Friday, December 28, 2012


Family is a curious thing. You don’t get to choose yours; you are just born into it, for better or for worse.  The power of influence that family has over a person is so incredible because it literally shapes that person into who they are.

I had the good fortune of getting to spend my Christmas with my family in New York City, and boy did we have a good time.

TO begin with, they flew from waterloo to Chicago and then from Chicago to New York. Their plane was late leaving from waterloo so when they arrived in Chicago they literally had to sprint from one gate to the next, and they made it with just less than ten minutes to spare! But they made it to New York and arrived to their hotel right on time. It was surreal to see them all, because for 4 months now this city has been my home, and now my family was here to visit it for the first time.

Times Square!
And we hit the ground running! On the first day we visited Grand Central Station, Times Square, and Chinatown, and then that night they all came to see Restoration Comedy at The Flea (the show I have been working on for the past few weeks.) One thing I hadn’t planned for was teaching them how to use the subway, but I had my Dad download an app to his iPhone called Hopstop, which helped them find their way back to their hotel that night.

The next day we met in Times Square and proceeded to head down to West Village to meet Eugenia (a family friend from the Waterloo Community Theater). That was really fun because we got to experience a part of New York that Wasn’t chocked full of tourists.  After Lunch I had to go work a show, so my family and I parted ways. They stayed down in the west village for a bit more and then went and saw Mary Poppins the Musical, which I hear was fantastic, and I went to go work on ResCom.

Inside the MET Museum of Art

Christmas Eve Day. We spent the morning hanging out and wandering around The Metropolitan Museum of Art. It was glorious because we got to spend time just hanging out and talking and catching up, surrounded by History and Art.  Afterwards, we found this little coffee shop near Penn station that was completely deserted on the upper floor, and we made it our home for pretty much the entire afternoon. While Mom and Kristen were shoe shopping, Michael, Dad, and I just hung out and chatted. Then we went and saw The Hobbit at 48fps in IMAX 3D. It was glorious, to say the least. After the movie we all caught up and headed back to Sunnyside for a relaxing evening together. By then everyone was super tired so we just ate the baked goods that Grandma Butler had sent me a few days ago, and fell asleep.

So tired they are sleeping on the subway.
Christmas Day. At 4:30 in the morning we received word from my Grandma Craven that Grandpa Craven had passed away at 1:30am. It was tough news, to say the least. Grandpa was an awesome dude who led an awesome life and created a great family. After serving in the Marines and fighting in the Korean War, he came back to Iowa and started his own Grocery Store/Laundromat. He was a hometown hero and lead that grocery story through many years of success and raised a family all while doing it. He loved camping, boating, television, and Rush Limbaugh. He was a great man and he will be missed.

So that is how we started our Christmas Day, but we pulled together as a family and made the best of the situation. We had a few things planned for the day, but we decided to just take it easy and do whatever we felt like doing. After I gave the family my awesome present to them, we bundled up and headed out. We had lunch at an awesome little place in Chinatown known as Vanessa’s Dumpling House. From there we toured around my neighborhood, which was busy as ever. Then we went up to Rockefeller Plaza to see the Tree. It was packed, to say the least, but we got to see the tree, and it was a cool sight indeed. Then we wandered up to Central Park and proceeded to have the most awesome Carriage Ride ever. The weather was perfect, the sky was clear, and it couldn't have been more magical.

They next two days just flew by. We did lots of fun things, but before you could say Merry Christmas we were carrying the bags to the taxi and saying our goodbyes. It all went by way too fast, and I miss them already.

Lets see….I usually try to end these posts with a moral or a closing thought…. I guess it would be this: Cherish the time you get with your family. While you don’t have much choice in who you get for a family, you do have a choice in how much time you get to love them. And before you know it, they are gone…

I found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that

 keep the darkness at bay... small acts of kindness and love.

Friday, December 21, 2012

To Create

I write this blog as I sit backstage during the pre-show of Restoration Comedy.  It has been a crazy week, yet again, and time is flying past me at reckless speeds. Tomorrow my family arrives in New York for a Christmas that promises to be unlike any we have had before. So look for a blog post next week chocked full of stories and experiences! But onto more pressing matters…

Today was supposed to be the end of the world. According to the Mayan Calendar and its many modern day experts, the world was supposed to end today in some sort of fiery doom. 
Now is completely useless.
Like many “end of the world” prophecies, they were proven wrong by the steady, unrelenting, march of time. The world is still spinning, the people are still going, and the sun is still shining. It wont be long until someone else steps up and declares some near distant date the actual end of the world, as had been the trend since the beginning of time. If there is one, united, ideal that we as a human race have all agreed on, its that our time here will end. We are not infinite creatures, but beings confined to a finite existence. Woah, I am getting way to philosophical here. Anyways, my point is that because the world hasn’t ended and we are about to begin a new year, I think it is time to start thinking about the future.

But before I go there,  I want to jump back to this week because I am officially done with my internship at the Lark. It is strange to think that the internship is over, because it has always been there for me since I moved here. Like an anchor, something I could depend on, something that would always be there. It was a sweet goodbye, because I had the opportunity to work with some truly amazing people, and also because it means it is time to go on to bigger and better things. Much like the philosophy of the Lark, its time to take the things I learned and apply them to my future.

And what a future! There are many exciting things coming up to look forward to in 2013! And as I sit here, backstage, before the show with Restoration Comedy, I am thinking about where I will be in a year from now. So I it is time to challenge myself, to push myself to get as much from 2013 as I can.

This past year has been amazing. In January I assisted in taking Clarke University's production of Pinter's The Caretaker show from Dubuque Iowa to Ames Iowa for the American College Theatre Festival. In May I graduated from Clarke with a BA in Theatre. Then, I spent my summer interning at The Grand Opera House working on Annie and Sweeny Todd, two similar plays about love, redemption, and the color red. In August I moved to New York, and here I am! I have stage managed a show here, assistant stage managed a show, interned, and held many and sundry odd jobs around the city. All in all it has been a good year.

I read a very compelling article on recently about the idea of creating versus consuming. What I took away from the article were many ideas that have begun to change the way I am looking at things. While consuming things like movies, books, tv shows, comic books, and theatre does make me feel happy, creating is 1000x times more fulfilling. As I look back on the 2012 I realize that the amount I have created versus the amount I have consumed is drastically out of balance because I spent most of my effort consuming things. My biggest goal for 2013 is to create and to seek out opportunities to use my creativity. So I am going to set a few goals, and I expect you all to hold me to them! Hopefully then, in a year, I can look back on this blog post and see if I have truly done what I have wanted to do. It’s easy to set goals at the beginning of the year, and then forget about them after a month, but it wont be so easy with all of you making sure I do them. My hope is twofold: that by sharing this list with hundreds of people that you can all make sure I achieve what I wanted to, and to also inspire you to do the same and make a list of your own! Make a list of goals that are specific, and then achieve them! Its simple :) Oh, and to make it really challenging, they should be goals  that cause you to create something, not to consume something. Going on a diet doesn’t count, and working out more doesn’t count, because you are consuming, not creating. If you want to have a good year, create something.

So here is my list:

1: Direct a play/musical
            It’s time to start right? I mean it is what I want to do with my LIFE. I spent 4 years in college with amazing talented theatre friends and I only directed one thing? Epic fail on my part. SO my first goal is to take some initiative and direct a play/musical.

2: Write a screenplay
            Its time to confess. Ever since starting this blog I have found that I actually enjoy writing. I have no clue if I am any good at it, but its fun. So, to further this newfound passion, I want to challenge myself to write a screenplay. I have a list of ideas for movies that I have been keeping since I was literally 12 years old and filming movies in the back yard with my brothers. I want to challenge myself to make one of these ideas into an actual screenplay. Then, when I do, I am going to share it with all of you devoted readers, and get your feedback on the pros and cons of the piece. Where it goes from there? Who knows? Maybe it gets turned into something, or maybe it sits on my hard drive…

3: Continue Blogging
            It’s time to get real. This blog has kind of become a staple in my life, and I don’t want that to change. I am happy that people are getting enjoyment out of keeping up with my adventures, so I want that to continue. If I forget to blog, please kindly yell at me. Thanks.

That’s all the goals I have right now, but I think they are good ones. Again, I encourage you all to make goals of your own! And make them a positive action of creation. Its easy to consume, but it takes guts to create. So take a risk and create something this next year! Until Next Time!

 "Do the math: How much of your time is spent consuming things other people made (TV, music, video games, websites) versus making your own? Only one of those adds to your value as a human being."

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

5 Wisdoms for the Auditioning Actor

He is just asking to get high-fived
I commute to work by bike. When I am not weaving in and out of traffic, I am typically dodging peoples who think they are not peoples and are walking in the bike lane. This can be rather stressful, especially coupled with the air I am breathing which is probably somewhere around 20% oxygen,75% Car exhaust, and 5% shattered dreams. So while biking to work I am compelled to find some-sort of enjoyment out of it.. and I have, and it is good. I high-five people who are hailing cabs. There is nothing more hilarious then the look on peoples face of pure surprise to get randomly high-fived by some deranged (me) bike rider speeding past them. Its these little joy's that get me through the day :)

So when brain-storming what to blog about this week, I thought it would be fun to do another installment of "Wisdoms" for future wanna-be New Yorker's. But I couldn't think of anything. So instead I am going to draw off of my three week of audition monitoring at Actors Equity and create some wisdom's for actors, but really these ideas can carry over into any profession or life trade, so even if you are not an actor, read on! Also, as a disclaimer, this is not a venting blog post. I love my job and I love the people I get to meet. I simply want to impart some advice to help all you actors be better you's.

5 Wisdoms for the Auditioning Actor

Be ready for the audition before the audition.

As Scar would say, Be Prepared. One thing I have noticed is that some actors arrive at the audition location with all their audition materials in their bags, but not much of it assembled. A lot of the audition locations are kind enough to provide scissors and staplers for actors to get their head-shot and resume put together, but is this something you want to be doing right before the audition? And what if the building out of staples? Take a few minuets before you leave your apartment, and get all your stuff put together so that when you arrive, you can focus entirely on preparing for the audition. That being said....

Know what you are auditioning for.

I worked an audition recently, and while I will keep everything anonymous to cover my own butt, I will say that the audition company was looking for 3 characters specifically:  2 young African American boys age 10, and one older African American male age 30. Of the 92 or so that auditioned that day I would say 80 of them were Caucasian males and females. Odd right? Sure, it might be good to get in the room and be seen so that the casting director will remember you. But do you really want to be remembered as the girl who auditioned to play an African American Boy? Or be known as the dude who obviously did not read the casting description? I don't know, maybe you do, but whatever you do....

Do everything with confidence.

You can tell right away when someone is not confident in themselves. It is painfully obvious and sometimes you just want to go up and hug them, but you can't because that would be weird. Regardless, as you audition you have to act as if you are the most put together person in the world, because being confident inspires confidence. Its reciprocal. Look it up. When a casting director sees that you are sure of yourself, it literally makes them sure of your abilities and sometimes it can even gloss over your mistakes. Be yourself and be confident because you are a good person, and a talented person, and you deserve to be recognized. So take that into consideration and above all else....

Be happy dammit.

Believe it or not, some people are mean jerks at the auditions. Let me put this as simply as I can: NO ONE LIKE A MEAN JERK. Also, yes life sucks and is super depressing sometimes, believe me I know all too well, but don't let that carry over into your audition! When someone sees you for the very first time and see that you are depressed, they think that is an acting choice or maybe even a personality trait and will resist choosing you to be in their production. And unless you are auditioning for a Eugine O'Neil play, there is no reason to be sad and depressed for an audition! Check it at the door. Be Happy. One of the truest and most depressing quotes I know is thus: "Laugh and the world Laugh's with you, Cry and you cry alone." I love it because it is so bittersweetly true. No one likes a negative Nancy. The majority of people don't care about me, Joey Stamp, and what a depressing week I have had. (but some people DO care and when you find them cling on to them for dear life because how often are you going to find someone who gives a damn about you! But I digress...) And to conclude...

Have fun and be fun

Auditioning is a painful, long, and stressful process. It taxes the mind by having to learn so many songs and monologues, and it taxes the soul by having to be rejected so many times. Yes, you will be rejected. A lot. Even Kristen Chenoweth got rejected at auditions at one point. Keep going. You will meet a lot of people at these auditions, and when you do, engage them in meaningful conversation! Have fun with them, get to know them, get to know everyone. Be a fun person and people will gravitate to you. Feed off of that positive energy and let it fuel the rest of your day. The same audition I worked at where all the white people were auditioning for all the black people roles was one of the best memories I have in New York so far because of how much fun it was at the auditon just getting to talk to people and joke around and hangout all day with other theater minds. Life will present you with many opportunities, don't let them pass you by...

Well there you have it. 5 Wisdoms for all you all. And like I said, while these are geared towards auditioning actors, they can be applied to real life. Seriously. Just go back and re-read the blog post and replace the word "actor" with "human being" and the word "audition" with "life experience" and it practically fits in any situation. Until Next Time!

"Can anybody find me Somebody to love?"

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Incredible Generosity

The street below my apartment.
It has been one heck of a week here in NYC. The show I am working on, Restoration Comedy, has gone into previews, work has been picking up at Actors Equity, The Lark continues to be a great place to internship, and I moved myself to Chinatown from Sunnyside completely by bike and utter determination.  So I am officially living in my new apartment, which is an absolutely amazing place. I live above a Vietnamese Cuisine restaurant and an Asian Grocery Store. There are open fish and fruit markets on my block, some great Chinese food restaurants  and even a bubble tea cafe! Things couldn't get any better than this right? Wrong. One more amazing thing happened this week that has literally sent me over the edge with joy.

This story is a perfect example of how work is found and connections are made.

My Father was visiting family member Uncle Dave (or Buddha as he likes to be called) and brought up the topic of me living in New York. Buddha then told my Dad that I had to meet a photographer friend of his who lives and works in New York City. My Dad emailed me this photographers information, and I decided that I would try and meet him to seek out the advice from a working photographer in New York City, since photography is a career path I am considering. Well I come to find out that the photographer is non other than Andrew Moore, a published and internationally recognized photographer.( I was a little nervous to go meet him, to say the least.  

So I went and met him at his studio, and after he insisted on buying me lunch, I proceeded to have one of the most amazing conversations with Andrew. He asked me where I came from, and where I wanted to go to. I had given him some very general, non-committal, answers of "I maybe want to do photography, or maybe theater,  maybe film, probably direct." Then Andrew gave me a very welcomed wake up call. He told me his story about how he has always wanted to be a photographer, and that he struggled in New York for many years, but continually took steps to be a photographer. He said that one of the dangers of this city is that it can pull you in many directions and sometimes take you down a path away from what you ultimately want to do, because of the large amount of opportunities. This really opened my eyes and made me realize that with my goals, I was being way to general, and because of that I was potentially leaving myself open to going down wrong career paths. This idea rocked-my-world, in a very good way. 

We continued with our conversation and, as I was processing all this, I did confide in him that I really do want to be a director. It has always been what I wanted to be, though I haven't always been taking active steps towards it. Then he decided to help me. Andrew said that he once took a class because he was supposed to direct, and wanted to have a good knowledge of what to do as a director. He hasn't directed in many years, but this class was one of the most memorable experience of his life. He told me that if I wanted to, he could help me get interviewed to be in this class. The teacher of this class is none other that Wynn Handman. (

To give you an idea of Wynn Handman, here are a few actors he has trained: Alec Baldwin, James Caan, Kathleen Chalfant, Chris Cooper, Michael Douglas, Sandy Duncan, Mia Farrow, Christopher George, Richard Gere, Joel Grey, Frank Langella, John Leguizamo, Susan Lucci, Burt Reynolds, Tony Roberts, Anna Deveare Smith, Mira Sorvino, Christopher Walken, Denzel Washington and Joanne Woodward.

After serving in World War II, Wynn moved back to New York and studied under the up and coming acting teacher Sanford Meisner, and was his personal assistant for 5 years. He then started teaching his own acting classes, and has been teaching for over 60 years and there are still long lines of actors auditioning to get into this man's class. 

Andrew thought it would be great for me to observe this class as a director because the techniques that Wynn uses translate directly into directorial skills of working with actors. To have the chance to be interviewed for this class was incredible, so I told Andrew that yes, I would love to go in and interview. 

Two days ago I met Wynn's Assistant for a first round interview, and passed. Yesterday I met Wynn himself for a one on one interview to see if I would be a good fit. Today I am glad to tell you all that I am ACCEPTED into Wynn's Class!!!!!

I had an amazing interview with this man. The best part was when he asked me what my favorite plays were. I told him The Merchant of Venice was my favorite play and he quoted, word for word, a monologue from it. We then discussed Pinter's The Caretaker, Beckett's Waiting for Gadot, and how Shakespeare summed up both of these plays in Macbeth's "Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow..." speech. It was literally one of the moving 10-minute discussions of my life. If the class is anything like that discussion, it is going to be amazing.

And that's been my week. Take note people, connections are what decide if you make it or break it. So I owe a big thanks to Buddha who helped me meet Andrew, and big thanks to Andrew who, through incredible generosity, bought me lunch and is now the reason I am taking this class with Wynn. And who knows where I'll go from there... Until Next Time!

Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury
Signifying nothing. — Macbeth (Act 5, Scene 5)

Friday, November 23, 2012


In my last post I had said that I have some exciting news. Well here it is: I'm moving to Chinatown! This historic section of New York, located in the center-southern part of Manhattan  is home to the :"largest and oldest enclave of Chinese people" in the western hemisphere. I move in December first, and I could not be more excited. The room is on the fifth floor, approximately three times bigger than the one I am in now, and it has a wonderful view of the Empire State building. 

I am excited for this move for many reasons. Cheap Chinese food every day. Commuting times cut in half. Living on the island of Manhattan. Cheap Chinese food every day.

Some of you are probably wondering, Why am I moving to a new place? What was wrong with Sunnyside? Well it all started with Sandy. The Hurricane. Thanks to Sandy, everyone in my apartment and I were confined together for 48 hours. None of us even stepped outside. Because of this, my landlady and I discovered we have different living habits. And after a heated argument about the use of hand towels, Ramen, and a microwave, I decided it was time to move out. We just weren't getting along anymore.

Once Sandy had dissipated and  things settled down in New York, I started looking for a new place. I went to craigslist and began navigating through the hundreds of postings for a room to rent. I hated the process because hardly anyone ever replied to my emails, and it was completely overwhelming because of the volume of posting to sift through.

 I started my search looking for a place in Sunnyside. I liked the neighborhood, so why not stay here? Well there weren't any rooms in my price range here, so I broadened my search. I looked in Astoria, a nice, young, fresh neighborhood just north-west of Sunnyside. I had better luck with finding a room in Astoria, but in the end it, all I found was a lesson: When there is an apartment you like, seize it. I found a great room for a great price, but I left the viewing with nothing but a "you'll hear from me" from the landlord, because she had multiple people coming to view the room throughout the week. When I called the landlord back the next day she had given the room to someone already. I was flabbergasted. I thought there were more viewings? I thought you weren't going to decided until the end of the week? What did they have that I didn't have? It was weird, but I was actually slightly emotionally impacted by it, because in my head it didn't seem fair. But, what I learned was that if you see a room you like, don't wait. Seize on it because someone else with more determination might take it from you.

So with more confidence and determination, I moved my sights to Brooklyn. I was a little nervous about finding a room here because Brooklyn has always scared me a bit. It just seems like a rougher part of New York. Touting some of the highest crime rates, there are many places to avoid in Brooklyn. But, it also has some very affordable rooms to rent and some very beautiful neighborhoods. So I responded to some ad's, viewed some rooms, but none of them really stood out to me in the way the Astoria room had. They were too far, or too small, or too sketchy, or windowless. Having grown weary of apartment searching, I gave up for awhile and resigned to the fact that I might be living in Sunnyside for a bit longer.

Then, out of the blue, I got a reply back to one of the emails I sent on a hopeful whim to a room to rent in Chinatown. Here is the exact email text: 
How are you? I just found your mail from trunk mail. Sorry about that for lately reply! Do you still interest the room in Chinatown? "
I was astonished! Having recovered my email from her trunk mail (by which I think she meant Junk mail) Mrs. Lee actually emailed me back and asked if I was still interest! I replied yes, immediately (thank you 21st century smart phones) and set up a viewing the next day. I went to see the room and absolutely loved it. It was big enough so that I could house friends when they come and visit, the location was perfect for my bike commuting, the price was right in my range,  and it had a window with a view, something that is secretly an important factor for me in a room. I wasn't going to loose another amazing room to someone else, so I told Mrs Lee right then and there that I wanted this room. She was a little surprised at my suddenness,  but was happy to oblige. So I signed some papers, paid the deposit, and she handed me the keys. It was one of my happiest moments in New York so far. I had worked hard and gotten something I wanted with determination and perseverance. It was so rewarding, and so exciting and I can't to move into the new place.

That's my story for this past week. Exciting, right? I am sad to have part ways with Sunnyside, it has been great in introducing me to New York. But I am super exciting to get to explore this new area of town, rich with Chinese history, culture, diversity. Oh yeah, and cheap Chinese food. Until next time!

“So be sure when you step, Step with care and great tact. And remember that life's A Great Balancing Act. And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and ¾ percent guaranteed) Kid, you'll move mountains.” 
 Dr. SeussOh, The Places You'll Go!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Crazy Busy

It has been a pretty crazy busy week for me over here, which is why this blog post will be a short one. Of the past 4 days I have logged 48 hours in tech rehearsals. 12 hour rehearsals every day since Wednesday. It has been an enlightening, challenging, and exhilarating experience, to say the least.

For those of you have don't know, I am working on a show at The Flea theatre: Restoration Comedy by Amy Freed, directed by Ed Sylvanus Iskandar. There is so much that I have learned on this production that I want to take and apply to my directing style, I scarce can even think of it all to put in this blog post. The main thing that I have learned is how powerful a show can become when all the actors are invested in it. The stakes are higher, the risks are bigger, and the company is stronger. I cannot wait for this show to open and see how audiences react to the powerful show that we all have created. Check out the promo video!

I wish I could write more to you all! but the fact is I am exhausted and need sleep. But more exciting things are beginning to happen! Check back next week for some news I cant wait to share with you all!

"Kiki, so, so 
We, we, no no! "
-Lets have a kiki, Scissor Sisters 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

I Was Determined

As I stare at the little ovals on the presidential voting form, I am struck by the ironic humbleness of it all. After years of campaigns, and millions of dollars of advertising, the entire election boils down to one simple piece of paper with a few ovals and a few names printed in an ordinary font. To see the names “ Barack Obama”, and “Mitt Romney”, just waiting on the page, waiting to be chosen, I was flooded with a sense of personal power. I have a choice, I have a voice. My vote does count. It was a strange moment of both great power, and great serenity…

New York is an amazing city. In the wake of hurricane Sandy, while the lower third of Manhattan was still without power, restaurants and grocery stores were giving out free food, and those with electricity were sharing with those who were without. That being said, New York is also a frustrating city. Sandy took out most of the subway systems, and because everyone is so dependent on public transportation, this resulted in over-packed buses and congested traffic. Trying to get into New York from where I live was nigh impossible. The Monday and Tuesday of the hurricane I didn’t leave my room, because all of my jobs were closed so there wasn’t anywhere to go. But The Flea was having rehearsal for Restoration Comedy on Wednesday and I decided to venture into Manhattan, and what an adventure it was.

Lines of buses and people for miles
The subway near where I live (the 7 train) was still offline, so the options I had to get into town were to walk, take the bus, or take a taxi. Taxi’s are too expensive for me, so that option was out. To give you an idea of my area of Queens, there is one main road into Manhattan: Queens Boulevard. Typically, it is busy during the morning and evening rush hours, and calm during the rest of the day. Well on the Wednesday after Sandy it was backed up for MILES. The city had brought out every bus in its fleet to transport people who were without subway transportation. Plus, anyone who had access to a car decided to drive it into the city that day, so the result of this, plus the additional buses, was a traffic jam for miles long. So taking the bus was out.

I was determined to get into Manhattan, and since I had literally spent the last 48 hours in one room, I decided I would walk into Manhattan. I joined the river of people flowing down Queens Boulevard that, like me, wanted to get into Manhattan and figured walking was the fastest way.  It took me two hours and I walked 4 miles to get into the city. By that time my feet were sore and my backpack felt like a lead weight. Since I was in the city I could take a bus, because they were less congested. I took a bus down to where The Flea rehearses, but the buses weren't going all the way down. So I had to walk the last mile.

The Flea rehearses in the area of town that lost power, so walking that last mile was one of the most surreal experiences of my life. It had literally felt like I walked into a post apocalyptic wasteland  The streets were relatively deserted, there were no lights on anywhere, and most of the stores were closed and boarded up.  It was a haunting walk to rehearsal, but I got there.

After traveling 3 and a half hours to rehearsal that day, I decided I would take up biking. I bought a bike and since have been biking everywhere.  I love it because it is faster than the subway, and cheaper too. And there is nothing like weaving through the streets of New York on a bike. I really feel connected to the city in a way I haven’t before. Taking the subway is nice, but you don’t see anything when you are traveling on it. You sit in a subway car and travel through dark tunnels and only see what is around your subway stop. Biking puts you on the streets, in the heat of the mix of things. You get to see buildings and people and street vendors and alleyways and equestrians you wouldn't normally see. I honestly think it will be the closes I will ever get to web slinging my way through New York City like Spider-Man. So, from this point on, I travel by bike.

The days after Sandy were interesting, and the city was very loving and caring. It was as if the disaster created a sort of camaraderie between everyone. It was the first time since I moved here that I had random conversations with people on the street. Most of the time it was complaining about the transportation problems, but at a deeper level it was saying that we were in this together. I witnessed many random acts of kindness, and there just seemed to be a loving air about the town. We all made the best with what we were given.

Bookends are a great way to tell a story. You can wrap up a messy plot between neat idea caps. So to get back to the election, I find it quite interesting how high the stakes become in the American election. As the days draw closer to the election, American becomes increasingly fevered  with the extremes of each candidate. One is the end of the world, one is the devil, one will lead us down a road to ruin, the other is God incarnate. The extremes of each person's ideals are elevated to a level of, literally, life and death. When in reality, both want to lead America to prosperity and success in how they see fit. All the candidates want to see at the end of the day is peace and happy people. For the majority of the time, the people don’t really care what the leaders are doing, just so long as the trains run on time and their comfort isn’t threatened. So here’s to another four years of peace, prosperity, and efficient public transportation! Until next time!

“Winter is Coming”
- Motto of House Stark, Game of Thrones

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

I Think I Hurri-can!

I find that I am stuck between a rock and a hard place... I am having trouble in writing this post, and yet there is so much to write about! I closed my show in Jersey City on Saturday, I have been working more with the production at The Flea, and we had a hurricane hit New York! Its has been a crazy weekend and yet I am unable to put it all into words! Gah, where are you muses? So forgive me as this post will probably be more of a ramble of thoughts than a well formed, well articulated, blog posting like my college professors would want it to be.

First off, a disclaimer: For those of you considering moving to New York, don't let Hurricane Sandy try and persuade you not to come. Hurricanes rarely ever come this far north, and when they do they have lost all their energy in the traveling, so they rarely ever amount to anything. But this one was different, and even though it landed south of New York in the Philadelphia and New Jersey area, we still had lots of damage and flooding up here.  But hurricanes of this magnitude are rare, so don't let Sandy sell you something false, New York is hardly ever hit by extreme weather. 

My part in the hurricane was rather incremental. I spent most of it indoors reading comic books and catching up on tv and movies. Sunnyside, where I live, was left rather untouched by the whole thing. We had strong winds and lots of water being tossed about in the air, but that was about it. But the best part of it all was the love and support that was sent to me all my friends and family. It was an absolutely wonderful experience to know that everyone was sending their love to the east coast. My thoughts go out to those without power and to the workers who have to take on the monumental task of getting the MTA back up and running. and hopefully they will soon because I am running out of things to do!

To further add to the random rambling of this post, here is a panorama of Times Square I took on my way to work:

Yup, a Microsoft Store.

Like I mentioned earlier, the show I was working on in Jersey City had its final performance this past Saturday. It was a fantastic learning experience and I shall miss everyone I worked with. But this is New York, and there is no time for rest! I am already working my next show at The Flea and I am especially excited to begin going to all the evening rehearsals there. We had our first full stumble-through this past Sunday, and it is looking really good. If you are in the New York area at all, it is a must see. 

Lastly, I would like to tell the world that I now have a Part-Time job as an Audition Monitor for Actors Equity Association! I am super excited to begin working there, and plus it means I won't have to worry about going broke, and I won't have to join the coast guard! YAY. So to everyone out there know this: Perseverance is key to success. When I was turned down for those two potential jobs, at the same time, a few weeks ago, I had a depressing weekend. But I ate a bunch of ice cream, got over it, and moved on. I doubled down my efforts and received loads of help from friends and my wonderful boss, and it is starting to pay off. I am by no means at the end of my journey here, infact I have finally just found my feet after the long jump over, but it means I can start walking, start climbing, and being achieving what I set out to do. So, my advice to anyone who is moving here, or just trying to find work in this economy: Persevere. You will achieve what you deserve through your efforts. Until next time!

"And now we're free to be number one, 
morning isn't far away I had a dream we were holding on, 
and tomorrow has become today, become today."
-Scissor Sisters, Fire with Fire

Monday, October 22, 2012

Good News!

Good News everyone! I have work!

But before we get there, I want to explain to you something I like to call the "New York Hiring Process". It works like this: A theatre job opens up, but instead of listing the job or posting a help wanted add the employer typically just asks friends, and friends ask friends, and people respond, and friends recommend friends, and then someone lucky bloke gets hired. Thats how it works in the theatre world here, and that is exactly how I got my two new jobs! Now let me trace the story back for you:

To begin with, it all started with the show I have been working on in Jersey City. I was riding the train home with a cast members one evening, and she said she had a Technical Director friend that works at a theatre called "The Flea", and off-broadway performance venue, who wanted to hire someone to help her out. This cast memeber thought I should send my resume and cover letter to the TD, and so after a few days of getting things ready, I send my stuff to the cast member, and she sent it to the TD along with a recommendation. Well days turned to weeks and I didn't hear anything, so I just assumed nothing came of it. Then one day I get a call asking if I would be interested in Assistant Stage managing their upcoming show in November and December. I went in for an interview and we all got along swimmingly, so they offered me the job! Now I am Assistant Stage Managing a show at The Flea, all because a friend recommended me, and the TD had my resume when the job opened up. The best part is I hadn't even met the TD, she just trusted my recommendation  So now I get to work on an amazing show, and trust me, this show is amazing. I can't really say more about it yet, but the cast is phenomenal  the story is hilarious, and it is going to be a lot of fun to work on.

That is how I got the first job, and I am pretty excited about it. But the second job is even more exciting. I am happy to tell everyone that I will be the Assistant Director on the premiere of a brand new, off-broadway play called Off The Kings Road by Neil Koenigsberg that will go up in February.  Now to trace this story back... It all started when a professor of mine emailed me saying that a fellow alum of his had posted a message on facebook that she was looking to hire an Assistant Director for an upcoming play. Well this professor saw that facebook post and emailed me and asked if I was interested. He said that if I was, he would try to set up an interview for me. He also said he made no promises that I would get the job, but said he would recommend me nonetheless. I said I was totally interested!  Time passed, emails were sent, and I got the interview. I met with the Director and we got along fabulously and she said she had a few other interviews to conduct but that she would let me know within the week. I anxiously waited to hear the news, but didn't get my hopes up because I didn't want to get to attached before I found anything out. Then I found out yesterday that she wanted to bring me onto the project, so I accepted!

So that is how it works in this city, my friends. You meet people and they help you get jobs. But don't be a karama hog, pay it forward. Be sure to help others get jobs to, and recommend people, and talk to people, and make connections because the theatre world in this city is a small one, and it pays to know people. Literally. 

Until next time!

Got a little motto
Always sees me through
When you're good to Mama, Mama's good to you.
 -Matron Mama Morton, Chicago

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Floppy Disk

I have discovered that I enjoy interviewing. I enjoy traveling to various locations, meeting interesting people, and having engaging conversation.

I recently had two interviews that couldn't have been more different. One was for a touring stage manager job, and the other was for an administrative office position with the title “Tour Coordinator” (ironic that both jobs involve touring?). I don't want to go into too much detail because I am still waiting to hear back from both of them, and I don't want this blog to be the reason I didn't get hired. But I do have some advice for anyone who is going through this “getting a job” thing. Be yourself. The last thing you want is a job where you can’t be who you are. You will become very unhappy very quickly.

One of the reasons I love interning at the LARK is because, even though it is an office environment, everyone is allowed to be themselves. My boss comes to work dressed as a skateboarder, the Artistic Director wears Jeans, while others choose to where dressier clothes. There is no “dress code” because there doesn’t have to be. For me, this is the kind of place I want to work at because there is less stress on rules and more on ideals. Others might prefer a more formal setting but regardless, knowing what you want will make you happier with your work in the long run. Don’t do a job just for the money.

Something you all may or may not know about me is that I am kind of a computer geek.
This game was amazing in its day.
Like, very seriously. Ever since Dad brought home our first computer, a Compaq with a Windows 3.1 Operating system, a CD drive, CRT Monitor, Floppy disk drive, and Trackball mouse, I have been hooked (Still have that computer by the way.). We even had one of the original forms of the commercial internet, known as Prodigy. I spent many hours messing around on that computer; installing floppy disk games, playing Wolfenstein, surfing the 1995 internet. I even remember the first time I figured out that you could change the wallpaper and the little icon image, which for Windows 3.1 was a pretty big deal. Around that same time too, our school purchased an old lot of Apple Macintosh Plus’s for the young students to use and learn on, which in 1996 was pretty good for an old Catholic school. So suffice it to say, I know computers. Computer technology always seems to find me and there is something about the simplistic complexity of computers that I have always been able to just “get”. I have built myself a computer, I have built my brother Michael a computer, and when Zach gets back from the Marines I will build him one to. I don’t understand it, but I just get computers and they just work for me.

That being said, I had to leave my giant desktop system back at home because traveling to New York with it just wasn't a viable option. So for the past few months I have been doing all my computing on a tiny 9-inch netbook. It’s been a challenge. I like to push my computers to the limits in their capabilities. I bought it just to have to surf the internet and type up word documents. I didn't really factor into the equation that I would need something to process my digital photography though…I know I should be proud of the fact that I got Adobe Photoshop running on this small thing at all, but when I made it crash by processing 200 RAW photos at the same time, I got slightly frustrated. Now when I shoot I take as few pictures as possible because for every one photo I take, it takes me about 10 min of processing time on this dinky machine.

Windows 95 was a great operating system, and also where I began learning how to tinker and change things. But Windows XP was truly the golden years of the windows operating system. It was a reliable and fast system that was relatively easy to learn, and it looked good too. I love messing around with old XP systems. Recently my landlady was throwing out her old computer and my heart leapt! "Something to tinker with", I thought! So I snatched it up and starting messing with it, which proved to be short lived because, as it stands, I don’t have a computer monitor for it yet… my next goal is to find one for free, because I am cheap. But when I plugged it in for the first time, it started playing some very strange new age music; which was weird because I didn't have any speakers plugged into it yet… I don’t know what my landlady had on this machine but I know in these next few weeks I am going to have fun finding out!

In other news, the play I have been working on for the past few weeks in Jersey City opened this past weekend! We are officially performing now (time went by so fast), so come and see it if you are in the area.

It’s been a slow week for me otherwise, so there is not much else to report about for now. But exciting things are on the horizon! More job interviews, seeing Broadway shows, and don’t miss The Stamp Family Christmas special in December! Until next time!

"This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man."
-Polonius. Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 3 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Infinite Variety

Every Bill Shakespeare has to write a Hamlet, right? Well after last week's depressing post I am going to attempt to turn this tragedy into a comedy. But before I do I just want to add a disclaimer to all those thinking about moving to New York:

It is an amazing town full of amazing people, that is for sure. But it is a hard town and if you are moving here to become rich and or famous, don't  Move to the midwest, that is where the money is right now. There are more jobs and stuff costs less. New York is a tough town and it will test you. It will make the most confident person question the strength, the smartest person question their knowledge, and it will make the funniest person seem as dull as Dilbert. Make sure you are moving here for the right reasons.

All that being said, the things that I love about this town is its infinite variety. There are theatrical things happening everywhere, all the time. I have been sending out lots of applications to various jobs on websites like and and I recently heard back from one looking for carpenters for overhire this past weekend. I have plenty of skill in carpentry, so I figured, why not? Its money to pay rent doing something I know how to do well. So I went to the job and had a blast and met some awesome people. All while doing things I know how to do like cut and install trim, paint, build stair units, install doors, slam strips, cut and install more trim, and build shelving units. It was easy and I made decent money at it, and I am going to be called back when they start on their next production, Sound of Music. Awesome!

The Road to Manhattan 
Which leads me to my next point. In this city it is all about connections. Who you know  helps  you get your next job or your next rung on the ladder to success. I have been super lucky with my jobs so far. I have an amazing boss at the Lark who took a risk on a midwestern kid and two awesome bosses at J-City Theater who took a risk on a new-to-New-York stage manager. And through these two jobs I have met a bunch of awesome people. Its all about meeting people, especially in the theatrical world. I was talking to a painter who worked the same overhire gig I did past weekend, and she is currently working at The Public as a painter, and I am always curious how people get their jobs, so I asked her how she got that job and she said a friend called her when they needed a painter. No postings on the internet or in classifieds. All because a friend knew of someone.

So I guess the point of this is that meeting people is important. Because in this work, and in this business  everyone helps each other out. If I hear of a job that I know someone else can do I let them know, and vice-versa. I think that is why I like this city because, despite the tough competition and the streets that will test your will, once you get in, you will find that it is really a small community of people who want to help each other out. Until next time!

"You are thought here to be the most senseless and fit man for the job" -Dogberry, Much Ado about Nothing, Act 3 Scene 3.

Sunday, September 30, 2012


I am typing this week’s blog post from a laundry-mat because I find the plebian setting to be soothing on my artistic musings… and also my laundry needs to be done. Watching my colorful clothes circumnavigate their cylindrical chamber I find my thoughts are equally chaotic. It has been one heck of a week to say the least; a rollercoaster ride of emotions and events.

To begin with, I have been applying for jobs that I consider to be the “next level” in my professional career. These jobs are entry level and pay decently compared to an internship. And without going into too much detail, there were two jobs I applied for in which I focused a lot of my spare time and attention on. They were both in the realm of management, which I specialize in, and paid well enough to where I knew that if I got either of the jobs I wouldn’t have to worry about finding rent or upcoming student loans. Well after weeks of applying, waiting, interviewing, waiting, second round interviewing, and waiting, I found out this week that even though I was a “top candidate” in both of these potential jobs, I was not the one that either of them were choosing to hire. In both cases they went with someone who had “more experience.” Additionally, in both of these two jobs, the people I interviewed with made it a point to tell me that my application was really good, and that I should be proud of the work I did, and that if they could have they would have hired me.

Now, I am not writing this to rant and complain, I am writing merely to express how depressing it is to get so close to the next level only to fall short. I was so close to winning the race on both occasions only to fall short and come in second… and the worst part of all this was that I received both of these rejections this past week, within 72 hours of each other. Simply put: rejection is hard. And after having worked for weeks on these application processes only to come up short has left me drained, low on self-morale, and increasingly worried about the prospect of paying rent, bills, and student loans, which start in a month...

Everyone who worked on Secret Identity by Chris Weikel 
One of the highlights of my week, however, was working on the Lark’s major event known as Playwrights Week. I had the honor of stage managing two amazing play readings by up-and-coming playwrights. The first was Secret Identity by Chris Weikel and the second was Denny and Lila by August Schulenburg  I worked on both of these amazing plays and made some awesome friends in the process. Secret Identity was a play I really connected with because it was about a young awkward, comic book obsessed, teen who was trying to find out who he was all while being bullied and tormented, AND wrestling with his sexual identity. I didn’t have that last problem in highschool, but I had all the others, and so I really identified with this play as did the rest of the cast which consisted of 9 males and 1 female. It was awesome. Rehearsals were mostly discovery, fun, bonding, and lots of laughter which resulted in a memorable first play reading stage management experience for me.

Between stage managing these two play readings and going over to Jersey City to stage manage Regrets Only (the other show I am currently working on), my week was very full, and after receiving two job rejections I thought things couldn’t get any worse. Then New York had to go and prove me wrong. I am going to keep this next part brief because I don’t want to devote to much time or thought to complaining about the MTA, but for some reason, in their infinite wisdom, the Metropolitan Transit Authority decided that this weekend, the final weekend of the UN summit I might add, they were going to close all trains going in and out of queens. But no, they weren’t going to tell anyone about it, or even tell the individual stations about it. So what one station thought they knew, the next one knew something different and the end result was that there was ONE train servicing all of Queens. One lonely train! For literally a million people! And believe me when I say it was PACKED. Sardines would have felt claustrophobic in these mobile tin cans. Ugh, ok, rant over. End result of this all? I was late to Saturday rehearsal in Jersey City. Thankfully I left early enough to where it wasn’t a huge deal, but it was one of the most frustrating days I have experienced here.

So here I am, entering my third month of living in New York. I have one amazing internship, one stage management job, and random odd photography jobs. In one month, unless I can get them deferred, student loan repayment begins. And while we are being honest? It’s not looking good. I need to find a dependable source of income or else everything is going to come crashing down and I will have to join the armed service or something... So that’s where I stand. Looks like Mr. Luck is getting the best of me. Until next time.

"No matter how small I am--no matter how hopeless everything seems--I mustn't give up! My size doesn't matter! Even my life doesn't matter! No one can win--every battle, but--no man should fall-- without a struggle!" -Peter Parker

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Pulp Stories

One of my favorite episodes of The Simpsons is the 21st episode of the 7th season titled "22 Short films about Springfield". Not only was it filled with numerous Pulp Fiction  references, but it was a feat in storytelling, cramming 22 separate, but related,  stories in to a 25 minute time frame. That episode is the inspiration for this week's blog post.

Bus Zed
It was my second week of being here and I decided to head to the local comic book shop to waste some time. After researching how to get there I determined it would be easier to take the bus rather than the subway. This was also my first time riding the NY bus, so I thought it would be good practice. Sounds great right? Well I walk to the bus stop and the first disconcerting thing I see was a no standing sign right above the bus stop, which was infinitely confusing. As I was pacing, waiting for the bus, a bus pulled up. I hopped on thinking "la la la... this must be the bus". Wrong. Evidently a renegade bus was in the neighborhood, or I read the sign wrong. Either way, I was now on the wrong bus heading in the wrong direction. Frustrated, I got off at the next stop and took the subway and just walked to the comic book shop. I made it a little later than planed, but made it. Everything seems resolved right? Perfect ending? 

Ezekiel 25:17
I loathe street musicians. It is said that on a good day a street musician can make more money than someone working a full time, minimum wage job. I have heard the street musicians and they are not good. You would think playing on the streets for hours upon days that these people would being to master their chosen instruments. No. Not so. To date of the hundreds of musicians I have heard, only 2 have I ever enjoyed, and only one have I ever paid. I made a promise to myself when I came here not to give out money to anyone on the street because, simply, I cant afford it. Well one night, after a particularly long day of work and rehearsal I was waiting for the subway in some random subway station. As I went to sit and wait, I could hear through my earbuds that someone was playing a guitar. As I usually do, I pause the ipod to check if they are worth listening too. Well this musician was a young female playing the guitar and belting her heart out. She was good. Her voice had that rugged beautiful quality kind of like Adele mixed with Carol King. But I told myself, "Stay firm, don't tip her, you are poor too." Then she played the acoustic version of Outkast's Hey ya, which moved my soul and filled my head with memories of home, but I said to myself", Resist, resist!" Then she sang a Bruce Springsteen song, and I thought "RESIST!", Then she sang The Animals version of House of the Rising Sun, and I broke. She was too good and too young not to help out. Just then the train pulled up and I had to act fast, so I grabbed some cash from my wallet, ran over to her, threw it in her case, and bolted to the train. I probably freaked her out, but I don't care. She earned the money.

Bus Zed is not Dead
So you probably thought the bus story was over didn't you? Well, guess again. After a pleasent evening at the comic book shop I thought to myself "Look self, maybe the first time with the bus was a fluke, try to take it home now, you will save time." By the time I left the comic book shop it was dark, but not quite night yet. The bus stop was only a few feet away from the comic book shop so I walked to it and waited. Sure enough the bus pulled up and I checked the number and it was the correct bus this time, so feeling confident in myself I hopped on. Then it drove the wrong direction, towards Brooklyn. I thought "Surely, it is just completing it's stop cycle, eventually it will be headed back to Queens." I waited, and it kept going. Deeper and deeper into Brooklyn, into increasingly sketchy looking neighborhoods. Then it pulled into a bus depot and I thought "Finally! It will being the trip back to Queens!" Then the bus driver said over the intercom "Last stop, everyone off." There I was, a skinny white boy deep into the sketchy parts Brooklyn at a nearly deserted bus depot. I started to get nervous. In between cursing the bus system and frantically searching for maps on my iPhone, another bus pulled up. At this point I didn't care where it was going, I just wanted to get out of where I was, so I hopped on. Instead of going deeper into Brooklyn, it went east, directly parallel of where I wanted to go. After nervously waiting and searching on my phone I found that this bus was only a few blocks away from the comic book shop. I knew if I could get there, I could get home safely. So I stepped out of the bus and stepped into a dark, deserted corner somewhere in Brooklyn. Instead of freaking out, I just put one foot in front of the other and started walking. I walked and walked and passed some very sketchy buildings and alleyways. I walked down dark streets that I will never visit for the rest of my life, and by buildings that looked dark and empty, but as if something was happening just behind the darkness. After what seemed like an eternity I finally made it back to the comic book shop, and then walked to the subway from there.  I made it home safely, albeit tired, and angry with the bus system, but safe. I vowed never to ride the bus again. Do you think I learned?

The Watch
I have made a friend in my neighborhood. His name is Good Luck. Good luck is a black cat I met one day walking to an interview, one of my first New York interviews for a part-time job (I think it was at Sears or something). Anyways, I was already nervous, and as I was walking to the subway I looked up and saw a black cat walk in front of my path. It was the cleanest, darkest, blackest cat I had ever seen. And for a cat on the streets of New York, it was quite hale and healthy looking. As soon as it crossed my path I started to think I was cursed, as if my interview was doomed before it began because a black cat crossed my path. I went to the interview and left not feeling good about it, and I didn't end up getting called back. But it turned out that it was ok because if I would have gotten the job, it would have closed off doors that I didn't even know were open to me. It all ended up working in my favor. I was going to an another interview, recently, and this Black Cat walked right in front of me. So instead of feeling cursed and negative, I said " Screw this, you make you're own luck." and I named him Good Luck. He goes by Mr. Luck at formal gatherings. The interview went great, and my confidence was never better.  So now whenever I see the cat, and I do quite frequently, I tell it that, "You make you're own luck." and I swear sometimes the cat winks back at me...

Bus Zed is Dead
OK, I am an idiot. I made the mistake of trusting the bus system. Again. A few nights ago I was coming home from rehearsal and got on the wrong train. Luckily it stopped a few blocks away from a train station with the right train I needed to be on. So I got off at the train station and walked to the correct train. Well as soon as I got there there were signs posted everywhere and it turned out they were making repairs on it at 11:00pm, and it would no longer be servicing. I looked down at my phone, 10:55. I thought I could make it. I took one step and heard what I thought to be the last train passing. I was far enough away that I couldn't just walk home, but close enough to make the whole thing frustrating. On these signs that said the train was not running at night, they suggested taking the local bus. I silently cursed the sign because I knew the taking the bus would be a mistake, but I had no other option... so I swallowed my pride waited for the bus. The bus came, and I got on. As I was getting on the bus I looked up at the train station and saw MY TRAIN, my phone said 11:04. It was, infact, running after 11:00pm for whatever reason, and if I had just stayed I could have been on the train home... But this time I was prepared for the bus and had my Google maps up and running so I could trace exactly where it was going. Well it turned out that wherever it was going, it was not going my way. It went north when I needed it to go east, silently taunting me and taking me further away from home. So I decided I would just get out and walk it. I wasn't going to try and figure it out and end up father away from where I needed to be, so I got off, and walked. Beings that I was in Queens, the neighborhoods were a little less scary than Brooklyn, but I was walking the streets at 11:45 at night in New York... still scary... I huffed and walked all the way back to Sunnyside from Astoria, where the bus had left me. As I turned the corner to arrive back in Sunnyside, I looked up at my home train station and what did I see? A train, my train, pulling into the station. I couldn't even be angry, I just laughed. Those signs we're horribly inaccurate and the trains were running all night long. Did I learn this time? Yes. I am never, ever, taking the bus again.

"Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go home and have a heart attack." -Vincent, Pulp Fiction