acting, artistic vision, backstage, communication, entertainment, family, productions crew, theater, theater education, theater professions

One Way You Can Be A Better Actor

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.

Many thanks to Casey Bender, Al Gorr and Michael Larsen for joining our panel!



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.



acting, characterizations, entertainment, theater

Acting: The Art of Creating a Character

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.

Until next time,







acting, artistic vision, audience, communication, entertainment, family, theater

The Trial of the Chicago 7-“What’s Faith Got to do with It?”

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?”

Him: “Yes.”

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.”

Silence.

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?

  1. 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.”

Strike two.

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.

Uh. Oh. Read this article for just one of the many articles that will help you separate the movie from the real story. https://in.mashable.com/entertainment/17720/separating-fact-from-fiction-in-netflixs-the-trial-of-the-chicago-7

Now that I have won my case....

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!

This is just me talking to you–from the wings,

Until Next Time,

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FVb6EdKDBfU

 

acting, artistic vision, audience, christian, communication, entertainment, family, theater, theater education, theater professions

Why are You Drawn to the Spotlight? (And a New Announcement!)

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.

Until next time!

Are there dangers from wanting to be in the Spotlight?

acting, entertainment, theater

What is in Your Show Bag?

It is tech week for us here at Overshadowed. In fact, we only have one dress rehearsal left before we open again on Thursday. I say again because we are recreating the show that we were in the middle of when COVID shut us down. Now, you would think that would be an easy thing to do. Recreate. But honestly, five months off caused us to have to relearn and change.

So, happy opening Thursday!


In the meantime I started thinking about show bags. I pulled mine out two weeks before I needed it because I was so excited to need one again!

Yep. I have TWO!


I am always fascinated by what others pack. Here are a few things I feel are necessary.

1. Bobby pins, hair pins, metal pins, if you can name them, you need them! You really never know exactly when one of these will come in handy. Don’t worry about having too many. They don’t spoil and somehow….they always disappear.

2. Extra clothing for all extremes. Underwear, socks, hose, slippers, bathrobe or some cover-up, hoodie, leggings. Be prepared. Show conditions are just different and you don’t want to panic because you spilled or sweat through your cloths and other horrors that you don’t really want to face.

3. A first-aid kit. (I am notorious for borrowing. I never seem to have what I need) Here are a few thoughts. Bandaids, Advil (Or some equivalent) Antiseptic, throat lozenges, allergy medicine, ace bandage.

4. Snacks. Tech week has a history of having longer rehearsals than normal. Do yourself a favor and don’t forget to pack food. Please be respectful of a theater’s rule for what your can eat in costume!

5. Wet Wipes. This is a must! You can use them for so much! Make-up on your costume? Wet wipes. And the list goes on….

6. Notebook and pen. As a director I wish all actors would just write down the things I tell them. In the moment you might be convinced that you will remember, but let’s face it, if you write it down you will be able to review and be on top of your game come show time. It would make a good journal too so that you always remember how you were feeling during this show.

7. Deodorant. Please!

8. Cards or a game. Just in case.

9. Make-up bag. In this I include extra hair ties, Glasses or extra contacts.

10. Toothbrush and toothpaste, gum, mints. Again. Please!


I pack all of that and still have times that I wish I had thought of something else. A show bag is a necessity and luxury all rolled up into one.
What do you put in yours?

I’d love to hear what you think! Or even see a picture of your bag!

Until next time!

acting, characterizations, theater, theater education, theater professions

Acting and Living in the Moment

One of the most common phrases you will hear when you are acting is “Live in the moment.”

It is a command I’ve given as a director and one I’ve received as an actor. I have experienced moments that I was truly connected to my character and connected to everything that was happening on stage and other moments that I was thinking about everything that was happening around me instead of “living” the moment that the character was living.

My most embarrassing moment came during a production of “The Christmas Wish” an Overshadowed original play that we obtained permission to create from a book with the same title. (We got the idea from a Hallmark movie that carried the same name.) I played the Grandmother. I was trying hard not to direct in my head-which is quite difficult for me since that is the area of theater in which I have the most confidence. I walked onto the stage through the door that represented the living room of my character’s house. As I began to say my lines I noticed that the desk hadn’t made it’s way entirely onto the stage and was in fact now half way behind the wall attached to the door I had just entered. My director head noticed and immediately I panicked. I completely stopped listening to the lines that my “grandson” was delivering as I thought about how I was going to get the diary out of that desk. Important, because that was what the play was about. I knew I couldn’t get it out by myself and I didn’t want to do something as unprofessional as move the wall to make the drawer accessible. All of I sudden I noticed that Tim, the other actor, had stopped talking. I looked up at him. He looked at me quizzically. I waited a beat and shrugged my shoulders. Hopefully signifying what I was thinking. “Help! I got nothing!” It must have worked because Tim started talking and covered for me.

That moment has haunted me for years.

Why?

I was living in my moment. Not my character’s.

Living in the moment takes an extraordinary amount of concentration. You can totally be in the zone and all of a sudden you become aware of the audience and “Snap!” you are no longer in the moment. It is a very bizarre idea this goal of living in the moment, but the more you think about it the more it takes you out of the moment.

So how can you fix this problem?

  1. Concentration and relaxing exercises. Many beginning actors scoff at these exercises, but I find that the routine you establish is one of the most valuable practices you can have as an actor. We all have different areas that are more difficult to relax so you need to discover those for yourself and focus on those areas. For me, it is my neck and jaw. I need 15-30 mins before I go on stage. I start with relaxation exercises and work my whole body. Next, I listen to music that suits my character and begin to think, meditate, concentrate (Any of those that work for you) about my character. I try to really get into my head. Where is my character? What is she doing? All the things that lead me up to the moment I walk on stage.
  2. Listen. Many times I see actors that say their line, wait for the other characters to talk. They then breathe and then say their next line. Instead, listen to what the other characters are saying. Focus on what they are doing. React. Living in the moment means that you don’t “prepare” to speak. Instead, you hear the line and then respond in truth to it.
  3. Absorb your character and lines. As a director, I know that I am not going to really be able to push my cast until they know their lines. We discuss characters and blocking and relationships beforehand, but the real work comes when they start to commit everything to memory. Only then is the mind free to interpret. Before that it is struggling to learn, discover and remember. Magic is created when you know your lines so well that you don’t have to think about what comes next.

Some actors create from the outside in and others from the inside out. It doesn’t really matter what the process is as long as it is thorough and complete.

4. Don’t be mechanical. Some people prepare so much that they know exactly when they are going to gesture and how they will move. Some people get into such a rhythm that they always say each line exactly the same way. The danger in this is that you become a “rote’ character. You no longer “live in the moment” but instead you are just going through the motions instead of creating the motion yourself! I think that is my biggest struggle as an actor. I analyze constantly…”oh, I didn’t say that correctly” or “I wonder why the audience didn’t laugh at that” or a thousand other critiques. Concentrate on your character not on you!

Recently, I came across an article from an interview with Leslie Odom, Jr., who plays Aaron Burr, in Hamilton! In it he talks about the moment every night when Lin-Manuel Miranda, as Alexander Hamilton, hurled the insult that caused Burr to challenge Hamilton to a duel and ultimately, to kill him, simultaneously ending his own political career.

He said, “Every night, I’m looking for it in his eyes — I want him to make different decisions. I want it to end differently.”

That’s what it is all about. That is when you know you are completely in the zone. When you are so caught up in what your character is feeling that you actually want what your character wants, hope for it to be so, even though you know it can’t happen any other way.….welcome to “living in the moment.”

Did you like this article? I’d love to hear what you think or hear your acting stories!

I’d also love it if you’d follow me or share this article!

Until next time!

acting, communication, family, theater, theater education, theater professions

Auditions: The Journey Begins

Lilia’s first visit on my stage. The Guys and Dolls cast sang “Bushel and a Peck” to Logan because it is a song that I sing to him all the time.

Acting doesn’t run in my family. Well, at least it didn’t. My grandfather and most of my relatives are great storytellers, but as far as I know my cousin David and I are the only ones that turned to any form of acting, or directing as a profession.

Then I had children and they did what I never had the courage to do when I was young. They auditioned and had part after part in grade school and high school. Two of them went on and had parts in college as well.

All three of my children ended up in the speech/communication field. They all three have settled in different areas, but the foundation of speech and rhetoric I believe is at their very core.

I never pushed them to love speech, but I’m very proud that they did.

As you already know, I firmly believe in the power of speech and that God gave us the ability to use that powerful gift. It is a gift we must use wisely.

Flash forward several years (Ok maybe more than several, but time goes by quickly) and now my oldest daughter has taught college level speech classes and poured her love of speech and drama into a new generation.

Then, seven years ago, God gave her a new responsibility and she decided to hang up the college teaching for teaching Logan, her first born son, and several years later, Lilia.

I immediately began to count the years reminding her with each passing one….”Only six more years and Logan can come to theater camp at Overshadowed.” To which Becca would smile at me and say, “Oh, Mom, I don’t know if he would ever be interested in that.”

Then, this week happened. Someone asked Becca if she thought that Lilia was old enough to carry off a part in a musical. We weren’t sure, but seeing as the play isn’t until next year and Lilia will be a little older–Becca decided to explain the process to Lilia. (Who will be 5 next month.) At first, Lilia was NOT interested. Then Becca explained to her how much she loved being on stage and about her first part when she was in Kindergarten! Lilia was hooked.

But then, this story gets amazing. As Becca would teach Lilia the song she would point out notes or words or things that could make the audition better. Lilia would respond, “Ok, mommy, let’s do it again! I want to make it good.”

Proud grandmother, and director here. I gotta tell you. That’s rare.

Oh, that she would stay young and innocent. May she always want to do a good job and not be afraid of the work it takes to get there. May she have a teachable spirit and not be proud and haughty.

It’s tough to stay like that in a field like this.

Mother and daughter worked for over an hour. Keep in mind, Lilia was learning, music and words and character. Then, it came time to send in the video audition. Becca had arranged for someone to come play the piano so that she could film, but the pianist forgot. So Becca had to figure out how to record the audition. In the end, she decided that Lilia would just need to sing it without the accompaniment.

After a few takes they decided on this one.

Well, you know how auditions go. You start telling yourself it’s ok if you don’t get the part. You tell yourself that you might not be right for it. You convince yourself that there is a lot of work involved and maybe it’s better if you don’t get it. We all thought all those things.

But then, we thought about how cute she was and how directable she was and found ourselves hoping, but understanding.

The process didn’t take long. The next day we knew that the director had decided to go with an older girl. When Becca went to tell Lilia she thought Lilia would be ok because she hadn’t really wanted to do it in the beginning. But, when you work hard at something……

Lilia was quite sad and responded, “I’m never going to get to be in a play.”

All this time Logan, the sweet brother that he is, watched and encouraged, and even suggested they get Lilia ice cream that night.

At the end. He said he might want to be in a play sometime too.

Logan on his first day of school this year.

Well, that makes my heart really happy. So next year, I’m planning that they both come up for Overshadowed’s theater camp! Watch out, Illinois!

Here are my takeaways,

  1. Auditions are hard. No matter how much you prepare yourself you just might not be what the director wanted. Try to learn from it and be better next time. (Even though you might not get that part either.)
  2. You aren’t too young or too old. Get out there and try to do something you’ve always wanted to do, but maybe been afraid of. It’s ok. We are all rooting for you.
  3. Auditions take work. Don’t just stand up and sing a song you don’t know. Work at it. Prepare. Make it better. You’ll be better for it.
  4. Have confidence. Even if you didn’t have time to learn all the words. Sing it out and don’t make apologies for voice or time or anything. The casting panel has heard it all and starts to think of them as excuses.
  5. Lastly, always do your best. Try to have fun and whatever happens enjoy the rest of your day.

By the way, when I went to college I had a tremendously thick Southern accent. For only the third time in my life I got up courage to audition. The University had a group called the Classic Players , a group that did only Shakespeare at school. I performed Lady MacBeth’s monologue . You know the one? “Out, Out damn spot.” Now say it again, with a thick accent.

I never heard back other than they didn’t need me, but my cousin, David, (the other one in my family that I mentioned earlier) was on the casting staff. Leave it to the ones you love to tell you the truth.

David said they all held it together as they said good-bye to me…then almost fell out of their chairs laughing.

When someone tells you a story like that is there any wonder why you wouldn’t audition again?

But listen….my God wanted more for me. He continued to mold me and put the desires of theatre in my heart and now…now I can encourage others and make sure they understand how valuable they really are. I think that’s why auditions are so hard for me. I understand the disappointment. I understand the pain. I truly feel bad that I don’t have the room to give everyone a part or the part they want.

Lilia, you are going to be amazing one day….maybe as a dancer, maybe a singer, maybe a mother, but whatever it is you are incredibly special.

Logan, the same goes for you. How kind and loving you are. Always take care of your sister, but know that you are special in your own way as well.

I can’t wait to direct both of you.

One other thing….there is one small payback issue…..

Becca was talking to Logan about my theater. Logan replied, “Well, she doesn’t do that anymore right?”

Becca said, “Well, yes, that’s what she does. She directs. Why?”

Logan said, “I thought she was too old.”

Hmmmmm. Thanks.

Just so you all know. You are never too young or too old. Get out there and do it!

I’d love to know about your auditions! I’m really trying to grow my readers so if you enjoyed this please follow me and spread the word! Thank you!

Until next time,

acting, audience, christian, entertainment, family, thanksgiving, theater, theater education

The Generous Gift of Theater

The past few months we have learned a lot about ourselves.
Some of us have learned that some time alone is not necessarily a bad thing while others have learned that they never really appreciated the humans in their lives.
We have learned that differences can divide us. In fact, differences can cause hate and fear and bad behavior. In some cases, though differences can bring a needed change.
We have become reacquainted with family time.
We have learned what is important and what things we can do without.

Over the past two weeks Overshadowed held a theater camp. It was a smaller camp than we usually have. We didn’t have as many costumes or as many set pieces or props. We started the first day having to recognize each other just by our eyes and realized very quickly that it is indeed possible. We social distanced. The students were very quiet and almost lack luster. The teachers were concerned that camp wouldn’t be the same experience due to the restrictions we had due to COVID.

On Saturday, we finished with a performance of Music Man, Jr to an audience of 50. They loved it.

More importantly, the students loved it.
Here are some of the things they learned:
It doesn’t matter that the audience was small. They performed because they enjoyed performing and loved the experience even more.
It didn’t matter that the audience was small. The 50 people were there and out of the house and so our cast was going to give the audience the best experience they could.
It didn’t matter about the masks or social distancing. Our campers learned. They made new friends (close friends.) They created memories.
Some said it was their best theater experience ever.
I think I feel that way. It was incredibly special to walk out on that stage and look at the faces of an audience that was thrilled to sit in a seat with anticipation of being whisked away to River City.

I might have cried a little.

In our Bible study this week these verses stood out to me.

James 1:5 “If any of you lacks wisdom you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” You have no idea how I went back and forth about having camp. God gave the direction. Sometimes I don’t ask soon enough. I argue and try to figure it out…It’s not that I don’t want to bother God….but I act like that is my reasoning.
“In every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:6. Every situation. With Thanksgiving. Ok. God….I know I haven’t been all that thankful during this COVID mess. It is a lesson I should have learned a long time ago. Thank you, God, for blessing even when I don’t trust.
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights.” I Chronicles 16:11. God cares about you. He cares about your hobbies and your loves and your fears. For me and the audience and the families of those students, these past weeks were a gift. I will receive it humbly and thankfully.

God has been so generous to me these past weeks. I am so thankful.

Is theater a gift for you? What have you learned these past months? I’d love to hear your thoughts! Please leave a comment and share this blog if you think others would like it as well!

Until next time,

Overshadowed by His Love!

Reba

acting, audience, broadway, christian, communication, entertainment, family, intern, theater, theater education, theater professions

Theater Changed My Life.

There once was a girl. This girl was afraid of everything. She had recurring nightmares that were so vivid and horrible that she would sit up in her bed at night and be afraid to close her eyes. Her parents didn’t allow her to watch anything frightening because her imagination was so great that any suggestion of horror would torment her for days.

This same girl would hide in the shadows. She secretly wanted to be involved, be popular, try out for teams but the fear of failure was too great. Although she would rehearse at home she refused to let anyone know the secret desires of her heart.

Then, her aunt took her to see her first play. This same girl realized that in acting she didn’t have to show people who she really was. She could gather the strengths that she needed to audition or volunteer to get involved. She reasoned with herself that if she was rejected, people weren’t reacting to her– they were rejecting the “character” she was presenting to be.

I’m not exactly sure how old I was when I put words into how I realized that no one really knew who I really was. In fact, I once teased that I was going to write a book about my life called, “The Me Nobody Knows.” I’ll never forget the look on my friend’s face when I verbalized that. I know she thought she knew me, but she only knew the “Reba” I let the world see.

I think that revelation doesn’t shock too many people any longer because I continue to tell people how insecure I used to be…and how insecure I am.

Why?

Why do I feel the need to tell people those facts about me?

I think there are a lot of people in the world just like me. I never knew it when I was younger. But life teaches you that most people aren’t exactly who or what they seem. I think even if you have the skills and confidence I didn’t….you might still need to learn a little from the artists that make up theater.

Theater changed my life.

Theater helped me gain confidence. Theater taught me life skills. Theater gave me some of the closest friends I have.

God used theater in my life to create a theater for Him. I boldly try to reclaim this art form for His glory.

And…

(Those of you who have been reading my blog know what I’m going to say next,)

And then enter COVID.

I’m a little worried that in a world that the arts education is continually being eliminated from the educational system that theater/speech will once again be in danger of disappearing.

I recently learned of an organization. The Educational Theater Association. From what I understand this organization has spent the last months putting together a guide for schools that will help make sure theater in schools doesn’t disappear. They have thought through a whole host of questions and concerns and have pages to guide the teachers and schools. I am so thankful that the arts have people who advocate for them. If this is something you feel strongly about. Please share this organization with a teacher or school so that they can download the free guide. If you’d like to contact me I can give you a link for the guide.

This year thousands of students were unable to complete a normal year of studies. Many were unable to perform in productions in which they had spent many hours of preparation time.Experience lost.

And now what happens? Rumors are abounding about what happens to our students this fall. Will theater be back? Hopefully, people will lead the charge and express the importance of theater in the lives of their students.

I don’t know where I would be without it.

Alana Becker, Lauren Hoffman and me during summer camp!

About ten years ago Overshadowed started taking interns for the summer months. A couple of months ago, I thought that this year we would have to say no to that help. I am happy to report, we have THREE this year. Three interns that we will learn from, but also, we will be able to have an impact on. Three interns I will never forget! How do I know this? Because I’ve had so many of you leave a special place in my heart.

C.J. interned for us several years ago! It was a happy day when she moved back to work at Overshadowed!

Let the summer theater programs begin!!

Next week. Music Man thoughts!

I’d love to know what you think. Please leave me your comments or thoughts and don’t forget to share

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