As I write this it has not been decided who will be the next President of the United States.
It has been a long campaign season…well, it’s been a long year in many ways.
Theater is such a wonderful way to escape my everyday problems. I’m sad that the lessons from theater and entertainment aren’t available to us right now. But I find myself thinking about it anyway.
Politics and Theater? It all makes me think about Julius Caesar. (Yes. I’m that much of a theater geek….Oh, you thought I was talking about history?? Well, hang on.) It seems there was a recent production that styled their Caesar after a recent President. It began making political waves. Is this a shock? No. Theater has always been political. In fact, almost every play engages with the politics of its time in some way.
Here are a few political plays and musicals to put on your watch list.
1. Mary Stuart (1800) by Friedrich Schiller I love Elizabethan history. I am so thankful that we live in a time that you don’t get your head cut off just for being on the wrong side of an argument! No one understood better than Schiller the devious ways of politics. At first glance one could be fooled that this is simply a romantic tragedy about two warring queens, Elizabeth I and Mary Stuart. The most famous scene; however, shows Elizabeth beset by contradictory arguments about Mary’s fate. Should she be beheaded? Should she be forgiven and banished or should she live under the threat of…well…the axe?
2. The Crucible (1953) by Arthur Miller Did you know that Miller’s historical drama about the Salem witch trials of 1692 was inspired by Senator Joe McCarthy’s House Un-American Activities Committee and its persecution of suspected communists? Like most plays, the deep meanings are not the ones simple to find. Set in 1692, inspired by events of 1938, and yet the plot of this play can resonate with us today. It is about a community plagued by guilt, suspicion and fear. What is truth?
3. Richard III by William Shakespeare I did just mention Julius Caesar, but if you want a Shakespeare play that really makes you think of dirty politics try this one. Shakespeare’s Richard is most likely more of a despicable tyrant than the historical Richard was, but the story of his rise to power is very much the story of a dangerous, charismatic man seizing power from people who refuse to take him seriously.
4. 1776 by Sherman Edwards and Peter Stone. The show is based on the events leading up to the signing of the Declaration of Independence, telling a story of the efforts of John Adams to persuade his colleagues to vote for American independence and to sign the document.
5. Of Thee I Sing by George and Ira Gershwin This musical lampoons American politics; the story concerns John P. Wintergreen, who runs for President of the United States on the “love” platform. When he falls in love with the sensible Mary Turner instead of Diana Devereaux, the beautiful pageant winner selected for him, he gets into political hot water.
Politics. Not something I love or enjoy. I don’t think it brings out the best in anyone. Sadly, I don’t think we can escape politics. Perhaps in this moment you think that the election is over and we don’t have to deal with ads or debates or news media twisting the facts and that may be true in that arena. However, politics exists in every area of our lives. We deal with dishonesty, corruption, lies, slander, backbiting, climbing to get to the top and much more in our workplace, with friends and sadly even the church. So, what do we do?
1) Laugh long and often. Even at yourself.
2) Remember the words to the old chorus: “This world is not my home I’m just a passin’ through. My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue.” Keep your eyes on the prize.
3) Hold yourself to a higher standard. Remember, we are all sinners. Worship our God not men.
4) God will hold you fast. Rest in that.
5) Watch plays and musicals. Trust me.
Have you watched a political play that I’ve forgotten? What do you think of the ones I’ve listed here?
Until next time! This is just me talking to you….From the wings.
When COVID shut our country down months ago, my husband and I found ourselves in front of the TV night and after night. When we determined that this crisis was not going to go away anytime soon, we started to try to figure out how to change what we were watching as well as breaking it up so that we weren’t just watching mindless TV EVERY NIGHT.
We established Friday night movie night. He brings home a nice take-out dinner and I pick three movies for him to choose from. Then we have Sunday night documentaries–look at us being all educational!! I usually let him pick that as well.
This past Sunday our conversation went something like this:
Me: “Do you know what documentary you want to watch tonight?”
Me: “Okay. Which one?”
Him: “The Trial of the Chicago 7.”
I had seen that advertised and knew that it was something I wanted to check out, but hadn’t had the chance to do it yet so….
Me: “Great! I thought that looked interesting too.”
Fast forward five minutes into the movie.
Me: “This doesn’t seem like a documentary to me.”
Me: “You pulled a fast one, didn’t you? This is a movie.”
Him: “Yes. I wanted to see it. And it’s a little like a documentary.”
Uh No. No, it isn’t.
What is the difference?
Actors. Generally, documentaries use real people in real situations to tell a story. (Sometimes they do reenact the stories as well.) Films use actors. And man, was the acting good in this one.
Fantastic Beasts star Eddie Redmayne plays anti-war activist Tom Hayden. Sacha Baron Cohen assumes the role of fellow protester Abbie Hoffman. The Black Panther Party co-founder Bobby Seale is portrayed by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (Watchmen), and Snowden’s Joseph Gordon-Levitt is prosecuting lawyer Richard Schultz. Throw in Frank Langella and Micheal Keaton and you see this cast of full of acting power! Their characters were believable and realistic. That alone made the movie worth watching!
2. Escape vs. Reality. The general purpose of a film is to entertain. Documentaries are meant to inform or confront the audience with reality. Now, granted, documentaries want to engage their audience and a movie can be informative, but what is the motivation?
Sorkin’s film, hit Netflix on Oct. 16 and tells the story of the riots at the 1968 Chicago Democratic National Convention and the circus-like trial of political activists that followed the next year. Research seems to indicate that Steven Spielberg first mentioned the idea to Sorkin in ideas of themes–civil unrest, politics, police brutality, tensions in all political areas –over 14 years ago.
“I never wanted the film to be about 1968,” Sorkin says in an interview with Hollywood Reporter, I never wanted it to be an exercise in nostalgia or a history lesson. I wanted it to be about today. But I never imagined that today would get so much like 1968.”
3. Fact or Fiction. Movies are usually mostly fiction. They can be based on actual events or people, but elements get added and directors admittedly take creative license. Documentaries are non-fiction. The director might shape it a certain way, but they don’t add elements to the stories.
Was it good? Yes. And if the purpose was to get me to know more about this historic event, it succeeded. It was brilliantly written. The dialogue between the judge and Abbie Hoffman alone is worth the watch.
If the purpose was to awaken me to the horrors of police brutality and racial injustice it failed. Not because it didn’t show events that were horrific because it did and at first I was outraged. Taking a deeper look troubled me.
I believe part of the problem with our culture right now is that we have lost understanding of the truth. Our leaders, social media, politicians, news outlets– shout their story–twisting just a little bit here or there until we either follow blindly or turn our minds off because it is too overwhelming. Once in awhile there is the brilliant person who can make sense out of the whole mess. Why take a story that was deeply rooted in police brutality, racial injustice and twist it to make it worse? The story itself was terrible.
In twisting and adding to the story, I believe you make it a fictional story. One that we need not take seriously. There is a huge danger to that because indeed, it is a story that needs to be told. There is another danger, and that is that we allow ourselves to be shaped by what entertainments sources tell us or what us to believe instead of digging and learning the truth. People, there is power in the truth! FIND IT!
Many of the protesters were in response to the Vietnam War. As I write that, my fingers refuse to type for a few more moments. My dad and countless number of his friends fought in that war. I’ll never forget standing next to him at one of the Vietnam Walls as he searched for the names of his friends. My dad was a hero. My dad and countless others served, fought, bled and some died so that we could have freedom. I know the protestors had their reasons to be against the war, but where would we be now without all of our heroes who bled and died for our freedoms?
This year has been a struggle. We all know the reasons and we all know how we have responded.
What have we come to, America? What have we come to, Christians? Do we rise up to stop bullying, slander and injustice….untruth?
Are you part of it? Do you speak out? Or has fear caused you to “hide your light”?
I know I have been all over the place with this post, but I believe this is a story that needs to be told.
Several years ago our church was in a bad place. About ten of us decided to start a Bible study outside of the church. We read the book, Crazy Love. If you haven’t read it, do it. It will change your life when you get a small picture of how much God loves you.
Anyway, one of the ladies told us that she was going to begin to pray for a certain thing to happen that would allow our church to heal. We all laughed at her. Seriously.
But she kept praying. And praying. We told her that God was big enough for that to happen, but we didn’t think He would grant us that answer. But still she prayed. With faith. Nothing wavering.
And the prayer was answered. And then she started praying for the next step in the healing process and… well, you understand.
Maybe it’s time for us to become reacquainted with our faith and the power of prayer. It might be a really good time to drop to our knees and ask God for help, grace, mercy and compassion.
Who is with me???
P.S. Watch The Trial of the Chicago Seven. I’d love to know what conclusions you come to!
I’m not sure exactly when this tradition started, but somewhere in the last 15 years it has become my habit to either have a pre-show dance party with my fellow castmates or have a play-list that I listen to that has music specifically picked for the show I am in.
The Trip to Bountiful was no different. I picked these songs back in February and at sometime during show day I listen to them.
Here are the songs I picked for Bountiful.
1) Finally Home by MercyMe. Carrie Watts has one desire: to get back to Bountiful before she dies. One of the lines in Finally Home is “When I finally make it home, I will gaze upon the throne of the King. All the questions that I swore I would ask just won’t come yet.” Finally Home. I think it means the same thing to Carrie.
2) I Can Only Imagine by MercyMe This song has always been one of my favorites. I’m not sure how we will feel when we see Jesus face to face for the first time. What will we feel? What will we do? I like to think of Carrie finally seeing her Lord where she can sing hymns for all eternity!
3) We Remember by Newsboys This song lists miracles and angels and promises of God and reminds us to not forget the lessons including death has no power and that God died for us at Calvary! Yes, God, we remember and so does Carrie!
4) The Greatest Show. Well, what can I say? Is there any other song that gets your heart beating and energized more that this one? It begins, “Ladies and Gents, this is the moment you’ve been waiting for.” I feel like that every moment right before we go on stage. We can’t wait to get out and perform!
5) No One Knows Who I Am. Carrie has lost her strength and dignity. She feels like no one knows her any longer. She wants to go home to find her one true friend and remember all the things that made her who she is.
6) This is the Moment.“When I send all my doubts and demons on their way.” Carrie needed to make a decision that running away is the only thing she can do. It is a chance, a chance to see everything she has been dreaming about for years. She wants to prove she is still worth something to the world.
7) Circle Of Life from The Lion King. Carrie has a speech at the end of the play when she realizes that she can’t fight the circle of life. Things don’t stay the same way. Crops grow. Land wears out. The next generation doesn’t have the same values. Life changes. It’s life. What can we learn from it?
8) I Can’t Get Next to You by The Osmond Brothers. Well, the Osmond Brothers are a guilty pleasure. They remind me of being young and all the things that being a teenager meant to me. Carrie needs a little of that too, doesn’t she?
9) Can’t Get There Without You by The Osmond Brothers. There comes a time that Carrie realizes that she really wants Jessie Mae to like her. She wants Jessie Mae to like the things that she does. I don’t believe that Carrie NEEDS Jessie Mae, but imagine how great it would be if they appreciated each other?
10) Save Me by The Osmond Brothers. This song is much like Can’t Get There Without You. Jessie Mae has the power to save Carrie and she doesn’t even realize it. This song makes Carrie long for something better.
11) Down By the Lazy River by The Osmond Brothers. This song is full of so much fun.. I feel like this is what Carrie is singing as she wants everyone to follow her down to the river that runs along her old house!
12) One Bad Apple by The Osmond Brothers….notice a trend?? I really have no excuse for this one. I just like the Osmonds and they seemed to fit the mood I wanted to create. (Now, you probably know too much about me.)
13) Mother-in-law by Ernie K. Doe. Well, I didn’t say Carrie was all good, did I?
When the clock tolled to ring in 2020 I would have told you that I was very happy with what the year was probably going to look like. Overshadowed had grown. We had a new group of volunteers. We made changes to have some of our newer volunteers take ownership in areas that we consider ministry. I had become a better planner and marketeer. We had a record number of season ticket holders and a fantastic season planned. In short, we had met every one of our goals for the year!
And then COVID. (I know. You are sick of hearing me say that, but honestly I have no other words.)
When COVID shut us down I went through almost depression. I lost my focus. I honestly didn’t have any idea what God wanted me to do.
Slowly, I started to use the time to LEARN. I joined Ken Davenport’s THE THEATER MAKERS. I took an instagram class (Not quite finished with that yet.) And I attended (Virtually) a Writer’s convention (She Writes For Him). All of this was life-changing for me. It sharpened my focus and gave me a little drive to put things into place so that I can be a better leader when we fully open again.
The most important lesson I learned? My voice hasn’t been silenced. I may not get to act/direct right now, but whether I write an email or a blog post…it is still my voice. God gave me lessons and stories–I should share them.
Lesson Two. I’m behind social media wise. I knew that of course, but if I want people to hear me I was told I have to catch up. So. I was encouraged to start a You Tube Channel. This was a big jump for me, but a group of very inspirational people gave me some great advice. Here’s hoping that together we can create content that will inspire others. By the way, it will really help me if you become a subscriber. At present, From the Wings doesn’t even show up in a search. Help!
My blog will still be once a week. My YouTube will probably be more like once a month. Today’s blog contains the first video. As an actor it is important to know the purpose of the spotlight, but are there dangers that you can avoid?
I hope you will support me in this new venture! Please make sure you become a subscriber! If there are topics you’d like to hear us explore please let me know!
I’d like to give a special thanks to Aaron Brewster and Abby Wilken for creative wisdom. I’d like to thank Yohannan Lee for his design of my new logo and for his help and artistic wisdom in getting everything set up. I’d like to thank Mike Larsen and Rebecca Leland for their support in lighting and recording. I’d like to give special thanks to Brianna Valentine for her leadership, organization, and direction and editing. I am so fortunate to have an incredible team.
As always the more you talk about what we have going on here-the more other people will hear.
This month I tackled four books! They were all very different and I loved the places they took me. You will find in my book reviews I am going to be very honest about the way I feel about each book. Please understand that I do not intend to be mean about the reasons I do not like something, but I feel that my words matter so if I don’t like it–I won’t mince words. More about that when we get to book number 3.
First up, a dear friend of mine suggested that I read this. I have read several of Susan Meissner’s books and always enjoyed them so it was not a hard sell to get me to purchase this book. I knew it was about the Spanish Flu. I didn’t know; however, how often I would check to see when this book was published. I felt like someone had taken pages out of 2020 and written a fiction story about it. Eye-opening would be an understatement.
From the book cover:
“In 1918, Philadelphia was a city teeming with promise. Even as its young men went off to fight in the Great War, there were opportunities for a fresh start on its cobblestone streets. Into this bustling town, came Pauline Bright and her husband, filled with hope that they could now give their three daughters–Evelyn, Maggie, and Willa–a chance at a better life.
But just months after they arrive, the Spanish Flu reaches the shores of America. As the pandemic claims more than twelve thousand victims in their adopted city, they find their lives left with a world that looks nothing like the one they knew. But even as they lose loved ones, they take in a baby orphaned by the disease who becomes their single source of hope. Amidst the tragedy and challenges, they learn what they cannot live without–and what they are willing to do about it.”
As Bright As Heaven is the story of the Bright family; Thomas and Pauline and their daughters Maggie, Evelyn, and Willa.
I may have mentioned before that I don’t particularly care for books that are told from alternate points of view. So when I discovered that each chapter alternates between each of the females in this story– different points of view–I wasn’t a fan. It always seems to take me a little more time to attach myself to the characters when they each take a turn telling the story. If that doesn’t bother you then this book might be for you!
This historical novel is based on the 1918 Spanish flu epidemic that wiped out nearly fifty million people worldwide, though very few people know much if anything about it.
The story is a dark one. At least it was to me. It might be the timing for me. Perhaps it is because I watch the news every day and see the death totals rise or maybe because I heard the stories of the bodies in New York that didn’t have graves because there was no time or place to accomplish a proper burial. All in all, reading this book made me think of everything we are going through now. On the other hand it was also incredibly hopeful. Life goes on. There is always hope.
There is also something to be said for a story that doesn’t wrap everything up into a neat little package. The reality is that, at times, we all hurt in our real lives. The events in As Bright as Heaven make our hearts hurt a little and that’s okay. The events are written with love to answer the following question posed by the author at the end of the book concerning the fact that death will come for us all one day.
“How does this knowledge that we are mortal affect our choices? The risks we take? The risks we don’t? …… We are, all of us, living out the stories of our lives. Each of our stories will end, in time, but meanwhile, we fill the pages of our existences with all the love we can, for as long as we can. This is how we make a life.”
By far my favorite thing about the book was the details about the Spanish Flu. I loved her acknowledgements and resources at the end of the book. Susan described vividly the impact of the flu on the old and young alike-even making us consider the children who ultimately have family and friends die. Sometimes having to consider if their own carelessness caused the death of their loved one. Ouch! Sound like something we are experiencing now?
It is important to note that she reminds us that even if you cannot see the wounds no one escaped without wounds of some sort.
“We only see a little bit of our stories at a time, and the hard parts remind us too harshly that we’re fragile and flawed. But it isn’t all hard. Your story isn’t all hard parts. Some of it is incredibly beautiful.”
You think you have a view of what’s waiting for you just up the road, but then something happens, and you find out pretty quick you were looking at the wrong road.”
“I think that grief is such a strange guest, making its home in a person like it’s a new thing that no one has ever experienced before.”
“Home isn’t a place where everything stays the same; it’s a place where you are safe and loved despite nothing staying the same.”
Who should read this? If you love historical fiction this book is for you. The details alone make it worth it.
Warnings: Death is almost its own character in this book so it is dark and heavy at times.
Book #2Educated by TaraWestover
Turning toward our house on the hillside, I see movements of a different kind, tall shadows stiffly pushing through the currents. My brothers are awake, testing the weather. I imagine my mother at the stove, hovering over bran pancakes. I picture my father hunched by the back door, lacing his steel-toed boots and threading his callused hands into welding gloves. On the highway below, the school bus rolls past without stopping.
I am only seven, but I understand that it is this fact, more than any other, that makes my family different: we don’t go to school.
–from Educated by Tara Westover.
The inside cover of the book jacket reads: “Tara Westover was seventeen the first time she set foot in a classroom. Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, she prepared for the end of the world by stockpiling home-canned peaches and sleeping with her ‘head for the hills’ bag. In the summer she stewed herbs for her mother, a midwife and healer, and in the winter she salvaged metal in her father’s junkyard.”
After reading that and a few other details about how Tara was raised you open the book and read this:
“This story is not about Mormonism. Neither is it about any other form of religious belief. In it there are many types of people, some believers, some not; some kind, some not. The author disputes any correlation, positive or negative, between the two.”
And instantly I am intrigued. I read this book at the urging of my husband. He read it and couldn’t wait to talk to me about it. I dragged my feet. The title sounded boring and I’m not really a non-fiction reader. I much prefer to escape in my reading. But I read her note and wondered, “What are you going to tell us about that makes you write a disclaimer like that???”
What we know:
Tara Westover grew up in an extreme survivalist Mormon family in Idaho. She didn’t receive a birth certificate for years, she didn’t go to school, and never went to the doctor. Although many details seem to be debatable she must have received enough home-schooling from her mother or other siblings along with effort she put into it herself to allow herself to gain entrance into Brigham Young University.
Although that is an amazing part of the story, much of the memoir is about her childhood.
Tara is the youngest of seven children. Her three oldest brothers experienced a different early childhood than the younger Westover children did. Tony, Shawn, and Tyler were allowed to attend school for a few years before Tara’s dad, Gene, began to get paranoid that the federal government would come and interfere, like the FBI did to the Weaver family.
There is something about the way Tara writes that is fascinating to me. I could easily picture her working in the salvage yard, or singing on stage or looking at all the burns and injuries that she dealt with over the years. She writes in a way that just makes you “see” it-almost experience it with her. It indeed did almost seem fictional that Tara could have escaped the countless incidents that she tells us about. Chapter after chapter has us holding our breath for tragedy the family will experience. How can so much happen to one family??
I connected with Tara not because I have ever experienced the horrors that she had, but there was something in her writing that pulled me along. I wanted to cheer for her. She helped me see things through her eyes. She gives several notations through the book that other people in her family don’t remember things the way she does and honestly, that was also okay with me.
Whoever we are, we hear and listen through the lens of our own experiences. We analyze what has happened through that lens. So when you tell a story it might not be the same way your sister remembers it. I thought it made Tara more human to me.
Much of Tara’s younger years are filled with horrific instances. As she tells story after story you root for her to get away–go somewhere safe.
She finally makes it onto campus and immediately begins to judge the people she lives with. “This person wears clothes too tight and too short. That person works on Sunday!”
I had to put the book down.
Not because I didn’t like it. But because it caused me to look at myself.
How often have we prejudged someone because we have been taught that a simple act of wearing the wrong color lipstick or dress at the knees instead of below the knees makes them a….”—–“?Tara carried the lessons of her family with her. She couldn’t escape them. Sometimes we are not that far removed from the very things we dislike in others.
There are other moments that are more horrifying. Burns and injuries, beatings and abuse. Sadly, all done by the people that are supposed to love you and protect you. I think that is one of the saddest parts about the book is that I think Tara really loved her family, but couldn’t live with their beliefs and behaviors any longer.
Do you think that perhaps Tara wrote the book to “educate” others? Do you think she wrote it so that it would heal what was broken in her?
After I finished this book I began to search the web for stories from her family. I wanted to know how they responded to the stories she told. I discovered that many people are not sure the book is indeed true.
Interesting. I will let you do your own research to make that decision for yourself. Once thing is sure. She definitely is educated now! She even has her PH.D. That is inspiring enough for any read.
“To admit uncertainty is to admit to weakness, to powerlessness, and to believe in yourself despite both. It is a frailty, but in this frailty there is strength: the conviction to love in your own mind, and not in someone else’s.”
“You can love someone and still choose to say goodbye to them,” she says now. “You can miss a person every day, and still be glad that they are no longer in your life.”
“It’s strange how you give the people you love so much power over you, Ihad written in my journal. But Shawn had more power over me than I could possibly have imagined. He had defined me to myself, and there’s no greater power than that.”
“what a person knows about the past is limited, and will always be limited, to what they are told by others.”
“The most powerful determinant of who you are is inside you,” he said. “Professor Steinberg says this is Pygmalion. Think of the story, Tara.” He paused, his eyes fierce, his voice piercing. “She was just a cockney in a nice dress. Until she believed in herself. Then it didn’t matter what dress she wore”.”
I could go on and on. I really really loved this book. I hope you will pick it up and read it and then I’d love to hear what you think.
Who should read this book? Adults who love stories about beating the odds. Those who love memoirs. Those who believe in family. Those who believe in the power of education.
Warnings: Extreme graphic violence and abuse. Not for sensitive minds.
I did not finish this book. I almost didn’t list it at all, because I honestly don’t want to promote this book. However, as I contemplated that fact, I realized that if I had seen a negative review such as this then I wouldn’t have wasted my money. So, here goes.
I am soooo disappointed in this book. I was excited to read something that was advertised as having “strong female friendship.” I loved the book cover and it’s colors and I felt like it was going to be a fun book to read. The book was recommend by one of the the book blogs I follow. It was recommended by someone that I thought would put a content warning if necessary.
I don’t necessarily consider myself as being a hyper sensitive reader, but the language choices and sexual content was extreme. When I got to the first swear word I paused. I read a little more and was confronted with a sexual innuendo. I wondered if I was reading too much into it and letting my mind fill in the wrong blanks so I kept reading. I’m sorry to say that I feel I read too much. The thought, “Set no wicked thing before mine eyes” kept going through my head so I finally said “enough was enough” and put the book away.
My take away:
Don’t just wholeheartedly read books that get recommended to you. Take a moment and do a little research to make sure you have the same values/opinions as those who are doing the recommending.
Book #4 If For Any Reason by Courtney Walsh
From the book cover:
“Emily Ackerman has traveled the world, her constant compass and companion a book of letters her mother left for her when she died. With no father in the picture, her mom’s advice has been her only true north. But when professional failure leads Emily back to Nantucket to renovate and sell the family cottage she inherited, she wonders if her mom left advice to cover this . . . especially when her grandmother arrives to “supervise.” And especially when her heart becomes entangled with Hollis McGuire, the boy next door–turned–baseball star who’s back on the island after a career-ending injury.
As sparks fly between her and Hollis, Emily is drawn to island life, even as she uncovers shocking secrets about the tragic accident that led to her mother’s death. With her world turned upside down, Emily must choose between allowing the voices from her past to guide her future or forging her own path forward.”
I’m pretty sure most anyone who is reading this blog right now has already heard of Courtney Walsh. If not, then hurry up and get your hands on any of the books she has written.
Courtney is my new favorite author. There are probably many reasons, but at the top is her wonderful writing style. Her word choices paint a picture for me that almost has me smelling the salt air and feeling the sand between my toes.
This particular book charmed me for another reason.
When Emily arrives in Nantucket she pulls her suitcase through town on the way to her Grandparent’s beach home. (Yes, I said beach) She suddenly finds herself looking at the arts center and entering the building and looking at the empty stage. I was hooked. I loved that so much of who Emily was started on that stage.
The characters were incredibly human and realistic, but my favorite character was Emily’s mom. We mainly hear her voice through the letters that Emily carries with her and we instantly realize the importance of such a treasure.
Families are complicated and navigating through this one kept me captivated and breathless as I turned page after page.
I loved that the story has layers. It isn’t just a light romantic read. Each character is thought out and comes with their own backstory, pain and dreams.
Sometimes you just want to sit down and read something that entertains you and sweeps you away. But if you can add plot and depth to your story you truly have discovered something priceless.
Who should read this book? Lovers of clean romantic fiction. If you like an entertaining story that tugs at your heart-strings. You should read this story if you love to read about the relationships between mothers and daughters. If you love Courtney Walsh!
That’s it for this month! Please let me know if you have read any of these books. Also, I’d love it if you would share these reviews and follow me!
By the way, I do not receive any compensation if you chose to order one of these books. It’s just me sharing my love of reading!
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 ?
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.
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!
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!
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.
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,
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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!
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!
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?
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!
The past few months we have learned a lot about ourselves. Some of us have learned that some time alone is not necessarily a bad thing while others have learned that they never really appreciated the humans in their lives. We have learned that differences can divide us. In fact, differences can cause hate and fear and bad behavior. In some cases, though differences can bring a needed change. We have become reacquainted with family time. We have learned what is important and what things we can do without.
Over the past two weeks Overshadowed held a theater camp. It was a smaller camp than we usually have. We didn’t have as many costumes or as many set pieces or props. We started the first day having to recognize each other just by our eyes and realized very quickly that it is indeed possible. We social distanced. The students were very quiet and almost lack luster. The teachers were concerned that camp wouldn’t be the same experience due to the restrictions we had due to COVID.
On Saturday, we finished with a performance of Music Man, Jr to an audience of 50. They loved it.
More importantly, the students loved it. Here are some of the things they learned: It doesn’t matter that the audience was small. They performed because they enjoyed performing and loved the experience even more. It didn’t matter that the audience was small. The 50 people were there and out of the house and so our cast was going to give the audience the best experience they could. It didn’t matter about the masks or social distancing. Our campers learned. They made new friends (close friends.) They created memories. Some said it was their best theater experience ever. I think I feel that way. It was incredibly special to walk out on that stage and look at the faces of an audience that was thrilled to sit in a seat with anticipation of being whisked away to River City.
I might have cried a little.
In our Bible study this week these verses stood out to me.
James 1:5 “If any of you lacks wisdom you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” You have no idea how I went back and forth about having camp. God gave the direction. Sometimes I don’t ask soon enough. I argue and try to figure it out…It’s not that I don’t want to bother God….but I act like that is my reasoning. “In every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:6. Every situation. With Thanksgiving. Ok. God….I know I haven’t been all that thankful during this COVID mess. It is a lesson I should have learned a long time ago. Thank you, God, for blessing even when I don’t trust. “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights.” I Chronicles 16:11. God cares about you. He cares about your hobbies and your loves and your fears. For me and the audience and the families of those students, these past weeks were a gift. I will receive it humbly and thankfully.
God has been so generous to me these past weeks. I am so thankful.
Is theater a gift for you? What have you learned these past months? I’d love to hear your thoughts! Please leave a comment and share this blog if you think others would like it as well!
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 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.
(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.
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.
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