October’s end brings blur of activity, stress and fun
By Paula O’Kray
Wow, what a crazy last few weeks it’s been. It’s funny how we make plans and then life just happens anyway, and through no fault of our own we find ourselves in a tornado of activity from which we cannot extricate ourselves, and we simply have to ride it out.
I’m getting too old for this. Not really, but my body certainly is rebelling and letting me know how unhappy it is with the current circumstances.
I’ve found as I get older I have less tolerance for stress. Strange little things keep popping up all the time to warn me that I’ve been pushing myself too hard, but mainly my tummy is the band leader when it comes to these signals. Over the past few years I’ve noticed a direct correlation between big stressful events in my life and what my tummy has to say about it.
The good thing about this is I’ve learned to listen to my body and also learn how to calm it down quickly. Gazing out the window with a warm cup of tea, a nice long dog walk with no particular destination, a good book, my favorite music, an impromptu dance off in the kitchen, or simply taking a few moments in a quiet place to clear my thoughts and breathe deeply.
So what’s got me all stressed out right now? Well, right now I’m helping out on run crew with “Into the Woods,” Community Theater’s fall musical, which runs for two weekends. The run crew changes set between scenes and does special effects. It’s a fun job, since we get to see the show for free about a dozen times, and enjoy the wonderful talents of our friends in the cast. The show is a grown-up version of a combination of fairy tales gone a bit awry, and warns us to be careful what we wish for. The music and lyrics are by Sondheim and great fun to listen to, but also very poignant and touching at times.
This time around I’m pulling the giant “sweep” in the background that swings from side to side for different scenes, and I’m also in charge of Jack’s magnificent beanstalk. I was also lucky enough to be instructed on how to work the fly rail, which is a massive wall of weights, ropes and pulleys that “fly” props, walls and other scene elements in and out of the stage space.
It’s fun and great teamwork, since we have to work off the stage manager’s cues and sometimes move all the elements in unison, without knocking any of the actors out in the process. Safety is a big issue back stage, since we work almost always in the dark and are trying to get our job done with actors constantly moving on and off stage, around very large set pieces. It’s a dance.
In addition to the current show, auditions are coming up next week for community theater’s winter show “Much Ado About Nothing,” which is much earlier than usual, and the week after that there’s auditions for the Christmas radio show, “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
The latter is usually performed a week or so before Christmas and is a great way for new people to try out theater since it’s all reading and no memorization, makeup or costumes. I tried it for the first time last year and really enjoyed it, plus the Foley artist(s), who create the sounds for the show are a lot of fun to watch. I’m hoping to attend both, but have had little time to prepare, so we’ll see how that goes.
And then there is Halloween, my favorite holiday. I’m making my grandson’s costume again this year, he wants to be a lizard. Not just any lizard, but The Lizard, a nemesis of Spiderman’s. For those of you not familiar, think Incredible Hulk, only reptile limb regeneration experiment gone wrong instead. I have to say, it’s a very challenging outfit, considering I had to find a way to create claws, a large reptile head and a tail. So my evenings have been filled creating magic with lots of green felt and hot glue.
The reason I’m so far behind on the costume project is because about a week ago I came down with a cold, and all I wanted to do in my free time was sleep. Even my co-workers noticed the persistent cough, since I am typically a pretty healthy gal.
I took all sorts of stuff to try and kill it off, but there’s no magic like chicken soup, so I made that a staple in my diet for the length of my illness. Thankfully, my health has returned and I’ve been able to catch up on rest and other chores around the house.
Then last Tuesday night, an old friend from California chatted me up. We got to talking about Halloween, and he encouraged me to dress up, even though I will be in the middle of working on two shows of “Into The Woods” that Saturday, at 2 and 7:30 p.m. “OK,” I said, “But it’ll have to be an all-black outfit, since run crew must dress in black so we’re not distracting from the show.”
Well, he must have given me almost 40 ideas of characters who wear all black. I was very impressed. Not just for the lengthy list, but also to find another person as excited about Halloween as I am.
We finally decided on Black Widow, a Marvel comic book character. I had a lot of the elements of the costume already, which was key because time was so short. I’m going to keep it quiet though, and just show up in full regalia on Saturday and see what happens. Hopefully the director won’t mind having a superhero on run crew.
And Sunday? I think Sunday I will spend sleeping.