The more I research habits, productivity, and mindset, the more I'm learning how important it is to set up structures that work with your tendencies.
I mentioned this very briefly in the blog post about setting up a daily schedule (link here), but it is much easier to set up a structure than try to change who you are. Obviously, we sometimes have to do things we don't like doing. For example, if you're not an early person but you have to be at work at 6:00 AM, then, sorry bud, you can't change that structure.
But not all hope is lost!
Queen of Habits, Gretchen Rubin, and her research on the 4 Tendencies has been groundbreaking for me and the way I think about setting up structures that work with my tendency and not against it.
In Gretchen Rubin's own words:
"By asking the one simple question, 'How do I respond to expectations?' we gain exciting insight into ourselves. And when we know how other people respond to expectations, we understand them far more effectively, as well.
We all face two kinds of expectations--outer expectations (meet work deadlines, answer a request from a friend) and inner expectations (keep a New Year’s resolution, start meditating). Our response to expectations determines our 'Tendency'—that is, whether we fit into the category of Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, or Rebel.
Knowing our Tendency can help us set up situations in the ways that make it more likely that we’ll achieve our aims. We can make better decisions, meet deadlines, meet our promises to ourselves, suffer less stress, and engage more deeply with others.
Just as important, knowing other people’s Tendencies helps us to work with them more effectively."
The 4 Tendencies
The 4 Tendencies are:
-Upholder: Upholds outer and inner expectations; wants to know what should be done
-Obliger: Is easier to uphold an outer expectation than an inner expectation; needs accountability
-Questioner: Will uphold expectations, but must know WHY the expectation is there in the first place; needs justification
-Rebel: Doesn't uphold outer or inner expectations; wants freedom to do something their own way
Which tendency are you? Yes, you might have qualities of all four, but which one is your main tendency? If you have two, which one feels the most detrimental or troublesome?
If you don't know which one you are, take The Four Tendencies Quiz:
Tomorrow, I'll be doing a post on how you can take your tendency and turn it into positive structures and positive self talk.
The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron is one of my all time favorite books. I return to it often, and each time I do, I discover something new. It is a veritable treasure trove of exercises that help you mine your creativity.
Below, you will find a fabulous workshop that explores The Artist's Way. I'm joining--hope to see you there!
The Artist's Way is a thirteen week workshop in which we explore Julia Cameron's twelve step program to rediscover our creativity. Past participants have gone on to write and direct films, participate in AFI’s Directing Workshop for Women, produce and star in web-series(that have then been sold to top production companies), design costumes for stars (Madonna and George Clooney), speak for TED Talks, book series regular roles on TV shows, create websites, sculpt and design for Disney, start blogs, write and collaborate on books, book film, TV and professional theatre jobs, write and produce one person shows, win awards for short films, write for Expressing Motherhood, write and produce for Disney, create and sell paintings, perform in World Tours, produce CRxEATIVITY Festivals, earn college degrees, and find some semblance of balance and joy in this beautiful life.
Contact Jennifer Seifert through www.jenniferseifert.com for more details on the new virtual Zoom Artist’s Way class starting Monday nights, May 25th and Thursday nights, May 28th, and running for 12 weeks.
I'm playing Olivia in a reading of Twelfth Night on Friday night, May 8, at 7:00 PM EST through the amaaaaazing theatre company Method and Madness. You can get more info here, at broadwayworld.com.
There have been some questions about what I do for my self tape set up. I'll be honest, I took this directly from the amazing Audrey Moore from Audrey Helps Actors Resource Page.
I've changed a few of the things to work with my own home set up, but the lighting recs, sound recs, and light stand recs all come from her. Thank you, Audrey!
Do you need allllll of this? No. Technically, all you need is camera, some light, and good sound. You could prop your phone up on some books if you don't have a tripod. You could use natural light if you don't have a nice professional light.
Hooooweeeeever, all of this is nice to have because I GUARANTEE you that you will get an audition late at night that is due the next morning, and you'll be kicking yourself for not having a light source.
Also, it's about convenience, time management, and quality control. You'll know your self tapes will look stellar if you have a stellar setup.
Want to be a professional actor? Then that means investing in yourself and in your business like a professional. It will give you professional looking results. Funny how that happens, isn't it?
Click on each underlined heading for links to purchase:
I use my iPad--it has plenty of storage, I can edit quickly and easily, and the camera on it is quite nice. Of course, you can also use your iPhone!
You can certainly find fancier tripods out there, but I like this one because it is lightweight and gets the job done just fine.
This is the mount I use for my iPad. It is made out of metal and not plastic, which makes it extra sturdy. You don't want some flimsy piece of plastic holding up your expensive iPad. No no no.
iPhone tripod/ringlight adapter
I don't use my iPhone to tape, but if you do, you will need an attachment mount.
Camera ring light attachment
You have to have this weird little ball attachment to attach the ring light to your iPhone camera mount so you can tilt it up and down.
I like this mic because it's cheap, it works great, and it has and extra super long chord, and it plugs right into your iPhone. Nothing is worse than being in the middle of a take and having the mic pull on you and take you out. You MUST wear a mic. Otherwise the person reading with you will be much louder than you and that sucks.
If you do nothing else, get this ring light. Some people prefer a soft box but I got a ring light because Jesse’s middle name is Lumen because his dad is a gaffer and Jesse said ring light for travel and convenience. Once you are booking a lot, you’ll likely be working out of state and will have taped audition requests while you shoot. This light is small enough to fit on a carry on. It’s also got a dimmer on it which makes it ideal for changing the mood of your audition. (Brighter for comedy. Darker for drama.) It’s also great to have a light for evening taped auditions. Before I got this light I would have to get up at 7am to tape an audition before my in-person audition at 10am. With a ring light, I can get a set tape at 6:30pm, tape it that night, and then be done with it. I tried ordering a cheaper one on amazon and smoke started coming out of it when I turned it on sooooo... shop at Samy's.
I recommend a super tall light stand because you never want to be shot from below unless you are TRYING to look terrible. Even if you are a tiny little lady, go tallest because you may get asked to tape for someone who is 6'4". It’s always better to have height and not need it than to need it and not have it.This is a two for one deal but to get one is two dollars more. So buy this and share, or have an extra!
You can buy a fancy schmancy backdrop, but I just use a gray jersey sheet. I personally think gray, blue, or cream looks better than white. The jersey material keeps it from getting too wrinkly, but if it does get wrinkly then use a steamer. They are convenient, easy to use, and nice to have for auditions (for wrinkly clothing and backdrops!)
To hold up your sheet or backdrop.
The backdrop stand comes with a few clamps, but it's always nice to have extras. It'll hold your sheet/backdrop nice and taut, but it's also helpful to have for clothing. If I wear a flowy blouse or shirt on camera and I don't do a slight clamp in the back to nip in the waist, it'll look like I'm wearing a tent.
The amazing Risa Bramon Garcia from BGB Studios recently shared a bunch of examples of how actors and theatre companies are adjusting and evolving with the quarantine limits.
As creatives, we must create. It is in our bones, in our DNA. So many creatives right now are struggling because they don't see HOW they can still create during quarantine.
What I love about this list is that you see a variety of options, a variety of budgets, a variety of forms.
Get creative with how you'll be creative.
It's your calling, so, create.
First of all - this expires this weekend for free it seems - take a look at this.
Richard Nelson’s Apple Family Proves You Can Make Brilliant Theater on Zoom
Richard Nelson’s new Public Theater play “What Do We Need To Talk About?” was produced on Zoom, with the actors showing how it’s possible to be funny—and deep—far from the stage.
It's a newly written play utilizing Zoom as a central player, not ignoring it, not in spite of it, but using it as a tool to engage this fictional family who are desperate to connect and communicate. It's so naturalistic which is refreshing for a piece of theatre. The script is good, and these are wonderful actors who seem like they're improvising and yet really understated. It just makes you lean in and yet this doesn't feel like film, TV or a webseries, but something very visceral and in the moment.
Read in The Daily Beast: https://apple.news/AueoI-MahTZy141Jx41Q8Kg
Acting class online in the NY Times this week
24 Hour Plays has or had been doing Viral Monologues. You can watch most of these easily on Instagram, but the website is https://24hourplays.com/ Very simply, it's an established writer has 24 hours to write a monologue for an actor to rehearse, memorize, and perform. These were started just as the stay-at-home order happened so all of it is produced virtually.
And Grasie Mercedes, an actor, filmmaker, and writer from the Studio made this short film and it is getting lots of attention already…
ABC News: https://abc7.com/'a-covid-19-love-story'-coronavirus-short-film-iphone/6136145/
Netflix Social Distancing Project:
This is a fun SNL sketch that uses background and other tools. Some comedy.
I recently did a quick chat with some fierce actors about Shakespeare's As You Like It, and, as always, I went off on a tangent about some of my favorite Shakespeare books. These are not performance books, but more theory books (FYI).
Here they are! Click on each book for a link to buy :)
Asimov's Guide to Shakespeare--both volumes
Shakespeare After All by Majorie Garber
Pronouncing Shakespeare's Words by Dale Coye
Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human by Harold Bloom
Rosalind edited by Harold Bloom
The Persuasive Actor by Milan Dragicevich
Once More Unto the Speech Dear Friends: Comedy, Tragedy, History by Neil Freeman
First Folio (I like the Applause, but to each their own)
The Shakespeare Encyclopedia
Shakespeare Lexicon and Quotation Dictionary Parts I and II by Alexander Schmidt
Shakespeare's Words by David Crystal and Ben Crystal
Women of Will by Tina Packer
The Oxford Companion to Shakespeare
I've also attached a list of Shakespeare books recommended to me in graduate school. I own all these books and love all these books, as well as the ones listed above!
There have been some questions regarding scheduling--how do I give myself a routine right out of school or, I don't know, in the middle of a pandemic??
Something that I'm seeing a lot of people struggle with is something that actors are constantly having to navigate--self motivation in terms of being proactive and diligent with goals and systems. I'll be doing a bigger post on the difference between goals and systems (just in case you had a whaaaat moment), but here is what a daily schedule looks like for me.
Keep in mind: this is just ONE version of my schedule. It changes constantly.
Notice: I have scheduled pretty much every moment of my day. I do this because if I don't, I find myself at the end of the day going, Man, where did time go? It went to the two hours I spent on the couch watching Too Hot to Handle on Netflix. Hey, it happens. So, I schedule my time to make sure this doesn't happen.
Also: You'll see that I have witness prep outlined in my schedule. This is a coaching job I've taken on where I'm utilizing acting techniques in coaching witnesses for depositions. Chances are that you don't have witness prep haha, so feel free to fill this time with whatever you'd like (or hey, sleep in!)
Speaking of sleeping in: If I don't have something in the morning, I will fritter the early hours away snoozing. I am not a morning person. GAH! How I wish I was! So, to help me with this, I have set up a structure that ensures I get up early. What is this structure, you ask? I schedule my coaching clients or witness preps early in the day. I know myself, and the only way I will get out of bed is for someone else. I won't do it for myself. This is a part of Gretchen Rubin's Four Tendencies. I'll be doing a longer post on this as well, because I find this concept really fascinating. So, know yourself--if you are someone who needs outer accountability in order to show up for yourself, structure your day so that you get that accountability. Huzzah!
One example of a "Day in the Life.":
6:30 Wake up; brush teeth, wash face; walk puppers; make coffee
7:00-11:00 Witness Prep
11:00-11:30 Meditate, gratitude journal, write three pages
1:00-1:30 Update blog/sketch out idea/let lunch digest
1:30-4:30 Work on something acting related--read a play, break down a script, memorize lines, work with coach, industry research
4:30-5:30 HIIT class
9:00-10:30 Get ready for bed/read in bed for at least 30 minutes
Today is my boyfriend's, William Shakespeare, 456th birthday, and one of the best ways to celebrate the Bard is to livestream some performances.
Here are the digital streaming services I use the most:
Want a suggestion of what to watch while you eat birthday cake? This is a great list, including performances from Ian McKellen, Sir Patrick Stewart, and Orlando Bloom.
Ever wondered what casting directors are really looking for? Or how to approach your next audition?
Or maybe you’d just like to know a little more about a particular casting director before reaching out to them or heading into the room….
Here you’ll find a combination of videos, ones that have been pulled by the amazing website My Actor Guide. Some are full hour long round-table talks, and others just a minute or two out of an interview.
This is the research that will take your career to the next level and will separate you from the pack!
Check out the database here.
The ACTIVE ACTOR
You are probably wondering this blog is about. Well, it's about anything that everything that I find inspiring, helpful, and curiosity building.
Curiosity is my favorite state of being, and I've become a treasure hunter and a trash hoarder, collecting all sorts of articles, artwork, and accessories that fuel my inspiration and creativity.
This will also be a place for me to document my life as an actor and coach in Los Angeles. If performing is your passion, I hope that this blog becomes a place for you to learn from my mistakes, grow from my accomplishments, laugh at my witless choices, and share in this crazy, unpredictable, beautiful, life in the arts.