Sunday, March 6, 2011

Long Sigh....

....of relief!

"Treasure Island" is over! In my opinion, it was a success--and there were so many people who made it possible! So many behind-the-scenes individuals who sacrificed time, money and energy to help make the show possible. They are rarely recognized or seen working, but I'm so appreciative to each one of these people. There were about 60 volunteers altogether and the number of hours they worked, the variety of tasks the accomplished--well, they were all extremely important and carried through with grace.

There's a few "Stars" that stand out extra in my mind.

First off, there is my husband, Adam, who cooked and cleaned and did loads of laundry for months while I was struggling through rehearsals and morning sickness. He helped me lug around 50 pound bags full of fabric from the markets for costumes, haggle with sellers, run and get more cash from the ATM countless times while I waited by the vendors...He made me breakfast every day and packed snacks for work. He was my cheerleader, and the set of ears that listened to venting. He was the guy who suggested making the boys do push ups when they missed cues (never again will I do a show with 17 teenage boys). That was a magical piece of advice. He sold tickets at the Will-Call table and took pictures at performances. He helped pass out subway dinners for the cast and mixed the cookie dough because my mixer was broken (cookies to help stock the refreshment tables). Maybe the ways he helped out were not very significant in the eyes of others, but they kept me going when I had no energy or motivation and I couldn't have gotten through the last few months without him.

Here's Adam dressed up in a silly t-shirt he bought on the first day of shows.

Adam and I after the final show. We almost match!

I love Adam!

Then there is my friend, Lauren. Whoa. She was a miracle worker! I could make a list of everything she did to help, but it would be massive, and I know I would forget half of what she finished for "Treasure Island". She worked on gathering props at markets, on the Chinese version of ebay, and through getting loans from people in our community. She painted sets, she painted props, she made the peg leg, she painted the treasure maps, she helped to prep backstage and the auditorium, she came to many rehearsals and was my right hand assistant--always with her trusty notebook taking notes of things that I spit out randomly, like "the curtains need to be re-pinned together" and "that curtain pole needs to be cut" and "we need another black curtain for backstage!"......What a trooper Lauren is! So willing to help, so patient and hardworking. She is creative and a great problem solver. There were many times when I could have pulled out my hair, but I knew that Lauren could figure it out. Whether it was dealing with paint thinner that wouldn't mix with the clay-like Chinese-style paint, or creating a peg leg out of scraps of pleather and cardboard, or making a piece of fake bread look like a pot roast. Did I mention she can wheel and deal? She probably saved the production a ton of money! She organized our messy prop room countless times and sacrificed time in her classroom to help make everything ready. What a fantastic production assistant, prop queen, market guru, and more importantly--what a precious friend!

And then there is Irene who does not get enough credit for all that she does. She helped find dozens and dozens of volunteers and set up information meetings. She coordinated schedules and made things work. She got tons of food and drinks donated to sell at the refreshment tables. She helped me to set up the backstage area for the show. She made sure even small details, like paying for subway and ironing costumes got taken care of. She is an action person with ideas and energy to spare. She collected baking ingredients and even money from those who didn't want to (or don't know how to) bake to be sold at the refreshment tables. She was quick with communication and always helpful--never complained and was very supportive. Although she didn't have a child in the play, she worked with perseverance in everything she did.

Well, there are so many more people who helped so much. It's very humbling to see the scope of the work that was done by volunteers, knowing that it would be impossible to do it on your own.

Overall, I felt that "Treasure Island" went very well. It was fun to see the students "click" into the roles (some, last minute). What a rewarding experience for me to see them on stage doing so well with their parts! Unlike the audience, I've gotten to see this show countless times. To see it on stage, when it was only ink and paper 4 months ago, is such a treat! It's entertaining for me to see all the blocking that I gave to the students on stage....mixed with their personal spins. It's like a game to me: "oh! I told her to do that--but this is new, I never imagined it that way"; "hey-that's exactly like I said it should be done, but this action right afterwards is completely original to the student". It's also incredibly rewarding for me to see students who were a "gamble" do so well with their characters. They were the students who were placed in roles with a feeling of hesitation. We hoped they would be all right in that part, but there was no guarantee. It's satisfying to see them grow as actor, but also as individuals. There was raw, God-given talent there before, but to watch the process as they developed their gifts was special. Whether they believe it or not, their gifts can be used to bring Him glory--and it makes my heart glad.

Hannah (also a director for "Treasure Island") and I accidentally matched for opening night. I'm so thankful that Hannah joined this year's production. She helped to keep me sane and her experience and perspective were very valuable!

The complete directing team! It was great to work with Nathan again this year on the play. He joined the cast once more, this time as a crazy man who was marooned for 3 years on an island.

A bit more normal picture of the directing team, from the program.

Emily and Nathan!


I used to love being on stage. It was among the most satisfying of feelings. Now that I've had a taste of directing two years in a row, I think that given a choice, I would much rather give students an opportunity to be in the spotlight.

Now the brunt of the tasks are over. There is a small post-production to-do list that will wrap up the show logistically. Yet it is NOTHING compared to the last few weeks of controlled chaos. I feel twenty pounds lighter (ironically--since I'm probably 20 pounds heavier) and am looking forward to "free time". Time to say goodbye to my classroom and get our apartment ready for our baby. We have less than 11 more weeks before we'll be flying home to America!

Backstage Tour

Since photos shared must not include students, I can't post any of the great pictures. But I did think of taking some unpopulated pictures to share on here. This is your personal backstage tour.

Here is what the auditorium looks like if you are standing on the stage. Let me point out it's strengths. It seats a little over 300 people and looks very nice. However, the sound booth at the back was not designed very well. The loud machines are INSIDE the booth, which makes it impossible to hear anything while sitting inside. Plus, the window does not open and is tinted, so it's impossible to make sound judgments about lighting design from inside the booth. Equipment has to be dragged out each rehearsal/performance so that anything can be accomplished at all.

This is what the stage looked like for Act 1 scene 1. Reusing some revamped "Secret Garden" sets along with a few borrowed items. The only new items in this set are the curtains, the three stools, and the paint. Everything else is borrowed or reused.

Reusing the little bed. That little bed has come in handy two years in a row. I wonder how much longer it will be able to last. It is incredible feeble. If you don't already know the story, I first saw this bed on the side of a run-down road. It was there for 8 weeks before I made a move to acquire it. My TI and I went to the side of the road and bartered with the people who were nearest to it (coal sellers). They had a tiny shack and spend their days filling large sacks with coal and delivering it. We were given permission to borrow and paint the bed, which was actually a couch, as long as we returned it. By the time "Secret Garden" was finished, however, the little coal place had been forced to leave that location on account of road construction. We had no idea where they went, and they have never returned. So, the bed is now conveniently ours to keep. Strange.

Our school is blessed hugely with a wonderful, beautiful, new auditorium. However, there are a few details that make it a bit of a challenge when trying to put on a production. 1) the ceiling is not insulated and it is tin--making it very loud when it rains, cold, and poor for acoustics. 2) the backstage area is SMALL and split level. Making it almost impossible to move sets on and off. We have little extensions made for us, but they only afford slight improvement. 3) the curtains are on a mechanical motor which is loud and often jams. We take the curtain off the motor, but there are no ropes to open and close manually. So we have to improvise here as well. 4) there are no wings backstage, minimizing the space we can use backstage for people/props/sets because of sight lines. This also makes it necessary to block off several rows of seats. 5) There is no where on the stage to hang a backdrop, and there are no pulley or rope systems which allow us to change drops.

What we do have is two rooms behind the stage with counter space, a small sink, and mirrors. These are lovely to have and I very much appreciate them. Drama just has one of the rooms. There are several closets in the auditorium---10 at least--but we only have 2! The rest are for who knows what (PE equipment). This is a picture of the "prop room". Which has been under lock and key for almost a year now. This is because people think it is ok to borrow things whenever they want, without permission, take things out, rummage through boxes, and not return what they've taken. We've lost several items on this account. Before "Treasure Island" started, this room was mostly cleared of all props and costumes so that there was space for special make-up.

Another blessing of the auditorium is the activity room which resides directly behind it. There are some pros and cons to having this room. A few great things: it provides extra space for make-up, sets, props, and costumes; it serves as a greenroom during performances; it is conveniently located. A few down points: it echoes a lot; we can't leave our stuff because of PE classes and after school activities; it's very tempting for cast members to play sports during performances which causes sweaty make-up and wrinkled/torn costumes.

It may be hard to see, but those yellow things are stars with the cast members names written on them. A cute idea "Treasure Island's" assistant director incorporated. :)

Perhaps some of my comments about the backstage area sound like complaints, so I want to make myself very clear: I am so thankful for our auditorium/activity room area. They facilitate the drama dept. beautifully. We are blessed to have these facilities and I think that no matter how many weaknesses they might have--it still enables us to put on strong shows. I couldn't have asked for better resources and feel privileged to be included in theater again. :)

This is turning out to be a very long post. Other than "Treasure Island" life continues to roll on. Tomorrow starts another week of school, which I somewhat dread. This weekend felt especially short. I'm now in week 22 of pregnancy and continuing to grow. I can't zip my dress pants anymore, and that has definitely been a mental milestone for me. Its the first time in my life I couldn't zip my pants! I'm learning to sleep on my side and not on my stomach and remembering to take my vitamins every day. Baby is moving lots. I guess, in a word, it has been uneventful so far--and that's comforting to me. We'll probably go for another check-up next week or so....maybe even discover the gender of our baby (if the technicians will tell us)! I have a nasty cough lodged in my chest which has not been fun.

Adam's basketball season is over--but soccer starts tomorrow. His knee has been bothering him almost all school year and we are going to get an MRI of it soon. He's reading an alternate history of the Civil War and spoke at fellowship this morning on Nehemiah 4-5. I'm so proud of Adam and glad to be his wife. I'm enjoying the last few months of just the two of us.


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