2011 things I am thankful for this year
Counting my blessings this year! There are too many to truly count but here are 2011 of my favorite highlights:
4 Performances of Home
- 25 different characters played
- 2 incredible cast mates (thanks Mark and Shae!)
- 4 Amazing production team members (Thanks Kelsey, Tom, Pamela, Jewel!)
7 NYIT Award Nominations for Balm in Gilead
- 32 cast members nominated
- 1 Win for Outstanding Production of a Play
- Named one of the 5 Best Performances of the year by Backstage
26.2 tracks successfully marketed for Endure: Run. Woman. Show.
- 3 run along rehearsals completed
- 3 sold out, overbooked performances
3 months of my producing debut, comedy spoof Gay-Z video online
- 6 locations shot during 1 day shoot
- 4.3 minutes of lyrical genius
- 7 hilarious cast members (Thanks Jeffrey, Keo, Roddy, Milton, Burt, Mo, Hadiyah!)
- 6 background comedians in thongs and neon pink (Thanks Jordan, Pudge, Jamar, Renaldy, Hector, Aaron)
- 12 incredible crew members (Thanks Marlene, Chad, Ling, Ken, Wayne, Brenda, Allison, Laney, Christine, Chris, Delilah!)
- 15 beautifully talented female actresses (Thanks Layna, Robin, Jenni, Ebony, Laura, Joy, Colleen, Alexandra, Chrysten, Evgenia, Dominique, Adriana, Rookie, Josephine!)
- 8 performances
- 6 amazing NYC outdoor ampitheatres
- 2 awesome directors (thanks Mark and Alessandra), one awesome translator (thanks Aaron!)
- 300+ people at the East River Ampitheatre for Summer Stage
$1,240 raised for The Artist Office in 2 months on IndieGogo!
- 37 generous donors
- 86 excited Facebook fans
- 77 Twitter followers
14 theater students developed a personal brand, goals, and marketing material through guest lecturing at UMBC, thanks to an invite from 1 great professor, Wendy Salkind.
12 arts entrepreneurship students learned about managing a portfolio career as an artist through my guest lecture, thanks to 1 amazing twitter connection, the brilliant Linda Essig.
Cast in 1 mind-blowing role of Saint Monica in 1 incredible play, The Last Days of Judas Iscariot:
- 18 talented castmates: (Tommy, Omar, Steven, Michael, Adyana, Benjamin, Eliud, Julia, Morgan, George, Ben, Alex, Rebecca, Bud, Julie, Alexandra, Brennan, Stephen: I can’t wait to work with you!)
- 42 performances—seriously so excited!
Grand Total: 2011.5
And there is soooooo much more to come in 2012! I can’t wait!
My performing arts portfolio career
It turns out they’ve got a name for that. Go figure! I was asked to speak about Portfolio Careers for Artists and my new business venture, The Artist Office at ASU’s p.a.v.e. arts entrepreneurship class. Thanks to it’s fearless leader, the brilliant professor Linda Essig, I was able to discover a new label for my varied career path. I was asked to speak with her class about my portfolio career which includes: my professional career as an actress, working full time in arts management for a premiere Broadway non-profit, working as an independent consultant in marketing, my private coaching, my entrepreneurship as creator of a performing arts business, my work as a video producer…ok I’m totally exhausted thinking about all of these things and probably should be getting back to work!
The truth is that while I’ve always been active, my transition to working professional in New York is what prompted me to diversify my options. The challenges of working as a single, broke, relatively unknown, minority actress in New York City has really been great motivation to get creative with my career. So far it has worked, and I like to imagine my success is more fulfilling than if I had be led down a straight and narrow path. My life is more interesting, and I am proud and never bored by the life that I lead. That’s a rule. Never be bored by what you do. You are far too talented! So for my presentation I tried to put together knowledge gained from this experience in a not so boring way.
Here are my Ten Not Boring Tips for Managing a Successful Portfolio Career in the Performing Arts:
1. Remember: you’ve got skillz.
Assuming you are all ready to work professionally as a performing artist, having completed the necessary training and practical experience has already prepared you to work in many fields other than your own. If you can find one that supports you financially in a related area of the performing arts, even better. Consider taking well paid work in a related area which can allow you more flexibility in options for payment for the job you really want. You will make valuable connections and show your dedication to the craft, which impresses those who want to hire you. You are by definition multi-talented, so put some of them to work! As an actress, my scene study classes taught me how to relate and establish connections quickly with strangers. I’ve now got ten years of customer service experience with jobs I’ve landed using these skills.
2. Be a little self centered.
Part of the difference between managing a portfolio career and simply working like a slave is finding balance. You’ve got to approach your work with a more laid back, hippie-like, free approach and love whatever you do. Practice constantly “putting things into the universe”, and eventually they will make their way back to you. For example, your succesful lead generation doesn’t need to come from applying tremendous pressure to make something happen off a single interaction or networking event. Instead, embrace your job search as a disciplined, steady approach, where you are always exploring opportunities; then you will never feel trapped by depending on just one.
4. Embrace the slash.
5. Carry a deck of cards.
No, not the kind you play “go fish” with. You should have a variety of portable promotional materials that showcase what you do for that chance meeting with a potential employer, and your business card is at the center of this. Promotional materials are all about making you feel more comfortable when presenting yourself, so if you have a multi-faceted career, why not be prepared with cards that represent all that you do? Simply creating a business card for your second or third interest transcends your various passions and hobbies into a full career pursuit. You’ll make an impression and be considered a serious potential hire to those who you meet. My card deck is a literal deck, containing acting cards, cards for my full time job, consulting services, and mini ones just to make an impression. Also, they don’t have to be perfect: (ok, you can play go-fish here) Use your cards as incentive to get the cards of others.
Your website is the key to controlling the flow of information out there in the wilderness of the interweb about you, and in managing your own PR. It is also a place where you can organize your various pursuits and write your own narrative reflecting a full, successful career journey. There are no restricting rules for your website about bio length, structure or resume formatting, so present examples of the work that you are targeting up front, and then make it easy for employers to navigate through your other talents if they happen to seek them. Collect all the wonderful reviews, articles, videos, and other representations of you performing your dream job and post them here. Tell your story the way you want it told. Duplicate your “narrative of success” on all your social media sites, and be sure to use the same phrasing to help with SEO. Pretty soon you will be able to google yourself and see that the story that you want to tell is there for your employers to find.
7. Always be awesome.
AKA— Never suck. Pause—not every opportunity is right for you. You don’t need to start a profile on every new social media network. You don’t have to be at that workshop, party, networking happy hour, class, whatever right now. Now, if you have the time for it and you feel awesome while doing it, then do it. Otherwise, save face and do the things you enjoy doing the most, and leave good impressions everywhere. While networking is super important to creating a portfolio career; false, creepy and insincere interactions with future employers can cut you off and permanently blacklist you from endless future opportunities.
8. Blur your focus.
9. It’s a line dance, it ain’t a wedding march.
10. Now put aside the portfolio.
One thing every artist hates is another label. If you are constantly working in the performing arts, you’ve got a career, plain and simple. A performing arts career will ultimately take a number of twists and turns and we will follow it willingly and excitedly, as we are oft more inspired by our dreams and intuitions than by facts and industry trends. So part of that is acceptance that our careers—made up by nature of a stream of part time jobs—are perfectly normal to our industry. The key to any form of financial success in our business is securing multiple roles/gigs, and the nature of the beast is that the path to booking them is about who you know and who knows you. Therefore any job that you do within in the industry is a part of marketing for your main focus. Celebrate your success in finding constant work!
Stage Manager Needed @TransportGrp Thanksgiving week, $230
Transport Group needs a House Manager to work for our production of QUEEN OF THE MIST during the Thanksgiving Holiday week. The House Manager must be available for all performances listed below, and must arrive 90 minutes prior to curtain and stay thru intermission. The House Manager duties include prepping the house for audience seating prior to each performance, supervising volunteer ushers, ensuring the smooth seating of all patrons, monitoring the hallways during intermission, ensuring all patrons return to their seats at the end of intermission. House Manager must also observe pre-show seating/intermission at at least two performances prior to the dates below for training. Pay is $230 which includes the performance schedule below and training time.
The performance schedule for the house manager is as follows:
Tues 11/22 6:30-9:30pm (Performance @ 8pm)
Wed 11/23 12:30-3:30pm (Performance @ 2pm)
Wed 11/23 6:30-9:30pm (Performance @ 8pm)
Fri 11/25 6:30-9:30pm (Performance @ 8pm)
Sat 11/26 12:30-3:30pm (Performance @ 2pm)
Sat 11/26 6:30-9:30pm (Performance @ 8pm)
Please contact Front of House Manager Michelle Beige ( email@example.com) as soon as possible if interested. Please forward this to interested friends as well.
The 2012 DC Black Theatre Festival Open Call
The 2012 DC Black Theatre Festival Open Call
• Full-Length Plays
• One-Act Plays
• New Works Reading Series
• Doug E. Doug Comedy Competition
The DC Drama Department is proud to announce the 2012 DC Black Theatre Festival, a week-long festival celebrating the thriving theatre community in Washington DC, June 23 – July 1, 2012.
We are looking for works in any genre, including plays which incorporate movement, dance, and music. Playwrights of all skill levels are encouraged to submit. All chosen Full-length Plays, New Works Reading Series and Workshop are supported by the festival with 100% of the ticket sales going directly to the performing group, facilitator and/or playwright. A cash award and trophy are given to the winners of the One-Act plays.
The DC Black Theatre Festival holds fast in its commitment to provide a balance of works with high artistic integrity for both emerging and veteran artists. Our mission is to create a diverse group of outstanding artist with a distinctive vision that will give an artistic identity of uncommon richness and variety to all people. So whether you enjoy the works of August Wilson, Tyler Perry or a good old Gospel Stage Play, the DC Black Theatre Festival has something for you.
• One Act Plays: Running time MUST NOT exceed 20 minutes in length.
• Full-length Plays: Running time MUST NOT exceed 90 minutes in length.
• New Works Reading Series: Running time MUST NOT exceed 90 minutes in length.
• Workshops: Running time MUST NOT exceed 80 minutes in length.
• Doug E. Doug Comedy Competition: Running time MUST NOT exceed 20 minutes in length.
Please submit your application online at www.DCBlackTheatreFestival.com
Any questions, please contact the DCBTF Staff at info@DCBTF.org
Deadline for all submissions are Tuesday, March 1, 2012
A must read for businesses or individual brands using social media.
Queen of the Mist
The Transport Group’s latest commission, Queen of the Mist, follows Annie Edison Taylor, the “Heroine of Horseshoe Falls” who in 1901 became the first person to shoot Niagara Falls in a barrel of her own precise, “scientific” design. Queen of the Mist begins with the dignified Annie: though single, penniless, and desperate after several failed attempts at other making money ventures, ready to take the tumble over the fall. Mary Testa, in her first starring role after two Tony nominations and a full career, stars as our heroine and is certainly the main event.
With booming dignity and a voice seemingly tailor-made for Broadway mega-theaters, Testa commands the intimate Judson auditorium, leaving no doubt of her powerful presence. At times, the grand Anna doesn’t give others in her life opportunity to shine, following her mantra “I have greatness in me” (her signature song) at all costs: denying family, friends, managers, or anyone else in her life an opportunity at stealing her sought after spotlight. Thankfully, strong character choices highlight ensemble members in this production, particularly Annie’s manager and devoted follower, Frank Russell, played by Andrew Samonsky (South Pacific, Tales of the City). This new musical is at its best when we see little glimpses into Taylor’s personal relationships that simplify her from iconic daredevil to human, like the relationship between her and Russell, as both try to forge friendship while simultaneously monopolizing on the fame and fortune to follow what some see as a public suicide.
While begging to be seen (and perhaps adapted and cut) for a venue more apt for large vaudevillian spectacle, the Gym at Judson provides Queen of the Mist with excellent creative challenges, and the beautiful design and commitment to storytelling of these effortless professionals provides its own particular magic. There is nowhere to hide, and each character is committed and full, and close enough to reach out and touch.
Transport to another time in American History— See it for yourself up close: use this discount, courtesy of Mama Drama: $10 off with code TGMAMA
Read what other MamaDrama Bloggers have to say about Queen of the Mist on BroadwayWorld: http://broadwayworld.com/mamadrama.cfm.
An indie theater actress’ lament.
All actors should be taught marketing, business skills, management, organization, fundraising, social media, bartending, oh… and acting.
After all, it’s not that tough to show up and be a pretty face, right? Just living in New York makes it possible for anyone to succeed as an actor under the right circumstances I mean all you have to do is: workafewstrenuoussidejobs to makeenoughmoney to afford adozenorsoactingclasses, agaggleofexpensiveheadshots, and a honestrealestatebroker so you can sleeponacleancot in Midtownsoyoucanbecloseenough and healthinsurance so youcanbehealthyenough to havetheenergy to getupearlyenough to befirstinline at theopenrequiredEPA for the assistanttotheassociatecastingdirectortothedirector and then hurryupandwait for the phone call.
<…Ok maybe not yet. >
I’d love to be a master of all of these things. I work hard at learning additional business skills to increase my personal value as a performer and my worth to each company that I work with, and often end up wearing multiple hats when working on smaller productions—I’ll do everything from email marketer to assistant stage manager. I do consider it part of the deal of creating collaborative indie theater. And assuming we could all be compensated/rewarded for their contributions, wouldn’t it be great if all companies had skilled performing artists who could work in that way? Or wouldn’t it be even better if I could just use all of the skills to further my own acting career?
More than sturdy bootstraps to pull upward on are needed to develop a community of multitalented individuals, who are then willing to work for peanuts or love of craft. Particularly for performing artists like me, where there is little mentorship by other performers or loyalty from theater companies, we are often going at it alone. I frequently have the feeling that my chosen profession (though thank God I am now getting paid for this) is very professional at all. Occasionally I often even envy business types passing by in briefcases as I slop to rehearsal in my sweats (ok… most of the time I actually like this part). I look at those heading into their offices and just wish I had a place to go where I could receive personalized mentorship while completing daunting tasks like industry mailings, where I could print a resume as I am running out the door, or simply a place to commiserate with others while working on my website.
So then I had this revolutionary idea: Let’s create that space. A place for performing artists to go to work: where they can master the business needs the industry requires. A place where actors like me can receive training, mentorship, communal support. Let’s create a membership-based office space where we can work-out those skills together, or meet with our favorite personal trainer, like at the gym. So I launched this IndieGogo Campaign as a start. I’ve got some awesome supporters on board, including 2amt. With your help, we could:
-create an interactive learning space which contains a small library’s worth of industry information, scripts, sheet music, casting notices, call sheets, sample promotional materials, and more.
- train performing artists on cutting edge technologies, social media outlets, marketing skills and more so that they are empowered to apply the skills to their career, or elsewhere in the workforce.
-instill each member artist with a sense of security and pride that is gained from walking into the office each day to focus on a career that they love.
-create a base camp where incredible theater innovators can meet, provide training and services to our members, host meetings, and more.
- employ numerous out of work actors, musicians, dancers, and more who will then go on inspire others with their art.
I am hoping to rent an office space in Midtown Manhattan, and equip it with:
• Multiple workstations, desks
• Computers with Photoshop, web design creation tools, and more
• Shared conference room and kitchen
• Virtual library of usual documents, trade magazines, castings, industry guides
• Physical library of industry mags, guides, call sheets, labels, and more
• Necessary office supplies including headshot envelopes, highlighters, staplers, labels, organization tools and more
• Online calendar for reserving the space and booking consulting sessions
• EXPERT STAFF during all operating hours to assist members (So we aren’t just helping artists get employed, we are also employing artists who are doing it right)
Consider donating today to help create this place. We could develop a whole army of actor/marketer/promoter/producer/fundraisers, or simply, more well-trained and prepared actors. Either way, the theater community benefits. And the community that develops around the space itself might then create work, support each other, contribute financially, well the possibilities are endless. Make a space so I can get to work.
Maryland Monroe Consulting
New York, NY