Saturday, May 31, 2008

Playing "Wit": demanding one-woman show about cancer leaves actress exhausted

For the lead role [in "Wit," a play about living with -and dying from- cancer] of Vivian Bearing, a 50-year-old university professor who is diagnosed with Stage IV metastatic ovarian cancer, Janina Birtolo underwent the most dramatic physical transformation the long-time community actress has ever made for a role.

Not the least of the changes: Cutting hair that’s been same below-the-shoulder length for more than a decade. The actress chopped it into a shaggy pixie cut expressly for this role, since the bald cap was too time-consuming to put on every night.

"It’s been exhausting," says Birtolo minutes before one of the last rehearsals in the Tobye Studio, the intimate 100-seat space at the Sugden used for more avant-garde performances.

"I haven’t been good about doing the rest of my work. I’m so drained after putting out emotions in the show," says the freelance writer, who, since 2001, has also performed regular one-woman shows — as many as three times a week in season — throughout the county.

Read the whole article: Facing the end: Local actress takes difficult character through cancer and into clarity in Naples Players’ "Wit"

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


If you are planning to attend the ATHE (Association for Theatre in Higher Education) conference in Denver Colorado July 31-August 3, make sure to stop by the Scholar's Choice book display, and ask for a copy of a A Balancing Act for perusal. Orders will also be taken right there and then and given a conference discount...
Don't miss this opportunity!

FMI check the ATHE web site:

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Book Signings and Q & A with Emmanuelle Chaulet during the Southern Maine Combined Theatre Auditions, June 9 & 12

Two book signings and Q & A sessions are scheduled on JUNE 9 and 12 (Monday and Thursday) from 7-9:30 p.m. at the Dana Warp Mill 90 Bridge street, in Westbrook Maine, during the Southern Maine combined theater auditions, an annual tradition for the theater community.

While waiting for your slot or just after your audition, stop by the book signing table and discuss with Emmanuelle Chaulet performance anxiety, post-performance stress, etc.. Discover ways to healthily manage these frequent symptoms, boost your creativity, connect with your character and develop charismatic presence. Learn about holistic acting...

Acorn Productions will once again host the auditions.
The auditions take place on Monday, June 9th and Thursday, June 12th from
7 to 9:30 p.m. in the Acorn Studios, 90 Bridge St. in Westbrook (the
Dana Warp Mill).
The book signings are at the same time and at the same location.

The auditions offer local actors a chance to
showcase their talents in front of several key producers of live
theater in Southern Maine. Although most companies are looking for
professional actors, Acorn Productions is committed to making the arts
accessible to all members of the community, and any actor is welcome
to audition regardless of their level of experience.

Companies that have already committed to attending the auditions are:

Acorn Productions
AddVerb Productions
AIRE Theater Company
City Theater of Biddeford
Good Theater
Heartwood Regional Theater Company
Knight's Bridge Theater
L/A Arts
Portland Stage Company
Public Theater
Auditioning actors are asked to perform two contrasting monologues of
no more than five minutes total. If an actor wants to audition for
Acorn's Naked Shakespeare Ensemble, at least one of the pieces must be
a Shakespearean speech of at least ten lines of verse. All actors
will also need to provide approximately 10 current headshots and

Actors interested in auditioning can contact Acorn Productions at
854-0065 or register on-line at

For more information on the book signings please contact:

See you then!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

A Balancing Act now available in NEW YORK CITY!

We are very excited to announce that
250 West 40th Street
New York, NY 10018
is now carrying A BALANCING ACT.

Stay tuned for more info on upcoming booksignings/ events and reviews......

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

On reading A Balancing Act

A Balancing Act is a great book for anyone- not just actors- to have. What’s really incredible about it is that the approach it presents to acting extends to one’s everyday life and in that way, becomes almost something of a self-help book.

I was incredibly excited to read it, and perhaps that was because I was interested to read something written by a professor of mine, but after beginning the book, I almost forgot entirely about the connection I had with the narrator and got so involved in the information that was being presented that I was no longer excited, but rather sort of enlivened, in a way.

The writing style is great because it begins fittingly at the beginning, allowing the reader to get involved with the subject matter as the narrator does, and in consequence, to invest almost as much emotion as the narrator. When the narrator discovers herself in need of balance and searching for a way to get there, you - the reader- find yourself also needing that balance and luckily, it is given to you in the form of this holistic approach to acting.

What I find really interesting is that everyone, no matter what their job, career, etc., finds themselves acting in every day life. By just being, and exploring the world as a human being, you use your body as your instrument and act accordingly. As an actor, you control our emotions and movements as an art, but as a human being, you must control your emotions and movements too, therefore it is just as crucial for you to figure out that sense of balance emotionally and creatively. This book allows us to explore that and it extends beyond the art of acting.

I also found solace in the section about actors as nomads. That is definitely something that could potentially weigh on an actor emotionally so it is important that they develop a center and a way to reconnect with themselves and find some sort of home within. That translates to real life again, when I have found myself living in between Maine and New York and currently sleeping on a hard wood floor in a temporary apartment! This sense of home balances a human being out and for an actor, it is imperative that the actor be at his or her best in order to perform at the healthiest possible level, presenting the most vibrant performance possible.

Separating self from character was a really important issue within this approach and one that I think many actors in the past have overlooked. I couldn’t help but think such an approach to acting would have greatly benefited actors who unfortunately seemed to be overtaken by their work- Marilyn Monroe, Heath Ledger, for example. It is important that you are able to separate reality from your work and for many who become so emotionally invested in it, it becomes easy to forget your truest self as a human being. Losing touch with that side of yourself becomes incredibly dangerous and thus, A Balancing Act, is something that could help you achieve that balance. In order to safely escape from the world of another character, you must be balanced, otherwise you’re walking on dangerous waters and your body cannot truly be used as an instrument for your craft if it isn’t in good working order.

I will say that this book is something that I actually intend to use. And perfect timing, considering my adventures in New York. I think it is incredibly useful for life, as well as for acting. Clearly it is a perfect way for any emotional actor connected with his or her spirit and sense of balance to explore healthy methods of achieving the highest creative ability. I think its great, and I am incredibly glad that I bought it.

Hillary Sproul,
model, actress, stylist (NYC)

Saturday, May 3, 2008

University of Southern Maine Authors' Wall Ceremony

F. Emmanuelle Chaulet and her book A BALANCING ACT, the Development of ENERGIZE! A HOLISTIC APPROACH TO ACTING were honored at the annual USM Authors' Wall ceremony on Thursday April 24, 2008 at the USM Glickman Library in Portland, Maine.
The beautiful top floor function room overlooking Casco Bay hosted a lovely reception at which more than 20 USM authors were honored.

Each author received a framed book cover and explained to the audience what their work represented. USM Interim President Joe Wood spoke to the audience as well as Provost Mark Lapping.

Emmanuelle Chaulet, adjunct Faculty and Artist in Residence at USM Theatre Department expressed her gratitude for receiving such an honor, and recognized the participation of many people in the completion of her 10 years of research and 3 years of writing.
In particular she named: Lasca Hewes, her master teacher, Bernadette Curtis, owner of Holistic Pathways in Gorham, Jeannine Owens graphic designer, Susan Picinich Associate Dean, USM College of Arts and Sciences, her husband, photographer Jean-Pierre Rousset, and all the students and actors she has worked with and used as "Guinea pigs." Some of them she said, are now pursuing prestigious careers in Maine, Florida or New York.

She said she hoped her book would help actors around the world find balance in the midst of their emotionally challenging and chaotic careers, giving them tools to cope with performance stress, and ways to connect with their highest creative selves.

Her book had already been sold in ten US states, as well as England, New Zealand, Germany and France.

A Balancing Act (336 pages, illustrated $24.95) is available on line and at the USM Portland and Gorham bookstores.
For more information or to order the book please check:

Above: F. Emmanuelle Chaulet and President Joe Wood, Photo Jean-Pierre Rousset.