I’m going to be creating a new website to help promote me in my path to becoming an actor! I hope to have it finished and up at http://www.neddonovan.com by the end of the year, so please keep checking back to see when it goes up!
Thanks to my brother for building me this awesome one that helped me blog about my trials and tribulations, plus whatever randomness came into my head. I’ve now got to get one that helps sell me as an actor!
Thanks again, and look forward to seeing you all on the new site!
Today we are down one of our ranks.
There is a man that I thought I knew, and today discovered that I’d barely scratched the surface. A man who’s existence was so complex, so intricate, so beautifully well-balanced and spread that he touched the lives of probably thousands of people, across fields so varied and different that they never knew the other. I only knew him in one of these fields, and god I wish I’d known him in the others after today. Robert J. De Luca was the Commissioner of Mental Health for Tompkins County. Something I didn’t know about him. He was an active participant of the Morris Dance community, an international community of a traditional english dance. He created a group of Mental Health performers, helping patients to overcome their problems through performance and art. These are all things I didn’t know about him. His life was constantly in search of bettering the world, the community, and just simply those who touched him.
In all of these, I haven’t mentioned how I knew Bob. I knew Bob through the Ithaca Shakespeare Company, where he was one of the major players. Bob played Macbeth in the summer of 2010 when I was Macduff. Alongside me we laughed, we cried, we yelled, we screamed, we clashed swords together, we had an overall blast together. When I asked Bob what he did when not screaming Shakespearian lines, he answered, “I work with people”. To say that is an understatement. Bob became ill about this time last year, and has been battling illness ever since. He could not act this summer with the Ithaca Shakespeare Company, but instead taught another Morris sword dance to the players of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. When I saw him he looked like he was hurting, but was ever hopeful, upbeat, happy, and ready to love life with the rest of us. The first day he came in to rehearsal with me, Bob gave me a hug, sat me down, and asked everything about the last year. That was the man he was. To me, he was the man I got to yell “Turn, Hellhound. Turn” at. To me he was a friend.
This past weekend, Bob succumbed to his illness and passed away. We all have people who we miss. We all have people that we’ve known who have died. I didn’t know Bob as well as I now wish I had. Today was his funeral, and Adam Turck and I went to pay our respects. I will be honest, I expected it to be a smaller affar. I could not have been more wrong. Today’s speakers included his friends and family, co-workers, actors, dancers, musicians, all of whom were from different walks of life, all of whom had been touched by this man. In the crowd of a couple hundred people, there were politicians, lawyers, artists, actors, dancers, doctors, writers, mentally challenged people whose lives had been bettered by Bob, nurses, and a variety of random people come to pay their own respects. Hundreds of people cried, and no single person’s experience with Bob was the same. What more can be said in tribute to someone? How better can we all hope to remembered, than as someone who made the world a better place, and touched as many people as possible before passing on?
What really hit home with me, however, were things that were said on his behalf. The speakers included the chair of the Mental Health board of Tompkins County, Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo, an actor and the owner of Moosewood Restaurant, a friend and fellow Morris dancer, Bob’s daughter, Bob’s brother, and his wife Karen. Each one of them, in their own way, blessed Bob for his ability to always want to better the world. To constantly strive to make people laugh and smile, to bring music, art, and theatre into the world, and to marry it with his cause of bettering the lives of the mentally disabled. For me, I knew him as an actor, I knew him as a friend, and I knew him as someone who genuinely wanted to put on the best show imaginable. His brother Tom, and his daughter Amelia gave us two nuggets of Bob wisdom today, I think they will sit with me forever.
First: Tom, Bob’s brother, after telling story after story of just how wild, fun, and crazy Bob truly was, added this; “Bob adhered most to his own adage, and that is ‘Show up, show up, and once you’ve shown up, show up again.'” How true is that? They say that 90% is just showing up, and Bob certainly did, his entire life. There is an article in the Ithaca Journal which reads that, “despite his failing health, De Luca continued to work, even attending a legislature budget hearing two weeks ago to present his department’s budget.” Karen, Bob’s wife, informed us that for the last few weeks, it has been hard many days to even help Bob sit up. Despite the hardship that sitting up causes, Bob got up, got out of the house, got to a budget meeting, and spoke, two weeks ago. Talk about showing up.
Second: Amelia, his daughter, gave one of Bob’s quotes that I’d never heard before, and is now going to be come one of my favorites. You see there is an acting concept which is that in order to act, you must do. If you feel things the audience doesn’t care, but if you perform actions which your feelings can emerge through, the audience will become connected, and your performance will have weight, depth, and meaning. Well Bob has been saying to his children, “Love is action”. Love is action. I’ve spent three years of acting classes trying to figure out the ways to be in love on stage without being stereotypical, cliche, or overall boring. I always knew to act through action, but have forgotten that love needs to be action as well. Not just that, but translate it farther. Bob loved what he did, so he did it. He acted, he danced, he taught, he helped, he played, he sang, he did it all, and he did so with a smile on his face. “Love is action.” Thanks for loving us Bob.
There were a couple of the bard’s quotes read at the funeral, and I think they deserve repeating, because of how true they are. First Bob’s brother read from Romeo and Juliet:
and when he shall die,
Take him and cut him out in little stars,
And he will make the face of Heaven so fine
That all the world will be in love with night,
And pay no worship to the garish sun.
– Act III scene ii
and secondly, the priest running the service read from my play which I hold him for, and it so carefully echoes what Bob did with his life that it is scary. It comes in the final act when the doctor tells Macbeth of his wife’s ailment.
Macbeth – How does your patient, doctor?
Doctor – Not so sick, my lord
as she is troubled with thick-coming fancies
that keep her from her rest
Macbeth – Cure her of that.
Canst thou not minister to a mind diseased,
pluck from the memory a rooted sorrow,
raze out the written troubles of the brain
and with some sweet oblivious antidote
cleanse the stuff’d bosom of that perilous stuff
which weighs upon the heart?
Doctor – Therein the patient
must minster to himself.
– Act V scene iii
Bob did not believe that this was true, he truly believed he could cure a sick mind and give it something better to think on. He tried with that every day, and tried with all his might. He tried every way he knew possible, and in doing so, he gave a countless number of people joy, peace, and happiness.
I invite you to head over to the Ithaca Shakespeare Company’s website, where his biography in the company leadership so beautifully explains his history, and how he bettered the world with art.
Some people exist in the world, some people exist on the world, and some people the world exists in. Bob made the world a better place, and he did so willingly, in his own way. So I propose a toast. At some point sit down, and if you ever knew him, raise a glass hold it high, and drink to Bob De Luca, an unsung hero, an under-appreciated martyr, a man who loved, a man who acted.
Thanks Bob, you learn something new every day. I’m sorry that I’ll never be able to ask you about what I learned today.
Here’s to Bob Deluca.
As I promised recently, I am going to give a huge update to my time in London. I leave here on May 9th, so this collection of posts should cover my entire time! The last post I can find was from when I went to Bath/Avebury/Glastonbury and Stonehenge. Which means, man…I really suck. This first post will cover my trip to Paris, along with pictures!
So Paris! Priya and I took a weekend trip to Paris and it was amazing. By recommendation from my mother (Paris expert) we took the Chunnel Train to Paris via St. Pancras International Train Station. Bleary eyed, we dragged ourselves out of bed at about 3am and caught a 4:25 tube to King’s Cross/St. Pancras. The train departed at 5:25 and we settled ourselves in for a trip! Something not that many people realize about me, is that I am claustrophobic (thanks Mom) and mildly afraid of water (still not sure why). “Ned, you idiot…why would you get aboard a confined metal tube and ride it under the English Channel?” I can hear the questions already, and believe me…I don’ have a better answer for it than you do! However I made that mindblowingly stupid decision, and off we set. The train itself wasn’t the issue, except for in the beginning…interestingly enough when we were in open air. You see, trains move at quite a clip, and when they go under tunnels at that speed, the pressure inside is very briefly adjusted, causing a very painful ear-popping sensation. The first 20-25 minutes of the train ride was full of tunnel experiences. That sucked. Once we were under the channel, though, there really wasn’t a problem. I trusted that the tunnel wouldn’t collapse, and that soon we’d be back in open air, so I read my book and put the bajillion gallons of water above my head out of my mind.
We arrived at Gare du Nord at 8:50am (Paris time) which meant we had from 8:50 until 1pm to kill before we could check into our hostel. Well if anyone has followed anything about me at all on the social networking world, you can probably guess our next move…we went to a McDonald’s and used the free wifi. After suitably updating my twitter, facebook, and checking in on foursquare, I decided that it was probably time to move along (also that I should check into a social network rehab clinic). Priya and I walked to find a post office so she could change some of her traveler’s checks. Turns out, many post offices don’t do this in Paris. We ended up walking the better part of 2 miles before we found a place that had check changing, but then we had a hell of a time getting him to understand enough English to change the money successfully. Money in hand, we began exploring. First we found a metro station, and got our day passes (Metro passes for students on weekends are CHEAP! That was a wonderful truth about our trip) and then proceeded to descend into the abyss of the Parisian Underground.
My first impression from looking at a metro map of paris was that Paris is huge! It’s way larger than London, and the metro has so many more lines and stops. With that in mind, Paris’ Metro is amazing. It is on time, and it is consistent. It is, however, consistently nausea-inducing, and not from the rocking and shaking of the trains. That thing SMELLS! From the time you get beneath the streets, to the time you emerge at your destination, the smell of sulfer, rotten food, rotten eggs, urine, and every other vile smell you can imagine rises into the air. I felt like I needed a shower every time I rode the metro. Smells aside, we first stopped at the amazing Arc de Triomphe, and here I met my first con-artist. He pulled the old “hey look, a ring on the ground…it doesn’t fit my finger, does it fit yours?” I was immediately thrown off by his friendly nature at first, but didn’t tell him off…and that was my mistake. He walked away, then came back a few seconds later to ask for money for food and drink. I said I didn’t have any money either, and couldn’t give him any, I ended up giving him a small coin, he sneered and threw it at me, then took the ring and stalked away.
Never a dull moment, right? After this we headed to our hostel to take a nap. We woke up in the mid evening, and decided that tonight, due to a beautiful night, we would head over to the Champs Élysées and window shop all the things we would like to buy but will never be able to afford, grab some dinner, and then take a boat tour out on the Seine. We came across an auction house as we exited the tube which had sculptures of superheros all over it, and a replica Batboat. After a nice dinner of pizza (we had pizza every single day…it was fabulous), and drooling over expensive items that we can’t afford (Priya’s form was beautiful clothing, mine was cars) we strolled down towards the Seine, rounded a corner, and there it was…the Eiffel Tower. You’ll notice that the majority of my pictures are of the Eiffel Tower, well that’s because we were so struck by the beauty of the tower, that we noticed little else for a while. The boat ride was my favorite part of the trip. Under a beautiful night sky we were boated up and down the Seine to see amazing French sights. We ended the night by walking up to the Concorde, but deciding that the London Eye would be cooler so we didn’t ride it. We got back on the tube and headed back to our hostel in Jussieu, there to end the night.
The next day it was up bright and early to go see the Louvre. The Louvre was one of the only things I was insistent on seeing while in Paris. We entered and after waiting in the absurdly long line (it curled out of the building and almost all the way around the glass entrance structure) we decided on the things we most wanted to see, and went that way. Of course that started with a trip through the painting section to the Mona Lisa. Now, I’m a supporter of the Mona Lisa because of the huge amount of prestige and its place in history, however, it is a decidedly underwhelming painting. After pushing my way through the crowds to get a close picture of the thing (and close is a wrong statement since it’s completely roped off by about 8-10 feet of open floor between onlookers and the small painting), I turned around to get back out, and was shown one of the most striking paintings I’ve ever seen, Veronesse’s “The Wedding at Cana”. This is a massive piece of artwork, which is a lively, jumble of people at a feast, and easily overshadows the dwarfish nature of the famed Mona Lisa. We also went through the Egyptian section, which was quite stunning. All in all, Priya and I spent almost 2 hours in the Louvre, and we barely scratched the surface on what’s there. I did the math and if you stopped at each of the roughly 35,000 pieces of art in the Louvre for one minute, you would leave 24 and a third days later. That’s absurd. That coupled with the constant shuffling of art pieces, and it’s no wonder that the Louvre is one of the Art Meccas of the world. We next went up to the Basilique du Sacré Cœur, the site of our second run in with scam artists. These were a group of Senegalese men who made “Gulu Gulu Hakuna Matata” bracelets. While I have no idea if this is a true Senegal custom, they said they were made on a donation basis alone. I went to make a donation of 1€, and the guy opened his wallet and asked for “paper”…now the smallest paper euro is a 5€ note, or $7.41, I said absolutely not, and after a look of disgust, he let me go. The bracelet was beautiful though, and Pri and I trekked up to the stunning cathedral. Upon our exit we discovered that Priya’s oyster card was missing (found on a ledge having fallen out of her pocket while at a railing, and with some maneuvering of my arm through the railing bars I was just able to get it), and there was a man truly butchering “Fast Car” by Tracy Chapman. We left, pretty quickly.
The last part of our day was in deciding which tower we would like to go up in, as everyone says to go up the Eiffel Tower. However we sort of wanted to be able to look at the Eiffel Tower, and if you’re in it, it’s not part of the view. So instead we went over to the Montparnasse Tower. First we got dinner (pizza, of course) and then went to the actual tower and were delighted to discover that our ISIC cards gave us over 50% off our tickets to the top. At the top we wandered, looked at the sites, and went out on the rooftop terrace to see around. It was surprisingly devoid of wind, and not that cold, I think we were lucky, and again the sky was beautiful. We were able to look out at all the major attractions of Paris and just enjoy the evening. I also faced fear #2 of the trip, which is that I’m afraid of heights. “Ned, you idiot, why did you go to the rooftop terrace of the tallest building in Paris if you’re afraid of heights?” Yeah, yeah, yeah, I’ve had enough of your mental naysaying! Am I weird? I think that’s weird. After sharing a small bottle of wine at the top and enjoying the view, we headed back again to the hostel we went, upon the conclusion of a wonderful day.
Our final day we woke up, and checked out of our hostel, and had to kill from about 10am til 8:13pm when our train departed from Gare du Nord to head back to London. Well since you’ve been following this post, you know what we have missed thus far in our trip, THE EIFFEL TOWER! Well we did go there, just not yet. First we headed over to the Notre Dame de Paris and wandered through quietly while the service went on. That place is stunning, the architecture, stained glass, archways, and just overall ambience made it a really memorable place for me. Where did we go next? Well of course to the Eiffel Tower! Oh, wait, no, not yet…best for last? We next headed to Luxembourg Gardens, and got ourselves (brace yourselves) PIZZA for lunch! This was an underwhelming place, because it reinforced that I want to come back to Paris in the spring or summertime, because the trees were bare, the grass was dead, and there were no flowers…really not the correct time to go to a garden. Now we headed over to the Eiffel Tower. This building is as beautiful as everyone says it is, however with the lines, and the men hounding Priya and I, we didn’t stay for long. We took a long leisurely stroll away from the Eiffel Tower in the garden, and then took the Metro to Gare du Nord to end our trip.
The train home was not as uneventful as the one to Paris. The train in front of us broke down in the tunnel, which meant we came to a complete, screeching halt in the tunnel. As I mentioned before, I am horrifyingly claustrophobic, and now that there was no guarantee of when this experience would end, I had a mild panic attack. When I say “mild” I mean that I drew blood from biting my lip and may or not have kind of hyperventilated. We made it, however, and were only set back an hour or two arriving home, concluding an amazing week in Paris!
Check out my pictures below, and be sure to read all the updates from my semester abroad! Next is Liverpool and the semester up until Spring Break!
I’ve dropped the ball for the most part on updates on what’s been going on in my life, it’s been pretty hectic! I am, however, in the process of writing a few posts which will catch everything up, they will all have pictures, and be prettiful, I promise. (Yes, I know prettiful is not a word.) In the meantime, I have a new performance video up! Last week was the Ithaca College London Center’s spring vocal concert, where the people taking voice lessons performed one or two songs for anyone who wanted to watch. I performed “Charlie Girl” from the musical of the same name, and “What is it About Her?” from The Wild Party. Everyone who performed was absolutely fantastic, and I was so proud to be part of this class!
I had Laura Luc record my performances for me, but unfortunately, the “What is it About Her?” one did not come out very well, the piano was a little overwhelming, and the whole video was just a little below my quality standards. I have uploaded “Charlie Girl” though, and so here it is! I hope you enjoy it!
My best to everyone, and I will be posting my life in about seven parts in the upcoming days!
So as I’ve mentioned before, I see about two shows a week on average for my class “Interrelationships” at the Ithaca College London Center. They have ranged from huge scale shows such as Romeo and Juliet at the Royal Shakespeare Company, to small scale shows such as Fatherland at The Gate Theater. There have been good shows, and bad shows, fantastic performances, and performances which are laughable. I have been shocked, surprised, angered, upset, moved to tears, and laughed until my sides split open. Within these performances, I can say that I have seen some of the best individual performances of my life, including Haydn Gwynne as Susan and David Wilson Barnes as Max in Becky Shaw, Briony McRoberts and Amy Neilson Smith in Once Bitten, Mark Gatliss as Bernard in Season’s Greetings, and Benedict Cumberbatch as The Creature in Frankenstein. I have been terrified by Danny Boyle’s Frankenstein, laughed uproariously at An Ideal Husband at the Vaudeville Theater, and been moved to tears at Arcola Theater’s Anna Karenina. I haven’t seen a show yet which fully connected with me on a deeper level. Tonight, however, Trevor Nunn did just that with Terrence Rattigan’s Flare Path at the Theatre Royal Haymarket.
Flare Path is set in 1941, in the lounge of the Falcon Hotel in Lincolnshire. It revolves around a local RAF base which is running bombing raids against the germans. At the Falcon are gathered members of the RAF and their wives, as well as an actor looking for his love. I could give you the entire rundown of the plot, but Terrence Rattigan is a much better writer than I will ever be, and therefore you should read his play, or better yet see it at the Theatre Royal Haymarket. I will, however, tell you about the brilliant actors working on this production. We’ll start with the main star attraction, Sienna Miller. Ms. Miller played the role of Patricia Warren, an actress, married to a bomber pilot named Flight Lieutenant Graham, affectionately called Teddy (played by Harry Hadden-Paton). Ms. Miller’s performance was quite good, she put together a strong character, she played her scenes well, and she created a great character arc. As happens often with me seeing celebrities on stage, I get surprised by how good the supporting cast is, and therefore I lose a little interest in the star power of the show. This is not Ms. Miller’s fault, it is simply what happens to me when I see a show. The aforementioned Hadden-Paton was a great contrast to Miller’s quieter, more cultured role. He was a wonderful ball of energy, powerful on stage, and a delight to watch. The character’s demons come flooding out throughout the show, and the heights at which his character lived invoked empathy like I have rarely felt when he spirals out of control towards rock bottom.
The catalyst for the show (at least it seems at the beginning) is the arrival of famous actor Peter Kyle (played by James Purefoy, of Rome fame but more famous to me for Resident Evil alongside Milla Jovovich). Purefoy’s performance was very different than anything I’ve seen him in before, and actually I did not recognize him from Resident Evil until well after the show had finished. I had trouble connecting with his character as he looked a lot like Richard Hannay in The 39 Steps and I kept wanting to laugh at moments that were not funny in the slightest. These were the two starpower names I had heard of, however there were other famous english actors in the cast whose performances were show-stealing. The first is Clive Wood. Wood is an english actor that I have not heard of, but his portrayal of Squadron Leader Swanson was a perfect mix of comedy and seriousness that his character helped keep the show moving along. Wood’s character seemed at first only there to lighten the mood, but as he spreads a blanket over a chair and informs Patricia that he “likes to wait up to welcome the men home” was a really subtle, yet wonderful insight into a deep, thoughtful, and caring character. It was not Wood, though, who stole the show for me; nor was it Mark Dexter as the hilarious Polish Count Skriczevinsky (or Johnny) who has almost no grasp of the English language, and yet has the most uplifting, and forward attitude towards these bombing runs (amidst the most harrowing past of any of the characters. While Dexter’s character brought so much joy to this piece, it was his wife, the Countess Skriczevinsky or Doris, as played by Sheridan Smith that truly stole the show.
Smith’s performance was the most subtle, nuanced, balanced, and committed performance that I have seen since I have arrived in London, and easily in the list of best performances I have ever seen. The play and the production sets her character up to be a bit of a floozy, a trophy wife who seems to keep happy because she knows no other way. It doesn’t take long for that notion to change, as her intimate knowledge of the air force slang, and different types of bomber jets begins to fortell a different character entirely. Before long the audience realizes that she is happy because she is strong, and because she knows that in being happy, the people around her can sleep easier at night. She is the support beam for the other characters in the show, and even when her life reaches rock bottom, she sets an example that all people can hope to live by. Midway through Act 2 we are brought to the heart-wrenching scene between Peter Kyle and Doris where Kyle translates the letter the Count left his wife should he not return from a mission. As the count is not well versed in English, and the Countess cannot speak Polish, he writes it in French to help bridge the language barrier. Kyle is the only person in the vicinity who knows French, and therefore he translates it for her. Watching Smith’s character receive the letter her husband left her caused my heart to reach out to all wives of soldiers; to the people who stay strong for those away, but who live every day in the fear of losing that which they love most. Smith’s performance is something that will sit with me for a while, and I can’t thank her enough for what I saw tonight in Flare Path.
In the words of one of my closest friends, Mark Bedell, “to make a short story, long” if you live in London, and you have a chance, see Trevor Nunn’s production of Flare Path. I’m not sure how much longer it runs at the Theatre Royal Haymarket, but I hope it stays for a while. It’s not every day that a production is as moving as it is entertaining, often the pursuit of one loses the other, and often the pursuit of both leaves the show without either. This production gets it perfectly, now I know why Trevor Nunn name lives in theatre lore in the place it does. Yes, this is very nearly a perfect show, all its flaws are made up for tenfold, and it leaves the audience with a smile and a tear, something I find is very hard for shows to do.
Dr. Kidd told us about how Terrence Rattigan’s have not been very successful in the USA. I think that’s a damn shame, because if Flare Path is any proof, than his work has some real substance which the American audiences are missing out on.
I have updated the Media section of my website. The audio links no longer worked, and I was missing a player for The Hunted: Expulsion to my Videos page. I have changed hosting websites for the Audio, so they should work now, and I have changed around some of the videos the Video page. So check out all of the updates and let me know what you think! My best to everyone,
So I’ve been hooked into a website called Casting Call Pro which is essentially a free place to put an acting profile online and get seen by companies. However to apply for jobs, rather than have people ask you to do work for them, you have to pay for the service. Unless you do what I am doing now. For every person I refer to Casting Call Pro, I get 1 week’s premium service. This is a worldwide company and I’m hoping to use it to help me find some quick gigs while in London, and back in the states when I return. If you all would like to get an acting profile which IS viewed by companies (I joined yesterday and have been viewed 15 times by different companies), would you do me the favor of joining by following this link: http://www.uk.castingcallpro.com/register.php?affid=346343
In doing so, I will be given some great opportunities while in the UK, and you will begin to open yourselves up to the same opportunities! You can join by going straight to the main website, but I would appreciate it if you would join through the link I posted (here it is again: http://www.uk.castingcallpro.com/register.php?affid=346343) and help me out!
Best to everyone!