Today marked the close of Daleko Arts’ production of Proof, a rich, complicated Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning script about mental illness, trust, and high math by David Auburn. I had the pleasure of playing Claire, the estranged sister in from New York to pick up the pieces after the death of her genius father, and reveled in the depth of and contradictions between her words and actions, in the messiness of her relationship with her sister and her abandoned past.

The show was produced in New Prague, MN, about an hour south of Minneapolis/St. Paul, so afforded a lovely, meditative drive through pastoral farmland each day, and the show was set in Chicago, from where half of my own family hail; a beautifully evocative trek to each performance.

2012 in Review

In November of this past year, I took part in a little daily project on Facebook called The Month of Thanks.  Every day I sat down to write, publicly, something I was thankful for that day.  And let’s be honest, there are some dark, dark days in November in Minnesota.  Some days many of us are just thankful to wake up in the morning, the small victory of not having died in our sleep.  Ahem.  Um, did I mention we don’t get much sunlight ‘round these parts in the winter? Even so, it was a beautiful project to partake in – one that made me grateful for the gratitude alone.  And in considering this 2012 Year in Review, Day 28 of my Month of Thanks leapt off the screen at me:

:: Month of Thanks, Day 28: today's recording session was in a pretty, pretty studio I'd never seen before. And the longer video for which I was providing voice-over was really quite lovely (there was a commercial, too, but that was, you know, short and commercialey). I am profoundly grateful that a combination of luck, training, skill, and perseverance has enabled me to do what I love for a living.

That, right there, is the essence of so much of last year.  The joy of exploring new studios. Of meeting engineers, writers, and producers.  Of realizing that I am able to make my living doing what I love because of luck, training, skill, and perseverance.  No single one of those things alone would cut it; it takes every piece to create the balance.  Some of those things are in my control, some are not, but every one is a gift.  And for that, I am most grateful.

And so, without further ado, my performance highlights of 2012:




  • Continued part-time work at the Science Museum of Minnesota on the Science Live team – performing live science demonstrations and science-related short plays for museum audiences.
  • Traveled to Portland, OR to present to national museum colleagues the first draft of Kitchen Chemistry, a new live stage presentation I created for the Science Museum of Minnesota.
  • Joined the advance-publicity team for public appearances and started rehearsals for my roles as Anne Bonny and Mary Read (depending on the day) in the Real Pirates: The Untold Story of the Whydah exhibit at the Science Museum of Minnesota.  


  • Voiceovers for Marketplace Events spots - fourth year running.  Ty Pennington and I on national TV and radio urging you to attend home shows across the U.S.  TV commercials aired on HGTV and ABC and their affiliates.  Recorded at Audio Ruckus for Coordinet.
  • Voiceover for Land O’Lakes butter – my first truly-national television commercial.  I had done plenty of spots in the past that were aired in specific markets all over the U.S. (and therefore recorded multiples with appropriate city names filled in), but not one single commercial that would be aired everywhere.  Network TV, cable, everywhere.  It was very exciting.  Recorded at Echo Boys for Campbell Mithun.  




  • Opening of Real Pirates: The Untold Story of the Whydah at the Science Museum of Minnesota.
  • Started rehearsals for Rajiv Joseph’s achingly beautiful two-person play Gruesome Playground Injuries.


  • Voiceovers for KeyBank - this was the first session reading tags for their “Vase” (and another – the name of which I’m forgetting) TV and radio ads. 47 tags, to be specific.  Recorded at Todd Syring’s studio at Campbell Mithun for Campbell Mithun.  
  • Voiceovers for KeyBank (yes, more) – I ended up having several more sessions at Campbell Mithun this month – just a couple tags here and there – but still a delight to be in their studios every time.




  • Performances of Rajiv Joseph’s Gruesome Playground Injuries, which merited some lovely press, a hug from a newspaper critic, and a sweet note from the casting director at The Guthrie.  AND a new “Facebook friendship” with the playwright.  An honor and a joy.  
  • Continuation of Real Pirates: The Untold Story of the Whydah at the Science Museum of Minnesota.




  • Performed/read at a new script workshop at The Playwrights’ Center for a new play, which I’m embarrassed to say I retained no notes about – so cannot recollect the playwright nor the name of the play, nor if I read a role or the stage directions.  For shame, Leigha.
  • Continuation of Real Pirates: The Untold Story of the Whydah at the Science Museum of Minnesota.


  • Voiceovers for more Marketplace Events spots – this was for home shows that would be taking place later in the year, hence weren’t recorded at the year’s first session in January.  TV commercials aired on HGTV and ABC and their affiliates.  Recorded at Audio Ruckus for Coordinet.




  • Read stage directions at a new script workshop at The Playwrights’ Center for A User’s Guide to Hell, a new play by Lee Blessing.
  • Opened Kitchen Chemistry, a new live stage presentation I created for the Science Museum of Minnesota about the science of spaghetti – covering topics from boiling water to starch structures to smell and taste perception.
  • Continuation of Real Pirates: The Untold Story of the Whydah at the Science Museum of Minnesota.


  • Wrote and hosted the filming of the third in a four-part series of short satirical 1950’s-style educational films, titled The Wonders and Worries of Nanotechnology:  Who Benefits? on behalf of the Science Museum of Minnesota for The Nanoscale Informal Science Education Network (NISE Net).  Film + Production by Teddy Media.  


  • Voiceover for The Gimmie Awards, General Mills’ bi-annual awards ceremony.  Recorded at Syring Studios for Campbell Mithun.  I have to admit that it was a little exciting knowing who the winners were and why before the winners themselves.

Featured Press

  • Interview and photo shoot for small feature article and very large photograph to run later in the month in Vita.MN, a local arts and entertainment magazine owned by the Star Tribune.  The focus of the article was my work in Minneapolis/St. Paul as a full-time stage, screen, and voiceover actor.  




  • Read stage directions at a new script workshop at The Playwrights’ Center for Way West, a new play by Mona Mansour.
  • Continuation of Real Pirates: The Untold Story of the Whydah at the Science Museum of Minnesota.


  • Performed on-camera as The Bride in Girls in Lane 4, Steeltoe Stiletto’s entry into the Minneapolis 48-Hour Film Project.  For our efforts, we garnered a “Best Film” nomination and walked away with a coveted “Audience Favorite” award.  


  • Voiceover of animatics (they’re like roughly-animated storyboards) for a new Land O’Lakes product, which I still believe is going through the development phase.  I’ve been told that if it does make it to market with this concept, I’m in for the final spots.  This is, however, a months-long process – so who knows.  Keeping my fingers crossed nonetheless, because optimism feels better than the alternative.  Recorded at Todd Syring’s studio at Campbell Mithun for Campbell Mithun.
  • Voiceovers for KeyBank – a few more sessions this month – just a couple tags here and there for their “Vase” TV and radio ads.  Recorded at Todd Syring’s studio at Campbell Mithun for Campbell Mithun.




  • Performed/read for a new script workshop at The Playwrights’ Center of a new play, which I’m embarrassed to say I retained no notes about.  This is the second of two in 2012 that I somehow didn’t manage to keep records on – what on earth?  My apologies to the playwright.  For shame.  Again.
  • Continuation of Real Pirates: The Untold Story of the Whydah at the Science Museum of Minnesota.




  • Read stage directions at a new script workshop at The Playwrights’ Center for Regulation 18B, a new play by Scott Wright.
  • Read the role of Diana Margineanu at a new script workshop at The Playwrights’ Center for No Hay Luz and the Search for the Red Bourgainvilleas, a new play by Domnica Radulescu.  Thank goodness for my four years of Spanish in high school.  Rusty as all get-out, but the foundation is still there.
  • Continuation of Real Pirates: The Untold Story of the Whydah at the Science Museum of Minnesota.  I KNOW, right?  When on earth did this thing end?!  Labor Day.  And so this is the last time you’ll see this particular gig mentioned.  It was a hell of a lot of fun, but I was so, SO happy when it was done for the sole sake of not having to fuss with that wretched dirt makeup anymore.  That shit was satanic.


  • Voiceover for Cheerios – this was an incredibly sweet online video featuring a “panel” of really cute kids talking about how their moms don’t really realize that they still like Cheerios even though they’re not babies anymore.  Adorbs.  Recorded at Spotnik for Orange Filmworks.  
  • Voiceover for Marketplace Events spots – yes, more.  I love these people.  TV commercials aired on HGTV and ABC and their affiliates.  Recorded at Audio Ruckus for Coordinet.




  • Performances of the remount of Rajiv Joseph’s Gruesome Playground Injuries.  Man, I love this play.  Rajiv is brilliant.  He didn’t write it for me, but I want him to write for me always.
  • Started rehearsals for kaotic good productions’ The Cooking Show con Karimi & Comrades: Viva la Soul Power! at Intermedia Arts.  This year’s show was going to be HUGE.


  • Voiceover for Target – the second iteration of a short film about inclusiveness - entitled Anthem  (originally voiced in December 2011 and entitled You Make Us).  Recorded at Media Loft.  
  • Voiceover for Crystal Farms’ Simply Potatoes – announcer on two fun radio spots featuring some fantastic Minneapolis/St. Paul talent.  Recorded at Babble-On for Gabriel deGrood Bendt (GdB). 
  • Voiceovers for KeyBank – a few more sessions this month – just a couple tags here and there for their “Vase” TV and radio ads.  Recorded at Todd Syring’s studio at Campbell Mithun for Campbell Mithun.
  • Voiceover for the National Bone Marrow Donor Program’s annual awards ceremony.  This was my second year back in the studio for this client, and it was an honor and a joy to be asked back. Recorded at Aaron/Stokes for Blue 60 Pictures.
  • Voiceover for General Mills’ Yoplait Yogurt – dialogue with the delightful Gary Bingner, announced by the equally-delightful Mark Benninghofen.  Recorded at Audio Ruckus for Shout! Creative.  




  • Read stage directions for a new script workshop at The Playwrights’ Center of The Toupee, a new play by Tom Dunn.
  • Performances of kaotic good productions’ The Cooking Show con Karimi & Comrades: Viva La Soul Power! at Intermedia Arts.  This was part of a much-larger project called 28 Days of Good Energia, which included a full (and gorgeous) gallery exhibition, and it was, again, a whirlwind of activities and some of the most amazingly soulful and creative and funny people.  And incredible food.  Ohmygod.
  • Started rehearsals and research for my role as Nephthys in the Lost Egypt at the Science Museum of Minnesota.  The evolution of ancient Egyptian mythology is a fascinating beast unto itself – and oh boy was there a lot to learn for this project.


  • Voiceover for LifeTime Fitness – this was for an animated video that will, in theory, play on their exercise machines in gyms nationwide.  Recorded at LifeTime Vision for LifeTime Fitness.




  • Closing performances of kaotic good productions’ The Cooking Show con Karimi & Comrades: Viva La Soul Power! at Intermedia Arts.


  • Voiceovers for a gorgeous short film and not-yet-completed commercial demo made by a reputable marketing firm campaigning for a very large company.  Unfortunately, I’m unable to share more than that due to confidentiality requirements at present, but if they land the gig, I can share.  Recorded at BWN Music.  
  • Voiceovers for KeyBank – a few more sessions this month – just a couple tags here and there for their “Vase” TV and radio ads.  Recorded at Todd Syring’s studio at Campbell Mithun for Campbell Mithun.




  • Read the role of Jane for a new script workshop at The Playwrights’ Center of ColorLines, a new play by David Wiles.  Keep an eye out for further developments on this play.  Because wow.


  • Cast as host for on-camera industrial for DraxImage’s RUBY-FILL Strontium- and Rubidium-82 Generators.  Turns out my gig at the Science Museum has made me pretty adept at presenting information, like about machines that provide measured doses of radiopharmaceuticals, as if I know what I’m talking about.  Filming to take place in January 2013.  


  • Voiceovers for Marketplace Events spots - fifth year running! FIFTH year!  Love.  Ty Pennington and I on national TV and radio urging you to attend home shows across the U.S.  TV commercials aired on HGTV and ABC and their affiliates.  Recorded at Audio Ruckus for Coordinet.
  • Voiceover for Crystal Farms’ Pancake and French Toast batters – TV commercials. Recorded at Echo Boys for Gabriel deGrood Bendt (GdB).



At the start of last year I promised to dream bigger dreams and then run to catch them.  The dreaming did indeed happen, and continues unabated.  It is, however, now accompanied by blueprints for the life I intend to build.  Plans are afoot.  This is the year that I’m going to break ground on new land.



Gruesome Playground Injuries

In my last greenroom entry, I mentioned a little show I was rehearsing called Gruesome Playground Injuries. In it, I said about rehearsals, “…it already feels like the most important stagework I’ve ever done so far. And to stumble and search and love and thrill and ache alongside the most talented Adam Whisner is a gift.”

It has indeed been a profoundly moving process, and one that I am thrilled to finally get to share with you. We open this Friday and run for just eight performances over two short weeks. I can say this in all earnestness: this one is not to be missed. The script is brilliant, and I would recommend you see it no matter who was in it. I just get to be the lucky girl this time around.

What’s it about? Gruesome Playground Injuries is the story of Doug and Kayleen, told over the course of 30 years between the ages of eight and 38. At times funny and sweet, at others heartbreaking, it’s an exploration of two lives and the pulsing connection between them, even when they’re apart.

Or, as the show’s official promo materials more succinctly state:

Gruesome Playground Injuries is a modern-day love story by Rajiv Joseph, United States Artists Rockefeller Fellow and Pulitzer Prize finalist (how does this guy not have a website?!), about the near-misses that pull us apart and the pain that keeps us together.

Who’s in it? Featuring Leigha Horton and Adam Whisner Written by Rajiv Joseph Directed by Natalie Novacek Presented by The Peanut Butter Factory

When is it? Friday, March 23 – Monday, March 26 Thursday, March 29 – Sunday, April 1 All performances at 8 pm

Where is it? Intermedia Arts 2822 Lyndale Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55408

How much? All tickets $10, cash or check, available at the door

Photos courtesy Richard Fleischmann Photography

A Day in The Life

If it looks like I was rehearsing Gruesome Playground Injuries last evening without pants - yes, pantsless -  it's because it was indeed a real possibility.  Last night remained fully clothed, but tonight - tonight is a different story.  As is tomorrow night.  And all rehearsal nights hereafter.

If I recall correctly, the least-clothed I've ever been on stage was in a slip.  So now, publicly dropping trou?  Practically begging the audience to examine my upper thighs under the glare of thousands of lumens?  This...this....hooooo boy...this is going to be painful.  But it's supposed to be, and therefore so profoundly worth it.

We've only just begun rehearsals, and it already feels like the most important stagework I've ever done so far. And to stumble and search and love and thrill and ache alongside the most talented Adam Whisner is a gift.


I love how this image is the perfect illustration of the breadth of work I engage in to make my living as an actor:
Pinocchio Audition Tomorrow - called in to the Children's Theatre Company to audition for a part that I knew would be absolute gold in the hands of the incredible Elise Langer.  It was, therefore, an immense joy to run in to her at the audition.  I did not receive a callback, and for that, I am convinced that all is still right with the world. Fingers and toes crossed for Elise.
Home and Garden Show - the Minneapolis Home and Garden Show, for which I did all the radio and TV voice-overs along with Ty Pennington (four years running!) was finally here.  I had every intention of attending, aaaaaaand ultimately missed it.  Which is exponentially more stupid this year because I finally have a house.
11a-4p  - SMM (Science Live 5) - my part-time performing gig presenting live science demos at the Science Museum of Minnesota (no pirating for me on Sundays).
7-10p - GPI rehearsal - the aforementioned Gruesome Playground Injuries rehearsal.  It feels good to be working on a proper show again.  I've whittled way back on my stage work - so it's a delight to be back in the rehearsal room.  Most especially with my cast-mate, director, and stage manager.  Good times, good times.



Real Pirates

National Geographic’s Real Pirates: The Untold Story of the Whydah from Slave Ship to Pirate Ship opened last weekend at the Science Museum of Minnesota to huge fanfare, and I’m thrilled to give you a sneak-peek. The exhibit boasts artifacts from the only authenticated pirate shipwreck found in U.S. waters – the former slave ship Whydah, captained by Black Sam Bellamy. There are 17 actors portraying a slew of real pirates from 1717 (although the fearsome Anne Bonny and Mary Read are triple-cast; and I’m the only bird to play both women). The pirates represented served aboard the Whydah, save for Blackbeard and the “ladies” who were contemporaries of Bellamy and his crew.

This galley, and the scurvy knaves aboard it, are not to be missed. Dead serious.

And without further ado – a tease of the treasures that await you: 


  Opening weekend lines to enter the Real Pirates exhibition. But in true piratical fashion, you'll be passing up these lines because you'll have plundered the tickets online first.



   Captain Blackfrog's Tavern.



Anne Bonny challenging you to a game of sheep's knuckles, Passage, or Ship, Captain, Crew. She fully intends to win all your rum. And if she doesn't - well - she's armed.



Recovered flintlock pistols.



Grenades. And the precursor to the modern stinkbomb. No lie.



The Whydah at port, waiting for you to sign the Articles and step aboard.



Anne Bonny, public menace.



The Whydah's hold.



Thomas Davis and Hendrick Quintor at work below decks.



Pieces of Eight. Many, many Pieces of Eight. Yes, it's all real.



Sufficiently enticed, mateys?  As ye should be.



2011 in Review

While relatively tedious to compile, I’ve come to love these year-end reviews.  They remind me that I actually make a living at my craft, no matter how insecure I get during the course of the year about my abilities or accomplishments (or seeming lack thereof).  Lists like these remind me that I am doing what I love, and am being rewarded for it.  Lists like these remind me that my career choice bought me passage into my very first house, all on my own, and keeps me there.

Because let’s be honest - there is always a point (or five) in the year when I panic.  I think, ohmygod, they’ve finally realized that I’m a total fraud and NOW I WILL NEVER WORK AGAIN.  EVER.  This happens regularly.  Without fail.  And then I end up inexplicably landing another incredible gig and think, oh, well, okay – maybe I’m not that bad.  It is a joy and an honor to be so lucky.

Without further ado, my performance highlights of 2011:

January Continued part-time work at the Science Museum of Minnesota on the Science Live team – performing live science demonstrations and science-related short plays for museum audiences.

Marketplace Events spots - third year running.  Ty Pennington and me on national TV and radio urging you to attend home shows across the U.S.  TV commercials aired on HGTV and ABC and their affiliates.  Recorded at Audio Ruckus.

VOs for General Mills, but I took very poor notes about this, and have no recollection of what it was for.  My guess is that it was, perhaps, some pickups for the 42 spots I did back in December for Progresso Light Soups, Yoplait and Yoplait Light Yogurts, and Big G Cereals national TV spots.  Note to self in 2012: take better notes.  Recorded at Babble-On for Shout! Creative.

February Script workshop and stage-direction reading for public presentation of Carson Kreitzer’s new play, Behind the Eye, as part of The Playwrights’ Center’s Ruth Easton series.  Funded by the National Endowment for the Arts and commissioned by the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park for a world premiere in April.

Not much else to report other than travel to Florida.  It was warm.  I remember needing that.  Oh yes, and travel to Madison, WI, to teach museum-theater techniques to institutions across the U.S.

March VO for the trailer of TRIUMPH67, an independent feature-length film that went on to become the official selection of the Twin Cities Arab Film Festival.

Spent the day in studio at Minnesota Public Radio (MPR), recording the voice for a sultry character in The Winner, a pilot for Minnesota Stories – a new program dedicated to showcasing Minnesota writers.

VO for Target - a short film about inclusiveness called You Make Us.  Recorded at Audio Ruckus.

Maud Moon Weyerhaeuser Studio at Minnesota Public Radio

April Table-read of a new script by Patrick Coyle at The Jungle Theater.

The Winner, recorded in March, airs twice on Minnesota Public Radio.

May VO for Cadillac.  With Laurence Fishburne.  I played his talking GPS.  Recorded at Babble-On for Fallon.

I bought my very first house, all by myself.  I think this is what officially makes me an adult, but I’m still not quite sold on that idea.  The only reason I’m including this here, amongst my gigs, is because those VO gigs are what made this possible.

Home, in as many words.

June Script workshop and stage-direction reading for public presentation at the Playwrights’ Center of Scratch, a new play by Shira Naharit.

Started rehearsals for Minnesota Middle Finger, Ben San Del’s Minnesota Fringe Festival entry.  Yes, Fringe is in August.  We started way, way early because of everyone’s insane schedules.  I think when all was said and done we only had 12 rehearsals.

July VO demos for Hormel, recorded at Modern Music/Fischer Edit for BBDO.

Co-wrote and produced a short satirical 1950’s-style educational film, The Wonders and Worries of Nanotechnologyon behalf of the Science Museum of Minnesota for The Nanoscale Informal Science Education Network (NISE Net).  Film + Production by Teddy Media.

August 2011 Minnesota Fringe Festival, and my performance in Ben San Del’s Minnesota Middle Finger with the incomparable John Middleton and Tim Hellendrung.

VO spots (more, again) for Marketplace Events home shows with Ty Pennington – TV and Radio.  Continued airings on HGTV and ABC.  Recorded at Audio Ruckus.

Three-day script workshop at The Playwrights’ Center of Outcasts of Eden, a new play by Andie Arthur.

Served as host/barker for the AFL-CIO Labor Pavilion at the Minnesota State Fair, on behalf of AFTRA.

Cast in kaotic good productions’ The Cooking Show con Karimi & Comrades: Viva Las Roots! to be presented at Intermedia Arts in October 2011.

Script workshop at The Playwrights' Center


September Cast as both Anne Bonny and Mary Read in the Science Museum of Minnesota’s next major exhibition, Real Pirates, as well as cast in the publicity crew for advance event appearances.  Exhibition opens mid-February 2012.

Attended the 7th annual Ivey Awards – Minneapolis/St. Paul’s version of the Tonys.  Very, very swank.  Very, very inspiring.  I know I said that last year, but I still mean it.

VO spot for General Mills – radio spot for Yoplait Yogurt in the NYC market.  Recorded at Audio Ruckus for Shout! Creative.

Real Pirates coming soon to the Science Museum of Minnesota

October Cast in The Peanut Butter Factory’s next production, Rajiv Joseph’s Gruesome Playground Injuries – a two-person show with Adam Whisner to be presented late winter/early spring 2012.

Went on a three-day writing retreat to northern Minnesota with the company of kaotic good productions’ The Cooking Show con Karimi & Comrades: Viva Las Roots! to create character and storyline.

VO narration for short documentary Does Every Silver Lining Have a Cloud?, a look at the effect of nanosilver on the environment, created by the Museum of Life + Science in Durham, North Carolina, on behalf of the Nanoscale Informal Science Education Network (NISE Net).  Recorded at Babble-On.

VO for the National Marrow Donor Program’s annual council awards ceremony recognition film segments.  Recorded at Aaron/Stokes for Blue 60 Pictures.

Script workshop and stage-direction reading at the evening performance of Sarah Gubbins’ new work, The Water Play at The Playwrights’ Center.

Performances of kaotic good productions’ The Cooking Show con Karimi & Comrades: Viva Las Roots!at Intermedia Arts.


November Performances continue of kaotic good productions’ The Cooking Show con Karimi & Comrades: Viva Las Roots!at Intermedia Arts.

Got my eyes did.  Yep.  Lasik.  No more contacts or glasses.  This changes everything on stage and in the recording booth, for the better.

Spent the day at the Hennepin County Courthouse, serving as a key witness in Faegre & Benson’s mock trial program.

Spices in the Viva Las Roots! kitchen.


December VOs for Marketplace Events Home Shows with Ty Pennington – fourth year running!  Recorded at Audio Ruckus.

Appeared on Kare 11 News morning program as Anne Bonny, marketing for the Science Museum of Minnesota’s Real Pirates exhibition opening February 2012.

Script workshop and stage-direction reading at the evening performance of Kira Obolensky’s new play, Vasa Lisa at The Playwrights’ Center, co-presented by Ten Thousand Things.  Workshop in preparation for a late-spring full production by Ten Thousand Things.

Real Pirates get sassy with the news crew at KARE 11.

Epilogue 2011, you treated my career well, and for that I thank you.  2012, we’re going to roll up our shirtsleeves and till this soil for continued growth.  My last major career goal was to make my living as an artist, which I have been doing for the last few years; it’s time to dream bigger dreams.  And then run to catch them.

¡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.

Behind the Theater

Another Fringe Festival notch on the belt, another wonderfully surprising success. Our show did exceptionally well, but more importantly I got to share the stage with two of the most delightful actors in the twin cities – Tim Hellendrung and John Middleton.  My god, those guys… love.  Just…love. The final numbers are in, and out of 167 shows and just over 48,000 tickets sold, Minnesota Middle Finger was #5 in ticket sales.  Audiences who chose to review our show gave us a solid 4.5 average rating out of 5 kitties (yes, instead of stars we have kitties; don’t ask).  We officially sold out twice.  We received the “encore” performance in our venue.  All in all, a pretty fine experience.

And so, a little photographic capsule of the past eleven days:








And that, dear friends, wraps up another year.  Goodnight, sweet Fringe.  Sleep well, and dream inspiring dreams, for I long to see them breathe come morning.

Minnesota Middle Finger

My love for the Minnesota Fringe Festival runs deep. Unnaturally, gloriously deep. I’ve performed in every festival, save two, since 2000, and have written about it here since 2005 (save for a little, intended gap in 2009 coverage): 2000 – The Last Cherry Pit, Ministry of Cultural Warfare (MoCW) 2001 – Into the Acid Fountain (The Federico Fellini Variety Hour), MoCW 2002 – Slaughter House Warming, MoCW 2003 – Industrials, MoCW 2004 – In Defense of Sin (My Friends’ Best Stories), MoCW 2005 – served as The Voice of the Fringe for the official Fringe Festival podcasts (this also happens to be what launched my professional voice-over career, so I think this means I owe the Fringe my firstborn or something.  I can't remember.  I'll have to go back and check the paperwork). 2006 – The Unbearable Lightness of Being American, MoCW 2007 – The Tyranny of God’s Love, MoCW (appeared onstage via video, as was touring another show at the time) 2008 – blogged my brains out in exchange for a Fringe Press Pass 2009 – (just watched, and didn’t want to talk about it) 2010 – See You Next Tuesday, Walking Shadow Theatre Company

It is now a joy and a pleasure to add 2011 to the list:

2011 – Minnesota Middle Finger, Ben San Del

Tim Hellendrung, John Middleton, and I opened Ben San Del's Minnesota Middle Finger last night to a sold-out house, robust laughter, and excellent reviews. It's been such an honor to work with these delightful guys, and I cannot wait to see how the rest of the run plays out. Do come!

Sat., Aug. 6, 8:30 pm Sun., Aug. 7, 5:30 pm Thur., Aug. 11, 10 pm Fri., Aug. 12, 4 pm Sat., Aug. 13, 7:30 pm

2010 in Review

End-of-year lists can be so tedious.  I know this.  And yet here we are.  Because the only thing more tedious than end-of-year lists is searching for some documentation of some thing that happened a year or two or three ago, and not being able to find anything about it because I was too lazy/tired/overjoyed/myopic/disassociated to actually write about it.  I therefore offer up this end-of-year list as a compendium of my professional shenanigans so that searching for them in the future won’t drive me crazy.  You’re welcome, Me. Be sure to thank me later. In 2010 I made my living in front of an audience and behind the mic.  And for that I am so deeply in awe.  So deeply grateful for my fortuity.  While our economy is not nearly as bad as 2009, it’s still in terrible disarray and record numbers of people are still unemployed.  Even so, I was able to make a modest living via my profession; a modest living that didn’t require me to engage in morally questionable behavior (the kind where one would accompany a raised eyebrow with ‘actress’ in air-quotes).

Without further ado, my performance highlights of 2010:



  • Began rehearsals for the Science Museum of Minnesota’s next exhibition – The Dead Sea Scrolls: Words That Changed the World, wherein we would perform a three-minute introductory monologue for visitors every 7.5 minutes.  In all honesty, it was mind-numbing, but the visitors were mostly appreciative.
  • Interviewed by Minnesota Public Radio’s Chris Roberts about my line-memorization techniques – ultimately compiled into a clever on-air story and accompanying slideshow with fellow actors Steven Epp, Mo Perry and Clarence Wethern.
  • The Big Oscar Crunch 2010 – wherein I try to see as many of the Oscar-nominated films as humanly possible before the awards ceremony.  The fun of doing it that way is not only seeing excellent movies, but actually feeling invested in more than just the red carpet.
  • Started rehearsals for Spring of Freedom/Summer of Feara new Iranian play by Ali G. Ravi , produced by Table Salt Productions.
  • VO gig for Carlson Companies – got to put Nurse Evelyn Marsden’s darling English accent to good use.


  • Devastated to drop out of Spring of Freedom/Summer of Fear due to a harrowing family crisis which, because it apparently wasn’t bad enough, led to a nasty case of shingles.  Yes, shingles.  Probably the worst three weeks of my adult life to date.
  • Called in by the lovely Barbara Shelton at Bab’s Casting to audition for a new WB pilot Mike and Molly.  The network was looking for someone 30 pounds overweight.  I was exactly that (not anymore, thanks to a newfound love of yoga), and so happily went in.  Between the script (and the eventual casting choice), it became quite clear that LA thinks 30 pounds overweight is the same thing as obese.  Surprising?  Not really.
  • Called in by the Guthrie Theater to audition for the role of Eunice in Streetcar Named Desire.  Almost missed the e-mail because I assumed it was Guthrie marketing spam and was about to delete it.  Didn’t recognize the sender’s name, though, so opened it.  Close call.
  • VOs for Nexxus demos/animatics.  These are voice-overs for a concept by the ad agency for the client.  If it gets approved by the client, the agency then films the spots.  Since I almost never watch commercial TV, I have no idea if these ever made it though the guess is no (especially since many of these were the same as, or similar to, the ones I did in April 2009).


  • VOs for Nexxus demos/animatics – two more sessions.
  • Public reading of Casa Cushman, a new work by NYC’s Tectonic Theater Project (the folks who brought you The Laramie Project, at the University of Minnesota Nolte Center.


  • Crickets. Both figurative and literal.  Aside from live science demonstrations at the Science Museum of Minnesota, it appears that I did nothing performance-related in May.  And I went camping.
  • On Tuesday, May 11, amongst of a jumble of scheduled meetings and things to do, I found written in my calendar, “Hell-cat Maggie and Slops McConnell.”  I have no idea what that means, but I think it’s funny, so thought I would share with anyone who is still reading by this point.  Kiss, kiss.

June More crickets.  Figurative.  See May.



  • 2010 Minnesota Fringe Festival, and my performance in Walking Shadow’s critically acclaimed See You Next Tuesday.  I was so excited to be back at the festival that I advance-purchased an Ultra Pass, with which I ended up only seeing three shows due to an emergency hospital visit and an emergency vet visit.  2010 was not turning out to be a great year for health.
  • VO spots (more, again) for Marketplace Events home shows with Ty Pennington – TV and Radio (listen).  Continued airings on HGTV and ABC.



  • Obscenely busy month that had almost nothing to do with performing.  Included business travel to San Francisco for continued work on behalf of the Science Museum of Minnesota for NISE Net (Nanoscale Informal Science Education Network), with a little leisure travel to San Diego and LA on the side.
  • No! Wait!  Because of my General Mills VOs in September, this is the month that I was required to join the Screen Actors’ Guild (SAG)!  That’s right, I got my SAG card in October.  October was not an actorly loss, after all.


  • Started rehearsals for a three-week, 30-hours/week workshop of Casa Cushman – in collaboration with NYC’s Tectonic Theater Project, choreographer Carl Flink, University of Minnesota Department of Theater Arts and Dance, a couple other U of M departments that I can’t recall at the moment, and The Playwrights’ Center.
  • Sent live the brand-spankin’-shiny-new


  • Performance of Casa Cushman at the Northrop Auditorium.  This was a wild ride, and at the end of it all, despite some crazy-cray-cray, it was kind of awesome.  And I kind of loved it.
  • VOs for General Mills (42 in total) for Progresso Light Soups, Yoplait and Yoplait Light Yogurts, and Big G Cereals national TV spots.  I just about died and went to heaven.
  • VOs for Marketplace Events Home Shows with Ty Pennington – third year running!
  • Authored and published a children’s book for NISE Net, Alice in Nanoland, which, as you read this, is being mailed to 200 informal science education institutions (science museums, children’s museums, etc.) across the nation in the 2011 NanoDays kits.  What a curious little experience that was.

And there we have it!  The months of 2010 demonstrate both feast and famine and average out to healthy; December being, by far, the most entertaining (well, for me, anyway).  I continue to stand, mouth agape, at the wondrous profession I have chosen and the beautiful trajectory it has taken thus far.  I cannot wait to see what delightful paths await!

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

See You Next Tuesday (and some parentheticals)

I have, yet again, been terribly remiss (what’s new, pussycat?). I am in a show (a show that I really enjoy being in) as part of the Minnesota Fringe Festival (a festival that I really enjoy being in) and I’ve thus far posted nothing about it here (a situation that I really don’t enjoy being in).  And we’ve only one performance left (Saturday! 5:30 pm!).  And it’s been wildly popular (and somewhat controversial), so it might be hard to get in (a good problem for us to have, but still a problem).  And we’re in a venue with three other wildly popular shows (hooray for the Mixed Blood!), so we’ll probably not get the Encore spot (*sniff*), and Saturday will be your last chance to see it (for really-really-real).  I know, I know (I know).

For the sake of accountability or posterity or searchability or general curiosity or perhaps just good old guilt, I present to you - See You Next Tuesday, a new play by Steve Moulds, presented by Walking Shadow Theatre Company at the 2010 Minnesota Fringe Festival.

Experience recap, reviews, and performance blunders to follow ().

(photo of Christine Weber and Sid Solomon by Dan Norman)

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.

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 -’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 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.



I ought to go back to my resume and actually verify this, but I’m pretty sure it’s been a decade since I’ve played a dramatic role in a dramatic play - Queen Gertrude in a gender-bent version of Hamlet in college, directed by my favorite old salt, the recently departed George Poletes.  I loved that man.  Alright, hang on, a decade?! - that really can’t be true (searching resume) No!  Wait!  I played the lead in Behind a Mask for Hardcover Theater in (searching internet) 2004.  Thank you, internets!  So it’s only been half a decade.  Phew.  And by the way, I loved those plays - period costumes, wooing men in order of societal importance, deception, intrigue - delightful nefariousness!

But to my point: half a decade?!  Good lord.  That Comedy, she is a jealous mistress.  So either I could frame my present production as dusting off an old photograph - a little brittle, a little yellowed; or I could frame this as the whatever-it-is-that-makes-some-wines-awesome-with-age awesomening.  The goal is the latter.  Regardless of frame, me doing drama = rare bird.  So come see.

You’ve two weekends filled with eight performances left.  Even a show on Halloween if you’re like me and dress up for a living, so don’t really think much of Halloween and only get in costume if people pay you.  Ooooooo.....apocaaaaaalypse......spooooooooky!

For tickets and show information, visit Table Salt Productions.  For a barrel of monkeys post-show, visit me.

Art and Fear and Having a Genius

Several months ago Jason Kottke made mention of a book titled Art and Fear.  One particular allegory in this book struck me deeply, and the sting of shock and self-recognition remains - the story goes thusly:

At the beginning of the semester, a pottery instructor divided his class into two halves.  Each student in the first half was going to be graded solely on volume – the instructor didn’t care about the quality of the pieces, he just wanted as many complete pieces as possible.  The other half of the class was going to be graded solely on quality – each student had the entire semester to complete one perfect piece.

At the end of the semester the students who were graded on quantity had multiple perfect and near-perfect pieces in their vast collections, while those who were graded on quality ended up with only mediocre and good results.  Those who were in the quantity group made mistakes, learned from them, refined their work, and kept producing.  Those who were in the quality group analyzed and planned and got stuck in their heads, and were ultimately paralyzed by their self-imposed restrictions (they didn’t want to waste time making a load of work and choosing the best from that – they needed to focus their energy solely on THE ONE).

Huh.  The quality group mentality sounds embarrassingly familiar.  Who doesn’t follow through on most of her artistic ideas for fear of failure?  Who doesn’t take risks and try new ventures for fear of failure?  Who stops the execution of ideas before she even starts them for fear of failure?  Me.  Me, me, me.  I am outright terrified of failing myself, terrified of learning that I'm not good at something I love; terrified of letting people bear witness to my weaknesses.  I understand full well that performing on stage is ephemeral and a living, breathing organism that changes based upon any number of factors – but in all endeavors, not just the stage, I want to take comfort that I worked hard and know my shit.  I want to be confident that I’ll succeed.

So if I can’t be assured that I’ll succeed, I should just stay home, right?  Artistic Paralysis - 1; Leigha - 0.  With that mentality, the art dies.  The ideas die.  It’s like shooting a foal because it can’t run immediately after it’s born.  Yes, my art is a little baby horse, and I kill multiple little baby horses daily.  Ideas that could fail?  chik-chik, ka-BLAM.  Wrong. So terribly wrong.

Thankfully, there are some artists who have made it beyond the killing fields and lived to tell about it.  There is hope beyond little baby idea carcasses.  Imagine that.

Elizabeth Gilbert, for one - the author of Eat, Pray, Love - gave a fascinating speech at this year’s TED Talks about changing our vocabulary from “being a genius” to “having a genius.”  It’s taking the pressure off of people and placing it on the work – no need for constant perfection, just a need to go forth and artistically multiply.  To be fruitful in one’s work, to try new approaches, to learn, to experiment, to revise, to explore, to revise again, to feel fulfilled in the process, and to let the work be what it is intended to be.  Nothing more, nothing less.

The director of my present production, Burned, is another.  His approach has lent itself beautifully to my tippy-toeing back to dramatic works - it’s been nearly a decade since I’ve done stagework with an overarching serious tone and this water is a wee bit chilly.  Sean’s advice to begin a renewal of trust - trust in myself and trust in the process, allowing the product find its own way, has been a gift.  It’s okay to be ugly, it’s okay to make grand mistakes, it’s okay to grope until I find my way.  The director is there to walk with me and encourage me in the right direction, to shape my work in a way that fits the vision.  My internal director can go suck it.