The Therapy Journals of the Fat-Headed Klingon Woman

One woman's journey to becoming Her True Self

A is for Actors April 1, 2016

Hello, all!

Welcome to April, where blogging-wise I am in over my head.

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One of my Facebook friends posted about NaPoWriMo and a few others talked about the Blogging A-Z challenge, and I thought I would be the classic Overachiever and combine them. So I am going to try to blog every day in April except Sundays, AND write a poem, AND stick to a theme that follows the alphabet. Heaven help me.

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So, Day 1.  A is for actors.

Tonight I went to a local high school and watched their performance of The Sound of Music. A couple of my theater friends went with me and it was a nice evening.

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I mainly went for the sake of one kiddo- he was one of my actors when I stage-managed Grease in 2014 and I have watched him in his HS production of it as well. He played the character of Max tonight, and I thought he was wonderful, a joy to watch every time he is onstage. I can’t wait to see what his future holds.

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I wanted to talk about the theater experience and how we learn and grow as actors and how we get better at every audition, hopefully. Recently I auditioned for our local theater’s production of “I Ought To Be In Pictures” and wasn’t cast. I was pretty down about it, but I realized I had given the best audition I had ever done, and it was obvious I am learning and getting better, so I was happy about that. Appearance Bias in theater is another A-word that has been on my mind lately, but that is another post.

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So. In of  honor of my favorite Greaser, and myself, here is my first poem of the month, and it is also titled with an A-word.

Actor In Training

Actor in training,
Move across the stage.
Show us who you’re playing,
Their joy
Sorrow
Rage.

Actor in training
Move us with your song.
Tell another’s story
Make us sing along.

Actor in training
Give the boards your all.
The show goes on
The lights don’t dim
Until the curtain falls.

DD
4/1/16
9:26am

Until next time,

D

 

 

 

 

A Good Day, A Bonsai, and A Warm Blanket April 13, 2015

Hello all!  Today is a little bit of a weird day.  It’s my last regular day at my job. For one more day I am the secretary of a TV/Radio/Internet ministry program.  Tomorrow it moves to Tennessee and I will be one day closer to my summer job as a clerk in a gift shop in a wilderness resort in Alaska.  I was a little emotional walking into my office today.  My formerly pleasant work space is half-packed, cluttered, disrupted.  The sky outside my sixth floor windows is gray and rain weeps down the glass.  I’ve spent three and a half years at this job, and one year in this office.  It has been a journey.  This program has been through three boards of directors, three computer techs, and lost its main speaker in my three years with the program.  Now that is all behind, and what lies ahead is a summer adventure in Alaska like none I have ever experienced.  I am so excited!

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Yesterday was a really good day. I’ll tell you why.  I took a moment to spend time with one of my best friends before I’m out of the state for four months.  We went to a high school production of Grease, which as my loyal readers will remember, I stage-managed in community theater this past summer.  A couple of the kids who were in my production were also in this one, in their same roles, and they were absolutely wonderful!  I was so proud of them and their efforts.  Even in the short time since they last performed the show, they have grown and improved so much. It was impressive to witness.

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Another reason yesterday was good was that I was actually able to acquire something I have always wanted:  a bonsai tree.  There was a van set up by the side of the road in the town where the show was, and we stopped and checked them out.  I had only ever had artificial bonsai trees before.  I had two of them when my house burned in 2009, and had always wanted a real one.  (Probably, if I were to confess, a side-effect of being a child of the 80s and watching Mr. Miyagi care for them in The Karate Kid! Ha!) One of my dorm-mates in college had one and she was always leaving it in the bathroom sink to water it, and I have rarely ever been so tempted to steal something! Shocking, I know.  Wherever the fascination originated, I really love them.  I felt a little guilty buying something that was going to require care and attention when I am about to be leaving for Alaska, but I knew either my mother or my daughters would take care of it for me.  I spent a good portion of the evening trying to think of a name for it.  Yes, I’m a little goofy.  I wish I could take my new little tree to Denali with me, but unfortunately I cannot.  Here’s my new friend:

It still needs a name.

It still needs a name.

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I made up for that with another purchase, though.  My daughter recently started working in the electronics department at Wal-Mart, and she was tickled to discover that you can get photos put on things like mouse pads, coffee mugs, and blankets.  She is an artist, a cartoonist, an animator.  She declared that she wanted to get some of her artwork put on a blanket so “I can be surrounded by my art!” She got that done quickly and easily, and I was inspired.

Daughter S. with her beloved blanket featuring her character, Random Colors.

Daughter S. with her beloved blanket featuring her character, Random Colors.

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I may not be able to take my new Bonsai friend with me to Alaska, but I can take my babies! Not in person, sure, but I can take my Sweet Baboos (thank you, Sally Brown) to the Last Frontier with me on a blanket!  I can take them out on the deck, snuggle up with them and watch the mountain, and they will be with me any time I want!  Here is what I ordered:

Notice the yellow border.  Not exactly a surprise, now, is it? :)

Notice the yellow border. Not exactly a surprise, now, is it? 🙂

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All the pictures are from our cruise in 2012, which was our biggest adventure to date.  This Alaska thing will trump that, I think, what with all of us becoming grown-ups and striking out on our own and all.  I can’t wait to see how it all turns out.  People keep asking me what I am going to do when I come back, and I don’t have an answer.  That is the beauty of life at this point.  I am a little like Forrest Gump’s feather.  I’m just floating along and open to whatever adventure I happen to land on next!

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Stay tuned for more blog adventures, soon to be coming to you from the great state of Alaska, complete with  (I hope) lots of gorgeous pictures!  Thanks for stopping by.

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Until next time,

D.

 

Standby… And Go! July 16, 2014

Filed under: Dreams and Passions — DDKlingonGirl @ 11:33 am
Tags: , , , , ,

Hello all.  So the Stage Manager gig is about to come to a head.  Tonight is our final full dress rehearsal, for a specially invited audience.  We have had several bumps on the journey to this destination.  We had to cancel one practice because too many people were absent.  We were about three lines into our first full dress rehearsal two nights ago when a car hitting an electric pole down the block put power out in the entire neighborhood.  We have had really rough scene changes, rough acting moments, and technical snafus, but finally we are here.  One more opportunity tonight to fix the bugs, and then we give seven performances over the next two weekends for a paying audience.

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Despite the difficulties, I’ve really enjoyed it.  I’ve learned so much about acting, staging a show, costume and makeup tricks, technical things, and how to relate to a variety of different people, different types of people.  I’ve learned that I love being the one with all the answers, or at least the one everyone looks to for answers, even when I don’t have them.  I’ve learned that I love encouraging and building people up, but that every once in a while I can be a ranting hag. Rarely.  I think mostly I’ve learned I really want to do this again, and someday when I’m ready, maybe direct a show.

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For the time being though, my interest is in returning to the stage to try acting again.  I really want to audition for the next production, but I also know my family needs my attention and my time.  It’s more important that I get reacquainted with my three children (ages 20, 20, and 13, all still at home) than that I satisfy my need for a social life and hobby outside the house.  I really want to be able to balance both.  Somehow other people do it, so I should be able to, also.

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Looking forward to seeing how it all comes together tonight and hoping I can get through it without a heart attack or something.  Break a leg, guys!!

Until next time,

D.

 

Meanwhile, Behind the Scenes… June 30, 2014

Hello all!  Well, I’ve done it again.  At the end of my last post, I promised updates on my new adventure as a community theater stage manager, and that was approximately a month ago.  Without going back and telling the entire story from the beginning, I think I can sum it up in the following four words:  I. Am. So. Tired!  Here’s a picture partly illuminating why:

Grease set pic

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Stage managing has been great so far.  I was pretty well prepared for all my tasks and duties, having observed all the stage managers of all the shows I’ve been involved with in my year with Ardmore Little Theatre.  Also, having downloaded and printed several stage manager guides from college theater departments, and bought a book on the subject from Amazon, I felt like I knew what I was supposed to do.  And for the most part so far, in this particular situation, I’ve been relatively successful.  The director and I make a good team, but I am already aware that for a different director, I would have to do some things differently, mostly with regard to how I relate to the cast and how I help manage rehearsals (read: be tougher).

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Anyway, for those who don’t know and maybe don’t care to do a quick search, a stage manager is basically the glue that keeps the production together and the engine that drives it.  During rehearsals the stage manager is supposed to watch the time and make sure breaks happen on time, make sure things start and end on time, contact people who are late and find out what’s their holdup, call out actors’ lines when they can’t remember them, communicate  and coordinate with all the non-acting people involved, such as sound, lights, costumes, props, set, and orchestra, etc…THEN when the director has the show shaped the way he or she wants it, and the cast is doing full run-throughs, but especially after there are set pieces to work with, and the lighting and sound have been designed, the stage manager is the one with the headset who tells the tech crew when to raise and lower the curtains, when to fly other pieces in or out, when to cue the lights and sounds, when scene change is completed, etc.  In other words- both during the rehearsal process and the performance period, it is a huge undertaking.

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I was given this opportunity as a relative newbie to the theater and a complete newbie to stage managing other than the preparations I mentioned above.  They took a big leap of faith and trust in me, primarily because I have been the Queen of Gung Ho since I started with the theater, and because they trusted the opinion of one of my good friends who recommended me when they couldn’t get anyone with experience.  I think they already knew they could depend on me- they honored me with the MVP award for this season.  I won an Oscar-like statuette and felt like quite the bigshot.  MVP pic

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So.  Thus far, we have had nightly rehearsals, we are now in our exclusive rental period with the facility we perform in, we are in the process of building our set (which is not happening nearly fast enough) and we open TWO weeks from this Thursday.  Tonight is just the first night the cast is supposed to be “off-book” which means they can’t refer to their scripts during rehearsal. The scary part for ME, the scene change and cue-calling part (standby lights one… lights one go.  Standby fly… fly go) is yet to come.  But based on the way I have handled the challenges I’ve faced so far in this adventure, I really think I will probably make it through the intimidating part with only minor snafus.  At least I hope so.  I am doing my level best to be on the ball with this.  I am determined that the powers that be will not regret taking a chance on me, and of course I am hoping to be given the chance to stage-manage again in the future.

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One huge difficulty here, and one that has besieged me from the beginning of my involvement with ALT, is that a lot of people have started telling me that the problem with this new hobby (and one might even say ‘obsession’ there) is that I am putting the theater ahead of other things, more important things.  Most particularly with regard to my offspring.  As usual, when I get into something, I don’t get into it halfway.  I get into it with a vengeance.  Examples:  figure skating fan, Alaska, books, TV shows, Facebook.  Sometimes it seems like I can only wrap my head around one thing at a time.  In simple terms, I’m away from home.  A lot.  Now, I told the kids when I agreed to do this, that they would be “theater orphans” for the 6 weeks the play was in production.  Yes, the kids all live at home, but the girls are 20 years old.  The Boy is 13.  It’s not like I’m leaving three toddlers at home alone with a bowl of cat food and some water on the floor, ok?  True, they have a variety of behavioral and emotional issues that make it more like leaving 13 year old TRIPLETS at home alone, which is probably not a good idea.  But you get the point.  Sometimes I bring them to set construction and so forth, but mostly they are just not into it, which is fine.

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Anyway.  I will always have people telling me what I should and shouldn’t do with regard to my kids.  And I know I have made “mucho grande” mistakes in raising them, but I can’t and won’t kick myself for that now.  What I can and will do is enjoy my time at the theater and try to make sure I find balance.  I told them today I was sorry I was at the theater so much.  But that’s not gonna change for another 4 weeks.

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I guess this means I’d better not audition for To Kill a Mockingbird, which auditions August 11-12 and runs sometime in late September, huh? Sad face.

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Until next time,

D.

 

 

My Summer Just Got a Lot Busier! May 22, 2014

Hello all!  I have a surprise.  I will get to it in a moment, but first the backstory.  Sorry, I’m an “expositionist.”  I’m a Veeery involved member of a community theatre.  I haven’t been there long, just barely a year.  But I got involved at this time last year and have just fallen in love with it.  I’ve made new friends, learned a LOT of stuff, and found something I enjoy to expand and colorize my world.  I’ve been involved in one aspect or another with every production they have done there since I started.  Last summer I was cast in the chorus of Les Mis, followed by set construction on August: Osage County, followed by set construction and co-lead in Secrets of the Buttermilk Hotel, followed by set construction and backstage crew on Young Frankenstein, followed by set construction and backstage crew on Smokey Joe’s Café, followed by set construction on The 39 Steps.  I have gone from knowing virtually nothing about theater to hoping for a major production team position.

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Every summer at ALT they do a big musical.  This year, it’s ‘Grease.’  They had a bit of a hard time finding a director because people’s schedules just didn’t fit, or things came up, or things fell through, but finally they found a director.  Earlier in the search though, they asked one of my best friends from the theater if she would direct.  After thinking about it for a while, she decided she wasn’t able to make it fit her schedule.  BUT.  During the time she was considering it, we had decided that if she directed, I would get to shadow whomever she picked as her stage manager.  The very day the board representative asked her if she would direct, I went out and bought a couple of binders, page dividers, and page protectors.  I procured a copy of the script and set it up in the binder.  I researched online and printed out some things on stage managing:  Stage Manager’s 10 Commandments, Stage Manager duties and checklist, survival guide, all the good stuff.  I even decorated the cover of my “book” with Grease stuff.  “Preparation, thy name is Klingon Woman!”  In the dictionary under Gung Ho there is a big old picture of me.  (Probably with Sharpie-drawn horns and a villain mustache because my eager-beaver enthusiasm irritated someone who hadn’t had their coffee yet.)

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So anyway.  Then my friend turned down the director job, and I thought, “Oh well.  Maybe another time, no big deal.”  I lost out on the opportunity to shadow the Stage Manager on 39 Steps, but I wasn’t worried, because I knew another opportunity would come up.  So yesterday I was in WalMart shopping for some things for my office, and I got a Facebook message from the executive producer for this show… are you ready for this?…. asking me if I wanted to stage manage Grease.  Not shadow.  Not assist.  DO it!  Wooohoooo!  So of course I immediately said, “Yes! with supervision.”  We talked a little and she assured me that several theater vets have said they would be available for questions and needs, so I am well-supported.

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I talked with the director last night, (who, incidentally, I went to school with and who my little sister and my father both know well) and I think we are going to work very well together.  I have begun to get a good idea of what he expects and how he wants things done, and I am ready to deliver! I’ve got my prompt book set up and ready to go, to-do lists, calendars, lists of things to bring to auditions and rehearsals, lists of things to buy for putting together my Stage Manager Kit… in short- I’m ready to learn and ready to work!

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So that’s my surprise.  In less than a year from my first time ever onstage, I am now a stage manager!  I’m looking forward to the process, even the hard parts.  The part I’m most scared of is the big part:  calling the show. (You know, “Standby Lights 1… Lights 1 Go!” I’ll be responsible for all the light cues, sound cues, fly loft cues, curtain cues, and set changes.  Except I don’t think  I can supervise set change AND call the show.  Maybe.  I’ll have to see how it goes as the process develops through rehearsal.  Ah well.  I’ll figure it out.  Bring it on!

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Stay with me throughout this journey and I’ll talk your ear off about all things Grease!

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Until next time,

D.

 

 

 
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