Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Attention to Details

Awoke with that familiar rush.
That surge of adrenaline.
Mind racing full of details.
Do I wrestle the monster to the ground?
Do I embrace it?
Or do I surrender to it?

And so it goes - my love- hate relationship with the theatre.

This sweater or that one?
These handcuffs or those?
That badge or the other one?

Update the stats on exoneration for the power point.
Make the sound effect for clanging jail cell doors.
Purchase the lumber.
Find the steel case metal chairs.
Borrow a Priest's collar.
Get the tummy padding for the kid playing the lawyer.

Make Believe.

Five hours of pulling costumes in the attic of the local civic light opera.
My students amazed at how much work it all is.
Labor intensive.
Schlepp Schlepp Schlepp.
"You'll need a big vehicle to schlepp stuff," I said loading armloads of costumes, a 1940's style microphone and an army cot into the back of my Ford Explorer.

The guard hat was black.
"It needs to be blue," I said.
"I don't care anymore," my student responded.
"Oh no," I said. " You must care. You always care. If you don't care then you shouldn't be doing this."

This is why I love the theatre. It matters what color the hat is.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Thanks. Yes.

For all that has been, thanks. For all that will be, yes.
Dag Hammarskjold

I wonder if this will last?
This enthusiasm.
This sense of purpose.
This joy.
This gratitude.
It feels so different.
This time.
I wonder why?
Is this what it feels like to be an elder?
To not be rocked by the little ups and downs of the day in day out?
To see a bigger picture?
To know that it will work out. One way or the other?
To not roll over.
To be persistent.
To not feel like you've anything more to prove.
To see it for what it is.
To see your place in it?
Is this what Erik Erikson meant by generativity?
Is this what if feels like to have chosen?
Really chosen?
Nothing accidental about this time.
Everything intentional.
Is this what it feels like to embrace one's limitations?
Is this what Rilke meant by seasoning?
Living your way into the answer?
Is this what Shaw meant when he said
I want to be all used up when I die?
Is this what a second chance feels like?
Is this what Maurice Chevalier meant when he sang,
I'm so glad that I'm not young anymore?
Whatever it is

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Buttons Popping

When I was a junior in high school, my ship came in and when we set sail, my life was forever changed. My father, who was my coach, sent out to all of his employees an invitation to see his daughter perform the title role in Meredith Willson's musical, The Unsinkable Molly Brown. The top of the invitation read, "My buttons are popping."

I remember auditioning for the role, and the musical director, Eugene Ober, asking me if I played the piano. I told him, "No." Then added, "But I can learn."
And learn I did. One song. Well, 36 bars of one song - Chopin's Minute Waltz - My father saw to it that I had piano lessons and when the show opened, I indeed sat at the piano, rented for the production by my father, and played the 36 bars live on stage only to find out from Meredith Willson himself, who in the latter years of his life made a practice of attending high school performances of his musicals, that I was the first actress he'd ever seen actually play it!

My senior year in high school brought to an end an era that had begun when I was eleven in the gym of Servite High School as Brigitta in The Sound of Music with the musical How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.
On closing night of the show, my father, brother, and entire family walked into the gym wearing sailor hats with the words, Once in Love With Amy, appliqued on them.
"Low Key" was not my family's style.
That was over thirty years ago.
The memory is as fresh as if it were yesterday, brought home to me only the other day by a phone call I received from my beloved nieces, Hannah and her sisters. They had called to deliver the news that Hannah had been cast in the role of Anna in Rodger's and Hammerstein's The King & I. My two other nieces, Mckenzie and Elise, both were cast as well. There was much celebrating going on in that arm of the Luskey family.

I have cast hundreds of students in countless roles over my twenty plus year career as a high school theatre director. I've watched families bursting with pride as they walked through the lobby doors of the theatre. I've read the heartfelt messages from parents in my programs and seen the families swarm their children after performances with armloads of flowers.
And now, it's my turn.
Aunt Amy's button's are popping!
And I imagine my father and my brother, both beaming with pride as the Luskey family musical theatre legacy lives on through their grandchildren and great grandchildren.
But don't worry, Hannah.
We'll leave the sailor hats at home on closing night.