Past and Future Me

October 7, 2009

I’m not quite sure where life is going these days. I’m being confronted by a lot of things: my upcoming trip to New York, my love of life in Berlin, and mostly, how long I want that life in Berlin to continue.

On the one hand,  my life is hugely successful here. I live in an apartment I love, I work from home, I get to sleep. My acting career is fairly successful here: I have a manager, I was cast in a play within my first two weeks here, and I was just hired to join an improv troupe in Berlin- a regular theatre gig.

I’m also doing things I’ve wanted to do but never had the guts or the time to do in New York, mainly, teaching acting. I also have a good gig teaching English and presentation skills at a graphic design company. I get to work on my art every single day, and I do.

Yet there’s a huge part of me that feels a certain longing to return to New York. I miss having consistent auditions. I keep feeling like I’m sacrificing something by coming here, which is not true at all. To have Berlin on my resume when I come back is going to be a huge boon for me, and I feel like my career is going to be so much stronger when I return.

For one thing, I’m going to make sure that I dedicate more time to it. No more working all the time. I want my life in New York to be closer to my life here, where I can create opportunities for myself. That will be more difficult in New York, because New York is lots more expensive, and I’m going to have to make more to cover my rent.

For me, it’s all a question of opportunities these days. My boyfriend has some huge career opportunities in his job here that he wants to take advantage of, which would mean a long term commitment here that I’m not sure I can make.

So then the question becomes my heart versus my head. Which do I want to be happy? And is it possible to have both satisfied at once?

I don’t want to return to the past. I don’t want to be constantly exhausted, and working on my acting but not working enough. I can be better than I was. I can do better than I did, and I’m aware of that. And I want to come back to New York and fight for the career that I want.

These are choices that I never thought I would have in life. I thought I was on a straight path, struggling in New York for the rest of my life. Suddenly, in this move, the world has been opened up to me and I feel like I no longer know what path I’m on or what I want, because I want everything. Life, love, travel, an acting career.

Is there a way to have it all?


Casting Director on Twitter During Auditions

August 13, 2009

The audition process is terrifying enough without comments on your audition appearing online- possibly even when you are in the room.

An EPA audition is horrible enough-getting up at the crack of dawn, being so tired you don’t want to speak much less sing, and having to be personable, talented, and brilliant within the space of about three minutes. As an actor, you’re already plagued with thoughts about whether or not you wore the right thing, or are singing the right song, will the tickle in your throat effect your performance, will you get a call back, etc etc etc. Now there’s another thought to add to the mix: what kind of snarky thing is the casting director thinking about me?

At the news that casting direction Daryl Eisenberg “tweeted” her way through a day of auditions has understandably set the theatre world on fire. While seeing into the thought process of a casting director is a useful tool for actors, I don’t think these thoughts are very useful to anyone:

“He. Is. So. Cute.”

“If we wanted to hear it a different way, don’t worry, we’ll ask.”

“Your skirt makes me think you’re Wiccan…”

“Who is that person in your headshot? it is def not the person standing in front of me.”

“If you are going to sing about getting on your knees, might as well do it and crawl towards us…right?”

How are any of these comments useful to actors walking into an audition room EXCEPT to make them more nervous? I know that if I ever walked into a room and Daryl Eisenberg was the casting director, I would be terrified every second at what judgements she was making about me.

Now I know that not all casting directors are thinking these things, or would find it appropriate to post these thoughts in public, even if they are in their heads. But suddenly it seems as though the audition process has been taken to an entirely new level. Suddenly I have to worry about whether my audition feedback is going to appear on any number of blogs or social networking sites?

Granted, the actors weren’t identified, but if you were one of the actors she wrote about, I’m sure you would figure it out. Humiliating. And unfair. I have enough to worry about when I’m auditioning. There is enough stigma going on in my head, I’m already wondering what the casting director is thinking. With the release of these statements, I feel like now I’m going to be wondering what bitchy sentiment the casting director is thinking in their head.

I’m all for blogs and such from casting directors explaining about the process, noting what actors do wrong and good solutions for how to fix them. But not while you’re working. Not while actors are trying to do their work. And trying to cover it up by explaining that you were writing about these actors “after they left the room” doesn’t help. As an actor, I know there is little to no time between auditioners: once one actor leaves, the next walks in. So when do you have the time to log on to Twitter?

To be honest, I hope that she loses her job over this. It is offensive to performers, and unprofessional behavior. It shows no respect for the work that actors do every day. The audition process is not easy. And I feel like this situation has just made it a little harder.


New Apartment on Kastanienallee

August 6, 2009

So I’ve been pretty much silent on this thing for some time now, mostly because life has been alternatively too busy to write and too boring to write about.

So what all have I been up to these past few months? I took a trip to Istanbul, which was incredibly beautiful and a huge culture shock. It was an absolutely amazing place. I loved walking by the beautiful ocean, hearing the sounds of prayer on the streets from the mosques, and seeing things I never thought I’d experience before. Many of the people we talked to had a lot of hope for Turkey as a country, and we had some very interesting conversations with people there.

I have been hard at work starting my new business, Kleine Broadway (www.kleinebroadway.com). We’re doing theatre workshops in English in bilingual schools, to encourage creativity and help them improve their English skills. The two workshops we’ve done so far have been a success, and we’re currently in planning stages for the fall.

I also took over Bryan’s old babysitting job for a wonderful family that treats me so nicely. I really feel at home there, and it brightens my day to be with those kids. There are four of them: bilingual twins who are 7, a 5 year old who only speaks German, and an 18 month old baby.

And the best part is that we have a new apartment! It’s on an amazing street, Kastanienallee, which is filled with shops, cafes, and restaurants, even a bookstore that carries English books! I’m sitting out on our balcony now appreciating the fact that I am able to live on such an incredible Berlin street for half the money I was paying to share an apartment in Astoria.

There are two downsides to the apartment: 1) This being one of the busiest streets in Berlin, with a 24 hour shop downstairs from the apartment, it is fairly loud outside. Our first night, there were drunk people outside at 7am waking us up! 2) Too many English speakers on our block! You would think this would be a plus, but with Bryan and I finally taking German classes and learning fairly quickly, we want to use the language as much as possible. We get angry now when Germans speak English to us, since we are trying so hard to use it as much as possible.

In performing news, I’ll be performing in a selection from “The Bacchae” in November at an International Directors Festival in Leipzig! I’m very excited about the project.

I’ve also been working on a production grant for a musical I’m hoping to perform in early 2010… everyone keep your fingers crossed for me!

Oh, and I revamped my own website too, so check it out: www.amylerner.net.


Madrid

May 27, 2009

I just returned from a trip to Madrid, which was my first time going to Spain. Madrid was a city that I liked but didn’t quite love. I think there were a few reasons for that. First, it looked exactly as I thought it would look. Second, a lot of the time was spent in more tourist-y areas, and I think if I had gotten to know neighborhoods a little more I would have enjoyed it more. 

Plaza Mayor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We went to Toledo for an afternoon, and that was a town that I just loved. The city itself is just beautiful, and I loved the train ride, and seeing the mountains everywhere. It was gorgeous. 

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One night, we went to a bullfight. This was something I wanted to do, just for the cultural experience, not for the animal cruelty aspect of it. That part was almost impossible for me to watch. 

The crowd at the bullfight was all natives, except us, so people laughed as we recoiled in shock from the violence being done to these animals. Now, I know not everyone in Spain likes bullfighting, but it was quite a shock to see. We saw three bulls die and two live before we couldn’t watch anymore and left. 

The costumes and movement were beautiful, as I thought they would be. That was the performance aspect. The movements were so specific. There were so many times when the matador would stand with the utmost confidence, taunting the bull with his masculinity and power. It was fascinating to watch. 

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The not-so-fascinating part was watching a confused bull walking around bleeding. The violent aspects of the fight were so hard to watch. It was unbelievable that this could still go on in this time period. 

The food was great there, though at the end of the trip I was happy to not eat more Spanish food. Everyone eats their meals late there, so we all adjusted our eating times accordingly. One night, we ate dinner at around 9:30 at night, and that was practically impossible for me to do. 

Some of the best things we ate: paella, lots of ham fritters, potatoes, sangria, and pocket sandwiches, the closest to egg and cheese on a roll I’ve had since I left New York. Egg, potato, and chorizo, all mixed together for ultimate deliciousness in a roll. 

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The Artist’s Way

May 11, 2009

On Saturday, I finished The Artist’s Way. It has been a huge three months, and a huge life change for myself. It was a wholly rewarding experience, though I must say it can be difficult if you don’t have the time commitment to make (around one hour a day). In the three months of the course, I had a complete lifestyle change (aided by the move to Berlin), in which I changed from a person working seven days a week and only sometimes working on acting and art, to someone working three (or no) days a week and living the life of an artist. Here is what I accomplished in the three months of the course:

  • Wrote a ten week curriculum for an acting class
  • Built my website http://www.amylerner.net
  • Began advertising as an acting coach
  • Was asked to teach an acting workshop for children
  • Began writing a screenplay
  • Wrote an adaptation of the book “Matilda” for the workshop
  • Began discussing doing a musical in the fall
  • Started going back to tap class
  • Got my first acting student

I think it’s a highly effective tool for any artist. I started the course not thinking I was even blocked, but as the course went on I realized more and more that I was not living life to my full creative potential. This course unlocked so many things I’ve wanted to do but never fully realized it. Highly recommended.


Three Months…

May 4, 2009

And I’m thinking what I’m sure some of you are thinking: already??? I know, I can’t believe it either. So now that I’ve spent a quarter of a year living in Berlin (THAT thought really put it in perspective), I’d like to summarize my feelings on the city:

Likes:

  • The transportation system is just amazing! I’ve never been late or stuck on a train. 
  • I live in an incredible apartment with a balcony next to a major transportation hub that costs a fraction of what I paid to live in Queens. 
  • The efficiency of everything. 
  • Buying bread from bakeries… especially walking down the street with a bag of fresh bread and the bag is warm.
  • The food is incredibly cheap. 
  • The history of this city blows my mind every time I walk throught it. The fact that this city went through a major transformation during my lifetime is amazing for me to think about. 
  • The people here are really interesting. 
  • It’s also a very green city, which I support. (As in, environmentally friendly). 
  • There are parks everywhere! I live within walking distance of two. 

Dislikes:

  • People don’t clean up after their dogs, so there are little “presents” all over the street.
  • There tends to be a lot of broken glass on the ground, too. 

What is my life here compared to my life in New York? I work less, that’s for sure. I work more on acting and art. I live in a beautiful apartment. I don’t have much of a social life, due to lots of time spent working and having lots of guests. I’m spending more time outside, and getting lots more sleep, catching up on the sleep I haven’t been getting for years. I’m eating better and feeling less stressed. I am getting lonely and homesick sometimes, but I’m enjoying the time away from home and the new life I’m living. 

Things I Miss About New York:

  • THE FOOD. As good and fresh as the food can be here, nothing can top NewYork in terms of restaurants and variety. 
  • Sometimes I miss the hustle and bustle. Other times, I don’t. 
  • My acting class. It’s nice to have an artistic community of people that special. 
  • The theatre! I feel kind of sad to be missing some shows over there. 
  • Having a social life, what little I did have while I was there. 

It’s definitely been a crazy three months for sure, but I am so happy for the experience that I’m having. I know that I will remember this for the rest of my life. I’m starting to feel like I never want to leave, because if I did, I would miss here, just like I miss New York now. Berlin is becoming a different kind of home for me.


I am inspired.

May 2, 2009

What an incredible performance by an incredible cast. I wish that I was in New York to see this again…