Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Fresh Faces: Ashley

Meet Ashley - She is currently working on the Tony Award winning show The King and I, as part of the wardrobe team.  Get to know a bit about her life, the show, and how Mark Fisher Fitness helps her stay sane...

What is the hardest part about your job, working at a Broadway show?

This feels like such a silly answer, but I think for me the hardest part is missing out on getting to see other shows and performances due to the fact that you’re also putting on a show. I’ve always been a big concert and theatre goer, so adjusting to the fact that, no sorry, you actually CAN’T go see Hanson play two nights in a row at the Gramercy because you’ve got to do shows of your own, that’s been the hardest part. Especially in years like this year where there is SO much incredible new theatre happening and I haven’t seen….any of it. My roommate will come home raving about the new play she just saw and I’m like, "cool cool cool," tell me everything because I’ll never see it. And I have various friends in shows happening and I want to get out and support them and see them being the incredibly talented people that they are, but I can’t. That being said, I also feel very fortune that the reason I’m not able to see every band I want to see when they come to town, or I had to miss out on seeing Jen Kirkman’s book tour, or I’m not getting to see all the new shows coming out is because I get to put on a show eight times a week myself. It’s a bummer to miss out on these really wonderful pieces of art, and to not always get to go and support my friends like I want to, but I’m also a part of a really great piece of art, so I can’t be THAT upset about it. And honestly, if that’s the hardest part about working on a Broadway show that I can think of in this moment, that’s really freaking awesome. 

What is the most rewarding part of the work you do with the show?

Getting to be a small part of helping create something really beautiful and magical, something that’s bigger than me, is so insanely rewarding. Theatre is such a cool experience because we’re asking people to come into this space, turn off your phones, ignore the outside world for the next three hours, and just exist in the reality that we’re creating for you. We get to transport people into another world - be that another era, another reality, whatever - and they get to physically be there with you. The characters are right there, the sights, the smells, the sounds, it’s all real right in front of you, which I think is what makes the world of theater so much more of an experience than say, going to a movie. We have the ability to truly transport people to another place, which is wild and beautiful in so many ways. So getting to be a cog in the machine that makes that happen is insanely rewarding to me. Theatre has changed my life in so many ways, and I can only hope that this little skit that I get to be a part of is also impacting people in some way, small or large, and knowing that makes long days or crazy moments incredibly worth it, and makes my job as a whole completely and insanely rewarding. 

How do you stay sane and level headed with such an incredibly busy schedule?

One of the most important things I’ve learned in this life is that you have to have time for yourself, whether that’s 20 minutes or an hour, it has to be time just for you, to do whatever it is you need to do to keep your sanity and your happiness. It’s something that Mark Fisher really pressed the importance of when I first started training with him, and he refers to it as “non-negotiable me time”; the time that you set aside that is 100% for you, to do whatever it is you need or want to do, and it’s not for other people and it can’t be canceled or rescheduled, it’s for YOU. For me, that’s often the time I set aside to hit the gym or work on writing projects (or some days, I’ll be honest, to just sit on my couch and watch a little TV), but it’s time that I literally schedule into my day that I don’t allow to be canceled or moved around or changed. It does mean sometimes having to sacrifice getting to hang out with someone or missing out on some fun things, but without that time that’s absolutely for me, the time that I use to center myself and reflect and do something that’s absolutely for me, I’d definitely lose my mind. I think that’s utterly essential, especially with a busy schedule that has you bouncing around the city doing all sorts of things. 
Also, the daily phone conversations I have with my best friend - she lives in Nebraska so we hardly get to see each other, but we talk on the phone at LEAST once a day (sometimes several times). And our conversations are all over the map, we get deep and introspective, and then we’ll get really ridiculous and silly, we talk about our lives, we make up stories and jokes…I’m sure anyone that hears me talking to her thinks I’m utterly out of my mind. But regardless of what we’re talking about, I really rely on those conversations to keep my head on and to assure me that I’m not totally losing it. She’s been my ally in this world for almost a decade and it’s her companion ship, in conjunction with the time for myself and my OCD like ability to keep a planner organized and color coded, that makes a busy schedule not seems so wild and out of control. 

Thanks for sharing a bit about your life in the NY theater scene Ashley! Want to see more? Check out her lifestyle shoot in Brooklyn.