Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Happy Holidays

Hello from the other side of Christmas. In my last post, the kids were driving me to drink (not that it takes much, who doesn't like a tasty beverage?) But today I'm happy to report that things have been running much smoother. I think the parents really instilled the holiday spirit in their kids, and that along with a good dose of fear and guilt from the stage manager has improved behavior mightily recently. I even made out with all sorts of goodies - a nice stationary set, a candy apple, a Target gift card, and chocolate. I've decided to make cookies for the kids on Friday when I have a whole day to prepare - it doesn't cost much, but it requires effort and therefore qualifies and a nice gift.

Yesterday David and I spent a lovely day with my parents opening presents, playing Scrabble and eating. This was definitely the best year yet, I was smart and told my parents exactly what I wanted so I didn't get any weird gadgets or items that I don't know what to do with. The one thing missing, of course, was my brother.

For those who don't know, my brother is currently in Iraq with the Tenth Mountain Division. He was going to try and call yesterday but wasn't able to for some reason. I never imagined I would be one of those people who have to experience a holiday without a loved one because of a war - but here I am. I have to say it is weird. My fiercely liberal, peace-loving family with a solider in the family. On other hand, I feel like it gives me more credibility as an opponent of the war since it directly affects me. This is not something I would ever have asked for, but here it is.

My dad brought out the old video camera and hooked it up to the TV so we could watch old home movies. My mom almost lost it a couple times seeing images of my brother as a 7-year-0ld, not to mention the footage of her older brother and father, both passed away now. Thank goodness for home movies! While it was sad to see these people, I personally am grateful to have these images of them. My favorite footage was of the family reunion we had when I was I don't know, around 8, in Iowa for my great-grandmother's 90th birthday. She has also since passed away. And one of my uncles in the video is now embroiled in a nasty divorce from my mom's sister. But the video is a nice little time capsule of a time when we were all alive, all together and all (mostly) happy.

Happy Holidays to you and yours, and a healthy, happy and prosperous New Year.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Almost pondering a hysterectemy

When I started this blog, I really wanted to try and post more often. But then I got the Supervisor job, and all my free time went out the window. Kudos to arduous for being a busy bee and still managing to blog every day!

So, at last post I think I was sounding pretty optimistic about my current job. I'm still fairly optimistic, but the last couple days really tried my patience. We had two days in a row of one show at noon and the evening show not until 7:30. This is a really long gap between shows. Wednesday I was clocked in for over 11 hours, which was great for my paycheck, but a little rough on my sanity. Yesterday I got a three hour break between shows, but the kids were so rowdy during the second show that I snapped on the boys. Not in a mean way, just in a speaking-very -firmly-reminding-them-of-their-obligations kind of way. The depressing thing is that I'm not sure it made a difference. The kid who'd started it - he'd thrown a (soft) object at another boy, causing him to cry out (excessively loudly, he wasn't really hurt) - did appear contrite, but it's not like I never had to ask the kids to be quiet again all night or remind them of certain rules.

I'm chalking it up to two long days in a row, and hoping things will improve tonight. I really wanted to say something to the parents last night so they could remind the kids to behave today, but it was already so late and they all had to get up early this morning for a TV broadcast. And part of the problem is they're all really tired and fried. So I let it go for the time being. But I'm really starting to feel like they are taking advantage of the fact that I'm not a jerk like the last supervisor, and it's frustrating.

In other news, I've had a great change of fortune for the winter. I was originally scheduled to do a couple operas in Jan-Feb and Feb-April. But I got an offer to ASM for Steppenwolf, and this time I decided not to stick with my other obligations but to give Steppenwolf priority.

I can't tell you how happy this has made me. After a couple years saying no to good theater job opportunities because I'd already signed contracts with other opera companies, I've finally figured out that it's okay to do what's best for me and my career than stick with something I'm not that excited about.

Admittedly, I didn't realize how much happier I am doing theater than opera until recently. And clearly not every opera I work on ends in tears, as my great experience with Cinderella and the The Ryan Opera Center this fall demonstrated. There is a part of me that feels a little sad that I don't know when I'll do another opera. Usually when I look ahead in my schedule, I have a new opera to learn, and I always found that exciting. At the very least I always knew I'd be doing an opera in the spring, but now I don't even have that to look forward to since I am not returning to Chicago Opera Theater. But some of you know what a struggle I've gone through trying to get back into the theater scene after doing so much opera for the past few years, and I finally feel like I'm getting there.

Monday, December 3, 2007


I survived Week 1 of wrangling the kids, and I have to say it's been very successful so far!  I did manage to discover that the last supervisor was in fact fired because he was too much of a disciplinarian (as the Supervisor I am mainly charged with making sure the young performers are where they're supposed to be when they're supposed to be there, and that they are safe - I can tell them to be quiet and remind them not to run in the halls and backstage, but discipline is to be left up to stage management and the parents).  The kids have all raved about me to their parents, which they tell me almost every day, and the parents are all very appreciative.  

What I noticed right away is that the kids are all smart and professional.  All I have to do is be friendly with them and respect them.  Then when I ask them to do something or not to do something, they generally do it without question.  They know that I respect them and have their best interests and safety in mind.

As for between shows activities, it really helps that there are a couple parents that get very involved.  They take kids out to get food so that I can stay in with kids who already have food, and they come into the lounge where we hang out which allows me to go to the bathroom without worrying about leaving the kids alone.  It also takes a lot of pressure off me having the parents there because they have no trouble reining in their kid or any of the other kids, and I can relax and have fun with them.

So yeah, I feel really lucky.  I've been wanting to be involved with Christmas Carol for several years, and this seems to be the perfect way for me to participate.  I think I'm enjoying myself more than I would had I just gotten hired for a run crew position.