Block 438: May 19, 2014


Telling myself to be patient and live in the circumstances I find myself in.

I’m not doing very well

Date: May 19, 2014

Crane: 438

Days Spent on Project: 456

Location: Conway, Arkansas

Person I would have sent it to: I think I’m done with my period in Wisconsin, which means I should move on to the next shows and productions I tackled.

Wisconsin was the summer of 2007, after I left and headed back to New York, I wound up having a series of shows that were piled one on top of the other. I opened one, flew out to work on the next, and then would still have to fly somewhere else to work on another.

The fall of 2007 was crazy busy, but also really educational.

I came back to New York with three jobs lined up. The first was a “small” production that was to be performed as a part of the New York Musical Theatre Festival. A friend, Noah, called me as I was leaving for New York and asked if I might be able to take the show off his hands. He was already busy with a shopping job for a costume shop in the city; he didn’t have time for the amount of work he would need to do on the show.

So, I said yes. I met with the young producer when I got back to the city. We talked about the scope of the show, the period, the cast that had signed on for it, and also what it would be like to work on a show that was connected to this festival. I would get a small fee and a small budget.

That producer was named Emily M. I believe, and I could be wrong, that she was a recent graduate from NYU. It was one of her first experiences producing a musical like that.

I don’t really know what’s happened to her in the seven (!) years since that fall. I haven’t run across her in any of my work or travels since then.

But some things I learned: always read a script before you sign onto a project (I still have a problem with this), always be realistic with your designs, this was the first time I realized that some things aren’t worth drawing sketches for (just take pictures of research and make collages), and never believe anyone when they say a show is Broadway-bound unless there is an A-list management team at the top.

This was also the show that taught me some people just want someone to do labor and not really have a design opinion or idea or concept. Sometimes, shows just need someone to sit backstage and quick-rig garments. And that’s fine, but it isn’t the same as designing a piece. It’s just not.

Music I listened to while sewing: I’ve discovered this album by Clint Mansell called “Moon” (maybe it’s a soundtrack?) and it’s my everything this morning. I really wish I had thought to use it as a part of The California Project.

Thoughts/Feelings behind the block: Yesterday I had a personal breakthrough.

The short summary is that I don’t want this production of Pippin to be my last show. If my work concludes after this experience, do I want to “go out” on this note?

On the other hand, if this experience continues in the direction where it’s headed, why not “go out” on this note?

And if I fade away after Arkansas, where do I want to go and what do I want to do?

3 thoughts on “Block 438: May 19, 2014

  1. Guys on the street with dogs always get more donations for their dog’s well-being than for themselves, right? Not saying you’re going to be on the street, quilt man, just that with your pooch, you CAN and WILL be ok wherever, doing whatever. How’s that for words from a slightly bereft female age 64 trying to figure out what to do next?

    • I’ve realized in the 3 weeks I’ve away from New York (and the month I’ve been away from my dog), that I’d feel infinitely more “at home” and okay if he were here. Not to further this image that we’re a co-dependent team, but he’s a huge grounding factor (and motivator) in my life. I’m not ashamed of that; he is my “child,” after all.

      And I also am aware that I’m experiencing a bit of culture shock here in Arkansas, especially after the highs that I had in Los Angeles (the weather, the time spent on The California Project, the friends I worked with, the friends I hung out with…).

      But, I felt happy out west. And I’m wondering, really wondering why. Was it that I wasn’t it New York? Was it that I wasn’t “doing costumes” but was still working in theater? Was it that I was surrounded by people all the time who I could be and was social with? Was it that I went out?

      Who knows, but I keep thinking that these almost 7 weeks that will be spent outside of NYC might be a great opportunity to disappear easily. And I’m not sad to think that: I’m surprised that I’ve thought that as many times as I have.

      • I am the greatest proponent of leaving one place to go to another, hence my 27 places of residence in the past 60+ years. Doesn’t leave one with a great feeling of security, or even of constant friends, but I’ve realized in the past few years that those are not what is important, and neither is (dare I say it?) the opinions and thoughts of others. What IS important is how you feel inside. You are the only one who knows those feelings. Maybe Arkansas is too far removed from the you-know-what of LA and NY. There could be a happy medium, but you won’t find it unless you seek it. And, as you know, seeking from NY is like seeking from the moon. Living in NY is like living on the moon. Only die-hard New Yorkers (which you have become in some ways) can live in New York no matter what. But, my friend, a starving artist you do not have to be these days, nor do you have to be embarrassed or stressed that you are behaving as others would not.

        You are you, and I say that as much for myself as I say it for you. Please be true to yourself and remember that the decisions don’t always have to be goal-oriented as we have all been taught. So many things I have done in my life, from teaching music at The King’s School in Canterbury, Kent, England, to running a government-funded career center in a vocational school in California, to moving to Bellingham, Washington with a guy I met online (we did spend considerable time together before actually moving north even though he was in New Mexico and I was in California)… I would not change anything.

        Those are the words of today, as I am once again in the throes of making a life-changing decision. See, it never stops. I told a friend once that it will end when I die… and she replied, “Probably not.”

        I’m riveted to your blogs, waiting to find out the next phase. Rock on, quilt man!

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