Archive for December, 2008

TAKING A BREAK

Saturday, December 27th, 2008

I hope everyone is having a fantastic holiday.  I know I haven’t written in a while.  I’ve been trying to finish up some projects and take a little break before the Spring 2009 tour starts.  We have a very busy spring (for which we are extremely grateful) but there’s a lot to get done before that first show.

You won’t be hearing much from me between now and the first of the year.  Cindy and I are going to try and take some time to relax.  The pace has been steady since late August and we need this time to try and do nothing.  We’ll see how that goes…

IT’S FRIDAY – AND I’M HOME

Friday, December 19th, 2008

We’ve been in the office most of the week trying to get a few projects completed before closing down for Christmas.  Ethan flew back to Kansas to visit his family on Wednesday so Keith and I have been hammering out things, working against a couple of deadlines.

I’ve been spending a lot of time attempting to finish up the HOCUS FOCUS curriculum.  I think I’m going to have to stop working on it for a while, perhaps finishing it up in early summer.  The research is done, the educational foundation is solid, but now comes the daunting task of putting together the DVD lessons for the 9 week program!  That’s going to take some time that I just don’t have right now.  I’ll concentrate on writing the lesson plans and, hopefully, get it all done in June 2009.

Our Spring 2009 schedule is slammed.  If you want to see if we’re going to be in your area, you can check the full schedule HERE.

Today, I’m trying to finish up two graphic projects, start writing the January newsletter, arrange shipping of some equipment to Hong Kong, gather video footage to edit a new HEALING OF MAGIC DVD, and work on a PowerPoint presentation for three big workshops coming up in March 2009.

GEORGIA PERFORMANCES

Tuesday, December 16th, 2008

CARROLLTON, GA – TOWNSEND CENTER FOR THE ARTS

Wow, we have been really busy these last few days.  After Florida, we drove to Carrollton, GA for a three day Artist in Residency project.  We were working with the Townsend Center for the Arts on the campus of West Georgia University.  We’ve worked with Robert and David before – and it was a great experience.  This time, they expanded our stay with them.

Our first day was only a set up day.  We arrived around 11:30am Wednesday and managed to get into the loading dock. It was a tight fit but, after jumping the curb and taking out a few tree branches, I managed to get in.

The crew was great and David had the stage ready for us.  Cases started rolling in and we actually had the pleasure of a more relaxed day of setting us since we didn’t have a performance that night.  

Tickets were selling well here through October and then things slowed down dramatically.  We had a nice feature in last week’s local paper that started them moving again.

Thursday morning we had two short shows for Arts In Education students.  These were a lot of fun and the audiences were energetic!  After those shows, we had lunch and then Ethan and I were off to do a HOCUS FOCUS workshop at Carollton High School.  We had a group of about 10 excited students who took 90-minutes out of their classes to learn a few new skills to improve their concentration, memory, frustration tolerance, and task follow-through abilities.

Friday morning, we had two workshops at Carrollton Central Middle School.  There were a total of about 30 students in the two workshops.  We had a great time working with these guys too.  In the end, they managed to learn a few tricks and the teachers were intrigued by the way the process integrated into the student’s core curriculum.

We went back to the hotel where I made a few calls, answered some emails, gathered the team, ate lunch, and headed back to the Townsend Center to prepare for the evening performance.  We were not officially “Sold Out.”  There’s nothing like a full house to get everyone excited!

CEDARTOWN, GA – PERFORMING ARTS CENTER

On Saturday morning, we were up and made the short drive to Cedartown, GA for an evening performance at the Cedartown Performing Arts Center.  We’ve also been here before.  On our last visit, the town was hit by a huge ice storm that postponed the show from Saturday night to Sunday afternoon.  This year, the weather was a bit more cooperative – beautiful day!

Patrick and David were there to meet us, along with a very young and enthusiastic crew!  I’m not sure we’ve worked with a crew this young before; that being said, they were excellent – full of energy and knowledgeable about the theatre.  With all hands at the trailer, Ethan started unloading while Cindy directed the cases to the right place.  We were off to a very smooth start to the day.

The show went up fairly quickly.  Two hours into the day, the scenery and lighting were in place and we were ready for a lunch break.  Everyone ate quickly and hit the stage one more time to finish up the lighting and start setting everything for the evening performance.

This is the first performance of the season where we truly felt the impact of the slowing economy.  This area has been hit especially hard with double-digit unemployment and a 1/3 of the newspaper listed Home Foreclosures.

We ended up with about 400 people in the audience.  While they had hoped for a larger crowd, they could not have had a better one!  The audience was great!  And, in the end, they surprised us with an instant standing ovation.  Neither Cindy or I saw that one coming.  It was a wonderful experience for us to work with these guys, to perform for this crowd, and to end our Fall 2008 tour on such a memorable note.

CREST THEATRE – DELRAY BEACH, FL

Tuesday, December 9th, 2008

We have just wrapped up a GREAT weekend in Delray Beach, Florida.  We had the privilege of performing five shows in three days, working with a wonderful crew for incredible audiences!  And, to top it all off, temperatures in the 70′s!  How can anyone complain about that in December?

I had the chance to work with Joe Gillie, the executive director, in 1999.  At that time, we did two shows at the Crest.  His audience has grown and he’s working hard to reach out into the changing environment of the Delray Beach community.  Our show attracted his traditional patrons as well as a younger audience.  And the theatre is a beautiful space – inside and out!  The crew here is awesome – very organized, professional, friendly and fun!

In between shows, we had the time to explore the downtown area.  We even found a great Thai restaurant – Taste of Siam.  We ate there a couple of times over the weekend.  The Old School Square was decorated for the holidays including an “ice skating rink,” a 100 foot Christmas tree, a Carousel, and lots of lighted exhibits.

At our last show was attended by some old friends of our who now live in Delray Beach – Pat and Barry Drake.  They came over in between shows on Saturday and joined us for a quick “lunch” at DOCS.  And then they brought some friends with them to the show on Sunday night.  It was great to see them and be able to spend some time with then again.

Today, we were up and heading to Georgia…and we are leaving behind good friends at the Crest Theatre!

FIVE SHOWS IN THREE DAYS

Sunday, December 7th, 2008

I apologize that I haven’t posted in a few days.  We are in Delray Beach, FL and it’s a crazy busy weekend!  We have five shows in three days this weekend.  I’m taking lots of pictures and promise to post my “weekend in review” sometime on Monday.  Until then, I’m off to get some rest!

SUNRISE THEATRE – FORT PIERCE, FL

Friday, December 5th, 2008

We pulled out of our hotel on Thursday morning to drive into Historic Downtown Fort Pierce, the home of the Sunrise Theatre for Performing Arts.  This is an old theatre, restored and brought to life in January 2006.

I’ve been looking forward to this show because we would be working with John Wilkes – someone I consider a true friend in the industry.  We worked with him several years ago in Sarasota.  We made our way through the small streets of downtown and made it into the loading area of the venue.

We were greeted by Marty Petlock, the TD.  What a great surprise because we had also worked with Marty in Sarasota!  He’s a great guy, very organized, and seeing him just confirmed that the day was going to be a good one.  Cindy scoped the stage (which is a bit small) and the backstage areas.  She truly worked miracles in finding a way to get everything into the space – but she did!

The day moved along nicely – everyone was fun, friendly, and professional.

Doors opened promptly at 6:30pm for the 7pm performance.  The audience of families, young adults, and a few senior citizens came rolling into the theatre with excited anticipation.  And they proved to be a really great audience!

After the show, we packed it all up and drove down to Delray Beach, FL. We have five shows here in the next three days!

MADISON, FLORIDA

Thursday, December 4th, 2008

VAN PRIEST AUDITORIUM – DEC 2

We arrived at the Van Priest Auditorium in Madison prepared for a challenging day.  We’ve not performed here in the past and there were some questions about our technical requirements that had us concerned. As it turned out, things came together very well…starting with load in.

Once into the theatre, everyone went to work.  Cindy started on her incredibly busy day of putting together the details; Ethan started unloading cases, assembling illusions, and getting his stuff together; Keith headed to the tech booth to get the light board set and patched as well as the sound pulled together; I worked with the crew to get the soft goods hung and the intelligent lighting in place.  Before we knew it, we were a couple of hours into the day and things were going well enough for a quick lunch break!

After lunch, we hit it hard again to finish up and get ready for tech rehearsal by 5pm.  When shows start at 7pm, the day goes way fast!

The crowd here is typically an “audience of retired people.”  That’s the way it was described to me.  But Kim, the person in charge, told us early in the day that they have had a tremendous amount of interest from college students for this event.  When the doors opened at 6:30pm, the mix of the audience was perfect – lots of families, tons of college students, and the traditional Florida senior citizen audience.  From the very first illusion, the audience was enthusiastic and responsive.  It was a real pleasure performing for these guys!!

Afterwards, I met lots of people, got my picture taken with many of them and picked up a few FaceBook friends along the way.

FLORIDA MOTOR CARRIER EPISODE

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know that we are constantly trying to understand the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) rules and regulations.  The problem is, most of the officers don’t seem to understand them because we are constantly being told different things.  In the past three years, I’ve obtained a Class A Commercial Driver’s License and undergone a complete compliance review by the FMCSA (a 6 hour ordeal).  Just when I thought I had everything under control, today I drove through the Weigh Scales on Interstate 10 only to be pulled over and questioned for an hour.  Seems they really don’t like the classification of my truck (or the way the Commonwealth of Virginia registers it).  I finally told them that I wasn’t being dishonest and that I understood that they were just doing their job; however, after 12 years of driving through Florida, this was the first time I had been told I needed “special permits.”  After some strong discussions (and a few urgent prayers), they gave me back my license and registrations and sent me on my way.  I did stop and purchase the required permits for $145 – which is a considerable savings over the $2500 fine I could have gotten (thank you guys!).

Now, we’re in Fort Pierce for our show here on Thursday at the Sunrise Theatre for Performing Arts.

FLORIDA – THE SUNSHINE STATE

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2008

The title says it all and Florida didn’t let us down today.  Actually, we left South Carolina this morning to clear skies and sunshine.  It was a beautiful drive all the way to Madison, FL where we will perform on Tuesday night at Priest Auditorium.

When we got up this morning, another tour bus had parked next to us.  Glenn Beck is on tour with THE CHRISTMAS SWEATER, his best-selling book.

Today was fairly uneventful – no major traffic or accidents, only a few road construction projects.  Overall, we made pretty good time.

In the hours that we had to drive with no distractions, I always have time to think.  I enjoy these drives. Today I was thinking about the uncertainty of our time.  After all, we found out today that we are “officially” in a recession and have been since December 2007 (who knew!).  ”Uncertainty” is all around us – in every corner of the world.

I’ve been reading another book by John Ortberg.  If you’ve been reading my blog for long, you know that I’m a fan of his.  I wrote a post in 2006 from his book, IF YOU WANT TO WALK ON WATER, YOU HAVE TO GET OUT OF THE BOAT.  This book is called GOD IS CLOSER THAN YOU THINK.  Mr. Ortberg talks about uncertainty in his very special way.  Paraphrasing here, he wrote:

It struck me that the “uncertainty period” is a unique opportunity for growth.  If we are able to live with confidence and joy even when we don’t know if we are going to get what we hoped for, a kind of strength forms in our soul that would never get formed there if we found our answer right away.  Sometimes there is a good of not knowing.

Quoting now:

I heard a radio interview sometime ago with Marv Levy, who coached the Buffalo Bills to four consecutive Super Bowl appearance – all of which they lost.  The interviewer asked him, “How did you handle the uncertainty of walking onto the field and not knowing the outcome?  How did you manage the anxiety?”

Levy’s answer was unforgettable.  ”If you’re looking for certainty,” he said, “you’ve chosen the wrong game.” It’s one of the differences between going to a Super Bowl and going to a theater.  Everybody knows Hamlet’s going to die.  But imagine for a moment two football teams walking onto the field knowing ahead of time what the final score of the game is going to be.  It would be very hard to get much adrenaline going.  Not knowing doesn’t mean you’re condemned to anxiety; rather, not knowing calls for trust, and trust is crucial to good performance.  Uncertainty is essential to the game.  Welcome to the human race.  If you’re looking for certainty, you’ve chosen the wrong species.

We finally arrived at our hotel in Madison, Florida.  Right next door is a farm.  As we waited for Keith to get us checked into our rooms, I decided to visit with the animals…this guy is big!

I fed this one…and then he bit me!