Tuesday, August 12, 2014

On Robin Williams

I had several favorite teachers throughout school, but one of my absolute favorites was Miss Burke, who taught my 11th grade honor's English class. I loved her. She was one of those teachers that can make you relate to under-appreciated teachers from tv/film. So of course it was she who showed us Dead Poet's Society.

I was 17 and had been involved with the drama club since I was 14, which of course made me (in my mind), an expert on all things theatre. I hated when Neil killed himself because I couldn't possibly understand how that was the only answer. Because there are so many characters in this movie, and they all need their stories told, we only got a glimpse into his life; and yes, he was sad and he was shy and doing this play was the only thing he had felt good about in his life so having it taken away was too much. I didn't understand why he didn't just run away and do the play anyway. Why was suicide the only answer for him?

I was MAD about it because I couldn't understand it. I would never be able to understand it. Because I've never been depressed. I've been sad and I've been angry and I've been devastated, but depression is all of those things and more, and while I've said "Oh, I'm so depressed!" I know it's only a temporary thing, or a dramatic thing, not a life debilitating problem. I can't understand what it's like for people who can't get out of the "constant grayness" that I have experienced while sad, but overcome.

It was watching Robin Williams that I first realized that comedic actors can be serious actors, too, although it must have been before I saw DPS, because I remember thinking about this somewhere around 10-12 years old. This of course would only be reinforced over the years by countless other examples. From Robin Williams to Jim Carrey, Jack Black, Amy Poehler -- I have since never been surprised when someone so funny can be the BEST at being not funny. Even my own husband. Chris gets cast in a lot of goofy roles, a lot of over-the-top characters... but the two roles I loved him most in were Shylock in The Merchant of Venice and Titus's brother, Marcus Andronicus, in Titus Andronicus. Parks and Rec is my favorite television show. What is my favorite moment from my favorite TV show? In the smallest park, when Leslie apologizes to Ben for steam-rolling everything and asks him if they can make their relationship happen for real. I could watch that scene 100 times in a row. What all these people have, what makes them so accessible, is heart.

You can't be a comedian without heart. Ok, you CAN, but not a very good one. Not a legendary one. Comedy is based on truth. Comedy can't succeed without truth. You have to make yourself so vulnerable to expose truth, and you have to have something to back it up, which is the heart. And the same goes for "regular" acting. If there's no heart... who even cares?

You could tell Robin Williams was all heart even when he was playing a ridiculous alien on Mork and Mindy.  He is filled with soul and light, as he always was, in every dramatic or comedic role.

It's weird that a lot of people around my age are lamenting this as a loss for "their childhood." He affected my life well past Hook or Aladdin or even Good Will Hunting (and don't even get me started on What Dreams May Come which I could never watch without sobbing uncontrollably anyway, but can now probably never even watch again, period). He was an inspiration to anyone you love in entertainment, as well as being, on all accounts, an insanely kind man. This isn't part of your childhood dying -- it's part of the soul of the world, which is why I think that it's so hard and heartbreaking for everyone.

Most people will not be able to understand what he was going through, why he chose to do what he did, or why reaching out for help was not an answer. Along with the heartbreak, it probably makes you angry, because there MUST have been another way, right? You can't possibly understand it because you've never been there. Which is good. But don't criticize what you can't understand.

I didn't have to know him to feel the generosity he had. He gave it to all of us, in every performance. I am so sad that he felt the way he did.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

I still have this blog, even though I haven't said anything in 11 months. I'm still around. I guess I just got busy (as if I wasn't busy before).

Let's see. Since I last updated I...

--won a contest to sing on the cast recording of Pippin in the "No Time at All" chorus, and it was so much fun
--got new headshots
--filmed an episode of a web series that will hopefully be premiering SOON and I am so excited that it kills me every day when the episode is not up, yet
(this web series revolves around one of my all-time favorite Broadway performers, so it was literally a dream come true for me)
--performed at the New York Musical Theater Festival with The Water Dream and had a fantastic time
--have been taking Musical Improv, which I loooooooooove so much
--finished (regular) Improv 301 at UCB
--read 4 of the 5 Song of Ice and Fire books
--moved from Astoria to Sunnyside
--bought a new couch
--got pillow covers for the pillows on the couch
--sat on the couch

SO, clearly tons has been happening. I've also been running a LOT because Chris signed us up for a 5K when we're in Disney World next month, and I figured I didn't want to pull a muscle or get a stress fracture or something, so I better train for it.

It feels kind of silly to train for a 5K because it's only just over 3 miles.... but I hadn't run since 2008. So, yeah, I needed to train.

I did 60,000 sit ups last year. Oh! And I had to have a mole removed because it was abnormal. Now I have a scar. FOREVER! Don't ever go tanning. Wear lots of sunscreen. The sun gives you both life and death, so be sun smart!!!

My brother and his wife had a baby, and someday I will meet her (she's in Ohio and I am... not). I look forward to that day.

This winter was the worst winter in the history of time and everyone knows it. I got really depressed and couldn't/didn't want to do anything. Although, now, when it's finally starting to get nicer, there are so many people out on the streets that I miss the days when I didn't have to fight crowds to get into work.

And, of course, most importantly, (like I said above) I am going to Disney World in 34 days and no one has ever been more excited about anything, ever. I saved for 5 years for this trip and it is going to be MIDDLE CLASS EPIC. We still can't afford Deluxe epic. Well, maybe we could have, but we could have only gone for half the time. But, Middle Class Epic is better than Value Epic... and guys. Watch out. Disney World + Alisa = FOREVER