When I was thinking about the changes that I want to make this year, the work ASK came to mind. In an effort to limit embarrassment, pain or being a burden, I have made a habit of trying to come up with the answer or solution myself. Whether that is anticipating someone’s answer or just trying to do it all on my own, I realize that NOT ASKING has, more often than not, led to a more limited life. This year I want my life to expand.
I want to be more curious, more assertive, more helpful, and more open.
The best way I know I put these things into practice is to take action and ASK. Ask for help. Ask if I can help. Ask for the answer. Ask for clarification. Ask for space. Ask for what I need.
I think I’ve been afraid of looking needy or stupid. Of course there is a balance to all this asking. Be willing to give if you are asking to receive. I think what I am opening up myself to is being vulnerable. I am opening myself up to the possibility of being wrong or being refused. But the possible rewards far outweigh the few moments of discomfort.
At worst, the answer can be no. At best, I will find a new path, a new piece of knowledge, and new friend or collaborator.
Today I return to my beloved home town and jump straight into the last rehearsals for The Life and Many Deaths of Peter Pan at the Seattle Fringe Festival. I am delighted to be reprising my role as Lady Cynthia Asquith, JM Barrie’s secretary and friend for the last 20 years of his life.
As his light wanes and the tick-tock of the clock winds down, the man who made Peter Pan is confronted by the shadows of his past. Eclipsed by his greatest creation and burdened with devastating loss, JM Barrie has forgotten how to fly. Dark and whimsical, tragic and joyful, silly and profound – this shadow play romps through the borders between true and make-believe, journeys back to Neverland, and invites us all to remember what we have forgotten.
If you are in Seattle, please let me share this little story with you!
The Life and many Deaths of Peter Pan
directed by Leah Adcock Starr
Seattle Fringe Festival
At the TPS Black Box
2.25 @ 7:00pm
2.27 @ 3:30pm
3.4 @ 8:30pm
3.5 @ 5:00pm
For interviews and adorable childhood pictures of the cast(including myself) and crew, click here
Sometimes I get so caught up in the minutia of life, that I forget about the big picture, the long term goals, the reason for it all. I haven’t written in a long time. Every time I think about writing something, the gap since my last blog weighs heavily on me, as if I must have something REALLY important to say THIS time. But one of the things that I’ve been thinking about lately is that it is never too late to make a change. Just because things have been one way for a while, does not mean that making a shift or action has to be so hard. Most of it is all in my mind.
So, here I am writing a blog about restarting. It is a month and a half into the new year and it still isn’t too late to start or change some habits. Here I am taking a small action to that end. Already, I have been amazed at how sometimes a little effort goes a long way. Some of the goals I set out with at the begging of the year have already been accomplished(more on that soon). For now, I am taking a step into that place where all the “I haven’ts” or “I faileds” live and saying it doesn’t matter. The past is in the past. It does not dictate my future. It is never too late to start again.
Step taken. More coming soon!
A couple weeks ago, one of my best friends left the United States to join the Peace Corps in Zambia. She will be gone for two years. We usually only get to see each other about once a year, but still this was a very difficult goodbye, knowing our contact will be extremely limited. She is one of the strongest, most passionate, adventurous people I know and I am proud to be her friend.
When we were hanging out right before she left, she was sharing her feelings about jumping into this crazy adventure and how she was preparing for it. Her parents, who have a lot of cross-cultural experience, passed on a great piece of advice from a mentor of theirs which really stuck with me.
“It’s not what you do; it’s what you do next that counts.”
–Marvin K. Mayers
She is going to encounter new people, customs, languages and many cultural differences. It would be easy to get overwhelmed and live in fear of making a mistake. The truth is, mistakes and missteps are unavoidable, no matter who or where you are. However, it isn’t about the mistakes you make, it’s about how you handle them moving forward.
This piece of advice was so freeing to me. Granted, I am not moving to Zambia and starting a completely new life, but I did just move to Los Angeles and commit to following my dream of being an actor. I will make mistakes, both in the business side and acting side. But it isn’t about making the mistake, it’s about handling the situation and/or relationship afterwards. If there’s a misunderstanding, do I clarify it or let the embarrassment create a rift? In an audition, do I hold back in my acting or take the big risk and see what happens? If I flub a line, do I let it ruin the audition or do I move forward with grace and spontaneity(even after the audition is over)? If I find I have a certain area of weakness in my acting, do I seek to improve it or hide in shame whenever that weakness is put to the test? There are more examples, many of which I am sure I have yet to encounter. The point is, I am moving forward inspired by this mantra AND even more so by my friend who is actively living it out on the other side of the world.
Over the last couples years I have been going back and forth between Seattle and LA. My LA stints have ranged from 3 days to 4 1/2 months. Now I am a permanent resident of Southern California and it feels good! For as much as I have accomplished in the last couple years and as thankful as I am that I could live in two cities, I am so happy to be able to focus my attention on one place.
It occurred to me over the last couple weeks as I am settling into this new life, that this time is different. I was telling a friend that I was anxious to get out there, audition, find my agent, dive into pilot season. She stopped me. “Charissa, you have time. You need to make your home and get use to life here. You’ll need that to be able to sustain life here.” Right. Yes. That helped me take a step back and breathe. When I was here before, I had no life to establish; I just jumped right in to the acting stuff. I had a pretty singular focus, with a very limited time line. I was in a sprint. Now I’m in the marathon.
Now my whole life is here. I need a safe space. I need balance. I need routine. I need sustainability. All of that will take time to establish. During the Superbowl, a car commercial came on with the tortoise and the hare. They twisted the ending of the beloved story a little bit, BUT it reminded me that slow and steady wins the race. I’m not in this for a couple months. I’m in this for life. Taking a couple weeks to set up my life is working towards that end goal. A runner wouldn’t consider going out there without the proper gear. I’m making sure my gear is together as I get ready for the long haul.
Let the LA marathon begin!
Just finished working on my first devised work, “The Boy Who Couldn’t Grow Up”. What an amazing experience! Working with this group of people to tell a story about the tension between childhood imagination and adult relationships was inspiring. It was an incredible journey, from walking into rehearsal the first day with nothing but our knowledge of Peter Pan to performing a 45 minute show that we created ourselves, 5 weeks later. This is an experience for the books! Not only do I wish every one of you had been able to see it, I will also carry this show with me for a long time. Not only was I reminded why I love making art, but I discovered a lot of the lessons in the process can also be applied life.
Trust that it will all work out in the end.
Trust yourself and your instincts.
Surround yourself with passionate, talented, and hard-working people who believe in you.
If something isn’t working, don’t be afraid to change it.
It isn’t about who’s fault it is; it’s about finding a way around the problem.
Not everything you do will be seen, but might be a stepping stone to what will be seen later.
Challenge yourself and others to do something you’ve never done before.
Commit! Whatever you do, give it everything you’ve got.
Be present. You can’t change what’s already happened and you can only plan so far ahead. Be in the moment.
Prepare. Be ready.
Take time to reflect.
Play! Have fun!
Then. Let it go!
It’s been an interesting summer. For the last few months I feel like I’ve been preparing for something big, without knowing when or how it would happen. I’d get my hopes up, only to be disappointed… again. That is the nature of the business though, right? (I’ve said this before). When you’re in the middle of it though, it can easily feel like not a lot is happening or it’s all going wrong; it’s only in retrospect that we can see all those tiny steps added up to a meaningful journey(at least that’s the way I choose to look at it). Here’s a bit of that journey over the last few months.
I participated in the very first Green Lake Play Series! Such fun to be a part of stories inspired by this Seattle landmark. Keep an eye out for further development of this production!
I filmed on the set of Force Play, a new feature film by Honey Toad Studio, the same company that brought you Wrecked.
I worked behind the scenes with Mighty Tripod Productions’ film on the Seattle 48 Hour Film Project 2014.
I got to do the whole back-lit, windblown look on a short film I did with a few friends of mine in August.
Continued my trek through reading all of Shakespeare’s works. (Sooooo close to the end!)
AND … I joined SAG-AFTRA!!!
NOW I am in rehearsals for a devised work about Peter Pan and his creator, J.M. Barrie. Performances will be November 14, 15 and 16 at the Penthouse Theatre at the University of Washington.
More exciting announcements will be coming soon! In the mean time, you can follow me on Instagram(my current favorite social media tool).