The Spark of Creation

The Spark of Creation

I’ve been doing some soul searching, folks. A bulk of my time has been devoted to staring into the abyss. Here’s what I have to say: The Abyss is abysmal, and either get busy livin’ or get busy dying.

In my youth (which I still claim) I spent the entirety of my time outside school devoted to performance art. When I wasn’t in class, you could find me in audition or rehearsal. If I wasn’t cast, I would volunteer to be at every rehearsal regardless. That is how I began to stage manage.

I stage managed at least one show a year at Clark, and usually another at Edison  highschool. When I went to college I declared a double major in Technical Theatre and Acting/Directing, and I Stage Managed the first show my freshman year (which was The Screams of Kitty Genovese, an opera based on the true 1964 story of New Yorker Kitty Genovese who was stabbed to death outside her home while 38 neighbors watched from their windows). It was important for me to stage manage The Screams of Kitty Genovese because I wanted to be in the rehearsal room whether or not I was cast (I wasn’t, though I killed my audition and earned some respect as the only freshman to make it through to callbacks for the role of Betty) – and stage managing meant I could observe. I was lucky to be at a university that fostered my interests in both ways – many universities would have directed me one way or another. There are those that argue that SE did me a disservice by allowing me to declare both a tech and performance major. Perhaps it would have been better for me to come against the decision earlier in my career, but I am thankful I got to explore both paths to their fullest extent.

I think I’m a good stage manager. I run a tight room in a nurturing way. I take my job seriously, but with a lighter touch than some Stage Managers. I will admit, that sometimes I need a heavier hand. There’s always room for improvement. But I do my best and I’m proud of the work I do.

I moved to Chicago to perform, but fell back to stage management pretty quickly. And why not? The shows I’ve worked on have been interesting and wonderful experiences. I live my life by the rule “never stop learning” and I have accomplished that in every project I do. Hell, I worked on my first world-premier show (with the playwright in the room) this year. Every experience is a learning experience and I’m thankful to work with talented professionals who keep me learning.

When Katrina: Mother-in-Law of ’em All closes, I will be taking a hiatus from stage management. I’m certain that this decision is right for me, but it’s bittersweet. I’m humbled and grateful for all the blessings in my life. I have the spark of creation and I’m looking forward to fostering it in other avenues.

 

 

How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying

When I was informed by my staffing agency that my previous project no longer had use for me, I was upset. It was supposed to be a temp-to-perm position that decided they wanted to go another direction – through no fault of my own. The stress ate up my stomach (quite literally – I developed ulcers in the months following and had to take an emergency trip to the hospital) and caused a tremendous amount of grief. I spent time wondering what I had done to get myself in that position, blaming myself and taking quite a blow. Months of therapy later, I was finally able to see that I had no power over the situation. The only power I have is how I choose to react to it.

My staffing agency found me a position here and a position there, but nothing semi-permanent, just a string of day-assignments. I like day-assignments honestly, but my bank account doesn’t. Not knowing where the next assignment would be coming from was stressful too, and my body wasn’t recovered enough to deal with it. So I would go to assignments when they were available, and spend days without assignments filling out job applications and going to therapy.

Over the next few months I would work for this one company in Chicago – and the assignment was pretty sweet if I must admit. It was a Receptionist position – Greeting guests, answering calls, date-stamp the mail, look pretty, all things I was good at. And the people I worked with were wonderful – the office manager especially. We really clicked. Over the two months, I maybe worked there 10 or so times – they kept calling my agency and requesting me.

And then they made me an offer.

I felt like I had won the lottery. After months of worry, finally I had my big break! More responsibilities, a job title, benefits, the whole package – they respected me. And I am so very loyal because of how wonderful this company is to me. This is how you do business, people. Keep your employees happy and they will work hard for you. Today is my first month anniversary of working with these amazing people, and I couldn’t be happier. Here’s to many more!

Extraordinary

Interrobang Theatre Project‘s The Pitchfork Disney is a triumph. British playwright Philip Ridley’s “gothic fairy tale” centers around two siblings who after years in hiding meet a sinister couple, Cosmo Disney and Pitchfork Cavalier. Treading a the waters between a dream and a nightmare, Interrobang’s production has earned praise from audiences and critics throughout Chicago – including a Jeff recommendation. To put it plainly, you would be doing yourself a disservice by not seeing this show.

Aislinn Kerchaert and Fred Geyer are flawless as Hayley and Presley. (Photos by Emily Schwartz)

Aislinn Kerchaert and Fred Geyer are flawless as Haley and Presley. (Photo by Emily Schwartz)

It is the highest compliment I can give this production to say that it almost made me sick. Everything is so uniquely unsettling. Haley (Aislinn Kerchaert) and Presley (Fred Geyer) are two halves of a whole – twins playing off each other with kenetic energy that reminded me of Newton’s Cradle with it’s give and take nature.

Technically, the show is perfectly balanced – credit going to director Jeffry Stanton’s extreme eye for detail. Nothing and everything seems out of place in this surreal play. I was particularly impressed with choices of Lighting Designer, Claire Chrzan and Sound Designer, Christopher M. LaPorte – not forgetting Scenic Designer, Stephen Carmody’s playground of texture.

Costume Designer, Noel Huntzinger creates a brilliant look for Hayley and Presley, but really impresses with the chilling costumes for Cosmo Disney and Pitchfork Cavaliere, played by the talented Kevin Webb and Mark Lancaster respectively. Lancaster’s harrowing howl was particularly memorable – and Webb commands the space with a brilliant confidence. It is difficult to pry your eyes off of him at times, but when you do you are thrilled to be met with Geyer’s performance as Presley – who commands his own sort of child-like power in his struggle to regain control of the fever-dream script.

The Pitchfork Disney plays from Feb 6th to March 2nd. Tickets are $10-20 and are available for purchase at http://www.athenaeumtheatre.org/ or by calling the Anhenaeum’s Box Office at 773-935-6875.

Cross the Line

Cross the Line

In the interest of my own sanity, I present the following. I felt like I would like to share the following thoughts I’ve been pressed with. Allison et. al. would tag this post as one of my many debbie-downer moments, but I don’t think anyone I know/love would discount wanting to voice the following concerns.

I sat with a girl on the rush-hour bus who looked EXACTLY like Dallas, a high-school friend who died after a drunk driver hit her car many, many years ago. This woman could have been her twin, it was strange to be reminded of my old friend and come face-to-face with her memory after all these years. What would she be doing now, I wondered, where would her life take her if it weren’t for that awful accident? And then, a deep seeded guilt came to me – who am I to consider these things? What am I doing to make my own life worthwhile?

I won’t go too much into the gory details but the silver lining about thoughts like this is that they have the power to motivate me to correct past behavior and really do something.

It starts with me cleaning/organizing – which is the best way to procrastinate in my opinion, because afterwards you get a feeling you actually accomplished something and you have a happy work space to complete other goals. So then you work a little on your resume, while simultaneously responding to job postings and writing cover letters. Send a few out, look for more postings, send out a few more, look for more postings… Being unemployed is a full time job if you’re doing it right. Pound the pavement, bring in more applications, rinse and repeat. Take a yoga break every now and then and then make more coffee.

After it all is said and done, what else can you do?

I just remind myself to be thankful that I’m still alive. What are the odds that I was even born in the first place? It is okay to feel small sometimes when reminded of the sheer impossibility of our existence, but you cannot allow that feeling of insignificance to make you retreat – then you just assure the feelings of futility. And here’s a secret, everyone feels that way every now and then.

But I am here, world. I’m not dead (yet) and I’m happy to be here for as long as I possibly can. I’m happy you’re here with me too.

And They’re Off

Rehearsals begin today for Deck Your Own Friggin’ Halls, a show that will make it’s premier in HOBO ROBO 6: Hobos Roasting on an Open Fire at the Greenhouse Theatre Center.  I’ll be the first to admit that it has been a while since I’ve directed adults, but I have come to the conclusion that I direct children in the same way I direct adults. Maybe I tame down my language, but I can’t bring myself to talk down to anyone, no matter the age. If you’re in a show that I’m directing then you’re getting the same amount of respect as everyone else. We’re all peers in this room, we’re all working to create the best show we can.

Party don’t stop, y’all.

Something Wonderful

I just got a message confirming some great news. By the time I’m 26 I will have directed a show in Chicago. (How is that FUTURE for you? PERFECT?!? Get it…? Future perfect! …Guys?)

I’m pleased to announce that I am directing a 10-minute show for Hobo Junction‘s HOBO ROBO 6: Hobos Roasting on an Open Fire. Every year playwrights from all over the world submit 10-minute scripts to be produced at Chicago’s own Greenhouse Theater in a short-play festival. This year’s festival is December 2nd, 3rd, and 4th – a three night love affair with holiday-themed comedy.

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There are a lot of things I’ll need to get together concerning this project – I’m still working on securing a rehearsal space that isn’t my own living room. I think I have the right one, I’m just negotiating with the owners and setting up a tentative schedule. I’m putting feelers out for my lovely actors. Starting November 2nd we will rehearse and polish a new work – and everything else is top secret because we’re gunning to win this festival, and get our playwright a $100 prize!

I hope to see you in the audience!

Fascinatin’ Rhythm

Fascinatin’ Rhythm

This city leaves me speechless.

To say that I love it here is an understatement. My soul just feels good here. Everyplace we go is a brand new adventure. The people we meet are beautiful. The sounds of the city are music. 

This feeling is not new to me, really. I felt this way when I started college at Southeastern. It’s the feeling that the possibilities are endless and I can shape my own future. I ascribe to the school of thought that says life is all about the gathering of knowledge. So in a way I’m continuing my education in the city of Chicago. This is a list of what I’ve learned so far in no particular order:

1st Unitarian in Hyde Park

1st Unitarian in Hyde Park

  • The state of Illinois does not require food handlers classes or permits for waiters. Only for managers and food prep.
  • Spotify has Billy Joe Windhead’s Dark Ride.
  • I’m much more productive with Evernote.
  • There are 16 Unitarian Churches in Chicagoland. One was designed by Unitarian Frank Lloyd Wright.
  • Tom Skilling is this wrong.
  • Illinois doesn’t call it the DMV, they prefer SOS. This one is so efficient, organized, and up to date – took me no time at all to get a new license. I also would like to brag that I passed my written test without missing a question.
  • For the first time in my adult life, I can say that my congressman really does represent my interests.
  • You don’t declare party affiliation when you register to vote in Illinois.
Photo courtesy of a potato.

On the Ferris wheel at Fiesta Del Sol.

More exciting updates on the horizon. Everyday is a gift, I hope I make the most of my time here – and I don’t mean here as in Chicago specifically so much as I mean here on this earth.

I hope all is well with you too, friends.

Chicago, Illinois

crayonskyline

I told you so.

I’m living a dream that is years in the making. Getting to Chicago was half the trouble. A move like this can drive most people crazy. It almost drove me crazy.

I’ve been here a month and each day brings a new lesson. But winter is coming (I finished Dance With Dragons yesterday, and I’m still mourning the loss of the series until Winds of Winter arrives) and we are sweet summer children. I’m trying to prepare myself, really I am, but I’m not rushing myself. It makes me feel like I’m wasting some of my time, but honestly I can’t imagine looking back on this month and regretting it.

August is the month of employment.

You ever look at a job listing and think “Oh sweet wounded Jesus, this job is so perfect for me!” It doesn’t happen too often, but when it does – boy it’s a good feeling. Submit the resume and cover letter and pray for an interview. A follow up call or visit helps, I’m told. I could try to convince you, reader, that I know the secret – but I don’t. It’s a little bit of luck, a little bit of confidence, and some natural spin. The only thing you might have complete control over is your resume.

My resume is polished and primed for an education-based arts position, with the right balance of teacher meets theatrical artist. Every job I’ve ever had has lead me to this fantastic career – where I get to spend each day working with children to achieve their hearts desire. Chicago will further my own ambitions to create a dynamic children’s show. I wake up every day inspired to learn and create, and Chicago is the right environment for me to achieve my goals. Everything I need is at my fingertips, I just have to go and get it.

I love Tulsa, and I always will – but I belong here in Chicago. I know it in my soul. So goodbye for now, Tulsa. I’ll see you in my dreams.

We’ll see how I feel after the job market has it’s way with me.

Move On

Move On

Pst. Hey, pst. Come o’er here, I got somethin’ for you.

Okay, I trust you now – don’t mess with me. And whatever you do, don’t tell Chicago. You know how he is – all about the family…. Can I trust you?

Okay, here goes.

ImCheatingOnChicagoWithLosAngeles.

Los Angeles

Whew. It feels good to get that off my chest. You don’t even know – I’ve been carrying that around for a while.

It’s just that Los Angeles could give me things Chicago couldn’t. Then again, Chicago gives me thrills I can’t even define. But Los Angeles is exotic. But Chicago is passion. Oh! I’m just so confused!

Max and I are trying to decide between the two. I have obvious love for Chicago, but I’ve never been to L.A.. So we’re planning a small trip to scope it out soon, so I could have a more unbiased opinion.

Right now the pro/con list isn’t making the choice any easier. It looks like this: One one blackboard we have Chicago. Windy City, Second City. On the other blackboard we have Los Angeles. The City of Angels. You can see my dilemma.

Chic Chicago

I shouldn’t have even said anything.

What do you think though? Do Los Angeles and I have a chance? Or will Chicago be my one and only? Time will tell, or as my good friend Angela McBurleson of the McBurleson clan would say, “Only Tim will tile.”

Started comparing job listings for myself this week, so that will help with the decision. Took a gander at the cost of living analysis between the two. It’s a big decision, and although I’m scared to make it – I have to. Dot says it best in Sunday in the Park with George, “The choice may have been mistaken, the choosing was not.” – I have to move on.

We’ve got time to do more research, of course – but I’m torn. What would you choose? What are some things I should analyse? What are things you thought about when moving to a new city? Feel free to leave feedback anonymously in the comments.