Sunday, November 26, 2017

My End of the Year Letter 2017

2017: New Realities

The holidays bring a pause for reflection and a summing up of the accomplishments and challenges of the passing year.  I have always found this annual meditation much more powerful than setting resolutions.  As I get older--and in these times of greater and greater uncertainty--planning or setting myself tasks seem less valuable to me.  Standing in the present, poised, aware--a much more grounding exercise. While I fear for our nation, and our world, in a time of such erratic leadership and national cynicism, I am, at heart, an eternal optimist.

No one is more aware than I of some of the remarkable good fortune I have experienced in recent years as an actor, and the opportunities to work afforded me that many worthy actors wish they had.  But some years are leaner than others.  2017 was one such for me.

But the shows I got to do were choice!  I started the year reunited with my dear friend, director InĂ©s Braun, performing the role of Pheres in her final Columbia thesis, "Alkestis."  I got to play a real SOB, and how often does one get to work on a Greek tragedy?

As Pheres, with Alex Marz in "Alkestis"
 Spring brought me to Fayetteville, NC and Cape Fear Regional Theatre's production of Ken Ludwig's Sherlock Holmes farce, "Baskerville."  CFRT epitomizes the "little theatre that could" story of small professional theatre in America, and with our production they gave a talented group of recent Carnegie Mellon graduates, led by our bright director, Sam French, one of their first jobs in the industry.  As guest artist, I loved collaborating with these energetic young artists and I had a schizo good time playing fourteen eccentric characters.

While in Fayetteville, I taped an audition for one of my dream parts, Nathan in "Guys and Dolls" for Maine State Music Theatre.  I didn't raise my hopes.  Nathan is one of the great comic leads in musical theatre, and the anchor for the entire show.  I didn't expect to be cast from a video--but I was!  While the spring was a lean time for me, come June I was rollicking through Runyonland, in a superb production directed by DJ Salisbury in beautiful Brunswick, Maine.  My co-star was audience favorite Charis Leos, whose talent and comic genius remind me of another of my favorite co-stars, the great Sally Struthers.  Charis made playing Nathan one of the best theatre experiences of my life.

But what goes up, must come down.  Returning to NYC in the full flush of success, I faced an extended drought which stretched my faith, and finances, to breaking point. The protracted and painful three year probate process of the settling of my Dad's estate dragged on, and the small inheritance I anticipated seemed like it would never come.  But necessity is the mother of invention, and while audition opportunities were few, I sought out other work opportunities.  Matthew Corozine Studio invited me to join a select group of Artists in Residence and I used the chance to create and teach my first four week Shakespeare workshop.  I expanded my base of private coaching clients, and participated in readings of new works.  I also completed the fifth draft of my screenplay, signed with a production company and sent the script out into the world to, hopefully, become a film.

I will begin the New Year in sunny Orlando, beginning a 12 week rep season at the Orlando Shakespeare Theater.  Both the warmth and the challenges of the Bard will be most welcome.  What the rest of the year will bring?  Who knows.  I am grateful for my friends, for my work, for surviving the ups and downs of life, for my beloved family, and for a life that allows me the freedom to chart my own course.  Wishing you an extraordinary 2018!

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