Nothing New

“That which has been is what will be, and that which is done is what will be done. And there is nothing new under the sun. Is there anything of which it may be said, “See, this is new?” It has already been done in ancient times before us.” Ecc. 1:9-10

To me, the study of history is the study of future events. What has happened before, will happen again. It is up to us to have the wisdom to recognize the pattern, and respond accordingly.

I actually didn’t blog for an entire year…on purpose. After my cat (and feline best friend) Simon died on Christmas Eve last year, there was nothing I really wanted to write about, or to say.  I had small bouts of creativity here and there, things happened that thrilled me, and other things happened that disappointed and hurt me, but for the most part, 2017 was a year I wanted to leave fairly well undocumented.

That was silly of me. We learn from everything Life throws at us…and I did nothing but a disservice to myself and my future growth by ignoring or pretending an entire year didn’t happen.

Despite this woeful beginning, I am actually feeling very optimistic about 2018. The word I’ve decided to focus on this year is: authenticity. I want to be more of it, and have more of it from people and projects in my life.

I want to invest my attention and energy into those who reciprocate it, and decrease my involvement with those who don’t.  No more small talk, awkward exchanges, or feeling as though I’m begging for attention. Life is becoming increasingly shorter, and my tolerance for that kind of treatment needs to as well!

Perhaps it’s the slow creep to middle age that is causing these reflections, or perhaps it’s just immersing myself in the study of the awe-inspiring people that created and made history.

So! On to a year of more writing, more reading, more movie-watching, more painting, and more introspection…more of becoming a person I will be proud to look back and remember, and less of a person who just existed to please.

Seven Questions for Theatre Lovers

 

Tickets for the very first show of “The Theatre Downstream” go on sale on Monday. This experience has been wonderful. My cast mates are incredibly talented, kind, giving, and very, very funny. They constantly challenge me to raise the bar on my own level of performance. Below is a publicity interview I did for the theatre. I hope you enjoy it./arb——–

Seven Questions with Ashley Raymer-Brown (Rosalind)

1. What was your first role?

My very first role was as the second flower on the left in my elementary production of….something. I think some sort of Fairy Tales. I also remember playing a Chimney Sweep in “Step in Time” from “Mary Poppins.” My first leading role, however, didn’t come for another twelve years until 2001, when the director took a chance on a complete newbie and cast me as Roz in “Moon Over Buffalo” actually.

2. What is your favorite role to date and why?
Shelby in “Steel Magnolias.” I didn’t really connect with the character until I did some research and found out she was a real person. I’m very sentimental and melancholy, so after finding that out, I connected on a very deep level. It was the first time ever on stage that I wasn’t ‘acting,’ I was authentic. I found the part of me that was her, and my emotions became her emotions. I got goosebumps when I did the emotional scenes, and I became very close with my stage Mama. It was a profound and special experience to be her, and I think it changed the way I approach a role.

3. What is your dream role and why?
For a really long time I’ve wanted to be “Fred” in “Once Upon a Mattress.” I love Carol Burnett, and I really enjoy being funny on stage. I’d love that chance…although I fear my limited dance skills would be a challenge for the “Spanish Panic!!” Also, I’d love to play the gangly, awkward “Myrtle May” in “Harvey.”

4. Why do you think theatre is important?
Theatre was important for me personally because it brought me out of my shell. I’m an Introvert, and for many, many years, I was extremely, painfully shy. Through playing different characters, theatre helped me reach outside of myself. It helped me connect with people. I made many, many friends…some short term, some long term, but all have brought something new and interesting to my life. I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.

5. What advice would you give someone starting out in theatre?
Be authentic. I held back a part of me for so long, and I regret it. I think that I could have been doing much better work.

Acting demands all of your time and focus when you’re on stage. But the audience can spot a faker. If you have to cry, find the part of you that understands the part of the character that makes them sad. If you have to be in love, find the part of you that loves the part of them.

Be as real as possible, and be as open and vulnerable as possible. The audience is living through you, give them someone worthwhile to live through. Also, be open to correction from directors. You can’t see the whole picture and they can. You’re not always right.

Love your castmates and understand that they all have a different method. Be adaptable. Be understanding. Be giving. And finally, remember…it’s a play. If you’re not having fun, you shouldn’t be doing this.

6. Who is your favorite actor? Locally and professionally?
Professionally, I always loved Johnny Depp (even before it was cool to love Johnny Depp.) I liked him because he consistently chose a completely different role every time. He was never the same person twice. He might have been weird, or funny, or scary, but he was always different. I really liked that quality, and it helped me to search for more variety in my roles.

Locally, I don’t think I could possibly choose. I have so many incredibly talented friends, that I’d feel really weird singling one out over the other.

Instead, I’ll tell you who the two actors are I’ve connected with the most on stage. The first was Kathy Todd Chaney as my Mama in “Steel Magnolias.” I felt such a deep relationship to her as Shelby that it arguing, crying and laughing with her was very easy, because there was such a feeling of love behind it.

ashley kathy

Secondly, Russell Cooper as my Paul in “Moon Over Buffalo” has been an incredibly fun experience. I’m sure he hasn’t noticed, but there have been several times when I’ve had an idea for a way for us to do something funny, and before I say it, he’s already doing it. He is very, very funny, and very, very talented–and to make people laugh with him has been just as delightful as I’d hoped it would be.

ashley russell mob

7. What is your favorite show?
“Beauty and the Beast.” I never, ever get tired of watching it, and it makes me laugh and cry.

~~~
“Moon Over Buffalo” is the debut show for “The Theatre Downstream” and opens September 5th and runs weekends through the 14th.

Visit their website www.TheTheatreDownstream.wordpress.com for more show information and to view their ongoing web series.

Support their production by becoming a member at:https://squareup.com/market/the-theatre-downstream