“I got your back” 69ers

That’s something improv performers say to each other before  a performance.  A tradition where you actually touch each other’s back when you say the words.  You don’t stare meaningfully into each other’s eyes or anything, it can be casual, but that’s the kind of thing I totally nerd out on and secretly love.  I’m in the secret club of improv performers!  I think that means you make a lot of “Yes, and..” jokes.  If you don’t get that, it means you’re not in the club. Like I am. I am in the club.

This show was scripted, who am I kidding?  But seriously, I want to write a love letter to everyone involved in it.  I learned so much about letting go and being bold from these people.  I was also never bored. Britney in the booth and Adam Hilton and the band were solid gold.  I feel guilty for being so afraid of performing with so little rehearsal.  I just didn’t know who had my back.


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The Encore Where Your Heart Should Be

Kerri Lendo, our tireless director, won't get to see the encore because she'll be in LA probably doing something hilarious.

Tomorrow, Friday, and Saturday nights we’ll be performing a disc a night to finish out the workshop.  I am back from the beach and am really excited to get to perform each show one more time.  I’ll be in the audience on Saturday, if you want to watch Disc 3 with me, the One You Really Love.

8pm, Salvage Vanguard Theatre

Also, check out our very own Avimaan Syam’s interview with Austin Creative Alliance and a review of Disc One on the Austinist.

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69 Love Scenes Photos – Disc 2

Love Is Like Jazz

Holy blue obscenity-mooing cow!  (Grand Canyon reference) – Photographer Roy Moore captures the essence of the show in the faces of our lovely ensemble.  These are my faves but there is genius in the entire set here. I miss these amazing psychopaths already. Continue reading

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69 Anxiety Dreams

This weekend I am going to a gorgeous South Carolina beach to watch my best friend get married.  I am going to enjoy that.  I am also going to enjoy laying around on a towel without any scripts of any kind to distract me from doing nothing.  69 Love Scenes is going into its third week.  Disc 3 – the show that I am not in.  And while its been so very very fun, I am deeply grateful to not be trying to learn lines for ten new sketches this week.   You see with 69 different sketches, and 10-15 performers, we were only able to rehearse each sketch one time before tech.  Sometimes your scene partner couldn’t make it to that rehearsal, so there was just tech.  And the first time that we run the show in its entirety without stopping is on Friday night, in front of an audience.


Not everyone shared my nervousness.  About 2/3 of the troupe are from Austin’s improv community.  And they were all very relaxed.  The traditional actors we less so.  I had a dream the week we opened that I was performing at the Long Center in a play directed by Michael McKelvey.  Every single person I respect was in the audience.  Obama. Dolly Parton.  The hot barista I get my coffee from every morning.  I not only didn’t know my lines, but didn’t know what the play was about or anything about my character.  There was a closet way upstage and I opened it and found a huge fur coat.  I put in on in the hopes that no one would recognize me.  The other actors, including Rue McClanahan, looked at me like I was an asshole.  It was unpleasant, but Michelle Obama shot me a sympathetic look which come to think of it, almost turned the whole dream around.

I tried to think of the show in a different way.  I decided I could think of it as under-rehearsed theatre or over-rehearsed improv.  I decided to go with the latter. Rue McClanahan stopped visiting my dreams a la Freddy Kruger.  Then we opened.  Disc One went so breezily Shannon Grounds and I wondered if we actually ever needed to rehearse any play more than once.  “Pffft! Shakespeare, we got this.”  Disc Two had a few wobbly moments, but the audience roared through it.  Even seemed to revel in it. So what the hell do I know?   There are so many funny people in this show.  Funny people that fully embrace the unexpected in a way I wish came more easily to me.  I’m learning a lot from them.  But come this weekend, I’m just going to be trying to learn how to be tan.  You however, should go see Disc Three.  There are about 12 people learning lines for it right now. x0

Also read the Chronicle‘s write-up. Good ol’ Wayne Alan Brenner was kind enough to drop by  rehearsal.


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69 Love Scenes

About ten years ago, a record came out by the Magnetic Fields.  A record called 69 Love Songs.  Some of you reading this, will have no idea who that band is, and it will mean nothing to you.  Some of you reading that, will instantly remember exactly the dorm room, or shitty apartment you were living in, when you listened to that record, or the first disc at least of that record, over and over and over again.  It was perfect if you were in love.  It was also perfect if you’d just been dumped.  The songs are short and clever, and sung in a variety of styles with a variety of singers.  Frontman Stephen Merritt says that the album is not about love, “It’s an album about love songs, which are very far away from anything to do with love.” In much the same way, 69 Love Scenes is not so much sketches about the songs, but about the themes of the songs.

“Gnap! Theater Projects presents 69 short plays very loosely based on the songs on the The Magnetic Fields’s triple album 69 Love Songs. This is a workshop production of a show we intend to mount in its final form in 2011.
Each weekend of the run, we do one album each, and then add a Thursday night show to accommodate album 1 during the fourth weekend. Confused?

I am performing in the Disc 1 and Disc 2 shows.  The rest of the cast is fairly evenly divided between traditional actors and improv performers.  And the band they are pulling together, fronted by the awesome Adam Hilton, is gonna be badass.  I think we are having a little party after the show next Friday.  So come on out.  And it doesn’t really matter if you know the music or not, since Merge Records isn’t letting us play any of it anyway.   Here is the link for more information and tickets, and a video promo that I couldn’t figure out how to embed.  If you like the promo, then you will like the show.  Trust.

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Mama said there’d be days like this…

This is my mom, Marie. She moved to the United States in 1976, to marry my Dad, Ed Jemison.  They met in Germany in 1974 while my dad was stationed there with the Air Force.  She is not German, she is Irish.  Both of her parents died when she was very young.  When she was in her early twenties, she went to secretarial school and began traveling and working all over Europe.  She was working there, as a secretary, in Wiesbaden, I think, when she met my dad.  I attempted to read her diaries from this period but they are all written in shorthand.  She said no to my Dad the first three times he proposed.  He was too young (four years younger), and worse, a Baptist.  But somehow, he won her heart.  And more incredibly, convinced her to move to Mississippi.  For his part, he agreed to convert to Catholicism.  My brother and I were born there, in the appropriately named Starkville, Mississippi, while my parents were living in the married student housing dorms of Mississippi State.  Dad was getting his masters in Poultry Science.  Yes, really.  After that we moved to the sweet sweet land of mass produced chicken, Arkansas,  and my three other siblings were born. We all went to Catholic school and played outside in the woods all day. If we were kept inside because of days of rain, we would be terrible.  I remember that she would never yell when she got angry, but sometimes she would cry, which always made us immediately penitent.  She was just so gentle, and patient, you never wanted to hurt her. Ever ever. And she wasn’t quick to not believe you when you said you were too sick to go to school.  She always gave you the benefit of the doubt, even when you didn’t deserve it. I think I broke her heart when I moved in with my boyfriend my senior year of college, but she accepted it. There are so many thing things that I wish I had said to her then. And since. Questions I wish that I asked.  A poem I wrote her in college that I never gave her because I was embarrassed. Times that I yelled at her that I wish I could take back.  It goes on like that if I let it.

My mom isn’t dead.  She’s still the sweetest, kindest lady you’d ever meet.  She’s still happily married to my Dad and she still loves to ride on the back of his motorcycle.  But she doesn’t remember who I am anymore.  And what bothers me more, she doesn’t remember who she was either.  So I just wanted to write down a few things about her, so that I would.


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I bet everyone is tired of working on their grant applications.  I know because I’m sick of writing supporting letters for grant applications.  I think I’ve written so many that the City of Austin probably thinks I’m some letter of support writing whore, and my carefully considered recommendations are worthless.  So, if I wrote a letter for you, despite it being both impeccably written and strangely moving, it”ll probably not be worth that much cheddar.

But anyway, get those dolla’ billz ya’ll. Good luck.

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