Archives For Frank McGuinness

I woke up before the alarm. Laid in bed circulating through this and that in my head until I was told by national public radio that it was time to actually get moving.

Drank black coffee in the silence of a Saturday morning, flipped through the news articles on my iPad, made some scrambled eggs. Turned the burner down low to let them stay warm while I buttered an English muffin, still doing the math in my head. Three hours to enter grades, another two (probably) to figure out the new electronic comments system. Hand-written report cards replaced by a computerized system, to save time, but when it’s the first time with no explanation you need to block out the right amount of time to teach yourself the new format.

Got excited for a moment when I read that Daylight Savings Time ended tomorrow, but then I realized I was on an Irish website. I could really use an extra hour of sleep tomorrow.

Cleaned myself up and dressed up for Aunt Carolyn’s 90th birthday party. Her husband was the late great Uncle Fred, whom you might remember from another post from last year. I don’t get a chance to see this part of the family very often, and I thankfully was able to turn off the workworkwork thoughts that kept rushing through my head while I drove to Naperville for lunch. Caught up with Johnny and Ed and Phil and we had lively conversation about herpes viruses and Delta Airlines and Frank McGuinness and property management.

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Towards the end I chatted with my folks about Sunday plans to celebrate Mom’s voice and it all came flooding back, and I did that heightened-quick-speech thing I do when I get really stressed. Didn’t know how to fit in getting grades done, plan for next week, clean the house, go see the show at East tonight, buy Mom a meaningful present and have her over for a nice home-cooked meal by her son. We were going to see each other on Monday as well (her actual birthday), and they were swamped with yard work, so we canceled Sunday’s plans. Something’s gotta give.



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(I was trying to take a picture of people taking pictures, but I ended up getting a decent one of Mom.)

Zoomed up to the old address to retrieve an Amazon order sent wrongly to my old house, then back to the classroom to get those grades entered. (I could do it from home but my Apple keyboard doesn’t had a keypad for quick data entry.) Barely lasted two hours before a splitting headache forced me home and back under the covers. Tried to read a few pages about the old Viking gods but had to close my eyes and rest up for the show at 7:00. Tick-tock, tick-tock.

If you’re looking for simple proof that I was stressed and distracted, here it is: I walk downstairs into a dark kitchen and notice a pale blue flame peeking out from under a frying pan. Remember the scrambled eggs from breakfast? Yeah. I forgot to turn off the burner.

In the car, “Here’s Where The Story Ends” by The Sundays comes on. Song’s almost 24 years old, and I never hear it on the radio, but I still love it, even though I hear more and more of “Cemetry Gates” when I listen to those old Sundays albums. It’s enough to lighten my mood, though, and my hand relaxes a bit on the steering wheel as I head east on Wolf’s Crossing for the second time today.

Heavy-eyed and hungry, I wandered into Oswego East High for an evening of 18th century theatrical comedy. I’ll tell that story tomorrow.

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A rare moment of being Dressed Up

Wise Sam

October 19, 2013 — Leave a comment

Now that I’m feeling back to almost-normal, I’m beginning to socialize again. Caught up with some friends tonight, and saw their new baby, but I’ll save that story for tomorrow. Tonight, I’ll tell a quick story about my lunch with Sam.

Sam was a member of my theatre company, and was my leading lady for my last few shows. She was a great Olivia* in Twelfth Night for my final show with Limelight, and stuck with me through the difficult production of All These Will Be Worthless. And she’s recently returned from a semester study abroad in France.

Marty and Co. out for a night on the town.

Marty and Co. out for a night on the town. (Sam’s on the left with the awesome stink-face.)

Had I been living in Dublin last spring I could have shown her around when she came through for a visit, or I could have bopped over to France to see what life in Angers was like. (Side note: for as cultured as I think I am, European-travel-wise, I really don’t know my French pronunciations.) That’s one of my bigger regrets of not being able to live over there the full year: I never got to have any visitors. Plenty of people I know were in Europe last spring, and I know others had vague plans to come over and see me. Le sigh.

I hadn’t seen Sam for almost two years, and back then she was a high school kid, so there wasn’t much conversing beyond casual chit-chat in-between rehearsals and performances. But she’s a seasoned European traveler now, and deep into her studies at school, so we had a long, long conversation about our travels, the experience of living in another country, the cultural differences, and the truths and falsehoods in this New York Times article.

Whenever people ask me about my time abroad, they’re usually happy with a couple of sentences and then they’re ready to move on. And I get it. While everyone else was busy working and raising a family, I was off having adventures and learning theatre from some fairly legendary people. But they were transformative experiences, and sometimes I’m just dying to talk about them, in detail, and what they all meant. And Sam’s the same way, so it was comforting to be able to open up and really talk about it with someone. We could look each other in the eyes, after telling a story, and we understood. And the one thought that kept forcing its way to the front of our conversation was always, “When are we going back?”**

*I was lucky enough to have two wonderful actresses named Sam play Olivia in Twelfth Night; I’ll talk about the other one another day.

**I will admit, there are many days where I feel like this guy…



September 26, 2012 — Leave a comment

Like Monday, I woke around 8 am and made coffee in a cheap coffee maker I bought at Tescos for 12 Euro. It doesn’t keep the coffee very hot, so I drink it quickly in my mug before it gets cold. The rain continued to come down steadily; I don’t think it had stopped since Monday.

Tuesdays are devoted to Text Analysis and Performance. Currently we’re working with Frank McGuinness on Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice. Identifying who drives the story, is it a comedy or a tragedy, how would we stage it, etc. It’s just myself and one other woman in the class (who also does youth theatre), so we get a lot of one-on-one instruction, and it’s pretty great. Frank suffers no fools, so you have to be on your game in that class.

After class finished at noon my classmate and I headed into town to see a show called The Boys of Foley Street. (By the way, heading “into town” means heading into the Dublin city centre. Back in the states I suppose we say “going downtown” instead.) The show was a site-specific show; that means that everything took place in an “actual” location. There were only four people in the audience per performance, and you went from alley to car to dingy apartment and experienced a rather uncomfortable story about inner-city poverty, drugs, and violence. (And that’s all we need to say about that, former students. Stay in school and make good choices, right?!)

After the show we grabbed a bus down to the main University College Dublin campus at Belfield to hold auditions for our fall semester director projects. I have to be evaluated on two projects: one where the professors watch me rehearse a couple of scenes, and another where they view a finished project. I’ve been assigned two “classic” pieces, and I’m not exactly happy about the choices, but ahh well, “Theirs not to reason why” and all that…

We had a nice turnout and moved through about twenty people rather quickly, doing some improv exercises and cold reads from Chekhov. I would have liked to have had more time with the actors, maybe run a callback session, but I was just working with what I was given. It’s all been pretty confusing and hazy, and half the time I’m not really sure what I’m supposed to be doing with a particular project or assignment.

And that’s probably the strangest thing about being a full-time student: the realization that I’m not in charge of the content or the process anymore. As a teacher and a director, I always ran the show, but now I’m back to just doing what’s assigned to me.

And to be honest? I kind of hate it.

The washing machine is IN the kitchen!

Catching Up

September 14, 2012 — Leave a comment

So, I haven’t been a “real” student since Bill Clinton was president.

If you’re one of my students reading this, that means its been a while. I did my undergraduate and first masters in the ’90s, but aside from a few classes here and there (that weren’t anything to write home about), I have spent the last 15 years calling the shots in a classroom or on a stage.

Now I’m back to having assignments given to me, and it’s a strange experience. The toughest part has been catching up on all of the “classic” works of theatre I had never gotten around to reading before. I’ve spoken of “the stack” in previous posts, and just when I think I’ve got it done, they assign more plays for me to read. Because my directorial career has strictly been in youth theatre, I never read much Chekhov or Ibsen or Brecht. Shakespeare was my exclusive go-to guy for the Big Stuff.

So now I’m brushing up, and being exposed to newer playwrights I had never come across before. I’m embarrassed to say that I never read any Frank McGuinness before, but he’s really something, and he’ll be teaching me how to analyze The Merchant of Venice for the next few weeks. I’m also participating in a Writing for Theatre course that’ll be co-taught by Conor McPherson. I read his play “The Weir”a long time ago, and that was the beginning of my interest in contemporary Irish theatre. Little did I know that I’d be learning how to write from him ten years later. (Technically the class isn’t open to the MA in Directing students, but they’re letting me participate in a not-for-credit capacity.)

So I’m pretty lucky, and I’m regretting not taking the literary side of theatre more seriously, since it’s been a month of heavy reading and contemplating. Reading plays is hard, man. When you think about it, it’s only half the story, in a sense. For me, it isn’t complete until actors get up on stage and perform it, and even then, you’re only watching one version of it. Another director, another production, another interpretation of the work. And I guess that’s what’s great about theatre, as opposed to film, where everything is fixed and permanent.

So…sorry for the lack of updates. I have plenty of stories to tell, but I just wrapped up the first week of classes, and I’ve been pretty focused on that. Hoping to get my homework done in a timely manner, though, so I can get back to writing the “forty tales” or so on here. (Hmm, 40 posts is a nice goal to set for myself…)

More soon…I’m going to see an opera about Ikea this weekend!