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Friday, August 20, 2010

Two weeks ago I walked into a tattoo parlor with my aunt and uncle, bared my shoulder to a woman I'd never met, and ended up with this.

This wasn't a snap decision. I'd been planning on getting this tattoo for almost two years. The idea came to me when I saw a video of one of my favorite youtube filmmakers getting his first tattoo. He explained that he saw his tattoo as a signature--a snapshot of sorts, of him at that age. A way to remember who he was and what was important to him when he got it.
How cool would that be? So I started considering options. What could I possibly choose to represent myself that would be timeless? It took me a long time and a lot of online gallery searching, but I finally came up with the above design.
The comedy and tragedy masks are appropriate for a couple of reasons. First and foremost is, of course, it's been a symbol of the theatre for centuries. And as I'm sure you know by now, the theatre is my life. But I think that the two faces--one suffused with joy, the other dissolved in grief--suit me for another reason. I tend to be a very cheerful, upbeat sort of person. I automatically see the good in any situation and I don't let life's curveballs throw my game. I'm also very upfront about my personality; I don't pretend to be someone I'm not. I can put on any mask you'd like when I'm playing a character onstage or writing a character in a book, but in the real world, I'm myself--in all my kooky, theatre-loving, insanely-optimistic, Christmas-Elf-disguised-as-a-human glory.
Whew. Okay, monologue over. Allow me to explain the other features of my tattoo.
The letters are in honor of my little brother, who I am super close with. I figure that a boyfriend or a husband (common names to put on a tattoo, yes?) can change, but my brother will be my brother forever. Plus I think it's sort of cool that he'll always be with me. :) The colors are also symbolic: blue is my favorite color, and orange is my bro's. The tattoo is on my left shoulder (my brother's a leftie) and he's planning on getting one on his right shoulder when he's 18 because I'm a rightie.
Do I have a tie-in with something artistic and creative-y here? No, not really. I just wanted to share this cool little moment with you guys. :P

Friday, August 6, 2010

Every little piece

The other day my (amazing!) aunt and I were discussing the world of the theatre. Well, maybe discussing is a bad choice of words here. I was babbling like the loony bin that I am, and she was managing to interject a question or comment every five minutes or so. But anyway, I digress. One of the things that came up was how much behind-the-scenes work goes into putting on a play. My aunt, who appreciated the theatre but never studied it in that much detail before I became involved, mentioned that she'd never really thought about all the effort, time, and investment that went into the sets, costumes, props, sound, lights, scene changes, production, direction, etc.
When you go to see a show, you're looking at the final product of many weeks' work. What you see is a well-oiled, finely-tuned machine. You see the actors. If you look carefully, you might spot a member of the crew. You might see the director giving the curtain speech. What you don't see is the costume designer sitting in the dressing room frantically mending the lead actor's jacket in time for act two. You don't see the light board operator hunched over his script, waiting for the next light shift. You don't see the stage manager poised in the wings to cue the scene changes.
Today we had our last performance for Alice in Wonderland. Starting this Tuesday, my acting will take a backseat to more technical pursuits: I've been asked to design props for the next show at my theatre, and I've got a stage managing gig and an assistant directing gig lined up for next year. I'm planning on auditioning for a Christmas show, but that's, of course, an uncertainty. I may get a part, but I may end up stage managing. We shall see.
My point here is, it's really easy for people to forget how important the non-acting components of theatre are. When I tell my non-theatre friends that I'm in a show, I get huge reactions. "Wow, that's great! Good for you! When are the performances? I'd love to come!" When I tell them I'm stage managing or running the sound, notsomuch. "That's interesting. Is anything else new?" When I'm in the cast, friends and family crawl out of the woodwork to see me perform. No one but my closest family members and most hardcore theatre friends show up when I'm on the crew.
Now, don't get me wrong. I realize it's much more fun for the people who love me to SEE me onstage in all my glory. But what non-theatre geeks don't always understand is that being on the crew is just as much of an investment. If I'm the stage manager, I have to attend every rehearsal and every performance, just like the actors. I don't have lines to learn, but I have scene changes and cues that I have to memorize and practice. And while I don't get to take a bow, the actors couldn't do their jobs without me backstage making sure the technical aspect runs smoothly.
Without production, lights, sound, costumes, sets, props, and direction, a play is left mostly to the audience's imagination. The acting is there, but it's left to the viewer to imagine the world the characters inhabit. With those components, the audience is automatically transported to wherever the playwright invisioned. All they have to do is sit back and let the actors tell the story.
If you're a theatre lover reading this, you already know the truth in my rant. If you aren't, well...consider yourself enlightened. :)