Sunday, January 30, 2011

Death Takes a Holiday

      Producing a's like birthing a baby. Months of preparation, lots of labor, areas getting bigger than originally expected, etc.... the result is (hopefully) something beautiful, full of life, and the source of wonderful memories for the rest of our lives. I am blessed to have a great job teaching theatre to high school students. I am equally blessed to have fellow co-workers, friends, who help take the load off. Dan Kutsko is one such friend. He and another friend, Angela Kinman, help each season by directing shows so the students get more opportunities on & behind the stage. WE just opened Death Takes A Holiday, our third show this year. My job involves climbing tall ladders, building sets, hanging lights, coaching acting, sometimes directing, and so much more. In the end, when I sit in the audience and watch the current production I see that "so much more" part. I see all the work the students did, the support from the parents (thanks God for parents!) and the AMAZING creation of the performing arts. The fact that I can reach out & touch lives, not just as a teacher, but as a producer of the theatre, and the blessing of getting to see the joy in the hearts and minds of the patrons who come see our work is such a grand reward. There is no doubt in my mind that, as we work, Death does take a holiday. I see only Life!

 The view from the tech booth is always a great perspective. These crew members know the show well enough to sit & run lights & sound from computerized systems that take lots of training to master.

 Young women in beautiful gowns is always a grand thing to see! Such classic elegance.

 I loved this shot, but I hated that the stage lighting caused a bad blowout of his face, so I did the antiquing to help make it work.

 Many shows have choreography required for the production. We love giving this opportunity to the talented dancers we have in our program.

 Catching the dynamics between actors is an exciting thing to experience. When actors develop a bond that allows them to create one moment between two people so beautifully everyone gets blessed.
 This shot was taken during intermission. The actor was sitting by the lamp on the set behind closed curtains & I grabbed a shot, then as he realized the look I was going for he posed for another shot. This was that other shot, & love the look!

 Ahhhh.... me at work!

 Actors helping with the tech work...the best way to get versatile & insure a successful career in the theatre!

 I just had to play with the look she gave for the shot! Which do you prefer?
 This is going to be one my all time favorite moments! The director, Dan Kutsko, was helping the lead actor get dressed before the opening curtain.

 No show can open without the leadership of an amazing stage management team. The organization required to produce a show is demanding & these are two of the three students who made it work! The other is back in the tech booth while these two are backstage.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Abandoned...No Longer!

This sweet little puppy was found by one of my theatre students in a Wal-Mart! She was left in the dog food isle! She was barely two weeks old. Who could do such a thing? My student didn't think twice, she scooped her up & took her home. Anyone stupid enough to bring such a puppy to the store with them (or worse, just dumping her there) doesn't deserve to get her back. I am of course sure she was deliberately abandoned, but what if she wasn't? What if she actually belonged to someone who cared about her? Well, they lost her & Joey found her! Now she is about 4 weeks old, still bottle feeding and sooooo cute!
 When Joey told me about her I immediately insisted that she bring her to school where she can stay in my office & we can feed her on schedule as Joey attends classes all day. Her mom works so there had been a concern as to how she would be cared for during the day.
 I am soooo blessed to have a job that allows me to do this! I am thrilled that I get to be a part of something wonderful. OK, I'm not gonna lie, I am glad I don't have to keep her. Thank God for people like Joey who have such huge hearts that they can suddenly stop & alter their entire life to accommodate a tiny little furry creature!
 Needless to say, the days my son goes to work with me (his preschool is there) are a lot easier now that the puppy is there for him to love on. David is totally enamored with little Lady Belle and practically leaps out of bed at 6 am ready to go to school again!
 Joey Beth Gilbert: YOU ROCK! You are a great mommy to that little baby girl, & you are an example of love & respect to the whole world. There is so much selfish negative living on this planet but you have made the world one puppy happier! So, on behalf of all the animal lovers in the world who can't do what you are doing, I thank you!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

STYX, Live! ...The Universe always has a plan.

 In 1999 I began noticing my oldest daughter, Cheyenne, our rainbow, was not looking so well. She was lethargic, had red circles under her eyes, an ear infection (first & only of her life) and her belly began looking like one of those children in a 3rd world country who has not eaten in days...bloated. Cheyenne loved watching two bands' live dvd concerts: Fleetwood Mac & Styx. She knew all the words to all the songs but would only sing if she thought we were not around. She begged us daily to take her to a Styx concert & we promised we would the next time they came to town.
 What I didn't notice was that she was dying. She was suffering from congestive heart failure due to a genetic defect. She was only 3 years old. The doctors kept saying she just had a virus. Finally I told her that if she didn't get better she would have to go back to the doctor & she said "No mommy, I need to go to the hospital".  Then she got up on the couch next to me, told me to get Daddy, and said I needed to listen to the words to the next song. I waited for it to begin & it was Lady, by STYX. When her daddy came downstairs she said "Sit down daddy, listen to the words, sing the words and listen daddy". It was Come Sail Away, another STYX song. We were oblivious. We didn't understand what she was getting at but we listened.
 The next day we took her to the hospital. Two days later she was gone, climbing aboard that starship with a gathering of angels who invited her to come sail away. Somehow we missed out on our pot of gold, but we try, oh Lord we try, to carry on.
 Last night we went to see them in concert, how many times we've gone I have no idea. We enjoyed the show, rocked like everyone else in the Arena Theater, but unlike anyone else we cried. I made it through Lady OK, but when they did Come Sail Away I was desperately clinging to my camera & photo of Cheyenne, our Rainbow, but eventually gave in & totally broke down.
 I miss her and her sister, Emily so much I can't stand it some days. What gets me through, both of us, is that a tiny 3 year old, who was just developing the ability to communicate, found a way to prepare us for her departure. We are so blessed to have had both our girls in our lives, been chosen as their parents, seen the light of God in their eyes, and observed Cheyenne's total fearlessness and comfort with the knowledge that she was going away from us. She was an old soul with a deep understanding of the ways of God & the universe. She was our teacher & through her we learned to be strong, have faith, and count our blessings.
 So every time the band comes to Houston we go, we sing, we grieve. We also act like silly groupies desperately trying to get notes to the band to let them know our story. Last night we waited outside, met a few of their team, though not them, & we got our note on the tour bus. Now it is in God's hands...and a certain little rainbow's. If they actually read our note and check this blog (as requested in the note) we will know we had some help getting it to them.
 Speaking of help, cameras with detachable lenses (such as mine) were not allowed in. My husband had my bigger lens tucked away in his coat pocket & my smaller lens & camera body were in my purse. We made it through two metal detectors & a purse search. The cop handled the camera but never took it out of the small purse nor questioned me about it. Nick's coat is covered in metal snaps & should have set off the detectors but it didn't. I guess a certain little rainbow wanted to be sure we got our pictures!
I got nearly 300, not all so great, but deciding which ones to use was difficult! These were my choices today, I'm sure they would be different tomorrow. Oh well, you get the idea. It was a great night, ending with the sudden realization as we were driving home that that big black bus next to us was them leaving town after the show! Yes, we acted like idiots, two middle-aged people honking & waving as we road along side them until our exit off the freeway came & we had to say goodbye...again.

Perhaps we didn't miss out on our pot of gold after all!

One final note: as a student in England back in '85 I met Tommy Shaw on a street corner, visited, and went on with no idea what lay ahead. Then 10 years later my husband & I met him again after seeing a show in Houston & he remembered the meeting in London, but still I had no idea what lay ahead. I would love to sit down and visit with him about the deeper meaning of life in all this!