Saturday, September 05, 2009

Epistles of Love

Pictured here is a little scene from "Twelfth Night."

Three of the funniest people to "hide" behind a box tree. Sir Andrew in front, Sir Toby with the hat on and Fabian. They are watching Malvolio as he reads an "Epistle of Love" from the Lady Olivia. He thinks it is written to him, and confesses Olivia's love for him. The three musketeers above know it is a prank, as he reads " be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon 'em." Later he'll make his entrance with yellow stockings crossed gartered, much to Olivia's disgust, and he'll "thrust" greatness upon her. With hilarious results.

"Twelfth Night" was an amazing experience, and unlike each of the other two tours I really felt connected with this cast, not just my daughter and a couple of people. I had a wonderful time working on this tour, loved the production, loved the locations where we were booked to play, loved the directors, loved the comedy that they produced that just seemed to get better and better each time. We did ten shows, and I would have liked to have seen it five more times. It was that good. I loved it all, and going through my photos, which are all here in a collection, I relive it over and over and it brings me such joy.

I miss the kids. And I miss what I was doing. Keri always tells the kids that after the experience is over, and she has told us parents too, that the kids will sometimes get really depressed after the run is over. Well, I didn't think that it would hit me like this, but I have hit that dark place myself.

After this wonderful experience, I think I'm officially bummed in ways I haven't been in years.

I miss them, watching them, talking to them, spending time with them, and helping them and their directors do what they needed to do. I feel like what I was doing was full of such incredible meaning. I was able to do so much and experience the artistic side of me that is so lacking anymore. While the experience was fantastic, it also showed me that I'm just not happy where I am vocationally. I'm really rather unhappy. And I have been for a long time.

I don't know what I'm doing with and in my life at the moment, and it just really has hit me hard these past few weeks. I tried getting my masters in education, and realized that my starting salary would be 20k less than what I'm earning now. There is no real incentive for me to go do that. So, I'm semi-floundering right now. But I will get over it. It'll be okay.

Halibut 4Can I tell you why this picture is funny?

We did a show at Halibut Point State Park, and upon arrival a bunch of the kids saw this sign and thought it was hysterical.

The sign is telling readers "Danger! This is a Quarry." But with no punctuation, it can come off as the name of the quarry, like Danger Quarry... instead of Danger, Quarry! or Danger! Quarry!

So everyone laughed hard, and we sang a James Bond kind of song about Danger Quarry! Filled with Danger! And some boulders! And some rocks! Danger Quarry!

Doug said "where on earth would you ever find a mess of kids who know enough about punctuation to find "Danger Quarry" this amusing?" And we laughed our asses off for hours. Everyone wanted their picture taken with the sign. It became part of the play. During the scene where Malvolio finds his letter and Toby, Andrew and Fabian hide from him, Fabian hid behind it with excellent comedic results. It was leaned against, became almost like a prop or set piece. During his sword fight with Viola, our Sir Andrew did this great "Grrrrr, Rawrrrrrr" to be all tough sounding. And on this night he said "Grrrrrr, Rawrrrrrr, DANGER QUARRY! RAWWWRRRRR!" and the audience died laughing, the cast almost lost it... it was amazing.

I want to make him a t-shirt that says "Danger Quarry" on it. I want everyone to have one. I want one.

Twelfth Night - Museum Marketplace Salem MAWe had a wonderful run with a few weather related problems.

Hurricane Bill (aptly named for Shakespeare perhaps?) was threatening us for days. Luckily what it ended up doing was force storms out to our West to STAY to our West. On Saturday, I stood in downtown Salem outside of the Hawthorne Hotel before our show at the Salem Common, and looked at a wall of clouds, the backside of a massive thunderstorm that was up over Peabody. Lightning raged all up and down the back of the cloud walls, and I begged it to just STAY over there.

And it did.

We didn't get so lucky on the Sunday night of the run.

We were in East India Pedestrian mall outside the Peabody Essex Museum doing our show, which in and of itself has a great story that I'll tell next. A huge crowd had gathered, and we used the fountain interior as our stage. It was wonderful to have so many people there. The cast had done some serious street teaming during the day on Saturday and the hour before this show. We were thrilled to have a great audience for this unique little spot.

Our cast used the islands inside the fountain wonderfully. It was fantastic and the show was running smoothly. Three scenes left in the play, it started to rain, so we opted to go inside the Museum Place Mall.

It was after 6:30 at night... and we figured it would be no problem. No one was really in there, it's kind of like the place you'd film a post-apocalyptic zombie movie or something because it seriously has very little human traffic in it. Our audience quickly and quietly relocated to inside the mall, and the show started again. Everything was going smoothly, fantastically. Sir Andrew made his dramatic and very loud entrance yelling "FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, A SURGEON!!!" and the audience busted out laughing.

Suddenly, the security guard came around the corner. He rushed over to Zoe, our stage manager, and I cold see him gesturing at her. So I ran over to intercede.

"You people can't be in here!. You don't have permission to be in here!"

I apologized, told him it was POURING out and we only had three more scenes. Five more minutes! We didn't think it would be a problem.

"You don't have permission. I'm calling my boss."

"Okay, sir, please understand, it is POURING out and we're almost done. Seriously there is only about five minutes left in the play."

"And then, I'm calling the cops."

Oh seriously. You have got to be joking.

I looked out the window -- noticed that the rain had stopped and looked at our director who was watching me carefully. I nodded at her and mouthed, "Get them outside now."

She stood up and halted the scene. She gently told the audience we were going back outside, and people complied. I was impressed again by their quickness and efficiency. We barely lost an audience member, they wanted to see what the outcome of this silly story was going to be. While the audience and cast reassembled outdoors in the fountain, I went over to the security booth to talk to the dude. He was on the phone with his boss and I asked to talk to him. I apologized profusely, and said that basically we thought we didn't have an option with five minutes left.

"Yeah, but you should have asked. If you asked, we could have made arrangements."

So it sounded to me like it was all about asking the permission and he was more hurt than mad.

"I'm sorry, if I knew it was going to start raining, you better believe I would have asked you. I'm sorry. Friends?" I stuck my hand out.

"Next time just ask me first and we'll be all set."

Okay champ. We shook hands and declared no harm, no foul.

I went outside knowing he didn't call the cops and watched the kids finish their show. In the distance, I cold hear police sirens and Chris, HBK and McKey looked over at me, somewhat wide-eyed and terrified. McKey got up and came over to me, he had directed the July show and was up from NY to see this show. He was all ready to be tough, arms crossed, chin jutted out. "Do I need to diffuse the situation with the cops when they show up?"

Twelfth Night - Museum Marketplace Salem MA"They won't be showing up. I diffused the situation with Mr. Security guy with love and words so we're all set."

We stood together and watched the end of the play. Pretty much the minute the play ended, I managed to get a full cast shot inside the fountain, and then the rain started up again. And it would not let up again for 20 hours.

Good thing we had the next day off.

The funny story about the fountain is that I had arranged with the city of Salem to make sure that the fountain would not be running the day of the performance. I had gone to a zoning board meeting, and gotten a street performer's license (awesome) and told them my plan was to stage the show inside the fountains on the island, and that it was okay if water was inside the fountain but that the waterfall would be too loud for the kids to compete with. They assured me that the fountain would be off.

We got there, and the fountain was running. D'oh. It being a Sunday evening I knew there was no chance I would be able to get ahold of anyone to turn the silly thing off. The kids were rehearsing and working on projecting over the fountain. I saw a city truck coming up the pedestrian mall to take out the garbage. I trotted over to ask the guys if they had keys or access to keys to turn the fountain off. They called their boss, and they told me he'd be over as soon as he could. Their boss, Tom, was there in ten minutes, on his day off even, with five keyrings with about 100 keys each on them.

"I turned this off on Friday," he told me. "Someone decided to turn it back on, and unfortunately, I think they still have the key ring with the key that opens this lock!" He told me that he got an email on Friday letting him know to make sure it was off for the weekend.

I thanked him for coming out on his day off. He was irritated with whomever decided to turn the fountain back on and shook his head. He apologized repeatedly, and I told him it was okay, the kids would project as loud as they could. The fountain looked awesome, so that was nice.

He tried every Master Lock key on the keyrings and none of them would open the lock. "I'm going back to the shop for a bolt cutter, I'll be right back."

"Oh! You don't have to do that!" I didn't want him to have to replace the lock for us. "I have a million master locks, it's no big deal."

So he came back, and used the bolt cutters to cut the lock, turned the fountain off. I tried to pay him for the lock and he wouldn't take the money. So he and the two guys who called him in all got hugs from me. They wished me luck with Hurricane Bill, and one said "Hey, Bill Shakespeare, that's funny!" Even the city workers got the humor in the hurricane name.

Bill didn't turn out to be a huge factor but Tropical Storm Danny did. We enjoyed the whole rest of the week with no bad weather, until the one show that I wanted to do outdoors was rained out. Saturday, we were scheduled to do the show out on a little island in Marblehead Harbor. The island is accessible at low tide only, visitors walk out when the water is low and enjoy this little island. Well, the rain prevented us from doing that. Luckily, the UU church in Marblehead was willing to host us, and we had our final show indoors, with epic and amazing results. I watched most of it instead of taking photos, it was really a fun performance where the kids let it all out. I was horribly disappointed to not have the show on the little island. I think that a lot of people thought I was crazy, or they thought it was awesome. My cell phone rang off the hook with people wondering where the show was. One woman told me she was really looking forward to the island. I guess that it was a weird and wonderful choice that some folks in town thought was awesome. I think a nice crowd would have come out. Oh well.

At least we had a nice contingency plan in place, and in the end it all worked out great.

Several friends come out to see the kids in their plays this year, and it really made me happy. Beth and the Dane came to both shows, Elizabeth was at Rockport, as were Gregg, Karry and Abby. A bunch of the Boy Scout troop parents came to the castle. Jess' theatre teacher was even there. I wish she had seen Hamlet to see Jess, Nick and Byron -- but at least she came to see Twelfth Night, and she really loved it.

They all told me how wonderful the production was, how incredible the acting, the presentation... and that was so awesome. I've been telling everyone how great they are, and hearing from them afterwards that it isn't just my imagination was so awesome and made me so happy.

Doug started a new job this week. He had been working a 4 day work week at a Boston Hospital and augmented his income with 2 days a week Home Health Care. A six day work week made for no fun Doug, but he liked the two days a week doing Home Health. He couldn't find a good full time home health gig, so keeping the hospital medicaid/medicare paperwork gig was important. He started looking at the beginning of the summer, and got a good job for a five day a week position at another Boston hospital, which he can actually get to by taking the commuter rail. It pays about 15k more than what he was earning at the other hospital, which makes sense for the extra day... and it is half the work load of what he had before. Hopefully he'll be pretty happy with this job.

Jess is very happy. She is a senior this year, and after her first day she was smiling and excited about her course work. "For the first time in my life, I'm taking classes I want to take." She had to drop AP German because everyone else in the class dropped the course, leaving her as the only participant on the roles so the school wouldn't run a course for one student. Can't say as I blame them. She only had half the summer work done, so she was semi-relieved but a little pissed because she was the only one who did ANY of the summer work. All of the students are now in Honors German now. She is still going to try and prepare for the AP test anyway, because taking it could help her a lot when it comes to college admissions especially if she gets a 4 or even the elusive 5 for a score. She is starting to look at colleges, and surprisingly it doesn't break my heart. The one problem is she doesn't FEEL LIKE going to SEE the colleges. She thinks that she can just pick a college based on their website. I disagree. I think a campus visit is mandatory. So far she's been to UMass Amherst, is interested in University of Southern Maine, University of Maine Orono (way too expensive. 30k a year for out of state students???? what???) and University of Pittsburgh. So we're going to have to convince her that actual site visits are worthwhile. Wish me luck.

Geoff started middle school, which is really the new normal for all of us. He is up at 5:45 every day getting ready for school. I so wish I had that kind of gumption. He is showered, dressed and eating breakfast by the time I roll my fat ass downstairs for my first cup of coffee. I opted to drive both of them to school this year, as our high school and middle school are right next door to one another, and we're also driving MM, our next door neighbor who Jess has been friends with since kindergarten.

I drop them off at 7am. My plan was to drop them off and go straight to work but since Doug has been in my way every morning my plan of being 100% ready to go has been thwarted, so I've come home to get ready. We all need to figure out our new schedules and get in synch together.

The great thing about Geoff is he's happy too, and I have not had a phone call from the school yet. Yet. I know there will be a call eventually, but for now, he's happy and I'm happy and that's good. Cross your fingers that it stays this way.

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