Opening Night for SILENT SKY!

So excited to open this show tonight. It’s the first production of our 13th season which, in itself, is a really cool thing. Plus, the script is a beautiful piece of writing by Lauren Gunderson. Moving, funny, inspirational – and based on real people and real events, which makes it particularly wonderful to work on.

There’s something special about doing a play based on an actual person, especially one who did some amazing things but doesn’t get enough recognition for it. Henrietta Leavitt helped change the way we see the universe today, which is a pretty incredible freaking thing. She looked at the men saying “Nope, you’re a woman, you can’t do that” and went and did it anyway, and made the world a better place.

It’s also been a fabulous process – starting another season with my co-founders John, Chris and Emily is always a special thing, but then you add in the amazing team of people I got to work with on Silent Sky and it makes for an even more wonderful event. The cast, the production team, the stage management team – everyone is at the top of their game, and it inspires me to be better. PLUS – when you mix all of that with the tale of Henrietta Leavitt, who saw the world and knew what she wanted to do to make it better, and DID it – it’s hard not to come out of that process feeling like you A) have work to do, and B) WANT to do it.

So – here we are! This autumn will be full of cool work, and I’m excited to do it. Jumping into that can wait, though… until Sunday, anyway! Now we celebrate, and keep trying to make the world a better place, through storytelling!

The Stoics… some quotes on life and happiness.

Caretake this moment. Immerse yourself in its particulars. Respond to this person, this challenge, this deed. Quit evasions. Stop giving yourself needless trouble. It is time to really live; to fully inhabit the situation you happen to be in now.
Epictetus

True happiness is a verb. It’s the ongoing dynamic performance of worthy deeds. The flourishing life, whose foundation is virtuous intention, is something we continually improvise, and in doing so our souls mature. Our life has usefulness to ourselves and to the people we touch.
– Sharon Lebell, translating and adapting Epictetus, in her book “The Art of Living: The Classical Manual On Virtue, Happiness and Effectiveness”

“Forget everything else. Keep hold of this alone and remember it. Each of us lives only now, this brief instant. The rest has been lived already, or is impossible to see.”
Marcus Aurelius, from Meditations, as translated by Gregory Hays

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I really like these 3 quotes – the way they fit together. The Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius quotes, in particular, are so similar, yet they approach the “Now is the only moment” philosophy from different angles. Heaven knows I’m no philosophy expert. I like the pairing of the three, though, and I’m not exactly sure why.

Maybe it’s because of Lebell’s final sentence “Our life has usefulness to ourselves and the people we touch.” That sentence rings out, for me, and connects in a way that makes me hope I can make that true. If we approach life as Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius suggest – and embrace each moment as vital, and maybe all we get – then making those connections with the people around us, each moment, is key to living well, right? Practicing an “ongoing dynamic performance of worthy deeds”, as Lebell says, while taking care and effort to “caretake this moment” feels like a wonderful mix of how to try and tackle every day. Lord knows, it’s not an easy task by any stretch. I mean, on days when the bills are due and there are too many emails unanswered in the inbox, and you’ve had to skip lunch and really just need a nap, it’s hard to embrace a “feel good about NOW” mindset…

But then again, that’s probably when I most need to.

My Son!

As amazing as it sounds, my son had his last day of High School today! I’m so proud of him. Up next for him: a year in Germany, for his Gap Year Student Exchange Program, before he goes to college. I think the current plan is to come back after that and go to college for music composition and production.

I am super proud of his abilities as a musician and a composer, and jealous! I can’t wait to hear his music as he grows, and studies, and his talents expand even more.

Here’s a link to his Sound Cloud account, where he has a number of his songs posted. Check it out!

One of his songs, Jump, has over 11, 000 listens! His song Again was just chosen by the head of the Chelsea show choir, Company C, to be included in their Spring performance, where it was played with choreographed dancers performing to it. That was a pretty amazing honor for Max!

So, in honor of my son’s last day at school, here is a pic montage designed to make me cry.

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Random Thoughts on a Sunday

Okay, the weather is cold outside, but soon it won’t be. Soon the Tigers will be back, and MLB will begin the marathon of a regular season. There’s fear in Detroit, though – the Tigers will be in a big rebuilding season, and the new predictions for Wins/Losses just came out. It’s not looking good for the Tigers. Click here to see the dismal prediction.

I heard a great quote from a TED Talk by Susan David: “Discomfort is the price to a meaningful life.” She gave a very nice talk about dealing with negative emotions in a positive way.

Speaking of negative emotions: Is it just me, or is Facebook almost unbearable lately? No dialogue, no fun, just people deciding they’re authorized to tell everyone else what they’re allowed to believe, like, say, or do. Maybe I just need a break from it, but right now it’s just a tiresome repetition. One that I know I’m just as guilty of as anyone else. I feel like we all need a reminder (me included) that maybe our best option is to embrace the connections from our similarities and shared opinions, and embrace non-judgmental curiosity about our differences. *sigh* I just know I’ve enjoyed not being on it as much lately.

On a more positive note: I’m so proud of the team at Williamston Theatre, and the response we’re getting from audiences for the current production of Our Lady Of Poison. Shannon Ferrante led a terrific staff and cast, and did marvelous work. 27625370_10156102918764629_6048259823109898447_o.jpg

Right now we are deep into pre-production for our next show at Williamston, Doublewide. I’m having a blast working with this production team, and even though we have a few weeks of Our Lady… left, I’m raring to jump into rehearsals! I really hope folks enjoy this show, I think it’s a beautiful and honest exploration into life in this part of the world, and the struggle to find a place in it.

Speaking of Doublewide, here’s a Work-In-Progress of the scenic design by the amazing Kirk Domer. I’m not going to explain anything in it yet, it’s just a sneak peek.Doublewide Rendering - House Left - Draft 2-11-18 No Walls for Tony

I can’t remember if I posted these before? The last show I directed, Beau Jest, was a ton of fun. During the show, which took place in the late ’80’s, a little camera was used by a couple characters to take pictures of other people in the play with them. We used real film in a camera, and got some of them developed. Here, for fun, are some of them!

Ah, there are Pat Loos, Vanessa Sawson, Michael Lopetrone, Sandy Birch and (barely) Fred Buchalter! The quality is awful because they were under stage lights and it was an old camera, but I love that you can also see audience members in the background!

Random TV Thoughts: The Good Place is so freaking good. If you haven’t watched it, start at the beginning and binge. Star Trek Discovery has become a pleasant surprise for me, and I’ve really enjoyed Agents of Shield also! Tops on my list, and I’m late getting to it, is The Great British Baking Show! Jeanne and I have just started watching it, and we’re in love! Thanks to everyone who recommended it. I now desperately want to take some baking lessons.

Lastly – because it’s time to work: Man, I am so excited to see the Black Panther movie coming out this week. I just think it looks terrific, for lots of reasons, and I’m really looking forward to seeing it.

Hope you’re having a good weekend, everyone. Stay safe, and spend time with people you love!

CASTLE PANIC!

A little QFT.*

Castle Panic is a fun, silly board game that creates a surprisingly high level of… well, panic! 🙂 The players are all on a team, playing AGAINST the game, so it’s a fun collaboration to stop all of the attacking hordes before they wipe out your castle!

I love this picture, though: Maggie and Jeanne are adorable as always, and Max is adorable in his “I will never ever just smile normally for a picture” way! 😂 Plus, if you zoom in, at the top you can see our picture on the wall of the kids when they were really little, being photogenic on a playground slide! ❤️

I hope with the upcoming holidays, and snow days, that you all get a chance to relax with some *Quality Family Time, whether it’s movie and popcorn night, or battling evil monsters who are hell-bent on destroying you and your castle!

Pic Post Friday!

I had a wonderful quick getaway with my amazing wife Jeanne earlier this week.   We stole a couple days from the schedule and visited Saugatuck, Michigan.  We stayed in the fabulous Hidden Gardens bed-and-breakfast, where I now want to live year-round.

We spent a lot of time on Lake Michigan, at Oval Beach. Just beautiful.   Here’s the only pic I took at the beach!


To get to the beach, you have to take a short walk from downtown Saugatuck, across the Kalamazoo River.  This chain ferry is the way to cross and, according to the operator, it’s one of only a handful still in operation across the country!

Here is the guy cranking us across the river. Yes, when offered the chance, I did some cranking! Life is short, try stuff, celebrate everything!  😁


Jeanne and I had a great time, it was a wonderful relaxing couple of days. Downtown Saugatuck is adorable with lots of parks and little shops and great food. (If you go, don’t miss The Southerner, or Phil’s!)

This flower shop has the best name ever.

We also enjoyed some relaxing and great wine at a cool place called Borrowed Time…

 

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With life being crazy, and politics driving everyone nuts, and work being always busy, and Jeanne and the kids going back to school in a week…. a little breathing room with the most important person in my world was just perfect.

I hope you’re all able to carve out some hammock time, whatever your version is, before long.  These are the moments all the hard stuff should lead to. Don’t forget to take them.

Taking a breath

Sometimes the best thing, the most productive thing, is a little down time.  

Just being outside, breathing. Being with family. Do some reading. “Refill the well”, as Julia Cameron would say. 





Some Kazan, some beverages, a tiny fish and a couple more days of this to come.  Thanks, Universe.