Keep Your Eyes and Mind Open
After a day of house hunting emma and I made out way to a grocery store that had been described as a place we should check out. While not one of the normal activities in a grocery store I decided to look at the bulletin board as well as the business pamphlets left at the entrance/exit.
The idea of teaching and/or performing with a local acting company was a hope I had in the back of my mind and certainly not one I expected to find in Westchester so I don’t remember what went through my mind when, to my surprise, I saw a pamphlet for Howard Meyer’s Acting Program which led me straight to Axial Theatre. Why? He’s the artistic director.
I dropped the pamphlet into a bag and said something along the lines of “If we move up here I guess I’ll reach out to them.” to emma.
Taking the Plunge
After hearing back from Linda emma and I were welcome to attend the next Sunday Writers Series. I noted the calendar and soon enough we were off. As with any new group there is a built in history. This group immediately proved to be welcoming and put us both in a comfortable place. After introducing ourselves it was quite a surprise to me that I was being asked to read something.
I remember the conversation going something like this…
Axial (Howard or Linda): Hi! So glad you could join us. Are you both actors?
emma: No. I’m a writer.
Me: I am.
Axial: Would you like to read?
<my eyes darted to the script in their hand, back to their eyes>
Axial: Are you okay reading cold? <hands me the script>
Boom. There it was. Who had time to get nervous? I had work to do and so I dove in to read my first piece at the Axial Theatre Sunday Writers Series. =D
What is Axial Theatre Sunday Writers Series
I wondered the same thing before arriving. According to the Axial website this is how they explain it…
The Writers’ Workshop
Two Sundays every month, Axial meets with company and guest playwrights. Actors read scenes from the plays under development and the group offers a critique of the work, focusing on what each playwright is trying to achieve. The process involves an ongoing commitment by the whole group to the work of each playwright, so that everyone is aware of where each play is headed and where it is in the development process.
In short, it’s a great time. The people are talented, insightful, welcoming, and so much more. The pieces presented are new and take chances. If you’re a writer, actor, or director in Westchester County I highly recommend that you reach out to introduce yourself and get your first Axial Theatre’s Sunday Writers Series event added to your calendar.
Hindsight is 20/20
After graduating with my MFA and life taking paths to who knows where I wanted to find a place nearby where I could hear and see theater that fit my interests. I’d been to a number of local shows and didn’t enjoy the pieces they’d selected.
With only one short block of time I knew I wanted to continue participating with Axial. Sure, I wasn’t a company member but they were happy to have me join in and coincidentally enough this fall I was almost cast in something. The reason why it was an almost? emma and I are moving to Portland, OR. a few weeks before the performances would take place.
My reaction: Agh!?!?!?!?!?!?!
It gets better. Howard, the artistic director, more or less said this to me at the January 26th gathering: ‘I hear you’re moving. That sucks.’ Inside I smiled because that was heck of a compliment. He’s worked with actors for so many years and he had hoped I could perform in the March show.
It didn’t matter to anyone that I wasn’t a company member.
Each time I was asked to read something I tried something and just went for it. There was no right or wrong. Far from it. In fact, very rarely were the scripts locked which simply means the writer wanted to hear the play and then feedback from everyone in the room about what did and didn’t work.
The writing styles, locations, name it, they were rarely the same and this meant all the actors could stretch their muscles and play(!). I sure did and it was so much fun. Thinking back to my final three readings, the characters could be described as:
- a distant, fearful, wealthy, writer, struggling with his family & personal emotions (drama)
- an uncertain, frustrated gay man out on his first OkCupid date after a breakup the day before (comedy)
- a man who has a relationship with his blowup doll girlfriend
Ask me to create these characters on paper and I’d stare and you thinking we must be in an alternate reality because that is not in my talents. Maybe in time but nope, not now.
As time went by it was a pleasure to have many writers approach me after the readings and commend me on the reading. Some even asked me to read their piece next time and asked for my business card. Wow! Right!?
It’s been such a wonderful experience and I cannot recommend that you go out and find a local theater company to get your foot in the door to meet people and most importantly, to play. Everyone benefits in a safe creative environment. If there isn’t an opportunity nearby, call a few friends, post something on Stage 32, Facebook, Twitter or even Craigslist. Meet new people and get the wheels of creativity in motion! You will be so very glad you did. =D
Mission: To engage professional and emerging actors, directors, and playwrights in developing, producing, and presenting new plays.
Location: St. John’s Episcopal Church, 8 Sunnyside Avenue, Pleasantville, NY