Shakespeare in Performance Project (week 1)

Week one down. Mental! I still remember flying back from Mexico last week and getting everything ready for the tour, and now I’ve just got one week left in Holland. Seriously time, chill!

Wow, what can I say, I mean if you’re an actor, lover of Shakespeare, interested in TIE and open to different cultures, the Shakespeare in Performance Project is for you! (www.shakespeareinperformanceproject.co.uk)

Having a cool boss and working with fun colleagues is a real blessing so I’m loving this tour partly because of that. Seeing Marc enjoying himself while at work has been very inspiring and encouraging for me. Of course I get nervous, but in this tour you quickly realize that the job is not about you but about the students; and like in acting, when your attention is on the others on stage, then the real magic happens.

I’m evidently loving the car rides to the schools in the morning; I love reading the motorway signs in Dutch (I try), the landscape (yup, lots of windmills), and the people looking super cool riding bikes. Traveling is one of my passions in life and so having this ‘international’ job is a great gift from God. I have enjoyed meeting Dutch teenagers and seeing how they interact amongst themselves and with us.

Here is a picture of some awesome students we met in a school last week (Marc Norris facilitating – far right); they were so up for getting into costume and having a laugh it was ridiculous!

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This is another photo with one of the teachers at Farel College who gave Katy (fellow actor) and me a pair of school t-shirts to take home with us.

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And here another photo of the three of us having a pizza break in one of the schools.

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But what about accommodation? Well, we are staying in a sort of holiday park called Dennenhoek near a city called Harderwijk. Although we occasionally stay at hotels, Dennenhoek is our main base. This weekend, Marc flew back to England while Katy and I stayed. Here are some pics of what we got up to…

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(Cycled to Harderwijk, visited the windmill with a free tour included, walked through the town, ate nice food, and chilled at home) #awesomeweekend

My First Ever Crush

When I was 17 years old I spent the summer in an American school in Switzerland……

I went there mainly because my passion for acting had been truncated by the lack of drama resources in Mexican schools. I went to a private school in Mexico City and I loved it, but drama wasn’t a subject like you find in many British schools. I desperately wanted to learn how to act and although I can’t remember exactly how I heard about this school, it sounded like I would be able to take some sort of intensive acting course there during the summer. True, I could have possibly found a course closer to Mexico but I liked the holiday combo of travel + creativity.

I still do.

I had the best of times there because I went with my good old friend Ainara (who shared that passion for travelling with me…not so much for acting), but also because I had my first ever crush on a teacher! The drama teacher of course. He was American, very tall, with darkish-greyish flaky hair, yeah he looked like he was in his 30s, he had cat-like brown eyes and THE best of smiles (at least this is how I remember him). His classes were really fun and it was from him that I first learned that acting is ‘doing’.

In my mind the crush was mutual obviously and when the summer camp came to an end I couldn’t stop dreaming about whether or not we would kiss! Lol. We didn’t, although we did give each other a hug. I wanted to give him something else (note for the dirty minded ~ like a photo or a little souvenir from Mexico) and I actually can’t remember if I did.

But him?! He gave me this envelope with a letter inside and asked me to read it later. We said good-bye, I ran to my room, opened the envelope and read this:

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Erm, erm. How can someone do something like this to a 17 year old girl?! I sobbed and cried for days. Lol. I wanted to go find him, grab him, kidnap him and marry him, but my very wise friend Ainara gave me chocolate bars instead; she helped me see that those words meant everything and nothing. That didn’t make any sense to me then but I did stick to the chocolate I confess, lol, and after that I remained in love with that man for months!

Today, I look at this letter as one of the best gifts that not only bring me back to one of the best times in my life but also to my first ever memory of my journey into (love) and acting.

#grateful

Awesome (movie) clips

When I was a teenager I had a ‘film scrapbook’ where I would stick cinema tickets, posters of actors, movies, reviews, etc. Now that I’m pursuing my career in acting, I look back at that hobby with lots of joy. I could spend hours working on my scrapbook just as I could now (except that I don’t have one anymore).

Yesterday, as I was going to bed I felt like watching some of the good films that inspired me to become an actress; I YouTubed them and felt so inspired again that I thought I’d compile the clips here. These films inspired me to act but more than anything to be a better human being.

Scene from Scent of a Woman: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TPSzV4IbwSg&feature=related

Scene from Rudy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=27D4k3dCXPg

Scene from A League of Their Own: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ndL7y0MIRE4

Scenes from Gattaca: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oeJlaIc8Fs0

Scene from Good Will Hunting: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8gfipuaIA68

Scene from Chariots of Fire: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uwyltmUR3MU

Scene from Dead Man Walking: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xQyYa3DBhNA

Scene from Life is Beautiful: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Y9aKqawdUQ

Scent of a Woman

2012

2012 you’ve been grand! It’s been the best year in my career simply because well, it’s when my career actually started, lol (or so it felt).

Around January I got invited to a casting for a corporate job in Bristol. They needed actors who could speak Spanish. I went to the casting and it felt like it had gone alright but there were other Spanish speaking actors present so I didn’t keep my hopes up. About a week later after the casting I got a call to say that they’d love to have me on board for the project which was going to take place in Spain! How exciting was that!

What I enjoyed about doing acting corporate work was that it paid promptly lol. Moreover, being able to act in my own language was super fun too. I had actually never done it, I started working as an actress in England so this was my first time acting and improvising in Spanish. I felt like a real professional travelling on a plane and being paid for it, plus I’m a travel geek so getting to go to Madrid and Seville for ‘free’ was fantastic. The team I worked with were great too so the whole experience was fab.

Here I am in Seville with Spanish actor Julián Bastida (to my right) and training and coaching consultant Chris Scoble (to my left). The last photo is of me working as barista Soledad.

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While this was going on, I was still doing the odd day job, leading workshops about Mexico in primary schools with a charity called Mexicolore, doing admin work for CaAPA (Catholic Association of Performing Arts), and leading confirmation days with Ten Ten Theatre. On one of these days that I was working in Woldingham School with Ten Ten Theatre, artistic director Martin O’Brien asked me if I would like to join their team as an actress on tour! My first reaction was ‘yes’, my second ‘yes’, and my third ‘yes’. It was a great opportunity I couldn’t let go though it did come with its challenges; the job would require me to go on tour around the country (awesome!) to perform 3 times a day (ooooh!) 5 days a week (whoa!), over a period of 8 months (I’m in!); the challenge involved being away from home for so long though. Thankfully (I’m so lucky) my wonderful husband supported me all the way through and here we are, the tour has ended and we are strong as ever.

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There were 4 amazing (& practical) things I got out of this job:

1. Money. Yup, I did not have to stress about paying my bills for about a year. This was massive.

2. Friendship. Spending every single day of your life (pretty much) with a stranger (initially) can be weird and it was definitely a daily lesson for me to adapt and make things work with my fellow actress. In the end, I learnt lots about myself, my personality, my strengths and my weaknesses because of her. I love you my little Scottish Murray.

3. Equity. Thanks to my contract with Ten Ten I was able to join Equity, yay!

4. Getting a UK driver’s license. Goodness me, this was huge for me! When Martin approached me regarding the job he said that it was essential that I sorted out my driver’s license. I used to drive in Mexico all the time so I thought, driver’s license? Piece of cake! Er, well I was wrong! What is up with all the rules in this country? I started taking lessons at the end of January when Martin offered me the job, I passed my theory test (yay!) but I failed my practical test on the first go. It was a disappointment but more than anything it was a concern. I started the tour without a driver’s license so for the first 2 months the actress I was working with then (not Murray) was doing all the driving! Luckily I passed my test in the summer, Murray joined the team and it was me doing all the driving! It was awesome, tiring at times but good nonetheless.

Bring on 2013 already!

A bit of background story for ya…

A couple of years ago I decided to quit my 9 to 5 job and launch myself as an actor. My life has been much more exciting since I took that decision.

When I finished high school in Mexico City I had to decide what I was going to do with my life. I did go to see a couple of ‘drama schools’ in Mexico City but I confess they terrified me a little bit; they just seemed a little bit too different from the overly protected life I had had. The few people I met in the drama schools seemed quite free-spirited and a bit mad, and although deep inside I wanted that, I wasn’t brave enough to go for it. I guess I needed to live a little more and make a mess with my life first. Also, I wasn’t in a massive rush to decide what to do because for a few years already I had known I was going to go abroad for a year after high school and then come back to University.

In my gap year I spent six months in Cambridge taking some English language examinations and then six months in Tours, France doing the same thing but in French. When I came back to Mexico I was still unsure about what I wanted to do; I registered to do a degree Education and that was that. It took me four years to complete my degree and I have to say that I did love it. University life was awesome. However, I will never forget one day when we had an actor, an opera singer and a violinist visiting us as part of the Aesthetics in Education course. When I heard them tell us about how much they loved what they did and how passionate they were sharing a bit of their talents I had this massive ball in my throat. I wanted to cry. I knew what it was; I wanted to be an artist so badly but had somehow managed to suppress my passion to perform.

After uni I taught English as a second language in a primary school for a year. I would do that in the mornings and in the afternoons I enrolled myself into an intensive acting course at Casa Del Teatro in Mexico City. Taking that course changed my life. I have always been a very physical person. I was an athlete for pretty much all my life through school and I loved the fun, discipline and adrenaline that came with the training. This acting course was very similar to my athletics training. It was very tough and I was overwhelmed and slightly confused about it. I didn’t get why we had to do so much exercise as part of the course, “Aren’t we going to act”? I eventually understood that our bodies are our main instruments to work with as actors so we need to get to know them darn well.

While all of this was going on, I was in the middle of applying for graduate school in England. When I finished my degree in Education, quite a few of my teachers suggested I should continue studying and immerse myself into the academia lifestyle. I was happy to do it I must say, I do LOVE studying. I applied to do a MA in Philosophy of Education at the Institute of Education (IoE) in London. My plan was to then continue with a PhD and perhaps become a writer. However, as I said, this acting course caused a little bit of chaos so I decided to put the MA on hold and decided to study another degree in Drama. I did this in the grandiose city of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Yeah, that’s right, where the hell is that?! Well, you have to remember that I had another life apart from my profession, and my then boyfriend was Canadian and we had done the long distance ordeal for quite a few years so it seemed to be the ‘reasonable’ thing for me to move there. Things between us didn’t work out in the end but living in that random place for a couple of years was a fantastic decision. I met some of my dearest friends when I lived there, plus I have to say that surviving two winters at -30 degrees is quite an exciting thing for a Mexican to brag about.

By the end of my studies in Saskatoon I had to decide AGAIN what I was going to do with my life. People from the IoE in London contacted me to say that they would still take my application to do the MA in Philosophy of Education if I wanted to. Although I felt a little bit disconnected from the Education world at that moment, the idea of living in London was very attractive to me. As much as I liked Canada, I felt like it was time to move on. I was lucky enough that my parents were able to support me on this crazy journey (I don’t know what I would do without my family by the way) and off I went to England.

I completed my MA in Philosophy of Education in a year and I was then able to apply for a post-graduate work visa. You see, although I absolutely loved doing my MA and I would actually love going back to philosophy in the future, what I really wanted to do was to ACT! However, this took a while. I was an immigrant in the country so I had to go through several stages before I got to where I am right now (erm, where am I?). Once I got my work visa, I had to actually get a job to pay the bills. Of course I wanted to start my acting career but I first needed to survive. I applied for loads of jobs with no luck whatsoever. Eventually, I managed to get not one but two jobs under my belt. One was as an administrator at St John Ambulance which ended up taking pretty much all my life and the other one (once a week) was with a charity called Mexicolore.

In between jobs I would try to do some acting. I was in a couple of stage productions and student films. I tried to go to acting workshops, get to know some casting directors, etc. but I hardly found the energy or the time. After a year of doing this, I managed to finally find the courage to quit my job at St John without having any sort of financial security with a different job. I would still work one day a week with Mexicolore but that was hardly enough for me to pay the bills. I started to do what most actors have to do, find jobs that are flexible enough to be able to go to castings during the day. I worked as a live model in an art school in Putney and Wimbledon and I also got a job as a Spanish tutor. I was extremely tight, but that pushed me to work really hard to get headshots done, launch my website, enrol in Spotlight, the Actors Centre etc. I have to say that 2011 was a bit of a mad year (I was getting married as well on top of it all! Not with my ex btw), but it was a fantastic year of learning. By the end of it, I felt like I was more or less sorted and ready to rock ‘n roll in 2012.

Me when little