Author Archives: Mike Myers

Collaboration is the Bomb-Diggity

I always worked behind the scenes on shows in high school. I think it began when I wasn’t cast in a show, and I was left with alternative methods of involvement. But ever since, even when I was acting in a show, I took advantage of the occasional opportunity to do tech. I found that it gave me whole new perspectives on the action that took place under the spotlight. An actor understands how to work with each technical component, once they’ve been involved in the design and/or implementation. And one better understands the people working backstage, gaining a respect and appreciation for their work, once one understands the work that they do: what it is, how it’s done, and what it feels like.

The work I did on this show provided nice examples in support of this tech-savvy actor. At the simplest level, painting the shelves and arch-room walls made me take special note of these elements’ outcomes, probably leading to my acknowledging much more deeply the skill and detail that went into their creation. Had I not worked on the set, I may have turned a blind eye to this detail, whereas an appreciation for the detailing helps me tune my acting to work in-sync with all the other elements presented to the audience. We also had an opportunity to explore new aspects of the show while walking through portions for the hang and focus/cue-to-cue. This gave me a new perspective on moments, not having to perform them the same way I’d been conditioned, instead being able to look at them in a more detached way.

Most importantly, working on tech makes me feel even more like this production was a collaborative effort. The creation of this show was most notable for me because everyone was so excited to work with the group and brought the best attitude, especially important because of the great need for collaboration this show, in particular, required. Perhaps the best kind of environment to work in is one in which you feel that everyone is working whole-heartedly towards the success of the group’s goal.


—Mike Myers

They’re Gone

Audience  reception to our performance was markedly positive, I thought. Everyone I talked to enjoyed the show. (Actually, it’s more appropriate to say that they said they enjoyed the show. Sometimes you don’t really know, because people will most likely tell you they liked it, or it was good, etc. etc. However, most reactions seemed to eagerly express more satisfaction than is obligatory, so I assume their responses were more excited and genuine than the generic obligatory validation of the show.).

I count this alone as a great accomplishment for a show, as perhaps the most important accomplishment. If a show garners other achievements, if it offered other benefits to its viewers, how significant are they if audiences didn’t enjoy the experience? It’s even hard for me to think of examples that may qualify, but perhaps we could compare to the highly controversial Measure Back. Though I remain the only person I know who will admit to having enjoyed this show’s experience, it certainly provoked discussion among its audiences, and it can consider that one success; however, one could argue that these discussions would have been much more productive, had certain elements of the show been, to use this more as a catch-all term, “more enjoyable.”

Most friends and family that saw our production were also eager to discuss it, and multiple facets of the show, I should add. The doubling, in particular, offered plenty of material for discussion. I found very few people react to this element with distaste, and it quite effectively appeared to serve the Brechtian purpose of provoking detached thought. Even the least critically-inclined of my family, for example, had a good many thoughts to share about it. Generally, the doubling provoked audience members to compare the characters depicted from act to act. I found, however, that audience members differed in what they made of this comparison; some where more likely to compare in the more competitive terms, asking themselves, “who do I like better?” while a more sophisticated comparison came to others more easily: “what do these choices, and my tastes for these choices, say about the characters and the variable methods of portraying them?” My family members got to see the show multiple times, and quite interestingly, the responses they reported appeared to move toward the more sophisticated end of the spectrum as they saw more shows, though they always began seeing the doubling primarily as competitive. This could be due to their relationship to one of the performers, and the (at least initial) disappointment that they wouldn’t see me do more.

People also seemed to follow the action of the show surprisingly well, the doubling posing few challenges to their understanding of the play and plot. Even when it did, the challenges didn’t seem to be so great as to hinder someone’s enjoyment of the show. A couple members of one of my classes were actually confused only by the mixing that happened in the doubling; it seems they thought the casts were to remain separate, and were thrown off when Nick and I separated from the others we had played opposite.

Sonya’s final monologue has always puzzled me a little, and I wish I would have questioned more people about their opinion of it. I was somewhat surprised that so many people came out of the show uplifted, as I think there’s something horribly dismal in Sonya’s prescription to wait for any kind of after-life salvation. One might understand it as advice that the audience should not take, or something more complex yet, hence my desire to know what our production evoked in people. I’ll prod the few remaining friends who have yet to share their thoughts.

Having been on stage to watch the equivalent of one-half of the show, I suppose even my perceptions as a pseudo- audience member are somewhat valuable. Considering how many damn times I had to watch acts two and three, it was remarkable how often I was enraptured by the moments on stage (exclusive from the moments that interested me because of their “difference” from the standard run). There were always moments in which the right energy and timing had me at the edge of my seat, and my colleagues always recreated beautiful moments that I could enjoy and appreciate, even though I knew exactly what was supposed to happen. So here’s to you, your talent, and your beauty, friends!

It’s been such a pleasure working with all of you. I eagerly await our next theatrical encounters!

Mike Myers

I, Astrov

In this response I’ve tried to create a sort of narrative stream of consciousness, paralleling the action of the play and broken up (roughly) based on my interpretation of the beat- or tactic-changes. Despite the shifts, I’ve tried to maintain a sense of continuous flow between the moments.



Where could she be? I can’t wait around here all day. Why did she and that dick even drag everyone out on a walk, on a day like this?

Am I too old for her, Nanny? Be honest with me. I don’t even know who I’ve become!

If this were ten years ago – even one or two years ago – I’d be fine, but I can’t change the world anymore. It’s already a shithole… and I’m no saint. But I will try; I’ll try for you and for what beauty remains in the world.

Beauty! She must be returning soon. Maybe Vanya knows what the hell is going on here.

There she is. God, what is this feeling? I feel so…silly.

And what’s up with Ivan? Hey man, snap out of it. You’re ridiculous – you know that? – and I love you for it.

But I’m worried about you. I don’t know much about this Yelena, but it doesn’t sound good from the looks of things. What’s the big deal?

Well, well, let me see what she has to offer. We’ll just get this situation under control, and be on our way…

Yes. No. Right, the tea…dinner… You want to talk about some political theory, art, maybe?

Can you believe these two? Like children or…magpies, fighting over something shiny. And Nanny, with her chicks again. Ah-ha! There’s a smile.

What? Who? Um…yes. I’ll be right there. Where…? Ah, the bag, the bag.

I was so close! This is horrible. One last chance to impress.

Is she being coy? Please, you really don’t think these forests are beautiful? Allow me…Allow her to educate you.

EXCUSE ME, WHO ASKED YOU, IVAAAN? Do you really want to get into this now? Why do you even care, you little shit? How do you put up with him?

Sorry. I need to go. Maybe we’ll finish this discussion next time, ok?



We need music in here! It’s a beautiful autumn evening! Something…magical…is in the air…There’s a…storm? You know that dame, who comes around here? I’d hit that. Nice. Choice. Bro. hey. What’s up, Vanya? Are you LOVESICK?

Sorry. I don’t mean to OFFEND you. I just think. That life. Is pretty near where it should be right now. I’m on top of the world. SO WHERE IS THE MUSIC?? Beautiful moments need MUSIC! You know what else we need? We Need DRANK.

Hello there, miss. Top of the evening to you. Beg your pardon while I take a trip to tidy up a bit… Expertly maneuvered, Astrov.

You don’t have to be a jerk, little miss. I’m not going to be a jerk; I’m just going to walk away. And I don’t want to deal with any of the other jerks who live around here, either, ok?

I don’t understand how anyone survives around here. You’re all crazy. And I don’t even know what to think your step-mother! What’s wrong with her? She’s fucking beautiful!

Look, don’t listen to me. The world can be great, it just isn’t for me. I work my ass off for the people and the trees, and what have I got to show for it? I can’t even love anyone anymore!

I mean, you’re good to me. I appreciate that. But… I can only fall for beauty… And don’t be fooled. I’d certainly fuck that up.

Save your love for someone who’s flourishing, vigorous: That’s what I’d tell your friend. I’m dead now. I’m dried up, hollow. What are you..? I…need to go. Thanks, and all.



She wants to see my maps! This is my chance. We’ve hardly shared two words since she’s been in the district.

Does she care about the taxonomy of the flora and fauna. No… just, stick to the basics. Has she noticed me coming around? She must have, but maybe she avoids Ivan’s room.

Her eyes are pretty distracting. How many birds were there again? This must sound ridiculous. Ah, but she’s laughing! At me or with me? Dammit where’s the other monastery?? Something about cattle…

Focus, Astrov. Jesus there’s nothing in this one. Get it over with.

Ugh the third map. It’s horrible, isn’t it? To think, we had these beautiful things in our grasp, and we just let them…rot away. We’re better than this, aren’t we? Humans, us?

God she doesn’t care one bit. It’s over. She’s right, this is all silly.

Oh? Is she flirting with me? Powerful language. Hmm…Sonya. Do I…want to be Sonya’s… father, you ask? Do I want to be Sonya’s… something else. No. Oh no. No not that.

Is this what you wanted to tell me? I should maybe lea– Why would you do this? Are you messing with me?

Wait you– you are. You’re toying with me. Well, well, well. I can play this game, too.

You’re really into the game, aren’t you? Ok, come on, I know what you’re feeling. I saw it in your eyes. I felt it too. Just give in to it! I’ll give in. Here.

What’s stopping you? Look at you. Look at us!

Electricity. Just listen to it.

We could have this forever.

Oh shit. Where’d he come from? WHY IS HE HERE? This is bad. It’s ruined. It’s all ruined. Don’t make it worse.



How could he even try to…? I don’t believe it. I have to stop this, and I don’t even have time.

Where is that little smelly rat? Vanya, I know you’re here!

Ok, stop being a child. This is very serious! I’ve got bigger things to worry about, you little shit. Why do you insist on making all of our lives more difficult?

Can you even hear yourself? Think about someone else for a change, you creep. Oh, you don’t even want to get me started on Yelena. But this isn’t about that, so just shut up for a minute!

You know, there’s nothing wrong with you. Probably. Life’s a bitch –everyone feels this way– And you have to take it.

And you definitely can’t just hide from it, or drown it, or whatever you think you’re doing. You have to face it. You have to ACCEPT that we have screwed up beyond all repair. WE have, you and I both.

Maybe if we’re being completely honest, we’re not entirely to blame. Bad luck. Bad cards. “Better luck next time, sucker!” as we say…

Okay, now, look: I might have a chance left with Yelena; I need to get out of here. I mean, go ahead and kill yourself if you want! But don’t drag me down with you.

Sonya! Please please pleeeease help! I don’t know what else to do. He’ll listen to you.

She’s so loving, so good. And he’s fine. I understand, Vanya. I feel you.

Well…I better get ready to go. I don’t even know what I would say.

There she is. Look at Vanya, being led away like a steer. No, I will not be that. I will not have that. This is my life I’m fighting for.

What is she thinking? What is she feeling? Why is she still here? Is she trembling?

She is. She’s scared. Scared of leaving? Yes! Why won’t you stay? Just stay? What could I possibly do to make you understand that it’s right for you to stay? Do I need to tell jokes? Do tricks?

She’s smiling. I’m close. This Is It.

Excuse me? Handshake. No no no. What’s wrong with you???

You know what, fine. You can go if you want to. I don’t need you. Maybe you had me…for a little while… but I’m stronger than this. And I’m stronger than you. Because I’m not going around causing trouble, making people fall in love with me. Go if you want to; you haven’t beaten me.

Ok now she’s close. Why did she get so close. It’s not…uncomfortable. It’s just a little bit too…exciting. And why did she take my pencil? Why do I care?? Relax, Astrov. She hasn’t beaten you yet. You take your prize, and then you go.

Oh my god. I can’t leave this. Where does my life go from here?

Did she feel it too? No? Why isn’t she leaving? She felt it too.

People are coming, people are coming. I can’t leave her, I’ll die. What if it happened for us? It’s too good. I couldn’t maintain it. But I need it. They’re here…

I’ll never be the same.

I didn’t deserve it. I couldn’t take it. Why didn’t you try harder, Vanya??

They’re gone. I have to move on. At least I still have my Nanny. She’ll comfort me.

How will I ever leave this behind? No, I must. I should get out of here. Get the formalities out of the way and here I go.

No, they deserve more. All the love they gave me, where would I be without my two loves?

Vanya… what could I ever say to him? I hope he can forgive me. Things could be worse, I guess. We’re probably pretty lucky here, when you think about it.

Ok, let’s numb the pain and get this operation over with. One more look at things: This is the end and this is the beginning. I can’t say goodbye any more, I have to leave, Nanny. I have to just do it. I’ll miss-.


Life is hard

Found this Onion article surprisingly relevant. Hooray for parody! The full page can be found HERE.


PORTLAND, OR—Interrupting the only moment of genuine peace the man had known in several decades, a team of paramedics reportedly resuscitated area resident Alan Taborsky this morning following an apparent cardiac arrest. Reports indicated that just as Taborsky had reached a state of complete relaxation in which he felt unburdened by his life’s troubles for the first time in recent memory, medical technicians wrenched him back into consciousness with a pair of defibrillator pads. By reviving the 62-year-old, emergency personnel reportedly denied Taborsky the deepest sense of contentment of his life, cutting short a soothing and profound state of calm after what sources confirmed was only a few blissful seconds. At press time, a paramedic had informed Taborsky that he was lucky to be alive.

“And we’ll rest[….eh, just kidding]”


A brief theory of art, and an analogy to Scientology

Friend-Zoned by Answers and Dating Uncertainty

In these past few weeks, I’ve gone from being scared about the show to being excited about it. In a horribly cruel twist, I think I’ve also come to realize that it’s better to be scared about the show. Oops. During table work I answered some of the greatest questions I had about Astrov, perhaps a function of time and also a function of the proper resources (Where does the profession of Dramaturgy go after Jules?). This was great, as I had been feeling blocked, like I could not petretrate this character or the play’s complexities. But I also realized, for any great search-journey (like that of understanding a character), though we receive a cathartic joy from reaching conclusions, we would be foolish to think our journey complete at the first rest-stop. The real value lies only in pressing forward to the brink of the un-answerable. Thereby arises an interesting conundrum: Though we embark on this search in order to reach cathartic conclusions, we gain the most value by depriving ourselves of cathartic comfort and pushing forward to greater uncertainty. We are not allowed to stop, and must instead empty out a place for new answers, and take on new anxiety to fill them. To recontextualize slightly: For the actor to become comfortable with what he is creating on stage is most often to simultaneously kill it, his drive to understand the character analogous to that character’s drive to achieve his own goals, his uneasiness in the skin of the character analogous to that character’s unstable relationships through conflict, and his inevitable nightly transformational arc. So while I crave to solve technical issues of our production, to answer questions and sort-out confusions about Astrov, and to feel at all adept to live within this complex, ingenius, timeless masterpiece, I will likewise seek to balance these goals with others: to never fool myself into thinking I DO understand it; to never relax into comfortable patterns or tropes that may ossify my work; to continue to question and push boundaries. I’ll remain skeptical of conclusions, of easy-fixes, perhaps even of stable blocking-patterns.

Dictionary Definitions and Abstract Substance

In working with Kali, valuable as I found the work, the objective philosopher in me had to temper my appreciation of it with some (mostly harmless) skepticism. Theatre has always impressed and frustrated me by its complete embrace of subjectivity. You can’t teach theatre out of a book, and you can hardly learn it in a classroom. As an example: I once asked a dear theatre professor what they could recommend I do to best hone and improve my art. The only advice they offered was to march out into the world and have experiences (I later learned that it was equally important to “use” those experiences – all vagueness intended here – lest they sit in our attic collecting dust, but this begins to border on the tangential…). I can admit this knowledge has not stopped me from trying to understand theatre with the objective side of my brain, when appropriate, and as much as Kali’s work proved original and inspiring to me, I couldn’t help but seek the connections and similarities to other “methods” to which I’ve been exposed. Where there are great similarities, I sometimes long (with no hope whatsoever) that people would unify the terms we use to refer to certain common themes or phenomenon in the theater. And, of course, I just as soon realize that a standardization of terms would probably ossify these terms and render them meaningless beyond a simple, trite dictionary definition. In my limited understanding of Scientology, this is how L Ron Hubbard got away with passing off simple, old-hat philosophical and psychological ideas as religion- by renaming important terms and disassociating common concepts (psychoanalysis, the soul, trauma, repression…) with their baggage and injecting them with new meaning. I realized that our work with Kali- the games and techniques and terminology we learned with her- it all has meaning because we have collectively undergone a unique experienced to understand these concepts. I doubt we’d be able to take in an outsider and share with them what we learned from Kali in any meaningful way. We could tell them to stop in the middle of a line and experience what that character is experiencing, and we could tell them we sometimes call that a “Roller Coaster”, but they weren’t there when Jamie and Faye were rolling around on the floor. We could describe the process through which we connected our action to our heads, first, and then moved it down into our upper and then whole bodies; we could even describe these body locations’ connection to breath, noting similarities to some of Ellen Hemphill’s teachings, but in the end, even if we’ve arrived at similar concepts through different methods, our results here will look very different from something that Ellen would have created. We’re not interested in definitions or descriptions, anyways. The theatre concerns itself with life, with the movement of humanity through time and space. All that ultimately matters (to any given performance, at least) is our humanly subjective understanding of our action. Now, this doesn’t mean I’m going to let go of my left-brain, but I’ll at least employ it to keep things in perspective.

The Language of the Body: Now Accessible through Rosetta Stone

Some of the growth I am most grateful for experiencing this past summer has been in how I experience the world. I’ve come to believe that there are a number of ways in which we can experience the world, and a number of ways in which we can transmit experiences to others. Much of formal schooling concerns itself with the clearest and most objective form of communication, writing. But imagine what kinds of different ideas can be transmitted through images alone. Through sketching the world (Berlin, specifically) I came to know it in an entirely new way. And I tried to find other methods of receiving the world. We can make logical sense of things, and we can try to note the distinct experience that is emotional connection to a moment in time, for example. If I call these “languages” in which we can experience the world or communicate to others, then focusing so stringently on movement has made me identify the different realms of communication we employ on stage (which is hopefully all of them, though I can’t claim I’ve found an exhaustive list). My background (which I believe to often be the case with amateurs) has made me most confident in my verbal communication and aural understanding, perhaps due in part to bodily insecurities and the literary-theater’s obsession with “the reading.” But there is certainly another realm of communication and experience surrounding static image, and perhaps yet another for movement through space(and furthermore I would note a difference between experiencing the world through moving in it, and experiencing the world through watching the movements of others). I question if our emotional reception to experiences add a separate (perhaps not mutually exclusive) realm, as well. Even how we communicate with our faces might be relevantly distinguishable from how we communicate with our bodies. What I mean to conclude is simply that each of these variables can be honed and manipulated on stage to create a variety of effects, and it’s been a pleasures exploring a realm that for me had been relatively ignored in my performing career.

With the new vocabulary I’ve/we’ve created, I can at least analyze my own or others’ performances or styles in new interesting ways. I see in myself a comfort in some realms and weakness in others, and I see how where a character devotes their energy (do they express themselves vocally, or corporeally, or facially? How much so in each region?) can become yet another variable that can defines them. I should clarify: I only mean to pick these categories apart for intellectual purposes; obviously every character will utilize every realm of expression, and it will mostly be difficult to separate one from another (We very purposefully had trouble separating vocal work from our movement work). If anything, I’ve only learned more how great things happen when these languages are translated into one another:

In the extra movement workshop with Kali that I attended, I realized that I was taking one realm of understanding/expression (say an image), and translating that into another (a specific type of movement), and then maybe translating that into something new again (a noise that I probably wouldn’t have associated with the original image at all). Combining these different elements created something original and special. Good art. Or consider this phenomenon: When we see a repeated human movement paired with some non-linguistic vocalization, for example, we are able to grant it a name that has meaning for us. We translate these methods of experiencing and understanding the world in trying to make sense of them, based on the methods we are more comfortable with (which for most of us is language- hence these written blog posts- But note that I have not even attempted to describe to you in language the specific movement I wrote about at the beginning of this paragraph. It wouldn’t suffice.). To conclude: I’ve become very excited about exploring the corporeal method of experiencing and communicating. Thanks for the guidance, Kali!

–Mike Myers

Shoot for the stars

Well, hello there,

My name is Mike Myers. I’m a junior majoring in Theater Studies and Philosophy, and I’ll be playing the other half of Astrov with the dashing Nick Prey. I can tell this is going to be an exciting experience, given the talent represented in our ranks. I already feel connected to everyone in this cast, having worked and played with most of its members, and having been super impressed by everyone else.

As a student of directing, I am particularly interested in the direction we’re taking this show. I can’t hide that I harbor some unease surrounding the realization of some of our initial driving concepts, but with this stellar team, I do believe we will navigate this new terrain with grace, and I am excited to see the discoveries that we make.

In particular, I wonder:

  • What, if any, unity will we desire between the main actor-pairs? Will we seek unified character interpretations, physicalizations, or choices? Will we give individuals free reign to interpret their characters uniquely and let that itself be a statement? And will it be important to unify our production by making the same choice for every actor-pair?
  • Logistically, how will we navigate shared blocking of the show? If we must trade off opportunities to pioneer blocking, will one actor’s impulses be more valuable than the others (in a given moment)? Will one actor feel like they own a certain section less or more than another?
  • Will the double-casting give each actor less time to work with and live in the role? How will it affect our performances/character discoveries/choices to watch another person portraying our same role?
  • How will it feel to stay engaged, in character, and in the moment during performances if we have to take breaks (physical and spiritual) from performing and watch our counterpart?
  • How will Nick Prey and I fit into the same costume??? His feet are wayyyy too big. Though changing in front of the whole audience won’t be a problem for us after ‘Love and Human Remains.’

I can’t wait to see you all in rehearsal, and I know this show is going to be a lots of fun! Love you all!