Summer is here!
I'm very happy to finally welcome the summer after a good long fight in my second year of training. I'm having much needed time to myself to write, read, listen to podcasts, binge-watch Netflix shows and hang out with people I want to hang out with.
- Shakespeare in the Park: Julius Caesar
- Stuff I'm reading: Zadie Smith's On Beauty, James Baldwin's Notes of a Native Son
Plays I've read: Top Girls, Golden Boy, Queen Boulevard
- Kevin Spacey!
All Juilliard Drama Students received an email invite to an "informal Q&A session" with Kevin Spacey from 9:00am-11:00am on May 18, 2017. The email said that, "Time permitting, there may be an opportunity for some work on a monologue or two. A reporter and photographer from the NY Times will be in attendance." I was scheduled to do some work-study that morning but immediately made arrangements so I can come to work later!
I think most of us trickled into Room 304 that morning expecting a talk and we'd probably run out of time to work on monologues at all. We didn't expect that the "Q&A session" would turn out to be more of a Masterclass! Kevin Spacey went in there and immediately began asking us questions about our Juilliard experience thus far. He probably wasn't even 15 minutes into his "talk" when he asked, "Who's brave?" One brave soul (fresh out of first year!) raised his hand first. He did a monologue from Cymbeline twice - once for us and a second time after Kevin Spacey gave him some "notes" to work with. Afterwards, another man (an incoming fourth year) volunteered and I thought, "Two men have already gone up. We've got to get the women out there!" However, I didn't rehearse any monologues prior to this day. I figured, "I'm on vacation already! I'm not going to rehearse anything!" Finally some women came up to work, to my relief. As Kevin Spacey was working with them I began to go over lines from the monologue I know best so far: Dr. Emma Brookner's speech to the male medical doctors rejecting her funding for AIDS research from "The Normal Heart" by Larry Kramer. I thought, "You never know when the next opportunity will come. Might as well go now! What's the worst that could happen?"
I managed to get my hand up there but someone raised his hand faster. Kevin looked at me and pointed his finger at me saying, "Next." So as soon as that male actor did a fantastic job with one of Kostya's monologues from Anton Chekhov's The Seagull, I raised my hand up and Kevin looked at me and pointed his finger at me again saying, "Next." I got up from my seat and took a chair (Dr. Emma has polio and is on a wheelchair in the entire play) and took a few moments before beginning the speech.
I must've forgotten 20% of the speech but who cares? Kevin asked everyone in the audience to talk amongst themselves as he gave his notes to me: "You're in Washington DC. And they're trying to shut you down, they're trying to take you out of the room." I told him, "I'm on a wheelchair." "Yeah, you're on a wheelchair and they're trying to wheel you away from here." I said okay and then he turned to the rest of the people in the room and said, "Okay shut up now."
So I did my speech the second time around with the added circumstances. After the talk I managed to sneak in a photo with him when most of the people have left the room (I thought we were gonna have a group photo but we didn't!). And then for the rest of the day I had a spring in my step because I just did a fucking monologue in front of Kevin Spacey!
Read the article on the New York Times here: "Kevin Spacey is Holding Court. Really."
Favorite TV Show now: "Master of None" on Netflix created by Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang
"Master of None" is awesome and if you haven't gotten into it you should get on #MasterofNone now! The show is very diverse and reflects a lot of realities that I hardly see in shows and in films. The episode on "Parents" (Season 1) was very affirming (I think they won an Emmy for that episode). I hope I'd get to work on these kinds of shows and films after I graduate from drama school!
Favorite Podcast Episodes of the Past Two Weeks:
"Over the course of six months, reporter and This American Life contributor Jack Hitt followed a group of inmates at a high-security prison as they rehearsed and staged a production of the last act—Act V—of Hamlet. "
"Whether you call them Millennials, Generation Y, or the Me Generation, one thing's for certain: This generation of young people will change the world. But how different is this hyper-connected generation from its predecessors? And what will be its legacy? In this hour, we hear from TED speakers searching to define themselves and their generation."
end of second year!
I cannot tell you how happy I am to see this school year through to its end. Many current Juilliard Drama students have called second year the "hardest year" in the training. It is the year when they stop praising you all the time and begin to bring to your attention all your acting habits and the areas in the craft you need to pay particular attention to. All of those were true and more.
I don't want to scare any incoming second years through this post. Each actor/actress will have his/her individual experience (I have spoken to some people who loved second year).
My particular experience was tough personally, emotionally, and spiritually. The craft work was just the tip of the iceberg. As soon as first year ended (May 2016) I had to leave the safe confines of the Juilliard Residence Hall (aka the dorms) and begin living in an apartment in New York City. I've never lived on my own prior to 2016 and so this new chapter was a huge adjustment. Take note that I was living on my own for the first time in a foreign country and culture, and that in itself was a huge new journey to undertake.
I learned to cook for the first time (I never learned to do so in the Philippines). My cousin from New Jersey taught me a lot from choosing basic grocery items, which household cleaning products are most efficient, as well as trouble-shooting minor domestic problems (i.e. dishwasher over-sudsing). I also had to find creative ways in transporting laundry in and out of my 6-floor walk-up apartment (no elevators) to the laundromat around the corner. As soon as I was getting the hang of a routine, I woke up one morning with several red bites in patterns along my left leg and arm. Only three months new living in a New York apartment and two weeks before second year classes officially began - already I had to take on one of the worst domestic issues a New Yorker could face: bed bugs.
That was probably my most traumatic experience this school year. My apartment had to go through the entire process of extermination which took more than 3 weeks. And I had to deal with a lot of things I've never had to deal with before: talking to landlords, roommates, the pest control company, the apartment super, setting up an appointment with a dermatologist in the city, washing ALL of my clothes and putting all of my belongings in garbage bags and keeping them in there until the three-week extermination process concluded - which coincided with the first few weeks of second year. The last "spray" ended on the day of our Tribute to Jim Houghton at the Peter Jay Sharp Theater last September 26, 2016.
I think it is helpful to acknowledge that Jim Houghton's death in August 2016 has made a huge impact in all of us in the Juilliard Drama Community. I don't think we've taken enough time to grieve. His absence continues to play a subconscious role in how we live our day-to-day lives, how we behave in the work, and how we treat one another. I think I grew up after Jim died. A human form that embodied light was lost, and I had to carry the light in me that Jim brought out on my own now. It was a huge task to undertake, given that I still saw myself then as this crybaby who was like a leaf in a foreign wind desperately seeking anchor.
I did grow up a lot this year. I've expanded in ways such as learning to stand up for myself other than rage. I've took it upon myself to speak to people even and especially in difficult moments, about difficult things - when before I would've just shut up and shut down.
Dear Second Year - my last post this school year
For all that this school year has thrown at me, it's great gift is a new way of being. I remember Jim Houghton saying something about seeing what reveals itself at the end of a process. I am so grateful that I got to end second year playing Irina in Three Sisters. I have learned something new about being a human being in playing her.
With the gifts I've received at the end of second year - a sense of a refined strength, an inner calm, a sense of flow, a sense of presence - I approach the next four months of summer with an ease and a calm unlike any other way I've begun a new phase before. There is no hurry, no need to accomplish anything. Instead, I feel more like waves crashing onto the shoreline from the ocean - there is no time, only what is.
"Three Sisters" by Anton Chekhov is obviously my favorite Studio Project ever, with Irina Sergeyevna Prozorov my favorite role in my Juilliard journey so far. This is my most personal work to date and I can't believe there would be a studio project that would top my first year, Discovery Project ("Pericles" by William Shakespeare) experience. It's interesting that my first and last Studio Projects became the most memorable thus far.
On the evening before the first showing of Three Sisters, we received a ticket offer for Lillian Hellman's "The Little Foxes" starring Laura Linney as "Regina" and Cynthia Nixon as "Birdie" at the Samuel Friedman Theater on Broadway. I normally make use of the night before showings to get some rest but this offer was too good an opportunity to pass up. There was a pre-show reception at the Glass House Tavern across the theater (cocktails and all!) and a post-show meeting with Laura Linney for Juilliard students, alumna and donors.
I was helping out organize souvenir programs as part of my ushering work-study last Saturday for the third-year Shakespeare Repertory productions of Cymbeline and Henry V (fantastic work by Group 47) when I was thrilled to see new flyers for the upcoming 50th Anniversary of the Juilliard Drama Division!
Clockwise from top: Robin Williams (Group 6), Viola Davis (Group 22), Laura Linney (Group 19), Jessica Chastain (Group 32), Jimmie Jeter & Chelsea Williams (Group 45), and Jayme, Anthony and I (Group 48) are in the center flyer.
We are on our last week of classes before our summer begins. I cannot wait.
I am a Graduate Drama student at The Juilliard School from Quezon City, Philippines.