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.)

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Cool Uniqueness

Last month my 17 yo daughter auditioned and got a major role because her Irish accent was so good. Of course she does because we watch movies such as Darby O`Gill and the Little People, Waking Ned Devine, and The Magical Legend of the Leprechaun. Then we go around the house speaking in Irish accents to each other. Doesn't everyone?

Yesterday, she took some period shoes into rehearsal. The directors were impressed and wondered where/how did she come across those shoes. Well,  we have costumes at home. Doesn't everyone?

Sometimes we don't realize our individual and familial uniqueness, and we should. What's yours?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Split Focus

During the summer, I teach/direct a mime troupe of kids, ages 10-12. When the kids are creating group skits, I often have to help them so they don't have split focus. You know, where one kid is playing something up big, but so are kids 2 and 3. I'm so busy watching the two on the right, I miss what the kid on the left is doing. Split Focus. I have the kids practice downplaying some actions or even freezing so the audience will be looking at the performer whose movements are required for the story to move along.

So here I am, looking at the last date I posted and it's been six (6) months! Why? Split Focus. I get it even when I'm not on stage. I've been working hard on my writing projects and keeping my author website updated (including the blog there); then there's my business website; and life (laundry, cleaning, fixing, books to read, movies to watch, FB to post to).

And yet when I pulled it together to focus hard, I managed to get another book edited and uploaded! The Other Art: Theater Skills to Help Every Child (Home Edition) got uploaded to Smashwords two days ago and tonight I finished formatting it for Kindle and I uploaded the book to Amazon as well. Wow! I may have to focus more often.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Could Shakespeare Be More Wordy?

Well, I suppose he can't since he's no longer living.
I'm in the midst of directing his comedy Twelfth Night. 
Wait. I must start further back...
In high school, I read Much Ado About Nothing and didn't really follow. Then I SAW it performed! The physical action made it understandable and hilarious.
Back to the present...
Directing 12th Night. I cut it. A lot. I kept all the parts I thought I could make physically funny as well as verbally funny and keep the storyline intact. But I still cut a lot. I did keep one part though that I suppose I could have cut or reduce. It's that of the Priest who enters to tell the group that he just performed the marriage ceremony of Sebastian and the Countess Olivia. Does he enter and say, "I just married them a couple of hours ago"? No, he says:

Friday, March 15, 2013

Joys and Despairs of Teaching After School

I'm finishing up another eight weeks of teaching in after-school programs. Talk about a love/hate relationship.

Here are the top 3 things I hate about it:
  1. The kids don't necessarily like theater. My class tends to be a curiosity or a lesser of several choices of evil classes.
  2. It's the afternoon and there's been no down-time for the kids. You try going to work and being around 600 people all day, and listening to an obnoxiously loud bell every hour and even more obnoxiously loud announcements blasted through the intercom, then at the end of the day having a 5 minute snack with 50 people ready to bust out of the monotony but wait! It's not really the end of the day; it's time for more work--it might be fun work but it still saps the strength. Once you're done with that, you get to go home and do more work given to you to do specifically at home. Those poor kids-they need naps. I need a nap by that time!
  3. For some kids there's not a lot of commitment to come. So it means I can never really teach anything beyond a few basics, before I'm back to simple improv games. There's so little continuity. Many of the kids finish up the class thinking that theater is nothing more than what I was able to teach them.
Here are the top 5 things I LOVE about it:

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Creativity Takes Time, Energy and DEADLINES

I finally finished writing 10 short scripts for 2-3 children to perform. The ones that I like the most and I think came out funnier than the others are the ones in which I had DEADLINES. None of the deadlines were imposed by a publisher or editor (too bad, eh?), but by the calendar. For instance, I got one done right before my writer's critique group. I had to have something to take to the meeting, right? I couldn't live with the shame of showing up empty-handed. But I was busy and at the last minute (or hour or so) I