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In Moments of Loss

Why is it that I have stories dancing around in my head, but the process is so difficult to put down on paper?

They dance and swirl and, in my head, are so vivid and meaningful…and then I put my computer in front of me and all creativity stops. I read a little, dream a little, watch things on TV, and try again. Sometimes I repeat that step over and over until I can crank out one scene or chapter.

Such was the process of writing, Tuesday Morning #Neverforget.
To make matters worse I still haven’t fully recovered from my heartbreak of last summer. I’m better, but at times it haunts me and I’m just plain and simply….sad.

A sad person researching tragic events? Ugh! Sadness enveloped me…I would cry and have to put away the story and yet it kept calling me. I really didn’t know WHY it was an important story? Why this story would be any different from the facts everyone knew?

And then it clicked. Where was God? Is it possible to see God in the midst of disaster? How do you hold on to hope when everything around you seems hopeless?

That one thought became the focus of my story. Yes, the story is about the four flights that tragically crashed that day. Yes, the story is about the last words of many of the passengers on those flights. Yes, the story is about the people who stepped up and rescued thousands of people in the World Trade Centers….many losing their own lives in the process.

But then the hope started coming through. Lisa Beamer focusing on Bible verses that she had studied and memorized in the past. Lisa Jefferson committing to “speak out” for God and not be a silent witness. Countless tales of people who prayed, sang songs, quoted Scripture to comfort and heal. In short, people holding on to hope that God has a plan…a purpose and His ways are better than ours.

I do believe that.

I didn’t like reading about Joseph and his brother’s betrayal and yet God put Joseph into a place that he saved a whole nation. Maybe God gave Lisa Beamer that as well. Her book, Let’s Roll, gave us a picture of Todd and his faith and Lisa’s hope even in the face of great loss. He was just a regular man, but Lisa’s story made us see GOD. It is crazy to think that Todd went  from ordinary man to a hero that has caused many to know God  because Lisa wrote a book that told his story.

He’s in my story too…not just Tuesday Morning #Neverforget…but my story...my pain from last year that continues. I know God didn’t CAUSE the pain, but I know He holds my heart and that He understands and that one day He will wipe the tears from my eyes.

I would love it if you would follow my blog and better yet subscribe to us on YouTube. If we say something either place please share….I keep thinking God has me writing for a reason…maybe there is a message that someone needs to hear!

Watch below for thoughts from our cast!

Thank you, Rebecca Leland for your work on this!

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

Reba

acting, audience, backstage, christian theater, communication, directing, Fear, history, productions crew, technical production, theater, theater education

More Than the Words on the Page

Opening night is four days away!

Thank you, God! Wow! What a battle it has been this summer! Battle for time. Battle for actors to fill the roles. Battle for production staff and team…well, the list could go on.

But here we are. Four days away.

I’m thinking about time a lot lately. Maybe because Sunday was the 21st anniversary of September 11th and the horrific events of that day only took 103 minutes.

103 minutes.

In telling this story we need to pull from news reports, books that have been written, emotions that we all felt, and then tie it together in a way that the audience can be rocked to their core.

We do that by adding the costumes, hair and make-up, set and finally the tech. Tonight will be the first time we experience this show with the full tech and I am beyond excited.

This show wouldn’t be the same without it and honestly, it might be the fourth character in the show…it’s that necessary.

Watch below to hear our technical director give his thoughts on the vision of this show.

#neverforget

Thank you, Rebecca Leland and Mike Larsen, for all you do!

If you like content like this–please make sure you follow us! It really does matter!

Until next time,

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

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

The Importance of Theater Camp or What Mary Poppins Taught Me

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

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

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

So have we learned anything?

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

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

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

Who can forget his lament?

A man has dreams of walking with giants

To carve his niche in the edifice of time.

Before the mortar of his zeal has time to congeal

The cup is dashed from his lips,

The flame is snuffed aborning,

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

Ah! The pressures of life.

We can all fall slave to them.

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

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

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

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

Until next time!

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Why Do You Watch What You Do? Part Two.

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!

Until next time!

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

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

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

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

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

So, can I help at all???

Maybe.

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

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

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

Until next time!

Reba

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

The Competition Crisis

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

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

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

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

NO!

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

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

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

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

backstage, Blog, christian, christian blog, communication, entertainment, Grief, hope, planners, planning, Prayer, theater

How Planning Gave Me Three Ways to Prepare for Change in My Life.

This past week I had the wonderful experience of spending five days in Southern California for a planner convention.

No, I didn’t say planter. No, it isn’t for event planners.

It was simply for this wonderful society of people who love planners, stickers, markers and….well, PLANNING.

My journey/love for all things planners started about five years ago. Things were growing at Overshadowed and I knew I needed to be better organized and needed to plan further ahead. I made a trip to my local Michael’s and picked up a Happy Planner and promptly fell in love. Since that time, I now have two planners and have been to two “Go Wildfor planners conventions.

You might be thinking I have lost my mind, but let me just give you a sample of what inspired me this time.

Our first speaker was Stephanie Fleming. Have you heard of her? She and her mother started a sticker company called, “Me and My Big Ideas”. They then went on to create Mambi which created,The Happy Planner, in a tiny garage-based business. The products are supposed to inspire customers to live creatively and to plan a happy life. She has written a book, started a podcast, retired, and now has gone back to school.

Yep. You read that correctly. She RETIRED and then went back to school.

She titled her workshop, “Change of Plans“.

Here is how she began:

You are not powerless. Change is inevitable–and it’s important to create a life and an environment that allows us to deal with this change!”

It is a message I really needed to hear. You all know that my past year has been full of change. Change isn’t what caused the pain, but it still has been difficult to get over the change.

When it comes down to it we will always have some sort of change in our lives. Friends move. Jobs end. Parents die. And sometimes the world stops with a pandemic or war.

Change is inevitable. The question is-how do we respond to it?

Stephanie went on to give several points.

  1. Be flexible and resilient. Understand that you are a work in progress. Embrace that fact instead of embracing the art of staying the same.
  2. Expect the unexpected. If we aticipate the curve we will have a plan that will help us face it.
  3. Have a growth mindset. George Bernard Shaw said, “Progress is impossible without change and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”

In other words, by preparing (planning) what you will do when change comes, you will handle it better. You will be better equipped to adjust.

What makes us equipped?

Pivoting.

Evolving

Adjusting

Control the controllable and adapt to what you cannot control. Don’t waste your time on trying to change something that you cannot change!

So what happens when there are changes that hurt you to the core?

Reflect on that change with purpose. Write your thoughts out. Journal. Pray. Seek counsel. Reframe the change so that you can find something to show gratitude for. Things that are negative might still be bad and hurtful, but we can REFRAME it in our minds so that we can grow from it instead of hiding in our rooms hoping it will go away.

In closing, she gave a quote by John Maxwell:

Change is inevitable. Growth is optional.”

So the question is….How will you respond to CHANGE in your life?

As I reflect on all the speakers I heard last week, I am filled with motivation, determination and strength….all things I needed to refuel with after last year.

Pardon me while I take out my planner and give gratitude for planners and what they continue to teach me.

How do you adapt to change? I’d love to hear about it! Hey, I’d love it if you would sign up to follow this blog!

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

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

All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Theater

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

us both now and on stage!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is any of it sin?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here is part two of our discussion:

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

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

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

Is it time to move “the line” back?

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

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

Reba

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

“Spilling the Tea” or What Drama Directors Hate

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time!