The Story of Me and Spiders (this has nothing to do with acting)

If you know me, you know that I’m not really afraid of spiders. In fact, since moving to the city two years ago, it’s not unheard of for me to say something like, “I miss my spider friends.” They just don’t hang out in city windows and door frames as much as they do in the suburbs or out in the country, and I miss them. It’s odd. I know.

Today, I happened upon a journal entry from 2012 that tells the story about how spiders and I.  Full disclosure, I made some edits as I transferred this from my journal to these here internets, but the voice is still pretty strongly 2012 Sarah Karnes. Here:

When I was a girl, I would sit and watch spiders go about their business. I always considered time spent in their company, watching their web weaving, as time well spent. Sometimes I would linger after their work was done to see what they did in their downtime. It turns out, they mostly just sit in dark corners and wait for unassuming and innocent flies to take a wrong winged right turn into their gossamer spires.

These spiders made their homes on the outside of our second-story windows, which were divided by brown panes into three: two perfect squares topped by a large rectangle. It was in those bottom squares that the spiders made their homes. The panes provided unparalleled support, certainly better than any breezy branches or bending grass blades. The panes also served as a perfect perch for the spiders to crouch in their silent hunt. Some spiders would stay in our windows almost a month, square and sufficient as they were. I’d check in on them, see how they were doing. In some sort of girlish morbidity, I would watch with excitement whenever an unsuspecting fly would find itself entwined in the spider’s web. The spider would slowly emerge from its corner, using its many legs to gauge the fly’s location. Then, with light rapidity, the spider was on the struggling fly, wrapping it with sheer spider-wire that layered and grew white as the nimble and macabre scene played out. Then, stillness, as the spider drank life from limb. I would sit, fascinated.

On some of my more curious and mischievous days, I’d explore the webby homes of garden spiders, the ones that stayed in the yard, not venturing to windowed heights like their cousins. These spiders could undoubtedly spot my approach from a distance: here comes girl, unafraid. Plucking a grass blade or a leafy bit, and with my face close, I’d toss the decoy into the spider’s house. Some would pounce, only to be met with hungry disappointment. Others, like a retriever often tricked into fetching a ball not thrown, would roll they’re multiple eyes in disgust, staying firmly planted center web.

Once, I worked up the courage to touch the orblike abdomen of one such garden spider. He was firmly established on a stretched web outside of our old playhouse. I slowly approached, knowing that no harm would befall me in my innocent need to feel. With a quivering hand and a sense of true bravery (I might as well have been fighting one of history’s violent hoards), I reached out and gently brushed the spider’s body. I yanked my hand back with a nervous giggle as soon as I’d made contact. I had touched a spider and lived to tell it. The spider didn’t seem to mind. Perhaps it was warmed by the ambassadorial greeting from cruel humanity. And, all fear demolished between myself and the creature, I touched it again. This time actually petting it like a child would a cat’s nose. It was soft and orange with red shapes patterning the whole of it. It reminded me of the time I pet a boa constrictor; there was no rough scaly skin, only structured smoothness. It became sort of a habit, and for a while, I was the girl that touched spiders and liked it,

Still Time to Catch My Man Godfrey @ Theater Schmeater

Pictured: Eric Smiley, Teri Lazzara, Sarah Karnes

Pictured: Eric Smiley, Teri Lazzara, Sarah Karnes

Audiences are laughing their way through My Man Godfrey, and you should join them! There are only two more weekends left to catch this rare classic screwball comedy.

Here are a few of the reviews so far:

“Directed by Doug Staley, this show was beautifully set and costumed, and the theater was full of eager patrons. This madcap rom-com whipped the audience up into fits of laughter throughout the play. The performances of Alysha Curry as Molly the maid, Sarah Karnes as Irene Bullock, and Teri Lazzara as Angelica Bullock all displayed quick comedic timing and attention to detail that kept the audience laughing all night. Between the costumes and the drinks, the jokes and the jewelry, this production was certainly a party.” – Drama in the Hood

“Sarah Karnes’ portrayal of the bratty, diluted Irene is a delight. Teri Lazzara brings sauciness to the flighty Angelica Bullock. As her piggish “protégé” Carlo, Lantz Wagner is so dramatic in a really entertaining way. Terrence Boyd’s Alexander Bullock was an enjoyable victim of circumstance.” – BroadwayWorldSeattle

TICKETS HERE

Up Next: My Man Godfrey @ The Schmee

Turns out one of my favorite movies of all time, My Man Godfrey (starring William Powell and Carole Lombard) is also a play, and I am beyond excited to share with you that I will be playing Irene Bullock in Theater Schmeater’s … Continue reading

Tickets on Sale Now!

Tickets for Leavenworth Summer Theatre’s 2016 shows are on sale now! I’m performing in all three productions this summer: The Sound of Music, Singin’ in the Rain, and Beauty and the BeastSound of Music and Singin’ in the Rain are both outdoor productions.

Tickets do sell out, and there are no wait lists, so get your tickets while you can! It’s going to be a wonderful summer.

Click here to buy tickets.

Up Next: Another Summer in Leavenworth

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I’m happy to announce that this summer I will return to Leavenworth, WA, where I will perform in all three musicals at Leavenworth Summer Theatre!

This season I will reprise my role as Baroness Elsa Schraeder in The Sound of Music as well as play the Wardrobe in Beauty and the Beast and Zelda (Lina Lamont understudy) in Singin’ in the Rain.

Come out and see the shows, if you can. It’s sure to be a wonderful summer.

Tickets go on sale June 3rd.
Show dates here.

See you there!

Up Next: Challenger

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Come April, I will portray Teacher-in-Space Christa McAuliffe in the Seattle premier of Challenger. Originally devised by a student ensemble at Central Washington University, Challenger is a six-woman show that tells the story of the shuttle disaster and aftermath as a unique ensemble piece.

January 28th marked the 30th anniversary of the disaster, and this show in memoriam will be a moving tribute to the crew who lost their lives in 1986, while also serving as a poignant reminder that in the face of disaster, we must continue looking to the stars.
Click here for more information.

We are also in the middle of a GoFundMe campaign to take care of the rest of our expenses and help Rocket Theatre Lab continue its good work after the show closes. If you can give, even just a few dollars, we would greatly appreciate it. Your support makes shows like ours possible. Donate here.

Plays at The Pocket Theatre – TICKETS
Thursday, April 7, @ 7pm
Friday, April 8 @ 10pm
Friday April 15 @ 10pm
Saturday, April 16 @10pm

Up Next: She Loves Me

She Loves Me

Seattle Musical Theatre presents perhaps the sweetest musical around, She Loves Me (directed by Alan Wilkie, musical direction by Joshua Zimmerman), opening Dec. 4th and running through Dec. 20th. Click the image for more info.

She Loves Me is a musical adaptation of the 1940 Jimmy Stewart classic, Shop Around the Corner, which itself was based on a Hungarian play by Miklós László. And if those don’t ring a bell, surely you’ve seen You’ve Got Mail, yet another in a long-ish line of adaptations. It’s a charming bit of theatre (with some stunning voices), and I recommend that you make a date of it (no, really….if you’ve got a date, this is good for that). Or if you’re more like me and take in your theatre dateless, come for a bit of light, warm, fuzzy cheer. Like egg nog, a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils or, in this case, vanilla ice cream. 

Oh yeah, I’m in the ensemble. So there’s that reason to come, too. 😉

Lizard Boy – A Belated Non-Review

I’ve been working on this piece in between work and rehearsals for a few weeks now, trying to determine exactly what I want to say about Seattle Repertory Theatre’s production of Lizard Boy. I could wax philosophic about how we can each be the hero in our own lives. I could warn against Fear, the quiet villain, whose power to keep us comfortable cripples. I could draw a parallel between Huertas’ childhood dreams of being Spiderman to my childhood dreams of being Batman (true dat). I could rant on the need to revitalize our ability to suspend disbelief, etc. I could easily write about any of those things. In fact, I already have full paragraphs about them, but they don’t accurately express my feelings. So, here goes my final attempt:

Once upon a time, the late Jerry Manning asked Justin Huertas to write a play. So Justin Huertas did. Then he doused the play with music and dragon blood, and it turned into a superhero.

This is not a review.There may be spoilers and unexplained references. There will not be a synopsis or summary of the plot, character analysis, or background information. If you want those things, check out the many articles, reviews, interviews, etc. written about the show: I’m helpful, so here’s a link. Instead, this is a fan letter, of sorts. A thank you card sent after receiving an awesome gift. This is unabashed applause, praise, and a city-wide shout for an encore.

The first time I saw Lizard Boy was as a volunteer usher, and I sat in the balcony. I had heard great things about the show, but I really didn’t know what to expect. It wasn’t long before I was laughing with and relating to Huertas’ Trevor. He was someone I recognized. A semi-fictional rendition of people I know. And as he tried to decide on his dating app profile header, “looking for now” – because he was only looking for a moment (y’know, for now), I thought, “Oh yeah, this is my sense of humor.” Then Siren exchanged Trevor’s cell with a ukulele and Trevor seamlessly continued using it, seguing into an IM conversation with dueling instruments, and I thought, “Yesssssssssssss.” Eloquent, I know. But it was at that moment that I knew I was witnessing something rare, something unafraid to be truly inventive, while also being truly real.

Let me explain. Trevor, Carey, and yes, even Siren to a degree, are all versions of people I know. So much so that it actually astounded me as I sat in the audience. “Hey, don’t I know that guy? I think I know that guy.” Sure, the story is about a burgeoning superhero – a scaly local origin story – but it’s told with a cast of characters you would find walking down any street in the city. It’s told through conversations you would overhear in any corner coffee shop. Isn’t that what theatre is supposed to be? Real people and real conversations in fictional environments. Truth in the moment even when the moment involves a rock-star murderess with telekinetic, telepathic, siren-song powers.

The second time I saw Lizard Boy, I got $5 tickets with a friend, and we sat in the front row. In Seattle’s Leo K. Theatre, the front row  is, as my friend put it, “…a cockroach’s-eye view.” But from our up close and personal seats, I could see things I hadn’t seen the first time, and I don’t just mean Justin Huertas’ back molars. I could see the work made effortless, the changes in the actors’ eyes as they moved inside the minds of their characters, the tears on Kirsten deLohr Helland’s cheeks. I could feel the choreography, both physical and emotional. And when Trevor, Carey, and Siren grabbed their instruments, plopped criss-cross-applesauce down center (aka our laps), and sang us the story of the Lizard Boy of Point Defiance, I felt like a kid around a campfire, caught up in a scary story, giddy as all get-out. That night was also the anniversary of Jerry Manning’s passing, making it all the more meaningful, especially to the actors who had worked so enviously close to him. After the show, Justin Huertas, William A. Williams, and Kirsten deLohr Helland took the stage once more to pay him tribute. They sang a cut song from the show, one Jerry had loved, called “Old Man.” With tears in my eyes, the night was complete.

Though it’s been a few weeks since the show closed, I would like to say thank you to the Cast, Crew, and Production Team of Lizard Boy. Thank you for putting a huge smile on my face. Thank you for your crystal clear dedication and devotion. Thank you for reminding us what theatre is supposed to be, for sharing truth in the moment, and for sparking our imaginations with your energy. You’ve reminded us that we are our own protagonists, and we have to decide whether or not to be the villain or the hero on a daily basis. Your work was a concert, a dance, a master class in ensemble theatre. Please come back. Please show us more. Because we’ve fallen in love with the boy who looks like a lizard.

 

The “It” Girl

Have you ever seen a Clara Bow movie?!

I hadn’t until last night. I knew Clara Bow. I knew she was the sex symbol of the 1920s. I knew she was this gorgeous, smokey-eyed darling of the Silent Film Era. But last night, I watched the movie that defined her image: It (not to be – and how could it – confused with that creepy Curry clown movie).

I’m currently in rehearsals for The Boy Friend down at Renton Civic Theatre, and as a part of my research, I decided to watch a silent film comedy or two to get into the 1920s spoof of it all. I found It in a library’s silent film collection and thought that the plot sounded just right: shopgirl Clara Bow falls for big boss Antonio Moreno. I turned it on, thinking I would watch 30 minutes or so, pick up some mannerisms, and then move on to an episode of Friends before bed. But I got hooked! I watched all 70-ish minutes with a smile. What a delight!

When my siblings and I were little, we made extensive use of our local library’s (small) movie collection. That meant we watched recorded ballets, nearly every episode of Faerie Tale Theatre, and slapstick silent movies. To my shame, I had assumed most silent films, whether comedy or drama, all had that Keystone Cops buffoonery. I expected nothing more from Clara Bow and It. But it didn’t take long for me to realize my mistake. Clara Bow was natural, charming, believable, lovable. I fell for her in an instant.

And her character, Betty Lou, was no weak-willed damsel in distress. In fact, she was a hard-working girl, trying to maker her way, look after her single-mother friend, and struggle beneath labels and assumptions. I acknowledge that the film is not a picture of feminist perfection or anything, but I was surprised at how relatable I found Betty Lou. She could easily be a character you’d find in a contemporary indie comedy. And I loved that.

But Betty Lou wouldn’t be squat without Clara Bow. And as I watched, I felt that actorly longing that hits me when I watch Jessica Chastain, Meryl Streep, Amy Poehler, Patricia Clarkson, Sally Hawkins, Emma Thompson, etc. I wanted to be Clara Bow. Goofy, confident, uninhibited and human Clara Bow.

She stole my heart while stealing every scene, and I can’t wait to watch more.

 

 

Up Next: The Boy Friend at Renton Civic Theatre

On April 20th, I will start rehearsals for Renton Civic Theatre’s production of Sandy Wilson’s The Boy Friend, directed by John Kelleher. I will play Fay, one of Polly’s school chums, in this delightful musical comedy set in the 1920s.

The show will run June 12th-27th. See here for tickets and more details.