🎼The Wonderful Part of the Mess That We Made; We Pick Ourselves Undone…🎶

Hello Gentle Reader!

Bear with me, cuz I am about to do a shameless plug. LOL! I figured, I would get this done, because we only have 2 days left to see it.

I am in a show! But duh, you knew that already. 😂 What I wanted to share is that this anthology of short plays, called Pear Slices 2022, is available as a Video On Demand (VOD) option. I was worried when it was filmed because I had shoe malfunctions. LOL!

These plays are moving and timely. It has been a pleasure to get these stories in front of audiences. Including YOU! This link will take you to the Pear Slices 2022 VOD section for The Pear Theatre.

We had an extremely short rehearsal period AND a break as a caution for Covid-19 safety. We tested like crazy just to make sure that our project didn’t fall victim to the Covid Curse even though we did have to push back our opening night a week. This means that we don’t get to do as many shows as we had hoped. So many of the productions around the Bay Area have either had to postpone or cancel production or close early and some, sadly, not open at all. All of the precautions paid off and we are now in the last two performances of the run.

I have to say that working on this project brought some new insights to me that I had a feeling I was holding back, but had to face. It’s too early to write about them because each time we perform, I find something a little bit different, and by now you should know me well enough that I always stew on what I learned from a show for at least a week.

My Dear Reader, I thank you for taking the time to read this self serving post. I appreciate each and every one of you. I invite you to check out Pear Slices 2022. Regardless of what you do, I thank you and…

Until next time, stay safe and healthy and be kind to yourself and to others.

💚

🎼Hold On My Heart, Throw Me A Lifeline; I’ll Keep A Place For You Somewhere Deep Inside…🎶

Hello Gentle Reader!

It has been a bit, hasn’t it?

I hope you are well and healthy and had a lovely weekend.

Sadly, I found out about two people passing away. Each dear to me in their own way and neither in the same relation circle so it’s like which ever way I turn to face, I have to look at sadness. 😒

On Sunday, I found out that my cousin, Scott, but we always called him Scotty, had passed after he’d been hospitalized and a friend from the theatre, Mike, had passed on Saturday.

If there was one great regret that I have about stepping away from family functions and such it would be because of missing my cousin Scotty. He was fearless. A little reckless, but always willing to try dares, and especially gross food mixing stuff. I remember my aunt always yelling at him for doing something but one of the main things was reaching over and honking the horn while she drove under an overpass near their home. He did it every time, so I don’t know why it always surprised her, but it did.

One of my most favorite memories was when my dad took us and my little brother to see 101 Dalmatians in the small movie theater in the neighborhood. I remember there weren’t many people in the auditorium but we were up near the front. Then the scene came on where Cruella DeVil is driving furiously to catch the large truck the dogs were in and she has to miss the bridge and drive down an embankment and into a pile of snow. As she is driving the embankment, she is bouncing all around in her car and Scotty lets out his crazy laugh that has a sort of Pee Wee Herman quality to it. It sounds to old to be a child’s laugh if that makes any sense. Think Ricky Ricardo having a belly laugh. Any how, he lets out this big “HA HA” that is so loud it makes us laugh. Then, after Cruella has got back on the road, there is a point where her hair is all crazy and there is a close up on her red eyes and they have that spiral going on in them.

For some reason, that just makes him laugh more. This in turn makes us laugh and all the way through the rest of the scene up to the crash, we are laughing so hard because of his goofy laugh.

I am gonna miss that crazy kid, but so thankful that he showed me what being fearless looked like.

Mike was a different kind of cat. He was an excellent lighting designer. His credits are in the hundreds, easily. Maybe even more but I know he worked on many of the same projects that I did. I do believe that the first show I had met him on was Gypsy. I didn’t really get a chance to know him until I was in Smokey Joe’s Cafe.

We would talk about his love of dance, the shows that he saw in New York, the show he was going to see on his next trip and sometimes about when he had done shows. I used to think that he was a grumpy man, but I came to realize that he just had a very serious face unless he was smiling or laughing.

I had never seen this happen ever, but once, I think it was during the opening weekend or maybe after the Friday night show of a production of Jesus Christ Superstar, somehow, all of the lighting cues were deleted. All of them. There was nothing and Mike came in and overnight recreated the entire show. When the cast came in for our call, we had no idea until the stage manager had mentioned it. Insane!

I think my favorite thing that I will remember with Mike was working on the lighting for my directorial projects. As a cast member to meet and interact with the lighting designer is fun and cool but as a director your interactions are much more intense. I always would give him so much sass about having to use a fog element in his designs and once he explained it to me, I couldn’t unsee how much it helped.

On Jesus Christ Superstar, not the aforementioned, at the start of the 39 lashes, the lights were much less red and you could see the faces of the upstage cast. As the lashes continued, so did the deepening of the red and we thought pulling the light from the incredible upstage cast would make a kind of hellish looking landscape as they would show as silhouettes and could bring more to the contrast in their position as encouraging the punishment versus when they had supported him. I wish I had a picture from the actual production. This is from tech week.

On Smokey Joe’s Cafe, above is probably my most favorite shot I have of the entire process. Not that I didn’t absolutely adore the cast, but sitting side by side and trying to find the most perfect hue of various lights in the different areas was the most unexpectedly fun part of directing. The back record neon isn’t on and this little moment before we added any color felt like making magic.

Thanks for piquing my curiosity in lighting design and teaching me other ways of thinking about how storytelling can be fascinating and wondrous. Thanks for sharing your stories and ideas.

So pull up a chair and until our paths cross again, my friend, I shall always remember you at your “desk”

🎼Do You See What I See, Do You See What I See…🎶

Hello Dear Reader,

Happy All Of The Things! I hope however you celebrated with your families and friends, it was filled with joy, love, and kindness.

Last week, the family play I worked on had its final bow on Saturday. It was a fun run with a wonderful cast. Looking back, I can say there was a lesson in this production. And it was something I learned from the audience. It was a first for me.

I tried to get very comfortable in the skin of someone that was so unlike me. I mean, I have my little quirks, which could very well be undiagnosed OCD. I am not, however, self absorbed or oblivious to other people. I like to think that I did a decent job inhabiting that life though.

I am always looking for lessons to learn or what I could take away from each project. This time around, with this being the first time back on stage in 2 years, what will I learn, I wondered. 2 years is a long time to not put into practice what you know.

Now my Gentle Reader, you might be thinking “there are/were ways to participate with online performances.” To this, yes, I agree and I tried it. My experience doing an online or Zoom performance, while enjoyable in the meeting of people and working with them, was not as fulfilling as an in-person experience. I felt like I was expending way more energy just trying to maintain this sort of distanced connection with my cast mates. Not only that, I was never sure if I was reading my cast mates’ motivations properly because I couldn’t see their whole body, just whatever their head, neck and shoulders were telling me. It was draining. The people were great, but it was draining. I knew it wasn’t the thing for me. And that’s okay!

This time around, I learned that while I was getting comfy in Michael’s skin, I may have been getting a little careless with it too. As this was my very first time working on a thrust stage, (if you are unfamiliar, it is when the stage sticks out a bit and the audience sits on 3 sides instead of just one as in a traditional theater) I was hyper aware that my motions needed to be clear so no matter where one sat, my actions would be understood. This also means that at any given time, the actors on stage will have their backs to the audience at some point. Man, this was hard. It was an awesome challenge though.

Being comfortable with Michael’s mannerisms and actions were what brought he and I together. As long as I understood my motivations behind my actions, I could use those with everything on the stage if it felt right. And I did change what I interacted with… often! You know how they say the show can never be the same each night because of the various factors, like audience participation (their reactions), accidental (or intentional) walking pattern adjustment, forgotten words, costume malfunction, but mostly because of the first thing? I think I was to blame each night. 🙃

During the rehearsal process, as I mentioned in previous posts, I would always make adjustments based on how it felt. I could never recall exactly what I did because I was trying to simply stay in the moment. This meant that I didn’t have a defined track that is set and is always identical to the night before. There were points that I had to hit, but everything else was kind of fluid.

Early in the run, one of those points was called into question and after I reflected on it, I made an adjustment. There is a point in the show that Michael apologizes to his wife for accusing her of only coming back to him because she wants his money. Right after they reconcile, Michael says with hope of upcoming fatherhood and relief that Jill does love him, not his money, that he hopes they don’t have an “Uncle Bob” baby. Bob happens to be the alcoholic uncle who says inappropriate things. The line doesn’t feel like an announcement to the world but rather a secret hope between the couple. Well, I went with how it feels without thinking about the element of the thrust. This meant that the people behind me wouldn’t be able to clearly hear what I was saying. I actually heard someone ask what was said and it hit me that my intention and motivation may be appropriate but delivery needs to be adjusted so it can be heard by the audience clearly. So this point was adjusted and I made sure that I was louder and more clear with that line through the rest of the run. We didn’t have mics and it was a very intimate setting, meaning the audience was practically on the stage with us.

Later in the run, a great actor friend was in the audience and asked why I was pointing to my brother during a point when Uncle Bob says he has a confession for anyone who is keeping score of our contest. One of the reveals later in the show was that the brother was documenting the whole night. 🤭Oops sorry, SPOILERS! 😂! Well, my action is that I am actually pointing to Mom, but because of how I do it, sort of dismissively nonchalant which ends up looking like a hand imitating a fish out of water, the action was unclear. Also, dependent on where people sit, I will look like I am pointing to a different person on the stage. From that performance on, I made sure to keep the intention but to acknowledge Mom in a more focused manner.

So my Kind Reader, for this lesson, I learned that staying in the moment and understanding motivations and intentions are all important, but when audience perspective is shifted to almost all around you, clarity and focus in those things is even more useful to help deliver a more enjoyable performance for the audience.

As this posts, I shall be enjoying the final Sunday Brunch of the year. I eagerly look forward to the opportunities 2022 will bring and hope that you are too. That being said, until next time, Gentle Reader, I hope you are safe and alert and don’t forget to treat people with kindness. Including yourselves.

❤️

🎼I Don’t Want A Lot For Christmas, There Is Just One Thing I Need…🎶

Hello Gentle Reader,

How has your week gone so far? Hopefully, it has been productive and low stress.

I am genuinely a curious person. To an extent.

I never realized it until this past Monday. During my workday, I attended an online COVID 19 meeting that was about the vaccines and what the federal guidelines are for my company. Before I get people all riled up, I understand this is a very personal decision and I accept people are entitled to make their own decisions. But…. to be fair, if the nation can decide that abortions are illegal, it is perfectly acceptable for it to decide that you have to get vaccinated. OH!!😳 Did I just make a controversial statement? That depends on how you take it. Stop and look at it factually before you message me about it making you feel a certain way. Stop and think about it.

One of the great things about the meeting that I learned was something called Constructive Conflict. The best way to describe it is thusly: “any discussion where participants talk openly and respectfully about these disagreements in a mutual attempt to understand each other’s perspectives.” Everyone has a perspective and sometimes those views differ even if you are looking at the same thing. We all know this. Don’t assume your point of view is the correct one. Be curious about why the other person believes what they do. Unless you are a certified expert in a field of study, you probably don’t know all the minutiae on a subject or if the thing you are studying is in a constant state of flux. You can even start the conversation with “I know we disagree on — but I would honestly like to understand your point of view.” The key thing is you have to be sincere.

Over the weekend, while sitting at a meal, my friends and I were talking about tv shows. I find a lot of them hard to swallow lately because they don’t make sense emotionally or logically to me. Instead of being curious about why my friends liked certain shows, I stubbornly held to my feelings and was dismissive about their arguement about it and just sat back and listened to them switch topics without engaging much.

That isn’t how I normally operate, Dear Reader. I should hope by now, you would know this. I try to ask questions when we talk about stuff but for some reason, I just don’t like to talk about tv or music with them. And these are my closest and most dear friends talking about things that are so big in our individual lives.

If I had known about this concept, I think the conversation would have been a lot more substantial and interesting. Now that I do know about this, I am curious to see what the next opportunity will be to use this. Not only that, but I am curious how this will influence the next time I am building a character for a show!

What if my personal beliefs are opposite to the beliefs of the character I am to play? This can be such a great tool for research to find those small nuances to add to the inner life of that person.

It is amazing the things I am finding in my work life that translate so well to the theatre. I am so friggin’ lucky!

In performance news, we close A Nice Family Christmas this weekend to a sold out audience. Woo hoo! What a super fun production! Only two more chances to enjoy the company of these lovely people on stage. Then, it is sheer and utter freedom until January 3rd. Whatever shall I do with myself? I know that I have some coffee “dates” set up with people that I haven’t seen in a while, so I am looking forward to that.

OH! and getting some knitting done! 😄

I also wanted to practice some filming techniques and computer skills that I have recently acquired… Nevermind, I guess I know what I will be up to. 😂

Until next time, Kind Reader, stay safe and aware. Be kind to others and yourself.

❤️

🎼”Kindness Is What You Showed To Me, It Holds Me ‘Til I Ache, Overflow And Start To Break…”🎶

Hello Gentle Reader!

A happy colder weather season!🥶 It is my favorite time of the year. As someone who burns a lot of energy doing anything, this time of year always seems to make me feel like I am sorta normal. 😂

Since the last post, “A Nice Family Christmas🎄” has opened and has very nearly sold out! That is exciting. I think it just goes to show how much people wanted to have shared experiences and how important they are as well as how important theatre is for something like that. The show is a funny look at a dysfunctional family Christmas gathering. While it does have some true life grounded moments, this is still a comedy and the over the tops characters make me laugh, yes, even while on stage. The great thing is that I am reacting to what they are saying, so it isn’t like I am breaking character. I mean, not like this guy:

The end result though is that we want you to have a good laugh and remember to care for those that mean something to you. There is a line that Mom says near the end about how important it is to do good things for others. I really love that line. I think it is my favorite in the script. But if you can’t do good things, at least be kind.

I try my best to be a giving person if I have the means and most importantly a kind person, because it literally costs you nothing to do so. A friend of mine posted the calendar above on her instagram feed and I loved it. So, I am giving it a go this year. You better believe I am going to repost this every Thanksgiving from here on out, unless a new one is created. 😊

What I have noticed since starting this advent calendar, Dear Reader, is that things that would typically annoy me have had little effect. I have been in a great mood all month… so far. Now, I may have been confused at some points, but you can still be in a good mood and confused. Trust me. I haven’t brooded on anything like I normally do plus it helps you build some relationships a little stronger.

Even when I was journaling today, I was giving myself a bit of a talk down about something but I noticed it right in the middle of the entry and took a breath and changed my mindset. It was really very interesting to see it, acknowledge it, and take action in such a small amount of time. It was literally seconds.

I don’t want to say that this sort of shift is uncommon because that is what we do each time we are on the stage. We are reacting to one another and should someone deliver a line in a different manner, we see it, acknowledge it, and respond appropriately. OH, and mega shout-outs to my cast mates because this particular show makes me really aware of the energies I am getting and giving, so my delivery is NOT always they way we rehearsed (not even in rehearsal). I think it may be because this is a relatively small cast and we are all interacting with each other throughout most of the show. I have been in small casts before, but there would be scenes when I had no stage time with another actor(s). This, however, has been a blast. These talented people are so genuine, kind, and funny, it is really a pleasure to be around them.

I will try my best to get another post up about any insights that I had learned during the run of this show as we close on December 18. If I don’t get the chance to share another post until the new year, my Kindest Reader, I wish for you a loving and warm ending to 2021 and a bright shiny start to 2022.

Until the next time, thank you for letting me bend your ear. Stay safe and alert. Be kind to others and to yourself. ❤️