Monday, December 20, 2010

Rowdy or Engaged?

This has happened so often, I have to share the most recent incident.

Setting: Large group gathering in a gym. Buffet food line. Tables scattered throughout. An area in front of the stage for the children to sit on the floor. Stage set with everything needed for interactive children's play.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

NaNoWriMo Winner

For the second year in a row, I've managed to pull off 50k words of a new novel during National Novel Writing Month. The real trick for me now is to go back and edit both those stories!

Side note: My friend's husband calls it NaNoWiMo = National No Wife Month. LOL!

A Past Life Perhaps

One of the first mime “skits” that Marian had the kids create at a middle school workshop was a 7-second chore or something they do on a regular basis. Because of past experiences, Marian ticked off on her fingers the things the kids may NOT PERFORM: “You may not show me playing video games.” [kids groaned] “You may not show me playing computer games.” [more groans] “You may not show me watching T.V.” [“aww”] “You may not show me doing nothing or sleeping. And because someone once tried this, I must add—

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Empathy for Charlie Brown's Lucy

I was doing a bit of cross stitch while watching a movie with the fam when I needed to get another length of thread. As I'm measuring and cutting, a length of it lies over my lap and dangles towards the floor. The cat of course thinks it's a cat-toy. And I just think it's funny as she bats at thin thread.

I get the two threads I need and I lick the ends prior to

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Saga of Tortoise and the Hare

I must really like this Aesop's fable because I've adapted it for the stage three times.

The first time was in 1996 when I was directing children's shows at Miss Mella's Drama Theatre. Because I had no idea how many children would come out for auditions, I needed the script to be flexible in terms of number of cast members. I also needed it to last about 45 minutes. So Adaptation 1 was included in the script Four Fables of Aesop, which could have a cast of 6-25, or more. The Tortoise and the Hare portion included other animals in the forest--Tortoise was polite to them and Hare was rude.

Monday, October 11, 2010

I Like Playing Left Field

(disclaimer: I don't play a lot of softball anymore, but when I did...)

I liked playing left field. When chosen for a team, with no idea what I could or couldn't do, the team "captain" would usually place me in left field, especially if it was a co-ed team. I was okay with that because I would just wait my
chance. I watched good hits send the ball to right field; many balls stopped at the infield, and I still waited. All I had to do was keep alert. Be ready. Sooner or later, a fly ball would come nearer to me than to the right fielder and I had my chance--I ran all out to get under that ball. I watched that thing until

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Hare's Blunder

Once upon a time there was a non-runner who played the Hare in a performance of The Tortoise and the Hare. There were 300 children in the audience. What fun! How silly the non-runner was with the Hare, zipping around the stage and through the audience, delivering lines at the speed of light, and boasting--because that's what Hare does in the fable. Then Tortoise challenges Hare to a race, because that's what happens in the fable. A child is brought up to say

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


I read constantly--a must for any writer? Usually fantasy. Usually a middle grade or young adult novel. Sometimes, I go on a non-fiction kick--The Idle Parent; Drive; A Whole New Mind, Eat to Live. Oh, those are sitting in my to-be-read pile. Right now, I'm reading The Success Principles by Jack Canfield. Oo, I want tobe successful. I finished the chapter on goal-setting--I'm supposed to have 101 goals! Dang it shoot,

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Shakespeare was Long-Winded!

Preface: I do like watching Shakespeare plays.

But, oh, my goodness, the fam just saw Henry IVth, part 1 at the Ashland Shakespeare Festival--which was wonderful; I love seeing what directors do with blocking for Shakespeare; I love watching what the actors do. Anyway... It began at 8 p.m. and ended at 11 p.m. The Bard needed a good editor. That's all there is to it. English professors love to dissect Shakespeare--which really doesn't help students to understand the

Sunday, July 18, 2010

My Opinion Counts... kids, anyway.

We had an outdoor performance of Tortoise and the Hare on Saturday. Right afterwards, several children came up to do more than thank us for the performance; they came to, well, chitchat: "That was good" "You were funny" "Today I'm a butterfly, see? [the child's face was painted]" "I have a butterfly [paper craft at one of the booths]" "My mom's working in a booth;

Friday, June 18, 2010

Theater Activity #3 Trip to Hawaii

I love games and I combined a group game with the practice of the theater skill of enunciation.
Trip to Hawaii
The group sits in a circle. Person 1 says, "I am going on a trip to Hawaii and in my suitcase I will pack _____________" Person 1 fills in the blank (and it can be as silly as "my pet elephant"). Person 2 says the same sentence but this time fills in the blank with whatever Person 1 said and adds "...and ____________," filling in the blank with something else. Person 3 says the same sentence and what the other

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Wiped Out!

I must put more energy than I realize into shows. We performed a 40-minute murder mystery for about 100 people today and by the time we got done and got home, I was DONE. I went to bed at 7 p.m. (I don't go to bed at 7 p.m.! I go to bed at 1 a.m. and such...which is approximately what time it is now--I did have a two hour nap though.) I had plans: after the show I was going to rehearse for the next show, take care of a few things that are coming up, maybe cross stitch some, sew some, write some. I mean really, the show was in the middle of the day. I'd be fine. I wasn't. I couldn't even read in bed for very long! (what is this world coming to) So either I'm getting sick or I shower our audience lavishly with energy. I think that's a good thing...except for needing to go to bed at 7 p.m.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

So Boxed In!

I'm a mime and so what do people always ask me--Can you do the box?
As if that weren't bad enough, I wrote myself into a box. As in, I wrote a new script called "Boxes." It's for the show I'll direct during the summer with a cast of 3rd and 4th graders.

When was I supposed to have this script complete? Around February--

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Gadzooks! Those Cell Phones are Taking Over

Do you remember the movie Invasion of the Body Snatchers? There's probably been numerous remakes of it, each one gorier, I'm sure. I saw it as a teen (long ago if you must know). Well, I think cell phones have become intelligent and are secretly working on controlling all humans around the world. I mean, why else would people

Thursday, April 22, 2010

She was the Beanstalk

Two days ago, we had a Performance/Workshop combo. After two performances of Jack and the Beanstalk for the students at a primary school (K-3), we led workshops for five 1st grade classes. It was a blast--the teachers were enthusiastic, the kids were enthusiastic and we had fun taking the little guys through 25 minutes of theater activities. In each class, the kids wanted to point out their friends who had played different

Monday, March 22, 2010

Script Frenzy

That's actually the name of the sibling of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) that happened in November. So, for April, one writes fast and furiously to create a script (stage, screen play, TV program) or scripts that total 100 pages.

I went and signed up for it! Why, oh, why would I do that to myself right before

Friday, March 5, 2010

I Taught Him What??

What an interesting influence theater has on young children.

One of my young nephews came to see Captain Bobella of the Beast, a pirate story in which the cruel Captain Bobella doesn't want smiling or singing or anything of that nature on board her ship. As the play is introduced, the audience is told to say "Aye, aye" whenever the captain tells them to do something. During the play, I chose my nephew to be

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Finished a Play--Kinda

Every time I write a play, it seems to morph constantly. I finished writing "The Empress's New Clothes" to be performed in a couple of weeks and despite my having an outline, picturing it in my hand as I'm writing (I'm a director, too, so this is good), going back through the entire thing a couple of times to check for errors and to change the length as needed, I make it all nice and pretty to print out in booklet form and I find lots of mistakes. The very moment the script is

Friday, February 26, 2010

Most Embarrassing Moment

I was working with some journalism kids today and they were practicing their interviewing questions on me. One of the questions was "what was your most embarrassing moment?"

If it's the "most embarrassing moment," it means that it was pretty embarrassing...

I'm not telling.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Good Audience Behavior

When one performs in a variety of places for a variety of ages, one notices the little things that get neglected, such as remembering to have manners during a show. This is called Good Audience Behavior. Good Audience Behavior boils down to one thing: Do not become a distraction to the performers or the people around you. Sadly, more and more productions must give a Good Audience Behavior speech before the curtain rises. Lest "Do not become a distraction..." is not quite understood, here are further guidelines:
1) Turn off your cell phone. Or leave it in the car. Do not look at it when it vibrates to see who it is. Do NOT excuse yourself "quietly" to the foyer or other area just to answer the phone. If you are waiting for a very important call, don't attend the performance. People used to survive for several hours at a time without being near a phone (or checking Facebook). We can do it again. And if you forget to turn off the cell and it rings, turn it off--just push the volume button to make it go quiet and once the call gets sent to voice mail, you can turn off your phone; do not answer it.
2) Sit quietly. Talking to the person next to you, even if you're whispering, is a distraction.
3) If you are not interested in the show--maybe you were roped into coming or maybe it's boring--tough it out. Do not start talking or playing with your cell phone or Nintendo DS. Other people want to be there--don't be distracting.
4) If you must exit or walk by (perhaps it's an outdoor performance), do NOT walk between the audience and the performers. Cling to the edges of the group and go behind the audience, even if it means walking a bit further, even if it means getting off the sidewalk.

If you take your child to a play, you need to be in charge:
1) Sit next to your child. If you have a group of children with you, sit where you can easily reach any of them and have the most rambunctious child sit right next to you. Shushing a child over the tops of three or four children is distracting to everyone around you.
2) Keep your child seated. They should not be running around just because the show is in a gym or in the library. Especially, do not let them play on the stage or the stage area before, during or after a performance. If you know your child may have a problem sitting still, sit in the back, near an exit.
3) Kids get excited during a play but allowing them to get "into it" by yelling things out is a distraction. If the play is an audience-participation play, listen to the instructions. There may be times to yell things out and times NOT to.

If you're in charge of a large group of kids:
1) Don't leave the area just because the kids seem focused on the play. This is not the time for a meeting in the next room.
2) Staff members should be spread throughout the audience, not in one spot.
3) Don't talk to other staff members even in the back of the room; you can be heard. It's distracting.
4) Your most active children should be next to an adult and probably not in the front row.
5) The children will get excited. If they do not see you watching them, their noise/wiggly level will increase. If you don't stop them quickly, the level will get to be monstrous. The performers should not have to stop performing just to shush the children.
6) So sorry, but don't watch the show, watch the kids.

1) Laugh out loud when the play is funny. Enjoy it. It gives the performers more energy.
2) Applaud at the conclusion of the show. I don't care what the age of the performers--two, teen, senior, and everything in between--applaud. It is DIFFICULT work getting in front of a group of strangers and performing! With shows such as America's Got Talent, we've become a bit too critical, thinking everyone has to be Broadway, Hollywood or Vegas material to be appreciated. Not so. Applaud because of the efforts of the performers. Applaud because you saw a live performance. Applaud because you love the playwright. Applaud because the performance was pretty dang good for being a high school (or whatever) production. If you absolutely hated the performance and you didn't leave at intermission, that would be your fault--applaud politely.

Lots of information here but again it boils down to one thing...wait a minute, two things:
1) Don't become a distraction.
2) Enjoy it!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Expect the Unexpected When You Do Mime

Just a silly little memory: I was off to do a mime show and my husband glances up from whatever he was reading and comments, "My wife is a painted lady."

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Fine Art of Eating One Food at a Time and the Problems It Causes

I love eating a meal, a good meal, such as served at lunch or dinner. You'll notice it was served, not made by me. If I make a "meal" it usually consists of one item--spaghetti, chili, soup, that kind of thing, not a variety of delectable vegetables and meats on a plate. But when I have a plate of food in front of me, I eat all of one item at a time because I "save the best for last"--which always changes depending what I'm in the mood for. Even as a child, I ate one item at a time before moving to the next food.

The problems associated with such eating may not be obvious. As a child, I ran the risk of a sibling or parent leaning over my plate and spearing a delicious morsel I was saving and eating it because they thought I didn't want it. My oldest sister once downed my glass of cold milk that I was saving for the very end that night; I was going to swallow the cool refreshment as the last lingering flavor on my taste buds.

I haven't been too worried about my mono-eating as an adult. I knew how to wield a fork if I had to. But the funniest problem I had by eating this way was at a luncheon board meeting I attended. Two of the people on the board were also the ones catering the luncheon. Oh my goodness, my plate had SALMON on it--I love salmon, broiled or baked with butter and spices. Oh, yeah, that was going to be THE last thing I savored that day. So, I went through my salad and had just started in on the veggies, when the serious-about-the-business-and-oh-so-attentive caterer asked me if the salmon was okay. I assured him I was saving it for last. I went through my veggies, took a sip of water and again the caterer, now rather worried for his reputation I suppose, told me if the salmon wasn't good, he would be happy to bring me something else. His hand was even inching towards my plate to take it away! (My fork was in the ready position). In spite of the meeting already in progress, I whispered to him in the most urgent way I could--my salmon was on the line after all--that I am 1) a mono-eater; 2) I ALWAYS save the best for last; 3) I LOVE salmon; and 4) DON'T TOUCH MY SALMON. All in a whisper, you understand. Perhaps brandishing the fork got my message across...okay, I didn't really brandish the fork but I leaned forward to protect my plate and gobbled up the salmon before anyone could reach over and take it.

Monday, February 1, 2010


Deadlines get me nervous. I feel myself start to panic when deadlines draw near. I'm not an absolute procrastinator but there are times I put off doing one thing to be able to complete something else, such as, perhaps I'd like to clean the house that day so there's no longer a foul odor, or maybe I want to have three meals in the day where I actually sit down to eat them. Point being, I try to pace myself in all the tasks that I know have deadlines coming up. It just never works. At the end of last summer, I was already thinking of a new children's play to write for summer 2010. One would think I've had a leisurely six months to plod along writing, right? Well, I got the outline ready...the rest of the play ought to be due about NOW! Is it done? No. But I hate plodding! If I have a job to do, I just like completing the whole thing in one fell swoop when possible. I even eat that way--one food at a time; I complete the mashed potatoes then I move on to the green beans (another day, I'll have to tell you an amusing story about that habit). I hate eating--or completing projects--piecemeal. That's why when I go to sew an outfit, I need to be able to finish it within the day or it drives me crazy. (I've never come across a sewing project that lasts a day, which could account for me being crazy. Dang it.) Same thing happens when writing a play, reading a book, de-cluttering the house. That could be why I'm often up late, too. Perhaps between deadlines and life, I could learn patience (Ha!).

Is posting on a blog procrastinating?

(Next time on Simply Marian, we'll explore the fine art of eating one food at a time and the problems it causes.)

Monday, January 18, 2010

Spelling Theater or Theatre

Awhile back, a daughter of a friend was in a spelling bee. The friend used to own a theatre--Miss Mella's Drama Theatre--that everyone in the family helped out with. Her daughter got the word "theater" and she spelled it the way she'd seen it...and was told WRONG! She had spelled it t-h-e-a-t-r-e. My heck, I spell it that way all the time. I guess it's the British way. Don't spell it like that in a spelling bee in the United States.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Who On Earth Said "The Show Must Go On"?

Hacking cough, barely a voice, children's show yesterday...and sicker in bed today. The show went fine (I think). The kids enjoyed it. We got through it. We got paid. Whether a mom or a performer, the attitude of "the show must go on" is prevalent and I need to evaluate that statement for its truthfulness for each situation. Did I really have to run those errands on Thursday and Friday, instead of resting? Of course the answer is "no," the errands could have waited. Did I have to perform on Saturday? Well, no. My daughter knows the show and it probably would have been easier on the audience's ears to hear her singing, rather than me. I had the kind of voice that makes you want to clear your own when you hear it. Had I been thinking, she could have prepared for the show since Thursday. And she's good enough to have picked it up in three days. But, noooo, I was thinking "the show must go on...and I have to be the one to do it." Silly me. Alternatives, I must be creative and think alternatives. Now, back to bed for me.

Friday, January 1, 2010

A New Year & Which Direction?

Oh, man, oh, man, oh, man. It's January first and it's time to evaluate and check my life's compass, do some course corrections, decide the focus. I'm scared. Evaluating where I've been, what I've accomplished and which direction I want to head now seems like such a monumental chore because there are so many aspects--physical, spiritual, creative (can that be "creatial"?), financial, mental. You know, I was just thinking that the evaluation part itself could take a month to ponder...and then I was thinking how much time it would take to figure out the exact direction I want to go...and then I was thinking half the year could be over by the time I figure all that out. Through writing these few sentences, I have decided to KISS (Keep It Short and Simple). For the amount of time I could spend struggling over the perfect goals for the year, I could probably get some done just by getting to work. So basically my goals will be about writing, working, spiritualing, house-maintaining, and healthifying. And this year I think I'll evaluate and make course corrections on a monthly basis. Next Jan. 1st may not feel so overwhelming to look back and see what I've done, the direction I've been. Simple is good for me!