Category - Creativity

Writing Lessons & Where I’m From

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One of the things I’m enjoying in the New Year is taking my first writing e-course.  I chose this particular one because it focuses on an area I’m grappling with in my writing  – Finding Your Writing Voice.

Ally Vesterfelt {author of the book Packing Light} is guiding a small band of writing novices like me through exercises to help us not only hone our own unique voice, but figure out our message as writers.  {More information about her e-courses opening this spring can be found here.}

Our first writing assignment was a poem.  The thought of writing poetry practically sent me into a case of hives, but once I started writing, it unexpectedly and rapidly spewed onto the page.  This was my first time actually fleshing out a writing exercise like this, though I’ve seen variations of it before.

Mustering up my courage to share it in this online space isn’t easy for me, but doing so makes me feel like I’m finally starting to get to the heart of why I write.

WHERE I’M FROM

 I’m from the cherry wood upright piano I learned to play on.

I’m from the tiny kitchen with the window above the sink and the closet in my room where I made a pretend childhood library from my young adult paperbacks.

I’m from her hands, and the way she took care of me when I was sick.  From “Does this mean I HAVE to take you to rehearsal?!” and “Love You, Sissy!” and her childlike rebellion.

I’m from Star Trek re-runs and Herbie Hancock and The Phantom of the Opera records.

I’m from the scent of her freshly washed hair and perfume, when I hugged her goodbye in the dark of the morning before she left for work at the hospital.

I’m from my  blue bedroom with the blue curtains and the twin bed.  I’m from Gammon Elementary across the street and the three-legged race at the National Awana Olympics.

 I’m from the First Bible Baptist Church and The Walrus & the Carpenter and The Prayer of St. Francis.

 I’m from the way she cursed and her handwritten lists.   From her astrology knowledge she espoused and said she didn’t believe.  I’m from her heart and her excellent advice when wearing her nurses hat.

I’m from dinner in the living room while watching t.v. and Christmas Eve Gumbo and new traditions with my husband’s family.

 I’m from birthday cake in a metal pan and ‘Happy Birthday Sarah’ in thick icing letters.

I’m from love and fear and basement doors slamming and cassette tapes playing and simple means.

I’m from loving step-parents and Mom’s reserves of strength I never knew she had.  From a distant Father and “You’re My Favorite Granddaughter!”

I’m from divine saving grace of a Godmother and spiritual families.

I’m from 5 year old salvation at the church down the street, and the house on Dellrose.

I’m from more love than I’ll ever remember.

 >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Sacro Speco {Sacred Space} – Sunday

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Today’s Sacro Speco Soundtrack: Sunday by Billy Porter & the Broadway Inspirational Voices Choir

Its a cloudy, cold and dreary Saturday in Texas.

The perfect day to bring back to the blog a practice I started two years ago.

 

 

I like to share pictures, Scriptures and/or quotes that lead to rest, reflection, meditation and reverent quiet. {I am occasionally adding music to the mix as well}.

I call this practice Sacro Speco, which is Latin for ‘Sacred Space’. 

 

I am aspiring to return to the pursuit of Sacro Speco in my own life this year and look forward to building community here.

 

In the past I have done linkups so other bloggers can share their own Sacro Speco inspiration.  Let me know in the comments if that is something you’d like me to start doing again.

Grace, Peace & Rest to you friends.

Backstage Beauty {Day 2}

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For as long as I can remember, I have lived at the edge of these two universes we call “backstage”.  And before I lived there, I dreamed of it.

Because to take residence there is to breathe a most rarified air.   It is where every performer endeavors to live.  Once there, you stand on the precipice of magic and heightened reality.”

~Jason Alexander

 

I frantically put the last touch of finishing powder on my stage makeup as our friendly stage manager {and believe me, they are not always friendly} gives us our places call.  {“Places” technically means 2 minutes until the curtain goes up, but rest assured its code for ‘get your hiney to the stage.’}

As I ascend the three flights of stairs from the basement {the location of all of the dressing rooms in this particular theatre} with a few of my fellow castmates, I am in a state that can only be described as musical theatre euphoria.

This particular company of actors, technicians, producers, as well as our director & conductor are the creme of the crop, the creme de la creme.  Not only is every single person ridiculously talented at their particular job, they are kind, loving and fun people to spend time around.

{And truly, truly–THIS IS NOT ALWAYS THE CASE.  I can not stress that enough.}

As I open the stairwell door and my eyes adjust to the darkness of backstage, I find every member of the company hugging and wishing each other “Good Shows” and “Break A Legs”.  The energy is palpably electric while also being warm and nurturing.

The beginning of this show’s opening number has every member of the company joining hands and entering the stage in a long triumphant line of well known melody and choreography by Jerome Robbins. Amidst the revelry, I make my way to my place in line.  I’m surprisingly towards the front, between two principal actors I respect enormously.

The producer finishes his pre-show speech, and walks backstage, flashing his million watt smile to everyone in the wings.  He wishes us well as he hurriedly makes his way to the theatre.

I hear the sound of the orchestra tuning–the open fifth chords soothing my pre-show nerves.

The stage and auditorium go completely black, and a few seconds of silence resound through the air.

This is when it begins– the transition into another world.

Our stage manager Maggie begins to ‘call’ the show cues to the technicians backstage–hers is the only audible voice in the silence. We hear the rush of a large painted backdrop being lowered from the dizzying heights of the rafters to the stage floor. A musician onstage, atop a large house set piece, begins to play a familiar musical line known the world over,  that begins this particular show. {If you haven’t yet guessed, this is a production of Fiddler On The Roof}.

As the well known tune carries through the house on a lone violin’s strings, the actor playing the leading role of Tevye walks past us in character, stepping onto the stage to narrate the evening.

All of us in this theatre, whether on the stage, or in the audience, will have two and a half hours together in one space. We will connect with one another in ways we may not be able to fully comprehend, even after the curtain falls.

In musical theatre, the power of storytelling has its optimum medium. Words, music, movement, dance–all of these expressive components help tell the story at hand.

As our musical cue of forte percussion and strings resound, I step onto the stage, linked with my colleagues not only by hand, but in solidarity of artistic spirit.

Photo By & Property of Michael C. Foster
Photo By & Property of Michael C. Foster

 

We begin to sing our story, and everything else falls away.

I was made for this.

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This is Day 2 of a 31 Days series,  31 Days In A Musical Theatre Life.  Find the introduction post here.

 I hope you’ll continue joining me here–I ask for grace, as I have been a bit slow with my posts.  I’m currently in musical rehearsals for a show opening in a few short weeks! {Oh, the irony.}   Loving the 31 Days concept?   Find over 1200 other bloggers writing out their own 31 Days here.

31 Days In A Musical Theatre Life – An Introduction {Day 1}

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Today’s Broadway Soundtrack:

Its so hard to believe its already OCTOBER and time for another installment of #31Days!

This will be my fourth year participating in The Nester’s beautiful community of bloggers.  I’ve wanted to write about this topic since day one, but truth be told, I just didn’t have the nerve.

I’m grateful to say, thanks to some Divine nudging, current back to back show performances, and the whispers of my Spirit, I’ve decided to share with you the in’s and outs of my musical theatre life–both the fun and quirk of my inner musical theatre nerd, and the outlet of creativity that are a lifelong passion, and one of the things I feel I was put on the Earth to do.

What, you may ask, will my series include?

I’m hoping to share some of my personal stories of being a musical theatre performer–from tours across the country and the globe–to nitty gritty regional and community theatre jaunts.  I’ll be sharing  interviews with fellow musical theatre performers–including friends, musical theatre colleagues and perhaps a mentor or two.  They may be a guest post as well from a fellow actor and writing friend, whose ten times funnier in one sentence than I could probably be in this whole series.

Because I’m passionate about curating creative resources, I’ll also be sharing some favorite books for creatives, as well as musical theatre playlists, along with a giveaway, and much more!

If you saw the embedded link above, you’ll see I’m hoping to share at least one musical theatre tune (or more–via Spotify–follow me here— or Grooveshark) with each post.

When it comes to videos, it gets tricky, and for good reason. Because of the Broadway Union –Equity–there are strict rules in place for posting videos of Equity productions.  For this reason, I won’t be able to share video of recent productions I’ve been a part of–but I may be able to share other videos that are already public with permission.  

I’m also hoping to do a backstage vlog of the current production I’m doing this month.  I’ll iron out all of the details soon–please stay tuned!

If there’s a specific angle you’d like to read about this month, let me know! Please leave me a comment, or drop me an email.  

I’m so grateful you’re reading along with me.  This beautiful writing project has grown leaps and bounds in 4 years–you have 1000’s of blogs to read this month–I want to make it worth your while to read this series.

Join me here tomorrow for some musical theatre goodness!  

Reclaiming March

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About the time I started  college,  I started to see passing of my days and months in my mind as a picture of a calendar, with the entire year making a visual circle.

I fully understand I am bad at articulating such an abstract concept, but I’m glad to know I’m not the only one whose brain works this way. One of my favorite bloggers Emily perfectly describes the ‘calendar-image’ phenomena I also experience.  {She jokingly tells us it ‘proves her crazy’.}

I daresay this concept is helping me visualize and reclaim a once-favorite month for proactive goodness in my creative process. 

 {If you’re still with me after that confusing introduction, I swear I have a point.}

My point is, I always looked forward to, oddly enough, the month of March.

The reason for that revolves around vocation and art.

Being a professional actor for most of my younger life, my work life centered around auditioning for and performing in tours and regional theatre productions.  {There was also a host of odd jobs while looking forward to the next job, but that’s a whole ‘nother blog post.}  In a typical year for a full time actor, {especially ones living in New York, Chicago, or other major cities} auditions typically were held the most during the spring, in March.

For this reason in particular,  I LOVED the month of March. The thing I remember most experientially is abundance.  There were many auditions to schedule, trips to take to audition and callbacks to prepare for.  There were audition dresses to wear {usually some form of cobalt blue for me, my favorite color}, character shoes to break in during dance callbacks, and spring air to breathe in, while singing and and acting your heart out, and hoping it was enough to ‘sing for your supper’, so to speak.  {I assure you, my glasses aren’t rose-colored.  There was also heaps of angst and anxiety, and wishing’ and prayin’, but I’ve learned that’s par for the course with an artist’s life.}

As the years went on,  my March evolved into something different.

It sadly became  just another month.   It became about a 9 to 5 job, or another month in a town I hoped to leave.  I felt like a boring grown up, and  wondered if perhaps my days of spring creativity were behind me.

This year, I’ve decided that enough is enough.

I’m Reclaiming March.

Make no mistake, I realize that yesterday was St. Patrick’s Day, and one would remind me that this month is half over.   That’s duly noted.

But the beauty is, I’ve been busy this month.

Busy being creative. 

I’ve been taking virtual voice lessons, and working on my singing audition book.  I’ve been rehearsing the concert version of Sweeney Todd with a large chorale in Dallas every Tuesday night, and happily driving home tired from singing high C’s & D’s. I’m currently prepping for a very-important-to-me audition that even entered my dreams last night.  I’m reading incredible books that will be subjects of blog posts next month.  I’m carving out large chunks of my day for the creative process, and its honestly making my creative soul happier than I’ve been in months.

I’m reclaiming this beautiful time of uncertain weather and Spring’s beginnings for a fruitful time in my creative process.

I’m not judging the success of my creativity necessarily on a booked job from an audition, or another author’s approval from a blog post.

Though we’re in the midst of Lent right now, this season for me is not about focusing on my lack, or what I’m giving up.

Creativity and longing are hard wired into my DNA, and I can’t exist happily without expression.

Reclaiming March is important to me and my growth as an artist. 

For this realization, and the adventure of this process, I’m so grateful. 

What creative practice do you need to reclaim in your life?