Once you say “theater”…..

Are you one of the ones who thinks – “oh, one of those flakey, creative types” when you hear that someone is involved in theater?  Perhaps the word eccentric comes to mind.  It’s more than time that we “theater types” got a fresh look.  https://www.theaterthinking.com/transferable-skills-theater/

Oh sure, communication skills but as this author points out the word BRAVE comes to the forefront.  Yes, I agree,  insanely brave.  When I put out the announcement that I was going to direct the musical Annie in Silver City, I had no knowledge of a little girl that could play the role.  She came out of the woodwork, this amazing person that had never sang on a stage came into our midst.  And she was brave to go onstage in front of 600 people every night.  Some people dream of going on America’s Got Talent but they aren’t brave enough to actually do it.  And theater people do this all the time:  risk, take chances, fail, try something else.  Constantly.

What about Goal Oriented?  The posters are out, the tickets are printed.  Most people have the option of putting off a deadline if it’s not going well but in the theater we don’t.  The show must go on.  And everything we do – the scheduling for rehearsals, building, costumes, props, publicity – all of the areas –  are focused toward meeting that goal.  And if you are a production manager you’ve got organizational skills that will allow you to manage multifaceted projects.

Focused collaborator.  Most of us actors, designers, and directors only work on one project at a time when it comes to production.  That’s because the job easily sucks up all of your time and if you’re not dedicated, you find something easier to do with your life.  And we learn how to collaborate by working on projects with difficult, demanding, exacerbating, lazy,  and downright crazy people.  And we don’t walk away because we know that someone will be let down if we do.

So take heart theater people.  Believe in the gifts you own and perhaps the world will come around to seeing what you have to offer outside the realm of theater.


Just a short year ago

What is now/What could be

I believe in directing work that has social relevance.  A short year ago I asked a group of young people what they thought about the state of the environment and mans effect on it.  We focused on the forest and it’s relationship to the river.  What we created was a magical world of where we would grow 50 trees in front of an audience.  We introduced the human tree.  It grew and grew.  We experienced night in the forest.  The human tree took over.  We took the forest down, deconstructed it. Their concern for what is now, what is happening was on the surface but what they created was a world of butterflies, bats, owls, ravens, and our beautiful Mother River.  The giver of life.  We hope that all can and will respect her.

The power of Mind Mapping and S-Town

One of the much over-looked tools I use in Storytelling class is mind mapping.  In the very first class I ask the students to think of a central metaphor – something such as a family heirloom or an image that represents them or what is really important to them.  Then I ask them to think about the journey of their life – whether young or old we’ve all had experiences throughout time: places, people, good and bad things that have happened to us.  We also talk about time and how it is represented:  linear, in a wheel of spokes, in boxes like a comic book or in up or down ways. Now draw your life using whatever symbols or images you wish but no words.

Some students are completely baffled or say “I can’t draw.”  But there is no right or wrong way to do it and no judgement.  Stick people or elaborate faces – it doesn’t matter.  Some know the central image of their life and others have to ponder on it for a long time.  Some are detailed and want to work on it, making every image perfect.  Others are quick and general.

It’s always so interesting for me to see what they do, how much and what they reveal.  I’ve seen this exercise bring people out of shyness, create a bond when people realize what they have in common, surprise others with artistic skill.  No one believes the images without words will speak but they do.

I’m currently listening to the This American Life podcast called S-Town.  It’s a fascinating journey about a guy that restored old clocks, created sun dials and mazes.  Everyone around him had a perception of who he was but did anyone really know him?  The mind mapping I do with my classes are what they want others to know but something happens in the exercise – a layer is pulled back – it’s a freedom from using words to describe.

The Singularity

I am very proud of the fact that I directed Mary Poppins last spring.  The beautiful photo above was a moment created by many talented people:  Cari Lemon as Mary, Patrick Rogers technical director, Tasha Cooper lighting and Peter Bill projections.

But the original show created in 2012  with the students in the IDEA program called the Singularity was a highlight of my creative work.  Futurist Ray Kurzweil describes the singularity as the moment when man and machine will merge.  It’s about the time when virtual reality will be as real to us as the living world.   Written by Gabe Eyrich and Rob Torres, this work explores 4 women:  the innocent child, the mother earth, the skelton woman who must choose between the worlds, and the Raven woman who accepts death as part of life. Enjoy two clips from the production:



Dr. Suk Jun Kim – Sound, Anna Davis- Composer and actor, BJ Allen – projections, Peter Bill – projections, Zoe Wolfe, Actor.