Bertha's List: April Edition
“It is better to be lucky. But I would rather be exact. Then when luck comes you are ready.”
So quoth Ernest Hemmingway in his classic— The Old Man and the Sea. The phrase rings true to me now as it did when I first read it. Any time not spent on stage is a chance to prepare. This past month I have seen the inside of more audition rooms than in the last two combined. Ever since gaining those three wonderful initials on my résumé, tucked neatly under my name, I’ve gone from some number-40-on-the-waiting-list to you’re-up-next. Getting in and out of audition rooms quickly makes my busy days run that much smoother. It even makes the piercing glares of fellow actors and my own yuppie guilt a bit more bearable to take. Unlike The Old Man I would rather be lucky but very much like The Old Man I need to be exact; so in between auditions I've been searching for new monologues. I hope to have a repertory of twenty different pieces memorized and ready to go. In order to catch bigger fish one must have chunkier bait.
I also think watching great performers is as essential to an actor's training as any acting class. In my opinion, the former can sometimes be more instructive than the latter. So every Monday night I took myself out on a date to watch the Manhattan Theatre Club play reading series. Do I really need an excuse to watch Corey Stoll up close? Attending those readings made for lovely nights out when I could stroll the deserted streets, just Manhattan and me. Once the series ended they were replaced with nights at the INTAR Theatre Saloon. For ten minutes you hold the stage choosing to share whatever inspires you. I've started to read a play I wrote almost five years ago and hadn't given much thought to. I'm also thinking of following that with a workshop of my one-woman show. The Saloon is by no means an acting class but if you’re an actor in New York you simply must drop in sometime. I may be biased in my love for this theatre but I can guarantee it will inspire you simply by being in the room.
Chunkier bait also called for updated headshots. So on a very rare warm day I trekked out to Brooklyn Botanic Garden for a photo shoot session. Buddha also tagged along, see him voguing up there on the letterhead? I used the pictures to update my website and thought about sending some to talent agencies in Miami. I figured I spend so much time there anyway, might as well capitalize on it. I asked on Facebook about any recommendations and was met with some alarmed responses. Was I moving back to Miami? Much to the dismay of my frenemies but to my true friends’ relief I reinstated that I wasn’t. It surprises me how people can be so keen on witnessing the failures of others. But while returning to Miami wasn’t on the agenda, moving to a new apartment was.
When I first found my apartment I was grateful for the many things it afforded me, mainly the luxury of living alone. And while I’m still grateful, I’ve also had my fill of leaky ceilings and being woken up by screaming toddlers at seven in the morning. Every morning. All morning. When Pina, my Mom’s dog, had puppies she sent me a picture and I fell in love with them in a heartbeat. I named the runt of the litter Lulu and started to make arrangements to pick her up during my trip in May. I envisioned our life together: walks in the park, snuggling up on the couch watching movies, playing fetch, taking her to the vet. The fantasy bubble was soon burst when my landlord told me he didn’t allow pets. I was so disappointed that taking pity on me my Mom said she would keep her until I found another apartment. Lulu died the following day. I cried inconsolably for a little soul I hadn’t even met. I told myself that maybe this was for the best. Auditions, performances, work, and my social life would have made it near impossible to give her the time she deserved. So I chalked it up to the list of things I’ve given up for my selfish career. I resented that list. I resented that Lulu would never have a full life. I resented my landlord. I realized then that my desire for a pet wasn’t just about love and companionship but about a desire for growth. While this apartment had served its purpose as a stepping stone it no longer supported my needs for a bigger life. Change is scary and moving is a royal pain the ass but without change all that’s left is complacency. My lease is up in December so I’m casting my net once again. May the best borough win.
I have this fascination with what it means to “have it all.” For a twenty-something, single girl that means a lot of balancing and working towards the future that promises the perfect boyfriend, the perfect career, the perfect friends, and the million dollar lifestyle; the ebullient future that is always just a little out of reach. I guess that’s why it’s nice every now and again to remember that having to take the subway to a friend’s birthday dinner when you’d much rather take a cab because your butt is freezing in your cute thrift store find is the Universe’s way to keep you humble. To remind you that this is the journey and this is the stuff that great stories are made of. To remind you that after the third free cocktail at a fabulous restaurant opening there are worse places to drag your tired heels than to a cozy place somewhere in Brooklyn called “home.” To remind you that there’s still time to be exact, be prepared, be ready.