Special More Theatre Articles

More Sugar Articles by Michael Muldoon

HOW TO WATCH A PLAY

Sit down.

Watch the play.

Repeat.

“Is this a joke, you’ve got to be kidding me right?”  You may be asking yourself.  Or “What a Pompous Ass?”  You’d be right on both accounts.

The sad truth is that the general public needs to be told how watch a play.  So many of us have grown up watching movies at home; first on television, then on videotape and most recently on DVD that we have forgotten how to share the viewing experience.  At home, the freedom to talk to one another while we are watching, get up and get some salt and/or sugar encrusted food-like items, talk on the telephone or do any of the myriad multi-tasking activities  we do, speeds us through the less-enthralling spots and ensures we make the utmost use of one of our most valuable resources: time.  But going to a play is different.  You are sharing the experience with the rest of the audience, you cannot rewind and you are part of the performance.  Let’s take a look at each of these in turn.

You are sharing the experience with the rest of the audience.  You may be one of ten or a thousand people who have set aside time and money to watch the play.  Most of the people in the audience don’t know you.  That’s OK.  You’re only going to be together for a few hours but you have made an implicit agreement; you’re there to watch the play.  If you do anything that disrupts their watching the play, if you take a cell-phone call, if you can’t resist the desire to open one of the plastic wrapped hard candies, if you snore, burp, break wind or if you have to tell your friend in detail about another play you’ve seen, you are breaking the agreement.  Particularly if you break wind.

Unlike a video, a play cannot be rewound and played back.  A theatrical performance keeps moving forward (unless its Edward Albee play).  If you miss something you’ve missed it.  For the sake of your fellow theater goer, if not for yourself, you need to pay attention.  This will save you and us, the inevitable, “what did he say?” question which too often arises.  Listening to the explanation you invariably will miss some additional crucial dialogue, starting the whole process over again.

When you watch the play, you are part of the performance.  This is one of the beauties of the stage and a critical reason why it is different from film.  You don’t have to wear any of the greasy make-up or learn any of the lines.  Forget about being paid an Arnold Schwarnegger salary.  Each performance is different, in part, because of how the audience reacts.  The implicit agreement you have is not only with your fellow audience but also with the actors on the stage.  In truth, they are not performing for you but you are creating the experience together.  If you are not actively engaged in the performance, the performance suffers.

Sometimes you have to sneeze or cough, its distracting, but go ahead, do what you have to do.  Don’t make a bid deal of it though.  And no farting, I’m not kidding about that.  I’m not talking about things like that.  I’m talking about those things you can and should put off until after the show.  Think about it.  Once you’re in your seat, you’ve made a big investment already.  You’ve paid for the tickets, maybe parking, dinner and a baby sitter.  You’ve taken your valuable free time and rolled the dice that this particular play is worth the gamble.  So sit back, turn off your cell phone, disengage your beeper, be quiet and watch.

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HOW NOT TO DRESS FOR A PLAY

There is a distinct lack of class in today’s culture and I for one am fed up with it.  Today I’m going to focus on our collective dress code.  Men and Women dress sloppily in sweat pants, sneakers and blue jeans for everything from running to the 7/11 to going out for an evening.   “I just want to be comfortable” and “Who cares what I wear” are complaints I’ve heard.  Too bad.  If you are going to dress like you are going to take a nap or worse, like you are going to do yard work, you’re going to be treated like the slob that you are.  Everywhere you go you see people shopping, shopping, shopping.  What are they buying?  Blue jeans.  Whether its NYC, Paris, Cancun, Rome, St. Martin or Beijing, all people do is shop and mostly its at the GAP and its for blue jeans.  Let’s face it, most of us don’t look our best in a pair of Wranglers.

I was in a shmancy restaurant the other night.  One of my table-mates took off his jacket and a waiter came by and mentioned, politely, that the dress code called for gentlemen to wear jackets.  We were surprised and a bit amused – but – somewhat flattered.  Flattered?  Yes, first that we were allowed into a place with a code (Wasn’t it Woody Allen who would never be a member of a club that allowed someone like him in?) and secondly, flattered to be called gentlemen.

RULES FOR LADIES
No tube tops.
No sneakerw or flip-flops.
No baseball caps.
No T-shirts, cargo pants, flip-flops, mesh shirts or leggings.
Nothing you would wear to your spin cycle class.
Forget about sweatpants.
Rule out those velour ensembles.
Nix those pajamas

RULES FOR GENTLEMEN
Same as above and DEFINITELY no tube tops.
Nothing you wore in prison.
No flannel shirts, blue jeans, work boots or anything you wear to split firewood.
If we can see your armpit hair – it’s a definite no-no.

Gentlemen, you don’t have to wear a tie, although you can if you want.  Ladies, you don’t have to wear pearls, pumps and pantyhose; although you do look good in the three P’s.  What I’m saying is when you go to the theater, you need to look like ladies and gentlemen.  You may not be as comfortable, but too bad.  In a sense it is a matter of respect to those around you, who, after all, are the ones who have to look at you.  How often do you have an excuse to look your best.  You’ve got all the clothes you need hanging in your closet.  What are you waiting for?  Put on your best when you go out, dress like Ladies and Gentlemen, and voila, you’re on your way to becoming one.

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DINING PROOR TO THE THEATER

Always eat a meal before going to the theater.  You can’t concentrate on what you’re watching if your stomach is growling.

Never eat before going to the theater.  You’ll get sleepy and you won’t be able to concentrate.

Always go to an expensive restaurant before seeing a play.  You owe it to yourself to live the “high life” once in a while.

Never go to an expensive restaurant before seeing a play.  Your tickets already cost $100 a piece, what, do you think money grows on trees?

Always eat with a group of friends.  You’re out to have a good time so enjoy yourself with your friends.

Always dine with a group of friends.  The stimulating conversation will enhance your evening.

Never dine with a group of friends.  Your friends are not that interesting and someone always tries to weasel out of the tip.

Always have a cocktail before going to the box office.  You will relax and really enjoy the play that way.

Never have a cocktail before going to the box office.  If  you do its guaranteed you’ll fall asleep before the curtain falls.

Always drink coffee at the end of your meal.  You need to be awake and alert to focus.

Never drink coffee at the end of your meal.  The caffeine will be you jumpy, irritable and excitable not to mention you will be to pee, right then, halfway through the first act.

Always follow the above rules.  I took the time and effort to write them and the least you could do is follow them.

Never follow the above rules.  Make up your own mind and don’t listen to some hack writer in a bar monthly.

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THINGS THEY DIDN’T SAY

Would you believe they didn’t say this?

Paris Hilton saw OKLAHOMA and said “Who would have guessed everyone in that hick state could sing?”

Dick Clark saw LONG DAY’S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT and remarked “This play is longer than my life”

Tiger Woods watched BYE BYE BIRDIE and wondered “The play was good but where’s the golf?”

Barry Bonds saw THE FULL MONTY and stated “Tell the cast I know where they can get some roids”

Barry Manilow saw MAMA MIA and pronounced “Thank you ABBA for writing wimpier songs than me.”

Steve Buscemi saw PHANTOM OF THE OPERA and yelled  “Now that guy is ugly.”

Brittany Spears saw WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOLF and remarked “Seems like a good marriage to me.”

Michael Jackson saw DOUBT and proclaimed “Those priests are a bunch of perverts.”

J LO saw MA RAINY’S BLACK BOTTOM and announced “That baby’s got back.”

Ben Affleck saw I AM MY OWN WIFE and commented “Now that’s a woman for me.”

Ozzie Osbourne saw THE ELEPHANT MAN and screamed at the top of his lungs “That guy is really, really ugly.”

Cher  saw THE GRAPES OF WRATH and stated “Someone needs to tell the Joad family about shopping.  I’d suggest a trip to Saks.”

Mel Gibson saw JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR and remarked “I thought the crucifixion scene was way too short with not nearly enough blood.”

Mike Tyson saw COPENHAGEN and uttered “I thought I was going to a nightclub.  Watta mistake.  Who wants to listen to a buncha words?  I shoulda kicked their ass.”

Madonna saw A FEW GOOD MEN and breathed “I’ll take more than a few, myself.”

Martha Stewart saw MEDEA and proclaimed “The real tragedy was the home décor.”

Alan Iverson saw ASSASINS and asserted “Those are my kinda guys.”

Prince Charles saw BETRAYAL  and announced “You can’t trust a man who cheats on his wife.”

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JACK MEEHOFFS HIGH TIMES INTERVIEW WITH MICHAEL MULDOON

Meehoff: I understand you have just been cast in a new play.

Muldoon: Yes and I am very excited about it.

The Festival features the thesis projects of 42 actors, 14 directors and 7 new playwrights in 28 presentations of works drawn from classic and contemporary repertories – including 7 original works by Drama’s playwrights!

Each program will run Thursday through Saturday at 8PM, with a Saturday matinee at 3PM. THE NEW SCHOOL FOR DRAMA THEATER, 151 BANK STREET, THIRD FLOOR, NEW YORK CITY. Free general admission!  Reservations recommended.

For reservations, please call Ticket central at 212-279-4200 or visit www.ticketcentral.com.  Tickets go on sale February 5, 2007.

I’m in STITCHES IN TIME, NEW!  Original Work! by Caren Skibell, directed by Diana Basmajian

Meehoff: Didn’t you recently appear on One Life to Live?

Muldoon: Yes, and some are calling me a Soap Opera Star but I prefer the term – Daytime Serial Performing Artist.

Meehoff: You only had one line, right?

Muldoon: Technically two but they were critical to the scene.

Meehoff: Anything else you’ve been working on?

Muldoon: I’ve been working on the small screen on various shows, Saturday Night Live, Rescue Me and Sensing Murder.

Meehoff: SNL, that’s sounds impressive.

Muldoon: Yes, I was the stand-in for host Rainn Wilson one day.

Meehoff: The stand-in, how did you get that job?

Muldoon: I fit into his suit.  But I really enjoyed working with Drew Barrymore two weeks before, who I consider a very dear friend, although we’ve never met.

Meehoff: Right, well thanks for the interview and good luck on the play.

Muldoon: Thanks, I’ve got to go hone my craft.

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THE LIFE OF AN ACTOR:  MYTH VS. REALITY

On the Monday after Thanksgiving, I worked as a background actor at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  The movie in production was entitled Ghost World and featured such recognizable names as Greg Kinear, Tea Leoni and Ricky Gervais.  Call time was 11:00 a.m.  and I was asked to wear a Black Tuxedo .  Thus,  my expectations were  high.  A classy day of extra work;  walking around in formal wear, drinking champagne and generally trying to be Cary Grant.  In addition, The Metropolitan was my favorite museum and I envisioned myself, tall dark and handsome (alright, at least I’m tall), leaning languidly against a John Singer Sargent painting.

I arrived at 10:45 a.m.  and went to a part of the Museum I had never seen.  Through long hallways decorated with pictures of patrons from the 1910’s, 20’s and 30’s, I found my way to Holding.  During the rest of the week, it was called the Employee Cafeteria.  There, approximately 250 people, all looking fabulous, were gathered for the day’s shoot.  By 11:30, I had passed scrutiny from Wardrobe, been given a quick spray from Hair and a little foundation from Makeup.  I was ready to go.  By 11:45 a.m., my jacket was off, my tie unloosened, shoes off and I had an orange stain on my shirt from the orange I had peeled from the Craft Service station.  So much for looking like Cary Grant.

 
Then I waited.

 
ACTING IS GLAMOROUS

 
For the first three hours, not much happened.  Every 15 minutes or so, one of the Assistant Directors (AD’s) screamed out that “people should make sure they go to Wardrobe, Costumes and Make-up.”  Then they would explain that these are three different stations and that we would need to visit each one.  12:00 passed, 1:00 passed then 2:00.  At 2:15 p.m. They called out numbers, totaling about 10 people, who were taken to set.  The rest of us waited.  At 4:30 we broke for dinner.  They ran out of chocolate cake.  The rest of the food was pretty good.  I would have like some of that cake though.

 
I waited some more.

 
ACTORS MAKE A TON OF MONEY

 
I got my timecard checked.  I had brought my passport (expired) so that they would know I am not an illegal alien.  As a member of the union, Screen Actors Guild or SAG, my base pay was $130 for an eight hour day.  I was fairly certain that we would be working overtime.  About half the room was non-SAG and their pay was just $75.  They do the same work and get paid about half.  Ricky Gervais, Tea Leoni and Greg Kinear were probably getting a little more.  Hey, they had to memorize lines and all we had to do was stay awake.

 
Still waiting.

 
ACTING IS FUN

 
At 6:00 p.m. we filed upstairs to the Temple of Dendur and began our workday.  Over the course of the next 6 ½ hours we were up and down the stairs 6 times.  During the shoots, we walked from one spot to another and back.  Usually 50 feet or so.  The Assistant Directors called it ping-ponging.  I got as close to the stars as I get to Derek Jeter from the loge section of Yankee Stadium.  I think Jeter gets more than $130/day too.

 
As I waited in the Holding room, reading yesterday’s Sunday Times, reading my book and trying to watch an old video starring Fred McMurray, I realized how little I had actually accomplished.  Except for the stain on my shirt that is.

 
At 12:30 p.m. we were done, we filed out into the cold, damp evening.  With various penalties (meal, wardrobe, etc.) and overtime, the check grossed $337.  Walking to the subway, no one could see the stain on my shirt or the ink on my hands from reading the paper so much.  Just another glamorous actor in black tie after a long day’s shoot.  I was starting to feel like Cary Grant.

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THE GLAMOUR OF ACTING, Part 1 of 3: TELEVISION

The actor’s life is a glamorous whirlwind of photo shoots, elegant award dinners and first class accommodations at the finest hotels in the world’s most dynamic cities.  That is, if you are Julia Roberts or George Clooney.  If you are someone else, it is quite different.  Struggling for a day by day existence in the dangerous bowels of the earth, digging through rock and mud with your cold, raw fingers for the earth’s mineral made to keep us warm at night: coal.  Wait, that’s a miner.  But anyway, an actor’s life is hard, really hard!  Honest.

 
To give you an example, here are actual listings for actual jobs that actual actors responded to.  Actually not me, but other talented, trained professionals who are looking for a couple of bucks until their next “real” acting job. This is an insider look into the “help wanted” advertisements to industry professionals.  Some are so pathetic they are funny.  Others are just pathetic.  The names of the TV shows have been changed to protect the guilty.  Expect errors of spelling and grammar.  Read on.

 
For one of those ubiquitous cop shows where they really have no respect for people in Buffalo, or Yonkers for that matter:

 
SAG ACTORS TO PORTRAY RESIDENTS W/ OLD PICK UP TRUCKS IN BUFFALO NEW YORK, WE ARE LOOKING FOR SAG ACTORS WHO CAN PORTRAY DEPRESSED, OVERWEIGHT BUFFALO RESIDENTS WITH DOWNSCALE CLOTHING. PLEASE NOTE IF YOU HAVE DOWNSCALE CARS, ESPECIALLY PICK UP TRUCKS.. SUBMITTING PHOTOS TO THE DIRECTOR FOR THIS SPECIFIC LOOK. WE WILL BE FILMING PROBABLY IN YONKERS.

 
For another cop show.  Have to be a pretty confident female to answer this one:

 
SAG FEMALES 35-55 TO PORTRAY BLUE COLLAR RUGGED “BIKER CHICK” W/ BIG SAGGY BOOBS. READ CAREFULLY! MUST HAVE ALL DAY AVAIL. MUST BE PAID UP SAG! NO CONFLICTS! PLEASE LIST WHEN YOU LAST WORKED ON (show name deleted) AND WHAT YOU PORTRAYED! MUST BE A SIZE C OR LARGER.

 
For a teen drama:

SAG FEMALE HOOKER TYPES – THUR **MUST BE COMFORTABLE PLAYING A HOOKER**MUST HAVE PROPER ATTIRE.
 

This ad was for a brand new pilot. As you may guess, the show was awful and didn’t make the cut.  BG is for background.  If you are a college age girl, you get to work around smoke and wear something minimal and assuredly uncomfortable.  On a positive note, you get minimum wage!
 

NON UNION COLLEGE PARTY GIRLS FOR BG WORK THURSDAY AND FRIDAY.  HAVE TO BE OK TO WORK IN SMOKE.  FRAT PARTY SCENE-SEXINESS.  MAYBE KISSING COUPLES- AND NOTE IF YOU HAVE AN GUY TO DO THAT WITH.  HAVE TO BE OK TO WORK IN SMOKE.  ALSO NOTE IF OK TO WORK IN A COCONUT SHELL BIKINI TOP AND GRASS SKIRT.
 

If you haven’t come out of the closet yet, this would be good opportunity:
TRANSVESTITES, DRAG QUEENS, CROSS-DRESSERS FOR AN UPCOMING EPISODE.  WILL SHOOT MONDAY / UNION-NON_UNION/BACKGROUND/MALE OR FEMALE/ALL ETHNICITIES/ 18-60.  MUST BE ABLE TO PROVIDE YOUR OWN WARDROBE.

 
This next one is for a situation comedy.  Note, there is a special agreement with the actor’s union so instead of getting the norm, approximately $147/eight-hour-day, they only get $108.  So, you get to do demeaning work at a discount!

 
MALES 20s – COMFORTABLE GETTING “PEED” ON – TUES – MUST BE COMFORTABLE WITH WITH GROUP OF GUYS “PEEING” ON YOU WHILE YOU ARE PASSED OUT “DRUNK”. PLEASE DO NOT SUBMIT IF YOU ARE NOT COMFORTABLE WITH THIS. PLEASE NOTE UNION STATUS. THANK YOU!

Last December there was a slew of notices for bondage, nude, S&M type scenes.  Must be the holidays.  Here is one:
 

SAG MALE 18-45 *FEATURED* TO PORTRAY VERY THIN GUY ON A LEASH IN BONDAGE CLUB.. READ!!! / SAG / Background / Male / All Ethnicities / 18-45

SAG MALE 18-45 *FEATURED* TO PORTRAY A VERY THIN GUY ON A LEASH IN BONDAGE CLUB.12.6.11. READ!!! PLEASE NOTE YOU MUST BE COMFORTABLE IN SCANTILY CLAD OUTFITS AND/OR JUST YOUR UNDERWEAR! MUST HAVE ALL DAY AVAIL! NO CONFLICTS! PLEASE LIST WHEN YOU LAST WORKED ON (name omitted) AND WHAT YOU PORTRAYED! *PLEASE NOTE THAT IT WILL LOOK LIKE YOU ARE BEING TASERED** *PLEASE SUBMIT ADDITIONAL PICTURES
 

Often production will try to entice actors by saying the role is “featured.”  You don’t get any lines, you aren’t guaranteed any screen time and you don’t get any more money.  Don’t kid yourself Background Actor, you’re not getting into the foreground on this one.
 

*FEATURED ROLE** SEEKING SAG MALES AND FEMALES TO PORTRAY OBESE PEOPLE IN A INTERACTIVE THEATER SCENE REPRESENTING GLUTTONY. *MUST BE COMFORTBALE WITH VERY LITTLE CLOTHING (TEE SHIRTS AND UNDER GARMENTS WITH FOOD STAINS – representing gluttony)* AVAIL WITH NO CONFLICT ON WEDS. PLEASE SUBMIT FULL BODY SHOTS AND ANY OTHER PHOTOS WITH THE SUBJECT LINE: GLUTTONY

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THE GLAMOUR OF ACTING, Part 2 of 3: MOVIES (FILM)

Last month, we discussed some of the humiliating opportunities actors are offered to get on TV screens.  In the background.  Jobs that used to be for extras but are now offered to Background Performing Artists.  Again, I am not to blame for the misspellings and generally unreadable English.  This month, listed below, are authentic ads sent to professional actors for movies.  Read it at your own risk.
 

This job opportunity is perfect if you enjoy getting stuck on mass transit, FOR HOURS, without a hot meal: SAG AVAILABLE TO PORTRAY PASSENGERS ON A TRAIN WHO HAVE NOT WORKED ALREADY AVAIL THURSDAY **READ CAREFULLY** / SAG / “FEATURE” / BACKGROUND/MALE OR FEMALE/ALL ETHNICITIES / 25-65

DO NOT RESPOND IF YOU HAVE ALREADY WORKED ON THE FILM. MUST BE AVAILABLE ALL DAY THURSDAY AND BE COMFORTABLE ON A MOVING LIRR TRAIN. PLEASE NOTE THAT SAG HAS GRANTED THIS PRODUCTION A WAIVER for BG ON THE TRIAN FOR APPROX 12 HOURS.  THEY ARE UNABLE TO CATER A HOT LUNCH OR TIVE THEM A WALKAWAY SO PRODUCTIONA AND SAG HAVE AGREED SERVE THEM A BOX LUNCH.  THEY WILL HAVE A CHANCE TO PRE-ORDER FROM A MENU.  THERE WILL ALSO BE CRAFT SERVICE TABLE AND BATHROOM FACILITIES, BUT THEY WILL BE UNABLE TO LEAVE THE TRAIN. READ CAREFULLY ***

How about this for a spanking good time (how would they check if you have experience?):

This is a notice regarding event: Experienced Dominator/Dominatrix needed for 4/3 with XXX  & Assoc. Casting.  The event below is now available for viewing and scheduling online.  This notice is for possible work playing a Dominator or Dominatrix on the Cable TV project. You must be at least 18 years old, and be paid up with SAG. We are seeking someone WITH EITHER REAL LIFE DOMINATOR/DOMINATRIX EXPERIENCE OR SOMEONE THAT HAS PORTRAYED THIS ON CAMERA IN THE PAST.  Please note the higher pay rate of $250/8hrs for SOMEONE WITH EXPERIENCE.  If you confirm your availability on this event we will submit you to the director.  If you are chosen we will call you.  Please do not call our office unless we contact you & do not email us directly with your availability.  Follow the instructions in the email you received to respond to this notice.  If you are having technical problems responding to this notice please call technical support at 800- XXX-XXXX.

For some video project.  Real artsy, I’m sure.  Note the photos from different angles.

SEEKING AN INSHAPE SAG ACTOR, 5’10” TO 6’0″, CAUCASIAN, BROWN HAIR, TO BE A NUDE BODY DOUBLE AVAIL WED. MUST BE COMFORTABLE WITH FULL NUDITY AND SIMULATING SEX. PLEASE SUBMIT FULL BODY PHOTOS, EITHER NUDE OR IN THONG TO (YYY Casting) PUT NUDE BODY DOUBLE IN THE SUBJECT LINE. SUBMITTING PHOTOS TO OUR DIRECTOR AND THE ACTOR. PLEASE SUBMIT PHOTOS FROM DIFFERENT ANGLES. PLEASE ONLY SUBMIT IF YOU ARE COMFORTABLE WITH THIS. ###

THE GLAMOUR OF ACTING, Part 3 of 3: THEATER

Movies, Television, is there any place an actor can go and not be humiliated.  We’ve already delved into specific advertisements for actors in those genres.  What about Theater?  Where every actor gets to show their training, preparation and talent before a live audience?  Fuhgedaboudit.

 
Many theater companies will ask potential hires to do a two minute monologue.  One Hundred and Twenty Seconds to showcase years of training.  One particular Off-Broadway Company describes the following in their casting blurb:

“While the characters are all colorful, the play still comes from a place of sincerity and vulnerability. Sentimentality is to be avoided, but the pain the characters are going through is real.”
 

Pretentious, SURE, impossible to do in 2 minutes? DEFINITELY. However, more importantly: “Nudity required in performance. Attractive, but not physically.”  Soooo, you have to bare your butt AND be beautiful on the inside.  But not outside.  In addition they were seeking  “A lesbian, cross-country cyclist.” Fortunately, this actress gets to keep their bicycle shorts on.

Why is it that theater people are so damn pretentious?   Is that a prerequisite for the genre?  Seems to be.  Listen to this hooey:

“The ZZZ Theater (once again I’m protecting the guilty) is an actor-driven ensemble known for its intense and intimate work. We are forcefully committed to honoring the actor’s process through robust table work and organic storytelling which extends from rehearsal into performance. Unlike other companies, we do not cement our choices in advance. What audiences see is a group of actors “in the moment” – delving deep within themselves and working off one another to tell a story that is fresh and alive night to night.”

So if they do this in performance, what do they have left to tell their therapists?

Its enough to make an actor want to give up acting and, instead, devote themselves to….performance arts.

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