Wednesday, February 28, 2007

I Did IT!

Today, I did it- I resigned from my job, effective two weeks from tomorrow... I'm proud of myself and confident that I will suceed and find a bigger and better employment opportunity which will provide me with the growth and development opportunities that I deserve and desire.

I'm young, smart, talented, and possess many skills-- I can do anything!

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Things that make you go hmmmmm...

The thing about theatre is that casting is so funny... today I read that the cast for the Chicago production of Color Purple will star... Latoya London as Nettie, Michelle Williams as Shug Avery (who the fuck would have ever thought), and Jeannette Bayardelle. Now, I can understand casting Jeannette, I mean she's playing Celie on Broadway right now... but I guess the casting of Latoya London in this production and the casting of Fantasia to play Celie on Broadway really shows the impact that American Idol has had on society.

I mean you have 1,000 of people who attend acting schools around the country and the parts are going to those who can't read but who can sing, and to those who don't have the training-- that shyt is tooo too funny.. but shyt, I will go ahead and see both productions anyway- just to see if they got the blood and guts to play the shyt...

Just another thing to make me say hmmmmm... did I really need to go to grad school?

LOL.. and the fact that I'm about to go backs makes me want to choke myself but a brotha got to eat and I've found another water I can splash my toe in....

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Dividing the Waters

Yesterday, I made a life altering decesion.

Yesterday, I decided to resign from my current job next week after my review.

Although, I want to think positively, I know my supervisor is going to say something negative to/about me and I'm going to start crying because I've given my heart and soul to this place.

Now, for those who have previously read my blog- you know that I love my current job, but it's very stressful and I often start crying after the lazy asses critize me but don't assist me or put any work in- I know I probably sound like a cry baby, but oh fucking well- I go beyond the call of duty everyday- when's the last time you've seen a Manger removing snow to ensure the client is happy because the snow plows didn't come or sweeping up trash, or cleaning windows?
Well I'm that type of Manager- A go getter... who gets the job done no matter what.

So, I'm going to do it, resign from my current job without having a new one.. but you wanna know what-- between hell and highwater I believe in me....

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

ReFound Hope

It doesn't cost a thing to smile
You don't have to pay to laugh
You better thank the universe for that......
I think my new mindset can be best summed up by the words of India.Arie who says there's hope.. and yet hope is the one thing in my life that has been consistent, men & women come and go, self love and loathing arise and sleep at their own will- the anguish I sometimes feel and exert will pass.... everything is going to be allright..... because HOPE NOT DOPE is the one thing that I've allows relied on and I continue to believe that something good will come out of all this bad....

Last night as I slept in the arms of this man, I dreamt about this woman, and I realized that so much of my life- i've been trying to be who and what everyone else wanted and was abandoning my inant sense to just be me... I called my self a nonconfirmist than shaved off my locs to survive the pressures of whiteness during my grad school years, began code switching before i knew what the fuck a code was, learned to hide my sexuality because I didn't want to be singled out-- learned to hide me.... when I attended grad school, the professor would often say- you have to get out of your own way....

Two years later, I think I finally understand what that means.. it means stop the negative ass thinking, stop the judgement, and the paranoia, just move, move, move, .... move right outta my (ok I had a "gay moment" ) Anyway, it means that I have so much to live for and when I really look, I can see that their in fact are people in my corner and it doesn't mean that they are subject to being my oxygen and that I don't need to grap on to them for dear life... that I can be alone, as much as I don't like to and I'm still ok..... I like to hug and be intimate and to connect with people and just because I connect with another person- it doesn't mean that this other person has an obligation to me or that I own this person or that I owe this person something.. I am a great guy, a little complicated and complex but....
India.Arie sings to me & tells me that she

Had to runTo the arms of curiosity
Just to find
What was here in my life all along
I had found that the art of simplicity
Simply means making peace of your complexity

Maybe, it's the same with me....

I know that at my B-day party this past Sat/Sun I stood in front of a group of beautiful people and spoke from the heart, the intoxication or weed& alcohol, not to mention the cake aided me in what my throat couldnt possible utter in the past.... how greatfull I am - because regardless of everything the people in this room choose to spend some time with me on my day.. and that shyt was sooooo special to me, and meant so much because there I was standing naked (not literally nasty asses) and for the first time - I embraced my complexity... my two sides.. my heterosexuality/ my bisexuality/ & my homosexuality-- there in this room of my peers... in a room of the whiteest of whites to the darkest of darks- to my permed sistas to my locked brothas and me the guy with the cornrows, full of the sweetest intoxication where I was able to speak from my heart in a way that I never had before-- the mountains moved.. the rivers opened and hopefully now I can begin to heal my soul... or at least began to wash my soul... because "lord" knows it needs... it... and of yeah, I'm going to start of the path of forgiveness... cause I got to get ahold of this anger inside of let me go on and see Aunt Esther cause a brotha definetely needs his soul washed...

What's that address again? 1839 WylieAvenue......

Here the fuck i come...

Friday, February 09, 2007

Better Days

Sometimes, it seems like the harder I try the worse things get-

Today was a very trying day for me... I won't go into the logitics of the situation- however, it was a very trying day.

I want tears to fall from my eyes to release some of this stress from my soul- but none will come and when they want to come I'm in the middle of a meeting, or in front of the judge and I won't let them- I hold them in... I push them back with all of my might that my stomachs grumbles because at that moment I realize I haven't eaten all day and that I might not eat again.. because right now I just want to die... or to go somewhere where no one knows me because right now, I don't want to know myself- because I want to be invisible.

I'm looking forward to better days.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Thursday, February 01, 2007

What do Actors make?

This article kinda helps me to sum up why my day job is soooo important and that no matter how many of my actor friends ask, what show are you working on- my answer will be- I audition and I act when I can but a niggah need to eat....


A glimpse behind the curtain....

Earning a decent wage onstage in Chicago is no easy task. They don't call it being a struggling artist for nothing, and musicians and actors alike are the first toBy Nina MetzSpecial to the TribunePublished January 28, 2007

No one works in theater to get rich.

Every performer understands this going in. But for the audience members who attend local theater each year, we often have little idea of the financial realities faced by the people we see onstage. Personal finances are a sensitive issue, and it comes as no surprise that the many actors we approached preferred to keep it that way. They cited privacy concerns.

Also, it might not be considered politic to reveal what a given theater has paid for a run. (This isn't about calling theater companies miserly, by the way. Some might be less sensitive than others to the plight of an actor's wallet. But bottom line, budgets are finite. And so often in live theater, they also are inescapably very limited.)

The professional union of stage actors is Actors Equity, which negotiates minimum pay rates for its members. Some theaters operate under Equity contracts and rules (example: a big theater such as the Goodman), and some do not (example: a small storefront theater such as Curious Theatre Branch).

Even within the Equity system, the pay minimums fluctuate depending on a theater's specific designation -- a complicated system of tiers and levels and contracts.By and large, Equity actors support themselves through their work as performers.

But according to actress Linda Gillum: "No one really makes their living just doing theater, so we all do something else." This generally means teaching jobs, voice-over and commercial work; and TV and film when they come through town. --For a blink-and-you'll-miss-me role on a television show, an actor might get $500 for the day. That's a nice chunk for a single day's work, but those opportunities are few and far between. Health insurance is also a big motivating factor for actors. Equity members must work 20 weeks a year to qualify for the union's health plan. Most shows run from nine to 18 weeks (including rehearsals). The pressure to work enough weeks looms large.

At the other end of the spectrum are non-Equity actors appearing in fringe and storefront productions. They can make from $0 -- you read that right -- to $200 a week. And it's not because the companies are stingy. The money simply isn't there.

Under these circumstances, any pay is gravy. Some companies offer a one-time stipend for the entire run, ranging from $25 to $500.

And forget the old cliche about actors waiting tables or tending bar. The majority I spoke to work day jobs in an office, where the health benefits help compensate for the tedium and fluorescent lighting.

A quick explanation of Equity's labyrinth of contract designations: Contracts offered by the Goodman, Northlight or Court Theatres, fall under the rules of the League of Resident Theaters.

The minimum weekly salary can range from $536 to $769. (After Feb. 25, the LORT minimum salary range goes up to $544-$792.)Most Equity theaters in Chicago -- which are allowed to employ some actors that are Equity, and some that are not -- fall under the Chicago Area Theatre contract rules and tier rankings; the minimums range from $162.50 to $686.25 per week.

By the way, Equity companies can (and frequently do) offer more than the minimum -- up to several hundred dollars more -- which is based on seniority or an actor's perceived value in the marketplace.

Most touring Broadway shows and designated Chicago productions of major Broadway musicals -- such as "Wicked" and "The Color Purple" -- operate under production contracts. Minimum is $1,465 a week, and lead roles can pay much, much more.

- - -Weekly minimums at some Chicago-area Equity theaters
Goodman Theatre$769(Albert Theatre) $536(Owen Theatre)
Steppenwolf Theatre686.25(Downstairs) $572(Upstairs, in most cases) $162.50 (Garage)Second City$647.04 (Mainstage) $485.28 (e.t.c. stage)
Chicago Shakespeare$572-$686.25 (mainstage)$572 (Upstairs)
Writers' Theatre$572
Northlight Theatre$536
Court Theatre$536
Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire$611
Drury Lane Oakbrook Terrace $593
Lookingglass Theatre$319.75

- - -Chicago faces
Audrey Francis
Age: 27
Marital Status: single
Residence: Chicago

Non-Equity actor and co-artistic director of Pine Box Theatre, plans to join the union after her run in "Othello" at Writers' Theatre in May.In 2006, Francis made about $4,000 (from fourshows), and $3,000 from television commercial work. But she earns the bulk of her money at Motel Bar, averaging $200/night. "I have a wonderful boss who lets me start at 11 p.m., so every night I get done with a show, I run straight to the bar and bartend until 4 in the morning. It's brutal, but if I didn't have that, I don't think I would be able to do theater."

Linda Gillum
Age: 30s
Marital Status: single
Residence: Chicago

Equity actor and Remy Bumppo Theatre Company member, appeared in the ensemble's fall production of "The Real Thing."In 2006, most of Gillum's income came from acting (from four shows, averaging $500/week); a quarter from acting classes she taught at the Acting Studio, Victory Gardens Training Center and the University of Illinois at Chicago. Remy Bumppo also pays its ensemble members a yearly stipend for administrative work that can range from $500 to $2,000. In the spring, Gillum directs "An Immigrant Class" for Remy Bumppo, but is still working to score acting jobs. "I'm nervous because last year I had four shows, and this year I don't have any."

Molly Hale
Age: 28
Marital status: single
Residence: Chicago

Non-Equity actor (sketch and improv) seen at ComedySportz and i.O. Theater, and is a member of the group Sketchcore. In 2006, Hale earned about $6,000 from stage work. Works a day job at a financial company. "The thing is, especially with improv, it's very hard to make a living doing it full time. The only way to make money doing comedy is to get in on the corporate gigs" lined up by the business arms of Second City, i.O., etc. "The big break [moneywise] doesn't happen in Chicago," she says. "Most of my friends that give up their day jobs usually have a spouse who works a safe job."

Don Hall
Age: 40
Marital status: married to fellow theater artist Jen Ellison
Residence: Chicago

Non-Equity actor and director, recently performed at SketchFest.Hall earned a $75 stipend for his role in LiveWire's production of "No Exit" in the fall. "That didn't even pay for the amount I spent on transportation, which was about $140 on the CTA. I didn't begrudge that, because they told me [the fee] upfront and they paid me closing night. The seventy-five bucks, to me it was like a handshake thank-you." Also does PR for small theater companies. Earns the bulk of his income as a substitute teacher for Chicago Public Schools.As for actor salaries: "Nobody wants to talk about it because everybody wants to place a shiny face on it, partly because they don't want anybody to think they're failing. And I understand that. ... Chicago is a working actor's town, and I know lots of non-Equity actors who do it because it's an opportunity to perform and really get some juicy roles and get the experience."

Joel Hatch
Age: 50
Marital status: married to fellow actor Carol Kuykendall, two children
Residence: Downers Grove

Equity actor frequently cast in musicals and plays, currently starring as Mr. Zero in "The Adding Machine: A Chamber Musical" at Next Theatre.On average, Hatch earns $40,000 to $50,000 annually from his work on Chicago stages. Says he has to appear in four to five shows a year to feel comfortable financially. "There are very few cities anywhere ... where I could do musical theater, Shakespeare, straight theater, comedy, dramas, all those things, and be booked throughout the year in the same city and live in my own house. That is a rare thing."

Robert McLean
Age: 38
Marital status: single
Residence: Chicago

Non-Equity actor and Hypocrites company member, appearing in the Hypocrites' production of "Mud" beginning Feb. 18.An estimated $5,000 income from stage work in 2006 (from two shows), and another $5,000 from on-camera work. McLean took on temp jobs during the year. "I have some savings that I've made a big dent in, so I've got applications out at eight different Starbucks."

Marc Pera
Age: 35
Marital status: single
Residence: Chicago

Primarily a musical theater actor working toward Equity membership, currently in Porchlight Music Theatre's "The Teapot Scandals."In 2006, Pera made about $10,000 (from two shows). Will earn a $300 stipend for the current Porchlight show. Pera makes the bulk of his living waiting tables at Bistro Zinc, which allows flexibility between day and night shifts: "You can make good money waiting tables."

Sara Sevigny
Age: 36
Marital status: Married to fellow actor Jon Sevigny
Residence: Chicago

Non-Equity actor and co-founder of Open Eye Productions, currently in Porchlight Music Theatre's "Assassins."In 2006, Sevigny made about $500 as an actor (from four shows), and earns her living working a day job at a real estate company. "Because we run a theater company, we always talk about money when it comes to actors. ... They're always the last ones to get paid, after stage managers, designers, musicians -- everybody gets paid before you pay actors."

Brandon Sornberger
Age: 28
Marital status: engaged
Residence: Chicago

Actor (improv), currently appears in four shows a week at i.O. Theater, including "The Armando Diaz Experience."In 2006, made $300 from stage work, and about $13,000 in residuals and holding fees on television commercials from '05. Sornberger makes the rest of his money picking up the occasional corporate gig (which pays about $100 a show) and managing the bar at i.O. A night of bartending can come to $125-$150. "I'm getting married in June, and my fiance and I are leaving for L.A. shortly thereafter. I'm not getting any younger."

Jay WhittakerAge: 34
Marital status: single
Residence: Chicago

Equity actor with numerous credits at Chicago Shakespeare and Court Theatre. Currently in "Frank's Home" at Playwrights Horizons in New York (which ran at the Goodman in November and December).In 2006, Whittaker made about $20,000 from acting (his salary ranged between $250/week at Next for "A Number" to $850/week at the Goodman for "Frank's Home"). Last year, took on a short-term catering job. "It just gets depressing after a while. As of now, I live in a one-room apartment with no furniture."

And some background: Last June in the Tribune, arts critic Sid Smith profiled Whittaker as one of "Chicago theater's unsung heroes."

In the piece, Whittaker offered the nitty-gritty on cash flow. For his performance in the "Henry IV" cycle at Chicago Shakespeare Theater back in May, "I got $600 a week, which, after taxes is $500. My rent's $600, my car payment's $250, and after insurance and utility bills, there's not a lot left for food. I could get rid of my car, but that's an agonizing choice for a working actor. Do I keep it to drive to auditions in the suburbs? Or do I put food in my belly?"

It was the quotation heard around the world -- around the local theater world, anyway.

Some actors said Whittaker was crazy to lay it on the line -- and, by extension, criticize his employers. Others were glad someone spoke up -- salaries are what they are, and there is no shame in telling the truth.Whittaker says that after speaking out, he did not work at Chicago Shakespeare again, and that he plans to move to New York permanently.

Chicago Shakespeare Theater did not respond to requests for a comment.-- Nina Metz

My love of acting is real, but it makes my stomach hurt?

A brotha got to eat...