Thursday, March 28, 2013

More actor networking

Now that Don’t Dress for Dinner has wrapped, I’m back to networking while I hunt up another acting job.  New York acting coach John Pallotta was in town Tuesday night to present a class at the Source Theater with local actor and entrepreneur Sean Pratt.  Pratt was touting his new book, To Be or Wanna Be, that examines some of the things actors do to emotionally sabotage their own efforts.  Pallotta was demonstrating his transformational approach to developing a character.

NY Acting Coach John Pallotta
and me
Afterwards Pallotta and many of the actors and others who attended went for drinks and more talk at a nearby restaurant.  Opportunities to meet with people on a less formal basis are important to building relationships and establishing a network of contacts within the profession.  Plus, they can be a lot of fun and inspire you to try new things.  I got a line on a local monologue coach, actor John C. Bailey,  that I plan to contact in the next few weeks to work on a new audition piece.

Pallotta’s classes have been creating a lot of buzz locally and no doubt eating into the profits of area drama teachers. What appeals to me about his approach is that it's more practical and straightforward, more like the British approach.  The British consistently turn out terrific actors.

I liked Pratt’s talk too and actually bought his book to learn more about networking.  Being a shy person by nature – and many actors are shy people – it’s hard for me to walk into a room full of strangers and make contact.  What do I say?

Pratt advised developing a two-sentence introduction that summarizes what you do, where you work, and what your goals are, and then after that exercise the 80/20 rule. You let the other person talk 80 percent of the time and you talk 20 percent of the time. Ask questions based on their responses.  Summarize their thoughts – “so what you’re saying is….”  As one actress demonstrated, when they ask you about yourself, you can respond and then add “and how about yourself?”  In other words, become a good listener, which is what Dale Carnegie said decades ago in his book How to Win Friends and Influence People, which is still in print.  I plan to read Pratt’s book this weekend.
To Be or Not to Be

Pallotta will have his own book out later this year called "Acting is a State of Mind." Really looking forward to it.  He only has another month of local appearances before he’s off to coach other actors and to perform in a new film.

Schmoozing kept me up late, but I still managed to get out the next afternoon to meet with a group of area actresses who are sharing information and mutual support at monthly meetings at a local restaurant. There was a wealth of information shared about local productions and regional casting agencies, and we plan to talk more about personal marketing at the next get-together.  These kinds of meetings always leave me inspired and energized.

Came back from the meeting to find an email from an actress and NYU drama professor that I contacted last year after seeing her wow performance in a short film. We are now Facebook friends and hope to meet for coffee next time I'm in New York. Another of her FB friends is Jennifer Lawrence. The professor networks better than I do. Hah!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Wrapping the play

Caroline Gelb and Kathryn Browning
Don't Dress for Dinner has wrapped.  With a play it always amazes me how quickly the set comes down after taking days and days to construct.  It's a bittersweet time, saying good-bye to people you have worked with for months. But especially so with The British Players, which attracts a very special group of actors and crew.  The closing cast party after Saturday's performance was a chance to say a few words of appreciation for everyone involved.  Producer Caroline Gelb also presented each person in the cast with an "Oscar" inscribed with a few words of praise from the reviews.  Mine was for "comedic perfection" and it is a treasure.  It was so gratifying to be in such a successful play.  We drew such crowds that they were in the black from the 4th performance on.  Wonderful.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Don't Dress for Dinner has a nice run

Don't Dress for Dinner, closing scene with Peter Harrold
En route to New York to audition for a student film at the Tisch School, then back for a quick rehearsal tomorrow night before heading into our final weekend with "Don't Dress for Dinner." The play has gotten good reviews and is on the verge of setting attendance records for The British Players, with some in the audience even standing and shouting "Bravo!" at curtain.  This is a lovely group of performers: Colin Davies, who doubles in real life as an expert on rock 'n roll, Peter Harrold, Vanessa Terzaghi, Michael Abendshein, and Anne Vandercook, who's a scream as the French cook/mistress/niece.  I will miss them when we wrap on Sunday.

Here's a nice quote from the DC Metro Theatre Arts review: “Jacqueline (Kathryn Browning) is the stone of promiscuous scandal in this production. Her simple airs toward her husband pale by comparison to the way she flings herself about to her lover. But Browning shows her true colors when everything starts to break down, reminding us that hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. Even her posture goes rigid as she grows livid over the situation, and her brisk sense of revenge comes tumbling out as comedic perfection.”