Archive for April 2010

It only goes to show what little people can do.

April 30, 2010

I thought I’d take a moment to share a couple of stories I’ve come across about young people doing amazing things.

The first of these comes from Widener University, where university president James T. Harris, III, traded places with senior Doug Shultz for a day on April 15.  Harris does this every year.  While Harris worked Shultz’s job and took his classes – he says to help stay connected to what students’ lives are like – for the day, Shultz made an admission decision, worked to enact new campus policy and landed a major donation.  Okay, so the last one was a bit of a softball, since the donor is the chairman of the board of trustees for the university but it was still quite an experience.  What a day to have!

The second story is that of Abby Sunderland.  Abby is circumnavigating the globe in a one-person sailboat… at the age of 16.  There are actually two 16-year old girls performing this feat right now.  Jessica Watson is finishing her voyage in Sydney soon and will become the youngest person to sail solo around the world.  Abby meanwhile has decided to put into port for repairs to her navigational equipment.  Despite starting late in the year, she successfully navigated Cape Horn, but with faulty equipment, bad weather and the vast Indian and Pacific Oceans ahead, the 16-year old made the very mature decision to go into port in Cape Town, South Africa, until the ship is fully functional again, possibly putting her chances of finishing at a younger age than Watson.  Hopefully the repairs will be quick and she can complete her goal of becoming the youngest person to circumnavigate the world solo, like her brother did last year.

These are stories of a 21-year old running a university and a 16-year old sailing alone around the earth.  I see these stories and am amazed at what these people can do.  I also feel like a slacker.  How about you?  Do you have any amazing stories to share?

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April 30, 2010

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On wrapping up the show

April 23, 2010

Copacabana is over.  Our last show was Sunday afternoon.  By 10 PM Sunday night, the set had been struck.  It was sad to see it end so quickly.  While we were all exhausted and my voice still needs a little more time to fully recover from the late nights, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little teary-eyed to see it all come down.

I auditioned for the show to knock something off of my bucket list.  It was to right a decision I had regretted – pretty much the only one I regretted – since college.  I expected to get a minor role at best when I walked into the audition.  After the audition, I didn’t expect to be much more than human scenery and an extra voice for the chorus.  Instead, I landed a major role.  Over the next nine and a half weeks, I went from being terrified about the work it would take to bring about the role and only knowing one other person there to feeling insecure about my abilities and having gotten to know a half-dozen people to feeling confident and having lots of new friends.  All of the performances were great with the possible exception of one that was a bit sketchy.  Even that one was fun because all of us had to be on our toes the entire time.  Doing Copacabana also reminded me of how much I love performing for people.  Fine.  I’m an exhibitionist.  There!  I said it.

What I loved the most about the show were the wonderful people I got to spend all those nights with.  There were late rehearsals and then there were rehearsals when we stayed late just so we could stand around and talk.  There were very few nights when I was home before 10 PM, and there were many when I was not home until well after midnight.  Yes.  That is with work the next day so I never quite got enough sleep.  As Heather noted about a month into rehearsals, I was a bit – or quite on the evening she brought it up –  irritable from the lack of sleep.  Still, to be with these people was entirely worth it.

Lindsay is the person who told me I should come and audition for Copacabana.  Actually, she wanted me to audition for A Christmas Carol, but I had WAY to much going on at church to do that show.  Before I digress further, Lindsay and I went to high school together.  We were in band together for a couple of years and reconnected on facebook in the fall.  That’s how I heard about the college theater having been restarted after an unfortunate incident a several years ago and about Blood Brothers, the play she was in.  I saw it on the last night, and thought it was a great production.  After talking to her about it, she told me that I should audition for future shows.  That’s how I ended up going out for auditions.  Lindsay was one of the people that I spent many of the late nights talking to.

While Lindsay was someone I could talk to from the first day, Allie was not.  On the night of read-through, Allie sat beside me and gave me all sorts of crap.  Granted, I dished it back out from time to time.  It didn’t get better through the first music rehearsals either.  I thought he was abrasive and rude, and I generally avoided him as much as possible.  Over the course of the production, I realized that – like another friend of mine – this was his way of being friendly.  If he didn’t like me, he either would have ignored me or been quite hateful instead of abrasive.  One of Allie’s best features is his honesty.  While most people will respond to a question like “How am I doing?” with simple praise, Allie will give an honest and straight-forward answer, and he’ll follow it with advice on how to improve what you’re working on.  Although most people can’t handle an Allie, he’s somebody that I’ll take on my side any day of the week and twice on Sundays.  (Those matinees can be killers!)

Brian reminds me a lot of me.  He’s laid back.  He stays on top of gossip and drama but he doesn’t seek out opportunities to spread it.  Brian has a great sense of humor.  He can hit you on the side of the face with a joke or he can subtly insert humor into almost any situation.  Despite this ability, he is someone who can sit down and have a serious conversation about nearly anything.  He is one of the few people who never lost control over their emotions through the entire run.  (I’ve learned that there’s a lot of drama in theater.)

Tiffany – like Brian – was one of the younger adults in the cast.  She nearly always had a smile on her face and felt at home with her youthful side.  Tiffany was always there for the kids in the show, whether they needed a ride somewhere or wanted to talk to someone.  Tiffany is also a huge UK fan, so in a cast of people who largely didn’t care about sports, it was great to have someone to talk to about the tournament.

Greg amazed me with his dedication to the performance.  While scenes were being blocked, he could be seen standing to the side diagramming everything that was happening.  If he was in the scene, as soon as he went off stage, he had his notebook out writing down what just happened.  Even after everybody else had set their books aside, Greg continued to go over his lines and notes.  Despite the fact that he must have known it by heart for weeks, even during the final shows, he could still be found in the dressing room leafing through the script or blocking.  Greg was a great reminder to keep my head in the show even while there was chaos and revelry backstage.

Lauren genuinely cared about what was going on with people – not in a wanting gossip way but rather in a how-are-you-really-doing kind of way.  She is immensely talented as well.  In fact even at just 15 years of age, I think she was one of the most talented people in the show.  She can get in touch with her sensitive side and her fears, but she also knows how to pour on the comedy when the time comes for it.  There were several times she almost had me laughing on stage during performances.  Lauren also did an excellent job doing my eye makeup for about half the shows.

Caroline and Haley are two of the most outgoing, friendly young women I’ve ever met.  From day one, they were welcoming to the ensemble.  They possessed a genuine excitedness that was easy to feed off of, and they made me feel a part of the group faster than anyone else.  Caroline’s talent rivals that of Lauren, and she never let show if she was disappointed to not get a leading role.  Haley is no slouch herself when it comes to talent, and I’m certain her abilities will blossom in future shows as she gets more time on stage.

Andrew and Blaine always looked to make things a game.  They might be making up dance moves or competing to see who could drop the fewest screws during work call, but there was always something going on with them.  They also had a way of drawing in others to their entertainment, which made some of the long days and nights much more enjoyable.

One of the names that never appeared in the program is that of Kelsey.  Kelsey is another of the young ladies from the production who really stands out from her peers.  While she possesses the youthful qualities of her age of 16 when it comes to joy and curiosity, she also shares the maturity and interest of a woman twice her age at times.  Kelsey is wicked awesome with an eyeliner pencil, too, being the only person who could use it on me without bringing tears to my eyes.  (Hey!  It’s not like I use those things a whole lot, here!)

I’ve only scratched the surface of how amazing these people have been over the past two and a half months.  I’ve also not even mentioned so many people from the cast, who I have grown close to – and if you’re reading this, your exclusion should not be taken personally.  I’m sure I’ve already lost the attention of the few people who normally read this blog! – through the production.  I also never mentioned Paula, who did amazing things with the costumes for the show, or Ed, who was like the circus master, turning three rings of absolute madness into the vision portrayed on stage, or the many, many other people who made Copacabana happen.  I have a special place in my heart for each and every one of them, even if they were not mentioned specifically here.

Now that the show has been over for five days, I find that I miss it so much.  I miss the fun.  I miss the performing.  Mostly though, I miss the people.  I was lucky enough to get to see several of them last night when I went to see another play featuring a couple of them.  It was amazing.  As great as the performance was, the best part was still seeing and talking to my new friends, even if we did end up out until after 1 in the morning.  Now, I’ll just wait until the banquet in a month to see everyone again and find out what next year may hold in store.  Until the fall, I’ll have my memories of the work, the lost sleep, the pain, the joy, the friendships that were and will forever be to me…

Copacabana.

On writing development

April 14, 2010

I hopped on WordPress this morning to add a tag to a couple of back posts.  I was looking through some of the recent posts to see which ones needed the tag and noticed something:  I actually don’t dislike reading what I’ve posted.  I was shocked!  I remember when I used my old blog; I went back once to read some of my early posts.  I couldn’t stand them.

I never much liked my writing in school either.  Why did I never do rough drafts or revise anything that wasn’t marked in red ink?  The answer is that it would have required going back and actually reading what I had written in order to make real revisions.  I was always told that I had a talent with writing, but I never saw it.  Who knows.  Maybe if I had actually gone back to rewrite, I would have seen it in the final version of papers.  Then again, maybe if I had read more – or something other than J.R.R. Tolkien or Dr. Suess* – I would have had something more to emulate in my writing.  Perhaps fewer of my papers would have had rhyme schemes as well.

Actually, one of the reasons that I started blogging years ago was to improve my writing.  (Obviously, I also wanted to broadcast my entire life to the world like the complete narcissist that I am.)  One of the things they – whoever “they” are – say you have to do to get better at something is practice.  I think that has apparently been true because my writing seems to be much better.  This is so much the case that I will probably start preparing my entry for Sunday evening today and go back to revise it on Sunday.  Then again, I could just be much less picky about what I read.

* I still think that The Butter Battle Book is one of the best and most underrated books about the Cold War division and arms escalation as well as the ramifications of ideologies that are isolated from each other.

At the Copa…..

April 13, 2010

Copacabana has nearly run its course.  After weeks and weeks of rehearsal and the first weekend of performances down, I’ve come away with quite a bit.  I’ve been amazed at how much fun I’ve had.  Part of that is just that the show itself is fun, but much more importantly, I’ve enjoyed hanging out with everybody on the set.  There’s been a lot of hard work, long hours and a bit of blood.  There’s also been fun and games, long conversations after rehearsals and excellent meals with great new friends.

Now I find myself in a place where it all ends after Sunday.  We’ve had a couple of days off to rest and mend.  We have a final rehearsal on Thursday, and then three more shows this weekend.  It feels like spring break from my senior year of college: hanging out at home instead of at school with all my friends, looking forward to all the fun of that last push, but also dreading the end when we all go in separate directions.  Some will be back in the fall when the new season starts.  Others will be leaving to go other places.

As for me, I don’t know what’s to come.  I’ve loved this experience so much that I want to keep doing it.  I also have the other things that I’ve mentioned previously that I want to do.  A couple of people are wanting me to audition for the summer series for another theater next week.  Maybe I’ll look into that and see if I still have the acting bug after that’s over.  We’ll see.

In the meantime, I’ll remain excited about the final three performances of Copacabana.  Some family and friends have said that they’ll be coming to the show this weekend, so that’s all the more to look forward to!

the Kandahar Boardwalk

April 7, 2010

I came across an interesting story yesterday about part the US military’s plan to increase efficiency in transporting goods to Afghanistan.  At Kandahar Airfield, international military personnel can get a taste of home by visiting Burger King, Pizza Hut, TGI Friday’s, Orange Julius, Tim Horton’s, or Dairy Queen on base.  This will not last much longer though, as the military is planning to stop flying the food stuffs that these restaurants need to operate into the airbase.  This will leave room for more important goods, like traditional military supplies – ammunition, armor, rations, US Presidents.  Most of these on-base eateries will be closed soon.

My thoughts on this are mixed.  On the one hand, I’m amazed that the US military has been flying in food to run diners in a war zone.  Once upon a time, the military – or even the companies themselves – would fly in Coca-Cola and ice cream and various other pleasantries from Stateside to lift the spirits of the troops.  Have things changes so much that our soldiers need daily Whoppers to remind them of why they are fighting?  The military has cited a concern for the battle-readiness of our troops when they can have a Blizzard regularly as another reason for cutting off the shipments.  It would appear that they are getting too comfortable in the desert.

Normally I would say that the military shouldn’t be flying these goods over into a war zone to create restaurants to make everyone feel more at home.  Occasional shipments of Snickers bars – or perhaps something that wouldn’t melt in the heat – should do the trick and at a lot less expense.  However, now that these places have been established and our servicemen (and I use that term in a non-gender specific manner) have come to expect it, I would be concerned with the damage to morale when our soldiers can no longer get a virgin daiquiri at will if I was coming up with a plan for an active military theater.  I have concerns as to how these restaurants got started, but now that they are there, they should probably be supported.  At least the Canadians plan to keep their Tim Horton’s and their ice hockey rink on the base.  Maybe they’ll let our boys – and girls – over there share the rink and take up hockey for some international friendlies.  Then again, the Americans probably don’t stand a chance, and THAT can’t be good for morale!

the spring wither

April 1, 2010

I feel that I should post something entertaining and amusing or at least some tale of complete absurdity, being that it’s April Fools Day.  I just don’t seem to have it in me these days.  The warm weather outside seems to be sapping me of energy.  Tonight we’re supposed to be completely off book for Copacabana, but I only know the first half of Act II.

I know I’ve overstretched myself this year.  Serving on three committees at church wouldn’t be that bad, but I feel pulled to address both Youth and Worship things on Sunday mornings.  I don’t feel like I’ve been able to take care of either to the extent they deserve.  I know I’ll be able to pass one of those on to somebody else in two months though.  I imagine I’ll continue to work with the Youth, which can use a lot of time and, more importantly, energy, although I don’t think I can handle another winter/spring as busy as this one was.  Other things are trickier.

I got a letter from one of the other members of board of directors for the Ironton Council for the Arts a few days ago.  It stated that they are going to require members of the board to attend three quarters of the meetings.  With only eight or ten meetings over the last year, I came close to missing that mark after missing the last two meetings for Copacabana rehearsal.  I also missed three of the six concerts this season due to reenactments and I missed a fourth for the church ski trip.  I find this to be much more troubling.  I also don’t know how much difference there will be this year.

Added into the mix is the fact that I’ve enjoyed Copacabana much more than I had anticipated.  I had always wanted to do a theater show, and when this came along, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to fulfill my dream before I continued on with my life, having checked acting off of my bucket list.  (Hey!  Acting is better than robbing a bank!)  I also thought it would be a great way to meet women, but there hasn’t been much luck on that front.  Now I’ve found that I really enjoy it, and I’m tempted to do it again.  Unfortunately, it interferes with many of the other things I enjoy doing.

Now here I am in the Spring just days from Easter, trying to decide what it is that I want to do and what I need to give up.  Having a second year like this one would simply be more than I can handle.  I keep living life like I did in school, but there’s no longer summer to rejuvenate.