acting

All posts tagged acting

Thirty

Published February 10, 2019 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

I’ve been watching my brother die since I was nineteen years old.  

That’s putting too fine a point on it; I’ve been in the audience watching my brother die.  

My brother and I used to be very close, especially when we were children

Even when I was kind of an embarrassment, like when we were new at All Saints and I peeked into the Seventh Grade class window and everyone laughed. He looked out for me when we were the only Hispanic kids at Casa Manana.  Seriously, we took acting classes and I think we were the only Mexicans some of these kids had seen outside of the garden.   He looked out for me when we went to high school.

My brother was the best big brother.

And then he wasn’t.

Sometime between my sophomore and junior year in high school, my brother started drinking.  

I’m not going to waste time explaining how easy it is for underage kids to get alcohol. (It is.  It is very easy. In fact during my junior year of high school, one of my classmates died while driving drunk.)

I do not know when my brother’s drinking became a problem.  I do know that when my homecoming date was walking me to the door, my brother was also being dropped off. My brother was drunk and had a concussion after leaning out of the car to throw up.  

We were slightly less close after that.

We went to the same college and had the same major.  My brother threw parties that were legendary because of the happy chaos.   

It was still fun to watch him be the life of the party.

He was an incredibly gifted actor. He won several awards and the respect of his peers. As our school competed in American College Theatre Festival, everyone was eager to see what he would do.  The roles he played ranged from the Mayor of Tobiki  to a guitar playing snake handle.  He played a depressed suicidal outcast, the devil himself and one of the  most overlooked underdogs in Shakespeare’s  Much Ado about Nothing.   

That last role took all the way to the stage of the Kennedy Center.   

From there he went on to a conservatory program where he wasn’t allowed to smoke or drink, just train and perform.  Even though I didn’t see him for that whole summer, I think this is the happiest he was. 

But he came home. Things started up again. He worked, drank and went from one toxic relationship to another.  (I don’t blame any of the women in his life, except possibly the first one.)

His acting career continued to be impressive. He drank, but when he had a role to focus on, it didn’t seem as bad.   

And then it was.  There was a long stretch of time where he would go to rehab, go home, be ok and then it would fall apart.  The time I remember his sobriety.  The best was  a three year stretch where he was sober and we able to work together.  I produced and directed him in Of Mice and Men and in the Grapes of Wrath.  I think this was the finest directorial work I have ever done or possibly will do. He was sober the whole time.  

I remember when he started drinking again.  We were watching a band. I saw him go to the bar and order a drink. Then he gave me his wallet because he didn’t want to spend too much money.  I then left because I just couldn’t watch this happen again. 

After that it was up and down. I kept hoping he would sober up and be my brother again.  Then my grandfather died. 

My grandfather was a saint on this earth. My brother was the first grandchild and only grandson. He and my grandfather were very close.  My grandfather’s death is where we started to lose my brother.

This talented, hard working actor and artist began to unravel. It started with him sleeping on my mom’s couch because he didn’t want to go home. Then it got to where he couldn’t really take care of himself, so he lost his home. Then he stayed in my mother’s spare room. He kept drinking.

This was sixteen years ago. In that time, he has been to detox innumerable times. He was in court ordered rehab once. He’s been on probation twice.  He is now a diabetic and dependent on insulin. He is also diagnosed as bi-polar.  He has had numerous warnings and health scares and has been on life support.

Yet he still drinks. I have spent every weekend for the last six months waiting for my mother or father to call me and say that he’s in the hospital again. The last time gave him a permanent scar on his face. I hear that he as a black eye now.  I know my mother is weary. I know my father is heartbroken.  My soul feels like someone kicked it in the stomach  (Yes, my soul has a stomach.)  There’s nothing I can do but wait. In five days it will be the sixteen years since we lost my grandfather. I’m feeling tense and sad. I’m waiting.  But I won’t be surprised.

Because I’ve been watching my brother die since I was nineteen years old.

Because a girl has to try

Published December 11, 2017 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

Today, while not the craziest day I have had teaching, and is not by far the most challenging, it is a rough day. It’s rough in a hurry up and wait kind of day.

Many years ago when I was in late teens I still fancied myself an actor, even though it was more nerve wracking than fun and I was far too thin skinned to last very long in the business. (In fact the thought of being in “the business” makes me roll my eyes.  You see, friends and neighbors, if you are female and more or less fit into the ingenue category (doe-eyed, more boobs than sense, and a strong endurance for the scent of Aqua Net)  You have a very small window of time to actually attain some level of success. It is a small and very narrow window.  In fact, it is so narrow that at 20 when I weighed a 138 pounds and was a size 7 on the bottom and a 10 on the top, I was STILL too fat to be considered a true ingenue. I would have to lose twenty pounds to at least be in the right shape, week and woozy it may be to audition for the “right” parts.

Anyway, around this time I was an extra in a little film called Born on the Fourth of July, staring a little actor named Tom Cruise. This movie was filmed in North Texas and one of the teachers at my college had an agent who got a whole bunch of students in on the film. Oliver Stone touched my hair and said I was pretty.  I spent a long, chilly day standing outside of the Dallas Convention Center pretending to be a young Republican.

All I can remember of this experience is that if the Film Industry is all hurry up and wait, then I was better off focusing on Theater.

Today the music teacher is staging the Christmas Musical. In the first place, none of the students is feeling particularly malleable, none of the  staff feel particularly festive and no one knows what are schedule is. So all day I have been herding kids from place to place and trying to get at least one piece of information to stick in someone’s head.

On the plus side, BatBeard is safe and I am at the point in my life that if I decide to jump back into show business I am now safely in the Ethnic Character Actress, so at least, I will get to eat.

The call is coming from INSIDE THE HOUSE

Published June 10, 2013 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

I love urban legends (in general, not the movie. I was fond of the movie. I also like Rebecca Gayheart. She’s married to Eric Dane. Urban legend has it that they invited some starlet to have a menage a trois with them, then sold the story to the tabloids. That kind of thing isn’t my cup of tea, but wouldn’t you be flattered to be asked?)

I’m really tired and I keep looking to see what that dull ringing sound is. I think it’s all in my head. Or it may actually BE my head.

Today was my marathon Acting Coach day. I spend  7 and a half hours in a room with 6- 8 kids ranging in ages from 5-21. We work on monologues, scenes, interview skills, character work and how to keep a smile on your face (and a song in your heart?) during a long arduous day working at acting.  (I think others call it “Honing your craft”. Bet you didn’t think I would put something in quotes inside of parentheses. HA!)

I did learn a lot today and I got a lot of writing material out of it. I’m just so tired that I can’t really think about anything but the ringing in my head. Unless of course someone answers it. But who would be answering the phone inside my head.

Great now I’ve creeped myself out.

Because who would be placing the call to my head?

I think it’s time for bed.

I Did not mean for that to rhyme. It’s just a happy accident. I didn’t mean to sound like Edward Gorey and Shel Silverstein’s love child. Played by Rebecca Gayheart.

And we’re back.