And just like that...I'm back.
"Where have you been, Luke?" is a question that I am sure has plagued your heads and thus ruined your summer.
I. AM. BACK. And loving it!! I feel renewed, I feel refreshed and I am ready for whatever being back in the city has for me.
For now, lets go back to April when we last checked in here on NevNYC (I know, wtf.) But when I explain the madness, you'll understand the lack of blog content. In April, I graduated! Nope, not my degree, but the Company Year I was telling you all about. Just like that, 3 years of school in New York City, was over! Well, then what?! Straight after graduating I booked a role in the musical "Ragtime", a musical being directed by the wonderful Daniel Adams for his Directing degree at Columbia University. It was such a great "tranisitioning-out-of-acting-school" gig. I was surrounded by some wonderfully talented and incredibly kind company members and it really made the whole experience worth while.
The day after taking my final bow in Ragtime, rehearsals began for "Your Alice" a new play directed by one of my best friends, Billie Aken-Tyers, which we were to be performing Off-Broadway at BAM Brooklyn. And what a journey this was. Billie began writing the play 4/5 years ago and it had previously been performed with the Ophelia Theatre Group in Astoria, Queens where it was received wonderfully. I came on board in January 2018 where I booked the role of Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll), a challenging and complex part which I just couldn't wait to sink my teeth into. The rehearsal process for this show was something I will never ever forget. I have never worked with such an open, receptive and honest cast. We spent days ripping apart the script and exploring various exercises to create various parts of the play. We could never have anticipated what an incredible time it was to do the show Off-Broadway. We performed throughout the last week of May in the BAM Fisher space in Brooklyn, a gorgeous 250 seat theatre. After 3 weeks of solid exploration, cast bonding and putting the show on its feet we were so ready to share it with everyone.
There was quite a number of "pinch-me" moments, but truly, the day we opened the show was a day I will never ever forget. Myself and Eliza, (who played Alice) spent around half an hour warming up together and chatting in the space before getting ready for the show and I think it was one of my fondest memories of the whole experience, the moment before it all!
During all this time, Gino graduated!! I cannot believe how quickly time has gone, when I first met Gino he was in his second year at college, and now he's a graduate! And like everyone else in the family, I never doubted for a moment that he wouldn't graduate and walk straight into a job. I couldn't be prouder of everything he has done since graduating! More updates with Gino coming soon! But he's more fabulous than ever, and still my fave. (He also just turned celebrated his birthday, so Happy Birthday babe!)
Soon after closing "Your Alice", it was time to pack a 3 month suitcase. Yup, things were about to get a little crazier. Back in January I auditioned for an booked a fantastic job, to be a company member of the Scranton Shakespeare Festival 2018 Season! And what an insanely wonderful ride it was. Now I had never been to Scranton before, but only heard about it from US version of "The Office" (where its based). But I can tell you on reflection, it is such a fab town. The perfect place to spend the summer. But back to day 1, so on the 1st of June, myself and a few other company members jumped on a Martz bus and left behind a very warm New York. SSF was a 2 month season and this year we were performing How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, The Tempest, a new devised piece called Sycorax, As You Like It and Footloose! I know, there is truly something for everyone! Each rehearsal process was a little different, but what truly made the whole experience great was the people. Both the creatives and the company members were just the best, everyone was on board to making it the best summer possible and truly worked their arses off to make some beautiful theatre. One of the most amazing parts about this career is the power of the "ensemble", a group of people, who barely know anything about each other, coming together to create. And that was the whole experience during SSF. Being away from New York was hard, especially being away from Gino, but being the wonderful multi-tasker that he is, he was able to take a weekend or two off to pop along to Pennsylvania! I will forever cherish this time in my life, what an amazing experience. You can keep up to date on all thinks Scranton Shakespeare Festival by heading over to this LINK - SSF does a fabulous fundraising event later in the year so keep your eyes peeled for information on that, and the announcement of the 2019 season!
And it doesn't stop there, I packed my bags for 3 months remember! WELL, upon returning to New York, post-Scranton, on the 30th July, I quickly spent the night with Gino in our apartment (Boy, had I missed it). I repacked my bags, hopped in an Uber and headed straight to JFK airport! As part of the initial contract with "Your Alice", the production would also be heading to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland for the month of August! I couldn't have ever predicted that back at home in County Durham, I would be coming back to the UK, so close to home, with a beautiful play. But here we are! This process was a little different than the last, we had already rehearsed the Edinburgh version (we had to cut 45 minutes off of the show) back when we closed the BAM production. Yep, 2 months ago! Thankfully the cast is amazing and getting back into Wonderland was seamless considering we had two days in Scotland with minimal rehearsal time to get it back on its feet! Much like the first production, we could never have anticipated the amazing reception we received from our fantastic audiences. One of the best parts of this job was that so many of my friends and family were able to come and visit Scotland! I haven't been home since Christmas so it was nice to be able to pop home and visit my gorgeous family! "Your Alice" is a play that very much deserves all its wonderful acclaim and I am more than sure it has a bright, bright future! An incredible memory from the whole experience was climbing the mountain, Arthurs Seat, with some of the cast on the day before we flew home! What a metaphor, haa! You can keep up to date with all things "Your Alice" over on the Instagram at @youralicetheplay
And here I am. Back in my apartment. Back in New York City. Back with Gino. And it feels like it all just slipped through my fingers. It's funny how when you look back on a length of time like this and it looks like a lot, but you think to yourself "where did the time go?". I am so thankful for the experiences I have had this Summer, and as I enjoy some downtime back in the city, I am loving reflecting on my time at school and my first few jobs!
On this wavelength I have had some time since returning to re-think about NevNYC. What its initial purpose was? Why did I start this? Initially I wanted somewhere to collate my memories, and for a while it served this purpose. It then grew into a hub for positive thinking and a place for me to offload any thoughts I had. But I think its time to go back to its roots with some changes. I have fallen back in love with the city, and I want to share my New York with you all. I get asked for recommendations for places to visit all the time, and I want NevNYC to be a place to visit for those recommendations, a hub of personal experiences here in the city, and life as an actor at the very beginning of his career. I recently watched an interview with Leandra Cohen, the owner of "ManRepeller" and when talking about blogs, said:
"Don't try and be something for everyone. Try and be everything for someone."
I cannot stop thinking about this quote. And I hope that as I jump back into the world of this blog, that amongst its readers, there are one or two of you who find what you are looking for. One can only hope!
Happy Monday everyone!
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