Archives For Theatre

The Sea-Bell

March 17, 2013 — 5 Comments

Today I drove around for a couple of hours, to nowhere in particular. I do this a lot lately.

Trying to stay in one place for a bit, save some money for the next round of wandering. But I tend to get in my car a lot and just drive, mostly the back country roads, so I can listen to the radio and get lost in my thoughts for a while. I’ve driven these roads countless times over the years, so I’m always searching for a new, unexplored route.

I bounce from classroom to classroom during the week, a different teacher every day. Some days I sit in the corner of a high school class while they watch 40-year old films to learn about World War II. Some days I entertain eight-year olds and they think I am a god.

Often I see former students and former Limelighters, and it is always a happy reunion. Still smiling about the bear hug I got from an eighth grader I had a few years ago; he stopped by my room every passing period of the day, just to keep saying hi.

On one of my drives I swung by my house, where another man now lives, where my neighbors are complaining of branches that are creeping across the divide into their patio. I forgot to bring any branch cutters, and so the small tree continues to grow and trespass onto another property.

Sometimes I stop driving and I walk inside a school and I sit in the back and watch my former company of actors and directors move on without me. During the intervals new ideas flood into my head and I scribble them down in a small black notebook. I have lots of ideas these days.

I continue work on a new play I started last fall, back in the writing course I took at UCD. I dust off an old one and I strip it back to only what’s necessary. I outline, I write dialogue, I collect pictures and think about color palettes and light plots and scene design.

And I think about teaching, the real job, and I wonder what I’m going to do with myself.

The old life is right there, if I want it. I can move back into my old house, my old classroom is waiting for me, and all my old friends are here. Everything could go right back to the way it was.

One of my best friends mentioned something about “getting it out of your system” when I moved to Ireland. My grandmother said the same thing. A lot of people say things like “Well, now you can say you’ve done it, and you’ve got no regrets.” Like it’s a box I wanted to just tick off on the Brian Fauth Bucket List.

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Once upon a time, I could have settled down and loved a woman and raised a family, and maybe that would have been a good life.

Once upon a time, I got on a plane and I flew across the ocean and I saw great cities and I met lovely people and I climbed green hills and I watched a continent pass by my train window.

Once upon a time, I thought I could go back to doing what I did before, and what I did better than anyone else, and I thought that would be enough. But that was a long time ago.

I’m like one of those guys in the old stories, the ones who forget the instructions and accept the gifts of the Fair Folk. There’s always a price to be paid when visiting the Twilight Realm; when you return home, nothing is ever the same again. You drift through life as a shadow, and try as you might, you can never find your way back again.

And so I drive and I drive and I drive, through the end of a bleak and cold winter, and I watch the snow melt along the roadside, and I stare out into the horizon, searching for a new route to take me home.

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“Do you know what you’re going to do now?” his mother asked.

    “See the world,” said Bod. “Get into trouble. Get out of trouble again. Visit jungles and volcanoes and deserts and islands. And people. I want to meet an awful lot of people.”

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Turning my back on the safe and familiar, and I’m off to wander for a few weeks. Got a free place to stay down in South Carolina, so I’m going to write and go for walks on the beach in the Old South and wake up in strange new cities.

Treading that line between self-exploration and self-indulgence. I’m not done with this whole Leave Year thing, even though I’m back from Dublin. And if I could afford to be back there, I’d go back in a heartbeat. But a free house in a place called Murrells Inlet ain’t half bad. I expect there will be oysters.

While I’ve been home, I’ve worked at the area schools for a few days, filling in for absent teachers. It’s fine, but not very interesting, creatively. I’ve also traveled a bit. Just got back from Washington D.C., and there will be more on that soon.

I got my final grades back for my semester in Dublin. Did fine in all my courses, but I got an A in my Writing for the Stage course, and that meant a great deal to me. I’m in a good place, writing-wise, at the moment, and every day I spend back home amongst the safe and familiar I find my creative energies slowly draining out of me. Had a job offer to do some part-time tech theatre work, but I’m going to put that off for a bit, if I can. This is the true once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: to explore and be creative without any responsibilities. Need to see where it goes, and enjoy it while it lasts. The safe and practical will always be there waiting for me.

For now, check the sidebars of this site for the Twitter updates, and I shall be in touch soon.

There and Back Again

December 30, 2012 — Leave a comment

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Of course I’d finish this with a Tolkien reference.

To know me is to know my long love of The Lord of the Rings and my ability to connect any and all parts of my life to moments from Tolkien’s works. It’s been almost 30 years now since we were assigned The Hobbit in school, which I tore through in a matter of days and was halfway through The Two Towers by the time the class finished the book. I suppose I’ve outgrown certain parts of the story: the magic and the monsters, mostly, although I still dream of owning my own Hobbit-hole someday.

What stays with me are the small moments, mostly about travel: Bilbo quietly slipping away into the night after laying down his burdens; Frodo, Sam, Merry and Pippin on the road, heading out of the Shire; the weather-stained clothes and long legs of Strider appearing in a corner of the Prancing Pony. And of course, the idea of regular, small-town folk finding themselves forever changed after going on a great journey.

I’ve traveled quite extensively over the past ten years or so, but after the wandering was done I always came back the same person, to the same town, to the same job. A friend of mine would always say she hoped I would find what I was looking for, after heading out on another one of my solo journeys. I don’t think I ever did, because I was never really sure what I was supposed to find. I was always happy to return home to my friends and family and familiarity.

He lived alone, as Bilbo had done; but he had a good many friends, especially among the younger hobbits. Frodo went tramping over the Shire with them; but more often he wandered by himself, and to the amazement of sensible folk he was sometimes seen far from home walking in the hills and woods under the starlight. He found himself wondering at times, especially in the autumn, about the wild lands, and strange visions of mountains that he had never seen came into his dreams. He began to say to himself: ‘Perhaps I shall cross the River myself one day.’ To which the other half of his mind always replied: ‘Not yet.’

It took me a long time to finally cross the River myself. And the last six months certainly weren’t as dramatic or traumatic as Frodo’s journey, and there are others out there that have seen and done far more than I ever did while in Dublin. But it is no small thing to pack up your entire life and start over in a faraway place. For a while I thought I was heading over there for good, but reality and practicality have brought me back home once again. In my last post, I wondered what that would be like, and after being home for a week or so, I think I’ve answered my own question.

In the book, the four hobbits return to a Shire badly scarred by the War of the Ring, something the movie altered for a simpler ending. While I prefer the book’s version of events, the idea that Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin return to a place completely unchanged has a different resonance now with me. They sit in the Green Dragon and toast each other and no one else has any idea what they’ve been through and how it’s forever changed them. And try as he might, Sam will never be able to convince the people of the Shire that he’s seen an Oliphaunt.

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*   *   *

This is the 40th post, and the last of the tales of my adventures there and back again. Tomorrow I turn 41. Normally I gather together friends and family at a local establishment and we eat and drink in honor of myself. Tomorrow I will probably just go for a long walk. But if I had my way, I would throw some essentials into a pack, grab a good walking stick, and quietly disappear into the night, in search of wild lands and mountains I have never seen. Or perhaps even head back to Dublin. A fine place, it is, full of people I am proud to call my dear friends. “Merry be the greenwood, while the world is yet young! And merry be all your folk!”

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*   *   *

Before I close, I thought I would add a little something for everyone’s enjoyment, if they like this sort of thing. One of the first posts I wrote on this site was called “Passengers.” A reference to a Lisa Hannigan song that ran constantly through my head while I was in Ireland, and also to those that I left behind: my friends and family, and especially my students. This blog was written primarily for them, and if they are still reading it, I hope that they enjoyed following along on my adventures. They, and everyone else back home, were passengers with me, and I thought of them often. So here’s a little something that sums up my time over there, in video form. Hopefully people don’t mind me using these clips of them. I imagine I’ll have more people upset that they weren’t included. Strange to see who and what I don’t have recorded; I could have used a lot more of my friends and family on here, and some students from way back, but hopefully I was able to capture a small slice of my life.

*   *   *

Okay, one more thing. While the farewells in Dublin were sad, and the drive to the airport was just a horrible day all-around, I have to say that it was very heart-warming to have my mother (and fellow world traveler) meet me at the airport.

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Okay, I’ve ended this thing enough times already. Thanks to all my readers, and please stay tuned: these are just the first 40 posts of the 4-T Tales. Even though I have just returned home, I think I am quite ready to go on another journey.

Theatreland

December 15, 2012 — Leave a comment

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Over the past two days I’ve seen three shows in London, with one more tomorrow before everyone heads back to Dublin. Haven’t had much time for sightseeing, but this is my fourth time in London, so I already have a lot checked off the Must-See List. In my downtime between shows, I visit with the UCD gang a bit, but mostly I just walk and walk and walk, observing life in this sprawling and crowded city dotted with some of the most famous landmarks in the world. And it’s amazing the amount of theatre that goes on in the West End and everywhere else in the city. They’re running a remount of the incredible production of Twelfth Night I saw ten years ago, but I decided against seeing it again. Best to save the original in my memory the way it was.

Aside from the heartfelt and brilliant War Horse, which I was completely on board with, nothing has grabbed me here, really. And looking back at the dozen or so shows I saw in Dublin, it was only Farm and The Boys of Foley Street that really left an impact on me. More and more, I keep wondering if theatre has anything left to say. Most people I’m here with shrug their shoulders at what we see, or nod off, or leave early, and so much of it is pretentious and boring. It’s theatre for serious theatre-goers only, and I think that’s just a shame. I’ve always believed that art should be as accessible as possible to the average person, while still trying to be interesting and innovative. You shouldn’t have to have a deep background in Marcel Duchamp or understand post-modernist theory to enjoy something.

Now that my trip’s coming to an end, it’s been the theatre of the everyday moments that stay with me the most. Little kids saying hello to St. Nicholas on Prague’s Mikulas celebration; cafe conversations on the boulevard Saint-Michel in Paris; schoolchildren on a tour of the National Gallery in London. That’s theatre to me at this point. Theatre of the small moments of humanity that remind us how fascinating life and people and cities and towns can be.

There are other kinds of theatre as well. The grotesque picture show of the Nazi’s Theresienstadt; beggars lying prostrate on the ground in Prague, heads down and a cup in their hands, and the people passing them by; the empty nothingness of waiting for the lift at Russell Square tube station in London. The theatre of life can be both beautiful and horrifying all at once, as the news from Connecticut reminds us.

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On Wednesday evening as I was wandering around the city I accidentally stumbled upon the London premiere of The Hobbit. The crowds craned their necks in Leicester Square to catch a glimpse of Peter Jackson, Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, and Cate Blanchett, and then to top it off I saw Prince William drive up at the end as well. Quite the unexpected journey, I have to say.

IMG_0844 IMG_0852Most of the UCD gang are young and full of energy, and stay out until all hours having a good time. They always plead with me to come out and join in on the fun, but I’m not 25 anymore, and to be honest, Thank God. I’m fine to come back to my room before midnight and read a bit before falling asleep. I turn 41 in a couple of weeks, and I’m totally okay with that. 
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So tomorrow it’s farewell to London, and my brief relationship with the UCD crew. Haroosh and I have one more small journey to take before we head back to Dublin on Sunday, and then it’s home for good on Wednesday. There will be some very difficult goodbyes to make before then, and that will be the hardest part of all of this. But it’s time to head back and figure out what the next act has in store for me, and I’m ready for it.

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Mind the gap, Haroosh.

The Swell Season

December 9, 2012 — Leave a comment


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My time in Prague was brief, but incredible.

Prague has this annoying association still attached to it, one of those cities that young backpackers always go on and on about. “You gotta go, man. Prague is amazing.” I avoided it until now partly for that reason. But it is the site of Vaclav Havel’s Velvet Revolution, part of that fall-of-the-Iron Curtain era of history that I’m so fascinated with. And ever since a family I knew from my 5th grade days moved there this past summer, I had vague plans to travel there to finally see it for myself. And with school wrapping up, and my time living overseas coming to an end, I made it the first stop on the Last Tour.

I was able to see Ian’s school, a small British-style international school that, aside from the small class sizes and some cosmetic differences, didn’t seem that much different than what we were doing back home. The teachers are all ex-pats, travelers from around the world looking forward to teaching in a foreign country for a few years before they eventually move on. I looked into something like this several years ago but couldn’t quite pull the trigger.

For three days I wandered the city, spent time with Ian and his family, and ate heavy meals and washed it down with a few good Czech beers. The language barrier was only a small inconvenience; Czech is a difficult language to understand, but there are enough people here that speak English, and you get by.

The city is gorgeous, but here and there you see echoes of the former Communist past. Gloomy, boxy buildings made to service the proletariat but add little to the grandeur of the older architecture. The older folk carry that heavy, resigned grumpiness that comes from being occupied by an oppressive power for decades.

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When you teach fifth grade, you get the kids for a short nine months, three seasons and then you pack them off to the junior high and you say goodbye. Most of the time you never see them again, occasionally some stay in touch, but even that fades in time. But if you’re lucky, sometimes you build a relationship with a few that last for years and years. Sometimes, you even get to go to a wedding.

For a few days, Haroosh and I were reunited with an old friend, on the other side of the world, and I can only hope that it isn’t the last time I see Ian and his family. That last day of school, where everyone says teary goodbyes to the little community created within four walls of a classroom, gets worse and worse every year. Too many goodbyes, too many good kids you don’t want to part from. Limelight offered the chance to sustain a relationship for years and years, but now that’s gone too, a swell season of my life that has given way to a new, more uncertain one, but still full of promise and potential.2012-12-05 16.22.20 2012-12-06 11.46.13 2012-12-06 19.20.03
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Flew to Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic, the other day to see a former student and his family who relocated here this past summer.

I have slept well and eaten even better. Longer post soon, but for now, enjoy some Mikulas  action!

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An Angel and a Devil riding the Prague Metro.

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Prague’s awesome Astronomical Clock. I want one.

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Christmas markets in Prague.IMG_0722

Eatin’ some Trdelnik. You can really taste the cylindricalness!IMG_0713Nothing says Christmas like some good old medieval torture!

 

Black Friday

November 24, 2012 — 2 Comments

Or, The Forgotten Penny

There’s this old Christopher Reeve film called Somewhere in Time. Overly-romantic thing about a playwright who travels back in time and falls in love with Jane Seymour. I watched it on cable a couple of times in the early 80s, because duh, it had Superman in it, and hey, time travel!

There’s no magic machine that gets him back to turn-of-the-century Mackinac Island, just positive thinking. He dresses himself in an old-timey suit, removes all traces of modern day from his hotel room, and wills himself back to the same hotel room in the year 1912. It’s a bit flimsy, in terms of science fiction, but really, how many time travel films are there that feel “realistic?”

So he falls in love with the beautiful lady, and despite a few dramatic obstacles, things are going pretty well for him. Towards the end, Jane Seymour playfully teases him for his “old-fashioned” suit (he didn’t get the fashion quite right, you see), and he’s bragging about how awesome it is, with all these cool pockets, and then BAM: he pulls out a 1979 penny, stares at it in horror and disbelief, and he’s immediately shocked back to the present. And as hard as he tries, he’s never able to will himself back to 1912. Game over.

Why am I talking about this decades-old time travel film, when I actually spent Friday watching a far superior (but no less romantic) time travel film?

Well, no matter how hard I try and ignore it, I have to acknowledge my own forgotten penny.

When I started putting this whole journey together, I knew it would be very expensive, and would require certain financial arrangements to be put into place, otherwise I would be drowning in student loan debt for the next ten years. So I took a gamble, hoping that I would get my mortgage refinanced, my car paid off, and I would have a decent raise waiting for me once I completed the new degree.

Even when I arrived here in July, I was already worried that I wouldn’t be able to pull this off. No one wanted to refi my mortgage, since it was so underwater. I had to rent my place out for significantly less than what I pay per month, and therefore had to sell my car in order to have enough money to make up for the difference. I thought about pulling the plug, but people urged me to stay, saying the usual business of “Live your dream!” “It’s ONLY money!” ‘You’ll regret it forever if you don’t do it!!!”

So I put that metaphorical penny in a side pocket, and I forgot about it, and I got on with my life over here. And I’m glad I did. The past five months have been an amazing, unforgettable experience, and I am glad that I went ahead and stayed.

But. The penny is still there, folks. And after crunching the numbers, and looking at what’s coming down the road, I am simply not going to have enough money to afford living over here for another semester. The “back home” account is vanishing fast, and the cost of paying for the whole degree is going to destroy me, financially. The first two segments in the repayment plan, the refi and the no-car-payment, are gone, and its looking like I’m going to have a significantly reduced raise. (I can’t really get into that, because it involves contract negotiations with my school board and my union, and this is not the place to discuss that.)

I don’t like talking about the specifics of the whole money thing, but whenever I talk about this with people, they go back to those default statements of “It’s only money, Brian, live the dream!!!” And I really don’t appreciate hearing that. I don’t think people quite realize the cost of this project, so let me put it to you like this: because I had to sell my car last summer, once I come home I’ll have to buy a new car. Obviously. So I’ll have a new monthly  car payment for the next five years.

Now: to pay for this student loan, I’ll have to pay, per month, the equivalent of three more cars. For the next ten years. Let that sink in a bit. Three more car payments, for the next ten years, on a single teacher’s salary that isn’t going to be going up much over the next few years.

Now do you understand the seriousness of this a bit more?

The next reaction may be, “But Brian, what about the degree? Won’t this all be for nothing if you don’t get the degree?”

And this is where it gets interesting. Because the answer is No.

I already have a Master’s Degree. In terms of salary schedules and raises, that’s the main hurdle you need. After that, it’s just about credit hours. And regarding getting certified for teaching theatre, after this semester I’ll have enough credit hours to get my theatre endorsement. I don’t need any more classes after this.

Actually, what I need are additional certification classes that I need to take back home. At this point, spending the other two thirds of the student loan is just gravy. And here’s another thing: I took four courses this fall, and all that’s left are two more classes (Rehearsal Techniques, which I think I’ve got down, and another theory class that I can live without), and the big thesis (which I have absolutely no desire to write, to be perfectly honest.) And there’s no guarantee that the state of Illinois, or my school district is even going to accept all of these credit hours. They get funny when it comes to foreign credits.

This is starting to get complicated, and I’m sure some of you are skimming through some of this. So let me summarize by saying this: there are no real downsides to finishing after this semester, except for one that’s probably pretty obvious: I would be coming home early, and leaving the life I’ve been living over here behind. And I would have to say a very difficult good-bye to a wonderful group of friends.

But in the end, that was going to happen anyway. Whether it’s in July or May or the end of December, it’s gonna happen. I’m not going to spend the rest of my life living here. I suppose I had some vague and naive notions of carving out something more permanent here, but the simple facts are these: there aren’t any jobs over here, and I don’t think I really want to do that anyway.

I’m a Midwesterner, and I think I want to remain a Midwesterner. My family and my friends and my life are there. And my job is there. And it’s a job worth returning to, despite all of the stress and chaos that has enveloped it lately. I’m a teacher, and I’m anxious to get back to doing what I do best. And if I want to make a move to a different teaching position, I have to get moving on those other classes that I have to take back home.

So there it is. This is something that I’ve been pondering for a long time, so please don’t think this is a rash decision I’m making. I have looked at all sorts of different scenarios, but they all end up with the same conclusion: this adventure ends next month.

And I’m okay with it. It’s been an amazing and life-altering experience, living in Dublin these past months. I walked away from everything that I knew and I started over in a foreign land, taking the time to learn new ideas about theatre, and of course, I spent a lot of time with some amazing people. That’s easily been the best part about being here. And it makes me more than a bit sad to be leaving it all earlier than I expected.

But while it makes me sad, it doesn’t make me depressed, and that’s an important difference. Sure, I was pretty down in the dumps yesterday, as I came to this final decision after mentioning it my friends the other night, but today I woke up with a clear idea of what’s to come. I’ve been quietly putting some plans into place, and I’ll be fine. It’ll be a bit rough at times, since I won’t have a full-time job or a house to go back to for a bit, but I have a plan. And it’s time to get to work on the next great journey my life will be taking, and I am optimistic and excited about where it will take me.

To be continued…

Woden’s Day

November 21, 2012 — Leave a comment

On Woden’s Day¹, I made preparations for a great celebration.

But first, we shall talk about wisdom. Today’s class was about preparing our major research paper for the fall term. How to structure it, what to keep focus on, what to take out, proper documentation of sources, etc. etc. We have six questions to choose from. It only has to be 3,000 words or so, and I’ve already written one that long on The Merchant of Venice². Plus, the short play I’ve been working on is over 3,000 words, so another 3,000 word essay shouldn’t be too much trouble. Except.

Except this is the one where we have to get really theoretical and academic, with twenty different sources, and that might prove difficult for me. A lot of the people in the course did an undergrad at UCD in drama, and so they have a fairly deep background in theatre theory. Me? Not so much. I’m not sure if this is a difference between American and European traditions, but in my theatre world, we never got around to talking about Foucault or Pavis, or semiotics vs. phenomenology very much. We just did it, and had our own ideas of what “theory” is.³ Maybe we learned this stuff in some of the undergrad theatre courses I had, but darned if I can remember it now.

The other day one of the girls in the course referred to me as the “father figure” of the group. That could either be a compliment or a little sting at my age. I’m not the oldest member of the class, but I’m on the far side of it. So if I’m the Father Figure, then I should have a bit more wisdom about this whole theatre-theory-thing, right? It’s more than a bit frustrating that I don’t seem to “get” what they’re talking about as fast as the others. But when you talk to people in private, it turns out most of them don’t grasp it any more than I do (for the most part.) I mean, I’m not an idiot. I can be insightful about what Foucault was talking about in Discipline and Punish, but it tends to be more about the education world than the stage. (Once again, the teacher side of me wins out in the argument…)

Maybe the wisdom I have is in the part of my brain that says, “Okay, we can talk all day about psychological verisimilitude, or whether or not something is ‘Beckettian,’ but in the end, isn’t it about whether or not the show was any good? It either worked, or it didn’t.” And more specifically, in the youth instructional theatre world wherein I ply my trade, it’s mostly about, did the kids have a positive experience, did they learn something, and did it contribute in some small way towards them becoming a good person? Did it add to their first glimmers of wisdom?

Maybe that’s too simplistic of a view on it, but that’s what my gut tells me.

Footnotes!

¹Woden is also known as Odin, the All-Father of Norse mythology. He hung from the World Tree, Yggdrasil, for nine days and nine nights to gain wisdom. And he also lost an eye…for wisdom. Wisdom’s important when you’re the All-Father.

² I turned in this essay a month ago, and haven’t yet found out my grade. I’d really like to know how I’m doing as far as my academic writing goes, because I’m pretty rusty with it. So seeing how I did would be helpful. Formative assessment, people…it’s important.

³ My theories of theatre tended to be, “Let’s just make it up as we go”, and “I’m tired of seeing the same shows done over and over again, so let’s write our own”, and “Let’s just poke fun at everything about this world.” I cite these examples:

Celebrating “50 years” of Limelight. As if we started in 1960 and dressed like NASA engineers. 

Let’s just make up a bunch of crazy Christmas skits and not really rehearse them too much. Yeah, THAT’LL go great! (Um, it didn’t.)

First show! About D-Day! Written by a 5th Grader! (And it was AWESOME.)

And of course, Lumberjacks. A musical based on a backstage wisecrack. More please.

Tiu’s Day

November 20, 2012 — 3 Comments

The Two-Headed Mr. Fauth, created by Emily, a former student.

A few years ago I started really feeling the pressure and stress and consequences of trying to teach 5th grade all day, and run a big theatre company on the nights and weekends, directing shows and overseeing others and preparing for our yearly massive summer season. It got so bad that I actually took a couple of weeks off from school to rest and recharge, lest it all lead towards me turning into some sort of lunatic. (Well, any more than I already am.)

I referred to the two careers I had, and the war between them, as The Two-Headed Mr. Fauth. The teacher, Mr. Fauth, and Brian, the director. I loved doing both, but they were taking its toll. In the summer of 2011 I stepped down from running Limelight, but couldn’t stay away from the stage, electing to direct a pair of shows at a local junior high. I went with a pair of shows I had directed in the past, to save creative energy, but I felt like I was cheating a bit by recycling sets and ideas from the past.

And that brings me to Dublin, where I’ve taken a break from being Mr. Fauth to concentrate on developing skills as a theatre director, to add tools to the toolkit, as they say. And it’s been a great experience, but it still doesn’t solve the lingering equation: which one am I going to be?

Tonight I wrapped up my fall director’s project: a staged read of Chekhov’s The Proposal. Not his most famous (or even his best work), it’s a 20-minute farce about two people who let petty arguing and their shallow principles stand in the way of their potential happiness as a married couple. Tonight went very well, and I’m happy with the results, for what they were. (It was an exercise, not a proper “show”, so no real sets or lights or anything like that.) And I found I had to “teach” a lot more about theatre than I would have imagined, and it was gratifying to see that my skills were needed.

My goal is to leave this place with that great war settled, or at least at a cease-fire. Being away from the classroom has quickly made me realize how at home I am in it, and I’m anxious to get back to doing what I do best. And theatre? Well, I have deeper thoughts on my relationship with trodding the boards, but we’ll save that for another post. I suppose the easiest solution is to figure out how I can teach theatre full-time, and merge the two heads, but that has its own hurdles as well.

To be continued…

The sky as I left for my director’s project.

 

Moon’s Day

November 20, 2012 — Leave a comment

On Moon’s Day, I started finding the limits of my universe.

In the morning I worked on this composition piece for the movement class. I keep telling myself that it’s not dance, it’s not dance, but we had a professional choreographer come in to help us fine-tune the piece, and he kept saying, “Make your dance come alive. Make your dance come alive!”

Now kids, just picture Mr. Fauth trying to do that, and you’ll know what Reaching the Limits of Your Comfort Zone looks like.

My set-up for my composition piece. Of course, it’s a classroom.

In the evening I worked on a director’s project I have for a different class. A 20-minute one-act that we presented to a professional director last week. He gave me some notes, and they were all about pushing it further, to its logical conclusion. As I worked with the college-age actors, and even a “pro” actress, I realized that I wasn’t directing them enough. Yeah, they’re older and more experienced than the younger actors I usually direct, but in the end, all actors still need a director. So we pushed that out to be as big as it could get (it’s a farce), and hopefully I found new places to go with it.

The afternoon class gave me the biggest revelation, though. I presented the next scene in the short play I’ve been working on for the writing class, in a roughish form. (We get feedback and then bring it back in a week with revisions.) “All the pieces are there”, I was told, which is a nice compliment. But McPherson noticed that I was doing the same thing as with an older piece I showed him: I have a tendency to have my characters always heading towards resolution, and that’s the last thing you want to have happen in drama.  It’s great advice, and it’s true, I noted. Then the lead professor said something even more illuminating:

“It’s probably because you’re a teacher.”

And that was dead-on. In a classroom, I’m always trying to push my students towards greater understanding of something, towards the beginning of wisdom, and to be the best possible people they can be. You don’t want your characters in a play to do that! You want them to contradict themselves, create conflict, and move towards irresolution.

They’re two completely different skills, and not very compatible with each other. And they probably lie at the heart of a character I call The Two-Headed Mr. Fauth. We’ll come back to him another day. Right now, I’ve got to put the pieces of this scene in the right order, and head up to the main campus for the final presentation of my director’s project.

The main campus of UCD, dusk.