Category: Stoney’s Blog

Actor’s “Time”

We’ve all heard the term, “time is what you make it”. But to an actor, “time” can be a period that leads to greatness, failure or possibly insanity. As actors, we all have probably too much “time”. Most of us don’t work steadily, going from one job to the next. Yes, all is well when our time is consumed creating a character for a play, waiting on the set for a movie or learning lines for a commercial. But what about the “time” in between. The “time” when seemingly nothing is going on?

That’s when we as actors have to use that “time” to our advantage.

Ben Slack

A friend of mine, a great character actor Ben Slack taught me a valuable lesson when he was alive. We would get together from time to time, usually when he had some down-time which he had much less of than I did. We would come up with projects, acting projects, one act plays, short film scripts, a study of a play. I would usually get all involved with the project saying I would get something together for the next time we met. A short time would pass, I’d call Ben and ask if he wanted to see what I had only to be told that he just got a TV series or he was off to Europe for a months worth of filming and we’d talk when he got back. The next time we’d meet, he’d have a new project he wanted to explore. After a while I learned that these “projects” was how Ben spent his downtime. “Time” to keep his mind off not working and “time” to keep his actor muscles working.

Think about it…but don’t take too much “time”. Get busy.

“Quiet Your Actors Ego!”

How many times as an actor have you wondered about a class, a refresher, a workshop and been stopped by hearing that little voice in your mind telling you that “you don’t need this”,  Probably you’re ego, that little voice essentially telling you you’re better than all those schlubs sitting in those little wooden seats.

In the words of any number of cast members in the movie Goodfellas, “fugedabotit!”

Don’t listen to that voice. Go ahead and sign up.  Especially if you have experience in the subject you’re about to work on. As a matter of fact, all the better. Because of your experience, you will likely learn newer things at perhaps a higher level than others in the class. We all learn based on our own experience.


I have seen so many of us, myself included say, “I don’t need to do that” when in fact if you think it you probably need to do it. Freud published “Das Ich und das Id” a long time ago but what he explains about our Ego and our Id makes a lot of sense. Don’t substitute ego and bravado for real seat of your pants learning. As an actor, it’s an invaluable lesson

Country Music: Three Chords and the Truth!

I love country music. There’s nothing too fancy about it. But the words of the songs are the truth. Guys like Joe Diffie, Johnny Cash and Jamey Johnson inspire me.

Joe Diffie and the SRB

My guys, the Stoney River Boys have been together for five years now and every time we play it’s a pure joy to be on that stage. This Saturday the 4th of July, Congressman Tim Murphy, a good picker hissef’ sits in with us for the third time.

Congressman Tim Murphy

We’ve opened for Vince Gill and Kenny Chesney, Jamey Johnson and Joe Diffie. Saturday, we share the stage with Frank Viera, Sarah Marince and my friend Austin Webb. I hope you all come out for a real good time and great country music this Saturday right after my show on KDKA. Ya’ll come.

It Starts With the Chemistry

Cast of Out Of this Furnace


In the theatre, casting is living chemistry. We just closed our show with Unseam’d Shakespeare at the Studio Theatre in the Cathedral of Learning after a successful four week run but it all started with the casting that Producer and Artistic Director Laura Smiley and Director Lisa Ann Goldsmith accomplished when they made their choices for this play. From the first table read to the last matinee and closing show we all knew that we were of one spirit. Diverse actors from many different avenues, came together for six weeks and learned the play and our lines of course but so much more about each other and what we had to offer to the audience each night.

That dressing room was our sanctuary but it was also the “family” dinner table where we discussed and joked and shared our lives and yes, some of our dreams and hopes for ourselves and each other. We went out on that stage each night though as a unit of one with a singular goal of telling the story of the play Out of This Furnace.

When it’s all over actors as a rule hug and shed tears and vow to stay in touch. Sometimes you do and often you don’t but there are also times when you know you will, know matter how many years, shows or auditions go by. God bless this wonderful company, Unseam’d Shakespeare and Actors Equity who protects and celebrates actors like my cast-mates who are now part of my family.

A-Nother Opening; A-Nother Show!

You know the words to the song dontcha?


We’re up and opened for Out of This Furnace at Unseam’d Shakespeare in Oakland at the Studio Theatre in the Cathedral of Learning on Pitt’s campus!

Tickets at or follow us on twitter @unseamd and Facebook at

Opening night last night went well with a great audience and of course we were all relieved knowing that rehearsals are now over so it’s all about the show! I hope you can come see it as I think we have a great cast, a well directed show and a great story to tell. I’ll see you in the lights!!


Out Of This Furnace


We are well into rehearsals now for Out of This Furnace. It’s a wonderful play based on the book by Thomas Bell and adapted by Thomas Wolk. We tell the story of immigrants who helped build this country and ultimately the unions that protected them. It was a different era from the 1890’s to the 1930’s America.

It’s always a magical time from first read through to getting the play up in bare bones form to the sets that magically appear and the costumes that make the characters. It’s a really good cast, not surprisingly of professional actors with the Unseam’d Shakespeare Company. As the actors get their lines, the blocking sets our feet and everyday, something else is discovered about a character, a line reading a characters history.

Ultimately as actors we are discovering ourselves, as the characters we portray have apparently always lurked within us and our director Lisa Ann Goldsmith has tapped each and every one of us to bring that character to life.  It’s live theatre on an Actors Equity stage-and yes, it IS magic!

Getting It Out of the Room

I once had a guitar teacher who said, “practice all you want but eventually you’ll have to get it out of the room.” He was right. There comes a time when if you want to perform in front of people, you have to “leave the room” and get up on stage. It’s the same thing for actors.


I’d been working on this Jon Sincler; Hired Man one act play for awhile, researching, writing, editing. But nothing helps you get the blue pencil out faster than knowing you’ll be going in front of an audience.  Do you have trouble editing or deleting parts of your work? Knowing you’ll be doing it live in front of a room of people gives you as the creator, great objectivity.


I worked on this piece about Shakespeare and Jon Sincler for quite sometime but it was the folks connected to the Gallery on Third  in Carnegie who opened the door for me. I realized having been there before that the room had the right vibe and the perfect feel for a reading of this one act play of mine. Phil, Michael and Rob helped make that big step possible and of course everyone who attended the reading this past Friday night. Thanks everyone-there’s lots more to come.

Who is Jon Sincler?


Jon Sincler is the subject of my one man one act play that I’l be reading from Friday night at the Gallery on Third in Carnegie.

He is an actor who was apparently a friend of William Shakespeare. Jon Sincler  appeared in several of Will’s plays and we know this because several scripts show his entrance by name in the Stage Directions. I first came across his name in a book by Marchette Chute called “Shakespeare of London”. It occurred to me as an interesting point of view to have an actor who it seemed never played any big parts, as a friend of the greatest playwright of all time to give tribute to his friend at his funeral. In the play, Sincere, Sinklo, Sinclair (he’s been referred to by all these names-just for spell-checkers sake), not knowing what will ever become of Will’s plays, is hoping that the audience will see how important these works are and implores us to find a way to save them. This takes place in 1616 and it wasn’t until 1623 that the First Folio of Shakespeare’s plays were actually put on the market. So yes, it’s a work of fiction based on a little bit of fact but delivered by an actor who like so many actors over time has come to understand the importance of what William Shakespeare created.

Along the way we get an idea of what life was like for these Players in the numerous companies that Shakespeare led around London. This reading is only a portion of this play and is being read as tribute to Shakespeare close to his birthday which occurred, we’re told on April 23. (The reading is on the 24th).

For me it’s been an actors busy work. In down times over the years, I’ve pulled it out and performed at various venues. I thought it was time to bring it out again as a full One Act and this is the beginning of that process. Oddly enough, most of my research, dare I say was done before the internet existed! Yeah, they call ’em books! Now of course most of this history in a few mouse clicks away but still Mr.Sincler remains a mystery. If you attend or listen to the podcast reading here on the site, I hope you will enjoy and at least find an appreciation not so much for what I have written but for the words of William Shakespeare. Happy Birthday Will.

You Will Be Next…


Don’t let auditions freak you out. So many times we approach them wondering what the panel is looking for. So many times, I’ve been told, they’re looking for you! It’s taken me years to understand that and put it into practice.

So when you get a chance to read a prepared monologue or a side for movies or TV, go in with what you prepared. As actors we have no idea what “they” want. But it’s a good bet that they want to see a good actor doing the reading.

The rest of it is all intangibles. Size, height, a match to the stars on who the project rests, all sorts of things that we as actors can’t know and many times that the reviewing panel doesn’t realize till they get in the room and see what the casting director has brought them.

Shakespeare said, “suit the action to the word the word to the action”. Don’t be Michael from the movie Tootsie. If you’re auditioning to be a tomato, be a tomato!

An Actor At the Ready

Charles David Richards

As actors we never know when the next opportunity will happen. We’re ready with a headshot, resume, agents, contacts but what about a monologue?
You never know when that phone will ring and an agent, a casting director or a theatre company asks to “see” you at a moments notice.

So why not find some monologues that fit you, that you love(not just kinda like) and that show you the way you want to be seen.
I have three always at the ready. A Shakespeare, a Classical and a contemporary and I can do them at the drop of a hat.

Choose your pieces wisely, and work them while you run, while you’re driving or when you’re sitting in an office waiting to be “next.”
This way when you get that call asking that “we see you say, later this afternoon?” you don’t have to panic. Just grab your headshot and resume and know that your monologues are ready to get you you’re next job.