October 2015 entries
The kids carved the pumpkins we picked at the Green Barn Berry Farm in Muncy, PA. I decided to try melting crayons on mine. . . the result is obviously pathetic, but we all had fun, so that's all that matters. The kids' pumpkins turned out great!
No, not Gray's Anatomy.
The fall play I am directing at MAHS is called "Anatomy of Gray." Set in the 1880s in Indiana, the play tells the beautiful story of a town with no healer. After the loss of her father, young June Muldoon asks God to send a healer to their town. Cue an Oz-like tornado, and a doctor named Galen P. Gray falls from his hot air balloon onto a town with the same name.
Gray fits in quite easily, especially after he saves June from nearly drowning. He begins to teach the town about germs and proper washing -- something their religious community never had a need for. But, when people in the town start finding mysterious marks on their bodies, and start dying from a mysterious plague . . . townsfolk start questioning Dr. Gray's role in their lives.
We are taking the show to the PA Thespian State Conference in December, and I knew I needed something simple to stage and re-assemble 2 hours away. When I read this script, I fell in love. I was reminded of "Our Town," a play that truly changed my life as a director.
I decided to add some lyrical dance and silk aerial work to the staging of the show. (At the Conference, my dancers can't actually climb the silks; we will simply dance with them.) This is my last fall play in the current MAHS auditorium, and I wanted to close that space out in style. I have been beyond impressed with my students -- they are essentially off book with three weeks to go, and their performance is already quite moving.
At the State Conference, we will be adjudicated for a chance to take our show to Nebraska this summer for the Thespian Festival. More importantly, I am looking forward to exposing my students to an audience of over 1000 theatre students, and exposing us all to the feedback of trained theatre professionals outside of our area. I believe we all have an opportunity to grow through this experience.
So far, I couldn't ask for a better process for us all.
"No, not for a day -- Furaday! That's my name."
Aidan, instead of taking dance classes this year, wanted to audition for the children's theatrical productions at the Community Theatre League in Williamsport. So, as we ended Spamalot rehearsals and we had our two-week run, Aidan was busy preparing for "Let Your Hair Down, Rapunzel," a musical adaptation of the familiar fairy tale.
Aidan played the king of the land, complete with a stuffed potbelly and a solo or two. He was great -- he has a naturally funny personality and good instincts on the stage. To say the least, I was quite proud.
One of the best moments, however, was when Aidan's great-grandmother, Nan, came to his last show. Nan has been bravely dealing with some health issues, so it meant so much to all of us that she could make it to the show. Needless to say, she loved it!
Time to play catch-up a bit!
For Liam's 5th birthday (which was actually in September), we planned a family trip to Great Wolf Lodge and Water Park in the Poconos. Mike's parents, our family, and his sister's family all came together for a long weekend.
We hadn't been there since Ellie turned 5, so it was neat to take older kids there. Aidan loved the bigger water slides, Ellie played big sister to her little cousins all weekend, and Liam swam his heart out while having all the ice cream he wanted all weekend.
In addition to the water entertainment, there are plenty of shops and other activities at the resort. This year, we bought a wand and the big kids played the magic scavenger hunt that spanned the 4 floors of the hotel. We named our team the "Conbells" -- a hybrid of Campbell and Connor -- and the kids managed to complete all the quests in the book and defeat two dragons before we left. All in a day's work. You know.
We loved getting away after school started, and hopefully we can plan future fall vacations. Ellie turns 9 next month (!!!!!) and wants to go to the Rochester Children's Museum of Play.
(As a side note -- I love these destination birthday presents infinitely more than planning and throwing a party for a bunch of kids!)
Happy 5th Birthday, Liam Grayson! We love you!
I have been thinking a lot lately about Magic -- no, not Harry Potter or that card game my son spends way too much money on. I mean that feeling you get when you are part of something and working with people and the result is amazing. I am using Elizabeth Gilbert's word for creativity and inspiration. (Read her newest book Big Magic -- it's . . . well, magical!) If you are looking, you can find Magic all around you.
I find the Magic in my classroom. When a student asked me, "What did I miss in class yesterday?" after being absent, I find reducing my lessons to a handout or a 5-minute summary nearly impossible. How can I explain what happens when 25 people came together to read and write and discuss a topic? How can I summarize the exchange of ideas and experiences?
I find the Magic on the stage. What happens when a script moves from a printed text to a living, breathing entity that exists in real time, every time? How can I explain when a student breaks through going through the motions into truly being a character on stage?
And, of course, I don't often have time to stop and think about how that Magic actually happens. Sure, I plan and organize and coordinate and direct. But, there is only so much I can do on my own. The Magic really starts to happen in the moment, when the people come together and the process starts to take shape.
(Can I tell you a secret? I prefer rehearsal to performance the way that I prefer classes to tests. The Magic is in the process in a totally different way than in performance. I don't mean to say I don't love having an audience or having an opportunity for my students to prove what they have learned. For me, the focus is not on gaining approval or proving value. I already know what my students do is valuable; I don't need an audience to tell me that. But, the process! Ah, that's the Magic for me.)
In this 21st-century world, coming together as a group of people all in the same room at the same moment in time can be nothing short of a miracle itself. Our schedules are packed, our obligations are demanding, our responsibilities are mounting. When we can come together and focus our energies on one text (or project or idea or goal), the process can truly be Magical.
What is my point here? (A genuine, and not rhetorical, question.) I suppose I just had to say something about the Magic I am finding in my everyday life. (And I didn't even get to the Magic of parent-child relationships here!) I suppose I am also standing in wonder, looking at Magic. How does it happen, really? We get together, we do the work, and we find the product . . . and ourselves.