The Battle Known as Tech Week

I have been silent lately. There is a good reason. We opened our summer musical last Friday. The opening went great! The energy of the cast was spectacular and the audience laughed and enjoyed it and we even received a standing ovation! You might be thinking, “That’s all good, right? So why have you been silent?”

Tech Week.

For those of you involved in the theater you know exactly what I am talking about. For those of you who don’t well….there are no words.

Tech week is the week before a production opens. This is the week that all the remaining elements are added. (Lights, costumes, set pieces etc) In all fairness it is stressful for everyone involved. People who are normally the most loving and gracious begin to survive on coffee and energy drinks. No one wants to put pressure on anyone else but you can almost hear the very air surrounding you whispering, “When is that going to be done?” The cast who has been perfect starts to forget lines and not make entrances on time because we keep throwing new things at them–like costumes, lights and even new set pieces. And I begin to feel terrible. All these wonderful, talented people from designers to actors, from seamstresses to stage crew–I feel that I’m not giving them the very tool they need the most. Time. (Well, maybe help is a close second.)

Theater is a set of building blocks. The director sets the vision. The designers then create from that vision. Then people start sewing and building and lastly the technical elements can be put into place. Acting is the same. You build your character based on the building blocks of what you discover either from lines your character says or what other characters say about you. When the actor gets to step into costumes and make-up it is the last building block.

So you see why tech week is so important? It all comes together right at one critical moment.

Half way through the week I realize most of us have slept less than 15 hours all week and when they did sleep it wasn’t it their bed! Some of us haven’t even had time to shower. Anyone who walks into the theater is immediately put to work and we don’t even have time to go pick up the playbills.

It is truly a wonderful experience. I look around at all the people who sacrifice and pour their hearts into making the perfect set, having the perfect costumes, adding the magical technical aspects and I say, “Thank you.” Thank you, for loving theater, this theater.

Thank you to those actors who come in and walk the space and think through their lines in an effort to make sure their characters are performance ready. Thank you to the set artist, designers who repaint because the set just doesn’t look like they wanted it to. Thank you to the technical directors who rehang the snow machines because the snow doesn’t hit at just the right angle. It’s really a very special kind of passion.

The result? A beautiful powerful production that brings a laugh and hours of enjoyment to our audience. Those smiles make it all worthwhile. We are fortunate enough to have another benefit. The cast has become incredibly close. We have cried together, prayed together and rejoiced together. And on opening night we celebrate together.

I’m very thankful that these are the people who surround me.

If you haven’t seen it Seven Brides for Seven Brothers runs for three more weeks. overshadowed.org

Do you have any stories about tech weeks that you have experienced? Or tips to help survive one? I’d love to hear from you!

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

 

 

Volunteering: Part of America’s Past and Future

I have always loved volunteering. In fact, I couldn’t wait until I was old enough to help in as many areas as possible. I was a teacher’s aid in school. I was a candy striper during the summer while I was in high school. I helped out in VBS and Sunday School Classes as soon as I was old enough to do it. Then, think about it–the very nature of attending a church brings out the volunteer in you. You can work in the nursery, teach, help clean, pass out literature, join the music team and well, the list goes on.

So, when I discovered that this past week was National Volunteer’s Week that set me to thinking.  Why do we volunteer? Do we expect to get anything out of it when we do?

Our country has always had a history of volunteerism.

In 1736, Benjamin Franklin created the first volunteer firehouse. Did you know that even today 70% of all firefighters are volunteers?

During war times people have always banded together. Some volunteered to join the military; others formed groups that raised funds or darned socks, made bandages, or whatever needed to be done. We’ve all heard of the “minute men” who were a volunteer militia.

Since then many volunteer organizations have been formed. The ones that come to the top of my mind are the YMCA,  The Red Cross, United Way, Lion’s Club and the Peace Corps. There are hundreds of others.

I think it’s safe to say that how we volunteer changes as America’s needs change. In times of want we seem to know how to come together in a really inspiring way. I am reminded of pictures of the aftermath of 9-11. My brother-in-law, Roy Hervas, was part of a team from a fire department in Schaumburg, Illinois that immediately joined the efforts and went to New York to help the city. This happened all across our country. We do the same thing to communities that are hit by natural disasters. We donate money, food, time. It is one of the things that make America great.

Here are a few of my favorite quotes:

“No one has ever become poor from giving.” Anne Frank

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” Winston Churchill

“A single act of kindness is like a drop of oil on a patch of dry skin–seeping, spreading, and affecting more than the original need.” Richelle E. Goodrich

“The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something. Don’t wait for good things to happen to you. If you go out and make some good things happen, you will fill the world with hope, you will fill yourself with hope.” –Barack Obama

Here are some of the things I’ve learned:

  1.  Volunteering is a great way to meet people.  If you are new in town, retired, lonely, looking for a change, volunteering will bring new people into your life. Bonus, many of these people will have the same interests that you do. I mean, after all, you volunteered for the same organization so you have those goals in common!

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    We had so much fun planning our recent character breakfast! #otpbreakfastclub
  2.  Volunteer work builds relationships. I know this one might sound a lot like the previous point, but it is much more. Many of my best friends are people who I’ve met through volunteering. When you work together towards a common goal there is a certain kinship that is formed. These relationships can turn into connections that can help you find jobs or a best friend. Many times these relationships are like a second family!
  3. Volunteering helps you gain confidence. There is a certain confidence boost in trying something new and achieving success!
  4. Volunteering can help you gain new skills. Interested in learning something new? Many organizations are willing to teach you skills to help you participate in the area of your interest. My son, Daniel, started volunteering at a very young age. Our technical director at that time, Rich Fuchs, spent many hours cultivating a love of all things technical in him. Daniel went on to apply that interest to his life and his career.
  5. Volunteering helps you make a difference. You fill a real need when you volunteer. You make a difference in people and in turn help your community.

At this point you might be thinking….”I thought this blog was supposed to be ramblings about the theater….”

Well, I will be honest, Overshadowed couldn’t exist without volunteers. In fact, Overshadowed is ALL volunteer. Can you believe it?  If I had to count the number of volunteer hours multiplied by the number of volunteers I couldn’t do it. I am so blown away by the generosity of all of them. And still, we need more. We are always looking for ushers, seamstresses, construction help, actors, artists, marketing help, technical workers and in short, more hands. We are so thankful for each of them. Every hour they spend is priceless. So today, this blog is for them. Thank you for your sacrifice. Thank you for believing in the mission of Overshadowed enough to give something so irreplaceable ….your time. Thank you for this community, you have helped build this band of friends that is theater with a difference. Thank you for helping create and inspire. Please don’t forget or grow weary. You make a difference. Thank you!

Do you have any stories about volunteers or volunteering? Or a way a volunteer or volunteering has made a difference in your life? I’d love to hear about it!

Until next time,

Reba