Archives For August 2012


August 28, 2012 — 4 Comments

The view from my window yesterday

Here’s a little secret:  I’m not a very good student.

Well, that’s not exactly true. I’m smart enough, and I know how to write, and I can think at a reasonably deep level when I need to. But at the same time, I tend to get distracted easily, and I enjoy learning about what I happen to be in the mood to learn about, as opposed to what’s been assigned to me. During my freshman year of college I was supposed to be studying genetics and geology and Othello, but I was more interested in absorbing as many classic films as I could get my hands on.

I’m supposed to be reading a large stack of plays right now, before school starts properly, and I am…trust me. I just don’t burn through them like I should. I’ll read one, and then think about it for a while before moving on to the next one. I should have read more of The Merchant of Venice today, but instead I took walks and did some food shopping and organized my home a bit.

Oh, and I watched a few episodes of The Simpsons. From 5:00 – 8:00 pm you can catch, like, five episodes, easily.

A Few Photos

August 23, 2012 — 2 Comments

Just a few pictures taken while I’ve been here. I haven’t taken the time to take the “good” camera out for some proper shots yet, and I haven’t really been in the country yet. Hope to change that soon.

That’s a  LUAS train, part of Dublin’s public transport system. Apparently this one was booked out for a wedding party. (Look closely and you’ll see the “Just Married” up top.)

The harbor of Dun Laoghaire at sunset. This is about a 5-minute trip for me on the DART, another part of the public transport network. Not having a car has taught me all about buses and trains and light rails. And good places for a walk. The pier at Dun Laoghaire (Dun “Leery”, is how it’s pronounced) is an excellent place for an evening stroll in summertime. When it’s not raining.

This is taken on the way up Killiney Hill, in Dalkey, a bit more south of where I live. You can see the pier I mentioned: there are two, actually, and they make a sort of “C” shape. Dublin city is  on the far side of the bay. I live just to the middle-left of the photo.

Bono apparently lives around here.

Looking south from the other side of Killiney Hill. Sun was in the wrong spot, and I was just using my phone, so it’s not the best photo. Still, it’s pretty amazing that you can be in the city going 15 minutes one way, and almost in the mountains going the same amount of time the other way.

During my time in youth theatre, I’ve had the good fortune to work with a lot of great people. I wouldn’t even know how to begin to list all of them, but I imagine they’ll get brought up from time to time on here. Although I don’t plan on having this thing be just a bunch of “remember when” stories. No point in continually looking back to what’s already done and over with. Time marches on, life goes forward and all that. But you put the years in, and you wind up meeting some remarkable people.

I’m thinking of a couple of guys who have had some good fortune come their way lately. Kevin is a young guy I worked with on quite a few shows over the years, and last week he found a full-time job teaching history and running the drama program where I graduated high school. (It’s also where I got my start directing youth theatre as well, but I’ll save that tale for another time.) His first show will be one we did together back in 2005.


Adrian only appeared in one play I directed (he played Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream), but he was involved with Limelight for other shows, including his fantastic work as Music Director/Choreographer for Lumberjacks: The Musical! (Limelight’s first all-original musical to come from a casual joke made about an overflow of flannel shirts in the costume room.)

Anyway, Adrian was just nominated for a Jeff award for his performance in “tick…tick…Boom!” earlier this year. It’s a big deal, but honestly, if I know him, he’s more excited about the fact that he’s going to become a father for the first time later this year.

And that’s just what’s happening this week. There are others who are also doing great things out there, but this post has enough links and references for now. But Amanda and Tiffany and Anthony and Kris and Leslie and many, many others amaze me every day. ‘Nuff said.

Did I have much to do with their successes? Not really. (Definitely not Adrian. He came in already far ahead of anything I could teach him.) Hopefully I provided a place for them to be a little creative, to try something different, for one show or for many.

Even with this degree I’m about to start, I don’t expect to have a future that involves Jeff nominations or joining Equity. I’m a teacher. I’m good at it. If anything, I’m hoping to translate this into something where I can teach drama on a more full-time basis. I spent too many years in theatre while also trying to teach full-time. That wore me out.

So we’ll see where life takes me. Time is short, though, and sometimes I forget that I’m not a young guy in his twenties anymore. Right now, I have a big stack of books I have to read, and I should probably get working on that. But I was thinking about those two guys today, and I’m very proud of their successes, and what’s coming for the both of them.


(It’s a BIG stack.)

I should be driving to work right now. I should be getting ready for students. I should be meeting new staff, watching Important Blood-Borne Pathogen safety videos. I should be talking about changes to the Common Core, I should be wearing a staff t-shirt and khaki pants.

I am doing none of that today. And I will say this: it’s a bit weird. It’s not a lie to say that I love my job, and it’s also not a lie to say that I desperately needed to be doing something different this year.

So this is the song that’s running through my head right now.

Good luck on the first day back, people. Thinking of you today, but glad I’m not there.

Galway Then and Now

August 19, 2012 — Leave a comment

The Cliffs of Moher, ten years ago. Photo taken by a very nice German girl who looked like Maura Tierney. I had lunch with her and a group of fellow students who were in Galway for the summer, taking English lessons….I think.

Salthill promenade, just a bit southwest of Galway city, mid-July 2012. The beard is obviously an attempt to compensate for the lack of hair on top. (See previous photo. Sigh.)

Oh, and for some reason there was a very large scale model of the Titanic set up along the promenade. I have no idea why it was there, but it was a pretty cool model.

EDIT: I believe that picture was taken at the cliffs, but now that I look at it, it seems like I’m nowhere near any high cliffs. So maybe it was taken somewhere else. I dunno.


August 16, 2012 — 4 Comments

One of the first things I did after arriving in Ireland was head out to Galway, one of my favorite cities. I first visited Ireland exactly ten years ago, and Galway was the city that made me fall in love with this place.

I had a ticket to see Sigur Ros play as part of the Galway Arts Fest, but unfortunately, they canceled at the last minute to continue work on their () album. I still had a fine time in Galway, and it’s a city I return to again and again. It’s a big “small town”, easily navigable, full of great restaurants and pubs, and you can waste a day just walking along the bay.

So after a miserable week in my (first) apartment in Dublin, I decided I needed to get out of town and be a tourist again. (I’ll tell the whole story of that disastrous first place another time.) I wanted to ride a train for a few hours, and I wanted a nice hotel room with decent wifi, and I wanted to catch some of the theatre going on at the 2012 Galway Arts Fest, to remind myself why I was here.

I also wanted to see Lisa Hannigan live.

My students may remember me playing her in class this past spring. A LOT. She’s been my latest musical obsession for the past nine months or so, and I had missed her three times up to this point.

So after wandering around Galway and Salthill for a few days, watching street performers and fringe theatre from college kids, and eating at my favorite restaurants, I caught the lovely Irish singer Lisa Hannigan on a warm summer evening in July. And the lyrics to “Passenger” once again gave me something to think about:

Walking round Chicago,
I have smuggled you as cargo,
though you are far away unknowing.
By the time we get to Salt Lake
I have packed you in my suitcase,
ironed the creases from my own remembering.

It’s a song about the things you can’t leave behind as you move from one thing to another. And while it’s exciting and different and (most of the time) a lot of fun being here in Dublin, I haven’t left everything and everyone behind. My friends and family, my students and my performers. They are with me in spirit, and I keep them close. You were all passengers in my suitcase.

In Dublin

August 15, 2012 — 7 Comments

Friends, family, students, actors, and random people stumbling across this thing: Welcome, I says!

So…I’m living in Dublin now. Most of you knew that already, but for those that had no idea I had left my job teaching fifth grade (or the other one running a theatre company), um…yeah. Big changes, right?

I’ll spend some time detailing exactly how I came to the decision to pack up one life and start another in future posts. For now, the short answer is this: I’m taking a year’s leave from teaching and will be attending University College Dublin to get a Master of Arts in Directing for Theatre. I’m hoping to do more theatre education in my career, and I felt it was time to add some tools to the toolkit. And, you know, actually study theatre for once instead of just making it up as I go.

I’ll be writing about four main subjects on this site: teaching and theatre, travel and tech. In whatever order I want, when I want.

My students wanted a way to keep in touch with me and follow my travels, so that was the beginning of this site. Some of them will be reading this, some may even comment, so we’re keeping things nice and clean on here. No angst-ridden tales of sorrow, no political rants, no swearing. And that goes for the comments as well, so keep it nice and positive, people.

Students: remember your internet safety lessons: don’t put your full name OR your email address in the comments if you happen to leave one. “Liz H” or “Mike A” will suffice. I’ll know who you are.

The site is pretty bare-bones right now, so sit tight while I tinker and add some cool stuff. You can subscribe to it via email or RSS, depending on how tech-savvy you are. I don’t know how often I’ll be updating, but I promise I’ll do my best to be fairly regular about it.

For now, feel free to say hello in the comments, and stay tuned for the next post.

Knowing the Ropes

August 15, 2012 — 12 Comments

The first time Limelight tackled Shakespeare was in 2001. I ran a one-week workshop where we took The Tempest and cut it down into a faster, easier show for young actors to perform. I then turned it over to another director while I busied myself with getting The Hobbit ready for its debut.

The kids that were a part of that show always liked to laugh about how in the opening scene, during the “shipwreck,” they had to pretend to be working the ropes for the sails, shouting and pulling and grabbing at nothing. It was always told as part of the, “look how silly and low-budget our early shows were” conversations that would pop up from time to time.

Last Saturday I caught an open-air production of The Tempest in the Iveagh Gardens in Dublin. And during their version of the opening scene, they didn’t bother using actual “ropes” either. Just some guys yelling and a few simple set pieces to suggest a ship’s prow and the waves crashing over them.

It was very reassuring to see, actually. I’m over here to dig deeper into my theatrical knowledge, which has been an exciting and terrifying experience so far. I like knowing that even in a well-publicized production in Dublin, Ireland, they still have guys grasping at nothing. It reminds me that I might actually be able to do this thing.