When I first began directing over thirty years ago my team was made up of me…yep, just me. (I’ll bet some of you have been in that position!) My best friend, Sue, got talked into turning the lights on and off and I convinced a parent of one of the students to help make a few costumes. In my wildest dreams I never could imagine that I would be lucky enough to have the resources to have a stage manager!
In fact, at first, I simply had done things by myself for such a long time that I didn’t know what to do with a stage manager! Then, they became indispensable to me. I literally don’t know what I would do without one!
But what does a stage manager actually do?
A better question might be, “What don’t they do?”
Stage managers are in control of anything that happens from the front of the stage and back. They represent the director to make sure the production runs smoothly. They are liaisons between the director, actors, stage crew and technical team. They give support to the actors and anticipate their needs during performances.
( Kate Hart-stage manager of Noah!)
The stage manager and director often work together during rehearsals. The stage manager records blocking and notes for the actors and communicates what is decided during rehearsals to the rest of the team.
The stage managers responsibilities might include:
1) scheduling and running rehearsals
2) communicating the director’s wishes to designers and crafts people
3) coordinating the work of the stage crew
4) calling cues and possibly actors’ entrances during performance
5) overseeing the entire show each time it is performed
6) notifing cast and crew of rehearsal times. 7) Scheduling costume and wig fittings.
In the beginning stage managers can aid the rehearsal process by mapping out the set dimensions on the floor. They also provide props and furniture as soon as possible.
It is important for stage managers to attend as many rehearsals as possible. It becomes their duty to record all blocking, light and sound changes in a master copy of the script. This book is called a prompt book. This book becomes very important in technical rehearsals. If you are fortunate enough to be able to have a stage manager that calls cues, this prompt book will have all the information the stage manager needs to run the technical rehearsal. (Thus freeing up even more of the director’s time.)
I haven’t been able to “give up” any of my shows, but in professional theater the director’s job is over when a show opens. At this point the stage manager becomes responsible to carry out the the vision of the production until the production closes.
Each stage manager has different aspects they love and different aspects that are their strengths. Join me for this episode From the Wings.
In Matthew 27:55 it tells us that there were women at the crucifixion of Christ “looking on from afar” it also says that they had “followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to Him.” Those named in the different Gospels include Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons–Salome. In John 19:25 it says that the two of them were with Mary, the mother of Jesus who stood by the cross. Perhaps they were not allowed to come closer at first? Or perhaps they were afraid? But as time went on they came close enough to Jesus that He could speak to them.
Where were the apostles? Remember Peter? He denied Christ three times just as Jesus said he would. Most of the apostles fled and hid.
But these women had more courage than the disciples themselves…these women stood close and watched.
The mouth knows not how to express what sorrow they must have felt as they saw their Lord betrayed. How their hearts must have broken as they watched Him suffer. How can we conceive the hopelessness they felt as the world grew darker?
I know not what was in Mary’s head as she stood at the cross, but perhaps it went something like this:
She wasn’t sure how long it had been since she slept. Her eyes were swollen from all the tears and she was weary. The procession to the cross was full of emotion she did not understand. There was dread and excitement. The people began to cry out, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” She saw the soldiers and someone carrying the cross, and then…her son. “What was that on his head? There was blood…was it thorns?” She gasped as she saw the open wounds on his back. “My Lord, I do not know how to pray.” She continued to watch as they climbed up the hill and listened as the crowd grew to a maddening mob. “Crucify Him!”
The soldiers took Jesus and laid Him on the cross. She turned away as she realized they were going to hammer nails into his hands and feet to hold Him to the cross. When the pounding stopped she looked again and watched as the soldiers raised the cross and set it in place. Tradition held that He would need to hang there until His death.
“How long have I been standing here? It seems forever and yet time also seems to stand still. I can stand. I will not fall. I will be strong for Him…although He does not need me. I need Him. My Son. My Messiah.
Thirty-three years. It went so fast. Lord, I could never forget the angel that told me I would bare this son! I still don’t understand why I was chosen! I should have been afraid, but somehow You comforted me as the angel blessed me with the news of Jesus. Joseph. How amazing that he understood and became such a wonderful earthly father. The trip to Bethlehem. Did it really happen thirty-three years ago? The star. The stable. The shepherds. “
Mary forgets where she is for a moment and smiles at the thought of Jesus at twelve. “We had gone to Jerusalem to pay our taxes and had started home. We traveled a whole day before we realized he was gone. We had to go all the way back to Jerusalem to find him. Finally after three days we found Him in the temple sitting among the teachers. I didn’t understand at that time what He meant when he answered us, ‘Why were you searching for me? Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?'”
She looks up at her son hanging on the cross and her smile fades. Mothers always want to save their children from pain and protect them. She shakes her head. “Oh, Father, Your son has never done harm to anyone! And now he hangs…nailed to a cross! What was the crime? Jesus who taught scriptures, healed the sick and even….think of it…raised the dead. What was the crime? He said He was the son of God.”
Mary reaches over and grasps the hand of her best friend, Salome, who is lost in her own thoughts. She catches the eye of John who stayed by her side. Then she looked up at her son again just in time to hear Him say,
“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” She also heard him say to John, “John, behold your Mother.” and then to her, “Mother, behold your son!” Tears filled her eyes again. How could He be thinking of her while in such pain??
“My God! My God! Why hast thou forsaken me?”
“Soon, God, please do not let Him suffer longer.” Mary watched as Mary Magdalene stepped forward, watching in disbelief. Salome reached for Mary Magdalene and the three of them held each other close sharing their raw emotions and comforting each other in a way only those who share pain can.
“Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit. It is finished.“
Mary thought, “Finished? No more beatings or death or pain or suffering. Finished.” And in the next horrific moment a soldier plunged his spear into Jesus’ side and water and blood flowed down his side.
She watched as Jesus’ body was lowered from the cross. “Where will they take Him?” She listened as Joseph of Arimathea offered a tomb. She watched as he and Nicodemus gently lay Jesus in the tomb.
“Too soon, O Lord! I cannot make sense of it all! The angel told me He would be King of Kings! Savior to our people! But, He’s gone. Hope is gone.”
As the sun sets it begins Sabbath so they all need to return home. Home that will never be the same again.
It was difficult for Mary and others to understand what Jesus had tried to teach them– for the exciting thing about His death is that He did not stay dead, but arose from the dead on the third day. For this reason, hopelessness is turned into hope and despair is turned into joy. It is not the end, in fact, it is the beginning!
They only needed to wait a few days to discover the rest of the story.
What about you? Do you know that Jesus is alive today interceding to the Father for us?
What about you? Are you able to stand firm and keep your eyes of Jesus even when you do not understand?
What about you? Are you able to find hope in “the Father’s business”?
What about you? Do you follow Jesus at a distance? Or do you have the courage to draw close and make others aware of your faith?
What about you? Will you run to tell others the joyful news, “He is risen! Let us worship Him.”
One interesting fact to note. The women didn’t cave to fear. They didn’t run away. They were first at the tomb on Sunday. Nothing could keep them away, not fear of death or punishment from soldiers.
My learning curve for social media has been much slower than most people’s.
I started off being afraid of it because I was taught not to trust all the people that were getting information about me.
Then I was afraid no one would ask to be my “friend” or “follow me.”
It wasn’t until way down the line that I realized it was okay to just be who I am and spread my message to the people who want it.
Even if it is only one person.
During the shut down this past year I tried to learn and follow the suggestions of countless mentors and advisors.
1) Start a blog.
2) Have a personal Instagram account as well as a business account. (reba.hervas)
3) Start a personal YouTube account.
Because Reba is different that Overshadowed. Yes, there is a merge most of the time, but advisors teach that it is important for me to have my own name recognition in order to have another road that leads to Overshadowed.
But again, I was advised to not be discouraged by what we have done, but to constantly strive to be better the next time. (Which fits in with our mission at Overshadowed) I think we’ve done that and I’m happy that we are finding our rhythm. Hopefully, we will continue to grow.
Now, I was advised again, who are you?Why should people watch this? What are you all about and why do people need to subscribe to your channel?
Mr. Perry, thank you for investing your love of drama in hundred’s of students at Kinston High School. Thank you, for noticing a student like me and introducing me to a world of theater. To Mr. Unknown Tech, thank you for your life-changing words of wisdom.
To all of you: Remember, your speech is a valuable gift. Use it wisely. Be empowered by the unique gift that you have been given. You are truly blessed.
If you want to thank a speech teacher somewhere you can start by following my blog and my YouTube channel and I’d love it if you’d share this message as well!
Until next time, this is just me talking to you from the wings.
Meet Guest Blogger Anna Johansen Brown! I’m excited to introduce this charming, cleaver, talented writer to all of you!
Anna Johansen Brown is a current journalist, former debate teacher, and eternal nerd. She writes for a daily news podcast called The World And Everything In It and the topical podcast Effective Compassion. In her free time, she creates fantasy worlds and plays DnD with her fellow nerd husband, Wesley. One day, Anna aspires to become a dog owner.
My husband has been educating me on Star Wars. I think he sees it as his duty to make me a well-rounded individual who fully appreciates cultural icons. And while I’ve seen the original trilogy, I’ve never watched Revenge of the Sith…or that one about the clones…or that other one whose name I can’t remember.
So we’ve been watching them together. And I have thoughts.
My first takeaway was that battle droids are adorable. Why did no one tell me this before? But my second takeaway was the dialogue. Like this infamous line, delivered by a mawkish Anakin: “I don’t like sand. It’s coarse and rough and irritating, and it gets everywhere. Not like you. You’re everything soft and smooth.”
NOBODY TALKS LIKE THAT.
Or if they do, you probably should be running away fast.
So I started thinking about dialogue, and how crucial it is in maintaining immersion for viewers or listeners or readers.
In real life, people are unscripted and say “um” and “uh” and “like” and “y’know”…and they really don’t drop similes into ordinary conversations. In real life, people fumble for words and speak in sentence fragments. They’re unscripted.
The way people talk also tells you something about their background. Certain words are unique to certain locations. (Y’all, anyone?) The words people choose indicate what they like to read and where they grew up and who they hung out with. So for writers, getting dialogue right is important. It’s important for general realism (your characters shouldn’t sound scripted, even though they are), and specific realism (your characters shouldn’t use words they wouldn’t know or have heard in their context).
When I started writing for a news podcast, I had to learn the difference between print and radio. In print, you can cram lots of details and clauses into a sentence. Like this frontpage Washington Post article from the mid-2000s:
“President Bush yesterday said he takes responsibility for the federal government’s stumbling response to Hurricane Katrina as his White House worked on several fronts to move beyond the improvisation of the first days of the crisis and set a long-term course on a problem that aides now believe will shadow the balance of Bush’s second term.”
Perfectly acceptable print sentence. But try reading that out loud. It doesn’t work.
For one thing, it’s too long. Normal people don’t speak in long, full sentences with correct clauses and subclauses. They use short sentences.
It also doesn’t make sense the first time you hear it. When you’re reading something, you can go back and re-read parts of a sentence or paragraph that you missed the first time through. If you’re speaking or reading to someone, you only get one shot.
So for stage and for radio, you have to translate it into something speakable. When I write scripts, I’m constantly saying the lines out loud as I type, to see if it feels natural. Once, my editor flatly refused to include “transmogrification” in a script because who says that in real life? (Well, maybe you’re writing a character who happens to be a super nerd. If so, you can use transmogrification in their dialogue. I’ll allow it.)
Bottom line: Choose words that your character would actually say. And that means you have to know who you’re writing about. Spend time with that demographic. Listen to how they speak, their sentence structure, their slang, their word choice, their pronunciation.
Kids don’t think in abstract terms, so don’t write in deep moral thought processes for your 6-year-old character. Women tend to say “I feel like [insert opinion here]” more than men do. Americans don’t call elevators “lifts,” and Brits don’t call an eggplant an eggplant. They call it “aubergine.”
So listen and mimic. But…only to a certain extent.
You want dialogue to sound natural, but the same time, you don’t want to write in all the ums and uhs and filler words so common in real-life conversations. That would bog down a script and sap all your artistry. There is a place in between ordinary conversations and scripted dialogue. That’s the sweet spot. National Public Radio calls it “speech that has been washed and pressed.” You mimic natural speech without being strictly accurate.
You can use rhetorical devices in scripts and dialogue. Scripted lines can (and should) have flow and rhythm and lyricism. But if you read it out loud (or have a 6-year-old read it out loud, or a Canadian, or a 40-year-old man, or whoever your character is most like), it has to sound like something they would actually say.
Whoever is voicing or reading your script will thank you. And if you do your job right, your audience probably won’t even notice, because they’ll be immersed in the characters and setting. There won’t be any sand…that coarse, rough, irritating stuff that gets everywhere…to distract them.
Have you ever performed in a play where the dialogue was difficult? Do you have certain authors that just make everything sound natural? I’d love to hear from you!
Until next time–this is just me-talking to you from the wings!
I am so excited to share this post from our guest blogger today! Meet Julie Gernand! I’m thankful to have her as a part of Overshadowed and blessed to have her as a friend!
Today’s guest contributor, JULIE GERNAND, is wife to Ted and mom to Benjamin (3) and Peter (5 months). She has been seen on the OTP stage in the summer 2016 musical Guys and Dolls and was honored to choreograph both I’ll Be Seeing You (winter ‘17) and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (summer ‘18). She currently resides in Oswego, IL and enjoys teaching theatre classes for Heritage Homeschool Workshops and diving into her new passion of bringing joy to others through weekly online Zumba dance fitness classes. You can join her live on Facebook every Tuesday evening and Saturday morning!
Doing YOUR THING Matters.
I think it’s really important to find “that thing”. You know what I’m talking about. “That thing” that brings you joy in ways nothing else does. The creative outlet, class, hobby, or interest that makes you YOU. For my husband, it’s Cadillacs and baseball. Not necessarily in that order.
For me? It’s theatre.
The fact that you’re reading this blog today probably means that you have an interest in theatre too. Is it “your thing” too? In my case, I didn’t realize this about myself until about 7th grade. I was cast as Kate, an orphan in the musical Annie, Jr. with a small theatre group that met at a local dance academy. Sure, I had been in some hodgepodge church productions and elementary school music-class plays (for which my mom has saved every playbill and script in memoriam…anyone else?) but this was my first “big deal” role. I knew I liked being on stage, but it wasn’t until this musical that I felt it. The goofy camaraderie among the cast. The butterflies of that moment just before the curtain opened. The “going out to dinner with your show makeup on” sort of giggly pride. I really felt like I had found my people.
Among these things, one moment that shaped this experience for me was during a live performance. We were performing the scene in which the orphans sing “It’s a Hard Knock Life” and perform an angsty dance with a rolling laundry basket when the musical accompaniment track suddenly cut out. The bunch of us, all elementary and middle school girls, were left to finish the song a cappella. I remember looking around, making knowing-glances at the other girls as we just kept singing. I mean, “the show must go on”, right!? Part of the true joy and magic of live theatre is learning what to do when mishaps occur, because they will. We threw Molly into the laundry basket, hit our final pose, and left the stage. I was so proud to be part of that cast as our director hugged us after the show, who through tears congratulated us for finishing that song strong and without missing a beat, as though nothing had happened to the music. From then on, I was pretty hooked on this musical theatre thing.
I’ve recently read a book (That Sounds Fun by Annie F Downs – highly recommend) in which the author talks about the importance of doing something that you love, even if you’re not the best at it. In our world, we often think we have to be a professional at something to be doing it at all. This point resonated with me. Maybe it resonates with you, too.
The thing about my love of theatre was… well, I wasn’t the best at it. Sure, I had sung in our church’s children’s choir for a few years at that point and had a knack for silly faces, but I certainly wasn’t the singer they would choose to be the lead in any show, nor was I an exceedingly convincing actress at 13. But as I think back on this topic, I remember what my third grade teacher told my mom at a parent teacher conference: “Julie thinks she has to know everything before we’ve covered it. She needs to realize she is learning!” If I hadn’t found some brave part of me I’m not sure how I found, I never would have tried out for that musical. Well, I do know how I found it. God, in his kindness, gave me the gumption to try something that pushed me out of my comfort zone. Over time, I became better at this craft, and found my true-love niche of musical theatre, dance. The passion I found as a braces-wearing, awkward middle schooler became my college major, and eventually part of my career.
But sometimes, our passions don’t become our career. At OTP, so many performers hold daytime jobs that have nothing to do with performing arts, but they craft and mold their passion for theatre on the Medinah stage. This matters. Because it brings joy. Doing what you love will automatically bring joy to your own soul and to others sheerly because you love it. It will start to spill over, this thing you love. Sure, it may lead to bigger and better opportunities, but sometimes our joy is just our own. But I believe your thing is a reflection of the creativity and beauty of God. We get to see a little bit of the beauty of his creation through your passion. And that makes a difference, professionals or not.
What is your “thing”? Is it theatre? Building sets? Writing scripts? Share it with us!
This week I looked out over an audience of only 38 people. We are allowed 50, but Illinois had a huge snow storm and some of our audience decided not to come.
I always stand in the corner of the balcony at curtain call and glance over to see the audience’s reactions. Will they give the cast a standing ovation? Will they grudgingly stand or enthusiastically reward the cast for their performances? Were they moved by the performances or bored silly?
This past Saturday the cast of Noah! finished the first part of an extended run. We had performed for three weeks. We will now take three weeks off and then come back ready to perform again. Covid restrictions has reduced us from allowing 198 audience members to only 50. It is really empty in there.
(Photo by Francisco Montes)
This show is emotional and tiring and these eight characters give it their all. In fact, so does the technical crew, stage crew, box office and front of the house. So when I saw the audience enthusiastically stand to applaud, I was thrilled. We all worked as hard for 38 people as we would have for 198.
I felt a little badly for them. As an actor, director, we all want sold out, full houses. It is so quiet in the theater with such a small house.
Don’t get me wrong! We are super thrilled to be able to perform! But, what would it be like if night after night we could have the audience of 198? It might not change the performance, but would it change us?
Acting involves a great deal of collaboration from many people. As you build/create your characters you also build/create a relationship with the other cast members. The costumes add a layer to your performance as the hair/make-up and tech also does. Live theater is important because you must be FULLY PRESENT with another group of FULLY PRESENT people to truly be authentic. And especially after this past year, I believe that live theater is not only good and enjoyable, but also necessary for the human spirit.
Theater reminds us that we are not alone. We share each experience with the audience and actors. We connect. Actors and audience agree for a time period that we will take a journey together. Perhaps we will laugh, perhaps cry, but we will do it together.
Live theater is never the same. The script is the same and the actors are consistent. But acting is reacting so if one actor has a little different emotion or reaction it might cause the next actor to react differently. It is a unique experience each night.
Live theater allows us to forget, laugh, weep and many other emotions. For just a brief moment in time we are insulated and can forget the troubles of our days and lives.
So why do we do theater?
Because we want to be that person that can share that experience with a room of strangers. I heard recently that audience’s hearts beat together as one. I’m not sure how that was proven, but if it is indeed true it is a beautiful thought. We are sharing a moment that is so unique that will never be the same. We also want to be that performer that makes the woes of the world disappear.
If that is true, then changing even one person’s life is worth it all.
Large audiences might be a rush, but there is an intimacy in a smaller one. The person is the same. Let’s connect. Let’s take this journey together.
Why do you do theater? How do you feel about performing for small audiences? How does it make you as an audience member feel?
I’ll never forget my first live theater experience.
My aunt took me to see Showboat at the local high school. As I sat in the audience I was completely drawn in by the sounds of the orchestra tuning. I felt the excitement of the parents and friends as they were ushered to their seats and I was entirely a part of the story as the dancers, actors, and singers performed.
There was more that I didn’t see. I didn’t see the people who designed and constructed the set , costumes, light, sound. I didn’t see the people who moved the set and props to make sure each scene was staged perfectly.
That’s true of so many of us. Do you believe you have to choose between either being on the stage or behind the scenes?
I’d like to encourage you to do both. What can you learn by working in some other capacity of the theater?
1) You get to watch as the actors work. You can learn from the experience others are gaining. Also experiencing the show from off stage sometimes gives clarifying moments of the element of storytelling that you might miss when you are focused on your own acting on stage.
2) You learn about all the jobs and responsibilities of the production crew. Work on the sound or light crew and you will understand why it is important to take mic checks seriously. Or work a long tech rehearsal and you will see why it is so important to be quiet when asked or be serious to get the job done.
3) You learn to respect others. You learn why it is important not to touch other props or to put yours back where it belongs. You learn that it is important to respect the people who do so much for you backstage. Maybe it will remind you to say thank you to each of them.
4) You will make new connections. Collaboration is one of my favorite aspects of theater. Making new connections is a benefit.
5) You might learn new skills. Not everyone comes into theater knowing how to sew or work tech, but be involved with these super talented people might give you the chance to learn and who knows maybe you will end up using that new skill in your life. Your focus might be acting, but there is creativity to learn from everywhere.
6) You get to see the show from a different perspective. When you see the show night after night you hear when people say a line a different way. I actually have people that don’t get certain jokes at first, but after hearing something over and over they begin to understand the humor! You see how the other elements (such as lighting) either aids the story or distracts from it.
Recently, I asked several of Overshadowed’s favorite actors/volunteers to share their experiences from a backstage perspective.
If you haven’t spent any time working in an area behind the scenes I hope you will find a place to help out. Here are just a few of the skills I think you will gain:
1) Concentration 2) Organizational skills 3) Confidence 4) Problem solving
The benefit? All of those skills help you ON-STAGE as well.
What are your favorite parts of theater? I’d love to hear from you!
As always, a special shout out to Brianna Valentine, Rebecca Leland and Yohannan Lee for their wisdom, talent and time spent to make this video!
Until next time-this is just me-talking to you-from the wings.
Who are the truly great actors of our generation? And what makes them great?
It is easy to imitate a character or even an emotion, but is there realism in that? Can you do it again?
Creating realistic characters comes from knowing the character inside and out. This comes from a process of devouring the text/script. Learn everything you can about the character: what they look like, what their history is, how they think, feel, respond. Study everything that the script says about them and everything they say about themselves.
Aim to play this person as truthfully as possible. Don’t merely create a caricature. Be real. So many times people just recite lines. That isn’t acting at all.
I’m sure you have heard these questions before: 1. Who am I? 2. Where am I? 3. When is it? 4. Where have I been? 5. Where was I just before entering? 6. Why am I in the scene? What do I want? 7. Why do I want it? 8. What is this scene without me? 9. How will I get what I want? 10. What stands in my way?
Acting takes work. Consider having a notebook and recording all the answers to the questions above.
Next research history. What does history say about this time period or topic? What were politics, art, literature, foods, fashion and even religion like? Cut out pictures and descriptions and fill your notebook with those images.
You will not be able to find every detail about the character you have been given the responsibility to portray. So after you have finished your research, use your imagination to fill in the details and bring your character to life.
Use research and imagination together. Never use one without the other.
Once in awhile an actor comes along who is truly great. You can’t always teach someone how to become a good actor. But using this technique will help start the process.
Sometimes getting to know a character takes more time than others. Recently, Overshadowed was two weeks into a performance run when COVID shut us down. Months later we reopened to finish our run. Our characters changed. Why? We had more time to really get to know them. We thought about them for months. Also, we changed. I saw the desperation of Carrie Watts through different eyes.
We talk about that experience in a new episode of our new You Tube channel.
We are still trying to grow our You Tube so that people at least can find it when they search. We have been told that we need more subscribers before that will happen. Would you take a moment to join us?
Do you have a chosen technique to assure that your character is real? I’d love to hear about it.
Here’s to moments on the stage that leave the audience breathless. Let’s create them together.
When COVID shut our country down months ago, my husband and I found ourselves in front of the TV night and after night. When we determined that this crisis was not going to go away anytime soon, we started to try to figure out how to change what we were watching as well as breaking it up so that we weren’t just watching mindless TV EVERY NIGHT.
We established Friday night movie night. He brings home a nice take-out dinner and I pick three movies for him to choose from. Then we have Sunday night documentaries–look at us being all educational!! I usually let him pick that as well.
This past Sunday our conversation went something like this:
Me: “Do you know what documentary you want to watch tonight?”
Me: “Okay. Which one?”
Him: “The Trial of the Chicago 7.”
I had seen that advertised and knew that it was something I wanted to check out, but hadn’t had the chance to do it yet so….
Me: “Great! I thought that looked interesting too.”
Fast forward five minutes into the movie.
Me: “This doesn’t seem like a documentary to me.”
Me: “You pulled a fast one, didn’t you? This is a movie.”
Him: “Yes. I wanted to see it. And it’s a little like a documentary.”
Uh No. No, it isn’t.
What is the difference?
Actors. Generally, documentaries use real people in real situations to tell a story. (Sometimes they do reenact the stories as well.) Films use actors. And man, was the acting good in this one.
Fantastic Beasts star Eddie Redmayne plays anti-war activist Tom Hayden. Sacha Baron Cohen assumes the role of fellow protester Abbie Hoffman. The Black Panther Party co-founder Bobby Seale is portrayed by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (Watchmen), and Snowden’s Joseph Gordon-Levitt is prosecuting lawyer Richard Schultz. Throw in Frank Langella and Micheal Keaton and you see this cast of full of acting power! Their characters were believable and realistic. That alone made the movie worth watching!
2. Escape vs. Reality. The general purpose of a film is to entertain. Documentaries are meant to inform or confront the audience with reality. Now, granted, documentaries want to engage their audience and a movie can be informative, but what is the motivation?
Sorkin’s film, hit Netflix on Oct. 16 and tells the story of the riots at the 1968 Chicago Democratic National Convention and the circus-like trial of political activists that followed the next year. Research seems to indicate that Steven Spielberg first mentioned the idea to Sorkin in ideas of themes–civil unrest, politics, police brutality, tensions in all political areas –over 14 years ago.
“I never wanted the film to be about 1968,” Sorkin says in an interview with Hollywood Reporter, I never wanted it to be an exercise in nostalgia or a history lesson. I wanted it to be about today. But I never imagined that today would get so much like 1968.”
3. Fact or Fiction. Movies are usually mostly fiction. They can be based on actual events or people, but elements get added and directors admittedly take creative license. Documentaries are non-fiction. The director might shape it a certain way, but they don’t add elements to the stories.
Was it good? Yes. And if the purpose was to get me to know more about this historic event, it succeeded. It was brilliantly written. The dialogue between the judge and Abbie Hoffman alone is worth the watch.
If the purpose was to awaken me to the horrors of police brutality and racial injustice it failed. Not because it didn’t show events that were horrific because it did and at first I was outraged. Taking a deeper look troubled me.
I believe part of the problem with our culture right now is that we have lost understanding of the truth. Our leaders, social media, politicians, news outlets– shout their story–twisting just a little bit here or there until we either follow blindly or turn our minds off because it is too overwhelming. Once in awhile there is the brilliant person who can make sense out of the whole mess. Why take a story that was deeply rooted in police brutality, racial injustice and twist it to make it worse? The story itself was terrible.
In twisting and adding to the story, I believe you make it a fictional story. One that we need not take seriously. There is a huge danger to that because indeed, it is a story that needs to be told. There is another danger, and that is that we allow ourselves to be shaped by what entertainments sources tell us or what us to believe instead of digging and learning the truth. People, there is power in the truth! FIND IT!
Many of the protesters were in response to the Vietnam War. As I write that, my fingers refuse to type for a few more moments. My dad and countless number of his friends fought in that war. I’ll never forget standing next to him at one of the Vietnam Walls as he searched for the names of his friends. My dad was a hero. My dad and countless others served, fought, bled and some died so that we could have freedom. I know the protestors had their reasons to be against the war, but where would we be now without all of our heroes who bled and died for our freedoms?
This year has been a struggle. We all know the reasons and we all know how we have responded.
What have we come to, America? What have we come to, Christians? Do we rise up to stop bullying, slander and injustice….untruth?
Are you part of it? Do you speak out? Or has fear caused you to “hide your light”?
I know I have been all over the place with this post, but I believe this is a story that needs to be told.
Several years ago our church was in a bad place. About ten of us decided to start a Bible study outside of the church. We read the book, Crazy Love. If you haven’t read it, do it. It will change your life when you get a small picture of how much God loves you.
Anyway, one of the ladies told us that she was going to begin to pray for a certain thing to happen that would allow our church to heal. We all laughed at her. Seriously.
But she kept praying. And praying. We told her that God was big enough for that to happen, but we didn’t think He would grant us that answer. But still she prayed. With faith. Nothing wavering.
And the prayer was answered. And then she started praying for the next step in the healing process and… well, you understand.
Maybe it’s time for us to become reacquainted with our faith and the power of prayer. It might be a really good time to drop to our knees and ask God for help, grace, mercy and compassion.
Who is with me???
P.S. Watch The Trial of the Chicago Seven. I’d love to know what conclusions you come to!
When the clock tolled to ring in 2020 I would have told you that I was very happy with what the year was probably going to look like. Overshadowed had grown. We had a new group of volunteers. We made changes to have some of our newer volunteers take ownership in areas that we consider ministry. I had become a better planner and marketeer. We had a record number of season ticket holders and a fantastic season planned. In short, we had met every one of our goals for the year!
And then COVID. (I know. You are sick of hearing me say that, but honestly I have no other words.)
When COVID shut us down I went through almost depression. I lost my focus. I honestly didn’t have any idea what God wanted me to do.
Slowly, I started to use the time to LEARN. I joined Ken Davenport’s THE THEATER MAKERS. I took an instagram class (Not quite finished with that yet.) And I attended (Virtually) a Writer’s convention (She Writes For Him). All of this was life-changing for me. It sharpened my focus and gave me a little drive to put things into place so that I can be a better leader when we fully open again.
The most important lesson I learned? My voice hasn’t been silenced. I may not get to act/direct right now, but whether I write an email or a blog post…it is still my voice. God gave me lessons and stories–I should share them.
Lesson Two. I’m behind social media wise. I knew that of course, but if I want people to hear me I was told I have to catch up. So. I was encouraged to start a You Tube Channel. This was a big jump for me, but a group of very inspirational people gave me some great advice. Here’s hoping that together we can create content that will inspire others. By the way, it will really help me if you become a subscriber. At present, From the Wings doesn’t even show up in a search. Help!
My blog will still be once a week. My YouTube will probably be more like once a month. Today’s blog contains the first video. As an actor it is important to know the purpose of the spotlight, but are there dangers that you can avoid?
I hope you will support me in this new venture! Please make sure you become a subscriber! If there are topics you’d like to hear us explore please let me know!
I’d like to give a special thanks to Aaron Brewster and Abby Wilken for creative wisdom. I’d like to thank Yohannan Lee for his design of my new logo and for his help and artistic wisdom in getting everything set up. I’d like to thank Mike Larsen and Rebecca Leland for their support in lighting and recording. I’d like to give special thanks to Brianna Valentine for her leadership, organization, and direction and editing. I am so fortunate to have an incredible team.
As always the more you talk about what we have going on here-the more other people will hear.