Friday, March 17, 2017

This semester's butt-kicking class

... is Intro to Lighting Design.  I did want to get a little familiarity with the basics of lighting design, not because I have any delusions about becoming a lighting designer, but so I can at least talk intelligently with lighting designers when I'm doing community theater.  I also wanted to develop a better idea of what I'm looking at in that respect when I go to see a show.

I'm developing a very healthy respect for what lighting designers do!  After finishing the latest homework assignment, I told the grad student teaching the course that lighting designers must be part engineer.  All the technical detailshow many lights you can put where without tripping a circuit breaker, making sure the lights are positioned so that you have no "dark spots" or funky shadows on stage, angling the lights to highlight actors' faces but not blind them or the audience, ...are rather intimidating in their numbers and complexity.

Part of our homework consists of attending the university's four main-stage productions this semester and at least one professional production and doing a write-up of the lighting design for each one.  My first write-up was pretty thin, partly because it was right at the beginning of the semester, when I was still learning what to write about, and partly because I was an understudy in the show, so when I attended, I was paying more attention to the person I was understudying than to the lighting.  I've since done two more, which I think were rather better.  The third one was on a professional production.  The lighting for that one was so dramatic that even the Chief noticed a lot of the things the designer did.  That one just about wrote itself.

We still haven't gone into detail about how to decide which instrument (that's what the lights are called) to use, but I imagine that'll come.  There's SO MUCH to know about lighting design that I can well believe that it's impossible to cover it all in an introductory class like this one.

Doing the most recent homework, I couldn't help thinking Dad would be so proud to see me using my scale ruler like a pro.  Here in the US, we use architectural (english) rather than engineering (metric) scale for theater, but you read them both the same way.

The beauty of being a second-year senior

.. is that I'm at the point where I can pretty much take what I want.  I just need 2 "supporting" classes at the 300 or 400 level, one 400-level theater history class, and one last practicum credit - 10 credits.

I just had my advising session for the fall semester.  I told Susan (who's a marvel - she obviously loves her job) that I want to take 2 classes this summer that will count for my supporting classes.  One is Jane Austen: Novels, Films & Adaptations, the other is Hair & Wigs for the Theater.  You may remember I signed up for the latter class last summer, but it was canceled for under-enrollment.  It's the same instructor, so I'm assuming I'd be able to use the textbook I ordered last year, before the class was canceled.  I'm crossing my fingers that they get enough students to run the class this time.

That would leave me with only the history class & practicum to take in the fall.  However, I've already signed up to audition for Character Development and Contemporary Musical Theater.  The second one is self-explanatory, but the other one would be a unique performance opportunity.  Apparently you spend the semester "getting inside" an actual historical figure whose portrait or statue is in a local museum.  Toward the end of the semester, you reenact that person at the museum for actual museum patrons.  For example, if I were doing Eleanor Roosevelt, I'd interact with museum-goers as Eleanor Roosevelt, clothing, accent and all.

I'll also continue with the Vocal Minor program in the fall (assuming I audition successfully) and sing in one of the choruses.  Gotta get my music fix, after all. 😉

This is the "problem" with having my advising appointment so much before the next semester - we're just going into spring break and I'm already looking ahead to my next classes.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

It's that time of year again...

The Chief's phone started ringing last week - clients calling to bring over their tax information.  He's already met with 2 or 3 clients, has appointments set up with a few more later this week, and picked up a couple new clients this year.  He even turned down one client, who had a rather complicated small business - not only is that not his area of expertise, but it would have been so complicated and time-consuming that he would have had to charge $1500 to do the return (and that was probably a lowball figure).

He may complain occasionally about the work, but he does enjoy researching deductions for his clients and giving them tax planning advice as part of the package at no extra charge.  (He's such a mother hen. 😊).

This is his time of year - he'll be busy until at least mid-April, possibly into May in the event someone wants to file for an extension.  He's good at it, very conscientious (pays the penalty himself if he makes a mistake and has to do a correction).  Can you tell I'm proud of him? 😉

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Not the response I was expecting...

One of my classmates got a call from the campus police during our Alexander Technique class this morning.  Someone had found her wallet and turned it in to them and they wanted to deliver it to her.  The professor had us all go down with her, and did a little instruction outside while P went over to the police car & got her wallet back.  (It's a gorgeous, 70-degree day today - in February!)  P came back to the group devastated.  Her ID and credit cards were there, but her cash - ALL her cash, apparently - was gone.  Gotta love these small theater classes - everyone tried to reassure her, someone mentioned taking up a collection, and if we'd had our wallets with us, she'd probably have had every penny back in the time it took for us to pull out those wallets.

Anyway, I saw her in the atrium shortly after class, with several other theater folks.  I tried to give her a little bit of cash, which she refused, insisting that "I'm good."  One of the others, also a classmate, told me "You're so cute!"  Cute?  Um, okay.

Sometimes being so much older than my classmates makes me wonder - what would the reaction have been were I their age, and not the age of their parents?

Saturday, February 04, 2017

RIP, Leta

Today was the memorial service for Leta, friend to many.  The reverend even commented on how full the church was; "It doesn't look like this on Sunday!"  What a testament to her spirit - unfailingly sunny, kind, generous, supportive...  The list goes on and on.

I called her my theater mentor because when I got started in community theater, I could always count on her for encouragement as I spread my wings and tried new things.  She would send me the occasional audition notice until I got a handle on where to find them myself.  She called me once about sewing body bags for a show she was directing (Incorruptible).  That was an interesting conversation, and funny because we were so matter-of-fact about it.  "How tall are the people?"  "Oh, most of these aren't for real people; just for fake bodies."  And so on.  Ah, the nuts and bolts of bringing a show to the stage. 😊

Leta was like that for so many people - among other things, she wrote and directed plays for young people, encouraging them in their love of anything and everything theater-related.  On stage, off stage - didn't matter.  Leta was delighted to support them.

Her father recounted a Facebook entry Leta posted back in November which he called "Leta's creed."  He felt so strongly about it that he had copies printed out for people to pick up at the memorial service.  I'll enter it in a separate post.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Pushing my comfort zone again this spring

Got my spring classes all lined up.  One is in lighting design, which is going to push me to learn the technical, hands-on aspects as well as the theoretical and design aspects of the craft.   The other class that I expect to push me is Alexander Technique, because one of the items on the syllabus is learning to juggle!  I'm gonna be one of those folks out in the atrium chasing lacrosse balls around as I try to learn to juggle them.  (The prof specified that we get LAX balls for juggling; something about the size, weight and firmness, apparently.)

So much for my 4.0 GPA...

As I'd expected, this fall was the semester my GPA dropped below a 4.0.  As a result of that one A-, in Rendering for Theater, I'm now carrying a 3.97.  Still pretty respectable, though; I'll take it!

Having a lot of trouble getting motivated to learn lines

I've been cast as understudy of one of the roles in the campus production of The Importance of Being Earnest.  As I understand it, there's an "understudy run" which is essentially a tech rehearsal on the set, with no costumes or only bits (e.g., skirts).  We don't get an actual performance, and I don't even know how much rehearsal we'll get before that run.  We're all supposed to be off book (i.e., have all our lines memorized) by Thursday, but I'm finding it really hard to make myself work on my lines when I haven't been to a rehearsal since the read-through (which I wasn't even required to attend).  For all that I'm getting the daily emails, I don't feel like I'm part of the production; it feels very weird.

Monday, January 09, 2017

Cancer is a murdering serial killer!

Cancer is a murdering SOB.  The list of people I've lost to it, or people near & dear to me have lost to it, is lengthy:  Both my grandmothers; the little brother of 2 high school friends (while we were still in HS); the Chief's younger sister (and his older sister is now battling it); parents of too many friends; the Chief's mom; my mom; Mom's older brother; a friend last year; a neighbor earlier this week; and now The Flibbertigibbet.  She went suddenly (she was only diagnosed last month), and much too young.  She was the heart & soul of the local community theater world; odds are excellent that if you never worked on a show with her, you worked with someone who did, and everyone who's ever worked with her loved her.

I had to call a couple of out-of-town friends last night to let them know. The first one immediately asked about the Chief's and my health and ordered us to "stay healthy!"  I'd share that advice with you - please, for the sake of those who love you, take good care of yourself so you'll be around for a good, long time.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Our first holiday party

Since the Chief and I didn't travel for Christmas this year, we actually decorated (our first Christmas tree in years!) and even had a party Friday night.  I hadn't expected so many people (anyone, really) to bring gifts of wine - we started the evening with 7 bottles of red wine, for example, and ended up with 12!  This despite people actually drinking the wine we had on offer.  We could have at least 2 more parties without having to buy a single bottle!  Very little beer was drunk, either; the Chief had bought a goodly variety, very little of which was consumed.

Leftover food was easier; the cookies went to friends' house the next day (they were having a holiday brunch w/ optional cookie exchange), and we didn't have all that much left of the savory stuff - maybe 1 cup of dill dip, no more than 2 cups of hummus, and enough salmon spread and salsa for a nice Christmas Eve dinner. 😊  Some of the veggies got sauteed to accompany our Christmas lamb chops, and most of the rest went into a big pot of veggie-beef soup I made last night.

Next time we won't have to spend nearly as much on party supplies - we won't have to buy anything but food, as we have MORE than enough alcohol for at least one more party, maybe 2 or 3.