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Friday, 29 August 2014

It's Been a While

"Hope is a thing with feathers"...

A very wise acting teacher of mine, Richard Pinter, said this quote to me in my second year at The Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre.  I never really understood it until now.  

I grew up in a very supportive loving environment at home.  My parents both told me to work hard and follow my dreams, and so I did.  I knew that becoming an actor would be a life filled with ups and downs and plenty of rejection, but I was ready for that.  I loved the ride.  I loved the unpredictability and the ever changing schedule.  I was prepared for the "rejection" of not being cast in different productions, shows, commercials, etc. I was prepared for the instability financially and was prepared to work hard at a "Joe Job" to pay the bills...for my art.

What I was not prepared for in the weird but wonderful world of acting is the heartbreak you feel when you think you've gotten your foot in the elusive "door"...when you actually GET THAT PART that you think is going to change things but then somehow things fall through the cracks.  I worked hard on countless projects that didn't go very far (AKA didn't even get the opportunity to be seen) and my heart hurt.  I was "cast" in several "feature films" that never panned out.  My agent never came to a show I did all summer that I was very proud of and then decided to let me go off the roster. I felt like a failure and frankly a fraud. I wasn't an actor, I was trying and not succeeding at being one. I started to doubt my talent and whether my life in acting was going anywhere.  I felt the years flying by and my career wasn't even close to where I wanted it to be.  The HOPE that I once felt so strongly, seemed like a broken promise that I had made to myself.  I felt as though I was stuck in an abusive relationship with my acting career and so I lashed back at it to try to gain control.

I started to focus on my business.  I stopped hanging out and chatting with actor friends.  I stopped reading plays.  I stopped looking for a new agent.  I stopped acting...and for a while, it felt right.

I tried to convince myself (and my ever supportive family) that this was the right move, that I had found the natural transition from actor to entrepreneur and that my life was unfolding in a totally satisfying way.  This state of mind which I believed to be genuine began to fade.

The dissatisfaction I felt in my life artistically crept up on me slowly but steadily.  It happened so slowly in fact that I didn't even realize what was happening...I was just suddenly more irritable, less interested in my business, less motivated to exercise and I just sort of felt..bleh. Many months later I was asked to do a corporate acting gig (I play a fun character in a "workplace investigation" to help people train for similar situations in their work environment). I prepared for it, executed it well, and I felt great.  My energy was better, my motivation was back, and I felt more like me.  I pulled out my favorite Stars album on the drive home and blasted it with a huge smile on my face.  It was the first time I had tapped into my "actor self" in almost a year.

Everything I saw and read suddenly reminded me of acting, and I felt something in my gut that I had never felt this deeply before...REGRET.

Classmates and former acting coworkers suddenly seemed to be popping up in Feature Films, Broadway shows and even TV Commercials on the daily.  My Instagram was flooded with other peoples posts about 'following your dreams' and quotes like: 'ignoring your passion leads to slow death' etc etc.  It was as though the universe was giving me a little nudge, a little reminder that it's not too late.

Some people think it is such a simple decision...just get back at it.  Balance your business (which oddly enough is doing better than ever now) with your acting schedule and just make it work.  Give it another go.  Other people think it's crazy to throw any more of my time at a career that didn't give me the financial or emotional stability that I did, in fact end up craving more and more.  

Everyone has a suggestion, a point of view and both sides are valid. I just have to figure this out for myself.  Is there some sort of magical balance between the business and acting that I can manage or is that a pipe dream?  Am I going to hit my 30th birthday as an actor/entrepreneur or just an entrepreneur?

I don't know the answer yet.  I just know that I need to make a change because life is too short and artistically, I feel a little starved.  Whether this means teaching acting to clients kids once a week or jumping in with both feet and getting a new agent, I'm just not sure yet.

xo Allie


Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Queen Marie Review!

Jeff Schissler (middle), Shelley Simester (right) and I in Act II of Queen Marie

We are about half-way through our run of Queen Marie at 4th Line Theatre and so far - so great!  I've learned a lot, I mean A LOT throughout this process.  The show is a bit of a marathon, especially for the star Shelley Simester who is absolutely incredible as the late, great, Marie Dressler.


Shelley Simester (left), myself (middle) and Alison Palmer (right)
Needless to say, the weather has been no less than scorching the past couple of weeks, so managing the heat and delivering your best performance (particularly in a fat suit, as seen left!) is a challenge.  Hydration throughout the day is absolutely essential!

So far we haven't been "rained-out" once.  We had a minor "rain-hold" during our first preview, but that's it (knock on wood).

Reviews, reviews...

Often I avoid reviews until after the show closes (or altogether), but I stumbled upon this write-up by  Paula Citron (critic, broadcaster and arts-journalist for The Globe and Mail, Toronto Life & more) and am excited to share her experience of Queen Marie.  Click Here to read her review.

More soon!

Stay cool :)

xo, Allie


Saturday, 30 June 2012

THANK YOU FOODIE PEN PAL! Aka Kendall :)

My plan for the day was to go to Kawartha Crossfit in the am, then rehearsal, and write my Foodie Pen Pal post on my hour break.  Unfortunately (as often happens shortly before a show opens) today's rehearsal was a little chaotic, and I ended up spending my time off helping the wardrobe team find replacement shoes for a girl who sprained her ankle (ouch!). SO - my sincere apologies for getting this out so late in the day, particularly because this month's Foodie Pen Pal Package ROCKED!

Not only did Kendall introduce me to some delicious new products, but she also did her best to combine our two eating styles, my Paleo diet with her vegan diet!  Who knew this was even remotely possible?  Since paleo is a "hunter-gatherer" way of eating, you can imagine how hard it is to find things to send in the mail.  Obviously straying slightly was necessary, but I was very impressed with Kendall's efforts.

My favorite part of the package was the "Dark Chocolate Dreams Peanut Butter".  What an awesome treat, and surprisingly few ingredients! Since I am currently living in Peterborough, I gave Kendall my Toronto address and planned to pickup my package on my day off.  My boyfriend politely asked if he could check out the contents before I got home.  Let's just say that half the peanut butter chocolate container had magically disappeared by the time I got there! And he's not really a dessert fan!  It's seriously that good.  I'm about to bite into the "Extreme Dark Chocolate Bar" right now.  I've been holding off on this one :)

Thanks so much Kendall, it was so nice to chat with you via email.  Thanks for all of the amazing food.  Keeping some of the snacks in my bag during rehearsals saved me from passing out in the heat more than once!  I'd be happy to have you do a guest blog anytime my new West Coast buddy!

xoxo Allie

Friday, 22 June 2012

#Whoisdorothy? Not me, but that's ok


Heather Maitland (right) and I: "Who is Dorothy?" in rehearsal
for "Queen Marie" the day before the open call.
The few weeks before my open call for Dorothy, I had received calls and emails from all over the place making sure I knew about the audition, and encouraging me to attend.  I even got a call from the assistant at my Dentists office! Amazing. When I learned that the first round was taking place on a Monday, which is currently my only day off of rehearsals for Queen Marie, I knew I had to do it.  I though to myself, "hey, it can't be worse than a cattle call for a Broadway show, right?"

The lineup at Front and John Street at 7am!


Lucky for me, Heather Maitland, the phenomenal actor playing Nella in Queen Marie, also wanted to attend the audition.  We helped each other prepare, and made a pact to stick together.

At 7am when we arrived in line, it was already twisting around the block. Dorothy hopefuls of all shapes and sizes waited nervously for their chance to perform.  When the registration began at 9am, everything seemed to happen in a flash.  Before I knew it I was standing in a tiny room singing my heart out to a very friendly lady. She asked me to wait in the hall afterwards and I tried to steady my breathing/heart-rate!  After a few tedious minutes I was told that was all they needed from me today. Sigh.  


I couldn't help but feel a little disappointed.  I was so excited to audition for Stephanie Gorin and didn't make it to the round where I could do so.  I looked at the lineup of girls who had made it past the first audition, anxiously awaiting their turn to earn a Golden Ticket.  These girls were adorable, all dressed in their own twist of a perfect Dorothy outfit.  They were beaming.  And they were all very young...ie up to ten years younger than me!  I left the audition hall and met back up with Heather who unfortunately had the same fate as I did.  


As we walked out of Glen Gold studios and saw hundreds of potential Dorothy's waiting in line, I had a bit of an epiphany. There was something different about this open call.  It wasn't just that the people working at the audition were friendlier and more helpful than I have ever experienced in such a high stress scenario as this, and it wasn't just that I had the benefit of being with a buddy who helped me keep my head on straight.  The difference was this: the rejection was a brief little blow, and then I was fine.  I no longer have doubts about my career choice.  I no longer question whether not getting cast in a specific part is because I'm not meant to be an actor.  I've gotten over the hump of being intimidated by how "hard" the industry is and how "difficult" the rejection is.  I now know, that there is always an opportunity around the corner.  Don't get me wrong, any actor will tell you that the rejection isn't easy.  But you've got to have enough courage to move past it and trust in your own passion and talent.  Feel the pinch, acknowledge the disappointment, and then move on.  


Who knows why I didn't make it to the second round of casting. It could have been my age, my voice, or just my interpretation of the song.  I'm not Dorothy, but I am "Clare Dubrey" in Queen Marie.  Who knows what I will get to play next?  


In the words of the amazing Richard Pinter of The Neighborhood Playhouse, "If you undervalue yourself, you will be undervalued".  Well said Pinter, well said.  Thanks CBC for the opportunity, and to the ladies with the Golden Tickets, break a leg!


xoxo Allie








Thursday, 14 June 2012

First Week of Rehearsals for Queen Marie!


Here We Go!

The week before rehearsals began for Queen Marie at 4th Line Theatre was a bit of a whirlwind.  Before I knew it I was on the road to Peterborough with a ridiculous amount of luggage and no clue what I was really in for.  I settled into my billet Beverley's place (a hilarious and very hospitable Newfie!), and prepared for the first day of rehearsal on the farm.


A peek onstage at 4th Line Theatre in Millbrook, ON
So the amazing and sometimes challenging thing about doing a show at 4th Line is that the rehearsal/performance space is outside (!).  There is a "hats on" policy during rehearsals and I've been loading up on sunscreen (being the pasty lady that I am), and have managed to avoid a sunburn, and any snake encounters, but not the poison ivy.  Yeesh.  Aside from that itchy setback, I am loving my summer at 4th Line thus far. 
Shelley Simester (Marie Dressler), Sedina Fiati (Mamie) & Heather Maitland (Nella Web)
I have to give a shout out & thanks to Theatre Ontario, without whom I would not have even found out about the auditions for the part of "Clare Dubrey".


I've done primarily Film/TV gigs since my move back to Toronto from NYC, and working on this show has really got me jazzed up about my love for the stage...so much so that I've decided to audition for Dorothy in CBC's "Over the Rainbow" next Monday...oh mama.  Wish me luck!  More details about the show and rehearsals to come :)


I've started to workout at Kawartha Crossfit in Peterborough with some awesome people.  Running seems to have fallen to the wayside a bit but with a few crossfits a week and dancing in the show, I'm spent!  


Enjoy the sunshine, and wear your sunscreen!  


xoxo,


Allie





Thursday, 7 June 2012

A "Met Con Blue" Review: My First Mountain Race Adventure!


It's been 5 days since Met Con Blue and I'm still finding new little bruises and scrapes (in some very unusual places I might add), but my muscles have fully recovered and I've gotta say, I can't wait til next year's race! I learned a lot about myself and my own fitness level during the race but most of all, I had an absolute blast.  Here's how it all went down:

Our team of 9, "Insane Pain", arrived at the bottom of Blue Mountain pumped and ready for the 10am heat.  It was chilly and drizzling outside and we were surrounded by friendly and familiar faces, like the Crossfit Indestri team.  After a quick warmup we were off to the races and seriously, the beginning of the race was one of the hardest physical challenges I have ever encountered.  Our all-star boys took off ahead of the pack up the LONG STEEP HILL and I could see my sisters just in front of me.  I couldn't speak or catch my breath until we reached the top of the bloody mountain and got water. Krysten and Jamie were right behind me and we joined a little trifecta just as we reached the peak. Then the fun really began.

We climbed ropes and walls, ran through mud pools, and slid through the muddy trails from one obstacle to the next.  I had made the exciting mistake of not looking into the details of the obstacles ahead of time.  So when we came to a clearing and were told to jump over a giant campfire, I didn't have time to stop and think - I just gaver and hoped to high heaven I didn't land in the fire rump first!  By the time we rounded the last hill and the finish line was in sight, we were completely pooped, but so happy.  I have never had so much fun in a race before.

My sisters Sarah Pain and Megan Dunbar: "We DID it!" - Photo by Bill Pain
We got out of our incredibly muddy/wet gear and slid into our cars.  A hot shower has never felt so good!  After we cleaned up we returned to the battleground to re fuel with beer, BBQ, and POSK paleo treats.

I can't wait for Insane Pain to regroup and participate again next year.  And this time, I'm not skipping ANY hill runs during training!  Our team finished in 4th place out of 24, thanks to the rockstar boys on our team: Bill Pain, Dave Pain, Andrew Pigott & Adam Knowles.  But hey, I'm pretty proud of us girls too.  As my mom said to me on the phone the day before the race, "I think my daughters have forgotten that they're girls! You be careful out there, this is Survivor Collingwood!", to which I say "HELL YEAH!".

Thanks Met Con Blue, for a killer race, an awesome party and a great excuse to get together with such amazing people.  See you next year!

xoxo,

Allie
 

Thursday, 31 May 2012

It's FOODIE PEN PAL DAY!

So pumped to write about my first experience being a Foodie Pen Pal!  I'd like to start just by saying what an awesome time I've had and how fun it is to connect to two amazing ladies and fellow foodies.  Picking out what to send to Nikki, my penpal was great, and anticipating what I'd receive in my package from Anna was exciting, but I think my favorite part was just chatting with them via email about all things food and fitness.


My package was waiting at my doorstep after a particularly grueling week (see my last post for details), and I felt like a kid again opening it up and checking out my loot.


Thank you Anna Sherwood for such an awesome Foodie Pen Pal Package!
Naturally I took a picture of it right away because I knew I was going to eat at least one of these goodies immediately!  Anna was incredibly kind to accommodate my primarily Paleo diet.  We had emailed back and forth a few times about what exactly my normal diet was, to which I replied not to worry so much about that because I was just excited to try some of her favorite snacks.  She did an awesome job of mixing some Paleo with non-Paleo snacks and I gotta say, they were all delicious!


My top pick was definitely the "Enjoy Life" trail mix, which was gone in a matter of 24 hours - dangerously delicious! 


Another thing that I really appreciated from Anna's package was she made a great effort to send me some local goods.  So cool to try out these companies.  I'll be sure to pickup more "Just Us" products next time I'm in Nova Scotia, the tea is fantastic!


Thank you so much Anna.  Can't wait for next month of Foodie Pen Pals!


Nikki and Anna, feel free to send a guest blurb if you'd like to post about your experiences too!


xoxo,


Allie