Sword fights, Sexy Dancing and Me.

This afternoon, I attended the second half of auditions for Prenzie’s latest show, The Rover.

I think they went okay– it’s kind of a weird show–in a good way– one good (and bad) thing is that many of the characters are absolute blank slates, so getting to decide “who” each character is can be fun– and entirely challenging, because I am not so good at that– but being challenged is one of my favorite parts of being an actor.

Speaking of challenging, (SEGUE-WAY!)  this afternoon I was also asked to do something I’ve really never had to do before on stage (or, really, in daily life)– “be sexy”. For my entire life, I have always been the neighbor, or the maid, or the comic relief. I’ve never been asked to be “sexy” before, and even with my role last year, rolling around in stage blood with my hands cut off didn’t facilitate the most sexy of ingenue roles.

Lavinia was an incredibly challenging role because of her vulnerability– something else I’d never had to do before, and here, on the other side of the coin, is a show full of characters with confidence and sexuality– two things I’m also not good at.

It was weird. There was this moment when the choreographer asked us to kind of make up a movement/dance piece. I was terrified. In “real life”, I’m a slightly awkward blue-haired nerd who enjoys crafts and Godzilla movies. Suddenly, I was being asked to be a famous courtesan that –literally– everyone wants to sleep with. I’ve always seen myself as more of a Kristen Wig than a Nicole Kidman, but thanks to the magic of theatre, everything about how I define myself as a person was getting flipped to the exact opposite end of the spectrum.

This......not this.

This……………………………….not this.

I will fully admit that I use sarcasm and jokes as a defense mechanism, and you can bet your ass I was joking my way all the way onto the floor, but as the music started, I thought to myself “alright, Catie, now’s your chance to try this out”…and you know what? I had a great fucking time. It felt…natural. Like, I wasn’t necessarily the best dancing in the world,  but something about embracing the fact that maybe there is something sexy about me was kind of….empowering I guess? I always feel like a tool when I use that word, but it feels appropriate here.

Since there weren’t a lot of people (most people came last night), Aaron (the fight choreographer) and I started messing around with swords. I’d never been coached by Aaron before in this context, and it was….well, I had more fun this afternoon than I have in a long, long time.

Driving home afterwards, I couldn’t figure out what it was about the events of the afternoon that left me feeling both so elated and also, so entirely confused.

What I realized was that I felt sexy today. I genuinely, absolutely, for maybe the third time in my entire life, felt sexy and powerful. Yeah, I was doing some of the most basic fighting stuff there is to do, and yes, my “sexy dancing” involved a lot of hair-flipping and duck-face, but I was doing it—not perfectly, not with great panache, but I was happy. I was excited and powerful and sexy.

And my mind turned off. During both the dance portion and our hour of fighting, my brain shut off and I wasn’t thinking about what I have to do tonight or what to make for dinner or what email I forgot to send. I was focused on what I was doing and how I was connected with it, and nothing else.

I also stopped caring about how I look. And that– well, if sword fighting and sexy dancing can do that, I need to do both more often. I came to auditions dressed to dance, so I was just wearing like a black tank top and leggings, but they were both form fitting. I’m not the sveltest of women, I know this, but both times– during the dancing AND while I was fighting with Aaron, I realized that I didn’t really give a shit what I looked like, goddamn it, I was having fun and I was doing something I’d never done before. It didn’t matter that I was sweaty and smelly and my hips were showing– I learned a pretty decent grand lunge today, and I’m proud of that.

Sure, I might not have been perfect, and yes, I was frustrated with how long it took me to pick up basic things when I was fighting, but it was a frustration built on the desire to get better– not because I wanted to be the best or because I wanted to show off,  but just like the dance portion, I was doing it for me.

There is a connect, I think, between fighting and dance– a very subtle one, but for me, that awareness of my body and what it  was doing allowed me to stop thinking about how awkward I must look or how stank I was getting and it made me want to get better– both at dancing and at fighting.

Regardless of whether or not I get cast (or whether or not I get the part I’d like), this, for some reason, kind of feels like a bit of a game changer. I’m not pretending that this has shattered my world or anything, but today I realized that maybe I am capable of more than I think– maybe I shouldn’t be afraid of the physical side of myself.

Maybe, underneath my silly hair and awkward comic timing and general dorkyness, there is some sort of a sexy woman underneath.

And maybe I should get myself a sword.

So You Need Bloody Stumps. (A Tutorial)

Quite a few people have asked me how we did the special effects make-up for Titus, more specifically, the severed hand effects that Lavinia wears during the latter part of Act 2 and into Act 3.

When I started looking for ways/solutions on what to do, I was kind of surprised at the lack of tutorials online. We even went so far as to call a couple of special effects companies to see if they knew of anywhere that we could buy something to use and they were stumped. HA. I emailed a couple Shakespeare theatres that had done Titus before, and most of them said that they just sort of wrapped Lavinia’s hands in bandages and called it a day.

That solution obviously worked well for their productions, but because we made the decision that Lavinia’s stumps had probably been cauterized, it presented a whole other set of problems regarding the look, feel (and yes, smell), of the stumps.

Basically, it came down to “I guess we’re just going to have to come up with something”…and this is what I came up with one night at 1AM.

So here, presented for your enjoyment and gratification, is

“So You Need Bloody Stumps”
A Guide To Doing It for 20 Dollars or Less
(Depending On What You Have Around the House)


Step One: Procure the following: Knee-high nylon stockings. masking tape, plain, basic Gelatine (you can get this in any grocery store by the Jello) . I forgot to take a picture of red and black food coloring, but you need that, too.  You can get it either at the grocery store OR your local craft store like Hobby Lobby or Michael’s Crafts. Just ask them where the Wilson Baking Section is.  Oh, and you’ll need scissors.


Step 2: Figure out how you want your hand to sit in the “stumps”. If you make a fist, make sure your thumb is on the OUTSIDE otherwise your hand will fall asleep halfway through the show and it’s uncomfortable. One of the biggest challenges to doing this (for me) is that I have GIANT HANDS, so it took some experimenting to figure out what the best “fist position” was. Once you’ve got the basic idea, put a nylon stocking over your fist.

Step 3: Start tearing off strips of masking tape and put them over your hand. You’re basically building a masking-tape “cast” that will cover up your hand, so use the tape liberally. Make sure you wrap it tight enough around your wrist that you can’t bend them.


Step 4: Once you’ve got your tape all wrapped, it should look something like this. To make the stumps more comfortable, I advise hot-gluing some gauze or cotton around the edges.


Step 5: Carefully, and I mean it, CAREFULLY, cut through the tape  and the nylon stocking vertically to create the opening that you will slide your fist into (heh). I found the best place to cut to is the middle line of your palm when you make a fist.


Step 6: Once you’ve got the tape cast off of you, take some time to fix up any edges and to hot glue material on parts that may rub your skin later on. I also added a layer of gauze on top to give the gelatine something to hold on to and the final product more texture. I recommend doing this on the top at least, but if you have time, glue a layer of gauze or cotton to the top of the tape– I found out the hard way that food coloring never really dries on masking tape, so if you cover the tape, the food coloring will have something to adhere to and also dry on, instead of rubbing off on your hands.

Step 7: The Fun Part.

Start by finding something to stick your stumps on so they are facing “stump up”. I used pint glasses, and that worked really well. Start by giving the gauze a healthy coat of red food coloring. You can do with with a paint brush or even damp rag– I used an old barbecue brush and it worked fine. All you want to do is put enough color on the white that it won’t show through underneath.


Then make the gelatine according to the directions on the box. I didn’t document this. If you can’t figure out how to make  gelatine, consider not doing Shakespeare.

Once the gelatine is ready, mix in a healthy amount of black food coloring and start spreading the gelatine onto the top of your “stump”.  As the gelatine dries, you will be able to make a more textured, grody burned look to it. (If you want your stumps more bloody than burned, then simply opt for red food coloring in the gelatine instead of black).


Step 8: Once you’ve got your stumps the appropriate amount of bloody/burned to your liking, sit them down and let them dry for awhile. Above are the first proto-stumps that I made for the show.


Step 9: Lastly, get some ACE bandage (or even just strips of fabric) and hot glue an edge as close to the split you cut earlier as you can. When you wrap the bandages around your stumps to put them on, make sure you pull them tight enough that the split closes. That way, your wrists should be immobilized and they will look more “legit”. If you’re still having trouble not bending your wrists, grab a couple of popsicle sticks and stick them in there before you wrap the bandages.


Remember to paint/dye/stage blood-up your bandages to make them match the stumps.

Step 10: Lavinia Out.

Too Far. (And a Sentimental Thank You).

I love talk-backs. Jake hates them, as do many of my other cast members, but I absolutely love them. I love getting a chance to discuss things with the audience and hearing their opinion, and I love having the chance to share what I do and love from a different perspective.

So far, I think my favorite talk back came from Wednesday night.

During the conversation, one woman raised her hand and commented that she thought that the rape scene goes on for far too long, and that she was uncomfortable and felt awkward and was miffed that we had put her in that position of feeling frightened.

**Caution, this article contains spoilers for those not familiar with the show**.

This fascinated me for several reasons. First, the immediate and visceral reaction that I kept INSIDE MY HEAD (see, I’m learning) was “For fuck’s sake”. But instead, I heard her out, and while I don’t think we convinced her otherwise, it was really interesting getting to hear a dissenting opinion on such a pivotal part of the show.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot, as both Lavinia and as a woman.

It’s interesting  that she referred to the scene in question as the “rape scene”, because there actually isn’t one. As the audience, you never actually see Lavinia’s rape. The scene before, (Scene 2.3) where Lavinia is pleading to Tamora and her sons is merely textual buildup for the actual event, but that is all Mr. Billy Shakes– it’s long because that’s how he wrote it. To make Lavinia beg and beg and beg to absolutely no success.

It’s difficult in that scene, as well, because I, Catie, know that I don’t have a chance in hell of getting away, but I can’t let that color my performance or I’d be broadcasting the ending for anyone who doesn’t know the outcome. (It is at this point I should probably go add “spoilers” to the top).  Every night, there is hope. Every night, I see that hope taken away.

In the beginning, there were many people who asked if were going to show the actual rape—other productions have, to mixed effect. There exists on YouTube a pretty hilarious version of Titus that was performed in the style of Grand Guinol, so of course all the hand chopping and tongue cutting was on stage, but to me, personally, it is far, far worse not seeing what happens, because then your imagination is forced to take over. What order did they rape and mutilate her in? How did they do it? We’ve had some awkwardly bizarre conversations during this run, and I know what happens, but it’s not something that I ever share with the audience.

There was also a lot of discussion about the actual physicality and blocking of scene 2.3 being too short or too long. The BBC version of Titus is about 5 minutes of the most stagnant and boring pieces of filmwork ever– when I watched it, Lavinia was so ambivalent to her demise that I was BORED– and the audience should never be bored. We have blocked the scene to be a fairly accurate representation of what Lavinia is going through– I’m trapped and there isn’t much I can do about it but be thrown around and threatened.

We also talked a lot about what do we show and  not show in that scene? There have been about 7 or 8 different inceptions of that scene, all of which contained different acts of violence and violation, but I think that the current, “in show” version of the show does a good job of portraying the violation of Lavinia without being gratuitous for the sake of being shocking or offensive.

The scene is so physically and emotionally draining that I count myself really lucky that I have Andy and Jeb to work with, because they are both willing to take risks but also very polite and respectful of me.There was a point at rehearsal where Jake had to give the note “come on guys, you’re not going to break her”.

It’s also been great because we’ve been able to keep a sense of humor about things, which I think has to happen just to keep us sane as people. There was one night that we decided that one of the brothers should take my panties off. I came prepared with an extra pair on underneath, and we were excited to see how that would read from the audience. So we get to the section of text where we decided it would be easiest to happen and somehow, the underwear got caught on my shoes and I spent an entire speech trying to not look like I was trying to help Chiron take my underwear off. We decided that was probably not the best use of our time, so that was cut. Underwear fail.

At the talk back, I was sitting next to Aaron and we discussed the comments that were made, and we basically have the same view on what happens. Rape is terrible. It’s a terrible, awful violation of a person’s rights and spirit and looking at rape SHOULD make you feel uncomfortable.

It is so interesting to me that the woman who commented found that “feeling something” at a show was WRONG instead of awesome. I was ecstatic that she was uncomfortable, because it meant that our scene is effective in the ways that it should be. (I almost felt bad for her since it seemed the the rest of the cast was in agreement as well.)

When I was researching this role, it was startling and disgusting to me about how many statistics there are about the numbers of people who are raped every day and then forgotten by society.

Rape is a thing that happens every day, to all shapes, sizes and races of women (and men) and it goes on for as long as their rapists want it to– I feel, personally, that not treating that scene with great weight and making it brutal and uncomfortable is doing victims a disservice by glossing over it and making it shiny and happy and great so the audience can be comfortable  is exactly why there are so many silent victims around the world.

It’s easy to turn your head and pretend that it doesn’t happen. It’s easy to ignore the stories of victims from countries you’ve never been to. It’s easy to dismiss the huge numbers in those sad statistics because you don’t have to look anyone in the eye.

At this show you do. And I love that.
And on that note…


I just want to say that I have been absolutely astounded beyond belief at the level of support and kindness shown towards me after I posted my last entry. I got so many messages and emails of positive thoughts that I still haven’t had time to personally respond to every single one. I don’t consider myself a role model or someone other people look up to, but I am touched by how many people I have seemingly affected by just being my dorky self.

So, from the bottom of my heart, thank you to everyone who read or took the time to comment on my blog. You are all fantastic and have genuinely made me so very, very happy.

The First Weekend.

So the first weekend is finally past, and I must admit that I am incredibly impressed with the consistent level of awesome being put on stage. Not only did we get through four shows in a row, but the matinee was one of our best performances. It’s really great being in a cast that is willing to work–HARD– through bruises, bumps and sleep deprivation to put on such a great show.

Not only that, but we are still continuing to make discoveries and new choices on stage, and for me, that is one of the coolest things about working with this company. It doesn’t matter if there is a sold-out house or just the director giving notes, there is always the option to play and try new things. It is really easy for me to slip into “line readings”, but I’ve never had that problem with this show because the entire cast is committed to making things better every night.

On Sunday, Aaron and I shared a really cool moment on stage– we made nearly the same discovery from our different view points (at the same exact time) in the middle of a scene that I have been working to make more interesting, and I think that our mutual decision in the moment really added to the scene. It also gave us a lot more to play with, and knowing that I could trust everyone else in the scene to roll with our new choice is a really amazing thing for an actor to experience.

I had a night of odd thoughts on stage. Lavinia is a role that requires a lot of commitment in the moment, but sometimes the odd “catie” thought slips by, and last night, during that same scene, I had this sudden thought of “I’m so glad I get to do this”. Backstage, we’ve played “switch the actor”, but I really can’t imagine the show being cast any other way. I love this character and I keep discovering more and more things about her every night, which has been really exciting.

It’s sort of a mental challenge—there is a moment when Chiron and Demetrius throw me back onstage after taking me off and doing terrible things to me, and invariably, about half of the crowd gets to see my underwear. If we’re being honest, by the end, everyone has seen my underwear, but it’s that first “now people can see my ass” that always gets to me.

There is always a sudden moment of “shit, what if I have a wedgie” that happens right before I go on stage, but the sudden-ness of that moment, being thrown down like that and being so exposed and my absolute inability to do anything about it, even as an actor, is something that has been really interesting to get to play with every night. I have seen people look away, shift uncomfortably, blush, giggle—the varied reactions to intense scenes of emotion is really fascinating to watch from the stage.

Every night, reactions are different. There was a beautiful moment on opening night after the entire show had ended and the lights were going down so we could exit, someone just said “wow” from the darkness. I love that.

There have been a few times when I thought that some audience members were going to get up and try to save me themselves. Others look so disinterested in the show as a whole that I want to stop the show and ask them if they have somewhere else that they would rather be.  The hardest thing for me is watching people cry. I have a natural inclination to want to offer help to anyone I see crying, and knowing that I’m partly the reason they’re crying makes me feel guilty but deliciously successful at the same time.

And then, on Sunday, we had a problem that we hadn’t experienced before—someone brought a kid. This is problematic in its own right (please, parents, do research before you bring an 8 year old to Titus Andronicus) but the kid also decided that he needed to use the bathroom—in the middle of the show. This wouldn’t be a problem except we’re doing a show with an exit that leads to the bathrooms, so this kid gets up, walks across the stage, leaves, goes to the bathroom and then, right in the middle of the “reveal” of Lavinia, he starts SINGING IN THE BATHROOM. If I had hands at that moment, I would have face-palmed.

Thankfully, Angela, ever the professional, ignored it (and ignored the kid walking back through the space back to his seat in the middle of her monologue). The family left at intermission, but I felt bad that they stayed that long, since most of the “adult content” happens in the first half. There is also a part of me that wishes they had stayed to see the end result—I feel like they didn’t get the “we all learned a valuable lesson today” message, just the “horrid things happen to people sometimes for no reason” bit.

Our post-show talk back was very well attended on opening night and the audience had a ton of great questions both about the show and just about how the company works. It has been wonderful to be able to get actual feedback from the audience after (and sometimes during) the show. I have noticed that there is a lot of hesitation to talk to me after the show from people who don’t already know me. One person told me that they “almost didn’t want to talk to you  since it seems like you’ve been through enough already”. I wonder if this is the case.

I have never been an actress who needs “approval” to feel like I succeeded, but for some reason, I have found myself wanting to know what the audience and our reviewers think of my performance  much more than in other roles I’ve played. My theory is that I pour so much of energy and emotion into this role every night that I’m physically and mentally exhausted by the end, and knowing that I am affecting the audience in the ways I want is confirmation that my energy is being spent well.

I had a guy come up to me after the show and tell me that “All I wanted to do was give you my coat”. That simple comment meant a lot to me because I feel so particularly vulnerable during much of the second and third act–being so close to the audience means that there is no safety barrier– everyone sees my drooling and my tears and probably the places on my legs I missed shaving, but having the audience that close also means that I can use their energy to propel my performance forward

My favorite comment, across the board, wasn’t said to me, but to Jeb, who is playing Chiron–Some woman came up to Jeb after the show and told him that “what they did to you…was not nearly enough”. Whoa. I love that our show is able to generate that sort of deep emotional response from an audience. (It’s also kind of funny because Jeb is one of the kindest, gentlest people I know!).

There is an incredible scene (and my hands-down favorite) at the end of the show in which I finally get some vengence, and feeling the audience’s energy in that scene is incredible. Watching people’s absolute hatred towards Chiron and Demetrius and their catharsis at watching them punished is almost scary–but also really satisfying.

There was also a moment on Saturday night when, during that scene, suddenly ominous thunder started rumbling from outside–thanks, gods!

In general, I am so absolutely happy with how this show is going. Yes, there is the occasional backstage emergency (last night, we couldn’t find the pie server—gasp!) but across the board, everyone is so invested in the success of this show and so dedicated to giving the audience a unique and challenging theatrical experience that every night I walk (okay, limp) off stage excited to do it again tomorrow.

We have two days (2!!) off and then we start the whole process over again with College Night on Wednesday. Here’s to two days of video games and not a bit of stage blood.

Opening Night Buttons

So it’s 3:30am the morning after our “soft” opening for our educational outreach audience, and I felt pretty good about the show. I think everything is coming together really well, and it’s been…exhausting.

I got a lot of positive feedback and the note that I apparently spit on the second row of audience members (which I think is just impressive), but I am still really nervous for tomorrow’s opening. I have terrible stage fright anyway, and playing a role like Lavinia means so much to me that I think I’ve put double the amount of pressure on myself to succeed in this show.

Counting tonight’s new injuries, my total bruise count for the show is something like 73.

There are moments where I want to collapse and sleep until forever, and there are moments that I want to preserve forever just so I can remember how awesome my life is sometimes.

This is an incredible cast. Tonight we were sitting at The Blue Cat and I just sat looking down the line at everyone talking and laughing in their own discussions and I just, in that moment, felt so lucky to be a part of this group of people.

It’s not about the show–well, partly, I suppose, as the show is the impetus, but it’s more than that. At least to me. And maybe it’s because I’m tired and freaking out about tomorrow so I”m feeling a little sentimental, but as Aaron pointed out to me tonight “we’re a family”….and we kind of are, I suppose.

In the show, we have these necklaces that represent our character’s affiliation to particular Roman gods or Goddesses and identify them as Romans. The average audience member will never know this, but our stage manager Nikki did hours of research on which god or goddess is appropriate for each character, so each character has a specific and unique pendant with one or two gods that best represent their character.

For instance, I have two. At the beginning of the show, I wear a pendant with Fides, the goddess of Loyalty and Laetitia, Goddess of Happiness. 

After intermission, my pendant is Muta, the goddess of Silence, and Angerona, a goddess who was thought to relieve people from pain and sorrow.

Everyone’s pendants  also have a legit Roman coin dated at about 1, 700 years old. There is something about wearing that much history in a tiny disc around my neck that just boggles my mind absolutely every time I stop to think about what that coin has gone through and seen.

So tonight, I left mine at home like the responsible actor I am, and I had to replace my pendant with a button at the last minute as my personal emblem becomes a key prop later on and I didn’t want to screw over my other actors by making them mime it.

As chance would have it (and I know this is stupid), I left my button version on tonight when we went out and wore it as tonight became the perfect combination of drinks, discussion, goofing around, poor life choices, bad ideas, sword fighting and a gorgeous early-morning/late night thunderstorm that culminated in a fantastic feeling of friendship and general awesomeness at how lucky I am to know the people I know.

I have a great fear that someday, I won’t be able to remember moments like these because it seems like so often, simple moments like yelling Shakespeare in the rain get forgotten to leave space for shopping lists and computer passwords, and that makes me sad. I don’t know why my simple  button on a string means so much more to me now, but it’s kind of nice to know that I’ll be able to wear a reminder of such a perfect night when life gets in the way.

Running Our Luck.

Well, it happened, and really without much to-do. Saturday was our double run, and it went…actually, really well.

I think we all needed the speed-through as well, and, honestly, as ridiculous as things got, there were some fun and awesome moments that we are keeping. It’s kind of neat when being an idiot on purpose leads to finding some truth about your character. I also learned that Aaron does a terrifyingly accurate impression of Heath Ledger’s Joker. Jesus. That may have been my most favorite thing to happen at a speed-though, ever.

On Sunday, our company photographer came to take some stills of the show, and he gave me some really amazing feedback about my performance, so that was nice to hear. I also think I finally have the costume change down to a science, if not an art just yet.

I’m also covered in bruises. I’m kind of getting used to it, but I’ve got some really impressive ones after this weekend– including bite marks on my face. My chin and Andy’s teeth had a small run-in during one rehearsal, to the amusement of everyone else but me.

Our first “theatre emergency” occured on Saturday, when we discovered that our light board simply stopped working. Keep in mind that it’s been turned on twice in its entire existance, so having our brand-new board die suddenly was slightly disconcerting for me.

There is something lucky happening with this show. (Knock on wood). Everything is coming together well, and today, Jake sent me a picture of the lighting board his school uses with a note saying  “would this work?” …It’s the exact same board. Same make, model, everything. I don’t know what fates smiled on us today, but I am thanking them from the bottom of my heart about every 30 seconds.

We also spent a goodly amount of time finishing the space, and having it come together so well was a really great feeling. The set looks genuinely impressive. I’m really excited to work in the final project for the rest of the week.

Speaking of thanks, on Saturday, I was walking around the set to get ready to go on, and I saw a man in a mask with a dog standing off to the side. At first I was concerned that some random vagrant had wandered in from the District so I started to go get Jake, but this mysterious man suddenly waved at me and I realized that our visitors were Mike Carron and his dog, Bam-Bam. He was rocking a mask to protect his immune system from germs, but I do say he made it look quite dashing.

Mike had arrived to say hi and to deliver some cookies– and we also recieved the news that wonderful, wonderful Mike is now cancer-free. I. Was. Estatic. I don’t know what it was about seeing Mike or having him suprise us with a visit, but I was a hot mess for my opening scene– the one place where I don’t have to cry (much), I spent every ounce of energy trying not to burst into tears because I was just so happy that Mike is going to be okay.

I guess I figure that God owed me one for my dad, and I’m glad that I got to cash it in for Mike.

This week is going to be ridiculous. We’re working scenes tonight and then running Tuesday and Wednesday, and we have our first real audience for our first ever College Night on Thursday.

We also might be drastically changing some of the costuming, so I will win not one but TWO quick changes. Gotta love opening week.

Sticky Buisness! (Or, A 5 Shower Kind of Night)

Last night’s rehearsal was kind of a hot mess. Quite literally.

***If you haven’t figured out that bad things happen to me in the show yet and would like to be suprized, I suppose you shouldn’t read this post) ***

Because we ran costumes for the first time, this meant that I also got to work with the whole “bloody” package. Before the show, I put on my dress and we distressed it quite a bit and put a goodly amount of blood on it as well. It looked fantastic, but because the material of the dress was so thin, it completely bled through (ha) the fabric and I was covered in the stuff– and this was 5 minutes into rehearsal.

Thankfully, there is a mop sink in the space, so I awkwardly jumped in there and rinsed off as best I could. That was shower #1 of the evening.

We ran the show and it went okay. There is a lot to be worked out, especially in terms of transitions, so there was a lot of stopping and starting, but tonight we are going to work a lot of those so I am excited to see what the show feels like when it flows.

There were also a lot of weird spots. Last night I combination forgot I was going to get pushed/tripped and hit the deck pretty hard in the middle of a scene, so that was entirely awkward. Since starting this show, I have developed this perpetual bruise on my right leg, so I’m really grateful for the long dresses that I wear. At least no one will be staring at my weird shin bruise while I’m trying to act. Aaron (playing Titus) also somehow managed to stab himself. I’m just impressed with that one.

Speaking of awkward– so after my quick change (when I change into the dirty/bloody dress), I quickly realized that we hadn’t given the fake blood enough time to dry, because the dress was sticky. And when I say sticky, I mean there was a moment when I couldn’t get up because I was literally stuck to the floor.

The remarkable thing was that because the dress was so sticky, it also kept sticking to itself– so by the time I got done running the blocking for the first scene I wear the dress for, it was bunched up and over my butt and underwear– and for some reason, in that moment, I just thought to myself “well, this is happening, might as well use it”.
I am usually very self-concious about portions of my body– I’ll wear a towel, no problem, but anything that reveals anything higher than 3 inches above my knees is right out– and apparently, all it took to get over that is being thrown on stage with no choice but to deal with it.

It was embarassing, yes, but I figured, hey, after everything else that my character has gone through, having people see my underwear is probably the least of my worries.

Running that scene was an odd experience. I was so sticky that it was hard to work with the other actors, plus bunchy costume issues and the distration of the gore made it really hard to focus. It also turns out that the mint flavoring in the blood burns my mouth pretty badly after awhile.

On top of all of this, I was trying desperately to remember the things that we’ve worked on, and that flew straight out of my head the minute I hit the stage, which is really frustrating and made focusing even harder.

So we got to intermission and I went to go take shower #2 of the evening. While I was getting ready, I happened to look down at the stage and realized that the floor was absolutely covered in blood. Ooops. I have no idea why the thought didn’t occur to me to take a picture, but I will be regretting that one for a long time.

After we ran the scene, we had a quick conference with the directing staff who decided that there was just too much blood, so after rehearsal, I got back in the dress and we worked on getting the right amount of blood. (And I took shower #3). After looking at it for awhile and trying different things, eventually we decided that our best bet was going to be to start over completely from scratch (after I took shower #4).  

I took the dress home and prayed to every god I could think of that it would turn out okay in the wash, and what do you know, at 2AM I pulled a pristine dress out of my washer. God bless you, Ben Nye. After breathing a long, long sigh of relief, I took shower #5 (which meant washing blood out of my wig as well) and I went to sleep. Kind of.

At rehearsal, Jake told me that after my character can no longer speak, I also am not allowed to speak. Backstage or anything. This was immensely frustrating because it turns out that I am a terrible mime. It also didn’t help that half of the cast thought this was hilarious and took it as an opportunity to ask me ridiculously complicated questions and “accidentally misinterpret” my answer. It was actually kind of fun to see what they came up with based on my “signs”.

I have decided that having Jake as a director is amazing until 45 minutes before I go to bed. There comes a point in every process where the show kind of takes over my life, and because I’m sharing my life with my director (whose life it is also taking over), it can be overwhelming at times. I have been struggling with this, because I both love and hate the fact that there are times when all we can find the energy to talk about is the show.

Tonight we’re going to get notes from last night’s run, and I am anxious to see what the directing staff thought. We’re also going to try some more of the special effects tonight so I am excited to see how they turn out.

A few people have asked me why I have been blogging this rehearsal process. Honestly? I’m not sure. I suppose there is something about getting my thoughts down that keeps me a little saner, but I think a lot of it has to do with this experience as a whole. This has been such a cool process, and one where I feel that I am growing as an actor, so I wanted to keep a record of that. And I figure someday when I’m old I can read back and be like “oh yeah, one time I played Lavinia and it was amazing”.  (So what I’m saying is that it won’t hurt my feelings if you think these are boring).


Tonight, we dine in hell. Or at least rehearse there.

I just got off the phone with the (so very, very nice and funny) contractor who is in charge of construction at our theatre space, and he has informed me that the air conditioning should be functional by Friday! Hooray! I am very relieved that our patrons will be able to be comfortable while watching our show. Well, as comfortable as they can be, I suppose, granted the show they’re watching.

I stopped down there this morning to do some quick things and it. is. HOT. It’s actually hotter inside than out, which is interesting. It will be something of an acting challenge tonight, I think. Act, sweaty actor! Act!

However, the best part of today is that tonight we’re running in costumes for the first time. Kate, our wonderful costumer, has done an incredible job on a shoe-string budget creating an insane level of detail and authenticity to the world. It’s so strange– when I’ve gone downstairs to look at the costumes, I immediately understand the world that these characters live in, just by color and texture and feel. Jessica, who is playing Tamora, has some incredible custom-built pieces that rock my socks just seeing them on the hanger, so I am very excited to see them under the lights.

I also am running the “gore” for the first time tonight, and I am both nervous and excited. Excited because I think it’s really going to help me in a couple of the scenes that I’ve been struggling with, nervous because holy shit do I have a fast costume change with about 14 things to do. I want to do a behind-the-scenes-video of my costume change, just to see how ridiculous it must look from not my perspective.

I am a list person, so I have been working on the various lists I need hung in my changing area to keep me from going insane, and it seems like every item I come up with presents three more things I need to do before THAT particular thing can get done. This show is a strange beast.

I’m very excited to get an audience. Yesterday I had a group of 70 (SEVENTY) call and confirm, so that was an amazing feeling, and on top of that, there has been a lot of positive buzz about the show in general, so I am hoping it will be well attended.

Tonight, the biggest focus is going to be getting through that damn quick change and seeing how the show feels as a whole. I am so excited– I have four hours before I even need to get ready to go and I keep watching the clock like a kid on Christmas. As the Black Eyed Peas once wrote,  “I just have a really good feeling about tonight”.

Is it weird that I’m this excited to get blood all over me?


Building Rome In A Day

Yesterday was “build day” at our space.

And a space we have.

I’m not going to lie, it is an impressive-feeling space. The ceilings are high enough in the Stern Center to give plenty of room for our drape, so between the drape and the lighting rig, it looks incredible. I’m really excited to work the show as a whole.

I also am entirely proud that I was able to set up four dimmer packs and a board with a system I’d never worked in before in less than an hour. The wash is going to be a little uneven because of the possibilities of direction and shadows, (3-sided rig on a 4-sided set) but last night I had the revelation that it actually works for the needs of the show. I need to work the lighting cues and make sure the lights are coming on when they’re supposed to, but they are working, and that’s the most important thing.

We also shot the adverts to the show this weekend, so on-the-fly learning imovie enough to put together the ads was a frustrating (if ultimately successful) venture. They wound up coming out really nice. Here’s this week, if you’re interested.


There is going to be a really fun article by David Burke in the paper about the show on Saturday, so I am excited for that as well.

I’m exhausted and happy. I’m disappointed there isn’t rehearsal tonight– I feel like we had a ton of momentum and now I have to put that on pause for two days while I wait for the run, but I think it will give me some time to absorb what we worked on at rehearsal and get a few more things done for the show that I’ve been putting off.

Last night I couldn’t sleep and so I decided to finally put together my stumps for the “reveal” scene. I did some research on the internet to come up with the best way of doing it, and oh my god. They are disgusting. Like, they make me uncomfortable to look at and I made them. I am excited to see how they read under the lights, because I think it’s going to be awesome. In a horrific sort of way. Which, really, in this show, is the best thing possible to happen.

So as not to give away spoilers, I will refrain from posting pictures until after the show is over, but afterwards, I am determined to publish a “So You’re Doing Titus Andronicus…A Comprehensive Guide to Guts and Gore”. It’s going to be epic.

The Things I’d Like To Do.

Friday was a rough night for me. I don’t do well with being bored. It bothers me when I hear people say they are “bored”, because I don’t understand how, in this fantastically amazing and interesting world, you can’t possibly find one single thing to do, but as there was no rehearsal, the internet was down, Jake was sick and I wasn’t feeling so hot, my evening became an antsy night of sitting by the fire reading a book on Rome. (My life is so hard, right?). So I won’t say that I was “bored”, but I most assuredly, I wasn’t overly busy.

We did wind up going out later that evening and it wound up being an interesting night, which was awesome, and I had a long (and even awesomer) talk with Jake about what I’m doing and the things I’d like to do, which basically was a self-admission that I need to get out and do something creative with my skills.

So then I checked my Facebook, and, really, like some sort of weird hand of fate had intervened, my wonderful friend Andrew posted a short note saying that “hey, I think we should put up your show again”.

Two years ago, for my final directing project, I adapted Sam Shepard’s poetry cycle “Savage/Love” and it was…pretty awesome if I do say so myself.

Somehow, after about 20 minutes of messaging back-and-forth, it was decided that “hell, let’s actually go for it”, which is fantastically exciting and terrifying, all at once. Right now, we are waiting to hear back on a proposal I’ve got in at a theatre company in Minneapolis, so we’ll see what happens.

I just think it’s funny how things work out–out of nowhere, Andrew messaged me at exactly the right time to make me feel like that maybe, things are going to work out for me after all.

On top of that news, last night we ran the show for the first time off-book, and it really went pretty well.

Before rehearsal started, Aaron (playing Titus), threw down the challenge of “go big or go home tonight”.  I still haven’t gone as “big” as I’d like to, but having that challenge there gave me something to focus on. During Act 3, which I have dubbed “the worst day in the world”, I have a short 3-minute offstage break before I go back on, and last night, I had a moment where something “clicked” and I just said “fuck it, go big or go home, right?”  So, when I came on, I just hit the deck and started (pretending) to cry with every ounce of effort that I had, and what do you know….

Bitches, I cried. (Just a little bit). But still! Progress!

It was actually hilarious– I started crying (for real) and then got so happy and excited that I was crying for real that I stopped crying for real because I was too happy that I was finally crying to cry. Stupid actors.

So there’s that.

Oh, and the rape scene went a lot better last night. Probably because Jake “forgot” to tell me that Andy was going to pull a knife on me, so I’m in the middle of one of my lines when I think “annnnd now there’s a knife on my face”. Awesome. Although, last night I came up with an idea so vile and disgusting that it may not make the final show. I don’t know whether or not to be ashamed or proud of that. I talked it over with Andy and Jessica and Jessica’s vote was “hell yes” and Andy’s vote was “that’s awful”. We’ll see what happens.

Plus, I wrote a sweet song about Titus on my ukelele. Rock.