Ginny Holladay, Alumni Update

Ginny Holladay who graduated from the Belhaven University Theatre Department in 2013 is living and working in Seattle, Washington.  I asked her to write a litte update on what she’s doing right now:

Assistant Directing on MR PIM PASSES BY  has been way more fun than I deserve…mostly due to the fact that the director, Karen, called me up one day with the “crazy idea” of letting me play the maid Anne. Thanks to that completely nonsensical idea of hers, I have not only been able to observe a truly passionate and fun-loving director at work, but also work opposite some fantastically talented actors and crew. Working/interning at Taproot Theatre (Seattle, WA) has been a priceless experience for me, and I know I owe a lot to my experience at Belhaven University where I learned the following important lessons: -when to be silent and when to speak up -how to sleep and stay healthy in the midst of long, hard hours -to always be compassionate and encouraging to people you are working with…that’s all we want for ourselves after all.

I love and miss you all so very much. -Ginny

Ginny Holladay in Mr Pim Passes By


This is a drawing by the costume designer of MR PIM PASSES BY for Ginny’s character Anne.

Working on Shakespeare


Everytime I get to teach Shakespeare my passion and love of his plays grow.  My relationship to Shakespeare’s plays began in ignorance which is not a bad way to start.  In undergrad I had the priviledge to play Lady M in Macbeth.   I auditioned to play one of the smaller male characters (even then I knew I wanted to play men and have been able to do so many times in my career) and somehow ended up playing the Lady herself.  We were in the deep south and I’m sure the production was very southern in sound, inflection and temperament.  It was a passionate production.  Fun.  Scary.  And I loved speaking those words and living that story immensely.  Since then, I’ve been to graduate school, studied and performed in England; acted, adapted (cut) and directed Shakespeare’s plays.   I’ve moved from ignorant pleasure to utter fear; to grasping and ultimately to a freedom in working on his plays.  A freedom that I’m grateful for.  When you have the time watch or rewatch the John Barton Playing Shakespeare series on youtube.  The humility and approach will inspire you.  Seeing a young Ian McCellan, Patrick Stewart and Judi Dench will delight you.  Although I don’t get to work on these amazing plays as often as I’d like; Shakespeare makes me want to be a better person and certainly a better actor.

I’d love to hear about your experience working on Shakespeare!


Advice from a Casting Director/Acting Teacher

10 Things You Wish The Casting Director Had Told You Sooner

By Caroline Liem | Posted Nov. 1, 2012, 4:49 p.m.

10 Things You Wish The Casting Director Had Told You Sooner

Photo Source: Jon Weinberg

Your teachers, mentors, friends, casting directors have trained you, taught you, listened to you, and brought you back over and over again because you’re terrific in the room. But there are always some things you wish they’d told you sooner.

1. “No” does not equal failure. Casting is working at a heightened pace – creating a family, recasting because the male role became female, the location changed for the role due to budget or local hire, executive orders, nepotism – do you get the picture? It’s not about you. Casting directors are not required to give you closure or cushion the blow. So, what will they do? Though you weren’t right for the role, you were so prepared and confident and brought something unique to the character that they added a role just for you. They loved you so much because you were personable and professional that they remember you and bring you in for another show they’re casting and tell their casting/director/producer friends to meet you.

2. Take big risks. You got the appointment because you satisfy the role. But standing out in the room and landing the role, requires more than satisfactory choices. You didn’t play it safe by choosing this career. What’s the rhythm of the dialogue? What’s happening in-between the lines? What is the world you are creating? What do you want from the other person? And make it bold. Again, it’s not about you.

3. Work smart. What’s your goal? What’s trending? How does it fit your brand/casting? Who knows about what you want to do? Where are the gaps artistically and in business and who can help you fill them?

4. Nurture your love of your art outside the business. It matters that you are a fully developed human being. What are the other things you have in your life which bring delight, purpose, challenge and growth? We are all more than our resumes, and that person is the one we want to know about in the room and on set for the next three months. So try something new or revisit some long lost passion and tell us about it when we ask “Tell me a little bit about yourself.”

5. Mom was right! We never hear about struggling doctors or struggling attorneys. Mom begged us to get a business degree or take a class, but most us decided, “I don’t think that way. I am an artist. I’ll never use that degree.” There is a real way to earn money, pursue your dream, and still have the creative life you deserve. Acting is your career. Bartending, teaching pilates and yoga, or dog walking may help create schedule flexibility and supplements to your career, but they are NOT the reason to change or cancel an appointment. Your reps tell us you’re sick. We know better because of social media. If you have your team already – agent, manager, attorney – listen to their guidance. You have chosen them. If it doesn’t work over a realistic period of time, then consider a change. You are the CEO of your corporation and its star.

6. Be like the reed. Ever have a day when you get to your appointment and find out there were notes never received, new sides, and awkward camera set up, and an extended wait time? How can we do our best under such circumstances? Be flexible, and keep it positive. Look, stuff happens every day that’s out of our control, but how it’s handled is what will be remembered.

7. My reader was a zombie. A tough room = A chilly reception. The audition process is already awkward without these additional bumps in the road. Still, it’s your job to create your environment and show us what you’ve carefully prepared. An Academy Award-winning actor once told me she made a game out of it. The goal was to get the reader to look up. It’s still about connection and taking it off of yourself.

8. Yes, your degree counts. It shows steadfast determination. But class is how you keep sharp, develop additional skills, and stay current. Be open to taking selective classes or seminars continually. Training never ends.

9. Tell a friend. Refer people for jobs you can’t work. It always comes back in a positive way.

10. No car = no work. If you’re in L.A., for Pete’s sake, have a working car!

Caroline Liem is a casting director, audition coach and teacher based in Los Angeles. Her highly acclaimed film/TV audition and text analysis classes have been taught throughout the U.S. both privately and at universities. She has cast indie films, studio features and television pilot/series for Disney Studios, Warner Brothers, Sony, Paramount, Twentieth Century Fox, ABC, CBS, NBC, WB, and Fox. You can see her latest casting on Nickelodeon’s Parental Discretion with Stefanie Wilder-Taylor. You can find more information on Caroline and classes at www.CarolineLiem.comand like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter @CarolineLiem.

Can I have some salt with that imagination?

Albert Einstein

“I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”
― Albert Einstein
What’s lacking in the theatre?  Seriously, I would love to know what your answer is to that question.  For me there are three big puzzle pieces that seem to be missing in much of what I see in educational and professional theatre.  The first is an understanding of story.  What the story is, the plot, themes, the unity of ideas.  The second is specificity.  The nooks and crannies, the crevasses of the story, of the characters.  And finally use of the imagination.
Neil Gaiman

“Everybody has a secret world inside of them. All of the people of the world, I mean everybody. No matter how dull and boring they are on the outside, inside them they’ve all got unimaginable, magnificent, wonderful, stupid, amazing worlds. Not just one world. Hundreds of them. Thousands maybe.”
― Neil GaimanThe Sandman, Vol. 5: A Game of You
I absolutely believe that.  Until the artist believes that they have these worlds, these people, these possibilities inside them, they won’t be able to tell stories in any full, dynamic, specific and imaginative way.  How do we develop our imaginations?  We have to spend time there.  We have to dream, read, listen, explore, care, investigate fearlessly.  And you know what?  It’s fun.  It makes life richer, more colorful and always interesting.
Determine to be an imaginative artist.  Learn how to tell a story.  And get your hands dirty.
*quotes from

The Week After

This is our first week after the closing of HENRY V.   The entire H5 team blew it out on the last day striking the set along with the rest of the Theatre Department.  The cast party was a pizza break for all.  I deeply appreciated this.  It took the entire department working together to pull the show off, so it is fitting that the cast party involve everyone together.  And it was fun.  The theatre majors at Belhaven know how to work, they know that they are integral in the storytelling.  What’s great about the process here is all members of the team are valued equally.  You may direct your senior project, then you are hanging lights for the next show and then stage managing a one act play that another student is directing.  There is no doubt that each job in the theatre demands different skills, however the work ethic must be the same and ultimately the service to the story for the sake of the audience is a group goal.  Joy is the result.  I’m grateful to now have space to process the rehearsals and run of HENRY V.  To ponder the work that was done and next time take another step forward in actor training.

Week 2 of HENRY V!

It has been so rewarding watching the storytelling deepen.  Hearing the language used more richly.  Seeing the physicality of the actors become more specific.  Today, I’m thinking about what it means for a show to grow.  Too often when one is learning the craft of acting and they are in an educational production of some kind the actor may think growing is “trying something different” or “saying my lines differently” or “getting bigger” or “getting more laughs” etc.  If acting is living believably in imaginary circumstances then the growth of a play becomes simply living deeper; richer.  The audience is the final ingredient in understanding the story you are telling as a theatre artist.  They inform us. We grow in our understanding of the story.  Notice I don’t say the audience controls the story.  The play and the production are 2 of the 3 elements that make a theatrical event.  A production should be like a tree, deep roots to support the beauty above the ground.

In honor of SAINT CRISPIN’S DAY (which is today!)  I give you the St. Crispin’s day speech from Henry V. Read it.  OUT LOUD.  Live it.  You are King Henry.

WESTMORELAND. O that we now had here
But one ten thousand of those men in England
That do no work to-day!

KING. What’s he that wishes so?
My cousin Westmoreland? No, my fair cousin;
If we are mark’d to die, we are enow
To do our country loss; and if to live,
The fewer men, the greater share of honour.
God’s will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.
By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,
Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;
It yearns me not if men my garments wear;
Such outward things dwell not in my desires.
But if it be a sin to covet honour,
I am the most offending soul alive.
No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England.
God’s peace! I would not lose so great an honour
As one man more methinks would share from me
For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!
Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,
That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart; his passport shall be made,
And crowns for convoy put into his purse;
We would not die in that man’s company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.
This day is call’d the feast of Crispian.
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam’d,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say “To-morrow is Saint Crispian.”
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say “These wounds I had on Crispian’s day.”
Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he’ll remember, with advantages,
What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words-
Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester-
Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb’red.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.

HENRY V tech day!

Saturday was a low key tech day which is what I always shoot for.  All the sound for the show is live so the big focus was lights.  Kris Dietrich created a space/set that utilizes light beautifully.  There are lovely moments in the play where the intentions are full of meaning and emotion and the lights really deliver.  We started the morning with a classic cue to cue.  Besides a bit of a computer problem it was rather fun.  Most of the plays I directed in LA the designer would come into rehearsals during runs and build the show so I would have seen most of the lights before our Equity 10 out of 12 day.  After lunch we came back, finished up cue to cue and then did 2 runs with notes in between. The actors were exhausted after running a fast paced Shakespeare in which they play multiple characters, have many costume changes, fight & sing.  Sunday was a day off and tonight we do our first run with all the elements adding costumes, makeup, hair and final props.  We have 2 nights before opening to fix any problems, make any final changes and learn more about the story.  The actors have been completely dedicated to the story and the process and this makes for some smooth sailing.  Here’s a pic from tech!


We are heading into the breach dear friends.  Week 5 of rehearsals for our lean mean production of HENRY V.   This cut is designed for 8 actors (4 men/4 women) to tell the story of King Henry the V.  He wasn’t King for long but during his reign he took France for his own.  This is one of Shakespeare’s history plays which are full of humor, action and romance and this play doesn’t disappoint.

All 8 of the actors get a shot at playing King Henry.  (Henry has 8 scenes in the play)  Next week I’ll post a video from rehearsals…

This one hour and forty minute cut was done by Hisa Takakuwa with some help from me.  We produced it at Actors Co-op in Hollywood, CA in 2005 with Ms Takakuwa directing and myself acting.  It was a very low budget second stage production that really hit home America’s situation in Afghanistan and Iraq.

There is no intermission and the play moves quickly.  The actors get a chance to play followers and leaders which really highlights the questions:  What does it mean to be a follower?  What does it mean to be a leader?  What if you are asked to go to war?  What do you do if you no longer believe in that war?  What does it mean to be conquered?

There will be a discussion after every performance and we’d love to talk with you about the play and how it resonates with you.  Follow!  Follow