Things that are true about acting AND business

by M. Kendall Ludwig, president and principal designer, CurlyRed

Tonight is opening night for a production called Almost, Maine at the quaint playhouse Our Town Theatre in Oakland, Maryland. We're even featured on the cover of the local newspaper!
photo courtesy of Our Town Theatre (I'm on the bottom left!)
A few months ago, notices for open auditions came across my social media stream, and I thought, “Wow. It's been ages (6 years, give or take) since I've been on-stage. I miss it. Maybe it would be good for me, to meet some new people in this new town, and give me something to do on these cold winter evenings.” And that was the extent of my thought process before walking into auditions.

In the past 6 weeks, I feel like I've learned so much about acting as a craft. Then I began wondering how much of what I've learned on-stage translates to running a business. Here are some things that are true about both acting AND business:

1. Humility is key. This is my first attempt at performing in a non-musical, which meant that I really did have a ton to learn: pages of lines to memorize, working on facial expressions, learning to convey and shift from one emotion to another, learning how to make dialogue with another actor flow easily and naturally, and so on. It would have been easy for me to waltz into that first rehearsal with a huge ego given my past experience, but that wouldn't have served me, my director, or my fellow cast members at all. So I tried to keep my mouth shut, ears open, and asked for feedback regularly.

2. Unbiased opinions can be game-changing. My mom (who has directed theatre in the past) was in town, and I asked her to come to one of our rehearsals, when we were running through my toughest scene. This particular scene has the largest range of emotions, going from sadness to irritation to full-on rage. I was completely unsure of how to approach this scene. But right after rehearsal, my mom was able to give me verbal cues and moments to watch for, and even helped form an overall trajectory in my mind from where I needed to start emotionally and where I needed to end. Her comments were immensely helpful, and I'm extremely grateful she was there.

3. Building relationships and trust take time and consistency. I knew no one in the cast or crew at that first practice. No one knew me or my story. This was in some ways refreshing, but also daunting, considering how intimate acting can be. I needed to gain the trust of my cast, espeically my co-star Cory, with whom I share all 3 of my scenes. This required asking questions, being open and transparent about my own life, making the occasional silly comments, and simply trying my best to be kind and considerate. Now I think of everyone in the cast and crew as a friend of mine, and what a blessing that is! 

4. Practice doesn't make perfect, but it does build strength. Learning my lines was WAY more difficult than I imagined it would be. Perhaps that's because I'm 35, or just out of practice. But the only way I was going to become confident in knowing my part inside and out was hours and hours of practice. There's no shortcut, but now that I've completed the hard work, my roles have become almost muscle memory—I no longer have to panic about what line comes next, it's just there, waiting for me.

5. It's all about listening and genuinely reacting. This was what makes a good actor. Knowing my lines was essential, but then as soon as I did, I needed to “forget” my co-star's lines. I need to pretend like I have no idea what he's going to say or do next, and instead, really listen and react to what he's saying as if it's for the very first time. Man, it's so hard. And yet, that's what the authenticity comes in. My ultimate hope is that what I do on-stage will be so believable, that for a moment the audience will forget that they are watching me, and only see the characters I play.

Set for Almost, Maine | photo courtesy of Our Town Theatre
In my 10 years of running CurlyRed, I've seen so many of these things to be true about owning a business as well. Humility and willingness to receiving feedback from others is essential to my growth. Building relationships the right way has served me very well. Practicing my craft keeps me on top of my game. And really listening and reacting with integrity helps me do my best work for my clients. For those who are in the Western Maryland area, please come out and see me do some serious acting! Reservations can be made here.


Featured Client: The Institute For Integrative Health

It's hard to truly articulate all of the amazing things our client, The Institute For Integrative Health in Baltimore, does. So instead, we'll share how they describe themselves on the website:

“Despite great advances in medical knowledge and technology, chronic disease affects one in three Americans, leads to 70 percent of U.S. deaths, and accounts for 75 percent of health care costs. The United States spends twice as much as other modern nations on health care, yet the health of Americans is poorer and our lifespans are shorter.

To provide an environment for innovative thinking and action that will help to reverse this crisis, Brian Berman, MD, founded the Institute for Integrative Health in 2007. A charitable nonprofit organization, the Institute aims to create a wellness and medical model to shift our society’s focus from managing disease to promoting lifelong health.

Valuing the power of interdisciplinary collaboration, we pursue bold ideas that challenge the status quo and use cutting-edge science to understand the dynamic processes that affect our well-being. We incorporate this insight into actionable programs for individuals and communities.”

Quite noble work, right there. So we were delighted to begin working with Robin Yasinow, Imani West, and the entire team at TIIF. Over the past few years, CurlyRed has designed annual reports, invitations, newsletters and flyers for TIIF. Working with them has been a delight. We truly love creating good design for organization that has done so much good. Here are a few of our favorites from the past few years:

If you're looking for print design help for your company or non-profit, please contact us!


Upcoming presentations, right here in Garrett County!

Over the past decade, M. Kendall Ludwig, president and principal designer of CurlyRed, has done a decent amount of public speaking about design, branding, marketing, and owning her own business.

In the next few weeks, you'll have two opportunities to see Kendall present (if you're in the Western Maryland region—or just feel like making a long road trip):

1. Tuesday, March 21st, 2017 at 8:30am. Kendall will be presenting to the Greater Oakland Business Association (GOBA) on “Why Social Media Needs to be Part of Your Marketing Plan.” The meeting will explore what social media options are out there, what simple steps any business can (and should) take to get started, how to make a plan to be most effective online, and how to avoid time-consuming social media mistakes. Any business owner or organization director with questions or concerns in regards to social media should find value in this presentation. The meeting will take place at the Oakland City Hall. 

2. Friday, April 28th, 2017, Time TBD. Kendall will be presenting at the Power of Possibilities Summit on “How to Create a Dynamic and Powerful Website.” This talk will explore the different options one has when creating a new website, and things every website should include. Kendall will also talk about the crucial steps in the process of creating a website that's user-friendly, responsive, easy-to-navigate, visually compelling, and drives the viewer to a call-to-action. This talk is perfect for business owners or heads of organizations that don't yet have a web presence or are considering a re-vamp of an existing website. The summit will take place at Garrett College.

We hope to see you there!


Monthly Pinterest: Everything Zelda Fitzgerald

Is anyone else just in love with the Amazon series “Z: The Beginning of Everything”? Christina Ricci and David Hoflin (playing Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald) are both magical and compelling. It’s just so easy to get wrapped up in their lives: the fashion, the art deco style, the blissful words they wrote, the jazz music and flowing champagne.

We’re feeling inspired and wishing we could attend just one all-weekend-long party at Gatsby's mansion. 

good design for everyone