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The Life of Charles

The Life of Charles: Summer Acting Updates

The other day, I realized, “Hey, I haven’t posted any updates on my acting website recently.” To be fair, I only try to put up bigger pieces of acting related news there and use this space primarily to share more details and riff on all the other things going on in my life. Have I not had any big news? Well, I haven’t been cast in a Scorcese film (yet), but I have had a bunch of significant happenings. Why not share? Besides, I recently learned my Mom actually reads my blog and discovered other people actually come here to see what’s going on in my life. I suppose I need to be more on top of things…

(On a side note, this post was also my creative way of linking a handful of updates to my Acting website. Aren’t I clever?)

So, where to begin? I’m just going to start typing… I’ll divide things up into five sections and highlight the headlines and main points. That way, if you only have a few minutes and just want to skim, you can get the jist of things. Of course, I think you should read every single (carefully chosen) word… dammit.

LOS ANGELES INTERNATIONAL SHORT FILM FEST

My last update mentioned the premiere of Marbles at the LA Shorts Fest had been announced. Well, I went out to LA at the end of July – for a week. It was a great trip that gave me wonderful perspective on making it as an actor (and making it in LA). The film festival was amazing. Some inspiring and beautiful work. Marbles was well received, but my favorite moments at the Fest were the screening of the Pixar film “LA Luna” and, the highlight of the experiment film block, “The Music Box.” The Director of “LA Luna,” Enrico Casarosa gave a wonderfully organized presentation after the film and offered a fascinating glimpse into the world of Pixar.

TAKING A BREAK FROM TRAINING

After having a full slate of classes consistently for a number of years, I decided it was a good time to take a break back in July. Part of it was by necessity too, because my play – “The Karaoke Artist” – was a huge time commitment (and was a great learning experience in itself). Of course, I can’t stop learning and doing something – that’s just how I’m wired. While I did attend an eight week seminar hosted by SAG and AFTRA that focused on the business side of acting, I’ve mostly been active with more unconventional training. I felt the lessons from “living” would be as valuable as anything I could learn or be reminded of in class. Additionally, I’ve carved out time to simply observe, listen and use my imagination. Skills that, as a child, I learned first hand were key ingredients to being a great artist. My focus over the past several months (and definitely in the past couple) has been on everything associated with the breath – more specifically, voice and movement. I’m convinced those are two areas that, with work, will take my acting to the next level. Now, I’ve already been doing a vocal warm-up every day for three plus years. Basically, along with some coaching and other training, I taught myself to sing (well enough, that I was recently cast as the lead in a musical play). Lately, I’ve been studying traditional voice (speech), but (long ago) learned that it’s not something that’s prioritized in the US (much less in the Midwest). In Chicago, while there are places you can go, the (quality) options are limited. I’ve considered some, but have focused my time on self-education. I’ve read and practiced exercises from (among other texts) Kristin Linklater’s, “Freeing the Natural Breath” and Pasty Rodenburg’s “The Actor Speaks.” I highly recommend both books for anyone with a similar interest. Additionally, I discovered some great audio training from the Voice Guy. From a movement standpoint, I have my own physical routine that I’ve been refining for decades. Up until March, I had been doing yoga off and on for the past ten plus years, but now have a consistent practice 4-5 times a week. Also, I’ve started studying Qi Gong and have been searching to expose myself to different types of movement including, but not limited to, dance.

NEW CLASSES FOR THE FALL

While this stretch has been exhilarating, I decided I wanted to get back into the classroom. I enrolled in on-camera training at the Green Room and signed up for the Annoyance. I figured it was time to complete the Chicago Improv trifecta. Among other interests, I’m also looking to do Matt Miller’s class at the Acting Studio and continue my Meisner training at Act One. Of course, I’m a believer in focusing on one thing at a time and investing fully. I’m going to wait on some pursuits, try not to be over-involved like most Chicago actors and spread myself too thin.

AUDITIONS, AUDTIONS, AUDITONS

I also need to keep my schedule flexible for other projects. I’ve been trying to find something to attach myself to, but haven’t settled on anything yet. I’ve had a bunch of auditions in the past couple months. There was one play in particular that looked rather promising – Scott Janus Monster Hunter. It’s being put up in October at the Theatre Wit. I got a call back and they were considering me for the lead. Ultimately, they offered me a smaller part which I considered, but couldn’t accept due to the time commitment. There have been student and independent film auditions – some more promising than others. A couple projects were close to being a match, but unfortunately timing didn’t work out. I haven’t been into the big three casting agencies as much (as I’d like) lately. For me, that’s a big area of focus as the overwhelming majority of paid work comes out of those spots. I was, however, invited to audition for a feature film – the Untitled Ramin Bahrani Project. Ramin Bahrani is a fairly prominent director. Roger Ebert named him the Director of the past decade and his film “Chop Shop” was on Ebert’s ten best list. This film will star Zac Efron, Dennis Quaid and Heather Graham. After countless critical accolades, this is this Director’s first film with A-List talent.  At the time of the audition, I didn’t know the casting details. I read for a smaller co-staring role and my scenes would have been with Dennis Quaid. Ultimately, I didn’t get the part, however, I felt simply being in the room was a major accomplishment. In Chicago, feature film auditions are few and far between and usually you have to be on a short list of actors to even be considered. I’m still not sure how I got in the room (I must have had the right look or a guardian angel), but, either way, I’m glad I did. Thank You Kelly and Thank You Paskal Rudnickie Casting. Bigger and better things to come.

UPCOMING PROJECTS

So, what is on tap? I was cast in Precious Mettle – an indy film I auditioned for last year. It’s being directed by Edmond Coisson and stars known actors Robert Z’Dar (Tango and Cash), Larry Thomas (Seinfeld), Joe Estevez (Soultaker, Charlie Sheen’s Uncle), Dan Haggarty (The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams) , Sonny Landham (Predator), Fred Williamson (Starsky and Hutch, From Dusk Till Dawn) and new face Gwendolyn Graves. I’m still waiting to learn about my role. I know I was being considered for a lead detective-type character. Let’s hope that’s the part, as it could be a great opportunity. I should find out more come October.

Things have been slow with my improv group Electric Lunchbox. We had an amazing start to the year with the headlining gigs at Studio Be, the Chicago Improv Festival selection and countless performances with shows at Second City, iO and the Annoyance. We took a bit of hiatus in the summer with only a handful shows, but Electric Lunchbox has some big plans for the balance of the year. Right now, we’re sorting though things trying to get back on track. One member of the Box – my good friend Tommy – was cast in a co-starring role for NBC’s the Playboy Club. Obviously, some pretty exciting stuff. The hope is the show does well and it creates opportunities for other Chicago actors (including some guy you might know).

Outside of Electric Lunchbox, I started to get the wheels turning on creating some of my own projects. I’m working on a weekly news-related web series with my friend Ray Hui that we’re developing as I type. I’m also looking to produce (direct, act, whatever’s needed for) my own short film, web series or play. I’ve been working with some folks on initial ideation. I guess you could say I’m in the discovery slash planning stage. While it’s true an artist needs to create, I was reminded recently I have a unique background and skill set and I ought to be creating quality “projects.” Pulling things together comes naturally for me and it’s something that’s needed here in the Chi. There’s only so much work here. Ultimately, my life’s goal is to make an impact on people, contribute by giving back and help build up the community in Chicago. I’ve long thought I need to establish myself as an actor and build success first, but I realized there’s no chicken and egg situation here. I can make moves now. That gets me excited as it will allow me to help others and is consistent with what I value in life.

All right, I’m going to call it a wrap here. There are definitely more updates I can share, but those are some major headlines from late-July to early-September. Also, I try to live by the rule of thumb that people can only digest five things from any type of presentation. Of course, this wasn’t exactly a presentation and may not have been a focused five, but… Well, you know what I mean.

For my stalkers and those of you who have been dying for some updates from “The Life of Charles,” I hope these 1,700ish words satisfied you. I promise to be a better sharer moving forward.

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