Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Ahem, Ahem, A Meme, A Meme

Paul Rekk tagged me for a meme about my area of expertise ... in answer to the questions of "What's a meme anyway?" I would have to say that maybe it stands for Me Me for these things allow to elucidate on myself for a while. Me, myself and I have always enjoyed myself.

Moving on.

The purpose of this meme is to get people talking about their passion in life. It’s called the 5/5 meme. Five questions, then pass it to five people. “Expertise” could be your profession, hobby, or area of intense interest.

Name your area of expertise/interest:

DIY Theatre. Directing.

How did you become interested in it?

My mother sensed I had a bit of a bug when I went nuts for her record of "The Phantom of the Opera". I always liked to act and sing along to most things and was known to pretend to be a Solid Gold dancer when I was around 5. I would jump up on the stairs, pretending they were my stage ... I always loved the Muppet Show, as well, giving me a taste of vaudeville done with pigs, frogs, weirdos and chickens. Kinda like the peeps I hang out with now.

When I first went to college, I was convinced I would become a Tony/Oscar award winning actress until I took my first directing class and the paradigm shifted. My teacher, Frank Rutledge of Michigan State University, really argued points home to me. One of his key phrases was "Either that's the biggest piece of shit I've ever seen .... or you're a genious."

How did you learn to do it?

By doing and observing those who do it. I learned to read when I was three and loved reading outloud, varying the characters, messing with my voice. I adapted plays from Archie comic books. I wrote plays for my siblings to perform for the family. I sang along to musicals. Saw the musicals and acted them out in my bedroom. I was in my first "official" community theatre production when I was in sixth grade where I played Gladys Herdman in "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" and continued being in 2-3 plays a year until I graduated high school. Went to Stephens College for acting, went to Hillsdale College for theatre, went to MSU for theatre where I acted in lots of things and started directing. Went to West Virginia University for a little over a year for graduate acting. Dropped out, thank god, learning that you can only learn so much on the university circuit. Moved to New Orleans, joined a little theatre company down there, decided I could do something better. Learned that living the real life is the best teacher out there. Moved to Chicago, acted a little, decided to start my own theatre company with my husband and have been doing it ever since. Just do it. Only way to get your feet wet.

Who has been your biggest influence?

My husband, Chris Riter. He and I met at West Virginia University and he's taught me how to live. If it were up to my folks, I'd still be in school learning which made me incredibly unhappy after a while. Chris has always understood my way of thinking, encourages me to try whatever I might like to try, challenges me, argues with me, inspires me ... he writes, acts, directs, knows how to put up lights and build sets and is incredibly handsome while doing everything. He's truly a renaissance man and an artistic soul mate.

And anybody who ever told me "No."

What would you teach people about it?

You can only learn so much from me ... go do it. Live the life. Get a business degree along side your theatre degree while you're still in school. Try to avoid grad school, if you can help it. Get as much experience as you can and don't stop believing. Go to museums. Go to rock and roll shows. Go to the cirkus. Meet artists outside your circle. Work a day job or twelve. You make your own way and don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Always be happy. If theatre and the artform don't give you pleasure, it's ok to stop. It'll find you again and you it, if that's in the cards.

I'm now going to pick five people to join in the Do-Re-Meme: Lisa Wilson, The Olde Gentleman, Strezo, Jay Raskolnikov and Dave Lykins.

No comments: