A Day In The Life: Robin Reed

It’s time for another installment of A Day in the Life, and this time around I thought I’d focus on one of nytheatre.com‘s very own, the lively and delightful Robin Reed. In addition to being one of our longtime reviewers (you can read some of her recent work here, here, and here), Robin is also a talented and gifted actress who is very, very busy these days. She’s got three different shows in the works, has started her own theatre company, works several different day jobs, and has an active voiceover career. I’ll let her give you all the details, especially since she makes it all sound so fun.

With all this activity going on, Robin was kind enough to take some time out to share with me (and thus, all of you) how she does it. Here’s what she said:

Q: How many jobs are you working right now?

A: I love this question– I actually had to think and count it out on my fingers. Currently, I am doing three things somewhat regularly that pay me. It’s the first time in the better part of a decade that I’ve been in the city that I’m actually freelancing, and it’s working out so long as I don’t think about the fact that the paying jobs might actually end. I was a waiter and bartender for a long time, but gave it all up when I realized that I was beginning to hate people for things like the way that they held their fork. This realization conveniently coincided with me getting fired from my last restaurant job.

So currently, I work as a Simulated Patient for a company that hires actors to role-play with medical students. I’m also working for a small HR firm in Brooklyn doing similar simulations, but for the financial sector. And I’ve been helping out another actor friend who started up a floral design company with doing arrangements for events.

Oh, and I do voiceovers! How could I forget that?! I just recorded spots for HGTV and a hilarious radio spot for Bridezillas on Oxygen. I am still amazed that people pay me to talk! (Because I can think of a handful of folks that might pay me to shut up!) And occasionally, I do a kids show about evolution at the Museum of Natural History.

Q: You’re also working on three shows at the same time. What are they, and what are you doing with each of them?

The first is the debut performance of Cardium Mechanicum, the company I run with playwright Ed Valentine. We will present Mother is Looking So Well Today: a Grand Opera in 1 Page at The Brick’s Pretentious Festival (it’s one night only, June 3 at 7pm). It’s literally a Grand Opera, with a string trio and a chorus of thousands (or as many as we can fit on stage), in about ten minutes. I’m directing that one, and currently casting Mother’s 77 children.

I’m also rehearsing Macbeth Without Words, the latest in the Bizarre Science Fantasy series from Piper McKenzie Productions and the mind of Jeff Lewonczyk. We’ve been working on the BSF series since about 2004 now, and this is possibly the greatest undertaking yet: Shakespeare. Language-free! I play Malcolm, a witch and one of the murderers. That’s also part of the Pretentious Festival and goes up at the end of June.

Then, we just found out that we’ve been accepted to the New York International Fringe Festival! Cardium Mechanicum will present Scout’s Honor! Snipe Hunt and Becky’s Beaver, two plays by Ed Valentine, at FringeNYC in August. They’re two plays about scouting (boy scouts and girl scouts; you know, cookies, merit badges– the whole shebang) and are really funny. In addition to producing, I will be in the cast of Becky, which I’m excited about– I look great in green. Currently, Ed and I are meeting with directors, designers and kicking around casting ideas.

Q: Okay, so how do you balance all of this activity? What’s a typical day like for you right now?

My days are often pretty full, which is great. The balancing act can be tricky, but that’s part of the fun! There really has been no “typical” day lately– sometimes I’m literally all over the place, other times I spend the bulk of the day working from home.

For example, one day this week, I recorded the Bridezilla spot in midtown at 10am, had to be in New Jersey for the med school gig at 12:30, then I hit the Alain Mikli sample sale for some new eyeglass frames (it can’t be all business!) before a meet-and-greet at my agent’s office in midtown at 6 and then dinner with an out-of-town friend at 8:30 downtown.

But then today is a little more mellow– Macbeth rehearsal from 10-2, then this groovy little interview. I might even have time to catch up on some Netflix!

Luckily, weekdays lately have been peppered with voiceover auditions. I have a very basic studio set up at home, so I can record a lot of them myself and email them to my agent. That’s what “working from home” means in my world. And then every so often, I see a show to review for nytheatre.com.

Q: With everything you have going on, are you getting any sleep? And, do you and your boyfriend ever see each other?

Oh, I sleep. Man, oh man, do I sleep! I actually go to bed somewhat on the early side– I’m often knocked out by 11-12 at night. I wake up early. I get a lot done in the early hours. I don’t know when that started, and I still think of myself as a late riser, but I’m often up and going before 8am. I was really cuckoo for the out-until-4am thing when I worked in restaurants. If I do that now, I am completely useless the next day.

And yes, I see plenty of the boyfriend. Will is a computer guy in the process of starting a software company with a partner (I’d love to tell you what it is they’re doing, but I’m not well-versed enough in statistics to ever fully grasp his explanations!), so he’s also working from home quite often. With both of us here, space and noise can get tricky. Headphones are crucial. I’ve actually started to enlist him in projects for Cardium– he’s a fantastic photographer, which comes in handy when you need a publicity photo, and he knows a thing or two about websites– I like to say that I built cardium.org, but we all know he’s the man behind the curtain. We are also in the beginnings of talk of an upcoming Cardium project involving robots, which he’s taken up a fancy for building. That’s all hush-hush for now.

Q: Any other projects on the horizon for you besides your current ones?

We have an ongoing situation up on our website called The Crush Project. It’s recordings of dramatic readings of the “Missed Connections” section of Craigslist. We are in talks with a few folks about presenting it as an installation piece, but for now you can subscribe to it as a podcast on iTunes, or listen to it directly on our site. We’ve been lucky enough to have some fantastic actors from the indie theater world contribute their voices to it, including Fred Backus, Katie Brack, Maggie Cino, Jorge Cordova, Carrie Haugh, Nicole Higgins, Pamela Sabaugh, Skyler Sullivan and others.

In June, Ed Valentine and I are collaborating with the Museum of Natural History on a live show to accompany their new exhibit on Myths.

And we’ve also just finished a script co-written by seven playwrights (each took a turn writing about ten pages). We’re talking about collaborating with an artist up in Boston to present it as an animated series. We start doing the voices sometime between Mother… and Scout’s Honor.

As for me personally, it looks like I may head out of town in the fall to do a show with an old director friend in North Carolina.

Q: Any advice for all those multitaskers out there who may be having trouble juggling everything?

You know, I’m not one for self-help books, but I did read Getting Things Done by David Allen. He talks about a system whereby you break everything down into actionable tasks. It is so easy to get overwhelmed by everything– you know, there are about a hundred thousand steps that go into putting up a show. But when you break it down into actual actions, what you physically do, it makes it easier to get it all done. I’m a total nerd for lists. And day-planners. The old-fashioned pen-and-paper kind.

See what I mean? She makes this all sound so much fun. And easy. And, for Robin, it is. She thrives on having a full calendar, and those of us who know her are constantly learning from her that having a full life can sometimes help one live their life to the fullest. In a word: inspiring.

Clearly, theatergoers won’t be lacking opportunities to see Robin in action this summer, so I suggest you take at least one of them and check her out. You’ll be glad you did.

I want to keep sharing stories like these. I like them, and I hope you do, too. For every performer in New York, there’s a story like Robin’s. So tell me: what’s yours?

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