Sunday, August 30, 2009

Monday, Monday

Tomorrow begins September (where DOES the time go?), and I think I promised (or at least intimated) that Monday Missions would return in September after our summer break.

What are Monday Missions, you ask? Well. Monday Missions are a weekly (every Monday! Imagine that! Although I usually get mine up on Sunday to get the ball rolling...) carnival designed to encourage us to post in a certain style. I have found them to be very fun, and I usually use them humorously, but they don't have to be funny. They are basically a jumping off point for your imagination; encouragement for you to think outside of the the box; a chance to try writing in a different style. It's not a contest and there's no hard and fast rules; people have been known to take their posts in some fun and surprising directions. Sometimes they are just a complete break from the normal blogging topics, often people use them to share current information in a new and fun way. They can be funny or touching or technical.

You are welcome to play along for any and all, or none at all, as your fancy strikes you.

I try to announce the upcoming month of missions so your brain can get working, post reminders about the upcoming mission on the end of a Friday or Saturday post, and get mine up late-ish on a Sunday to get the ball rolling.

I've come up with a slate of September Monday Missions, but would LOVE your suggestions for the future. New ideas and resurrection of old ones you enjoyed totally welcome.

Your September Missions, should you choose to accept them (and it would be so nice if you would accept at least one) are to write posts in the style of:

Sept 7 - A letter to a teacher

Sept 14 - A facebook status (with or without comments. or maybe a series of statuses? play with it!)

Sept 21 - A photo essay - tell your story completely through pictures

Sept 22 - A resume

God of NOLA

We sang this song in church this morning. I managed to make it through without crying. Barely.

God of this City
by Chris Tomlin

You're the God of this City
You're the King of these people
You're the Lord of this nation
You are

You're the Light in this darkness
You're the Hope to the hopeless
You're the Peace to the restless
You are

There is no one like our God
There is no one like our God

For greater things have yet to come
And greater things are still to be done in this City
Greater thing have yet to come
And greater things are still to be done here

Saturday, August 29, 2009


4 years ago today Katrina made landfall. I've been thinking and thinking about what to write about it this year. I saw a show on the Weather Channel where newsman Brian Williams talked about his time in NOLA after the storm. They showed a clip of him from shortly afterward saying that if we in the United States didn't have a serious discussion about the racism and classism exposed by the storm than the media will have failed us.

Where is that discussion now? I could write a post about that.

Last night Anderson Cooper did a special "4 years later" segment on CNN. When talking about the aftermath he actually stated as fact that the tragedy was met with "government indifference." Indeed. I could write a post about that.

I've thought about equating the problems everyone ran into with insurance to the health care crisis. Home insurance companies were exposed as phonies over and over again as they denied claims and raised costs and turned their backs on their clients. Just as health insurance companies do to the sick and dying day in and day out. I could write a post about that.

But frankly, I don't have it in me this week to craft that sort of well thought out post.

So I will just say that I am here, remembering the fear, the terror and the sorrow. I have not forgotten. I know that the recovery is not over. Not in NOLA, and not in our country. Katrina exposed deep, deep problems in the way our country is run. We need to shore up not just the levees of New Orleans, but the levees of justice in America.

*Photo taken on the shore of Lake Pontchartrain earlier this week. 4 years ago that was under water.

Past Katrina Anniversary posts:
Last year I posted an edited (but still quite long) rundown of all the e-mails I sent to family and friends during our evacuation from Katrina:
Flashback 3 Years - Hurricane Katrina

Two years ago I wrote a love letter to New Orleans. It still stands as one of my favorite posts:
I Know What it Means to Love New Orleans

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Arts and Science: Theatre Thursday

When I lived in Los Angeles I had the pleasure of doing shows for children at the California Science Center. I was first hired to do a one woman show about Rosalind Franklin and her role in discovering the double helix shape of DNA (among other things). I went on to do a shows about how the brain works, about how building structures support so much weight and two magic shows to complement the limited time magic exhibit.

Here I am as the geeky, over enthusiastic (who me???) Magician's Assistant

It was a great job, paying by the hour for rehearsals, performances, and all the time we spent in between. If we had a show in the morning and not again until the afternoon we were paid for the time we sat around waiting. I saw every IMAX movie that came through the theatre there - not only for free, but I was paid to sit and watch. Our passes got us into the other museums (natural history and air and space) and we would visit those. I sat with a friend in the parking lot and he taught me some tricks on the guitar. When we arrived first thing in the morning we'd run through the exhibits, and any of the ones that took pictures, etc we filled with us doing silly things. We read books. We played endless games of Big Booty. We ate lunch in the rose garden. The directors of the program were trained theatre professionals, so the shows were well written and directed. They held us to a high standard. But they knew how to have fun as well.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

I'm back

Did you miss me?

Nothing has really changed, on this blog or in my situation, but after some discussion The Big Guy and I have decided that the blog is not likely to factor into this fiasco one way or the other, and so here I am, public once more.

(incidentally, I'd like a new bloggerific name for The Big Guy, if you have any ideas)

Thank you, my blogging community, for always being supportive, for being willing to lovingly and respectfully disagree, and for listening.

(for those who had no idea I had left... I went private for about 20 hours)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


When I was in college my acting teacher told me, several times, that I reminded her very much of a friend of hers. She talked about how much this friend of hers did, how cheerful she was, etc, but how sometimes she would find the friend curled up in the corner, weeping. She warned me to take care of myself.

I don't tend to curl up in the corner, but I do indeed have those moments from time to time.

Friday, August 21, 2009

What Jesus Would Do

I am brimming with pride, and a bit of trepidation.

Today the denomination that I am a part of voted to allow homosexual pastors to be in a committed relationship. Previously, if a pastor identified as gay he or she was expected to remain celibate or be "defrocked" (nicely known as "removed from the roster").

This has been a long time coming. Far too long. If you've been around my blog for a while you know that this is an issue that I feel strongly about. You may not know that one of the May Queen's Godfathers left the ministry because of this very issue.

Perhaps if this had come a few years sooner, the church would not have lost a wonderful minister.

But he is not alone. There are scores, perhaps hundreds, maybe thousands, of people who left, or were removed from, or chose to never enter the ministry. The hurt and pain that our previous policy inflicted upon God's children cannot be erased. But perhaps now the wounds can begin to heal.

I'm not so stupid as to think that this will be quick and easy. I do fear that it will break the church. Individuals and even congregations will, unfortunately, probably leave because of this. I hope they don't. I pray they don't. One thing we have always been fairly good at, in my church, is allowing differences of opinion.

But I truly believe, with all my heart and soul, and this move is following in Christ's footsteps. I believe it answers the tired old question "What Would Jesus Do?"

Jesus would hang out with the outcast. He would talk with the scorned. He would challenge the status quo.

Jesus would love.

"What a sweep of vanity comes this way"

"[Painted Maypole]'s performance as the older, married woman with whom Guy once had an affair is the highlight of the production."

That's a quote from our review in today's Times-Picayune. It makes me smile. The rest of the review is so-so, it basically says the cast is good, but the play is standard fare for this playwright and the theme is starting to be "monotonous." (Which won't be true for people who aren't familiar with the playwright's body of work) The review is, I think, kinder than it needs to be in many regards, even though it's not a glowing review. But I'll take my kudos, thank you very much.

Last Saturday I was awarded a "Best Actress" Award for my role this past May. The theatre has its own awards, so it's not some big city-wide thing or anything, but again, I'll take my kudos, thank you very much. I wasn't there to accept the award because the banquet was on a Saturday night and I was busy. ACTING. My co-star from that show is coming to see me on stage Saturday night and will be bringing the (apparently quite heavy) trophy to me then.

I don't need the kudos, of course. But it is nice to have people recognize my hard work every now and then.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Asking for Direction: Theatre Thursday

When I lived in Los Angeles I interviewed/auditioned for a film. I don't remember anything about what the film was about, but I remember talking with the interviewer about the process. The idea behind the creation of the film was that there would be no director... that it would basically be the cast and crew working together to create the film, without a director overseeing the process. I remember the guy asking me if I hadn't always dreamed of working that way.

No, I hadn't.

I decided this project was not for me, and I left.

I value a good director. A good director has a vision for the production and a love for the writing. A good director works with the other artists - actors, designers, etc - listening to their ideas, encouraging new directions, shaping the work. A good director asks tough question. A good director is willing to try something new and different. A good director is not afraid to tell you that something isn't working, and look for something else. A good director is willing to let go of her idea in favor of a better one. A good director provides encouragement and focus.

In my many years on stage I've worked with a wide range of directors. Unfortunately I would say that a large majority of the directors I've worked with are largely benign. They have little insight to give beyond telling the actors when and where to move, and the movement is often uninspired. The success of their production depends largely on casting talented actors who work well together in a piece that is well written. A decent show can come from this, but never a great one.

When I work on a show I want to have input. I want to have room to create and play and explore. I want to be part of a team.

But I don't want to be part of something that is directed "by committee." I want a director with a vision to help shape the piece. I want someone looking on who can make sure that we are telling the story, and who cares enough to make sure that we work hard to tell it the best way that we can.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Judging a book by its cover

I know you're not supposed to judge other people. I try hard not to. But sometimes, I can't resist. Here are some people I confess to judging before I know them:

Drivers of Hummers

Parents who take their toddlers to a bowling alley at 11pm

People who wear clothing with obscenities written on it in public places. Around children.

Obese people at fast food joints. Particularly if they have their obese children with them.

Parents who take their young children to R rated movies filled with sex and violence

Anyone with a SARAH! bumper sticker

Audience members who answer their phone in the theatre and then proceed to HAVE A CONVERSATION

I know I'm not alone. Who do you judge upon first sight?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

In the beginning... TheatreThursday

It would not be too much to say that myth is the secret opening through which the inexhaustible energies of the cosmos pour into human cultural manifestation.
- Joseph Campbell
While in Los Angeles I had a wonderful theatre experience where the ensemble created a show. It began with a concept from the director: a show including various creation myths from around the world.
(our gorgeous postcard... made from a piece of artwork created by a the director's beau. I have an original piece he made just for me, with a quote from the show, hanging in my bathroom. It's such a treasure, to have a piece of art created for me.)

The rehearsal process was incredible. We began every day with warm ups and games, and then we would explore the myths. We played with language and we played with dance and we played with puppets. There would be huge "ah-ha" moments, and we would build on those. The director took the good stuff and molded it.

Games ended up shaping myths. Different actors took the role of a shaman for each myth (we were leading a great mythological hero through the myths to learn a lesson...) and the Puerto Rican myth that I became the shaman for took its form from a game I had brought into rehearsal (Big Booty, possibly the funnest theatre game EVER. But I'm not biased...). The game has a specific rhythm and a call and response to it, that was used in the text.

In the beginning
- the beginning
- the beginning

The beginning of time
- of time
- of time...

Sibu Created the World.

He made deserts
He made jungles

He made jungles
He made mountains

He made mountains
He made valleys....

I wore a huge, brightly colored hoop skirt and a crazy feathered headdress. I used a Caribbean accent. I thought the director was nuts for asking me to do it, it was a HUGE character way out of my comfort zone. She boosted me up and guided me through. I loved it.
Whether dream or myth, in these adventures there is an atmosphere of irresistible fascination about the figure that appears suddenly as a guide
- Joseph Campbell
In all of the myths the ensemble supported the story. I was melting ice in the Norse myth.
(I'm sort of left of middle there, standing but bent... see the ice melting off my arms?)

I got to toss out vomit in the African myth (from behind a large glow in the dark puppet face. This is me, preparing the vomit before a show) There was a bunch of dancing, but verbally the only thing we said was "In the beginning, Bumba, the creator, vomited up the world."

I held aloft P'An-Ku in the Chinese story.

And created a shadow image of a many-limbed god in the Indian myth.

It was an amazing creative process... to work with a group of people that played and worked very hard toward the same goal. We willingly stayed late into the night helping to create the puppets, decorate the set, etc. No one minded staying, and if they couldn't stay, they left with no ill will. We were a team. We also became good friends, instituting "The Friday Night Dance Club" - we'd go out every Friday night to a new club... disco, samba, salsa, swing, rock... we tried it all.We had fun with our makeup!

The show and its creation were storytelling at its best, I think. We took age old stories, age old rites, and played with them... honoring them while looking forward and using them to tell a new tale... a new version of the same story we keep telling for millenia...
It has always been the prime function of mythology and rite to supply the symbols that carry the human spirit forward, in counteraction to those other constant fantasies that tie it back.
- Joseph Campbell

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Beach Bum: Theatre Thursday

Hey. I'm lying on the beach in Cabo. I didn't manage to write an actual Theatre Thursday post before I left and schedule it to post (which I did for the TWO Thursdays I was gone in June/July. Was I crazy? Maybe just sleep deprived...)

But rest assured that even on the beach I have theatre on the brain. Because one week from today? I have an opening night. I return and go right into tech week. Insane. So you better believe I'm going over my script every day.

I'm just doing it with a margarita in my hand.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Hickory Dickory CAST

So maybe those crazy street names did bring me some luck last week. I've been CAST! Yippee!

The show is a musical of one of The May Queen's most favorite picture books. I will play the mother of the lead character.

The May Queen will think I'm a rock star.

Fun, fun.

Rehearsals, of course, start right after the show I'm rehearsing opens.

Looks like I'm off the block for another crazy year.

Monday, August 3, 2009

White Smoke... at long last

Finally, FINALLY, I have figured out what I am giving as a 2nd blogiversary prize (since my previous plan was ruined) and so finally, FINALLY I can announce the winner.

Two winners, actually (it seems appropriate to give out 2 prizes 2 months after celebrating 2 years of blogging. I love nothing if not a theme!)

Mad and Alejna will be the proud owners of Cootie Shots: Theatrical Inoculations Against Bigotry.

Yes, I'm giving away a book with ME on the cover of it. Who ever said I was humble?

Send me your addresses to pntdmaypole AT yahoo DOT com and I'll send you the books. I MAY even sign them for you. Unless that's going a bit too far.

(unfortunately it's the unpublished show that has a really funny piece about PANTS in it... maybe I'll find it and send you a copy, Alejna)