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!
“Why, if you are interested in the country only for the sake of painting it, you’ll never learn to see the country.”
“No, You’re forgetting,” said the Spirit. “That’s not how you began. Light itself was your first love: you loved paint only as a means of telling about light.”
“Oh, that was ages ago,” said the Ghost. “One grows out of that. Of course, you haven’t seen my later works. One becomes more and more interested in paint for its own sake.”
“One does, indeed. I also have had to recover from that. It was all a snare. Ink and catgut and paint were necessary down there, but they are also dangerous stimulants. Every poet and musician and artist, but for Grace, is drawn away from love of the thing he tells, to love of the telling till, down in Deep Hell, they cannot be interested in God at all but only in what they say about Him. For it doesn’t stop at being interested in paint, you know. They sink lower-become interested in their own personalities and then in nothing but their own reputations.“
–C.S.Lewis. The Great Divorce (pp. 78-70)
And that’s really what it’s all about, isn’t it? We have to fight to still be interested in God. We rationalize and reason and the next thing you know we don’t even see the snare.
It is a very interesting world we live in . More opportunities and technology than you could ever imagine. Entertainment has been redefined and envisioned and is BREATHTAKING. What is your responsibility? Do we have one?
I say, yes.
Just like God has given us responsibility and wisdom to take care of our earthly world and nature to perserve it while we are here–I think-He wants us to redeem entertainment for Him as well.
How do we do that? Where is the line on what is Okay to see and portray if it is done for Him?
Join the discussion here:
Thank you Rebecca Leland and Katie VanderKooi for being such wonderful guests!
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.
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?
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:
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?
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!
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!
This past week I settled in to watch the movie, “Being the Ricardos” that is now streaming on Amazon Prime. I had seen trailers and was pretty excited to see it. Why?
Two Reasons- I love stories/movies based on real people. I think they are fascinating as much for the historical truth as well as the creative perspective. Secondly, I Love Lucy. Seriously, I have long been a fan. When I was younger I didn’t care how many times I watched Lucy and Ethel stuff candy in every nook and pocket of their clothes. I watched with great joy as Tennessee Ernie Ford guest starred along with countless other stars. It was hilarious to watch Lucy, week after week, conniving to “act, dance, perform, sing.” Perhaps I was inspired by her.
Later, I watched “The Lucy Show” and again was mesmerized by her flawless attention to detail and her incredible comedic timing. Her facial expressions are entrancing and again, I was inspired by her. Years later I found out that Lucille Ball was actually kicked out of acting school!
In her autobiography, Lucy tells that all the teachers praised a big-eyed blonde in class, yet never cared for her (Lucille). Well, I guess that was understandable because that blonde was Bette Davis!
The acting school said that Lucy didn’t have talent! They kicked her out saying that it was a complete waste of money for her to continue her studies! What would you do if your school wrote you such a letter?
Yet…this would- be actress, that was told she didn’t have talent, changed the course of American TV along with her husband Desi. There is a huge void in the world without her lighting up the screen. This became clear to me as I watched Nicole Kidman portray this icon. (By the way, Kidman did an incredible job she just was the wrong person to play this role.) However, to me, what I really saw was the brillance of Lucille Ball. There was a scene in the movie that Kidman is recreating a scene in “I Love Lucy. “You might be familiar with the scene where Lucy smashes grapes. I can almost see it in my mind even now. Lucy’s facial expressions communicated every emotion and thought that she was thinking in that vat. Seeing Kidman, I was struck with how incapable anyone is when trying to recreate what Lucille Ball did. It wasn’t even close. Sadly, she didn’t seem to have the energy that Lucille Ball was known for and ugh, I’m not sure if the prosthetics made her unable to move her face or if she just didn’t, but how can you play Lucy if YOU DON’T MOVE YOUR FACE??
Don’t get me wrong. I still really enjoyed “Being the Ricardos“, but I also learned why I love her so much. So here is what I learned from loving Lucy then and now.
You cannot copy comedic genius. You can learn from it, but you cannot clone it. There was and will always be only one Lucille Ball.
Don’t let someone else crush your dreams. If I had received the letter Lucille Ball received from the acting school I am positive I would have given up on acting. The world is thankful that Lucille Ball didn’t give up. So, a little known story… I was rejected pretty early at the college I attended. So much so, that I was afraid to really put myself out there. I caved and pursued speech education instead. I didn’t want to be told that I wasn’t good enough and at that time my advisor was trying to talk me out of theatrical productions saying things like, “How would you ever support yourself if you had no husband or he died?” (That’s a whole different discussion for another day.) Basically he frightened me into not trying. I wish I had known Lucille Ball’s story at that time.
Work the details of a scene. I loved the scenes that showed Lucille Ball thinking and visualizing each scene to make sure “it worked.” Details matter, and if you, as the director take the time to work on the details of a scene, it will be more believable to the audience.
You don’t have to be the star of the show. Lucille Ball was once called the “queen of the B movies.” She didn’t say no to parts because she felt that she could always learn something from each experience and that it was a good way to make connections and get her name out. I think many times we miss the best roles of our lives because we want to be the star.
You aren’t too old. Lucille Ball got her own show when she was almost 40. Sure, I’m older than that…but I’m no Lucille Ball…I can wait a few more years!
I’m not sure I can say it enough. Don’t give up, and don’t be lazy. Work hard on the stage and off. Maybe there is one more Lucille Ball out there…if so, I can’t wait to see what she gives the world to enjoy.
Here are a few moments to learn about Lucille Ball in her own words.
Did you watch “Being the Ricardos”? What did you think? Who inspries you?
I’d love to hear what you think! As always, I’d be so honored if you would take the time to share, like, comment and subscribe!
Until next time, this is just me talking to you from the wings–
January 1st. Everyone is setting goals and picking words and kissing 2021 good-bye. I’m doing a little of that as well, but I also thought it might be interesting to see what blog posts YOU the reader liked the most. It is a great way to evauate what I do and see how to give you more of what you like.
It is a good reminder to me that things I obsess about might be things no one notices or things I take for granted might be the very thing you wanted to talk more about. All in all, it continues to make me better and that’s always a good thing!
So, here are YOUR Top 10 favorite blogs of the last year:
So there you have it. These are the blog posts that people were talking about in case you missed one and want to catch up! and hint….if you want to make sure you NEVER miss a post please make sure you follow me! I only need 8 more subscribers to hit 100!
An interesting observation…none of my posts about books made the top ten. Perhaps I should have the book blogs be an additonal post instead on one of the weekly?My posts about grief and hope were my top ones. Perhaps some of you are in need of hope and healing as well? I will pray for you, my readers, I’m sad to say I haven’t really thought of doing that until now. Another thought is that you truely cared about the pain I was going through. If that is the case, I’d like to thank you again. Writing this blog was so theraputic this year.
Thank you for your likes, shares and comments. I’m hoping 2022 will be a happy, healthy year for all of us.
For now, this is just me, writing to you from the wings.
I am so pleased to share these thoughts from Kendra Jones. I met Kendra several years after Overshadowed began, and she instantly became a friend as well as a significant part of the company. She recently moved away, but her impact will stay with us for years to come!
Theater Through the Eyes of a Child
It was unlike anything I had ever seen or experienced. My mom had planned a special date for the two of us. I knew this had to be a special occasion since she had me get all gussied up in my favorite dress and my Sunday shoes.
It was a Saturday afternoon, and I remember the glass-paned lobby feeling bright and warm as the sun streamed in through the windows. There were lots of other children there with their moms and dads. We walked from the lobby into a room like I had never been in before – their seats sloped up and there was a stage in the middle of the floor. My mom was taking me to my very first play.
At the time I probably didn’t fully grasp what a play was, but I do know I was in awe of every moment. From the time the play began, I was caught up in the story. It was the tale of “Hansel and Gretel.” I clearly recall the Father character with his rugged, lumberjack look, complete with full beard, plaid shirt, and suspenders. Hansel and Gretel were children! Just. Like. Me! Their journey through the magic forest to the witch’s house made of candy had me on the edge of my seat the entire time. When Hansel and Gretel and their Father were reunited at the end, their loving family embrace in the middle of the pink and purple illuminated stage is permanently etched in my mind. It was a true “happily ever after” moment! This experience created a life-long passion for theater in me.
Fast forward to 2009, when Reba and I had discussions about beginning our Kids and Family Series for Overshadowed. While all of Overshadowed’s shows are family-friendly, we felt it was critical to begin offering shows that would be targeted for a younger audience. Why? Because the earlier a child is exposed to the arts, the more likely they are to appreciate and engage in the arts as they grow. And the show I selected to begin our family series with was none other than my first foray into the theater…”Hansel and Gretel.”
Since that time, we have produced eleven shows in our Kids and Family Series. Each time, each show has become more precious than the last. We realize that the time and money you invest for your children is of great value to you, and we have strived to create more than just a production, but a true experience.
Watching this program develop, I have made the following observations about kids and the theater:
1. They want to become part of the story. As much as possible, we try to find moments within each show to engage the audience and allow it to become interactive. Admittedly the times I have enjoyed the most have been when it has happened organically. During a performance of “Hansel and Gretel,” as the witch was stealing the pebbles the children used to mark the path to return to home, a little boy loudly exclaimed, “Oh, no, no! NO! You bad witch! I’m gonna get you!” Good thing we were headed to intermission after that because everyone (audience, crew, and cast alike) erupted into uncontrollable laughter for the next several minutes!
2. They want the special occasion experience. We have seen grandparents come with the grandkids; Daddy/daughter dates; Mom and kids days out; group events with extended family and friends. More often than not, just like I was as a child, they are all dressed up in their finest. One time a father came with his daughter…he in a tuxedo, she in her prettiest dress. Not going to lie…that one made me tear up a bit.
3. They want the story to continue. After every performance the cast lines the hallway, still in costume, to greet the audience and take pictures. Quite frequently I have overheard children “expanding” the story as they engage with our cast members about what they would have done in a character’s situation, or how it should continue to play out.
4. They want to overcome their fears. Most every story has some kind of villainous character. It is in the nature of literature itself. We are always very cautious with our approach to the villains with a gentle hand, because we don’t want to create a fearful situation. But at the end of the day, a villain is still a villain. I always feel a little badly for our “villains” during the greeting time, as they are often left standing there with no children to greet them. After all, who do you want a big, warm hug from after visiting Narnia…the White Witch, or Aslan the Great Lion? After a production of “Alice in Wonderland,” I observed one of the most beautiful interactions. The White Queen (portrayed by Traci Cidlik) noticed a little girl watching her. Traci had figured the girl wanted to approach her, but being a villainous character, the girl was a little afraid. Traci knelt down on the floor and started talking to her. Slowly the distance between the two of them grew shorter as the girl began taking baby steps toward Traci. And before you knew it. The child threw her arms around Traci’s neck and gave her a hug, and wanted to take a picture with her.
Young or old,novice or experienced theater-goer, I hope I will continue to enjoy every theatrical experience as through the eyes of a child.
Whatever you do today I hope it is magical!
What was the first play you ever saw? Do you have fond memories of it? I would love to hear about it!
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.