First of all: Thank you so much to those of you who wrote (or tweeted) to me about my last entry. It really meant a lot to know I had struck a chord. I wrote that about two months ago in response to a friend who’s been trying to lose weight but it hasn’t clicked yet. I trust that it will, but you can’t force that kind of thing. All of your comments meant the world to me, but the biggest one came from my sister. She texted me with the simple message “I am so proud of you.” That’s all that I care about; my parents and family being proud of me.
Last night, a miracle occurred. I, Alysa Auriemma, became an acting teacher.
Now, if you know me in real life, or went to drama school with me, I expect your reaction to be one of rolling around the floor, laughing parts of your anatomy off. My idea of organization is moving one pile of laundry on top of another pile of laundry so my computer can get plugged in. To teach a group of kids about acting without getting committed for public humiliation is daunting, to put it extremely mildly.
I met with my kids at about 5:30. It’s a group of four, which right about now is all that I can handle. They are a great group. Bright, committed, and focused. They’re also hilarious, and they laughed at my pitiful attempts at comedy. And suddenly, I could feel myself channeling the ghosts of DRAMU past.
(For those of you who did not attend UCONN Drama School, feel free to skip the next paragraph. It does not apply to you, and you won’t get it.)
Within five minutes, my nerves had dissolved. For I wasn’t myself anymore. I was Karen Ryker, expounding the merits of commedia dell’arte and Greek messenger speeches (whilst telling my students that unless they REALLY WANTED ME to teach them those techniques, I wouldn’t be). A few sentences later, I assumed the muscular grace of Kristen Wold, showing them stances from Suzuki (although had Kristen been there she would have definitely critiqued my form). At the end of the class, through my love of dialects…yes, ladies and gentlemen, I morphed into David Alan Stern (BAWDY. BLOODY. VILLAIN). And then, just for nostalgia’s sake, I threw in a bit of Jean Sabatine (We’re going to do monologue essences! JOY!).
A few of them really want to bone up up theatre history, which, judging by their blank faces when I referenced Oedipus Rex, is a definite concern for me. I told them not to be worried if they didn’t get all of my obscure referrals. There is a difference between being a theatre snob and a theatre nerd. As I nerd, I accept when others don’t have the same knowledge of film and theatre as I do.
One thing I definitely do not plan on doing in my class is the type of emotional soul-searching that was required of all UCONN drama graduates. I still have on tape a monologue coaching session done in front of my other classmates where a simple exercise in grounding methods dissolved into a confessional about my childhood abuse from fellow classmates. I stand by it again and again-acting is the cheapest form of therapy you can possibly get your hands on.
Now, it’s time for a new segment on this blog titled: Ally’s Recommendations! In the following list (which will be done every Wednesday), I hope to pass on some knowledge of a new book, CD, film, TV show, or other medium that I find great and I want to recommend, hence the title of this section. (that sentence was entirely too redundant for my liking but I can’t really make it any better!) This week it will be: music!
Ally Recommends: Elizabeth and the Catapult, Taller Children
Like if Sarah Bareilles and Regina Spektor had a baby in Brooklyn that sang like Vienna Teng. Such a fun, upbeat pop record.
Top Tracks: “Taller Children” “Perfectly Perfect”, “Momma’s Boy”
The Avett Brothers, I And Love And You
A friend of mine wouldn’t shut up about this band, so I finally gave them a listen. I am so happy I did. Their music is notoriously difficult to categorize. Are they alternative? Are they bluegrass? Are they country? Are they rock? They’re everything, and when the result is this mindblowingly beautiful categories are useless.
Top Tracks: The title track, “Kick Drum Heart”
Lady GaGa, The Fame Monster
All I can say about Lady GaGa is that the other day when pulling into the parking lot of my bank to make a deposit, ‘Bad Romance’ came on and I drove out of the parking lot and around in a circle for five minutes so I could enjoy the entire thing without interruption. That is how much I love this album. Add Beyonce into the equation, and you’ve got a record I have not stopped listening to since the day I got it.
Top Tracks: “Bad Romance”, “Teeth”, “Telephone”
Little Boots, Hands
Oh man. This is such a great electro-pop record. The closest reference I can pull up is Madonna’s Confessions on a Dance Floor, but shhh…I think this record is better (Madonna, as awesome as she is, really terrifies me. Her arm muscles in particular; I think she could kill me with one mighty swipe).
Top Tracks: “New In Town”, “Meddle”
Adam Lambert, For Your Entertainment
There has never been a more polarizing contestant on American Idol (well, with the slight exception of Sanjaya). I don’t even watch American Idol but when I found out Adam had lost, I pitched a mighty fit. Not only is he the best singer the show has ever produced (Sorry Kelly/David/Carrie, I still love you all!), his presentation is fearless, something I look for in an entertainer. And oh boy, does he entertain. This guy can sing his face off.
Top Tracks: “Music Again”, the title track, “Whatya Want From Me”, “Fever”.
I also highly recommend (as a little bonus since I’m totally obsessed at the moment) the BBC production of Hamlet starring David Tennant (The Tenth Doctor in the Doctor Who series) and Patrick Stewart. It aired on the BBC over the holidays and should be coming to BBCAmerica sometime this year. A friend of mine lives in England and was able to send me a copy, seeing as it’s already out on DVD there.
As a great admirer of the play, I can honestly say that David’s interpretation is quickly climbing the ranks to become my all-time favorite. Yes, I am including Ken Branagh’s version in my analysis. As much as I adore Branagh, he can sometimes make the production all about himself. If there’s one thing about Shakespearean acting that I hate, it’s the propensity to speak it in the style of “LOOK AT HOW WELL I CAN SPEAK THIS SPEECH, HOW TRIPPINGLY ON THE TONGUE IT GOES, I SHOULD WIN AWARDS FOR THIS WORK.” There is zero vanity in David Tennant’s portrayal. It is raw, honest, hilarious, sexual, and committed. I seriously and happily endorse it.
Now if someone could put on Hamlet around these parts, I would be first in line…
PS. Who’s going to College Game Day? Show of hands!