it was actually a really incredible experience.  Willie Faroughli spends almost the entire play onstage playing a pinball game, and Elsie Mandelspiegel has one love scene right in the middle of the play.  So I got to go from this young, driven, focused, ambitious, determined guy with nothing better to do in Depression America than conquer a marble game, to this extremely sensitive, feminine, nurturing, compassionate young woman who sees the tragedy of the Depression.  The experience of going from this incredibly masculine, prideful outlook on life to an incredibly feminine, gentle outlook on life and then back again was actually kind of life-changing.  It was an incredible reminder of why I love acting so much.  The opportunity to explore all these parts of yourself and all these viewpoints on the world.  The opportunity to be explore the masculine and the feminine.  The opportunity to breath life into a character and allow their story to live.  The opportunity to enter a state of communion with the audience and with the other actors.  The opportunity to channel your own ego through the ego of another.  It’s so fucking fun.  By the time we were done with the show I felt like I was ready to do a six month run of it.  But, as my Britt has said, these things are transient, which is part of what makes them beautiful.  

My station backstage.  Starring The Big Dick which my friend lent me as inspiration.  (Don't look at me like that, 3 of these Dicks were juggled onstage in an MFA show last year.)

My station backstage. Starring The Big Dick which my friend lent me as inspiration. (Don’t look at me like that, 3 of these Dicks were juggled onstage in an MFA show last year.)

There are other worlds that I am bidding farewell to now that the semester is winding down.  I’m saying Goodbye to the life of a desperate housewife in Depression America in our black-box studio work on Clifford Odets’ Waiting for Lefty.  I’m saying farewell to Hedda Gabler, Pussy Riot, a Bakersfield Bimbo, and other characters from our work in movement class.  I’m saying See You Later to Chekhov, until tackling that son-of-a-bitch again next semester.  I’m going to miss our film class with the inimitable John Rubinstein,

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Kim Flores, Sedale Threatt, and Michael Bernardi on set for “Revolutionary Road”

I live in Los Angeles, I’m a Master’s Acting student, and I know next to nothing about film.  But I’m working on it! Stage and Screen are two different mediums for the same kind of transformative acting that I’m interested in doing, and the differences between the two are just technical things.  The art form is different, and I’m developing a real itch for it.  My body understands live storytelling, and I want to understanding storytelling through film in the same way.  We are taking two more film classes next semester, so the exploration will continue!

Speaking of transformative, I think the most transformative acting experience of this semester was actually the doing my Solo Performance piece.  Despite the number of roles I’ve explored in the last few months, the experience of going deeper into myself, finding my own story, determining the story that I needed to tell… That experience was life-changing.  And despite it being a “solo performance” experience, it bound together my ensemble irrevocably. We shared pieces of our souls and helped each other shape them into pieces of art, and we culminated in a 90-minute performance during which each of us shared a piece of our solo work.  

But enough about art!  I am on VACATION.  (Which apparently means drinking a lot of booze and thinking about the art that I want to be making.)  In the meantime I am going to figure out how to make gluten-free baked goods, enjoy sweating like a construction worker in December, and kick it with these crazies. 

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Dean, Suzzane, Britt, Dani, and Napoleon.  A Very Ke$ha Christmas 2013

So in honor of being HALFWAY DONE with my MFA in Acting, here is this guy, who was my Muse this semester.  This is what commitment looks like.

OHHHHH WE’RE HALFWAY THERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

XOXO

Dani

dani’s poppin’ bottles (of kombucha)

BRITT‘S IN LA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

GABLAGFROMYGAHWHAHOWSWEETBABYJESUSGLABBOLDAFLAIMSOHAPPYYYYYYYYYY

I don’t know how I’m going to write this blog post.  I think I’m going to have to communicate only in gifs.  Because after MONTHS and MONTHS of excitement and buildup and anticipation my very favoritest Britt and bestie and soul sister in the entire universe of everything that exists is OFFICIALLY LIVING IN LA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  

There are truly no words.  I would like to say that since Britt arrived we have been doing nothing but lying on the beach, running around like two Tasmanian devils, and partying like it’s 1999.  After all, if you have ever been to a dive bar with me and Britt you know that we will play Miley Cyrus on the jukebox, laugh like hyenas, and piss off the regulars until the sun comes up or we get kicked out of the bar.  Especially if we are also in the company of Suz, whom you met in Britt‘s last post.  There is some sort of chemical thing that happens when we are all together that makes my blood turn into liquid neon and makes us all a little crazed in the best possible way.  

Summer 2013: Britt helps Suz make the roadtrip to LA, prior to her own big move in October.

Summer 2013: Britt helps Suz make the roadtrip to LA, prior to her own big move in October.

But with Suz at USC for her Master’s in Social Work and me at USC for my Master’s in Acting, smack dab in the middle of Fall Semester, grad school has completely eaten our lives.  EATEN THEM.  So instead of being like this:

We are more like this:

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I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t bummed about it.  The first day that Britt and I spent together in LA we wanted to be poppin’ bottles and livin’ it up, but we were in coffeeshops and juice bars with our noses in laptops and books, trying to get our lives together.  Truth be told, we probably spent more time pouring our souls out to one another than doing actual work, but it was amazing just to be together and share the truth of our lives with each other.  And right now the truth is WORK.  This girl truly is family to me, and that means sharing the stressful times and the fun times.  With Britt making a huge move and with me in the throes of grad school, maybe it was a little overly hopeful to think that our days would be nothing but sunshine and rainbows.  My girl brings some major light into my life, but unfortunately I still have a cubic shit-ton of work to do.  

And what is the truth of my life right now?  What the hell am I doing all day?

My Life:  Year 2 in Grad School

Bein' a bimbo.  Complete with duck-face.

Bein’ a bimbo. Complete with duck-face.

Physical transformation.  Movement class with David Bridel is 4 hours a week of pure FUN.  Since the beginning of the semester I have worn (literally) a dozen masks, and transformed into a cranky old man, a sweet old lady from Rhode Island, a Bakersfield Bimbo (see above), and a member of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot.  For the rest of the semester, I am working on Henrik Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler, in which I will get to hate my husband and ruin a few people’s lives.  You know, like you do.

Steph Schroyer improvising a Victorian gown on her model, Amaka.

Steph Schroyer improvising a Victorian gown on her model, Amaka.

Choking on Chekhov.  In our “Space and Movement” class, we are delving into the late 19th century Russian plays of Mr. Anton Chekhov, and it is completely fascinating and difficult to me.  Chekhov is known for telling stories that require you to completely read between the lines in order to know what the hell is going on, which makes it perfect for a class focused on how you use space and movement to tell a story.  If you can’t say what you’re thinking, how does that thought communicate through your body?  Between that challenge and the challenge of immersing myself in a world that existed 120 years ago, this is one of my hardest classes.  

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Playing with stuffed animals.  Those things in the middle of my class are “phonetic pillows” and they are in the shape of the symbols of the International Phonetic Alphabet.  We have been doing all kinds of fun activities with these fuzzy little guys, and they are helping us learn accents in Voice class.  I am pretty much a big, giant child.  It’s great.  It’s also been helping us to get down New York accents for a black box/studio version of this play:

Waiting for Lefty by Clifford Odets (Original production @ the Group Theater)

And helping me to work on a Swedish accent for an iconic transformation into…

The inimitable Greta Garbo

Thankfully, we do not have to worry so much about learning accents for our FIRST FULL PRODUCTION AT USC…

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Directed by our fearless leader Andrew Borba, looking directorial in the middle there.

Time of Your Life, by William Saroyan. Set in 1939 San Francisco, this Pulitzer-Prize winning play is born of the Great Depression and seething with social unrest seen bubbling under the surface of the people seeking solace at Nick’s Pacific Street Saloon, Restaurant, and Entertainment Palace.  The whole play takes place in a bar by the waterfront, and people come and go, bringing their troubles and joys with them.  This is the only show we are doing this semester that is fully produced (set, costumes, etc.), and it runs November 21-24 at the Scene Dock Theater.  

After that show closes, we will get to focus on our other big project of the semester, Solo Performance.  All semester we are working with Luis Alfaro to write our own one-person plays.  Let me tell you, if getting through year 1 of grad school together wasn’t enough to bond my class, or if the requirement of spending 13 hours a day together this year wasn’t enough, we have been brought together by Luis Alfaro’s class.  This man fearlessly plunges into the deepest darkest places and he accepts no less from his students.  All semester he has been encouraging us to write the story that we need to write, not the story that we want to write, and I have learned so much about the incredible people I spend my days with by hearing their stories.  We are going to have a stunning night of Solo pieces by the end of this semester.  

Last but not least, there is film class over at the School of Cinematic Arts: “The Art of Collaboration” with John Rubinstein and Eugene Lazarev.  We’ve been working with directors in the MFA Film Directing program to explore the relationship between actors and directors in film, and we’ve created some pretty rad projects.  We are screening all of them tonight, and hopefully I can post a little something for you guys soon.

THAT’S IT!

whew.

So although what I want to be doing is partying down with my Britt and/or writing sweet blogs about all the stuff going on, I just get to do the things.  All of the things.  I am exhausted, exhilarated, consumed, focused, determined.  Some days I feel completely overwhelmed and under-rested and unable to bring myself fully to the work.  But by the same token, I get to imaginatively explore all these different worlds and all these different facets of humanity every day, which makes me one lucky actor.  And when I am lying on top of my bed on a Sunday evening, trying to find the motivation to get up and prepare for another week of grueling 13-16 hour days, I find myself in the snuggly embrace of my best friends, the muses that inspire me every single day to take the road less traveled and do the work necessary to get there.  And it is totally worth it. 

Reunited, and it feels so good.

Reunited, and it feels so good.

❤ ❤ ❤

Dani

dani talks crazyballs

Obviously, that is what this week has been, both for myself and Britt.  This is the first week that our long-distance-dual-blogging schedule broke down a little bit, due to the fact that Britt and I are both CRAZYBALLS right now. 

crazyballs: adjective, adverb \ˈkrā-zē-ˈbȯlz\

The state or quality of being out-of-control, busy, or otherwise in a state of madness.

“Did you see Brent is Scene Study class today?  Boyfriend got CRAZYBALLS.”

“I’d love to get together but my schedule is super crazyballs right now.  Hit me up in a couple of weeks.”

If you desire further explanation, please enjoy the image of this dress, which was emailed to me by my friend Liz, and which appeared in a Nordstrom ad on the Merriam-Webster website when I went to find the official pronunciation of the word “Balls.”

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by Topshop. From Nordstrom

Aside from the fact that my acting program relentlessly pushes us deeper and deeper into our own psyches, Aside from the fact that it stretches our physical capabilities and challenges our notions of what we think we are capable of, Aside from the exhaustion that comes with total honesty…  Aside from all of that work that happens in our actual classes, there is part-time-job work, there is backstage-work on plays, and most recently, there is work on my class’s production of Don Quixote. 

Miguel de Cervantes’ 900+ page masterpiece novel Don Quixote begins like this:

“Somewhere in La Mancha, in a place whose name I do not care to remember, a gentleman lived not long ago, one of those who has a lance and ancient shield on a shelf and keeps a skinny nag and greyhound for racing.”

And it tells the story of a 50-year-old gentleman of reduced circumstances whose primary joy in life is to read books of chivalry, which tell tall tales of knights and damsels in words like

…the heavens on high divinely heighten thy divinity with the stars and make thee deserving of the deserts thy greatness deserves.”

Cervantes explains, “With these words and phrases the poor gentlemen lost his mind…” and changed his name to Don Quixote, changed the name of his horse to Rocinante, fancied a young village girl named Aldonza was actually his great Lady Dulcinea, and sallied forth into the land as a knight errant to right wrongs, seek adventure, and gain eternal renown.  

1-DonQuixote-001_zps77a1eeee

Don Quixote by Svetlin Vassilev

In other words, he went crazyballs and went off on a grand imaginative adventure to expand his greatness and increase the good and nobility in the world.  ….Hmmmmm….. Yesssss…..

Wait, hold up!  Turn into a play?  Reading a novel?  Rehearsals?  WHAT IS GOING ON HERE??

This semester my class is being placed in the fire of “devised theatre” to be refined and molded into an ensemble.  Devised theatre is also known as collaborative creation, and in this case the creative process is centered around the source material of Cervantes’ novel Don Quixote.  This program being incredible physical, we are using the common ground laid by the head of our program Andy Robinson, as well as our physical work with David Bridel, as well as working with Edgar on Mary Overlie’s viewpoints, as well as the work in all our other classes, to create the story of Don Quixote from scratch with our bodies (and our voices).

So that is that in a nutshell. Don Quixote saddles up with his trusty squire, AKA his hapless peasant neighbor Sancho, and the two go off to claim glory and adventure.  

Don Quixote and Sancho, by  Svetlin Vassilev

Don Quixote and Sancho, by Svetlin Vassilev

There are many things I love about this story.  One is the fact that, despite the fact that everyone is somewhat shocked and horrified at Don Quixote’s madness, he brings true magic into a lot of people’s lives.  At first, he is a source of mayhem and ends up getting his ass righteously kicked a lot, but he ends up inadvertently uniting young lovers embroiled in the most romantic, imaginative and unlikely romance of all times.   He ends up bringing joy, wisdom, and entertainment into the lives of a bored Duke and Duchess who decide to play along with his madness.  He counsels wisely as much as he rambles madly, and as much as people dismiss him, he ends up changing a lot of lives.  I begin to wonder whether or not the people he encounters see that they really are romantic heroes themselves.  He blurs the lines between the possible and the impossible, the real and the unreal, and he reminds us to be our most noble, our most selfless, and our most true selves.  

So this weekend as we kick off March, trekking onward and upward through the madness of 2013, here’s to Don Quixote and his crazyballs.

Don Quixote goes crazyballs in the mountains as Sancho looks on. by Gustave Dore.

Don Quixote goes crazyballs in the mountains as Sancho looks on. by Gustave Dore.

dani talks USC

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…

My Week

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:

The Merry Wives of Windsor 
(photo: googleimages)

with my shockingly gorgeous classmate, Kimberli Alexis Flores, featured below.

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moment captured by Amador’s smartphone.

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 and amaka

photo credit: Michael Bernardi

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.  

danidrunk

So there you have it!  Those are some of the faces, sights, and sounds that light up my world.  More to come!

dani talks inspiration

Oh man.  Not to rub it in, Britt, my dear sweet sicky-pants, but it was like 85 degrees in Los Angeles today.  Which is up like 50 degrees from two weeks ago.

What WHAT!!! Whatup, climate change? (Don’t worry, the temperature will start dropping again soon here.)

Speaking of which, how ’bout them Obama apples??  Freaking historical–first President to give an open call to arms against climate change. AND for gay rights.  Our President–who has been criticized for being too equivocal, too mild-mannered, too ineffective, too pussyfoot, too “reasonable,”  used reason and passion in perfect balance to legitimize major important issues.  Of course, now everyone is talking about our crrrazy liberal president with his crrrrazy liberal agenda, but let’s just stop for a second and appreciate this moment shall we?

If you had been driving on I-5 South from Burbank, CA at 11:15 a.m. on Monday, January 21st, you would’ve seen a girl wearing a now-defunct Livestrong sweatshirt in a battered chevy with Idaho plates JOY-SOBBING HER BALLS OFF driving down the freeway.  Straight up you guys.  I was listening to the inauguration coverage on NPR and hearing our President speak with his old fire and passion and hope, speaking from his gut about real shit without the politician-robot-affectation that he had begun to slip into occasionally, and I was done for.  Those who know me will not be surprised to hear that I could not stop sobbing/weeping/laughing for a half-hour straight.  It was probably not a safe state of mind to be driving in.  For God’s sake you guys:  On Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2013 we swore in our first black president for his second term and he swore to serve this country on the bibles of Abraham Lincoln and Dr. King himself.  Best MLK Day EVER.  And Obama has such humility and grace about the whole thing.  Absolutely beautiful. 

I definitely did not feel like I was short on inspiration this week.  Here are some inspirational gems from the first week of acting school this semester:

  • “It will take time.  We have imagination.” –Alejandro Buceta Parron
  • “We’re removing the bullshit. It’s not a magic trick.” –David Warshofsky
  • “You don’t have to know anything.  You just have to make a decision and see what happens.”  –David Warshofsky
  • Frank Dwyer, our Textual Analysis professor, told us to go read an essay by George Orwell called “Politics and the English Language,” about when people started to use language more to obscure than to communicate.  Later that same day, our Voice teacher Natsuko said with great gravity, “I want you all to relearn how you approach language.”
  • I have to bring in a real speech given publicly to work on in my Movement class, and in my research I stumbled across this gem, a commencement speech given by Ursula K. Leguin in 1986.  Once again, imagine Dani sitting at her kitchen table weeping from inspiration.  I’m a hot mess, you guys.  Even if all you read is the quote at the very top of that link, it will be worth it, especially if you are a lady.

I wrote this in my notes last week: “It never ceases to amaze me how much this program blows my mind.  Integrative approach to humanity, Observation of self… Don’t pay attention to what a man says, pay attention to what he does.  That’s who he is. ”  Today Andy, the head of my program, hit the nail on the head when he said that being an actor is about figuring out how to be a human being, and went on to say:

Yes!!

Which brings to mind another Nike thing that is actually really inspiring to me.

You’re welcome, Nike, for the free advertising. 

Anyway, between the real world and the world of grad school, my artistic flames have been fanned with fury this week, and I am happy I get to share my week of inspiration with you, blog-o-sphere.  In order to incorporate my ramblings about Obama with my ramblings about grad school, please enjoy the following meme, starring the always-wonderful-in-everything Meryl Streep.

You’re welcome, Apple, for the free advertising.

 To Nike and Apple:  If you do choose to pay me for my services, leave a comment below and I’ll tell you where to send the check.  

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