acting, audience, christian, christian blog, christian theater, communication, family, Fear, Grief, history, hope, theater, writing

#NeverForget

It has been a whirlwind summer.

Every week I think, “I want to write about this.” And every week I cannot seem to scrape together the time to write even a few sentences. I’m not sure why….I mean, it doesn’t feel excessively more busy than summers BEFORE COVID and yet every time I sat down to work on the play I was writing for this fall-something big would happen that needed my attention.

We went into the summer thinking we were ahead of schedule for our summer production and it literally came down to the wire…and all along I kept repeating….”I just need ONE day by myself to finish editing my play.And it NEVER came. After awhile you just start to think forces are against you.

The good news? We are having a successful summer show! It is beautiful and people are loving it. In fact, we could probably add a show if we wanted because we are all sold out and we still have 8 shows remaining!

The bad news? It really took a toll on all of us. People were working non-stop to get this show ready. And I was doing a lousy job of thanking people that were keeping Overshadowed going in all the other areas. So I learned a lot of lessons this summer. I’m not sure I’ll be any better next time, but I’m trying really….really hard.

There are so many areas to consider in running a not-for-profit, but the key thing is that it takes people many, many people to do all the things and I am sooooo very thankful for all of them, but if I don’t make them know how important they are…I have failed.

So. Enough of the past…moving on to the future!

Next up….an original play I have written based on the heroes of 911. Please do me a favor and watch the video below…and then? Consider being a part of the team for this one! You can email me to tell me if you want to get a ticket, audition, or be part of stage crew, sets, props, tech or costumes!

Until next time–this is just me–talking to you–from the wings.

And before I forget…original music in our video is played and written by Casey Bender! Isn’t he amazing? And a very special thank you to our From the Wings editor! Thank you Rebecca for all you do!

acting, artist, audience, audition, backstage, christian theater, directing, entertainment, family, theater, theater camp, theater education

The Importance of Theater Camp or What Mary Poppins Taught Me

Several years ago we mounted the very large full-scaled production of Mary Poppins on our regular stage. It was a large, full of special effects, show that pushed us to be better that we were. Flash forward several years and I decided that I wanted to do a theater camp that didn’t need much work costume or set wise since we all ready had both from the full production that we had produced several years ago. Ha!

Theater camp is a different experience all together.  We audition on Monday. Tuesday we start developing characters, learning choreography and music, memorizing lines and working all the set and prop movements. We also build lights and sound and set and costumes and well, the work is still a lot! Eight days later we mount a full scale show! Whew!

Today was the eighth day. I might have cried a little. I am so proud of all these students have learned in such a short time.

So have we learned anything?

I hope so. I hope we’ve learned more than the lines, music and etc. I hope we’ve learned the value of team work and responsibility. I hope we’ve learned how much work it takes to put on a good show and HOW MANY PEOPLE IT TAKES to create the magic that goes with a good show.

There are lessons in the show itself that we have talked about as well.

Mary Poppins is a redemptive story about a father who can’t be bothered with his children because the pressures of life have him working hard to create the “right” impression for the “right” people and to work hard to  because the pressures of the job demand it.  

Who can forget his lament?

A man has dreams of walking with giants

To carve his niche in the edifice of time.

Before the mortar of his zeal has time to congeal

The cup is dashed from his lips,

The flame is snuffed aborning,

He’s brought to rack and ruin in his prime.’

Ah! The pressures of life.

We can all fall slave to them.

Let’s take a moment to remember that we don’t have to compete to always “keep up with the Jones'”. Let’s not work so hard at living that we forget who we are living with. 

I wish I could spend one more day in the park with my kids that’s for sure!

Take a moment to watch this interview with our “Bert” and “Mary.” We open tomorrow!

Please make sure you like and share if you enjoyed this episode!

Until next time!

acting, artistic vision, audience, audition, auditions, backstage, broadway, christian theater, communication, productions crew, speech, stage, theater, theater education, theater professions

How is Your Audition Process Different From Professionals or Is It?

We filmed this almost a month ago, but when I watched this last night I was struck with how appropriate it was for my week.

Those of you who follow me on instagram (rebahervas.direct.plan.read) know that the audition process grieves me. Yes, it acutally makes me sick. It isn’t just a process for me. I feel the emotions of those of you who audition. I cheer for you, I want you to fit the part and I want to choose you. Sadly, there can be only one Belle or Gaston or whatever part you are going for. So, someone will be crushed. It’s like I hold your hopes and dreams in my hand and just like the evil queen did on Once Upon a Time (If you haven’t seen that show you simply must watch it!) I ripped my hand into your chest, pulled out your beating heart and crushed it until you stopped breathing. Too dramatic? In some cases…no.

I know that no amount of words can make it better. Thank you for auditioning. Thank you for wanting to be a part of theater.

So, can I help at all???

Maybe.

Watch this video that is part two from an interview with Darren Lawson, Dean of the School of FIne Arts and Communication at Bob Jones University. (For part One click here: https://wp.me/p9JkzU-Tc It was a joy to hear what he thinks as he goes through the audition process for their professional productions.

Thank you again, Rebecca Leland, Darren Lawson, David Lurtey and Kathryn Gamet. The time with you all was a blessing beyond words!

If you enjoy these moments From the Wings I hope you will follow me and share this site!

Until next time!

Reba

acting, artist, artistic vision, Blog, broadway, christian, christian blog, christian theater, communication, directing, speech, theater, theater education, theater professions

Love God. Love Others.

Many of you know that the catch phrase of Overshadowed Theatrical Productions is “Theater With a Difference.”

There are many things that make us “different.” At the top of that list is that we don’t produce and perform primarily for entertainment. We perform because our God is a creator and has given us the means to tell stories. Some of these stories entertain, but many of them inspire or point others to Christ.

At the heart of being “different“, we also want to treat others with love and kindness and show them what it would be like to be in Christ’s family.

This month I had the chance to sit down with Darren Lawson, Dean of the School of Fine Arts and Communication at Bob Jones University. To say that I was treated with kindness and love would be an understatement. True to their educational philosophy, they loved on me and shared wisdom and education to both Rebecca Leland (From the Wings editor and videographer) and me.

Have you ever wondered what kind of student you would be if you could go back and do it again? Or how great it would be if things were like they are now–back then? Or maybe even wondered if you should have majored in something different?

Darren answered all the things I have always wanted to know.

There are many reasons you should watch the video below, but I’ll start with this one–

If you have ever wondered if there is a place for you in the arts and what that would look like on many different levels…start here.

I am so humbled to have had Darren, David Lurtey, and Kathryn Gamet take time out of their busy schedules and encourage us, insprire us, and teach us. Thank you all for pouring into, not only your students, but us old grads and friends as well. It was an amazing experience.

I hope you will all watch the video below. Remember to follow us on this platform as well as YouTube.

Dean Discussions | Interview with Darren Lawson Pt 1

Until next time–this is just me talking to you–from the wings.

acting, artist, artistic vision, audience, bible, Blog, characterizations, christian blog, christian theater, communication, critics, entertainment, family, history, hope, theater, theater education

Everyone of Us Can Be Great

Everyone of us has a reason that we do or do not go see a show or concert or recital.

That’s fair. Time is precious. Why waste it with something that you have no interest in seeing?

Is it possible, though, that we miss rare opportunities to better ourselves or to learn something that will make us better people by removing a prejudice and seeing something that we thought might not interest us?

I think the answer is yes.

Covid has left us battlescarred all around. Not only were we taught how to stay indoors and veg in front of the TV, but we learned to judge and hate and condemn those who don’t agree with us. We saw cities destroyed. We saw people lash out with hate towards any political figure that they didn’t agree with. We saw condemnation and judgement. Did we see love for our fellow man?

Rarely.

So now that we are out and about more…what is your criteria going to be?

Recently, Jeremiah Dew told one story that really stuck out to me during his question and answer time after his show at Overshadowed.

He told of a young boy who was taken into captivity as a slave. He was taken from an area of Africa that had never seen water. He spoke a different language than the other captives and had never seen a white man. He couldn’t communicate and actually thought that these white figures must have been demons. He saw many African people who escaped and jumped overboard in fear of what was happening to them. Imagine what they must have felt when they reached the shores of America to be treated as animals in many cases.

I tell that story not to cause you all to think–“that’s not my problem“…”stop the political message.” I tell the story because I think we need to learn that we each come from a different perspective. We need to stop and think about which perspective might be different from our own and how God wants us to react to others around us because of it.

For more of my thoughts please watch the video below:

https://youtu.be/DFhlmyJHqNk

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject! For more information about JDew contact him at jdew@onevoiceshow.com

Thank you, Rebeca Leland, for hosting this time and for all your editing!

Until next time this is just me talking to you from the wings–

Reba

acting, artist, artistic vision, backstage, christian, christian blog, christian theater, communication, directing, Fear, theater, theater education

The Competition Crisis

I’ll never forget the first speech tournament I competed in. I was a Jr. and scared out of my mind. I wasn’t exactly a novice when it came to competing because our school required all speech majors to be involved in the commencement contest each year. I don’t remember ever putting my whole heart into it.  I was never really recognized in the speech department as being much of a talent, so couple my insecurity with that and I felt the full weight of imposter syndrome.
Looking back, I just don’t think I worked hard enough. I certainly didn’t walk up with confidence and I’m sure my insecurities hurt me when I competed.
After graduation, I taught Jr High and then High School Speech. Our school began to enter the Fine Arts Competitions and I began to encourage my students to enter and compete.
I don’t think I really understood the art of competing though until I worked under Randy Thaxton (who was in charge of the Bible Quiz team). I also began to learn from what Donna Reed (English and Speech Teacher) did to train each of her competitors. If I didn’t hold those secrets so close to my heart I could write a book! They taught me through their thoroughness, preparedness and spirit of excellence.

I used to tell my speech students that they had no idea how lucky they were to come from a school that had three speech teachers and people that wanted to invest in them. I’m so glad my own children had the chance to learn from both of them.

As I began to realize how important my role was in preparing the students to compete, I learned that my job was more important than just preparing them “to win”. It was a ministry and I LOVED working with each student. I have such great memories from humorous speech and reader’s theater performances and my favorite, duet acting.

Not every person that enters a competition can win. There is always a loser.
Are you a failure if you lose?

NO!

Babe Ruth once said, “Never let the fear of striking out stop you from playing the game.

I have learned so many life lessons from being involved with competitions. I really miss the times I watched my own children compete and I loved watching them win. The losing wasn’t as fun, but the determination that came after that was inspiring.

Ah! “The Thrill of Victory the agony of defeat.” There is nothing like it.

I hope you’ll watch the video below for the five benefits of competing! And then? Go find something to compete in!

acting, backstage, Blog, Blogging, christian, christian blog, christian theater, communication, directing, family, Fear, theater, theater education

All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Theater

This week’s blog is by Kelly Zea. Thank you, Kelly, for sharing your love of theater and God with

us both now and on stage!

One of my earliest memories was at the church my grandfather preached, watching the kids rehearse for their Christmas program. I remember adult’s encouragement to participate, but I shied away and just watched them sing, quietly and inevitably learning the lyrics. I remember the fear mixed with excitement as the window of opportunity neared its final moments to perform alongside the other kids. I remember my shy, single-digit aged, watch-from-the-sideline self was the bravest it had been as I took the chance and joined the chorus of cardboard costumed Christmas presents on stage. That small act of being present gifted me the value of being braveboth on stage and off.

Fast forward to my formative teenage years when our Pantherettes Poms team was cut from the school budget and eliminated, freeing up time to audition for my first high school play, “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.” Disappointment of dancing off one stage turned into walking onto another, a blessing in disguise which would become the most memorable part of high school and lead to where I felt I truly belonged: the theater.

That first show quickly revealed an irrational insecurity when its only song required us to sing. The director accommodated my fear of singing by gifting me the shortest solo and single word, “Flush,” and also a nickname I’d bear the rest of my high school theater days. I later even purposely tried to get the role of the Wicked Witch to spare myself from having to sing. It was the summer going into my senior year when I decided to face my fears so that I could attempt to obtain the lead role in what would be my last high school show. I bought the cd to memorize the songs, took a choir class and extra lessons from my generous music teacher, and was more determined than ever. Earning the role of Annie Oakley in “Annie Get Your Gun meant everything to me and required a growth spurt like none before to rise to the challenge. Thanks to my directors who believed in me and took the risk casting me and coached me throughout, I gained confidence and it reinforced the decision to continue to pursue acting by becoming a theater major in college.

While my time at Columbia College Chicago was a different story, my story with the stage thankfully did not end there and as I faced more fears.  My bravery was a building block to more blessings of opportunities such as: Second City’s Music Improv program, working as an extra in Chicago’s film and tv industry, and  the sweet suburban community theater the scene which ended up changing my life the most). Community theater became the space to stand up for faith and ultimately grow in faith.

I once again fought through fears in front of everyone auditioning for Overshadowed’s “It’s a Wonderful Life” in 2013 and resisted the growing urge to leave before it was my turn. It didn’t take long to realize that God kept me there for a reason. Overshadowed would soon become one of the most crucial places of my faith journey. It was a ministry, unlike any theater experience I’d had, and became a place filled with prayer and desires to glorify Him. Not without growing pains, of course, but thankfully alongside grace-filled believers valuing the power of prayer and God’s Word, I continue to experience healing and sanctification.

I’ve been blessed that theater has been a constant in my life and a home away from home.  Theater has  encouraged growth through habitual risk taking, generated creativity and more joy than I could have ever dreamt, and, most importantly, fostered community and brought me closer to God in so many ways. Although my trajectory went in a different direction than I dreamt as a little girl, I am so grateful that God was with me each step and led me to the places I’ve been. I’m grateful to the building blocks of bravery which led to so many amazing opportunities and memories that continue to form to this day.

Just as children learn to stack blocks when they are children, building blocks can be used in many areas of our lives. You can’t run before you learn to walk. You learn the alphabet before you learn to read. Is there something in your life you need to pursue step-by-step?

I encourage you to see that our biggest blessings are just beyond our fears. Is there a fear that’s been stealing your joy? Are excuses keeping you from trying something you’ve always wanted to? I pray you experience God’s peace and bravely follow His lead into adventures you couldn’t imagine, touch lives you don’t yet know, and become more like Him through all of it.

Isn’t it sweet of the Creator of the Universe to bless us with creativity and ways to glorify Him through the arts? Be brave and blessed, dear friend.

Kelly Zea is a Christ-following, theater-loving northwest suburbanite who works as an Instructional Assistant in a high school. When not professionally bantering with teenagers, she can be found pet sitting, capturing moments, indulging in theological discussions, dreaming of and missing Africa or running, punning and dancing through life, Zeabunking the lies of the world one reminder of God’s truth at a time. You can follow Kelly at@Kelifornialove28

We’d love to know how God is using theater in your life? Or what building blocks are helping you grow?

Until next time!

acting, audience, Blog, christian, christian blog, christian theater, communication, family, hope, planners, planning, theater, writing

Questioning My Purpose

I’m basically a very happy person. I’ll admit though–the last couple of years have been rougher than normal. I used the COVID shut down to sharpen some of my skills and pursue avenues that I normally don’t have time for. In some ways it didn’t work out for  me.

 

In trying to have a voice and encouraging others to “think for themselves”- I was attacked verbally for being in a “conservative bubble.” The person accused me of posting things that “weren’t true for the purpose of inflaming the population”. In the end, she unfriended me. I also had family issues that have not gone away. Why do I say all of that? Because in the midst of struggles you wonder what it is you are supposed to be doing in this world.

I am a daughter, wife, mother, grandmother, child of God, teacher, director, actor, author, planner, encourager, motivator, speaker, founder of a non-profit, proud American…. is there more? Maybe. I have always had big dreams.

Do I want more? That is such a difficult question. I am content.

I’ve been able to work in a non-paying job for years and not resent it because I felt so strongly about my purpose and I guess my “why.” (Although I’ve never put it into those words before.)

Why do I exist? Why has God allowed my to have another day on this earth? Am I doing all that He wants me to?

There are times that I feel that I can never be enough. I am swiftly reminded that God doesn’t NEED me, but that if I am willing He can and will USE me.

So, do I want more? YES! Because somehow there is a need in me to KNOW that I am making a difference.

Is that what humanity is all about? Even though we don’t want to be proud or want attention, we still have something inside us that needs to have a little attention. It is an endless cycle.

At times I feel like I came to the party too late. Sometimes I feel that the people that can influence others need to be younger and beautiful. Yet, there is a wisdom that comes from experience and as I live more of life I know that my speech becomes more bold and more confident.

My message? It’s not too late.

I think I always knew what my purpose was. I think I just wasn’t confident to own it.

In this upside down mess of a world we are living in can you say what your purpose is? What keeps you going? Who do you have influence over? Did the last few years make you forget? Make you afraid?

It’s not too late.

My parents used to tell me that for each and every experience I had in life there was someone that could learn from me and my journey. Amazingly enough, the tough experiences have been shared time after time. I can hear the voices of wisdom in my head as I share. The same will be for you. Turn your worse fears, hurts, disappointments and failures into life lessons for all of us. For every fear you face there are 100 of us who can learn from you.

Could that be WHY you faced the things you did? Because one of us might NEED you?

That’s why I write. That’s why I have theater camps. That’s why I started Overshadowed.

I’m sure there is a girl or boy out there that needs to know their voice matters. 

All you have to do is open your mouth and be willing to speak.

What is your why?

I believe in you!

I would love to hear your whys! Please take a moment to like, share and follow!

Until next time, this is just me, talking to you, from the wings!

Mom, Dad, Me and my children. Ages ago, but priceless memories

acting, artistic vision, audience, backstage, bible, Blog, christian, christian blog, christian fiction, christian theater, communication, directing, entertainment, family, theater

Was Francine Rivers WRONG to Make the Movie “Redeeming Love”?

Wrong? What do you mean wrong? ” You might be asking.

I’d like to ask if you think she actually sinned by making the movie….but I don’t want to be side tracked  by conversations about other people making their own choices.

The main point is this….even if you liked the movie, even if you could see that the movie is drawing people to God….is it RIGHT for a director to ask people to strip almost naked and act out sexual scenes for others to watch? 

Yes, you are responsible for the choices you make. You alone have to decide where the line is. I remember being told as a teenager that I needed to decide what my dating standards were before I went on a date because in a car was not the time to decide if I would or would not…..kiss, make-out, have sex.

The same goes for actors. I actually asked a potential Christian intern last year what their” line was.” They looked at me in complete bewilderment so I continued. “For example, what do you believe is wrong for you to do on stage…like would it be okay to be naked?” Their response? “I guess I’d do that. Depending on the context and purpose.”

Maybe that is the root of the problem.  What happened to us as Christians that some of us think it is not only okay to watch just about anything, but equally okay to actually be the one naked and “having sex.” ?

Is any of it sin?

I keep thinking of “Be careful little eyes what you see, for the Father up above is looking down in love.” and “never put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.” or in Mark 9:42, “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe to stumble, it would be better for him if, with a heavy millstone hung around his neck, he had been cast into the sea.”

So, was it wrong for Francine Rivers to allow others to be so naked (granted, she might have had a bandaid on) that to the world she APPEARS naked?  In fact, she wanted us all to believe she is naked. Further more, was it wrong for the two characters to imitate having sex, complete with movements and well, more….?

Just in case you think that Francine Rivers didn’t have a say once she sold her script, this is from a recent announcement with Penguin Random House:

Over the years with other options, the character of Michael didn’t come across the way it must. When Cindy Bond of Mission Pictures approached us, I decided to write a sample script of what I felt needed to be seen. I read a few books on how to write a script, loaded final draft onto my computer, and took a whack at it, never expecting they would use it. They bought it! When D.J. Caruso pursued the job of directing the movie, we worked together on the script. He restructured it and we strengthened scenes. It was a collaborative effort to bring a powerful redemptive story to the screen. I was also involved in the auditions and selection of the actors – especially Abigail Cowen and Tom Lewis, who played the leading roles. They are wonderful!”

In every other interview I’ve seen Rivers seems to be thrilled with the movie.

Last week I talked about the movie generally, you can read that post here: https://wp.me/p9JkzU-QT

Here is part two of our discussion:

Many thanks to Naomi Rogers and Rebecca Leland for their discussion and Rebecca for the editing and filming!

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject. Should Christians have “a line.”? Was Francine Rivers wrong? 

In recent years did you move your personal “line” for what you allowed yourself to watch or perform?

Is it time to move “the line” back?

Please like, follow and share this, it would mean the world to me!

Until next time this is just me talking to you from the wings–

Reba

acting, artist, artistic vision, backstage, bible, Blog, christian, christian blog, christian theater, communication, family, theater, theater education, theater professions

“Spilling the Tea” or What Drama Directors Hate

During Covid Overshadowed started an Instagram live. Rebecca Leland was our hostess and each week she would invite special guests on her show to talk about something behind the scenes at Overshadowed. We called it, “Spill the Tea.” She would add to the fun by sharing a tea or coffee recipe and other coffee trivia. It was a wonderful way to keep us connected at a time we couldn’t pursue live theater. Bonus: Rebecca Leland is a natural and such a joy to be around.

Recently, she had the chance to be part of the directing team at a local theater. I was curious to see if she learned anything as an actress from that experience–as my mom always taught me, “walk a mile in someone else’s shoes before you judge them.Wouldn’t the world be different if we all stuck to that motto?

As we got together for the latest episode of From the Wings, I was fascinated to see what she learned and see if she could make me a better director from her experiences.

I think we both agreed that an actor walks into the audition process completely unaware of what is going on in a director’s head and heart. I wish there was a way to help make the process seem less personal to the potential cast member. For me, it isn’t personal–I am simply trying to put together the best cast for my vision. You may be the best singer, but if you are 20 years younger than the best option for the guy you might have to play opposite of–then the pairing simply may not work. It isn’t personal against you–it is just a fact that the age difference might make it uncomfortable for the audience to watch.
It is difficult for a director to paint their vision for everyone, but trust me when we say, we really don’t want to hurt anyone and we want you to come back and audition again. I find it very sad when I don’t cast someone in the lead part they wanted for a particular musical and then they never audition for us again.   They might be exactly right for the lead in the next show, but we will never know because they didn’t come back because they took it personally.

It is easy to “THINK” you know what is in the mind of the director, but unless you ask, you cannot.
Bad mouthing the decisions a director makes shows that you think you know better. Perhaps you do, but your vision is not the director’s  vision and by tearing down the choices that a director makes only shows that you do not trust them and it tears down the whole experience for the rest of the cast as well. 
The best productions are ones that the cast is unified towards making the production a once in a lifetime experience.
This episode allows you to see just a little of what a directing team might be thinking. Perhaps if we could, “walk a mile in each other’s shoes.” we might come together to make some pretty amazing theatrical experiences!

I hope you enjoy it!
I would really love it if you subscribe to our YouTube channel.
Rebecca Leland, thank you for joining me on the show and thank you for all of your work filming and editing it!

Please feel free to post and share and I’d love to hear what you think about our thoughts!

Until next time!