Thursday, November 30, 2006

Where is the Life That Late I Lead?

(Click on the poster to see a bigger version of it.)

Here's my excuse for the lack of communication lately. Aside from my students not being fully memorized yet (argh!), things are clicking into place. A few of them came up with the image for this our poster today.

Thanksgiving was marvelous. I defer to my sister's entry with full agreement on her sentiments.

With midterms next week, the play in two weeks, and two concerts, a rental, and many, many meetings between now and Christmas, my life is all school and craziness. It's fun in it's own way (the way stress can be) (yes, stress can be fun - remember you're reading the opinions of an IB-grad, though), but I always resent the way I loose the holiday season to work events.

On the plus side, show prep is working well to counter the calories accumulated over Thanksgiving - I haven't had time to eat lunch or breakfast for two days.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

It's Magic

My traveling continues!

Last weekend I flew to Las Vegas. The official occasion was a medical conference my parents were attending. The real reason for my visit is simply that I really enjoy spending time with my family, particularly when there's a free hotel room involved.

My brother and his girlfriend were also there. Together we all went to the awesome Mac King Comedy and Magic Show and the so-so Penn and Teller show. I got a little tired of Penn's swearing and preaching, but Teller did some outstanding tricks. We also shopped, ate, walked, gawked, and played tourists. My dad, we discovered, was quite talented at playing "Real? Or no real?", as we guessed the true nature of the cleavage that was so prominently on display all around us.

Unfortunately, I've caught another cold, which wiped out my energy both in Vegas, and for the week that followed at work. I couldn't miss any days of school this week thanks to the following events:
Monday - Our first Musical Theater Flex Class performance
Wednesday - Field trip with my Advanced Drama class to see "Camelot" at our feeder high school
Thursday - Veteran's assembly
Friday - All-day meeting with the rest of the Leadership Committee for Comprehensive School Reform (which sounds like we do a lot more than we actually do)

I did take the morning off on Tuesday, but I didn't want to miss my Advanced Drama class, so I went in in the afternoon. We are now less than a month away from our "Much Ado" performance, and the panic is settling in on schedule. I still have no ideas on what we're going to do for costumes, although my assistant director is getting in touch with the costumer for "Camelot" about that. The students are supposed to be memorized by Monday, so our rehearsals this week will be quite telling. As is often the case, the people with the most lines are far more along in their memorizing than those who only speak in a scene or two. It's slow going, in part because of the block schedule, and in part because it's Shakespeare. That frustrates me - we haven't even finished blocking the play yet, which means we've worked each scene only once for the most part. I hope once they're memorized it'll go faster, but I'm not sure yet.

Anyway, thanks to the crazy week I took today (Saturday) as my day off and accomplished, well, nothing. I'm not thrilled with that, but I think going a day without talking and generally taking it easy is helping the cold pass. My goal is to be well for Thanksgiving. Especially since I hear we're going to have 19 people (and 2 cats) at our house in Colorado for dinner and games on Thursday. Most excellent, n'est-ce pas?

Five Guys Named Moe
LogoThere are:
people with my name
in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

Thanks, Jen!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

M. Butterfly

Ah, New York! What a great weekend I had!

Thanks to the end of the term, I had a three-day weekend. Naturally, my first question was "Where should I go?" Not to hard to decide when I heard the Met was doing Madame Butterfly.

So, Thursday night I flew to Newark. The next morning, I went to my Shakespearean friend Sharon's school. We met up to do lunch, catch up, and for me to see where she works. It was rather fascinating! She teaches at a high school that's a product of NY's small school movement. 330 students, grades 9-12. There are actually three different high schools all taught in the same building (they share a cafeteria, gym, and auditorium). The students were noisy - much more talkative than mine (and that's saying a lot), but really polite. Sharon took me on a tour, we dropped in on three different classes, and I got to watch her teach her last class. Most excellent.

After school, we rode the subway downtown. After bidding Sharon goodbye at her stop, I continued on to Jason's dorm. There I ooh-ed and ah-ed over his new dorm room (15th floor, perfect view!), we swapped birthday presents (his gift to me will be evident in a soon-to-exist post), and headed out to dinner.

We dined at Katz's diner (of "Harry and Sally" fame) - I had corned beef and Jason had pastrami. Fun! Afterwards, we caught a cab uptown to see "Mary Poppins" in previews. The show was... okay. I just don't understand why they're picking the best shows to recreate. There's no way someone could top Julie Andrews as Mary, and I was disappointed in the lead actress. The fellow playing Bert did well enough, but the Disney was just too strong for my taste (right down to a giant umbrella for the final pose - yuck). The set was nicely designed, especially the minimalist kite-flying scene. The lights were good, too. We had box seats, so I spent the scenes that took place stage right watching the audience and the light instruments rather than the blocked stage. I actually enjoyed that more than the play at times. And, to no surprise but a fun realization, moving gobos were completely replaced by video projection. Very cool shadowy flocks of birds flew by outside St. Paul's, and they actually animated the rain to look like the drawn rain in the older Disney movies.

Saturday needed to be a study day for Jason, so I got to spend the day reading in the NY Public Library. After a breakfast of hot chocolate and pain au chocolat at a Belgian chain patisserie (perfect for a cold morning), we made our way to one of the grand reading rooms. With Jason typing and highlighting away next to me, I plugged in my iPod and wrote and read to my heart's content. We broke for lunch at a burrito place across the street, then returned for more. My students don't seem to believe me when I said I was terribly happy to do just that for a Saturday in New York.

At about 4, we packed up and took the subway back to Jason's dorm to change for the opera. I wore my new outfit, complete with uncomfortable-but-cute shoes, and we went to BLT Fish for dinner. I had lobster bisque, halibut with crab, mashed potatoes, and an arugala salad - yum! Then the metro uptown to Lincoln Center to see "Butterfly"!

The production was just lovely. Simple, yet lovely. From the thousands of cherry blossom petals dropped on the couple at the end of Act I, to the yards and yards of red fabric in the death scene, to the puppets. Strong lights, masses of fabric, puppets - be still my directing heart! The boy puppet was indeed remarkably expressive, just as the reviews promised. I loved, too, how the puppet device echoed Butterfly's own false marriage. Such love, such devotion, to something unreal. Oh yeah, and then there was the music. I was particularly struck by the female chorus. I had forgotten that the "Humming Chorus" was from this opera, and the setting for the song just heightened it's poignancy.

After the show, we found dessert at a bakery close to Jason's dorm, and then turned in for the night. As we were falling asleep, Jason commented on how bright the moon was. Then we realized that the bright light wasn't coming from the right direction. It turned out there was a movie being filmed on a rooftop nearby. We opened the window and hung out it watching them film until we were frozen, then back under our respective covers to talk ourselves to sleep.

Sunday we walked to church, then walked around a bit more since we were so early. Lunch was at the favorite Grey Dog's Cafe in the Village (I had a turkey, brie, and green apple sandwich - mmm), then I toted my suitcase back to Newark to head home once more.

A week of teaching, then Vegas baby! I should be blogging again soon. Rachel pointed out my lack of entries on my shows, and that's certainly not for lack of material. So, I shall update you on Shakespeare and other things theatrical shortly. For now, thanks for reading a long post and see "Butterfly" if you can!