All posts by Abby Wolff

About Abby Wolff

As far back as I can remember, I have been creating. I was blessed to grow up in Kansas City into a family that encouraged me to pursue my passions in the arts. I am currently on track to double major in Animation and Theatre/Cinema at Missouri Western State University. Some of my favorite moments on stage have been playing Ruth in Blithe Spirit (MWSU), Genie in Aladdin (CYT-KC), and Anybody's in West Side Story (CYT-KC). Behind the scenes credits include Dramaturg and Scenic Charge for The Great American Trailer Park (MWSU), Prop Designer and ASM for The Addams Family (TitP-Shawnee Mission), and Prop Designer for The Drowsy Chaperone (OCTA). Along with working on and off stage, I also serve as the Vice President of the Alpha Psi Omega- Xi Eta cast. When not on stage or in the animation studio, you can usually find me either working in the Missouri Western scene shop, working on short films, or writing and doodling in coffee shops. Life is too short to be boring. We have been given the opportunity to live extraordinary lives, and I want to use the time I have to make art that matters.

How to Design for a Show

I’ve had the pleasure to work in projection, prop and set design over the past few years. You could say I’ve become somewhat of an expert at the design process. Today, I’d like to share with you my fool-proof method of how to successfully complete any design job. 

 

Let’s say you just got hired to do a projection design.

  1. Sit down with the director to get their vision for the show. This is best done with all the other designers present. 
  2. Read the script for fun. 
  3. Read the script, looking for themes throughout the text. 
  4. Read the script again as a designer. 
  5. Read the script one more time, just to make sure you haven’t missed anything. Keep in mind that you can go back and read the script at any time during this process (which you probably should do). 
  6. Doodle and research a lot, until you come up with as many awesome ideas as possible. 
  7. Ideally, you have gone through the script at least four months before the show goes up. Layout a timetable for yourself. Deadlines are super helpful. 
  8. Spend the first few weeks working super diligently on your designs. 
  9. Remember that you’re also a full-time student.
  10. Try and pass your Spanish class.
  11. Realize you have three months until the show opens, so you probably ought to start animating that really complicated piece now so that you don’t have to stress over it later. 
  12. Decide to blow off animating to go hang out with pals. You’ve got time. 
  13. Get assigned a group project in your Spanish class that you end up doing 90% of the work for because your partner is a slacker. 
  14. Spend an eight hour day animating a good chunk of your content. It is recommended to have a few cups (or gallons) of coffee to get you through the day. 
  15. Go to production meetings and realize that you’re both ahead and behind schedule. 
  16. Ponder how this is possible. 
  17. Flunk a Spanish test.
  18. Go to tutoring more consistently. 
  19. Realize the show opens in a month and you have a ton of work left to be done. 
  20. P A N I C
  21. Use the adrenaline that comes from procrastination to make some awesome content. 
  22. Program your designs. 
  23. Realize that there are about 9 ½ glitches in your designs. 
  24. Rerender those trouble spots. 
  25. Possibly cut some pieces of your design during tech week. 
  26. Possibly add some pieces to your design during tech week. 
  27. Cross your fingers and pray really hard during opening night that your design reads well on stage. 
  28. Collapse into your bed, resolving to do a better job planning and managing your time during the next job. 
  29. Accept the next job. 
  30. Repeat. 

 

Remember when I said I was an expert at the design process? Yeah, that was a big fat lie. To be quite honest, I don’t think anyone ever becomes a complete expert at this ridiculous process, especially when you’re still in school. Each show is its own beast, and the challenges you ran into during the last show most likely won’t be the ones you’ll deal with on the next job. You must be willing to constantly learn as you work; it’s part of the gig. The thing that’s really great about the theatre community is that there are a lot of really talented people to work alongside and learn from. No design process will be 100% smooth, but there’s a certain beauty in the rough spots. It’s from the rough spots that we become better artists and problem solvers, and because of this, we make better art. 

 

Until Next Time, 

Abby

 

Revisits: La La Land

Conversation between me and my best friend

 Me: Did I ever tell you the first time I saw “La La Land” was with Micah?

Avery: Wait what?

Me: Yeah, we didn’t realize it was a romantic comedy until we were watching it. 

Avery: And you saw it in theaters?

Me: Yeah.

Avery: Just the two of you?

Me: Yeah.

Avery: That’s the best thing I’ve ever heard in my life. 

(Y’all don’t need context. Micah, if you’re reading this, I love you and I’m glad we have a solid enough friendship that we were able to go watch a movie musical together and have an intellectual chat afterwards about it without it being a date.)

 

I cannot tell you how many of my cinema friends are going to jump down my throat for writing about this movie, but who cares. I love this movie, maybe even more than I did when I first wrote about it in 2017. I thought it would be interesting to do a revisit to how I felt about this film two years ago. Words in bold are the ones I wrote in 2017, which have not been altered in any way. The writing in italics are from my 2019 self. Enjoy!

 

January 7, 2017

La La Land is a mean movie. It’s a beautiful piece of film, has catchy tunes, really fun dancing, costumes I wish were in my closet, and a wonderful score that I must find the sheet music for. One of my biggest stress relievers is to play through the songs in the easy version of the score I bought for someone else. As someone who doesn’t have a ton of time to practice consistently, it’s nice to have the easy versions of movie scores to sight-read. THE ENDING THOUGH WAS AWFUL. Okay, maybe awful isn’t the correct word. It ended how real life usually goes, which, sometimes, can be awful even in good circumstances. “Awful” was how I always used to describe the end of this film. Let’s see if I still feel that way. 

Some many people I know loved this film. Many of the posts in my Facebook feed have been the praises of La La Land and how it was so inspiring. It’s true; it is an inspiring film. Two people fall in love with each other and believe in each other’s dreams. They push each other to be better. They fight for each other’s goals. But the thing is, they don’t fight for each other. I didn’t get the idealistic/hopeless romantic ending I wanted. Here’s the thing about this movie: it is not about the love of two people. This film is a love letter to Los Angeles. While there is a depiction of a year long relationship, the story is  more so about the two lovers chasing their dreams, not each other. 

The montage that Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling’s characters have at the end of the movie of “what could have been” caused a huge stir of emotions. At the forefront of these emotions was what was happening right in front of me. These two, fictional people both had their own dream worlds, or La La Lands, where they both achieved greatness and kept the romantic bond between them. If they had made different choices throughout their life, sure, they could have ended up together at the end of the movie like how probably 95% of the audience wanted them to. Probably not 95%, but you get the idea.  Instead though, she pursued her acting career, got married to a caring husband and had a beautiful little girl, and he finally opened his pure jazz club, which is hugely successful and brought the fulfillment he was looking for. They’re lives are both good, but they let go of the relationship in order to chase dreams. 

I have my goals and dreams. Do I want to achieve them? Of course. As the credits started to roll though, I began to think of how one day, I will be parting ways with the people I love so much now. Take Doc (Micah; I used code names for my friends when I was writing in this document because I was paranoid someone would read it), who came to the movie with me after a lot of bickering over why I was willing to go to Lee’s Summit to ride out with him so we could talk instead of just driving to Kansas myself. Avery and I joke that my love language is “quantity time.” He’s one of the most brilliant people I know (still true), and one of the people I love most in my life. Come this Fall though, we’re going to part way. I went to St. Joseph, Missouri to study theatre at Missouri Western. He moved to New York City to study at King’s College. Doc is going to be extremely successful no matter what he ends up doing, but it hurts to think that I most likely won’t be as close to him as I am now to watch him succeed. 

The people I hold dear won’t always be there. My friends and I, we’re all growing up. We’re all gonna go to different colleges. We all have different dreams, and those dreams aren’t intertwined with other people. Correction: dreams are always intertwined with other people. They just might not be the ones that you think they are. Our goals are for ourselves, no one else, and that’s okay. God gave us all the drive to do our best at whatever we do. It hurts though to think about life without these people. The countless coffee runs, the banter and teasing, the walks, the laughs, the jam sessions; one day, those will be fond memories that we’ll tell our kids about. But will be all be together 20 years from now? Chances are, no, and it really, really sucks to dwell on. This used to be something that I would dwell on a lot and honestly really didn’t come to peace with until a few months ago. 

Which is why I will do my best not to dwell on it. See above; I wasn’t super successful with that. I will continue to encourage my friends in theirs dreams. If I can help them reach their goals, I’ll do everything I can to assist. If there’s an opportunity to tell one of them that they are so valued and loved, you bet I’ll take every chance I can to do so. I want to try and stick by Dickinson’s words in reference to the “nows”. I was referring to a poem by Emily Dickinson which says, “Forever – is composed of Nows.” Focusing on how life will change someday will absolutely ruin the fleeting time I have left. You can’t be stuck in your La La Land: the real world never works out exactly how you want it to, and that’s okay. 

Man, I really love my friends. 

Alright, two years later. I love this film still, and I love the people that were in my life in 2017. However, as I predicted, most of them are not in my life anymore. Sure, we float in and out of each other’s lives on a rare occasion, but my core group of friends now is very different from what it was in high school. I’ve become a new Abby. Not necessarily a different one, but an older and somewhat wiser one. I’ve learned to not have a death grip on relationships. I used to get very upset when faced with the fact that just about all of the people you encounter in your lifetime will not remain there forever. While yes, it is perfectly normal to grieve the loss of a relationship, this does not mean that you have tight fists on relationships or circumstances. If you spend too much time and energy on your current situation, you may find that you were blinded to a new path that is 100x better than what you already have. 

If you find that a relationship you thought was going to last a lifetime ends, an opportunity you really wanted falls through, or you just feel like life is at a standstill, remember that forever truly is composed of “nows.” Your La La Land dream might not play out like you thought it would, but I think you’ll find what ends up happening is better than your favorite Oscar-snubbed-musical film. It’s easier said than done (believe me, I know), but learn to hold your life with open palms instead of clenched fists. The less time you spend worrying about trying to control your ideal dream the more time you’ll have enjoying your beautiful life. 

 

Until Next Time, 

Abby 

 

Why Write?|My Influences

Since I was small, I’ve wanted to be a writer. That’s always been the dream. In fact, recently, while cleaning out my closet, I found a few of my first “books”. They were stories written on notebook paper accompanied by illustrations drawn with crayons. As I got older, I got more sophisticated tools of the trade. My grandma gave me my first laptop: a big clunker from the early 2000’s that she had gotten from the school where she taught Computer Science. Now, I scribble away in notebooks and transfer my brainstorming mess to an equally messy Google Drive. While my goals have changed many times over the years, one has always remained a constant: I’ve wanted to write things that impact others. 

I have had such a wide range of influences over the years. My mom was very encouraging of my reading habits. Early memories of Arthur, Berenstain Bears, and countless other picture books are still stuck in my head. I quickly caught on to the chapter book craze, taking out at least ten new books every time I visited the library. I’m convinced that about 70% of my upper body strength came from my reading addiction; carrying a huge stack can be tough when you’re 3’0” tall (still can be difficult when you’re 5’0”).

As I’ve grown up, I’ve found several writers that have really shaped my reading tastes and have inspired my own writings. C.S. Lewis’s Narnia series will forever be one of my favorites, followed closely by J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. The magical stories easily carry you off and make you forget about the rest of the world. On the opposite side of the spectrum, John Green’s Turtles All The Way Down and Stephen Emond’s Wintertown are two contemporary pieces that deal with real life issues in humorous ways. While both novels have heavy subjects in them, the reader is still able to relate to the characters, which is extremely important. As someone who struggles with mental health, these are two books I have come back to many times for a reminder that I am not alone.

The real influence for me though seems to be in adventure stories, particularly the ones that deal with extraordinary powers and/or circumstances. Books like Hunger Games, Rot and Ruin, and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes are so much fun to read because you feel as though you are part of the action yourself. Then there’s film and television writers like George Lucas (Star Wars) and Alex Hirsh (Gravity Falls). Finally, I can’t forget to mention comic books and graphic novels. As they rise in popularity, the more detailed and deep the stories get in this visual form of literature. Stan Lee, the creator of Marvel Comics, is one of my writing idols. His dynamic and relatable characters have been some of my favorites for years. A good writer is needs to be able to create characters that will be loved for years, not just for a phase of time. Some books, movies, and shows are popular for a little while, but if the characters aren’t truly dynamic and grab onto the audience, the audience will move onto something new, forgetting them almost entirely. Characters from Stan Lee’s books like Captain America, Spider-Man and Iron Man have stood the test of time and are still as popular, if not more so, as when they first got published. 

As I grow older and surround myself with other creators, my new inspiration has come from my friends. I always get super hyped when my buddy Nathan sends me new drafts of his scripts. I’ve had the pleasure of acting in two of my pal Andy’s screenplays which provided great challenges to me as an actress due to their complexity. Sweet Ben has made me laugh, cry and laugh so hard that I’ve cried while reading his plays. Dozens of other peers have inspired me over the years. It’s astounding to see how my friends have become my writing influencers. I am grateful that I have people around me that inspire me to continue to better my craft and that have supported my ideas as I unscramble them from my head. Whatever you want to be good, whether it’s dancing, video gaming, cooking, running, singing, fishing or bowling, find people to share in the journey of learning. Life is so much better when you surround yourself with people who inspire you to be the best at what you love.  
Until Next Time,

Abby

Trading My Sorrows- Psalm 40:1-3

There’s this song called “Trading My Sorrows” that we sang all the time in the theater group I grew up in. It’s based off of Psalm 40, which is a passage I find myself going to often. I sat down and really broken it apart, piece by piece, and these were my observations from the chapter. 

I waited patiently for the Lord- Waiting on God is the first step to getting out of your situation. Sometimes God has us wait to work on our trust in Him. 

…and He turned to me and heard my cry for help.- God is listening for us to call out to Him. We need to be proactive in stepping out in our faith so we can watch Him act. You see, God is always reaching out to us in friendship; we’ve got to reciprocate. 

He brought me up from a desolate pit- God brings us out of our most crappy situations. If you’re trapped in a pit with no way of getting out yourself, you need someone else to throw down the rope to you. You also have to trust your rescuer that they are more than strong enough to pull you out. Struggling against the rescuer will make the process much more difficult. 

…out of the muddy clay,- See above. I kind of like to think of this as quick-sand. The more you struggle in mud, the deeper your feet can sink in. The longer we just wallow in our situation without asking for help, the deeper we slip into our frustration and disaster.

…and set my feet on a rock, making my steps secure.- Now we are doing a complete 180 in this verse. God picks us up from instability and grossness onto a stable and clean foundation. Your feet can’t slip through solid rock. 

He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.- We learn how to worship from God. We are all hardwired to worship something. Even though we were created for the purpose of worshipping God, out earthly desires often times pull us away from our original design. By reading the scriptures, we learn more about who God is, and with that knowledge, we are better able to worship Him. 

Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord.- From our actions, people can come to faith. People can watch us and learn where our joy comes from, and we can plant seeds to bring them closer to Christ. 

 

Psalm 40:1-3, what a set of verses. It’s a passage that has been made into a fun song that I play on my green guitar while jumping up and down with kids and teachers before classes, rehearsals and performances. Often times with any worship song we lose sight of what we are actually singing. I challenge you to look up the source of your favorite songs sung in church or on the radio. Study where the lyrics came from in the first place. I find when I do this for myself, it makes worshipping much more meaningful to me. Give it a try, and feel free to share your favorite songs in the comments so I can check them out too! 

 

Until Next Time, 

Abby 

 

My Killer Quest Experience- “The Lighting Thief Musical”

On average, I find myself attending around 15 live performances a year, most of the time in education or community environments. I have quite the stack of programs in my room, not to mention that dozens that have gone missing over the years. There have been a handful of shows that I have seen that have stood out from the rest and have made me truly appreciate the career field I am so passionate about. The most recent one to be added to this list was, “The Lightning Thief.”

When I was in middle school, Rick Riordan’s book series about Percy Jackson and his demigod adventures were all the rage. My 7th grade history teacher loved them and set aside time to read a chapter of the first book out loud to our class whenever she had the chance. A few years ago, a musical was created based off of this book. At first, I was pretty skeptical. After the disasters of the two movie adaptations, I wasn’t too keen on seeing another interpretation of the story. However, with my dear friend Libby invited me to join her to see the tour in Tulsa, I agreed, open to the idea of seeing a show she loved so dearly.

During intermission of the show, I began typing out a list of all the things I was astounded by with this wonderful production. I just had to write about it! This was an experience that was reminding me of the joy that can come from theatre. So, without further ado, here is my Top 7 List, in no particular order, for the “The Lightning Thief Musical.”

Costuming- The more design classes I take, the more details I notice every time I watch a show. The costuming for this company was so carefully planned, and props must also be commended to the backstage dressers. With the amount of quick changes in the show, I can imagine that things can get super hectic super quickly. A little detail I appreciated was the compliment between Percy’s green jacket and Annabeth’s red striped shirt. Red and green are my favorite complementary color couple, and while I was a little bummed that there were no orange Camp Half-Blood shirts present, this was a nice design touch. Also, I didn’t know how they were going to get a centaur to work on stage, but the way they made that bit of magic work was hilariously clever. Our Dungeons and Dragons loving costume professor would have gotten a kick out of all the fantasy costumes used for this production.

Lights- This show could definitely fall under the category of “spectacle theatre.” I’ve gotten into debates with peers before about flashy shows before. I do agree with the fact that theatre can be done without elaborate “extras” such as projections, sound effects and complex sets. However, I believe that there is a certain kind of beauty that can be found from technical design. The lighting design for this show was unlike anything I had ever seen. God bless the Stage Manager who had to call this show, because holy cow, there was a lot going on. The designer created storms, underwater moments, the illusion of driving down a highway and so much more with the tools they had. Because of the high energy nature of the show, the design elements need to match the energy of the actors. This was one of the best examples of a design element working with the script and performers to effectively tell the story.

Stage Combat- I am a huge fan of well executed fights on stage. What was really interesting is that when you watch actors with good training, you realize they perform at about 75% the speed one would actually fight at in real life. There’s an immense amount of control that has to go into performing stage combat. The goal is to make the audience believe that you are hurting one another without actually doing any damage. I’ve taken a few hits from scene partners who decided to throw punches or kicks too quickly, so it’s always refreshing to see a really well done (and safe) live performance. Bonus: the staging for the reveal of Percy’s sword, Riptide, was fantastic.

Kid characters on stage- I think it’s very important for kids to see character portrayed on stage that are their age. While the touring ensemble is comprised of professional adults, it was astounding how well they were able to come across as twelve year olds. That was my biggest gripe with the Percy Jackson films: they made him sixteen! Young theatre audience members need to see characters that they can truly relate with on stage.

Opportunity for the future- While the tour company is made up by seven cast members, there are dozens of characters in this script. As I was sitting in the audience, I realized how great this show would be for community or educational theaters. There is a wealth of opportunity for actors to be featured in a high-energy show. This musical is definitely near the top of my list of shows I hope to direct one day: it would be a blast!

Children with ADHD- I’ve grown up learning about ADHD due to the fact that my brother was diagnosed with the disorder when I was in elementary school. It’s a subject that is very near and dear to my and my family’s hearts. I am really grateful for writers like Rick Riordan for creating characters like Percy Jackson who have learning disabilities. It’s so important for people to be educated as to what ADHD, dyslexia and other disabilities are like. In the musical, the lead actor did a stellar job of not only portraying a twelve-year-old, but also a child with ADHD. Seeing the frustration from not being able to focus and wanting to be a “good kid” made me tear up several times during the performance. It’s things like that which remind me how powerful this art form can be.

Friendship- If you’re a major fan of Rick Riordan’s books, you know that Percy and his friends don’t stay twelve forever. Riordan tackles the topics of crushes and dating in high school in books later on in the series. However, the main point between the relationship of Percy and Annabeth’s characters in “The Lightning Thief Musical” is their friendship. Sure, there’s a bit of flirting here and there, but it’s awkward and silly, just as all twelve year old relationships are. There is also the solid friendship between Percy and Grover, which was super fun to see in person, as Grover and Percy’s bromance is one of my favorites out of all the books I’ve ever read. It was refreshing to see a show with an absence of romance. It just goes to show that you can tell a good story without characters professing their undying love for one another.

I am so grateful for the Killer Quest I got to share with my sweet friend this summer. Sharing a theatrical experience with someone you are close to makes the show even better. If you ever have the opportunity to see this show, do yourself a favor and go. It was a hilarious, impressive and impactful performance that I will never forget.

 

Until Next Time,

Abby

 

My Brother, Jeremy

Jeremy Wolff is an astounding human being. For eighteen years, I’ve had a front row seat to watch him grow and mature into the dashing individual he is today. To be quite honest, I don’t think my family was sure we were ever going to get to the point where we are right now. A lot of people told my parents that Jeremy was probably never going to be able to talk in full sentences, let alone graduate from high school. Well, he proved them all wrong, because if you’ve ever had a conversation with him about something he’s passionate about, you know that he has no problem talking anyone and everyone’s ear off.

To give you some background, when my brother was in preschool, he was diagnosed with Asperger’s and ADHD. In today’s modern medical world, Asperger’s now just falls on the Autism Spectrum. According to Autism Speaks, the disorder can be defined as, “a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication.” For the first few years of Jeremy’s verbal communication, he would only mimic what other people said instead of having his own original thoughts to add to conversations. He also had a very hard time putting on weight and was tiny until we discovered how many allergies he had. When we were in stores, we would always make a run for it when we heard a musical baby toy go off because the high pitched noise would make Jeremy cry. These are just a few examples of the obstacles Jeremy has overcome. With the help of many amazing people, especially my mom, he learned to communicate, finally grew, and learned how to cope with the frustrations around him.

We recently celebrated Jeremy’s high school graduation, and I shared two things I had learned from being his big sister. The first is the importance of being willing to slow down. While Jeremy and I are siblings, we are polar opposites. I am the type of person to plan their life three months in advance because I am always on the go. I’m also the kind of person who likes things to be done quickly. With Jeremy, I’ve learned that it’s not only okay but good to slow down for others. Taking an extra ten seconds to further explain something or listen to someone’s excited rant is not the end of the world. In fact, it might open your eyes up to a bigger world around you.

The second lesson I’ve learned is to never judge a book by it’s cover. Yes I know, it’s an old cliche, but it is so true. There are so many times that Jeremy was dismissed for one reason or another, and so many people have missed out on the chance to get to know him. Multiple times over the course of my college experience I have been quick to judge others by their outward appearance and first impression, along with the opinions of others. However, time and time again, when I took the time to slow down and really get to know certain people, I kicked myself for being so quick to judge. There’s a bible verse that Jeremy and I both learned in Awana that says, “The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” This was God talking to Samuel, who was trying to figure out which of Jesse’s sons to anoint as the next king of Israel. The most unlikely of the bunch was the one God chose, and the Shepherd David ended up being one of the greatest kings of Israel. Often times we move along with public opinion instead of forming our own. I cannot promise that I’ll never fall into the trap of jumping to a final opinion on a person too quickly ever again. However, from the experience of being Jeremy’s older sister, I can say I am getting better at treating everyone with the same amount of respect as I would like to have.

Jeremy is one funny dude. While he’s not a huge fan of photos, he has made many of our family photos experience quite hilarious. He’s also super passionate about his interests, and because of his love of talking about his favorite things, he does not know a stranger. This man can talk to anyone who knows how to hold a game controller or what an anime is for a good long while without getting tired of sharing his wealth of knowledge with them. If you wanna hear an amazing concert, just hang around our house for a bit, because you’ll end up hearing Jeremy’s amazing pipes from his bedroom. Most of all though, he’s the one boy who has been there through every heartbreak I’ve ever gone through. He’s the one who gives me his rare but blessed hugs when some guy has been dumb. He’s also one of the handful of people that has to approve any romantic relationship I have. If Jeremy approves, then I must have made a decent choice. To tack on, Jay is a total stud and any lady would be lucky to do on a date with this handsome man.

I won’t lie and say Jeremy and I are the best of friends. We bicker every other day and drive each other nuts. I irritate him and he irritates me. At the end of the day though, I know that the boy that lives down the hall from me is one of the biggest blessings God has given me. The hours we’ve spent watching Gravity Falls or quoting the Julian Smith “Hot Cool Aid video” are memories I will treasure forever. Jeremy has overcome so much and I know he will live a full life in the years to come. I am so grateful to have such a smart, funny, good-looking little brother, and I wouldn’t trade him or the lessons he’s taught me for anything in the world. As my mom says often, when you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism. No two cases are ever the same, and no person with autism is just, “that autistic kid.” People are not labels. Never underestimate a person just because they are different from you. You might find you can learn a thing or two from them!

 

Until Next Time,

Abby                   

 

Revisits: Suck More

There’s literally no good way to title this post.

 

With these revisits, I make it a rule for myself to not change anything that I originally wrote in 2017. I started this experiment with myself when I was cleaning out my Google Drive and ran across two documents in which I was pushing myself to write once a day for an entire year. Neither project was completed to the intended goal, but the original drafts serve as a sort of time capsule for myself. Though only two years have passed, I have grown and changed so much. When I first read this entry, I giggled at my past self a lot, but I feel like she had some good stuff to say. So, without further ado, words in bold are 2017 Abby, and italicized words are from 2019 me. Enjoy!

 

January 12, 2017

I need to allow myself to suck more. *Snorts* Okay I’m sorry, I’m sorry, the word choice just makes me chuckle. We as humans learn better through trial and error. In order for there to be “error”, you have to try multiple times. This is quite true. When starting a summer job where I make deliveries for a cafe downtown, I was told to not forget to check the orders to see if they bought potato chips. What did I forget the first time I did deliveries by myself? The chips. You better believe I have not forgotten since, because having to drive back to that office with a bag of chips was not the most fun thing in the world. As a species, we’ve made more advancements to improve our lives through failure. Take Thomas Edison; that guy screwed up so many times until he got something right, and he’s one of the standards for success.

Looking back on the last few years, I have come to the conclusion that I have put myself in a “I-Don’t-Want-To-Suck” bubble, mainly with my writing. When I was in middle school, I wrote a whole novel beginning to end, which was the only time I’ve ever done that. Why? Because that was during a time where I wasn’t pressuring myself to write brilliant things on the first try. That Drawn to Life draft was terrible, but it got done. Tis true. I have a 121 page manuscript still sitting on a flash drive somewhere that needs to get finished one day. It’s almost embarrassing that I’ve only finished one whole story when I’ve been saying almost my whole life that I want to be an author. Ugh, there’s a kick in the pants.

I think my biggest problem is that I want to be original, but so many of my ideas are based off someone else’s work. The kicker is that there is no “original” idea. Frustrating, yet true. It isn’t possible. In one way or another, everything is inspired by something else. As I think more on it, there is a sort of beauty in this. It’s an idea that artists of all medias are collaborating with each other to create new adventures for other people to enjoy. Do I condone straight-up copying someone else’s work? Absolutely not. But don’t beat yourself up because your *insert concept* is similar to someone else’s work.

I started this project in order to get back into the habit of writing. I figured that it was going to be hard, but I didn’t expect it to be this difficult already. Lol you have no idea, Abby. Another reason I think I might have dropped off the writing boat for so long is that it got hard. It wasn’t coming as easily as it once had. Here’s what I actually think happened: I started having higher standards for myself. I didn’t want to settle for anything less than my very best. The thing with drafts though: they aren’t *EVER* going to be your very best. The easy feeling of just writing whatever came into my head was gone. I had started to compare myself to people who had more experience or success and I didn’t match up to them. I have to come the resolution that it’s not a competition with anyone else; I am my own worst enemy. Side bar: this was around the time that I started wondering if I was dealing with depression, but thought that me being tough on myself would fix things.

It’s going to take getting over my pettiness and “woe is me” attitude to actually get some good work done. Tough self-love isn’t always the best route. I’m glad that I decided to take Mr. Warren’s Creative Writing class this semester. Ah Mr. Warren, my first and last professor at community college. He had me in his class when I was 15 and 18; he was a great influence. I think it’s going to help me out an awful lot. Over the past four years, I have learned that when a grade depends on it, I work a lot harder and end up making really great stuff. Other creative people don’t function like this, but I thrive on it. That’s why I’m going to school for art; if I am stuck in a classroom learning a skill vs. having to teach myself, I’m going to gain more progress in the classroom. So, my Myers Briggs personality type is an ESTJ-T, or “The Executive.” The most likely career paths for an ESTJ: law enforcement, upper level business, or military service. Least likely career paths: fine arts. Go figure.

School doesn’t start for another five days though. In that time, I want to start brainstorming and maybe even drafting SOMETHING. Literally anything. I have got to get back in the noveling game. For the past five years, “Write a Manuscript” has been on my New Year’s Resolution list. Now I know, we’ve talked about how I didn’t make a list this year, but maybe since I didn’t make an official list, it’ll actually happen this year. It didn’t, but that’s okay.

But seriously, who knew that this dinky little idea was going to be so hard 12 days into it!  My motivation is lacking; this is becoming more of a chore. Who knows if this is still beneficial? I’ll probably just be writing gibberish by December. Though, with how this week has gone, I’m surprised the last few days weren’t worse than they turned out. Being a hot, sick mess has been a struggle.

Here’s to writing SOMETHING!

 

I quit my 365 project about three months in. Later that year in November, I started writing again, but it was in a much lower level of positivity. About three months after that document was born, it was abandoned as well. That was the last time I had set a goal for myself with writing. Back in the December of 2018 though, I made a promise to myself to blog once a week in 2019. Since that first post on my once ghost town of a blog, I have not missed a week of blogging since. Almost six months of keeping up a writing goal is a big deal for me, and I’m happy to say that I am proud of myself. My advice to anyone who has failed before is this: try again. And again. And again. You never know when that “just one more time” will lead to a major success.

 

Until Next Time,

 

Abby

 

How To Do Homework: Undergrad Edition

I’ve officially been home from my first of two senior years of undergrad for almost a month now. It’s summer: the time to unwind and destress from the insanity of the school year. This is the time of year where I have the most time to sit down and really crank out some writing projects without the distraction of classes. So, what to write about when I have all this school-free time? How about a “How to do Homework” tutorial? This is my 100% foolproof method of accomplishing homework during the school year. It’s much easier to learn this process when you are away from the hustle and bustle of actual student life. If you are a recent high school graduate and want to know what the best way to succeed is when you start your college adventure, look no further than the list below.
How To Do Homework: Undergrad Edition

Step 1: Make some coffee- You need fuel!

Step 2: Make a list- It’s great to have a ground plan for what you want to accomplish that evening. Write out all the things you need to get done during this homework session.

Step 3: Clean your dorm- You can’t complete homework to the best of your abilities with a messy living space!

Step 4: Do the dishes- Well, you don’t want to be distracted by the fact that there are messy dishes in the sink while you are working on your studies.

Step 5: Reheat coffee- Your coffee got cold while cleaning. Nothing a quick 30-seconds in the microwave can’t fix!

Step 6: Make flashcards- Flashcards are the heart and soul of a great study session.

Step 7: Reward yourself with a snack- You’ve got a nice, pretty stack of flashcards next to you; time for another fuel break!

Step 8: Do the reading– Having some gypsy jazz playing in the background is helpful to make this more enjoyable.

Step 9: Snapchat the book you’re reading with the coffee cup- If it’s not on Snapchat, did it really happen?

Step 10: Reheat your coffee- You’re a slow drinker; pop it in for another 30 seconds.

Step 11: Hang upside down- Contemplating dropping out of school is optional at this point, but not recommended. You can chose to hang upside down from your bed, the couch, or your chair. You’re a pro at hanging upside down from your chair, since you have done this before in your Design Fundamentals class (sorry Cassie).

Step 12: Take notes on the reading- Use fun colored pens and highlighters to make it more engaging.

Step 13: Make a Quizlet- That way you can use your 15 minute walk to class as extra study time on your phone.

Step 14: Make another Quizlet- Your first Quizlet had the titles, the second Quizlet has the names. It’s not a waste of time; you’re studying by making the Quizlets.

Step 15: Reheat your coffee- This is the last time, I swear.

Step 16: Start studying through the first Quizlet- This can get addicting.

Step 17: Realize you should make one more Quizlet for good measure- Okay okay, hear me out. For art history, I had a Quizlet with the names of pieces, another one for the artist names, and then another one with the dates/genres. IT WAS NOT OVERKILL.

Step 18: Go bother your roommates- Bonus points if you go bother your boyfriend’s roommates by throwing one of their shoes into the elevator.

Step 19: Reheat your coffee- What is wrong with you?

Step 20: Burn your tongue because there wasn’t a lot of coffee left that you just reheated-     

Step 21: Make more coffee- *sigh*

Step 22: Notice that it’s 11:30pm- This is the ideal time to contemplate dropping out.

Step 23: Write the paper you’ve been procrastinating on all week in a panic because you want to go to bed- You forgot about this paper because you made all those Quizlets.

Step 24: Admit defeat, go to bed- Sometimes, it’s better to just sleep than run yourself ragged.

Step 25: Wake up the next morning, vowing to never do that to yourself again- You’ve learned; you’ve grown.

Step 26: Go about three weeks with a better hold on your homework- You’ve got sticky notes, phone alarms, and lots of notes written into your calendar to remind you. You even have a homing-pigeon who brings you homework reminders at lunch.

Step 27: Spend one night playing Risk and video games- The best of evenings.

Step 28: Throw off your helpful homework schedule- What have you done?

Step 29: Circle back to step 1- Repeat until graduation.

 

I hope that you have found this comprehensive guide useful. Stay tuned for How to do Homework: Master’s Program Edition, coming only Lord knows when.

 

Until Next Time,

Abby

 

Designing for “Little Women”

I’m the type of person who prefers dark room photography over digital photography. I enjoy shooting a roll of film, the terrifying process of developing that roll, and the tedious cycle of getting a perfect print. I feel that the work it takes to get that wonderful satisfaction of a single print is so often underrated and taken for granted. The same can be said for technical theatre at times. There isn’t the rush of receiving a standing ovation after a show-stopping performance. Instead, there are hours upon hours of staring at your sketches, trying an idea, throwing that idea out, debating with directors and fellow designers, trying new ideas, and wondering if what you’re doing is truly worth all the effort. But when you get something just right, you feel like you’re on top of the world. When you know that you have constructively contributed to a performance with your design, it makes the countless hours of the process worth it.

It wasn’t until high school that I discovered that I could have a viable career in the technical and design aspects of theatre. I had grown up performing in four to seven shows a year, so I was constantly surrounded by new designs. As I began to research where to go after I finished my associates degree, I initially looked at art schools in the Kansas City area. The problem with this plan was that I was going to lose the theatrical outlet I had become so used to while growing up. During my last few years of high school, I was given the opportunity to experiment in set, lighting, prop, and costume design while also performing in shows at our local community theatre. I loved the collaboration that happened between directors and designers; it was a whole new world to what I had known from just being an actor. A few directors who had seen my studio art over the years suggested that I look into theatrical design more seriously.

It was a wonderful change of plans that I ended up at Missouri Western, where I have been able to not only major in theatre, but also gain a minor in animation. Since transferring, I have had the opportunity to do my first projection design project in which I created all the content during, “Little Women: The Broadway Musical.” The set of animations included eleven digital backdrops that were designed in such a way that drawings would appear to be sketched onto the screen and then filled in with watercolors. There was also an element of typography work that was used during the song, “Fire Within Me.” While the main character, Jo, writes multiple stories throughout the course of the show, it is during this number that she is finally writing from her heart, which is why I wanted the words to be visually written out while she gave her monologue. Along with the text, I provided sketches of every cast member with various symbols that represented the character. I used these as the content to create a set of images that would cycle through during the pre-show and intermission. I spent three months in pre-production, five months in production and spent the two months leading up to the performances polishing my work. I have yet to experience a more gratifying feeling than seeing my art on stage in such a way, and I am itching to go through the process again.

I believe that there is so much to be discovered in the digital media side of theatre. Having the opportunity to grow as an artist throughout this process was character building and stretched me in more ways than I ever could have imagined. It was a happy accident that my original pitch for the backdrops was for them to be from Amy’s sketchbook, since I got to portray her while going through the design process. Creating the art for the show in a way was a chance for me to do character work for Miss March. Getting to dive into the world of projection design with a show that is near and dear to my heart was a fantastic learning experience, and I can’t wait to work on my next project!

 

Until Next Time,

Abby

 

Here’s a video that shows everything I created for Little Women; enjoy!

Revisits: Watson

This Revisit goes out to my best friend, Avery: the Thor to my Loki, the Watson to my Sherlock, and the most wonderful coffee pal a girl could ever ask for. I wrote this two years ago when I was getting over a cold, and the feelings remain the same. For reference: the original 2017 text is in bold, and my 2019 commentary is in italics. Enjoy!

January 10th, 2017

    There are certain people you meet that you know will go the distant distance in the friendship department. I’ve come to the realization that I won’t be in contact with the friends I see frequently now forever (how true, how true), but if there was one person I could count on to be a friend for life, it would be Watson. When I first started writing this document in 2017, I had the idea that I would publish it once the year was over. Because of this, I changed all my friends’ names. Fun fact: Avery is in my phone as “Watson” because it’s really satisfying to tell Siri to, “Call Watson.” While there have been times where we’ve fallen out of each other’s lives, we always manage to find our ways back to each other and pick up right where we started. YEAH LIKE WHEN YOU ONLY GET TO FACEBOOK EACH OTHER ONCE WHILE SHE’S IN INDIA FOR FOUR MONTHS.

    Her spirit and go-with-the-flow attitude is something I aspire to obtain. I’m Type A to the letter. I don’t think this is actually a phrase… *goes to Google* Yeah, I don’t think people say that. I want plans and structure in my life. Due to friends like her though, I am beginning to understand that it’s okay to relax and just let life happen at times (hence the only way I’m getting through this bed rest situation). OH YEAH. Okay, so backstory: I wrote this after having a doctor’s appointment where they told me I was having issues with my voice because I was overly exhausted. The good doctor told me the only thing I could really do was, “actually rest.” Ha. Ha. It took me another two years to actually figure out how to chill out. She jumps into adventures head on, it’s so awesome. ‘Tis true. She has done a lot of adventurous things in her life. I was the buzz-kill mom friend who was afraid of getting in trouble, so I didn’t have as many adventures.

      Ah, here is where we admit one of our biggest insecurities. There have been times where I’ve gotten upset because I’m never really a part of her social media presence. Yep. It’s kind of a really dumb thing to get upset about though. Let me explain myself a bit though. If you haven’t figured out yet from previous blogs, I am a very sentimental person. I take photos all the time and scrapbook like it’s a sport. I often go out of my way to capture selfies with friends even when they poke fun at me for it because I want to hold onto memories in as many ways as I can. However, not everyone is like that, and that’s something I’ve had to accept. While there are a the occasions where I’ll feel a little bummed to not be present on someone’s social media feed, it’s not something that should mess up a solid friendship. Ten years ago, that wasn’t even a thing, and I’m pretty sure that’s how long we’ve known each other. You don’t need to validate friendships through social media. Though I enjoy posting photos with my friends, a relationship is not validated by how many snapshots you have with someone on the internet.

    Today, Watson brought me coffee. I remember this day so distinctly, which is ironic to me because I was half-dead to the world. The last few days, I’ve been trapped in the house due to this stupid cold. We were supposed to go get coffee this afternoon at this neat place in Liberty, but I had to cancel due to the fact that it feels like there are baby elephants sitting on my sinuses. Wow, creative comparison  Abby. After texting her, she decided to bring me some yummy coffee from Caribou. It was quite delightful, and made me feel good that I had a friend who would do that for me. Honestly, it’s really easy to make my day. A sure fire way is to bring me a coffee, but literally, if someone brought me a rock and said, “Hey, I was walking, saw this rock, and thought you would think it was cool so I brought it to you,” I would be grinning for the rest of the day.

    You know who’s going to stick around for the long haul. There are going to be times where friends leave to move on to live their own lives. As we all should do, to be honest. That’s okay; people come into our lives when we need them, and sometimes, you drift apart as you grow into different people.  It can be good even. I mean, look at La La Land. Actually, no, I don’t want to think of that movie. I have a few friends who will make fun of me for this, but I love that film and at some point, I will be writing about it. Stay tuned.

    My point is, Watson is a friend that I feel like will always be there. We might be a world away from each other, but when we grow up, we’ll be able to go get coffee or look around a thrift store just like we used to. She’s a thrifting queen and I wish I had her skills. We could both have our babies on our hip and we’ll still make fun of the boys in our lives. She’s gonna laugh at that sentence. You just know, you know?

    Friends are important. The people we surround ourselves with shape us into the person that we become. I still regret the times that I blew off Watson to hang out with the “popular” kids. Ugh, being a people-pleaser to the unhealthy people in my life throughout high school was rough. It was so much time that was wasted where we could have gotten even closer. But, you can’t live in regrets. My sorrys have been said, and I have a wonderful friend who has my back, even when my face is stuffed up. She’s a quality human, that one. I’m glad I have her in my life as my partner in crime.

    God designed us to have community with one another. There are some people who are only there for a season, but others that will stick with you for years upon years. Be weary not to waste your precious time on people who are not looking out for your best interests. Not everyone will be your friend, and that’s okay. We would go crazy if we had to maintain friendships with every single person we ever encountered! However, with those friends we do hang onto, we have a responsibility to nurture them to the best of our abilities. I hope to never stop learning how I can be a good steward of the relationships God has blessed me with over the years. Avery, thank you for your friendship over the years: I am so grateful for you.

Cherish the people around you; they truly are a gift.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

“Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.”

Until Next Time,

Abby