“50 Shades of Shakespeare” Cast and Creative Team Exposed

LANCT Logo

is proud to announce the cast and creative team

for our Hollywood Fringe production of

50Shades

For Times and Tickets Please Visit Hollywood Fringe


jess-shoemaker-headshot-blueJess Shoemaker- Director

Jess Shoemaker is a freelance director, text coach and playwright. Recently she has served the Great River Shakespeare Festival as a director and educator during their educational residency, as well as season text coach and assistant director on Troilus and Cressida, Much Ado About Nothing and King John. She works regularly with Grandstreet Theatre, where she last directed A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Her play Jason & (Medea) has been produced in Chicago, Indianapolis and Los Angeles – where it won the Stage Scene LA award for Best Drama. After she leaves Los Angeles and The New Court, she’ll be returning to the Great River Shakespeare Festival to text coach/assistant direct As You Like It.

Josie AdamsJosie Adams- Associate Director

Josie Adams was recently seen in LA New Court Theatre’s The Feast, Jason & (Medea) and Bekah Brunstetter’s Little Man, the World Premiere. National Tours: A Christmas CarolMagic Tree House. Regional: Paul Gordon’s Emma (Rep. Theatre St. Louis), 25th Annual….Spelling Bee (Grandstreet Theatre). Film & TV: Big Eden and 90210. She is so proud to be involved with the LA New Court Theatre!

White_Brian_HS-2Brian White- Text Coach

Brian is excited to be working on this project with these wonderful people as a text coach. He is a company member at the Great River Shakespeare Festival, fairly recent transplant to L.A. from NYC, and a proud BFA graduate of Webster. Directing: Julius Caesar and Twelfth Night: or What You Will with the Shakespeare in the Schools program. Actor: (Off-off Broadway) The Twelfth Labor, Flanagan’s Wake, Henry V, The Taming of the Shrew; (Regional) Claudio, Much Ado About Nothing; Benvolio, Romeo and Juliet; Horatio, Hamlet; Brian, Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged); Great River Shakespeare Festival; Rudge, The History Boys; Repertory Theatre of St. Louis. Thanks to the LANCT and Jess for the opportunity to work with this wonderful creative team.


CAST

Noah JamesNoah James

Noah James is an LA based actor from Tempe, Arizona. He Graduated from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, as a member of the Meisner Studio, The Experimental Theatre Wing, Stonestreet Studios, and abroad at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. His LA theater credits include: The Odyssey Theatre’s Broadway Bound directed by Jason Alexander, The New American Theatre’s 63 Trillion, Boys’ Life, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and The Blank Theatre’s Knockout Mouse. TV/FILM credits include: La La Land, Gilmore Girls: Seasons, 90210, Soul Song, My Best Friend Ben, and Dog it Down. Represented by Media Artists Group and Bensky Entertainment.

Jordan MannJordan Mann

Jordan Mann, LANCT member and graduate of NYU Tisch, is beyond excited to be in this production of 50 Shades of Shakespeare! This show has improved her flexibility, aroused her artistry, and opened her right up. No stranger to role play, she has so enjoyed getting deep inside every character. She hopes this will be as good for you as it was for her, and that you will come over and over and over again

Kelly NienaltowskiKelly Nienaltowski

Kelly is a Michigan native who graduated with a BFA in Acting from Webster University’s Conservatory of Theatre Arts. With nearly 20 years of performing experience, she continues to work in Los Angeles both on stage and in film. Recent credits include the world premiere of Drempels at the Santa Monica Playhouse, Parallel Worlds: A New Rock Music Experience which blends film, live theatre and music, and a supporting role in the feature film Inheritance. This summer she will costar in another feature film, and record season 2 of the comedic scripted sci-fi podcast The Theatre of Tomorrow. She’s a proud member of The Los Angeles New Court Theatre, appearing in their past productions of Neil Simon’s Fools and Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. Kelly is thrilled to be reunited with the Bard while making her Hollywood Fringe Festival debut in LANCT’s production of 50 Shades of Shakespeare.

EVCommWebEddie Vona

Eddie Vona is super excited to be playing all his dream roles in this play! He is a proud LANCT company member and was recently featured in the 2016 Cricket Feet Showcase. LA credits: Madhuri Shekar’s In Love and Warcraft (Artists At Play, West Coast Premiere), Bekah Brunstetter’s Little Man (LANCT, World Premiere), Stephen Karam’s Speech and Debate (LANCT). NY credits: Lend Me A Tenor and This Is Our Youth (Hangar Theater). He would like to thank Jess for the challenge and his cast mates for their generosity. Eddie attended The Stella Adler Studio at NYU: Tisch. EddieVona.com.

Meet the Cast and Creative Team for “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change!”

Meet the Cast and Creative Team for the Los Angeles New Court Theatre’s first ever Musical Production:

I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change!

Buy Your Tickets for this hilarious production by clicking here

CREATIVE TEAM

EMILY A. FISHER (DIRECTOR)

Emily is thrilled to be back with the LANCT, this time as a director! You may have seen her in several New Court shows, including Fools, A Piece of My Heart, and Speech & Debate. Her previous directing/choreographing credits include: The Moonlight Room (St. Louis), The World Goes ‘Round (Insight Theatre Company), Pique Dame (Union Avenue Opera), The Long Red Road (Webster University) and Only Remembered, an original piece commenting on how war affects the lives of all.  Other credits include: The Music Man, Thoroughly Modern Millie, 100 Saints You Should Know, Carousel, Equus, Damn Yankees, The Sound of Music, Lucky Stiff, Loves Labours Lost, and Moon Over Buffalo. She is currently performing in Dames at Sea in Ashland, Oregon. www.emilyafisher.com


NATHAN LEE BURKART (CO- DIRECTOR)

Nathan is a native from Janesville, WI and has been involved with theatre in some way his entire life.  He has worked professionally on-screen and on-stage including projects with the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, The Beloit New Court Theatre, Jack and Jill (produced by and starring Adam Sandler), Women Behind Bars (WE Entertainment), and has worked with the great Edward Albee personally with a reading of Me, Myself, and I at Playwrights Horizons (NYC). Other stage credits include: Warren in This is Our Youth (LANCT), Sebastian in Twelfth Night (LANCT), Antipholis in The Comedy of Errors, Ellard in The Foreigner, Stanley Jerome in Broadway Bound, Arnold Epstein in Biloxi Blues, Snoopy in You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown, and Tom Trainor in No, No, Nanette.  Commercially he has had multiple national spots for McDonald’s, along with ads for Chase and Hyundai. Directing credits include: Speech & Debate (LANCT), The Prettiest Girl in Lafayette County, and an original sketch piece titled The Final Cut. He received his BFA from Webster Conservatory of Theatre Arts in St. Louis, MO.


JENNIFER LIN (MUSICAL DIRECTOR)

Jennifer Lin holds a degree in Music Composition from UCLA and works as a music director and accompanist throughout Southern California. Credits include Things to Ruin, Fellowship! The Musical Parody of The Fellowship of the Ring, Bronies! the Musical, Sweet Charity, See What I Wanna See, The Wild Party, as well as The Pokémusical, which won Best Musical in the 2013 Hollywood Fringe Festival. In addition to working in theatre, Jennifer teaches at Experience Music Academy and the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute. Many thanks to LA New Court Theatre for letting her be a part of this show!


JOSH GANNON (STAGE MANAGER)

Josh is excited to be stage managing ILYYPNC! He joined the company earlier this season by stage managing the first show, Little Man. He is enjoying learning more and more about putting a theatre production together, and loving that he can finally speak about himself in the third person. Theatre is the best. He would like to thank Nathan and Emily for the opportunity to work with them.


CAST

THE WOMEN

Jennifer Losi
Jennifer Losi

JENNIFER LOSI

Jennifer is overjoyed to be back on the New Court stage in another dream role, after playing Olivia in Twelfth Night. Other favorite credits include City of Light (Laura), Pirates of Penzance (Mabel), Once in a Lifetime (Susan Walker), Accelerando (She), and the world premiere of American Storm (Bonnie). Jen holds a degree in theatre from Washington University in St. Louis, and promises she’d never try to change you.

Sara Gonzales
Sara Gonzales

SARA GONZALES 

This is Sara’s first show with LANCT and she couldn’t be more excited about it! Sara recently graduated from Webster Conservatory with her BFA in Musical Theatre. Since then, she has been keeping busy performing in cabarets and Children’s musicals, such as Rapunzel at Glendale Centre Theatre. She’s also had the honor and pleasure to perform and workshop multiple new musicals. She recently was a part of NMI’s popular 15 minute musicals at the Lonny Chapman. She was also seen in the workshop performance of City of Light at the Beverly Hills Playhouse. She’s looking forward to returning to the City of Light world, when she performs at the 2015 ASCAP/Dreamworks workshop with Stephen Shwartz, Sara also dabbles in the world of Jazz music, winning several national awards and performing internationally. Much love to M,D,G and D. ENJOY THE SHOW!

Rachel Pallante
Rachel Pallante

RACHEL PALLANTE

Rachel is elated to be making her LANCT debut while escaping the harsh winters of Chicago, where she resides. This marks her 10th musical production since graduating; including, cabarets, new works, and two American Premieres. Outside of playing pretend, Rachel enjoys biking, hula hooping, and singing female vocals in Chicago’s Grateful Dead tribute band, Paradise Waits. Thanks to Mum, Dad, and all my fearless friends. MAKE ART! rachelpallante.com


 

THE MEN

Ainsley Emrys
Ainsley Emrys

AINSLEY EMRYS

Ainsley is excited for his Los Angeles stage debut with I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change! Other stage shows include Jerry in The full Monty (where he received the nomination by Broadwayworld.com for Best Lead Actor in a Musical), Curly in Oklahoma!, as well as many others. If you’d like to see more check out some of his sketch comedy: Ainsley Emrys on YouTube.

 

Josey Montana McCoy
Josey Montana McCoy

JOSEY MONTANA McCOY

Josey is a proud LA New Court company member and is super happy to be a part of its first musical! Hailing from the Bluegrass state, Josey graduated from the University of Kentucky (BA, Journalism). He loves his UK Wildcats and is a Green Bay Packers Shareholder. LA credits: Floyd Collins (Ovation Award Nominee – Best Featured Actor), Bronies! The Musical, The Pokémusical, Justin Love, Fools, & Sweet Charity. Other favorite credits: Ragtime (National tour), Big River, Into the Woods, All Shook Up, & Hairspray. Josey sends thanks to his awesome family, amazing LA friends and his love Josie, whom should definitely not change!

Tyler Beveridge
Tyler Beveridge

TYLER BEVERIDGE

Tyler recently moved to Los Angeles from Houston, Texas. He is excited to do his second show with the LANCT, after appearing in last season’s opener, Twelfth Night. He graduated from Webster University with a BFA in Acting. He has performed in such shows as The Winter’s Tale, Putnam County Spelling Bee, On the Razzle, and Our Town. In his spare time he enjoys laughing, hanging out with his friends, and looking for the next great opportunity.

 

 

ILYYPNC Poster

Chatting with: Bekah Brunstetter


The Los Angeles New Court Theatre chats with
:

BEKAH BRUNSTETTER

Little Man
Little Man

Director and Los Angeles New Court Board Member, Kyle Hester, chats with Little Man playwright Bekah Brunstetter about her upcoming play, her own class reunion, and writing for television.  Little Man will be having its world premiere October 17-26th at the McCadden Theatre Center in Hollywood, CA.  It is produced by Eddie Vona and is presented by the Los Angeles New Court Theatre.

To buy tickets click here.


Director Kyle Hester: Can you talk a little bit about how the idea of the play came to you?

Playwright Bekah Brunstetter: When I got the invitation to my high school reunion, I immediately decided I was going to write a play about it. I really like giving myself assignments and living my life while ALSO calling it research. It felt like a good way to turn a potentially hilarious and awkward experience into a MASTERPIECE! Or at least a play. I started working on it before the actual reunion, then finished it after. I was fascinated by my own strong desire to definitely fly back home and definitely miss work and definitely attend this reunion. I realized that I felt like I was a much better version of myself now than I was in high school (I was quite overweight and wore 97% old men’s clothes from Goodwill and was pretty self-conscious and not confident, but I guess, weren’t we all?) and so I wanted to go to the reunion and show that. Prove that. So I was thinking a lot about that when writing the play. Mostly I was thinking about people who peak in high school vs. people who don’t, and how the things that happen to us in those four years leave incredibly deep scars that we spend our adult lives trying to surgically remove.

KH: Exactly, and a lot of your plays deal with characters who find themselves on the borderline between adulthood and youth, and concern their decisions to either hang back or move forward. Is this a theme that you’ve been consciously exploring?

BB: Absolutely. As you get older, you keep waiting for that moment when you feel like a grown up — but it never comes. Sure, you start to notice that maybe like, you’re buying yourself nicer sheets, are taking adult gummy vitamins, are caring less about what people think of you, but I mean you never quite feel the intelligence or emotional maturity that you associate with your perception of adulthood. And honestly — I don’t know if we ever will. I have such clarity now on what was going on in my head in middle and high school, so I find myself writing and thinking a lot about those times. Maybe when I’m 50 I will understand myself now. I hope!

KH: One of my favorite parts of the show is Ken Strong’s portrait, which is in the background of pretty much every scene. I love the two weird levels it operates on: both as an awkward centerpiece to the play, making an already kind of cheap event tackier somehow, but also profoundly deepening the reunion with a kind of memento mori, as though he had somehow peaked so hard in high school he literally couldn’t live in the real world. Where did he come from?

BB: I love that character/set piece, too. And can I just say: the portrait you made is beyond perfect and my new favorite prop and also thing in the whole world. Ken is an odd blend of fiction and reality: at my high school, there was a really lovely guy, Kent: very popular, very smart, and from what I recall, also very kind. He was liked by everyone and was kind and fair to everyone. He had tons of promise, but he was tragically killed in a car accident shortly after college graduation. At my reunion his absence was looming. His absence was felt, and sort of — ripped us all to a place where we were questioning our own lives. He was dead, we were alive. What were we doing with our lives? We deserved our lives? As I started crafting Little Man, I thought it would be interesting/terrible if this same guy was the guy who made Howie’s life miserable. That felt complicated to me in the best way.

KH: I was struck by the role that money and career success plays in these characters’ lives and their perceptions of how happy they are. Jed, Wendy and Andy are barely scraping by, Melissa’s parents just stopped paying her rent, and Howie lives in a weirdly uncomfortable luxury born out of his entrepreneurism. The Millennial generation has in some ways been defined by its relationship to wealth and class, its struggle to find employment in the wake of the Great Recession and its choice to reject or embrace the more traditional lifestyle of the generation that came before. Can you talk about that a bit in relationship to your work?

BB: I think the money thing relates to the thing I was rambling about regarding how we never feel like grown ups, not ever. Money provides security, but what I’ve found (after being broke for so long, and then finally starting to make some dough from TV work) is that mo’ money, mo’ problems, if you will. With money comes greater anxieties, and also a fear that your priorities and values are going to shift. A fear of becoming more material or shallow. I think about that a lot. I don’t want to ever become complacent. Howie’s got more money than he knows what to do with — but he still feels empty. As for the rest of the characters, there’s something so frustrating and sickening about growing older, like years are passing, but you don’t have the money to buy the things that match the age you are supposed to feel, or provide for the family that you made.

KH: You’ve been writing for television for several years now. How has your background in the theatre informed your writing on TV, and vice versa, anything you’ve learned on TV that has influenced your writing for the stage?

BB: I’ve found TV writing to be incredibly challenging, because as a playwright, I’m not very structure-oriented, I’m much more focused on language, characters, stage images and explosive moments. I’ve definitely had to re-train my brain to think story, how to twist one in a surprising way. I’d that say theater has taught me first and foremost how to communicate with actors and directors, and in terms of the actual writing, how to avoid cliche/really think about the specifics of moments and the people inside of them that make magic. With TV, time is certainly money — you write, but then you’re trimming and trimming and trimming to get the script down to a certain page count. Every scene must be moving the story forward. That’s been something that’s been hard to shake as I work on plays, but honestly, I think it’s been a good lesson for me to learn — now when I’m working on a play, I’m a bit more economical, and I think my storytelling instincts have gotten better, which is to say, I actually have them now.

KH: You’ve talked before about your preference for ambiguity and theatricality, for worlds with weird rules or undefined settings, as long as they’re grounded in some kind of reality. What about that appeals to you?

BB: For me, a play should be grounded in the real world, because that’s how I can access it emotionally, and so that it can be accessible by a broader audience — it’s very important to me for my plays to be relatable, for people to be able to see themselves in the plays happenings and characters. But also, plays should NEED to be plays. They should not be quick TV scenes, cinematic. They should hopefully explode in a surprising way and go deeper emotionally. There should be awkwardness and time travel and in the genius stage directions of Sarah Ruhl, characters suddenly turning into almonds. Just because. Because Plays.

KH: One last question! Everyone watching at home is dying to know: who did you wear to your reunion?

BB: Right after grad school I went straight into temping, all sorts of weird and oddly rewarding jobs — one week, I was assigned to organize clothes for an Eileen Fisher sample sale (for those who aren’t familiar with the brand, it’s a collection of very expensive and very sort of large and floppy and wonderfully soft clothes for middle-aged women) and at the end of the week, we were allowed to TAKE WHATEVER WE WANTED. I scored this black shirt dress thing that maybe is supposed to be a top for a middle-aged woman, but I wear like a straight up child’s dress. And this, my friends, is what I wore to my reunion. Also I should note that the day before my reunion, I hurt my back just by WALKING UPHILL in my parent’s neighborhood, so beneath said dress, I wore a back brace and spent the first few hours leaning against a wall. As the chardonnay went in, away went the pain.


 

For more information about Bekah Brunstetter check out her website by clicking here.  We hope to see you all at Little Man this coming October!

ABOUT BEKAH BRUNSTETTER’S “LITTLE MAN”

TICKETS CAN NOW BE PURCHASED USING OUR ONLINE BOX OFFICE


LITTLE MAN

ABOUT THE PLAYWRIGHT: BEKAH BRUNSTETTER

Bekah hails from Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and currently lives in Los Angeles.

Plays include Going to a Place Where You Already Are (South Coast Rep Commission), Cutie and Bear (Upcoming, the Roundabout) A Long and Happy life (Naked Angels Commission), Be A Good Little Widow (Ars Nova, Collaboraction, The Old Globe), Oohrah! (The Atlantic Theater, Steppenwolf Garage, the Finborough Theater / London), Nothing is the end of the World (except for the end of the world) (Waterwell productions), House of Home (Williamstown Theater festival) and Miss Lilly Gets Boned (Ice Factory Festival.)

She is an alumni of the CTG Writers Group, Primary Stages writes group, Ars Nova Play Group, The Playwright’s Realm, and the Women’s Project Lab.

She has previously written for MTV (Underemployed; I Just want my Pants Back) and is currently a Story editor on ABC Family’s Switched at Birth.

BA UNC Chapel Hill; MFA in Dramatic Writing from the New School for Drama. (biography from www.bekahbrunstetter.com)


Kyle Hester
Kyle Hester

ABOUT THE DIRECTOR: KYLE HESTER

 Kyle is a graduate of NYU Tisch, where he studied at the Stella Adler Studio of Acting and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. Previous directing credits include Assassins and The Play About the Baby. Thank you to his family for their love and support, Eddie for his tireless work as both producer and sensible sounding board to the director, Bekah for both writing and allowing us to produce her extraordinary play, and LANCT for the opportunity to bring it to the stage.


 

CAST: 

Eddie Vona
Eddie Vona

Eddie Vona (Howie) is originally from Hollywood…Florida! He is more than excited to work with LANCT again as both actor and producer this time around. He attended The Stella Adler Studio at NYU Tisch and is a founding member of Street Shakespeare (streetshakespeare.org). Past credits include: Speech & Debate (LANCT), Lend Me a Tenor and This Is Our Youth (The Hangar Theatre), Dinner at Eight (dir. Robert Moss). Special thanks to Bekah, Nathan and my darling. www.eddievona.com


 

Brandon Bales
Brandon Bales

Brandon Bales* (Andy) is an actor and writer who has appeared in the world premiere of Terrence McNally’s Some Men at the Philadelphia Theater Company, OffBroadway in 13P’s production of Have You Seen Steve Steven? (also at the Sundance Lab), as well as the world premiere of Leegrid Stevens’s The Dudleys! LA theatre credits include Sarah Doyle’s Feeling Feeling (Fringe) and Joseph Fisher’s In the Canopy of the Forest (Open Fist). TV: Review, The Black Donnellys, and Law and Order (both regular and SVU flavors). Brandon’s cocreated short series American Friends was recently featured at Funny or Die.


 

Jordan Mann
Jordan Mann

Jordan Mann (Wendy) is a Nashville native with a background in improv and dance. She graduated NYU Tisch, and continues to study at the Art of Acting Studio and the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater. Her previous roles include That Girl Right There, Who Just Crossed Behind Leighton Meester! and I Should’ve Taken The Drugs: A Live Action Birth Story (starring role circa 1989). She asked to leave you with this proverb, When it comes to bacon, yes.

 


 

David Silavin
David Silavin

David Silavin (Jed) is originally from Sunnyvale, California. After graduating from Saint Mary’s College with a BFA in Acting, he moved to LA in 2012 for the Art of Acting Studio’s Two Year Professional Conservatory. His recent theatre credits include Tracers, Reasons to be Pretty, and Big Love. David is thrilled to join LANCT for their production of Little Man!

 


 

Marianna Caldwell
Marianna Caldwell

Marianna Caldwell** (Stefanie) is a native Iowan, who recently moved to LA from New York City, where she graduated with her MFA in Acting from Columbia University. She is beyond thrilled to be part of the premiere of this wonderful play with LANCT. Previous credits: The Tempest (Classic Stage Company), The Government Inspector (3Legged Dog), Measure for Measure, The 39 Steps (Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival). Love to my CUGA family, esp. Greg. www.mariannacaldwell.com


 

Josie Adams
Josie Adams

Josie Adams* (Melissa) returns to the LA New Court Theatre, having performed in Fools, the company’s first production. National tour credits: A Christmas Carol, Magic Tree House. TV & Film: 90210 and Big Eden. Theatre (selected): Emma (St. Louis Rep), 25th Annual…Spelling Bee (Grandstreet Theatre), Campaign (The Met Theatre) and The Producers (MacLeod Playhouse). She is a proud Montana native with a BFA in Musical Theatre from Webster Conservatory. Much love to her family and Josey!

 

* Denotes member of SAG-AFTRA

** Denotes member of AEA, the professional union of actors and stage managers.


Little Man Poster

A Plan of Attack for the New LA Actor

The Cast of "Fools"
The Cast of “Fools”

As summer continues to sizzle on, new graduates from colleges all over the nation are flocking to the world’s largest cities hoping to pursue a working career in acting.  Oftentimes, this is a terrible transition (kind of like middle school) from academia into actual. real. life.   Mind you, a lot of these individuals have been only out of their parents’ wings for only a few brief months and it’s easy to feel completely lost.  I remember looking at my brother Nate after our parents left for the airport that first August afternoon and the most I could say is… “what do we do now?”

(What a great question: what do you do now?)

It’s probably so great because it really doesn’t have an answer.  This is your life now, and you can do whatever you want with it.

Life aside, maybe the field specified question is “How do I make this acting thing work?”  It’s a logical question: one proposed by an individual who has usually spent a ton of money on education and wants to make their investment pay-off; by a person who has no stable source of income, and has no choice; or by those who have been dying to make their art their job since they came into existence (or all of the above). This question too, I’m afraid, does not have an answer.  If there was a clear cut way into this industry, everyone would be taking the same path.  What you can do however, is have a plan of attack.

When people ask what I’d do differently with my career, I honestly say “nothing.”  Mostly because I believe in whatever higher powers that may be, and I throw it all up to faith.  Sometimes, like acting, we need to treat our life more with abandon to get anything out of it.   If I moved out today would my plan of attack have changed?… Most definitely, but the industry has changed, it’s not the same beast as six years ago, and in six more it’ll be something completely different as well.


Clay Bunker and Carrie Schroeder in "Look Back in Anger"
Clay Bunker and Carrie Schroeder in “Look Back in Anger”

If I moved out today, if I was a newbee, what would be my plan of attack?   If you are from NYC, or Chicago or wherever, this may not be the plan I’d consider.  This is tailor made for my own personal interests in the Los Angeles acting market.  Take and choose what you will, and leave the rest.  I’m not offended easily.    If you want to refer to any of the companies I mention in the plan of attack they are all listed on the Actor’s Link part of the website.

NUMBER ONE RULE TO STARTING OUT IN LA (Always refer to this rule!!!)

As in any business: do not invest your efforts into things that will not potentially return the investment; otherwise it is an expense, not an investment.  I will refer to this rule often in the plan of attack so make it your friend.

Before you move to Los Angeles

  • You already need to be on the websites ActorsAccess, and LACasting. All the major casting directors, agents, and managers use a variation of these two systems. If you aren’t on at least one of them (or both), and you are an actor in LA, you aren’t trying hard enough. The End. There is a monthly fee to be on them, but these websites will allow you to apply for work- so it will make you money [potentially]- therefore, refer to RULE NUMBER ONE.
  • If you don’t have headshots, you won’t find work (period). Get some. They don’t have to be expensive, but they DO have to be good.   A good headshot photographer will capture a variety of looks that will market you across a vast array of characters- all while staying true and honest to who you actually are. It’s a fine, fine, line. Check out “Actor’s Link” for an assortment of well-respected photographers in the LA area. Vanie Poyey did mine, I think she’s fantastic, but it’s up to you.
  • Fix your resume. Even if you think it’s perfect… it’s probably not. Fix it. Your resume is a work of art that constantly needs to be tweaked showcasing you and why you’d be a great person for them to call in. Figure out your weaknesses and strengthen them. If you don’t have a lot of training- get into acting class, if you don’t have a lot of experience- find some friends producing a web-series and get yourself on camera.
  • You need to start learning who the casting directors are. They are the ones who call you in. I’m not saying to stalk them- but you need to figure out how to get in front of them. Casting About is a great website for this. I used to live across the hall from one of the developers when I first moved out- it’s been fun to watch his site turn into such a valuable tool. If you do this research before you move to the city, you are ahead of the game.

[Side note: you are never better than anyone.  Put your ego at the door, because honestly, LA doesn’t care or need it.  You will only roadblock your career with ideas of jealousy and egomania.  It’s a waste of time and energy.]

You’ve moved to Los Angeles, Congratulations!

  • Find a place to live. Rent is expensive, don’t freak yourself out. You will probably need a roommate… or two… or three- but that’s ok. It’s only temporary (hopefully). It’s best to stick in the areas that have the most action: Sherman Oaks, Studio City, North Hollywood, Hollywood, West Hollywood. There are quite a few auditions in Santa Monica as well if you want to fork over some extra cash and live by the beach.
  • Get a job. Any job is fine. It’s ok if it is disposable or something that you don’t want to do- because it’ll make you fight only that much harder. If you are having a hard time finding a job, sign up for Central Casting and Sande Alessi Casting to start doing background work. Background work is fine as long as you don’t get caught too long in it. That TV show “Extras” is a very real thing.  There are some valuable lessons to be learned however such as how a set works, and humility.
  • Start acting. This is the tricky part. And this is where I feel a lot of young artists get sidetracked. If you aren’t acting, you aren’t an actor- so start doing it. Even if that means making your own work. There are so many outlets in this city it is crazy.
      1. Theatre. LA is the land of 99-seat plan theatre. There are a lot of terrible shows, but there are a lot of good ones too.   Be careful, a lot of companies in this town want to charge you money to be a part of their company: always remember RULE NUMBER ONE. What are you getting out of it? If it’s not going to possibly make you money… don’t invest in it. There is a list of credible 99- seat plan theatres as well as LA area regional theatres in the Actor’s Link. For my article on the importance of 99-seat plan theatre, click here.
      2. Submissions on LACasting and ActorsAccess (Breakdown Services). Remember when I told you to sign up for these sites? Now it’s time to start submitting. If you are non-union the possibilities are going to be endless. If you don’t get auditions right away, don’t freak out, just keep submitting. If a couple months go by without any auditions, you need to evaluate: are my headshots the best they could be? Does my resume sell me? Am I submitting for appropriate roles that I am suitable for? Once you think you’ve found the cancer, cut it out. Remember, every audition is an acting opportunity. Also- don’t rule out student films- who knows what train may be leaving the station, maybe it’s one that you want to be on.
      3. Acting Class is a great opportunity to get you acting, as long as it’s going somewhere in the end. You are not going to get any opportunities only acting in a classroom, you need to find a teacher who believes in you and will mentor you. Beware of teachers that create actor dependency. You should be learning how to practice the process on your own. A good teacher will not just direct the scene you are working on, they will teach you how to explore the scene. If they are directing the scene- you are wasting your money. Get out.
      4. Casting Director Workshops. Be careful with this one in particular- a lot of them are scammy and you’ll end up paying $200 to get in front of an agent’s “assistant” who actually turns out to be their next door neighbor (I’m serious). Do your research.  It’s good to know that when you do these the agents, managers, or casting directors actually may not be looking for anyone (the workshop company is paying them to be there) so if you don’t get an audition out of it don’t freak out. People do however get called in sometimes from them, and it has launched the careers of several people I know- so they are at least worth the glance. The average workshop I’ve run across ranges from $30-$55. ActorsKey in my opinion is one of the best.
  • Join the Unions (Eventually)If you are ready, like really really ready, start looking into joining SAG-AFTRA or AEA. Nowadays under the SAG New Media contract it’s easier than ever to get a Taft-Hartley. A Taft Hartley is when you are grandfathered into the union after working on a union project. Commercials are also well known for Taft-Hartley(ing) people.  Most agents won’t consider taking you on unless you are in a union- but once you join- you’ll be cutting your job prospects in half. And if that resume hasn’t been built up, it’s like shooting yourself in the foot. You’ll also on occasion hear of mysterious people who can get you into the union if you pay them- these people are swarmy and preying on desperation. Stay away.
  • Get an Agent and/or Manager: Unless you come from one of the juggernaut acting programs, chances are you are not going to end up with an agent or manager post-graduation. This means that the grind might be harder for you- but that’s ok. Keep your head high and keep trucking. A good agent takes 10% of your acting work. A good manager takes 10% as well- but I’ve heard of some stretching to 15%. Stay away from anyone who wants more. They aren’t real.Stay away from any agent or manager who requires that you only go through one person for acting classes and headshots. These people are in cahoots with eachother and prey off of desperation. If they seem too good to be true… they are. Commercial Agents should be your first target. They take on more people and are willing to take on less experienced clients. Commercials have the potential to make a lot of money (like a year’s worth in one day of work) so they are the best investments you can make. Don’t get hung up on saying “I don’t do commercials,” nobody says that anymore, and you’ll only look stupid. And nobody likes being stupid. Getting an agent/manager is tricky. If you don’t have a strong resume, workshops are the best way to get in front of them. Another way is just getting out and meeting people in general: agents and managers are people just like actors. Don’t spend copious amounts of energy with mass submissions, most of them get thrown away by the receptionist and don’t even make it to the actual agents (or assistants). If you are going to do submissions, research and make a list of the top agents you think you are realistically suited for and send them your headshot/resume/cover-letter every six months or so. Nothing more is needed. You don’t need to wait outside their office at wee hours of the morning, you don’t need to call them every half hour, your don’t need to show up at their office. Some people have been successful e-mailing agents and managers their info:  if you choose to do that, just be conscious that some of them do not like this, and you are gambling.
  • Read and Write: As an actor you are a storyteller. Spend your free time reading and writing, it’ll help you learn how stories are constructed, exercise your creativity, and make you a smarter actor.
  • Keep acting. Wait… I already did this one… well it’s worth saying again. You aren’t an actor if you aren’t acting. End. Of. Story.

In general: Always remember to surround yourself with fellow artists who are encouraging and will keep you motivated.  Los Angeles is a sprawling mass, and it’s easy to get lost without someone to help root you.  Do not strive for fortune or fame: strive to create.  If you look too far into the future you’ll get stuck up there, and you’ll be so full of anxiety it’ll be too hard to get back.  Same goes for thinking about the past, have no regrets, it’s only depressing.  Stay present, stay smart, and enjoy the ride.

Go get ’em.

Alex Burkart- Vice President/Founder

Copyright Alex Burkart 2014

 

Vona, Hester, and Losi in Street Shakespeare’s “The Comedy of Errors”

unnamed[1]Company board member Kyle Hester, and artistic company members Eddie Vona and Jen Losi, will be appearing in Street Shakespeare’s production of “The Comedy of Errors” Thursday, July 10th at 8:00pm. Vona will play Dromio of Syracuse, Hester will play Antipholus of Ephesus, and Losi will play Luciana.

The performance will take place at Harlem Place Alley (off of 4th Street, between Spring and Main) at the LA Downtown ArtWalk.  For more information check out their website.

STREET SHAKESPEARE is a fantastic company that focuses on presenting Shakespeare, concentrating on the practices of how the work was originally performed.  Without a doubt this company produces exciting work that every LA theatre goer will not only enjoy, but completely experience.

“STREET SHAKESPEARE strives to set things right.  Players come together to perform a classic play in Shakespearean fashion: No Rehearsal, No Director, an Urban Venue. Boom. Shakespeare.” – www.streetshakespeare.org

 

See LANCT’s Emily A. Fisher in “The Music Man”

“Ye Gads!”

LANCT’s Production Manager, Emily A. Fisher, is currently playing Zaneeta in Glendale Centre Theatre’s production of “The Music Man.” Tickets can be bought at www.glendalecentretheatre.com. Performances run until July 5th.

Emily Fisher in "The Music Man" at Glendale Centre Theatre
Emily Fisher in “The Music Man” at Glendale Centre Theatre

The Importance of 99-Seat Theatre

When people ask me who I think the best actor of all time is, I usually reply “Someone probably doing community theatre out in the cornfields.”  

If you’ve ever paid attention to the theatre scene in Los Angeles, you will be no stranger to the Equity 99-Seat plan showcase contract.   For those of you who are unfamiliar, the Equity 99-Seat Plan is an agreement with the actors’ union allowing artists to showcase their work for waived payment as long as the theatre matches certain criteria (the most obvious one being that the house must seat 99 patrons or under).  Due to the vast overflow of actors coming into Los Angeles on a daily basis, these productions have become quite popular for actors who want to practice their craft while waiting for their next paid gig.

Most 99-Seat Plan productions are executed by theatre companies (much like the LANCT).  They run on restricted budgets, mostly due to the costliness of producing theatre in Los Angeles, and the shows are usually hit or miss as far as quality and professionalism are concerned.  The one solid thing that they are however, are true grounds for community and artistry.

Twelfth Night: Andrew, Belch, Fabian- Los Angeles New Court Theatre
Callen McLaughlin, Tyler Beveridge, and Greg Fink in “Twelfth Night.”

My brother and I created the Los Angeles New Court Theatre because we were frustrated with the amount of opportunities that existed which actually allowed us to create.  Sometimes I think the glamour and glitz of Hollywood clutter the public eye to how controlled actor performances actually are in mainstream film, television, and even stage.  As an actor your choices are constantly at mercy to not only the director, but multiple producers, and writers.  Countless times I found myself walking away from a job or audition feeling like a watered down version of a prostitute- selling myself to the ideas and demands of the people who put the bread on my table.  It left me starved; then angry; then depressed.  It wasn’t until I finally said, screw it, I’m going to make my own work that I truly became liberated.

Company members for 99-Seat Plan Theatres do not produce to make money.  There is none to be had; most of the time they are playing to houses of ten people max (if they are lucky)- watch the beginning of Tim Burton’s “Ed Wood” (I promise LANCT shows aren’t that bad).  These company members produce because they are hungry to work- and eager to create.  There is seriously no better climate to be a true artist.   When people ask me who the best actor of all time is, I usually reply “Someone probably doing community theatre out in the cornfields.”  These people are the true artists- with complete lack of desperation, love for the craft, willingness to explore without judgment, usually broke, and perhaps incredibly talented- they may have just never had their moment in the sun.

The importance of 99-Seat Plan theaters is that they are the root to the future of theatre, and more significantly they give artists opportunity. These vehicles provide springboards for the unknowns into the incredibly competitive business of artistry. Hundreds of celebrities got their start in LA 99-seat plan theatre, scrapping by just to be able to create, just to be able to act. Eventually, all the cracks they had been making over time gave way and opened a glorious door. Someone once told me there is a little bit of magic in Los Angeles, that everyone has their own shot- it’s just a matter perseverance, dedication, and what cards you pull. Who knows, maybe that terrible production you saw two years ago in a leaky basement off of Melrose will turn into the next major hit: kind of like an indie band gone mainstream radio. Just think of how incredible it would be for you to witness it’s birth.

Go See a Play!

Alex Burkart- Vice President, Los Angeles New Court Theatre

copyright Alex Burkart 2014