When I showed up for the first rehearsal of Taming of the Shrew I didn’t even know what part I was. It turns out that I was playing Curtis, one of the servants in Pertrucio’s house. But there were a lot more surprises along the way. Set in an all-girls Catholic high school, our director, Mary Beth Gorman decided to keep the show-within-a-show format that the play was originally in, but add her own spin and introduction. We spent a whole week on “table work” where we read though our hour-long cutting of the script and talked about different issues within the play.
We were each tasked, also, with coming up with a high school version of our character who would watch the show as an ”onstage audience”. One night during our table work week we all participated in an extended improvisation of a talent show being hosted at the high school. Everyone had worked very hard to create a thorough high school character with a complete backstory, and it made for a fantastic talent show. Several singers amongst the cast performed, two girls played a duet on the ukulele and spoons; there was a Nitchze reading and a hilarious magic show. The actress playing Kate performed a dance to “Get Low”, effectively infuriating the administrators.
For my character, I decided to do a tap dance. It was a skill I already had and it seemed fitting for Patsy Curtis, my high school character, as she exemplified the ultimate in uncool, and was a huge musical theater nerd. Copying a video I found on YouTube, I choreographed a tap dance to the opening of Forget About the Boy from Thoroughly Modern Millie. I had planned for the routine to end abruptly with a staged fall. It would show what a klutz Patsy was and get a good laugh. I spent an hour or so practicing the routine before rehearsal, and made sure to run though it on the stage before our improv began. Everything went smoothly. When my name was called, I got up to perform. It was great. There I was, finally back in my tap shoes, feeling fantastic. My big moment was approaching. I could almost imagine everyone’s laughter. Ok, here it goes, forget about the booooy… Slip. Smack. My staged fall spiraled a little out of control and I ended up hitting my head against the concrete floor. Instead of laughing, everyone gasped in shock, and was asking if I was ok. I didn’t know how to explain what had happened without breaking the impov, so I just went and sat down. There was only one act after me, and then we broke to discuss how we felt the improv had gone. At that point I had to repeatedly reassure everyone that I had meant to fall, just not quite that much. Someone gave me an ibuprofen and I was fine, but it was quite the lesson in humility. Doing something just to show off isn’t going to turn out well.
Everyone is the cast and crew was so talented and it was an honor to get to work with these fabulous ladies. The show ran this weekend, and we had a great run. Our goal was to tell a story about Kate and Petruchio, but more so to tell the story of a bunch of girls discovering the joy of theater. Hopefully that joy reached our audience as well.
As the semester comes to a close, I’ve been up against an onslaught of group projects, final meetings, and rehearsals. April is just a hard month when you’re in college, and it can be hard to find the motivation to do everything. Luckily I’ve found plenty of things to inspire and motivate me. Here are a few of my favorites:
This article by Malcolm Gladwell, one of my favorite authors:
Equal parts compelling and convicting, this article examines the shortcomings of social media in creating social change, and calls for readers to go out and be brave.
Novelist Chimamanda Adichie’s wonderful TED talk:
Yes, this is the woman who has the voice over part on Beyoncé’s new album. Her 2009 TED talk is a brilliant examination of the ways prejudice is created and destroyed.
Jiro Dreams of Sushi:
Within the span of a week, two separate sources recommended this film, available on Netflix, to me (one was this Charlie McDonald video), so I figured I should watch it. In this strangely captivating documentary, we are introduced to Jiro, the first sushi chef to earn three Michelin stars. We see that his absolute dedication to his craft has left him both fulfilled and frustrated. The story, paired with the stunning visual beauty of the film, helps this movie live up to its reputation.
This video about a honey badger that is probably smarter than I am:
Just wonderfully hilarious. Nature is amazing.
Happy Easter! Here’s how to make the cutest deviled eggs ever:
Almost entirely by coincidence, I ended up reading two fictional stories about cancer in the past few weeks: Wit, a play by Margret Edson and The Fault in Our Stars, a novel by John Green. Both were pretty sad, not surprising given the subject matter.
Wit is a play about Vivian Bearing, an older professor who has dedicated her whole life to researching and analyzing the 17th century poet, John Donne. Now she has been diagnosed with stage IV ovarian cancer. Most of the action of the play is dedicated to her time in the hospital, receiving chemotherapy and various other treatments, despite her limited chances at survival. In the end the message of the play had very little to do with cancer, and was mainly focused on empathy and the American healthcare system. Set up as a heartless, strict, demanding professor who is at most respected by, and at the least loathed by her students, Professor Bearing is aware of the irony that she, who never offered any empathy, now receives no empathy from her emotionally detached oncologist or his all- science doctorial fellow. I read this play because I was presenting a scene from it in my theater class. At only about 80 pages it was a pretty quick, although far from light, read. It definitely made me think. Although I would not have chosen to read this play myself, I am glad I took the time to read it.
Partially inspired by Wit and partially inspired by the urging of several friends who had read it, I finally decided to read The Fault in Our Stars, John Green’s New York Times bestseller. I had read several of his previous books, so I was familiar with his writing style. I thought I was prepared. I was not. I devoured this book, reading all of the over 300 pages in three and a half days. Featuring main characters Hazel Grace Lancaster and Augustus Waters, The Fault in Our Stars is, at its core, a love story: an excellent, beautiful, heart wrenching, love story. I don’t want to spoil anything, so I’m not going to summarize the plot. There is no need to know the plot before deciding if you want to read this book. Be warned: you will probably cry. If you’re not in the mood to cry, then this is not the book for you. And it leaves you thinking about some capital b for Big things, like death and purpose and hope. In the end I loved it, because it evoked real emotion, and what more can you ask from a story than that?
One of my favorite DIY and craft YouTube channels is HGTV Handmade. Featuring five talented ladies who each put one video a week on the channel, it offers huge amounts of craft inspiration. Recently Meg Allen Cole posted a video about making a DIY Affirmation Banner. I loved the idea, so I tweaked her instructions to fit materials available around my dorm room and made one of my own.
Making the banner was pretty simple. I mostly followed Meg’s instruction, cutting my paper into a rectangle that allowed for some of my straw to stick out, then I tied embroidery floss on to it. I then cut the bottom. It was supposed to be a triangle, but I accidentally cut out that triangle. I decided that this little mistake had not ruined the project, and moved forward.
I folded over an inch or two on the top for my straw and found the center to draw my letters on. Once they were all outlined and colored in, I applied a line of glue to the back in an effort to create a tube to put my straw through. That really didn’t work, so I ended up sewing it shut. I actually really liked the effect, however. I went ahead and sewed it with the straw already inside, which I think works best. Then all that was left was to tie some embroidery floss to the two ends of the straw and hang it on the wall.
I decided that my banner should serve as a reminder to me, and I what I feel like I need to be reminded of most is to react with love. Often I react to negative situations with fear or anger, and things always turn out better if I can remember to react with love. My banner has been hanging above my bed since I finished it, and so far it has been a great reminder.
I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. -Charles Swindoll