Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Odds, Ends, and Goals

The New Year has been a busy one so far. I have started recording my audiobook. Archie Ekong, my former freshmen year studio mate, is my sound engineer. Archie has been a surprising gift so far. With an attention to detail that is lazer sharp, I have a feeling the finished product will be very good and it is no accident. It has been an awesome reunion so far.

Recording an audiobook is work. Everything I have ever learned in Voice and Speech is coming back to use. I used to hate those classes in college. They were my worst classes. My best usually being my acting classes and movement classes. Surprisingly, I did well in singing classes and dance classes. But Voice and Speech, I always got the same notes. You talk like you are from Pittsburgh. You talk nasal. BREATHE, SLOW DOWN!

I talk kind of fast in my personal life. Always have. Always have been told that I am a "firecracker" with a lot of energy. One time I was chilling with some questionable man I was dating and his friend from the joint, a big black guy by the name of Danny said, "Slow down! I am turning blue just hearing you talk and I am black. You exhaust me just hearing you!"

It brought me to back in the day where my teacher Todd told me that if I learned how to breathe I would learn to control my life. And that my range as a performer would actually be rather interesting. My homework from Todd was actually to walk slowly down the street. I did it daily for one semester and it nearly killed me.

My sophomore year I switched to a different studio-more my home. The Method actually made me relax, slow down. It grounded me more because I was forced to relax before class. Needless to say, while my acting work was good my Voice and Speech were still not so much to be desired. Certain sounds tripped me up. While I did better in those classes there they were still challenges. They still gave me headaches. I still didn't look forward to them. Part of it was that I wanted to get to the good stuff, the acting. I wanted to get onstage. Why the hell did I have to waste my time and breathe!

After graduating I went more the standup comedy route and when I did act the characters were off the wall. I toured and actually capitalized off of talking like myself and being myself that all that breathing went out the damn window. I wasn't going to need that crap. I was making my name as a funny lady Goddamn it. Not to mention I always ended up getting on television accidentally on purpose for having puppets and being rather wigged out.

 A few years later-however-I went to an audition for a hosting job where I was told I talked weird and I needed to work on that, that they were trying to get someone who didnt talk like they were from a certain place. Around that time, a not so high point in my life, I started to have anxiety attacks where I would end up blacking out and passing out. I didn't even think they were anxiety attacks. I just thought they were fainting spells. My career was at a bottom after a pilot didn't get picked up and a national television appearance I did blew up in my face. I wasn't the it girl but the shit girl. I knew it and had to fight for everything it seemed. That's when someone suggested I start meditating. I started meditating and started talking about the stuff going on with me. Someone suggested I do breathing exercises.


After that, things heated up with the singing telegram company and my boss started giving me all the high profile clients. When I say that I mean royalty. During cases like that, when nerves enter everything else leaves you and it is so easy to mess it up. So in the end technique is all  you have. It isn't just your friend, it is like the firefighter getting you out of the building when it is burning down and your lungs are covered in smoke. I suppose that is a living amends to Erick Buckley, John Van Wyden, Scott Flaherty, Kohli Hessler, and of course Jan Douglas.

I found all they taught me became even more useful when I began making music. That was during another point in my life when things were kind of crazy. I had been on TV a bunch with my puppet children and fired from a club I did a lot for. But the door opened to make music and I did. Needless to say, hours in the studio singing on your chords is terrible. Not only do you risk getting nodes but also, you LOSE YOUR DAMN VOICE. I say it once and I say it again. Techique is the only thing you got. USE IT DAMNIT!!!!

You think it would have sunk into my thick head, right?

Well fast forward, April goes to record her audiobook. Within seconds in the booth Archie says, "Slow down. You are flying through that thing!"

I did it several times in the past two sessions. Some things never change. And several times we went back and Archie said, "SLOW DOWN! Talk to me like you are telling me this for the first time."

It's funny that Archie and I are working together but not surprising he gets me. During freshmen year Todd did the different brain types of his students. Archie and I were both ENTP, original thinkers. While he may be more laid back and I am eccentric and flamoybant in every way, we both need to have our hands in a million pots at once to be fulfilled, and as a result we know how to talk to each other.

Afterwards Archie and I laughed. Somethings never change. I will probably be told, "SLOW DOWN" until the end of time.

But on the flipside, someone once told me something I will never forget. An older veteran of the theatre gave me a pep talk my first year of college when I was considering leaving school. I felt trapped and stifled because a lot of the things I felt I had to do were wasting my time. I hated Writing the Essay because I could already write and this wasn't helping me. I hated my voice and speech clases because why did I have to fucking breathe when I should be acting. I felt dance was pointless as well as this skipping across the room. And not to mention I was stifled because I knew I was more creative than most of my classmates, and to top it off in an arts school I was being told to calm down my energy and unusual style, total irony.

The advice they gave me was this, "You know who you are and that's what counts. But here is the thing, you need to know the rules before you can break them. Picasso knew how to draw before he did his own thing with painting. The lead singer of Save Ferris is trained in opera. If you have the tool box, you can leave if you need to and can always come back to get another wrench."

That made a lot of sense. When it comes to comedy I know a joke is set up, premise, and punchline. When I get lost or stuck I always go back to that and it saves me every time.

That being said ironically Writing the Essay served as the structure that I wrote my book with. Now I love writing personal essays and can do so and inflict discomfort.

As for Voice and Speech, I use those classes more than any others. So that being said, I know the rules. Maybe I need to start doing my daily exercises again like I did in college. Maybe I need to have my pencil handy and break up the script like Lorca Peress taught me to do with beats. Maybe I also need to read out loud and mark the places I need to take a breath as well. Maybe I need to walk down the street slowly again. Maybe I have broken the rules long enough and it is time to go back and start to follow them again. They must work, after all, why call them rules, right?

There is only one of me, I know that. The rules aren't there to inhibit my freedom. At the end of the day they may actually give me more.

I write this blog as an amends to Erick Buckley, Kohli Hessler, John Van Wyden (I know I confounded you on several occasions), Jan Douglas, Scott Flaherty, and Todd Masterson. Not only were you some of my brightest teachers in college, but you were my most useful. I know you are getting your revenge on me now. So here I am, bottle of water with Alice and her rabbit and ready to breathe.

I Came, I Saw, I Sang: Memoirs of a Singing Telegram Delivery Girl
877-Buy-Book, www.buybooksontheweb.com
Available on Amazon as a paperback and ebook
Available on Nook and hardback at barnesandnoble.com
Portion of the proceeds go to RAINN January 8-February 8 in honor of stalking awareness month 

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