Category Archives: Rachel Olmedo

On Being Relational

Here we found ourselves. Two weeks before opening night. About to plunge into an intense string of daily tech and dress rehearsals – full runs almost every night. If you had been following our blog at all, you could tell that excitement was mounting.

Our cast sits in the house, animated murmurs slowly calming to a lull. Hallie stands center stage, commanding our attention. And, after reviewing a few housekeeping items, she gives one of her effectively rare semi-stern moments of honest direction.

“When you are in a scene, you are engaging in a relationship. Not the relationships in the plot – a relationship with your fellow actors on stage.”

Her words struck a chord in me. I fought the sudden urge to slow clap, and instead let Hallie’s message reverberate for a moment.

Rachel, Scott, and Elena

I once told two of my best friends, after a few drinks while poorly trying to explain my framework for life, that I’m relational. And, knowing full well that the word “relational” may never be published by Webster’s dictionary, gosh dangit, I’m sticking to it. I am relational.

Being relational means many things, but one of my most favorite is the incessant need for a sense of connectedness. With people, places, emotions – relations. It’s about a genuine fascination with the actions, feelings and motives moving around you.

Rachel and Sukanya

I think a lot of people who are passionate about theater are purely relational. (Particularly the improv-folk, who get high off of effective teamwork.)

I feel like I can speak for our whole cast when I say that we are, with rare exception, fantastically relational. And it shows in the way our personal off-stage relationships translate to energetic, supportive chemistry on stage.

In our run so far, there’s only one thing I love more than the relationships we’ve built – watching our audience react to them.

My favorite spot to stand backstage is behind the double doors that lead upstairs in the Longbourn home. Peeking through the small sliver of space between those doors, I see faces; completely engaged, usually laughing, entirely wrapped up in the electric chemistry we’re creating on stage around the beautiful story we’re telling.

Kristin, Rachel, Taylor, and Terry

I’m impressed by how we make three hours move so fast.

All of my love,

Kitty Bennet (aka, Rachel Olmedo)

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Each Fleeting Moment

(This post was inspired by motivational talks from my roommate, cast-mate, and forever-Hall-&-Oates-dance-partner, Laurikins O’Brien).

As opening night rapidly approaches, I feel a cauldron of nervous energy brewing in the pit of my stomach. I genuinely forgot how much hard work a production takes. Sweet baby Jesus, it’s a lot of concerted time and energy.

When the Bennet sisters stand in line according to age, the cast calls it "Von Trapping".

And, as so proves my experience with most other things in life, the more time and energy you put into a project, the more emotionally invested you become. And, the more emotionally invested you become, the higher your hopes and expectations for the anticipated outcome. Anticipation for the unknown causes anxiety…and there’s a helluva lot of unknown tangled up in my expectations for the next few weeks.

My anxiety stems, I think, mostly from anticipation of my ability to deliver for the two groups whose opinions I care about the most: our audience and our cast.

A flurry of questions around those two subjects has been floating around in my head lately. While sitting on BART commuting into work, I find myself imagining our future audience: Will we have an engaged and supportive crowd? Will they laugh at the right moments and appreciate our creative interpretation of Jane Austen’s epic story? What message will they take away from it all?

While throwing my laundry into the dryer at home, a different set of questions about our cast wanders into my mind: Will our long nights spent at rehearsal pay off in the fluidity of our scenes? Will I forget a scene change and screw up someone’s blocking? Will I drop a line and dampen the integrity of Hallie’s script?

An epic battle ensues between Kitty and Lydia.

And the answers? …nobody knows.

Great. More anxiety.

Yet, among the wild unknown occupying space and igniting fear inside my brain, there is one small but significant piece that I can control: how I react to it.

Arguably, I have two choices when deciding how to respond to my fear. I can:

  1. choose to resist; forcing nervous thoughts to the corners of my mind, creating a distant but condensed, and often overwhelming, form of my anxiety… or
  2. use it. Accept my nervous energy as a sign that this is something I care about deeply. Bottle that energy and transform it into a force propelling me to do the best that I can, and to appreciate each moment as it passes—the successes as much as the failures. With a big smile and a light heart, I can choose to embrace and even appreciate my own sense of fear. I can let go of self-inflicted pressure in favor of enjoying the experience.

So, with a resounding sense of confidence, I choose option #2.

I make this choice partly because I care about our audience, and feel that my energy-infused performance will help make the most of their experience, and partly because I care about our cast, and feel that my positive attitude will help make the most of their experience.

Kristin as Mary, Rachel as Kitty, Taylor as Lydia, and Terry as Mrs. Bennet.

…but mostly because, once this is all over, I know it will have passed by too fast. And I know that making a conscious choice to appreciate the distinct flavors of each fleeting moment as it passes is the only way I can possibly make the most of my experience.

And that is what it’s all about, anyway.

All of my love,

Kitty Bennet (aka Rachel Olmedo)

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Rehearsal: Best Served Straight Up

Three parts theatrical creativity, two parts high-energy farce, one part intense literary education. Shaken, not stirred. Garnish with a twist of familial warmth…that’s the recipe to my Pride and Prejudice rehearsal experience thus far. It’s a refreshingly social drink, guaranteed to bring the life out of any gathering.

Not that an ex-drama club nerd needs a drink to be social.

Theater was the centerfold of my life from age six to age 18. My fervor for jazz squares and spotlights was not unlike that of Rachel Barry. Sadly, my stage career died six years ago with high school graduation. I couldn’t be more excited now to jump back into the world of theatrics with Hallie’s Pride and Prejudice and our stellar list of cast-mates.

Elizabeth and Jane scold Kitty.

There are three things I love best about our time spent in rehearsal:

  • Exploring a character. Being Kitty, fondly pronounced the least intelligent Bennet sister, has been a blast and a half. Kitty might not be the sharpest tool in the shed, but she’s got redeeming earnest qualities about her. I’ve only discovered the deeper sides of Kitty after being asked thought-provoking questions about my dialogue in rehearsal; like, “Does Kitty speak with her father? How does his attention, or lack thereof, affect her relationship with men?” And Hallie tends to give each of us the creative license to try on bold character choices. It’s liberating to explore the depths of a character; especially one who some might assume isn’t all too deep.
  • Being absolutely ridiculous. Ah, the Bennet house. Doors opening, doors slamming, people running, parents shouting, proposals spewing. The chaos has become an oddly comforting natural state, and it’s always hilarious. The more we run our many quick-paced chaotic scenes, the more fluid they become. I feel like practice will make perfect with these scenes, and the audience will fall in love with the lawless pandemonium pumping through the Bennet home walls, just as I have.

Kitty and Lydia at it again.

  • Learning about this pivotal piece of literary work. I can’t believe I paid oodles of money for a BA in English when I could have gotten my literary education by auditioning for Pride and Prejudice. Hallie has snagged all the desirable literary devices and symbols from Jane Austen’s novel and somehow made the puzzle pieces fit into our two-act script. The epic themes of this story (love, deceit, class separation, societal role of women) remain as constant and timeless as ever. And we get to pause during rehearsals to discuss these themes from our characters’ perspectives. It’s like reading the spark notes LIVE! edition.

Tie those three gifts together with the bow that is our cast-mates. Considerate, friendly, dynamic, well-intentioned, hard-working, hard-thinking actors and actresses. I have so much fun with this cast. And almost every week someone brings cookies. Awesome much? Yes, pleaseandthankyou.

We’ve got just over one month before opening night, and I’m anxious to see what more I’ll soak up from our rehearsal experience until then.

All of my love,
Kitty Bennet (aka Rachel Olmedo)

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