I have TWO very exciting things to talk about today. One Dad-related, and one ME-related. Because it’s all about me, jellybeans. ALL ABOUT ME. Well, and Dad. Also Dad.
First: you know how we weren’t counting chickens? Well, let’s see. One, two, THREE chickens. Some chickens have come home to roost.
A few weeks ago, my most lovely theater friend C. sent me an email. “Amy, do you want to do this?” she said. “They invited me, but I’m unavailable.”
It was an opportunity to be part of a panel being held at one of our local theaters (one of our BEST local theaters) – a panel of local critics, talking about the critieria for critiquing new works of theater. The other panelists are other local critics. BIG DEAL CRITICS. Friend C. said, “email these people back and tell them you’re taking my place” and I said, “um…I think I should be a little more humble than that, C.” and she said, “I never got anything I wanted in life by being humble, Amy.” C.’s a spitfire. I want to be her when I grow up.
So I sent off the email and the guy said they’d get back to me and I waited and I waited and I thought, “well, they don’t know who I am. So that’s ok. Even though I want this. I want this very badly.” But as I’ve mentioned, me and good things are not on the best terms, always. So I’ve learned not to hope much. Well, I still hope. That sounded depressing as hell. Of course I still hope. I just play it close to the vest. Because if you blab about your hopes and they don’t come through, then you are sad and people think you’re a loser and blah blah blah counting chickens you know the drill. Plus your poor little heart gets all crushed-like.
But on Friday at work, I got an email saying, “Amy. YES. We would VERY MUCH like you to be part of our panel. Send us a bio, we’ll start sending out publicity.”
I AM PART OF A PANEL. An “illustrious” panel, no less!
Wait, wait, I’ll show you. Just a minute.
Capital Region Media Notables Selected
Jeffrey Borak, Amy Durant, Michael Eck, Bob Goepfert, Byron Nilsson, James Yeara & Benita Zahn Join the New Play Discussion
Two Plays and Musical Dominate More Than 120 Submissions;
Grammy-Award Winning Composer Tops Musical Selection
Albany, NY – October 29, 2012 – In the first joint artistic venture for both organizations, Albany-based Capital Repertory Theatre and Proctors of Schenectady have called on the expertise and experience of six Capital Region notables in the field of theatre and entertainment for a professional dialogue on new plays received as a result of a statewide invitation for new work as part of an inaugural NEXT ACT! NEW PLAY SUMMIT.
Special Events include CRITICS CIRCLE
The NEXT ACT! NEW PLAY SUMMIT includes special daytime events designed to shed light on new play development including discussions with the featured artists. Complimentary refreshments will be available at all events.
The highly anticipated CRITICS CIRCLE panel discussion will take place on Sun. Nov 4 at 1 – 2:30 PM at Capital Rep. Capital Region subject-matter experts in theatre will comprise the Circle:
WNYT news anchor BENITA ZAHN will moderate the Critics Circle, which will include JEFFREY BORAK (Berkshire Eagle), MICHAEL ECK (critic and frequest contributor to the Times Union, BOB GOEPFERT (The Saratogian), AMY DURANT (Daily Gazette), JAMES YEARA (Metroland)and BYRON NILSSON, (Words and Music blog and Metroland contributor).
According to Capital Rep’s Artistic Director Maggie Mancinelli-Cahill, the contributions of the Critics Circle will be an invaluable asset to the festival. “Being able to bring insight to patrons, artists and playwrights about the process of reviewing a new play is a part of the “circle of life” for new work. We have an illustrious panel of critics, who all care about the arts in the Capital Region and take their work very seriously. This is a wonderful opportunity to get behind the scenes for an insider view of issues facing art critics today.”
About the CRITICS CIRCLE Contributors
Broadcaster BENITA ZAHN will serve as moderator for the New Act! New Play Summit ‘s Critics Circle. Ms. Zahn co-anchors News Channel 13 Live at 5 and 6 with Jim Kambrich. Her outstanding work has garnered numerous awards, including being named one of the 100 Women of the Century by the Albany-Colonie Chamber of Commerce; the Arthur Kapner Spirit of the Chamber Award, a three-time Emmy nominee, NYS Broadcasters award recipient, Gold Medal and Bronze Medal – New York Festival’s International Television, and the Distinguished Communicator Award from American Women in Radio and Television. An avid runner, Benita also is active in regional theatre. Her theater credits include performances at the Fort Salem Theater, Albany Civic Theater, Schenectady Civic Theater, Schenectady Light Opera and Park Playhouse. She also is a member of the Singer Anchors – with WRGB (CBS 6) anchor Jerry Gretzinger and WNYT (News Channel 13) and Jessica Layton. The trio originally joined melodic forces with Jay Kerr at the Fort Salem Theater to produce a fantastic evening of song and banter. Since their debut at the Cabaret at Fort Salem Theater in November, 2009 they have been successfully touring the area. Their holiday show is booked at Vapor and The Century House. Benita is on the boards of Kelly’s Cause, Building on Love, which supports Ronald McDonald House and Park Playhouse.
JEFFREY BORAK has been the Berkshire Eagle’s entertainment editor and theater critic since April 1986. Before coming to the Berkshires in April 1986, he covered city hall in Beacon and then Poughkeepsie, N.Y, for the Poughkeepsie Journal, before becoming that newspaper’s entertainment editor and theater critic. Mr. Borak has acted and directed with community theaters in Wappingers Falls, N.Y. and Poughkeepsie, and acted with Ghent Playhouse and Albany Civic Theater. He lives in Pittsfield, MA, with his wife, Judaic mixed media artist Wendy Rabinowitz.
MICHAEL ECK has been commenting on art and culture in the Capital Region for nearly 30 years. A freelancer, he has been the Times Union’s chief theater critic since 1992. (He also has contributed music reviews and general features to the paper since 1986). Nationally, Eck has written for Backstage, Billboard, AOL, Amazon.com, The Austin Chronicle, Fretboard Journal, Southwest Airlines Spirit, Los Angeles Times Syndicate, No Depression and many other publications and websites.
AMY DURANT has a B.A. in Theatre from Binghamton University and has been working in theater, both onstage and off, for over 25 years. She has been the Artistic Director at Albany Civic Theater for two years and has worked on a number of their productions over the last eight years. She is also a theater reviewer for The Daily Gazette. She has worked at a number of theaters in her career and is proud to call the Capital District, with its rich arts culture, her home.
BOB GOEPFERT A local arts critic for more than 30 years, Goepfert is a former executive director of the Palace Theater in Albany. His reviews can be found in the Troy Record, the Saratogian and on air at WAMC.
BYRON NILSSON has been reviewing theater, music, dance, movies, restaurants, and more since 1984 for such area publications as Metroland, the Schenectady Gazette, the Albany Times-Union and writes a blog Words and Music. He is a professional actor and member of Actors Equity SAG-AFTRA and the Dramatists Guild. His plays have been performed at Ensemble Studio Theatre and the NY Fringe Festival.
JAMES YEARA has an MA in Theatre Education and has been writing about, producing and directing theatre for 25 years. He is a mainstay critic at METROLAND and founder and producer of Wit and Will improv troupe. He teaches theatre and dramatic literature at Bethlehem High School.
Are you so excited/impressed right now? I AM PART OF AN ILLUSTRIOUS PANEL. Look at these PEOPLE! And our moderator is a NEWSLADY! I have always wanted to meet the fancy theatery newslady. Everyone says she’s very nice. (She also acts. That’s why she’s also theatery.)
So I have to talk in front of a PAYING AUDIENCE OF PEOPLE. Not JUST people. FANCY PEOPLE. The people that attend this theater are the fanciest. It’s a very nice theater. Luckily, I’m talking about a thing I know something about – I’m in charge of choosing the new work for my theater every year, plus I review plays, and you all KNOW I’m very judgmental, so I’m not going to have to either make things up, or just sit there quietly and nod. But still. SCARY.
Yes. Yes, I know. I used to act. I used to get up in front of LARGE ROOMS FULL OF STRANGERS and TALK. At LENGTH. I also blog daily and talk to STRANGERS. I know this. However, acting/talking in character (even if blog character is pretty close to Amy) is nothing like getting up in front of people and being YOURSELF. I sometimes have to get up and do the curtain speech in front of my theater, and the curtain speech is like two minutes long, and I have to PEP TALK myself before that damn thing, and I almost HYPERVENTILATE. Here’s a secret: I’m a total introvert. I’m PETRIFIED of this.
However! My four years of theater training (that I will be paying for for…well…the rest of my life, let’s be honest) and my…let’s see…yep, 25 years of FREE theater training (I did my first show when I was 13. THIRTEEN! Can you even imagine? Little 13-year-old me. Aw, me) have taught me a lot of things, but one thing that is very important and I have used it in a million billion places.
I’m very good at pretending I’m not scared of things.
Inside, I’m hiding in the pots-and-pans cupboard with my cat, but on the outside, I’m loud and I’m brassy and I’m all smiles and I’m happy and wide-eyed and confident as hell. I realize in telling you this, I’m totally blowing my cover, but there it is. I’m really, really good at playing a character when I need to, and that character is Confident Amy. (And when I’m comfortable with someone, I don’t need to play Confident Amy; Confident Amy is naturally there, and THAT’S nice, because it’s a lot easier to not have to ACT like I’m confident and just BE confident. Acting is EXHAUSTING. You know how people are all “actors are LAZY!” Nope. Acting is EXHAUSTING. You have no idea. It’s a lot of work, wearing someone else’s face and mannerisms for an extended period of time.)
Anyway, there’s the scoop. Next weekend, I’m not working Assassins for THREE OF THE FOUR DAYS. I know! I will miss it. Thank you, friend K., for being my fill-in light person. I love you so much. Also, you are very good at talks and advice and making me giggle, and you are one of my favorite people in the whole world, and I am so glad I know you. So, anyway, next weekend, one day I’m reviewing a show; one day, I’m ushering at my theater; and one day, I’m talking in front of a large room filled with people about theater in some REALLY FANCY COMPANY. Which I think makes ME fancy company, right? HOLY HELL WHEN DID I BECOME FANCY. Even if it’s only for the one day. BRIEFLY fancy.
I promise I will not forget you when I am a fancy person. Well, except Ken. I’ve already told Ken I’ve begun to forget him. Who’s Ken, again? Bon vivant what? Friend in Germany who?
OK, now DAD news. Dad is in NEW FOUND LAND! I’ve been missing him all week. I have to write a blog about where Dad is, because he sent me a website to his hunting tour place, and it’s…well, it’s filled with accidental hilarity, I can’t lie. But I can’t access that from here. I’m at the theater, you see. No internetting here. We’re getting ready to open the matinee. The house should be opening any…minute…now and the show starts in 20 minutes and then I have to run to Staples before it closes and print some things because my home printer is not working. You can put all the ink in it, but then it says “NO INK NO INK.” Well, you are a liar, printer, and I hate your face. I will talk about the printing of things at a later date, maybe. They are chickens. Uncounted chickens. I have to print some uncounted chickens. At Staples. Won’t they be surprised when THOSE pop out of the printer all uncounted-like and buck-buck-bucking around.
So Dad’s been calling me every day and I have missed EVERY SINGLE CALL and that’s been so sad but last night I went to bed at 3am (don’t ask, you wanted a blog Sunday, didn’t you? Then I had to stay up until 3am) and was SUPPOSED to sleep IN but then Dumbcat decided he wanted to snuggle at 8:30ish so he was all “mreeeow? Purr. Meee? Mooo? Purrr. Meee! Meee! MEEEEEoooooo!” and headbutting and he was SO CUTE even though SO ANNOYING so I woke up to pet him and then I was awake. So then the minute I got up he immediately occupied my warm spot so I SEE YOUR NEFARIOUS PLAN, MY BOY. VERY evil. SO evil. So later I woke HIM up to cuddle with HIM. See how HE likes it. (He liked it very much. He was so happy he DROOLED.) So I wandered around the house like a zombie-person and then the phone rang all “PRIVATE NAME PRIVATE NUMBER” at 9:15am and I was like, “WHAT THE HELL NO” but I answered it because if it was a telemarketer, I wanted to shout at them. But it was DAD! From NEW FOUND LAND!
He was all, “Well, I GUESS YOU HATE ME” and then I had to explain that I was working on a play and he was all, “NO PLAYS YOU ARE UNEMPLOYED” and I said “Dad. DAD. IT IS ASSASSINS” and he was like “I didn’t know there was a play about that assassin friend of yours” and I said, “NO. It is my favorite musical of ALL TIME and I have wanted to work on it for TWENTY YEARS and sometimes you have to DO things even if the TIMING is not the BEST” and he thought about it for a minute and then agreed. This is why I have the best dad. (Also, I want a play about Ken. How much fun would a bon vivanty assassiny musical be? Someone write a musical about Ken. The lead character has to play a ukulele, though. That is non-negotiable.)
Anyway, Dad will lose cell phone reception soon, as he is going into the WILDS looking for MOOSE so I won’t talk to him for a couple of weeks or something. I caught him up briefly on all the fanciness going on in Amy-land – he was duly impressed – and he told me he rode a very big ferry and didn’t even fall off one time – and I was duly impressed. (Right before he left, someone drove their van off a ferry, which I think is kind of hilarious. Not on PURPOSE. By ACCIDENT. I know. It’s all very sad. But also kind of funny. I don’t think anyone DIED or anything. THAT wouldn’t be funny. I mean, I have a dark sense of humor, but it only goes so FAR.)
Dad and I talked for about 10 minutes and it was very nice and I miss him like crazy because Dad gets me more than anyone else because, other than the insane political divide we’ve got going on, we are (shh, don’t tell) VERY SIMILAR. All of my weird personality quirks, like the chicken-counting and the insane crazy crippling loyalty to our very very few chosen loved ones and even the we’re totally introverted but VERY good at pretending we’re not when we need to be so no one knows we’re not? All Dad-things. I might look like my mom, but this personality is almost 100% Amy’s Dad. (Which makes Mom INSANE. “Why didn’t you get even a SINGLE ONE OF MY TRAITS?” she will ask. I have no answer for this. Not a one. It’s not like she wasn’t AROUND for my childhood. If anything, she was around MORE, as Dad worked and Mom was a stay-at-home-mom until I was 12. Genetics and nature-vs.-nurture, they’re funny things, right? Right. Also, Amy’s Brother is just like Amy’s Dad, too. So…sorry, Mom. You lost the genetic lottery. I don’t know what to tell you.)
This is a very long blog post. I’m at the theater, what the hell else am I going to do? I’m typing inbetween looking up and watching the show. I’ve watched it 6 times in a row now and I’m not even a little bored, by the way. This is a very, very good show. Sondheim’s on my list of people I want to meet someday. It’s a short list. The Clintons, Stephen King, Joss Whedon, Sondheim. Kevin Smith was on the list but I met him so I got to cross him off. Although I WOULD like to meet him someday where I didn’t act like an asshole weirdo stalker-person. I WAS SO STAR-STRUCK MY WORD. (I’d like to meet a lot of other people – a LOT – but those are the IMPORTANT ones. Oh, well, of course, this list does not count my real-life far-flung loved ones, who I would give my left arm to meet. That’s understood, right? Right. I don’t need that left arm anyway, it just gets in the way and I’m a righty.)
OK. This needs to come to an end. So there’s Dad-news. More Dad-news to come soon. Later in the week, maybe? And AMY-news. Such exciting Amy-news. This week’s been great. Assassins and being on a panel and then this uncounted chicken thing that I can’t talk about yet and other various awesome things. Just a great week. Love you, week. Thank you, week. I needed you, week.