All posts tagged Theatre

Because a girl has to try

Published December 11, 2017 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

Today, while not the craziest day I have had teaching, and is not by far the most challenging, it is a rough day. It’s rough in a hurry up and wait kind of day.

Many years ago when I was in late teens I still fancied myself an actor, even though it was more nerve wracking than fun and I was far too thin skinned to last very long in the business. (In fact the thought of being in “the business” makes me roll my eyes.  You see, friends and neighbors, if you are female and more or less fit into the ingenue category (doe-eyed, more boobs than sense, and a strong endurance for the scent of Aqua Net)  You have a very small window of time to actually attain some level of success. It is a small and very narrow window.  In fact, it is so narrow that at 20 when I weighed a 138 pounds and was a size 7 on the bottom and a 10 on the top, I was STILL too fat to be considered a true ingenue. I would have to lose twenty pounds to at least be in the right shape, week and woozy it may be to audition for the “right” parts.

Anyway, around this time I was an extra in a little film called Born on the Fourth of July, staring a little actor named Tom Cruise. This movie was filmed in North Texas and one of the teachers at my college had an agent who got a whole bunch of students in on the film. Oliver Stone touched my hair and said I was pretty.  I spent a long, chilly day standing outside of the Dallas Convention Center pretending to be a young Republican.

All I can remember of this experience is that if the Film Industry is all hurry up and wait, then I was better off focusing on Theater.

Today the music teacher is staging the Christmas Musical. In the first place, none of the students is feeling particularly malleable, none of the  staff feel particularly festive and no one knows what are schedule is. So all day I have been herding kids from place to place and trying to get at least one piece of information to stick in someone’s head.

On the plus side, BatBeard is safe and I am at the point in my life that if I decide to jump back into show business I am now safely in the Ethnic Character Actress, so at least, I will get to eat.

Well, there you go, part II

Published July 17, 2017 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

Before anyone goes ber-bonkers looking for part I, I won’t be posting that until tomorrow. But the follow up is fresh in my crowded head so I’m going to put that one up first.  I can explain my process if you want, but I don’t think it’s very interesting.

Today I was meandering through my errands because it’s beastly hot and I didn’t really want to get anything done. As I walked from one place to the next, a woman called out to me and said, “Did you teach at Metro?”

My first teaching gig was teaching a theatre class at an alternative high school. I wasn’t a classroom teacher, but I was part of the curriculum for a psychology/health class. I taught basic acting and playwriting.  My students ranged from an emancipated sixteen year old who was trying to graduate as quickly as possible to go to college to a lesbian couple who was bullied out of their high school. Some students were former gang members and/or returning after dropping out.  Many of my students used the class as a way to process the bizarre events of their lives.

The woman who called out to me was a student of mine about twenty years ago.  We talked for awhile; she has raised four kids, three of her own, one adopted from a family member. She has finished court reporting school and is working and investing in her future.

She told me a little about her kids and the things she tells them about education. As I listened to her, I realized that I had heard some of things before; they were things I recall saying to different classes.

I told her I remember every student I have ever taught.  (I do, I’m just terrible with names.) I do remember her. I remember wondering how she would turn out and if she would survive high school.

She did. She graduated from high school and faced some challenges and is working very hard to instill the value of education in her children.

So there you go.

Almost Important

Published February 14, 2016 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

This year has been a valuable learning experience.  I have learned that I can actually live well on very little, mostly because I have time to plan meals and I have a lot of spare don’t-give-a-crap. I am also letting other people help me and I am not refusing to accept the generosity of my family and friends.  My roommate situation is working out well, thanks to my Amanda Friend and her son, Big Kid. My surly cat even has grudgingly approved of the situation.

One of the other lessons I have learned is that I really need to get back to working full-time at something.

I get a great deal of joy out of teaching, mostly because I still have the joy of learning.  Last week I had the pleasure of actually teaching  an English class. There was discomfort involved in reading aloud (that’s a long story and best suited for a blog of its own.)  I get a genuine joy and delight from teaching my tiny little group of fifth and sixth graders. (The kids are average size, the class itself is tiny.)  I love coaching them through the rough spots and am amazed at how easy it is to teach something I truly love.

Both of the teaching jobs are at two of the three schools where I sub. I will be teaching sixth grade at yet another school for a three day run at the first of next month.  To patch over the thin spots, I am doing some freelance editing and writing some specialty articles.  This is by no means difficult work and it is not in anyway lucrative, but it is good for a few extras, like the occasional pricey cookie (MMM LA Madeliene  Linzer Cookies) or my weekly coffee-pancake-Amanda Friend treat.

There are days when I am doing all three jobs (teaching two classes of different types and editing or compiling research.) Those days I feel like I’m running in circles waiting for my face to fall off. And your face falling of for no real good reason is stupid.

So I need to work full time so I can use my writing time for, well, writing.  I have had the creative energy and freedom to participate in two writing contests. My best efforts actually came out really well, if I do say so myself.  If the judges agree, I will make enough in prize money to get me through the summer.  I am not going to count on this, so I’m going to be on the scrounge very soon for a source of consistent cash for that three months. I hope to return to a classroom in the fall.

There are a few things I want to address in future blogs. These are ideas that occurred to me as I observe students and life in general.

  1. Our children are under a lot of pressures, both academic and social
  2. There are worse things than no WiFi
  3. Comfortable shoes are worth their weight in gold.
  4. Everyday someone is redefining normal
  5. Everyone’s acknowledgement of the freakshow doesn’t get you out of the circus.

And many, many other things.

Dean Koontz’s Ashley Bell was great and may have dented my brain a little.

Low on spoons around here

Published January 21, 2016 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

Jenny Lawson is amazing. I have both of her books on audiobook and I listen to them whenever I need a boost of awesome.   She explained a person’s daily energy as being a set number of spoons, and that number varies on a person’s age, medical history, etc.  Listening to her absolved me of any guilt I feel about having to stop myself before I drop (myself).

After a full night’s sleep, I somehow managed to wake up with one spoon. It wasn’t even a big spoon. I’m not really sure if it was an actual spoon, it might have been one of those little wooden paddles you sometimes get with ice cream cups. (That has always confused me, why wood? Has anyone ever gotten a splinter from one of these?)  I have been lugging around that spoon as if it were a ladle full of lead all morning.

Yesterday I had a great day. I covered a first grade class in the morning. (Math, mass and handwriting, lots of wiggling and tattling.) In the afternoon, I held my first after school theatre class and although the class was full (16!) and super high energy, it was amazing!

I was a little concerned as to how it would go; the principal told me that my lesson plans were a little more structured than they were used to.  (This impressed me. I am very laid back and I wondered if perhaps the other teacher simply used static electricity to control her students.)

I outlined clear expectations and kept them on a tight schedule. They did a great job and they were disappointed that class was over too soon.

Now I’m exhausted. But with both jobs and a freelance editing thing I managed to make exactly enough to get by this week.

Snaps to the NY Daily News.  I couldn’t have said it better myself.


U b ILling

Published February 24, 2015 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

And just like that, Run DMC can show you the way. Things, indeed, be illin’ both and and outside the lines.

I am finally feeling better. It SUCKS being sick and being a teacher. I took one sick day and returned to school dragging myself through production week and many, many, lessons with many, many children, most of whom did not care that I was feverish and had little to no voice. (There were few who would, indeed, alert the authorities if I actually passed out or drop dead.)

I also survived my first Initial’s Competition.

I do not like taking students to a competition as opposed to a festival. It angries up the blood and teaches young artists that it is more important to dance inside the monkey’s cage to 30 seconds of approved tune as opposed to create art that is truly representative of the individual.

(I know, revolutionary talk about artistic individuality can get me run out of town on a rail.)

This whole competition left a bitter fore taste in my mouth. I have been part of tournaments and competitions before and it did nothing to encourage me to achieve, unless you count making me so stubborn and filled with rage and vitriol that I will do my damndest to succeed even if it kills me.

(Don’t ask me to prove it. I will.)

I absolutely do not understand why people in authority think it’s perfectly all right to degrade other people? I know this is a mystery for the ages and I personally find it insane. When I lived in Farmington, it amazed me that the Library Director had seemingly gone mad with power.  That is not hyperbole. I think she’s a lunatic driven by the fact that she is a queen bee with access to a superb staff and many, many laser printers. But really, it’s still Farmington.

This mad with power thing eludes me.

My students did an excellent job. They did the most important things in Theatre. They showed up. They performed in the moment to the best of their ability. They looked fantastic. They set up the show and started on time on their own.  They were courteous to each other and to their director.

I just hate that there were adults who insisted on treating them badly.

I think I have the proof

Published December 20, 2014 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

I have often thought the universe mocks me and I have mentioned a time or two that I strongly suspect that I am the pawn between good and evil.

I have been so busy that I haven’t had time to finish a thought, let alone an actual project. Now it is the first night of Winter Break and I am taking some time to reflect. (I actually really hate using “reflect” as a verb.)

The stress zit that I used to get every September in celebration/consternation of the Fall Show at Fort Worth Theatre. It took me years to convince my skin that I did not need a memorial blemish.

The stress zit finally caught up to me and my new schedule.

The Winter Play went off, not hitchless but it was well received. It was largely student written and directed and featured 50 students.  The parents loved it and their were only two diva meltdowns(neither of them mine.)

The big post show let down was that I still had to teach a full day today.  I am over the firm belief that students should be sedated at noon on the day before a break as the teachers slowly ride out the day.

On the way home, my sluggish transmission started making a horrible sound.

My stress zit was so huge I think it actually grazed the windshield. It is possible that it grew when I heard the sound my engine was making

As I look back on this week, I am tired. Several of my students said they love me. I told them I love each of them individually, as a group, they drive me crazy.

I may be able to make more sense tomorrow.

The cat wants me to stop typing now.

What? Write now, Right Now?

Published June 19, 2013 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

As I may have mentioned a time or two I have been having a difficult time pushing myself in the right direction. Actually, that’s not true. I do really good for a while then something insane happens to harsh my mellow and I get temporarily derailed.  This creates an environment in which I find it hard to produce something if there’s not a deadline exhaling hot, steamy breath down my neck. (I know, ooh gross. I’m writing frisky romance short stories to help Actor Boy with his transportation fees.)

I know that I’m going to have to create an essay about “Why I write” for the Langdon Review and I shouldn’t gripe, but I don’t want to sound like a mental patient in this scholarly tome. Forever. In Print. For Real.  This sends a icy cold finger of fear down my spine to the small of my back causing me to start, frightened; but somehow retaining my warm smile (I’m still working on the stories and it’s causing me to get a little blurry.)

Anyway, I’m fairly sure I don’t want fluttery and frisky language to leak out when I actually write the essay. I know who I am and I’m pretty sure I won’t have the final draft ready until the last possible moment, but I do want to at least practice.

I am very fortunate in that come from a family that values education and encourages intellectual curiosity.  My parents were both in college when my brother and I were small. I remember being lightly reprimanded for highlighting sections in a book because I saw my parents doing that. I have vague memories of seeing a professor’s office door with the letters next their name. I wanted to be able to have a sign on my door with letters after my name.

My handwriting has always been terrible, but I have always had the urge to write, tell stories, and read.  Unfortunately, I did not grow up in the computer age and the best of my creativity was recorded in spiral notebooks. When I was in the sixth grade I attempted to write a musical about the Pilgrims and their tradition of prayer meetings .  I was a very naive child, but I had big dreams.

Immortalizing Puritans took a backseat to the creation of a Young Adult novel that was an unofficial group project among several girls in my class. I was the keeper of the notebook and did most of the writing, but everyone contributed to the concept and sometimes provided unsolicited criticism.

I have no idea what happened to this notebook, but it was the first time that I used writing as an escape. Writing gave me the power to go beyond the day to day limits of an 11 year old Catholic School student. In my story,  I was a bright, pretty teen who was falling in love with one of the very popular triplets at her school (Everyone wanted to date a cute guy, so we turned the cute guy in the class into triplets. Very fair minded of us. I got the sweet one. It was my notebook and I had to keep it safe from boys, parents and nuns. I deserved a perk.)

From that point on, I used my writing as an escape. I had two running projects, one in the school year and one during the summer. I had a set of friends that were part of the process for each of those. One project was a historical romance, one was a soap opera set at a professional theater

I did write papers and essays for school, but the only one that every reached the passion of the other projects was part of my final for Senior Honors English. I wrote an essay about Paradise Lost being a thinly veiled attack on women by John Milton.

I still remember how much I wanted to punch him in the face, not just because I was forced to read his work while dressed in a plaid uniform in the balmy heat of a Texas spring.

That made me short of breath. I should go do something else for awhile