What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stranger

The Reason for the Rule August 27, 2015

As an actor, I work for a lot of different companies all over the place. And on the first day of rehearsals, there’s always that awkward company meeting where you all introduce yourselves. Then you get your packet with your schedule, and there are usually a few company rules thrown in there.

There’s always something about being late, usually something about keeping the actor housing clean, and occasionally something strange like no texting while walking, you need to keep your eyes on the ground to look for open manholes….

Hearing a rule like that means someone fell into a manhole. Probably not that long ago.

So, today marks the beginning of a series of the best/worst strange rules I’ve been given.

When I did living history in a mansion in Newport, RI, the cast lived on the third floor of the mansion. On our first day, we were expressly forbidden from drinking on the third floor where we lived and were shown a cabinet where we could store our liquor on the first floor. Because we could drink in the mansion, just not on the third floor where we lived…. Drink downstairs, stagger upstairs. That was the rule. (more…)


A Matter of Terms January 19, 2015

Filed under: Tales of Humanity's Imperfections — meganorussell @ 8:30 pm
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When I was working at the Astors Beechwood Mansion doing living history tours, we had a lively, retired naval officer who sold tickets at the door. He was a lovely man. He shared his coffee. Brought donuts. And might have been a little bit racist. (more…)


The Time Transvestite September 29, 2014

Growing up in my mother’s inn was quite the experience. Having a hundred people coming in and out of your home every weekend to participate in costumed Victorian tea programs is not a part of the usual childhood.

My mother has been referred to before as a time transvestite — a person from one time dressing up in clothes from another era. I mean, unless you are the Doctor, and if you are, please come and take me on a nice quiet trip someplace lovely and have me back before tomorrow’s performance, you have to pretend to be in another time if you want to try and experience it. (more…)


A Real Shame (Rated PG) August 16, 2014

Filed under: Hi-Ho the Glamorous Life — meganorussell @ 10:00 am
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Reader, beware. Megan is letting me post on her blog again. The reason this time is that there is a story that she wanted to tell, but she felt that I remembered it better than she did.

About seven years ago, Megan and I worked and lived at the Astor’s Beechwood Mansion in Newport, RI. It was wonderful. We lived in a mansion on the ocean for eight months. What’s not to love? Before we were able to start doing living history tours, we had to go through a sort of history boot camp. We were each handed thick packets with years of family history for the Astor family and those who married into it.

I played Marshall Orme Wilson, who was married to The (Yes, that was her title) Mrs. Astor’s youngest daughter, Carrie. He was a southern gentleman from Georgia, and was, therefore, the only upper class character who needed an accent. I tell you this so that you can imagine the following dialogue in a gentile, southern voice. (more…)


The Solitary Susan May 26, 2014

Filed under: Hi-Ho the Glamorous Life — meganorussell @ 8:30 pm
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Sometimes in theatre, you just can’t sell tickets. It doesn’t matter if it’s a good show at a good price. There are days or even entire runs when the audience just doesn’t show up. But don’t worry. This isn’t a post about the sad state of theatre in America and the importance of preserving live theatre as a vital American art form. This is the story of Susan. (more…)


Driving Lessons November 25, 2013

Filed under: What Doesn't Kill You — meganorussell @ 8:30 pm
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For my sixteenth birthday my mother gave me a bumper sticker that read “Clear the road! I’m Sixteen!” and took me to get my learner’s permit. I was so excited to drive! Until I got to the actual driving part. That was terrifying and ended in fights and tears every time. I was too afraid to merge. I would almost get us all killed. My mother would yell. It was a vicious cycle. So, I stopped trying to drive.

I went to college in Oklahoma and couldn’t use my out-of-state permit, so even though some of my friends and my boyfriend all wanted to teach me to drive, they couldn’t. I was secretly thrilled. If my own mother wanted to kill me when I drove her car, what would my friends do?

I left Oklahoma without driving. I went to Rhode Island and worked at Astors Beechwood Mansion. They had a Model A Ford kit car that people could drive around town advertising the living history. Even this very old-school convertible could not tempt me to learn how to drive.

But finally, my sweet fiancé got food poisoning. Horrible, nasty, three-day-long food poisoning. And I couldn’t drive to the store to buy him ginger ale. That was the kick in the pants I needed. We got me a new permit for the state we were currently working in, and my fiancé taught me how to drive. I think it proves we were meant to be together that we were planning a wedding, he was teaching me to drive, and we were working twelve hours a day, six days a week, and still managed to make it to the altar.

At twenty-three, I finally got my license just about two weeks before my wedding. I then knocked the side mirror off the car, but hey, we all have to start somewhere, right?
For my lovely followers: I have decreed that Monday blog posts shall now go up in the evening instead of in the morning. Nobody likes Monday mornings anyway.


Hall of Mirrors August 31, 2013

Filed under: Don't Tell Mama — meganorussell @ 10:00 am
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I did not drink until I turned 21. Really and seriously not even a little. Even after I turned 21, I had no real interest in drinking. Boone’s Farm was about as far as I went. Please don’t mock me, I was naive.  It wasn’t until I moved into a mansion in Newport, Rhode Island for an eight month gig (I know, my life is hard) that I realized that being drunk was a thing that actually happened to real people. (more…)