Wednesday, March 13

A review on Aaron Speiser's Acting Studio

I've been taking classes at Aaron Speiser's studio.  More for self exploration and a breather from the stress of office life than for pursuit of an acting career, but my experience has been fruitful to say the least.

I am enrolled under the pseudom of working for an ad agency for the fear that leaking my real identity as an agent would render me as an outsider. (and would consequently lead to "doing favors" to my "new friends" and signing them out of pity).

Every Wednesday, I enter into the safe haven that is Aaron's studio at 6:30pm.  The group of 15-20 starts with improv and loosening up then we delve into whatever the lesson of the week is.   The class plan is a calculated science with an accompanying book (Uta Thurman's to be exact) and binder full of valuable information.

We work on fourth wall and the moment before and all of the nitty gritty that brings a scene to life.  We learn to embody emotional reactions and play off true feelings instead of acting out an adjective. And each class builds upon the last, adding a new tool or insight to your acting repertoire.  The classes are not for the faint of heart, but rather for the actor who knows that being an actor is not booking a national commercial, its having a cultivated ability to bring imaginary circumstances to life in a truthful manner.

While I have dropped in to watch a scene study with Aaron, I have never had the pleasure of enduring his biting critiques.  Nonetheless, I feel indebted to him for developing such a stable foundation for the actors and actresses who are lucky enough to drive too far down La Cienega Blvd.   Susan Rumor and Anthony teach the technique class, and while very much opposites, they share a common passion for teaching that keeps the actors engaged right up until the clock strikes 10.

I recommend the technique, and subsequent scene study, classes to any actor who is looking not to just 'book the job' but to do the job well.   That, my friends, is what acting careers are made of - and that's what Aaron Speisers studio has to offer.

Tuesday, March 12

Me. In a nutshell.

Here's a short list of things i'm afraid to tell anyone I'm obsessed with for fear of ridicule.   Thank god i'm still follower-less.


1. Disney movie soundtracks. with a special star(fish) on little mermaid.

2. Ginger.  and wasabi... i without fail devour it all when we're out to sushi and no ones looking.

3. The dollar store cleaning products. SO much bang for your buck.

4. Alright, I buy their canned goods too. guilty.  but 2 cans of beets/dollar? c'mon!

5. Classical music.  I know total geek but i cant help it.  bach gets me.

6. youtube videos about cute kittys.

7. public speaking.  i love being on stage.  and i love having my opinions heard. best of both worlds.

8. imperfections.  a guy with a snaggle tooth. a best friend who walks a little dink toed.  a mom with a ridiculous boston accent.

9. Romance.  especially the little things.  the smiles across the bar. the inside jokes. the little squeeze of the hand.  swoon.

10.  Learning.  I know i saved the doozey for the end.  but i truly do still yearn for knowledge and dream of the days when i was cooped up in the library soaking up knowledge with only a green mountain luke warm blueberry coffee as my companion. I miss becoming infinitely wiser each day - and pushing my academic caliber.


Friday, March 8

Most Memorable Travel Moment


I was plopped right on the filthy floor of the airport.  My cheeks were stained with tears, my hair was matted into a messy pony tail and I distinctly remember sulking - as spoiled-only-children do best.

We had three hours to kill, but I couldn't muster the energy to keep up a friendly banter with the dozen travel buddies I now considered family.  I was desperate not to speak of the inevitable: our semester abroad in Granada, Spain was actually over.

Since then, I've crossed off my fair share of bucket list adventures. Most of which are more "memorable" than a snapshot of me waiting in an airport.  Yet this moment stands out so distinctly in my mind as the day I realized my profound and undeniable travel-lust.

Truthfully, I didn't even want to study abroad.  I was perfectly content living in my college bubble and had no desire for deviating from my norm of plain pizza and keg beer parties. Don't get me wrong, I was always an adventurous little monster who loved to explore the outdoors, but I hadn't really ever thought of traveling abroad as attainable.  I did grow up in Halifax, MA after all - going north 40 minutes into Boston was our annual big to-do.  Alas, before I could even protest I was zipping up my two 40 lb lady bug printed suitcases and clutching my unstamped passport for dear life.

The next 5 months were a whirl wind of breathtaking adventure and mesmerizing sites.  From savoring crepes (yes plural) under the Eiffel Tower to exploring the winding streets of Marrakesh, I didn't hold back one bit.  I adapted with ease to the 'no pasa nada' lifestyle of Southern Spain - and relished in the endless tapas, siestas and heart pounding nite life. Even as I type these words, nearly 5 years later, I can still vividly remember the breathtaking sites, rhythmic sounds and welcoming smells of Granada.  Throughout my travels I kept feeling like I couldn't open my eyes wide enough.  Of course my camera was snapping photos like crazy - but I yearned to take mental images, so worried that I'd lose the magic feeling that awashed me as I strolled through Dublin or reached the final steps of the Duomo.  I was so afraid to forget the splendor of Europe, and even more terrified that each glorious day that passed brought me closer and closer to the end.  But with each passing day, my heart grew, my mind expanded and my dreams?  they erupted. 

 I was living in a perfect dream world, and so very afraid to wake up.  Yet here I was, mere hours away from waking up to the blind doldrum of my former life.  One flight got called over the loud speaker and as I grudgingly rose to hug goodbye to the few friends heading to the West coast, I had a startling and overwhelmingly blissful moment: the announcement had been in Spanish. 

And in that moment, I had the most glorious realization: no matter how similar the life I return to is, I'M different.  No matter how far removed I feel from my life in Spain, the experience has profoundly altered my perception.  Not only can I recount the splendor of the Louvre or chat about the fashion boutiques in Milan, but I can converse freely in Spanish - a language I only hoped to read proficiently in after 4 years of college study.  I have new likeminded friends spanning the United States and a few sprinkled throughout Europe. I conquered fears, learned to experience and enjoy food, and most importantly I developed a zeal for life.  

Cheesy as it sounds, I am so passionate about every single day of my life - and I attribute it whole heartedly to my travels abroad.  On the plane ride home I wrote my last journal entry not with a conclusion on my travels, but with a list of new adventures to add to my bucket list.  I have become infatuated with traveling and exploring, maybe borderline obsessed. 

Since the day I whipped the dust off my butt and the tears from my eyes to embrace my departing friends, I have always looked forward to the departures terminal in airports.  I turn my cell phone off, and use the time to reflect on where I have been, where I am going, and who I am.  There's something refreshing about parting ways with one destination and heading on to the next. With each goodbye hug I take something beautiful from my past and bring it into the excitement of the future.  And for this, and the overwhelming desire to see every inch of this mysterious world we inhabit, I feel blessed. 

Besos y amor,
Chelsea 


Tuesday, March 5

Exploring Boston as a Tourist



Ok lets get real about two things.  Foremost I should coin the travel slogan 'travel as a local but also explore your home as a tourist". Money.

Secondly, I should confess Boston isn't reaaaally my city. Heck until senior year of high school I probably had been to disneyworld more times than I'd ventured the 40 minutes north into Beantown. I can fondly remember taking the T in for my first Red Sox game (dawning a johnny damon shirt of all things!) and feeling so overwhelmed with the looming buildings, maze of one way streets and the air of sophistication and purpose the passerbys exuded.   Don't even get me started on my confusion at switching t lines.

Of course I would scoot into the big city for special birthdays and fancy outings, but I was always a Halifax girl at heart.  Occasionally over the next four years of college we would slip off to the city for drunken escapades, but even then I felt like I was always just along for the ride, not that I had any real stake in this mysterious string of brick laden bars.

Before my graduation cap hit the ground I was already planting my roots in Los Angeles. Backing up a little more, when I studied abroad in Spain, I always said I was from Boston and never got more than a nod for a response.  Well here I am in LA, hanging with some pretty well traveled company and not being able to even hold a conversation about the city I call home. Always mumbling the same poor excuse that I actually grew up 40 min south in some podunk town so remote we didn't even have any fast food restaurants besides a Subway... that went out of business after three months.

Push comes to shove and I end up moving (grudgingly) back home to pursue a career as a talent agent.  All of a sudden I was switching t lines 6 times a day and navigating through Copley to get to the Back Bay in time for work. When the clock hit 6, I was off to dinner in the North End and drinks in Beacon Hill. And if it was the weekend I might even be posting up in Southie to get a head start on day drinking for the next days game.  My friends from home and college had infiltrated the city and there wasn't a night I didn't spend getting my heel stuck in the brick and cobblestone sidewalks while I rushed from a work fashion show to a dinner on the water only to follow it up in some exposed brick loft overlooking the Boston. I quickly fell in love with the city I never really knew, but always called home.

There's a magic about Boston. A comrodery unsurpassed by any other place I've ever visited. The proud home of diehard sports enthusiasts, real clam chowda, and a rich history that rivals no other.  Every winding one way street you stroll down drops you off at yet another monument, old church or historic harbor viewpoint. This is a city of soul. Of real honest to God down to earth people who fight to maintain their Bostonian heritage.  These are proud people who don't judge based on labels or price tags, but on character, sports alliances and what corner bah you call home.

My year in Boston was a year of self discovery.  I made a point to learn the history, visit the sites (yes even take a duck tour!) and view the city as an open minded tourist.  I learned not only to be independent but also to appreciate true friendship. I did everything from hobnob with the fashion and entertainment world to shucking my own crab legs, and I can truthfully say I am now more proud than ever to call Boston home.


10 thinks you have to do when you visit -or live!!!- in Boston


1.  My favorite area is the North End. Visit the old church, walk the freedom trail, eat some authentic pasta and top it off with a trip to the infamous (and rightfully so) Mikes Pastries for a cannoli or 7 (they are that good)

2. Duck tour? Dont even think about skipping this foolishly silly but informative tour!  Pick it up in front of the prudential center, it's a better route than the Charlestown pick up. Quack quack!

3.  Cambridge is memorizing. Not only are you strutting around with the worlds most intelligent youth, you'll be amazed by the zeal and enthusiasm these budding geniuses exude. Everyones on the break of something big- and consequently optimistic about their bright futures. Hidden gem restaurants tucked into every corner and charming art galleries and boutiques line the streets.

4. Oh Newbury, how I wish I could afford you. If the North End is my favorite, the Back Bays hanging onto a close second.  Swing by Stepanie's on Newbury for some lobster mac and cheese then hit up Second Time Around for fabulous vintage finds.

5. Fenway is a priority. Fenway franks are a must.  Pats season? Throw on a jersey and head to southie to forge some lifelong friendships over buffalo chicken wings and bud lights.

6. Catch a show at the historic Wang theater - then stroll through the theatre district

7.  Seaport in the summer is u surpassed.  Hit the convention center for a harpoon or marathon festival then bar hop along the water.  Plan on stopping by the roof of Legal Seafoods for a lobster roll and a cup o' clam chowda.

8. Boston gardens.  Swoon.  Take your camera and capture the breathtaking arrangements of flower gardens, swan boats and lazy willowing trees. cold weather? Enjoy a tea time at the Ritz and watch the soft blanket of snow tuck in the garden, or the last leaf lazily drift to the ground.

9. The museum of fine arts, aquarium, science museum and contemporary arts museum are lovely ....but if you only have a day just swing through the library in Copley square then visit the Copley church and enjoy a frozen lemonade (or a Dunkies hot cocoa) before ducking into the Copley square hotel to try the original Boston creme pie (delicious but arguably rivaled by the Park Plaza hotels)

10.  Embrace the simplicity. The ease of navigating through a city you can walk from one side to another, but don't have to because the public transportation is too straightforward not to take advantage of.  No finding parking, no valet, no heels that are going to get stuck in the cobble stones and leave you limping for the next week anyhow.  Leave your cell phone in the car and really feel the history and engage in a conversation about who you are not what you do or the paycheck that accompanies it.  And I'll let you in on one last secret. We don't JUST love our sports teams, we love disguising a little belly we proudly acquired via chowda, fish an chips, buff chix, Boston creme pie and the like.  Wear your stretch pants and a tshirt and relish in the life of a true Boston native.

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