Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Bring Out Your Inner Nerd

I have been busy this past week with a part-time job.  How crazy is that?  I took the managing director of the last theater I worked with, New Paradise Laboratories, out for coffee to talk about her past life.  This is one of my favorite things to do:  figure out how people got to be where they are.  In the midst of the conversation, she mentioned that she needed someone in the office to help organize it, file, work on budget stuff, etc.  And, I mentioned I was free.

I've spent the last week and a half organizing files, throwing stuff out, putting like items together, and as boring as it may seem to you, I LOVE IT.  Organizing shit just brings out my inner nerd.  It's part of what makes me a good stage manager.  People have told me I should go into Personal Organizing as a career but it's only one part of what I love about theater.  Also, I have to admit, I don't think I could sell organizing to someone because I find it really easy.  I'd be telling them:  Oh, you don't need me, all you have to do is... And I'd be out of a job in no time.

The job is just perfect for now:  it's part-time, I'm getting some beer money, I'm learning a bit about budgeting and grants, I'm getting out of the house.  Oh, and I discovered that if I don't vacuum the house every day, it's still there when I get back.  Plus, the managing director knows that I have other gigs coming up so the hours are very flexible.

But this will make you laugh:  I get home one day and my daughter needs a new binder for school.  I bring out several of my binders plus my hole reinforcements, tabs, and dividers.  I have a plethora of dividers in all shapes and colors.  She goes crazy re-organizing her binder.  Then, my son gets into the act, appropriating a binder, dividing it up into sections for God only knows what and using tabs wherever possible.  It was an office supply orgy I tell you.

These apples did not fall far.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Let's Stay with Star Wars

Two more for your viewing pleasure (Sorry Mr. Fox!):

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Upside of Boring

Brian went away this past weekend to run a half-marathon in Baltimore with a college friend.  Since I'm in theater, it's rare that I have an entire weekend alone with my kids.  I always try to make it a special weekend.  Try being the operative word here.

On Friday night, they had some friends sleep over.  I took them out to our favorite diner where everyone got milkshakes and then we went home for a movie.  On Saturday night, my son was invited to sleep over at another friend's house so it was just my daughter and me; an even rarer event.

I thought it would be a perfect night to watch a chick flick which is Clara's favorite type of movie.  I searched IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes, I asked for ideas, I watched trailers.  Is Bridget Jones' Diary to risque?  Would The Proposal be funny enough?  I wasn't sure.

But after dropping my son off, Clara said she didn't feel like a movie.  She just wanted a shower and to watch TV.  Really?  I pleaded.  It's mommy and daughter time.  It'll be special.  She tried to rally and when I saw that she was only going to agree to be nice, I relented.  If she wanted to be boring, so be it.

I went upstairs to watch TV and when Clara got out of the shower she came up to say good night.  How I Met Your Mother was one; my favorite show.  I talk about it all the time because it's legend....wait for it....dairy.  Clara has always wanted to see it so she stayed to watch the end.  Then we found 2 more episodes on demand.  After, we flipped channels, talked, and Clara played on the computer some.  By this time, it was late, and since I have a king sized bed, and since it was just Clara, I told her she might as well sleep with me.

I didn't know boring could be so special.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Beer and Little Black Dresses

My clothing style is what I like to call  "frumpalicious."  When I was working on my show in Center City, I would go outside and stare at everyone walking around.  There are so many styles and types of people in Center City, Philly.  It's a people watching place.  I'd stare at these people and think, "Why don't I look as good as that?"  It's not that I'm fat.  I've actually kept my figure pretty well over the years.  Okay, okay, except for the year that I lived in Ireland.  But if you tried sausage and chips combined with a pint of Guiness, you'd understand why I gained 20 pounds.  I think it's that I tend to wear baggy clothes so I look like I used to be heavy.  I also hate to shop.  HATE IT.  It becomes very difficult to be stylish when you are mixing and matching 80's and 90's clothes.  Let me re-phrase:  when you are mixing and matching MY 80's and 90's clothes.

The costume designer for this last show is very stylish.  Well, you'd expect that wouldn't you?  It's why I turned to her when I decided I just needed a new dress for a wedding I'm going to in October.  I haven't been to a wedding in years and I thought it'd be a good time to spruce up the wardrobe.  As luck would have it, she had to get an evening/cocktail type dress for the actress in the show.  She shared her research with me and then she did something even better.  One day, instead of shopping with the actress, the costume designer brought in a few dresses she thought might work.  When one was rejected, she turned to me and said I should try it on, because it'd be great for a wedding.  So I did.  It was pretty tight, or form-fitting, or whatever the word is.  I thought it might be too small and the costume designer just looked at me and laughed and said, "You don't wear tight clothes, do you?"

But I had a new dress and no shopping!  Win!  A rather blurry picture of it is to the right.  And no, that's not me.  I'll get pictures from the wedding to show you.  I feel so very Audrey Hepburn in the dress.

AND!  I found shoes on Zappos.  Actually my daughter found them for me so again no shopping!  Another win!

Okay, here's the thing.  I'm on the other side of 40 and I've discovered that my flat stomach ain't so flat anymore.  I've a bit of a pouch.   And, no unlike Fabienne from Pulp Fiction, I do not want a pot.  It's forced me to do sit-ups religiously because I want to rock that dress.  We could count that as another win:  working out regularly.

What would probably help the pouch is cutting down on the beer.  Never expected me to admit to that, did ya?  Every afternoon around 5 pm or so, I indulge in my 5 o'clock beer.  When my kids were little, I used to think that 5 pm was the witching hour because the kids seemed so cranky around that time.  Turns out, I was the cranky one, not them.  My bio-rhythms must be below the radar at that point.  Beer is probably not the best idea for low bio-rhythms but it works for me.  It's like my little reward for keeping my kids alive for one more day.  I'd rather do sit ups then give up the 5 o'clock beer.  Okay, I'll admit it, it's usually 2 beers.

Yesterday, though, my son asked me not to drink so much beer.  How sweet you're thinking right?  Ha!  It wasn't out of concern for mommy's drinking habits, nor was he trying to help me look good at a wedding.  Oh no!  See, he has to take out the recycling every week and in PA, we don't do the bottle deposit thing.  He just felt there was too much recycling so I needed to quit drinking so he'd have less to do.  Gotta love it.  Of course, he asked me that and then proceeded to tell me it would be so funny if he locked his sister in the basement.  When I said no, he didn't take it to mean, no it wouldn't be funny.  He took it to mean no it wouldn't be funny because it would be even funnier if he locked his sister AND his mother in the basement and then that's what he did.  And now you know why I have a 5 o'clock beer.  And when I say a 5 o'clock beer, I mean two 5 o'clock beers.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Let's All Go the Movies!

This past weekend was my first weekend home with no shows.  Brian took the kids up to see his parents and I had the weekend to myself.  Now, if you read my last post, you'll know that I'm wondering, contemplating, thinking about full-time work and what that would look like.  My voice teacher last week sat down and talked to me about my career and life goals and told me I needed to buy the book What Color is Your Parachute and do the exercises.  She actually gave me career-seeking homework.

So I went out, bought the book, leafed through it and promptly forgot about it.  And, I did what any 40-something who is filled with apprehension about the future would do:  I went to the movies.  Not just once, mind you.  4 movies  in 2 days.  It was a great weekend.

Okay, 2 of the movies I watched at home but still, it was a great weekend.

Friday night, I went to dinner with girlfriends and then we had drinks after so when I woke up Saturday, I was feeling a little ugh.  Then I realized I didn't actually have to get up if I didn't want to so I flipped on the TV and Down with Love was just starting.  That's the 2003 movie with Ewan McGregor and Renee Zellweger that's a take-off on the Rock Hudson and Doris Day sex comedies of the 1960s.  It's so great and funny.  You can watch it over breakfast, over lunch, over martinis, anytime.  It's light and zany and just a real romp. Of course if you prefer angst-ridden indie films, this might not be the film for you.

Saturday afternoon I went to see Moneyball with Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill about the Oakland A's General Manager who put together a winning team on a very small budget based purely on statistics.  Interesting side note:  The Oakland A's used to be the Philadelphia Athletics back when Philadelphia had both an American League and a National League team.  And that's all I say about the Philadelphia teams in light of the Phillies disappointing loss last Friday.  Back to the movie:  It's fine, a good film.  Interesting.  If you see it, it's entertaining.  If you miss you, you haven't missed much. Brad Pitt is enjoyable and so is Jonah Hill.  The screenplay is by Aaron Sorkin so it's fun.

Saturday night after a beer with a friend (I just don't want you to think I was completely anti-social all weekend), I watched Cedar Rapids.   Ed Helms plays an insurance agent who has to represent his company at an annual convention in Cedar Rapids, IA.  He meets John C. Reilly, Anne Heche and Isiah Whitlock, Jr. who help him navigate the conference.  I really liked this movie.  Ed Helms is naive but not so much that he's pathetic.  I hate those movies where the protagonist is so pathetic it hurts to watch.  Mr. Apatow are you listening?  I watched Bridesmaids a few weeks ago which critics hailed as a woman's version of an Apatow film.  I found Kristen Wiig's character to pathetic to watch.  Cedar Rapids, good flick, endearing.  Entertaining.  Great for an easy movie night.  Again, not really if you like angsty films.

Sunday, after grocery shopping and working out, I made it to Drive before the family returned.  This is the Ryan Gosling picture where he plays a stunt driver and part-time get-away driver who gets mixed up with the wrong criminals.  This may be the film for you if you like angst films.  It's dark.  Not a lot of dialogue.  Bryan Cranston is great in it and Albert Brooks holds his own.  Oddly, when you first see it, the production values almost resemble a 1980's teenage comedy but it's certainly not that.  I'm still intrigued by it.  If you love films, and you want something different then this is a film for you.  But be warned, the violence is on a level that would make Quentin Tarantino proud.  It might even make him jealous.

Not a bad weekend, huh?  Some people have retail therapy when they are down, I've got cinema therapy.  And it works.

Monday, October 10, 2011

eXtremely pUblic

Okay, I'm finally back.  I was off doing a show for the past two months and got out of the blogging habit and then the new non-blogging habit stuck so I had to break that.  It's like a cycle with me, I know.

I wasn't signed up for a show this fall but the SM couldn't do it so I got called at the last minute (last two weeks of July to start in August) from this theater that I have never worked with, New Paradise Laboratories.  They do experimental, devised works which, to put it in layman's terms, means making it up as you go along.  But seriously, they do some wild stuff and it's really good.  The Artistic Director, who also works at the Arden, is often referred to as a mad genius.  He's also one of the only directors I know who does racy, adult stuff with New Paradise and then directs these amazing children's shows at the Arden.

This show was entitled Extremely Public Displays of Privacy.  It had an entirely different format from what you expect from a theater show.  The first act was a website where you learned about Fess Elliot and her budding "friendship" with Beatrix Luff.  See, Fess is this 40 something mother and music teacher who used to be in a band.  She walked off the stage one day "fed up with the bullshit of the music business," became a teacher and got married.  In Act 1, you learn that on ChatRoulette one night she meets Beatrix and plays a song for her.  Beatrix loves the song, they become Facebook friends, and Bea starts remaking Fess' songs and adding videos, etc.

So Fess wants to meet Bea.  But before she can do that, Bea makes her go through a series of public displays which brings us to Act 2; a walking tour.  An audience member downloads video onto his/her phone and walks through parts of Center City Philadelphia watching Fess perform these public displays on the phone.  It's hard to explain but you (if you were the audience member) would stand at the fountain and watch Fess jump into the fountain on your phone.  It's pretty neat.  That was the first half of our rehearsal process, filming Act 2.  It was pretty cool: we had middle of the night shoots, early morning shoots.  It felt very Hollywood.  My major responsibility was holding the wipies and driving the van which is probably all I'd be doing in Hollywood.  Although, I'd probably get paid more for it.

So Act 3 is supposed to be a concert that Bea has concocted but Fess is fed up with Bea so she goes into hiding.  The concert is at this secret location that audience members are told at the last minute and a concert does indeed happen plus stories and stuff.  That was the most "normal theater" part of the show.  Well, except for the secret location part.

The whole thing was neat to work on as I had never done devised work before.  Also, the subject matter was close to my heart.  It's really about how Fess, in her 40's might regret giving up her music and trying to figure out how to bring that back into her life.  It's also about how the internet has changed how we view things.  Really, we can get anything we want with just a few clicks of the mouse button.  But is getting that good for us?  Is it what we really want?  The director called the show lonely and it really is because no one else can figure out these answers for us.

If you are interested in checking out Act 1, which I believe is still up, here's the website:  http://extremelypublicdisplays.com/of/privacy  As a side note, the actress who played Fess wrote all the songs for the show herself.  She's a great musician and listening to her music every night was one of the highlights of the production.

I've been thinking about the show for a while now.  My kids are older so I could get a full-time job because they are so much more self-sufficient.  It might also help my attitude since it's getting really, really boring to vacuum again and again and again.  But I love stage managing and I would do it more but that only takes me away from my family too much.  I wouldn't have the vacuuming but I also wouldn't have my family.  Of course, the next questions are:  what type of job do I get?  how do I keep theater in my life?  The show really struck a nerve with me as you can tell.  And I think that's one of the things I love about theater:  how a story can really speak to you and you realize "oh!  I'm not alone, other people feel this way too."  And I don't really want to give that up.  See?!  Can you see my dilemma?