Something’s Coming: Part 5

In honor of Valentine’s Day–or for those who choose not to recognize the day, you may simply call it ‘Brad’s Birthday’–this post is all about following your heart.  The past few weeks, I’ve been taking readers on my own personal journey to get into grad school.  Loads of people go to grad school; when it comes down to it, going to grad school is not exactly remarkable.  But the decision to dislodge myself from what was my current reality represented the significant shift.  This journal entry from last January illustrates the parallel journey I was sharing with a character I was playing at the time who also struggles knowing what he wants.

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A very “meta” moment of being in a Starbucks studying lines for ‘The Little Dog Laughed’ and looking up to see your poster for ‘The Little Dog Laughed.’

Jan. 25, 2014

I need to run to the grocery store and milk shop.  I need to tidy the house, throw in a load of laundry, and do the dishes.  I need to study my script for Little Dog this afternoon.  But I really needed to sit down and write.

This has been a very trying week.  It seems like things are swirling towards a culmination.  Stress is coming from many directions.  For all of the debate and personal soul-searching that went into accepting the role of Mitchel Green, none of that feels like an issue now.  I do feel pressure about getting off book.  Though I have been working consistently, Mitchell never seems to put together a complete thought and–in the second act–hardly a complete sentence.  What I wouldn’t give for both a subject and a predicate.

No, what my real–what I have been pondering from this show–what keeps my mind spinning in the hours after rehearsal is “what I want.”  (Good God, I’m starting to write how Mitchell speaks).  I found great blessing in the trio of shows that have run during this process of applying to grad schools, as I’ve discerned what the next chapter of my life would look like.  From Parade, I reaffirmed that this life is hard work.  It takes discipline, routine, and effort.  From Drowsy Chaperone, I felt the gravity–the responsibility–of storytellers.  I found meaning in the work by the joy I shared, and in turn, I took joy in it.  With Little Dog, even though I’m still in the process and don’t have the perspective from it all being behind me, I believe the takeaway will be quite different.  Whereas the story was paramount in the case of Parade and Drowsy, I feel like I am truly sitting with the character of Mitchell and trying to work through his issues right alongside mine.  Mitchell can’t muster the courage to say what he wants.  We see a glimmer of that at the end of Act I when he actually verbalizes that to Alex, but right away in Act II he has somehow lost that ability.  I am afraid of that same fate.

Though I have been moving spheres on the grad school front and only a select few actually know, it has been a move towards identifying something I want.  What I fear is that if nothing comes of this effort, will I still have the courage to say what I want?  My “Plan B” is simply the status quo.  But I am beginning to wonder whether the status quo is no longer what I want.  In short, I don’t know–it’s hard for me–I’m not sure what I want.

Thanks a lot, Mitch.

It doesn’t make you a weakling or a failure or a disappointment to listen to your heart.

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This was tough.

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Something’s Coming: Part 4

And so the saga continues on that winding road to grad school that happened one year ago.  Last time, I mentioned the passing of anniversaries.  February 5 marked the anniversary of a fateful, stressful, snow-ful day:  audition day in Chicago for UCSD and for USD/Old Globe.  Though I felt quite prepared for the audition itself, the logistics needed for the day resembled a schedule the President might keep.  I needed to fly to Chicago that day, complete the two auditions, and fly home in time for the final dress rehearsal of The Little Dog Laughed, which was opening the following night.  And then…it snowed.

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My original flight out that morning was cancelled, but I was able to book one later in the morning.  If you can imagine me sitting in the East Terminal of Lambert-St. Louis at 7:30am amongst dozens of other waiting passengers, finding an open bar (which actually was not hard), and drinking two beers while studying “Little Dog” lines, then you would have an accurate picture of my morning.  As you can also imagine, it tightened my day even more.  It was literally O’Hare to El to Hyatt to El to O’Hare without pause or hesitation.  It made for perhaps one of the most exhilarating days of my life, but I don’t think I would recommend repeating it.  

Oh, I almost forgot one of the funniest–only in retrospect–parts of the day.  The early morning drive to the airport through the semi-plowed streets meant my low-riding Beetle was having a dickens of time.  In East St. Louis, the snow and ice caused a guard on the undercarriage of my car to come loose.  I scraped my way across Eads Bridge sounding like a snow plow.  By the time I was able to pull over at Laclede’s Landing, my adrenaline was pumping so hard that I ripped the guard the rest of the way off with my bare hands.  I literally tore my way through this day.  

The following is an email I sent to loved ones who were following the adventures of the day closely.  I tapped this out waiting for the El:  

Hey folks!

So much to report but I will try to keep this brief.
1-Missed my original appt for UCSD with the flight delay. Literally sprinted down Michigan Ave. to make it there by 2pm when UCSD ended auditions. Made it at 2 on the dot. No dice. So screw them.
2-Neon lights from God seemed to point now that I was there for one thing…Old Globe. Rallied.
3-Knocked it out of the park. They were extremely nice. Got a great vibe from them. They said I had an “extremely good command of the language”. We also chatted about Drowsy Chaperone–my contemp mono–because neither of them had seen it. Any chance for more chat is a good thing, and they kept asking questions. Should know something end of March. I felt so good. So good.

Thanks for all the prayers. Truly. God, it takes a village, you know? Now on my way back home.

Bradley J.

PS-Gentle snow falling in Chicago. Lovely. A gift.

In the days following this report, my mom had mentioned how uncharacteristically curt I seemed in regards to UCSD.  Really I don’t hold any malice towards them or their program.  Instead, I think the takeaway is that UCSD was clearly not the right choice for me, and it took a frenzied sprint down Michigan Ave. to realize it.  Oh, and I made it home in time for curtain.  

Check out the rest of this series here.

Something’s Coming: Part 3

Since my last blog post about grad school, a number of “anniversaries” have come and gone.  I’ve been reliving the application process from a year ago.  For example:

Dec. 5, 2013

Had new headshots taken to day.  It went really well with Gerry Love.  Things are coming together.  I am trying to get the USD/Old Globe app out stat!  Also began the online UCSD.  This could happen.

I feel like the Notre Dame kids who are applying for schools are starting to worry about their auditions.  I am in the same boat.

I’ve gone to bed with my Riverside every night this week.

There’s kind memories sprinkled in amongst the stress:

Dec. 10, 2013

I have just brewed a strong pot of coffee, I am cancelling walking in the garden with Jen for tomorrow, and I am looking forward to hunkering down tonight to work on applications…Both Cassie and Clare [my sisters] called tonight with well wishes on the application.  And Mom stopped by about 10 o’clock with desserts and lunch for tomorrow.  God, I love them!  I’m not sure they understand why I’m doing this, but I am grateful they’re there for me.

I remember sitting at the desk in my living room writing this:

Dec. 15, 2013

I have been “Man in Chair” quite literally today, as I have been sitting and writing all day today. It was pretty lonely, but I am near the finish line.  Now, I will “sit” on my essays and revise them with fresh eyes tomorrow.  Thursday I will “sit” for the GRE.  Then I will “sit and wait”–hopefully–to get an audition at these schools!  We’re real close now.

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Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing all the ups and downs of this rather tumultuous time.  Are YOU thinking about a MFA in acting?  Go to my Connect page and drop me a comment.  I would love to talk to you.  You can also follow this blog from that page.

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