Friday, June 21, 2013

The Hardest Thing

One of the hardest things in life is letting someone make a mistake. One of the most necessary things In life is making mistakes.

I am not good at communication. Since I began this blog, since I began writing, and since I began directing it has become apparent to me that my communication skills were lacking. I made mistakes, messed up, didn't say things, or said too much, and I am learning how to better communicate.

But still, for me, one thing I know I am good at is not talking. I know how to hold back my thoughts, filter my emotions, and react to situations with clarity and logic. This might seem like a direct contradiction with my previous blog post about running in to situations, making gut choices, and asking questions later. And it is. Because we humans are amazing creatures. We are able to hold and exhibit two contradictory beliefs at the same time. Think about it. We can both make fun of someone behind their back, and genuinely care about the person to their face. We can condemn someone's beliefs while professing the love of God. We can walk confident and smile and be filled with self-doubt and self-hatred. We can curse and think cursing is wrong. We can be devoutly reliant on current technology and also protest it's "hold" over is. We can be happy and sad at the same time. I can go on, but It's quite amazing when you think about it. The idea if contradiction and being hypocritical is unique to our race of beings.

The hardest thing to do when you care about a person is letting them make mistakes because, as someone who understands the necessity of mistake making, the lesson is too invaluable.

When I tell someone something, and idea or a belief, they can choose to accept it or reject it. And if they accept it, it's acceptance on the terms that it is not an original idea to them, and so ownership to the thought is as invested as one would have towards care and longevity of a rented VHS from Blockbuster. But if I sit back and let them make a mistake and then come to the realization on their own, then the lesson they learned is their own and theirs to own and accept, like finding that DVD you’ve wanted for years in the 5 dollar bin. You cherish that shit.

This is how I direct, this is how I write, and that is how I live because, above all else, I believe independent thought is the most valuable asset we as human beings have. The fact that we can make a decision for ourselves is what makes us special.

Like I said, there are so many things I could say to so many people to "fix" what I believe is wrong in them, but if I do, it solves nothing, and generally the person is not even in a place to understand or accept what I have to say.

So it hurts me to sit back and watch people make mistakes and make wrong choices but I know that, in the end, their mistakes will make them a better person. Maybe they won't be happy, and perhaps they will be miserable their entire lives, but when they make a choice of independent thought it will have been worth it. Our mistakes shape us, but our thoughts define us.

The challenge is to love them in the course of their mistakes. Cherish their friendship while they are hurting. Cherish it as it hurts you and themselves because, honesty, we can't change each other. We can only change ourselves.

Until next time...

"It is better to be high-spirited even though one makes more mistakes, than to be narrow-minded and all too prudent."
-Vincent Van Gogh

Monday, June 10, 2013

Inescapably Bound

Ever heard someone say the phrase: "I'm a lifelong learner?" Well I have discovered that, whether I like it or not, I am inescapably bound to be a lifelong learner. See, some people take time to make decisions. They carefully plot out their next life move, weigh the positives and negatives, perhaps even ask friends and family for advice, and then slowly and confidently make their move. I just barge right in and bumble through the consequences. I make a gut choice, go with what seems right, and ask questions later. I have found that this leads me to make lots of mistakes, but also learn a lot in the process.

When I came up with the idea to mount a production of Pygmalion I had no inclination into the world of producing theatre. All I knew was that I wanted to direct and that I was going to make that happen.

Well with starting a production company with my brothers we, all three of us, began delving into the world of producing, but with Zach in Okinawa and Michael just moved and settling into New York, a lot of the footwork fell to me.

Like a lot of you dedicated readers already know, I tried to do this play in the park. Well that fell through for many reasons, most of which were my misunderstanding of how to go about reserving a park in New York City. See, I thought it would be easy. How dumb was that? HA!

Anyways, After hiring Stage Manager Annmargaret Centeno and choreographer Sean Roschman and driving Michael back for Pygmalion, and after having a beautifully talented cast ready to tackle this great play, I needed to start booking rehearsal space. See again, I didn’t plan ahead for this one. I didn’t have any misconceived notions or anything, I literally just didn’t plan ahead. I guess I didn’t realize that I needed space to rehearse? Idk. Anyways, I was suddenly tasked with finding rehearsal space for my 15 actors and our humble play.

So I found the awesome website, which is basically a huge database of rehearse spaces and prices in New York City. I highly recommend it if you are looking for space. The prices fall generally in the 10-30 dollar price range, and it actually turns into a kind of game for finding the biggest room for the cheapest price that isn’t falling apart or covered in bedbugs.

Well I found three spaces that we have been primarily using for our rehearsal spaces. The first was Triskelion Arts Studios, which I had rehearsed at before on a previous project. This place is sooo Brooklyn Hipster rehearsal space. What I mean by that is, it is open 24 hours a day. You get your own set of keys and key codes, and you pay by leaving a check or cash in an envelope in a mail slot. It’s a huge space with great rooms and some of the cheapest prices you will find in New York City. Its run by chill people who trust everyone they rent to, which in turn, makes you want to fulfill that trust.

The second space I found was the National Opera Center America, which we use for our music rehearsals. They are a very ritzy place with Baby Grand Pianos in each room and that offers discounted prices to non-profit groups. When we went for our first rehearsal they said that our room had been accidently double booked and bumped us up to the rehearsal hall for free at no extra cost. and it turned out I had accidently reserved the room for the wrong day, and they still let us rehearse! They are amazing and we are most definitely having Marley Rehearsals there.

The Third Place I found was the 133rd Street Arts Center, which is also going to be our performance space. It is a very young theatre in the New York World, so it is relatively unknown and its prices are not hugely inflated yet, so its actually very affordable. It has a great rustic sort of charm to it with exposed brick walls and antique windows. I am really looking forward to putting our show in it. Plus! As a bonus, he is renting out the space to us for rehearsal, so in a New York Rarity, we actually get to rehearse in the space we will be performing in! How’s that for awesome?

So yeah. I don’t like producing. It’s a lot of stressful work that I’m not good at. But I’m learning a lot in the process. I’m learning how to find good rehearsal space. I’m learning just how expensive everything is. And lastly I’m learning just how much I love theatre in all its various and sundry shapes. I truly hope everyone can come see this awesome show. Not for me, but for all these amazingly talented actors myself and my brothers have had the luck and pleasure of working with. Seriously. They are awesome. Like, I’m working them really hard, and they are meeting all these challenges with ease and finesse. They are pro’s. So seriously, come see them. Don’t come see me. Don’t even talk to me. UNTIL NEXT TIME :P

"Whatever you do, do it with all your might. Work at it, early and late, in season and out of season, not leaving a stone unturned, and never deferring for a single hour that which can be done just as well as now."

Monday, June 3, 2013


Hey. Guess what. Its June. You know what that means? The year is half over Also, less importantly, Michael's birthday. Wish him a happy birthday on June 24th.

Anyway back to the main point. The year is half over. How are your New Year's resolutions coming along? Yeah I'm gonna call you out on them. Have you been doing them? Did you forget? What happened? Well there is good news! There are 6 more months starting now for you to get them all done. Here were my resolutions from my To Create Blog post:
1: Direct a play/musical
2: Write a screenplay
3: Continue Blogging

 Lets start with the first one: Direct a Play/Musical. I directed Analisa veleZ's play Ain't No Such Thing As Free Pizza in April, so I think that counts right? Yeah. CHECK! That was an awesome learning experience and I was continually humbled by getting to work with such a
Ain' No Such Thing As Free Pizza
 fantastic, beautiful, and talented cast, and a playwright that will be famous some day, if she keeps writing (La verdad mi amigo!). It was an amazing expereince and I am gcontinually grateful for being allowed to work on it. 

And now I am directing my second show, Pygmalion, which is also self-produced by my production company Stamp Brothers Productions with the funds we received from our very successful first fundraiser. We are currently entering our second week of rehearsals and are set to go up July 12th, 13th, and 14th at the 133rd Street Arts Center in West Harlem. It's my second directorial experience, but also my first as a co-producer with my brothers. We are having tons of fun figuring it all out. Keep checking in for updates on that, and come see it if you can! It's completely free.

Ok, moving on to number two: Write a screenplay. Well, this one hasn't happened. But! If you remember my January blog post I'm Writing a Musical, you will remember that I asked if it was ok to change the resolution to write a musical in stead of write a screenplay. No one objected, or perhaps no one read that post, so I changed the resolution! and I wrote a musical.

But I have a confession to make. I actually wrote two musicals. The nameless first one I sent out for people to read and give me pointers on, and that one is still in development, but the second one I wrote in secret. I spent long countless hours laboring over a typewriter because typewriters are a lot slower so it takes long countless hours to type on... and I wrote a musical based off of the Greek Tragedy by Euripides: Hippolytus (or in the day Hippolytos Stephanophoros), and I am announcing here and now that it has been picked up for a festival at the Cabrini Repertory Theatre and will be performed this August in New York City. Adam O'Dell is writing the music for it, and my brother Michael is Music Directing it. Its called Marley: A Musical Tragedy. And here is the first draft of the poster designed by Kristen Anhalt.
So yeah! Pretty exciting stuff. Stay tuned for more about that. But I would say that goal number 2 is complete. CHECK

And My last goal: Continue Blogging. Well. Yeah. CHECK.

So, the key to goals is simple: Set ones that you will want achieve. This might seem obvious, but it's true. All of these things I wanted to do. I don't want to become an Olympic swimmer, so why would I make myself swim every day? That benefits no one. I want to be a director and maybe a writer (we'll see...) but, I am setting goals that I want to achieve, and so achieving them is possible, and makes me feel good when I do. And now that the year is half done, and my to-do list is all clear, I got 6 months to just cruise and relax. :P UNTIL NEXT TIME.

"You know, I rather like this God fellow. He’s very theatrical. A little pestilence here, a plague there... to get me some of that."