11 Things I Have to Tell Myself About Theatre…and Nachos


A castmate and I were musing about our respective moves to Chicago and how our 21 year old selves would view our current lives.  While I sort of wrote this blog post to my 21 year old self, I also know that I couldn’t have learned these things by reading a list.  I really had to learn these lessons authentically.  Still they are things I have to reiterate to myself and it’s nice to see them all lined up and spell- checked and in numerical order with a movie clip at the end. (Also note to 21 year old self, you are currently working on a project you LOVE.)

Sidebar: I hope my 41-year-old self writes something to my current self like, “Use that windfall of 14 million dollars to buy a villa NOT a yacht.  THAT was a hard-learned lesson, giggle giggle. Care for a bellini?  Let me just summon my faithful houseman Agador Spartacus.”

11 Things about Doing Theatre in Chicago

1.  Confidence means more when you aren’t onstage.  Talent, training, technique and rehearsal are the keys to a good performance or audition.  Confidence is deeper.  You have to know…you have to KNOW that the path you are on is your path and the one that is right for you.  Comparison to other actors is death.  It kills your spirit.  It kills your creativity.  And it kills your spark.  Judy is right, you have to “be yourself.  Everyone else is taken.”

2.  Have priorities.  Change them if you need to. And make sure they are actually yours, not someone else’s.  You can be a professional actor and not necessarily want to star in a tv series.  It’s your career.  If you want to do Cher covers while rollerskating, then the world will be a better place for it.  I am so serious.  The world needs HAPPY rollerskating Cher coverers not UNHAPPY commercial actors who wish they were rollerskating and covering “Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves.”  In the same vein, if that sounds like it sucks?  Dude.  Don’t do it then.  Only an performer thinks, “Ugh that project sounds horrible.  I’ll do it.”  Why?  WHY?

3.  As in the beginning…so in the middle…so in the end.  If that company sucked to audition for….if they were running an hour behind….if they were rude or dismissive…I assure you the rehearsal process will be the same way.  On the other hand, if the audition process was smooth, the people friendly, and the paperwork informative, that’s a huge high sign that they have it together.

4.  Make sure you love every single audition piece you use.  If you are bored by something, the people behind the table will be too.

5.  If you are offered a project and you have an inexplicable sinking feeling or  panic….that’s your intuition telling you to say no. (Not to be confused with feelings of healthy fear that indicate you are challenging yourself.)

6.  It’s okay to say no.  If you say no upfront to a project in a polite way, you won’t burn a bridge ( If you bail halfway through with a shady excuse, that’s a different story).  The project that feels “not right” for you might be a dream job for someone else who will love it.  If you know you can’t throw yourself into the project wholly, what’s the point?

7.  It’s totally okay to take a break for as long as you want to.

8.  When you take a break, it can take a long time to get back into the swing of things.

7.  If a role scares you, it’s probably the right role and you will benefit from playing it.

8.  If you have to force something from the get go, it’s not worth it. (Not to be confused with healthy competition)

9.  You have to love doing this for your own sanity.  I call it the Nachos Philosophy.  Sure every once in a while, I get tired of nachos.  Or am occasionally disappointed with a plate of nachos (what is with the cheese and pickled jalapenos only bullshit?).  Might you occasionally resent this inexplicable need for nachos and that it occasionally causes you to sacrifice other amazing foods in your quest for more nachos? Of course.  But can I imagine my life without nachos?  No I cannot, Madame.   You’ve got to love it like nachos.

10.  You can stop loving it and start loving it again.

11.  This: 

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A Rhinestone 2011


I’m looking to structure A Rhinestone World a little more firmly this year.  Most of what I post can be summed up into 7 categories, so each category will be assigned a day.  This is the structure I am going to begin trying out.  Likely it will change as I settle into it, but here is how A Rhinestone World will look moving forward.

Mondays:  Non-sequitors, plans for the week, musings, and just plain any ol’ thing that doesn’t quite fit into one of the following categories.  I’m one of the few people on the face of the earth that actually get a slight kick out of Mondays.  This is probably not unrelated to The Bachelor airing on Mondays.  Still, I love that feeling of anticipation, calendar review and preparation.  Tuesdays are bitch, howev.

Tuesdays:  Movies:  Alternative Movie Project, Movie reviews, discussions of upcoming movies, etc., Movie Hero of the Week.

  • A note on Movie Hero of the Week – Some weeks, Movie Hero of the Week may be joint posted under the fashion category.  I often find fashion inspiration from movie characters.  I’ve decided to play with this a bit.

Wednesdays:  Art, The Musical Project, Plays I’ve read or attended, theatre in the academic sense.  (These posts will be unrelated to my career in theatre. )

Thursdays: Career, Auditions, advice, questions, asking for advice, etc.  Thoughts on the practical aspects of being in the arts, Chicago theatre, etc.

Fridays/ Joint posts: Fashion.  Due to fashion’s practical applications in my life (day, audition, event wear) and the fact that I am often inspired by movies I see and books I read, fashion posts may eek their way into other days as well.  In fact, I expect this to be true tomorrow.

Fridays/Weekend:  Hobbies.  Knitting, Sewing, Perfume, Vintage Housekeeping, Cocktails, Essential Oils, National Parks, etc., Holiday/Seasonal, Restaurants.

Fridays/Weekend:  Books.

 

As far as upcoming posts go, I have several projects (both continuing and new) in the works.  I plan on continuing The Alternative Movie List Project, reading books off my gigantic Book List, studying musicals in The Musical Project, finding new perfumes and cocktails, and exploring the 30 for 30 project, I’d like to document more of my knitting and sewing (for better or worse), and (if we decide to) document how finding a new apartment in Chicago works.

Although I rarely post it, any political stuff will appear in my other blog Yankee Doodle Sweetheart.

Finally, a note on what this blog means to me and how I use it:

I don’t keep a journal in the traditional sense.  I used to, but carrying around messy notebooks started to clutter things up for me.  I like to collage as much as write and I was overwhelming myself.  Although I’ve had a blog in some or another for many years now, how I blog has morphed somewhat.  I use a Rhinestone World to communicate as well as document my latest project.  It also serves as my journal, occasionally.  One more thing I try to do with A Rhinestone World is write to myself 5 or 10 years ago.  I try to provide information that I was desperately looking for when entering theatre as a career, moving to Chicago from a rural location, and trying to find personal style in not only fashion, but life.   I hope it might help someone who finds themselves in a similar situation.  This new structure I’m attempting is designed to help me do all of that and more.

I have a steady readership I am very grateful for. I hope you all enjoy the slightly new style of A Rhinestone World in the upcoming weeks.  Please let me know if anything feels particularly clunky or boring or if you have suggestions.  Please subscribe so you can keep up with the doin’s.

If you are new to A Rhinestone World, welcome and feel free to explore.  The following posts are a good taste of what I write here:

Advice for actors just starting out

People who inspire me

My domestic missteps

Theatre and film history

Fashion thoughts

My Hobbies

My favorite reads

Thanks for reading and Happy New Year!

Stone Soup


I’d like to talk about the economic crisis.

This Economic crisis, while crushing and frightening, is more a crisis of perceived reality. Sure, up until perhaps a year or two ago, corporations were living high on the hog, but it turns out in at least a few cases (and I hazzard to guess we’ll see more) these profits were based on illigitimate dealings. Ergo, while they may have had fun for awhile, it wasn’t in any way living honestly. And obviously, some of them are fine with that. Whatever, other than inherent disgust, I don’t really care. Yes, I care about the little guy. Trust me when I say it hits closer to home than one might think. This crisis, at least at this point, isn’t serving the function it could be serving. For example, I think a lot of us on the ground here have tightened our belts as a precaution. Unfortunately, people have lost their jobs, and are having to watch their 401K’s lose money at obscene rates. Last I checked, I was losing at a rate of 10%. This angers me only in one particular sense, that it is losing money based on speculation. Now, I know that that is what 401K’s are about, and that is how the stock market works, but I refuse to base my inhaling and exhaling on whether or not some trader farted on the floor of the Exchange. I wasn’t about to say no to a company match, but if I’ve learned one thing this year, it’s diversify, not just your portfolio. Diversify banks, insurance…hell, diversify which mattress you’re planning on stuffing it under.
Yesterday on the morning news, a reporter asked someone on Wall Street, when will know if this is a real rally? The analyst said, UNfortunately, not for awhile. Well, it will be a real rally if the traders continue to invest. Really. The free market is doing both a natural and unnatural Survival of the Fittest Spring Cleaning. Unfortunately, traders are a bunch of scared baby kitties that spook when anybody runs the vacuum cleaner, so much of the time, we have to watch them slowly crawl out from under their giant screens. That’s right. I said it. Traders are pussies. Sack up and invest. Don’t tell me to spend what little money I have on crap I don’t need. Sack up and invest. While I have problems with a free market economy, I’m aware it’s what we’ve got at the moment. Quit trying to prove a damn point and invest. No, I don’t think the banks should be lending. Why? Two reasons. 1. Overlending is partially why we are in this mess in the first place. It’s like one of two things I disagree with Obama policy. And 2. Because the debt to capital ratio right now is comparable to 1929. That’s why. Consumers don’t need more debt. We need to pay off what we have. Corporations need to invest. Trust me, if I had the capital, I would be investing a hell of a lot more. But I don’t. So I’m not going to.
For years, myself included, we bought what we couldn’t afford when we knew we couldn’t afford it and watched our friends and neighbors do it too, which for humans is a like a giant green light.
Basically it’s this, we have had a national (and global) come to Jesus meeting. So we have two choices, live on what we’ve got, or don’t and wait for this to come around again, bigger, nastier and possibly devastating.
So am I behind the stimulus? Yes. Because my paycheck is 5 bucks bigger? No. Because it might cause some private institutions to become temporarily nationalized? No, although it doesn’t make me worship the spector of Ronald Reagan and beg for salvation. I support the stimulus because we are finally investing in what we should have been investing in from the very beginning: Education and Future generations, green society, and fucking health care reform. The economy shouldn’t operate like a teenage boy having sex: Is that a status symbol or are you just happy to see me? Let’s do this like adults. Patience, my brother. There’s no one to impress.
I also know this, you don’t have to be a socialist to help a neighbor. People got through the Great Depression by helping a sister out. Even a restaurant where I used to work was famous for doling out a free meal out the back door in the 30’s. We’ll be fine if we decide we’ll be fine.
Let me tell you something else: As a Midwesterner, I’ve really been resentful of my retirement funds resting on the East Coast, my elected leaders being beholden to the South, and my pop culture being decided by the West coast. It’s the Midwest’s time to shine. We got the attitude, the ability, and a very low tolerance for bullshit. We also can make very large amounts of food and serve it potluck style. We’re gonna be okay. But only if we make it that way.

And now, I shall end my blog with a first: A Peter Paul and Mary song. Break out the guitar, let your hair down, and join hands. Most of us are children of hippies. No need to hide it.
“Tell me why you’re crying, my son
I know you’re frightened like everyone
Is it the hunger in the distance you fear?
Will it help if I stay very near? I am here.
And if you take my hand my son,
All will be well when the day is done.”