Pamela Harris

Posts in the Stage Category

Easing Into Summer June 2, 2016

I've been seeing a ton of plays. LONG DAYS JOURNEY INTO NIGHT and BURIED CHILD and ECLIPSED and THE FATHER and FOOL FOR LOVE. One of my favorites, even in that line-up was NOISES OFF. I laughed myself out of my chair.

I have a theater crew who I see most of the plays with. Two of our crew were in the reading I did in December. All of us usually go out before or after whatever we've just seen to hash it over. And then we gossip a little, then spend a few hours talking about whatever.

For the first time in all my years in New York, I feel like I finally have a creative community. As a visual artist I make studio visits and have studio visits, and I have one or two close painter friends who I speak with regularly. But the art world has always been more isolating. Maybe because it's not collaborative the way theater or TV or film is. Or maybe it's because I'm changing. Studying with Wynn has opened me up in ways I didn't know I was closed. Whatever it is, I love getting together with my crew once a week and rubbing noses.

Wynn Handman July 9, 2015

The acting coach and all around extraordinary human being I studied with this spring, Wynn Handman, was recently interviewed for Theatre Talk. The interview appeared on Channel 13 and CUNY/TV last week, and in case you're curious about him or want to get a sense of him, you can see the interview here.

Master Class April 9, 2015

I teach screenwriting and TV writing through a program, I teach privately, I consult on projects and I'm in a writing group where most of the writers are working writers. It means that a lot of writers cross my path and what surprises me is how many don't finish projects. Some writers have made features and have gotten into Sundance and have producers attached and have written for existing series, and even some of these writers get stuck.

I get it. Desire has to turn into perseverance to sit in a chair, alone, day after day and finish something that, for a good amount of time, threatens to seep through your hands and disappear into the dirt. Bad habits are easy to slip into and the line between writing and not writing can creep up on you.

My habits are pretty good. I know my head f*cks, I know what draft I hit my stride in, I know my process. Recently, however, I finished writing a feature and for the first time ever found myself paralyzed when it came to getting it out into the world. The script is a modern fairy tale and the scope of it is bigger than what I've written in the past. I didn't have immediate contacts for it, but I didn't have contacts when I finished my first TV project either. After slowly and consistently knocking cold on TV doors, things started happening. With this new script, I kept seeing Sisyphis and his rock and couldn't move.

I decided to write to big producers, so called A-list, for advice on how I might try to package it. I was stunned when they wrote back. Each one told me I'm at the edge of breaking through, that it sounds like it's been going great, that it's only a matter of time before I get something into production with my name on it. It was so nice and affirming to hear, but my sense of being at sea didn't lift. When I create something I have a very clear vision for it, and then it hit me: I'm writing in a medium that isn't a writers medium. What am I doing?

That realization got me motivated. I researched, sent emails, talked to people, talked to more people, and now my feature is out there. I'm waiting on a producer, waiting on an agent, and I'm done waiting. I've started writing a play. Theatre is a writers medium.

With my writing group I bring in pages, cast them with whomever is there (actors come), give brief direction and we jump into a table read. Each week I see my shortcomings when it comes to directing actors, and I've been working on this. A close actor friend studies with Wynn Handman, a well-known NYC acting coach, and she recently told me that he'll sometimes take on a sit-in director to mentor in his classes. I contacted him, went in for an interview, and this week became his new sit-in director.

His classes are master classes and I recognized a few faces from TV and movies. I was awed by how good everyone is, and how diverse. The room is set up like a small theatre and each actor gets up and performs a scene, usually from a play, sometimes from audition material. I sit with Wynn and watch. He'll work with them as they do their scene and he'll occasionally whisper to me what he's thinking and why he's saying what he's saying. Actor after actor comes alive and it's fascinating and exciting and visceral. The last few months I've been tangled up and rudderless and I walked in to my first class scared shitless and shy. Seeing the risks this class takes has made fearlessness infectious. Being in that room is thrilling.

Henry Flynt February 22, 2013

A friend of mine sent me a link to an artist he discovered named Henry Flynt. I never heard of the guy and looking around I found this invite from 1961 inviting people to hear music at Yoko Ono's house. The list of people performing is incredible, but what's more fascinating is how they all must have known each other. This is why I love technology: what museums used to do - show me 'x' across a room from 'y' in a way that lets me make associations - is now what the internet does. I can research almost anything and surf my way into far out ideas and connections. Granted, online content is still fueled by humans, but hopefully science is working hard to change that.