Thursday, June 18, 2009

Much Ado About Nothing . . . now that's SOMEthing!!


Three nights ago, the guy playing Lysander in our production of A Midsummer Night's Dream walked out in the middle of rehearsal, with no intention of coming back.

Wednesday night, after a day of calling everyone age and talent appropriate we could think of to take over the part, the rest of the cast began to arrive for rehearsal.

Mom and I had discussed our options. We had been down a list of possibilities to replace the actor . . . none of them panned out. We went down a list of possible changes in the actual play . . . but had no firm decision made. Wednesday was set to be a "Makeup and Hair" night. Three out of twenty-two people came prepared to do that.

And then, to top it off, the costumers came in with fully made butterfly wings for the fairies to wear.

Mom broke. Before my very eyes, she crumbled in a state of anger, frustration, hurt, fear and worry. She took me by the hand and led me into an adjoining room where she cried, she swore. She downright panicked. And seeing her in that state, I was speechless until she said, "I should have quit years ago! What am I even doing?!"

Something clicked inside my head. I put my hands on her shoulders and said, "Not even. Everything is going to be great. I have a plan." And quite suddenly it was true. The plan was solid and fluid like chain mail.
"Let's do Much Ado. We can cast it. It's simple to costume, simple to stage, easily memorised and understood."
Her eyes remained vacant and broken, even as they spilled over with tears. "I just don't have the heart," she answered. "I can't go in there and tell them . . ." She trailed off with a look of dread and horror, playing the possibly scene out in her mind.
Now I was wearing the chain mail. A feeling not far from adrenaline kicked in. "Then let me do it. I'll take the helm. I'll take the crap or whatever comes." The feeling must have rolled off me and at least pushed against her void of reason.
She looked up to meet my eyes and nodded, "Okay?" She sounded unsure but trusting.
"You wanna come with me?"
She nodded again; so I took her by the hand and we went back to face the cast.

I told them the basic story, leaving out hurt feelings or gory details. I was all business; formality of the Now void of emotion. Silence was complete in the room.

I expressed the true problem: we could not find a new Lysander and have him learn such a difficult and physical part in the amount of rehearsal time left to us. Midsummer was not even fully blocked; and without a Lysander we could not finish blocking, let alone teach it to someone when they did step in. Our two options were cancel the show, or change it to Much Ado About Nothing.
Much Ado is a simpler Shakespeare for many reasons, I explained. Simpler costumes, almost no set, no wigs needed, no special makeup. The lines are conversational and easily understood. We would need to fill two parts, but they were both small and could be filled even the week before we opened with no great stress on the cast as a whole. I let them know that Mom has directed Much Ado twice, and I have directed it once before in High School. They were in confident and safe hands; we were in no way entering this play blind or ignorant.
Then I said, "If anyone is not on board, now is the time to make it known. I completely understand the emotional connection we all have to Midsummer. We are all invested. That is why I believe changing the show is a better option than canceling altogether. But if there are any dissenters, speak now to our face. I will brook no backbiting later. I want it clear that we aren't forcing anyone into this action." (And I'll admit, I really enjoyed being able to use the word "brook" in every day conversation. Though I paid only small attention to it at the time.)

If I had thought the room was silent before, it was nothing compared to this. Each member of the cast looked like I had punched them first in the head and then in the gut: muddled and wounded.

Finally the man who would have played Peter Quince, and who has been in just about every Shakespeare my mother has directed over the past ten years said, "I have walked out on you once, Carrie. I won't do it again."
A soft and emotional moment passed between him and my mother.
He continued, "I'm on board." And as I met the individual gaze of each person around the room, I heard and saw that they too were with us, come what may.

We discussed only a few more minute items, some people expressing quiet outrage at the selfish and irresponsible behavior of the departed actor. But from the moment the cast was with us, Mom began crying in relief and went into the adjoining room again. And I flew into a flurry, taking charge even to the point of announcing the cast right there.

Thursday, when everyone came to rehearsal I believe they were a little surprised. We set immediatley to work. We had it cast, we had scripts and rehearsal schedules ready and by 10pm we had Act 1 Scene 1 completely blocked.

The way the schedule is set up, we will often be blocking two scenes at once: Mom in charge of one, and I in charge of another. We will block for two weeks, run through the show for one week and then open July 10th.

Some people had their hearts completely broken, having had in Midsummer their dream role, and being "reduced" to a minor role in Much Ado. Others of us were taken from a compact role and expanded into something monumentally larger and in some cases creatively scarier. My mothers tears were not the only tears shed over this development.
The majority of the planned and built costumes will have to be revamped for the difference in era, need and casting.
When I say that the members of our cast and crew are being "troopers," it is a gross understatement . . . but how else can I say it?

Long story short: I will now be playing Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing. Muad'Dib is not involved at all; no longer performing in this endeavor, not even for a night (because he was the understudy of the departed actor). He is instead being the best husband and father in the world EVER. Supportive and loving. I leave my junk at the door and he doesn't ask me "How was rehearsal?" When we are together, we ARE, without all the other stuff. It's what is working for us and I like it. The kids, also are doing incredibly well!

And now comes the big thing. (I know, "That wasn't the big thing?") The big thing is that these current happenings have opened my perspective in a most wonderful way.

A month or so ago, I was aching. Three months before that, I was downright suffering through a cleanse and detox so emotionally vigorous that I was little more than a tree waiting out a storm: still and mindless. I knew it would go away. And it felt like it would never go away.
One of those days, early on, I had written out my feelings while sitting in church. And the Spirit spoke to me saying, "Consider this a time to rest. Take it in. Rest. Be." I learned during that hellish experience that it was possible for me to simply turn off some emotions, for a time. I didn't have to tap it out or validate them or sift through them and understand them. If the need was great enough I could just switch it off, function, and come back to it later.

And boy did that come in handy the past few days. When so many others around me were still just reacting, I had a plan. I used my adrenaline as a tool and set to work, completely armored by my plan, armed with my tool and my mind clear and open as a cloudless sky!

And then, after rehearsal last night, after I had driven home, after I had brought my bags inside and set them down. After I had kicked off my shoes and gone to find my hunny, I ran my fingers through his hair . . . then my body said, "Crisis mode ended. Return to normal function."

I was suddenly so tired. So last night I slept. And this morning, I opted to share this incredible experience, and startling turn of events with my bloggy friends.

I hope that despite the change of play, and Muad'Dib no longer being in it even for a night, you will all still come and see Much Ado About Nothing. Because when we open, after only three weeks of rehearsal, you will enjoy the feeling of your jaws dropping in surprise. Because in spite of all the above hullabaloo, we are going to ROCK!!!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

A Midsummer Night's Dream

By William Shakespeare.
In the Historic Browning Theater at the Union Station Running July 10 through July 17 (no show on Sunday.)
Tickets are Adults: $8.00; Children 3-12: $5.00 and Seniors 65+: $6.00.
Tickets can be purchased at the door or from Me. I will earn a prize if you buy them from me!

Tickets make great gifts . . . and remember that Muad'Dib will be playing Lysander for only one performance: July 17! (it will be the first time we have ever kissed romantically on stage!)

This play is FUNNY! I will post pictures as soon as I have some . . .

My Simple Pleasures

*Re-watching a movie from my youth and actually understanding what the people say. "Auntie Shrew! Timmy's sick!" "Cynthia dear, don't fidgit." (Can anyone name the movie? It's animated.)
* Sleeping in.
*A long shower.
* Crispy Waffles.
* a clean living room
* The sound of a lawn mower in the distance.
* The smell of grass.
* Clouds atop Ben Lomond.
*The sound of the dishwasher going as I put my children to bed, the true auditory mark that the day is done.
*My kids sleeping in a tent in Rivulet's room
*Children solving their own differences.
*Beautiful music.
*Playing the piano.
*Brushing my hair.
*Brushing my daughter's hair.
*Arranging roses in a vase.
*Baking cookies.
*Writing a paper.
*A made bed.
*A vacumed floor.
*A cold drink of water.
*A well placed quote: "The future is as bright as your faith." - Thomas S. Monson
*Open windows.
*A bendaroo's Sunflower.
*A hug.
*A fresh diaper.
*A lit candle.
*A fruity popsicle.
*A good movie.
*A pretty dress.
*Seeing a picture of yourself and being surpised to find that you are pretty darn good looking.
*A clean car.
*A letter in the mail.

And I have found something that is NOT a pleasure. Going to be without Muad'Dib. My desert has no shade; my catchtubes hold no water; the Great Worm slumbers, bringing no spice and no rest for my weary self while my Muad'Dib is absent from the Dune of my heart!

Three down, one to go!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Until That Moment, I Had Not Seen Her. Not Really.

Tonight at rehearsal I was grateful for something. Then when I got home I was reading aimlessly through past blogs and re-read a post back in April of 2007 about my mom. And I realized there is a singular experience had with that woman that I have not shared.

My mother and I have spoken to each other with raised voices more often than not. Throughout my life, I saw my mother as an exposed wire, as a broken version of herself, as something less. From the time I was fourteen, I have vivid memories of three things in regard to my mother: Her singing.
Her bearing her testimony.
And yelling at/with her.

To illustrate I offer a story: When I was about sixteen, there was a Saturday when I wanted to go somewhere. The house was a mess. It's possible that I had been asked to clean it, I can't recall. As my mother and I were yelling at each other, she forcefully strode to her room and I called after her, "But we love you mom!" and she answered, "Then SHOW me." and slammed the door in my face.
I felt her to be the biggest jerk of all time. Why couldn't she just take my word for it? Why weren't my words enough . . . and so on.

My triggers were if my mother discussed, or even mentioned,
My father.
Her voice.
People treating her poorly.
Whenever she would express negative emotions about ANY given situation.

I found that my responses generally were to defend the other party, and tell my mother how to fix her broken self. I was always hoping to say that one thing that would open her eyes and heal her or cause her to change! I felt that she was never looking at everything. Honestly. I said prayers to the effect of, "Help me know what to say to help my mother see . . ." yada yada yada.

My husband, bless his dear sweet soul, often asked my why I would even GO to my parents house or design to spend time with this woman, my mother, when it was obvious that we didn't get along. And I always came home with heavy emotional scarring and baggage. WHY? And the answer, "She's my mom," was wearing thin on us both.

Then. Ah then, this past January it finally happened. I learned the answer.

We were downstairs. We were in my fathers office. Yelling. Yelling as if by doing so we could bring about world peace. The gusto, the lung power the sheer mass of our feelings filled the room and shook the walls. That is the capacity of us two women when got together and riled up.

I believe the conversation (and I use the term loosely) was sparked by a combination of topics like money, my father and her theatrical business endeavor. I had long felt abandoned and brushed aside by this focus of her life.

At the very apex of our spewing, my mother burst forth in magnificent glory by saying, "I got you kids up at 6 am to read the scriptures for three years before your father finally got the picture that it was important! I made orange juice every morning! I made your meals for eighteen years! I washed all your clothes! I went to every damn soccer game and performance! I signed you up for those soccer games and other ****. I DID! And what do you kids remember? You remember the times DAD woke you up for scriptures. You remember when DAD made you breakfast. You remember DAD going to your stuff. You remember DAD talking about Wyoming!"

And it was here that my brain ripped apart. The blinders I had worn my whole life were removed. It was as though Heavenly Father literally opened the set of eyes I had had closed before. And I saw every memory of my childhood differently.

Suddenly, my mother was there. She was present, ever present. All that she had listed, and more, flooded like fire and light into my awareness and I realized with a great pain in my head and my heart that my mother needed no fixing.

I did.

My mother was not broken.

I was.

My mother desired, above all else one thing: RESPECT. and when she had not gotten it as she needed it from her children or her ward she had turned to this Theatrical business. And although she continued to suffer, she was also being vastly rewarded.

And I had not seen any of that.

I began crying and stopped her tyraid with, "You're right."

Her defenses went up immediately, as she heard the words that were so often said to patronize her before.
But then she saw the tears in my eyes and fell into a shocked and wary silence.

As my mind raced through all my memories, trying to make sense of what I had done over my twenty four years of being a crappy daughter, the tears fell from my eyes, sobs racked my body and I found I could only say two things:
"You're right." and "I'm so sorry."

And oh how I meant it.

All the times. All those myriad of times when what my mother did went unnoticed, unappreciated . . . Now I understand that sort of thing is to be expected in motherhood. But what I had done was so much worse. Because I didn't just overlook her contributions, I gave the entirety of my credit, love and loyalty to someone else. Like she never even existed.
I didn't know that's what I was doing. It wasn't on purpose.

And the arrogance! I looked at this woman - without seeing her - and thought, "I know what will make her better."

Judgement. Pride. Betrayal. Conditional love. Truth out of context. I stood guilty of all these.

Because deep down I knew my mother was marvelous. And on the surface I treated her like an untrained mutt. Sure it has potential, but if you don't kick it, how will it learn?

The shame! The bitter taste my past words left in my mouth! I went to her and hugged her, all the while sobbing and repeating my new mantra, "I'm so sorry. I understand now. You are right!"

My mother didn't hug me back. She was in a sort of calm awe. As my mind was reeling, hers finally stood calm. And only one thought, one feeling permeated her: "Someone understands?" And inside, her soul relaxed.

That was six months ago. We have not fought since.

Because now I understand.

My mother had often tried to tell me that I was her daughter, while confiding in me like a friend or sister. I had abused that relationship in the most heinous way. Mostly because I didn't understand respect.

This lesson reflects deeply on my relationship with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Over the years I have grown lax. And the major ingredient I lack in regard to them is respect.

It is an uncomfortable awareness to suddenly know that I don't understand the meaning of a few basic words. Hope. Faith. Respect. Peace. Love.

And how wonderful to finally be able to answer the old question, "Why did you spend so much time with a woman you always fought with?" It was so I could one day be prepared to really SEE my mother. To truly be her advocate. To truly be her daughter. And I am sincerely blessed to be her daughter. To be her child has taught me so much. This experience . . . I am grateful she was willing to go through it, too. Because wow.

The experience I had tonight was what we have now. I can be the advocate she always knew I could be. Because I see and understand the woman that she is.
And I love that woman dearly.

Monday, June 1, 2009


*Rehearsal is AWESOME!!! I was originally cast as Helena . . . but then found out that Hermia has to be shorter . . and I am pretty short. So now I am Hermia. I am finding only JOY in this process so far. And what an opportunity to release! I feel downright good.

*Muad'Dib will step in for two nights to play my "lover," Lysander, as the guy originally cast cannot be there for the last two shows. We are both excited!

*Leemur enjoyed his last week of school, and is super pleased to have summer start! He keeps asking if we can sleep outside.

* Muad'Dib, after months and MONTHS of peparation, left this morning on his Venture Scouting trip to Moab. It will be the longest we have been apart since November 14th of 2001!!

*I had been complaining a little bit the past month about how things (especially singing time) was being run in my Primary. Then I woke up and realized that talking to OTHER people wasn't going to fix anything. (crazy, right?) So I talked to the Primary president and first counselor last week. We came to a new agreement and then yesterday had a GREAT singing time. They liked it, I liked it, the pianist liked it. . . ahhhh. Communication saves the day again!

*Rivulet and Lemur took their first ride on a horse up at MRR last week. For pictures please see Dreampacker's blog. It was priceless!

*My roses are blooming and smell incredible. I'm not just saying that, either. Muad'Dib smelled the two blossoms I had brought inside and asked if I had perfumed them! My kitchen lingered with the scent for an entire day, filled to the brim with rosey-ness!

*I spent four and a half hours yesterday baking for Muad'Dib's trip. Chocolate Chip cookies. S'mores cookies (I just made that up!) and Cheesecake Tarts. Holy I am a good baker!

*Muad'Dib bought me the new Xbox 360 Scene It! So if anyone dares challenge me to a movie trivia showdown, bring your A-game and some ginger ale. Because it is SO ON!

*I am going to attempt, in absence of my lover and my car, to make a baby quilt and finish crocheting a baby blanket. I'll keep my many readers posted on these projects.

*What other news . . . Oh, the play will open July 10th and close July 18th, with a show every night but monday. More info to follow.

*I want to have a campout in my backyard this week. Anyone want to join the fun? I have cookies . . .

*Muad'Dib will audition for Beauty and the Beast at Terrace Plaza Playhouse in June. If anyone else in the family is interested in these auditions, let me know and I will give you further information (Emily, Parker, Kira, Amberle etc)

*Our Ward Choir is taking the summer off. Again, my dreams of a patriotic choral program are dashed. Will no one stand up with me on July fifth and sing "The Star Spangled Banner" or in some other way pay homage to the creation of our country, recognizing God's hand in it?!

*My backyard and front yard and flowers are so BEAUTIFUL! I could just sit outside all day long . . . and perhaps today I will.

I'm pretty sure that's all the news I have. It may not be ground breaking or ten o'clock news worthy, and still it's all I've got. And I think it's great!

May you all have marvelous days!