Life-Changing Theatre Experience

Do you ever wish you could go back and do things over?

Sometimes you might want to have a redo. Other times it might be because it was such a wonderful experience that you’d like to enjoy it all over again. This past weekend someone told me that there is a fad now saying that your life is defined by what song was #1 on your 14th birthday. (Mine, by the way, was “I’ll Be There.” I can’t tell you how much I love that!) Of course, the second I heard that I was fourteen again in my mind.

The years that marked my time between Jr High and High School were spent in North Carolina.  I was a butterfly desperately trying to get out of her cocoon. I didn’t have confidence and honestly I feel most of that could have been changed with the help of teachers in my life that encouraged and mentored me instead of humiliated me….yeah, Jr. High was rough….

But then we moved back to Kinston. I loved Kinston. I loved my grandfather, Pop. We would walk together and he would tell me stories and listen to me and sometimes we would just be. (For more on my grandfather our next season will contain a play about a portion of his life. Look for it in the fall of 2019, “I Remember Pop”) Pop would listen to me and most of the time help me discover what we really important.  I always felt like I could achieve and do something that mattered when I was around him.

Flash forward to those days I would wander into the back of the local high school theater. (a school I didn’t attend. For more on that read:  https://fromthewings.org/2018/04/20/by-no-stretch-of-the-imagination/) The drama teacher stopped me and asked me why I was watching instead of participating. He then told me that he directed a theater group in the summer and he would love for me to get involved. As you know from the other post, I did. Throughout that summer my life changed. I gained such confidence. The confidence to try new things. The confidence to speak up. I also began to gain skill as the rehearsals involved singing and dancing. I loved every moment.

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Overshadowed Camp “Into the Woods”

Next week, our first summer camp of 2018 begins.  (By the way, we still have four spots left! Come join us! overshadowed.org ) Why do we have camps? It’s not to make money. It’s for a list of reasons:

  1. To provide an affordable theatrical experience. We learn everything in two weeks. We have auditions on the first day and teach and intensely rehearse for the next days until the three performances complete with costumes and set are performed the following week. What a rush!
  2. To teach. To help students to find new skills and hone the ones they all ready have.
  3. To provide a safe environment. We do not ask anyone to wear clothes or do something on stage that they might not be comfortable with.
  4. To encourage. (We are all in this together!)
  5. To change lives. Simply put, I believe the aspect of putting a play together in this short amount of time unifies the cast in ways that are unexplainable. I believe that our team of directors really care about the student more than the production and that we work to make each person feel important.

During that summer of community theatre someone asked me why I blushed so much. I 282440_208460605871759_2018874_ncouldn’t answer him because I was too embarrassed to get the words out. His reply, “My goal this summer is to get you to be able to speak confidently. The best gift God gives us is our speech. You ought to be able to use it effectively.”

I have held on to that life changing concept. That. Simply that. Is WHY.

If you are in theater, please remember the power you have. But it’s a good reminder for all of us I believe.

Do you have a story about the power of theater? Or speech? Or camp? Please take a moment to share it with us!

Until next time,

Reba

 

Seven ways to Improve Your Self-Esteem

If you looked in my closet anytime over the past 40 years you would get a pretty good picture of what was influencing me at the time.  In high school it was one style which changed radically when my parents sent me to Bob Jones. Those four years set me on a course of a different style for the next twenty years.  I remember the first time my daughter told me to stop wearing clothes that were at least two sizes too big for me. Traumatic. Now, you might be thinking that everyone’s closet does that, as styles change our clothes change.

Unfortunately, mine was much more than that.

For most of my life I found my self-worth in the people who I desperately wanted to value me. I needed acceptance. I wanted to do the things that I thought were important–not to me–but to get noticed. I can’t count the number of hours I spent in my room trying to do a head stand and learning a cheer, because I knew that everyone loved the cheerleaders. The cheerleaders were the girls everyone wanted to be like and the ones all the boys dated.  I never found the courage to try out.

Until college.

I’m not sure why I was able to change so radically. But, I did things that I never thought I would have courage to do. I found myself as an alternate on the cheerleading squad on Nu Delta Chi. (Thank you, Eugene Banks) From there I auditioned on a huge stage for a Shakespeare production. I was proud of myself for trying. Until my cousin told me the panel almost fell out of their seats laughing at me when I walked off the stage.

I never auditioned like that again.

And just like that in the first month of my freshman year you see two examples that had a dramatic impact on my life. One, a kind upperclassman who encouraged everyone at our dinner table. (we had assigned tables my first few years of college–with an assignment upper-class students to be host and hostess) Eugene might not realize the impact he had on me, but it was lasting and positive. The other, words that might not have been intended to hurt, but did; deeply.

Thus, this self-confidence, self-esteem monster I was fighting inside took control again.

self-es·teem
 confidence in one’s own worth or abilities; self-respect; faith in oneself.
Why is it so difficult to have just the right amount of self-esteem? Go too far and it’s pride–equally an ugly monster. But, I think it’s also a sin to not have enough self-esteem.  It cripples you from doing the very things you are passionate about doing.

Ways to Improve Your Self-esteem

1: Focus on the promises of God.
Now, if you are reading this and don’t believe in God–that one is going to be difficult for you. If, however, you do believe, then you know that the scriptures are full of promises. I used to print verses out and paste them everywhere. I needed to win the battle in my mind.  My favorite: Psalm 139:14 “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”
2: Focus on what is truly important.

Sometimes we spend too much time trying to be something or someone that is important when we don’t realize that something or someone is a misplaced value. Are the things/people you admire superficial or based on image and quantity? Are you allowing your life to be dictated by what is  important to others?

3. Take time to look back on your life and recognize the positive. Scan old pictures and notes that people have written and remember the good. Try not to dwell on a false reality of what might have been, but on the blessings you have been given.

4. Do Unto Others. Think about volunteering. Serving others makes you think about others and less about yourself. It is a positive experience as you meet the needs of others. It will begin to give value to yourself and others.

5. Exercise. It helps improve your mood and your physical health. Do I need to say more?

6. Look on mistakes as a way to learn instead of failure. Don’t beat yourself up your short comings. Realize that everyone makes mistakes. Look at it as a learning opportunity and get better.

7. Find time to do the things you enjoy. If you are enjoying things you will more than likely think more positively.

What does all of this have to do with the stage?

I totally believe that God used circumstances in my life to set me on my life’s course. Francine Rivers said it best in one of her books. She described our lives as a work of tapestry explaining that on the front our lives look all put together and beautiful, but if you turn it over and look on the other side you will see all the places God had to string together to get us in the right spot. Don’t you see? What might look like a mess to you is becoming a work of art!

For me:

God used my shyness to put people in my life that would connect me to drama. The imagination He gave me has allowed me to love stories. My parents sent me to Bob Jones University which shaped my philosophy of Drama, but also gave me courage and confidence. Then from teaching (which I really didn’t want to do at first–that’s a blog all on it’s own!) He gave me wonderful students over and over again–some of them have played on the Overshadowed stage! He gave me their parents to encourage and support, but also be such a part of the team of Overshadowed. I believe that my lack of self-esteemed has allowed me to minister in ways I could not have done. I think without that battle I would not have started Overshadowed not only did He place a wonderful dream/vision, but also provided the people to help it come true. God really did give me the desires of my heart. Trust Him.

What about you? Is this a battle you fight? Do you have a way your lack of self-esteem has ended up being a victory or blessing? Please take a moment and write a comment or share this blog!

Overshadowed by His love,

Reba

 

 

Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella-Changing the Fairy Tale

Cinderella has always held a fascination in my  heart. What girl doesn’t dream of the handsome prince picking her out of a crowd, falling madly in love with her and then giving her a “happy every after?”

When I was younger I would watch the version of Cinderella that had been filmed for TV. For awhile I think they played it every year. Most of my guy friends thought that Lesley Ann Warren was a beautiful princess in her own right and all the girls I knew felt the same about  Stuart Damon, who played the prince. I had the piano sheet music and at least once a week I would plunk out each of the songs and sing them with all the gusto I could muster. Of course, I would pretend to be each of the characters as I sang. I’m sure you all did that as well, right?

“In my own little corner, in my own little chair, I can be whatever I want to be. On the wings of my fancy I can fly anywhere and the world will open it’s arms to me.

I’m a young Norwegian princess or a milkmaid. I’m the greatest Prima Dona in Milan. I’m an heiress who has always had her silk made by her own flock of silkworms in Japan…….

Just as long as I stay in my own little corner…all alone  in my own little chair.”

Perfect song for me. It fits the dreamer–the shy girl who lived in her imagination where she could be anything she wanted to be.

So it was with great joy and anticipation I attended the revised version of Cinderella this past weekend. 31531490_10155160365140448_3898038006325444608_o

Here are my thoughts:

Costumes:

The costume design was by William Ivey Long. I found that the palette of colors he chose was less than exciting. While I loved the fullness of the ball gowns, I was sad that they weren’t awe-inspiring. I wanted them to be luscious and rich, but instead I felt like they were just puffs of material. There was a great deal of attention given to the magic of making the dresses transform from rags to fancy (which was exciting) but in the process the rest of the costumes were just well…average.

Set Design and Technical

As we walked past the doors to find our aisle I caught a glimpse of the set.

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“Oh, my goodness!” I blurted out! “The set!” Beautiful! Simple (there was not one blackout in the entire play.) The flat surfaces had leaves and vines attached to them so that it gave them a beautiful 3-d effect. The artistry of the painting gave the set the right amount of realism yet gave a nod to the fact that this is a fairy tale. The technical aspects of the show were brilliant.  I loved the penlights that with the haze created a dreamlike atmosphere. My favorite moment? Well, along with everyone else in the room– the moment that Cinderella turned and her costume completely changed into a ball gown. If you haven’t watched that moment on You Tube–make sure you do. It’s stunning. Cinderella does that move twice and the Fairy Godmother has her own moment when she transforms from a beggar. I will be honest, the transformations were my favorite moments in the show. Doubly honest? Once they changed I was disappointed in the dresses. I loved that the fox and rabbit were hand puppets before Marie made them human. So cute! I also loved that the carriage spun in a circle surrounded by layers of fog to create the illusion that it was traveling.

Acting– Singing –Choreography

I LOVED Tatyana Lubov as Cinderella. She had the right amount of sweetness, gentleness,  kindness and spunk! I loved her voice and the imagery she created as she sang. I felt her emotions and dreamed with her!! I also liked Leslie Jackson as Marie (the character us traditionalists know as the Fairy Godmother) She had a physicality that made her character really come alive. Sadly, the rest of the cast was just ok. There were no stand outs. The play seemed to gain a certain energy when the ensemble began to sing, “The Prince is giving a ball.” and from that point on I did enjoy moments of the chorus singing.  Although, I had a difficult time understanding the lyrics of the songs I wasn’t familiar with. The choreography was also lackluster. I enjoyed the lifts and ballet aspects, but the rest of it made me feel that the dresses got in the way of the choreography. It simply didn’t create the beautiful, artistic picture of a fairy tale.

Favorite lines

“You’d be surprised how many beautiful dresses have crazy women in them.”

“Madame isn’t always terrible. Sometimes she sleeps.”

Conclusion

I was ready to love this play, but the beginning took me out of the story right away. The prince fights a dragon and some creature ( looking somewhat like a praying mantis) that none of us could figure out what it was!

At the end of the first act, Cinderella loses her glass slipper after the ball, but promptly runs back to get it. My friends and I spent intermission thinking that the cast was in the back trying to come up with ways to fix Cinderella’s horrible mistake! But then, there is another trip to the castle — yes, complete with more help from the Fairy Godmother and another beautiful gown — but not to fall in love, rather to push a local political agenda (with the help of her friendly stepsister) and then sort of fall in love anyway.

My interest had waned by this point, but now there was a segment about electing a new prime minister and Cinderella stops and leaves her slipper purposely on the steps. Thus, taking the magic of the fairy tale and making it modern and full of girl power and political agendas.

I’m a little sad at the way everything has to change. What’s wrong with a little bit of romance and fairy tales?

 If you want to see Cinderella fall in love with Prince Charming this might not be the show for you. If instead, you adore the new revised women fighting for political change-go see this. It plays at the Cadillac Theater until May 6th.

 

Did you see this production? What do you think about the trend of  revising fairy tales?  I’d love to hear from you!

 

 

 

 

By No Stretch of the Imagination

On a wonderful spring afternoon in 1972 I entered the doors of the local high school theater auditorium and sat down on the back row. For most people this would not be a matter of importance at all. But for me…well, maybe I’d better give you a few more details.

We moved back to Kinston, N.C. when I was entering the ninth grade. We lived down the street from the town’s high school. But my parents investigated the Christian school that was a little further out in the country and decided that was a good place for me to attend. I guess I really didn’t care which school I was going to attend. This was the one that my uncle was the principal of and my aunt would be my English teacher and my mom would teach there. I might have felt both fortunate and trapped! Looking back, all I really remember is that I made a few good friends, but never really felt like I fit in anywhere until I went to college.

I knew many of the students at the public school, well that really isn’t true. I wanted to know many of those students. I saw them in church and sometimes in the plays the high school would produce. Somehow, it isn’t a big surprise that I would get up enough courage to walk into this auditorium and plop myself down in a seat and just watch.

It was wonderful.

I watched the students running lines. I watched the director giving staging directions. I watched the choreography rehearsal and dreamed. Dreamed that I was the one up there getting all that instruction.

Somehow, I managed to sneak in and out of those rehearsals for days. I couldn’t wait for opening night!

Opening Night!

I bought a seat a few rows away from the orchestra, center stage. I was there and in my seat almost as soon as the doors opened. I can almost hear it now.

One by one each instrument began their individual process of tuning. Each made their sounds and then slightly adjusted the pitch until it was exactly in tune. The piano or drum banged out different notes and then played scales as they limbered up their fingers. This continued for about ten or fifteen minutes. All around me other audience members found their seats and the room began to expand with an aura of excitement. I sat memorized. I looked up at the lights and studied the way they were configured.  I looked at the orchestra members. I devoured the play program. I read all the bios and almost memorized what song would come first and all the synopsis of scenes.

Then, the conductor took his place and the overture began.  Slowly,  the lights began to dim. There is nothing more magical than that moment when the orchestra, audience and actors breathe together to create that unforgettable moment.

I count myself fortunate that I am lucky enough to have a vivid imagination. I believe it is one of the wonderful gifts God gave me when I was created, but also, my mom instilled in me a love of reading. Reading, helps expand a imagination.

That imagination helped theater become a haven for me. Theater, done right, can become a shelter. It is place where dreamers aren’t scoffed and the “uncool” aren’t picked on. It is a place where all talents (both artistic, mathematical and technical) come together as one.

Was my imagination stretched by theater? Yes. And it continues to be every day.

Day by day our culture is wanting things to come to them instead of having to leave their comfy home. Live streaming of events. Uber eats instead of going out.

Please don’t ever replace live theater. The world would be a little less wonderful without all the good that comes from this kind of imagination.

“Isn’t it splendid to think of all the things there are to find out about? It just makes me feel glad to be alive–it’s such an interesting world. It wouldn’t be half so interesting if we know all about everything, would it? There’d be no scope for imagination then, would there?But am I talking too much? People are always telling me I do. Would you rather I didn’t talk? If you say so I’ll stop. I can STOP when I make up my mind to it, although it’s difficult.”
L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables
 Yep. I might be a little like Anne, with an E. Imagination. It’s such an interesting world.  don’t you agree?
(My first playbill. “The Hanging of Uncle Dilby” My high school drama club play. Can you find me?)
Until next time,
Reba

Character Breakfast: Eight ways to make it memorable.

There is a certain magic in meeting one of the Disney characters or even a cast member from a favorite show,  isn’t it? Even adults like to get their picture taken with one of their childhood favorites. In fact, many of my friends go back to Disney year after year even after their children have moved out!

I was lucky enough that my parents lived in Orlando so yearly we would take my children to visit their grandparents, but we also had the mixed blessing of taking annual trips to see the “mouse.” Each of my children responded differently to these wonderful fairytale characters. Rebecca, my oldest, was always timid and really had no interest in going closer to this larger-than-life mouse. Daniel, on the other hand, had no fear. He would climb out of the stroller faster than we could stop him and run to give every character, especially Winnie-the-pooh, a great big hug. Continue reading “Character Breakfast: Eight ways to make it memorable.”

Mary Stuart: A Theater Review

I have long been a fan of all things Elizabethan.  That shouldn’t be much of a surprise. It is a time period that is remembered for its richness in drama and poetry. The leap to why I am  a fan isn’t difficult.

The Chicago Shakespeare Theater on Navy Pier is my ideal theater. If someone IMG_3346
wanted to leave a legacy and build a theater for Overshadowed Theatrical Productions and told me they would build me anything I wanted….this would be the dream theater!  I love the intimacy. It seats hundreds, but there is not a seat in the house that you would feel apart from the action. It is breathtaking. Continue reading “Mary Stuart: A Theater Review”

The Journey Begins

There are a million blogs out there. You can find answers and opinions about reba new york 548712_10151191593584831_1978632005_neverything from how to write a blog to lists of all the ways you can be better at anything and everything. So why add a new one?

To be honest, I was told years ago that it was something I needed to do because I run a theater. That overwhelmed me and to be honest it still does. I don’t consider myself a good writer, but I feel like I’ve learned some things about theater that I would love to share. Perhaps I’ll talk a little more about everything that is involved in producing a play. Maybe I’ll talk about the journey to begin Overshadowed or the productions there. Or sometimes I’ll write about other productions around the area. Who knows? Maybe I can inspire you to go out and experience more theater on your own! At times, you just might learn more about me. And to be honest, I’m really hoping if I talk more about theater then maybe it will inspire more people to see theater or get involved in theater. Selfishly, I will want you to see how Overshadowed is different from other theaters and why I am so passionate about each and every thing we do.

Theater is personal to me. Life changing in every way.

  1. The first movie I remember vividly was The Sound of Music. I was in fifth grade and my father told me that I could go if I wouldn’t cry when he told me he was being sent to Viet Nam.
  2. The first live play I attended was ShowBoat. I really believe my Aunt Mary took me to get my mind off my father who was then in the war.
  3. The first play I had the opportunity to audition for was You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. I chickened out.
  4. The next chance I got I auditioned and received chorus parts in both How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and Godspell.
  5. My high school had a very small drama department, but I did manage to have enough courage to join the drama club which meant I was one of about 6 other people who staged a small play. It’s terrible, but I can’t remember the name….

I was hooked. I knew that whatever I did with the rest of my life it had to involve theater. And I have never looked back.

Okay. You are thinking, “But you said it changed your life. How did it do that?”

  1. It gave me self-confidence. Yep. I didn’t have ANY. In fact,  I didn’t even have enough confidence to even answer a question in class.
  2. It taught me the importance of team work. In blogs to come I will say more about how a cast and crew can be like a sports team.
  3. It  improved my communication skills. I had to have speech therapy when I was young. My parents would record me reading to encourage my speaking skills. As much as I loved to talk I had a hard time expressing my thoughts.
  4. It strengthened my memory skills. Ask me about this! It’s one of my strongest skills! (Ok that sounded a little proud….let’s just say confident!)
  5. It gave me appreciation for all of the arts. ALL art forms. Can I say again? Our God is an artist!!

And that’s just the beginning.

Here’s the plan. Blog at least once a week.  I’ve heard that it is more important to be consistent than to have multiple posts so I’m going to stick to something I think I can handle.  I am going to post every Monday morning. Here’s where my lack of technical experience comes in. I’m not sure I know how to schedule it exactly so I’m going to try to send it out between 10-noon. There’s always something rambling around in this old head so maybe there will be extra entries from time to time!

“I love it when you go to see something, and you enter as an individual, and you leave as a group. Because you’ve all been bound together by the same experience.”
Tom Hiddleston

I might be taking the first step of this journey alone, but I hope as we travel together our experiences will form a brand new band of friends!

Thank you for joining me!IMG_1419

 

Reba