I’ve Got My Shakespeare to Keep Me Warm

Hey Y’all!

It’s the end of January, and I’m glad to be back in the sunny South. While Memphis had its first ice storm of the season, I wasn’t around to enjoy the snow days.  I was somewhere even colder (where -25F wind chill was common) for the sake of Shakespeare, kicking off 2018 with world-renowned faculty and my fellow students during Shakespeare & Company’s Month-Long Actor Intensive in Lenox, MA.

Lenox Snow

Lenox Sunrise in the Snow

Shakespeare & Company’s winter intensive is considered a premier classical training program. This January I studied text, movement, and Linklater vocal work with my acting comrades six days a week for 14 hours a day. From sunrise to well after dark, the process was grueling for everyone, challenging the intellect, spirit, and body. I felt exhausted every night, yet was raring to try again the next morning—failing better with every step forward.

By the end of the month, I realized I was a warrior artist.

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2018 Shakespeare & Company Month Long Intensive Class Picture

 

Training with these amazing artists taught me about showing my heart, being vulnerable, and committing to the challenge in spite of fear. I’m a better artist and human because of it. Now I’m ready to share this compassion to those around me and the world.

My journey to Lenox would not be possible without the generous help from the Mississippi Arts Commission Artist Minigrant I received. This project was supported in part by funding from the Mississippi Arts Commission, a state agency, and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency. Many thanks
to my local and national legislators as well as everyone who supports arts.

What’s next for 2018? More art, more love, and more opportunities to connect, contribute, and collaborate I hope. Y’all ready to kick it?
Until next time,
Merit

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A Fall Filled With Shakespeare

Hi y’all!

We’re now in the midst of the holiday season filled with sweet treats, Secret Santa parties, and fun festivities as 2017 comes to a close. It’s the perfect time to reflect on this year that’s quickly winding down.

Best part of 2017 for me? Easy. A fall working as a teaching artist and actor with Tennessee Shakespeare Company (TSC).

Romeo and Juliet Project 

While I’ve worked with TSC for a year, this fall was my first time to engage with Shelby County students as a teaching artist for the Romeo and Juliet Project.  RJP is a nationally acclaimed residency for Memphis Schools dedicated to exploring the text with students how Shakespeare intended—by speaking, acting, and hearing Romeo and Juliet aloud. We use this experience to rehearse and discuss non-violent responses to conflict and have reached over 5,000 freshmen within an academic year. For more info, check out the video from last year’s R&J Project here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bjwJppSx1LQ&feature=youtu.be

Watching students connect with the text is an amazing testament to how relevant this story remains after hundreds of years. Although I taught students, I learned so much myself as I gained more compassion, empathy, and understanding through the work.

 

Getting Them Reps In (Repertory, that is)

In addition to my work as a teaching artist, I also performed with my fellow cast mates for TSC’s first repertory experience during the Shout out Shakespeare series. TSC provided free performances of Julius CaesarRomeo and Juliet, and Shakes, Rattle, and Roll, a Shakespeare review using Memphis music.  I loved performing Romeo and Juliet and Julius Caesar to so many people of all ages and in so many different locations including the Germantown Library, the Collierville Town Square, and Overton Square Pavilion (my fave).

 

Yup, it’s been a busy fall working with one of my favorite theatre companies. The experience has changed my life, made me a better person, and included too much fun with generous artists. (Also, playing with swords during a 9 to 5 workday? Yes, Please.)

For more information about getting involved with TSC, visit https://www.tnshakespeare.org and check out their latest show “Waiting for Godot” at the Dixon Art Galleries December 7-17!

 

Until Next Time,
Merit

 

Julius Caesar 2017 @ Overton Square

Julius Caesar 2017 @ Overton Square

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Memphis Music Fun + New Demo Release

Happy Tuesday, ya’ll!

While I don’t have a video to share this week, I do have some exciting news that’d I think you’ll enjoy!

New Band Camp Tunes!

This spring I spent some time at Dynamic Score records and emerged from the studio with a few original songs produced with the full band! It was great to bring in ridiculously talented musicians to play for this project including fiddle, bass, drums, and even steel guitar and accordion.  While this is just the beginning step for the full debut album (hopefully released Spring 2018), we came up with some amazing demo tracks for everyone to enjoy.

You can download your own copy for FREE (or name your own price) by visiting
https://www.meritkoch.bandcamp.com

You can also listen to it out here:

 

I also had the pleasure of  hanging out rooftop style with the ragtag acoustic band Shufflegrit last Saturday, playing stripped down versions of everything from Elvis Presley to Prince. I had a great time in downtown Memphis playing music at the farmer’s market and then ending my night with Shufflegrit.

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Check them out on Facebook here. You can also hear their latest tunes from their last gig at Lafayette’s here:

As always, you can find all the info about these hip shows and  events by checking out my Facebook site here. I’d love to see ALL Y’ALL there.

Until next time,
Merit

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New Merit Koch & Co. Video with Six Carolino!

Hey Y’all!

This week I am bringing back the Merit Koch & Co. video series where I interview awesome artists who are making amazing art. In this second episode, I talk with filmmaker Six Carolino about his craft, collaborators, and presidential #BroCrush as well as his latest project The Gauntlet Run.

He is in the LAST week of crowdfunding for Gauntlet Run and needs our help to make his awesome film a reality. Click here to check out his Kickstarter.

 

 

You can find Six at all his social media stuff below:
https://www.thelegendarysix.com/
https://www.facebook.com/welcometothegauntlet
https://www.instagram.com/dancenocturnal
https://twitter.com/dancenocturnal

I’ll see y’all next week, where I tackle another Real Talk Tuesday (#RTT) topic and announce some exciting news about upcoming projects! You won’t want to miss it.

Until Next Time,
Merit

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A (Short) Summer in Ohio–Be A Quitter

Oh hey, y’all. So I knew that I hadn’t posted in a while, but it’s actually been six months! My bad. Let’s catch up.

While a lot has happened this spring, including more TSC Literary Salons and music projects like recording demos with Dynamic Score Records (check out everything on the Instagram by clicking here), the big catch of my past six months was booking a summer gig at Cedar Point Amusement Park–America’s Roller Coast!

It was a great work environment with tons of talented people. The people of Ohio have all my love and respect, and I had a blast playing with the boys of Bluegrass Jamboree.

Everything was going great, except I was struggling to keep my voice and body in shape because I was allergic to the environment. Yup, I was allergic to the state of Ohio.  For two and half weeks, I battled allergies. I took more meds than I ever had taken in my life. Saw multiple doctors. Even moved into two different hotels, one across town to get relief from the Cedar Point marina and one in another town altogether. I still felt awful, so I had to quit my awesome dream job.

There are lessons to be learned from this experience, even if my ego still kind of hurts. So to save you some potential heartache, check out the latest Real Talk Tuesday (#RTT) about Angela Duckworth’s definition of grit and persistence as well as the vital freedom to quit.

So tl;dr I am back in Memphis and working to bring you more content to the blog and Youtube space. Let’s make this summer a great one! 

 

Until next time,
Merit

P.S.
I am now a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. (Yay!) I ONLY recommend books or products that have helped me and that I think you guys would enjoy. The “fees earned” from you using this link help me cover biz expenses for content like this!

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Kicking off 2017 With Some Fine Southern Flair

Hey Y’all!

We are just wrapping up the first month of 2017, and I’m excited for what this year will bring. It’s already been a productive month of preparations for the upcoming audition season with only a few broken New Year resolutions. (I’m still going to the gym, if only occasionally.)

However, the highlight of my month was to join my favorite group of actors for Tennessee Shakespeare Company’s Literary Salon, Eudora Welty: Mississippi Myth. 

Property of Tennessee Shakespeare Company. 2017

Eudora Welty: Mississippi Myth/PC: Jillian Barron, TSC 2017.

I had the honor to perform beside the marvelously talented TSC actors Dan McCleary, Stephanie Shine, Marquis Archuleta, and Jillian Barron for this fun-filled night that included Welty inspired cocktails (Haymaker punch, anyone?) and readings from her works. Stephanie Shine curated the event and included selections of Welty’s short stories such as the well-known “Why I Live At the P.O.” and the heart-breaking “The Whistle.”

It was a magical night dedicated to Southern culture and art.  I always give thanks to the generous sponsorship and support that helps organizations like TSC thrive to enrich the community and give actors like me a marvelous place to play and create.

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Eudora Welty: Mississippi Myth/PC: Jillian Barron, TSC 2017

The Eudora Welty: Mississippi Myth Literary Salon was quite a party that we won’t soon forget. Fortunately for you guys that missed this swinging shindig, TSC has yet another Southern Literary Salon in April! Visit www.TNShakespeare.org to buy tickets for the Flannery O’Connor: Georgia Gothic Salon on April 21, 2017.

Until Next Time,

Merit

 

 

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“The Winter’s Tale” @ TSC

Hey y’all!

It’s getting colder here in Memphis as we approach the winter season. As much as I’m glad not to have the miserable humid heat of summer, this Southern gal doesn’t do particularly well in icy temps.

Fortunately,  William Shakespeare wrote such a play for those of us who need some extra warmth to our bones during these solemn months, and Tennessee Shakespeare Company in collaboration with the Memphis Hunt and Polo Club is playing host to such a merriment.  Join us for none other than a staged reading of The Winter’s Tale 12:30-3:30pm on November 20, 2016.

I am fortunate to play but a small role (Dorcas) alongside a company of tremendous actors sure to enchant and entertain.

What’s even better than Shakespeare with TSC, say you? Only Shakespeare WITH BRUNCH FOODS. That’s right. Your ticket to The Winter’s Tale includes a delightful buffet to enjoy before the show (cash bar available as well). So hurry and visit www.tnshakespeare.org to get your tickets today!

Until Next Time,

Merit

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“You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out! “

Hey y’all,

Halloween is over, and we’re speeding into the holiday season. You may not be in the holiday spirit yet (normally I wouldn’t be either), but I’m lucky enough to have an AWESOMELY FUN directing project that makes me start thinking about candy canes, Christmas carols, and B.B. guns. Yes, that’s right!  B.B. Guns. It’s all part of our production of A Christmas Story: The Musical at Harrell Theatre .

We got everything from fast, fancy footwork, beautiful vocals, leg lamps, and even the occasional Bumpus hound, too!

All of us young and young at heart are working hard to make this a special treat for the whole family. Be sure to come see us at Harrell Theatre December 3-11, 20016.  Click here for more info and tickets. 

 

Until next time,

Merit

 

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“To Kill A Mockingbird” at TSC

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“Courage is not a man with a gun in his hand. It’s knowing you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what.” -Harper Lee

Hey, y’all!

Rarely do I have the opportunity as an actor and artist to be a part of something so poignant and life changing as my current project with Tennessee Shakespeare Company’s To Kill A Mockingbird  (running Sept 24-Oct 2, 2016). Not only do I acutely identify with Harper Lee’s voice as a Southern woman writer, but I also struggle with coming to terms with the injustice and inequality in my country and in my home of the Deep South. Lee’s narrative strikes profound resonance in my being, affecting every nerve in me.

The beauty of her work is that these heroes and villains are so heartbreakingly human. As Atticus explains to Scout, “This time we aren’t fighting the Yankees, we’re fighting our friends. But remember this, no matter how bitter things get, they’re still our friends and this is still our home.” It is with this type of understanding that we at TSC have approached the story, not as a means to attack but rather as a vehicle for understanding.

This production of To Kill A Mockingbird  with Tennessee Shakespeare Company has been a phenomenal experience for me. The cast and crew have such care and consideration for this poignant story. I weep that this story is still relevant to today’s times of poverty, violence, and darkness; however, I’m proud that I have the opportunity to be part of this work. Like Miss Maudie tells Scout, “Well, we’re taking a step–it’s just a baby step, but it’s a step.” 

We have only this weekend of shows left (Sept 29-Oct 2, 2016). I’d love to share this with you. Tickets available at the door at Hutchison School or at www.tnshakespeare.org.

Until Next Time,

Merit

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Takin’ Over Huey’s and OSTRANDER NOMINATIONS

Happy Tuesday, y’all!

Just want to say THANK YOU for everyone that came to Huey’s Collierville to #showup and #showout with fellow Merit Koch & Co. members. If you didn’t make it to the Collierville show, you missed a great time! We had over 40 MK & Co. members enjoying the best burgers in town along with some great music.

But you don’t have to miss the next MK & Co. party! Come on out to Huey’s Southaven THIS SUNDAY (AUG 21) from 8pm-12am.  Click here to get all the details and RSVP to the Huey’s Southaven takeover here on Facebook.

 

OSTRANDER NOMINATIONS FOR “RING OF FIRE’

In addition to having a fabulous time with the MK Company members at Huey’s Collierville (you guys know how to have a good time), I’m also feeling unbelievably grateful about the Ostrander nominations for Ring of Fire: The Music of Johnny Cash.  The Ostrander Awards celebrate all the great professional, community, and college theatre productions in the MidSouth. Not only did we get a nominations for Best Small Ensemble but I also got Best Leading Actress in a Musical.  Click here for the full list of nominees. Can you say #blessed?

UNFORTUNATELY, the awards ceremony is the same Sunday night as the HUEY’S SOUTHAVEN TAKEOVER. There’s only one thing to do: throw a party. So grab all your friends and lets make Aug 21 a night to remember for the MK & Co. Huey’s Takeover!

 

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The Cast of Ring of Fire: The Music of Johnny Cash, 2015

 

Until Next Time,

Merit

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