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

Archive for the month “July, 2013”

Chia Seeds, 21 Days and Wedding Dresses

Its tech week and this is my first blog post that I am attempting to write on my phone with the WordPress app. As we take our breaks and work on scenes I am reflecting on the ups and downs of this exhausting process. It never ceases to amaze me how even a perfectly run rehearsal process can fall prey to the tumultuous theatre tech gods. Time always is running out, props seem to be out to get us at times and our minds can be clear as crystal one minute and complete mush the next. But overall there is this unified sense of anticipation, excitement and pride, layered beneath the panic, fear and worry. We are making a living breathing story, bringing characters to life and lifting our voices in one of the oldest rituals, what a life!


“Chia, it’s not just for pets”
-Brigitte Mars


I have recenty discovered the “power” of Chia Seeds. I bought a little baggie from the bulk section at the grocery store and I am also hopelessly addicted to Kombucha drinks with Chia seeds. Everytime I perform in The Heart of Robin Hood I drink half a bottle before fight call and the other half at intermission. Chia has been called “runner’s food” because of the energy it provides.
My favorite recipe so far is:
– 5 heaping tablespoons of plain or honey yogurt
– 3 tablespoons of chia seeds
– A handful of dried cherries
Let sit in refrigerator for a few hours or overnight, then when ready to eat top with crushed pecans and enjoy!

* What is your favorite way to get energy?
* Is there a new food you have discovered recently?
* Do you have a Chia seed recipe?


     “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”
      -Dr. Seuss


My Black Monday Crew

This week I got the news that I was not offered a second season at OSF. The day that the acting company receives the email, with or without an offer, has been nicknamed Black Monday. On this day I planned an outing with Matt and another OSF actor. We picked two wineries to visit, had dinner and went bowling. Both of us got the news that we would not be returning for the 2014 season at the first winery. So we sadly toasted with a glass of delicious Cabernet Sauvingon and headed to the second winery. It wasn’t until later that night that I sat down on the couch and had a good cry. Then Matt and I walked to Safeway and he bought me flowers and the new Vanity Fair.

The next few days were hard, I was mopey and kept dwelling on the fact that I wouldn’t be returning to this actor’s paradise next season. I couldn’t enjoy the moment, I escaped into a book during the breaks at rehearsal and really didn’t talk much. Then after finishing a show I walked home with another OSF actor who gave me three great pieces of advice/insight: 1. Maybe you didn’t get this because next year you are supposed to have a wedding. 2. Buy some wedding magazines, start visualizing and go try on wedding dresses. 3. It takes the body 21 days, at least, to get over something and/or adjust to a new direction. What she said relieved me of my worry that I had to get over this fast and move on. She helped me realize that it’s okay to still be sad here and there, for a bit, but that there is so much to look forward to.

A few days later I decided to have friends over to our apartment. Before everyone showed up a dear friend was in the kitchen with me and he shared that he believed in saying Cheers to what may seem like bad news, in essence welcoming and embracing it. So he poured us a glass of Sauvingon Blanc and we toasted to my new change of plans. The little gathering was a success, we played celebrity, drank lot’s of wine and the downstairs neigbors had to ask us to quiet down.

Those few folks who I have shared the news with have all given great advice and all are in agreement that this is a “when one door closes another opens” type of situation. I am slowly understanding it as well, but still got about 13 outta my 21 days left…

* Have you received bad news over the phone?
* What has helped you overcome hard situations?
* Have you had a time where a bad situation led to a great one?

“To love someone deeply gives you strength. Being loved by.   someone deeply gives you courage.”
– Lao Tzu


My dear friend who gave me the advice about 21 days and getting focused on the wedding took me to look at dresses yesterday. She took me to lunch, shared stories about her wedding, we had sangria and wine and headed to David’s Bridal. I have already decided to use my mother’s wedding dress, seen above on the right. She bought it in Mexico and one of my Tia’s is going to help me alter it. (I made sure not to mention this to the wonderful girl who helped me with the dresses.)

I gave her a made up budget for my dress and she pulled about 6 choices. I have never felt more like royalty than I did that day. I fell in love with every dress! The best moments were when she would add the perfect veil to each dress. It was so surreal…

We work in a profession where we get to wear amazing costumes and make up, but this was a completely different. I could feel a shift in my focus, a clearness to what I am getting myself ready for. This simple gesture of taking me to lunch and then trying on dresses helped me with taking a huge step towards getting over the heartbreak of not getting an offer from OSF and instead embracing the moment which leads to our future.

Now I am ready to open my second show and embrace each moment of working here. I only have about 3 more months and I am going to live it up! I also have started to check out bridal magazines and collecting all the D.I.Y. tips and tricks because we are on a tight budget! I can’t wait to see what me and my Tia come up with for the wedding dress, and I am lucky to have a cousin that works in the bridal industry. Check out her amazing veils, hairpieces and jewlery HERE

* Do you have any wedding dress stories?
* Are there any tips and tricks you can share from your wedding?
* What do you like most/least about wedding planning?

A Broken Body, Strange Women & Chavela…

Photo of Young Frida (Taken from Google Images)

Photo of Young Frida
(Taken from Google Images)

Feliz Cumpleaños Frida Kahlo!

Today is Frida Kahlo‘s 106th birthday! I cannot pinpoint the exact time when I first encountered the story of Frida, or saw one of her paintings for the first time, she seems to have always been around me in spirit. Today as I write this blog I will use her words and art through out this post. Click HERE to watch a YouTube video with footage of Frida. Enjoy!


I am not sick. I am broken. But I am happy to be alive as long as I can paint.

~Frida Kahlo

Broken Column by Frida Kahlo

 At a young age Frida was involved in a Trolly Car accident. She suffered serious injuries as a result of the accident, including a broken spinal column, a broken collarbone, broken ribs, a broken pelvis, eleven fractures in her right leg, a crushed and dislocated right foot, and a dislocated shoulder. Also, an iron handrail pierced her abdomen and her uterus, compromising her reproductive capacity.

 When I first read about her injuries it struck me that I had two injuries similar to her, a broken pelvis and a dislocated shoulder. My pelvis was not broken in an accident however, it was necessary for it to be broken in three places for surgery. When I was 14 months old it was discovered that I had CHD (Congenital Hip Dysplasia) I underwent surgery at that age and wore a full body cast for many, many months. I remember none of this. However I remember clearly when I was 15 years old, just 3 days after my birthday undergoing a second surgery for the same problem. My hip was starting to dislocate again, slowly and painfully. The same orthopedic surgeon who performed my surgery as a baby performed the second surgery as well. I was young and able to recover within a few months and was playing sports the following season. Many thanks to the homeopathic treatment of Traumel. Several years later I had arthroscopic surgery on my shoulder after dislocating it 7 times. A few years ago I visited an Orthopedic surgeon about my knees which I had dislocated a few times as a child and now suffered from chronic pain. After an x-ray it was discovered that I do not have the usual cradle behind the patella that everyone else has, my cradle is flat. As a result the cartilage behind the knee cap is not properly polished smooth and causes creaks and cracks when I bend. Just last year I woke up with a frozen neck and an x-ray was taken by my chiropractor. It was the first time I had seen the bones of my upper spine, and there is no natural curve! It could have been the result of a car accident a few months before or just wear and tear over time.

It is quite natural for me to be angry at times about the “misfortune” of my broken body. Yet I try to remind myself that if Frida was able to survive her injuries, as well as Polio at a young age, and still produce stunning and heartbreaking art, so can I. She is my patron saint of my broken body. I have a lot of work to do. I visit a chiropractor weekly, I try to keep up with my leg extensions and simple strengthening exercises. Working on the Elizabethan Stage at OSF is quite the challenge with all the running up and down stairs and ramps. Every night I am done with a run of The Heart of Robin Hood I thank my saints and my body for helping me make it through unscathed. I am able to forget about my chronic pain and injuries when I am on stage, and like Frida said, I am not sick, I am broken, but I am happy to be alive as long as I can create.

* Have you ever been in an accident?

* Is there an artist in your life who inspires your work?

* What are your tips for healing and getting stronger?


I used to think I was the strangest person in the world but then I thought there are so many people in the world, there must be someone just like me who feels bizarre and flawed in the same ways I do. I would imagine her, and imagine that she must be out there thinking of me, too. Well, I hope that if you are out there and read this and know that, yes, it’s true I’m here, and I’m just as strange as you.

~Frida Kahlo

Photo created by Robert Toren

Photo created by Robert Toren

I visited Frida Kahlo’s Casa Azul for the first time in 2007. As I walked from room to room I imagined her going about her daily routines, entertaining guests, relaxing with Diego, I imagined her living. For me and my comadres who work in creation and activism she lives in our hearts and in our artistic expression and raised voices. We may or may not know why we do what we do, but the more we meet others like us we know that we are on the right path.

We are deep in rehearsals for The Tenth Muse, my second show at OSF and the world premier play by Tanya Saracho. This is an all female cast, written by a Latina and directed by a Latina, Laurie Woolery. I am in the room with some of the most amazing, interesting and strange  women! Judith-Marie Bergan, Wilma BonetAlejandra Escalante, Vivia Font, Sofia Jean Gomez, Katie Medford, Avery Proctor, Vilma Silva and Shadee Vossoughi.  And we are all here bizzare and flawed and on a journey of creation and storytelling.

As we explore a time when women were not encouraged to raise their voice, create and/or think for themselves we also discover that there are still those issues today. The link between past struggles and current ones is a strong one. Laurie used the following quote in her director’s notes for the OSF program: ” I have the right of education. I have the right to play. I have the right to sing… I have the right to speak up.” Malala Yousafzai. This young women fights for a right to education despite being shot and living in a culture that does not embrace the power of the female mind and imagination. The ten of us in the cast of this play, along with our director and playwright are fighting the same fight, using voice and text as weapons. We are conjuring the spirit of Sor Juana Ines de La Cruz in the hearts and minds of ourselves and then hope to pass it along to all the women and girls that come to see the show. We want to say “we are here and so are you and we have a right to be here, we have a right to use our voice, and we have a right to create and imagine!”

* Have you ever been silenced by anyone?

* What forms of creativity do you like?

* Where have you seen injustice towards women?


“Nothing is worth more than laughter.It is strength to laugh and to abandon oneself, to be light.”

~Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo & Chavela Vargas

Frida Kahlo & Chavela Vargas

As I sat down to write this post I put on the music of Chavela Vargas, one of the most heartbreaking and powerful voices I have ever heard. I discovered Chavela when I started working with Las Meganenas in Albuquerque, NM on the piece Rio De Lagrimas. One of Chavela’s most well known songs is La Llorona, heard HERE.

Chavela broke a lot of the “rules” that applied to women in her time, she wore pants, smoke cigars, drank a lot, swore and was a rumored womanizer. One of her rumored lovers was that of Frida Kahlo. I can only imagine the passionate and intimate moments between these two groundbreaking artists. This photo is one of my favorites of Frida and Chavela. It reminds me of those times when laughter breaks out and is unable to be contained, the joy of tears flowing from a free mind and open heart. During the production of Still Life by Harry Clark, I played Frida Kahlo and listened to Chavela often to invoke the spirit of Frida. While playing Medea in Bruja by Luis Alfaro I also listened to Chavela. She explores love, pain, tragedy, hope, her songs recount lost loves, the struggle with life, and the joy of loving another’s soul. One of my favorites El Ultimo Trago can be heard HERE.

I recently found a very good quality YouTube video of Chavela in concert, I was searching for videos of her concerts after she passed away. I cried many, many tears for her, she and my Tia Lala were the focus of my Dia De Los Muertos altar in October. If you have a moment, click HERE and enjoy an hour long concert by Chavela. There is a great introduction as well as clips of Chavela talking about life, truth and herself. I wish I could have seen her live in concert before she passed, but her music lives on!

* What musician(s) do find to be heartbreaking?

* Do you have a favorite song that helps you with your work?

* When was the last time you had a really good laugh?

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