Sunday, May 20, 2012

Working Woman and a Little Woman

First of all, here is a picture of a little disaster. Last week, while Adam was away on the middle school spring trip, I heard a splashing/falling sound in the middle of the night. Since I'm prone to over react, and constantly think someone is invading our apartment, I somehow managed to fall back asleep without suffering a nervous break down. In the morning, I discovered this pleasant sight, it seems our neighbors dropped us our surprise. Somehow, I'm not sure how, all this gross-rusty-greasy-liquid mess fell through our kitchen ceiling. The neighbors are still renovating their apartment (after nearly 10 months), and so although I have no idea WHAT in the heck this was, I wasn't too shocked. 

It took a lot of courage to clean up the mystery mess. I did not want to touch it. During Willow's nap, I attacked it. 

Getting ready for a play in China is interesting. Productions are always a lot of work, but I find myself involved in every aspect of putting on a play. From designing sets, costumes, tickets, posters, hair, and actually hammering and nailing things together, sewing embellishments onto costumes, folding programs, gluing fabric onto set walls. From prepping our awful backstage area so that it is feasible, to writing schedules, selling tickets, buying flowers, and ordering buses for audiences. Writing announcements, making sure there is food for cast/crew during performances, meeting with volunteers about ironing, washing costumes, selling refreshments. Writing tech scripts, backstage scripts, and make-up/hair specifications.  Teaching people how to do stage make-up, how to do up-dos, how to sell tickets, how to walk in a hoop skirt, how to use a fan to flirt at a ball, how to apply false eye lashes...There's all this--and MORE--not to mention the normal director jobs, like giving notes at rehearsals, and trying to get the show ready for curtain's up. Probably the biggest role on my plate, in the last days and hours of the production is delegation. This involves 3-4 hours of emailing, skype conversations, and meetings every morning.

I'm not trying to brag. But I really want to express how much work goes on behind the scenes. Not just by myself, but by other teachers, staff members, cast/crew, and parent volunteers. There were several people who helped make Little Women a successful production this year. I had an assistant director, who ended up being in the play last minute (when someone was cut from the cast). There were two production managers. Another lady helped head up the box office. The head of the parent's and friend's association recruited and coordinated all the volunteer support and food donations for refreshments--I'm sure she put in hundreds of hours of free service. From people copying programs, printing documents for me, applying make-up and curling girls' hair, to baking brownies and popping popcorn, it was an incredible group effort. Moms came and ironed all the costumes, sold concessions at intermission, designed the show's program...The amount of work is staggering, but the amount of help that I received is humbling. There is no way that I could do this by myself!

While Adam was gone on spring trip, I was working on finishing up the sets with the high school students who are involved with the play. I also had some volunteer meetings, and a last minute run to the fabric market.

I had my little camera along with me, and snapped a few pictures. Markets are something that have become familiar to me, but sometimes, I reminded how 'foreign' they really are. Below, I was on the floor that sells miscellaneous products. Everything from disposable dishes/cups for restaurants and food stands, to masking tape and buttons.

Willow had to sojourn with me. It was hot, and she panics sometimes when the people swarm around her. They can be very aggressive at the markets. Usually, I have to take her out of the stroller and hold her, or else they will try to pick her up and take her away to play.

When I agreed to do another play, as a stay-at-home mom, I knew that Willow would be over 10 months old when we were in production week. I thought it would be easy to do a play with an almost-one-year-old in tow. But I was so wrong! Being a mom and a director is even harder than being a teacher and a director. Poor Willow is the victim in this scenario. She is tough, and although she never had a clue about what was going on, my little woman survived the madness of Little Woman.

Waiting for the elevator.

It may be hard to see, but this is on the 6th floor, where the fabric is sold. This is where I go to purchase fabric for the tailor when she makes me clothes or costumes. I want you to notice the singer sewing machine. Some of the fabric stalls have sewing machines so that the shop keepers can do tailoring jobs. Their sewing machines are rarely electric. This one operates with a foot pedal, like your great grandmother's did.

"Wall-papering" the set walls. This is the third time that I've been able to incorporate these set walls in a production--so it was a good investment! The biggest problem with these set walls were how ugly they were. No matter how specifically I ordered paint colors, they always arrived in awful hues and there was nothing I could do about. The first year was a terrible blue, like the color of a blue screen. The second year was a terrible green, with a red-ish brown on the bottom half. EYE-SORE! I hated it, but there was nothing I could do. Also, the paint is very different than what I'm used to. It comes in small cans, and is very thick. You have to use gallons of paint thinner to get it to the correct consistency. It is extremely potent. Thus, kids spend hours mixing paint and thinner, and painting with highly toxic fumes. Because of the humidity during the   spring season, it also takes several days for the paint to dry. So, between the terrible colors, the fumes, the inconvenience, and the time it takes for the whole process--it really isn't worth it. This year, I had the idea to just glue fabric onto the walls. We needed several yards of fabric, a glue gun and some mod-podge.

It turned out looking great--and made our Little Women set look like a life-size doll house.

Anna, joined the production team and helped take care of many things. She worked with backstage, make-up, hair, ushers, food orders, the box office, sets/props....It was nice having another person to join in the work. She is very helpful and added some experience in theater to the table. During the middle school spring trip, we couldn't rehearse since some of our main characters are in 6th grade--but we were still able to get a lot done. I was extra glad to have Anna since our assistant director was also out of town on the spring trip.  God provides, even when we don't know what we need.

Lauren, helping out for the third year in a row. She took over set decorating, and pitched in with hair and make-up as well. Not to mention she helped purchase fabric for all the costumes, the epic couch, and random odds and ends (like contact paper for the fire place, and crown molding for the walls).

This picture was from the last Saturday before performances. I went into school by myself (since Adam had finally returned from his trip to Beijing) to finish up the sets and get as much as done as possible so we would be better prepared for Monday. I ended up staying almost 6 hours!

When I walked in, I screamed in delight, because the attic was finally finished. The platform on the stage was supposed to give the idea of the March's attic. I wanted joists put up to give an exposed frame look--a more abstract interpretation of an attic space.

The Set for Little Women, under construction still. So much had yet to be done, at this point. 

My original sketch for the attic. 

I love seeing things come together--the process is so addicting!

So much to do, so little time! 

The final picture represents over 100 things on my to do list that were accomplished. From my perspective, when I took this picture, it also represented 100 things that STILL needed to be finished before the week was over!


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