Tired but Exhilarated (oh, and go see a show)

I am bushed.

I spent most of my break from my “regular” job running about Baltimore attempting to make a design a reality. I did the scenic design for a show called Where the Whangdoodle Sings and it is being presented by a local (to Baltimore) theatre company called Generous Company. A number of my good friends are in the company and having heard the script at a reading, I was extremely excited to be invited into the process. The script is new to the scene and I was profoundly affected by the piece when I first heard it read two years ago. The piece has definitely shifted since I first heard it, but the core energy of the work is preserved with an honesty that I often find lacking in modern pieces. As a designer, the script gave me plenty of tasty puzzles that mapped a landscape of strength and simplicity. My aesthetic is well suited to such a landscape.

The elements of lights, set, costumes, and props are things that the audience doesn’t often consider. The production team is meeting and collaborating long before the actors set foot in rehearsal. The director presents the vision and then we fly.  As the great Eleanor Fuchs says, each play is a tiny planet with its own rules, climate, passage of time etc.  That planet is born anew with every new production. The design is where our understanding of the planet begins to breathe. As a set designer, I offer the actors a world to play within and I offer an audience an invitation to come join them. The other designers sculpt their own invitations and together we create a collaborative effort that looks effortless once the actors give our elements life.

Whangdoodle was not easy to realize. There were definite limitations that characterized our work and ,ultimately, made it our own by blood and fire. Perhaps I sound melodramatic, but over the course of the eight days I was in Baltimore, I saw and experienced every possible emotion such a process can inspire. What overwhelms me most is my feeling of bone deep  gratitude. So deep is my gratitude that, if you would humor me, I would like to raise a figurative glass and give some toasts:

To the Alchemist and  the BrightLady!  (for housing myself and Handsome for the week, hauling my butt around on so many shopping trips and trips to the theatre, and glorious conversation)

To Herculine! (for stepping up and putting my dreams together into physical structures)

To Strong-Woman! (for helping me complete effects that would never have been finished without her assistance)

To Handsome! (for joining me for New Years and then offering copious love and support in the brief moments we could spend together)

To Wonder Woman! (who ran such a tight ship in the midst of stormy waters)

To Jesus Christ! (for keeping me together and keeping my focus outside of myself)

This show is good. The team that put this together is a fine group of people who are all dedicated to telling this story with honesty and love. If you are in the Baltimore area in the next two weeks, take an evening and go see Where the Whangdoodle Sings at the Baltimore Theatre Project (dates and times can be found by clicking the link preceding these parentheses). Tis a piece worth experiencing.

Thank You Notes

In the past, I considered thank you notes to be the most odious task next to gym class and going to the orthodontist. Indeed, much as I loved receiving gifts, I also dreaded the moment my mother would enter the room with the set of doom (list of addresses, envelopes, actual cards, and a pen). Just thinking about it causes my hand to cramp. However, as I got older and the notes stopped being an obligation, I found the task not so onerous. Indeed, most recently I realized that as long as I do not feel like I have to do them, the thank you notes are actually a brilliant way to relay gratitude in a manner unpolluted by the shorthand of technological language. This evening, I wrote two thank you notes of my own volition, to people who had not even given me a physical gift.
Before coming to this location, I participated inWordBridge Playwrights Laboratory, which is an experience that has left me quite changed for the better as an artist and a human being. The notes were to the people who were hugely responsible for offering us a wonderful facility to conduct the Lab. I met both briefly, but not long enough to warrant the enthusiasm I had for writing these thank you notes. I still had to use some force of will to write my graduation thank you’s, so why were these so special? Don’t misunderstand, I am actually grateful to the people, and the notes were quite sincere, it was just the fervor that puzzled me. Then I realized something important; I was not thanking them for the use of the building, it was just another way to say thank you to the entire WordBridge Company. Without the extra small ways of showing gratitude to those who provide things like space, the Lab itself would be hard pressed to exist. While certainly not a perfect process (what is honestly?), WordBridge was the most unbelievable gathering of brilliant minds that I have ever been blessed to encounter. Though I gave everything I had and then some, what was returned to me is more than I can process even a month later. So, if a few words scrawled on a card can even further this rare and vital palace a tiny bit, then I would write a thousand.