Creating Theater When the World Seems to be Falling Apart

Last weekend was supposed to be the closing weekend for “The Trip to Bountiful.” Our season is designed that after that “March” play– we have a break in our season that allows us to beginning planning for next season and gear up for our busiest time of year–the summer.

Like I said, that’s what was supposed to happen. Instead, two weeks ago theaters all across the United States begin to shut down, suspend productions, and in some cases close them all together, in reaction to the pandemic that is attacking our country. We didn’t want to close–but we had too. We had to for the safety and health of our country, families, patrons….everyone.

This was an incredlbly difficult decision. Why? Because we still do not know how long and what disasters will have occurred when the rainbow comes out at the end. I wish I had dollar for every time I’ve said, “If I only knew…” my whole life. Well, if I only knew….then I could make the decisions a artistic director needs to make. Decisions about how to create theater when the world is falling apart.

First of all, you might be wondering exactly what is a artistic director?

Artistic director: the person with overall responsibility for the selection and interpretation of the works performed by a theater, ballet, or opera company.

In my case, I also have the responsibility to create budgets and vision for the paths we are going to take during the year. This is the time of year I start to make those decisions for the next season.

Panic sets in.

How in the world am I supposed to do that if I don’t even know if I will be able to open the doors of our theater before the end of the summer? My thoughts spin in my head like a tornado. “Do I postpone auditions? Are we going to be able to hold camps? Should I rearrange the season? Should I change shows that we finish the year with? Should I contact the royalty companies now or later? How is this going to hurt us fanancially? Can we survive at all? ” And probably other thoughts as well.

Where do I even start?

  1. Keep thinking and keep creating. The second you stop then the very artist inside of you will stop as well. Even if you don’t know when you’ll perform again or what tomorrow will bring. Just keep creating. How? Maybe it will look different because your safe theater isn’t open, but find another one! Write. or take a lesson, or give one. or read on-line to entertain others. Overshadowed has chosen to open it’s vaults and let others see past shows. Whatever you do, please just do it!

2. Keep Planning. This is a difficult one for me. I feel like the calendar is moving all over the place and I can’t make a decision or decide anything because my target keeps moving. But, I must keep planning. If I don’t have “the next step” ready then we will be behind on everything for the rest of the year.

3. Think about finances. This is a bottom line necessity all the time. God has always been very gracious and has blessed Overshadowed in so many ways. Honestly, this might be the toughest battle we face. Because we don’t know when we are going to re-open or if we will have to permanently cancel part of our season then we don’t know if we will have to reimburse part of the money we have collected up front. In this time of crisis that would be devastating. So, decisions have to be made to keep us going? How do you keep a theater company going when the theater world has stopped? We make decisions based on the future. Do we add something to our fall season? Do we spend less money now? Do we take this time “off” to make sure we inform others of services we have to offer? Classes? Rentals? Original scripts? My mind is searching for ways to help our communities but have services to offer others in the future. I’d like to think, that we will come out of this better because we’ve had time to think differently….time will tell. The one thing I know. This was God’s company when we started. It’s God’s company now. It’ll be God’s company tomorrow.

4. How do we get the name of our company out to people who would be interested? And in this case, how will we KEEP our name in the minds of our current patrons. Entertainment and theaters are going to take a hit along with everyone else in this crisis. We aren’t sure how long it’s going to last, but I want to be there when it’s all over. Small decisions have deep impacts on people. There is a science to marketing that I am not good at, but I do understand that people need to hear the name of your company over and over before it starts to sound familiar and even more times before it becomes something they are willing to check out. So, we are still sending out our weekly updates. We are also offering the link to one of our shows each week. (If you aren’t on our mailing list contact me and I’ll send you the link to one of these shows.) We are also trying to creatively market the people of Overshadowed and past memories. I really appreciate, Jessica Means, who is heading up all of that! She is so creative and is doing such a fabulous job!

5. Keep your tribe around you. Folks, we need each other. We might be bunkered down alone, but that doesn’t mean we should hibernate. FaceTime, text, call, email, zoom….there are many ways to reach out. Keep talking. It will help us stay motivated and maybe even appreciated and sane in the end!

My thoughts have gone back to the stories I heard about WWII and the times families would sit around and listen to the stories on the radio. Do you know what that teaches me? That when times are tough sometimes we need to shut out the world and give voice to hope and laughter and joy and see theater that becomes a means of comfort. We need breaks in times of sorrow and sadness. We need a connection between communities.

I’m thankful for theater. I hope it never dies.

One last thought that I have been clinging to. I was reminded of an old gospel hymn. “I know who holds tomorrow and I know who holds my hand.”

I’d love to hear your thoughts! Please take time to share this if you know someone it might encourage. Thank you!

Until next time!

"And the Oscar goes to…" Part One

Last night the 92nd annual Oscar awards was on tv. Just like always, I hunkered down to watch the display of all the movies, clips, and songs that had been selected as being worthy of awards for this past year.

You might be a little like me in that as the year goes on you keep a list of your favorites and perhaps even have a list in your mind as who you think should win. For example, Chuck and I LOVED 1917 for its cinematography, but thought it’s story line wasn’t really worthy of Best Picture.

This year, we saw two amazing performances that we thought we so far above the rest that we didn’t see how that could be beat. In fact, I felt a little sorry for the other people in both categories Best Actor and Best Actress. What a bad year to go up against Joaquin Phoenix and Renee Zellweger (Am I the only one who didn’t know she had a thick Texas accent?) I will be honest, I cheered when she won.

When I saw “Judy” last year I meant to write a review, but I saw it so late in the run I decided that it was too late. So now I’m excited to share a few of my thoughts.

What can I say about the real Judy Garland? I loved her when I was a little girl watching her wistfully sing, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” I then become enamored with her movies with Micky Rooney and then, “Meet me in St. Louis.” I watched her sing and dance as a guest star on many tv shows and to me, Judy was a perfect performer. I will never forget that I was sitting in the back seat of my parent’s car at my grandparent’s house when the radio announced that the world had lost this tragic soul.

I have since read books about her and seen interviews with her children and know what a troubled life she lived. Am I a Judy expert? No. But I have a vision and a knowledge that is pretty firmly routed.

When I saw the first trailer for “Judy” I started to count down the days until it came out, but then a heard a few more and the scenes that I saw didn’t really scream who Judy was to me. Then, I had a friend tell me how wonderful the movie was and when they described that it was more about the later years of her life instead of the beginning, I really lost interest. I knew the pain of those years and I didn’t want to immerse myself in Judy in her downward spiral years of drug abuse. (She was dependent on pills by the time she was 15.)

Start investigating Judy Garland’s life and you will quickly become outraged at her parents, directors, managers, castmates, husbands….

And, yet, I was a fan.

I sat down to watch Renee and thought…”She’s nothing like Judy. I wish they had used Judy’s voice…” and a thousands of other thoughts.

The Garland of this movie is the Garland close to her death. (She died from an overdose of barbiturates at the age of 47) She is fragile, at times unreliable and perhaps terrified. She is broke and goes to London to take a stab at performing in order to go home with enough money to provide for her children. Zellweger shows up with a performance that shows all the pain, sadness, insecurity and bad behavior with exactly the transparency that we’ve read about. Watching her moved me in a way that surprised me and my heart went out to Judy Garland just as it always has.

It reminds me of quotes from the real Judy.

“Being a living legend is lonesome. It’s like a Statue of Liberty, or something like that, who doesn’t breathe. And so no one calls you on the phone and asks you to dinner. So I just sit by the phone.”

“I’ve sung, I’ve entertained, I’ve pleased your children, I’ve pleased your wives….I tried my…. to believe in the rainbow that I tried to get over and I couldn’t. So What!”

By this time I’m all in with my fascination with the movie. Then comes the moment. Judy has been fired from her London gig, but she goes back to say good-bye. This crowd who had thrown things at her and heckled her not sits enraptured by her raw beautiful performance. I listened as the words “if tiny little bluebird fly then why oh why can’t I?” and I began to cry….and I mean cry…real ugly sobs. It was a moment that I will never forget.

Did Renee deserve to win that Oscar. I say, yes 100%. If you haven’t seen “Judy“–please watch it. If you want to know about the real life of Judy Garland, here are some possibilities:

Rainbow: The Stormy Life of Judy Garland by Christopher Finch

Judy and I: My Life with Judy Garland By Sid Luft

Me and My Shadows: A Family Memoir by Lorna Luft

Judy Garland: A Biography by Anne Edwards

All of these are available on Amazon (and if you buy them on Amazon smile you could select Overshadowed as your charityūüėÄ)

Are you a fan of Judy’s? Did you see the movie? What are your thoughts? Join me again next week for more thoughts on acting and the pain behind the mask.

Until next time!

And the Oscar Goes To: Part Two or Are You Sure You Really Want To Do This?

When I last wrote I had no idea what our world was going to look like just a few short weeks later. I wish I could go back to a time when our biggest worries were what we were going to have to eat for dinner or which movie we were going to see. But time wasn’t on our side this time and instead our world is in complete chaos. If you aren’t worried about if you are going to get the virus, you are probably worried about your job, or how you are going to survive for the next eight weeks without going stir-crazy.

I wish I could say that I’m not worried, but that would not be true. I know that God holds us in His hands, but my reasoning and anxiety constantly argue with me and I have to continue to purposefully focus on God. In some strange way though, that’s a good thing, I think. We are supposed to keep our hearts and minds on Him and maybe…maybe this is necessary for us to humble ourselves and pray…pray for God to heal our land. Not just from sickness, but from lack of faith and from having other gods that we put before Him. Whatever the case, pray, my friends, and know that our God is faithful and His promises are true. Search for Him and you will find Him.

When we discussed Judy I talked about the real life Judy Garland and the troubled life she lead. I ached for Judy, but then I started to think of others.

Robin Williams, Margot Kidder, Marilyn Monroe, Freddie Prinze, Mark Salling, Kate Spade, Whitney Houston, Prince, Elvis Presley, Heath Ledger, Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Believe me, that is barely a drop in the bucket for the names you will find if you start googling this subject of famous people who have chosen sucicide or fought addictions or depression.

Is the rate of suffering from depression, anxiety or substance abuse higher if you are famous?

I have no idea. I haven’t studied this and in no way do I claim to be an expert.

However, these things I do know:

  1. We are more aware what happens to a person of influence because the news and social media keep us informed. Honestly, that might be part of why people who stumble across stardom have anxiety. They can never get away from us…the people who have the need to know every detail about them. The constant reporting can make it seem like the rate is higher than instances in the rest of the world.
  2. Stars and entertainers usually have the means to afford substance abuse more than the average person. We all know that money brings the ability to have many things–this particular ability can ruin and destroy even the innocent. These things are addicting, friends: they can ruin your life, your family, your pocketbook, your future. I am so thankful that I have never had that temptation.
  3. Really talented performers are able to tap into their emotions at a deeper level than most people. That is part of what makes their portrayal so brilliant! They are able to emphasize and pull reality from things they learn about or even have experienced themselves.
  4. They have to be”on” all the time. High stress environment and a demanding schedule seems to be a risk factor for the rest of the population. What about stardom? Pressure. Pressure. Pressure to perform at high levels added to the fact that they can never get away from it. Reporters, photographers, fans. How can they ever just let down, relax and enjoy life? There are many that are just searching for a way to escape! Think of what we enjoy by being able to enjoy places like Disney World? Liz Taylor among others solved that by having to rent Disney Land to herself after the park closed!

I don’t think I realized that the cost of Fame is that it’s open season on every moment of your life. –Julia Roberts

Let’s say that all the factors above don’t really cause addiction or depression. I’m pretty sure they at least make recovery harder.

Why do I say all of this?

I’m afraid. I see more and more people who have their eyes on the “prize of stardom.” I’m just not so sure that it’s the prize we sometimes think it is.

What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear from you! Please take a moment to like or share or follow me!

Until next time!

Ten Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me Before I Started a Theater

“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players;

They have their exits and their entrances, and one man in his time plays many parts.”–William Shakespeare

  1. Name recognition is everything.  This is everything. Believe me, I didn’t believe it and I didn’t want it to be true.  Before I started Overshadowed, I used to work at my church and school that my children attended. We produced a major Easter production as well as the school play every year. Somehow we created quite a following and had people attending from miles away for both of these productions every year. I took that into consideration when making plans thinking that some of those followers would join us on this new journey. I soon discovered that the name Overshadowed didn’t mean anything to those past followers and that we had to build name recognition and a new reputation.
  2. Business skills might be more important that artistic skills. From the very beginning I just wanted to produce plays. I wanted to build a community where everyone was welcome and naively I thought if we sold x number of tickets we could meet the budget. I really had no idea if the budget I created was even based on accurate numbers. Thankfully, God surrounded me with people who did have the business knowledge that I lacked. These wise, talented people have been extremely patient with me as I have struggled to keep up and gain the knowledge that would have greatly benefitted us from the start.
  3. Advice comes in all forms. It is important to remember to listen to everyone. It is easy to have pre-conceived ideas that make you close your mind to ideas that don’t fit your originals goals. I remember the first time a friend of mine encouraged us to begin a younger camp. She offered to run it and also host it at her church. I really fought her on it because I believed we didn’t have the people who would be interested. We now fill two camps for that age  group and have even raised the minimum  and have a younger camp as well. I’m thankful for people who also dream the dream and push when the time is right!
  4. Take care of your health and encourage your team to do the same. My mom took a Bible study at her church years ago called “First Place.” The idea was that if God has first place in your heart, then you should take care of your body (which is the housing of the Holy Spirit) thus you should eat right, exercise, sleep etc. Then recently I attended a Broadway class where an actress explained that she felt the thing actors most take for granted is their health. She reminded us that they don’t sleep right, usually eat wrong and maybe even have a few other vices that are harmful. Put those two ideas together and I wish I had thought of that years ago. We need every minute we have sometimes to get a production together so we do take risks. I wish I had the nerve to say–“It’s time for everyone to go home and go to sleep.”
  5. Dividing your time is difficult. This is still a very difficult lesson for me. I tend to think I can do it all and honestly, sometimes think I have to if no one else is around. When you try to do too many jobs at once they all suffer. Instead, if you are the director, delegate running the backstage to someone else etc.. You need people who can help in all areas. Sometimes, you also need an outside eye.
  6. Getting Sponsors is difficult. When we started Overshadowed, part of the business plan was to have sponsors and ads in our playbills. I mean, when I look at a professional playbill that have pages of them, right? Over the years this has not gotten any easier.  I thought that sponsorship is a good form of advertising and perhaps even a tax deduction. I didn’t realize how often every business is getting asked to put ads in a variety of places and how precious those advertising dollars were. I am extremely grateful for the sponsors that we do have. Most of them have been with us since the very beginning. I am so thankful for their support and so excited when they get business from their sponsorship!

    Dawn and Mike Larsen. Dawn is one of our longest and valued sponsors. Need to buy or sell a house? Contact her at: Dawn.Larsen@bairdwarner.com

  7. Picking a season is one of the most important decisions for success. When it comes down to it–let’s refer back to number 1–name recognition is everything. People come to see the plays and musicals that they have heard of. The shows that become a little more challenging to sell are the unknown ones…especially when they are written by an unknown author…me.
  8. It’s tough. I mean really tough. On the surface it seemed that starting a theater was going to be hard work, but not impossible. The goal was to get sponsors, donors, ads, and people who had a desire for family friendly entertainment would come. Whew! Add all of the reasons I listed above and your realize that the cards are stacked against you. You have to make up your mind that this is a calling. Make up your mind that you aren’t doing this for recognition or money or fame or awards and do it for the love of your mission. Every time….let me emphasis that….EVERY TIME  I have become really discouraged God has given me such a positive note or thank you or blessing! Sometimes it is like manna in the wilderness, but keep your eyes on Him and the tough is not so tough.
  9.  I was going to have to “sell” what we do ALL of the time. Promoting myself and Overshadowed is not something I’m comfortable doing all the time. Sometimes people change the subject before I can even get the words out about what we do. But, I’ve learned that the people who are the most passionate about a mission are the ones that have to promote it…constantly. Hearing an unfamiliar name or recommendation just once isn’t enough for people to remember. Studies say a person has to hear the name of a place or person 7 times just for it to start to become familiar. I had to get comfortable with the idea that I have to sell who we are and why we are different and be proud of it!
  10. I am enough. That is a phrase that is popular these days, but it is so true. When I first started planning how to create this company I got a lot of negativity. People told me all the negative reasons it would never work…I mean, “You aren’t going to pay people? What?” All of the where? When? How? questions really got in my head so that even when things went well–at times the negativity was like cement on my feet. I wish that for every negative person there was a positive person to tell you to pursue that dream of yours!

Now….please don’t read all of this and think that I’m complaining or feeling sad! Not at all! Most community theaters close their doors within ten years of opening them. Overshadowed just began their 16th season! That’s pretty exciting! Also, I’m smart enough to know that even if I had known these ten things….there  would have been ten more that I wish someone had told me. I believe that I should never stop learning. Every play brings a new experience and every new volunteer makes our company better and stronger!

Now what about you? What dream are you letting go of instead of pursuing??

Please take time to share this and follow me!

Until next time!

 

 

Fun=Theater. (Is it the Same for Everyone?)

 

When I decided to start a community theater I will confess I had no idea what I was doing. Don’t get me wrong. I had been directing plays/musicals for over twenty years. f67c7ab1-8c7b-475e-9ee8-05316d29e0fcHowever, that did nothing to prepare me for the difference in attitude in both audience and cast, as well as all the work that went into marketing and so many other areas. I naively thought that the people who came to see my church and high school productions would be excited about a Christian theater and would follow me to that venture. I quickly learned that Overshadowed Theatrical Productions had no name recognition. Quickly, my number one focus went to marketing. I began to feel stress for my new “product.” My desire never changed though. I wanted to provide professional type theater in an unconventional non professional way.

My goals, desires, standards never changed, but I soon discovered that the rest of the world either has the same problems I do or they are not bothered by things that I wish I didn’t have to tolerate.

The question is this? If you apply rules, standards, restrictions to a production experience–does it take the fun out of it for the performer?

Fun: it‚Äôs a word frequently thrown about in non-professional theatre circles. Fun. When someone asks why you are willing to put so much time into a production the number one reason is: “It is a lot of fun.”

And believe me, I agree. Putting a show together and performing it to a live audience is an experience like no other. Pure magic.

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Backstage look at curtain call from a recent production of Newsies

However, there is so much more than fun to the process. I don’t want to scare anyone off, but theater is hard work, especially to anyone that is going to devote their life to this field.

I will write more about this in a separate blog, but we amateur theatre artists always struggle to be recognized. It takes commitment to stay up late rehearsing and memorizing lines and creating character development. Most people have full-time jobs that they still work hard at, but of course, we as an audience don’t see that part of it.

I actually love that theater is hard work. I love that when you pour yourself into a character you are exhausted at the end of a show. It is a rewarding experience to pour yourself into a process like that. Is it hard work? Maybe. Time-consuming for sure.

Maybe it boils down to the reason why you participate in theater. Some do it for fun, some do it professionally, and some do it because they believe in the show or purpose. Isn’t it true that most of us will put up with almost anything if it is for something we love?

I love that theater brings people together. We make new friends and create something that lives. The danger is when some people treat the show as a hobby or something they are just doing for “fun.” Tensions sometimes arise when people have to work hard to cover for what some of the cast isn’t bringing. t is wonderful that community theatre brings together people with various levels of experience, but it is hurtful to the whole production when cast/crew treat the show as something secondary which does not deserve their full attention.

Please remember this: being paid or volunteering should not affect the quality of the work you provide. I think when the work suffers it is because we see ourselves as inferior when we don’t get paid, or don’t get the reviews or awards. Do not settle, but always push yourself to achieve more than you thought possible. Mediocre? Never! Let’s shoot for the top!

When producing a show, I think about the audience. What do I want them to enjoy, learn, feel? If I think about the cast instead, then we become a group of divas and honestly, become a little selfish. Sometimes we have to put personal thoughts aside to put on the best show possible.

Is theater fun? ¬†Yes! Exciting, creative, rewarding and fun! Theatre is all about creativity, exploration, and play. It is exciting, enthralling, and, yes, very fun. It is also hard work and commitment. Let’s stick together and make each show better than the last. Someday we might get the recognition, but until then, the show must go on!

I’d love to hear your comments or thoughts! Please take the time to follow my blog or to share it with others!

Until next time!

Reba

 

“Where is My Prop?” (And how one simple rule can save a show.)

We do not have the luxury of a full backstage or expansive wing space. We do, however, have a wonderful stage manager and props mangers who dedicate shelf space and have a place for each prop. All the actors have to do is remember to take it with them on stage or communicate otherwise to the managers so the prop is in the right place at the right time. Simple rule, right? What on earth could go wrong? Well, plenty. But here is how to avoid the tragedy.

  1. Be responsible for your prop. Yes, the team did acquire the prop for you, but now it is up to you to make sure you have what you need when you need it. Great actors go through the script ahead of time and decide which things they need. The next step is to figure out if you have enough time to get your prop from backstage or if you will need to preset it. Communication is key here.
  2. Return your prop to the props table.¬†The backstage team has a great deal to do after the show to preset it for the next performance. Don’t leave your prop lying around, but put it away. Otherwise, things can sometimes get lost. Again, if you cannot return it–communicate that so someone can help you.
  3. Put the props exactly ¬†where they belong.¬†I don’t want to beat a dead horse here, but¬†it makes everyone’s job so much easier if every prop has a home and you put yours where it belongs. I understand that actors want to hurry and get out of the show at the end of the night, but so does the backstage team! Please take the extra moment to care for the order of backstage!
  4. Please don’t touch other actor’s props. (Unless you have been asked)¬†I love that you want to help, but there is a correct order and if you don’t know exactly where to place things sometimes the fact that you “helped” can send someone else into a needless panic when their prop “disappears.” Worse, is when that prop becomes a toy that you can’t resist playing with and ¬†just 10 minutes before curtain that essential prop is broken..
  5. Treat your props with respect and care.¬†Please don’t mistreat your props or throw them around needlessly.¬†Things break and then they are gone.

Some of these seem like common sense to me, but I think we just don’t consider that taking time to follow a few simple rules will potentially save a great amount of stress!

That being said, some of my favorite moments involve “prop” mishaps. Here’s a favorite:

Miracle on 34th Street. There is a scene when Fred is trying to ask Doris out but she is too busy. He gives her a necklace, and asks her out. She declines because she is “too busy.” At this point Doris was supposed to drop some cards leaving the “elves” notice of a meeting. (which is an important event in the play.) Doris realized she didn’t have the cards and told Fred she’d be right back and exited leaving our Fred (Mike Larsen) on stage….alone. Wondering what to do. He paced. Looked around. Said, “You’d think giving a girl a necklace would at least get you dinner.”

Ah! The magic of live theater!

What are your experiences with props? Any rules to follow that make it better for the play? Please like us, share, comment and follow!

Until next time!

Overshadowed by His love,

 

Reba

 

 

From the Inside Out: Ramblings About The Diary of Anne Frank

When I was in third or fourth grade I read a book that I will never forget. The Diary of Anne Frank captured my attention in a way that no other book has ever done. The idea that a girl (who was not much older that I was at that time) could write so proficiently and express her thoughts in such a spell-binding manner was fascinating. For those of you who don’t know, Anne Frank went into hiding with her family in 1943. She was only thirteen. Her crime? She was Jewish.

I didn’t understand how anyone could treat another human so terribly. How could one possibly live in such a tight space, dependent fully on the help of outsiders who put their lives on the line day after day? Yet this girl said something that is life changing.

“In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.”

She was positive, joyful and dreamed that her writing would change the world. It did.

Flash forward to 1976. My husband had the privilege of playing Peter Van Daan in a University production of “The Diary of Anne Frank.” Flash forward another twenty years and my daughter played Mrs. Van Daan in a production I directed at her high school. Another six years pass and my oldest daughter directs a production of “Diary” at the same University that Chuck portrayed Peter all those years before.

And now, I have checked a dream role off of my bucket list. For one more weekend I get to step out on that stage of become “Mrs Van Daan.”

She’s not the lead, but I think she is fascinating. She is insecure, flirty, frightened, industrious and loving. She is the most complicated character I have ever played and I have loved every second.

In the play you see Mrs. Van Daan through the eyes of a thirteen year old girl. I can only imagine what my daughter’s diary might have said about me at times she was angry with me. The point? The writings give us a unique view into the secret annex, but we must remember Anne’s writings were Anne’s thoughts and expressed honestly through Annes’ emotions.

In talking about the personality of Mrs Van Daan I began to realize that at the core of her personality were all the traits Anne writes about, but there must be something that drives her to act the way she does. I chose  insecurity and love--those traits are at the root of every reaction she has.

Did you know? She was born in 1900 in Germany. She had three siblings: Gertrude, Lotte, and Gretta. It was Anne who gave her the name of Mrs Van Daan as a code name,  as she did everyone one in the diary, in case the diary was ever discovered it would protect those she wrote about. Her real name was Auguste van Pels.

She was real. She lived, loved, laugh, feared and hoped. Much like 6 million other Jews that we may not know anything about.  This play is for everyone that died during that horrible time in our history. May we never forget.

I am thankful for a young girl who decided that writing her story was important. I am thankful that the Germans didn’t discover and destroy the book. I am thankful Otto allowed the rest of the world to see the diary.

If you haven’t documented your life in some way why not do it? Your life, your story is important. Please leave your legacy!

If you can–treat yourself to one of the remaining performances. ¬†It is one of the finest casts I’ve ever had the privilege of sharing the stage with. The lights, set, story…it is truly special. ¬†Please hurry though. Only four shows remain. Overshadowed.org

What about you? Have you read the book? Please take a moment to like this post, share, comment! Thank you!

Overshadowed by His Love,

 

Reba

 

 

 

My Top Ten Love Stories for the Stage

In honor of Valentine’s Day, I’d like to take the time to talk about some of my favorite love stories in theatre and why I like them so much. I’ll start with number 10 and move up the list so that your anticipation can grow!

10. On almost everyone’s favorite love story list (stage, screen or book) is Romeo and Juliet. I mean, Shakespeare created such a great model that when you speak of couples it’s almost like it is a coined phrase. If you don’t love someone like Romeo and Juliet loved then perhaps you aren’t in love? It is such a tragic story and teaches so many lessons of honesty, loyalty, feuding, that it is impossible not to be touched in some way by this wonderful story.

9. Cyrano de Bergerac. Also, a beautiful tragedy. I feel frustrated that Roxanne can’t see that it is really Cyrano that is writing the beautiful poetry she loves. I love that Cyrano wants Roxanne to be happy and loves her so much that he makes Christian into the man he thinks Roxanne can love. By the time Cyrano allows Roxanne to discover that Cyrano is the man she truly loves – he has been mortally wounded. Another love story gone horribly wrong.

8.¬†Ragtime. Oh, how I wish this musical didn’t have such strong language. I believe the story could be told just as well without it, but sadly permission to change the language is not given so I won’t be producing this show anytime in the near future. This show is an epic love story. It is a love story with America (the good and the bad) and music and the passionate love of dreaming! It contains one of my favorite musical songs, “On the Wheels of a Dream.” If you haven’t heard it–trust me, find it and listen to it. It is heart-wrenchingly beautiful. (especially if you know what happens after they sing this song.)

7. The Phantom of the Opera. This is simply one of the best love stories of all time. ¬†This story is set in the 1870’s Paris Opera House. The Phantom is a musical genius who prowls around with a mask hiding the disfigured half of his face. Even though he has been imprisoned by his disfigurement he feels love and even compassion for Christine. When she falls in love with Raoul, the Phantom’s heart is broken and he turns into a jealous, furious “monster.” It is a wonderful story of how love can conquer all or destroy. The music is haunting and beautiful. It is a timeless genius masterpiece.

6.¬†Les Miserables. Unrequited Love. The song “On My Own” ¬†makes me feel all the feels, after all, haven’t most of us had unreciprocated love sometime in our lives? Eponine and Marius are the couple that never was and how we ache for Eponine all the way to her death. The love stories play out on many levels throughout this celebration of human spirit. There is a reason it might very well be the world’s most popular musical.

5. Cinderella.I grew up watching the 1965 TV remake of this wonderful musical that was written for television. To me, there was no better Cinderella than Lesley Ann Warren. She was pretty, but not so pretty that it put my hopes of one day being a Cinderella out of reach. I loved “In my Own Little Corner” and I felt like I could also be “whatever I wanted to be” and, like Cinderella, it was ok to dream. Cinderella has a magical love. It is a fairy tale that makes most of us want the knight on a white horse-love at first sight kind of love. And honestly, that’s kind of breathtaking. (As a side-note I don’t like the modern version. For more on that read my review here:¬†https://fromthewings.org/2018/05/01/rodgers-hammersteins-cinderella-changing-the-fairy-tale/)

4. West Side Story. Romeo and Juliet revisited. The tragic tale of two gangs that cannot mix with each other until Tony and Maria meet each other and fall madly in love. They defy the wishes of all their families and friends and commit to love each other for life. Oh, the power of love–it makes you believe that all things are possible. I won’t give away the ending, but since I said Romeo and Juliet you might get a hint.

3. Steel Magnolias. This story revolves around Truvy’s Beauty Shop. Everyone in the town gets their hair done there. When your hair is being dyed and cut you can bet some very strong friendships are being formed. This story is a love story between friends, and mothers and daughters. These bonds are powerful, life-sustaining and unexplainable. I wouldn’t give up the experience of playing Ouiser for anything. Life-altering.

2. Wicked. Most people might say that this is the story of Fiero and Elphaba. I believe it’s the story of a powerful friendship between Glinda and Elphaba. These two strong women meet and are instantly at odds because the pretty blonde just doesn’t understand the green-skinned girl. Yet, they each open their hearts and allow the lessons of the prejudice of the world change them “For Good. ” It is very rare that there are two female lead parts that are so brilliantly written for the stage. This one makes me long to be able to sing like Elphaba who does happen to sing my theme song. (Don’t we all want to Defy Gravity?)

1.Showboat. Anyone who knows me would have to know that this is my number one pick. It is the show that made me fall in love with theatre. I have seen it numerous times and have read the book and play just as many.

I love:

the love story that the show people have with performing

the love that Bill has for Julie that he would sacrifice his future by joining Julie’s race

I love that Magnolia loves Gaylord so much that she fights for him even when he is ruining her life

I love the way Old Man River soars and the love affair the people on the river have for the Mississippi.

My all time favorite musical song, “Can’t Help Loving that Man of Mine” (in fact I sing it to my granddaughter-with a few words changed) comes from this beautiful love story.

If you haven’t seen some of these make sure you search them out. If you have, I’d love to hear what you think! Please take a moment to comment, share and like!

In the meantime,

Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

My Top Six New Year’s Theater Resolutions

Happy New Year!

I know. I know. Every year we all set resolutions that are going to make us healthier, stronger, better. And by the time a week has passed most of us have broken them and at the end of the first month we’ve forgotten them completely. So maybe me setting them a week too late will help me keep them a little longer!

  1. Show more appreciation for all involved. Theatre is a TEAM effort. Many people are involved to create a perfect show. Many more people are involved to perform all the tasks to RUN a theater. I try, honestly I do. I want to give credit and be thankful for all the amazing people who make Overshadowed what it is. So this year will be dedicated to giving more credit to all those who work so hard. Here is a list that you might not think about: Tech crew, stage manager, costume designers plus sewers, ushers, box office, house manager, set designer and builders, advisory board and executive board members and that is just a start. Theater is an ENSEMBLE effort. I won’t ever forget that.
  2. Establish the next step of our business plan. One of the best pieces of advice I received when Overshadowed began is to establish a five-year business plan. I had no idea what that meant, but thankfully I had a few men in my life that really tackled that and asked me hard questions that honestly I had never given any thought to. Looking back I can see that the business plan helped me set goals and even though I thought they were crazy at the time. (I just wanted to produce plays!) I know that was a very important aspect of establishing a company that I hope will last long after I’m gone. This year, the next phase of that business play will start to take ¬†shape. Overshadowed will begin to offer classes. No longer will this be just a shot in the dark, but we will have consistency and variety in our offerings. ¬†Check out what we are starting with here:¬†http://www.overshadowed.org/classes/
  3. Have a stronger social media presence. Marketing isn’t what it used to be. We spend so much time on our phones and all the places that we connect with each other. To grow Overshadowed to the next level I believe we need to up our visibility in those areas. I will admit I have learned a lot over the past couple of years, but there is sooooo much more to learn. My daughter convinced me over Christmas that we need to create a social media position. I’m happy to announce that we now have two! Brad Wendt and ¬†Stephanie Schmidt will be our new Social Media managers. I’m positive that I will learn from them, but more importantly that they will be able to share all that is going on at the theatre so that our audiences will never say….”I didn’t even know…..”
  4. Be better organized. Attack projects sooner. That may look like two, but it’s really combined. Maybe if I’m better organized,¬†our team be able to start projects sooner. Then they can complete them sooner so that the actors and crew can rehearse with all the tools sooner. It all works to make the experience for all involved less stressful and in the end will make our performances even better. I have never been a good planner. I have a tendency to believe things aren’t going to take as long to do so I procrastinate. For about a year and half I have been using a system called, “The Happy Planner.” I subscribe to Scarlet Lime–which is a subscription ¬†which sends me a kit every other month full of paper, a pen, stickers and washi tape. It makes me tap into my creative side in a different way and relaxes me. At the same time I am now challenged to check things off and get things done. It is very motivating for me. I tell people that I love my happy planner, because it makes me happy! Maybe it makes other people happy too if I get things to them faster! It’s a win-win!
  5. Share my process and expectations up front. I think that I expect that people understand that when a director speaks that they shouldn’t be communicating. I then get frustrated when cast members are not listening during that time. In hindsight, I think I expect that people have the same values as mine and that just isn’t true. I haven’t decided if I’ll write them or just speak them, but here are some I’m going to take the time to express at the beginning of our production process.

a)  Important dates. (Off-book.Strike etc.)

b) No cell phones in rehearsal room. That would be a new one for us, but I believe it     will help keep everyone focused. It is so important for the concentration in the rehearsal room to be high and completely engaged in the process.

c) No talking in the rehearsal room or during cast meeting. If they aren’t involved in a scene they should wait outside if they want to talk. Who knows? Maybe it will help us all get in the habit of not talking backstage!

d) Start on time. Give announcements at the end of rehearsal instead of the start. I think sometimes people know I’m going to talk for a while so they think it’s ok to be a little late.

6. ¬†Be off book sooner. Once an actor begins to have his part memorized he really begins to “act.” I’m going to try something new this year! Instead of requiring a date of being off-book out in the future–I’m going to ask that after we block a scene that ¬†the actor needs to be off book on that scene the next time we rehearse it. I can’t wait to see how much of a difference that makes in my directing, but also in the actor’s process!

Wow! Here’s hoping 2019 will be another year of growth for me!

I’d love to hear your thoughts about these goals! Please share and comment! And follow me!

Until next time!

Overshadowed by His love,

Reba

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Most Famous Play Of All

What exactly is a Nativity Play?

The word “Nativity” is derived from the Latin word ‘natal” which means birth. So, a Nativity Play is a play that recreates the story of the birth of Christ. Usually, this includes the visit of the shepherds and the Wise Men.

This tradition seems to have started in Italy around 1223. The credit seems to go to St Francis of Assisi for creating the very first one. It seems that during this time many people were illiterate and couldn’t read the story of Christmas in the Bible for themselves. So, St Francis decided to show them what it must have been like on the night of Jesus’ birth. He set a manger, added some hay and live animals and got some people from the town to play Mary, Joseph and Shepherds. It must have been a success due to the overwhelming amount of churches that perform a play during this time of year. In fact, it is so popular a play was written about the process. (The Best Christmas Pageant Ever).

Around the country the Nativity play is a treasured moment; ¬†we all worship together among cameras, videos and a few tears. Sad, isn’t it? That this tradition can’t be done in many schools and communities any longer and that they have to perform winter shows instead?

There was a time that we were not ashamed of Christ. There was a time we boldly shouted out, “Merry Christmas!” and identified with the fact that Jesus’ birth was Why we celebrate this day.

I hope the tradition of the Nativity play never ends. There is something wonderful about the community that comes together out of the recreation of the story.

  1. What could be better than teaching children the important aspects of each part of the story? You might say, “What could be important about playing one of the animals?” There is a verse in Isaiah 1:3-4, “The ox knows its owner, and the ass its master’s crib. But Israel does not know, my people do not understand.” What lucky children! They play the part of giving comfort, even the ox and ass understand and give homage to the King.
  2. Parents and friends who might not usually participate, get involved with a production to help their children.
  3. People will come to church to watch kids when they won’t come for anything else.
  4. The simplicity of a production done by children should focus us on the true meaning of the season.
  5. Don’t forget the reading of the Christmas story, but for this visual learning society we have now–seeing is so powerful.

Amazing isn’t it? ¬†“the hopes and fears of all the years (wow that’s a lot) are met in Christ–the birth of Jesus–in a far away town–on a cold winter’s night.”

Let’s keep telling the story.

Do you have a favorite memory of a nativity story? Please share a comment/and this post if you like it!

 

Until next time!

 

 

Worship Wonderings

Personal ponderings while preparing and reflecting on worship expressions & other faith matters.

Mimi Matthews

Mimi Matthews

Maggie Rowe

this is an archived blog

The Producer's Perspective

Ramblings about all things theater from stage to screen

Stephanie Howell

bloom where you're planted

Daily Joy

"The most wasted of all days is one without laughter." -E.E. Cummings

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