Saturday, December 02, 2017

Final semester as an undergrad (this time)

I graduate with my 2 BA in just a few weeks!  Yesterday I got an email from my department asking me to speak at the department's graduation ceremony!  They'd nominated me for an award which I didn't get (but I was the Theater department's nominee, which was a nice surprise), so maybe this is their way of singling me out.  I've joked about being their oldest undergrad (heck, I'm probably their oldest student, undergrad or graduate, now that J received her MFA this spring), so I'm already a little different from their usual student speakers.  Now to come up with something to talk about that won't put my audience to sleep or make them roll their eyes... 😉

Been a busy semester

I realized earlier this week that the reason I'm more exhausted than usual this close to finals is that I've had very few free evenings.  First it was Antigone - rehearsals 5 nights a week from the first day of classes until tech, then the run - 9 performances in 8 days!  That closed the night before my birthday.  Then, on Halloween, I started crewing for the next show, with strike the Sunday before Thanksgiving.  The Sunday after Thanksgiving started "tech" for the Mozart Requiem concerts, which wrap up tomorrow.  Oh, and Merry Widow rehearsals started up the weekend before Thanksgiving.

All this contributed to my nearly entirely dropping the ball on one of my assignments, and has me behind on my 2 term papers and prepping for my voice jury.  Fortunately, the term papers only have to be about 6 pages.  One of those is a history paper, so the hardest thing about that one will be deciding what information makes the cut to be included.  The other is a lot more subjective, but I also have a few more days for that one, so I'm not too worried about it.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

2017 continues to pile on

Let's see -

  • neighbor & friend lost to cancer about 4 days apart in January
  • Chief's brother, sister and her husband all dealing with various cancers
  • Chief diagnosed w/ cancer at end of March, surgery at end of May
  • two friends widowed very suddenly, about a month apart
  • cousin diagnosed w/ cancer, died 3 weeks later!
  • SIL and her husband both having to keep going after their cancers, which don't want to stay treated.
I think we could be forgiven for feeling like the universe is sorta piling on lately, and wondering "Who's next?"

Happy birthday, Chief!

Today the Chief marks another trip around the sun.  Here's to many more! 💖

Garden notes to remember for 2018

This year I planted lantana and purslane in the biggest pot, in the yellow plant stand.  I was delighted to learn that hummingbirds like lantana!  I'm indebted to the woman at the nursery who suggested I plant it.  The purslane is pretty, but the flowers don't stay open very long - they're usually closed tight again by noon or so.  I'll definitely plant lantana again, but maybe pair it with portulaca instead.

The Chief bought me a pair of fancy ceramic planters, which I used for sunflowers.  The sunflowers aren't doing very well.  I really oughta read up on them to see if it's too little water, too much water, or something else.

I put 6 pots of various flowers on the front steps.  The verbena isn't doing too well; hanging in there, but no flowers after the first ones dropped.  The snapdragons and marigolds are doing well.  I'm collecting marigold seeds for next year; let's see if I remember where I stash them in time to start them next spring.   Several of the seeds I dropped back into the pots have already sprouted; can't wait to see how they do.  The 6th pot was an attempt at red, white and blue.  The lobelia is doing well, and the geranium is hanging in there, though not flowering very happily.  (The one in back is doing better.)  The white flower, though, died pretty quickly, poor thing.  It looked like some kind of tiny daisy.  I didn't save the little label, of course, so I have no idea what it used to be.  That pot is also on the top step, so it doesn't get as much rain as the others.  Maybe next year I'll just put out 4 pots - 2 each on the 2nd & 3rd steps.

I tried rosemary in a new spot this year, next to the deck steps.  The oregano has been happy on that side of the deck, so maybe the rosemary will last more than a year or two.

Planted 5 tomato plants this year, no peppers.  Three sweet 100 plants at the far end and two beefier varieties at the near end.  Time to get out the wildlife mesh; no sooner did some of the beefy tomatoes start to ripen than some varmint started snacking on them. 😠  So far we've gotten 3 cherry tomatoes; I'm hoping for lots more.  Oddly, the plant closest to the bird feeders has all the leaves stripped off the topmost few "branches".  That's not a problem we've had before, so I have no idea what's eating it.

Wow - it's been longer than I realized.

It's been an eventful coupla months in Lake Wobegon.  Let's see; where to start?  Think I'll break this up into separate posts...

Friday, May 05, 2017

The Lighting homework that ate my day

BOY, is lighting design time-consuming!  First there are image searches, which take hours to yield a few useful images for "design inspiration."  Then you have to apply your ideas to actual lights.  One of our final projects is to create a lighting design for West Side Story and go into the light lab - essentially a tiny black-box "theater" with a slew of lights and accessories to experiment with - to apply that design to one of the songs from the show.  We're all paired off, chiefly for efficiency (e.g., one can stand in a focus point while the other focuses a light) and safety (that 20-foot ladder is definitely a 2-person lift).  My partner met me this morning for our 8-noon block in the light lab.  He left for class afterwards, but I stayed to keep working.  I finally left around 6 pm to go home for dinner, then went back for another hour and a half.  For those keeping score, I left for campus about 7:30 this morning, stayed till 6 pm (I did allow myself a lunch break) to have dinner with the Chief, then went back to finish up.  I got home to stay around 10 pm. 

Even subtracting a couple of hours for trouble-shooting, I spent nearly 10 hours writing cues for a song that's all of about 2:34 minutes long!

Saturday, April 29, 2017

More bad news

Just learned of someone's inoperable, stage-4 cancer diagnosis.  What IS it with this year?!?

Friday, April 21, 2017

Happy anniversary?

We started our anniversary (Happy Sweet 16, Chief!) with a trip to the 2nd surgeon.  The Chief had fun cracking wise with the nurses who took his vitals and his health history, and we finally got a date for his surgery, at a hospital 20 miles closer than where the first surgeon works.  The wonder woman at the front desk got all the Chief's pre-op testing scheduled back to back on a single day.  She also corrected the referral record, which was written for Radiology, for some inexplicable reason.

I had a noon acupuncture appointment and snoozed a bit on the table.  My juggling coaching got cancelled because my classmate had to cancel, which was fine with me.  As early as we got up to get to that 8 am doctor's appointment, I probably would have been dropping balls right, left, and center.

Shortly before we were going to leave for dinner at our favorite Greek restaurant, it started pouring like crazy, with nickel-sized hail into the bargain!  The Chief glanced outside and noticed someone huddled under a tree out front, so he urged him inside to wait out the storm.  He'd been playing soccer at the park down the street and was heading home when the heavens opened.  We ended up giving him a ride home once the hail stopped and the rain backed off to a more reasonable rate.  (He only lives 2 blocks away.)

Dinner was delicious - eggplant dip with plenty of garlic, and the Chief got what he always gets - lamb.  We even indulged in a dessert each instead of splitting one.  Decadent, but I expect to work it off tomorrow in the garden.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

And I'm in!

Got an email the other day telling me that I've been cast in this fall's Antigone - 2nd Attendant, Chorus, and Eurydice understudy.  The director said at auditions that she plans to incorporate a lot of movement - we have a choreographer - and maybe some music too.  I'm looking forward to it!  Too bad rehearsals don't start until the first week of classes, in August.

The director is the person who taught my Voice for the Actor class last semester, which I really enjoyed.  She often closed class with a 2- or 3-part song, different groups of us singing each part, all at the same time.  We all loved that; I hope she plans to build a little of that into Antigone.

I played Eurydice in a different translation of this play several years ago.  It'll be interesting to dig out my old script and compare it to this one once we get it, and to see how much this version will differ from that one.

This is why I would never make it as a designer

We're starting on our final Lighting Design project of the semester.  Tomorrow we're supposed to bring in our initial concept & research for West Side Story.  Sounds easy, yes?  Except that I have NO idea for a concept.  I researched 1950s NYC, fire escapes, spotlights (for the dance, when Tony & Maria see each other that first time).  All well & good, and all pretty predictable.  I suppose I'll come up with something eventually; I just hope that "eventually" happens in time for tomorrow morning's class.

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Bad news can do that to you.

Sunday morning, just days after we got the Chief's diagnosis, a friend posted on Facebook that her husband had died suddenly during the night.  Needless to say, Sunday was a write-off.  Getting picked apart at that audition felt that much worse because of it, my continuing "juggle struggle" the same - it seems the tears are just plain closer to the surface while I digest all this bad news.  I haven't been sleeping as well, either, which makes me a bit crabby; poor Chief!

We'll get past it, of course - we've both survived worse - but oh, it's exhausting in the meantime.  Pray for our sanity as the Chief & I weather this latest storm.

Called back!

Well, that was a bit of a surprise.  After the way my auditions went for a couple of fall classes (alternate for 1, didn't get into the one I wrote about - no surprises), I had no hopes for Tuesday's audition for the fall season.  I wasn't too sanguine about how I did, partly because I tried to change a few things based on last week's feedback, partly because I was still a bit bummed to realize that I've been doing it all wrong all these years, and partly because I was exhausted after the recent spate of bad news.

Imagine my surprise this morning when I checked my email to find one telling me I was called back for Antigone!  They called back 45 people, which might be everyone who auditioned (shades of last semester's season auditions), but given that they've announced that they plan to cast 20, including the Greek chorus, I suppose that number makes sense.  I've already printed my "sides" (side = excerpt from the play), which I'll start looking at today or tomorrow.

Callbacks are Saturday morning, and finish up right around the time my partner & I have our slot the light lab to work on our latest lighting design project.  That means I'll be in the building from 10 till 5, unless we finish our project early (not likely!).  As I told the Chief as I was leaving for class this morning, guess I'll just pack for the day.

My nephew the Eagle Scout!

After years of work, one of my nephews just became the family's FIRST EAGLE SCOUT!!!  Yes, I'm shouting - that achievement represents YEARS of hard work, and we're all very proud of him.  I don't blame him for smiling that big - I would too, with an accomplishment like that under my belt.  (I wonder how much of it is relief that it's all finally finished. 😉)

Monday, April 03, 2017

Doctor, roofers, utilities, oh my...

What a day!  It started out w/ an 8 a.m. appointment with the Chief's urologist to discuss his diagnosis.  They caught it early, thank God!  Doc gave us a sheaf of paperwork with the clinical details and a lengthy list of links and citations for research and support groups.  Lots of "homework" to do before we meet with the surgeon in a couple of weeks.  I treated the Chief to coffee and scones afterward, then he dropped me off for class.

Got to my grad-student voice lesson to find she was fighting off a nasty migraine.  She soldiered through it; we just made do with natural light, and she leaned on the piano a lot.  Fortunately for her, the meds were kicking in by the time we finished.

We've got roofers overhead and in the yard, making noise and a big mess.  I'd forgotten (or blocked out) what a nuisance it is to get a new roof.  Every so often they drop something heavy, making a huge THUMP.  Makes it challenging to concentrate on homework.

And then there's the utility work.  The power company has our street blocked off while they replace a few utility poles.  There's nothing quite like pulling onto your one-way street (they moved a couple of cones to let us in) to see two enormous utility trucks on either side of the road, both facing the wrong way.  The power went out for about 10 minutes while they transferred the connection from the old pole to the new one.  Fortunately, the only clocks that need to be reset are those on the oven and microwave.

On the plus side, I got mostly positive feedback on my first lighting plot, my voice lesson went pretty well despite my teacher's migraine, and I was able to find a practice room beforehand so I could warm up before my lesson, which always makes for a better lesson.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Humbling but eye-opening

Yesterday afternoon I auditioned for Character Development, a performance class I'm interested in taking in the fall.  The instructor really picked apart how I did my monologue; basically, I wasn't living it, I was performing it.  I was having trouble embodying the changes she was suggesting, so no telling whether I'll get into the class.

I was pretty demoralized after that, but today, after sleeping on it, I've realized something important.  All those years in community theater may have done me a disservice.  As with all my years and years of choral experience, no one ever told me I was doing it wrong or tried to give me any advice, so I kept doing the same things, year after year.  Now I've got a coupla decades' worth of bad habits that I need to unlearn.  (This realization is SO apropos of my Alexander Technique class!)  Now that I know that it needs to happen, though, it can happen.  (Because of course I can't fix a problem I don't know about.)

If I don't get into the class, I have a few excellent training options in town.  If I do get into it, I can look forward to a semester of being taken apart and, hopefully, being put back together again but better.  If my voice lesson experience is any indication, it'll be excruciating at times and there will almost certainly be tears of frustration, but this professor has SO much to teach that it would be well worth it.

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.