Its almost midnight and I just want to SLEEP!!!  That is a metaphorical midnight, by the way: its actually 4PM. But I do need to sleep, and I’m in the 11:59th minute of my New York experience, soooo…. it makes sense!

I just performed a play in New York City! What!?  Terry and I have been working on our devised piece, WILD WORLD, and we really wanted to perform it before my semester here ended. So I talked to my boss, and we ended up being able to do a showing in my theater’s rehearsal space! Originally my roommate was going to do tech for us, but she had to work and so I recruited the tech guy from the new theater company working at the Starr. We rehearsed with him for three hours this morning, and then just did our showing! As all artists know, it is freaking difficult getting people to come see your work, though. Sooooo, Terry and I invited nearly fifty people, had about a dozen people who said they would be there, and ended up having an audience of five. But hey, and audience of five is still an audience, and both Stepan and my boss, Noel, were there, and for me they were the main people I really wanted to see it. Haha, Stepan said he has pages of notes to send us… could be bad. And Terry and I are fairly convinced he was not  sold. We will see. Noel said he really enjoyed how well we built up the spaces we were in with no set. But basically, Terry and I created a play about being alone in a crowd in New York City, and we are the sole writers, directors, and actors… and we performed it. Pretty cool stuff.

Aaaaand I am moved out of the New Yorker Hotel. We had to be out by today, and since I am at the theater all day (that is where I am now) when I left at 7:30 this morning I dragged the duffle that contains my current life with me. Yesterday was the last day I will climb eighteen flights of stairs– something I did every day I was here except my birthday. (I feel that this accomplishment is nearly equal to Terry and my show… ) Tonight and tomorrow night I am staying with an old friend of my mom’s. She has a lovely studio apartment on the Upper West Side, and it will feel like a palace after the inglorious dorms I’ve been living in.

Our program officially ended with a bang on Friday night. We all went to dinner at Stepan’s apartment, and then on to performance number twenty-one (within the program, that is– in total I’ve seen more like thirty). It was an Alvin Ailey dance performance, and it was awesome. –every time I see dancing it just makes me want to dance more. I love theater, but I need to be dancing tooooo! It was a good end.

Annnnnnd Midnight is ticking closer, and its time for Cinderella to get herself out of the big city and back home to where she can sleeeeeeeep


Post Turkey Day

Alright, not going to lie, I am pretty done with New York City. I’ve been sitting around my room all morning trying– and failing– to do homework. Zero motivation, for either my homework or going out into the city, which I am nearly always game to do. There are only 10 days until I leave, though, and there is the chance (more probably than not, really) that I will get re-inspired and excited by The City.

Terry and I did our first complete run of our show yesterday! We did two, actually, the second one for my parents who were visiting for the holiday. It was also the first time anyone besides strangers in the park have seen any of our show except the two of us. My parents got all of the right messages from it, though, and pretty much followed it, so success! It was exciting putting the whole thing together.

I made a rather large social blunder last week. We have an architecture class on this program, which consists mostly of walking tours around the city and the occasional paper. I like our teacher during the walking tours just fine, but he and I don’t see eye to eye very well when it comes to our papers. As in, I was extremely frustrated, to the point of forwarding one of the teacher’s emails to my father to ask my father’s advise, and in the forwarded message calling my professor a rather impolite name. Now, readers, you should never call your profs names in any case, but especially refrain from it when you click “reply” instead of “forward.” (If you’re thinking, “ooh, awkward…” that would be the correct response.) I didn’t realize what I had done until I got a rather cold email back from him, at which point– after feeling sorry for myself for a bit– I set to crafting an extremely eloquent apology email. Figuring the subject had already been breached, after my apology I went on to detail why I was so frustrated with him and his paper assignment. I received a reply saying apology accepted… and that my paper wasn’t so bad after all.  I’m fairly certain I won’t be getting an A in that class, though. Unless its an A for my Apology letter. Haha, I tentatively brought it up to Stepan, my trip leader, though, and he started cracking up. He had already heard all about the situation from my architecture teacher, and he (of course) thought it was hilarious. Apparently the two of them had had a good laugh about it. But yeah, don’t try this at home, kids!

I went up to Boston for a few days before ThanksGiving to meet my folks and see my Mom’s side of the family. It was lovely to get out of the city for a few days, though it was weird being in the suburbs– there was so much room, and grass, and not enough people…! I took the train up there and enjoyed a lovely ride: I had the Atlantic off to my right for most of the way and rural towns and woods the rest of the time. On the way back to the city I drove with my parents and we got stuck in traffic– much less fun.

We had Thanks Giving with an old friend of my Mom’s in the city. With the exception of a twelve year old boy, everyone there (about 18 people) was in their mid-fifties or older– around 80 was the norm, I would say. And I had met my Mom’s friend once, and otherwise knew no one. It was a really nice dinner, though! I chatted with old ladies who have lived in the city for decades, and most of the company was very well theatre-versed, so I engaged in some excellent conversations about the current theater in the city, of which I have been so well exposed (thank you, Stepan). It was fun being essentially the youngest participant in the conversation, and feeling like the company not only welcomed my contributions, but were pleasantly surprised by them. Good stuff. (or stuffing, I should say… hehe!)

And now, I think, some lunch, to put off the homework a little longer. Fair wind and following seas, everyone.

Gala-ctic Happenings

I am sitting in the Wyckoff Starr Coffee Shop, the local coffee shop half a block down from my theater. It is small– it claims all of three tiny tables that unless you are very lucky you only have a chance of scoring in the afternoon, and if you go in before noon there is invariably a line of at least 6 people, which fills the space between the counter and the door. I spend as much time here as possible because it is a community coffee shop, and as busy as it is, its still much more personable than the craziness of the midtown Starbucks. I’m settling in after spending the morning cleaning my theater from the wild Gala party that we threw last night.

For any Lewis & Clark people, picture Senior Dinner in the theater department except with a substantial budget to pull from, and instead of graduating Seniors, a silent auction as the “event”.  We auctioned nearly 40 items, everything from theater packets to handyman services to vacation houses on Lake Tahoe. I spent a few days last week working with our auction coordinator, organizing spreadsheets and writing the item pick-up sheets. It was the first office work I have done for my internship, which is pretty awesome, but I feel more well rounded for having done it. And so then last night, for the actual Gala, I was an Auctioneer. (Unfortunately this was a silent auction, so I didn’t get to do the “SOLD!” thing, but ahh well.)

The Gala was organized into two parts, the official Gala, with board members and patrons, and the Artist’s After Party. The official Gala tickets were $200, and started with cocktail hour in the theater, after which the guests went upstairs into the transformed rehearsal space for a three course meal complete with entertainment. After dinner they came back down to the theater where the Artist’s Party was happening. The Artist’s Party was $20 tickets, and included a band, open bar, and snacks. And throughout all of this, the Silent Auction was going on. As an auctioneer, my job was to answer questions at the auction table and to keep the bidding going.  Since the other auctioneers seemed pretty glued to the table, I took it upon myself to go mingle in the crowd and encourage bidding. So I essentially spent the evening shmoozing. I had bought my first pair of high-heels earlier in the day for the event (we were supposed to wear black, and I needed to dress up my leggings…), and so I circulated through the party, chatting up different board  members and talking to different actors and directors about their projects. It was a great time! The auction ended at 10:30, and we auctioneers scrambled to get all of the fairly drunk winners to pay for their items. After that, my work for the night was finished, so off came the high-heels and onto the dance floor I went. One of the board members, Charlie, told me I was leading the party: “keeping the money flowing while the auction was happening, and then leading the dancing when it was over.” Best compliment ever! I had gotten there at 4:00PM to help with last minute set up, and I left after 1:00AM, after helping do some cursory cleanup after the party had wound down. It was a crazy night– my internship is pretty much the best.

And there are three weeks left in NY! In that time my parents are coming to visit, I am going up to Boston to see my grandparents, Terry and I will hopefully perform our play, classes will finish up, and I will finish up my internship. Its crazy to think I’ve been living in New York the last two months– that just hit me. Wow.

Terry and I finished writing our show! And we are 90% blocked– so exciting! We talked to my roommate Erin yesterday and ran through a paper tech with her. She is working on getting ahold of some sound equipment so she can start working on a soundscape for us, and then for our showing (knock on wood) she will run tech. Terry and I talk about how its a weird show… but explaining it to someone else made me realize just how weird it is. Haha, Terry and I were rehearsing on Sunday up in a parkway in Washington Heights blocking a dream scene. The gist is my character is sleep talking, so to rehearse I was lying on a bench with my eyes closed doing my monologue… which is very, very random and involves me singing very loudly and off-key about moonstains…    Yep, that whole neighborhood thinks we– and especially me– are crazy. It was incredibly entertaining though.

I hope everyone out in the rest of the world is well, and I cant wait to see you all when this crazy adventure is done. Cheers!

Subway Adventures

Saturday, November 3rd.

Tonight is the closing night of the play I have been working through my internship, Blood Play. I got a call yesterday informing me that A) I was needed, and B), by the way there’s also a matinee. My plans of an all day catch-up rehearsal with Terry crumbled a few hours in the morning, and I started looking into how in the world I was going to get myself to Brooklyn.

The issue is, see, that most of the Brooklyn-Manhattan Subways are still down, so while normally it takes two trains in a half hour to get to my internship, today it took, well, five trains, three strangers, three hours, two police, and getting lost twice. And for the record, getting lost is not something Shanan does very often.

Aside from feeling like I was wasting rehearsal/homework/fun time, I rather enjoyed my adventure. Starting in Washington Heights where I was rehearsing with Terry, I took the A down to 42nd, the 7 across to the east side of town, took the 4 (which had been re-opened 15 minutes before) down into downtown Brooklyn, walked and found the A again which I took out towards Queens, where I finally got on the J which took me into Bushwick. From there I had to walk, and I’m fairly certain I covered nearly twice the distance I had to in my very indirect route. On train number three I had a very lovely conversation with Carlos, and aged hispanic man, about global warming and its affects on hurricanes. He warned me that there is a NEaster coming in on Wednesday, so now I am prepared. Walking the last leg of the journey I bought an embroidered ear warmer for $3 (in Manhattan they’re $10) from a hispanic lady and we chatted away in Spanish for a while. One man I asked directions from said he has been having to bike to work, and he never realized how much exercise he was missing taking the train. I found out that the J train, which I had never taken before, runs above ground and has cell service, and I enjoyed talking to a friend while watching Brooklyn pass underneath.

We are between shows right now, and I’m decided whether I need to eat or not. Probably I should eat dinner, though my stage manager just informed me that any food left over was mine. Score! The college kid gets her free apples and crackers and tea! Tomorrow I am having an actual all day rehearsal with Terry, but before then I have to figure out how to get back to Manhattan tonight in a hopefully more efficient way than I came here.

Post Storm

Well, we survived. Since there is plenty of footage on the news that shows the effects of Sandy much better than I would be able to outline them, Im going to skip it. Suffice to say that while Midtown returned more or less to normal by Tuesday, much of the city and the surrounding country have not been so fortunate. This is apparent as soon as one tries to leave Midtown, because most of the subways are still flooded with water.

I personally had a great hurricane experience. The storm hit on Monday, and by midday I was restless enough to go out in it. I put on my hiking boots and rain jacket, and headed down the Hudson River Waterfront. It was very windy, and raining off and on, but that was the extremity of the conditions. The Hudson was definitely more roilsome than I’ve ever seen it, though. Though not to many, there were other people out on the waterfront experiencing the storm, all of us a little more open to connection through our joint experiencing of the elements than strangers in New York usually are. By the time I got back, my hiking boots were soaked through.

Its the end of the week now, and I think everyone on our program is a little tired of being cooped up in Midtown. We had only one of our three classes this week, and no one has been able to go to their internships. On Wednesday night we saw a play at Signature Theater, August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson. It was very good, and Im glad it wasn’t canceled the play we were scheduled to see on Monday was.

This isn’t a terribly entertaining post, everyone (sorry!), but I wanted to send out an update. Special thanks to Joyce and the rest of the Department for their concern, and to everyone else who sent their thoughts our way.

Storm Watch

And Mistress Sandy is sweeping closer. Pushing up waves and winds before her, she comes inexorably closer with utter disregard for those scrambling in her way. I want to share what Stepan said on the subject:

“So it looks like the storm is indeed coming our way. The New Yorker sent you a “warning” and the emergency procedures few days ago, and I urge you to read them carefully. According to all the news, the storm is going to be a BIG one – perhaps the biggest ever to hit New York, and it may get pretty bad here – electricity outages, flooding, high winds that will knock things over, etc… Please don’t do anything stupid, try to stay indoors (things may be flying all over the place outside including on your heads), and in general stay safe. Also charge your phones and computers since it is possible, if unlikely,  that we will be without power for a day or more.

I thought that was entertaining. Warning us to protect our heads against flying objects is, I feel, the mark of a good leader. The subways shut down at seven tonight and are not scheduled to reopen until “the storm has passed and it has been deemed safe to do so.” My roommate Andrea and I went shopping today for non perishable goods and the stores had more people than normal in them but less food. Everyone is stocking up, and walking around the city earlier nearly every conversation I overheard had to do with the approaching storm.

Andrea is definitely anxious about the situation, while my other roommate Erin is fairly mellow. I am pretty unfazed. I think I am so nonchalant because usually when I worry about weather its when I am out sailing. Being on a 40 ft sailboat in a storm, one that is being directly affected by the wind and waves and that you have no way to leave, and factor in that there is the possibility that the boat could sink or you could fall over board on watch at night… and your sea sick and its dark out and in sketchy Mexican waters with no essentially no coast guard and no one in radio range except some shrimp boats…   Well, some rain and maybe the utilities and electricity going out just aren’t bothering me that much. (I just knocked on wood). Honestly, though,  after all of this hype I hope something happens. I want to get a story out of this!

In addition to the latest excitement about the storm, it has been a pretty crazy weekend. Friday night I was working my play and had to miss seeing the Wooster Group’s production of Hamlet– its the first program play that I’ve missed, I was bummed. I got back to the room at the same time as my roommates and they told me that they were off to a club and if I wanted to come I had to be in a costume and ready to go in twenty minuets. It was nearly midnight, and I had to be up for rehearsal by 7:00 am the next morning… I dithered for about a second before throwing practicality out the window and adopting the mindset of you only live once! I didn’t have a costume prepared, so I threw on heavy makeup and weird clothes and looked faintly jesterish. We– Catlin from the program came also– went to Webster Hall, down in the east village. Right near NYU, it was packed with NYU students, all in halloween finery. OK, halloween is a serious holiday here. The last few nights after 6pm the streets and subways are beset by raucous partiers in outrages costumes. (oh, funny story; last night I got fro-yo and the lady thought I was dressed up as Katniss Everdeen. Nope, I just wear hiking boots and my braid over my shoulder. It was weird, though, because a few weeks ago an actor at my theater told me I looked like Jennifer Lawrence… it must be the braid. Anyway, obviously I should just go get a bow for Halloween and Im set. Oh wait, the city will be underwater. *sigh). Anyway, it was a crazy party. The venue had three different dance floors, like fours bars, fours levels, and was absolutely packed with costumed college kids (it was a 19+ event). We danced until three in the morning on a disgusting sea of alcohol, sweat, glow sticks and plastic cups, pressed in all around by cowboys and hippies, stripes and masks, wigs and capes. It was craziness.

And then the next day on two 1/2 hours of sleep I went and rehearsed with Terry. I was fine all day until I got to work last night, and then I started crashing. Sitting backstage in the dark I just kept thinking about how nice it would be to lie down… But guess who was at the show? Who came out to the little Bushwick Starr in Brooklyn, and who we used the fright elevator to bypass the stairs for, and who I got to see!?!?! Edward Albee! He is a very tiny old man. It is very cool that he made it out to my (“my” lol) theater and saw the play that I am working. Very exciting.

Ok, I am exhausted and have a storm to catch up on sleep for. Wouldn’t want to miss it!


Sunshine in October eclipses modern art.

Yesterday we went to Dia Beacon. Beacon is a small town about an hour north of the city along the Hudson River, and Dia is a large modern art museum in the town.

We have been seeing a lot of modern art on this trip– I am kind of modern-arted out– and while there were plenty of installations at Dia that I did not give more than a cursory glance to– such as the blank white canvases–, there were a few installations that were really engaging. There were a few huge Richard Serra pieces that we could go inside of, and I was struck by those, especially because a few weeks ago we learned about Tilted Arc, a piece of his that was installed in a public square near Wallstreet and became extremely controversial because the public hated it. The piece, which had been site specific and and no end date, was eventually removed. While his pieces were large in an inspiring way in the museum, I can maybe see why people hadn’t liked Tilted Arc in their square… a hard decision! There was another artist, Sol LeWitt, who had an incredible installation that was a series of grids drawn directly on the wall. He uses mathematical  exactness to create patterns and shapes that are both calculated and oddly beautiful, layering lines and colors to create repetitious designs that catch and hold the viewers eye. In the basement there was an old film exhibit, and I watched a home video of a party thrown by Yoko Ono and John Lennon for almost twenty minuets.

I have to say though, that cool as the art was, just being out of the city on a beautiful day eclipsed the art viewing pretty substantially. It was a beautiful sunny day, and the leaves were all showing their fall fire, and there were barely any cars and fewer people, and what people there were were laid back and friendly!!! –it was great to get out of the city. We walked the quaint main street and got fish and chips for lunch– that was my fried food quota for the trip, no joke. After the museum I and four of the other girls from the program decided to take the later train, and spent an enjoyable hour down by the water taking artsy pictures in front of the setting sun. The Hudson was beautiful– there were sailboats out on the water, and I would have liked nothing better than to pirate one and go sailing. (My family owns a sailboat so it was a semi realistic urge in that if I somehow ended up on one of the boats I would have been able to sail it… Anyway, didn’t happen. )

In the evening my roommate Andrea and I watched The Dark Knight, which I hadn’t seen. And yes, it was pretty much all it was talked up to be. Heath Ledger was basically amazing. Huh, also, I just almost remembered my dreams last night– they were really weird, and I bet the movie had something to do with it… hmmm.

Enjoy the sunshine everybody!