Tag Archives: theater

Don’t Hide Your Hustle: Katie, Reservation Specialist

Welcome to Don’t Hide Your Hustle, a new series on Finding Delight that explores the myriad of ways to make a living in 2017. I’m asking folks to share how they hustle over the course of one work-day (which usually extends far beyond a 9 – 5 situation).

Today, I’m starting close to home and bringing you my sister Katie’s story. Her official job title is “Reservation Specialist” but you’ll soon learn that her talents and passions lead her to wear many more hats, even in a single day.

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Hi there!  My name is Katie and if you asked me what I do for a living, I would probably answer “I’m a professional actress and playwright” without blinking an eye.  If we are being completely honest with each other though, that’s not always how I make my living. I also work full time at an Italian restaurant in Downtown St. Petersburg.  My official title is Reservation Specialist (I even have a business card!  Fancy!). Since taking on this position I’ve had to learn how to balance my artistic endeavors while pulling a paycheck in a completely different industry.  It’s a lot, but I thrive on stress.  What follows is an account of a recent Monday where I had to juggle several facets of my career.  Come along with me and make sure you have had a LOT of coffee. 

9:00am – Up and fed and caffeinated.  I don’t have to be at the restaurant until 10am so I usually use this time to look at upcoming auditions, make my to do list, or write.  For whatever reason, I tend to write my best stuff after I just wake up. Today, I also update my acting resume for my auditions this evening.

10:00am – We open at 11:30am so I clock in, fill up my water bottle, put my stuff in the back room, and say hi to the day bartender, Jessica.  I start flipping chairs off  the bar and high tops.  The openers arrive and start cutting lemons and setting up the outside dining area while I check my emails.  I get through as many emails as I can before we open, while Jessica and I watch the morning news on the TV at the bar.  

11:15am – The manager on duty gives me the floor plan for the day and I make a copy of it.  I check in with the servers to make sure they’re ready to go.

11:30am – I unlock the front doors and seat the first few tables.  It’s a slow start today because it’s cloudy and gloomy.  It’s amazing how much the weather affects our business, but it truly does.

12:00pm – 2:00pm – It’s a pretty slow lunch rush today so I have plenty of time to take phone calls and answer emails as they come in.  We are closing in on the holiday season so there are lots of big party reservations coming up!  There are already days that are completely booked, and I have started having to tell people we don’t have room for their parties.  

4:00pm – I go upstairs to the office but instead of printing menus, I have to print my acting resume because I have THREE auditions this evening.

4:30pm – I go back downstairs to gather my things and say bye to my coworkers.  I get plenty of “break a legs!” from all my friends.  I love these people.

5:00pm – I run to Staples to print my new head-shots!  I just got them done (thanks Beth!).  I go home and trim them and my resumes down to 8×10 inches, and staple them back to back.  I have done this so many times that it only takes me a few minutes to do 10 of them. 

6:00 pm – I drive to Tampa, where my first audition of the night is.  

7:00pm – I audition for A Skull in Connemara, a play by Irish playwright (and one of my favorites) Martin McDonagh.  It goes pretty dang well.

7:15pm – I say a hurried goodbye to my friends who are also going in for the same role and drive back to St. Pete for my other auditions.  

8:00pm – I arrive at USF – St. Pete’s campus and check in for my St. Pete Shakespeare Festival auditions.  I’m auditioning for Ophelia in Hamlet and Viola in Twelfth Night.  Two different shows.  Two different directors.  Lots of words.  I read a lot of scenes with some of my favorite people and I’m the last person of the night to be released.  

9:30pm – I arrive back home, feeling great about my reads.  I say hi to my two roommates and get out my music binder.  I’m playing in the pit for Blake High School’s production of Full the Musical and I need to make my script and music a little neater and easier to read for rehearsal tomorrow.  (Oh yeah, and I wrote Full.)  I’m pretty hyped up from all the audition adrenaline, so I work on music until my eyes start to slam shut.  

12:00am – I set my alarm for the following day, which includes work at Bella, Full tech rehearsal at the high school, and helping my friend plan her wedding. Because why not.

Thanks so much for sharing your hustle, Katie! Do you guys have any questions for her? Do any of you balance creative endeavors alongside a 9-to-5?  

P.S. Are you a hustler willing to share your story? Let’s chat! I would love to know how you’re making money while following your dreams in 2017. Shoot me an email — ebeth.berger@gmail.com. Thanks!

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Full. The Musical

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Last week I had the pleasure of traveling to Tampa to see my sister star in, Full, an amazing musical which she also wrote and produced! Katie played a high-school girl grappling with recent tragedy, young love, and her own demon’s brought to life right in front of the audience’s eyes. After several readings created a lot of buzz, Jobsite Theater presented the WORLD PREMIERE of the show at the Straz Center of Performing Arts in downtown Tampa. The result? A beautifully acted and expertly staged presentation of an honest, well-written script.

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As any proud sister would, I’ve enjoyed reading other people’s thoughts on the show and it’s impact. Here are three lovely quotes:

Michael Canon Henry (writer): “Ms. Berger has an open, expressive face that makes her wonderful for all sorts of roles (in my book, at least; I’m not a theater critic). Of course, she’s good mostly because she works at it.”

Molly Miller (mother): “I saw Full. the musical. last night. What an amazing show! from the opening line to the very end it caught me, and held me. As the mother of a teen age daughter I was especially delighted with the authenticity of the dialogue. A beautiful and heartbreaking story. I can count on one hand the number of times I have cried in a theater, and 2 of them were last night. The song lyrics were spot on with the production, and the actors had amazing voices. Each and every character was cast perfectly, so meshed into their roles that I actually felt more like a voyeur than an audience for a lot of the show.”

Broadway World: “I recommend Berger keep writing and exploring the musical genre because she’s a strong, intriguing songwriter with an interesting, twisted world view. And she has a keen ear for snappy dialogue. She may be known for being a local performer, but now she’s become something else: a real writer.”

Thank you for sharing your gifts and talents with the world, Katie! Your story is so important and you bring delight to us all! I was lucky to see this first staging but I can’t wait to see where else this show will take you.

P.S. I love this shot of my mom and I with Katie after her show…

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Related or whuuuut?

P.P.S. Check out the official website for Full the Musical HERE and enter your email for a FREE download of one of the tracks from the show!

Book Club: In Pursuit of WHY it Gets Better Pt. 3

Happy Friday, Delight seekers!  I hope you all have had a fantastic week.  My sister, Beth, asked me to step in this month for the extended reading portion of her virtual book club!  As a self-professed expert and undercover anthropologist of the adolescent and teenage psyche, I jumped at the offer to put my knowledge to good use.

 Why undercover, you ask?  Well, it’s not difficult to see that I can slip into the world of teenagers very easily.  I look young. Just last weekend I was asked if I would prefer a child’s menu at a restaurant.  In one month I will begin playing a role which is a whopping 10 years my junior. I get carded every time I try to go to an R-rated movie.  Therefore, it is incredibly easy for me to slip into the pubescent mind set and see firsthand the effects it could have on an individual.  I can’t even count the number of times I got the up and down look from high school girls at the mall while shopping for an Easter dress just yesterday afternoon! Being a 23 year old woman, it didn’t affect me (“Honey, in 8 years you’ll want to wear an old man sweater, too,” my mind said with a hearty chuckle…), but imagine if I had been the 16 year old that they believed they were judging!  It could tear a girl down!  I am using this research and my own experiences to write a musical about a girl’s battle to find her true self.  And we all know that I am utterly obsessed with coming of age stories.  I believe they are one of the great human connections that bring us together as a species, because every one of us has gone through the trying time that is adolescence. Therefore, reading this book has been a (wait for it…) DELIGHT, and I would be honored to share with you some extended reading to further enhance your experience and knowledge.  Let us journey together through the cafeteria fringe…

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 Let’s start with some further reading about the book and Robbins’ Quirk Theory from around the web:

An interview with Robbins on Live Science, an educational website targeted at students.

A review on the book by New York Times reviewer and Journalism professor, Jessica Bruder.

And of course, NPR has nothing but good things to say!

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Now on to my literary bread and butter…coming of age stories that highlight personal discovery and becoming comfortable with who you truly are:

 Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

 An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

 The Virgin Suicides by Jeffery Eugenides

 The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

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Not feeling like cracking the spine of a novel?  That’s ok too:

Non-fiction:

Queen Bees and Wannabes by Rosalind Wiseman – The book that launched a thousand gifs by inspiring the CLASSIC movie, Mean Girls.  Forever one of my favorite works of cinematic genius.  Thank you, Tina Fey.

Poetry:

The Realm of Possibility by David Levithan – I read this collection of poems while I was performing Spring Awakening every night…talk about getting me in the right state of mind!  Angst!  Heartbreak! Drama!

 Plays:

Spring’s Awakening by Frank Wedekind – I could write a 30 page paper about…oh wait. I did that my senior year of high school.  Just read it and then listen to the cast recording of Spring Awakening the musical and let your inner 14 year old laugh and cry along. Because it really is just the bitch of living.

 The Metal Children by Adam Rapp

 Speech and Debate by Stephen Karam

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 And finally, Alexandra Robbins has many more books for you to read, because life actually does go on after high school!  I know which one I’m checking out of the library next:

 Pledged: The Secret Life of Sororities

 The Overachievers: The Secret Lives of Driven Kids

 Quarterlife Crisis: The Unique Challenges of Life in your Twenties

 Secrets of the Tomb: Skull and Bones, the Ivy League, and the Hidden Paths of Power

Happy reading, and CONGRATULATIONS!  If you’re reading this, I am proud of you.  Why?  Because you got through the trying time that is adolescence. It was probably really hard.  It probably changed how you acted and how you viewed yourself.  You probably lost friends. You probably felt some really intense and angsty things, and probably acted on them.  But you made it, and you became an incredible, ever changing human being.

-KT

Thanks so much, Katie! Wanna get involved in the Finding delight. book club? Email me: ebeth.berger@gmail.com. Let’s talk books! ❤ And tune in next week for my final review. 

Smudge.

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I used to coach forensics (speech and debate) for one of the top collegiate programs in the nation. It was a wonderful job full of constant brainstorming and creativity, politics and passion, and some of the most fantastic people I’ve ever had the pleasure of working alongside. But the thing I miss most about my old profession is live entertainment. The possibility for performance at my disposal on a daily basis was an amazing job perk. Lucky for me these performances were by some of the most talented college students in the world! The beautiful thing about forensics performance, specifically interpretation of literature if you’re familiar, in my opinion, is it’s simplicity. These sort of no-costumes, no-lighting, no-sets, incredibly nuanced and detail-oriented performances have completely spoiled me over the years. Sure, I love a Broadway show with a budget of millions as much as the next snob but I also crave a performance where the focus is the text and character. Where I can totally suspend disbelief and my only guide in that suspension is the performer herself.

Now that I’ve been out of the world of competitive forensics for a few years I fully realize how much I took these performances for granted. I try my best to support the performing arts at the local level as much as possible. I want to use my dollars to keep these programs doin’ what they’re doin’ but also for selfish reasons–I CRAVE live performance.

Needless to say when my sister asked if I wanted to check out a play put together by a few of her pals I was totally game. The show was produced by Actor’s Guild of Lexington but wasn’t a part of their regular season lineup and only ran for a weekend. Tickets were only ten bucks. If you’re on a budget and love supporting local art, get on some e-mail mailing lists so you don’t miss out on opportunities like these. Many times theaters will run these awesome little shows on the cheaps but ya gotta be in the know! These shows typically have lower production values but will feature many of the same actors you’re gonna see in the regular season and are often directed by younger, less-seasoned directors–so they’re super eager and experimental. Hmmm…smells like forensics to me!

The play we were lucky enough to catch was “Smudge” by Rachel Axler, directed by Chrisena Ricci (assistant to the artistic director at AGL) and starring Cindy Head, Eric Seale (artistic director at AGL) and Marshall Manley. Katie and I loved it! Initially, I was just excited to see a show at the new Actor’s Guild location out Old Harrodsburg Rd. (near the Ramsey’s) but the performance itself ended up being quite a delight. : )

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“Smudge” is the story of a young American couple giving birth to their first child and how they cope with the one in millions chance undetected abnormality she is born with. Cindy Head and Marshall Manley, as the young couple, played off each other extremely well and their scenes alone (and with the special carriage the baby had to stay in to survive) were equal parts comical and horrifying–dark comedy at it’s best. Eric Seale, as the uncle, was fantastic comedic relief. Most scenes had the sort of humour you weren’t sure you should laugh at because they featured squirmy subject matter. However, Seale’s scenes you knew you could. This dichotomy, in my opinion, is what made the performance work. The show culminated in a lovely scene, where the father, who worked for the census, presents a PowerPoint that tailspins into how his child fits into statistics. These numbers, coupled with the array of emotions displayed throughout the show, merge in pitch-perfect form and create a sense of finality, a sense that the characters can now, and we along with them, acquiesce to their given situation.

All in all, I thought the show’s simple set, props and costumes were a boon, as they didn’t add or detract from the honest performance the actors were giving. Just the sort of performance this former forensics coach can get behind. While the run was short and you’ve already missed out ; ), do keep your ear to the ground for future shows–the simple ones can sometimes surprise you!

AND if you’re looking for some live entertainment this weekend, Actors Guild of Lexington’s regular season show “Other Hands” opens TONIGHT and runs through Sunday. Wed-Sat shows are at 8pm and Sun is at 2pm. The show will be at Actor’s Guild of Lexington Theater, 4383 Old Harrodsburg Road #155 and you can purchase tickets here. Break a leg cast and crew!

(Photos generously provided by Chrisena Ricci.)