There’s something exciting coming – I feel it. 

Because I’m going to make it happen. 

Planning a Shakespeare in the Summer class for the Milwaukee area which ends in a shortened production of one of Shakespeare’s many wonderful plays. 

As well as collaborating with fellow artists to put on our own minimal production of “As You Like It” this summer as a way to keep our artistic minds working and to get some Shakespeare out into the parks here – just another little speck of art to fill the sands of this summer.

Plans. Ideas.

I’m realizing as an artist I NEED to create and I need to give myself the opportunity to create – making my own path and opportunities.

I think this is good.

Sure everything needs a lot of brainstorming – and I’m not sure exactly what this will all turn out to be – but first I get my hands on scripts – then I make plans….

which I shall write and rework here. 

Shakespeare in the Summer

and Pop-Up Shakespeare (or what it will be) 

As of late I don’t feel I have anything to say…..

what does that say? 

Today I realized something very important about who I am as a person and about the character I want to have as I grow into a better teacher. 

I tend to think of myself as a kind person – with a big heart and lots of love to give. I am all about kindness, openness, but today I showed both kindness one minute and rude behavior another minute. My kindness comes much easier when I know I will be thanked or praised. I think we all enjoy being kind in situations like that – where you know it will be recognized as being good. But the moment of rude behavior came out of my challenge with apologizing. 

I don’t apologize easily. I hate admitting when I have made a mistake – its embarrassing for me to be wrong – I usually am very hard on myself when I have done something wrong – but to those on the outside of my brain they may see me as a rude employee or teacher who doesn’t have the courage or mind to apologize for being wrong. 

It’s a very important thing for me to realize. I’m glad that I noticed it. 

I have to work on apologizing. Of admitting fault. 

Of course there are certain people that I apologize easily and quickly to. Generally I am good about such things – but at certain times in certain places I’m not quite as apt to apologize and instead I make myself appear busy in a corner while someone else does the apologizing. 

To apologize right now just seems to me admitting fault – but in reality apologizing is a way of building relationships – building bridges – and making amends. 

Here’s to making more amends.

Here’s to making more friends.

Here’s to reaching out to strangers every now and again.

It’s time I put my open-minded and empathetic theories into action as the person I am.

I have been exhausted as of late – I have been working and stretching myself far too thin (I admit it. I’m doing too much right now) – so now I must work on being kind in all these moments as I work on 5 hours of sleep (if that) or rehearse in the 17th hour of my day. 

Kindness in times of weakness or exhaustion are bound to get me even further in this world and a more positive reception for when I am weak. 

I have too many thoughts in my head

…and I miss you. 

I’m far too awake to sleep and far too sleepy to be awake. Tis that silly in-between land where your body demands rest and reset while your mind runs wild after some intellectual exploration. 

I spend all day serving others coffee, being annoyed with co-workers, standing up without break or recess, and I spend two hours teaching two very different classes to young and old which have my mind in a flurry. A good flurry, but still a storm – a whirlwind. 

I feel my mind reeling with thoughts of one thing after another – like a runaway train. From the classes I taught to the classes I dream of teaching to the interview I have a month away in hopes of a summer job I thought I would be guaranteed to have (because I’ve had the job before) – but nothing is guaranteed and nothing is planned. 

Yet I lay awake trying to plan it all.

Take nothing I say too seriously. This is an exhausted woman speaking who has to be up in a mere 6 hours or so. But I am awake because the bed is uneven, one side is empty, and tonight I want to curl up next to one the heartbeat that can calm my own.

I will soon. Surely. 

Sleep is knocking on my eyelids as we speak…

but I just wanted to express – to put out there…

you know that feeling you get when you realize how big life is? how much you hope to accomplish in the bigness of it all? and then when you try to plan it all at once when really thats impossible?

well, my fellow over-thinkers and organized people will understand. We think in one night we can find all the answers – we can plan our entire lives out (or at least the next few months….years) when really what we get around to realizing is:
sleep is the only answer at this time of night.

sleep and the warmth of someone who appreciates your insanity. 

The Little Prince, Venticelli, and Viola Spolin.

There is so much I have to write because its been so long since I’ve done so. I gave up writing, thinking, reflecting after I had some rough classes and my exhaustion took over every bone in my body. I took some time off. A full weekend to be exact – where instead of focusing on reflecting in word, I experienced, I reflected in person with those adventuring alongside me, and I felt everything around me in its immediacy. 

Friday night I was fortunate enough to take a trip to Chicago (with my one and only) for dinner and a show. We ate pizza and drank wine before heading to see “The Little Prince” at The Lookingglass Theatre. This was a play that I knew only the basic plot behind before seeing it in production, but it was a show that I knew immediately was going to be magical. I saw one photo online on the website advertising the show and I could feel the energy leaping out of the photo. I felt the excitement, the wonder, the awe – I was positive that this was going to be a theatrical experience not to be missed. 

And boy was I right. 

On our night seeing the production, the Understudy for the lead role alongside the Little Prince was in for his primary actor and even that didn’t hinder the feeling of magic and ensemble that the actors worked to create. The entire production felt right, felt like puzzle pieces constantly coming together to create a beautiful picture of childish wonder and love. The show had me on the edge of my seat – listening, laughing, crying. I felt myself dropping my joy – laughing without thought – and looking at things with the childish magic I hope to never lose. 

The show worked much in the way that Mary Zimmermann’s productions do – using simple objects to represent much larger things. Hoola-hoops with lights representing passing stars and planets, people balancing on big exercise balls to represent other planets and their occupants, gloved hands representing a certain plant and the removal of said glove representing the killing of that plant. It was theatre magic where you could see what was producing the magic – but you gave in to it and accepted it. It was theatre that asked the audience to participate and by participating you truly got to experience the magic. 

The set was a gigantic piece of paper – parts of which were so angled they acted as a slide for actors to slide down into scenes (especially useful for the Little Prince and the young nature of that character). The piece of paper also acted legitimately as a piece of paper for the lead male actor to draw upon as he reclaims his childish sense of wonder and awe – he begins to draw more and more throughout the play – to remember his love of drawing and art that he had given up in order to be “an adult”.

As we drove back to Milwaukee from Chicago I was so inspired to write down my immediate emotions and here is what I wrote in the dark light of passing street lights:

“Only with the heart can on see rightly. What is essential is invisible to the eye” (a direct quote from the play)
I think its important to keep a little child, a little prince, in our hearts to remind us of the simple importances – of the grandeur of what is seemingly “small” as we grow up.
Draw.
Write.
Express
because that is what makes life exciting and full and I plan to live a fuller life than most. 

 

and that is all that “The Little Prince” was and so much more. The play was hands down one of the best pieces of theatre I have ever seen. And it makes me so happy to do what I do. It transported the entire audience to a place where anything was possible and everything was pure magic and wonderment. I clearly can’t say the word “magic” enough about this performance. I apologize for my lack of variety in vocabulary – but truly that’s the only word that does the play partial justice. Magic. 

And from the magic of watching a beautiful play I moved on to rehearsing to be a part of my own magical production. 

Recently I have been cast in a production of “Amadeus” as one of the Venticelli. Traditionally the Venticelli are two men, two quick-footed somewhat foolish men. In our production there are three of us – all female – playing this group of “Venticelli” or “Venticelle” since we are all female. 

And this role provides a whole world of magical discovery. Since the role is traditionally male and much different then we are playing it – its very open for discovery and play. 

We are described as “Little Winds” by the character of Salieri who we serve with our gossip and rumors about those around town. We are to be feminine, a stylized representation of the “everyday man”, and full of gossip of the entire town. At the moment its a lot of exploring different personalities and stances. To say I’m clear on what we are exactly is to lie to everyone and myself. I understand the tool that we are to the play – we move time forward and provide the important information the audience needs to know to understand the next scenes – but what we are in the world of the play I still am attempting to grasp. We are a trio, but a trio of individuals – we can have clear personalities and still meld together into a group of gossiping entities. We are omniscient it seems and representations of different groups of people rather than a single specific person going by a certain name. 

It’s a fascinating position to be in as an actor. We run on and off the stage quickly with our information and our in someways a storm, a flurry, a tornado of information and laughter and silliness. We are clowns. Intellectual clowns. 

We are the magic that holds Amadeus together – without the Venticelli there would be a need for rewriting this play. That says something very interesting about our characters – our group – we are the glue that holds everything together. 

And right now that is as much as I understand. It isn’t much. It’s only the beginning ideas. But as I discover more, I will write more, and attempt to explain what its like to create a character in a situation like this. Being a representation versus a specific character type. It will be a very interesting journey. 

And all along this journey I will continue to work annoying hours at a coffee shop and teach at random to children who don’t always want me present – in the hopes of bettering my teaching and my upcoming classes I have picked up my copy of “Improvisation for the Theatre” by Viola Spolin that I have own for awhile but have yet to crack open. 

As we did laundry Sunday morning I read through the beginning of this book and found a lot of beautiful quotes and thoughts that have struck me about teaching and about what I need to reevaluate in myself. I have found just one to reflect upon today – though I find it be perhaps the most important one I came across. 

“We learn through experience and experiencing, and no one teaches anyone anything” 

Now I understand that idea first hand. I know the first moment where I really impressed people in my acting – where I really let go and created something before my professor’s eyes. That moment came after I experienced some new things the summer before – after I had defied my parents and taken a road trip to Ohio without them knowing – after I lost my virginity to someone who didn’t deserve it – after I felt the intense feeling of heartbreak knowing that someone who had taken so precious to me didn’t give a shit about how precious I truly was. Those experiences on top of so many more suddenly gave me this vulnerability and openness on stage that I hadn’t ever had before and people took notice. It is all about experiencing – but this quote was a kind reminder that no one teaches anyone anything – teachers are more like guides. And that is what I am attempting to be in my classes – a guide to their own creative expression. 

 

Sometimes teaching is a magical experience where I realize all that I love and need in life – where I feel like I’ve truly found my calling –

and other times teaching is the most draining thing in the entire world. It’s harder then acting for a silent audience – it upsets you to see students disrespect you right in front of your face.

When its only 8 students – the disrespect is evident and leaks into the other students until the entire class is derailed.

Its hard for me to pinpoint how to fix my issues. I know I’ve always had trouble with authority over students because I appear (and at times act) younger than I am.

But – there’s no reason to reflect on these negative things. I know I started this post with every intention of complaining, of whining, and putting my teaching style down.

As I started typing these things my cat curled up next to me and nudged at my arm – in order to get my full attention and love (in the form of petting).

Truth is: I am a young teacher. I have barely started figuring out my teaching style and techniques – this is only the beginning and one bad class out of the 3 I’ve taught so far this week – not bad. Not bad at all.

I have a week off from this class. I have time to recuperate and to plan my attack for this class when it comes to once again. I can figure out some rules, some expectations for each class, and take time to reinvigorate myself for another stellar class.

Now is the time to curl up with my cat, drink wine, and let go.

Let. It. Go.

It’s been one hell of a long day. 

It’s been quite a lot of long days in a row as of late – but you know what? That’s all right. 

I’ve been feeling a lot of emotions – highs and lows – and everything in between. I’ve been frustrated, flustered, running around this city, mad at this city, trekking through snow, squeezing my fingers to keep them moving when too cold, putting myself and my knowledge on display, and feeling both respected and disrespected in all sorts of places. But all of that is quite all right. At least I feel things, right? At least I’m distressed because I’m passionate, at least I’m fighting and frustrated because there is something so much bigger that I want out of this life. 

Tonight I spent an hour and a half at a work meeting that felt pointless from the moment I saw we were required to attend one of the many different meeting times. And may I add this is a meeting for the job I like the least out of what I’m doing – but it’s the job that pays the majority of my rent and life expenses. So of course I don’t want to sit and talk about what it is I’m doing when really this job is a means to an end. However, this pointless meeting had some thing to it. I’m not saying it wasn’t mostly pointless – after an exhausting day and having already been up for more than 12 hours by the time the meeting started I can say I would’ve rather been at home in bed, but…..I won’t say I hated every second of it. 

I was reminded of the fact that this company is run by passionate people. And I was told that I’m working there because they do like me – I am actually liked. We were all reminded to be kind to one another – which I admit was a good reminder. I try to be kind, but I know lately our cafe hasn’t been the kindest place to work – we’ve been in a whirlwind of emotions as of late and I feel we’ve all been a bit to harsh with one another at one point or another. We were reminded that at the core we are nice people – we’ve were hired because we showed we could be kind. 

I don’t know, this may be silly, but it was nice to be reminded that I am a nice, genuine person and actually appreciated at this job – when I have as of late felt under appreciated or disrespected. 

I don’t love my day to day job – but I do think I like it a bit more when I see my coworkers outside of work and we laugh and we remember that we are all nice – we are working together for a common goal. I guess I’m just cheesy like that – finding the silly things about a stupid work meeting that make me feel good and useful.

But in the end feeling useful and well-liked helps me keep going. I like to know I’m doing my job right and generally in the past few weeks I’ve felt like I’m constantly doing something wrong, constantly upsetting someone, constantly sending out the wrong message through the way I interact because I’ve just been so damn exhausted and frustrated that I’m not being artistic every minute of every day. 

But a funny thing happened at this meeting. As the big bosses spoke about being nice to one another and customers – blah blah blah – they brought up how being nice to one another during our shift is important because the customers can see us interacting, they notice us, “you are on a stage, you are actors” he said – and everyone in the room who works with me looked directly at me “and some of you actually are actors”.

I may not feel I’m being artistic, but I am identified by these people who barely know me as being an artist – being an actor. People who don’t even work at my cafe know that I am an actor, I am an artist. 

And that says volumes for what I do put out on a daily basis. I don’t even realize it, but artistry is clearly at the core of my being because its reflected in my daily interactions and daily conversations. 

That was perhaps the reminder I needed. At the end of the day I am always an artist in whatever I do – and people take notice – people know – and they smile knowing I’m an actor, I’m an actor they know. 

I’m an actor. 

Teaching my own classes.

I can tell you this is a whole new ballgame. To create, build, and teach my own class around whatever I want to teach. It sounds like a magical time. 

It proved to be far too wide open in the beginning, but after some time and writing I created three individual classes that I am now teaching through the Milwaukee Recreation Department. 

Tonight I taught two of them for the first time. One – “Happily Ever After” – based on the idea of building our own fairytale with 5 year olds and the other – “Shakespeare’s Words” – focusing on Shakespeare and his works with adults (who are officially all at least double my age – besides one young man who is taking the class with his mother). A stark contrast in ages, not so stark of a contrast in topic, and a whole lot of fun. 

I learned a lot about what I’m capable of doing tonight. Teaching with a slight plan, but almost on the fly like any first day. The beginning is all about feeling out what the situation is – I knew none of my students coming in, I had no idea what the room I would be working in would look like, and I didn’t fully know what I would be able to accomplish with the students. 

My plans for each class have slightly altered – but that is a great thing. They have a firmer direction now that I’ve met who I’m working with. 

I tend to feel more that class is about building something with my students – I am with them – not above them and I felt that tonight a lot in my Shakespeare class.

I have never before taught adults in this capacity. But I will say – I am beyond excited to learn and discover with them. There were smiles on a lot of their faces and for them to respect me as their teacher when I am so young was an honor in itself. 

I could go on and on – but my body has been awake for 16 hours now and my brain can’t possibly process the words I want to use right now. 

For now – this is all I can say in reflection – tonight was a lot more fun than I expected and I’m in a much more positive mood in terms of following my dreams no matter how challenging right now. 

I love what I do. 

“It’s too early to think about tomorrow and too late to think about today. It’s only time to think about right now. My head on this pillow. The lingering thought of sleep. That is all I can handle” 

at an absurd hour in the night I thought those words to myself, to remind myself how important it is for me to sleep and stop worrying. However, worrying is at the very core of my being. I am far to big on worrying and I find it even harder to not worry out in this big ole world. 

I’m having a hard time dealing with my “daytime job” and the lack of respect I feel in my position along with the lack of hours I’m receiving even though I’m supposedly a ‘full-time’ employee. I’m trying at the moment to live out some of my life dream – to teach and act on the side – and doing so has made my schedule more complicated – thus making it feel like society is punishing me for following my dreams. 

I may be making some extra money in the long run, but in the short weeks between paychecks where I’m constantly getting my hours cut at my daytime job it feels more like I’m losing out on money and unfortunately I need money to survive. 

That may just be my least favorite fact about the society we live in. The necessity of money – and lots of money – in order to survive. In order to actually live and eat I need to make an amount of money that is hard to attain with a minimum wage job. I am living so far below the poverty line its ridiculous. 

I’m a college graduate, but since my degree is in the arts its as if society is set on breaking us. Its hard for an arts degree major to make money and yet the more time passes the more expensive the essentials become and the less money one can make in a minimum wage position. 

I’m aware I’m specifically arguing one side of the fact and I know it’s not the end of the world – I’m sure I’ll survive and make it work – but I’m having a rough day and I find the need to just let out how crushed and punished by society I feel. It’s better I let it all out then allow it to pile up inside me. 

I’m sick of our society. 

Today was all about making a lot happen with little sleep under my eyelids. A lot of adventures and a range of emotions.

No matter how hard I try waking up to work at 5:30 am is never easy. I never feel awake at that hour, I’m up before the sun and that just doesn’t register correctly in my body (or anyone’s in my opinion). But then to rush off to serve others who are cranky and demanding due to waking up at the exact same time I did with a smile on my face is an even bigger challenge. To listen carefully to every single aspect of someone’s coffee order and make sure to correctly communicate their demands to the barista who is doing much their own sort of thing on the other side of the cafe – its so hard to register every sentence, every word, and it all becomes a blur of “what happened this morning?” It all blends together because half of the time someone else is making me feel as if I’m not good enough or ruining their day in some way just because I can’t hear them when they whisper or mutter their order under their breath (seriously I think vocal projection should be taught to every one in this world). To stand in one spot trying desperately to not lock your knees as you realize that you don’t have enough of the correct change for all the people who give you 20’s for 2 dollar coffees right now since the bank is trying to arrange your change order downstairs. To see the frustration on someone’s face just because they have to now carry 9 ones in their wallet instead of a 5 dollar bill. It was a blurry morning, a morning I can barely remember, and happily will not lock up in my memory bank for future days.

After that I meandered home to a sleeping boyfriend and a quiet apartment to detox and take off my work clothes. To rest – because I do realize how important moments of rest are.

Then before I knew it I was back on the road on my way to teach. To teach day 2 of my after-school program with the Milwaukee Rep. I got to meet new students to add to my class and work even more with the students I only met once before. We began to explore acting techniques and storytelling today – which pulled out a deep excitement and passion today. Today I felt as if I really took control. I ran activities I know relatively well and I remembered to ask the students to reflect upon what they noticed or felt in each activity. They built tableaus and at times got a bit out of control. But their out of control reveals how much energy they have, how much excitement they have. It may be misdirected at the moment, but there’s an understanding that they need to start taking me seriously – that there is work to do – and that the work should be fun – but there is something to accomplish. We came up with a hand signal to remind them to settle down and to refocus their energy, and there became an understanding that I am a teacher with goals. 

I think we made progress. We got to dive into what I love and think a bit about what freedom means to them. They journaled for awhile on the topic and wrote some beautiful things which I will share in a separate post. They’re starting to really delve into what I think is only the beginning of this amazing process. 

I also got the wonderful surprise of a phone call asking me to be in an upcoming production in the Milwaukee Area. I auditioned a week ago and felt my audition went well – but you know you can never be certain. I had been paranoid all last week watching my emails and became discouraged the more time that passed. But today my phone rang and I saw an unfamiliar number. Now I usually don’t answer unknown number phone calls, but for some reason I saw it and thought “this is important” so I answered and got the best news I could’ve hoped to receive. Once again I get the chance to get out into the Milwaukee acting scene with a company I’ve adored since the first time I auditioned for them quite some time ago. 

After all the good came the only low part of my day: a vet visit for my sweet little cat. He’s been sneezing like mad as of late and I’ve been worried even though he showed no other symptoms of sickness. Today I noticed some eye discharge, so I decided to take him in. I knew I would sleep better doing so. The minute I got him in the car he meowed like the world was ending, but eventually I discovered the more I spoke the less he meowed. Then I started singing. 

My mother used to sing me a lullaby every night when I was young and I adore the song – so I decided for some bizarre reason to do the same thing – with my cat. It’s silly, but I love this cat to death. When I sang – he stopped meowing entirely and I felt this intense pride knowing that I am a comfort to the sweetest thing I have ever owned, ever called my own. 

The vet told me that he more than likely has feline herpes (which is nothing like human herpes), but its a chronic sickness that he will probably have for his entire cat life. It will flare up in times of stress or major changes in his daily routine and that is what is happening right now with his sneezing and congestion. In the end, I feel as if he’s all right – he’s going to be just fine – but I feel a strong need to care for him. He was on the streets before the Humane Society found him and took him in. Before they recuperated him from his sickness and then he found me and demanded attention. So I feel lucky that at least he’s mine – and now I know what is going on with him – and I know that I will take care of him better than anyone else. He’s my baby. 

Today has been a lot about love. Love of coffee, love of teaching, love of great stories, love of theatre, and love of my cat. A loving day. 

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