Sunday, July 5, 2015

June Report

 June started like most months around here... fast and furious.  As soon as the calendar clicked over to the blessed summer month we began Graduation Week.  This is a busy week for me as I help with many activities at the high school... including graduation.  It's a process to get things to sound nice in that large outdoor space... and I get super tired.  The next day there is no time for rest because the school books a rental.  Told you it is a crazy week.
This year Hannah's best friend from childhood graduated.  Hannah and Sai don't have many of the same activities.  Sai is into sport, Hannah is not.  Hannah likes to perform, Sai does not.  Sai is tall, Hannah is not.  Hannah is even older than Sai.  But Sai is super smart and skipped a grade and so now she is off to play basketball at college on a full ride scholarship.  It's crazy to think that these two won't be able to cheer each other on in person this next school year.  I guess they will have to do that from afar.
Hannah got into the student government class for her Senior year (She will be in charge of reading the morning announcements to the school and encouraging involvement in school clubs).  As a result, she went to the coast for a retreat to learn the ways of student government students.  This was also her last chance to play with her friend Reba for the summer.  Reba was heading off to some South American or Central American country for the summer.  Reba is also into sports and although has been in a couple plays and in choir in the past, this next year she is going to play a sport each season... even football.  They won't be doing so much together I guess.
Hannah cut her hair... ok... she got bangs and trimmed all the layers.  Her hair is finally looking more normal.  After dying it blonde (for Eponine in Les Miserables) and then dying is dark brown (for the Witch in Into the Woods) her hair needed a rest.  Besides, I didn't have the money to pay for long hair to change again and she didn't have the time.  I'm pretty sure she had a rehearsal most days... well... I know she was super busy all year long because she was hardly ever home.

 I was driving down the back roads to work on a job when a terrible noise came from my car.  I lloked in the rear view and noticed bits and stuff bouncing on the road... then my car stopped moving.  Engine sounded just fine.  We had just put in $2000 into it.  But the transmission was a goner.  What to do?  After weighing the options, John came and got me and we went and signed our life away for me to drive a new-to-me truck. I love it! Not crazy about the car payment for the first in years.  R.I.P Suburban.
 I went to Seminary Graduation.  I had these students as young bright eyed freshmen.  I didn't get to teach them again until they got to their last semester of their senior year.  Love these kids!  I know they have great things in their futures.
We went on a road trip together.  The Mabee family decided to to meet up in the Redwood forest in northern California.  Chad and Hannah helped Kimber along in her car.  It was her first time driving on the freeway.  There were a couple scary moments, but overall, she did a great job.  It was stressful so Chad ended up driving most of the way for her.  
We had to hang out at a rest stop to give Kimber's car a break.  Back when we were kids, John and I had make up games and stuff on long drives.  Now days, kids are entertained by electronics.

We recreated a family photo...

We performed family skits.

We celebrated Grandpa's birthday with his favorite - Dr. Pepper.

We ate tons of food.

We stayed at this cool house.

We visited the northern California windy beach.

We played around with family.

We looked at big trees.

I crocheted.

We played and listened to music.

We played games with cousins.

We watched cool sunsets.

We listened to talk radio.

We made new friends. 

We played in the river and even got brave and jumped off rocks and floated down small rapids.

We were entertained by the goofy family.

and we told tall tales (Dave).
Meanwhile, Chad got a girl friend.  Her name is Lanae and she is super cool.  She leaves for a mission to the mid-west in a few weeks.  We hope she keeps Chad because we'd like to keep her.

June is the month of the annual Jessop team competing in the Cannon Beach Sandcastle competition.  Hannah went out to Cannon Beach with them for a week to practice and to be on the team.

This year a film crew followed them around and asked them all about competing.  Their story will air in the fall on OPB's show, Oregon field guide.

They spend hours and hours on the beach.

Eventually, Chad, John and Lillian joined them for a couple of days of camping and beach fun.

I think Chad's favorite part was hanging out with his best friend Jonathan. 

And Lanae...

Hannah even got him to ride a horse.  When she told me the story I was imagining a noble steed... then I saw the picture.

Here is their completed competition plot...

it made them happy....

Impressive don't you think?

They won 3rd place in the Master's Division... which means they won some money...  not bad for a family and a few friends playing at the beach for their hobby.

Meanwhile, I stayed at home.  I had work to do so that I would be ready for CET... which started the week after Sandcastle competition.

I took pool noodles and pop bottles and a little bit of paint and turned it into...

THIS!  A new arch for CET.  I will blog about it later since it was a Pinterest success.

Also, while everyone was gone, John, Lanae, and I attended Chad's graduation from Chemekata Community College Early college Program.  One more class and he will have completed his Oregon Transfer Degree as well.  We are super proud of him!

A week later (and a year after it was earned) we attended a small Eagle Court of Honor for Chad.

Somehow, Yvonne convinced Chad to do the Court of Honor with Jacob... he didn't want anything big either.

Let's see.... in June we also played with cute grand-kids... 

I didn't get to go to Nebraska to get my award from the International Thespian Society.  Instead, I walked across the stage at Central and waved to empty seats.  Then my goofy friends at CET gave me a certificate.

Also, in June, CET started.  Really, CET is reserved for the July blog post, since it will occupy the majority of the month of July.  I can say that Lilli loves her classes and her show.  I don't get Hannah in my tech hall because she has been moved around so I don't see her much.  It is far too hot for humans... and we are moving through the program quickly. 

So there is the report.  I covered most of the things I did.  One of these days the other people in my life should blog or journal so that people could see life from their perspective... but that is not likely to happen.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

The Foreigner

Theater is an exercise of the Absurd. It is labor intensive, shows very little return on investment, if any, and is disposable. After closing night we will strike the set and leave the theater looking as if we were never there. “Disposable Art” Art created just for you, just for tonight. It’s not a Book, a Song, a Painting or a Sculpture that you can go back to and enjoy over and over again. It is a living, breathing, entity that encompasses all aspects of Art. Movies also encompass all Art forms, but Movies aren’t ALIVE. Like Concerts, Recitals and Sporting Events anything can and will happen. 
Two things I deeply believe in: Great theater can be created anywhere. There are no such things as small theaters, only limited imaginations. Van Gogh didn’t paint because he wanted to, because it made him feel special. Van Gogh painted because he had to, he needed to. He painted until he couldn’t hold the brush anymore. He painted over his own paintings because he didn’t have money for canvas. He needed to paint. I have been asked far too many times, “When are you going to give up this foolish life?” In this world where there is pain and suffering around every corner no matter who you are, it brings me great joy to help create a couple of hours where you can escape.
This is why I spend so much time at Central high School helping students “catch the vision” and creating master pieces of “Disposable Art.”
“Only he who attempts the absurd will ever achieve the impossible.” ~ Confucius

It’s funny… as much as I enjoy “the dark side,” I find that my best theatrical experiences are often with witty, conversation driven comedy.  It is the power of laughter.  Laughter is medicine. Milton Berle once said that “Laughter is an instant vacation.”  Well ladies and gentlemen… pack your suitcases. Human Beings need a little down time. Is there anything more noble than that?
(we had to start our building by purging the scene shop.... including nasty paint.  These two brave girls had the "sniff test" job.)
(Some kids learned new skills.  One of these boys learned how to use power tools... and it was his first play at Central.)
Everyone once in awhile, we are presented with a situation that is so unique it almost takes our breath away.  Each time I work with my friend Jeff and the students at Central High school I am presented with this situation.  This time it was helping with the Production class in preparation for “The Foreigner.”  I love these kids!  Their courageous attitudes and willingness to work hard during some difficult days has taken each of us on a journey – to a new level in creating the performing art I love.
As part of the class room environment of this production we had many discussions regarding judging others, racism, finding peace within ourselves and standing up for what we are passionate about.  These discussions were enlightening to all of us as we watched crazy things happening around the country and learned to work together with a variety of personalities. I believe the material even helped us all have a better understanding of all that it means to be human because it is an example of innocence and love and warmth being preyed upon by ignorance, yet refusing to surrender.  The quirky dignity of ordinary folks gives us all hope.
Who really are foreigners?  Are we sometimes foreigners to ourselves?  I often think of the unnecessary divisions we create between ourselves and other people and the opportunities missed for growth and human understanding.
In this delightful play we see some characters expand their horizons and embrace themselves and each other with new joy and life – while others hold tight to their prejudices and revulsion for anyone different then themselves.

I also got to see the same thing happen within my awesome cast and crew.  Many expanded their horizons by trying something new (a tech job when they are usually on stage).  There were some difficulties adjusting – some held tight to what they thought before and some embraced a new experience.  Just like the characters of the play, it was clear who suffered, literally and spiritually, in the end.

The specific hate group portrayed in this play, the Georgia KKK in 1983, is unfortunately, one of many.  But what can each of us do to help our world move beyond such negativity?  I’m proud to say that the students of Central High School are actually beginning to answer this question.  
What did we learn?
Work together

“Own” who you are

Do your part

Work brings people together

Listen, Act, repeat

Leave life’s troubles at the door




At first I was attending class to help… help with sets, technical elements, whatever the teacher/director needed.  Eventually, I really became more of the co-director – even if Jeff said I was the director.  We made decisions together.  I did blocking and he did clean up.  We taught things together.  We encouraged the kids to participate in the design of the set and the costumes and in all elements of producing a play.  I did have to “tweak” the set design.  Jeff did step in and decorate the set and costumes.  We both needed to step in with the poster and program.  Still… it was a great learning experience for the kids who learned how much work we do to get a play off the ground, and a great learning experience for us.  We learned that we need to give more clear directions and instructions.  As a result I will be helping my friend write better lesson plans and syllabi for future classes.

I understand that many of the students don’t like this class format of production.  I believe they don’t see the whole picture yet… and it’s hard to see the big picture when you are a teen.  I believe this format is a win/win for the school, the students and one of my best friends, their teacher.  It is a great answer to having more productions and more classroom training in a district that doesn’t have the funding for both.

Many thanks to the efforts of so many who helped bring this show to life. My friend Jeff for letting me play; my friend John and my husband John for coming to build set pieces with me; my friend Joy for painting logs and rocks so I didn’t have to; my friend Lonnie for taking pictures; and the students who also let me play and let me love them. This production was the result of the commitment and creative contributions of many, many people.  As always, it was a joy for me to work with the creative, talented and dedicated young people of Central High School.