Jenntertainment's Weblog

Adventures in children's theatre.

Is Theatre Right for Your Child? February 24, 2012

Every year, parents across the country are forced to send their children somewhere – anywhere – after school, in an attempt to keep their kids entertained and out of trouble until dinnertime. The choices are many, and some parents may find it overwhelming to choose the perfect extracurricular activity for their child. I have taken the liberty of creating this simple quiz to aid puzzled parents in the decision-making process.

1. Does your child excel in sports?
A) My child is the next Michael Phelps
B) My child can run, if necessary
C) My child prefers to challenge the mind instead of the body
D) My child has a written note from a counselor excusing him/her from gym class forever

2. Does your child make friends easily?
A) Very Easily: My child has never met a stranger
B) Somewhat Easily: My child has a lot of friends on Facebook
C) Struggles Somewhat: My child has a few close friends
D) Struggles: My child’s friends are mostly imaginary

3. Does your child tan well?
A) Like a Greek god/goddess
B) Burns a little, then tans
C) Burns to a crisp
D) Not Applicable; we can’t get him/her to go outside

4. Does your child have any allergies or dietary restrictions?
A) No known allergies
B) Mild seasonal allergies
C) Moderate seasonal allergies and a mild peanut allergy
D) Severe environmental allergies and extreme allergies to nuts, soy, wheat, dairy, eggs, latex, chocolate, and cotton.

5. Is your child currently receiving emotional/psychological counseling?
A) He/She has never received counseling
B) Not currently, but he/she has received counseling in the past
C) Our family attends one counseling session per week
D) He/She attends one or more family session and two or more private sessions per week

6. What does your child think about the shows Glee and Smash?
A) Likes the stories, but hates all that senseless singing and dancing.
B) Likes it, but isn’t obsessed.
C) Loves it, and actually thinks that it’s cool to walk around with an “L” on his/her forehead.
D) Loves it, but thinks he/she could sing or dance it better.

Sports
If you answered mostly A’s, then your child is best suited for sports activities. Whether it’s horseback riding, swimming, soccer or lacrosse (whatever that is), your child will excel in a competitive atmosphere that keeps them physically active and perfectly tanned all year long.

Academics
If you answered mostly B’s, then permanent relocation to the world of academia is in your child’s future. Encourage their studies by buying them pocket protectors, and letting them join the math club, chess club, or debate team. Though they may have some difficulty fitting in at school, they will eventually find their niche, and possibly win the Nobel Prize.

Crafts
If you answered mostly C’s, then your child would be best suited for a life of kitsch and craft glue. They may squirrel away in their room for hours at a time, but when they resurface, they will have created a memento of lasting beauty. Enroll them in classes at your local craft store, or find a scrapbooking club. If their genius is cultivated, they may end up with their own show on the DIY Network.

Theatre
If you answered mostly D’s, then please take your child immediately to the nearest children’s theatre. If your child is bookish, sensitive, creative, and needy, then he/she is the perfect candidate for a life on the boards. The boys will learn to apply makeup and sew sequins on their clothes, while the girls will learn how to use a mitre saw and open paint cans with their teeth. Most importantly, they will be surrounded by kindred spirits, and be happier than you ever thought possible. I hope to meet you and your child very soon. 🙂

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Life in a Box November 19, 2008

Filed under: My Job is Weirder Than Your Job — jenntertainment @ 9:00 am
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     Every once in a while, someone can say one sentence that will just stop your world in it’s tracks. A simple question that shakes you to the core and makes your eyeballs jiggle back and forth. Okay, not really.
     Around Halloween, an audience member approached me and asked about a wig that we were using in the show. She commented that she ‘simply adored’ the wig and would love to find one for her Halloween costume. Then she said it.
    ‘Where do you think I can find one? That is, one that I can get without buying the whole show kit?’
    Show kit? What’s that? I had to ask…
   ‘You know, when you order the show and they send you the scripts, music, costumes, set pieces, wigs and everything. Where can I get just the wig without getting the whole kit?’
     She meant well enough. She had no idea that she had just belittled my entire profession into the contents of a clown-prototype cardboard box. I explained calmly that there was no such ‘kit.’ We measure the children and sew the costumes by hand. We design the sets and draw up plans to build, paint, wallpaper and dress them from scratch. We search the internet and local antique shops to find the perfect vintage telephone or we create new props out of sculpt-or-coat. We buy or rent lighting fixtures and spend hours focusing and programming the light cues for each production and we book technicians months in advance to provide sound equipment and reinforcement for every performance. We create the programs and tickets using theatre software, we advertise using print, television and radio media. We audition, cast, read through, rehearse, tech, perform and strike each and every show based on our creative visions, hard work & love of live theatre. In short, there is no kit, although sometimes I wish there was.
     Wouldn’t that be lovely? You open Pandora’s box and out flow costumes that fit perfectly, scenery that is scaled just right for our stage, props, lights, microphones, programs, concessions, posters, makeup, and of course, wigs just right for your friend’s Halloween costume. And what if it went beyond that? LIFE KIT: Buy One Today! Receive a Spouse, Two Children, House, Manicured Lawn, Sport Utility Vehicle, Savings Account, Lifetime Supply of Groceries and Shoes for all Occasions in One Convenient Package! Act now and receive a Puppy with a White Picket Fence at NO EXTRA CHARGE! Happiness Not Included. What a deal!
     Just yesterday, I began a new musical theatre class series. As soon as I walked upstairs, one of my students looked at the box in my arms and said ‘COOL! A SHOW KIT! What’s in it?!’ I hadn’t looked at the box, but it did indeed say R&H Oklahoma! Show Kit on all four sides, which is pretty funny because all that came in it were 20 scripts (not the 34 I needed), a vocal score and a rehearsal CD. I showed him the contents of the box and remarked to him that while I, too, fantasize of Musicals-In-Boxes, they do not yet exist. The Show Kit name was just a ploy to lure innocent middle schoolers into thinking that this is easy.
     Without a moment’s hesitation, this kid threw his arms wide, grinned from ear to ear and proclaimed for all the world to hear ‘That’s because YOU’RE the Show Kit, Ms. Jenn!’
     How true, yes, how true, said the Sour Kangaroo… 🙂

Discussion Question: If your job came in a kit, what would be in it?

 

What Thanksgiving is Really About November 17, 2008

Filed under: Only Small Actors — jenntertainment @ 9:04 pm
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‘Tis the season for Thanksgiving plays with kids in bonnets and turkey hats.  At work, we offer a field trip musical about Thanksgiving to all of the elementary schools in our area. It’s a cute show, but it only comes around one month out of every year. The premise is that the turkeys have grown suspicious about the rapid disappearance of their families during Thanksgiving, so they have called off the holiday. After hearing testimony from Pilgrims, football players, Native Americans and even cranberries, the turkeys finally decide that Thanksgiving isn’t really about them at all; it’s about giving thanks. Genius.

One of the songs that I teach is about Native Americans showing the Pilgrims how to plant and yield a great harvest. I usually start off each song by asking the students to answer a couple of simple questions about the topic. What kind of foods did we eat at the first Thanksgiving? Can anybody tell me the name of a Native American tribe? Did you know that it is now considered offensive to sit ‘Indian style’ instead of ‘criss-cross applesauce?’ You know; things like that.

Usually, the kids are spot on with their answers; they have been training for this field trip for weeks. This day, however, came with a slight surprise.

‘How did Native Americans help with Thanksgiving?’ I asked. Several hands were raised, but I could only pick one. ‘Yes, Jonathan. Can you tell us?’

‘Well, the Native Americans tried to be our friends, but since white people are mean, we killed them.’

‘Okay, thank you, Jonathan. Anyone else?’

‘Then they got mad at us for eating all their food at Thanksgiving,’ he continued. ‘So they started shaving our heads with tomahawks and dancing to make rain to make us drown.’

‘Excellent. Now, everyone turn to page 18…’

‘That made us really angry, so then we decided to take everything away from them and make them move to where it’s cold because we like to live on the beach. White people made the Native Americans move where nobody wants to live. In Minnesota.

 ‘Then we started littering and that makes the old man Native Americans cry. I think that’s why we have Thanksgiving.’

My head was swarmed with visions of small children wearing Pilgrim hats & Indian headdresses, textbook images depicting the Trail of Tears and the Minnesota Vikings football team, television shows featuring Martha Stewart roasting Cornish game hens and commercials showing a single tear slowly falling down the leathery cheek of a Chief standing on the side of I-95. As a child, how do you separate all of these picture book images and pop culture references into their proper categories and come away with even the faintest understanding of what Thanksgiving is really all about?

We tell children that it is to give thanks to God for a bountiful harvest, but these kids don’t know what it means to harvest because they’ve never even seen a farm, and mentioning God in school is only permitted during the Pledge of Allegiance – whatever that is. We tell them it is a time for family. That is, a time for the family that we only want to see on major holidays when it’s easy to make idle chatter about your sweet potato recipe or, my goodness, how the children have grown this year. We tell them it is a time to give thanks, but how can we teach them about gratefulness and good stewardship on a day followed by women in battle armor dueling for the best Day-After-Thanksgiving purchase? In short, how can we expect for children of this modern age to have even the slightest understanding of Thanksgiving, when it all seems to be holiday propaganda mixed with the idea of a loving family?

So I asked.  ‘Why, Jonathan? Why do we have Thanksgiving?’

‘We have Thanksgiving to be nice to the Native Americans and thank them for giving us all their stuff. Then we eat a big meal to thank the grocery store for giving us food and then we go shopping and thank the store for giving us presents and we thank mommy and daddy for giving us little sisters. We get things and say thank you for them. That’s what Native Americans did for Thanksgiving.’
     Well, the philosophy is a bit off, but I guess the truth is in there somewhere. Maybe we’re not doing such a bad job after all.

 

Fiddlers on the Roofs November 13, 2008

Filed under: Only Small Actors — jenntertainment @ 7:55 am
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     For some odd reason, the soundtrack of my life is Fiddler on the Roof. I have been personally involved in six productions and have seen the movie, professional and amateur productions of it countless times. With all of its’ wit and wisdom, I truly love this show, but I no longer laugh out loud at the jokes. I am reasonably certain that I could recite the entire show as a monologue, if circumstances called for it. What might those circumstances be? Only time will tell. As the Good Book says…
     The following is a piece I wrote about two years ago that is making a comeback, due to recent events. This does not refer to the school production of Fiddler that I saw last weekend, but to all youth productions of anything, anywhere.

 

     At one time or another, anyone who is anyone will experience the joys of small scale church and school musical productions, most of which are far from musical. From Rodgers & Hammerstein or Lerner & Loewe to homespun passion plays, watching these young artistes hard at work has taught me to appreciate even the meekest one-act. I know that school plays are going to be sub-par, er, less polished, okay, laughably bad even. Let’s face it, halfway through the junior version of Annie Get Your Gun, death begins to lose its sting. Yet somehow I find the pull of a children’s musical irresistable. Sort of like watching a special kind of train wreck in which the crash victims are singing and dancing enthusiastically as their car derails. I pay my five dollars and buy my homemade lemon squares in anticipation of an evening filled with missed cues, falling scenery, off-key warblings, bathrobes used as any variety of costume and the swelling of great pride. I just can’t bear to look away.
     In my years as a patron of the somewhat-theatrically-inclined-arts, I have seen a number of breathtaking performances, including Jesus Christ Superstar minus the crucifixion, Hair minus all references to sex, drugs, alcohol, war or draft dodging (which rendered the production all of twenty minutes long),  South Pacific done admirably by all white students very poorly spray-tanned, and just the first act of Babes in Toyland, before all of the complications begin. All ranked a high eight or nine on my scale of amusing theatrical experiences, the rarely attainable ten, of course, being the highest place of honor. My scoring system is quite neanderthal; it consists simply of measuring the time spent with hands placed over my mouth in the delightful horror of wondering what daring feats they will attempt next, and the time spent counting the number of names in the program that end in “e-y.”
     I think one of my most memorable experiences with cafeteria theatre was at a Southern Baptist church. This one scored a perfect ten, by all accounts. Every city, no matter the size, has that one church that is more like a government institution than a house of worship. Just picture it; they have an enormous congregation led by the equally enourmous Brother So-And-So with an oddly pink and maroon-colored sanctuary large enough to store at least one million hymnals. Imagine my glee when the church’s parochial school decided on none other than Fiddler on the Roof for their spring musical.
     Pandemonium promptly ensued. The cast of fifty was comprised mostly of girls, and the few male cast members all played multiple roles, donning different hats and stick-on beards as “disguises” so real that I’ll bet their own mothers hardly recognized them. Orthodox Jewish customs were cast aside like Tevye’s two youngest daughters (what were their names, anyway?) and every “mazel tov” was said with a decidedly southern twang. Heads were left uncovered, girls and boys held hands while dancing in a circle for the opening and the evening was wrapped up with a speech from the program director encouraging people to joint the Christian faith. My favorite part was the tavern scene in which a half dozen or so “Russians” wearing preppy fur-collared jackets stomped up to the bartender, slammed their fists on the styrofoam scenery – thereby leaving a visible dent – and loudly proclaimed their desire to be served “milk!” It was beautiful. 
     I have noticed that beds, baths and bars are forbidden in such theatre. No matter the importance of the setting, the three ‘b’s must be avoided at all costs. Eighth graders with false facial hair may pretend to play poker, dance atop tables and shoot capguns at one another, but toasting “L’Chiem” in a bar setting is the devil’s work. Today’s youth is permitted to listen to the crudest of song lyrics and watch the most overtly sexual television shows, desensitizing them to the very concepts of virginity, sobriety and modesty, but all theatrical references to the underworld or everyone’s favorite beast of burden must be censored for the sake of their spiritual purity. I have recently come to the conclusion that it takes a much dirtier mind to find the smallest bits of evil in the most outwardly innocent activities than it does to simply take them at face value. Perhaps they are truly looking to hide their own transgressions instead of preventing new ones.
     The evening was topped off with a ten-minute long curtain call and a reprise of If I Were A Rich Man sung by the entire cast. The audience was on its feet, parents whooped, grandparents waved flower bouquets wrapped in cellophane and siblings held up signs reading “I ❤ Fyedka.” The cast rushed out into the house as soon as it was over and began the ritual of hugging and kissing their fans, all of whom live on the same street. You see, at the end of an interminably long evening of “tradition,” everyone will have forgotten the missed entrances and the overzealous french horn player in the pit. All they will remember is that they were brave enough to stand on stage, heads held high, and get treated to a big dish of ice cream on the way home from their night of theatre magic. That is why I must go. It is my duty to act from afar as Drama Club Historian and accurately preserve the true miracle of high school theatre; the miracle that, despite advanced technology, pop culture and severe budget cuts to arts programs, putting on a play at your school is still cool, still worthwhile.

That, and the miracle that Tevye’s pants didn’t fall down during the wedding dance, because it looked like they might.

 

How’d That Happen? and Other Phrases I Use Daily November 7, 2008

     This weekend, the theatre is doing a production of Willy Wonka, Jr. Like all of our class shows, it only runs for four performances, evening shows on Thursday and Friday, followed by matinees on the weekend.
     As we all know, the emotional high of Willy Wonka or Charlie & the Chocolate Factory is the finding of the sacred golden ticket. Every time I watch the snow scene in the movie I feel my insides squeeze together, as if there was some chance that Charlie wouldn’t find the ticket, wouldn’t get to tour the factory after all and that the movie would stop abruptly with a sort of ‘well, you can’t expect a bar of chocolate to solve all of your problems, now can you?’ sort of attitude.
     Knowing this about myself, blocking the famous reveal scene was my favorite part of the rehearsals. Charlie comes down center singing a reprise of Think Positive. The music drops to the suspenseful low hum of violins, Charlie closes his eyes and turns away his head, opening the bar of Wonka chocolate towards the audience so that they see the ticket before he does. He peeks open one eyeball, spies the golden shimmer, and then the stage bursts into color while Charlie sings the classic song I’ve Got a Golden Ticket, which I love even despite the grammatical inconsistency of ‘I have got’ a la ‘You’ve Got Mail.’
     In preparation for the show, my stage managers, Megan and Tyler, and I made three dozen fake chocolate bars to be used throughout the performances.  We cut cardboard, spray painted them silver, printed Wonka labels and wrapped them around the ‘chocolate bars.’ They looked pretty good, if I may say so. Charlie has to unwrap and taste three real bars before he gets the golden ticket, so we also had to buy 16 giant bars that he could actually eat, change the wrappers on all of them to make them look like Wonka bars, hide golden tickets in 4 of them (one per show), rewrap them and discreetly mark the outside so that we knew which ones were the lucky winners. 
     Charlie got to put our chocolate bar system to the test during the final dress rehearsal on the same afternoon as our opening. Figuring out which bars were to go where was like a college-level mathematical equation. One real bar has to be wrapped in newspaper and carried on stage right by Mrs. Bucket for the birthday scene. The second bar has to be hidden under Grandpa Joe’s pillow. The third bar is a gift from the Candyman to Charlie, so it has to be preset in the candy cart on stage left, a genuine chocolate bar amongst a cart full of decoys. To complicate matters further, the fourth and final bar that actually contains the golden ticket is also on the cart, set at the beginning of the show. He and the Candyman have to know which bar to pick first or else the whole scene is blown. Let us not forget the other 36 phony bars littered around the prop table. When we got the formula right in dress rehearsal, I almost fell out of my chair. How’d that happen? We must be the masters of the prop universe! 
     Since we used the bars in dress rehearsal, we know that we have to make another set of four to last us through Sunday’s performance, but that’s no big deal. We have everything set, everyone costumed, every light focused and we are ready to rock! From my perspective, the show is going great. I honestly could not have asked for more from these kids than the beautiful performance that they gave last night. There were things that were always wrong in rehearsal that the cast nailed on their opening, the audience laughed in all the right places and applauded every time we introduced a new character. All August Gloop had to do was walk on stage and he got an ovation – not bad for your first time in a show. Charlie gets one candy bar, then two. Things are going great!
     Of course, you know what’s coming. We’re in the pivotal scene with the Candyman now. The cart is on stage, filled with lollipops, candycanes, goodie bags, false prophets of chocolate and only two real candybars, indistinguishable from the audience. Charlie finds the coin on the ground and tries to return it to the Candyman. He refuses and gives Charlie the third chocolate bar as a reward for being such a nice kid. Charlie takes just one bite, decides to share the rest with his family and puts it in his pocket. Then he decides to buy one more for himself with the shiny nickel he’s just discovered. My intestines are quivering, I’m so excited.
     As the Candyman reaches for the chocolate bar, Willy Wonka (who acts as a narrator and constant presence in the first act) smoothly walks on stage to place another bar in the display and then exits.
     I did not block this to happen. This is not part of the plan. My tummy hurts.
     Relax, Jenn. Megan has it all under control. Clearly, they forgot to preset the golden ticket bar on the candy cart, so she had Wonka walk on stage at the appropriate moment and conspicuously place it right in front of Charlie. The audience will think that Wonka is manipulating the contest, providing Charlie with just the right bar at just the right moment. I kind of wish I had blocked it that way. The other two actors appear to not have even noticed that Wonka was on stage with them, either out of confusion or sheer panic, I’m not sure which. So far, things are great. I tell my intestines to stop tying themselves in knots because the problem at hand has been solved. Then they make one tragic, unforgivable mistake.
     The Candyman does not hand Charlie Wonka’s bar. Instead, he still reaches for the original, completely ignoring the new arrival. Its like watching him choose a felon from a lineup. Why, oh, why must my emotions be so closely connected to my digestive tract? If this were a movie, everything would have been happening in slow motion with Charlie screaming a loud, bassy ‘nooooooo!’ The Candyman shoved the bar into Charlie’s unwilling hands, turned on his heel and exited, leaving an open-mouthed Charlie alone on stage full with the knowledge that he is about to reveal to the audience…absolutely nothing.
     The suspenseful music is playing and my digestive system has come to a complete stop. I fully expect for Charlie to sing something along the lines of ‘I don’t got a golden ticket’  as the show plummets into the dark pages of theatre lore. Decades from now, people will be sitting around at cast parties telling scary show stories, holding flashlights under their faces and saying ‘you remember that show in Savannah where Charlie didn’t get to tour the factory because they forgot to set the golden ticket?’ Young actors will gasp in terror and seasoned veterans will smile and nod. Of course they remember.
     Charlie closes his eyes. What else could he do? He turned away, more out of fear than faithfulness to my blocking. He faced the chocolate bar towards the audience. He lifted the paper flap on one side, hesitated, and slid the bar out of the foil. The audience is leaning forward in their seats and I am standing at a 45-degree angle as though I have not had my V-8 today. The audience bursts out into spontaneous applause as Charlie, in a completely genuine display of surprise, looks down to see a golden ticket in his hands! I think I actually yelped. Then he sings:
‘Look what happened! See what happened? That’s what happens when you’re thinking positive!
I’ve got a golden ticket….’
    
The song continues, culminating in the act one finale. I rush backstage to find my stage manager and Charlie both utterly speechless. There are three golden ticket bars on the prop table. We only made four and we used one in rehearsal this afternoon. How’d that happen? None of us has any clue, but we all know that years from now, at some distant cast party, the lucky kid who played our Charlie Bucket will sit down and say ‘I remember the time…’

 

Stormy Weather August 21, 2008

Filed under: Jenn-eral — jenntertainment @ 7:00 pm
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One of the things that I love the most about our house is that there is so much light. The entire downstairs is window after window and both of the doors are glass, which is only an inconvenience when there’s someone at the door and you want to check to see who it is before answering. When I woke up this morning, I thought that we had lost power again. Everything was dark and grey and silent. I checked the microwave clock, my surefire test, and it told me the correct time. Alright, I said aloud to myself, we have power. What’s the deal?

I looked out of the window to see…nothing. We live on the marsh, so if someone else has an ounce of fog, we have a pound. The entire back patio was nothing but grey, from the deck to the sky. The outside looked like one big bowl of condensed soup that my spoon would stand straight up in without falling. No rain, no visible condensation, just thick puffs of fog at every window and a really weird feeling in my stomach.

After about ten minutes, it began to rain that thick, heavy, tropical storm rain that we get so often here in Savannah and the fog dissapated. Because I overanalyze everything, I started to think about what I have to do today and how it relates to the rain. This afternoon, I have to announce the cast lists for two different shows, which doesn’t sound so harsh in the grand scheme of things – I’m not sending young men off to war or putting young women in prison camps – but for my community its a huge deal that either elates or depresses. You know how in a movie you can always tell that its the worst day of someone’s life because it starts to rain? I just had this vision of some of these kids sitting inside all day because of the rain, waiting for the phone to ring so that I can tell them the good news and then receiving only disappointment. It isn’t because they aren’t good enough. Really, who is ‘good enough’ anyway?

I know that in reality, they are surfing the web (hopefully not reading this), blowing things up on their XBoxes or – dream of dreams – reading a book, but to some kid out there, being in this show is their answer to getting away from home for a few hours a day or making new friends. And I just know that even though every one of them is talented, the kids who get leading roles are going to be taken out for ice cream to celebrate while the kids who are in the ensemble will just get a pat on the back, even though they all ran the same obstacle course and deserve the same double-scoop cone.

I don’t like being the bearer of bad news because, invariably, the people who are disappointed reveal so much more emotion than the people that are excited. The ones who are cast feel like they have to stay professional on the phone, so they keep all of their joyful-joyfuls inside until they hang up, while the sad ones just tear up immediately and start asking me for reasons why they weren’t cast. Kids who get the roles they want never ask ‘why.’

Stormy weather makes me think too much.

It also makes my hair pouffy.

 

One Minute Update June 24, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — jenntertainment @ 2:07 am
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What an interesting couple of days…er…weeks! The short recap is that the dance recital went very well and all were very pleased, Peter Pan flew without a hitch and now we are on to summer camps! I am currently working on 101 Dalmations  with 45 2nd-8th graders and having a blast. I’m pleased to say that this is an extremely well behaved group, especially for first-timers. There were only about 10 students that I had worked with previously and they are being such a great help to the newcomers that they’re practically doing the teaching for us. Its really great to see the older students step up to the plate and help the wee ones learn their stagecraft. They not only showed them the difference between upstage and downstage, but they explained the history behind it as well! I guess we’re doing something right…

Last Thursday we had a huge thunderstorm with two tornadoes that actually touched down in sandfly. As a result, we had to pool all of the students from both camps into the blackbox for safety…around 94 kids in all. After sitting in that petrie dish of kid-germs for two hours, I was quite expectedly sick the next day and ended up staying home from work. Unfortunately, the power in our neighborhood was out until after nightfall on Friday, so it wasn’t a very entertaining sick day. Ah, well. I did get a lot of reading done! The Phantom Tollbooth is now among my favorite books.

We got a chance to see The Miracle Worker at Savannah Christian and The Beat Goes On at Savannah Theatre this weekend, which was a rare treat. I feel like I spend so much time making theatre that I don’t usually get a chance to see much of it. There was an impromptu poker gathering at our place last night, in which Vann took first place. Woohoo! We thoroughly enjoyed the weekend and the time we got to share with friends. Vann is currently out of town at a nerd confere- oops – I mean a technology conference until Wednesday. I shall miss him. 😦 That’s all for now!