Facebook ate my green room

Dudes, to the long list of grievances the world has with Facebook, I’d like to add another:  it ate my Green Room.  Yes, this very blog.  When I finally came-to in the belly of that great whale, I saw that a great majority of things I ought to be posting about here, in depth, have been summed-up into tidy little two-liners and posted on Facebook instead.  For shame. Here’s just a sampling of what had been swallowed:

August 12, 2010 :: Ro Preston just "reviewed" my show and between me and Shad, called MY character "frumpy." Seriously?! She's a working girl endlessly put-upon by a jobless jackass and SHE'S frumpy? Doesn't help my self-esteem that I wasn't *trying* to be frumpy, and those are *my* clothes.

August 15, 2010 :: our final Fringe performance yesterday brought yet another sold-out house (yay, team!). Despite doggy hospitals and people hospitals keeping me from the full experience as an audience member, it was still a good run. Nap time.

August 26, 2010 :: BBC mentioned that Sean Connery was nominated to be the Sexiest Man of the 20th Century. Personally, I'd rather get Atticus Finched than Double-Oh-Sevened any day.

September 9, 2010 :: POLL TIME! What is your favorite audio book, and why? - OR - who is your favorite audio book narrator, and why?*
[*Why ever do I ask, you ask? I'm starting research on effective narration for audio books, and want to know what resonates with listeners.]

September 17, 2010 ‎:: awesome thing #2 about today: learning that my character/dialect research is best accomplished by watching The Muppet Movie.

September 21, 2010 ‎:: going stag to the Ivey Awards was the right choice - it manifested the koala/earcalyptus treatment from Christine Weber! It awarded Shad Cooper the little-known Ivey for Best Ability to Make Leigha Blush! It won me the title "Dark Princess of the Amazon!" All in all, a fabulous evening surrounded by fabulous people. So proud of the Twin Cities theater scene. So deeply proud.

September 21, 2010 :: quick turnaround needed for a VO audition, so doing it from home this morning; trying hard to shake my sleepy morning voice.

September 22, 2010 :: yo, Twins, I'm really happy for you and I'mma let you finish, but y'all made me late for my VO gig this afternoon. Luckily, I had the best producer of all time. All time! Love to Mark for being wonderful about it. [I'm usually 15+ minutes early to these things, and I was 5 minutes late. Suck.]

September 28, 2010 :: is now a proud member of the Screen Actors Guild. Granted, it was a huge surprise this morning (holy initiation fee, bajesus!) but it was inevitable since I've been a must-join for months. Look for the Progresso Soup and Totino's Party Pizza ads on a TV near you.

October 13, 2010 :: the only thing that gives me more hives than calculus? Scripts wherein I have to learn absurdly long monologues about calculus. If this were David Auburn's "Proof," I'd be okay with it. But it's not. It's so very, very not. GAG.

So now that leighahorton.com is all brand-new and shiny (have you looked yet?!  DO!  There’s so much more to see and hear!  Photos!  Videos!  Audio clips!), it also comes with the promise of better communication.  Pinkie-swear.  Now, who wants to help me get the plankton out of my hair?

Five Golden Rules for Stage Directors

Now, none of these things should have to be said.  They just shouldn’t.  We work in a field of usually intelligent, well-informed, compassionate people and yet here we are.  Why?  Because I have witnessed all of these indiscretions - whether they were directed at me (number one) or whether they were directed at a colleague (number two), or whether I was in a cast subjected to them (numbers three through five).  So listen up, all y'all who wield the big, powerful director stick: 1. Never, EVER tell your actors to “use it.”   As in, “hey, Director, I need to keep my phone on in rehearsal today because my sibling was almost murdered and I need to keep in touch with the family regarding his progress.”  And the director replies, “of course, Leigha - and how this relates to the play, well, you know - Use It.  Use that fear to relate to your character and what she’s going through in this scene.”  That is not directing, nor is it humane.  It’s a shitty reference to a persnickety, uninspired acting method that every performer learned about in high school, and it makes you look like a grasping, idiotic director who doesn’t know common sense from his ass.  Any questions?

2.  Never give your actors line readings unless they ask for it - and even then, seriously consider your options.  If the actor isn’t getting it, then you must guide them there until they DO get it.  For example, “I want you to enter the scene, pause for a second and a half, then say the line exactly like this, and then pause before saying your next line like this” (actor says line) “no, you’re not listening, I want you to say it like THIS,” that...that is not directing, it’s jealousy.  It’s the mark of a fumbling director who actually wishes she was an actor.  If you’re starting rehearsal this way - before you’ve even worked with the actor to get him to a baseline of understanding your vision - then you’re clearly in the wrong field.

3. Read the play before you start rehearsal.  Unless it’s a brand-new work that the playwright won’t start writing until you’re all in the room together, you have no excuse.  I don’t care if you were a last-minute replacement - MAKE TIME.

4. Don’t use big words if you don’t know what they mean.  Your job is to communicate clearly.  If you are regularly misusing words, your actors will have to spend more time deciphering what it is you actually mean to say instead of doing their jobs.  And, frankly, it’s profoundly counterproductive to your goal of sounding intelligent.

5. If the play resides outside of your knowledge-base, do your homework before you start spouting off.  Or get a dramaturg and delegate.  Persians are not the same as Parisians, even though, yes, they sound similar.  Not. The. Same. When actors ask you for historical references, do not offer suggestions of completely different political/social warfare from different eras with different cultures and motives.  Doing so just showcases how clueless you really are.

Am I taking a risk by posting this?  Yes.  But I hope that by calling “foul,” I will be a constructive contributor to the ongoing director/actor dialogue.  You see, it seems that everyone and their second-cousin-twice-removed has a list of Dos and Don’ts for actors, and yet no one is willing to speak up about directors.  At least no one who still wants to work in the field.  And so here I stand - on my little internet table with my bloggy cardboard sign in my hands, held high above my head.

And honestly, it’s a little scary up here.  But it feels right.  So pull up a chair, friends, and hop on up.

I'll Only Get The Audition When...

...I’ve done something to my body that I can’t hide. Several months ago I was between shows and figured it would be an excellent time to try out a new mehndi design on my hand.  Mehndi, for the unindoctrinated, is the art of painting on the skin with henna - a natural plant-based dye.  The practice is rooted in Africa, India, and the Middle East, and used on the skin to create temporary tattoo-like designs or to dye the hair or scalp, usually for wedding ceremonies and the like.  Or if you’re me, it’s used to create designs on the skin that last a good two-plus weeks with no hope of getting them to fade early, no matter what you try.

Now, I am no stranger to mehndi.  I implemented my first design in the summer of 2008:

And I loved it.  The process is slow and meditative, and something I thoroughly enjoy if I have loads of time and can limit movement to allow for everything to dry properly.  The result is, to me, a secret delight - it’s usually hidden by footwear, but one can catch glimpses around the edges of my mary-janes if they’re looking hard enough.

So I happened to have loads of time, a good book, and some bravado available one day, and decided it was time to give it another go, this time on my hand.  Far more bold, far more daring; my own little joy and a temporary eff-you to societal norms.  And achieved a rather striking result:

Which would have been juuuuust fine, had it not been for two things:

1) I stupidly didn’t realize how much I talk with my hands - especially when giving science demonstrations at the museum. File that one under “Horton, Duh.”  And as we’re all well-aware, little dudes like to ask questions about things they don’t understand in loud voices.  So in an effort to be encouraging of constructive dialogue about differences, I ended up explaining the science of henna as often as I explained the importance of surface area in chemical reactions.

2) the call I got from my agent the next week, requesting I audition for the lead in a new network sitcom pilot (more about this in another post).  You see, the thing with henna is that when it fades, it doesn’t do so uniformly - so when it gets to a certain point of faded-ness, one looks like a burn victim and unintentionally alarms the kindly, beloved casting director.

And thus the lesson I learned the hard way is this: not all of us have the privilege of outwardly flying our freak flags.  Therefore, I must keep it (whatever “it” happens to be after any given flight of fancy) in a place where it can be covered.  Even if it’s only temporary.  Bah.