Category Archives: College Times

Stories, adventures, and thoughts from my ever interesting college experience.

Reflecting on “Crazy for You”

Ever since I can remember, I have been a theatrical person. When I was younger, my parents had me try sports but nothing ever stuck. My mom and dad didn’t want to force me to do activities I wasn’t interested in, so I was never a top athlete by any means. However, in elementary school, I always had a blast with our yearly musicals. From kindergarten to fifth grade, I participated in the class musical. I would usually get some sort of featured roll, but it wasn’t until fifth grade that I got a “lead.” Around this time, I also started participating in a community theater group called Christian Youth Theater. My family was originally only going to participate in one show, but by the time I graduated from high school, I had over thirty acting credits under my belt via CYT. 

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If you had told me when I began my time at Missouri Western that I would be playing a role like Polly Baker in “Crazy for You,” I would have laughed. While I have had the opportunity to play major roles in musicals, I had never been a leading lady. More often than not, I was the goofy sidekick character who would be the comic relief for shows. I had done extensive dancing in shows before, but long duets with a leading man? Nope, not me. The only time I ever got close was with “Beauty and the Beast” when I read for Belle at callbacks and was ultimately cast as Lefou (which was an absolute blast). In high school, it seemed like only a handful of girls were cut out to being the leading ladies, and I wasn’t one of them. I was a funny girl, which was just fine with me. 

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Fast forward to my second to last semester of undergrad. I had just come back from a summer of recovery after a rough semester. I was a little wary of auditioning for a brand new director, but I had been told by multiple KC friends that Sarah Crawford was an amazing person to work under. I continued my streak of flubbing the words on each of my Fall semester audition songs (which horrified and astounded several freshmen). Callbacks were a nerve racking blast, and I must say, I have never left a dance call more confident that I did a good job. Waiting for the cast list was awful. When that list went up on the call board though, I was shocked and over the moon to see “Polly Baker” next to my name. 

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Sarah is unlike any director I have ever worked with. She is larger than life but still down to earth. She exudes confidence with grace and humility. She’s the kind of person who demands respect without ever having to verbally ask for it. I wanted to please her, but not in a way that I just wanted her to like me. I wanted to please her because I knew she knew what she was doing and if I got a thumbs up from her, that meant I was on the right track. 

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Getting back into the “musical theatre” actor mindset was a bit difficult for the first few weeks of rehearsals. I had received amazing technical training from a previous professor that truly helped me get grounded in straight play and film acting. Sarah was constantly telling me to raise the stakes with my character work. She even once said, “You’re too ‘on camera.’ This is musical theatre; I need BIG!” There was almost a bit of fear in going bigger. In the past, I’ve had certain people tell me that I was not believable on stage. I was worried that I would be too much, but Sarah promised that she wouldn’t let me look foolish on stage. She instilled a trusting relationship between the two of us right off the bat and I knew that she genuinely wanted to make me a better performer. 

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Working with Dr. Paul Hindemith is always a joy, but this show was extra special. I have been studying voice with Paul for almost two years now and it is astounding how far I have come over our semesters together. The techniques I have learned have helped me produce music that I ever thought was possible to come out of me. During this show especially, I learned how to maintain consistency in performances, even if I was exhausted. Before college, I didn’t know how to properly take care of my instrument, but now, I have gained the confidence that I could take care of myself for multiple weeks of shows. Anytime I can make Paul smile because of my singing is a blessing. I cannot thank him enough for the skills he instilled in me to do Polly’s track every night. 

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I worked opposite a transfer student named Ray Clark. My first impression of him was him wearing a full Scottish get-up to the TCD Meet & Greet, kilt and all. I thought he was a dork. When we got cast as Polly and Bobby, I was keen on becoming pals quickly. Full disclosure: I was stupid nervous about kissing him on stage and was a bit of an awkward potato until after we finally got it over with for the first time. As the weeks progressed, Ray and I established a strong bond between each other that made us wonder if we were long lost siblings. We would yell and whine about our dance steps while we practiced together. After an hour of practicing, we would rejoice together at the progress we had made. He was a trustworthy scene partner and someone I knew who would take care of me on and off stage. Now, he’s become one of my best friends! Funny how things work out.

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There were other moments throughout the process of this show that will make it unforgettable. Libby Denny and I were able to bond more than we ever had before. I got to invest in the new freshmen by showing them the ropes of our department. I got to aggressively kiss Sweet Ben in Act 2 every night. It was a bop. Above all though, playing Polly Baker showed me that I am not limited as an actress. I am capable of playing the roles I told myself I wasn’t pretty or talented enough to play. I am so proud of myself for not giving up. Walking in Polly’s shoes for six weeks helped me gain back the confidence I once had as a musical theatre performer tenfold. While the show was full of obstacles, it is a show I will forever be grateful to have been in at Missouri Western. 

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On our second to last performance, I left the stage after bows knowing that the previous two and a half hours had been the best performance of my life. All of the struggles, nervousness and juggling of homework and rehearsals was worth it. I was reminded of why I chose this path of study. The arts help us express our human experience. Even with a show as silly as “Crazy for You,” we are able to express childlike hope that making art will fix our problems. While that may not be the end-all-be-all solution to the world’s struggles, I full-heartedly believe that there is a special kind of joy that only theatre can bring. Being a part of this cast and crew made me realize this, and because of that, I will never look at the performing arts the same way again.

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Until Next Time,

 

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

 

Lessons from the Year

Ah yes, one of those reflective posts about the past school year. A riveting expose on the major life lessons I have learned over the past nine months. An insightful analysis of how the human spirit can overcome all odds. Or, you know, just a fun little diddy to celebrate the fact that the hardest school year of my life has come to an end.

 

Upon returning to my home in Kansas City, I flipped through my completed 2018 scrapbook planner in comparison to my current 2019 one (here). Here are some highlights of the countless lessons I have learned this year.

 

August- Memorizing with songs is super helpful for Spanish. I only got a half point off on that first Spanish quiz because I forgot an accent on one of the names. Somehow, I must relearn everything this summer as to not fail my last two Spanish classes.

September- I very much enjoy film acting. God bless James for texting me early in the year when I wasn’t in rehearsals to come act in his directing project. Special shout out to his precious cat princess who enjoyed running between my legs during intense bits of dialogue.

October- Gypsy jazz is a blessing. Thank you, Nathan; I’ve got your playlist running through my headphones as I write this.  

November- Doing an overnight shoot after an all night sleepover is rough. It’s funny how I said I would never do another overnight shoot again and ended up ending my 21st birthday walking into the studio to do another one. Regardless, Andy is one of my favorite people and I would do a hundred more overnight shoots if it meant being able to keep making great films with him.

December- Prayer works. Sometimes it takes a long, long time, but man, when you see the Lord transfer someone’s life, it is absolutely miraculous and beautiful.

January- I have missed doing improv more than I knew. I had the opportunity at KCACTF to do a long form improv workshop with students from across the region, including a gal who is an incredible scenic painter that I idolized last summer. Our team still has the Loopers group chat going semi-strong; it was a good time.

February- I truly could make a career doing projections for theatre. I cried during the first tech rehearsal while I was standing backstage waiting for my entrance. Seeing my months of animation actually work on stage was amazing and I look forward to the next opportunity I have to tackle this art form again.

March- It’s possible to almost lose an eye and get frostnip in the span of 16 days. (See this post for the story about me getting whacked in the face with an ice skate during “Little Women” here) Pro Tip: when doing an outside shoot in the woods when it’s cold, constantly move your body, or your sweet fella might have to carry you through the woods to your producer’s car, where you will throw up because of how much pain you are in due to how cold you are, which will lead the two of them to taking you to urgent care. The best thing to come from that situation was getting a solid nap in the waiting room. Hot dang though, that film looked GOOD.

April- Giving a bad performance does not define you. You’ll have stellar performances and ones that you wish no one had witnessed. Regardless of how each performance goes, you go in the next day and breathe out the character once again with a fresh mind and heart.

May- God provides. I spent weeks trying to nail down a part time job for the summer. I was ready to give up until I went to a bridal shower and ended up having a conversation with a long-time friend of the family. As I type this, I am looking out over Downtown Kansas City with a cup of coffee, waiting for 10:40am to hit so I can walk down the street to one of my favorite places for an afternoon of work. This is the kind of life I relish, and totally beats working in a department store.

 

It’s astounding to see how much growth I have gone through since August. I thought that flipping though last year’s planner would be a lot harder. There’s memories in there that are bittersweet, but I’m getting to a point where “bitter” is starting to fade away as an adjective. I know that there will be years that will be tougher and that there are countless things I still need to work on with myself, but the future is bright, which is something I wouldn’t have said three months ago with confidence. Bring on summer and one more year of undergrad, Life: I’m ready for you.

 

2 Corinthians 5:17-Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

 

Until Next Time,

 

Abby

 

Crazy Calendar Lady

I love my planner. When I say love, I mean it’s basically my favorite possession and if some guy snatched my backpack, I would care about getting my planner back more than my wallet. Why do I have so much affection for this book that is supposed to just hold dates and assignments? Because I am a calendar-scrapbook-addict. And a sticker-addict. And a mega- washi-tape-addict. When I’m stressed out, I reorganize my tape storage box.

I can’t claim credit for coming up with the idea of scrapbooking my planner. Four years ago, my dear friend Suz introduced me to the wonderful world of scrapbooking her Erin Condren planner. I dabbled with sticking random photos into my planner, but it wasn’t until the January 2017 that I started decorating the pages on a weekly basis. Let me tell you, those first few months of spreads were ROUGH, but around March, I finally got into a system of creating my weekly layouts. Now, I’ve got it down to a creative science.

This year, I made the switch from Erin Condren to Plum Paper (which was one of the stupidest difficult choices I have ever made in my life). What’s nifty about Plum Paper is that you can get extra pages added to your personalized calendar. I’m a sucker for grids, so I got a checklist insert at the end of each month. I also got some swanky dotted paper, because who doesn’t love this magical type of paper? With these additional pages, I have dipped my toe into the water of bullet journaling via making daily goal and mood tracker sheets. It’s something I’m still perfecting; I consult Pinerest on the daily.

Whenever someone lays eyes on my planner who hasn’t seen it before, there is usually a list of questions I receive 95% of the time.

 

Planner Scrapbooking FAQs

  1. When did you start scrapbooking your planner? As I said before, I played around with scrapbooking my 2016 planner a little bit, but it wasn’t until 2017 that I started doing it consistently. I am currently on my third year of the scrapbooking adventure, and hope to go back to finish the 2016 planner someday.fullsizeoutput_2ff3  (March 25th-March 31st 2019 Spread)
  2. How do you get the little photos?-My process is copying and pasting my photos from the week into a Word document and making them all 1 ½ inches wide. I end up with a grid of photos that I print and cut out! God bless my roommate Indigo who has been printing them for me on a weekly basis this year. fullsizeoutput_3011(Photo sheet for April 22th-April 30th)
  3. How do you make your spreads? I decide a color scheme with four roles of washi tape. I’m a weirdo who has to stick to patterns or it bugs me to no end. I consult the photo gallery on my phone to layout all the photos to cover up the ridiculous schedule I had to adhere to for the week. From that color scheme I have picked out, I go through the dozen or so sticker books I have to fill in the extra space.fullsizeoutput_3015 (My beautiful collection of washi tape)
  4. How long does it take you to do a spread? Usually about 20-45 minutes, depending on how complex I want make the spread that week.fullsizeoutput_2ff2 (April 15th-21st 2019 Spread)
  5. Why do you scrapbook?  Two main reasons: It’s a great way to forget about the stress of the week by covering up my schedule with cute photos and fun stickers. It’s also a great way to practice gratitude. Even when I’ve had an awful week, looking back at silly snapshots from the week makes me remember that life isn’t all that bad.fullsizeoutput_2ff1 (Antigone Highlights)
  6. What’s the deal with your mood tracker? This school year was full of extreme highs and lows. From major disappointments to triumphant successes and seasons of deep despair and radiant joy, I have been all over the spectrum. I had heard about people who journaled about their moods on the daily, and I decided to try and make a visual chart for myself to keep track of my own. I make a key of colors that correspond with certain moods, and also use stickers to track things like spirals, when I’ve felt encouraged, and The Red Baron (you can figure that one out for yourself). I’m only on my second month of mood tracking, but it’s already helped a lot when I communicate with loved ones or my counselor.fullsizeoutput_3017 (April Mood Tracker and Daily Goals)
  7. How do you set up your bullet journal? I started doing my daily goals in bullet journal form this January with a set of goals that I thought I needed to improve on. Over the course of February, March, April and May, some of those tasks has stayed the on the list every month, some have been consolidated, and others have been taken off the list for now. It all depends on what’s going on that month. For example, I always have “Jesus Time” at the top of my page, but for the month of May, I’ve got “Practice Gentleman’s Guide Music” as a daily goal to prepare for the show I will be performing in June.fullsizeoutput_2ff4 (May Mood Tracker and Daily Goals)
  8. I don’t how to do something like this; how do I start? It’s all a matter of starting without having any expectations. My planner looks so different from Suz’s planner and ours both look super different from ones you can find online. Pinterest is a great resource for getting inspiration, but don’t be afraid to make it your own. Come over and hang out with me; I have many stickers to spare!

 

Scrapbooking my planner has been one of the best forms of self-love I have done over the years and I can say with confidence that it has helped improve my mental health. Maybe the washi tape life isn’t for you, and that’s okay! Find something that makes you happy and use it to decompress. It’s amazing what 30 minutes of sticking mini photos down with sparkly stickers does for the soul.fullsizeoutput_2ff5

 

Until next time,

Abby

 

Trusting the Text

Is it just me, or can actors be some of the biggest control freaks ever? Maybe it’s just me, I dunno; someone fact check me, please. For me personally, there have been so many instances in my life when partaking in theatrical endeavors that I have found myself trying to have a tight hold on what I think the character is feeling. I create my own idea of what the character wants and feels. While yes, there is a certain amount of internal development that is up to the actor portraying the character, so many times, it’s easy to miss what the writer intended to be said on stage.

I recently got to work on a translation of Sophocles’s “Antigone” by Anne Carson. What’s most interesting about Carson’s translation is that there is not very much punctuation written into the script. Aside from a few question marks and exclamation points, there isn’t a ton of established punctuation. This allowed freedom for the cast to really sit down and digest the words that we were speaking. We had to do our homework by adding our own punctuation. The lyrical nature of her script was fascinating to study and by far one of the biggest challenges I have had thus far as a stage actor.

A favorite saying that our director, Tee Quillin, would say at least once a rehearsal was, “Trust the text.” There is a tendency with actors, especially young actors, to add their own interpretation on the lines they are reciting that sometimes is in the total opposite direction of what is needed for the show. It’s easy to walk into a show thinking, “I know what I want this character to be like,” and totally disregard what is truly needed from you as a performer.

I struggled with this majorly while playing Ismene, Antigone’s younger sister. There are so many ways that this character can be played, and Tee’s direction that he was taking us on was that Ismene is naïve to a major fault. The poor girl had so much love for her family but was trapped following the rules that had been set in place by earthly leaders. Since Ismene was following the rules made by men instead of those set by the gods, there was a major disconnect between her and Antigone.

Another thing about Ismene is that she really does not have a lot of fight in her, unlike her older sister. This is where my struggle stemmed from. I have dealt with a lot of crappy situations in life that have dragged me down, but I have never felt completely hopeless. Getting to that mental state was a long process, and a frustrating one, I might add. I would leave rehearsal, kicking myself that I wasn’t getting what our director wanted. There were many conversations about the character, and Tee always pushed this one thought: Trust the text.

The beauty of storytelling on stage is that actors are able to bring to life the words of playwrights. Every writer puts great thought and detail into the words they put down on paper. It takes analysis and time to get a true understanding for what the writer wants to be portrayed on stage. It also takes not only a good director to convey the theme of the work to their company, but also a trust in that director that they have done their homework in analyzing the script. From there, the actor must trust the words that they are speaking to do their work.

In Shakespeare’s masterpiece, “Hamlet,” the title character gives a speech to the players that begins with him saying, Speak the speech, I pray you, as I pronounced it to you, trippingly on the tongue. But if you mouth it, as many of your players do, I had as lief the town crier spoke my lines.” Basically, Hamlet is telling the actors to not over-exaggerate the lines he has given them like other actors did; otherwise, he might as well have a newscaster say the lines. Further down the page, Hamlet continues, saying, “Suit the action to the word, the word to the action, with this special observance that you o’erstep not the modesty of nature. For anything so overdone is from the purpose of playing, whose end, both at the first and now, was and is to hold, as ’twere, the mirror up to nature, to show virtue her own feature, scorn her own image, and the very age and body of the time his form and pressure.”  Translation: Fit the action to the word and the word to the action, always acting natural, no matter what it takes. Exaggeration has no place on stage, where the purpose is to represent reality, holding a mirror up to virtue and to the pulse of the times.

What makes this one of my favorite Shakespearean speeches of all time is that Good Old Will used his main character to call out all the over-acting actors of his time. The performers were exaggerating everything instead of playing true-to-life. Shakespeare was calling out the people who weren’t just taking writer’s words at face value and performing them earnestly. I believe that this speech is one that every actor should have memorized and revisit over and over again during their career. It can be easy to lose sight of the truthfulness needed to be an actor. It’s also terrifying to be truthful. You know why? Because being truthful means being vulnerable, and that is hard to do with just one person, let alone an entire audience.

The more I thought about the phrase, “trust the text,” the more it made me think about my spiritual life. So often, I think to myself, “I’m sure this is the right thing to do,” without really talking to the One know really knows what is best for me. It’s amazing that we have been given a book that was literally inspired by the breath of God and we so often don’t really trust it. Oh yeah, the Bible says, “Be anxious for nothing,” and “Be strong and courageous; do not be afraid or be dismayed for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” But am I a person who is anxious all the time? Yep. Am I a person who is often afraid and/or dismayed by how life is going? You betcha. Even though I have been told time and time again that I am *never* alone, I still have a hard time trusting the guide book that has been given to me. However, during the times I let go, breathe, and let God take a hold of my worries, I find that in my vulnerable state, I feel much more freedom as I walk through life.

“Antigone” was an experience that taught me how to breathe out the text and to really trust not only my director and fellow actors, but also the playwright. When you allow the text to do it’s work, you find that you aren’t having to work as hard. By not forcing a performance, you are better able to connect with your audience. It also reminded me that I still have so much to learn about myself and my craft, but that it’s perfectly fine that I don’t have it all figured out yet. That’s the point of life; we’re always learning. I can say that I finally got to a point with Ismene that I was proud of myself as an actress. It was difficult and a little painful at times to work through the emotions of the character, but understanding how to trust the lines I had been given was a lesson I will forever be grateful for. As long as I keep performing, I will always make sure to have those three words in mind as I get to know my character, and as long as I continue my walk with Christ, I will be persistent in learning how to truly trust His text.

 

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Cast, Crew and Designers of “Antigone”

 

Until Next Time,

Abby

 

Top Five Scenic Painting Jobs

For someone who has always enjoyed painting, getting to move to larger projects via theatrical sets has been a great challenge over the past few years. Here are my top five favorite projects I have worked on thus far!

 

Honorable Mention- “21 Chump Street”- I was not on the official design/construction team for “Short and Sweet,” which is a collection of short plays and films that my college puts on once a year. However, a friend of mine was directing Lin-Manuel Miranda’s 15 minute musical, “21 Chump Street,” and for her set, she was using the chalkboard from our scene shop. I was asked if I could add some graffiti to the chalkboard, which resulted in me spending an hour in the theater blasting Taylor Swift and going to town on the board. It was a nice way to spend the afternoon.

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5) “Schoolhouse Rock Live!”-This one doesn’t technically count as I really only painted one part of the set. “Schoolhouse” was the first show I ever did in college, and is still one of my favorites. While I was an actor in the production, I found myself wandering into the scene shop a few times to help on set construction. The first time I went in, I was told to finish putting together a set of stairs. After a few visits, I ended up painting most of the Lolly House, which ended up as the homebase for the band that was playing for the show. It was during this project I learned how to mimic the look of cinder block via sawdust and a hudson sprayer. Not gonna lie, it was pretty cool to be on stage every night with a set I had helped to create.

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4) “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare Abridged” –This is another one that I only did part of the painting process for, but it was because of “Schoolhouse Rock Live” that I was able to teach others some helpful techniques. Over the winter break of 2017, I was home in KC while my paint shoes were safe in their locker in St. Joe. “Surely I won’t need to take these home over break!” (Famous Last Words) Some of my dear friends were in a production of “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare Abridged” at the time through the theatre program I grew up participating in. I offered to come in and help gather costumes and assist in painting the set. Due to the limited amount of rehearsal time though, cast members filtered in and out of their rehearsal space and the warehouse where the brick walls were being painted. Since I had just worked on a brick project a few months beforehand, I was able to guide the process with students who hadn’t put a hand on scenic painting before. I came back into town a month later to see the show, and let me tell you, those brick walls looked super spiffy. Side bar: my purple converse ended up becoming my secondary set of paint shoes.

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3) “Blithe Spirit” –Ah, the biggest love/hate/mostly hate experience I have had thus far with a painting project. Let me preface this with the fact that “Blithe Spirit” is my favorite play that I have gotten to perform in thus far. British humor cracks me up, y’all. The whole play takes place in the living room of the Condomine house, so since there was only one location, we had a lovely, elaborate box set. God bless our Technical Director, Scroggs; his carpentry skills were off the charts for this project. There was so much math involved in creating the staggered walls of the set, and I am forever envious of those who have a natural knack for drafting. Those gorgeous walls needed a pattern though, which is where I came in. I spent about ten hours going up and down a ladder stenciling the massive set. The little paint roller I was using had a wonderfully frustrating habit of falling off the handle every five minutes, and I looked like I had leprosy every time I finished a painting session. Proud to say though, there was only one part of the wall that I messed up math-wise while painting. My stage husband enjoyed pointing it out to me every other day. It helped fuel our arguments during the show.  

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2) “Spring Awakening”-I live in the Midwest, and in the Midwest, there’s this thing called snow that likes to throw off everyone’s lives. The winter of 2018, we didn’t have as much snow, but goodness sakes, we had a ton of ice. We had so much ice that our campus closed for three days. Oh, did I mention that those three days were right in the middle of tech for “Spring Awakening?” Yeeeeeeeeah not the greatest timing. However, the show must go on, and the set must be finished. I had the pleasure of collaborating with Brett Carlson on creating 128 square feet of our “Song of Purple Summer” mural. Learning how to make canned paint look like watercolor was a fantastic skill to learn and led to a gorgeous end result. Replicating the process for KCACTF51 was terrifying because I wasn’t sure if I could measure up to what was made the year before, but I surprised myself by my recreation. (Fun fact: this show was one of the main reasons that Sweet Ben and I became good friends. It was a long process, but it was good to have a partner for the project.)

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1) “Antigone”-Woohoo for my current project! This design was a collaboration with Ben and our professor Jeff for our set design independent study. There was an afternoon where Ben and I were cleaning out the paint kitchen, and stumbled upon these banners that had been used for a show years beforehand. We were in the midst of brainstorming what we wanted the set to look like, and he had the idea to have some form of banners as part of the design. Ben’s got a knack for creating symbols, so together, we created runes for not only each character in the play, but also runes for characters that were part of the other plays in Sophocles’ trilogy about the line of Oedipus. From there, we ended up creating 14×5 foot banners that hang on either side of the stage. After Ben did the math, we drew out the symbols in a what we lovingly refer to as the “Death Tree.” I then spent a few hours filling them in with black paint (shout out to Ted Dekker for writing spooky books that are fun to listen to while painting for a Greek tragedy).

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The next day, I tea-stained the giant banners to tone down the brightness of the muslin we had painted on. We attached them to one of our batons so we could fly them out to dry. While looking at them, I was so anxious about the next step. Our idea was to make blood stains on the banners, but I loved how nice they looked up to this point. I didn’t wanna screw up the hours of work we had already put in! I spent about an hour mixing and testing different washes of paint to try and great the right color for the job. I ended up soaking the ends of the banners in a gallon bucket of the wash mixture I landed on. My hands were stained red and I looked like I had just committed a horrible crime. Following this, I went a little nuts with splatter painting, creating some pretty sick looking “blood splatters.” This technique only added to me looking like a psycho murderer, but dang, did those banners look awesome. It was a fun adventure to wander around the building while covered in the paint; I’ve never heard our costuming professor laugh as loudly as she did that afternoon.

 

While there have been moments of frustration and self-doubt while working on each of these projects, all of them led to really gratifying end results. Overall lesson from these experiences: don’t doubt yourself. Even if you make mistakes, you’ll always end up learning something new from each assignment you take on. Don’t be afraid to make a mess; the messy projects are usually the most fun!

 

 

Until Next Time,

Abby

 

In Defense of Amy March

52913877_393988021393058_494394256673210368_nLittle Women is one of my favorite musicals. Though the writing of the show can be weak (and very frustrating) at times, the show is near and dear to my heart. I’ve seen the show a handful of times and have always wanted to be a part of the production. When I found out that my college was doing the show last year, I was over the moon. The idea of auditioning was so exciting to me, and a few close friends in my life told me, “Ah man, you would play such a great Amy!” Here’s the deal though: I used to hate Amy March. Oh goodness, her track made me want to bang my head against the wall; the character was so irritating to me! Low and behold though, when auditions and callbacks ran their course, I found myself with the wonderful opportunity to bring this girl to life on stage.53267019_533478970513424_9212348036921950208_n

Since I’ve been involved in the performing arts, I’ve often been cast in “presentational” roles. In other words, I’ve had a lot of practice playing very silly and outlandish characters. It wasn’t until my last year of high school that I started to get the opportunities to play more grounded-in-reality characters, and even then, most of them have had some sort of quirky trait to them. Because of this, I have a tendency to be overly-punchy (punchy: v. to be very extra on stage) with my character choices. Recently, I’ve been working with my professors to become a more honest actress, which involves being pretty vulnerable on stage. This can be extremely scary at times. The best way I can describe it is feeling like you’re standing naked in front of people who are expecting some amazing feat from you. At first, you feel small, nervous, and like you want to burst into tears (and sometimes you do). But the more you do it, the more confidence you gain in yourself, and the more you realize you actually do have clothes on and that you are in control of what the audience sees from you.

53160175_364347857484983_1562172531467616256_nThe biggest challenge with Amy is seeing past her bratty nature. This girl is the youngest of four and looks up to her three older sisters. She especially idolizes Jo, but does not have a healthy way of expressing that, nor is she receiving the gentle, redirecting love she needs from an older sibling. Instead, she is harshly told her interests are silly and that she can’t come along to things she’s too young for. In a moment of frustration, Amy takes out her anger in a very destructive way. There is a reason she does the things she does. There is a reason she talks the way she talks. There is a reason she reacts the way she reacts. There is a reason she is the way she is: it is due to the influences of the people in her life.

Through this character study, I have come to better understand how to deal with not only hard-to-love roles, but also hard-to-love people. Everyone is the way they are due to the 52902829_2274365536220205_8833550887990329344_n
thousands of influences they have had in the span of their life. Via friendships, work, schooling, family dynamics, trauma, triumphs and so much more, we are shaped by the people and events that we encounter everyday. For example, I write the word “and” in a certain way because when I was six years old, a high school-aged girl was teaching a lesson in my Sunday School class and I saw her draw her “ands” in a way that my six-year-old self thought was really stinkin’ cool. The same goes for how I react to stressful social interactions, especially with other women. Because of multiple experiences going back to elementary school, I have had a hard time feeling like other females actually want to be my friend. It’s a really hard thing to deal with, especially when I’m constantly paranoid that ladies are gossiping about me behind my back. While in my head, I know that most of the time, this is not the case, due to previous experiences, I have been conditioned to be weary.

52895342_177495873133735_5806673484998246400_nBy walking (and running, stamping and dancing) in Amy’s shoes for the past two months, I feel that I better understand how to interact with hard-to-love people. When you play a character that you constantly feel that you are sticking up for, you find yourself saying the sentence, “They are the way they are for a reason,” an awful lot. While there is no excuse to treat people poorly, it is helpful to have the understanding that people don’t just lash out for no apparent reason. We are complex human beings who want understanding and love. Little Women will continue to be a show I hold near and dear to my heart, but now with a much deeper appreciation for this story. I want to extend my deepest gratitude to Morgan Mallory and Dr. Paul Hindemith for giving me the opportunity to bring Amy March to life in our production. Getting to work on this show was one of the most educational experiences I could have gotten as a college student and I am so grateful for the many ways I’ve been able to grow while working on this process. This show has taught me once again to put my preconceived notions of people aside and truly look at the core of other broken, multilayered human beings.

 

Thank you, Miss March, for working on my heart with your story.

 

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Until Next Time,

Abby

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Self Care Tips from Someone Bad at Self Care

(Don’t let my beautiful coffee cup photo I took in South Dakota fool you; this post is full of Michael Scott gifs.)

 

I am horrible at taking care of myself. There are times I forget to eat, drink water, or do basic activities unless I have written them down in my planner. However, over the past two months, I have been proactive in making positive life changes in order to better enjoy my college experience. Below are five tips that are given all the time but are too often ignored. Sometimes we need a friendly reminder of the obvious things in life in order to make lasting change.  

1) SLEEP

The first thing I tell any incoming freshmen is to prioritize sleep. It is really easy to think that you need to stay up through the wee hours of the night to get your mountains of homework done and/or to maintain your social life. The truth is that most of the time, it is better to recharge than to try and cram subpar effort into a homework assignment. Trust me, sometimes it will do you a world of good to just hang up the towel for the night and take a crack at it in the morning with a fresh set of eyes.

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2) Learn the Magic Word

You think the magic word is, “please” don’t you? WRONG. It’s a little two-letter word that does wonders. Say it with me now: N-O. NO! It’s great! And you know what? It will NOT be the end of the world if you say “no” to something. All the things that are filling your calendar could be relatively good things. However, if you are spending most of your time being stressed out by your to do list, it’s time to take some things off your plate. Thankfully, I have people in my life who have helped me take better care of myself by calling me out when I start to get to the point of being overwhelmed. Sometimes saying “no” to a good opportunity will open you up to even better opportunities in the future. 

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3) Set aside 15 minutes a day for you

This is something my vocal professor started telling me last semester and it has been a part of my bullet journal for the past two months. In the midst of crazy class schedules, work, and extra-curriculars, it’s easy to feel like you don’t have time for yourself. No matter how busy you are though, it is so important to take time to do things that bring you joy, even if its for a short period of time. Whether it’s coloring, playing Super Smash Bros, playing the ukulele or taking your dog on a walk, set your timer for at least 15 minutes a day to do something that does not involve a textbook.

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4) Use your resources

I am extremely blessed to go to a college that has many free resources available to us as students. I have spent a lot of time both in the tutoring center and the counseling office. Access to free homework help and therapy has been unbelievably helpful. Take time to figure out what resources your school offers and take advantage of them! You’re already paying for it, might as well get the most out of your student fees.

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5) Be plugged into community

Everyone needs friends. More importantly, everyone needs friends who are on the same wavelength as them. My first semester of school was rough in the friend department. I felt like I was on an island most of the time and with being an extrovert, that was terribly lonely and energy draining. Sometimes, it takes stepping out of your comfort zone for ten seconds to be able to see opportunities at new friendships. So join a club, attend that RA event or talk to your neighbor in Spanish. You never know when you’ll meet your next great pal.

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College can be one of the most stressful things you ever experience in life, or it can be one of the best stages of your adulthood. For a while, school was something I dreaded, but as I’ve begun to take better care of myself, I’ve learned how to better handle the constant stress that gets thrown my way. When you take care of yourself, you tend to be happier, and when you’re happier, trials that come up in life don’t seem as frustrating. It is so important to take care of your physical, mental, and emotional health. So I challenge you to find at least five things you can do to better improve your overall state of being. You owe it to yourself to be the best student you can be!

 

Until Next TIme,

Abby

 

Strategic Lack of Effort

You sit around the war room table, ill-prepared for the battles that are about to take place. The leader of one of the neighboring factions reads the rules of warfare to the collective of five divisions. None of you fully understand these mysterious words that are being read, but you feel as if you get the gist of it and cautiously begin your mission to secure borders.

The war begins at a slow pace. The four men you are plotting against claim their territories, while you, the only female, quickly secure what used to be known as South America. You observe as battles break out in the old European territories. One faction leader in particular (a boisterous, bearded fellow who gets quite excited when he wins) seems to be unstoppable. His mark of purple terror spreads like wildfire. You realize that he must be stopped, no matter what the cost.

You send your troops north to invade North American territories, as well as to the east to join the effort in toppling the purple army. You try to defeat the lone soldier, Reginald, in Southern Europe, but have the worst luck you’ve ever seen in battle and lose three men, causing you to retreat. Some battles are successful, others devastating. No matter how the battles turn out though, the bearded general cannot seem to be thwarted by any of the other faction leaders.

Throughout the war, you form a quiet alliance with the dashing leader of the mechanical army to your right. You move past the fact that you tried to slay his prized commander, Reginald, knowing that you must stop the nonsensical violence. As battles rage on, the two of you work together to strategize the demolishment of the tank battalion. While your comrade keeps the enemy at bay, you successfully take over the North American base. Both you and the awkward, new age Nazi leader are now head to head in the race to end the war. The fate of the free world hangs in the balance.

You study the lay of the land to find the best way to victory. You realize that if that you can claim the European headquarters, you can resolve the mindless bloodshed. But, it is your ally’s base that you must invade. In a moment of bluntness, you exclaim, “If you let me conquer you, we can beat Jon!” You don’t necessarily process how odd this sentence is; you are hyper focused on winning this war.

The leader of the mechanical army agrees to your master plan. Through a blatant lack of effort, your comrade loses his headquarters to you, even while the other generals shout at him to not let his biases blind him to the end goal. The end goal though has become larger than the individual: everyone’s mission is to defeat the Nazis. After hours of struggle, you have won the war. You sign the peace treaty, but prepare yourself for the next war that will inevitably break out again in the foreseeable future.

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(Haven’t written in second person in a hot second, so I thought I’d give it a try. This was from a riveting game of Risk: Legacy that was played very late at night with my boyfriend and his roommates. Not gonna lie, was very proud of myself for winning the first of fifteen wars that will be fought over the rest of this semester, even though I thoroughly embarrassed myself with my outbursts. While the future wars are unclear, one thing is certain: we can never let Jon win. Stay tuned for possible new story times.)

 

Until Next Time,

Abby

Thoughts on Twilight…About Ten Years Late

“There’s things you don’t do after a break up: 1) Start doing drugs 2) Start smoking                       3) Read f***ing Twilight.” -A dear friend of mine in the middle of a snow storm

 

Unless you were living under a rock in the mid-2000’s, you probably heard the term, “twilight” thrown around all the time. It wasn’t because society had suddenly found interest in this specific time of day; it was due to the wild popularity of Stephenie Meyer’s romance series Twilight that had recently begun being adapted to film. I was ten years old when the first film was released, but I remember clearly my middle school friends all gawking and fangirling over either the guy who played the vampire or the guy who played the werewolf as the movies gained popularity. Fast forward to my almost 21-year-old self, who has just recently completed the book series and has a few thoughts on this polarizing saga.

48406840_1926730457443444_6715674713009422336_nFirst though, a bit more background. I grew up in a Christian household with loving parents who knew I was an avid reader that inhaled stories. However, as Meyer’s books began to rise in the ranks of pop culture, so did the Christian Blogger Moms rise to write against the story. The wrote posts saying that people shouldn’t be reading these books because they had *gasp* vampires in them (sparkly ones at that). My mom, wanting to do her best for her dorky middle schooler, didn’t let me read the book series. Personally, I had no problems with this. I wasn’t into romance and was more interested in my growing love for Star Wars. Ironically, after letting me read all the Left Behind books (which by the way, REALLY INTENSE), my parents allowed me to read Harry Potter as I would avoid reading the vampire books. So I guess, Thanks Stephenie, cause I really like the child wizard books.

IMG_3785.JPGRecently though, my mom decided to start listening to Twilight books on the Libby app, which is this nifty little thing that my local library is linked through. After listening to her talk about them for a few weeks, I rolled my eyes and started reading the first book before bed. Now, let me remind you all I am a full time college student and was working three jobs at the time when I started reading this, so it wasn’t until about two weeks after starting the book that I was able to focus on it over Thanksgiving Break. I had a long car ride and was able to finally get the idea as to why so many people liked the series. In an odd way, the mediocre romance between the klutzy human girl and the attractive vampire dude was fun and a way to let my brain relax and enjoy reading for fun again, which I haven’t gotten to do in a hot minute.

As finals creeped closer and life kept throwing massive curve balls at me, I began listening to the audio books for the last three books. Let me tell you, when you’re spending hours on end at a computer animating or walking about a half mile to the fine arts building every day, it’s nice to have an engaging story to listen to through the day. Over the course of three weeks, I managed to complete the series and I can honestly say I don’t feel like I wasted brain cells on these books. Yes, the writing isn’t the greatest; we all know this. But it was fun and something I was able to use as an escape from what seemed to be constant chaos around me. And a lot of fun things came from me reading the books in my relationships.

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  • I was able to bond with my roommate over how frustrated I would get over fictional characters.
  • I was able to make one of my buddies laugh many times with my overview of the series.
  • My suite mates watched the first movie with me the day before a much needed snow day, and enjoyed a lovely pizza night while watching New Moon.
  • Making observations with my parents on the films, such as, “Wow, that CGI wolf truly is a better actor than the actual guy.”

 

Twilight is not a masterpiece. However, the themes of sacrificial love and the power a woman has truly were inspiring to both read and watch on screen. Granted, I am thankful I did not read these in my formative years. The obsessive love between Edward and Bella is *not* healthy in the dating stage of a relationship. Our culture is saturated with the idea of the “perfect partner.” Think of Jim in the hit TV show, The Office. He’s the dream guy, right? He’s funny, cute, charming, smart, chases after the girl he’s in love with… and has a script. People don’t talk like they do on screen or in books. There are times when we can get caught up in looking for the picture perfect match when we really need to be searching for the other flawed human being that can weather the storms of life with you faithfully. However, the love that Edward and Bella share is a love that should be strived for with your spouse. While it takes time to achieve, this love comes after intentionally learning the other person, through better or worse. On top of all this, Bella is not a damsel in distress. In all four books, she is the hero who always puts the needs of others above her own. She and Edward complement one another, working as a team when things get tough, but in Meyer’s narrative, the author shines a light on how powerful a woman can be. I feel that the books do a wonderful job of showing that a woman can be powerful while also working alongside a man, which is how God intended us to function in our married lives.

There’s so many more words I could write about this series, but I will choose to leave it here for now: a fun adventure I dove into during a hard time in my life. And hey, finding biblical truths from books about blood sucking dudes that sparkle in the sunlight? Not a bad way to spend Christmas break. Twilight made me excited about reading again, and I look forward to spending more time enjoying a pastime that has shaped me into the person I am today.  

 

Until Next Time,

Abby

 

P.S. Alice is the best character in the whole dang series and I will fight anyone who tells me otherwise.