A Day In The Life……of a Lessac Certified Trainer in LA
5:00am wake-up. Kids have to be woken up, lunches packed, homework papers have to be signed and pushed into backpacks along with the silent prayer that said kids can find now crumpled paperwork as needed later in their day. Showers and breakfasts all around, cups of tea, dressing for class (is there a faculty meeting, should I throw a jacket in the car for after?). Double-check that private clients haven’t cancelled or adjusted their appointments for the day.
Traffic. At 6:10am I slow to a California roll a couple of miles away and pick up Lessac Practitioner Mao Yanagawa Gray at her apartment. (Not really, I do actually pull over.) She is traveling with me to as many of my classes as possible to not only reinvigorate the work within herself, but also with the hopes of moving towards Certification. We talk about the day’s lesson plans in both my 10A and 10B classes (beginning and advanced voice for the stage). The classes are back to back. 8am-9:20am, then 9:30am-10:50am. She is very helpful and very good.
7am. We arrive at Santa Monica College and get more tea. Must. Have. Tea. We unlock the mat closet and pull out the music box. I insert a CD to help create a welcoming space for the early risers. I write the day’s lesson plan on the board and any assignments due, etc. I hold office hour time from 7:15am-7:45am and mostly use the time to double-check that I’ve graded all things I’m handing back, check emails. Occasionally, someone drifts in after the official time is over, say at 7:50am with a burning question that needs more than the ten minutes I have to clarify. Mao and I head to class.
Twenty minutes of body work followed by the day’s unit at hand. 25 people now in class. Attrition has brought it from 40 to 25, though it took a month. (Door locked at ten minutes in- sorry, no one enters after that.) Goal: actor training is physical training and that includes voice and that includes discipline. Each vocal unit corresponds with physical work. I pair small ball roll introduction with the introduction of ybuzz. Why? It is a small concentrated thing, too. It seems to go together. When we learn Call, we learn expanded sphere, when we learn structure we learn push-up series (the body reinforcing what the mouth and shape do.) They know by now there is a very connected reason behind every physical experience we do so I no longer get, “now, WHY exactly are we doing push-ups in voice?” I ask THEM. “So, what are you observing as you explore this? What does it give you? What awareness comes into your personal sphere?”
Class is over, announcements made, journals/markings returned. A few people linger to ask questions. I have to kick them out, the advanced class is streaming in. They know the system. They are on the floor with body work and sit-ups and calls and humming before the class starts. Most of them. I lock the door again. (Even here, there are those who test me on this.) I. Don’t. Give. In.
Advanced takes the work deeper, 24 people now. We are playfully exploring The Old Resident and Gettysburg and full-length monologues with each vocal unit. I integrate an Embodied Actor Form for them to help with their research of their play and character. This class is about taking the work into their scenework, rehearsals and performances and is Socratic. They are learning how to give each other good positive notes, notes where they give someone something to DO, not something they didn’t do. We actually did an approximation of the Tonal 8/9 last week, in a modified way, that still yielded results because we are always striving to improve, not make something perfect. You cannot come up with newborn creative expression if you are worried about perfection. Can the Tonal 8/9 be a fresh exploration each time, where you find it each time with a readiness and spirit and sense of play and sense of search….the same way we must search with curiosity for our ybuzz daily. Yyyyyes, yyyyes, it can.
Second office hour finishes by 11:30am and then I take Mao home, lunch, see a private client, or go to the Play Production class at Burbank High where I secured a grant to be their year long Artist in Residence. I’ve been teaching them Lessac once a week since September. I coached both shows and their speech pieces and traveled with them to Berkeley for their competitions. Hormones and emotions fly rampant with drama kids, I find myself teaching the healing aspects of the work as frequently as anything else. Toxins, jealousy, poisons, Lessac gives them tools for diffusing and some use. Some do not. I wait. I long for the aha moment that I may not ever see.
3pm: school’s out. I have to pick up kids, shuttle them somewhere or another, shop, make dinner, work out and spend time with the family. Sometimes, on the days I don’t have PlayPro, I am able to write, but not as much as I’d like. Sometimes writing is put on hold because I’m organizing a West Coast Workshop or writing an article, or organizing my TheatrePLAY kids workshops which takes the work into elementary schools for theatre workshops. Or perhaps I just happen to have a more full private client list this month. (I take the work, because you never know when the work will cancel or diminish, so I take the work. France. Remember France with the family last year for Christmas? This was made possible due to taking the work.) Current workshops in the works are one TheatrePLAY class, two more local Weekenders and one week-long in Spain. I prepping to direct The Tempest in June and am currently also coaching Much Ado at SMC. They open the same day. You can do everything, but you can’t do everything at the same time, I keep reminding myself and I keep defying.
7pm: If I’m coaching a show, or have a PTA meeting, I’ve left the home-made dinner, the crock pot is my best friend, on the stove for the hubby to dole out and headed out in traffic. Again.
Home late. Bed. Rinse. Repeat on another day. My college load is currently two days a week, the other mornings are busy with private clients or the above multiple plates that I keep spinning. I try, try, try to save full morning a week for myself. I’m not very good at keeping it.
Or, on free nights, we’ve cuddled and watched Survivor or Amazing Race or read or gone to the theatre or walked the dog and played Charades. My daughter tells me I should never, ever show you how I did “It’s a Wonderful Life” one night during Charades.
What do I want? I dream of a studio that all of the LA Lessac friends can share, like a coop. I want it in an arts area, near my house. I want to teach small group sessions for people looking to continue the work or for working actors, teachers, directors, etc….it is a goal, I do not think it impractical, but there is time and money to consider and college lies ahead for one kid, so there’s that.
How glorious is it that every second of this day I love what I’m doing? Just an average day in the life of me.
Crystal is mom to Maeve, 17, and Jarek, 13 and wife to the extremely supportive Jim.