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 “March, 2014”

“Still it cried ‘Sleep no more!’ to all the house: ‘Glamis hath murder’d sleep, and therefore Cawdor shall sleep no more,—Macbeth shall sleep no more!” ― William Shakespeare, Macbeth

I treated myself to the Sleep No More experience last night, complete with dinner and live jazz at The Heath restaurant before the show. I turned off my phone for the entire night and soaked in every detail. The food was phenomenal, the service was excellent and the experience began. As soon as it was over I wanted to do it again. If ever in the NYC area you must treat yourself.

I jotted down random thoughts in my journal before and after the show and they turned into this:

 

As the white handkerchief roamed the ceiling

the pickle pot

(turnip, beet, okra, potato, pepper, strawberries, carrots and onions)

danced in my mouth.

Tossing my head back with a bubbly giggle I notice the blackbird suspended.

I hate to see her go but I love to watch her leave,

in her white silk dress, arm lingering on necks.

Here we go on a quest to remember, forget, follow and lead,

maybe find the handkerchief.

The band plays on.

A story is told through the music in the bathroom floor

***

Lost children and streets of bricks and dust.

Bathtub water browned with blood.

Hanging herbs and chalk on the walls.

Paper wrapped in red string.

Letters strewn on the floor 

and

white masked shufflers bumping shoulders and stepping on toes.

The stairs flirted with my dress when I descended,

back to where I began when

“you will do best here” 

was whispered in my ear by the elevator conductor.

Fleeting moments of judgement crossed my eyes when I saw grasped hands.

Rooms and corners left undiscovered,

Drawers and books left untouched.

A ring placed on a finger and so much lipstick.

Out damn spot began with twisted arms and backs slammed against walls.

Lady M, black in a gold sequin dress, flings herself at the window.

The hanging man.

Haze fills the banquet table,

hands and lips lock.

The noose slips around the night and we are done. 

 

Mom + Manhattan = A Magical Birthday Week!

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On Monday my Mom arrived to NYC! I made reservations for dinner at T-Bar, which was only a couple blocks away. I found the restaurant on Open Table (Of which I am a big fan, I like collecting the points and am close to getting the $50 dinning check!) We were seated at a table with a view of the bustling street and promptly ordered two gin martini’s. We had a few things on the list of what to do for the week and agreed to just let the city take us where she wanted. My Mom had an idea to take abstract photos each day with her camera. I was going to suggest heading to McKeown’s, a local Irish Pub, after dinner, but I thought she would be too tired. The waiter stopped by to ask if we wanted dessert and my Mom waved him away explaining that we had to go to the Irish Bar to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, great minds think alike! We walked over and enjoyed some Jameson with a toast to our Irish ancestry before heading home for the night.

Tuesday we decided to have an easy day. I suggested seeing a movie and remembered that Philomena was playing at The Paris theatre. I made us breakfast, we got ready and walked along Central Park to the theater. It was a chilly day and my mom was trying to remember the last time she had been in NYC during the winter time. Recently a lot of New York folks have been sharing how exhausted they are of the cold weather. Over the past few weeks there have been a couple sunny and slightly warm days but then a really cold day will hit. I did see some robins poking around in the park a few days prior, but they seemed to have disappeared again. We arrived at the theater just in time. It was an incredible film, Judi Dench brought a harrowing simplicity to her role and the story, based on true events, left me with a bad taste in my mouth, in a good way. We left the theatre and chatted about the film the whole way to the restaurant we found on Yelp. Knowing we wanted Italian food and didn’t want to spend too much money, I did a search on the Yelp app for $$ places that were near our area. We chose Pazza Notte and it was perfect. They had a martini happy hour, 2 for 1, and their small plates were decadent. Prosciutto wrapped asparagus, baked clams and arancini (fried rice balls), homemade linguini with pesto and a beet salad. We then wandered down 5th avenue back towards the apartment crossed over to Lexington, checking out all the little restaurants and store fronts. We took a bunch of abstract photos on our walk, noticing interesting buildings and details on churches. When we got home Mom watched Chicago Fire and I caught up on The Walking Dead.

Wednesday we visited the Guggenheim Museum, on a friends suggestion, to see the Carey Mae Weems exhibit. The show included photographs, writings and videos that covered three decades of her work. Her work was very personal and she appeared in almost all of her photos. One particular set of photos chronicled the rise and fall of a relationship, with large print black and white photos and a written narrative that accompanied the 14 framed pictures. After completing the exhibit we both got a bit hungry and decided to check out The Wright restaurant in the museum and were delighted to split a very good burger and salad. We then took a train to Grand Central Station. It began to rain slightly and we headed to the crowded subway during rush hour. Arriving at the main terminal we immediately gazed upwards at the gorgeous blue ceiling with the constellations painted in gold. We wandered around the food court, took a look at the market and stumbled upon the NY Transit Museum and Gallery. Their current exhibit was a collection quilts that were created in a competition for the centennial celebration of the Grand Central in 2013, one of the quilts was made by someone in New Mexico! After sitting for a moment and regaining our strength, we left the station and headed out to find a rooftop bar with a view of the city. On our way we saw an incredible sight while waiting at a crosswalk. A woman, on rollerblades, went against traffic, in the rain, with large plastic bags filled with cans and bottles. She wasn’t going very fast and it was amazing how determined she was, as my mom noticed, you could see it not only in her face but in her whole body. I snapped a quick photo of her before she disappeared down the street as we got the signal to cross. We ended up at Bookmarks in the Library Hotel. The room with the view was packed but the hostess kept an eye out for us as we sat at the bar, and soon we were able to sit on a couch and watch the rain come down on the on the city. The night before we had picked up a couple menus of places to eat along Lexington and decided on a spot for dinner. We chose a french restaurant called Sel et Poivre and called up my Mom’s long time friend Phyllis to meet us for a tasty dinner with some great wine and excellent service.

Thursday was my birthday and the first day of Spring! We began with lunch at The Boathouse with some friends of my Mother’s. The restaurant was very reasonable and the crab cakes are delicious! It was a lovely day, the sun shined on the lake through the clouds and there were loons fishing and swimming in the lake. Afterwards we walked over to the Frick Museum and were treated to a mini tour by my Mother’s friend who worked there part time. I found my favorite piece in the current exhibit of the Hill Collection of Bronze sculptures.  “The Rape of Sabine” by Antonio Sussini and it was breathtaking. It was only 23 and 1/4 inches tall, but I could look at it forever. It was set up so you could look at it from 360 degrees and at each angle was a different story. In the gift shop my mother bought me the book New York Stories, a collection of short stories by various writers on the city of New York. We went home for a nap then got ready for dinner at Bella Luna with Phyllis. The food was very good, the best clams and linguini I have tasted in a long time. The waiter treated each of us to a glass of limoncello to end the meal. I hugged Phyllis goodbye and put my mom in a cab home and headed to Shalel Lounge, a little Morrocan basement bar I found on Yelp, to meet up with a few NYC friends to celebrate. It was a great group of folks who showed up, a friend from NM, one from USC, friends from Dallas and Oregon. We had a nice little table in a stone alcove, we had drinks, ordered dessert and I blew out my 3rd candle of the night. (That wish better come true!) Two of my friends headed with me to the Irish Pub near my neighborhood and we ended the night with a few more drinks, some intense people watching and a little bit of dancing to the music on the Jukebox.

Friday was my Mom’s last day in the city. We had a lunch planned with her friend Steven Kasher who has a photography gallery in Chelsea. We checked out the current exhibit, Jerome Libeling: A Matter of Life and Death, whose photos reminded me of Dorthea Lang.  Steven then took us to lunch at The Trestle on Tenth, the rigatoni was amazing! We said goodbye to Stephen and wandered Chelsea and visited the Aperture Gallery which has a great selection of photography books in addition to a small gallery. I was fascinated by one book in particular: Subway by Bruce Davidson. It is a collection of photos taken in the 80’s on NYC subways and stations, stunning images. We took more of our abstract photos along our way to Penn Station to meet another friend of my Mom’s who happened to be in town for the weekend. We covered a lot of ground and were happy to sit and have a cocktail to catch up. We had tickets for INTAR’S production of “Adoration of the Old Woman” by Jose Rivera at 8pm and had some time to kill after saying goodbye to our friend. We fought through the crowds on 35th street and headed to 6th avenue to catch a bus to the Plaza Hotel. My mom had suggested that it would be fun to go to Tiffany’s to look at wedding bands which was right across the street from the hotel. She was right it was fun! The woman was super helpful and taught me a lot about different settings and styles. She probably knew I wasn’t someone who could even imagine purchasing a ring from there, but she gracefully suggested a number of rings, helped me find styles that I preferred and handed me a card with all of my favorite selections in case I should return with a final decision. We had a couple of drinks at the Plaza before hopping in a cab to the theater. We were a few minutes late but they were wonderful about seating us in between the first and second scene. It was a hysterical, deep, moving and honest journey. Jose Rivera’s words were like honey and the acting was spot on. The frosting on the cake was the collection of talented audience members that were in attendance. Tanya Saracho was in the audience with the cast of HBO’s new show LOOKING and Jose Rivera was there as well! My mom and I hung out after the play to meet and greet with the cast of the show, the cast of Looking, and the Artistic Director Lou Moreno. Everyone was warm and friendly and it was an honor to have been there that evening. Finally, after saying our goodbyes we caught a cab and went home so my mom could get some rest for her long trip the next day. We had been invited to drinks with the folks we met that night, but we were both exhausted!

Saturday morning we waited for her car service to arrive and off she went back to New Mexico. I was sad to see her go, it was so much fun to be with her in this city. When I was little I came to this N.Y. a lot with my Mom and have memories of the museums, Central Park and the subways. I’m so happy we got to celebrate together and explore this place again. That night I headed out to the Mercury Lounge to meet up with Beto O’Byrne, a playwright/director and graduate of the USC MFA in playwrighting program and his girlfriend Meropi Peponides, a dramaturge, writer and producer to listen to some live music. The two bands we caught were Ruben and the Dark and The Darcy’s. I realized how much I missed hearing live music and both bands were fantastic.

Sunday morning I researched rush policies for NYC theaters and decided to try and get a ticket for Antony and Cleopatra at The Public. Their policy is to get there two hours before curtain and I lucked out and got a ticket for closing night! Since I had some time before the show I looked up a place to eat on Yelp and found Wise Men. It was a nice little dark bar with a good menu and reasonable prices very close to the theater. The show was beautifully directed and acted, I got a little confused in the story (I had never read this one) but was most taken by the love story between the titular characters and was intrigued by Caesar’s journey. I snuck down to the second row during intermission where I had a great view of the last image of the play, which still sticks in my mind. For a night cap I headed over to the local Irish Bar in my neighborhood but they were closing early for renovations and recommended that I walk a few blocks up to Doc Watson’s. They had live traditional Irish music playing and the bartenders were awesome.

Monday I had the pleasure of a leisurely lunch and pot of tea with my friend Stephanie Swirsky from USC. She is living near my area and suggested we go to Alice’s Tea Cup. It was a super cute little place with a great menu and a bajillion types of tea. That evening I attended a staged reading of “WALL, BALL, SUMMER AND FALL” by Daniel John Kelley directed by my friend Alex Correia who I met in Oregon when his assistant directed The Heart of Robin Hood at OSF. It was an interesting story about searching for one’s passion, there was one character that was running from something and another who was standing deeply still in something else. I love staged readings, hearing them and performing them. I enjoy the exercise my imagination gets when creating the world of the play. Afterwards I helped them get 10 music stands down an elevator and into a cab to return to the rental office. We stopped at Rumours Irish Pub for a very good burger and beers to toast to their creativity.

Today marks one week left that I have in this city, and Gloria Steinem’s 80th birthday! I am trying to pack in as much as I can in these last days. It was a wonderful birthday week full of awesome Mom time, great food, loving friends, wonderful art and long walks. I look forward to what NYC wants to show me this week, she has a way of providing great adventure if one is open, positive and aware.

“I remember walking across Sixty-second Street one twilight that first spring, or the second spring, they were all alike for a while. I was late to meet someone but I stopped at Lexington Avenue and bought a peach and stood on the corner eating it and knew that I had come out out of the West and reached the mirage. I could taste the peach and feel the soft air blowing from a subway grating on my legs and I could smell lilac and garbage and expensive perfume and I knew that it would cost something sooner or later — because I did not belong there, did not come from there — but when you are twenty-two or twenty-three, you figure that later you will have a high emotional balance, and be able to pay whatever it costs. I still believed in possibilities then, still had the sense, so peculiar to New York, that something extraordinary would happen any minute, any day, any month.”

~Joan Didion

New York Vintage - Lower Manhattan skyline looking northwest from Brooklyn. June 1948. Photo Andreas Feininger.

New York Vintage – Lower Manhattan skyline looking northwest from Brooklyn. June 1948. Photo Andreas Feininger.

 

 

Multi-Media Magic, Week 2 in NYC!

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This week was filled with a robust variety of events. From puppets to panels, to musicals and plays. I was in the city center, the lower east side, the lower west side, and the upper east. Topics included veterans, artist in NYC, vampires, boxers and more. I find it amazing how creative people can be, even when serving a 1/2 dozen oysters on a decorated tray of ice. We are creative beings and exposing ourselves to the variety of expression only expands our imagination and drive. Below is a mini play by play of the great events I attended. Enjoy!

Tuesday night I had the pleasure of attending the 40th Anniversary of the award winning project FREE TO BE YOU AND ME at the Paley Center. I grew up on this book and audio tape that was created by Marlo Thomas and many others. She shared how she wanted to make a record for her niece that defied the gender and racial stereyotypes found in most childrens books at that time, the mid 70’s, and the result was this collaborative project that went on to win an Emmy for Outstanding Children’s Programming. Marlo and Gloria Steinem Co-moderated the event and sat on stage with Alan Alda, Rosie Grier and Carole Hart. In the audience were numerous members who contributed to writing the music, performing, producing, and so much more. It was not only a celebration of the project but from the hugs and smiles between these creative beings it was a reunion as well. Many of them hadn’t seen each other in years. In between the panel, a clip of which can be seen HERE, they showed videos of the songs that were part of the televised special of this project that aired on ABC in 1974. At the end of the evening we all sang the title song “Free to Be You and Me” while the panelists held hands and smiled at this moment that recognized the work that they did and the call for more work like this to be done for the future generations. I was teary while singing the words, part of it was happy tears for being of a generation that was raised on this project and another part was frustrated tears because there is so much more work to do. I use this book in my teaching, the tape and the stories, and I hope that we continue to spread the message of love, equality, independence and critical thinking that was shared in this project.

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Alan Alda, Rosie Grier and Carole Hart, Gloria Steinem & Marlo Thomas

Wednesday night I attended the NYC screening & after party for the new Jim Jarmush film ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE starring Tilda Swinton. It was a beautiful and surprisingly funny love story that takes place between Detroit and Tangiers.(I recently finished all 6 seasons of True Blood and was happy to be back in the world of Vampire.) They myths and history of this dangerouly beautiful creature has always fascinated me. I have the black and white Nosfuratu on VHS and still love watching Interview with a Vampire. The music in the film was haunting, especially in the opening shot. After the show I got the nerve to ask Isiah Whitlock Jr. if he wanted to share a cab to the after party. I had seen him arrive to the theater when he sat in my row. When the film ended I was looking up directions to the party and as we both stepped outside we were hit with wind and rain. We hailed a cab and talked theater on the drive to Chalk Point Kitchen/The Handy Liquor Bar (opening officially in April.) Once inside the dark bar below we were all lit up every once in a while by the bright flashes of the cameras pointed at Tilda and Jim. I was on my own so I found a great spot by the bar to people watch. Finally, after the crowd thinned a little, I gathered my courage to go up to Tilda and thank her for her work. She was stunning in person and so gracious. Towards the end of the night the general manager invited me up partake in the family dinner with the employees in the restaurant. It was a fabulous NYC evening!

Thursday was a fantastic Opening Night of the new musical ROCKY with a dear colleage from USC. She was able to get free tickets and invited me as her date. There was the usual star watching, Wesley Snipes, Sylvester Stallone, Bobby Canavale, and plenty of other folks who looked very important surrounded by fans. The show was a complete spectacle! The stage was moving for every scene, they flew the boxing ring in and out of the theater and at the end the theatre was turned into a stadium. However, for all the spectacle the book and a few of the songs were really lacking. The tag line “Love Wins” is on the front of the theater and I always loved the story between Adrian and Rocky. While chatting over some great Thai food at Yum Yum on 9th street my friend shared that she felt like it was more of a love story between Rocky and Boxing rather than between Rocky and Adrian. It’s too bad because the girl playing Adrian, Margo Seibert, was fantastic. It was her Broadway debut! It is amazing to be reminded of the big and huge magic that can be created in Broadway musicals.

Friday night was a second attempt at seeing the Lone Wolf Tribe’s Hobo Grunt Cycle at Dixon Place. However, after 20 minutes into the show the light board malfunctioned and the show had to be stopped. Discouraged about not seeing the full production my companion and I stopped at Lombardi’s for pizza and a couple of glasses of Malbec. During our conversation she shared that her daughter’s name was a combination of my mother‘s name and Ella Baker. I never knew this and now really understand how deep her relationship with my mother is. After dinner we walked together to the metro and she gave me a very valuable piece of advice. When riding the trains late at night it is best to head to the middle of the train, where you see the signs for “Boarding Area” and you can find a thin and long rectangular board hanging towards the tracks with black and white stripes along with T.V. monitors. This is where the exact middle of the trains are. There is a conductor that has to wave at the monitors to signal that the train has stopped at the proper distance. Boarding the train here secures that you are near a conductor and is safer for riding at night. Great to get tips from the locals!

Saturday was a full and crazy day, no surprise since it was not only a full moon, but the Ides of March to boot! It began with a matinee performance of The Architecure of Becoming presented by the Women’s Project Theater. It was a beautiful tribute to New York’s City Center space. I enjoyed the moments that took me back in time and the acting was phenomenal. I then hopped the train to the lower east side and wandered around Little Italy and Chinatown, eventually ending up at Sel Rrose for raw oyster happy hour and a wonderful glass of wine. I then ventured back to Dixon Place to catch the final performance of the Hobo Grunt Cycle. I invited a great friend who, I met at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and with the “third time’s a charm” luck we were able to see the whole performance. (Their projector glitched up during the beginning of the show, but luckily it continued without a hitch!) It was very moving and the puppetry was beautiful. Afterwards we caught up over drinks and I dragged him down to Hell’s Kitchen to meet my New Mexico friend and introduced him to Pickle Backs. The night ended in a splendid & hazy cab ride home!

Sunday was a venture into Greenwich Village with a relative who had lived in the area many years before. We first wandered through Washington Square Park where we watched some folks play chess, one man showed off his trained pigeon and another was playing classical music on a grand piano. (How did he get it there?!) We made a circle around the park and landed at Meskerem for some great Ethiopian food. Afterwards we wandered the streets stumbling upon an indoor market and a little coffee shop for some tea and espresso. She walked me back to the train and we said our goodbyes, a lovely visit for us both. I returned home, exhausted from the week and binged on T.V. I completed the first season of True Detective, caught up on Parenthood, and began season 2 of VEEP.

Monday morning I woke up and decided to walk a few blocks to catch a glimpse of the St. Patrick’s Day parade. I was on the fence because of the controversy surrounding the parade. Even the new Mayor, Bill De Blasio, refused to march because of the parade’s restrictions that don’t allow LGBT members march openly. However, I was only a few blocks away and despite the controversy and freezing weather I went for it. The attendance in my area was very thin and the parade was a bit painful to watch because everyone looked freezing, but when the bagpipes would come by it warmed my heart. I then headed to the Food Emporium to stock up on provisions for my mom’s visit for my birthday week. She arrived at 7:30pm and we cleaned up and went to dinner. After a couple of martinis and a great dinner at T-Bar the waiter came by to offer dessert, but my mom waved him away explaining that we had to stop by the local Irish bar before heading home. (I was going to suggest it before we left, but I thought she might be exhausted from a day of traveling, she beat me to it). So off we walked to McKeown’s in the hopes that is wasn’t too rambunctious on a St. Patrick’s Day night. My usual bartender was there and he proceeded to fill our cups with Jameson and give us shamrock tattoos. We struck up a few conversations, toasted to our Irish ancestors, enjoyed the music and then stumbled home.

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This next week is going to be full of exploring the old parts of NYC my mom and I know and love as well uncovering new jewels within this city. We have decided to take abstract photos when the mood strikes and maybe make another calendar for Christmas. It’s wonderful having her here and I look forward to the fun (a.k.a. trouble) we will get into as well as celebrating my birthday on the first day of spring!

Let the NYC magic continue…

Seven days of Magic

Clockwise: All The Way Marquee @ Neil Simon Theater, Bethesda Fountain, Me and Phyllis, A Pickle Back, Cellist playing Bach Cello Suit, Me with Bob and Janet Moses.

Clockwise: All The Way Marqis @ Neil Simon Theater, Bethesda Fountain, Me and Phyllis, A Pickle Back, Cellist playing Bach Cello Suit, Me with Bob and Janet Moses.

A week ago I was frantically packing up my temporary home in Dallas, TX after closing Oedipus El Rey at the Dallas Theater Center. My head was a little groggy from the final Sunday night with the DTC crew at The Lakewood Landing, the favorite dive bar. Then I was off in a plane to New York City, a city I hadn’t visited since 2003.

I arrived on a cloudy, chilly day and was thrilled to be picked up by a great car service, Dial 7, that was recommended by my NY born and bred uncle. Within minutes of collecting my baggage a beautiful Lincoln MKT pulled up and whisked me into the city. They dropped me off on a narrow street and I set foot in Manhattan. I found the apartment where I will be living for the next three weeks and entered into a magical week.

First and foremost the magic began with my roommate. My mother, Maria Varela, has many amazing people in her life that I have been fortunate to meet. Robert Redford, Sonia Braga, Moctezuma Esparza, Sandra Cisneros, Luis Alfaro, Wynona LaDuke, Judy Richardson, Charlie Cobb, to name a bunch! The list goes on of the many artists, writer, activists, organizers and in general fascinating people that my mother has worked with, shared stories with and broken bread with. This time I am blessed to get to know, and share a home with Gloria Steinem.

Her home is filled with books, gorgeous textiles and framed magazine covers, photos and letters. I settled into my room and wandered around the home she has been in since 1968. Just yesterday she was sitting down with Abena Busia and Ruchira Gupta recalling the “dreadful democratic convention” of 1968 that always reminds her how long she has been living in her home. The desk in my room is painted with peacock feathers, a much loved personal totem for me, and behind me is a vase filled with peacock feathers. I believe in magic and I most definitely believe in signs, and I felt immediately that I was meant to be here in this moment.

My first night I found a fantastic Italian Restaurant, Il Ristorante Rosi, in the neighborhood and sat down for a gin martini, followed by the best beet salad I had ever had, and then a bold red wine with my short rib pasta dish. I met a few locals and shared my story of traveling here for a month to get my feet wet, see theater and celebrate my birthday. I received many well wishes and good lucks. Later that night Gloria arrived home from an event out of town, and even though it was past midnight, we stayed up talking about everything from elephants, to the Oscars, to La Malinche and beyond.

The second night I met my aunt and uncle at Union Square so he could give me Harvy Licht’s personal walking tour and our first stop was The Public Theater. I was over joyed and shared with them that I had an audition lined up for Shakespeare in the Park that friday. We traversed along the city streets and ended up for dinner at Porsena. The son of my aunts college roommate was a chef there and it was excellent. Afterwards they took me to Venieros Italian Bakery, a legendary place that has been there for 120 years. We picked up a pound of little pastries and visited with my uncles mother, a sharp, funny and lovely woman of 95 years. She will turn 96 on September 20th, the date of my wedding!

The third day I was cramming lines for my audition. I was reading for the role of Margaret in Much Ado About Nothing. (The evening before I watched the great film with Emma Thompson and Kenneth Branagh, both of whom just opened up the language for me and entertained the heck out of me. I can’t believe I had never seen it!) Sitting in the kitchen I was browsing the internet while swishing coconut oil in my mouth for 20 minutes. (Oil Pulling, an interesting health habit I recently was turned on to by a post on Facebook.) I about spit it out when I received a message on Facebook asking me if I wanted to attend the opening of All The Way on Broadway. A friend’s date was sick and I brought a fancy dress so it was kismet! That evening was a thrilling New York night. Watching Bryan Cranston in the role of LBJ was electric,  during intermission Charlie Rose walked right past me as I was in line for the bath room, at the after party at Rockefeller Center I had a great conversation with Chris O’Dowd about how wonderful it is to be married, his rehearsals for Of Mice and Men, and he complimented my dress. The celebrity watching was great, I even had a chance to glance at Ronan Farrow, and I have to say he did have some pretty blue eyes. I even got to re-meet and chat with Bob Moses and his wife Janet Jemott Moses. Bob was a character portrayed in All The Way. However, the best part of the night was seeing Oregon Shakespeare family. So many OSF people were there that I felt for a moment like I could be at Martino’s having a drink after a show. I was so proud to know these artists and see their work on Broadway!!!

The fourth day I got ready, Gloria gave me a hug and gestured to sprinkle magic dust on me for luck, and I hopped a train to the Chelsey Studios for my first NYC audition.  The casting directors were friendly and warm, I was nervous and excited and I had a great time in the room. Afterwards I took myself out for a bowl of Ramen and wandered all over for a couple hours. That evening I warmed up with a Makers on the rocks while addressing postcards before I met Gloria at a book party for Joan Barthel whose latest book American Saint is about Elizabeth Seton. It was a small gathering, and I met the author who was lovely. Finally we went to dinner at the Wayfarer with Gloria’s friend and partner on an upcoming project Kathy Najimy. It was such great company and conversation and the food was  fantastic. I ended the evening with watching the HBO documentary of Gloria, In Her Own Words.

On the fifth day I took a walk in central park, it was a blazing 45 degrees outside, warmer than it had been and everyone was out. I entered on 72nd street and took my time to find Alice in Wonderland, The Boat House, Bethesda Fountain. I will be back to explore more, I have to find Strawberry Fields again, and of course the Delacorte Theatre. I did some grocery shopping and got ready to meet with my mother’s good friend from way back who is like an aunt to me. We planned to attend Lone Wolf Tribe’s show Hobo Grunt Cycle, however the trains were not running well on a busy weekend night, so we missed curtain. Instead we went to dinner at the Spring Street Natural and had a smooth bottle of Malbec as we caught up on life.

On the Sixth day I slept! I was so exhausted from all the wonderful days before. I spent the day cleaning and arranging my living space, catching up on my T.V. shows and cooked myself a pasta dinner. Then I got a text from a New Mexico friend who invited me down to Hell’s Kitchen to hang with her and her boyfriend. We started with drinks at Deacon Brodie’s Tavern then walked across the street to House of Brews where I discovered a drink called a Pickle Back. A shot of Jameson followed by a shot of pickle juice! I loved it/them (I had three!) We reminisced about New Mexico, swapping chile recipes and shared how much we like the idea of gluten free diet but what about flour tortillas!? So great to have a New Mexico buddy here in the Big Manzana.

Today is the seventh day! It’s taken me a couple hours to write this blog post and once I am done I am heading out to join a new friend, who I met in Dallas, for a play reading in the AmoralFEST 2014.

Tomorrow I get to attend the 40th anniversary of Free to Be You and Me which is co-moderated by Gloria Steinhem and Marlo Tomas.

This week has been pure magic, hard to believe, thrilling and I feel a little bit like Cinderella or Pretty Woman, but it doesn’t have anything to do with finding a man, (I already have a fantastic one holding down the fort in L.A.) it just has to do with living a life, if only for a moment, that seems to be made of dreams.

“Epilogue: Yet in the End”

Image These were my last words before I left the Dallas Theater Center Studio space for the final time Sunday night. (Our director included the scene numbers and titles during the show and it added a chance to hear more of Luis Alfaro‘s potent poetry and added a unique transition between scenes) I peeled myself off of the blood soaked deck of the stage, my white dress stained red and pieces of ripped up bible pages sticking to my sandals, my perfectly applied Chola eye makeup smudged with tears, I stood up, tall and present, and delivered these lines for the 50th time. I stood behind the bar in the lobby to wipe the blood off my hands, face and body underneath the giant angel wings that were set up to honor Jocasta’s tatoos on her back. I silently spoke the last words of the play along with the Choro and listened to the final clickity-clack of Tiresias’s blind cane just before black out.

It was an intimate final performance; we were in competition not only with the Oscars but also with below freezing weather that kept a lot of folks at home rather than brave the frozen roads. (Even though our show would have thawed them right out!) Our company manager was in the front row and got some of the last drops of blood on her. Each moment was new and filled with energy, lines that I had heard each night sounded different. I surprised myself with the delivery of a couple of lines, my muscle memory ceased and the nervous excitement of closing night filled the space with wonder. One favorable detail about the small crowd was the chance to avoid having to fill the entire space with voice when we were doing our intimate scene on the ground, naked and only inches from the audience. I was able to speak at a more natural level and drop into the language with a different emotional quality than I had felt before during that scene.  I think it was one of our best shows.

ImageIn between the matinee and the evening show our stage manager took us down to the Wyly Theater to sign the cement wall and add Oedipus El Rey to the history of shows done at the Dallas Theater Center. (Phillipe Bowgen, who played Oedipus, was super excited to sign his name hear Greg Kinnear!)  I remember doing this in the dressing room of The Vortex Theater in Albuquerque after doing The House of Bernarda Alba. At USC we signed the dressing room wall after we did our black box performance of Merchant of Venice during our 2nd year and I signed the old wooden beams on the dressing room ceiling at Magic Theater in my first Equity show of Bruja ( Luis Alfaro’s Medea adaptation). I love the ritual of leaving a moment, a mark, a thanks on the architecture of a theater after a performance. Click HERE to watch a video about the autographed walls and doors on 5 floors at the Fox Theater in St. Louis.

I am drafting this post on an airplane, after packing up my apartment with exhaustion from the closing weekend festivities. On our final night we gathered on the couches around the fireplace and T.V. at Three Sheets to watch the final moments of the Oscars while our production assistant read aloud the final production report. After 50 shows: total amount of blood used: 7 gallons, # of babies in the audience: 1, # of large bags of baby wipes used: 5, # of people who walked out: 4, # of people kicked out: 2, # of times the gun misfired:1, the list went on and on. We just smiled and laughed, all of us tired and happy with our work.

What really made me proud was when Heather Kitchen, Managing Director of DTC, visited during fight call and let us know that the show hit and went over their projected single ticket sales goal. In addition to that great news they were able to get 6 different City Council members in to see the show, for some it was a first visit to the DTC. I’m honored to have been a part of a show that excited their subscriber base and promoted bold and brave productions.

Image I am sad to miss the opening of Fortress of Solitude, the next show opening at DTC. If you are in the Dallas area, don’t miss it! I wish them all the best energy and love that we got from the fantastic Dallas audiences.Farewell to the “Big D” for now, and onwards to “The Big Apple!” (25 degrees right now according to the captain of the plane!)

In the words of my mothers text this morning before I got on the plane to NYC: “upward & onward 2 the next adventure.”

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From the stage directions of Oedipus El Rey:

“Jocasta’s body gets up and she takes off her dress, which she hangs on a wire.

Finally she flies.”

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