artistic vision, book review, communication, entertainment, family, reading, theater

“To Whom it May Inspire.” Thoughts from Creativity, Inc.

I am really jealous of my oldest daughter in one specific way. She seems to be able to make time to read…like really read maybe for an hour or hours a week. I’m not sure how she does it, but thinking back….there was a period of time in my life when I did the same thing. I’m desperately trying to regain that desire/ability, but still struggling a little.

A couple of year’s ago my daughter, Becca author of the Blog, Daily Joy, read the book Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull. She told me that I really NEEDED to read the book. To be honest, I kinda blew it off. Why did I want to read a book about the President of Pixar?? My mindset was that Pixar wasn’t Disney and I was too old for cartoons. So, when my daughter, Ashley, gave me the book for Christmas, I put it away.

Enter Covid. (Is it strange that every one of my blog posts lately say…Enter Covid? Life changing for sure….)

With Covid my world stopped and I tried to recreate good habits and get rid of old bad ones. I had previously made a New Year’s Resolution to read at least one book a month during this year. After a few light reads I decided to pull this book off the shelf.

Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull, co-founder (with Steve Jobs and John Lasseter) of Pixar Animation Studios, the Academy Award–winning studio behind Inside Out and Toy Story.

I cannot believe I waited this long to read this book. It was inspirational, motivational, entertaining and educational. This book tells the story of a man who had a dream and worked hard to build a company that set a new standard for a creative culture–believing at all times–that it is important to do the best work possible. I started reading it thinking that it was a great book to tell the story of Pixar, but quickly began telling my friends and anyone who would listen about the lessons I learned each day.Lessons that applied to me as a writer, director, story-teller, leader, President of a non-profit and maybe even just a person. I started taking notes realizing that this book is for me. Ed would tell stories about how they would write their scripts and I would find myself realizing that his struggles were things I needed to learn from.

My lessons didn’t stop there because Creativity, Inc. is also a book for managers who want to lead their employees to new heights, and create a working environment that is successful, safe and causes each employee to also strive to be better.

Here are a few of my favorite quotes:

“If you give a good idea to a mediocre team, they will screw it up. If you give a mediocre idea to a brilliant team, they will either fix it or throw it away and come up with something better.” 

“You are not your idea, and if you identify too closely with your ideas, you will take offense when they are challenged.” 

“Failure isn’t a necessary evil. In fact, it isn’t evil at all. It is a necessary consequence of doing something new.” 

“If you aren’t experiencing failure, then you are making a far worse mistake: You are being driven by the desire to avoid it.” 

“Getting the right people and the right chemistry is more important than getting the right idea.” 

“When it comes to creative inspiration, job titles and hierarchy are meaningless.” 

“When faced with a challenge, get smarter.” 

“Fear can be created quickly; trust can’t.” 

“Craft is what we are expected to know; art is the unexpected use of our craft.” 

“Making the process better, easier, and cheaper is an important aspiration, something we continually work on—but it is not the goal. Making something great is the goal.” 

“What is the point of hiring smart people, we asked, if you don’t empower them to fix what’s broken?” 

“Always take a chance on better, even if it seems threatening.” 

“You’ll never stumble upon the unexpected if you stick only to the familiar.” 

“Be patient. Be authentic. And be consistent. The trust will come.” 

“The future is not a destination – it is a direction.” 

“We must remember that failure gives us chances to grow, and we ignore those chances at our own peril.” 

“We want people to feel like they can take steps to solve problems without asking permission.” 

“THERE IS NOTHING quite like ignorance combined with a driving need to succeed to force rapid learning.” 

“Quality is the best business plan.” 

“it is not the manager’s job to prevent risks. It is the manager’s job to make it safe to take them.”

The title, “To Whom it May Inspire.” is taken from a section of the book where Ed is talking about something he created called, “Notes Day.” He warns that things change and that they should and we shouldn’t be afraid of that change but instead approach it with fresh thinking. Ed received a letter from one of his animators, Austin Madison, which started, “To Whom it May Inspire,” He stated that like most artists he constantly shifts between two states. The first is white-hot, “in the zone.” A place where everything flows creatively. He says it only happened 3% of the time. The other happens the other 97% of the time and is when we are frustrated, struggling and throwing ideas out the window constantly. His advice?

PERSIST

PERSIST on telling your story.

PERSIST on reaching your audience.

PESIST on staying true to your vision.

That’s what we do. Keep on keeping on. Stay focused. Don’t give in.

I think there is comfort in the fact that we will always have problems: some we see right away and some that come out of nowhere….like COVID.

It isn’t the goal to avoid the problems or even to make things easier. The goal is to rise above the problem with excellence.

Who is this book for? EVERYONE. Honestly, do yourself a favor and read it. It isn’t a quick read because there is sooooo much to think about. You might be surprised. You might even shed a tear. It’s that good.

Link to the book on Amazon – https://www.amazon.com/Creativity-Inc-Overcoming-Unseen-Inspiration/dp/0812993012/

I’d love to hear your thoughts! Thank you in advance for commenting and for sharing this post!

Until next time,

acting, communication, family, theater

It Is Written All Over Your Face (But I Can’t See It Because You Have A Mask On)

Few realize how loud their expressions really are. Be kind with what you wordlessly say.”

― Richelle E. Goodrich, Making Wishes

An actor uses a variety of tools to convince an audience that he truly has become the character he is playing. As a director, I am constantly encouraging the actor to build his character from the outside in or inside out. I don’t care which way he chooses, but it is a must to combine your body and face for the full character development.

In fact, most of us study the face for clues to what a person is really saying to us. Non-verbal communication becomes essential in acting. Did you know that according to a study by Dr. ‘s Paul Ekman and Wallace Frieseney, they found that, the 42 muscles in the face responsible for expression, can make over 10,000 configurations! 3,000 of these relate to emotions. Amazingly enough, expressing yourself by the use of your face doesn’t come natural to everyone! But it is so important.

I remember vividly being scolded as a youngster for the “tone of my voice.” The words I said and my facial expression might have been communicating one message, but the message that was coming from the tone of my voice made my parents believe I was being disrespectful. (which I probably was. Sadly.) Maybe if I had a twinkle in my eye and a smile on my face I would have gotten away with it….again….probably not.


Often words do not match emotions, but the face can betray what the person is actually feeling. Thus, important in communication, but also in acting.

People’s emotions are rarely put into words , far more often they are expressed through other cues. the key to intuiting another’s feelings is in the ability to read nonverbal channels , tone of voice , gesture , facial expression and the like.

Daniel Goleman

Why do I bring this up now?

You got it. The masks.

Now don’t misunderstand me. I am not saying don’t wear them. I am not saying I don’t believe in them. In fact, when I am around groups of people I will be sporting this beautiful Cubs mask made by SERJ Handiworks (serjhandiworks.com if you want one) But I do think we need to understand that there are risks that go beyond health risks. If we focus on those maybe we can prevent problems that might occur after this year of mask wearing.

If we cover half of our face, we only have half to communicate with. Let’s be aware that we still need to be expressive when we are engaging with others.

In a recent study about Facial paralysis a group was shown videos of people with disorders that affect facial movement, They were then asked for their first impressions based on the videos.

People with severe facial movement impairment were rated as less happy and sociable compared to people with mild facial movement impairment. Participants also had less desire to form friendships with them.

In other words, it is very difficult to conquer the human tendency to form impressions based on facial expressions or lack of them.

In 2001 there was a study done on children to test their face-reading skills. This study showed that children with stronger face-reading skills were more popular, and performed better academically. They also discovered that students who had trouble with face-reading had more trouble making friends and had learning difficulties.

I do not wish to alarm and I’m not even sure I totally agree with the results of the study on face-reading. However, I do believe that we need to be aware that with the masks we need to try harder.

Don’t hide behind your mask. The eyes are the window to your soul. Make an effort to connect with the people you see. Honestly, we are all in need of a human connection. It might be the smile in your eyes that makes a difference in someones’ day.

Who knows? Maybe when we can take those masks off for good we will find that the work we put into our facial expression will offer communication and connections that we would never have made before this whole thing started.

And that would be a very good thing indeed.


2 Corinthians 3:18

‘And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.’

I’d really love to hear from you! Please leave me your comments. But I’d love it if you would share this blog as well!

Until next time!

Reba

audience, broadway, christian, entertainment, intermission, ten commandments, theater

The Long Intermission

I was in sixth grade when I saw my first stage production. It was a high school production, but that didn’t make it any less remarkable for me. I loved the story, actors, music and dancing. In fact, I loved the whole evening. I think I’m a little unusual in that I seriously enjoy EVERYTHING. I love the energy of the audience as they anticipate the show and seeing their friends or family on stage. I love combing over the playbill and reading the bios and even the advertisements! Then, the orchestra begins to tune their instruments! For most people that isn’t remarkable, but I love listening as they play a note, adjust the string or reed, and play again and again until the whole orchestra can play a note with a unified sound. The curtain goes up and the magic continues. Until intermission….

Intermission:

a short interval between the acts of a play or parts of a public performance, usually a period of approximately 10 or 15 minutes, allowing the performers and audience a rest.

a period during which action temporarily ceases; an interval between periods of action or activity:

Legend has it that in the late Middle Ages early renaissance (in theatrical terms at least think 16th 17th centuries ), theatre began to move from performances outdoors to indoor facilities. Theaters used candles to light the house and the stage. Intermissions began because the candles needed to be changed. While the candles were being changed, vendors would come and sell to the audience members to keep them from leaving the theatre.

Most productions that are longer than 90 minutes will have an intermission (even though the need for changing candles has long gone.) And indeed, it does provide a wonderful time for the audience to stretch their legs, go to the restrooms and browse the gift area or buy concessions. I’m used to the way that process works around this area, but imagine my surprise when I attended New York theaters years ago and they ushered us outdoors and to the restaurant close by to use the restroom because there simply was not time for the whole audience to use the facilities that were located inside that theater! It was a new world!

Does the intermission still have value in today’s world? Here are a few reasons I think it is necessary.

  1. An intermission builds anticipation for what is to come. It gives the audience a chance to stretch, move around, get a drink. And socialize. Which I believe is a very real part of the theater experience.
  2. An intermission allows the actors time to rest or change costumes or grab a much needed drink of water.
  3. An intermission allows the crew time to change the set for the next act.
  4. I try to not have a bottom line that is all about money, but let’s be real…concession sales are a part of a theater’s budget so in that regard, an intermission is very necessary.
  5. In productions that have employed musicians, union rules need to be followed, so that in most cases breaks need to be provided for the orchestra members.

That’s intermission in a world that ceased to exist weeks ago. And we don’t know when or if it will ever return. Thus, we have entered an intermission of sorts. I was listening to a short message from Bob Bixby (friend and Pastor in California. You can reach him at bobbixby.wordpress.com) when this first started and he mentioned that the Lord had given us a Sabbath. I have been fascinated by that thought since then. Did you know that one definition of the word Sabbath is intermission?? An interlude, a pause before we move into our next phase of work.

I didn’t.

What do we know about the Sabbath?

God included it in the Ten Commandments. It wasn’t a suggestion. It was a commandment.

God wants us to receive something from this time of rest each week.

  1. It should be a time of resting from our work. It is a day that gives us a chance to renew ourselves physically, emotionally and spiritually.
  2. This is a time that we can spend quality time with God, but also have fellowship with your church family and others that we love. If we set this day apart we can create close relationships with others that can be spiritually rewarding as we encourage each other and grow together.
  3. This is a time we can stop and think about the blessings that God has given us. Sad to say that sometimes we get so busy with our day to day lives that the act of thankfulness is a trite thought in our prayers, but with a day set aside to reflect on the mercies of God, we can cultivate a attitude that should carry us through the week.
  4. This is a time set apart to rejoice and worship.

The day. The command. It is a gift.

I’m not going to lie. This time of shelter in place has been difficult for me. The theater being shut down has been painful for me. But could it be that in some ways it is a gift from God? A Sabbath? A pause. A time to reflect and regroup and thank God for His mercies which are new each morning.

Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”
Matthew 11:28-30

Dear God,

I didn’t want to slow down, but I have loved what you have taught me during this time. Help me to be thankful for each day. Help me to learn from this time of intermission. Bring the rest for my soul. Thank you for the blessings that you have brought during this time and the mercy you have shown. Thank you, for understanding my burden. Thank you for the gift of Sabbath.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject! And as always, I’d love it if you would take the time to share this blog!

Until next time!

Reba

christian, theater

It Isn’t Business As Usual

I had an entirely different blog post prepared to post for this week.

I couldn’t continue to work on it though, because my social media was blowing up with stories of George Floyd and the details of his tragic death. Almost immediately after the organized riots began and then the looting followed by days of riots, looting and destruction. Next, people began to post that enough was enough….and indeed it is.

We know better. But things aren’t getting better.

I’ll never forget hearing the story of the Good Samaritan. In Luke 10, Jesus is asked, What is the most important commandment?” He responds, “To love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind” and the second one is to “love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus is then asked who counts as a neighbor and then tells the story of the Good Samaritan.

Listen as my friend, Jeremiah Dew, tells the story in light of the current world.

I have heard that if you aren’t part of the solution you are part of the problem. I’m not sure if those words are entirely correct, but I do know that racism is a problem that hasn’t gone away. If we are a people that live by the words of Jesus and are instructed to LOVE OUR NEIGHBOR AS OURSELVES ….then why? Why does it still exist? Several reasons I think.

  1. We are sinners. We act wrongly. We speak unwisely and don’t speak up when we should. And we don’t listen enough.
  2. We don’t love the Lord with our whole hearts, souls and minds. And when we forget the first commandment then we don’t even look at the second.
  3. Not everyone is a Christian so how can we even begin to get them to understand the love of God and therefore how could they understand how to love their neighbors?
  4. We need to look past the recent events. This is not just about George Floyd. This is much deeper than that. This is about our constant refusal to view people as equals if their skin color is too dark.

So now. after months of living sheltered in place, months after many people have lost loved ones and/or their jobs, we now have moved on to a new danger. We now have a new unrest–a danger, fear as all across the country squad cars are going up in flames, buildings are being looted and anger roams the streets. What started as a justified response to the murder of George Floyd has turned into a criminal activity that is stealing the attention from a problem that demands to be solved.

We might not be able to solve this problem in our life time, but it doesn’t mean we can’t try.

Jesus, help us to see each person as You do. Help us to love each person as You do. Help us to start the change.

Until next time I’m hoping to be Overshadowed by His love,

Reba

Jeremiah Dew, “JDew,” has always had a passion for performance. Whether it be on stage or on the screen, JDew thrives on audience engagement. Since getting a degree in Mass Communication in 2007, JDew has entertained over three million people at live events. After contemplating a “Black History” stage performance for about 18 months, “One Voice: A Black History Narrative” was born, and debuted at the Warehouse Theatre in Greenville, SC, in 2011. You can contact Jeremiah at https://onevoiceshow.com/meet-jdew/