Tuesday, December 25, 2012

I Love Christmas

It would be impossible ... or rather improbable ... to grow up in the house I did and not love Christmas. Mom loves Christmas so much, it is her favorite holiday. December is her birthday too, so it was always a big deal around our house. Christmas music started playing in our house as early as my dad would let it. Meaning when he was not around we blasted it! Grams used to sing "Little Drummer Boy" to us year round when rocking us to sleep. She always had a holiday boutique where she would sell cards, wrapping, and crafts she made. Christmas was a big deal growing up. 

Now that we are grown it is no less special. My siblings are married with children; this year two of them are in Washington with their other family. That means we just get to celebrate Christmas longer. My sister is just as much to watch on Christmas morning as my nieces and nephews are. She is giddy when presents are around. She shakes them, trying to guess what she is getting for Christmas. It is just fun to watch her. 

We have traditions that started the first year the folks were married that we have carried on now for 41 years. (I saw we like I was there, I am not quite that old yet.) Every Christmas Eve we get together with as many of the family as are around and make waffles for dinner. We used to have a tradition where we would make donuts after decorating the tree. And for breakfast on Christmas Day we had little boxes of cereal. The one tradition I admit to not missing is on Christmas morning we used to have to wait to go upstairs to open presents until everyone was awake. (Ok I actually miss that bit because we used to all gather in the folks room as we woke up and lay on the floor or the bed until everyone was up.) What I do not miss is Dad walking up the stairs to turn on all of the Christmas lights. He then would line us up youngest to oldest at the bottom of the stairs. Only then would he say "Well, Santa did not come this year, might as well go back to bed." Got old, do not miss it. Sorry Dad. 

When we were younger, after we had our family Christmas, we would go to visit Grams and the Aunts. Most of the cousins would come  by throughout the day so we saw most of the family. I loved that and miss it every year. Grams passed almost 13 years ago and that tradition sadly died with her. I think it is so important to not only have, but uphold, family traditions. Sure Christmas is celebrated in Pagan ways with the tree and presents. But Christmas is a time for family. I feel a loss at Christmas when family is not around. This year, thanks to Skype, we were able to celebrate with family away from us. I still missed being together in person. 

Christmas is about family. It is about celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. It is about good company, and good will. I love Christmas. I love it all. The music; the snow; the fire in the fireplace; the stocking stuffers; tracking Santa with NORAD; the food; the lights; the sounds; the smells. But mostly I love spending time with friends and family. A very Merry Christmas to all of you who I call friend or family or both. Thank you for making my life better by being in it. 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

I spell respect: AUDITION

I am the Producer for the Midvale Arts Council. It is a great job and I love it. I get to produce 2 shows a year, one musical, one play. I have some great friends from doing shows. It is never dull, and usually an adventure. I have deep respect for those who put themselves on stage, with hope of a part, and nothing but talent and desire to fight for a role. It is nerve racking to stand in front of people you may or may not know auditioning for a show. I have done it often myself. Sometimes I get the part, more often than not I do not. But each audition is a teaching/learning experience. Last night we had a few such hopefuls join us for a callback for Steel Magnolias. Even more nerve-racking than an audition ... callbacks. At a callback each auditioner has additional hope that they will be given the part because they made it through round 1. The auditioners all try their best to show what they can do, how hard they will work, how much fun they will be to work with, how talented they are, and how much they want the part. They size up the competition and try to outshine them. Often good friends are up for the same part, and often they either both lose or one gets it while the other does not.

Sitting on the ProStaff side is slightly easier, but not much. At auditions we know what the magic number to cast the show is. When we hit that number of auditions often I will say "Well we can at least cast it." After that it becomes a difficult job to decide which actor is best for each role. Often I have had to choose from friends, foes, and random people I do not know. It is hard to know which person will be the best fit in 16 bars, or 60 seconds of monologue. I have gotten it wrong before. More often, I get it right. The worst part is having to tell a friend that he or she was not the right fit for this one. I have turned away super talented people before because it just was not right for the show. But I made a promise to myself that I would put aside my personal feelings and cast based on what is best for the show.

As a producer I get to give suggestions to the director on casting, but ultimately they get to decide what they want and I get to approve or veto. The ProTeam is just as nervous as the actors at the end of the night. The actor waits to hear, the ProTeam struggles to make the best choice. I have so much respect for those involved in the whole process. The actor for putting themselves out there, and the ProTeam for putting aside personal feelings to make the best possible decision. Actors, directors, and producers are vain creatures. We have to have tough skin to do what we do, and to be rejected as often as we are. It hurts every time I am told no, I am not right for a role. I always wonder if I am not talented enough. It hurts every time I have to tell a hopeful actor that he or she is not right for a role. It is doubly hard when it is a friend. It is gut-wrenching when it is a good friend. It is a thrill to offer parts to those who earned it. I have had people walk into an audition I have never met and I cannot wait to work with them. I have respect for each person who keeps coming back regardless of the outcome. I have respect for each person involved in the process. I wish I could cast everyone. But it is not realistic.

So thank you, from the bottom of my heart, to those who sit on both sides of the table. For those who keep coming back. For those who make it easier. For those who respect the process. For those who keep smiling and hugging me even if they are not chosen. For those who work hard when they are chosen. For the directors who work their cans off to earn another show with me. For the actors who so graciously want to work on my stage. It is an honor to produce shows for those who want to act on my stage, and those who come to see the show to be entertained. I give you my respect and thanks right back.