His face was as the heav’ns, and therein stuck a sun and moon…

Milky Way Arch over the Canary Islands

The beautiful arch of the Milky Way over the island of La Palma.

I took the above image at this year’s Astromaster Workshop in the Canary Islands.  For those of you who are interested in astrophotography and want to spend time in one of the darkest and least light polluted places on Earth, you might want to check it out in the future…

I’m frequently asked about my attraction to this kind of photography and how it relates to my work in theatre and acting.  My usual answer is that it doesn’t.  But now I’ve come to a conclusion which is wrapped up in my personal definition of “good” art.  I believe that all art is basically getting at the same things – provoking thought, emotion, and instilling a sense of awe in the viewer.  When I’m acting I’m caught up in the same way as when I’m photographing the sky.  I’m “all in” and it’s great – it fills me with awe.  I hope the work inspires the same feeling in the viewer as it does in me (regardless of which medium I’m working in).

This particular picture evokes mixed feelings for me.  It was a glorious night, but I lost a dear friend in New Zealand while I was taking it.  Alistair Browning, who was a Fellow with me at Shakespeare’s Globe, lost his battle with cancer that night.  He was a wonderful actor with a beautiful soul and I’ll always have fond memories of him  He was my Antony and I spoke the above words to him.  And he was the first of our little tribe to pass on.  His death has hit us all hard.

So, the next time I see the arch of the Milky Way I’ll see a little bit of him, too.  And that’s a good thing…



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My honorable lords, health to you all!


François Morellet’s No End Neon at DIA:Beacon

Is its most distilled form, acting consists of three basic questions: what do I (meaning the character I’m playing) want?  what obstacles are getting in my way? and how am I going to deal with these obstacles?

I haven’t posted for a while because I’ve been dealing with some health problems (which I’m now starting to get under control).  This has been my obstacle for the past few months.

2019 has been a bit challenging so far.

Therefore… since I want to continue working while I get better, this means I’m learning how to deal with my new circumstances.

This has been very interesting because it’s forced me to take a look at what I want, what I don’t want, and how to continue in the healthiest way possible.  It’s caused me to take a long look at my priorities as an actor as well as a person.  Therefore, I’m trying to focus on work that I feel will be artistically rewarding and will place me in the proximity of (basically) positive and dedicated people.  Money is also important, but it’s far from my only consideration.  Honestly, I probably should have been using these guidelines long before now, but I guess that’s part of what I’ve been learning.

Teaching has been a good outlet for me during this time.  Part of my job as a teacher is to inspire my students (or at least to create the conditions where they become inspired).  In doing so, I typically become inspired myself.  This has been lovely.  Also, the smaller acting projects I’ve been working on have been very fortifying and have really helped me to get back down to basics.  Healthy artistic exchange is a very good thing, and we all need it.

Keep up the good fight, everybody!  Onward.


Tom Otterness – The Value of Food at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine

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March to the bridge, it now draws toward night


Newtown Creek at dawn

I generally try to keep my writing here on the upbeat side, but today is going to be a bit different.  It’s only right to share the bad as well as the good for the simple reason that no one lives a problem free life  and sometimes it can help to be reminded of that.  So… a few months ago, I was informed that I was under consideration for a rather prestigious gig.  It was an international job where I would be playing a great role for good pay, and (as you might guess) I wanted it bad.  Then, for several months, I kept getting word that I was still in the running… so I waited.  And waited.  And waited.

And I just found out that I didn’t get the job.

Well.  Ok.

So, I am now in the rather unenviable position of having no work lined up.  Just like that.  In a couple of days I’ll return to my own projects and I’ll hustle up some voiceover gigs as soon as I can, but at the moment I’m living with the fact that I made a fairly serious strategic error.

And I’m depressed about it.

Because no one really teaches you how to deal with this sort of disappointment, and no matter how long you work in this industry… you can still fall into traps and it never feels good when it happens.

So I’m going to give myself the same advice I would give to my students.  I’m going to take a few days to be melancholy (this time of year is great for that) and then… get back to work.  It’s all right to visit the Valley of Despair, but it’s dangerous to spend too long there.

Onward.  Even on cold and rainy November nights…


Newtown Creek at dusk



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I cannot by the progress of the stars give guess to how near to day.


Hyde Park’s Italian Garden frozen in time


It’s been a rough few months, but in the midst of all that I have managed to put together a first draft for the new project!

I’m not going to get into details right now because it’s largely in outline form and there aren’t that many details to give, but the draft gives me a starting place… and presents a new series of challenges (because that’s the way the artistic process works).

So, I begin my hunt for directors.  This is the most important and arguably the most difficult step in any performance situation.  Fortunately I like the process of meeting candidates because even if they’re not a “fit”, they’re usually interesting and enjoyable people.

And I’d better have some fun with this step because this project isn’t going anywhere until it’s done and this is the part that can really take time…

Onward! Because even glacially slow progress is moving you in the right direction.

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One, who for your dear sake watches the starless night

P3160829 JWong

Photo Credit: Jack Wong

How about this image that my friend Jack took while we were in Iceland? (and yes, that’s me on the left!)

I’m really glad he was able to send me this because it reminds me of the sense of pure awe that I felt that night.  Awe is a very interesting feeling because it’s becoming increasingly rare in the modern world.  This makes me sad because I have definitely felt it and it is very, very real.  Studies have shown that is can enhance feelings of belonging and can even make people more generous.

Basically, awe is good for us, and it may make us better people, too.

And that’s what I want to capture in this piece.  I’m not sure how this is going to work (staging a production designed to inspire pure delight might have some challenges), but that’s the goal.

Fill people with a sense of awe about the night sky, and hopefully they will become motivated to save it.

That’s good for everyone.  Onward!

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Doubt thou the stars are fire

1020 KThorsen

The images in the post would simply not exist without the guidance and teaching of Babak Tafreshi (these are from his Iceland Aurora Tour last month).  He’s a master photographer, and if you ever want to learn about Night Sky Photography, he is truly “the guy“…

I haven’t written in quite a while.  When I don’t have a singular artistic focus I tend to ramble, and I’m trying to avoid doing that.  It’s also been a busy time for me as I’ve been working on multiple projects.  In addition, we took a trip back to Iceland for the sole reason that I had wanted to see / photograph the Northern Lights since forever, and this tour presented a pretty amazing opportunity to do so.

Luck was on our side, too (as well as knowledge), and we were deeply fortunate to be in full view of a astonishing Kp7 aurora storm on our last night in the field.  We saw other aurora activity that week, but… wow.

So… what does this have to do with acting?  That’s a really good question, and one that I’m trying to work out.  For about two years, I’ve been having dreams and ideas about creating a piece about the night sky.  The trip to Mt. John Observatory in Lake Tekapo, New Zealand last year certainly fed into these “visions” (can I say that and still sound sane?), and notably, the only thing I brought back from tour in Korea was a reproduction of a 14th Century star map from the Joseon Dynasty called the Cheonsang Yeolcha Bunyajido (천상열차분야지도).

I think I’ve received enough signs from the universe, so I’ve decided to give this idea a whirl… partially because it won’t leave me alone, but also because the night of the Kp7 aurora storm felt exactly the same as the opening night of a very exciting show.

And I’m dead serious about that.  I felt a whole lot of things that night, but the similarity was uncanny.

So, that’s that.  Right now I’m in the phase where I’m asking a lot of questions.  I have about seven major ideas, and none of them are particularly easy (what else is new?).  I’ll be meeting with lots of others in the field, including my buddy Walter who has had continuing success with his show about Vincent Van Gogh.  Apart from that, I’m pretty sure it’s going to be multilingual, small – medium scale, and hopefully site specific.

No rushing this time, either because I now know what this kind of show requires in terms of resources and energy.  While I was preparing for the photography tour, I took a class at ICP.  I was basically clueless with an actual camera, or at least one that wasn’t part of my phone.  I was very nervous, and explained to the nice teacher that I had signed up for something that was absurdly out of my skill level, and I said to him, “I fear that my reach has exceeded my grasp”.  He listened to what I had to say, assured me that I would do just fine.  He also said that I would freeze… which was true, but I didn’t care much.

Later on, when I returned from Iceland, I would look up that quote by Robert Browning, which is from the poem Andrea del Sarto.  This is the segment I was referring to, which was unintentionally perfect:

“Speak as they please, what does the mountain care?
Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp,
Or what’s a heaven for?”
See what I did there?  Unintentionally?  Not bad, huh?
1733 KThorsen
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New joy wait on you! Here our play has ending.


I love this picture.  It was taken by a member of our production staff at the Seoul Street Arts Festival.

It’s been three months since I last wrote, and it’s been a long road back from SoKo (carrying some suitcases that were absolutely FULL of Korean cosmetics, too!).   So, as I look back and try to close out the experience, I have a few thoughts… Overall the tour was good.  We definitely had some scary stuff happen, but the friendships made and the overall experience were worth it. I also didn’t blog about everything.  As a matter of fact, I didn’t blog about a lot of stuff.  This was largely to avoid worrying people back home.  The truth is that we definitely had some missiles flying over our heads, and we were rehearsing in very close proximity to the war games that were upsetting the powers that be back home and in the North.  As a group, many of us were afflicted with health problems that resulted in trips to the hospital.  I never went to the doctor over there, but (in addition to the loss of a tooth), I developed a serious allergy which resulted in some pretty serious joint pain and a weight loss of twenty pounds (bonus?!).  I also squared off with some Russian spies (at least I think they were spies) right there on the property.  In Seoul, we were performing in the midst of some pretty serious demonstrations and the riot police were called in (they mostly just stood around in formation, though).

And I’ve never performed with my “go bag” onstage with me before!  (yay?!)

But, all that said… I loved our musicians and our production team.  Paul and I went from being good friends and countrymen to… friends who have shared an indescribable experience together.  Seriously – we’ve become like two old guys in the park who can only talk to each other about what happened back during the war.  I’m so thankful that there was another American there, and I’m particularly thankful for his friendship and perspective.  He also explained “survival ecstasy” to me after a particularly stressful day of war games, and it kind of kept me sane.  I hope I managed to return the favor when I convinced him that smoking bananas was a bad idea.  Also, our lovely Martina who helped us to represent 2013 at the Globe.  Our drummer Moon was like a beacon of light, our translator Mina was (and is) a fantastic friend to me, and my roommates Claudia and Karol… I have so much to thank those two for that I couldn’t write a long enough list.  It’s hard to join an existing group, and they provided me with a bridge to the ensemble and went to bat for me more times than anyone else.  Plus… cachaca and dancing the quattro (under all those fireworks!).

Touring, like most things in life, never quite goes exactly the way you think it will, but I’ll be telling stories about this one forever.

I loved the festivals, the pink sunsets, dressing in hanbok, eating mandoo, raspberry Kit Kat bars, the Korean language lessons, the camera operator who filmed us all the time, our wonderful students, the 노래방 room, the friends we made in town (and everywhere), the kindness of the Korean people, going to the DMZ, the modern architecture in Seoul, all the sheet masks, anywhere I could get good coffee, laughing until I was basically hysterical (see “survival ecstasy”), getting Western style food at Mad Hungry, making Korean traditional crafts for Korean television, and (oh, yes) the endless mantises that followed me (and only me) everywhere.

For all of these things, and for the entire experience, I have this to say: 고맙습니다


And, now I need to figure out what to do next… Onward!






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