Thursday, May 19, 2011

Falling Down and Getting Up

It took three and a half years and over 30 productions for me to reach the burn out stage. Everyone said it would happen eventually. I didn't believe them. I love stage managing, I love being a production manager. When you love something it's impossible to get burnt out right? Wrong! When it happened it came very quickly. I felt like I had been pushed to the ground. After Birthday Boys closed I had intended to jump right into rehearsals for our current production of Julius Caesar. I dragged myself to the first two rehearsals, I suppose that should have been a warning sign, but I ignored it. Then I went on vacation for a week, I figured I just needs a bit of time to transition from one show to the next and a week would be sufficient. I came back even less motivated to go to rehearsals than I was before I left. I absolutely did not want to sit through 6 more weeks of rehearsals. Burnout status was officially confirmed as was the fact that I possibly needed a bit more time off. At that exact moment I was having a hard time remembing what I liked about stage managing.

I'm luck to have such an amazing and supportive leadership team at Theatre Unleashed. I quickly sent an email out to my fellow executive team members asking for help covering rehearsals. Without the help of each of them, particularly Greg Crafts, our Managing Director, I would not have been able to back away and take the time I needed.

Two weeks ago I rejoined the production of Julius Caesar. I admit, the transition back was a rough one. I still had a hard time figuring out why I ever thought this was fun. Tech week went fine, but I was still dragging myself to the theater. And then at some point during the final dress rehearsal everything changed again. Do you remember that moment in The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, where he is standing on the mountain after stealing all the presents and he hears the singing from the village and his heart grows ten sizes? Standing in the booth, looking down on the stage watching this magical world come together, seeing this incredible cast and being completely spellbound by the costumes, lights and sound, it all came back to me. Why I love what I do, why I choose to do this...and as quickly as it arrived, the burnout was gone and I was excited and happy to be up in the booth again.

It's a good feeling being back where you belong and an even better feeling wanting to be back where you belong. This week I've found myself missing the booth and am completely excited that tomorrow is Friday and I get to return to the booth for a few hours.

Theatre and Life Colliding for a Cause

A copy of a blog entry I recently wrote for Theatre Unleashed:

This journey began when I answered a phone call from my mom in October of 2003. Eight years later the conversation is a blur but I do remember the words, "Breast Cancer," It's malignant" and "have to have surgery" being mentioned. I cried, she cried, I told her I loved her and as I hung up the phone I knew things were different. My mom was supposed to be invincible. She is my mom, she holds the answers to all questions, she is my biggest cheerleader and she is supposed to be here forever.

There were many more phone calls after that one. Surgery was scheduled, airplane tickets purchased, trips to Kansas City planned. She was, according to her oncologist, one of the "lucky ones," her cancer was treatable and as we found out after the surgery it hadn't spread to hey lymph nodes. I was there for the surgery and the recovery. I was there on Christmas Eve when her hair began to fall out from the chemotherapy. I was there to hold her and tell it would come back, I went with her to purchase bandannas and hats the day after Christmas.

I remember Christmas shopping that year. As I wandered through the mall looking for her present, the only thing I could think was that it had to be the perfect gift just in case this was the last present I ever got to give her. I quickly discovered that shopping for the perfect present is a very hard task to accomplish. It took me three tries to buy a Mother's Day card, the first two tries I had to leave the store because I couldn't stop the tears. How do you pick out a card when it might be the last card you get to buy.

Her surgeon was right, she was one of the "lucky ones." (Although I'm still not sure you can really call anyone living with cancer lucky.) My mom did survive. She has been in remission for just over seven years. I couldn't be prouder of my invincible mom, braving surgery and chemotherapy, taking drugs that kill the cancer but also make you feel horrible, she is a survivor.

This past December she sent me a pair of galoshes. These particular galoshes are covered in pink ribbons. One day in January I was sitting in my room and the pink ribbons caught my eye. I soon found myself googling the Susan G. Komen 3 Day Walk. The more I read, the more I wanted to sign up. I called my mom and told her I wanted to walk with her, 60 miles in three days. I wanted to walk to honor her. I wanted to walk in honor of the daughters who have already picked out their last Christmas present and I wanted to walk so no other child will ever have to stand in the card aisle searching for that perfect last card. She agreed to walk with me and so the planning began, we chose the San Diego walk happening this coming November.

Within a few hours of announcing to the world that I had registered, my college roommate, best friend for 12 years and Theatre Unleashed member, Jenn asked if she could join us. Our little team of three had formed and I couldn't be happier. Sadly due to health reasons (complications from taking the medicine that is supposed to keep her cancer free), my mom has decided to be a supporter rather than a walker. With that decision, my choice to walk becomes even more important to me. I now walk for both of us.

When Greg Crafts, Theatre Unleashed's Managing Director approached me with the idea of donating one dollar from each ticket sole to the Susan G. Komen Foundation I was thrilled. Statistically one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer during her lifetime. That means that between the cast and crew of Julius Caesar, at least two of us may be affected. Through Jenn and me and the ticket sales of our patrons, Theatre Unleashed can make a contribution that will help continue the research for better medicines, stronger treatment programs and possibly a cure for a disease that is one of the leading causes of death in women. For a production comprised of mostly women, this seemed like the perfect charity for this production.

As a founding member of Theatre Unleashed and the daughter of a breast cancer survivor I look forward to seeing you at Julius Caesar and thank you for your donation.