Actor’s Worst Nightmare

5 03 2015

I’m in this new show, and I’d love for you to see it!

One improviser. Two actors doing different plays. Three fascinating acts.


You don’t know your lines. Or you do, but everyone else seems to be doing a different play. It’s the Actor’s Worst Nightmare.

Two actors performing from different plays and one improviser take the stage. It’s up to the three of them to make sense of the mess. Watch actors from the Robert Mello Studio and Highwire Comedy Co.’s top improvisers squirm in the face of The Actor’s Worst Nightmare.

ActorsWorst_info-IG





Living in the South

27 01 2015

Best things about living in the south:

fried okra

the weather

the wonderful people I’ve met

(they don’t necessarily come after okra and weather, but I just had more okra today, and it’s really on my mind)

fried lots of things, actually

sweet tea

the weather: it’s worth mentioning again, as it is the middle of January and I am only wearing one pair of pants

ubiquitous bicsuits

ubiscuitous

mountain hikes

and seriously, y’all:  the weather





This post has one title; I have two.

12 11 2014

Every artist is familiar with the uncomfortable feeling of being too far away from creative projects for too long; I was a bit nervous that I wouldn’t find something soon enough down south. But, boy, I sure did arrive in Atlanta at the right time.

Right about the time we moved down here, I met Ian Covell, the founder of Atlanta’s new improv theater, Highwire Comedy.

While gettin’ used to a new life and a new home, it has been really helpful to have fun improv stuff and fun improv people to ground me. And now that Highwire Comedy has its own space in Decatur, we’ve been making lots and lots of plans! I am absolutely overjoyed to announce that I have been made both the Artistic Director and the Associate Education Director of Highwire Comedy!

I'm pleased as punch to be a part of this fantastic theater!

I’m pleased as punch to be a part of this fantastic theater!

Just getting the chance to start playin’ with fun people right away was already a relief!   (I got to play in “The Soapbox, Highwire’s weekly Armando-style show, mere days after arriving here.  Plus, I’m currently directing a FANTASTIC group of actors in “The Day Before Tomorrow,” an improvised show in the style of a disaster film, which opens later this month.)  But man, oh man!  Now I have a title–more than one, even!  I feel fancy.

Ian (my Artistic Director cohort and the Education Director) and I have sat down and have started creating class offerings and show schedules for Highwire. Stay tuned, y’all. 2015 is going to be a very exciting year!





Fun Improv Class for Non-Actors in North GA

9 10 2014

I am delighted to be offering this fun, one-night only improv class for adults with little to no improv experience.  If an improv class sounds a wee bit scary to you, and you live in northern Georgia, then this is the class for you!  And it will be fun, not scary–I promise!

Improv for Non-Actors
7:00-9:30 pm
Forsyth Academy of the Performing Arts

520 Industrial Way, Suite B
Cumming, GA

$25 per person
To register for this class, contact Forsyth Academy at info@forsythapa.com or 678.468.1731.

Looking for a new way to have a little fun with your friends, or to make new friends?  This workshop is geared towards those with little-to-no improv experience. Improvisation is more than just a useful tool for actors, it’s a different way of approaching life.  Through fun games and exercises, students will gain more confidence, more creativity, and more playfulness through the basic improv skills of listening, reacting, working with others, and trusting oneself.  Not only will it make you more comfortable while thinking on your feet, it’s a delightful way to spend an evening.

This is a great opportunity for you to have a fun night out with your buddies and walk out the door with a renewed sense of creativity, self-confidence, and maybe even some new friends!

In this workshop you will learn:

~How to trust yourself
~How to be spontaneous
~How to be more playful and creative in your every day life
~And much, much more

What People Are Saying

“I really enjoyed the safe environment that Amanda created.  I am really a beginner and I never felt like an outsider during the workshop.  Amanda made sure that we all walked away with a new skill and ways to think outside of the box!”  -CJ Leavens, Chicago





The Rain Here

11 09 2014

It rained here the other day with such big, round drops, that a person could walk five paces in between getting wet.

"Ecstasy" by Maxfield Parrish

“Ecstasy” by Maxfield Parrish

But that was just one rain. The big-drop rain doesn’t seem to be the dependable personality of the rain here. The one constant I’ve seen so far is its ability to both approach and depart so quickly, surrounded on either side by beautiful blue skies with picture perfect clouds. The skies here often seem that they are exquisite artist renderings of what people think beautiful skies should look like—back drops meticulously painted on scrims, which the set-designer just rolled out from the back of the theater.

The downpours can be heavy at times, with magnificent thunder and lightning shows. Afterward, steam dramatically rises up from the hot pavement. Surrounded by all these trees, and chirping bugs and birds, it is less gritty than the steam rising up from the manhole covers in the big city. And it’s prettier too.

The other day, I drove for about 20 minutes on curvy back roads through a forest to buy almond milk, taquitos, and popcorn. (All of Georgia is in a forest, whether you’re in the city or the country—or, like us, somewhere in between). And in those 20 minutes, I witnessed gentle grey clouds, a spectacular maybe-I-should-pull-this-car-over rainstorm, steam and mist and fog (condensation that couldn’t decide whether it was warm or cool), then cleared-up skies, followed by the most amazing sunset I’d seen in a long time.

This cartoon gets it.

This cartoon gets it.

I am fond of rain. I can’t remember ever not liking a rainy day. I’ve always preferred them to the sunny ones. Just as a sun-lover feels downtrodden and irritable after so many days of rain in a row, I am not a truly happy camper until a stretch of sunshine-filled days is finally interrupted with a gentle, grey day, giving me a much-needed respite. The sun is just too aggressive for me. Perhaps that sentiment is rooted in my much too pale and sensitive skin. I can accrue a sunburn in less than eight minutes of being out-of-doors on bright, sunny day and my Nordic eyes are sensitive to that harsh light. There’s a certain amount of pushiness that a sunny day has. “Get out there and do something!” A grey day, on the other hand, is much more laid back about your personal choices. “Did you want to read a book today? Oh, okay. That’s cool. Just to let you know, if you wanted to take a wee nap, that’s fine too.   Really, anything you decide to do today is splendid. No judgment here.”

Sunny days are the over-achieving girl who lives next door, always giving you the side-eye, because you don’t mow your lawn every week. Grey days are your best friend, the one who always listens and supports your every decision.

I am not as deterred by the amount of sun here as I thought I’d be, mostly because the bounty of trees provides this super white gal with ample amounts of shade. And also, those clouds—those picture perfect, Maxfield Parrish clouds that decorate the bright, blue sky are not so bad. Not so bad at all.

If I had a little rain cloud following me everywhere, I would save so much money on sunscreen!

If I had a little rain cloud following me everywhere, I would save so much money on sunscreen!

I’ve only been living in this region for a month, and it’s certainly not going to surpass Seattle in its ability to please me rain-wise. But already, Georgia has given those glorious mid-west thunderstorms that I loved in Chicago a run for their money. And maybe, just maybe, since the winters are so mild here, the months to come will have lots more grey days and rain. I sure am lucky my husband didn’t get a job that moved us to Arizona or New Mexico.





Big Life Changes are Always Hard

24 08 2014

As a writer (and a performer of those stories), my writings are often well thought-out. But with all of the feelings I’ve had lately, instead of thinking-out the thoughts, I’m just going to put-out the thoughts.

Big life changes are always hard. A lot of times, they’re rewarding too. But man, they sure can be difficult. Whenever I mentioned to people the fact that we were getting married and then moving out of state three days later, most folks responded with shock and amazement that we would attempt something so incredibly stressful. Sometimes, I would throw in the fact that we were also buying a house for the first time—if they didn’t seem appropriately shocked enough.

Well, here we are, a couple of weeks after our wedding, in our new home, in our new state. The wedding went off with only one hitch—the important one—and it was everything I’d hoped it would be and more. We were surrounded by our loved ones while we openly expressed our love for one another. It is a mighty powerful thing to experience so much Love all in one place at one time. The minutiae of the day seemed to also go quite well, but really, the LOVE is the important part and that was amazing. 

My hubby isn't an actor and doesn't have his face plastered all over, like actors do.  So I'm not about to start doing that for him now.  But aren't we so cute?  Imagine that you can see his face and that he's smiling.

My hubby isn’t an actor and doesn’t have his face plastered all over, like actors do. So I’m not about to start doing that for him now. But aren’t we so cute? Imagine that you can see his face and that he’s smiling.

Just sitting and thinking of the day puts smiles on our faces.

We wanted to spend the day after simply doing just that, but were forced into packing so that we could properly ready ourselves for the movers the following day.

The move went as well as moves can go. I don’t have to tell anyone who has moved before how incredibly stressful it is. Ugh. And it was surreal to follow such a happy day with all of the weirdness of uprooting our lives. I can always tell when my students really enjoyed one of their classes when it takes them a long time to leave the classroom. As humans, we just tend to want to hang out in places where nice things are happening, or just happened. It’s obvious, if you think about it for longer than a second. Of course, we want to just hang out around good feelings! That’s exactly how my new husband (tee hee, still enjoying the newness of that word) and I felt after our wedding day. But we couldn’t dawdle around in that feeling in Chicago. We had to leave the city right away and start our new adventure together.

We’ve been here for about a week and a half now. In some ways, it feels longer than that; in some ways, it feels much shorter. Hubby started his new job right away and I started teaching three different weekly classes right away.

This is our new state.  We're still getting used to it.  And it's still getting used to us.

This is our new state. We’re still getting used to it. And it’s still getting used to us.

So, I still have a lot of time in our new, big house. Our house is HUGE. Well, maybe it’s not HUGE for normal suburbanites. But having lived in studio and one-bedroom apartments for nearly all of my adult life, having a two-story home feels pretty much like a palace. Even the laundry room has a door, you guys. I mean, sure you can’t open the dryer and the door at the same time. (Like I said, maybe a normal suburbanite wouldn’t be impressed?) But I am still shocked that we have MORE THAN ONE BATHROOM. The size of the house, combined with STILL not having our furniture and other belongings (that’s right, the movers picked up all of our stuff over a week ago and we might not see it for another five days), makes for a pretty isolating experience when I’m home alone. It was for sure worse before the wifi was installed or before I’d gotten the rental car. But even now, it feels lonely. I know the lonely feelings are here because I dearly miss so many of my loved ones and the nice, dependable work/art opportunities in Chicago. But those feelings are definitely exacerbated by being alone in an empty house in the suburbs. I know what I need are some local friends and some local art projects, but there are times where I’d settle for a couch and a tv. That might sound horrible, but it’s the truth.

Having more frequent steady work or a calendar of upcoming shows and other artistic projects will, of course, help me greatly. Not only will I get the much-needed artistic outlet, but I’m sure I’ll meet splendid people, who might just become new friends, along the way. Mercifully, I was just asked a couple of days ago if I’d like to perform in an improv show with the lovely folks at The Brink in Atlanta this evening. I barely know them, but they have already proved themselves to be delightful and kind and fun. Thank goodness for meeting other improvisers. I am so very excited about tonight.

A big ol’ upheaval of a move can make a person feel isolated and alone, but here are some things that make me feel that I’m home:

My husband obviously. 

(I was trying to imbed this video.  But had all kinds of trouble.  Maybe I’ll go back later and try.)

We’re in this together, big time. And I wouldn’t wanna go on this crazy ride with anyone else.

Meeting other improvisers, actors, teachers, and artsy types.

The library. You guys, it is so comforting to go to a place where you give ‘em your name and address and they hand you a magical little card that allows you to check out/download tons of books/music/movies. Plus, the kind librarian plied me with brochures and schedules of free, local, upcoming cultural events! This was especially appreciated after moving from such a cultural hub like Chicago.

Getting mail. We’ve gotten a couple of non-bills in the mail and it makes my friends seem so much closer. Seeing what they’re up to on Facebook makes them seem farther away, but getting a personal “hello” in the mail has been something special. The world is a smaller place. You never lose friends. You just make more.

And I’ll end this post, unashamedly, on that cornball note.

 

 

 





Signs

17 08 2014

When I moved to Chicago, and found myself stuffed onto very peopled trains, wedged between tall buildings, and lamenting the lack of trees, I thought to myself, “I am not a city person.” But Chicago grew on me. I became a professional at riding the train, enjoyed exploring the insides of those giant buildings, and found out where the trees were. I became a Chicagoan.

It is my fourth day in Georgia. Cumming, GA. A town considered part of the “Atlanta Metropolitan area.” And I suppose it is. I was able to listen to Atlanta’s NPR station yesterday on the radio. I turned it on just as “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me” was ending. I missed it. I missed one of my favorite NPR shows. Fitting, as it is taped in Chicago and I’ve seen it live multiple times. And now, In Georgia, I was unable to catch it.

Looks like the back end of a trailer, but it's Georgia.

Looks like the back end of a trailer, but it’s Georgia.

When we drive here, we follow the GPS wherever we need to go. I try to follow the signs, but there are less signs here than there are in the city. And the signs are simple and sparse—just little black and white state route signs with a number (numbers that don’t yet mean anything to me) inside the shape of Georgia. Last night, as we drove past cows and horses (because we live so far out), I started crying. I started crying because I miss my friends in Chicago. And I’m passing cows. COWS. And now that we’re here and I have to pass cows and horses and hay bales and peach stands to even get to the road that’s going to take me into the closest major city, I’m scared. I’m scared I’m not going to like it or that I’m too isolated or that I’m not going to get to perform/teach/direct/insert-artistic-desires-here as much I’d like to.

And it’s only the fourth day. Yes, I’m aware that it’s going to take a while to find my groove. I’ll meet lovely people. I’ll do lovely things. But what if…. What if there are too many cows in the way? And when will I learn to read the signs?

But then, on the drive back to our new home in our new state last night, something completely stunning and unexpected happened. We saw a shooting star. The thing about being way outside of the city, next to the cows and the horses and hay bales and the peach stands is that you can see the stars. So many stars. I forgot how many starts there are—bright and twinkling and splendid. Right in our driveway, you can see the stars. And tonight when we were driving home, we both saw it, my new husband and I, we saw a shooting star and it was beautiful.

So maybe it’s a sign. But because we’re not in the city, we don’t have all of those signs in our faces anymore. Now, when you take away all the signs, you see all that’s really there—cows and horses and trees and shooting stars.