New storm

A storm of ideas, that is.

Gearing in to the phase of writing that begins to build its own speed as the thoughts and impressions surrounding the research start popping in to the process. I seem to have very strong reactions to Schiaparelli and to Chanel- the 2 fashion idols that are at the core of my new play, titled FABRICATION: Creating the myths of Schiaparelli, Chanel and Dali. I find myself favoring one of the two and rather disliking the other, so the tone of the first draft will be interesting, i am sure.

When home is nowhere

I have just returned to FL after being away for the better part of 10 weeks. I am surprised at how difficult it is for me to adjust this time. After I returned from 6 weeks in the UK last year, I seemed to acclimate quickly. This year is different. Maybe it's because I was on my own a lot- driving from FL to NY to GA to AL to NC and back to FL. Lots of alone time. Many hotel rooms.                    The time in NY was amazing, working on 3 shows with some wonderful people and sharing some profound life experiences- both happy and sorrowful. I am very at home in upstate NY and have been contemplating a move there. Maybe my psyche had all ready made the move and I just didn't follow through, physically. I am also very much inspired by Asheville, NC and am considering going there. Again- maybe my physical being feels that and is no longer comfortable staying in the place I call "home". There is a great pull for me to be in a place where I feel valued and that I contribute to the quality of the community.  I try to do that here and have been blessed with very significant recognition from Creative Pinellas in the form of the grant awarded me. I am grateful for the support. At present, I have 3 shows coming up this fall and am so looking forward to beginning The Tempest, which opens in January 2018. I am VERY fortunate, I know, but I still struggle with feeling unfulfilled and, I admit, underutilized. That may be nothing more than my desire for "love" or whatever it's called, and I certainly don't wish to become ubiquitous, but it is the reality of my mind today. Tomorrow? Who knows?

New play

Have embarked on a new play to be premiered in November at The Dali Museum to enhance the experience of the exhibition on Dali friend and collaborator, Elsa Schiaparelli.

I have started, as I do, with the research- the facts and the stories of the life of my subject (she was quite amazing) and awaiting the "gotcha" moment when I find the central pinpoint of fire that will be the heart of the story I will tell. I remember the moment when it came to me as I worked on my Alice In Wonderland piece and it was like being knocked over. I look forward to Schiap (her nickname) knocking me over as well. 

Artist For Hire

Today, I am sending out a video for an audition that I cannot attend. It has become common for actors to record a video for consideration regarding casting. I am LOUSY at the technical aspects of making a video. I have set up my iPhone or iPad on precarious perches and performed my pieces- often in my bathroom (the light and background are better there). I have squashed myself up against a tiny portion of a wall to try to capture Shakespeare's Puck. I have sung Green Day songs a'capella. I have prevailed on the kindness of friends to tape stuff for me. I have paid people who are good at this to record video for me- that's the best option, but it adds up, money-wise. I am really no fan of the video audition, as it seems very flat to me- and even less of a fan of Skype, although it can  actually be a more "true" audition. The challenge of being an actor today is that you must also be a videographer, a PR expert and a manager. Using video, email and internet blasts, creating press releases when needed, etc. Sometimes I long for the days when I would get in my car and drive 4 hours to do a 5 minute audition, then get back in my car and drive 4 hours home. It's easier!!! Haha! By the way- check out my websites- I did those myself...

 

Update from upstate (NY)

Opening night for The Effect Of Gamma Rays on Man-In-The-Moon Marigolds was great!

It has been such an interesting journey. The character of Beatrice is a damaged, defeated, angry and yet somehow hopeful woman. Trying to find her colors- the bitterness and resentment, the crippling fear and hurt, the love for her children that is stunted in its growth by the poison of her own history. She is brittle in her fragility. At first glance, Beatrice seems to be just a horrible person. Mean. But over the rehearsal period, as I worked under an insightful director, the layers began to peel away. The woman who once frightened me- I now love. This Pulitzer Prize winning play by Paul Zindel is truly beautiful in its ugliness.

That's the great gift of creating a new character- from your own writing or from an existing piece of work. It's the research- the digging- the archeology of theatre that is, for me, the most satisfying aspect of this art. I am currently preparing to embark on new characters and I look forward to the journeys we will take together.

Post mortem. Sort of.

The run of COLLECTED STORIES went very well. It was well attended and the feedback was all very positive. The whole process really taught me how to stand back a little- not impulsively react to every new situation as it rose- not to immediately assume I was faced with some Herculean task. There was a lot involved in this adventure for me- as the sole producer, I wore a lot of hats. But, I must say, it was fun, too. After the business part of hiring the cargo van (to move our production into The Studio @ 620, then out of 620 and over to the Straz Center, then out of the Straz and back to storage-whew!), I enjoyed lumbering around in that big vehicle. 

Thanks to Creative Loafing, publicity was great. Word of mouth was great as well. A lot of folks I knew came out, but a lot of folks I didn't know came out and that was really encouraging. A lot of close friends didn't come out. That hurt- but just a little. My friends are all every bit as busy as I am and none of us have yet figured out how to be in two places at one time. But I keep trying.

Today, I continue to prepare for my summer in NY. I am doing three shows up there this season- I was invited to perform 2 of my original shows and then I will also be performing in a production of The Effect Of Gamma Rays On Man-In- The- Moon- Marigolds, a truly wonderful and visceral piece. I am really pleased to be able to represent Tampa Bay in New York!

So, this season has thus far accomplished much: I have produced twice as Circle In The Water, with a third coming in June (NY), and have fulfilled the necessary work weeks with my union (Actors Equity) to be provided with a year of health insurance. I have been so fortunate to be covered by the Affordable Care Act- it made me independent enough to become my own production company, because I didn't have to work with an emphasis on obtaining union coverage- i had my own through the ACA. That meant that I could take contracts that didn't provide points (or weeks) toward union coverage- I could do the art I WANTED to do. But in this climate of great uncertainty, the threat to my accessibility to quality health care has led me back to the union insurance plans. And that's great.I am so lucky to have that opportunity.  Maybe a year will be enough for this government to figure it out...but don't hold your breath. 

Onward to summer!

First production opens

It happened!

Circle In The Water, LLC opened our first production, COLLECTED STORIES, at The Studio @ 620 on May 18th. Today is our final show in the Studio and we will then load up the whole show and move to the Straz Center in Tampa tomorrow for two final shows. As chief cook and bottle washer, I have been communicating with our press sponsor, Creative Loafing (a God send), doing interviews (thank you Beauty and the Burg and ABC's Morning Blend!), picking up some really tasty mandel bread from Jo-El's (shameless plug for a great place), loading and unloading a cargo van and driving around like a trucker, setting up the space with the Studio SM, Tyler (huge shout out to him), setting and checking props and costume quick changes, checking in with my wonderful company (Maggie Mularz and Matthew Ray), and then- trying to give myself a moment to breathe and center and focus on this story before curtain time. I am learning a great deal about time management and how vital it is for me to remain adaptable. I have been thrown in to some very unpredicted situations over the last few months and it has been a challenge. It has often given me pause, and yes, I have cried once or twice, but ultimately everything that is happening has served to bolster my resolve. And this production really turned out to be all about the piece itself- Donald Margulies' play. The words. The ideas. And that was my purpose with this production- to say these words- to tell this story. Succeed wildly or fail miserably- but tell the story. 

The experience has me very invigorated to go back to my own words- the plays I am working on that have been set aside for a bit while creating this production. I look forward to going back to live with my own stories.

More PR good news

I will be doing an interview for the podcast Beauty and the Burg this week as well as appearing on Morning Blend next Wednesday (ABC Action News), so some of the self-promotion I find so difficult has been of help. 

Because we had to adjust our performance schedule, moving our opening from May 10 to May 18, we have the strange dilemma of "time on our hands". So, we have to be mindful to keep the exploration and creation phase simmering a bit more slowly, so as to not bow over and peak before we actually hit the stage. It affords us the luxury of really making the story deep and real. I am really proud of the "guts" of this show (the storytelling). 

I am also learning to let myself be the producer. To say- out loud- what I need, what needs to be done, etc and empowering myself to make those things happen. I am beginning to realize that I do have the skills and the drive and the experience to produce and the next project my company takes on will benefit from all that is happening now. It's very difficult some days, but it is ultimately very positive.

But I must admit that I look forward to the several months that will follow Collected Stories' run, when I will be solely the actor. It will be like a vacation!

Good news!

I am currently working with Creative Loafing on a publicity campaign for my company's production of COLLECTED STORIES. It is an unexpected and blessed opportunity!

Press and publicity is always one of the highest hurdles for an independent artist. It is often against an artist's nature to do what feels like "self aggrandizement". I know I don't like selling myself- but that's my product, isn't it? I'm an actor. I'm the product. I have to tell myself often that it is my job to offer the best product and then to get that product out to the public. I wouldn't feel awkward doing that if I made computers or shoes- would I? Confidence is good. I am confident in myself as an actor, as a writer. I think I'm always afraid to come off as pushy or incessant. It was difficult for me to get started with Mail Chimp, because I didn't want to "bother" anyone. But folks can't come see a show they don't know is happening, right?

Today, I am also finishing some specialized stuff for the show- creating the cove for a book that features prominently in the story, selecting music, etc. That is much more fun! :)

Nevertheless, she persists...

The challenge of producing a theatrical event is forever offering something new to tackle.

After applying for, receiving and paying for the rights to Collected Stories, applying for, receiving and paying for the union contract, securing venues, establishing a PR chain (and learning how to use Mail Chimp!), etc., I am encountering a big bump in the road. Our first venue (1 of 3) has had to cancel our dates and wants to reschedule. This is going to mean negotiating with the licensing agents and the union as well as asking my actor and director to rearrange their schedules. I'm not sure it can be done, but I am setting out today to try and figure it all out. Sometimes I think folks believe that it's easy to "put on a little play"- that don't know what happens before the performance can be done and rescheduling is no big deal. Sigh.

So, today, I am wearing my "Nevertheless, She Persisted" T-shirt (a gift from my BFF) and putting one foot in front of the other. 

Rowboat: an answer to the image by Alex Katz (GASP 2017).

I went down to the river to pray…

 

September the 11th, 2001.

 

You remember.

 

You know - you can touch- how you felt on September the 11th.

 

Now.

 

Think about how you felt on September the 12th.

 

Wake up. 

It was all real. 

Get up. 

The numb sickness of a new reality dawning- 

it was all real. 

 

But the sun insisted on rising and your lungs insisted on breathing and you could not say why. 

Because it should not be. 

The world had ended- yesterday. 

Hadn’t it ended?

 

Now. 

 

Think about feeling that way every minute of every day without escape. Laughter that sounds false and distant- like someone else laughing in another room.

 

And you know why people do it. 

Why they stop living. 

Whether they are dead or not.

 

I need sleep. 

Restful. 

Sleep without dreams.

 

In dreams:

 

I am lost…somewhere…and the emptiness takes me over…my stomach disappears and there’s just endless, empty space…black…dotted with distant stars…tiny and cold…their fires holding no warmth. 

No hope of warmth.

 

Wake up. 

Again. 

Get up. 

Again. 

Open the blinds and sit in the brilliant, screen-filtered sunlight. 

Sit very still. 

Wait.

 

Sometimes I feel like if I sit very still in one spot without moving for a very long time, I will fade into the air and all that will remain is a faint chill. 

A stain on the atmosphere that was me.

 

Very still…the way the eye of a tornado must feel…just before it slams down and sweeps your house away.

 

And always. 

Always the lack of air for me to breathe.

 

I row out until I can no longer see shore. 

It is quiet. 

Still. 

Very still. 

But here, no tornado comes to sweep my house away. 

Here it is only silence.

And calm. 

 

Sit very still for a very long time. 

Wait.

Faint breeze.

Cool, clean. 

Flowing easily into my hungry lungs.

Air. 

I can breathe here.

I can breathe.

 

Perhaps the air here is different.

 

Perhaps I am different.

 

Perhaps this place- 

this “non-place” -

soothes the fever of an unquiet mind. 

 

Perhaps this place- 

this “non-place”- 

is sacred.

Sanctuary. 

 

It is different here. 

 

Here, I sit still for a very long time, but the universe feels less wrong. 

The air feeds my lungs and I sit.

The day darkens to night and I sit. 

Very still. 

 

And the stars that begin to appear do not seem so distant. 

Their light suggests a warmth that I had not perceived before. 

This warmth. 

This air.

This is that what peace feels like.

And this: 

THIS is enough. 

Roxanne Fay

Roxanne Fay returned to Pinellas county in 2007 after living in New York, Chicago and Hawaii. Her experiences have taken her from cruise ships to castles throughout the USA and Europe. She is the former Producing Artistic Director for the Oak Park Festival Theatre inOak Park, Illinois, a company presenting Shakespeare in the park for over 35 years.Since her return to Florida, Roxanne has been creating theatrical experiences as writer, director, actor and designer, collaborating with area artists to bring her visions to fruition, and engaging audiences across the Tampa Bay community.

From 2009 - 2013, Roxanne partnered with Pinellas writers Heather Jones and Aleshea Harris to form Blue Scarf Collective, presenting nearly a dozen plays together.Since 2011, Roxanne has been creating theatrical events to highlight the artists and works exhibited at the Dali Museum, St. Petersburg.

In 2016, Roxanne was awarded the Hawthornden Writers’ Fellowship and spent a month as playwright in residence at Hawthornden Castle in Scotland, completing her new work, Thrice To Mine, with a planned autumn 2017 production.Her first plays, Ugly and Aftermath were produced in Chicago. Her collected plays,

Home Fires Burning, were chosen for the United Solo Festival in NYC, and her playsDream Child: The Trial Of Alice In Wonderland, and Upon This Rock:The Magdalene Speaks have been produced in New York and the Tampa Bay area.She has been recognized with grants from the Puffin Foundation and Theatre Tampa Bay. The book of Upon This Rock: The Magdalene Speaks is available on Amazon.com.

As an actor, Roxanne has received awards from Theatre Tampa Bay, Broadway World and local press. Roxanne’s company, Circle In The Water, LLC, will present its first production,Donald Margulies’ Collected Stories, in May 2017. In June 2017, she will return for her third season with Bridge Street Theatre in New York to perform in The Effect Of Gamma Rays On Man In The Moon Marigolds, and to perform her play Upon This Rock: The Magdalene Speaks. Acting roles include Terry in Side Man (Banyan), Touchstone in As You Like It,

Feste in Twelfth Night and Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing (Jobsite), Fraulein Schneider in Cabaret, Dr. Emma Brookner in The Normal Heart, Juliet’s Nurse/ Friar Lawrence in Romeo and Juliet, and Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest (freeFall Theatre).

2016 marked Roxanne’s eight season performing for Walt Disney World’s Holidays Around The World, portraying LaBefana in EPCOT’s Italian Pavillion.

www.roxannefay.com www.circleinthewater.com