Welcome to the Performing Arts section of my website….a very different realm than the Healing Arts! (Or is it? See my recent blog post, “The Grandness of Being”, for further musings on that subject!)
Here, you’ll find my Performing Arts resume, personal reflections, and photos from past theatrical experiences.
I remember as a young child, maybe 5 or 6 years old, sitting in front of a full-length mirror in our vestibule, watching other beings, other “characters” emerge from my own reflected image. (I even remember some of their names!) Though perhaps more spiritual than theatrical in nature, that experience nonetheless was an indicator of my ongoing fascination with just who we really are, and was a precursor for my becoming a philosophy major…and ultimately a MindBodySpirit Healing Artist! That same sort of fascination also prompted me to explore how we, as actors, create a myriad of other characters on the stage.
Since I began acting, in my mid-twenties, I have spent a goodly number of hours either “on the boards,” or in front of a camera or microphone, as an actor, singer, dancer or voice talent. Not to mention the countless hours that go into preparing to be onstage or on-camera. (As I write this, I am in the midst of memorizing 16 pages of single spaced text for a one-woman show to be mounted in June-August 2015. (Yes, being an actor does call for a certain level of insanity!) But I can honestly say I’ve loved…..almost.….every minute of my on- and off-stage experiences.
WHY? WHAT IS IT THAT DRAWS ME TO ACTING? AND SINGING?
These are big questions, ones I intend to address more thoroughly in subsequent blog posts. So c’mon back, if you’re so inclined. For now, suffice to say I’m drawn to theater because of the microcosm of Life it is represents, with all its human challenges, frailties, joys and triumphs of spirit (on and off stage.) I love the depth of honesty and courage it calls for…. the baring of the soul that being an actor demands… connecting with fellow actors and audience members on that deep, honest, heart-to-heart level. Before going onstage, in whatever role, I always ask to “get myself out of the way”, to be a clear Vehicle, to let a Higher Love flow through me to touch each and every audience member in exactly the way they most need. I know this helps keep me centered! I believe that an actor’s ability to be fully present and give freely from the heart, soul and gut is what gives any role its real value. I delight in the moments I am able to do this, and I love the challenge and humility necessary to keep stripping away more and more layers of fears, so there may be more and more moments of Realness.
And singing. Now that’s really another whole long story. Clearing my instrument to allow an honest, pure expression of sound to come through me in the form of song is a work in progress, one I believe will continue until I leave this body. It is a deep, passionate drive within me, and is a large part of what drew me to my work in Sound Healing. Through the transcendental sound work I’ve experienced as a sound healer, I am learning more deeply how to apply that level of opening to my singing. There are volumes to be written on my experiences with all this up to this point, with volumes yet to learn. “Stay tuned”, if you choose. (Pun sort of intended!) Again, for now, let me simply say I can imagine no deeper fulfillment or better way to zap right into the hearts of others, than to sing with the unrestricted cooperation of my human instrument, allowing for the full, joyous expression of Divine Spirit.
Oh, and did I mention that sometimes I love acting and singing because they’re just plain FUN?! 🙂
FROM A DOG TO A GODDESS…
Most of my theatrical work has been here in the Eugene area, where I’ve lived since the late ’70’s. I have a handful of favorite roles from over the years, and I’ve decided to include a few thoughts and a couple of reviews about the two that are at the top of my list…They’re there for very different reasons. These are also the roles that people in our community seem to remember most. Again, for very different reasons.
For example, people still stop me….many years later….to say….”OH! You were that dog!!!” (or those with better recall for names: OMG, it’s SYLVIA!”) I’ve literally had complete strangers come up, utter those very words, and throw their arms around me, as if they’d just found their long-lost puppy. (The dangers of being upstaged by “kids and dogs” are well known. Playing a dog, however, seems to be another story!)
Here’s what Fred Crafts* had to say about “SYLVIA”:
” …What is also in the play’s favor is seven terrific roles for four actors. First, there is Sylvia, a tour-de-force role played to the whiskers by Nancy Hopps. She is everything a winsome dog can be – cute, peppy, poutty, sexy, irritable, you name it. She throws herself headlong into the demanding role and carries the day. A stunning performance!….”
(*Fred was, at that time, Eugene’s premiere arts critic; he has since become producer of Fred Crafts’ Radio Redux troupe, of which I am a proud member. – see Resume)
My other absolute all-time favorite role was that of INANNA. Inanna was a Sumerian Goddess, the Queen of Heaven and Earth. Kinda the other end of the spectrum from SYLVIA!
INANNA was a project that called to many of us on a deep soul level. For nine months, Catherine Vandertuin, former artistic (director) of Eugene Chamber Theatre, Madronna Holden, (poet), Jeffrey Allen- fka Jeff Defty, (composer and musician), met with a handful of us (actors) to reinvent this age-old myth. It is the oldest recorded myth, discovered on stone tablets in Sumeria. In brief, the main storyline is this: in a world dangerously out of balance, Inanna, separated from her sister Ereshkigalwho has been cast into the role of Queen of Darkness, follows a deep, inner calling, courageously descending into the underworld in search of healing and unification for herself, and for her culture. (Many thousands of years later, this classic story remains remarkably relevant.)
The re-creating and retelling of this age-old myth was a process so profound that a professional video company asked to film “The Making of Inanna.” It was shown repeatedly on Oregon Public Broadcasting.
This was more than a play. It was….a theatrical offering that had elements of theater, opera, classical mask-work, stylized movement, original live and recorded music and poetic text. This was one of those once-in-a-lifetime sorts of experiences, and each of us who was blessed to be involved in this project was forever changed by it. We performed it in several venues over the next 18 months due to audience demand. During the final production run, I was diagnosed with uterine cancer. Playing the role of Inanna, descending into the underworld and ascending into the Light of wholeness every night, and “channeling” an immense amount of audience and Higher Energy in the process, was an indescribable part of my own healing journey. There is much more to be said of all this, but for now, let’s turn to what two reviewers had to say, first Janice, then, once again, Fred Crafts…
” …The story of Inanna and her sister is a story distilled through five millennia of retelling into intense images which link the common human experience of countless cultures. This exceptional production condenses timeless human tales of jealously, rejection and acclaim, exclusion and inclusion, power, romance, and sensuality. Inanna, played by Nancy Hopps, is radiant, sensual, and powerful. She moves gracefully through the world of light in flowing gossamer garments, representing status, marriage, family, achievement, possessions, civilization – all that humans value and take pride in….”
“Nancy Hopps fairly beams as she casts her inner glow over the Eugene Chamber Theatre’s “The Descent of Inanna,” a dark and complex modern telling of a 5,000 year old Sumarian myth. Hopps does it all – sings, dances, acts. But primarily she makes you believe in the joys, pains and magnitude of Inanna’s challenges. Her Inanna embodies all the elements of both a sprite and a stone. She is vague and ephemeral one moment, specific and sensual the next. It is her show, and she puts an enormous stamp on it….”
I must address one thing: Fred said, “It is her show.” I know it’s a figure of speech, and though I deeply appreciate Fred’s words of praise for what I brought to the production, I must clarify that, as an ensemble endeavor from start to finish, it most definitely was, and remains, “our show.”
For listings of any current or upcoming performances, (including crystal bowls/sound healing performances) please see UPCOMING EVENTS. For more information about Nancy’s sound healing/crystal bowls performances, see SOUND HEALING.