On October 11th, Zafira and the Resistance by Kathryn Haddad, directed by Malek Najjar and Zeina Salame, produced by the New Arab American Theater Works opened in the Dowling Studio at the Guthrie Theater. I am once more honored to be part of this story's development and growth. From the first table read, through staged readings and the full production of Zafira the Olive Oil Warrior and this rehearsal process up to this very day, I am incredibly honored to be part of the journey of this important work.
On October 26th at 10:00 a.m. Little Men, a short film by Ayesha Adu will receive its premier at the Riverview Theater. Tickets are $6 and I really hope to see you there! I am so excited to share this film with the world. Ever since my agent sent me the script to prepare for my audition I have been a huge fan. I can't wait for everyone else to experience this incredible work.
It feels like I haven't stopped moving since the last time I wrote. I've been on the road and in the air, having some terrific experiences, doing auditions (some fraught, some not) and have even gotten to act. :)
Prescription Murder with Ghoulish Delights was a delightful caper from top to bottom! Prescription Murder is the play that became the pilot episode of the television series Columbo. In our production that lovable, seemingly bumbling detective was deftly portrayed by Sam Landman. Audiences and reviewers alike enjoyed the show for it's (too) short run. (Hint, hint, Tim.)
"It's really fun to watch Sam and the rest of this great cast play at murder... Director Tim Uren keeps the tone fun and chilling, with an appropriately dark edge since we are talking about murder here." - Cherry and Spoon
In more recent news, the new MN Theater Awards has chosen Prescription Murder as one of its productions to recognize in 2018. They aren't announcing categories until the night of awards, so more to come on that front.
Next up, a film I helped with in LA a while back, Six L.A. Love Stories, was released on iTunes and I was at last able to see it. Click on the link above to check it out. (I worked as a featured extra, so I'm sharing a screenshot here, lest you miss me.) I had remarkably little to do with this film but I am incredibly proud of Michael Dunaway and team - Congrats all!
I've travelled a lot this year so far. One trip this June took me to San Diego for a brief but interesting work visit. After which I took the train up to L.A. to spend a long weekend with friends. The timing could not have been better as one of my friends, Krystel Seier, had a film premiering that weekend in the Dances with Films festival at the Chinese Theater. Dusty Mesa Productions' film, Track One, took home an Audience Favorite award - very well deserved! I look forward to more great things from this company.
Shortly after that trip, I played around on set for Oxford Comma Films production, The Cabin. And then had a fun garden photoshoot with Roderick Omani at The Imagery.
The next BIG thing was MN Fringe 2018. I have taken a few years away from Fringe because I was a bit burnt out. But when my friend, Brian Watson Jones, approached me about writing and performing a small piece of a larger Fringe Show, it seemed like a perfect opportunity to jump back into the fray. The show is called Fringe Ophans 4: Back in the Habit and it is a collection of short works and works in progress. As you can probably guess by the title, this is the 4th year they've been in the festival and it was like joining a big family. I staged D0C3NT, my 6-minute monologue about the potential impacts of a post-jobs economy. Light and fluffy it was not, but it was a good deal of fun to dig into. The costume and makeup presented a unique challenge as I am meant to be a hologram, so I had to figure out how to light up. We performed in the round requiring a bit more moving around stage than I originally envisioned, so when people mistook me for a robot that seemed entirely reasonable to me.
People said kind things. I worked with some lovely people. I saw some provocative art. It was a good Fringe year.
"Adelheid (Heidi) Berg's depiction of a robot was showstopping and her costuming was flawless;" - Heather Rand-McKay, audience review
I've just begun rehearsals for River Becomes Sea, with nimbus, a devised piece loosely based on the Bacchae and I have a few other maybes still floating in the world, so more to come.
I am continuing my ASL studies, this time in a semester format at Minneapolis Community and Technical College with teacher Holly Baker - she's amazing! And, I have been lucky to connect with teacher Ellie Abrams - she's keeping me on my toes and always striving to be my best.
The list of successes my friends are having is getting kind of ridiculous in length, so I can't hope to do it justice here. However, I will post a few and beg forgiveness from everyone else. First, my friend, Laurine Price continues to rock in LA. Here's a recent Lexus commercial.
Next up, my friend Matt Kessen and his hilarious Reverent Matt's Monster Science series had a HUGE showing at the Minnesota Fringe Festival with his talk, What to do in case of Dinosaur Attack. He sold out houses in a good sized venue, and received many accolades. I am not remotely surprised, but it seems to have taken him a minute to get used to. (I get to open for him in a couple months, yeah, no pressure.)
Finally, my friends over at Theater People web series CLEANED UP at the New Jersey Web Festival, bringing home 3 trophies: Best Cinematography in a Comedy, Best Comedy Series, & their overall Best of the Best award. So thrilled for their continued successes!
Having stated my intention to do a better job of blogging, this year is paying me back by giving me LOTS to talk about.
Shortly after my last post, I was able to help out my friends at GreyDuck Productions on a fun shoot for their Z-Fest entry, "Hostess". The entire film is a one shot, and was a great opportunity to hang out with a bunch of creatives, have a good time and watch this talented crew execute their carefully laid out plan. The clip below was shot on film and a nice way for the filmmakers to showcase their extras - Super8 shenanigans.
Next up, we had our final day on set for "Last Call". To prep I studied some of our earlier raw footage, and I get more and more excited to share this film with the world. Post-production is underway, stay tuned!
Now for something a bit more serious - I attended a panel discussion, "Policy and Practice: A Training and Conversation about Harassment" organized by the Minnesota Theater Alliance. After the #notinourhouse movement led to Chicago's creation of an agreed upon set of standards, followed by the #metoo movement and the downfall of Harvey Weinstein, it was only a matter of time before the Twin Cities theater community stood up and faced its own demons. After attending this panel, I have to say, we have a long way to go, but this is at least a start. Please add your voice to this vital conversation - until we get loud things will not change and things need to change.
As you may be aware, a large winter sportsball event took place in Minneapolis this year, The Super Bowl, you may have heard of it. Minneapolis weather was more or less behaved and people seemed to have a lovely time visiting while those who live here had our lives tossed into temporary turmoil. On an upside, my boss, myself and my staff were all invited to a rather fun party, the Superb Owl, by the party hosts MKTG. Clever name, everyone attended and had a lovely time.
In some very unexpected and sad news, my dear friend Randall Gray passed away. Randy and I worked together for a number of years in the box office of the Fitzgerald Theater. Trust me, nothing bonds you faster than surviving A Prairie Home Companion rush line from inside the box office. He was a genius, self taught (as his father will quickly point out), and a loyal friend who wanted people to be equal parts informed and happy. I am still processing his passing, as are his parents, his long time girlfriend Suzy, and his myriad friends. I don't expect it will be fully real to me for a long time.
From the moment I heard of Randy's passing, the song "I Shall Be Free" by Kid Beyond was in my head, it speaks to me of Randy and how he carried himself in this world. So I recorded it and, on one of the coldest days of this winter, shot a video in his memory.
Later in February I had the distinct pleasure of appearing in "What Fuels Development", a Los Angeles Poverty Department (the other LAPD) production presented by Pangea World Theater and directed by John Malpede. The members of the LAPD theater company are people who currently live, or have previously lived, in Skid Row, Los Angeles. To say this opportunity to work with them was uncommon, would be an understatement. "What Fuels Development" takes a look at gentrification through the lens of a housing project in Skid Row that was forced to make so many concessions to gentrification that the Skid Row community had to come together and get the licensing revoked - no easy feat. An optimistic tale for those of us who believe the community should decide what is built within it, not financiers and business people who won't live there. Optimistic, but as we learned, only temporary. Money talks, so those without any must raise their voices loudly and consistently enough to drown out the sound. This project taught me so much, about what it is to be homeless, what it is to have a community, what it is to be a professional, and what it means to be an actorvist - a title of which I hope to be worthy. On the one hand I feel like I could talk about this experience forever, and on the other I don't believe I could ever do it justice. I will say that the next time I am in LA, I have a much larger family to visit.
The Monday after "What Fuels Development" closed I finally began a journey I've been longing to take since I was a child, I started my first Conversational ASL class. I'm five classes in, I can ask basic questions, talk about food, colors and family. I know how to sign "slower", and want to believe I will be less afraid to be bad at it in favor of what I can now call "practice". It frustrates me and makes me angry that there are people who are excluded from everyday society because everyday people won't learn how to communicate with them. I'm one of those people, in so many ways, and I hope this is just a first step towards becoming a better one.
Next up, the short film "Little Men" written and directed by Ayesha Adu. It is an incredible script, centered around two boys, best friends, as they encounter a situation that will test their friendship and the very core of their beings - all before they've even had a chance to fully know what that means. I play the crack addicted mother of one of the boys, a challenge and an honor and I'm still working to live up to it. Filming is wrapped, and as they go into post-production this award winning and grant winning script could use some additional funding, there are two sites you can donate on: GoFundMe and Indiegogo, please consider supporting this amazing project.
Which brings us to UPCOMING projects, things to look forward to. First up, "Prescription Murder" with Ghoulish Delights, the script for the play that became the first episode of Columbo and it is just as much fun as it sounds. Performing May 4-5, 10-13 at the Phoenix Theater Minneapolis. And "Dan Helsing: Demon Warrior" a feature comedy-horror film by Green Shelf Films that will shoot later this summer. Very funny script, the sequel to Dan Helsing: Exterminator, and after running a make-up test, and discovering I look an awful lot like a Scooby Do villain, I have to say we are in really good hands. There will be an Indiegogo campaign soon, another excellent opportunity to support local, independent film. We are not just The Bold North, we are not just a fly-over state. We are home to artists and creatives and support starts at home.
Last, but absolutely not least, a celebration of friends getting it done. Babatunde Oyewo has been slaying it! He's a fighter in Black Panther (I mean, need I go on?), a super in Rigoletto for MN Opera and has recently had his first successful print gig. And I thought I was busy. Speaking of slaying it, Krystel Seier has not only seen a film she co-produced and acted in, Rebar, released on Amazon (and make the Top 20 Films to Stream list its first week), but she has also filmed a scene for the film Lone Star Deception, as part of the Second Unit. Barbara Kingsley is, admittedly, more of an acquaintance but I couldn't pass up the opportunity to share that she showed up on one of my favorite shows. She has a rather brilliant cameo in Season Two of Jessica Jones as the snarktastic wig shop owner. Doing Minnesota proud! And finally, Carson Lee, a transplant to New York, makes a loud, if brief, appearance on the most recent episode of Blacklist. I am surrounded by supremely talented, giving and loving friends and acquaintances who also happen to be GETTING IT DONE! Go team!!
Recently, I had the honor of joining a Friday Roundtable discussion on MPR with the topic “After 200 years, why does "Frankenstein" still resonate?” Friday Roundtable discussions are in-depth conversations on news and culture, with host Kerri Miller. This honor was born out of the production of Frankenstein: A Modern Prometheus by Green T Productions in which I played the Doctor last fall, and is especially meaningful to me because I am such a big fan of the book as well as Mary Shelley and her mother Mary Wollstonecraft. The other guests were Jennifer Alexander, Director of Graduate Studies in the History of Science, Technology & Medicine at the University of Minnesota and Juliet Burba, Director of Exhibits and Collections at the Bakken Museum - so, I was in REALLY good company. I was so nervous the day of that I left far too early and had plenty of time in the waiting room to wonder about the other women on the panel. Would we agree? Would we have enough to say? Jennifer arrived next and as we chatted I began to relax, when Juliet joined it seemed clear we were in no danger of uninteresting conversation. Unfortunately, as our time in the waiting area grew longer I realized I would need to move my car. I’d arrived so early I was in danger of getting a ticket. As I put my coat on to run and feed the meter, I learned that they would validate parking in a nearby ramp. Sheepishly I ran to move my vehicle, arriving back at a jog just in time to walk in to the studio. Which is kind of a record for me - ridiculously early and nearly late for the same event. What happened when we got into the studio you can listen to here.
Please help me keep the conversation going, share your thoughts in a comment.
Next up for me on stage, is a collaboration between Pangea World Theater and Los Angeles Poverty Department called, “What Fuels Development?” Perfomances are 2/23-2/24 at Old Arizona Studio, 2821 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55408 We have just begun the process, but I am already so excited. It is a story of a community coming together to do the right thing for some of the most vulnerable amongst us.
Also, I’ll be finishing up filming on Last Call and working on a few other films in the next few weeks, all while Super Bowl Madness takes over Minneapolis! Who knows what shenanigans will ensue from there?!
Finally, I have the absolute joy of celebrating the successes of two dear friends. Laurine Price's stunning turn in Episode 1 of American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace and Gregory Dean Tompkins who turns in, in what is a surprise to no one, a smart performance in Episode 15 of Homicide Hunter’s 7th Season. For every step we seemingly walk alone in this industry, it is good to remember those who walk with us and give us reason to celebrate! So PROUD of them. Inspirations, both!
When last I wrote I mentioned the roller coaster ride that is an actor's life. 2017 offered much in support of that metaphor. Lost friends, more VO work, stage and film opportunities, a new home, performances in Los Angeles, new connections and networking opportunities and a new agent in Chicago. 2018 promises to be more of the same, but before we ring in the new year, allow me to attempt a proper farewell to this one.
The flickering out of the light that was Laurie Carlos was followed far too quickly by the silencing of the music that was dear mentor and friend, J. Otis Powell‽ His passing, while ending his suffering, has left a hole in our community and in my heart. My final words to him were harshly poetic, and a response to a challenge he offered the audience that evening. I do not wish to take them back, I rather wish I had an opportunity to discuss them in greater depth over brunch - my favorite meal and one for which we shared an affinity. I will always listen for his voice in Jazz, in the quiet spaces between and the righteousness of chaotic rhythm. Rest in power.
Still, as life takes it also gives and I have been monstrously fortunate in the new faces and friends 2017 has brought to me. I shot, most of, a film in Green Bay with the people in this next group of photos. Some of the most challenging work I've tackled on camera to date, and I'm very honored to be working with them. More to come as we complete filming and work toward a release.
Speaking of challenging work, this fall I performed in two back to back stage productions in Minneapolis, followed by 9 days in LA staging a showcase at the Ruby on Santa Monica Blvd. Words cannot properly express the profound gratitude and love I have for all those who made the below series of photos possible. As my circle gets bigger my world gets smaller and the more space I find in my expanding heart.
Intuition and the Mantis, Rogues Gallery Arts (Pictured Tim Uren and Philip D. Henry; Not Pictured Duck Washington and at least a dozen other magic makers!)
Frankenstein: A Modern Prometheus, Green T Productions (Show included the talents of Misty Brehmer, Lisa Conley, Derek Dirlam, Miriam Gerberg, Avian Jangula, Matt Kelly, Matthew Kessen, Heather Quigley, Jennifer Rathsack, Ki Seung Rhee, David Schneider, Mickaylee Shaughnessy, Erik Sorensen, Loren Vork, Ryan Voss, Natalie Rae Wass, and the Taikollaborative, Wendy Ruyle (5by5 Design), Kathy Welch, Rick Coleman - many of whom are pictured here, but not all)
LA Showcase (Wide Variety Theater, "Television Theatre") performers (Rene Collins, David Nassau, Babatunde Oyewo, Molly Elizabeth Ring, Krystel Seier, Rosa Servin, Gregory Dean Tompkins) pictured but of course the ground crew (Sandra K. Horner and team) for such an endeavor is legion and somehow manages to keep out of pictures. I must say one should keep their eyes out for these faces, though. Great things are coming.
New headshots (on the Gallery page). Celebrating my friend Ruth Maramis's "Hearts Want" film release. The sudden deaths of Grant Hart and Charlie Bethel. The final completion and almost immediate acceptance into a film festival of "Rumination"... It goes on and on, this ever turning wheel of joys and sorrows which makes doing true justice to 2017 impossible. But as we look 2018 in the eyes in a few days, know that I do so with hope and love in my heart and a renewed energy and comittment to leave this world a better place than I found it.
Many blessings to you and yours!!
It has been a while since I have posted, but let me do my best to catch you up... In my last post I announced I had secured voice over representation with NUTS, Ltd., and I'm happy to share it is going great! In the past few months I've been fortunate to find myself in a number of sound studios recording. One of the finished projects is below, you can see others on my Voice page and on my YouTube Channel. I am learning so much every time I step in front of the microphone, and I am grateful to my agents and everyone I am working with in studio for challenging me and helping me grow so much, every time.
In December, Laurie Carlos, mentor and friend, died of colon cancer at the age of 67. She was an Obie Award winner, a singular performer and person, and a friend. She challenged you to be fearless in the pursuit of your authentic self. She was fierce. I can't do better now, so below is an abridgement of something I shared on Facebook after I learned of her passing.
"The power is already yours. You just have to claim it." - Laurie Carlos
So rare to encounter a person who didn't want a better you for any reason other than a better you will be braver and more honest and better for you. Most of my teachers barely noticed you at all if it didn't make them look better. She didn't need you to make herself look better. She was a work of art and a work in progress and she owned the hell out of that. The first meeting - I sit, in a circle of powerful women, honored to even sit among them, looking across at her, our leader for the session. She watches and she listens, with her whole body it seems. And when she speaks, in a few simple words she destroys the nonsense of every member of that circle in turn. She does it with compassion, love and honesty but also completely and irrefutably. How many people would take that time? How many would give so freely of themselves time and again? I've known precious few. Because of her I strive to be another one.
Like all actors, I fancy myself a lifelong learner. I struggle mightily with languages. I study accents. I study movement. I study martial arts. I sing. I write songs. I play guitar. I study history. I study people. I read. And I act every chance I get. All of these feed me, teach me, grow my performance skill set. However, around the end of 2016 it dawned on me that it had been a while since I had studied with an acting teacher directly and I began to look for a new one. Enter Sandra K. Horner, She is an actor, director, teacher, producer and all around focused beam of positive energy. But before I knew that, there was one piece of intelligence that assured me we'd be a good fit, she spent, what I can only assume was, an hilarious day beating Arnold Schwarzenegger over the head with her purse on the set of Jingle All The Way. Clearly, she is a brave soul. AND I have also had the honor of studying with Eric Morris, who was one of Arnold Schwazenegger's first acting teachers in Hollywood. Talk about bravery! I'm in good hands.
It's been a couple busy months with screen printing and auditions. The thing I love most about auditioning in other cities is getting out of Minnesota in the winter. But a very close second is seeing friends and having new acting experiences. In some ways, an audition is an audition is an audition. In other ways, getting in the room in LA and getting to do your thing, is a thrill.
It has been a bit of a roller coaster ride since my last update, so I hope you'll forgive the tardiness. If I've learned anything, it is to be grateful for everyday and to never give up on your dreams.
Now stop reading this and go make some art!!
Kalevala, Flickering Lights, Experimental Film, Please Don't Feed the Children and Voice Over, Oh My!Read Now
Seems like just yesterday I was talking about beginning my journey with the Kalevala artistic team, and yet the entire production has already come and gone. Brilliant costumes, sets, lights, props, puppets, singing, acting and fight choreography manifested, perfected and put to bed in the blink of an eye. A brand new theater christened, The Crane Theater home to nimbus, and a home for artists with stories to share and audiences to embrace. This is one I'd like to revisit someday, should the universe see fit to oblige me. Thank you to everyone who managed to come out and see us, your support means the world!
While working on Kalevala, I took a bit of a diversion and created a song homage to a recent obsession, "Stranger Things". Then I went one step further, incorporated my love of Halloween and costumes and made a video for it. Forgive my dorkiness, and enjoy, Flickering Lights!
Having already spoken so very highly of my experiences working on Conference of the Birds with Pangea World Theater, it should surprise noone that when asked to participate in a series of films diving more deeply into some of the themes of piece, I jumped at the chance. The three short pieces exploring different aspects of death one must overcome as part of their journey to find the Simorgh, are filmed and now we anxiously await their completion. Keep your eyes here for updates and in the meantime here are some pictures from the first day of filming.
Please, Don't Feed the Children is an early stages script by Aamera Siddiqui. A script based on the real life events surrounding the arrest and conviction of an imam who did nothing more than run a charitable organization bringing food and medical supplies to the people of Iraq. I am a huge fan of Aamera and her oft artistic partner Suzy Messerole, and I was profoundly honored to be invited by Meena Natarajan to work on a first reading of this important, and already very stage worthy script. The reading was sold out and feedback was insightful and positive. I look forward to the next iteration, and will be sure to let you know here just when that comes about!
Finally, I'm really happy to announce that I now have agency representation for voice over work, thank you NUTS, Ltd. for making me part of your VO family! Keep an eye on my Voice page for updates.
My Kalevala Journey Begins, New Space for nimbus, The Parasite is Officially "Trash" and a Quick Visit to la-LA LandRead Now
Last week I was fortunate to join the cast of The Kalevala at nimbus theatre. A new devised work already in process based on Finnish folklore, I join just as we are starting to put the script on its feet. The cast and crew are a mixed set of new and old friends and colleagues and I am so excited to dig in and see what kind of magic we can create. The Kalevala runs from October 8 - October 30, to find out more please click on the link below and make sure to check back from time to time for updates!
nimbus theatre is also working on opening a brand new theater space on Kennedy Street in NE Minneapolis. Like their previous home, this promises to become a wonderful resource to the Twin Cities theater community! Help make it a reality by making a donation, every donation helps. Click on the link below to visit the donation page on the nimbus website.
Next Saturday, September 10, 2016, around 8:oo AM CST The Parasite gets its second showing! This time at The Trash Film Festival in Croatia (not actually a morning showing, that was just fun to type.) Thus begins the quest for the coveted Golden Chainsaw and my illustrious international acting career. To celebrate until a showing near you, please view our two minute trailer below.
Next up, a hop, skip and airplane ride landed me in Los Angeles for a few hours this past week. Though a stressful decision, and a larger risk than I am used to making, it turned out to be a lovely visit to the land of no rain. The people watching, audition experience and casual visit to The Grove were fantastic. I do hope to be back again soon! Fingers crossed.
Sometimes fake families lead to real friendships. Thanks to the brilliant casting of Tyler the Film that has been the case over a few days on set this past month. Meet my most recent fake family - the handsome Stephen Yoemans and the best daughters a lady could ask for Sally-Anne and her (not really) big sister Chelsey Grant. Set in a dystopian world where graduating seniors are sometimes forced to make the biggest decisions of their lives, I have the dumb luck of marrying well and raising two perfect girls.
Additionally, in the past month I've had two visits to Chicago working on Rumination and have built another sort of family, that of creative people working toward a shared goal who become friends. A rehearsal that ended in a general discussion of film while watching The Land Before Time and a shoot date that ended in giggle fits and selfies. I cannot wait to see what we managed to catch on film and seeing what other shenanigans this crew gets up to. <3