Friday, July 26, 2013

Why we LOVE NY ACTORS MARKETING GROUP, or: Stop Procrastinating Now!

Hello and welcome to my blog!  Each blog entry will do its very best to include some useful advice for actors (and perhaps New Yorkers at large), as well as one music recommendation (because I can’t help myself).  Comments welcome – as well as sharing with your friends

I am a procrastinator. When I lived in Jerusalem, there was a sign on my closet door that read, “I’ll procrastinate tomorrow”.   As a self-employed person at my own one-woman business – Maayan Schneider, Inc. – opportunities to procrastinate are almost endless, and it takes a lot -  a LOT – to push myself to do those everyday things that actors must do: submit to projects, prepare for auditions, arrange for and meet with industry folk, work on our craft and oh, yeah, go to the day job and pay rent and do laundry and clean the house and maybe see friends and family sometime if we have  a free night (Free night? What’s that?)

To the rescue: Ms. Alexandra Hynes (, who advertised on Facebook that she is starting a NY Actors Marketing Group, inspired by Dallas Travers (an actor’s-business coach, to be discussed in a future blog). In the group, actors could meet once a month, set goals, and – because they are accountable to other persons in the group – push each other to pursue and achieve those goals on a deadline.

Our first meeting consisted of three people: Alexandra, Marissa Kelton ( and myself. At first I didn’t know how the meeting would go – we were strangers! – but Alexandra took the reins, asking each of us where we were in our career and what our immediate and long-term goals are. From there, each month we select that month’s goals - we write down the 5 things we’ll get done by the next time we meet. Then 2 weeks later, Marissa, who is the most organized person I have met in New York City, sends out a detailed Goals So Far email as a half-way mark, for us all to not lose sight of what we’ve committed to achieving.  While the make-up of the group has now changed, I have gotten SO MUCH done in the year and a half we’ve been meeting, because the group provides what we all need – FOCUS, SPECIFIC GOALS and ACCOUNTABILITY. I simply cannot arrive at our meeting without having completed the tasks I said I would complete.

Want proof? Our next meeting is coming up; one of my goals was to write and publish another blog entry by then….and you’ve just finished reading it.

To join an actors’ accountability group or start one of your own, check out
As always, some music to end:

I was introduced to Bear’s Den about a year ago, through one of my beloved Maayan-Please-Listen-to-This-You-Will-Love-It-Trust-Me friends (by the way, what is it with having the word “Bear” in a band’s name? Is it a sign of good luck? Bear’s Den, Boy & Bear, Jack and the Bear, Minus the Bear….. hmmm.)

Two of Bear’s Den’s members, Kevin Jones and Andrew Davie, once of the band Cherbourg, are now joined by Joey Haynes to make more beautiful music, led by touching lyrics and Davie's strong vocals.  I saw them live early last year at New York’s Mercury Lounge, after waiting outside for a while as the gig (part of “Communion Austin to Boston”) had sold out – and it was well worth it, as they were wonderful. So much so, in fact, that a friend I dragged to the gig with me leaned over in the middle of this song, “Pompeii”, and whispered: “Thank you for taking me to this show”:

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Why we LOVE SELF-PRODUCED PROJECTS, or “I Am My Own Best Friend”

Hello, and welcome to my blog! Each blog entry will do its very best to include some useful advice for actors (and perhaps New Yorkers at large), as well as one music recommendation (because I can’t help myself). Comments welcome – as well as sharing with your friends!

OK, I’m just gonna say it:  I’ve always been jealous of self-starters. You know, those people who dream up an idea of doing something creative, and then actually go through with it. I’ve seen friends start theater companies, found and finance short films, and even put up a musical or two. "WHERE DO THEY GET THE ENERGY?!" I asked myself, incredulous. “It’s hard enough trying to get into OTHER people’s projects!”

And then, about two years ago, my friend Lindsay Warren, herself a self-starter ( shared a really funny video on my Facebook wall: My Drunk Kitchen’s "BRUNCH?"   In addition to being hilarious, MDK’s very simply produced web-clip (all filming and editing is done by creator Hannah Hart) inspired me to put into practice a dream I had had for a while, ever since watching BalconyTV online: making my own music-recommendation show.

As I shared this idea with more and more friends, it magically grew:  from being a small video, to be shot in my kitchen on my little Canon PowerShot and edited on my laptop, it became Maayan’s Music Minute, a Web Series whose pilot was shot on location, outside a music venue in Brooklyn, on a DSLR camera, and then edited professionally. It was directed and co-produced by my friend and fellow actor Pamela Karp (; shot by a professional DP, Ronald J. Lewis (who happened to be a friend of a friend);  we were assisted by 2 volunteer PA’s (that’s Production Assistants  - a lovely music-loving friend and my wonderful little sister); and the clip even offers a free music download, granted by the artists.

How did I find the energy to get and keep this whole thing going? All I can come up with for an answer is this: optimistic, almost Pollyanna-like, ENTHUSIASM. The more I spoke about the project, the more excited I got – and despite the predictable (and some unpredictable) troubles and delays, we kept at it and I am very proud of the end product, which now has the added benefit of serving as my host reel.  I’m happy to say, MMM: Episode 2 (now easier to produce, as we had all developed a shared vocabulary and a sense of ease in working together) is already complete and up on YouTube as well. Huzzah!

Other inspirational self-starters worth mentioning are actor and tech-guru Gary Ploski, who co-produced the film Rising Star; fellow Neighborhood Playhouse alums, the multi-talented Jefferson Rogers [] and Maggie Levin []; and all trained and talented actors, who decide not to wait for someone to open the door for them– but rather to draw a door, open it, and walk right in. You can do it too – all it takes is an idea, some friends who believe in that idea, and lots and lots and LOTS of energy and patience.

Here’s to you and your self-produced project!

And now for some music:
Of all the wonderful modern-folk music deluged upon us from near and far, I’d like to spotlight a fellow who many consider the Godfather of the “New Folk” rebirth in London – Johnny Flynn.

Mr. Flynn is a trained actor, like us (he performed opposite Mark Rylance in Jerusalem, Twelfth Night and Richard III  in London, all to great acclaim); however, unlike us (well, unlike me), he also plays roughly 500 instruments, including ones as varied as the violin, the dobro and (wait for it -) the trumpet (!) A talented songwriter, his lyrics are clearly influenced by voracious reading - anything from Shakespeare to Catholic religious rites to traditional folk poems. In my mind, Flynn is the most troubadour-like of the new-folk musicians from across the pond; he is the kind of singer-songwriter you can easily imagine hitchhiking along deserted country roads, carrying only a knapsack with Gouda cheese in it and a guitar case.  Johnny Flynn used to tour with both Laura Marling and Mumford & Sons, but now headlines his own tours, and beautifully so. I got to see him live twice so far, and while to me “Howl” is his most impressive song (as in it he sings and plays guitar AND trumpet), I think a lovely way to start getting to know him is the beautiful, world-weary, “Barnacled Warship”. Enjoy.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


Each blog entry will do its very best to include some useful advice for actors (and perhaps New Yorkers at large), as well as include one music recommendation (The music is a bonus, because I can’t help myself).  If you like it, tell me and share with your friends! If you don’t, write me a kind, gentle note down in the comments section to tell me how I can improve! Thanks!

Hello and welcome to my brand new blog, MAAYAN’S NEW YORK MINUTE!  The first recommendation I have is for an organization that some of you may already know– the wonderful, wonderful Theatre Development Fund, or as I like to call it, Hey! We Can Get Broadway Tix for $40 a pop without waiting in line for half the day!

We all love theatre (I assume, as we are in this business) – but on an actor’s salary, you can’t always afford to watch all the theatre you want to see and also, for instance, pay rent and eat. And standing in line at TKTS, or entering the various Broadway lotteries, can be very time-consuming too, unless you have an out-of-town guest who’ll do it for you….  Which is where TDF comes in, like an adult’s tooth-fairy, making our theatre dreams come true.  

As per their website, part of the TDF mission is, “[…] to encourage and enable diverse audiences to attend live theatre and dance in all their venues.” What this means is, if you are a performing arts professional; full-time student (high school or above), or full-time teacher; union member; 62+ retiree; civil service employee; staff member of an NPO; or a member of the armed forces or clergy* then you can buy an annual TDF Membership (currently $30) and pay a discounted price for many shows on and off Broadway, as well as enjoy an Off-Off-Broadway special of $9/show. The shows offered change DAILY.  Amazing!

Just to give you an idea, recent shows offered though TDF include comedies (Talley's Folly; The Lyons; Chinglish; Relatively Speaking), dramas (Ann; The Trip to Bountiful; Cat on a Hot Tin Roof; The Heiress; Cyrano de Bergerac; Stick Fly;  Wit on Broadway; Venus in Fur), musicals (Annie; Cinderella; Bring It On; On a Clear Day You Can See Forever; Phantom of the Opera; Rock of Ages, and even Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark) and variety shows (such as the terrific Fuerzabruta!). A while back, a friend and I saw the amazing Jerusalem TWICE through TDF, each time paying a mere $38.50 per ticket. WOW!

To join, register and pay through their Website, (now offering a spring special, $25 instead of $30); you then have to mail them proof that you do indeed belong to one of the groups listed above (at the time, I’d sent in a postcard of a Fringe show I was in, Leslie Bramm’s Venus and Mona). That’s it! You and your +1 (or 2, or 3...) are good for a YEAR of really, really affordable Broadway and Off-Broadway theater. Hurray!!

* Summarized from the TDF Website,

And now for the music recommendation:
The only individual to have recently succeeded in gallantly fighting his way to my heart through the dark iron curtain that is New Folk Music From the UK and Beyond, is GOTYE. His latest album, Making Mirrors¸ is diverse and beautiful (and to be honest, by now you may well be sick of “Somebody That I Used to Know”), but on current constant-replay at the Schneider household is an older track, “Heart’s a Mess”, from 2009. It’s like Bjork had a change of heart about that whole swan dress business and decided to become a young Australian crooner, instead. Enjoy!