christian, communication, entertainment, intermission, theater

Is Your Voice Being Silenced?

Next week we open “The Trip to Bountiful” for the second time. As we stepped back into the theater to begin our rehearsals we discussed all the ways we have changed in the past 5 months. Some good. Some bad. Some really, really bad.

One of the terrible wastes of time I have added to my daily routine is how much time I have been spending on social media. Again, some good and some bad. At first, I was seeking information on Covid. I was frightened and worried and I watched the numbers of cases and deaths rise. I couldn’t get enough information.

Next, I became bored. I played games. I tried to learn a few new things. I played more games. I constantly checked all of my social media platforms hoping to have some sort of interaction with another human.

Then, I started noticing the message my phone sent me every week. You might know the one? “Your screen time is up 7% this week for an average daily total of 5 hours a day.”

“Excuse me, what? I wasted 5 hours of my day doing…..nothing???”

Well, it kept me from going crazy….I guess. I guess I have a problem. I am an addict.

Now we add the next level of concern to this problem….or epidemic.

This week Netflix released a new documentary. It is called The Social Dilemma. To be honest, I haven’t watched it yet. It is on our agenda to watch Sunday night. (Chuck and I have documentary Sundays. It is our new thing to try to not run out of stuff to watch. It might not work. Stay tuned.)

This new documentary is supposed to have interviews with the main people who have created all the hot social media platforms. I know it comes as no surprised to you, but these platforms are designed to compel us to spend as much time as possible on these platforms. And willingly we do it.

My husband once said to me, “The second you got an IPHONE you gave them the permission to track you.” By now we all know that there is a little truth to that. We search for directions and receipts and entertainment choices. With each search they discover and collect a little more knowledge. We are willingly allowing this to happen.

Now, let me tell you what compelled me to write this.

I follow a blog. BeautyBeyondBones https://beautybeyondbones.com Honestly, if you have never read anything by her, please do so. I so admire that she has the guts to speak out for her faith and is so convicting to me. She is definitely my favorite blogger. I find myself constantly thinking, “What has happened to me that I don’t have the courage to speak like she does?”

This past week she wrote, “WE are the Product.” In it she discussed the documentary that I mentioned, but here is where my jaw dropped. I quote: “So…with social media now being a main source of news for people…what happens when the gatekeeper of information is literally in the business of manipulation?” Caralyn then sites that she had written something on Thursday, called A Tale of Two Political Nuns. That post was a beautifully written pro-life article. She says that she received an email on Thursday from Facebook saying that the post was rejected for violating “community standards.”

People. Friends. Since when does it make me not part of a community if I don’t believe in abortion???

She then goes on to explain that this is the fourth time Facebook has censored her articles.

So now I ask you, do we have something to fear that we are allowing so much of our time to be sucked away by companies that are against the very things we are for?

I am not sure if I’m more concerned about my data being manipulated or my voice being ignored but I do think I’m alarmed.

I will be watching the documentary on Sunday. I’m sure my eyes will be open even more. Until then, make sure your voice is not silenced.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about this! Please leave a comment, follow and share!

Until next time….let’s keep talking!



christian, communication, family, planners, planning, theater

Noticing Life

This is my fifth year with a “Happy Planner.” I stumbled upon this planner community quite by accident when I realized that if I didn’t start being more intentional about what I chose to do every day that Overshadowed was never going to grow to be the theater company I wanted it to be.



My planning journey has morphed over time. Some weeks I’m really good at planning and following through and recording my thoughts. Sad to say, other weeks my pages are blank.

Should you ever be too tired to plan? Or not in the mood ?

No.

Even if you are too tired to decorate the pages that fill your planner you should never be too tired to at least write something. It could be a phrase that summarizes your week…for example. “Major zoom crash on first day back to school.” Or “Baby cutting teeth…so tired.” Or maybe just a Bible verse. Surely we have time for at least that?

For the first year of my Happy Planner life I bought a few sticker books that were motivational. I wrote my day-to-day “chores.” and took great joy in crossing them off when I accomplished them. The next year I subscribed to a kit from “The Planner Society.” I followed some inspirational planners on Instagram and discovered that planning now brought out the creative side in me! Even when I had a hard week I really looked forward to relaxing and “creating” a masterpiece (in my eyes) of what the next week would look like. The next year, I was inspired by my creative middle daughter who also uses a Happy Planner. She takes a tremendous amount of photos and creates a planner that is full of memories. When you hold her planner in your hand you almost feel the experiences and love of life she has poured into her year of planning! Inspired by her, I began to add more and more photos in my planner and started adding to my goals of regularly blogging and recording memories.

Then COVID.

This year it was a struggle to find anything to put in my planner. So I began to record the COVID cases in Illinois and the top 7 states that were a COVID battleground. I don’t know why. I think it was something to watch. I kept thinking that someone will find it interesting one day to watch the totals go up and up.

Then I heard this phrase–The Art of Noticing. I’m sad to say I never realized it was a book. I thought it was a new motivational phrase to get me to stop thinking about the negatives and start noticing all the positives in my life. And it worked. Slowly, I started adding pictures that I received from my kids. I added postcards and letters that I received and I started noticing that I have a lot to be thankful for. Believe me, I always knew that, but REMEMBERING it and WRITING it down and talking about it helped give me something to look forward to.

So this is how it works.

1) Every day of your life tells a story. How exciting is that?? Your story might be the beginning of a new book or a new chapter or maybe even the climax of the plot, but it is always a page turner if you allow it to be. What did you notice about your life today? Let me give you an example. Saturday was our annual gala. Usually we hold it inside at a banquet hall. This year, we held it outside so we could have more people (Because of the restrictions of COVID) As I looked around I saw FAMILIES. Usually, people don’t get to celebrate with their entire family because it isn’t exactly what younger children would enjoy. This year, the young and old enjoyed a night out on the lawn! What could have started as a “this is another thing COVID took” story, ended up with a blessing. Today, I have been a little overwhelmed by how much sadness is on facebook. It is a hard time right now and many of us are feeling the weight of things lost. We are anxious and sad and discouraged. While I was thinking about the heaviness of that, I stopped and just for a moment thought about a new project I had the chance to discuss with someone today. While the project seems a little daunting on my own, I’m excited about sharing the vision with someone else who has great ideas. What a blessing! Somedays you have to look a little harder, but the story is always there.

2) There is beauty in life. Every breath that you take. The fact that you can walk, talk, think, communicate. How long has it been since you sat down and really thought about the miracle of life? Take a moment right now. Take a deep breath. Close your eyes and slowly exhale. Now open your eyes. What are you thankful for in life? I’m thankful for a good night’s sleep. Some days I have to get up and go to the bathroom several times during the night. (Thank you old age!) I loved sleeping soundly last night. I have a friend who can no longer get out and run. Whenever I run, I think of her. Thank you, God. Even though I don’t love it–I’m so thankful for it!

3) Beauty and nature. There is so much to say here, but remind me when winter comes to still be thankful for nature. I love the summer so much and have enjoyed the heat, the birds, the hummingbirds, my garden, the sun….I could go on and on.

4) Beauty of Conversations. Have you ever thought about writing down the fact that you got to talk to your best friend or mother or whoever? Write down one moment in the conversation that is meaningful. What a treasure that will be when one day you look back and remember that you both shared an old family story that caused you to remember something remarkable about your mom. I’m a little jealous that we didn’t have facebook when my kids where growing up. My daughter, Becca, regularly writes down conversations she has with her kids. I take a picture of that conversation and paste it in my journal. There are so many things I wanted to never forget when my kids where growing up. I am envious of all the easy ways there are to record things now.

5) Daily Routines. What? You might be thinking that no one would be interested in what you routinely do. Have you ever picked up a diary from a hundred years ago? They used to record the price of items they bought. They recorded where they went and who they saw. Many times they didn’t expound upon it at all. They just wrote it down. I love it. When I read accounts like this I can immediately put myself in their time period and understand what life itself looked like.

May I challenge you to start a planner? It doesn’t have to be big or fancy. It just needs to be something you feel comfortable with. Something that will encourage you to write and dream.

May I also encourage you that there is no right or wrong way to use it? Some people just use a regular notebook and THAT’S OKAY! The secret is to find what you enjoy, what you can handle and what motivates you to keep it up!

There are literally hundreds of options to use as a planner. I have recently added this subscription from #clothandpaper. I might not keep for for years, but I do love the inserts and quotes and PENS!


Next, may I challenge you to slow down and appreciate your life day-by-day? Taking the time to stop and record your thoughts will be a wonderful gift for future generations and perhaps it will make us all less fretful and anxious and remind us exactly how blessed we truly are.

I’d like to leave you with a few verses.

John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you…Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

Psalm 118:24 “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you. declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Proverbs 12:25 “Anxiety weighs down the heart of a man, but a good word cheers it up.”

Lamentations 3:22-23 “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

If you have any questions about planners or journaling or verses to share I’d love to hear from you! If you haven’t taken the time to follow me it would mean so much to me if you would! And one more thing…my instagram is Reba.Hervas, if you’d like to follow me there!

I hope you have blessed week!

Until next time!

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

Auditions: The Journey Begins

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

After a few takes they decided on this one.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Logan on his first day of school this year.

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

Here are my takeaways,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I can’t wait to direct both of you.

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

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

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

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

Hmmmmm. Thanks.

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

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

Until next time,

christian, communication, family, theater

The Communication Crisis

Living in Illinois this past summer hasn’t exactly been the best summer of my life. Don’t get me wrong. I have had things I have enjoyed richly– like my hummingbird feeder and the precious hummingbirds that I watched daily. I have loved moving a little slower and having more time to read. I have loved the Bible study group and lessons we learned together. I have LOVED the hot weather.

And I loved the new appreciation we all had for the theater camps this summer and the fact that we could enjoy that wonderful talent on stage again!

I loved being back in River City for our Music Man, Jr. Camp!

What haven’t I loved?

1) The new way society attacks each other so freely for voicing their opinions…it doesn’t matter what opinion you are stating it just better agree with theirs or you are ignorant or a few other choice words. In many cases we’ve become rude, selfish and hateful.

2) I haven’t loved the lack of respect for my choices. If I want to wear a mask why do people have to be so judgmental about that decision? Or if I choose to only eat outside or whatever the latest issue is.

3) This year many businesses had to close in Illinois to follow the COVID degrees. Finally, after being allowed to open again and spending money to update protocols looters marched in our city and destroyed many of those businesses. Most of them having nothing to do with what was being protested. I didn’t love that.

What has happened to us, America?
What has happened to us, Christians?

COVID

I think COVID did a far worse damage on us than we even imagined it would. We talked about the risks of not social distancing or not wearing masks and how this virus was waging war on us.

But we didn’t consider how it would affect our communication.


Is it possible that after being shut up in our homes and working alone we are now hiding behind social media? Do we think, “It doesn’t matter how we talk or react or what we say to people! I’m not going to see them for ages.”? Do we put things out there because we have the “freedom” to do so. Do we even care about the way we say things? Is there any thought to love, or tact?

Is it possible that we hide behind our masks? People can’t see what we are really thinking.

We have become faceless to the world and that gives us the boldness to express things that should be expressed, but maybe the opposite is also true?

We have lost our ability to reach out and pick up the phone and really talk about cares, concerns, issues, hope, love, fear and so much more.

And on the other hand, other damage is being done. We don’t know how to respond to the hate and viciousness so instead we say nothing.

How will you be when this crisis is all over? The same?


Are we going to keep these horrible traits that we have picked up during the pandemic or take a good long look at ourselves and how we should use the very mouths we have been given by our wonderful God.

Here are a few thoughts that stand out to me:

James 1:19 “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.”

Proverbs 18:2 ” Fools find no pleasure in understanding, but delight in airing their own opinions.”

Psalm 19:14 ” May these words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.”

Proverbs 15:1 ” A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

Psalm 141:3 ” Set a guard over my mouth, LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips.”

Romans 12:18 ” If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”

I Peter 3:8-12 “Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. For, “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech. They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.'”

I’d love to hear your thoughts about this subject! Have we grown bolder, but in a dangerous way?
Please leave your comments and share this with those who might be interested!

Until next time,

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

Theater Changed My Life.

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

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

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

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

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

Why?

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

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

Theater changed my life.

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

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

And…

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

And then enter COVID.

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

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

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

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

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

Alana Becker, Lauren Hoffman and me during summer camp!

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

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

Let the summer theater programs begin!!

Next week. Music Man thoughts!

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

Until next time!

artistic vision, audience, awards, broadway, christian, communication, entertainment, family, theater

Freedom and Hamilton and What We Can Learn from Both

I’m not so sure why this week’s blog was so difficult to write. I’d love to say that it’s because I wasn’t a history scholar and perhaps I’m afraid of saying something wrong.

I’m afraid it runs much deeper than that.

I have told you before. I was raised to be deeply patriotic. My dad fought in three wars and spent twenty-five years in the military. He loved America. He saw the faults, but loved this country and by his example, I did too. I feel privileged to be raised an American. I’m proud of my dad. I’m proud that he would risk his life to protect the freedoms that we all enjoy. Have you ever thought that there are reasons people put their lives in danger to try to make their way into our country and escape their own? I think we have it pretty great.

And yet….we are a divided country right now. We are torn politically. We are torn because of the virus. And we are torn on other levels as well.

It isn’t the first time we’ve been divided. When the Continental Congress declared their independence from the British during the reign of King George the III not everyone was in favor of that decision, but TOGETHER we fought for freedom. Our country has been torn during the Civil War and again during the Vietnam War when people avoided the draft and escaped to Canada to avoid fighting for something they didn’t believe in.

For years, people disdained a person who avoided the draft in such a manner. Now, it makes no difference to most people.

For a time we loved the freedoms that this country fought for and in turn granted all those who were citizens.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” – The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

What are the freedoms we are granted?

  1. Freedom of speech
  2. Freedom of religion
  3. Freedom of the press
  4. Freedom to assemble peaceably
  5. Freedom to petition the Government.

With these freedoms we become the freest people in the world.

When do you get those freedoms? Do you have to work for them? Or be of legal age? No. You are granted these freedoms the day you are born. It doesn’t matter politically what side of the fight you are on: Republican or Democrat, you can use the freedoms you are given to push for change or oppose it.

Wow. You. Me. We. have the freedom to push for change. And I am so glad we all do.

Did you know that, John Adams, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, wrote that the 4th of July should “be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty!

So you might be thinking….what does freedom and what people have fought for have to do with Hamilton?

During this time of celebration by many Americans, the Broadway musical Hamilton is making it’s screen debut and I think we can learn a lot from the production as well as the man.

Timing is everything.

Could this musical be a source of healing? Is there a way to look at the moral vision of the show, and in some way, come together as a county? Instead of allowing our differences to destroy us? Could there be an intersection between faith, arts and change?

I have to admit, I didn’t know much about the musical when I first had the opportunity to see Hamilton! I thought it was full of rap music and had a story line that I wasn’t super crazy about, but I wasn’t going to miss the chance to see something that was such a work of art. Hamilton won 11 Tony Award in 2016, including best musical. I now know it is a work of genius.

What can we learn from this musical?

Chuck, Ashley and me before the show last winter!
  1. Hamilton is the retelling of a time in our history, but brilliantly deals with the social issues that we face today. Hamilton was an immigrant from the Caribbean and a major theme of this musical is his fight for dignity and equality.
  2. The story also centers on grace, forgiveness, death and redemption. Themes that a person of faith rests on, but ones that we all should remember. Those themes should give us hope and show us what life might look like. Those themes open the door for us to have discussions about faith and hope and how we all need God’s Grace in our lives.
  3. The musical includes scripture that impacts as it tells the story of the past. Did you know that the song, “One Last Time” contains a phrase from the scripture that George Washington used in his personal writings throughout his life? Historically, the most famous use was at a time he used it to express hope that Jews would flourish in America.

“May the children of the stock of Abraham who dwell in this land continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other inhabitants–while every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree and there shall be none to make him afraid.

May the father of all mercies scatter light, and not darkness, upon our paths, and make us all in our several vocations useful here, and in His own due time and way everlastingly happy.”

4. Did you know that Hamilton, like many of our founding fathers, practiced a real faith in God.? He even wrote hymns and poetry when he was a boy. Here is a few lines from one of his most quoted:

“Hark! Hark! A voice from yonder sky, Methinks I hear my Saviour cry, Come gentle spirit come away, Come to thy Lord without delay.”

5. Hamilton tells the story about a man who was ambitious. It has been said that the poorest man has the chance to be a millionaire in America and indeed, “Hamilton didn’t “Throw Away His Shot.” By the time America was formed, Hamilton was the second most powerful man in the United States.

6. Hamilton teaches forgiveness. His wife, Eliza struggles with forgiving Alexander for an affair and the chorus sings, “Forgiveness, Can you imagine?” Can we, in our country, forgive each other? Can we take a moment to listen and understand the pain and forgive? Can we follow Christ’s example? 70 x 7?

7. Hamilton broke the “rules.” It is full of hip-hop, rap, poetry and it is the first musical to cast people of color to play characters who historically were not. Hip-hop and rap has traditionally been known as music of rebellion. To place it in a musical about a revolution is brilliant and eye-opening. Then the original casting hopefully opens our eyes to a new way of thinking about things and new possibilities. There is so much to learn from that.

Are we listening?

8. It is a story of heartbreak and redemption. Hamilton receives the honors of war and yet becomes a political outcast. He loses a son in a duel and ultimately dies the same way. And yet, his wife redeems all the hurt. In the final scene Eliza sings about her new calling to start the first private orphanage in New York. She sings:

” In their eyes I see you, Alexander. I see you every time.”

And she looks up to heaven and smiles.

When we celebrate July 4th this year I am going to be thankful for my country, my freedoms, my friends (both the ones who share my beliefs and the ones who don’t).

I’m also going to be thankful for God’s work of redemption. At times, the world seems full of sadness and suffering. May we each have the courage to speak out and spread the hope the God gives. May we have courage to be a catalyst for change not just a bystander. I am going to be thankful for my freedom of speech (even though sometimes I’m afraid to take the chance to express myself.)

I am also thankful for musical theater!

I hope you can enjoy your families, friends and FREEDOM! Happy 4th of July!

Please let me know your thoughts! Has the time of unrest in our country sadden you? Or do you see it as a wonderful catalyst for change and discussion?

Don’t forget to subscribe to this blog so you never miss a post!

Until next time!

artistic vision, book review, communication, entertainment, family, reading, theater

“To Whom it May Inspire.” Thoughts from Creativity, Inc.

I am really jealous of my oldest daughter in one specific way. She seems to be able to make time to read…like really read maybe for an hour or hours a week. I’m not sure how she does it, but thinking back….there was a period of time in my life when I did the same thing. I’m desperately trying to regain that desire/ability, but still struggling a little.

A couple of year’s ago my daughter, Becca author of the Blog, Daily Joy, read the book Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull. She told me that I really NEEDED to read the book. To be honest, I kinda blew it off. Why did I want to read a book about the President of Pixar?? My mindset was that Pixar wasn’t Disney and I was too old for cartoons. So, when my daughter, Ashley, gave me the book for Christmas, I put it away.

Enter Covid. (Is it strange that every one of my blog posts lately say…Enter Covid? Life changing for sure….)

With Covid my world stopped and I tried to recreate good habits and get rid of old bad ones. I had previously made a New Year’s Resolution to read at least one book a month during this year. After a few light reads I decided to pull this book off the shelf.

Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull, co-founder (with Steve Jobs and John Lasseter) of Pixar Animation Studios, the Academy Award–winning studio behind Inside Out and Toy Story.

I cannot believe I waited this long to read this book. It was inspirational, motivational, entertaining and educational. This book tells the story of a man who had a dream and worked hard to build a company that set a new standard for a creative culture–believing at all times–that it is important to do the best work possible. I started reading it thinking that it was a great book to tell the story of Pixar, but quickly began telling my friends and anyone who would listen about the lessons I learned each day.Lessons that applied to me as a writer, director, story-teller, leader, President of a non-profit and maybe even just a person. I started taking notes realizing that this book is for me. Ed would tell stories about how they would write their scripts and I would find myself realizing that his struggles were things I needed to learn from.

My lessons didn’t stop there because Creativity, Inc. is also a book for managers who want to lead their employees to new heights, and create a working environment that is successful, safe and causes each employee to also strive to be better.

Here are a few of my favorite quotes:

“If you give a good idea to a mediocre team, they will screw it up. If you give a mediocre idea to a brilliant team, they will either fix it or throw it away and come up with something better.” 

“You are not your idea, and if you identify too closely with your ideas, you will take offense when they are challenged.” 

“Failure isn’t a necessary evil. In fact, it isn’t evil at all. It is a necessary consequence of doing something new.” 

“If you aren’t experiencing failure, then you are making a far worse mistake: You are being driven by the desire to avoid it.” 

“Getting the right people and the right chemistry is more important than getting the right idea.” 

“When it comes to creative inspiration, job titles and hierarchy are meaningless.” 

“When faced with a challenge, get smarter.” 

“Fear can be created quickly; trust can’t.” 

“Craft is what we are expected to know; art is the unexpected use of our craft.” 

“Making the process better, easier, and cheaper is an important aspiration, something we continually work on—but it is not the goal. Making something great is the goal.” 

“What is the point of hiring smart people, we asked, if you don’t empower them to fix what’s broken?” 

“Always take a chance on better, even if it seems threatening.” 

“You’ll never stumble upon the unexpected if you stick only to the familiar.” 

“Be patient. Be authentic. And be consistent. The trust will come.” 

“The future is not a destination – it is a direction.” 

“We must remember that failure gives us chances to grow, and we ignore those chances at our own peril.” 

“We want people to feel like they can take steps to solve problems without asking permission.” 

“THERE IS NOTHING quite like ignorance combined with a driving need to succeed to force rapid learning.” 

“Quality is the best business plan.” 

“it is not the manager’s job to prevent risks. It is the manager’s job to make it safe to take them.”

The title, “To Whom it May Inspire.” is taken from a section of the book where Ed is talking about something he created called, “Notes Day.” He warns that things change and that they should and we shouldn’t be afraid of that change but instead approach it with fresh thinking. Ed received a letter from one of his animators, Austin Madison, which started, “To Whom it May Inspire,” He stated that like most artists he constantly shifts between two states. The first is white-hot, “in the zone.” A place where everything flows creatively. He says it only happened 3% of the time. The other happens the other 97% of the time and is when we are frustrated, struggling and throwing ideas out the window constantly. His advice?

PERSIST

PERSIST on telling your story.

PERSIST on reaching your audience.

PESIST on staying true to your vision.

That’s what we do. Keep on keeping on. Stay focused. Don’t give in.

I think there is comfort in the fact that we will always have problems: some we see right away and some that come out of nowhere….like COVID.

It isn’t the goal to avoid the problems or even to make things easier. The goal is to rise above the problem with excellence.

Who is this book for? EVERYONE. Honestly, do yourself a favor and read it. It isn’t a quick read because there is sooooo much to think about. You might be surprised. You might even shed a tear. It’s that good.

Link to the book on Amazon – https://www.amazon.com/Creativity-Inc-Overcoming-Unseen-Inspiration/dp/0812993012/

I’d love to hear your thoughts! Thank you in advance for commenting and for sharing this post!

Until next time,

acting, communication, family, theater

It Is Written All Over Your Face (But I Can’t See It Because You Have A Mask On)

Few realize how loud their expressions really are. Be kind with what you wordlessly say.”

― Richelle E. Goodrich, Making Wishes

An actor uses a variety of tools to convince an audience that he truly has become the character he is playing. As a director, I am constantly encouraging the actor to build his character from the outside in or inside out. I don’t care which way he chooses, but it is a must to combine your body and face for the full character development.

In fact, most of us study the face for clues to what a person is really saying to us. Non-verbal communication becomes essential in acting. Did you know that according to a study by Dr. ‘s Paul Ekman and Wallace Frieseney, they found that, the 42 muscles in the face responsible for expression, can make over 10,000 configurations! 3,000 of these relate to emotions. Amazingly enough, expressing yourself by the use of your face doesn’t come natural to everyone! But it is so important.

I remember vividly being scolded as a youngster for the “tone of my voice.” The words I said and my facial expression might have been communicating one message, but the message that was coming from the tone of my voice made my parents believe I was being disrespectful. (which I probably was. Sadly.) Maybe if I had a twinkle in my eye and a smile on my face I would have gotten away with it….again….probably not.


Often words do not match emotions, but the face can betray what the person is actually feeling. Thus, important in communication, but also in acting.

People’s emotions are rarely put into words , far more often they are expressed through other cues. the key to intuiting another’s feelings is in the ability to read nonverbal channels , tone of voice , gesture , facial expression and the like.

Daniel Goleman

Why do I bring this up now?

You got it. The masks.

Now don’t misunderstand me. I am not saying don’t wear them. I am not saying I don’t believe in them. In fact, when I am around groups of people I will be sporting this beautiful Cubs mask made by SERJ Handiworks (serjhandiworks.com if you want one) But I do think we need to understand that there are risks that go beyond health risks. If we focus on those maybe we can prevent problems that might occur after this year of mask wearing.

If we cover half of our face, we only have half to communicate with. Let’s be aware that we still need to be expressive when we are engaging with others.

In a recent study about Facial paralysis a group was shown videos of people with disorders that affect facial movement, They were then asked for their first impressions based on the videos.

People with severe facial movement impairment were rated as less happy and sociable compared to people with mild facial movement impairment. Participants also had less desire to form friendships with them.

In other words, it is very difficult to conquer the human tendency to form impressions based on facial expressions or lack of them.

In 2001 there was a study done on children to test their face-reading skills. This study showed that children with stronger face-reading skills were more popular, and performed better academically. They also discovered that students who had trouble with face-reading had more trouble making friends and had learning difficulties.

I do not wish to alarm and I’m not even sure I totally agree with the results of the study on face-reading. However, I do believe that we need to be aware that with the masks we need to try harder.

Don’t hide behind your mask. The eyes are the window to your soul. Make an effort to connect with the people you see. Honestly, we are all in need of a human connection. It might be the smile in your eyes that makes a difference in someones’ day.

Who knows? Maybe when we can take those masks off for good we will find that the work we put into our facial expression will offer communication and connections that we would never have made before this whole thing started.

And that would be a very good thing indeed.


2 Corinthians 3:18

‘And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.’

I’d really love to hear from you! Please leave me your comments. But I’d love it if you would share this blog as well!

Until next time!

Reba