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Being the Ricardos or What I learned from Loving Lucy

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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–

Reba

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I.

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What is the Future for Theater?

It seems like a decade ago when the costumers and I were working away on the costume inventory at Overshadowed Theatrical Productions. Debra Schott (our engineer, researching

Debra Schott, Margaret Sahli, and me!

costumer) looked at me and said, “I fear this COVID is going to wreck our economy and when it is all said and done hundreds of thousands of people will die.”

In my innocence, I laughed and said, “We have modern medicine–we are going to do what everyone tells us to do and it will be over in a couple of months.” She looked at me and said, “I don’t know. It could be a couple of years.” I laughed again. Literally, I thought she was a prophet of doom. She couldn’t possibly be right. We were at a high point coming off of our most successful theater season ever. After 16 years of hard work it was exciting. I couldn’t imagine that it would all be over.

Here we are, years later. In Chicago, they are mandating that you must be vaccinated if you are 5 years old or older to attend the theater or other inside activities. Of course, you still must wear a mask. You cannot take it off even to eat or drink.

The mandates aren’t the same in DuPage County. Yet, in my theater, I simply cannot make people happy. DuPage county requires masks if you are inside. So, we require masks inside. I constantly get letters asking me why I am not stressing it more? In my defense, it is on my website. I announce it on stage and I have ushers to remind people. Yet, I get letters from people asking me to please talk to the people who don’t have them on and “police” them.

Then, I have the letters from people that say that will not attend if we ask them to wear a mask.

I know, “you can’t please all the people all the time.”

So, what is a girl to do for the future of theater?

I know the restrictions of other countries. I know what happened in New York. I have friends that have died from Covid and I have others who have had a case of Covid that really wasn’t that bad and they recovered just fine.

I understand both sides.

But now what?

What is the future for theater? Will this be the new normal? If we sit in areas that are close together will we ever feel safe?

Honestly, maybe my rambling thoughts are more about my frustration that we simply are not able to respect each other any longer. Is there even a middle ground that we could meet? Part of the problem seems to me that we have redefined truth. The news, reports what it wants to report, with the slant towards what they want us to take away or feel from the report. To be honest, it reminds me of the Bible verse, “And every man did what was right in their own eyes.”  That should frighten us all to the very core of our souls.  None of us are capable of living in a land where sinful man without truth sets the standards.

Jesus said, “What is truth?”

Seems to me I remember a day in school when reporters were held to a higher standard. We were taught against propaganda, even citing examples of communism and how we didn’t want to fall into that.

Where did truth go? Where did love for my neighbor go? If those things came back would we be able to meet in a middle ground of respect?

Or do we need to be much more aggressive-defending our freedoms?

It is so much to think about.

Sometimes I just want to “do theater.” Make people laugh. Educate. Make the audience feel something that makes a difference in their lives.

I cannot imagine a world without theater. Theater has always made a difference in my life. Somehow, I’m going to keep navigating in a world that is constantly changing and remind myself of one thing: “Faithful is He who calleth you who will also do it.”

“God, lead my steps. Help me do what YOU want me to do. Keep the audiences safe at Overshadowed. Help us to continue to tell YOUR story the way you want us to do. One more thing, help us to realize that how we respond to each other is important too…both to the believer and unbeliever.”

Verses to ponder:

Isaiah 35:4  say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you.”

Joshua 1:9  Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Matthew 6:34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

Psalm 23:4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley,I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

Psalm 94:19 When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.

If this resonates with you at all, please like, share and subscribe!

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

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Don’t Ever Let Anyone Tell You That You Aren’t Good Enough

On December 27, 2012, I posted this on Facebook

Megan and I had gone to see “Bring it On: The Musical.” It was packed with girls-all ages. The audience really seemed to love it for the most part. Megan and I–not so much. It was at that point that I felt like I needed to start a blog to be able to warn people not to spend their hard earned money on musicals such as that one. I also thought  that surely Megan and I were talented enough to write a musical that was, at least, less trite and that would bring in the people. Full of ourselves you might think…nope…the musical was just really bad and we thought if we found the right topic surely people would come.

Last night, the memory of my vain post popped up on Facebook and Megan commented and said, “Look! Now you’ve done both..started a blog and we wrote a musical.”

I thought about that innocent facebook post all day.

Yes, I did start a blog. You are reading in right now. It is sometimes theater, sometimes reviewing other theater productions or movies or TV. Sometimes it is just my thoughts about life and faith.

It took me a long time to get up the courage to start the blog. I wasn’t sure my writing skills were good enough. I thought I might have plenty to say, but I wasn’t really unique enough. I find that in this culture people would rather follow young and beautiful and I am neither. Nevertheless, I finally started it. It took me awhile to be consistent, but I’m pretty regular at posting one time a week. I decided that I was going to write the way I talk. I want you to almost be able to hear me speaking to you as you read what I have written. I decided that would be the way I would be unique. I know I don’t follow all the rules. I don’t know much about SEO and other things that would probably make it so my posts would be found and be read. Somehow, I have 90 followers now. (That must sound crazy to those of you who have thousands of followers!)

To each of you, I thank you for reading so faithfully.

Would I like more? Well, sure! Who wouldn’t? But, I guess that isn’t really why I write. I write because I have something to say and here is a place that at least 90 of you will read and listen and sometimes comment. That is special to me because writing has been healing for me this year.

I didn’t know that it would take me nine years to grow my blog to 90 readers, but as I always tell my casts…you do it for even one audience member and so I write for even just one.

Now, for that other item, the musical? It was called, “I’ll Be Seeing You.” It is the best thing Megan and I ever wrote. The audiences loved it and people ask us year after year when it’s coming back. Did you know a writer is never happy? We need to do a few rewrites, but it will be back and we can’t wait.

So, what is the point of all these words? Make a goal. Then verbalize it. Then do it. It’s not too late. Find something that makes you healthy and happy and don’t let anyone tell you that you aren’t good enough.

Hmmm. Reminds me of a Carpenters’ song, “Sing, sing a song, make it simple to last your whole life long. Don’t worry that you’re not good enough for anyone else to hear. Just sing. Sing a Song.”

Over the years there have been things I liked about Facebook and things that drove me crazy. This time, I’m thankful for the memory.

Now, I think I’m going to go sing a song.

Until next year.
This is just me, talking to you from the wings.

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So This Christmas Is a Little Different

#Episode Two in Reba writes fiction.

About a year ago I shared Charity with you. Charity is a character that I wrote (well, almost wrote–I never finished it) a book about. Let me know what you think. (That post is linked here:https://fromthewings.org/2020/12/31/charity-chooses-hope-and-so-do-i/

Charity took another look around the empty room. It was void of decorations and furniture except for the cherished radio/CD player and one table and chair. She walked over and clicked the radio on. The static was loud, but temporary as she inserted a CD into the well-loved player.

The sounds of Bing Crosby crooning, “I’m dreaming of a White Christmas” immediately filled the air.

Charity walked over to the window and peered at the pavement below. “Nothing white on the ground here.” She smiled. That was okay with her. She wasn’t fond of snow or cold and neither was her mother.

This was going to be her first Christmas without her mother. It filled her with an emotion that she wasn’t ready for. It had been months. Why did she still wake up every morning wishing she could call her mom? Mom always made everything all right.

She walked back over to the last box. Once she went through this box she would clean the apartment for the last time and turn the keys over to the manager.

Over. I just don’t want it to be over.”

Bing stopped singing and Perry Como began singing,”I’ll Be Home for Christmas.” She couldn’t stop the tears that began to slide down her cheeks. Home? Where exactly was home?

She lifted the lid on the box. What was this? Letters. All unopened. She grabbed a few of them and thumbed through them. Some were addressed to her, some to her Grandmother, some to Dad and a few to God.

She decided to take the top one and open it. It was addressed to “Unknown”.

As she read aloud, the music vanished and she could picture her mom in earlier Christmas’. She was sitting by the Christmas tree at Grandmother’s house. Her sister’s were young and beautiful as they all laughed and told stories together. Dad was close by looking lovingly at her.

She shook away the memory and  opened the letter.

“To whom it may concern.
I’m not sure how long I will live or who will find these letters.
Please don’t share them with anyone. You may read them and think what you will, but I never gave them to the people I wrote them to for a reason and I’d ask that you keep them to yourself as well.
You may ask why I wrote them instead of talking it out?
Writing is permanant. When you talk, sometimes you forget exactly what was said.
I want to always remember.
Now you say, but the letters are sealed!
Yes, they are.
That is a mystery you must discover for yourself, if you choose to.
Happy Reading”

Charity stood. Why were the letters only written to the four of them? Her mother must have known that Charity would be the one to find the letters, why didn’t she just leave a note to her?

Charity was instantly filled with fear and excitement and worry all combined into one new emotion.

She closed her eyes, reached into the box and randomly pulled out a letter.

It was dated December, 1956.

The year I was born!” The letter wasn’t addressed to her, or her mom or her dad. It was addressed to God.

Dear God,

I am a mother. Finally! All I can think of this Christmas is Mary.
The girl you chose to be the mother of your son. I picture her holding Jesus. What must she have been thinking?
‘He’s perfect! How can this little one be a Savior to the world? How can I be the earthly mother to someone who knows all and sees all?’
I have such doubts about my ability to be a mother. Will Charity and I be close? Will my own mother be satisfied in what she sees in me?
So, I’m writing you my deepest and darkest fears. I know that you know what is in my heart, but I feel that somehow if I write it here then I can leave it here. Safe with you.
Help me to be more like Mary-more like Jesus.”

In an instant Charity knew that this box was a special gift. Just like Mary had pondered things in her heart-Charity’s mom had as well.
She reached into the box again. “Thank you, God, for this special gift from the past that is for the future. Thank you, also, for Jesus and Mary and…my mom.

She looked over at the box. What other secrets did it hold?

**Before you ask, this is NOT a TRUE story. I’m not sure why God puts stories on my heart, but I really enjoyed where this one took me. Let me know if you want to hear more about Charity!

I’d love it if you’d follow me, like my post, comment or share!

Until next time–

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Breath of God

Music ministers to my soul.

This week Jason Roy, lead singer of Building 429, sent out a video explaining why they wrote their new song,   “Breath of God.

He basically said that Christmas is traditionally a time we look forward to–a time that is usually filled with peace and rest. He went on to say that many of us have been touched with a great sorrow this year–a sorrow so deep that it is difficult to think of Christmas in the same way.  He hoped that this song would bring peace and a hope for all of us to cling to.

Well, that truth resonated with me. I went to youtube immediately

.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DTppuLj3XPA

I have listened to it several times daily since then. I’m claiming it for a life line this Christmas.

In honesty, I’ve been wondering how December will be. In June, when I got the text that changed my life-my whole world fell apart. I cried in sounds that I didn’t even know I could make. I didn’t know how I could go on, but with the encouragement of my daughter, somehow I got up and put one foot in front of the other. I know the prayers of others worked overtime to help me get to the place I am today. I’m thankful for those of you who prayed–even though you didn’t know what you where praying for. (For all of you now trying to look through past blogs to figure out what happened–I’m afraid I never told. It is too personal. The story is not mine to tell at this point. And yet, it has been what defined me for the past six months.)

And on top of all this, my mother was dying and did eventually pass away.

I knew God was there, but I couldn’t get through the pain to converse with Him. 

You know when you are so close to someone that you can actually feel their breath? You have to be right next to them….nothing in between.  I heard the words to this song and I knew that was what I was lacking. I NEED to have the Breath of God. I need Him to speak peace to me.

Lights, snow, Christmas trees, presents… it’s not enough. We need hope. We need the Holy Spirit.

The song asks God to speak in power to the spirit of fear. It asks God to remind us that He is here. It goes on to say that the stars in the sky remind us that He is faithful and indeed–it does.

Peace.

In the Scripture:  ειρήνη (eiríni): from the verb “to join”, peace, implies prosperity, one, peace, quietness, rest

Matthew Henry, in his commentary on Phil, describes this peace:

The peace of God, the comfortable sense of being reconciled to God, and having a part in his favor, and the hope of the heavenly blessedness, are a greater good than can be fully expressed. This peace will keep our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus; it will keep us from sinning under troubles, and from sinking under them; keep us calm and with inward satisfaction.”

I love the last part, it will keep us from sinking under our troubles and keep us calm with inward satisfaction.

 God is a God of peace but we do not need to think that He is “resting”. The scripture promises us in Psalms 121:4 that he “will neither slumber nor sleep.”  He is watching and caring for me and my pain and you and yours.

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. “

God is our foundation and rock— the opposite of the chaos of trouble. 

How do we get that peace? I think only when our communion with God is so close (we can feel the breath) that it guards against the internal and external threat to that peace.

Thank you, God, for holding me fast. Thank you for your word that doesn’t return void. Thank you for coming to save us. Please speak in power and bring those who have forgotten you to know you fully. Speak peace to my heart. Thank you for your faithfulness. Thank you for music. Thank you for musicians who can be used to speak truth.

What do you think of this song? Is there a song you are claiming for this season? 

I’d love to hear what you think!

From the wings–

Reba

Caught by one of our cast members (Nancy Moreno) while we were experimenting with the new fog machine. God’s perfect reminder that He is with us and near me all the time. Breath of God.
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A Theater Experiment Gone Wrong?

Overshadowed Theatrical Productions recently completed their fall production “Twelve Angry Men” and “Twelve Angry Women” Yes, you read correctly. We did both versions of this famous play. It was an experiment in marketing as well as acting and directing.

 

The cast of Twelve Angry Men. Photo credit Francisco Montes

Before I begin talking about that experiment,  let me share some thoughts about the play in general.

I was very surprised about the number of our audience members who had never seen this play or the MOVIE!  I have always considered this work a classic and a favorite for many film lovers and also high schools. It has become a way to teach the importance of civic responsibility, bias, and that prejudice comes in many forms.

Reginald Rose wrote the original play for the CBS series, “Studio One,” and
it aired on September 20, 1954. He says it was based, to a certain extent, on his own experiences as a juror,. He also said that it reflected a time when standing up for your constitutional rights could get you in trouble. 

Afterwards, the teleplay was adapted into a film. Although it did not win, “Twelve Angry Men” was nominated for three Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Direction, and Best Screenplay based on mate- rial from another medium.

The real award is that Rose has written something that is lasting. It speaks across generations and racial divides. It makes one think of their own prejudices and the need for jurors who will serve with a moral responsibility. Our audiences sat on the edge of their seats most nights. We had fabulous conversations each night and many audiences members came back the following weekend to see if it made any difference if the cast was all male or all female.

Ticket sales weren’t what we wanted.

But if our goal is to give the audience a night of entertainment that moves them and inspires them–then we definitely succeeded. 

Watch our latest episode From The Wings for a look behind the scenes with our directorshttps://youtu.be/nvm1rYf05TM

 

Many thanks to our directors, Mike Larsen, Brad Holloman and Jessica Means as well as our cast and crew. It was an incredible experience.

As always, thank you Rebecca Leland for your work filming and editing! You are such an incredible talent and blessing!

If you enjoy reading this blog it would be such a joy if you would take the time to follow us and share it! Thank you!

For now–this is just me–talking to you from the wings!

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Take a Chance on This Classic: Don’t Let Theater Die.

Over 10 years ago someone told me we should produce “12 Angry Men.” They suggested that we have a cast of all women and another cast of all men. They thought it would be a clever marketing ploy. I declined for several reasons. One of them being that I didn’t think I had 12 men that could pull off the acting that this show requires. I put it on the back burner of my mind and waited. In the meantime, I saw the Theater in Chicago production with Brian Dennehy and George Wendt and John Boy Walton…oh, I mean, Richard Thomas as Juror # 8.  I also spent the time visiting local community productions and waited until the time was right.

As I  have complained about for now, over a year, Covid has really done a damage to our theater. In our area, several shut their doors for good as they couldn’t continue with the costs of rent etc. while they just waited to entertain again. We were able to produce an original Biblical drama that kept us going with 50 audience members a night until we thought everything was getting back to normal. Not quite trusting, I decided to mount a smaller musical, The Marvelous Wonderettes, for the summer. It was fantastic, but the audiences didn’t come. A summer show usually brings over 2500 to our doors. This summer we didn’t even get 1500. So, what better time than now to pull out that old marketing ploy? We decided that we would mount two shows with two casts. We would have four directors, two of each gender that  would each be in the play and direct the opposite version of the play.

At auditions, we were thrilled. People came. We even had to turn people away. (Which always makes me sad.) We began the character studies and blocking and somehow in the middle of the process I stopped enjoying it. It was difficult. Why didn’t I notice that we were actually going to be producing two shows at the same time? One is hard enough…but two? I think I might be a little crazy….

What made matters worse is that I’m not sure that any of the other directors were enjoying it either. We were all feeling the stress of having to be in two places at one time plus carry on with our outside duties. The creative experiment of working together didn’t gel the way I thought it would. Instead of being inspired by each other we did the opposite. At times we were afraid to speak up, or at times we didn’t want to make an issue about something, or at times we felt competition, or that we weren’t as important as the other directors. Emotionally, it was difficult. One week ago. I would have told you that this theater experiment was a failure

12 Angry Women

12 Angry Women opened last week and if you asked me now I would tell you that I probably wouldn’t want to direct with four directors ever again, but that I did learn. That’s a good thing. I want to learn each and every time I decide to be involved with a production.  

Here are some facts:

12 Angry Men is the play many of us, of a certain generation, had to read in high school. This  courtroom drama by Reginald Rose has been around since 1954; first as a live Television play, then in its more well-known incarnation, the 1957 film, starring Henry Fonda, directed by the great Sidney Lumet. (Did you know the film was nominated for three Oscars?)

Question #1 that we faced:   Isn’t it dated? What relevance does it have today?  Come see the play and you will soon find our that Juror #10 leads the way with his immigrant and minority comments.  Unfortunately, we all go in to any conversation with a great deal of bias and maybe realizing this would help all conversations end more peacefully. We can learn from each other. We adopted a tag line #Don’t confuse me with the facts. Sadly, many times we don’t care enough to step out of our own selves and into someone else’s. 

Reba Hervas (Juror #10) and Jessica Means (Juror #7) discuss how miserable Juror #8’s thoughts are.

The drama begins when a lone holdout, Juror #8,  believes there is a reasonable doubt in the case of a youth “from the wrong side of the tracks” on trial for the murder of his abusive father. The stakes are high and the jury is mandated by the judge to think about it wisely and carefully, because the punishment for conviction is the death penalty. Since the decision must be unanimous the deliberation begins. The Jurors range greatly in personality, economic and educational background and ethnicity.  A thrilling ride when you realize this is real life. Every jury is made up randomly and everyone does walk in with different  personalities, educational backgrounds and ethnicities.  

As Jessica Means (my co-director) and I watched the 12 Angry Men rehearsal last night we were thrilled. It was tense, riveting and thrilling–just as people had told us the women’s production was last week. Every juror looks as if they walked in off the street in 1959 Manhattan. The set is beautifully simple; it manages to be both artful and authentic. The cast is constantly moving to almost be “the camera” and allow the audience to see the jurors from each angle.

12 Angry Men. It is amazing how different a play can be based gender.

Why 12 Angry Men/Women?

It is a bucket list love of a classic theater piece that I always wanted to tackle.

To learn from a totally unique theater experiment.

To take an old classic and see that even after years some things never change. 

People. It’s simply great theater. 

So, the marketing ploy?  Unfortunately, things haven’t changed since this summer. Our tickets sales are horribly low. Even with 24 people in the cast–I’m not sure we will even hit our numbers from the summer. I’d like to ask for a little help. Don’t let Covid kill this theater. If this is a play you weren’t planning on attending…could you decide to come? If you are seeing one of the versions could you decide to see both? Could you spread the word? Please tell your friends and neighbors that this is one show that should not be missed. 

One last thing: 12 Angry Men is a timely, riveting drama that will get you thinking about your preconceptions and stereotypes. It is a reminder that we must question apparent facts before making tough decisions. I don’t think that’s such a bad thing.

Okay. I lied…one more last, last thing. My co-director’s are all brilliant and now that we’ve all gotten past the hard parts we all admit it was a crazy great experience. Thank you, Jessica Means, Brad Holloman, and Mike Larsen for sharing your time, creativity and inspiration with us all.

Now, will you all please go to Overshadowed.org and buy tickets? Let’s show everyone there is still a place for theater!

I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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

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In the Face of Grief

I have a distinct memory from when I was younger of my parents and grandparents reading the paper every morning. One of the most important sections to them was the Obituaries. It struck me as so odd to think that the obituary section was so important to them. I have thought about it fleetingly over the years always thinking that I would know I had truly reached old age when that section of the paper reached such importance.

The fact is, the older you are, the more people you know. As you grow older the likelihood that someone you know will have died the day before is huge because people leave us. It is an inevitability that we cannot escape.

It has been a difficult year and a half. We have had several really close friends battle cancer. We have seen people with Covid not recover. We have had several people die unexpectedly and others whose bodies just wore out. We have seen friends battle depression and disappointment that is crushing. In fact, we have seen people grieve. It is so hard to say good-bye. It is difficult to know what to say to those who mourn no matter what they are mourning. Most of the time it isn’t enough, because how can it be? Words don’t replace people and we all grieve and expect things from others so differently.

All I know is that the absence of others leaves holes in our lives.

Here is what I think I have learned:

  1.  Reach out to one of your friends every day. Sure, you have those friends that you speak to every week and sometimes more often, but make sure you have a contact list of people you reach out to every month and find someone that you haven’t checked in on to send a card, call, or text. In our world of social media we really have no excuse not to drop a note and find out how a long lost friend might be doing. I must admit, I’m really terrible at this. I am not a person that naturally is aggressive at friendship. I surround myself with people who call me and ask me to do things instead of the other way around. So, if you feel rejected by me chances are I’m feeling the same rejection by you. (yeah, I know. I don’t seem like that person–I promise you–it’s the me nobody knows) I’m not good at knowing what to say to you in your pain. Don’t be like me, reach out anyway. Even if you call and just leave a message. The thought matters. The simple presence of people can help a grieving person carry the pain of loneliness.
  2. Depending on how much the person that died was in your life  and how many plans for the future you had with them depends on the deep pain you will experience. You may not feel the same pain that each friend feels, but if you have even lost someone you know the same pain. Use your past experience to know how to reach out and comfort. What did you need?
  3. There is no moving on there is just moving forward. That’s okay. Your loved one will not be forgotten. And it’s okay to still feel grief years after death.
  4. Prayer works. I have no way to explain it. But I know that the prayer of other Christians has carried me through several times in my life. The Holy Spirit gives a peace that truly passes all understanding. It is unfathomable that I was able to function while my heart was breaking, but somehow God carried me through. Sometimes it is two steps forward and one back or maybe even two steps backwards with no forward movement at all. Here is the blessing…God isn’t any less present when I’m taking backwards steps than He is when I’m moving forward! Psalm 34:18, “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”
  5. Allow yourself to feel pain. There is healing in verbally processing your grief. There is relief in being able to cry. Don’t be ashamed of it or don’t try to hold it in. Take a walk and spend time talking to God. Call your friends and tell them you need them. Journal.  Psalms 32, “When I kept it all inside, my bones turned to powder, my words became daylong groans. The pressure never let up: all the juices of my life dried up. Then I let it all out; I said,’ I’ll come clean  about my failures to God.’ Suddenly the pressure was gone–my guilt dissolved, my sin disappeared. These things add up. Every one of us needs to pray; when all hell breaks loose and the dam bursts we’ll be on high ground, untouched. God’s my island hideaway.”
  6. Share in their grief. I learned this year that a very good friend of mine never got a card I had sent. That only added to her grief as she didn’t understand why I wouldn’t have reached out. Your words matter. Carry the burden with them.  Share any good words of true  compassion that you can.
  7. Nothing can separate us from the love of God.For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39, NIV Paul penned these words to the Christians in Rome encouraging us that although we will face trials and loneliness, we are not alone.

**In loving memory of Don Opperthauser  who passed into God’s presence on  August 24, 2021. “No more pain when we get to heaven.” I will never forget his faithfulness, musical abilities or his love for his family. Although I haven’t seen him in years his memory will live in my heart and in the hearts of many who knew him.

Are you lonely or grieving today? I’d love to talk to you. Drop me a note and let me know how I can pray for you. As always, please share your thoughts with me or share this blog with others.

Until next time.

My dad’s funeral. Arlington National Cemetery. We all still grieve.
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Theater That is More Than Just Theater

I must confess that I have never personally read any of Jan Karon’s popular Mitford series. I have heard of them, of course, and almost since the day Overshadowed began have been told that I should produce the play, “Welcome to Mitford.” 

I have been told that lovers of this series have a vision of the North Carolina town called Mitford. In fact, many Karon fans think that Mitford was modeled on Blowing Rock, where Karon once lived. 

When you are producing  a play, setting becomes very important and in this one it almost seems that the characters are held together by their relationships with each other, but equally important their relationship with the town. 

Karon’s novels tell the story of Father Tim Kavanagh, the beloved bachelor rector of Lord’s Chapel church in Mitford. His life is absorbed with the life of his town until he takes in teenager Dooley Barlowe, the unruly, orphaned grandson of the church gardener. The town’s complacency is further disturbed when Father Tim falls in love with and weds his new next-door neighbor, Cynthia Coppersmith, who writes and illustrates children’s books.

It is indeed a love story, not only between Father Tim and Cynthia, but also between Father Tim and the town. And just like in real life…there is conflict….but unlike real life…the community is so cohesive that they get through the conflict…together.

It is a joy to see something so encouraging. 

In fact, Father TIm says in one scene, “Give thanks in everything–in loss of all kinds: in illness, in depression, in grief and in failure, and of course, in health and peace, success and happiness. Give thanks in everything.” 

Thank you, Mitford, for reminding me of a lesson that is at the very core of my belief in God. “Rejoice in all things, again I say, rejoice.” Not a suggestion…. a command.

Are you with me? Are there days that your faith just isn’t strong enough to rejoice? Maybe the answer is that I shouldn’t be trying to find joy when I’m discouraged…but GOD!

What?

Mind altering for me. I shouldn’t be trying to figure it out or figure out why? I should just rest in the Lord. Remember the song, “My hope is in the Lord….

I don’t embrace my troubles…I embrace my God.  

Transparency now….it isn’t easy and I haven’t been resting in Him and filled with joy over the past few weeks. But, coming home from our summer musical the other night all of a sudden I thought, “I’m singing! I’m singing with the radio.” 

Weeks ago that was normal for me, but my joy was gone and for most of the summer I just couldn’t….

Wow! Did it feel good! The ice isn’t gone around my heart, but it’s thawing and I’m so thankful.

That passage of scripture goes on to say, “Tell God what you need and thank Him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.”

So, how can I get myself out of my sadness and back to rejoicing?

  1. Meditate upon God and His Word.

Find verses and put them in front of you. Wake up and recite them. Sit and think about them. Journal your thoughts and prayers. MAKE AN EFFORT.

  2. Remind yourself of God’s promises.

Read books. Memorize scripture. Remind yourself that one of the attributes of God is that He is the Great Comforter! Lean on Him.

3. Keep your mind busy.

Fill it with things that will take your mind off of your sadness and give your mind peace and joy.  Perhaps being with friends? Or singing?

Or….

Come see this play this weekend and leave with a renewed hope in family, friends and community!  http://www.overshadowed.org

Did you know that theater increases creativity? It is a source of imagination. Theater requires a different kind of resourcefulness than just watching TV. Perhaps if we all learned from theater we would be able to solve some of the world’s problems! In fact, research has found that people who engage with theater either participating or viewing for two or more hours per week show signigicantly better mental health. Did you know that science shows that when people sit together in a theater their hearts beat together. That’s connection. Something most of us need.

In fact, theater is what got me through my sadness this summer. It’s the reason my heart is thawing in a way that I can sing again and ultimately it is what has reminded me to rejoice and lean in and embrace God.

I hope you’ll join us this weekend. Let’s support a new generation and show that there is good in theater and that theather TEACHES.

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

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The “It’s Not My Fault” Syndrome

Not to sound like a broken record, but Covid has really changed my habits this year. One habit was that my husband and I watched A LOT of TV nightly. We tried to mixed it up as we ran out of things that were interesting to watch.

One of the shows we watch on a regular basis (even before Covid) is Amazing Race. If you’ve never seen it-I highly recommend it. It has competition, strategy, luck and you get to see the world as you watch. So, Chuck and I decided to watch from the beginning…season 1. We are now on season 24 so this kept us busy and entertained over the past months.

The season we are on now took place in 2014. It was an all-stars season in which they asked many of the former favorites to try again. Team Kentucky was made up of Bopper and Mark, but at the last minute one had to drop out so they asked another former Kentucky favorite to step in. Mallory Ervin. (You can find out more about Mallory at malloryervin.com. Her podcast is Living Fully) This was not Mallory’s first rodeo. In fact, this is the third time she raced. I liked her from the very beginning and loved that she had such a great relationship with her racing partner, her father. So, when she was asked back, I thought this was going to be an incredible season. (It still is, by the way) This past week though was quite disappointing. Her partner, Mark, had to build a toy car (the size children can ride in) He then carried it to Mallory and said, “Take care of my backpack.” Their next task was to  find a taxi to deliver this car to a kid’s school. Halfway there Mark asked where his backpack was to which Mallory answered, “I don’t know. I gave it to you.” It seems she carried it to the taxi, but then put it at his feet while he was putting the car in the trunk of the taxi. What followed next was ugly. Mark was angry. Mallory kept repeating you don’t need it I have your passport and It’s not my fault…. They ended up going back for the backpack and ultimately getting eliminated. Now, I know that TV has a way of twisting the facts, but I did hear Mark tell her to get his backpack. I think if I had been responsible for such an important item, I would have made sure Mark saw and grabbed his backpack.

But, she said it wasn’t her fault.

She said it over and over and over again.

Okay. He asked her to get it. She did. Was it Mark’s fault?

Maybe. But here is the point. Why wouldn’t she own up to it and at least feel badly that she didn’t make sure Mark saw his backpack? It was obvious he thought she was taking care of it.

I find this happening all the time.

People don’t want to take responsibility.

It is so much easier to blame and point the finger.

I mean, it started in Genesis.

God told Adam and Eve not to eat of one particular tree in the Garden of Eden. The serpent told Eve that God was keeping knowledge from her and that when she ate of the tree she would be as a god  and that she would not die as God had said. So she ate and gave the apple to Adam and he ate also.

When God called for them He asked them if they had eaten of the tree and Adam said,

“Well, the woman, (that woman that You gave me, Lord.) she gave it to me.

And when the Lord asked Eve she said,

Well, it’s not my fault, the serpent tricked me.”

Blame. From the first two humans.

Is there hope in this?

Yes.

God forgives. He paid the price when He carried our sin all the way to the cross where forgiveness became apparent even while He was still hanging there.

Can we take blame? Can we look at ourselves and try to make things right? Can we see where we are wrong and how to make it right?

Would the world be different if we did?

Perhaps instead of proclaiming, “It’s not my fault.” We should cry out, like David did, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10)

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject. Do you struggle with the blame game or instead wear the guilt of everything you do?

Until next time,