MARK-EUGENE GARCIA--No introduction needed. Read on for Mark's thoughts on mangerie!
Why did you take up performing?
"Performing started with music and music started with HER: My elementary school crush was the first chair flute player and I learned how to play flute well enough to be second chair so I could sit next to her. Years later, she would quit band and I would quit girls. But music would lead me to musical theatre and theatre in general."
Who is your character? How are you like this character?
"In THE UNDERPANTS GODOT, I play Mark Ransom, who plays Vladimir in 'Waiting for Godot'. It’s complicated ...but it’s not. My character and I are alike in that:
We’re both actors named Mark.
We both have a lot of a lot of respect for theatre.
We both fight to elevate the visibility of queer characters.
We both agreed to do shows in our underwear.
And we both have a pretty wicked sense of humor.
How do you differ?
"We’re different in that Mark (him) [is] a lot smarter than Mark (me). I realized that when I first read the script. Preparing for the role, I had to read up on Beckett, re-read some theatre history, revisit some Shakespeare, as well as research some Queer Cinema of the 80s and 90s. He also didn’t like 'Batman Begins' and I did. That’s important."
What kind of challenges have you faced with making your character come to life?
"Aside from the research to keep up with my characters passion for classic theatre, I’ve also been spending more time at Blink Fitness. I don’t know if that’s my or my character’s vanity forcing me to do that."
What do you think the audience will really enjoy seeing and learning from this tale?
"I think the audience is going to laugh. A lot. I did. My first experience with THE UNDERPANTS GODOT was that of an audience member when I watched the Secret Theatre's UNFringed Festival production. I fell in love with the cast. I fell in love with the writing. I had so much fun. I told all my friends to go see it. I had no idea I’d join the cast a year later. That’s been a dream come true."
Any particular scenes? Any life lessons or historical lessons?
"There is a moment in the show when a character says 'we’ve had a lot of fun here today', and as a character and as an actor, my heart leaps. Throughout the show, these characters debate and act and stage and re-stage and scream and choke all in the name of art. It just reminds me that we are our best when making art. Hearts and brains combine in ways that they don’t in other walks of life. Yeah we may have different opinions and tastes, but we need to be reminded that we are our best when we make art. This play does that from beginning to end."
If you were not in the entertainment field, what else would you want to do with your life?
"After saying what I just said about art, I can honestly say that I cannot answer this question."
Tell us about your costume! If you have more than one, describe your favorite one.
"My costume is a white pair of Fruit of the Loom briefs. I’m a boxers guy, so briefs is a challenge. I don’t know how some guys do it."
(EDITOR'S NOTE: The ladies of "The Real" discuss Boxers vs. Briefs: https://youtu.be/SEvapnxgDYM)
Can you let us in on a little known fun fact about you?
"Speaking of vanity, I gotta plug my reality project. Watch me re-live my awkward high school theatre years on ABC’s Encore! with Kristen Bell. It’s on HULU and ABC.com.Do it for her. She needs the fame. I think she sang some song about a snowman once." *
Mark-Eugene Garcia: Actor, Writer, Storyteller
* I’m kidding. She’s the loveliest person I’ve ever met.
Thanks for the thorough answers, Mark! I guess we know you won't be pilfering your costume after the final show.
And yes, Kristen Bell twas in "Frozen," and sang a song about a snowman, snowflakes, and letting it all go..... but she also performed this burlesque number in the movie "Burlesque," watch it HERE
(Im sorry, no Kristen Bell in THE UNDERPANTS GODOT)
AND PLEASE, PURCHASE TICKETS HERE
It happened at a dinner that I had been looking forward to. It was a cold February evening and I was glad to be out of the house. I’d been unemployed for a few weeks, had no real employment bites, hadn’t really told any friends about it, and was having some cabin fever.
It was Feb 2016. I had been at Marbles for over a year and was beginning to consider it a career. It was a bit of a betrayal when they decided to close their NY stores leaving me and my staff without work. I was angry. I was upset.
I decided since I didn’t have anything nice to say I wasn’t going to say anything. So I didn’t. I didn’t really tell friends. I didn’t tell family. I avoided social media. Winter was at its worst and darkest and so was I.
I felt my face flush. Sweat beaded on my forehead and began to slide down my nose. I was burning up inside. My shirt was sticking to me.
“Are you okay? You are really sweating” My friend said.
“It’s warm in here.” I lied.
It was dripping down my back. I could feel dampness behind my knees in my jeans.
A while back, I had these rivers of sweat and sudden waves of heat situation on stage. I attributed it to severe stage fright. I stopped performing and decided that it was just not meant to be. I went from doing a lot of stagework, to one show a year, to none. I told myself I would focus on writing.
“Are you sure?” Rodrigo asked, seeing that it wasn’t stopping.
“I am going to step outside.” I said.
I stood in the icy wind without a jacket, unable to cool off. When it got to the point that it would only be more awkward for me to be standing outside than to be inside sweating, I went back in.
Only to have it start again. Worse, this time.
“I think I’m getting sick,” I said. “I’m going to go. Please. Finish dinner.”
I left them there.
I walked home with my jacket open. Tears mixed with my sweat. I was burning hot. I was furious. I was depressed. I was… anxious.
I got into my living room and it all stopped. Safe. Home. Secure. Alone.
Rod got home and asked if I was okay, if it was the flu. I told him the truth.
“I feel like I have stage fright in my real life,” I said. “Something is wrong with me.”
He hugged me and things seemed better.
I didn’t leave the house for three days. I went to the grocery store. The cashier asked if I wanted credit or debit.
It happened again. I felt flush. My hands shook. I dropped my card. She laughed. It got worse. I swiped my card, raced home, put on a telenovella and waited to dry off.
Two days later it happened at the bank while I waited to see a teller. I got out of line and went home without pulling out the rent money. I was too flustered to even stop at the ATM.
It happened when I tried to make my first facebook status after being silent for a month.
It was mid march and I hadn’t told anyone. I hadn’t seen anyone. I spent a lot of time crying. I found excuses not to go places. I saw the look in Rod’s eyes when he would come home and find me in the same place as when he left in the morning. I dreaded possible job interviews. I wondered if Rod and ever got married, would I be able to stand in front of people to say vows. I wondered if would ever be able to present my work to anyone. I wondered if I would ever go outside again.
Friends chatted with me on messenger and asked how I was. I said “fine” but hoped…prayed… that they would ask again so I can say. No. I’m not fine. I wanted someone to rescue me. I wanted someone to know I was in trouble. I began to look into positions where I could work from home. I had been given an performing opportunity, the biggest opportunity I had ever been given, and I contemplated turning it down.
I needed help. But “help” was for crazy people. Drugs were for crazy people. Therapy was for crazy people. And I was not crazy.
I told myself this as I continued to scour craigslist for work from home opportunities. I told myself this when I was deciding not to turn down the performing opportunity.
I got over myself and called a friend who is in the Mental Health profession and told him what was going on and what insurance I had. He gave me a list of names. I called one and scheduled an appointment.
When the day came I made a beeline for the doctor’s office. I barely looked up from my phone the entire ride. I blasted loud music. I played angry birds. Anything to distract me from the crowds, the warming spring temperature, and the fact that I was outside.
When the doorman asked who was there to see I got flustered and almost couldn’t tell him… somehow I stuttered the words and went upstairs.
I sat in the doctor’s office and I told him everything. How I did it without crying is still a mystery to me. I was so embarrassed, so humiliated. All the things I knew I was, I wasn’t. I wasn’t acting like a performer. I wasn’t acting like a manager. Hell, I wasn’t acting like a man. I was sitting on my couch whimpering because I was afraid to go outside.
He made some observations. Definitely made me feel comfortable in my situation. Gave me some options…. And prescribed some drugs. He gave me all the things I said crazy people needed, while assuring me I wasn’t crazy. He gave me _________ to take daily to help raise my bar of comfort. He gave me _________ to take if I did make the decision to perform again. And he gave me ____________ in case of emergencies. I got them. I started. I waited.
I’d love to say that the next day the sun was out and I was out running and playing and interviewing and auditioning. But it took time. And it was a journey. But most of all, it was a series of accomplishments.
It was going out to dinner for the first time with friends from DC, being terrified that I would have an attack of anxiety- and for the first time… not.
It was a series of adjustments in medication.
It was telling Rodrigo, “I feel normal and want to stay out.”
It was telling my close friends.
It was telling my parents.
It was Rodrigo being my rock.
It was the side effects of weight gain.
It was saying “yes” to that performing opportunity.
It was using Pokemon Go as an excuse to go outside all day long.
It was going to California and seeing old friends.
It was performing in “Underpants Godot”
It was interviewing at Santaland.
It was getting married.
It was sitting in front of the sold out Towle Theatre and doing a talkback about Standby.
It was the few times that the attacks happened again and how I was able to deal and live through it.
It was telling that to my doctor.
It was my doctor saying the word “stable”
It was yesterday.
It is today.
It is knowing that it will happen again and that I will be okay when it does. It is knowing that I can be honest with you all about this and knowing you won’t think I’m crazy.
It is also me not giving a shit if you do.
I’ve been trying to write this for a long time, but for some reason the words only came today. So this is honesty.
This is anxiety.
This is me.
My New Years Resolution this year-and every year-is to make this years success bigger than the last one. Every year, I've been able to do it. Last year I was a bit worried because 2012 was particularly good to me- (un)missed connections was in Planet Connections, Standby was in the Fringe Fest, I was in a Jenny Craig commercial, I acted in Duncan Pflaster's Taint of Equality and Rachel Foote Baccus's Strange and Separate People...I was on a high...How to beat that? ... I must say, though..2013 has been the year of moving forward.
People ask..."when do you sleep?" The answer is "I sleep normally. I just don't play. Or waste time. " I can't. THAT is settling. I can't do that. Not when I've tasted what it's like to have a non-stop barrage of dreams coming true. Years ago, before I moved to NYC, I dreamed of words like "Fringe Festival, NYMF Festival, playwright, lyricist..." and suddenly...its all happening.
I write every day. I have to. My mind works that way...I have so many stories and I have to write them down or I get antsy...I sing every day too (even if its alone in my living room or shower.) I plot. I plan. I rehearse...I can't imagine a life without these things.
I believe in storytelling. Sometimes when I listen to people tell me a story about an event in their life, I fade away. Because I'm restructuring their story in my head...Is that weird?
Maybe I've been lucky then that I've been able to tell my stories. Whether on the stage myself, or behind the scenes- behind my laptop, I've been able to tell my stories all over the country.
This year has been amazing, so far. My Novel "Little Corner" had its first chapter published in CCNY's literary journal. I won a slew of writing awards. Then came the summer gauntlet. Starting in May- (Un)missed connections performed in part of a fundraiser for Dreamcatcher Entertainment. I graduated City College and got my BA (finally), the next day, The Holy Cows of Credence, South Dakota opened in the planet connections theatre festivity. During the cows run, Facing East announced that it would be in concert in Texas in August. I was the lead in the short film, Bliss. Standby opened and sold out its run at the New York Musical Theatre Festival, Holy Cows was nominated for five awards and won three...It has been the busiest of times.
I've never had the attitude of "I hope I get it." I've always had the attitude. "I know I will achieve it. Maybe not today, but I will." It got me through school, it kept me from losing too much hope in the face of rejection, and it kept me moving. And for the most part, its true. Most goals I set for I've achieved.
But I don't know what next year holds. I raised the bar pretty high. Yet, I still have high hopes. I will say this...
...I am certainly not through yet.
The Question- "Are you doing what you believe in?" I can answer with a yes...mostly, because I can't understand doing anything else.
To me, creating is the thing that makes me truly happy. It's always been that way. Recently, aside from working out, I have been spending a lot of time going over some old creations of mine. You see, I found my the video camera my Dad gave me for Christmas in 1996!
I'll be honest, since I was 16 years old -and had my license and an eagerness for growing up- I was expecting what all of my other 16 year old friends were getting...a car. So it was a bit out of left field to unwrap a present and see something that I hadn't even thought of asking for. But my Dad, who is one of my closest confidants as well as my father, obviously knew me better than I knew myself. That camera was at my side for years. I filmed EVERYTHING. My best friends, Graham and Amanda, as well as my brothers Kenny and Greg were constantly filming skits, and parody movies, and scenes and stories...we were constantly creating.
You know, 14 -17 is when some kids get into trouble. I know I had my fair share (I'll be honest, the majority of it had to do with girls - one in particular) But-aside from one particularly bad alcohol experiment- I pretty much managed to steer clear of the bad parties, the questionable behavior, drugs, and overall teenage shenanigans that others got into-at least for a while. Perhaps its because I had two hands and one eye in a camera, and a mind on other things. Who had time for that when there were movies to be made?
I was happy creating. Going over the footage, I saw snippets of conversations with me and my friends. I saw quick little ideas beginning to form that would later become projects. I saw a snippet of who I would ultimately become, and who I am still working to be.
Even now, its all I want to do. There are times I sit down to write in the morning, and get up and realize that the day has gone by. But I love it. I love living in the worlds I create. I love performing in the stories that others have created. that makes me happy. that is all I have ever wanted to do.
Telling Stories. Creating. Acting. Writing... Happiness.
If I can keep doing what I'm doing, I will be the happiest guy on Earth.
Oh, and those videos...15 years ago, our ultimate project was to film a series of clips that looked like a person changing TV channels. It was to be called "Channel Surfing" It was to show everyone who we are, what we liked, what we laughed at, and what we wanted to be.
And, seventeen years later, 33 years old, the project is now nostalgic...but complete.
And you know what? It's everything I intended. Its who I was. It's who I am. It's what I like. It's what makes me laugh. And most importantly, it's who I continue wanting to be.
so I present to you- 15 years in the making- "Channel Surfing"
A deep question to think about...and it was running through my head during INSANITY'S PURE CARDIO...in the end I couldn't catch my breath for two reasons...one for the physical ass whipping I was getting from a DVD and two because changing the world is not an easy thing to do....but here goes.
If I could change one thing about the world...I would give everyone the natural ability to ask themselves "How will this action, or words, be received by others?"
We don't think enough of other people. In our aggressive climbs to the top, in our ultrafast walk or drives to work, in our cars, behind our iphones, between our headsets, behind our email addresses and text numbers, and facebook names...We say, and do, and look and purposely disconnect and disconnect and disconnect...
"How was that shoulder check received by the person I just ran into?"
"How was that cut in line received?"
"How was the lane blocking, that newspaper stealing, that tip shorting, that dog kicking, that kid scolding, that mouthing off, that face slapping, that racial profiling, that gay rights stealing, that sexism based hiring, that snide comment, that back stabbing, that envy, that cheating, that crowd pushing, that web bullying..."
The list goes on...but if those people had just a little bit more human compassion, a little more empathy...well...the world might be a little bit better of a place.
And now I can breathe again.
About eight to nine years ago, I was at the finish line when my mom ran the LA Marathon. She was breathing heavy, stumbling, but incredibly triumphant. As I had barely begun my weight loss journey, the idea that my mother, or anyone, running 26.2 miles was incredibly impressive. As I pulled my mom into a hug to congratulate her, she spoke aloud.
"I will never do that again!"
Which makes it safe for her somewhat overweight son to say "Aw...I totally would have done one with you."
She leaned back and said "Really?"
I nodded. It was safe.
So when she reconfirmed with me online later, I agreed, again not taking it seriously...but when she sent me an email confirming my registration in the San Diego Marathon I though...Oh shit...I gotta run!
So where am I going with this story? Well, flash forward a few months...to an early June morning in San Diego, where my mom and I are waiting for the race to start. My mom turns to me and says something that will change my life forever...something that I have said to many many people.
"If you ever feel like you can't go further, turn around and look behind you and see how far you've come."
The marathon began, and footfall by footfall, mile by mile, around mission bay, with sea world in the back ground, amid cheers of the San Diegans and before I really knew it...I was doing something that few people have ever done.
Hours later, at twenty miles...I hit a big hill. The only real hill in the marathon and, for a moment, I thought, "what if...I just stop."
My mom's words came back to me, and I turned around and gave myself a quick glance behind me and just saw a sea of people all running, all with me...it was amazing. But even more amazing was the feeling of accomplishment...a sort of a "look how far I've come."
There was no way I was stopping. There was no way I was turning around. What would I do if I stopped? What would I do if I turned around? No...."Look how far I've come."
I finished that marathon. And the following year, when my mom and I ran that marathon again, those words still stuck with me.
Now whatever I do..., writing theatre, performing theatre, writing my book, losing weight, writing this blog...Whenever I feel like I cannot type another word, sing another note, memorize another line, take another test, do another sit up, run another mile...I think about how far I've come.
When all is said and done, will I have said more than I have done?
No, because my mother taught me to always recognize where I came from, and how far I've come, and to use those accomplishments to push me forward.
I know what I have done. Furthermore, I know it will always move me forward.
If life is so short, why do we do so many things we don’t like and like so many things we don’t do?
That's a serious question I am asking myself all of the time. - "Do I REALLY want to do this?"
These past few years, between work (weight loss) School (BA in theatre) Shows (about 11 this year) and all the many many things I do with my life...its hard to find time for things...and if I DO find the time. Last semester I worked full time, took 16 units of classes, and did a LOT of theatre...and I have to say.. I wanted to do ALL of those things. I will say it was my most productive year. I was in a commerical about weight loss. I was in the NY DAILY NEWS for it too. I filmed my first independent movie, and my first big web series, originated my first stage role, did a damn musical again. EACH of my writing projects got some kind of production this year...I am DOING what I want to do.
That is FUN for me.
Yes I absolutely love to go out and party. I love to meet for drinks at bars, see movies, hang out, go on vacation...but those little breaks are not want I want to DO. They are just things to do.
People sometimes ask...how do you pass the time? But...who has time to pass? With all that I want to do with my life, I don't really have time to "chill." That's just not me. When I leave work, or school, I am usually heading directly into some theatrical adventure or other something to push me forward...and if its not something that is going to challenge or change me...I probably won't do it. I just don't have time.
I'm not the time who can just sleep all day. I am not the type who can party every night. I am not the type who can just...hang out....
I have life ADD. I can't focus on one thing...
Call me driven. Call me cold. But don't call me a time waster.
(steps off soap box)
I feel bad because I haven't blogged enough...honestly I haven't had a lot of time..but I will make up for it because this blog is something I really DO want to do. Fitness wise, mental health wise, life wise...
As for fitness..so day one of INSANITY was yesterday...and man...my ass is kicked. My entire body hurts. But its worth it..abs will be worth it. Being the best I can be is worth it..
so until tomorrow.
Question number two on my questions to open my eyes.
I actually set down to write this blog earlier and couldn't quite find the words today. It was out during my jog that I found the words.
To me, that question is a no brainer. Up until I thought about it, I thought it was a no brainer to everyone. How could anyone even compare the two? But then I thought about how many people there are out there who never even though about trying.
How may people have written stories or poems and thought "well that was fun, but i'm not really a writer" and put it away. Or the weekend football players who never ever considered trying out for fear of not making the cut. Or the community theatre actor who says, "I like acting" but never considered going big time because they might fall on their faces. Some people are happy to settle. Some people are just born that way. Some people want to never see their limitations that way they can continue believing that they don't have any.
I am in no way saying this is wrong. Not at all...it's just not for me. Maybe those people think that failing is worse. Safer. Easier.
Once, I was applying for a writing school. I had to gather three pieces of my best work. I had to put together a packet and send it by August 1st of that year. Now the stakes were high because this was the best of the best of the musical theatre writing schools. People all over the country would be aiming for very few spaces in this workshop. Well at least those who believed in trying in the first place...
So I gathered all my work, made my cuts, and to be safe decided to send it overnight express, even though I had weeks to spare.
I got to the post office and was met with a huge line. Having little time before needing to be at work, I went to the automated mailer and followed the instructions on the screen. Got my stamps, applied them, and put my packet into the machine and went on my merry way.
The next few weeks were weeks of insane waiting. Starting august first I began checking my voice mail, my email, my house mail...everything. I couldn't wait to hear either way whether or not I made the first cut. But then something interesting happened....nothing. No word. Nothing...Then I got a nice little letter in the mail from the post office on August 7th. Turns out I had filled out the information wrong, in my rush to get it in the mail. The packet had never left my post office. It had never made it to the school by the deadline. It was dead in the water.
I went home that night and, honestly cried. And to be even more honest, I went out to a bar alone. I got drunk, plastered, tore up. Basically 5 hours of long islands then somehow stumbling home. Hung over, I went to work the next day and cried. My coworker asked what was wrong and I told her the story. She didn't get it. "Maybe you wouldnt have made it anyways. This saves you the heartache."
"But I at least want the OPPORTUNITY to fail!" I cried.
The story has an epilogue. I managed to get a hold of someone in the school offices. I managed to plead my case. She told me if I got the packet in by 6pm that night (it was 2pm when we spoke) I could get it in the system. I think she was convinced when i said that same line. "I want the opportunity to fail."
I left work early and picked up the packet and got it in by 4 pm. and you know what? I failed. I did. I didn't even make the first cut. And yeah, it hurt a little. But no where near as much as when I thought I wasn't even going to be seen and heard. Furthermore, I learned a few lessons. First. Never trust the automatic post office machines. Two: Breathe. Take my time. Make sure things are perfect before taking a step. Rush jobs never work. And Three: I learned something about my values. I value opportunity. I value chances. I believe that if you fail, and learn something, then you aren't really failing at all.
So bring it on, failure, at least I got up the nerve to take you on the first time. And I'll get up again...and again...and again....
There's a little bit more about me revealed, a little more of my bikini.