Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Behind the mask

So I'm rehearsing this new show...

(how's that for an introduction? Hello. Long time, no blog.)

... and it's been, for the most part, fun and challenging. It's based on some Native American folklore and I play both a Bear (dying of radiation poisoning... hey, I said BASED) and a prophetic Loon. Both characters require the wearing of ginormous woven masks, which are beautiful to behold and rather painful to wear. The thing about acting with masks is that you lose what is one of the most powerful acting tools: your face. You have to show what is happening through your body and the position of your (now ginormous) head. Small movements don't read, particularly in relation to your head, so all movements have to become bigger, cleaner, and more precise. You have to remember to keep your mask visible to the audience. Your voice has to portray more emotion and energy, and get past the mask.

Did I mention that the masks are ginormous? And stick out a foot or so past our mouths? And are made of sound absorbing raffia and bark? And we can barely see out of them, and have little idea what exactly is happening around us?
(my areas of vision are out the mouth, and through a band of mesh that runs between the eyes, below the ears. Peripheral vision is non existent)

So we have some challenges.

Oh, and we're performing outside. In Detroit. So we are competing with birds and wind and traffic noises and helicopters and people riding by on the their bikes talking loudly into their blue tooth devices (I assume. Either that or this woman was carrying on a really boring and rational discussion with herself. Loudly.).

I have some experience working with masks, although admittedly not of this size, so I am familiar with the changes that need to be made to accommodate this different style of performance. Simply putting on a mask makes a performance far more presentational. The stuff that works in other shows will. not. work. when you put on a mask. We have a good director and are working with a professor from the University of Michigan who specializes in mask work and comedic movement (it's a comedy. did I mention that? I'm dying of radiation in an updated Native American folktale that is billed as a physical comedy. It's kind of hard to explain).

So, yeah. I'm working on this show. I'm enjoying the challenge and the people I'm working with. We open in 10 days.

We've been doing a lot of our rehearsing inside, but last night did some work outside, which of course brought a lot of the areas where we are weak into strong focus. I found it exhilarating to be outside and add in this extra element of what will be our show conditions, and found myself getting louder, bigger, cleaner, etc. I found that it rose the bar for me, and I worked to meet it. Not perfectly, for sure, but we still have 10 days.

The director seemed to recognize this, too - that I was working to meet those challenges. But it led to this really awkward moment during the notes at the end of the rehearsal. A moment where she quietly pointed out that we all need to be more cohesive and on the same page. She asked how we could achieve that. There was silence. I think everyone was having a bit of a hard time figuring out just what she was asking. I said that we should all have similar energy levels. She nodded. Pause. There was some mention of my Loon, and how "big" she is. Pause. I comment that I make her really huge and over dramatic because I see her as this crazy (loony! get it?) prophetic character. but I could tone it down if need be. The director shakes her head and says, no, the Loon IS the drama queen. Pause. Then she asks the other actors how they might be able to be more cohesive with Loon.

Ah. So basically she is giving me a compliment... saying that I have the right idea with the style and energy. And wanting the other actors to match it. But she wants them to come to that conclusion (it's not like she hasn't been trying to get them to be bigger and cleaner all along).

So I feel good... like I'm doing something right. Yay me! But also a bit guilty. Like I'm being used to point out other people's weaknesses. It's not the first time it's happened to me in a show. It always feels weird. It takes away from the joy of doing something right.

Have you ever felt this way? Proud of what you're doing right, but almost guilty that others aren't getting it the way you are, and badly that you're being used as the example of what to do? The cast is a team, and we all look better when everyone meets the high bar. It's very strange being that bar.

As if being a bear and a loon wasn't strange enough.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The ORIGINAL ending to The Gospel of Mark

I've found it! The UNTIL NOW missing part of the bible that everyone else seems to be following, but I never could figure out why! As you may know, there is scholarly debate over the ending of the gospel of Mark, and most people agree that Mark 16:9-20 is a later addition. But I have found the REAL, ORIGINAL version of these verses (with one additional verse!), and somehow, people of today have apparently been led by the Holy Spirit to follow them even thought they had not read them. These verses also reveal that Facebook has been around for much longer than Mark Zuckerberg. The technology must have been lost around the same time as these verses were (perhaps in the destruction of Jerusalem?) and I wouldn't be surprised if Mr. Zuckerberg himself found these verses (heck, he's named after the Apostle Mark himself! It was probably preordained!) and invented Facebook, just so that we can live out our faith as Jesus wanted. That last bit, of course, is just my speculation. Regardless, I am sure that these newly found verses are authentic. Here they are, for your spiritual fulfillment:

9 When Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, but this has no significance, and does not indicate that women should be given leadership roles of any form. 10 She went and posted on Facebook that Jesus was alive, and entreated all of her friends to copy and paste. 11 When the disciples read that Jesus was alive and that Mary had seen him, they did not believe it, and decided that men should be forever in charge of women for they clearly could not be trusted. And they did not re-post.

12 Afterward Jesus appeared in a different form to two of them while they were walking in the country. 13 He told them that it didn't matter if they had to miss worship for things like sleeping in, sports events, or going to a movie. Worship and community were just suggestions, and not all that important, really, to the living out of their faith. In fact, he wasn't sure why he ever bothered to mention them at all.

14 Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating; he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to re-post Mary's status.

15 He said to them, “Go into all the world and re-post the gospel to all your friends. 16 Whoever re-posts will be saved, but whoever does not re-post will be condemned."

17 The disciples knew this might be their last chance to ask Jesus questions about his gospel, and so they asked "Lord, you have commanded us to care for the sick. How should we best do this? By working to heal and cure? By delivering meals to those who are ill and their families? By visiting them in their illness, and praying for their health and peace?" 18 Jesus replied "Oh, those things are fine, but really, all you need to do is raise AWARENESS of the illness. Wear pink. Tell the world the color of the bra you are wearing. Pin a red ribbon to your chest. Put an Autism puzzle magnet on the back of your car. Everyone will understand if you don't actually want to be around people who are sick. They can be gross!"

19 The disciples had many more questions: how best to achieve peace and justice; did they really have to love ALL their neighbors; and, most importantly, what was a car and were they, as men, even allowed to wear bras. But lo, at that moment the Lord Jesus was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God, checking Facebook to make sure that his disciples had accepted his friend requests. 20 Then the disciples hurried to their computers and posted that Jesus was their hero, and anyone who loved God had better copy and paste as their status for at least one hour, lest Jesus know they were ashamed of their faith. 21 After the prescribed hour had passed the disciples posted a link for all their friends to donate to a charity walk they were participating in to raise awareness of their pet illness/social justice issue, then returned to posting snarky status updates about how "some people" behave and cute pictures of kittens, content that they had fulfilled the commandments of their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Wuv, tru wuv

For flutter


you are an extraordinarily couragous person with an amazing capacity for love and forgiveness. And this marriage business? It takes a lot of courage and love and forgiveness. It helps to pick a good partner, and Clay? He's a keeper. I wish you a lifetime of love. Things won't always be perfect, but you know that all too well. But you will be partners, forever, in this crazy life. Bless you.

And, in keeping with Emily's blog carnival theme that Mawigge is what bwings us togethah today, I give you this:

(when I got married - 15 1/2 years ago, my husband gave me that movie, on VHS, as my wedding gift)

Sunday, January 8, 2012

my 2011

My fourth annual look back at the previous year...

1. What did you do in 2011 that you’d never done before?
Bought a house that needed a lot of work. STILL needs a lot of work.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I didn't make any resolutions last year. I have a few things I'm working on right now, that aren't so much new year's resolutions as just things I'm working on right now. One is the ever popular lose weight/exercise more. My weight has creeped back up over the last several months, to the point where clothes aren't fitting. Starting today that trend is reversing. The new thing I'm working on is working towards 100% completion, particularly with household chores. I have a tendency to not quite finish things... simple things, like cleaning up after dinner. But the couple of plates left in the sink, the crumbs still on the table... they add up. Just like the mail left unopened and the bags left unpacked and the... you get the idea. I'm hoping to develop this habit of completion to not only keep the house in better shape, but also to get other things DONE. I think part of my creative personality includes having several pans on the fire at once, but I need to have more completion. This past year completion has been particularly hard. Already these past few days the "100% completion" mantra has helped me soldier through unpacking, laundry, meal clean-up, and taking down Christmas decorations.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
An old friend of mine had a baby. I haven't met him yet, but want to call her and arrange a visit. Next week a new friend and neighbor is having a baby. Looking forward to some newborn snuggles!

4. Did anyone close to you die?
My father in law died in August. From mid May until his death there was a lot of time and energy devoted to visiting and caring for him, supporting my husband, and helping the May Queen. Now our lives are having to change in helping to care for my mother in law.

5. Where did you travel?
To New York - Rochester, Webster and the Finger Lakes. Wow. This past year was the least traveled year I've had in probably over a decade. Not enough vacation.

6. What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011?
Comfort and joy. It's been a hard year.

7. What dates from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
August 14th. The day my father in law died. The day my daughter sat in a living room for several hours with her dead grandfather, and watched him be carried away. She was a marvel.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
I think being there for my husband and daughter through the death of their father/grandfather, particularly as I was rehearsing and starring in a show and dealing with my own issues. I wasn't perfect, for sure, but I think I did fairly well.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Blogging regularly? I feel like there have been so many failures this year, on big and small scales. I'm working on letting them go, and building from where I am. I'm kind of failing at that, too. I'm pretty good at the guilt thing, alas.

10. What was the best thing you bought?
We didn't buy her, but our new kitten has brought a lot of joy to our family. I made plenty of purchases, to be sure, but she's the best new aquisition. (although I have to say, the curtains in my family room make me smile on a regular basis. Oddly enough, they are PERFECT. Love them)

11. What song will always remind you of 2010?
I can't think of one.

12. What do you wish you’d done more of?

More theatre - both doing and seeing. More travel. More creative endeavors.

13. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Home repair. (I'm glad it's done, I just wish there hadn't been so much need for it)

14. What was your favorite TV program?
Glee, Treme, The Good Wife

15. What was your favorite movie?
The Muppets

16. What was the best book you read?
(I followed through on last year's resolution to join Goodreads and keep track, so I can actually go back and look at my list! Hooray!) The best nonfiction book I read was Love Wins: A book About Heaven, Hell and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived by Rob Bell. For most of this book I thought to myself "yes! This is what I've always believed, you just say it so much better than me!" Our local "Christian" bookstore refuses to carry it because they consider it blasphemy. Fiction? Hmm... Bel Canto by Ann Patchett, Room by Emma Donoghue and The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins were all very different but quite good.

17. What one thing would have made your year measurably more satisfying?
Fulfillment. I have felt largely unfulfilled in most of my endeavors. They don't challenge and satisfy and engage in the way I long for. That doesn't mean there has been no good, or no challenge, or no satisfaction... just not enough. The itch isn't being scratched.

18. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2010?
I don't have a concept, but I've been trying to wear things that I really like instead of "saving" them (Saving them for what?), and getting rid of the clothes I don't feel good in.

19. What kept you sane?
Weekly therapy.

20. Who did you miss?
I've had a few long distance friendships fade and I've found that difficult, particularly since most of my friendships ARE long distance. I still keenly miss many people from our last move. And I miss myself. I have not felt like myself.

21. Who was the best new person you met?
Hmmm... I think the stage manager for a local Boar's Head pageant I worked on. She is kind, organized, thoughtful and a hoot... and will hopefully become a new friend.

my 2010

my 2009

my 2008

*if you read these you may notice a few questions have been dropped over the years ;)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Christ in my Christmas

Every year around this time there's all this talk about putting the Christ back in Christmas. People are mortally offended by the term Happy Holidays. Fox news is upset about stores that refer to Holiday Sales, governors that have Holiday Trees. People are posting on Facebook about putting Christ back in Christmas. And then they turn around and send out cards with Santa on them.

Let's be frank here. Christians hijacked a pagan holiday and turned it into a religious holiday. Why are we so surprised that the pagans are taking it back? Relax. But still... I understand. I want Christmas in my home to be about the birth of Christ, too. That's what we choose to focus on.

What I'd like to say to all those Christians fighting the War on Christmas... START IN YOUR OWN HEARTS. In your own homes.

Start simple. Attend church every week. Replace your cute Santa cards with cards proclaiming peace and joy and the coming of the Prince of Peace. Cut back on presents to family and friends, and up your giving to charities.

Read the gospel stories of the birth of Jesus. Marvel at how Jesus came into this world in humble surroundings. Realize that the angels announced His birth to dirty, smelly shepherds, not the leaders of the temple. Understand that foreign sages came to find Him because He came to be the savior to ALL people. Mourn over the death of the innocents who were killed as Herod tried to eliminate any threat to his power. Know that God came to earth in the midst of our suffering and pain, and proclaimed peace and joy even still.

Step it up a notch. Honor Advent, a time to prepare our hearts for the coming of Christ. Not just Christ as a cute baby, but the return of Christ. We are told to watch and wait. How do we watch and wait? How should we be prepared? We wait not by sitting and watching the sky or guessing when the end of the world will come or looking for signs of impending doom. We wait actively, living the life that Jesus told us to live. Loving one another. Feeding the hungry. Caring for the sick. Forgiving each other. Visiting the imprisoned. Sharing the good news of peace and love. Advent is a time to step back and take stock. We were given an amazing gift in Jesus, God incarnate. The best way to respond to that gift of love is to behave the way he told us to behave. What do you need to do, not just at Christmas but all the time, to be prepared?

You want to keep Christ in Christmas? Then kick Santa to the curb. Sure, Santa has some religious history. But St. Nicholas didn't give gifts to his children who already have over stuffed toy chests. He didn't give obligatory gifts to his sister in law and his son's teacher and the well to do neighbors. He secretly gave gifts to people in his community who needed HELP. His giving was not compulsory. It was from the heart. It was following the commands of Jesus. He didn't keep track, he didn't expect a gift in return. Imagine if parents took all that energy they put into keeping up the farce of Santa Claus and put it into teaching their children to love the way Jesus loved. How different our world would be with that one small change.

We do a lot in our house to try to keep the Christ in our Christmas. The May Queen has known from the start that Santa is fiction. Every night we light the Advent wreath and read from a book that tells the story of Christ's birth. Instead of giving gifts to our parents we give to a family in need in their honor. I've cut back on compulsory gift giving. The cards I send share the Christmas message of joy, peace and love that Christ brings.

But we still give gifts to each other. We give gifts to our daughter, who certainly doesn't need a thing. I feel guilty about not baking more, and stress about shopping and decorating and holiday parties and all the trappings that come with Christmas. We live in this world, in this time, and we get caught up in the Christmas that we are told we should have: a Christmas with presents under the tree and holiday goodies and gatherings and lights hanging from our eaves.

It's not up to stores or our government or Fox news to put the Christ back in Christmas. It's up to me. It's up to you. And putting the Christ back in Christmas has nothing to do with whether you say Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays, and everything to do with honoring why Christ was born. Christ came because God so LOVED the world. Put the Christ back into Christmas by LOVING the world. Do what you can to shine His light in your corner of the world this holiday season, not by fighting a war but by loving everyone. Even those who don't celebrate the holidays the way you think they should.

Jim Wallis of Sojourners has written a great article on the war on Christmas:
The Real War on Christmas... by Fox News

Monday, December 19, 2011

Meet Bianca

Our new kitty arrived on Sunday Dec 11. We had kicked around a few names before she arrived, and had mostly settled on Bianca (a character from The Taming of the Shrew. We liked the name, and naming a black cat "white"). We we met her, the name worked, and Bianca she is.She is playful. And cuddly. She tolerates being toted everywhere by the May Queen. She settles down on my husband's lap to watch football. She's a champion at purring. Even the other cats have stopped hissing at her. Marlowe seems to be enjoying having a playmate.Everyone is quite smitten with this kitten.How could you not be?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Once upon a midnight...

Help me out, oh wise internet. If I were to get a black female kitten, what are some good names that go nicely with Shakespeare and Marlowe? English poets? Shakespearean characters?

MQ is lobbying for Maisy or Midnight. I was actually willing to give in, but my husband, bless his heart, wants to stick with a theme. And I love nothing more than a good theme.