and my favorite people…
Episode 17! 2 (The Re-Do)
(Click to play)
For show notes, click HERE
I guess I left one of the tracks on mute when I uploaded the podcast. It’s all fixed now! Sorry!!
I have spent the last 2 months with a bunch of wonderful people bringing to life this coming of age story. I am a little sad that it’s now coming to a close.
I have a process that I tend to go through when it comes to Opening and Closing nights. About a week before the show opens, I have my little panic attacks and butterflies. Then come Opening Night, I am fine, just excited to get things under way. Then during the week of Closing, I feel the pangs of sadness hit me. I get a little sad, because there are people that I probably won’t ever see again. This always happens though. You can promise to keep in touch, but eventually things begin to slip, and you just lose track. So I make sure to say my thank you’s to the cast on Opening Night. I would be a hot mess if I had to write those cards during the week of Closing.
So while I am living in my verklemptiness, I look forward to meeting up with those same people on Friday to begin closing out Bless Me, Ultima.
For those of you who have yet to see it, you have three opportunities to catch this show. You will laugh, and if you have a heart, you will definitely cry. The end of Act 1 messes me up, every time.
Get your tickets HERE or go to TeatroVision.Org and click the “Buy Tickets” link. Showtimes are 8 PM on Friday and Saturday and 2 PM on Sunday. The theatre is located on the corner of Alum Rock Ave and King Rd. Let me know if you can make it so I can look of you in the lobby.
I hope to see you there!!
Click on the picture to get your tickets!
As I pulled open the door to the Mexican Heritage Theatre’s cast entrance, I could tell that the mood inside was not only playful, but incredibly positive. I know you are probably thinking “Well, duh!”
So let me backtrack, Tuesday at work was just a funky, junky day, to be brief. So when I got to the theatre after work, I wasn’t in the right head space to feel or “see” that there was some weird energy going on around me. I carried with me all the frustrations and problems of the day as got my costumes on and props prepared for the run of the show. This would be our first true run thru of the show with the lights, and sound and set changes all happening. Because of this important point in the rehearsal process, I had an even harder time finding that calm one usually needs to find the character that you are about to bring to life. So I was still in my own little world even after I stepped onto the stage for the first time. This is always bad. Always. As I walked off stage, I FINALLY began to get into the swing of things. But the mood felt odd. Still. I thought it was something that I had brought with me, but as the night wore on, I realized that there was something more going on here. I couldn’t put my finger on it, though. As we get to the intermission break, I begin to hear grumblings in the dressing room and BOOM!!! Now I know that we are officially in the dreaded Hell Week. Sarcastic Hooray inserted here. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, we loving refer to the week before Opening Night as Hell Week. This is the week where everyone is needed for what seems like forever, as we stand around for lighting cue set ups, and the stop and starts of scenes to test set changes, costume changes that may or may not work due to how fast some of them are, and organizing where you need to have your props set for minimum travel time. While this whole rehearsal process has had it’s ups, it’s also had a few things that have become a habit. Those habits were the foundation of the anxious energy that was in the building. Add the stress from the past weekends events, and the new challenges of the run, and you have people who were seriously on edge, and by Act 2 Scene 8, things had reached the point where people were getting angry. So after the run, the group had a pow-wow and a whole lot of frustration was let out! Luckily the people who voiced their frustrations used well thought out criticisms and made valid points. So as I left the rehearsal that night and drove home, I wondered what the ramifications of the event were going to be on the next few nights.
Before today’s run thru of the show, we all took a moment to get on the same energy and wave length. And even though I was late (What? I have to work.) and made it into costume 15 before places, I was able to share and focus my energy and dedication to the cast and production. So when we hit the stage, there was a few minor hiccups, but things sailed and we made it with a show of 2 hours running time. I did break my bottle of booze, so the props manager had to make a snap choice and gave me a plain old cork to use. Minor crisis averted! Personally, I screwed up two of my lines. One of them, I am supposed to say “Puro vaquero” and it came out more like Puro Cabrone, I don’t even know what that means. The other line I missed was more like I jumped on top of my cast mate’s line.
Everyone who participates in this process is important. Allowing them to the chance to talk openly and constructively made for a positive change, while bringing up those issues that need to be handled. Even more important, as long as the words they use aren’t voiced as personal attacks, the lines of communication stay open and fixes for those issues begin. Just like any other problem.
So even though the last two nights have produced two different performances, I am totally confident that we’ve got a show kids! Woo hoo! Get your tix now, guys. Click on the picture above to order your tickets and there’s an early bird special. If you get them ahead of time and not wait til your at the door, you can save a couple of bucks. Maybe donate it to a good cause. Like Teatro!
During rehearsal tonight, I happen to be passing by the table that the director and the stage manager tend to work from. I looked down and began to stare at this neat picture of Death…on a cart. I think it was possibly a chariot, but it looked like there was no way to hook up a horse to it, so I am gonna call it a cart. Very long bones, Death has. I know weird thing to notice, right? So I picked up the paper (cuz it was a photocopy from the web, I thought) and underneath it there was a book. And I already forgot what the book was called. Crap! Anyway…I began to flip through the pages, without any true interest in the book as I was killing time before we got started. After flipping all the way through and not really seeing anything that caught my eye, except to find out that the Death Cart was a photocopy from the book, I put the book back on the table.
As I begin to walk away, I looked at the cover once more and I recognize that little picture of a boy just sitting there. Then, I hear in my head, my nina’s (or godmother’s) harsh shrill voice! She’s calling me a child of the devil and telling me that I am possessed. Then I begin to remember how I got a spanking out in the parking lot of that little place in Bakersfield where a statue of this kid is located. That creepy ass little kid statue.
Let me backtrack a little bit. I was baptized apparently and I think I’ve mentioned before that I used to spend the summers in Bakersfield. Bakersfield if you don’t know is as hot as…well, hell! Back then, in the early 80’s there wasn’t much in the way of shade in that place. I only remember one big community pool, a lot of running around in the sprinklers, and burning sidewalks and roads at 7 in the morning. I would stay with my nina and listen to her yell at her daughters that they couldn’t have this or that. I don’t recall ever needing to go to church, ever. But there was one time when she wanted to go and see this thing what I always thought was called “Santonio Toucha.” I didn’t know Spanish then either. And they spoke it so fast, I hated having to stay there for 2 and a half months. I didn’t know what they were talking about half the time. I have since come to learn that the little bugger is called “Santo Nino de Atocha” I was close. It translates to the “Holy Child of Atocha.”
I don’t remember what the outside, or inside actually, looked like. I just feel like it was small. If I had to compare it, I would say that I felt like I was in something that was that size of a crypt or small mausoleum in a cemetery. There weren’t other people in the place. Just my nina, Cecilia, my Uncle Robert, and their crybaby daughters, Angela, Rita, and Lena. I remember walking into the room and half of it was enclosed like the picture above. You were supposed to walk through the gate and kiss the statue’s feet or shoe or something like that. I remember watching my cousins do it, but not my Uncle. Then my nina tried to make me go in the gated area. I remember not wanting to go and holding my ground as she began to shove me through. I grabbed onto the gate, not wanting to go near that thing. Finally, she pulled my hands off of the gate and picked me up and carried me up to the statue. I went NUTS! I know I pulled out some of her hair, because I still hear about it from my cousins on the extremely rare occasions that they are in town. But I flailed and screamed and cried for everything that I could so that I didn’t have to touch that oddly shiny little boy sitting in his gown.
This picture is just a small ceramic statue for the tourist to have. The ones in the shrine areas are pretty big.
Thankfully my uncle said “Let him go! He doesn’t want to do it.” So my nina dropped me and I “teleported” outside of the gated area. Hell yeah! It was instantaneous. As soon as my feet touched the floor, I was already at the gate. She did her thing, and whirled around and grabbed me by the arm, under the armpit as she dug her nails in as was her custom, and was screaming at me that I had the devil in me as well as the things I stated previously. As soon as we were out of the (room?) (building?) whatever the hell it was, she whipped off her chankla. Urban dictionary has a great entry for it! It reads:
If you’re hispanic, you know all of the above are known chanklas and considered sloppy attire.
Gangsters are notorious for wearing them with white tube socks & shorts when having bbq’s at the park.
Abuelitas are also known for slapping you with a chankla if you get out of hand.
Te voy a pegar con me chankla si no te sientas!
Don’t make me take my chanklas off! (spanglish)
Have you ever gotten a plate of food that was just too much for you to handle? Has anyone told you that you had “eyes bigger than your stomach?” How about that “you have bitten off more than you can chew?”
Welp, that’s me in a nutshell. I think of all these things that I want to do, and yet never get to doing them because I always seem to never have enough time. Without whittling out the very little amount of sleep that I already get, what else could I cut in order to get everything done. I can’t cut back on TV because I have already done that.
I always want to help and I jump at the chance when people ask because I truly do want to help. Sometimes I have to wonder though if I am really helping them out. I guess I have to better utilize what little time I have or try to multitask MORE. I don’t think it’s possible to do that though.
The reason that I bring up this whole issue anyway is because as I am reading the book version of “Bless Me, Ulitma” I am learning that there are major events left out of the play that actually help me make sense now that I know about them. I am reading the book in pieces each night before I go to sleep. Granted, it is an easy read, but I only have those few minutes before drifting off to sleep to get some reading in. I confess I have actually been reading it ever since we started rehearsals, and I STILL have about 40 pages to go.
I KNOW that sometimes my eyes are bigger than my “stomach.” I just have to figure out how to tetris it all into MY time schedule. Do you got any suggestions? I’ve got the “To Do List” thing going and while that helps to remind me what needs to be done, unexpected interruptions make it hard to control all the time.
So what do you do? Or are you like me and try to cram everything in all the time and in effect really harvest nothing of true value?
Somebody just throw water on me already, will ya?
What a world! What a world!
I TOTALLY love the cast of Bless Me, Ultima!
Boy, oh boy, Saturday was a blast. The day started with a welcome by our director Ms. Elisa, then followed by the exciting news that Bless Me has actually just wrapped up filming as a feature length movie!!
Next up were the sound, lighting, and set design presentations. The set designer said that the stage will be raked, or slanted. The plan is to keep the show minimalistic to keep the momentum as swift as possible. There are mini-scenes inside larger scenes, and if there was a need to pause, even the slightest one, for each shift, we could be in trouble of losing the audience’s attention. In keeping with the less is best idea, the raked stage is supposed to have images of the landscape on it. I am curious how this will work. Will the images be projected from behind the platform, or from above? If it’s from above, isn’t the image going to show up on the actors as well? We shall see…
One element I am really impressed with is that there will be a massive attempt at using as much live music as possible. Hooray! I can’t seem to do a show without having to sing. Haha! Even in the last play I did with Teatro, Hero, I sang the line: High School…High School Musical 2!
After the presentations, we all introduced ourselves to each other. We took a short break, and then dug into the script. Things have been changed and reassignments were adjusted, and the train began to move forward. At first as we began to read, things felt a little tense to me. Not for any particular reason. It could be that sometimes it’s uncomfortable to read aloud. It could be that the cold in the room was a little distracting. It could be that some of the people were missing parts of their script. After we got about six scenes into the read thru, Elisa stopped us and asked about the themes that we’d come across so far and how we feel about them. People brought up religion, good v. evil, and duality just to name a few.
Then it got a little weird. I understand what was meant, but I think it’s a bit trivial as far as the issue went. What happened was someone said they didn’t like the fact that the word “magic” was used to describe the things that Ultima could do. The reason was that the term “magic” made them think of pulling a rabbit out of a hat or something along that line, or that “magic” was only used for evil things.
I am a little torn that there is talk about changing a word that is the supposed school of altering things either by supernatural means or through knowledge of natural laws unacknowledged by science. It goes back as far as alchemy does. Magic was used long before the likes of Harry Houdini and others had began to create tricks and illusions for entertainment. What I wonder about is was that something that offended the person who purposed the change due to their religious beliefs or was it because it truly reminded her of parlor tricks? If its the former, isn’t that why we are here to do this play? If it’s the latter, do we really have the power to change the words of the playwright if a wording change diminishes the power of the script?
It also made me wonder why no one had problems says “miracles.” Aren’t those just magic? The difference that was told to me was that one is religious based while the other was more of a hedonist term. WTH? This lead me to believe that this group was more religious that I thought and that’s where the whole Magic debate stemmed from. That makes me a little sad.
When I read the book, what I came away with is that you should question religion. It’s not something that is only contained inside of four walls. There’s a lot of back and forth for the main character, Tony, about the belief in the churchy god and the energy that’s everywhere that just is. That church god and cosmic energy are one and the same. It’s okay if you wanna believe in both! Now, I don’t mind either way what anyone believes. That’s what makes the word go ’round. However, with the church being all greedy and stuff, it acts like a child. If you were to compare the two, Magic is much older than most religions. Just sayin’! Churches say, you can’t do this or that. You can only worship in a confined space surrounded by others as witnesses to make sure you are doing what you’re supposed to. With the energy, there’s just possibility. There’s no one saying you can’t. You must follow your own moral compass and decide if what you do will hurt someone else.
It was a great conversation, sometimes it did go off track, but THIS is why I love working with Teatro Vision. I don’t get anything like it with WVLO, or Sunnyvale Players, and Saratoga Drama Group. The people in this cast are all fun loving and easy to laugh with. It’s going to be a happy, happy experience working with these folks.
Also, for those of you interested in another fellow theatre blogger, my cast mate Jess is the author behind Theatreg33k.blogspot.com. I am thinking a podcast with her will be a blast! I’ll keep you posted on that.
Woo hoo!! The countdown to my first rehearsal for the next show has begun! Less than half a day to go and I have to say that I am very nearly biting my nails with nerves and excitement. Orientation for Bless Me, Ultima with Teatro Vision will be held tomorrow. It’ll be great to finally get to meet everyone that is in the cast.
A brief synopsis of the show is as follows: The Marez family is one full of conflicts. The central character of the play is the youngest son, Tony. His mother wants him to grow up to become a priest “which will bring honor to their family.” His father wants him to be a vaquero or cowboy because “his people are of the llano” and long to be out in the open. A friend of the family, Ultima, one day comes to live with the Marez family. Ultima is like a a female shaman; she uses herbs and natural ingredients to cure illness and even curses. Tony, who has been conditioned to believe that god is only found in church, becomes confused with knowledge that Ultima shares with him regarding what she’s able to do.
One of the things that usually happen during the first rehearsal is a table read, or a read thru. Basically, everyone just sits and reads the script. It’s not exciting to describe, but as people settle in to the reading you get to hear the beginnings of the possibility that is held within. Sometimes, that simple exercise of the table read, creates a great bonding experience if the script is powerful enough.
I’ve read the book and there are a lot of things that couldn’t be fit into the play. While reading the script, I sort of feel like the transitions between the scenes are a little abrupt. I will be eager to see what the lighting and scene design team are going to come up with.
Something else that I want to accomplish tomorrow is to set a time for an interview with the director of the play. I hope to talk to her about not only the play but also Teatro Vision and her experience in theatre. Maybe I’ll be able to get her to help me score an interview with the playwright.
I am so excited for this next project, and I will keep you posted.