Stepping into Magic: an actor's journey…

"Be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them" ~William Shakespeare

Opening Night, other thoughts and some special news!

Sabina Zuniga Varela as Medea in “Bruja” by Luis Alfaro at Magic Theatre (Photo: Jennifer Reiley).

*** The following post is from June 7, 2012. I had planned on posting while in San Francisco, but took a blog break. I decided to get back on the blog wagon and would like to share it with you all! Enjoy 🙂

Its Official! Bruja is opened! The journey to last night has been full of hard work, exhaustion, laughter and tears. Opening night is such a beast unto its own. I have always loved the ritual of it… The opening night gifts and cards and flowers. The buzz of the audience before the show starts, the energetic flow of the storytelling and the final breath of the curtain call. I was honored that my parents made the trip from New Mexico to share this moment. The Magic Theatre put on a wonderful party with Pupusas, Margaritas and some incredible words from the director Loretta Greco and playwright Luis Alfaro. What was wonderful was that we all had plates of food waiting for us in the dressing rooms so we could take a moment to nourish ourselves and then head out into the crowd to smile and shake hands and enjoy a cocktail. Each of us were given a beautiful framed production photo and a bouquet of flowers from the staff. These folks at the Magic are amazing! And now the work continues….

Sabina Zuniga Varela as Medea in “Bruja” at Magic Theatre (Photo: Jennifer Reiley).

BODY: There is a wonderful moment that happens in my stomach about 5 minutes before places. Those colorful and playful butterflies open their wings and begin to dance. I start to remember certain warm-ups that are helpful to repeat: the loosening of my jaw, taking large pleasurable breaths, stretching my tongue, blowing through my lips, humming and releasing sound vibration. I give everyone in the cast a hug and feel their energy with me as I walk through the black curtain between the dressing rooms and backstage. I have a nice long walk behind the set to get to where I need to stand and wait for my cue light. I take the two large palm leaves in my hands, close my eyes and drop my thoughts out of my head and into my belly. There is a beautiful sound that starts just before the lights go out and I get into place, its a very soothing tone and as soon as I can hear it and feel it I open my eyes and wait for that little blue cue light to turn off. I enter in black and find my little glow tape spike mark and reach my arms to the heavens. Through out the play I am constantly reminding myself to relax my jaw and belly so that my emotions have a free and open instrument to roam through. When dealing with emotions such as anger and heartbreak it is easy to tighten up, so its an interesting battle to free those feelings with a relaxed body… I am thankful for my training from Natsuko Ohama, her voice is always in my body, giving me little reminders and I picture her laughter and smiling face often. My favorite feeling is when my voice is coming from deep within, connected to a lower place in my body. I can feel the vibration of it coming out of my belly button. Such a difference from when I chose to use a higher register and feel that coming out from in between my eyebrows. I picture those butterflies that start to dance in my belly just before I go on stage and I feel them flying out of my mouth and into the magical world of our story. When I release words of love and joy they are bright yellow and white and they dance lightly and fast along the air zipping around in random and fanciful patterns. As I start to speak words of anger, jealousy and revenge, the wings change to red and black and their dance becomes heavier and more direct… (*** Recently I was interviewed about this role and remembered this entry when talking about the physical and emotional aspects of this part!)

MIND: Recently I had to put myself on tape for an audition. This was the first time I auditioned for a theatre piece via video. It was so great to try out for a role again. Since being in San Francisco I have sort of felt like I am on vacation. I am working a lot for the show of course, but at the end of the day I am out of town and not in my LA environment. The auditions took place in Los Angeles and there was no way that I could make a flight that would get me back in time for rehearsals. So I decided to ask the casting folks if they would be willing to see a taped audition. Luckily the director was interested and wanted me to come for callbacks. But the same problem, no way I could fly to LA in the middle of previews. So my manager talked to the casting folks and asked if they wanted to try a Skype callback. Instead the director chose to call me directly and give me some feedback and direction then asked that I tape myself again. It was so weird to be auditioning for a camera and not being able to feel the people in the room and get a read on the energy of the audition. It was also freeing because of that. The second go round I was lucky to have my cast mate Sean San Jose, who plays opposite me as Jason, read with me. So keep those fingers crossed and the candles lit….! (*** I did not get the role but was told that they loved my audition!)

This photo was taken by Matt’s aunt when we were hiking   Denali National Park in Alaska.


SOUL: The night before I flew to San Francisco my honey Matt Andrade popped the question. That’s right! I’m engaged! It was such a crazy feeling to be so happy and excited and then have to hop on a plane and fly away from my Fiance… I ordered a glass of champagne on my flight from LAX to SFO and could feel my cheeks start to burn from all my smiling. I called my parents when I got to my apartment in San Francisco and as we started listing off everyone in the family and friends that I wanted to call and break the news, I realized that the announcement was going to take a lot of energy and I needed to focus on the role of MEDEA. With wonderful understanding from Matt and our parents, we kept a lid on the news for about a month. I rehearsed and rehearsed and my lovely stage manager would wear my ring for me while I was working. Finally we had started running the show and I felt like I was in a place where I could tackle the phone list. So I spent Memorial Day on the phone from Noon till 7pm with a bottle of wine and a phone list. It was wonderful to have excited and loving conversations with my family members and close friends. We haven’t set a date, since neither of us know what we are doing one month to the next. In fact Matt will be working in Dallas for the next few months and I may head out east! What we do know is that we are ready for this adventure in to the wilderness and the ceremony will take place in our hometown of Albuquerque. Just when I thought my life was pretty darn sweet, Matt went ahead and made it that much better… (*** We still have not set a date! We are hopeful for September of 2014, in 2013 we will be moving to Ashland, OR for 7 months while I work for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.)


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