Mid-December round up – keeping the plates spinning….

Still catching my breath after a wonderful trip to Actor’s Express in Atlanta for the NNPN National Showcase of New Plays (followed almost immediately by a trip to Buffalo with family for some much needed family holiday time!)

The NNPN Showcase was terrific.  (NNPN is National New Play Network, in case I haven’t mentioned it in a while.)  We saw 6 readings, some of which I absolutely loved, and I had a ton of good conversations and chats with theatre makers from all over the country.  I love the readings, but sometimes just being immersed in that energy is the perfect thing to recharge my batteries.  It’s energizing to get that reminder that everyone deals with the same challenges and struggles, the highs and lows of this industry – all on a variety of wildly different points on the scale, of course – from companies with a $50,000 annual budget up to ones with many millions of dollars to spend, and raise, every year.  But the wonderful part is the belief and faith in the power of storytelling, and of having an impact on your community, and the pursuit of excellence in the craft – AND allowing for a whole variety of opinions on HOW to make all that happen.  It’s really good stuff.

And then our trip to Buffalo was fabulous.  We continued our decades long family Christmas tradition of holding a big dinner at one of the relatives houses, and that person (or family) cooks a giant dinner for everyone that consists of food from some other country, or culture, from anywhere in the world.  No one knows what it’s going to be until we get there, and it’s a big fun reveal and feast, with lots of lovely family time and board games and presents and laughter.  This year my brother and sister-in-law made an amazing Jamaican dinner that was delicious!  The kids played games, built an igloo in the snow, and generally had a good time.  It was fun to see all the cousins together, the six of them don’t get to visit as often as they used to. The age range goes from middle-school up to college now, and it was terrific to see them having such a good time just enjoying each other’s company.

Now I’m neck deep in prep for 900 Miles to International Falls, by Annie Martin, the show I’m directing next.  We start rehearsals at the end of this month, and I can’t wait.  It’s a big thoughtful, meaningful piece about mothers and sons and war, but it’s also about trust, and compassion.  We get to do a lot of “world building” because it’s set in 2054, when the planet is at war with an alien race who have landed seeking a new home!  I have an amazing production team to work with, and I’m so excited to launch into rehearsals for this world premiere in a couple weeks.  Learn more about the show here!

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Until then, though, our production of A Christmas Carol: The Radio Show is going wonderfully!  It’s essentially completely sold out this weekend, except for the occasional person calling in to cancel one or two from a group, but then those are scooped up by someone calling wanting to see it before it closes.  Aral Gribble is wonderful in it, and the whole production team did some really fantastic work. Check out more info here!

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Now I’m looking forward to the next couple days, when both kids will be back home with Jeanne and I for a couple weeks, and we can all enjoy some holidays relaxing at home with the Christmas tree, the dogs, and some friends and family.

Happy Holidays, everyone!

Thankful

Taking a minute to acknowledge and thank the universe for all the wonderful things in my life.

With Thanksgiving just happening, and then so many wonderful things around it, it’s easy to take for granted the things I have. Sometimes I just need to look around and, to quote Kurt Vonnegut’s Uncle Alex, say out loud “If this isn’t nice, what is?”

It was so great to have the kids back home with Jeanne and I for a couple days. Just talking and hanging out and eating and playing games and watching them play with the dogs. Loved it. Going to sleep that night with everyone in the the house, knowing they were safe and home and happy, it was pretty terrific. And soon we’ll do it again for a few days for Christmas.

Plus we had a wonderful Opening week for A Christmas Carol: The Radio Show at the theatre, which is just lovely and so engaging and such beautiful storytelling, it gets me every single time, and watching packed houses fall in love with it is both inspiring and affirming.

Then we had a fantastic “Giving Tuesday” Play Reading Marathon, where we read a seasons worth of plays onstage in a day, 12 hours of readings, all open to the public, and we had so many people stop by for a play or two, or three, and a big group who stayed all day to see five or six plays! It was amazing, people came and went all day as their schedule allowed, and it felt like such a day of communion and togetherness and magic as we shared and discussed six wildly different pieces. Truly it was a humbling thing. Someone asked “Did you ever imagine this when you started this place 14 years ago?!” and the question AND answer got me all choked up because, no, we hoped but had no idea if it would work. Tuesday was pretty damned great.

And now I’m getting ready for the National New Play Network annual Showcase of New Plays – a weekend of staged readings and chatting about new plays and the challenges, joys and pitfalls of producing them with people from all over the country. This is going to be fun.

So much to be grateful for.

I hope you’re able to look around this weekend and find the same things in your life! ❤️

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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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!

A little R&R

Rest when you’re weary. Refresh and renew yourself, your body, your mind, your spirit. Then get back to work.
-Ralph Marston

We had a terrific vacation. Camped at the BEAUTIFUL Wilderness State Park, on Lake Michigan.

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More than just yearly rituals in which we connect with friends and family, vacations are also exercises in self-definition. In affording time away from the demands of everyday life, vacations disclose what people choose to do rather than are required to do.
-Cindy Sondik Aron

A day trip to Mackinac Island for fudge, biking around the island and sightseeing was perfect.

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Your family and your love must be cultivated like a garden.Time, effort, and imagination must be summoned constantly to keep any relationship flourishing and growing.
-Jim Rohn

The loves of my life. 🙂

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Laughter is an instant vacation.
-Milton Berle

Pic Post Wednesday: New Shows, New Games, Family Time!

A good, busy week!

Production meetings for the next show at Williamston Theatre, Red, White and Tuna, directed by John Lepard. Here’s a picture or two of the set model – Janine Woods Thoma is the Set Designer. This pic was right before they had a couple of great ideas and Janine tore the model apart to experiment!

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In other theatre news, I’m beginning work on the next show I’m directing, boom, which I LOVE!

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Had a great time with Max this evening. After Maggie and I grilled an awesome dinner (salmon, chicken, pork medallions, veggies), she and Jeanne went out dress shopping, so Max and I got some Dad/Son time: first, ice cream from Twisters.

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Yes, they’re both huge, and yes his has 3 candy eyeballs on the front of it. These things happen…

Next, we wanted to play some games, and we had a new pack of expansion cards…

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So we played some Munchkin!

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Seriously, could that kid be any cuter?

We also played a game of Ticket To Ride with the whole family, and then the kids were off to bed!

Lastly, Maggie and I saw this bumper sticker when we went grocery shopping, and it made us laugh… and then we spent the next 20 minutes rhyming things with “peanut”…

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Have a great week, folks!

Wednesday Pic Post:


A ballpark is a magical place, don’t you think? It stops time. It’s a place where a father and son can sit together on a lazy afternoon enjoying the game and decades later, in those same seats, that son can sit with his son, and it’s as if nothing’s changed. Time moves differently inside a ballpark.
-Ernie Harwell, from Ernie by Mitch Albom

Today…
…we had a press conference for Ernie, and our Stage Manager Megan took this shot from the booth! Press Conferences are odd things, and I don’t do them often, so it was fun.

Speaking of baseball…
Last night we played some catch in the yard! Awesome.


Speaking of awesome things, The Town Pump has awesome fried pickles, and lunch today was pretty darned great.

Also…
We start rehearsal for this show next week, and I’m looking forward to it. It’s been a long time since I’ve been onstage, and I’m anxious to work out those muscles again!

So, challenges, opportunities, quality family time… a week full of reminders that all of those are important. Thanks, Universe.