¡Viva Las Roots!


Mero Cocinero’s PopUpKitchen opens tonight at Intermedia Arts!  It closes Saturday, November 5 (si, that’s just one short week), so be sure to swing by for a killer four-course meal served up by Mero and the rest of his comrades (yours truly included).  Seatings are at 7 pm tonight and tomorrow, and then again Wednesday through Saturday, November 2-5. Reservations recommended but not required.

In true Dia de los Muertos tradition, we’ll be honoring our ancestors through food, telling stories, and cooking together – all with healthy doses of laughter.  It’s highly interactive, so we may just hand you a knife and ask you to chop tonight’s carrots with us.

For ticket information and further details, visit ¡Viva Las Roots! at Intermedia Arts.  See you on the other side, mis compañeros.  There, we shall dance together.

Stylist Love

Since last writing in August, I’ve participated as a performer in a 3-day script workshop at The Playwrights’ Center, served as the public host for the AFL-CIO Labor Pavilion at the Minnesota State Fair, recorded eight TV and radio spots for Marketplace Events home shows around the U.S., been cast in kaotic good productions’ next show in Minneapolis The Cooking Show con Karimi & Comrades: Viva la Roots!, been cast in the 2011 Playlabs series at The Playwrights’ Center, and been cast in the Science Museum of Minnesota’s next large-scale exhibition, Real Pirates: The Untold Story of the Whydah from Slave Ship to Pirate Ship. All of which I intend to write about.  Really, I do.

But today I need to share something far more immediate and pressing, and I shall preface it thusly: I would rather spend quality time with the hideous giant spider in my garage than plan, shop, and execute an ensemble for some fancy event.  Ensemble as in clothes, not as in performance group.  “But she dresses up for a living!” you say.  “This should be easy and fun for her!”  And to that I say, “Nope. It’s overwhelming. Also? Tedious.”

Don’t get me wrong – I enjoy a good dress and the tiny victory I feel in all the compliments that come with it (hell, I live in dresses in the summertime, but that’s because they’re complete outfits unto themselves – no planning required), but the process of figuring out an ensemble all by myself takes up valuable time that I’d rather spend doing something else.  For the love of god, anything else.  And now you understand my personal crusade to canonize all good costumers everywhere.

So the fabulous Ivey Awards are on Monday night.  Yesterday, I obtained an ensemble.  And could not, would not, have done so without the tireless determination of The Most Divine Miss Emily Taylor and her most appreciated stylist tendencies.  Sainthood is most certainly yours, my dear.

Writing Minnesota

A few weeks ago I was invited into the recording studios at Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) to work on a pilot program, Writing Minnesota.  I was joined by the immensely talented Patrick Coyle, Charles Fraser, Michael Booth, and Tena-May Gallivan to record a scripted version of Charles Baxter’sThe Winner.  I voiced the sassy seductress/Other Woman, Lorraine. Writing Minnesota will air Friday, April 15, at noon and Sunday, April 17, at 6 p.m. on Minnesota Public Radio News stations across the state – listen live (91.1 in the Twin Cities), or stream online.  UPDATE 4/16/2011: Writing Minnesota is now available for online listening!  You can listen to the whole program or just Charles Baxter's The Winner here.

And now, a peek inside the studio at MPR:

Maud Moon Weyerhaeuser Studio
Maud Moon Weyerhaeuser Studio

The last time I was in this studio was for a piano performance by Koji Attwood while he was in town for the Walker Art Center's Baryshnikov: Solos with Piano


Who knew MPR transports their artists to and from studio sessions via pneumatic tubes?


Koji's piano.


Could this be yet another Neumann condenser mic?  Why yes, yes it could.  I'm sensing a theme here.  As demonstrated by the lighting, you can see that the heavens also approve.


No separation between mics meant my stomach growling could ruin Charles' take.  I'm neither confirming nor denying whether that actually happened.


Nuemann condenser mic + windscreen.  This beauty deserves representation from all angles.  HOT.


Hanging up the headphones for the day.

Tall Poppy Syndrome

Last evening brought the first rehearsal in a three-week workshop of Casa Cushman, a new work by Tectonic Theater Project’s Leigh Fondakowski (best known for head-writing The Laramie Project), created with the help of Tectonic company members, various departments at the University of Minnesota, and The Playwrights’ Center.  It also brought cookies (which I consumed) and coffee (which I didn’t), both of which I found touching. This is my second tango with the script, as the playwright was in residence at the University last spring and I was invited to perform in the public reading then.  I loved the script.  Loved, loved, loved it.  All three hours of it.  Before that first read, Leigh jokingly referred to it as The Lesbian Mahabharata.  Around hour 2.5 I understood why.

And as of last night, I still love it.  All however-many-hours-there-are of it.  I love the Victorian era, I love works with a strong female lead, and I love works with multiple strong women (even in their weakest, darkest, most questionable moments) all the better.  Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition gave me my first taste of exhaustive historical research for theatrical purposes, and this new play continues to feed that beast.

Last evening also brought the joy of meeting and chatting with some of the most talented actresses in the Twin Cities, and at one point I found myself engaged in a discussion about being a transplant.  It turned out that I, like the others, find that the majority of our friends are also transplants.  We were all in agreement about how it’s so bloody difficult to get beyond Minnesota Nice and really know people here.  And how Minnesota Nice will smile at you with razor teeth to make sure you’re no shinier than anyone else.

Turns out, I’ve discovered, that many in the Minnesota theater community are willing participants in Tall Poppy Syndrome - the cultural phenomenon where those who flourish get cut down to size - where one’s success is greeted by another’s resentment.  Where, as Garrison Keillor put it, “all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average,” and I’ll add, “and NO ONE steps out of that line.”

Now, I will argue that I am no tall poppy in need of any kind of lopping, and yet from time to time I have found myself on the receiving end of those metaphorical garden shears.  Not outright, mind you, they’re Minnesota garden shears, after all.  They’re, you know, covered in nice.  The kind of nice that makes you want to recoil and grow a nasty set of thorns for protection.

The way I see it is this:  you and I are not in competition with each other and we never will be.  Because even though we may be the same “type” and go out for the same roles, you and I will never, ever bring the same thing to a role.  And so if the director hired you, then he obviously wanted your skills/personality/looks/voice for this job.  And not mine.  That’s not a competition, that’s a best-fit.  And I can’t wait to see what you’ll do with the part, because I’m looking to learn.  I’m looking for inspiration.

Dammit, this community needs all the tall poppies it can get!  We should encourage each other to grow tall.  Intellectually, artistically feed one another. We need to encourage and support and collaborate and benefit and love.  Because, in the words of Paul Wellstone, “we all do better when we all do better.”

But be warned, I’m not going to support you if your tallness turns you into a dick.  In that case, I might even take an extra moment of consideration in front of the Round-Up.  No tall dick-poppies allowed.


Casa Cushman Northrop Auditorium, University of Minnesota Friday, December 10 - 7pm Saturday, December 11 - 3pm

An Actor Prepares (Her Taxes)

Taxes. Bleh. I’m not going to wax poetic about the royal pain in the hoo-ha that is filing taxes every year - especially actor taxes that come in the form of a slew of W-2s and 1099s, a kajillion itemized deductions, and a bevy of industry-specific tax questions that tend to escape the expertise of the average tax preparer. Instead, I plan to arm you with the best resources I have: ONE - Fox Tax. These fellows know their business. They know artists. They specialize in artists. They’re affordable to artists.

TWO - Actor’s Tax Tips. Free! A brand spankin’-new blog by local actor and tax whiz and all-around responsible and intelligent guy, Mark Bradley.

THREE - The Actor’s Tax Guide. Not free! But totally worth it! Chock-full of industry-specific tax info for you, handy-dandy worksheets, organizational advice, AND tax-deductible! By the aforementioned Mark Bradley. And he’s local, so if he steers you wrong, you “know where to find him.”

FOUR - Backstage.com’s Actors’ Assets. I just found these articles today when looking up what it means to be a “Qualified Performing Artist.” They’re well written and quite informative. I must say, though, $16,000 cap on your adjusted gross income?! What a joke. Too bad “Qualified Performing Artist” and “Successful Performing Artist” seem to be mutually exclusive.

If you, too, have a little bundle of actor tax preparation secrets up your sleeve, by all means, do share. Misery does love its company, does it not?

2009 In Review

Oh dearest 2009, how I neglected to give you a proper adieu. But because I always need to have the last word, your shenanigans shall not go untouted nor unscathed. This here is my farewell parting shot: The past year brought a load of work, a load of appreciation for the work I was getting, and one giant, lazy attitude toward writing about it.  Of particular note, midway through 2009 I was able to make a return to performing for a living.  “What?  What do you mean?    Actresses in the Twin Cities aren’t filthy stinking rich and famous?!”  Surprisingly, no, not so much.  See, periodically a girl like me is obliged to suck it up and take a part-time “day job” to keep some steady cash rolling in while filling in the rest with voice-overs and stage work.  What is this world coming to?

What happened was this: in June I was cast as Nurse and First-Class Stewardess Evelyn Marsden in Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition at the Science Museum of Minnesota, as well as joined the museum’s Science Live Theater cast. When at the museum, but not in 1912 costume, I bust out my mad knowledge of nanoscience to thwart an Evil Scientist From The Future, as well as demonstrate the important properties of surface area by blowing giant fireballs and discussing chemical reactivity.  It has been a joy to perform regularly for the (what by now must be) thousands of audience members taking an interest in science.  Additionally, I am responsible for coordinating and moderating public forums for adults about nanoscale science on behalf of NISE Net (Nanoscale Informal Science Education Network).  Moreover, it’s less than part-time, and voice-overs and stage work really ARE filling in the rest.  Even in this wretchedly hobbled economy.  My stars are indeed lucky.  And I thank them regularly.

So here, for posterity, are my performance highlights of 2009:

January Marketplace Events spots - Ty Pennington (that dude from Extreme Makeover: Home Edition) and me on TV and radio urging you to attend particular home shows here and there in the U.S.  TV commercials aired on HGTV and ABC and their affiliates.  Read more about my sister's hilarious request.

February Nothing of note - sometimes that’s a good thing.  Looks like I was in rehearsal.  Not always a good thing.


  • Performances of Adam Szymcowicz’s The Captivity Plays at the Bryant Lake Bowl
  • After 18 months of pain in the form of oral torture, treatment was completed and my braces were removed.  I was rewarded with awesomely perfect teeth and new-found confidence.  Join me in reliving my happy dance.
  • Supervalu spots - radio spots for grocery stores around the U.S. - Albertson’s, Lucky, Supervalu, Shaw’s/Star Market, Cub Foods, Jewel-Osco, Kroger, Hornbacher’s, etc.

April Nexxus spots - I don’t believe these were ever aired - just voice-overs for a concept by the ad agency for the client.  If it was approved by the client, the agency would then film the spots.  Since I almost never watch commercial TV, I have no idea if these ever made it though the pipeline...my guess is no.



  • Caroline or Change, The Homosexuals’ Guide to the Universe, Tiny Kushner - now these didn’t involve me at all, save for my presence in the audience.  But I found the first two to be incredibly moving, incredibly powerful pieces of work.  And I was thrilled that Minneapolis was able to honor such a fantastic playwright in this way, and that such a fantastic playwright got to workshop a brand-new play in our fine city.
  • Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition opens at the Science Museum of Minnesota.  This is my new “day job” wherein I get to spend part of my weekdays engaging with the general public and informing them about Miss Evelyn Marsden’s life and the hospitals aboard the ship in a darling English accent. Personal ship preparation stories here.
  • United Health Care spots - my first political spots, something about calling your congresspeople somewhere in New England. Connecticut maybe? Urging you to take a particular stand on some kind of health care legislation.  Don’t remember the particulars, but got to work with the guys at Shout.  And I absolutely adore Mark Benninghofen, so it was a joy.

July Joined the Science Museum of Minnesota to work on NISE Net (Nanoscale Informal Science Education Network) projects - both performing live stage plays and demonstrations that deal directly with nanoscale science, as well as coordinating and facilitating adult public forums about nanoscale science.  This is only 10 hours per week, and I love it.  And it makes me feel a little closer to my scientific heroes of audio over at RadioLab.  And to paraphrase the words of my delightfully brilliant colleague Michael Ritchie: I realize that my day job can never be bad, because I work in a place with musical stairs.


  • Fringe Festival fail - this was hard.  This was very, very hard.  The Ministry of Cultural Warfare, the company I have both figuratively and literally sweat and bled for since 2000, planned to do a show.  Due to a Perfect Storm of really crappy circumstances, I had to remove myself from the process, and we ultimately had to back out of the festival at a late date.  It was heartbreaking, and the fallout was equally heartbreaking.
  • Marketplace Events radio and TV spots - the plus side of August was that Ty Pennington had some more home shows to promote, so it was back into the studio to add my special female aural sparkle.
  • The Minnesota State Fair - I spent an afternoon as host of the Labor Pavilion at “The Great Minnesota Get-Together.”  They gave me a wireless mic, put me in a Green building and the adjacent pavilion, and let me loose amongst the various Labor kiosks and the throngs of fair-goers.  There was trivia, there were hand-crafted on-the-spot copper roses, there were nurses and flight attendants and machinists and steel workers and everything in between.  At the end of my shift, they snapped a photo which made its way into the national AFTRA magazine.

September I spent nearly half the month on the road, traveling to Seattle, Portland, and San Francisco - this was for my work with the Science Museum of Minnesota on behalf of the Nanoscale Informal Science Education Network (NISE Net), and it was incredibly inspiring.  It did indeed involve some performing, but it also involved meeting with social scientists to consider the social, political, and ethical implications of nanoscale science, and how to get audiences considering these aspects, as well.  We also met for the purpose of setting goals for years 6-10 of NISE Net’s grant funded by the National Science Foundation, and it involved learning how other organizations engage audiences in learning about nanoscale science.  Inspiring, and the locations were fantastic.  I love the Pacific Northwest.

October Lead role of Hannah in Table Salt Productions' inaugural show, Burned at the Gremlin Theatre.  Nothing like spending an hour before each performance putting glue on my face, letting it dry and manipulating it and coloring it to make it look like nasty scar tissue.  While it was a serio-comic post-apocalyptic tale, it was a joy to make a foray back into dramatic work.  Read a little more about it.


  • Workshop and public reading of Dog and Wolf - an incredibly well-crafted, powerful,  and riveting play about a Bosnian refugee by Catherine Filloux, in which I played the lead, Jasmina.  This play is being produced Off-Broadway this February.
  • My first public nanoscience forum about privacy, civil liberties, and nanotechnology.  It was a small group of about 15 people, but helped me get my feet wet.  Now that I’ve done something in the accepted mold, I can hack it and make it more interesting, accessible, and engaging.  Watchout Twin Cities - you’re about to get schooled in nano.


  • more Marketplace Events spots - this time for home shows around the U.S. in 2010.
  • Caribou Coffee spots - The tone and delivery in these spots makes me feel like we’re sitting on a front porch swing, lazing the day away.  And they’re all about handcrafted oatmeal.  And I got to spend some good time with my friends over at Babble-On Recording studios.  I love those engineers.
  • General Mills spots for Tuesday Taco Night - you know you’ve made it when your VOs keep getting interrupted by a mariachi band.  Plus more time at Babble-On!  Whee!

Plenty to share for January already - but it’s a new year, so it gets a new post.  Here’s looking forward to a peaceful, prosperous 2010.  And I'll actually work on getting all of these 2009 (and future) voice-over spots posted for your listening pleasure.  It's not as hard as I make it sound, and yet here we are.  Soon, I promise.

Update Schmupdate

Yes, yes, I am indeed alive.  Barely.  Just got back from a 12-day whirlwind tour of the Pacific Northwest chock full of performances and meetings and nanotechnology conferences and sea water and dear friends from my past.  More on all of that to come.  Soon.  I promise. In the interim, I give you my general Titanic schedule until Thanksgiving:

Sundays through Thursdays, 9 am to 12 noon.

But if you're hellbent on seeing me, rather than one of our other incredible performers (Melanie and I are up to about 150 hours of research these days), be sure to contact me first - we Titanactors are highly adept at schedule-juggling, and tend to swap hours with astounding regularity.  Regardless of who is present for your experience, it will be, as our dear Junior Marconi Operator Harold McBride says, "another day, another doomed ship."

Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition

titanic bow

Last month Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition officially launched at the Science Museum of Minnesota, for which I am portraying Miss Evelyn Marsden, First Class Stewardess and Nurse for the First Class passengers.

Our preparation included regular improv rehearsals (it’s not as much of an oxymoron as it sounds) in addition to an obscene amount of hours researching on our own.  We were expected to spend at least 20 hours with our noses in books; and I’m nearly certain I, and everyone else on the crew, have easily topped 80 hours.  Piles of books, a 10-inch stack of homemade flashcards, online “Titaniac” forums, constant fretting over discrepancies between sources...the list goes on.

80 hours of mind-numbing minutiae and yet I still catch myself periodically weeping as I read or write about the events that unfolded in the middle of the North Atlantic the night of April 14th, 1912.  There is always some new discovery or some particularly moving imagery that strikes me, re-humanizing that night, re-humanizing the roughly 700 people who survived, and the more than 1,500 who did not.  They are not numbers, they are not historical factoids, they are people – each and every one of them – many of whom were the sole bread-winners for their families - concentric circles moving outward from a drop in the water.  An amalgamation of beautiful devastation.

If you’re interested in seeing the exhibition, we highly recommend reservations via phone or online.  Starting July 23, my schedule will generally be: Mondays: 3-8 p Tuesdays: 8-11a Wednesdays: 8-11a Thursdays: 1-5p ...but is subject to change, so if you’re dying to see me in particular, give me a holler first.  I can assure you, however, that you’ll have a great experience, whichever actors are in the room.

titanic OR olympic props

MinnesotaPlaylist Asked

A star is born!  Today is the very first day of MinnesotaPlaylist, a fantastic web venture by former Minnesota Fringe Festival Executive Director Leah Cooper, playwright Alan Berks, and playwright/web/design guru (and fellow Ministry of Cultural Warfare-ite) Matthew Foster.  It’s a gorgeous presence that pulls together written and photographic essays, casting calls, theatrical classified ads, talent profiles, discussion, criticism, and a performance calendar.  All created and edited and managed by people I deeply respect, admire, and just plain enjoy as friends.  It is, to put it simply, freaking awesome; and I love it.  Let’s feed it so it grows up big and strong. As may be apparent from my silence since the last post over 20 days ago, I’ve recently fallen into an artistic Dark Age – sure, as the analogy demands, I have been doing things…they just haven’t been documented.  My artistic progress as of late has been at the mercy of our generation’s Economic Armageddon, the struggle to find and land work, and the upcoming (and terrifying, I might add) Presidential election (seriously – the opposition's VP candidate/huntress-of-the-north somehow miraculously makes George W. Bush sound like an informed, oratory genius.  Whaaaa?).  But the launch of MinnesotaPlaylist was just the glimmer of light I needed.  The first issue of their magazine asked of essayists (one is Miss Mo Perry, the best button in all the land) “what is the function of the performing arts?”

Good question.  A question that I feel compelled to (at least partially) address. Especially when arts funding is most certainly bound to vaporize in attempt to keep other necessities afloat.

Just last week I ran into a local filmmaker at my favorite coffee shop, and while we were catching up he lamented about the same Dark Age feeling.  I remarked that artists are the cockroaches of society - we survive through it all.  I had intended it to be funny.  And yet many a truth is said in jest - due to the great undervaluing of the arts as a whole, a majority of us live in poverty or near-poverty to begin with, so when crisis hits there’s not much for us to lose.  We’re accustomed to living frugally.  And frankly, our art often seems more poignant in the face of adversity – economic, political, social, environmental – performing arts give voice to the voiceless.  It questions.  It provokes.  And on the other side of every major low point in history is artistic documentation by way of commentary and entertainment.  In our most recent history the intense popularity of the cinema during the Great Depression comes to mind.

And don’t get me started on all the proven benefits of the arts in communities – the tangible, dramatic affect on quality of life and social justice and economic vitality.  The Minnesota State Arts Board can enlighten you with all the stats you’d ever want to know on the matter.

To me, personally, the performing arts are an integral part of the world as we know it.  A body isn’t much use without a brain.  And a brain is certainly of no use without a body.  As such – the performing arts, the brain - are certainly of no use without the world to give them a home.  I believe it follows that the world is not much use without the performing arts to contextualize it.  To offer a beautiful escape, a cunning design, a scathing evaluation.  This mystifying world makes sense through the filter of art.  This mundane world becomes mystical through the filter of art.

Indeed, we may be poor, but our riches are endless.

Everywhere Signs Fall

In passing, the director at an audition last weekend said to me, “I saw your show the other night – it was fantastic!” I was bewildered – and frantically paged through my mental catalog of recent performances. Because I’m in the process of moving, I had specifically turned down shows so that I would be uninhibited during these few weeks. It never occurred to me that he could be mistaking me for someone else; I was convinced he saw me in something that I’ve since forgotten. I managed an audible, yet perplexed, “my show?”

Turns out he was referring to Everywhere Signs Fall, in which I appear for a brief monologue on video. Frankly, the top floor of mission control is so fried right now, I had forgotten I was “in” it. I’ll be seeing it Saturday night, perhaps that’ll make it on to me olde hard drive.

Anyway, I’m thrilled that the audition-director liked it, and I’ve read great reviews. I’m not surprised, though - it’s got some stage goliaths, directed by my favorite director-friend (who happens to share my name), and written by a playwright whose work I deeply admire. I’m also thrilled to announce that they’re offering two-for-one tickets to tonight’s performance – so, go see!:


Everywhere Signs Fall

Photo by Travis Anderson

A thrilling psychological rollercoaster ride through mystery, tragedy and romance in a steamy motel room in hot, seedy Phoenix, Arizona

Graydon Royce of the Star Tribune calls it "a fearless endeavor" and "taut and aggressively acted" full of "gripping performances" and "cracking dialogue." "An ambitiously smart play!"

Quinton Skinner of City Pages agrees. Through it all is "a genuine beating heart, and a labyrinthine story that unties its knots by the end with a satisfying, deadly conclusion."

Now playing through May 11 Thursday-Saturday at 7:30 p.m. / Sundays at 4:30 p.m. Pay what you can Monday, April 28 at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets $18 $15 seniors and Fringe button holders Under 30? Pay half your age any night!

For tickets, call (651) 228-7008

Loading Dock Theatre 509 Sibley St., Saint Paul

Presented by Gremlin Theatre Starring Paul Cram, Tracey Maloney* and John Middleton Written by Alan Berks Directed by Leah Cooper Technical direction and design by Carl Schoenborn Sound design by Mike Hallenbeck Video by Kevin Obsatz Costumes by Annie Cady Props and construction by Carn Schoenborn and Pete Hansen Fight Choreography by Mary Karcz Stage Management by Rose Johnson Sound board operated by Katie Burger Cameo video appearances by Muriel Bonertz, Leigha Horton, Jon Mikkelson, Dana Munson, Rik Reppe, and Eric Sharp

*Tracey Maloney appears courtesy Actors' Equity Association

A Little Bit of This for a Little Bit of That

I have somehow gotten myself onto the mailing list for the Guthrie's press releases. And it's been really quite fascinating...I enjoy getting notice of the upcoming seasons, masterclasses/lectures and whatnot. But it's also a bit spammish, in that it's never provided me anything more than information about shows that I had desperately wanted to be in (*cough*Jane Eyre*cough*); until early this week. I was the lucky recipient of a complimentary ticket offer to check out Private Lives on the Guthrie's proscenium stage. Score!

When I arrived at will-call to claim my tickets, they were accompanied by a press folder and card. I suddenly felt dishonest...like those tickets weren't really meant for me unless I was intending to write publicly about the show. And I don't want this blog to become a place where I review other shows, because then that makes me a critic and people will treat me differently - they'll be interested in me not because they want to cast me in something, they'll be interested in me because they hope that I'll give their show some (good) exposure (lesson sadly learned firsthand from hosting the Minnesota Fringe Festival Podcast back in aught-five).

Alas, in the interest of easing my guilty conscience, I will give you my impression of the show Thursday night. Do with it what you will:

Overall, I thought the production was a good slice of pure entertainment. Total fluff, but mostly well-done fluff. The actress who played Amanda was fittingly cast and oozed divine languidity - and her comic timing was impeccable. Adversely, I was disappointed by the characterization of Cybil. I think that the actress in the role is exceptionally talented, but that she was poorly directed – it just didn’t appear that the director really knew what to do with the character. And granted, Cybil is supposed to be milquetoasty, but I think there's a way to do that without resorting to a paper-thin caricature. On the production front, the second of two sets heavily outweighed the first in its “wow” factor – quite beautiful – and despite one of my best friends being a professional lighting designer for some fancy-schmancy outfits, I still don’t know how to critique lighting. On the whole, it looked just fine to me. All in all, I had many, many good, strong, sincere laughs and thoroughly enjoyed my evening there. Recommended.

Okay. All better.

In the Loop

A few weeks ago MPR’s monthly program, In the Loop, released a call for entries opining the topic of one’s relationship with work – they asked, “Do you live to work, or do you work to live?” My last greenroom entry, “The Faces In-Between,” was written in direct response to that call and an edited version was submitted for consideration. It ultimately didn’t make the cut for voicing and subsequent airing, but it did make the cut for a feature in their expanded text-version online.

I attended a live taping of the show in the UBS Forum at the MPR studios last Thursday night – a fascinating and enjoyable evening of live hosting, segue music, readings, “expert” panelists, and general audience discussion. I commented twice, and both comments were included in the final broadcasts (aired Friday and Sunday evenings last week – now available for download or streaming online) – apparently when I want my voice heard, I don’t take “no” for an answer.

Inside Out There

Two posts in one day – can you believe it? I can’t either. But this is important:

August and January are, by far, the best months of the year for theater in the Twin Cities. So much so, they make me downright giddy. August, as you all know, marks the esteemed Minnesota Fringe Festival; and January, as you might not know, marks the Walker Art Center's Out There series – four straight weekends of new multi-disciplinary works by national and international artists. This stuff is gritty and shiny and inspiring – it’s how I was introduced to the director and the playwright of the show I’m now in at The Children’s Theatre. And if that weren’t cool enough, there’s Inside Out There – a masterclass with that week’s artists every Saturday morning at 11 am – for a measly $6.

Seriously - $6 to meet and learn from some fantastic artists making fantastic work – this is Connection Central here, folks.

I don't work for the Walker anymore, so I don’t have an ulterior motive - just a significant desire to see an incredible program reach as many Twin Cities artists as possible. So GO! And then tell me all about it (my rehearsals directly conflict with the classes this year). Call the Walker, right this very minute, 612.375.7600, x 4, and make your reservations. You can thank me later.

buh-bye, day-job!

As I've been alluding for several weeks now, after five years of service to the Walker Art Center in the position of Performing Arts Assistant, I am (sadly, yet excitedly) departing to pursue my acting career full-time. That said, we have started the official search for my replacement, allowing ample time for new-hire training before my departure December 6th.

Below is a brief job description. If you know someone who might be interested in the position, and/or who might be aware of potential candidates, please forward along this information. If you have any questions about the position, please feel free to contact Julie Voigt, Performing Arts Senior Program Officer, at 612.375.7625 or julie.voigt@walkerart.org.

Thanks for your help in spreading the word!




JOB TITLE: Assistant

DEPARTMENT: Performing Arts

CLASSIFICATION: Full-time, exempt

REPORTS TO: Senior Curator

HOURS: 35 hours/week, M - F with additional hours as required

RESPONSIBILITIES Provide a full-range of assistance to the Performing Arts Senior Curator, along with added assistance to the department. Duties include acting as lead contact between Performing Arts department and other departments for the oversight and coordination of general office projects (IT systems implementations, office moves, etc.); serving as first point of contact for public and collegial inquiries; serving as liaison between Senior Curator and public for incoming and outgoing communications; assisting with, and often managing, grant applications, interim reports, and final reports; coordinating project details for artist site visits; coordinating national- and international-colleague site visits; arranging Senior Curator’s and artists’ complex travel itineraries; working with box office staff to maintain comp lists and attendance records for Performing Arts programs; managing Senior Curator's calendar; drafting and executing departmental correspondence; and providing support in executing Senior Curator's presenting responsibilities.

QUALIFICATIONS Arts administration or related arts degree with practical experience in an arts discipline and project management preferred. Two or more years of administrative support experience required, executive-level preferred. Must have excellent written and verbal communication skills with strengths in marketing and public relations, strong decision making capability, and organizational skills with attention to details. Essential to work effectively with a wide range of people (artists, administrators, funders, community partners, patrons) and have the ability to handle multiple projects simultaneously in a fast paced department. Knowledge and experience with the Microsoft Office Suite (PC), database systems, and Internet required. Knowledge of Photoshop, InDesign, and Quark a plus.

SALARY High $20’s to Low $30’s depending on qualifications; excellent benefits

APPLICATION DEADLINE Wednesday, October 25, 2006

For consideration, send letter of interest, resume, and names of three professional references to Human Resources, Walker Art Center, 1750 Hennepin Avenue, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55403.

Posted 10/06/2006 Job line: 612.375.7588 or www.walkerart.org/jobs/

Walker Art Center is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer


Fish Stories

I spent last week fishing in the Superior National Forest, hiking, turning 28, and blowing stuff up. Those mere facts kept me from posting entries that I had written, but hadn’t had time to edit – so, from my screen to yours, the freshly edited archives:


JUNE 21, 2006:

I was approached last week to do a storytelling gig for a St. Paul Public Schools summer program. Did you catch that? – storytelling; not story-reading. As in making up a story for 45 minutes, no book, no script. As in all by myself in front of a gaggle of kids. I initially put forth strong protestations, but was convinced to reconsider by a few well-meaning friends. And money. Good money. So I agreed. And then the panic attacks set in.


Ever since that lapse of good judgment, I have been just shy of completely terrified. White-knuckled-nightmarish-poor-attitude-terrified.


Yes, I had several years of training and experience doing improv comedy over at the Brave New Workshop, but that was always aimed at adults…let me repeat that – adults. As in not children. As in swearing like a pirate. As in creating socially inappropriate characters in socially inappropriate situations and acting socially inappropriate until hilarity ensued or the lights were turned off. Not great experience to fall back on for an audience between the ages of 6 and 9.


I have spent the last two nights obsessing over what story to tell, and finally had a breakthrough involving a humpback whale, a green sea turtle, three dolphins, and two fishermen. I even did a load of research to back it all up - no made-up stuff for these kids - I’m hard core (well, okay, save for the anthropomorphization of five sea creatures, but whatever – these kids are gonna learn something).


So I should relax now that I have a story, right? NO. Now I’m terrified to tell it. Seriously. I have to stretch a three minute scenario into 30-45 minutes. hhhhhhelp.



JUNE 22, 2006

I once had a teacher tell me that my writing was like a frayed rope, and that I spent “way too much time on the frays, and not enough time on the rope.” I guess this was the one time that the frays were actually useful – I told a 35-minute story. Take that, rope.


I think it actually went well, but you never know with kids and teachers. Kids are never itching to give constructive feedback, and the teachers were so nice that I could have probably gotten naked and flailed and they wouldn't have batted an eye.


The start of the story was, um, rather rocky, but once I got about five minutes in I finally hit my groove. There were a few moments when I got flustered because I had left out certain details at the beginning, and had to figure out a way to reincorporate them without breaking the flow too much, but all in all, it wasn’t half bad.


My favorite parts:

1) one little girl was trying to be a bad-ass and sat down right in front so she could give me hard looks. About halfway through the story I glanced down at her - she had her thumb plugged in her mouth, and was looking up at me with huge round brown eyes. I realized I had won her over, and I about melted.


2) a little boy in the very back of the group was intrigued by how physically animated I was while telling the story, and mimicked most of my huge arm gestures in the very back of the room - practicing them carefully so the other kids wouldn’t notice.


3) when I told about two fisherman discussing what they should do with the green sea turtle they accidentally caught, mentioning that they could get $5,000 for it if they brought it to their boss (thanks, Roald Dahl!), one little boy's eyes got HUGE and he, in sheer wonder, slowly mouthed the words, "five thousand dollars!"


I’m still kicking myself for forgetting to record it so I could listen and learn how to make it better if there’s a “next time.” I would love to go back – those kids were absolutely precious.

Revelations of the Ten-Legged God

Tomorrow night I will be at the Mixed Blood Theatre performing a reading of The Book of Shin, a new screenplay by Michael Maupin. Here’s a blurb from the official press release:

High schooler Jason Bock is planning another summer of sleeping in and avoiding his parents – that is, until he and his snail-collecting buddy Peter Schinner are drawn into inventing a new religion, which leads them to dangerous and unexpected consequences. So goes “The Book of Shin,” by Michael Maupin, a screen adaptation of Pete Hautman’s novel Godless, which won the 2004 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature.

ScriptNight, a public reading series of Minnesota Screenwriters’ Workshop, will present a staged reading of the screenplay at 7pm Mon May 1 at Mixed Blood Theatre. The reading is made possible through a special arrangement between Screenwriters’ Workshop, Michael Maupin, Pete Hautman and his agent.

Please feel free to come down and take a listen! I haven’t yet read Godless, the book on which this screenplay is based, but the story conveyed by the screenplay is quite wonderful. Hooray for wonderful young-people’s literature and their screen adaptations! It's no Flying Spaghetti Monster, but hooray nonetheless!