Thursday, January 2, 2020

Granddaughters and Talent and YouTube How-to's

My older granddaughters just amaze me. They have so many creative talents. This past summer they were in my improv class and they were good. I saw some of their sketches and loved them. One wants to be a contortionist and then I saw her practicing and she's so flexible. She also wants to sing and she has a beautiful voice. The 11-year-old was writing a book and read two chapters to me. I wanted to hear the rest of the story but she hasn't written it yet. Both of them can paint. I wondered why I was so astonished and excited by what they were doing and then I realized it was because I hadn't found my talents by their ages. What an incredible thing for young people to discover something they can do well. The only talent I had which I learned at 15 was mime. Everything else I learned I could do, came after I was 30: picture book writing, play writing, novel writing, play directing, sketching, watercolor painting, acrylic painting. 
So a big cheer to the youth who find a talent: Keep it up!
And a big cheer to those adults who don't let adulthood dry them out but bloom at that time, too: Keep it up!
A big thank-you to those who post how-to's on YouTube, and those who give workshops and classes, for all the art centers and libraries that sponsor artists so I can attend for free. (My income couldn't afford all the classes that I would LOVE to take.)
All of you inspire me! 

(I better get busy and post a how-to on making the mime wall and other techniques so I can pay it forward.)

watercolor jellyfish
Watercolor Christmas cards

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Madame Director

After casting a play, I start my first rehearsal with a "pep" talk. It goes something like this: "Before you auditioned, it was a democracy. Now that you're cast, it's more like a tyranny. My job as the director is to make you look great on stage. In a few weeks of rehearsals, you're going to be SICK of me and rehearsals. You won't want to do what I say. At that point, you will look at me and say, 'Yes, Madame Director' and you'll do exactly what I say anyway. Got it?" They chuckle in a frightened way and say "Got it." Then we begin the rehearsal.

There's a group of homeschooled teens that I've directed in Shakespeare plays, starting in 2012. In 2013, that first group along with some of their siblings were part of the play. In 2014, the olders helped backstage and the youngers were now moving on up into the major roles. This year, I'm directing A Midsummer Night's Dream and there are some of the youngers who are the olders, and newbies who are olders, too. I almost didn't have to go through my spiel; the oldies taught the newbies what to call me. The parents working with me call me Madame Director, too. Annnndddd, there are the little guys--young siblings of the actors--who come on as fairies towards the end of the play. They are so excited to have sparkly costumes and wings. My heart MELTED when one tiny voice called out, "Madame Director..." FYI, I'm very nice to the little guys.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Children's Theatre vs. Real Theatre

Does children's theater deserve less regard than real theater? I think I need to define and get more specific:
~When I say "deserves less regard," I mean less respect or less attention from the audience. Basically, does the audience get to ignore or, perhaps, make fun of performers if it's just a children's show? Is it alright if the audience becomes disruptive - such as yelling out to the performers, talking out loud or even whispering - if it's a children's show?
~When I say "real theater" I'm talking about going to a building that's got a stage and lights and props and costumes and there's an admissions charge.
~Now to get specific about the show:
What if the show is a group of children who are performing in the living room for their family?
What if the show is a group of children performing in a classroom?
What if the show is a group of children performing in front of their whole school and parents?
Does it matter if they're performing on the floor or on a stage? Should it matter?
What if the costumes or the set aren't fancy?
What if it's an adult troupe performing on the gym floor at a school?
What if it's an adult troupe performing on the grass at a park?
What if it's an adult troupe performing a children's show on a stage in a building that seats 500?

Here's what I think: The quality of the shows are definitely going to change but the quality of the audience behavior should not. I have seen the lack of regard by families who are attending a school production. "It's just the kids," they seem to think as they answer or play with cell phones or allow their younger children to run around. I have seen teachers stand in the back of the gym and carry on not-as-quiet-as-they-think conversations during a children's show put on by adults. For some reason, we've gotten the idea that it's okay to act differently if we're watching just a children's play than if we are dressed up and paying for a seat at the the-uh-tah. It's not okay. Audience members: act like you're dressed up; act like you paid a pretty penny to be able to watch a children's play, no matter where it's being performed or by whom.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Audiobooks on the Bucket List

I love audiobooks when I'm driving and when I'm cleaning or when my eyes are too tired to read but I'm still awake enough to listen. (I must admit, there have been times when I go to sleep while listening to an audiobook in bed; but then I also find myself asleep when the book I'm reading lands on my face. I have got to start reading books at other times during waking hours.)

I would love to learn the art of being an audiobook reader. There are some great narrators. Jim Dale comes to mind (Harry Potter; Liesl and Po). Man, can he do voices. I've enjoyed David Hyde Pierce (The Phantom Tollbooth) too. There are many others. I guess I'll put "Learn how to audiobook and record a book" on my list of things to do. Time to practice reading out loud. Do I have that kind of patience? That's the big question, for sure.

The whole reason I was spurred on to write this blog post is because an indie author, Megg Jensen, whose books I've been collecting and enjoying is having a giveaway of an audiobook....and I love audiobooks. So if you'd like to try to win her audiobook, just click here. (And may I be so greedy to ask that you not click on that link? I'd like to win. Thank you ever so much.)

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

My Apologies!

To All the Kids and Adults I Have Ever Directed:
I'm sorry for making you suffer through auditions and then having to get paragraphs and paragraphs of words perfectly memorized!

In February, I decided to audition for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in my own community. It was supposed to be primarily for children to perform in. There were a few openings for adults. I figured I could be a grandparent that shows up in the first scene or maybe a parent that shows up at Wonka's factory until my kid gets sucked up a pipe or blows up like a blueberry. What a surprise to be cast as Willie (the female version of Willy) Wonka! How delightful! But...that character never stops talking! There are thousands and thousands of gallons of words to memorize. I. Am. Feeling. The. Pain! My head hurts from memorizing; my throat hurts from projecting.


So, I am sorry for being a demanding director--and I thank you for all your hard work--but I'm afraid I'm not changing. I still must insist you memorize lines, get your blocking right, and act well your part. At least you know I've suffered as you have.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Shake It Up

Right when I catch the pattern, things change. I used to think change was no problem, but even as I type this, I can feel my pulse start to go faster. Excuse me a moment while I deep breathe...still breathing...okay, tension in my head is easing. About the C word: in the middle of Dec, my daughter and I traded roles. Not like in the movie Freaky Friday; as in, we have a Christmas play we perform every year and I've been playing the silly elf Tinsel and she's been playing Evergreen, the uptight, busy one that has lists for everything and just does everything her-elf instead of getting help. Hm. Which one sounds more like me? The only reason I've been Tinsel for so long is because that's the character who gets most of the help from the audience throughout the show. When my daughter started performing with me, she was a little young for being in charge of an audience. We switched roles this year. It was a great show, better than it has been! She was so enthusiastic and playful as Tinsel, and I had a blast as Evergreen, adding some uptight physical comedy that made the audience laugh. It brought new energy to an old show. So - Face the change! Shake it up! Try something different and the pulse be darned! 
To paraphrase John Stuart Mill: The person who never tries what he cannot do, never discovers what he can.
(Actual quote: "The pupil who is never required to do what he cannot do, never does what he can do." John Stuart Mill.)