Jim's Richard III Blog

What had started as a blog of Richard III rehearsal process at Cal Shakes has now evolved or devolved into a small novella. The author is petrified to change the name for fear it'll disappear, and wouldn't know what to call it anyway. Many stories are included and questions are even answered sometimes!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

My New Daughter

I have a daughter now, semi-adopted if you will.

My Niece, Courtney Foley, has been acting in Hollywood since age six and now at age 18 is standing on the threshold of Womanhood and on the verge of a new plateau in her old/young career.

We got a call from her about a month and a half ago saying she wanted to come up and visit, maybe see some of my shows if she could and visit my wife's shop--we of course said yes. I think because we're so busy and because she and her brother Jeremy (also an actor, and in the recent film titled Blink) had hours just as odd was a major factor in contributing to our unfamiliarity with each other.

So Courtney came up and we started talking, catching up, finding out about each other; I don't quite know what I expected but what I did find or sense in her was a young actress hungry to know more. She's smart and intuitive enough to know that there's more to the craft of Acting than what she's learned to date but she's not had instructors that have given her the detail work and feedback that she's craving. And she's in a tidal pool casting-wise; she's petite, looks very youthful, has curly, curly hair, so she's been stuck playing young girls anywhere from 12-16 years old and is hungry for meatier and more mature roles.

We dragged her hither and yon, my wife and I-- she saw my wife's costume shop, saw the Cal Shakes stage and facility while they were breaking down the set for Man and Superman and got shown around ACT by yours truly. I introduced her to Meryl Shaw, the casting director there who mentioned a 2 week Actors Boot Camp taking place in a few weeks.

As soon a Courtney got back home, she called up and said "Um. Uncle Jim? I just applied for the Actors Boot Camp at ACT and I've called my teachers and asked for recommendations and called my doctor for the medical forms and I'm choosing my audition pieces and I've got to come up there so they can interview me and I wondered if you could put me up and if I got accepted if I could stay with you guys awhile.....?

The parent within me sprung to life.

She stayed with us for two weeks and was a thorough delight--we had many long talks about life, acting, parents, movies, and I was recruited to listen to her monologues and give her some feedback. She had only one monologue when she came up here and now has the better part of 4 under her belt which we culled from combing my script library and searching online.

They'd required her to have one Shakespeare, one modern, one piece for a standard British accent, and a dramatic piece. The Shakespeare was the toughest for her, but she tackled it like a Rugby player, doggedly going over the structure of the speech, the verse and stresses with me; one night I cried mercy after 3 hours of drill with her and passing by her room later after she'd gone to bed I heard her going over the speech in the dark, murmuring into her pillow "Then I confess, I love your son. Be not offended for it hurts not him....." It was quite touching.

But she is now done, having performed her pieces for about 40 or so people (her largest live audience to date) and passed with flying colors--I tried to attend, but was needed for Lear that day so my wife went in my stead. She left today with her Dad, anxious to get back to her pet bird and her boyfriend--in that order. I'm very proud of her.

No word from Ding, yet. I'll get in some Opera stories sometime, Jacqueline.

Started King Lear Tuesday with the Equity meeting, meet and greet and table work.


Anonymous jacqueline said...

In re the opera stories: I'll be here, whenever you have time to tell them. Till then, I'm sure I will thoroughly enjoy whatever you share with us. I can only imagine how rewarding it must be for you to watch your niece reach for new acting challenges, especially since you've been writing so much recently about what it means to be a young actor, and what you experienced yourself as you started down that road. Looking forward to Lear very much.
Best wishes,
Jacqueline (aka Hilda)

August 31, 2007 at 10:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

can i be your new daughter too? it wasn't enough to be your son in your last play. and can you write some new posts? i have resorted to rereading and commenting on your old ones. i hope lear is going well. and i hope next time you do lear i can play your child in that too. ;)

September 4, 2007 at 10:32 PM  

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