Why I‘ll Never Make It - An Actor‘s Journey
Monday Oct 24, 2022
Monday Oct 24, 2022
The art of theater is really just storytelling, and the stories that are told from region to region often come from within those communities and offer a shared experience on the stage. Broadway illustrates this with musicals like In the Heights, Allegiance, and The Color Purple—even shows like Noises Off and 42nd Street provide a backstage glimpse of the theater community. Well, today’s guest is here to share her stories as a Native American, and the specific experiences that have helped her foster and create a unique kind of storytelling that values the past as much as the present and future. Muriel Miguel has been working in the world of experimental theater since the 1960s, when she was an actor in the Open Theater, a pioneering avant-garde ensemble founded by the visionary director Joseph Chaikin. When Spiderwoman Theater was formed in 1975 by Muriel and her two older sisters Lisa and Gloria, she conceived of it as a direct push back against the sexism that she says was plaguing the American Indian Movement at the time. As part of her creative journey, Muriel developed the art of storyweaving, which is Spiderwoman’s signature Indigenous performance practice. You’ll learn more about this as Muriel intertwines stories and experiences throughout our conversation, sharing important moments that have shaped who she is as a woman, a Native American, and an artist. Learn more about WINMI Podcast at whyillnevermakeit.com Subscribe to WINMI and get bonus episodes Or if you prefer, make a one-time donation to support this podcast Spiderwoman Theater was founded when Muriel Miguel gathered together a diverse company of women, which included both of her sisters. They were of varying ages, races, sexual orientation, and worldview. The collective sprang out of the feminist movement of the 1970s and the disillusionment with the treatment of women in radical political movements of the time. They questioned gender roles, cultural stereotypes, and sexual and economic oppression. They took on issues of sexism, racism, classism, and the violence in women’s lives. Spiderwoman broke new ground in using storytelling and storyweaving as the basis for the creation of their theatrical pieces. The performers wrote and performed personal and traditional stories and with Muriel as the “outside eye”, they were organically layered with movement, text, sound, music, and visual images. Their weaving of humor with popular culture and personal histories along with their sometimes shocking style excited the hearts and spirits of women (and sometimes men) in the United States, Canada, and all over the world. Audition Story Though Muriel has been crafting her own theater work for decades now, she’s also sought to work and study at other venues like Julliard. In this week’s bonus episode, Muriel recounts the time as a teen when she auditioned as a dancer at this famed institution. But she didn’t have ballet slippers, which caused quite a fuss in the room. Become a monthly subscriber to get access to this and other bonus episodes. Final Five Questions After our main conversation, Muriel sat down to answer the five final questions. Among several topics, she shares what success has meant to her (a continuation of what she said at the very end of this episode) and what frustrates her most about this industry, particularly in New York City. Read it all on the WINMI Blog. For a more detailed bio of Muriel, check out this 2019 article from Southern Theatre.
Monday Sep 26, 2022
Monday Sep 26, 2022
Sometime before the pandemic, I auditioned for a small off-Broadway production of the Lerner and Loewe musical The Day Before Spring. It was at the York Theater, which is known for reviving or refreshing older musicals that may not be done very much. I wasn’t cast in that particular production, and like most failed auditions I put it out of my mind as soon as it was done. But I do remember the director behind the table, and so I finally reached out to bring him onto the podcast. Marc Acito is a playwright, novelist, and director. He talks about the work that he does in adapting older shows or contemporary works, bringing fresh set of eyes and perspective to creative process. Marc is also a writer of his own work from plays like Bastard Jones and novels including How I Paid for College: A Novel of Sex, Theft, Friendship and Musical Theater to short films like Mad/Woman. And through each of these mediums, he’s had his stumbles and failures, but he’d be the first to tell you how grateful he is for those lessons learned. Learn more about WINMI Podcast at whyillnevermakeit.com Subscribe to WINMI and get Bonus Episodes on Supercast Donate to the making this podcast and its production efforts Follow Why I’ll Never Make It on Instagram or Twitter Watch full episodes and special excerpts on YouTube Get a free copy of WINMI’s collection of Creative Wisdom ---------- Why I’ll Never Make It is hosted by Off-Broadway actor and singer Patrick Oliver Jones and is a production of WINMI Media, LLC. It is a Top 25 Theater Podcast on Feedspot and is also a part of Helium Radio Network and a member of the Broadway Makers Alliance. Background music in the episode by John Bartmann and Blue Dot Sessions is used under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. MAD / WOMAN Storm Large mostly writes about two subjects: female empowerment and mental illness. Applying her songs to Charlotte Perkins Gilman's feminist classic "The Yellow Wallpaper" felt as if they were written for the material. Storm and I bonded in 2007 over the shared experiences of being just commercial enough for everyone to wonder why we weren't more successful and just alternative enough to sabotage ourselves. Perhaps not coincidentally, we both survived mentally ill mothers. At least twice mine woke up in a pool of her own blood after being beaten senseless by a raging boyfriend. Because I wanted to create a subjective experience as liberated from the male gaze as possible, hiring an all-female crew proved essential. Their and Storm's input influenced innumerable decisions I never would have had the insight nor courage to make. I'll be forever grateful to them as well as the diverse group of post-production artists who essentially served as my film school for my filmmaking debut. Watch it on Film Freeway Final Five with Marc Acito After this main conversation, Marc stuck around to answer the five final questions. He shares his definition of "making it" as well as what keeps most Broadway shows from doing the same. He also discusses minimum wage, happy marriages, and one of the best theater people around, Andre DeShields. Read it all on the WINMI Blog. Follow Marc: Website | LinkedIn
Monday Jun 06, 2022
Monday Jun 06, 2022
June is always a busy time for New York City with two major events taking place: one is of course the month-long Gay Pride celebration and the other is the biggest day of the Broadway season -- the Tony Awards. And today’s guest ticks off both of those boxes. Jerry Mitchell is a prolific Broadway Director and choreographer as well as a gay advocate with shows like Broadway Bares and Kinky Boots, just to name a few. He is also an eight-time Tony nominee, but he is quick to point out that he’s lost out on the award six times. In our conversation, he discusses his creative career, full of fascinating anecdotes, and shares the importance of knowing our worth as artists, loving what we do on and off stage, and the value in saying "yes." Subscribe to WINMI and get bonus episodes with Jerry on Supercast Check out the podcast website and follow WINMI on Instagram or Twitter --------------- Why I’ll Never Make It is a top 25 theater podcast hosted by Off-Broadway actor and singer Patrick Oliver Jones and is a production of WINMI Media, LLC. It is a part of Helium Radio Network and a member of the Broadway Makers Alliance. Background music in this episode is by John Bartmann (Public Domain) and Blue Dot Sessions (Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License). Everybody Say Yeah! You've heard what Jerry has to say about Kinky Boots. Now listen as the musical force behind this Tony-winning show is interviewed by ABC News in Australia. Cyndi Lauper has been a source of celebration and inspiration for music lovers since the 1980s. Then she turned her talents to theater, writing the music for this international smash hit. This Month's Artist Spotlight: Broadway Bares Broadway Bares’ 30th anniversary celebration, originally set for June 21, 2020, was postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The in-person event is set to return this month and will more bodacious dancers, fierce queens, and sexy starlets. Broadway Bares was created in 1992 by Mitchell, then a Broadway dancer, as a way to raise awareness and money for those living with HIV/AIDS. In Broadway Bares‘ first year, Mitchell and six of his friends danced on a New York City bar and raised $8,000. Since then, Broadway Bares has raised more than $21 million for Broadway Cares. “Every dollar donated during Broadway Bares helps those across the country affected by HIV/AIDS, COVID-19 and other critical illnesses receive healthy meals, lifesaving medication and more,” Broadway Cares Executive Director Tom Viola said, referring to last year's online presentation. “As we look toward better and brighter days ahead for everyone, I’m so glad that everyone chose to twerk from home with us.” Final Five with Jerry Mitchell Nine years ago, Jerry Mitchell received the Abbott Award, a lifetime achievement award from the Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation. The award is named in honor of renowned director George Abbott and is presented to a director or choreographer in recognition of lifetime achievement. That same year he was also nominated for two Tony Awards for choreography and direction in Kinky Boots. Since then he has lived another lifetime of experiences and shows like On Your Feet, Becoming Nancy, Pretty Woman, and the many subsequent incarnations of Kinky Boots. Read more insights and experiences from Mitchell on the WINMI Blog. Follow Jerry - IBDB | Instagram
Monday May 30, 2022
Monday May 30, 2022
The past couple of weeks have been difficult for this country, once again grappling with gun violence caused by madmen with evil intentions. This has unfortunately become an ongoing issue with people, politicians, and pundits saying a whole lot but doing very little. Four years ago this spring, a new play opened off Broadway called Church & State. It dealt with the contentious intersection of God, guns, and politics and featured four actors on a single set. I consider myself very fortunate to have been a part of this production as the understudy for the two male actors. It was written and produced by two former guests of this podcast: Jason Odell Williams as the playwright and his wife Charlotte Cohn as lead producer. In this special episode, they share the passion and persistence that goes into creating works like Church & State that can actually make a difference in the hearts and minds of audiences, especially on such an important issue like gun violence. References in this episode: The Power of Political Theater - Brooklyn Rail The Critical Role of Humor in the Grief Process - St. Catherine University Jason Odell Williams (playwright) Charlotte Cohn (director and playwright) Sandy Hook Promise Safer Country Brady Campaign Church & State Origin Story - Jason Odell Williams The seeds for this play date back to 2007. The issue of gun violence in America first became important to me after the shooting massacre at Virginia Tech. I went to UVA (Virginia Tech's “football rival”) and the images on TV of candlelight vigils by Cavaliers for their rival Hokies touched me profoundly. And I realized then, like many Americans, that we had a problem in our country. Guns were a national crisis. Then the shooting in Tucson where Gabby Giffords was shot. And I watched the news, riveted and angry, scared and hopeless. How could this happen? To one of our own politicians? Will this force Congress to finally take action? When it didn't, I wondered, bleakly, if the response would have been different if something like this had happened to a Republican.* And I couldn't get that dark, nagging thought out of my head. Then over the summer of 2012, I was talking to a friend from Raleigh, NC about religion and politics and a new seed was planted for this vague idea I had cooking for a play, somehow combing religion, guns and politics. And then in Dec. 2012, the tragic shooting in Newtown. And I'd had enough. I had to turn my rage and fear into action. So I did what I know how to do. I wrote a play. A month later, in January 2013, I had a first draft of what would eventually become Church & State. I had three friends read the play with me in our living room. We talked about what worked what didn’t. I shared the play with a few director friends who offered some great feedback. And eventually one director, Ralph Meranto from JCC CenterStage in Rochester, read the play saw a lot of potential. He committed to producing it if we could develop it together. So for the next few months, I’d write a draft, he’d ask questions and make comments and suggestions, I’d do a rewrite and we’d repeat the process. I think it was late 2015 when we felt good about the final product. I then shared the play with two friends in DC who loved it and wanted to do a reading for their Actors Salon. And that was the first public reading, January 2016. I knew then the play was basically ready. (BroadwayBox) *Just a week after Church & State's Off-Broadway production closed, a gunman walked onto a baseball field at Eugene Simpson Park in Alexandria, Virginia, opening fire on politicians and wounding Republican U.S. Representative and House GOP Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana and four others.
Monday May 02, 2022
Monday May 02, 2022
No matter how many conversations I have with artists, no matter how many episodes this podcast releases, I’m amazed at the variety of insights and lessons that each person brings to these discussions. But in this episode, I think we hit upon one of the biggest obstacles, if not THE biggest, that holds us back as actors and creatives--and that is fear. Being afraid of vulnerability or not making enough money or not being cast or simply not being good enough. This fear is the cause of our self-doubt and uncertainty and it can hold us back or even paralyze us from moving forward. Today, I’m talking with David Dean Bottrell, who knows all too well what fear can do to us. Though he's been in TV shows like Boston Legal and After Forever (created by former guest Kevin Spirtas), David has also battled fear as an artist and has even written a book to help us navigate the ins and outs of this business to become a Working Actor. David joins the podcast to talk about three specific examples of fear... His upbringing and the strange reaction his family had to success. The book he wrote and how completely inadequate he felt while writing it. His desire to imitate and be someone else, rather than understand or even accept his own unique talents. Support WINMI through donations or subscriptions - https://winmi.supercast.com Podcast hosted and produced by Off-Broadway actor and singer Patrick Oliver Jones - https://www.pojones.com This week's Artist Resource - WORKING ACTOR This veteran character actor draws on his 35+ tumultuous years of work in the entertainment industry to offer a witty, informative and very honest guide to breaking in, making a living, and making a life in the fabulous trenches of show business. "Both practical and inspiring...open-eyed and unsentimental...This is no guru-like tome, but a hands-on, working manual written out of true experience and enthusiasm for what can be achieved.” --Alfred Molina "Weaves a lifetime’s worth of experience navigating the slings and arrows of the acting game into a compilation of personal stories and pragmatic lessons to enlighten, encourage and forewarn both the novice and more advanced performer." --The Los Angeles Times The Final Five Questions Learn more of David's journey from Louisa, Kentucky to Los Angeles and New York, as he chronicles various roles and milestones. It highlights his struggle and successes as well as covers topics we didn't get to in this interview. Find it on the WINMI Blog. Follow David - One-Man Show | Twitter | Instagram
Monday Mar 14, 2022
Monday Mar 14, 2022
In the final episode of Season Five, I spoke with a talented and passionate actress and producer Debra Ann Byrd. In our conversation, she mentioned one of the professors that had a significant impact on her own training and understanding theater. Debra Ann spoke so highly of this mentor that I looked her up and decided to ask her to come on his podcast as well. But Elizabeth Swain is so much more than just a professor of theater. She is a Broadway actress with national tours and television credits as well. And she is quite the prolific director as well, with a specialty in classics like Shakespeare and the Greek tragedies. Elizabeth is also a member of the prestigious Antaeus theater company in Los Angeles. As you’ll hear Elizabeth is the perfect guest for Women’s History Month as she provides such a unique and wide perspective through her decades of work both on stage and off. And in today’s episode you’ll be hearing three stories from her life: Her first theater tour before she had actually decided to be an actress Balanced her growing Broadway career with motherhood How and why she was ousted from Barnard College Podcast hosted by Off-Broadway actor and singer Patrick Oliver Jones - https://www.pojones.com This Week's Spotlight: Antaeus Theater Company Antaeus began in 1991 as a project of the prestigious Center Theatre Group. Founding Artistic Directors Dakin Matthews and Lillian Groag believed there could be a world-class classical ensemble in a city driven by the TV and film industry. They brought together a remarkable group of 30 members in Los Angeles to embark on this ambitious project. The group came together every Monday night to read, study and rehearse great classical plays. After three decades and hundreds of readings, workshops and productions later, Antaeus has established an impressive reputation as a leader in the Los Angeles intimate theater community. Elizabeth Swain is a regular faculty member with the Antaeus Academy and has directed numerous productions for the company. As Antaeus continues to grow and mature, we remain committed to producing full seasons of plays, providing professional training and arts education programs, and utilizing our home as much as possible. Women's History Month: Aprha Behn “All women together ought to let flowers fall upon the tomb of Aphra Behn, for it was she who earned them the right to speak their minds.” - Virginia Woolf Aphra Behn, one of the most influential dramatists of the late 17th century, was also a celebrated poet and novelist. Her contemporary reputation was founded primarily on her "scandalous" plays, which she claimed would not have been criticized for impropriety had a man written them. Her first play, The Forc'd Marriage (published, 1671), was produced in London, and Behn became one of the period's foremost playwrights. Her most famous novel, Oroonoko (1688), is based on her experiences in the West Indies and her friendship with a prince of the indigenous peoples. She earned her living in the theater and then as a novelist until her death on April 16, 1689. For more about her history, including service as a spy for King Charles II, check out this Smithsonian article. WINMI Begins Outsourcing Projects Thanks to recent support of Why I’ll Never Make It (through donations and monthly subscriptions), an effort has been made to hire outside help to work on various projects for the podcast. One is ongoing and has to do with IMDb listings and another involved organizing episode within Podbean, WINMI's hosting service. Due to errors on the part of this hired help, this podcast feed saw a lot of unintended activity the past couple of weeks. So first off, I want to apologize for the confusion and know that steps were taken to not let that happen again. Secondly, it was a wake up call for better vetting and training of such workers to more easily accomplish the task they are hired for. The next big task will be transcriptions for each episode. So please consider a one-time donation (via PayPal) or a monthly subscription to bonus episodes (via Supercast), which will help offset the cost of this important service. Whichever way you choose to contribute, your help is so very much appreciated! The Final Five Though studying economics first, Elizabeth Swain eventually found a place in theater and has gone onto to acting, directing, and teaching. She has guided so many students through the Classics, and continually inspires a new generation of artists. You can find her Final Five on the WINMI Blog. Follow Elizabeth - Website | Twitter | Antaeus Support WINMI through donations or subscriptions - https://winmi.supercast.com ---------- Why I’ll Never Make It is a Top 25 Theater Podcast hosted by Patrick Oliver Jones and is a production of WINMI Media, LLC. It is also a part of Helium Radio Network and a member of the Broadway Makers Alliance. Background music in the episode is by Blue Dot Sessions and used under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.