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Melanie Votaw Photo

Haiku and Limericks: An Actor Writes About The Life

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Melanie Votaw Photo

Photo by Melanie Votaw, taken at Central Park, New York City, on April 22, 2013, during a birding walk with director Rob Meyer and cast of “A Birder’s Guide to Everything”

Off the beaten track. I share with you, dear readers, an actor’s week, revealed with haiku.

Haiku 26

Acting class. Take five.
Everyone standing outside.
Stretching limbs. Smoking.

Twitterhaiku 95

At Cirque du Soleil
A small girl scared by the clown,
Seared soul, white grimace.

Senryu 233

Where, in the cortex,
Does comedy arise from?
Mine seems to be gone.

Senryu 279

Story creation
Has its own life processes
Which we must respect

Senryu 280

Beginning and end
With rehearsal in between
To discover truth

Senryu 281

Seed must reach flower
Character must be performed
For an audience

Senryu 282

Creation must peak
Rehearsal without filming
Is chase without catch

Senryu 283

A character is built
In order to engage with
Another person

Senryu 284

Anything less than
Celluloid resolution
Disorders balance

Senryu 285

Grand practitioner
Of truth in performing arts
Rachel Rosenthal

Senryu 286

Amazing and dense
Layered unveiling of art
ShaSha Higby’s show

Senryu 287

Casting for actress
No experience required
Need blonde with large breasts

Senryu 288

My art or my rent
Why must I choose only one
Capitalism

Senryu 289

I used to believe
Spoken word is not true art.
I used to be wrong.

Haiku 290

Extravagantly
Ostentatious luxe glitz shine
Adorning my throat

Senryu 291

David, acting coach,
Proclaimed himself deity;
Us, his worshippers.

Senryu 292

Some people mistake
Fame for artistic talent
Not the same at all

Senryu 293

You are an actor
But you’re not a movie star
So what are you, huh?

Senryu 294

Before I say if
I like this sacred screenplay
Tell me who wrote it

Senryu 582

In a corridor
Doing tongue exercises
Opera audition

Senryu 583

Six other women
Waiting to read for a role
All look just like me

Senryu 584

I’m sure it’s not cool
Grovel and beg on my knees
Please cast me in this

Senryu 585

Never in my life
Have I been so much in love
Cut! I hate your guts

Senryu 586

You have to love cheese
More than anything in life
Dairy commercial

Senryu 587

Dressing room. Sobbing.
Darling, what happened to you?
Back off I’m working

Senryu 588

Text has no meaning
What is your body saying
To your scene partner?

Senryu 589

Fiction becomes truth
In the character’s desire
The actor is lost

Senryu 590

Skinned raw down to nerves
Sensitive to the slightest
All shutters open

Senryu 591

It hurts tears shreds me
Gouges huge chunks from my soul
You ignore my art

Senryu 592

Never do I feel
So alive and connected
As when I’m on set

Senryu 593

One man didn’t clap
He must have hated the show
My work must have stunk

Senryu 594

Someone’s not laughing
Am I saying my lines wrong?
I’m spoiling the show

Senryu 595

Someone is laughing
This is the funeral scene
Spinach in my teeth?

Senryu 596

You’re too old too tall
Too brunette or too ethnic
Your boobs are too small

Senryu 597

Your body instrument
Madmen falling off a cliff
Time-stopped zen moment

Senryu 598

Life but yet dreamlike
Consequences, desires
Watch yourself perform

Senryu 599

We were in the zone
Floating over the sound stage
Ephemeral-real

Senryu 600

I did love you then
In my tongue and ovaries
During rehearsal

Senryu 601

Sensitive reader
Of the slightest physical
Manifestation

Senryu 602

You make me feel sad
What does your body tell you
He makes me feel sad

Senryu 603

Dry shell empty husk
When you take away my art
You kill what is me

Senryu 604

Human emotions
Channeled by storytellers
Revealed through corpus

Senryu 605

Boiling inside me
LoveFearLustRageHungerJoy
Propelled by the script

… and to lighten it up a bit …

Limerick 33 for Danielle

An old actor regretting her youth
She made poor choices, in truth
Offered the Star Trek pilot show
She consulted her Tarot
Then took a gig in the trade show booth

Limerick 34 for Brent Spiner

I wrote this new Star Trek plot
Worf and the blue Mr. Mot
Having sex at the “poker” game
While Data’s gone insane
Trying to disassemble Spot

Some of these poems originally appeared in my book SnarkyKu or on my Twitter feed.

Michelle Shyman is an actor, comic, screenwriter, filmmaker, corporate video producer and film journalist. She’s appeared in 35 films and stage plays and has won regional acting awards. One of her screenplays placed in American Gem Screenplay Competition and Script Nurse Screenplay Competition, and she’s produced or assistant-produced a number of independent films, three of which won festival awards. Michelle executive-directed the Lake2Sound Youth Film Festival and serves as a judge for several student film festivals nationwide. She coaches actors, teaches directors how to work with actors, and presents seminars on directing actors. She’s a former Board member of Women in Film Seattle chapter. Michelle also consults on product strategy for entertainment startups. In addition to her Reel Life With Jane column, Michelle writes “Balancing Act,” a weekly column for Reel Grok, named one of MovieMaker Magazine’s top sites for working filmmakers. Follow her on Twitter @michelleshy.

Michelle Shyman has written posts on Reel Life With Jane.


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2 comments

  1. Love these. My favorite is Senryu 288. Boy do I identify with that one.
    Jane Boursaw recently posted…Will ‘The Great Gatsby’ Finally Earn Leonardo DiCaprio an Oscar?My Profile

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