::tiptoe up onto the soapbox::

Let me preface my current rant by saying I am by no means an animal rights activist, but I still feel that animals have SOME rights - like, you know, to live and all.

First - There was a story on the Today show this morning about the woman in Florida who found an alligator in her kitchen. It was full of amusing stuff like her 911 call, waiting around for the animal control guy, etc etc. All good fun, right? There was a wild animal expert of some kind or a zoo-type person who was trying to explain the behaviour by saying that gators are hard wired for 3 things - eat, mate, swim (I'm paraphrasing) - so the expert guy says the gator was most likely going after the womans cat (eating) or caught a scent that smelled like some boots he wanted to knock (mate). The end of the story made a small remark about how the gator was finally taken out of the poor woman's kitchen (ha ha ha) and then taken away where it was destoyed. Okay, now back to you Meredith.....

Wait... destroyed? For doing what all animals do, which is follow their instinct? really?
You're telling me this gator, couldn't have been subdued and then released back in the everglades or in the wild somewhere? donated to a zoo? It HAD to be destroyed?

Now, there was also a story from California about a bear trainer who was working with a bear (black bear or grizzly, not sure), and he was bitten on the neck by the bear and killed. And the newscaster said "they are deciding whether or not to destroy the bear"
WHAT?!?!?!?!? For following it's animal instinct of "bite on the neck anyone who makes me do something I don't want to do" - like be in movies - apparently this was a bear that had been in some films...
Now, I understand that the killing of the trainer is tragic, and this defintely signals that Mr. Bear is now retired from the movie business --- but killing him?

Recently, you may have heard about the couger that was roaming around Roscoe Village in Chicago and was shot and killed by the police. (and by couger I mean the wild cat, not and 45 year old female sex pot). And when I say shot, I mean the couger was pumped full of lead. The pictures I saw show at least 3 shots hitting him. The cops said they were "charged" by the couger and had to shoot it in self defense. Yes, it was a residential area, yes there were families and kids around .... but my heart feels like there HAD to have been some other way. I know, I know --- hindsight is 20/20 and I wasn't there and all that crap. But the news just kept showing the cops slapping each other on the back, etc, and it made me kind of sick.
They couldn't stay in their cruisers and use the PA to tell people to stay in their houses?
Lincon Park Zoo is a 10 minute drive away - and I'm sure they had SOMEONE there that could have handled this....

What do you think?


Auditions are Dante's unknown 9th ring of hell

Don has listed some audition tips in today's post.

Here are some more.

1. Don't tell me this is "the part you[ve always wanted to play"
I had 3 chicks tell me at Crucible auditions "I've ALWAYS wanted to play Elizabeth Proctor".
That's AWESOME... thank you for sharing....NEXT!

2. Don't try to be OVER nice to the auditor out front (me).
I'm a cynical asshole, and I don't take kindly to flirting.... oh, and by the way cheesedick, I'm GAY, so put it away and waste your masculine wiles on another chick that cares.
Thank you...NEXT

3. Ladies - wear underwear.
I shit you not - last full audition I sat through when I was directing, I was flashed 3 different times by 3 different leg-crossing chick auditioners. Trust me, I enjoy the view, but it makes me forget what character qualities I was looking for. "Wait... what show am I directing again????"
Thank you again ladies.....::wink, wink::..... NEXT

4. Be prepared to do anything with that "great" monologue you have in your back pocket.
I've asked people to do it WITHOUT the blocking they've set up, and it totally throws them..... really people?
Best audition ever - the director asked the audtioner in question to do his monologue as a gorilla - to free his body and get him doing somthing totally out of the ordinary.
He did the best fucking gorilla I've ever seen, and it in some ways IMPROVED the monolgue.
Needless to say he was cast - and I've worked with him twice since then and I'd do it again in a heartbeat. (Moral of the story: Paul Fagen does a MEAN gorilla. SO cast him, already!)

I KNOW that headshots can be expensive - but isn't it worth it if you can actually get roles because people look at your picture later and say "Great audition - great picture".
Now don't get me wrong - I've never been in the room and had people say "that picture sucks - there's no way I'm casting them", but if there's a chance we would look at the picture later and not recognize you, shouldn't that be a sign that you need new ones?

As a CONSTRUCTIVE point, I would encourage actors to try sitting out front during an audition and checking in people, or sitting inside and watching auditioners just a couple of times in your life. It will help you make smarter decisions IMMEDIATELY.

I promise.

(oh, and Red Sox won yesterday, so I'm in a chipper mood!)


It's the most won-der-ful time of the year...

It's the time of year that makes me feel like my brother and I *are* related...

We may have very little common- but we can ALWAYS talk about baseball.

There's a line from "Field of Dreams" that says it best for me. Yeah, yeah, the movie's cheesy...but the entire thing was all about a guy having a second chance to "have a catch" with his dad.

James Earl Jones' character says: "The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time."

Baseball has marked the time.

It sure has.

I could tell a story or two about the meaning that baseball has in my life - but I won't. :)
Just know that it means a lot.

Sox win, 6-4.


called out for calling out

So, I called out Kris Vire for his lack of a new blog for 10 days - he apologized and obliged with a new post.

Then I thought about it.... If I'm hard on others (in a vaguely stalker-ish kind of way), then I suppose I should update for my 3 readers as well. It's only fair.

"The Diviners" closed this weekend. It was the best play that no one saw. Our house were kind of lacking, but the show itself never lacked. These guys gave their all if it were 7 people or if it were 37. There were some backstage tensions during our last full production, so it was great to have a tension free run. Actors who liked each other - professionals who brought their A-game every night. And every time I listen to that soundtrack I just want to hug Joe & Steve. Should you have a chance to hire Toxic Bag Prod. to do your sound design, DO IT.

Last night I watched 'Into The Wild" finally. Cried my eyes out, I have to say. Even though I had read the book and completely knew how it was going to end. What a great performance by Emile Hirsch - he was amazing.

And lastly, had "more than 6 hours" of sleep last night for first time in about 3 weeks. It was DIVINE.



  • There was a little kid at Blue Man last night who was just jumping up and down on his seat during the finale he was so excited (there was no one behind them, so that didn't matter)Stuff like that just warms my cynical heart.
  • There's a WMFA chick I work with at BMG (that's the shortened version of "wicked-mega-fuckin-awesome") who is having some health problems and is on a leave of absence. I think about her daily and I keep hoping the good mojo I keep sending her via my brainwaves is helping.
  • "The Diviners" closes this weekend, so starting tonight there are only 4 more chances to see it! 312-458-9374 for reservations.
  • Yesterday I got the wedding invitation for 2 of my favorite people in the whole world - it made my heart smile :)
  • Sunday is the first day since Easter that I haven't had to be at either my day job, BMG, or The Diviners. Let's just say I plan on sleeping in...HEAVILY.

That's it for now I guess....


To quit or not to Quit?

There's a lot of ker-fuffle over at Don's house regarding 2 female actors who dropped out of slated shows due to being cast in "Shout! The New Mod musical". I have some pointed responses in the comments...

The bottom line (IMHO), is that regardless of whether it's a great opportunity or not, quitting a show SUCKS. Replacing an actor a week or 2 before a show opens sucks in the obvious ways (finding someone, getting them caught up with blocking, and getting them off book), but it is the UN-obvious ways that can do irreparable harm to a show.
Even losing the smallest cog in the wheel right before heading into tech week can change the emotional and psychological makeup of your cast - not to mention, your cast that is still in place will need to work even harder while you bring the new person up to speed, creating a hostile atmosphere if not handled correctly.

I understand the idea of artists having "better prospects" - but there should still be at least SOME element or respect for the dudes that cast you in the first place...

Let me tell a story... and I will humourously refer to myself in the third person. (it's long, go grab some coffee first Brownlee)

Years ago, when a wee Dianna first descended upon the Chicago Theatre scene (1999 - 2001), she had some early success working for a couple of smaller companies - she always thought herself woefully under-qualified, so she took whatever she could get. One of those was a gentlemen's handshake/agreement in earnest to stage manage a smaller company's fall & spring shows. (This is a company that no longer exists, but she still won't tell you...). Well, in the fall they produced a fairly ok version of Guare's "House of Blue Leaves". It was the first time she even read the play and she really enjoyed it - plus, the production wasn't bad. Working with the Artistic Director and Managing Director was... strange... and.... complicated....
They weren't unprofessional - but they were weird to work with. Needy and over-emotional. They both were in the show (in the leads, of course), so it created some conflict here and there.

Now, in between the Fall and Spring show for the company described above, Dianna was hired as ASM for the About Face production of Neil LaBute's "Bash: The Latterday Plays". This was (and still is) one of her most artistically satisfying production of her career.
When Bash was drawing to a close, the then-PM of About Face, Greg Copeland, told me they loved me, loved my work, and I had a great relationship with the SM (Cassie?). They wanted to hire me for their next show, "The Terrible Girls". He described the show - it sounded awesome - I was totally excited.
However, dates for the Terrible Girls fell directly in conflict with dates for "Un-Named Company"'s Spring show of "Death and The Maiden".

Herin lies the conflict (and it hurts to write in third person, so now I'll stop): I never had a contract with the other company - we always talked about it, but we just never got around to it. But I was conflicted about leaving "Death and The Maiden" to work with ABout Face. While it was an AWESOME opportunity, I was new to the city, and I was afraid of burning bridges etc..
I spoke with Greg about it, and I explained that even though I didn't have a contract, I didn't feel "right" about leaving them - Greg completely respected my decision, and that was that.

Now, before we started "Death & The Maiden", The Artistic Director told me that the Managing Director was going to direct. (and of course, AD was slated to be the female lead). I explained to the AD that the MD is very emotional and confrontational, flies of the handle, yadda yadda, and she cajoled me by saying "well, you'll only have to deal with him during rehearsal... once the show opens he'll be gone"

Let's flash forward to the Thursday or Friday before tech week. It was a rehearsal I couldn't make it to, so the Asst. Director ran the rehearsal - and I find out later that the MD/D had a SHOUTING match with the male lead, and the actor stormed off and left the rehearsal. I spoke to the AD, and she said worst case scenario is that the MD could step in and learn the role quick --- I nearly shit my pants - - the MD I don't like, that always reacts strongly to EVERYTHING - I now had the prospect of dealing with him for the additional 8 week run.... oy vey!
We convene for the Saturday afternoon rehearsal - things are going ok for awhile - and then....
ka-BLOOEY! Director and Actor start shouting at each other, and actor (rightly so) tells the director fuck you, and storms off saying "I Quit!"
The director picks up the script, jumps on stage and says "lets keep going - looks like I'm gonna have to start memorizing these now"

As I left the rehearsal, my hands were shaking and my mind was reeling - I did what all women in my family do when they are freaking out - I stopped at the store and bought a pack of cigarettes. I had a standing date to meet my friend Lisa at The Melrose Diner that evening anyway, so when I walked in and she was already at our customary booth, she waited until finishing her page she was reading to look up - and when she did and saw me frantically puffing on a cigarette, she said "holy shit - what happened?". I related the story - said I didn't think I could handle another 8 weeks of this. I told Lisa I thought I should quit. She agreed. I called the AD the next day (Sunday) and said I couldn't work with the MD anymore, and that the propect of another 8 weeks with him was enough to make me chain smoke. She tried to get me to stay - I refused. I stopped by the theatre the next day after work to drop off the keys to the space and the audio disc for the show - the AD answered the door, and the MD was in the background - he looked like he wanted to punch me in the face. I didn't care. I handed off the items and said 'see ya" and I was out of there. I never felt so free in my life.

So, 4 days later, instead of being at opening night of Death and The Maiden, I attended a preview performance of "The Terrible Girls" at About Face with Lisa. We had a LONG conversation after the fact about whether or not I should have ever gone back to the other theatre company, whether or not I should have just ACCEPTED the Terrible Girls job....
I'm still (7 years later) not sure which decision would have been right....
Would I have been happier at About Face? probably.
But I still feel I learned a valuable lesson staying with the other company - I learned how far my threshold is, what things I will and will NOT accept in a job environment, and I also learned that sometimes (regardless of the consequences) you HAVE to feel empowered enough to be able to walk out the door.

Now -
My situation was a little different than the gals involved in 'Shout", but the essense is the same....
Knowing when to quit or not...