Hamlet Max wrap-up

We just closed Hamlet Max at the Hollywood Fringe Festival, where I played Marcellus, Guildenstern, Second Player (Prologue, Player Queen, Lucianus), and Osric. I had a wonderful time, met some amazing people, and got to take part in something I believed in, so here's a little wrap-up about some of the great stuff that came of it.

Before opening night, illustrator Hillary Bauman, director and star Jacob Sidney, and I were interviewed by FringeTV. The play was also featured on Bleeding Cool this week, where Sidney delved deep into the production background and outlined his plans for the future.

We were reviewed by Broadway World and Bitter Lemons, in addition to all the great audience reviews we received on the Hollywood Fringe Festival web site. Here are a few highlights that I was very honored to read:

Other ensemble standouts include... Casey McKinnon’s delicately comic, pixie-like Osric.
— Kevin Delin, Bitter Lemons
Great work on the show. I especially liked your Guildenstern.
— Tweet from Ellen Dostal, Broadway World reviewer
[A]n interesting take on the character of Guildenstern and several fine performances make this show a solid choice for fans of the Bard and the melancholy Dane.
— Paul Hoan Zeidler, audience review
The female take on Rosencrantz and Guildenstern was played out so well – I loved that choice! Every role those ladies took on was given its own life and seemed like an entirely different actress was portraying each role.
— Nicole Rossi, audience review

My fellow cast and crew were all wonderfully talented people that I will never forget. I count them all as friends, and I hope I get to work with each and every one of them again in the near future.

"Look at that! @caseymckinnon on top of the cast list of#hamletmax. Proud of my love!" - @rudyjahchan on Instagram

Special thanks to all my dear friends who came out to support me: Yuri Lowenthal; Tara Platt; Leslie Ranne; Nar Williams; Matthew Wrather; Fiona Sweeney; David August (& Kara); David Nett; Liz Miller; Paula Rhodes; Charlie Bodin; Brendan Bradley; Paul Whitfield; Robert Hewitt Wolfie; Celeste Wolfie; Cameron Daxon; Emma Sleath; Kevin Delin; Spencer Rowe; Ulka Simone Mohanty; and Rudy Jahchan, who has been my "Usul" through this whole process. I love you all.

Also thanks to whoever runs the social media at Sacred Fools Theater for giving me my own hashtag! I'm honored to be the #hottestguildensternever!

Photo from A Midsummer Night's Dream

Photo courtesy of Simone McAlonen

Photo courtesy of Simone McAlonen

Just wanted to post this photo from a scene I worked on from A Midsummer Night's Dream at Antaeus Theater under the tutelage of Armin Shimerman, the moderator of my 'Shakespeare' class. This scene is from Act 3, Scene 2 with Simone McAlonen as Helena and I as Hermia. It was intensely physical, with two men holding me back as I tried desperately to attack her after exchanging some very strong words. We had a wonderful time, and it was a great way to end an even greater class. Thanks to Cameron Daxon and Spencer Rowe for helping to round out the cast as Demetrius and Lysander.

Happy birthday, Shakespeare!

The class.

The class.

At Antaeus Theatre today, Armin Shimerman's Shakespeare class celebrated the 450th birthday of William Shakespeare. The class started as usual with scenes from our favorite plays, and I surprised them at the end with a homemade chocolate cake with an icing outline of Shakespeare's face and 4-5-0 candles to top it off. The day was wonderful and memorable, just like the works of Shakespeare.

The cake.

The cake.

Casey to play Guildenstern in Hamlet Max at the Hollywood Fringe Fest!

Just in time for Shakespeare's 450th birthday, I have some exciting news: I have been cast to play Guildenstern in Hamlet Max at the Hollywood Fringe Fest this June!

Hamlet Max is a new adaptation of Hamlet set in post-apocalyptic Denmark. This unconventional setting gives director and star Jacob Sidney an opportunity to try new things and raise the stakes, while still maintain the integrity and power of the original story and text. I'm particularly excited about his casting choices, where a number of characters, including my own, will be gender bent. (Take that, Queen Elizabeth I!)

In addition to the role of Guildenstern, I will also be playing Marcellus, Second Player (Prologue, Player Queen, Lucianus), and Osric. To say I'm thrilled would be an understatement. After all my great theatre classes at Antaeus Academy, I am excited to launch my stage career and am so wonderfully happy that my first production will be an adaptation of Shakespeare. I am so grateful to the wonderful people at Antaeus for their support and tutelage, especially Armin Shimerman who has changed my life with his near-scientific method for approaching the rhetoric of Shakespeare, Rob Nagle for inspiring me and being my "trusty steed," and Ann Noble for her constant encouragement.

Please check out our IndieGoGo campaign to buy tickets, browse our special perks (including the option to have me read a sonnet on your voicemail!), or simply make a donation to help us fund this project. 

In hono(u)r of Shakespeare's 450th birthday...

This month marks the 450th anniversary of the birth of William Shakespeare. To mark this special occasion, my friend Brendan Bradley put together a wonderful challenge: to capture 450 monologues from the works of Shakespeare by April 23rd.

I am so pleased to participate and pay tribute to this amazing playwright who has left us with some of the deepest, cleverest plays that the world has ever known. As an actor, I don't always get a lot of lines or character development, so doing Shakespeare gives me great joy and satisfaction because he left us so much to play with in the text. The work of Shakespeare is a gift to humanity, so what better gift from we remaining humans than to continue performing it to hono(u)r its creator!

In addition to my own monologue from Henry IV Part 1, you can also see some brilliant monologues from a number of my friends including Tara Platt, Yuri Lowenthal, David Nett, Ashley Clements, Bradley himself, and many more!

Join us. Help us get 450 monologues on YouTube in time to celebrate the birth of The Bard! Click here for information on how to submit your own video monologue!

Happy birthday, Shakespeare! I love you with so much of my heart that none is left to protest.

Houston, we've gone nuclear!

Let's do some science!

Let's do some science!

My episode of IRrelevant Astronomy for NASA finally came out this month and it's going nuclear! We've been featured on Wired, CNET, io9, Escapist, Kotaku, The Mary Sue and many many more. In fact, this afternoon I saw articles written in Spanish, Italian, and Russian. Thanks so much to everyone who Liked, shared, +1'd, and wrote about us!

I was so excited to get to work on this project with Ellen McLain, the amazing voice actress behind GLaDOS in the Portal series, even though I didn't get to meet her in person. And anyone who has followed me for a while knows how much I love Portal. Heck, my husband even proposed by making me a Portal Atari game!

I'm very grateful to writer/producer Tim Pyle for approaching me to work on this. I'm passionate about science and, after taking an astrophysics class in my final year of college taught by the lovely Victoria Kaspi, I was tempted to go back and change my degree entirely! It's an honor to (kinda) get to work for NASA and to help introduce our future world leaders to the majesty of science.

If you haven't already seen the video, check it out here. And, if you've got kids, show it to them too!

NASA tweets my 'Fusion vs. Fission' video!

I can't even come close to expressing how happy it made me today to discover that the official NASA Twitter account shared my video last week to over 8 million of their followers. I'm so proud to be a part of this project that promotes STEM education to children across the globe and, though I may not be as cool as an astronaut, I feel like I've made my daddy proud too. :)

King Lear with Armin Shimerman

Yesterday I had the honor and privilege of playing Cordelia in a scene from King Lear with actor Armin Shimerman at Antaeus Theatre. You might know Armin for his role as Quark in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine or Principal Snyder in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but I know him as my teacher, coach, mentor, and friend. He's a brilliant man with an incredible brain and it was an amazing experience to work on this scene with him. I look forward to the day we get to work together again and possibly even reprise the roles; Armin would make a wonderful Lear.

Wherein we discuss the Breaking Bad finale on Frame Rate

In case you missed me on TWiT's Frame Rate this week, you can catch it here! We discussed cord cutting solutions and the Breaking Bad finale. And, don't worry, we don't spoil any shows until the special Spoiler Zone segment at the 51 minute mark.

Also, as an added bonus, there's a bidding segment at the end for the NSFW Winter Movie Draft! I'll be interested to see how much my movies make. Go buy Gravity tickets now! ;)

#GetSphero Giveaway

I teamed up with the folks at Sphero to make this video showing off Sphero 2.0 and its accessories, and wanted to tell you all that they're holding a giveaway! Share this link on Twitter, Facebook or Google+ with the hashtag #GetSphero and you'll be entered to win Sphero 2.0: http://bit.ly/1bAk83j

Also, just as a little bonus, here's a photo of my cat Wolfie playing with my first generation Sphero! He loves to chase Sphero around the house (especially under furniture). Good times. :)

WolfieSphero-640

How Theater Changed a Bullied Little Girl into a Queen

Caseys14thBirthday
Above: Blowing out the candles on my 14th birthday. It was a good year and a bad year.

I've never done theater before. I've seen my friends' high school plays, but I never even knew when auditions were held because I was too busy being a competitive synchronized swimmer, a bullied teen, and a depressed Kurt Cobain fan. I also had a wicked case of stage fright from the bullying, and I once tried out for a fashion show when I was 13 and, thanks to my signature spin-and-pose move, I never heard the end of it. So why would I ever go into theater?

Someone told me about a theater school last year and I bookmarked it for later because I didn't have any interest in theater at the time. I love acting, but I never saw myself working on the stage. That said, plant an idea in my head and it will most certainly grow.

And grow it most certainly did.

Over the past year, my brain generated a list of reasons why I should study theater:

  • A lot of casting directors I've talked to are looking for theater experience;
  • I've always wanted to play a queen, and I believe theater can help me develop the gravitas necessary for the role;
  • Many Star Trek TV actors studied Shakespeare, and I wonder if it helped them act through heavy special effects makeup;
  • I have a feeling studying Shakespeare will make TV and film scripts look like a walk in the park;
  • My voice is an instrument that I would like to further develop.

I realized that last point after I realized that I discipline my cat with a similar voice inflection as Cate Blanchett's "I too can command the winds, sir!" speech in Elizabeth: The Golden Age.

So, last week I auditioned for a class at the school.

And, let me tell you, it wasn't easy to audition for theater when you have no classical training.

So, in preparation I Google'd and Google'd and Google'd again.

I chose Titania's "These are the forgeries of jealousy" monologue from A Midsummer Night's Dream because I loved that play when I was 14 and I thought it would be an interesting character for me. Not only is she a queen, but she is also a fairy. And given my desire to someday act in the role of a strong alien female on a sci-fi project, I thought it was perfect.

I also chose that monologue because of my 8th grade English teacher.

Mrs. Isler could have been anywhere from 5'8" to 8'5". She was very thin and walked with a stiff, straight back. She lit candles in her class and read Shakespeare with such vigor and mystery that everyone in the class was convinced she was a witch. Her eyes were sharp daggers that would stab fear deep into the heart of any student who misbehaved in class, and I loved her for it.

Reading A Midsummer Night's Dream in her class exposed me to a wonderful, magical world that I was excited to escape to. So, when I was required to write a speech that year, I chose fairies as my subject. Mrs. Isler was delighted by my speech and submitted me to a provincial speech competition! I was terrified, so I looked down at my papers the whole time I did my speech, but I was touched that she believed in me.

That belief was a big deal to me because that year I was bullied so badly that my amazing mother had me transferred to a new school.

So, last week I chose the Titania monologue in Mrs. Isler's honor.

Since I didn't remember much about the play and hadn't done any theater before, I prepared harder than any exam I had taken in college. In the six days leading up to my audition, I memorized the monologue in segments, re-read the entire play, watched two movie adaptations (1996 and 1999), read a number of online study guides, and worked my ass off to figure out what it all meant and how I would portray it.

I also spent some time fretting over what accent is acceptable in American Shakespearean theater, how much one should move around in a monologue, and if you should mime your words to help the audience understand.

I spent a night on YouTube looking at (mostly high school) performances of the monologue and I learned a lot about what I didn't want to do. I saw some actors who obviously didn't know what they were talking about, so it showed in their performance, and I saw other actors who mimed the entire monologue to prove they knew what they were talking about. Neither of these types of performances was what I was going for.

But then a magical thing happened. I came across this YouTube clip of Dame Helen Mirren performing the monologue in a 1981 TV movie adaptation that I had never heard of on this side of the pond. FINALLY someone was performing the scene as I had envisioned it... and then some! She surprised me with the actions she took vocally and emotionally in her performance, and she couldn't mime anything in the scene because she spent the whole time coddling the Indian boy in her arms. Genius.

After seeing Mirren's portrayal of Titania, I finally felt like I could pull this off. I'm nothing like her, but acting is about portraying a character in the unique way that only you can. So I felt confident that I could learn from her performance above all others and be the Titania I was born to be.

All that was left was my audition.

I got there an hour early out of paranoia and when it was my turn to go in I chose to go right into the monologue. I did the best I could while my hands shook uncontrollably from nerves. Things went well enough and the three teachers in the room seemed pretty impressed that I had never auditioned for theater before. I was a little bashful about it, but it was nice to hear.

And what happened next changed everything.

I had been told when I audited a class at the school that the auditions were a lot like the class; you do the scene and the teacher will redirect you to bring out your performance in the best way possible. So in the audition, one of the teachers had me get up on his shoulders and perform the scene again, this time on my "trusty steed." And, wow, what a difference! Suddenly, being on that stage atop what seemed to be my 6'5" horse, I felt power. And when I performed the scene I felt like a queen. At last.

It was like nothing I had ever experienced before and I was elated. For the first time since I can remember, I believed in myself.

I left the audition verklempt with joy, talked Rudy's ear off when I got home, and couldn't fall asleep because I was so excited about the future.

It was life changing.

All those years I spent being a bullied pessimist seemed to fade away. For the past week I've been completely optimistic about the future and believe in my potential as an actor. It's as if theater saw the chip on my shoulder and stripped it away. I've never been so happy, and all I could think about for the rest of the week was "you're exactly where you're supposed to be" - a quote from my friend Brea Grant's recent film Best Friends Forever.

And to top it all off? I've been accepted to the class.

Now if only I could tell Mrs. Isler...

I joined SAG-AFTRA!

SAG-Elfquest
Above: The ladies of ElfQuest: A Fan Imagining, the project that made me eligible to join the union. Photo courtesy of Robert Welkner.

This year I set three goals: join SAG-AFTRA; make a short film; and act in a cable or network TV show for the first time. Well, after years of working non-union and producing tons of my own work, I'm pleased to announce that I've taken the leap and joined the union!

For some actors it's a really easy decision, but as a producer and someone who often makes her own web series, I took some time to really familiarize myself with what it meant to join the union. When it comes down to it, I've made peace with the fact that anything I produce in the future will be a SAG-AFTRA production. It also helps that a lot of my friends in the web series community are now making union shows.

And now, as a member of the union I can move onto my dream jobs... I can finally audition for that sci-fi show you like, that superhero show you're looking forward to, and that video game sequel you're waiting to be announced! The possibilities are endless.

Wish me luck on breaking a leg! Or whatever the fancy union lingo is... ;)

"Young Hero Lass" theme by Yours Truly

The latest episode of action figure comedy web series Shelf Life is up and you might recognize a familiar voice! My amazing friends Tara Platt and Yuri Lowenthal (a.k.a. Hero Lass and Bug Boy) asked me if I would write and perform the "Young Hero Lass" theme, based on Josh A. Cagan and Kayla Cagan's lyrics, and how could I say no?

I had so much fun coming up with a sound for the theme. Initially I sent Yuri and Tara a jazzy 1950s jingle I had recorded a capella in my iPhone's Voice Memos, but with some feedback and my Fender Stratocaster I ended up making something more akin to a Hot Wheels commercial. Hell, I've even got a version that sounds completely punk rock!

I couldn't be happier about the way the episode turned out. Aside from my song, Amber Benson as Raggedy Ann is BRILLIANT, the writing is absolutely hilarious and excellently executed, and OMG Bug Boy is nekkid! Hope you enjoy it. :)

"Make me a sammich!" Week

Above: Casey McKinnon's Gamer Kit as photographed by birthday boy and gamer Rudy Jahchan

In addition to a kick-ass t-shirt, this year I gave my husband a "Gamer Kit" for his birthday. In the kit, pictured above, I included 1600 Microsoft Points to use on XBox Live, two bags of M&Ms (his personal favorite), and a Certificate of Sandwich that read as follows:

This certifies that RUDY JAHCHAN Has successfully aged one more year and that his beautiful wife will make him A SANDWICH Upon request any day during his Week of Gaming

That's right, I vowed to make him a sandwich whenever he said "Make me a sammich!"

The expression, meant to belittle women by saying they are only useful in the kitchen, is often used by asshole sexist gamers. My husband is not an asshole, nor a sexist, so I guess that's why I thought it would be fun to give this to him as a gift. In fact, it has made him one of the most grateful men in the multiverse!

Before presenting him with his certificate, I stocked my fridge with a bunch of his favorite cold meats, cheese slices, lettuce, tomatoes, and a delicious artisan whole grain bread from the bakery section of our local grocery store. My mission was to "make him a sammich!" anytime he asked me this week (Monday-Friday) during his video game vacation. Of course, he never used the expression because he's too nice, but he certainly had a fun Week of Gaming where he finally played through Mass Effect 1 & 2; games he owned, but never had the time to play.

It's been a fun week and I'm proud of the sandwiches I've made. They were healthy and delicious, so I thought I would share photos and descriptions of them here, in case some of you feel like going and making your own sammiches. ;)

Day One: Roast Beef and Pepper Jack

Slices of roast beef, pepper jack cheese, tomatoes, romaine lettuce, and Dijon mustard on La Brea whole grain bread. Served with celery, baby carrots, and hummus for dipping.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/caseymckinnon/8614890128/in/photostream/

Day Two: Tuna Melt

Tuna salad with provolone cheese melted in the oven on broil, sliced tomatoes and lettuce on La Brea whole grain bread. I also suggest adding a dash of Miracle Whip as well for a little extra zing.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/caseymckinnon/8614908226/in/photostream/

Day Three: Pastrami

Hot pastrami and mustard on La Brea whole grain bread grilled panini-style!

http://www.flickr.com/photos/caseymckinnon/8617839060/in/photostream/

Day Four: Wait... what?!

Oops... no more homemade sammiches! We went to DisneyLand and got lazy for the rest of the week. :P

http://www.flickr.com/photos/caseymckinnon/8621573736/in/photostream/

There were a few more sandwiches I was planning to make if he asked me, but we ran out of bread and started eating out after DisneyLand. A few ideas I had up my sleeve: grilled cheese; egg salad; black pepper smoked turkey breast and provolone; and a grilled chicken sandwich made with the leftovers from Fajita Night.

I hope this post has given you some ideas for your gamer... especially if that gamer is yourself. ;)

Now it's time for me to go tell some 12 year old boys on XBox Live to make ME a sammich! Later, n00bs...