Monday, October 10, 2011


I received four bouquets of flowers--gorgeous flowers--over the run of my show. People I've never even met in person and only "know" on Twitter came to see the show. Almost two-thirds of my colleagues and many of my graduate students supported me by attending as well. And even people on campus--total strangers, mostly students {students! the darlings!}--stopped me to tell me how much they loved my performance. 

Do you know how much I love acting on stage? It's where I feel the most like me. The most alive. The most real. And performing Shakespeare? Oh, my darlings. You have no idea. It's nothing short of magical.

But now it's over. This past Saturday was our last performance. Afterward, we stayed to take down the set, which is customary in our theatre group before heading to our cast party in Oakland. We were there until 12:30 a.m., ripping apart platforms, draining the 2" of water from the set, and sorting out the costumes. All of us together, one last time.

I fell in love during this show. With my cast mates. Amazing, complex, beautiful souls that they are. The sixteen of them. Some 18-years-old, some 24-years-old, and lots more in between. All beautiful. And I can already tell you that I miss them, a short two days later. I've begged them to come visit me in my office, daily. Theatre does that. It bonds you in ways that many experiences can't.

But now I get to rest. And that pleases me greatly.

Well, at least until the next show I do.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

up on stage.

me as Isabella, all weepy during Act II Scene IV

Well, I did it. I survived opening night of our production of Shakespeare's Measure for Measure and two more performances after that. I'm really happy with how it turned out: the lighting, the minimal set, the costumes, and even the 2" of water on stage that we have to deal with. It's all perfect.

Opening night was great. No major flubs, lots of fun and energy, and an audience that hooted and hollered during our curtain call. And afterward, many of the audience members waited around for us in the lobby and spoke such kind words about our performance.

L to R: TJ Firneno (Angelo), me (Isabella), Christina Loscalzo (Mariana), Jake Wadsworth (Duke/aka Friar Lodowick), Jason Bingman (Escalus), and Bill Lyon (Lucio)
On Friday night, a lot of my colleagues from the department where I work came to see the show after they'd all gone out to dinner together. I love that they made a social gathering out of it. Community-building is huge in my book. And they all stayed after to greet me in the lobby, and there were hugs and kisses all around. And they even brought me the most gorgeous flowers and a very sweet card that they all signed! And the show was really, really good that night, so I'm glad I had a large contingency there to see it!

On Saturday night, my dad surprised me and came to see the show. I had no idea he was in the audience! In fact, I didn't think there was anyone in the audience that I knew, but when I got to the lobby after the show, there he and some others were. It was a wonderful surprise. And my dad said, "Honestly, Laura, you gave me chills." I guess that means he thought I did a pretty good job. *grin*
I've grown really fond of the cast, all 17 of them. Bill, Jake, TJ, and Megan especially. We didn't have any shows Sunday, Monday, or today this week, and tomorrow we have a brush-up rehearsal before we perform again Thursday, Friday, and finally on Saturday night. It's been weird to be away from everyone for the past few days, especially after having spent nearly every single day with them all for the past month. I can honestly say that I'm going through withdrawal.

Me (Isabella) and Jake Wadsorth (Duke/aka Friar Lodowick)
But it has been nice to have the past few days free.  Well, except for Sunday. I participated in the NAMI Walk early that morning. But Monday and today have been nice, because I've just gone to work and then home to lounge and relax. I needed it!

Jake Wadsworth (Duke/aka Friar Lodowick) and me (Isabella)
Needless to say, though, it'll be nice to get back to the theatre tomorrow to see my fellow cast members and then do our final three shows later this week. I have never worked so hard on a show, but it's definitely been an experience I'll never forget!

the entire cast
p.s. If you'd like to see the show, there are still three more performances!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

opening night.

Well, it's here. Opening night.  Tonight at 8 p.m., I go on stage and do the thing I thought I could not do. This whole experience has been something else, let me tell you. Seventeen actors, fifteen scenes, Shakespearean language, all in just three weeks' time. I've lost weight. I've lost sleep. I've lost my mind. {At moments, at least.}

I must do the thing I think I cannot do.

I have done the best that I can do, and tonight, I will simply go onstage and share it. Shakespearean language, especially, is a gift, and all I want to do is give it. Make it accessible. Let people who have been frightened of it or turned off by it experience it in a way that makes them say, "Oh, my gosh! I get it! It's so real!"

I must do the thing I think I cannot do.

There's water on our stage. Two inches of it. And we must act in it, move in it, speak in it.  It's difficult, but we're doing it.

I must do the thing I think I cannot do.

I'm a professional actor. I've been doing this for fourteen years. But for some reason, this time feels different.  But, I'm going to do it, because I have to. And because I want to. I love my cast mates, I love the language, I love the set, the lights, the music, and the costumes. 

I must do the thing I think I cannot do.

Tonight I give a gift.

Cash only, please.

Friday, September 16, 2011

"weary with toil..."

Weary with toil, I haste me to my bed
The dear repose for limbs with travel tired;
But then begins a journey in my head
To work my mind, when body’s work’s expir’d...
-Shakespeare's Sonnet 27

I'm tired. So, so tired.  Rehearsals are going well, but they're draining. We open in less than two weeks, and I still have so many lines I still have to memorize. If I'm not sleeping or working, I'm learning my lines. On my couch for three hours after work? Learning lines. In the shower? Reciting lines. While I'm driving? Saying my lines. While I'm on my lunch break at work? Running lines with TJ (who plays Angelo). All I'm ever really thinking about, it seems, are my lines. Constantly.

Yesterday was particularly rough. Each year in the History Department where I work, we host a History Forum, where we bring in a scholar, host meals, seminars, and a public lecture (followed by a delicious reception). It's a lot of work, and I'm the one who really plans and executes all of it. Yesterday was our Forum. And last night after work and the Forum dinner, I had a 2-hour rehearsal that included two of my most intense scenes...each of which we ran multiple times. Then, after rehearsal, I went back to "work" and attended the Forum reception. When I finally got home at 10:30 p.m., I was so tired that I wanted to cry. 

But I was too tired to actually cry.

I somehow managed to get myself into the shower and into bed in one piece, and I really do believe that I fell asleep within ten seconds of my head hitting the pillow.

And today at work, I just wanted to sleep at my desk. Remarkably, I've been quite productive, but I feel like I'm in a haze. I have rehearsal again tonight from 6-10 p.m. And tomorrow. And Sunday. And I still have so many lines to learn.  I'm actually really frightened about how little time left I have to do so. All the lead actors are. We're very, very anxious.

Send good vibes if you can, please.  And maybe some Red Bull.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

playing dress up. oh, and joe manganiello.

One of the reasons I like runway modeling so much is that it serves as an escape while simultaneously allowing me to perform a bit. I get to dress up, put on a different face {hello, makeup!}, and get my "hair did." It's a temporary transformation that takes me away from the real world and transports me into a bit of a make-believe world.

This past Friday night, I did a runway show for a fundraising event for Partners for Quality. I love doing these types of gigs. The guests aren't hoity-toity fashion critics or designers who take it all so seriously. They're regular Pittsburghers who are there to support an important cause and be entertained. We're allowed to smile as we walk down the runway, make eye contact with the members of the audience, and just have fun. That's how I think fashion should be.

My hair and makeup were pretty simple for the evening: a slick side-swept, bobby-pinned 'do, and a tiny bit of an edge to otherwise classic makeup. 

Backstage at Jay Verno Studios on the South Side was gorgeous. I'd been there before for this same fundraiser a couple of years ago, but this year, it was really well-lit and cleaner.

I got to wear some pretty sweet stuff, including that adorable red dress you see in the center of the photo below. I had my own dresser {that's someone who helps me in and out of my clothes during the quick changes} and my won little area next to the clothing rack. I plopped my stuff and myself down right next to it as soon as I got there, pulled out my script {which I now carry with me like an extra appendage everywhere I go}, popped in my earphones and listened to soothing sacred choral music on Pandora on my iPhone for a bit.

Because the Pittsburgh modeling industry isn't as large and crazy as that of New York or Chicago, a lot of the same models get booked show after show, so I end up working with a lot of the same girls each time I book a job. It's nice.  This is Anna, who I've worked with before, gettin' her hair touched up:

And this is me and Anna bein' silly backstage before the show:

The one thing I don't like about runway shows is that they put the men and women models in the same area backstage, so it's not exactly private and modest when it comes to changing clothes in between passes on the runway. I try really hard to hide behind other girls while I change, but sometimes you just have to be quick and hope that the dudes aren't eyein' you. And I don't flirt with them, by the way. I find it incredibly unprofessional, and quite frankly, I think it just fuels their egos, which are already big enough. I just get in, chat with some of the girls, take some goofy pictures with one or two, work the runway, change into my street clothes afterward, maybe stay for a bit if there's an after-party or reception, and head home.  

But I didn't stay for the after-party for this show because I was alone, didn't feel like hanging around a gaggle of other models who were ALL wearing skin-tight, short, spandexy dresses and stillettos and drinking, etc. I felt horribly out of place and lonely, which told me that the temporary transformation into another world was over and it was time to head home to my elastic-waist pants, couch, and remote control.

Although, had I stayed at the after-party, I would have seen this guy, who made a guest appearance since he was in town for a fundraiser for Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh. He's a huge star now, but I remember auditioning with him over a decade ago here in Pittsburgh.

{No offense, Joe, but my comfy pants were worth it. Still, sorry I missed you.}

I finally got home around 10:30 p.m., and, a tradition I'm starting to do after modeling gigs, I took a photo of myself in my bathroom before washing off all the makeup and getting a hot shower.

I'm usually utterly exhausted after a runway show. I feel flu-ish, which is weird, yes, but true. I think it's because it's a lot of fast-paced physical activity, from getting to the salon prior to the show for hair and makeup, to the fast-changes backstage, to the actual Strutting Of My Stuff on the runway. I love going home afterward, to the quiet of my apartment and the comfort of my couch or bed.

Runway is fun, it's an escape, and I love to play dress up. But nothing beats the feeling of coming home to peace and sleep.

Monday, September 12, 2011


I think it's safe to say I'm not the only one who experienced a heavy heart this weekend as we remembered, once again, 9/11. I stayed away from the media for the most part {I checked Twitter a little bit, but that was about it.}, mostly because my heart is oh-so-very-tender, and I tried to just stay aware of what that day represents. 

But I also had a heavy heart for other reasons. Partly because I have been very, very lonely lately. But also because I'm just really missing Ross and feeling a true and tangible emptiness as a if half of my heart is missing. I ended things almost a year ago, and I am really struggling with whether or not that was the right thing to do. What I am certain of, though, is that it has felt like a death. It feels as though he died, and I am having a very hard time with it.

Anyway, that's what's on my heart lately. I'm feeling a little quiet as a result.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

busiest. woman. ever.

On Labor Day, I actually "labored." I spent most of the day at the theatre, cleaning up from the previous show and building the set for my show. I got to spend time with the cast and crew, all of whom are just darling. That guy in the plaid shirt in the photo above is TJ Firneno. He's playing Angelo, one of the male leads. He's an alum as well, and he's very good. AND he's very tall. {This is a big deal for me. Being almost 6' tall, I need a tall actor I can play opposite. This rarely happens.} I can't wait to act with him, because he and I have some really juicy scenes together. 

How juicy, you ask?

Guess you'll have to come and see the show to find out!

Rehearsals officially start this week. Plus I'm modeling in a runway show on Friday night. I'm booked solid.  Here's what my life looks like:

Tonight: two fittings for Friday's runway show (one in South Side, one in Bellevue)
Tomorrow: day job and then rehearsal until 10 p.m. Awesome.
Thursday: day job, a third fitting for Friday's runway show (in Oakmont) AND THEN rehearsal from 8-10 p.m.
Friday: day job, hair/make-up at 4 p.m., runway show at 7 p.m., home at 11 p.m.
Saturday: NAMI board meeting at 9 a.m., crew at the theatre (paint, paint, paint!) from noon to 5 p.m.
Sunday: rehearsal 6-10 p.m.

And somewhere in there I'm supposed to MEMORIZE A BAZILLION LINES.


Excuse me while I go collapse under my desk. And clutch my bottle of bourbon.