Wednesday, September 19, 2018

What Montana Needs and Doesn't Have ...

Although, if you're in a kayak on Canyon Ferry, it can seem like the North Sea.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

The Play's the Thing

For the third time, in two years, a stage play of mine has been produced.

One night only, with paid actors, and every time, the difference between being read, performed and heard, rocks me.

Every time.

The first time felt so weird to me. I was used to writing and sending the piece into the ether as a contest entry or query letter. Written feedback, acknowledged or ignored was de rigueur. A live audience was a new experience. It made me nervous.

The second time, with the same play, DRIVER’S ED, I learned, how the actors generated some of the laughs and the script did the rest. I lamented (only to myself) that the most important line got lost in the laugh previous. Interesting. But the audience started laughing at the first line and didn’t stop, so nerves be gone, and honey, that was WAY COOL.

This last time was different. The short play, titled ACTIVE SHOOTER, was not funny at all. It is about sexism and how we react to violence. How, I wondered, would I be able to tell if they liked it? They leaned in. Not as quantifiable as a laugh, but a work on its feet is a different animal.

I took an acting class a few years ago and it changed the way I write. I have a feeling that listening to an audience and watching actors interact with the material is about to change it again.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Sunday, May 13, 2018

A Mother of A Memory

One winter, when my daughter was almost six years old, she was preparing to perform a song for our community Christmas party. 

We live in a small mountain community outside Montana’s capital city. Our community association throws a potluck Christmas party every year and the local kids put on a talent show.

She sat in front of our stereo listening to cassette tapes. Song after song. Tape after tape. She was dedicated to finding just the right one.

She chose her song and called me into the room to tell me her selection. “A Jimmy Buffett song,” she said. “Nice,” I said. We all love Jimmy.

She had the tape ready and played, “Why Don’t We Get Drunk and Screw,” definitely by Jimmy Buffett.

I didn’t think that vintage Buffett set quite the right tone for Christmas, so I tried to convince her to choose one of his more well-known songs. She decided to dance instead.

Night of the party, her dance went perfectly. Best in the show, if I do say so. And I do.

Santa arrived with his big bag and delivered a present to each child. After the kids and Santa were applauded, he made his way out the door.

My daughter handed me her, as yet unwrapped present, and said, “Let’s go see the reindeer.”

I convinced her to open her present first.

And, don’t you know it, by the time we got outside, Santa and his sleigh were gone.

On one hand, I didn’t fancy her seeing a neighbor stripping off the Santa suit before he climbed into his pickup. 

On the other hand, I wanted to see the reindeer too.

In that moment between when Santa went out the door and my daughter called to us, "let's go," there were reindeer outside the community hall.

Of everything being a parent gives a person, the most precious is possibilities.

You might get to see the reindeer.

Happy Mother’s Day.