Sunday, July 20, 2014

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Be [accidentally] prepared.

It all started with an overly-prepared, obsessed-over itinerary. Being a senior in my undergraduate level of course work, I am in the process of finding an MFA program that I will choose to marry for the next few years. This process began probably near the beginning of my third year and now it is all culminating into one big hairy ball of scheduling conflicts and phone-interviews. However much I love working under stress and copious amounts of pressure, there's something about deciding the next few years of your future (which, by the way, will domino into the rest of my human existence, no pressure) that just isn't easy. Within this process of finding a new place to go after commencement, there is a particular step called "URTAs" or, officially URTA NUAIs, or, officially again, the University/Regional Theatre Association National Unified Auditions/Interviews. Basically, it's a sort of meeting in which an upwards of thirty schools preview a gathering of 1000-2000 undergraduate students across six days in two cities. If that sounds like a big, complicated mess to you, then congratulations: you're exactly right. And unfortunately, a tight schedule, snow, and a gas shortage didn't make my experience any less messy.


--PART ONE: PLANNING FOR THE BEST--

After signing up for the URTAs (spare me the rest of that God-forsaken acronym) I had my weekend of Friday, Jan 31 to Sunday, Feb 2 booked solid. I noted this on my calendar and moved on with my life. In order to participate in URTAs and stand a chance, a candidate needs three very important things. 1) presence at the actual events in whichever city/day they were assigned to (in my case, Chicago), 2) some sort of viewable medley of the best examples of said student's work over the last few years and 3) a pleasing way to present this collection of work to the faculty/staff of various universities who would be unleashed, alone, onto the feeding ground of fresh students each day of the event. Remember those three important things, they will come in handy later. Anyway, after booking my weekend and moving on with my life, as one sometimes does in my field, I got an offer to do the Associate Lighting design and Projection design for an opera in San Antonio. I was so excited about the offer, I almost accepted the job without checking my calendar. I ended up checking it, and realized the dates I would be needed for the opera were Jan 27 to Jan 31. NOW things are starting to become packed. I barely managed to squeeze the appropriate flights in that could get me around on these deadlines. The plan was, after spending the week in San Antonio, take the opera funded flight back to Dallas, while there, pick up my portfolio and other supplies I needed for URTAs, and then connect into Chicago that night. It was perfect, I had a 4 hour layover between flights and plenty of time to do what I needed to do. I accepted all the responsibilities and now had my calendar booked for the period of Jan 27 - Feb 2. Totally doable.

As the days drew nearer to my excursion, working diligently on finishing my portfolio and display for URTAs (which I drafted up in Vectorworks to get the proper measurements for different required table items), I received an email from the theatre department at the University of Kansas. Now, this University was already on my top 5 list for future programs and I knew they would not be attending URTAs. The only way to get an interview with them would be to either visit or pull up the ol' Skype account. Since I had never been to Kansas before, I knew that I had wanted to visit - the only question was When?. With the emails from the faculty coming in being as persistent as ever, I decided to take a look at my schedule and see where they could be squeezed in for a visit since I knew it was imminent. I gave them a few different options, my preferred one being February 3 and 4. Which, if you've been taking notes, you'll realize is immediately following my trip to Chicago. What I didn't say before is that, in the process of booking all of these trips, I've been making flight reservations that are more or less permanent due to the type of ticket I purchase. So, in suggesting my Kansas trip be for the third and fourth, and with the faculty accepting those dates, I had now booked an additional flight from Dallas to Kansas on Monday morning, the third. This, I told myself, would be the last leg of the trip I would try and add on. (And it actually was, that's not clever foreshadowing, I was done)

So, recap, I would fly to San Antonio from Dallas on Monday, Jan 27, then back to Dallas on the 31st with a four hour time gap between arriving and taking off again to be in Chicago for the weekend. Again, this is the time gap in which I would grab my portfolio and other supplies for URTAs that I didn't want to have to deal with during the week of the opera. On Feb 2, the last day in Chicago, I would fly back to Dallas, stay the night at my parents' place, change out any clothes I needed to, then get up for an early flight to Kansas the next morning, returning on the next day, Feb 3, at 11pm. If that sounds confusing to you, again, I will say congratulations: you're right. I had a few different lists dedicated to the different stages and phases of my trip that I knew, if everything went according to plan, would work beautifully. Well, we all know how that goes.

--PART TWO: MY EARS HURT--

It was about a week tip initial departure. I slaved away making this portfolio the best it could be. Spending hours on planning, content inclusion, etc. Nothing was going to make this portfolio anything less than spectacular. NOTHING. I had my bags packed, my car loaded, and my trash taken out: it was time to leave for one of the most important trips of my life. I stayed the night before the 27th at my parents' since they are so close to the airport and offered to give me a ride there. Everything was in order, organized into piles according to the different legs of the trip the items belonged to in my sister's old room, and I was off to Dallas Love Field to board the flight to San Antonio. 

The experience of getting to work on the opera was fantastic. I can't say enough good things about the people I met or the things I got to do - I really enjoyed myself. Near the end of the trip, the impending sadness began to set in and I knew I was about to leave all of these lovely people. They all knew of my upcoming trips to Chicago and Kansas and couldn't have been more supportive in the matter. One person in-particular was my host from the San Antonio Opera Guild. She drove a classic, white Jaguar and had knowledge of the world in its entirety. She was the one responsible for getting me to and from the airport whenever necessary and I couldn't have asked for a better way to get around town. Upon pulling into the departure area in San Antonio International, she said her goodbyes and I grabbed my bags ready to check-in and go to my flight headed for Dallas. That's when my phone vibrated.




Immediately heading toward the service desk, I had to figure out what had to happen in order to make it to Chicago that night. No exceptions. Oh, and I had to stop in Dallas to get all my stuff. Crap. Okay. Go go gadget stress, brain power: activate! Talking with the SWA rep at the airport was a very calming experience. He assured me he would do everything he can to get me into Chicago that night, and he wouldn't stop until that could happen. A few minutes went by...nothing. A few more...still nothing. He had walked away to check on something with a higher-up, and finally I could see him coming back. I tried to act like I wasn't hanging on every anticipated word, but he just looked at me, and smiled. "Sir, I'm pleased to inform you that we have a flight headed out of here at 5:30pm headed for Chicago. Would you like me to make the transfer?" I almost immediately replied in the most joyous yes I could produce: but then I remembered my portfolio. And the display. The two things I spent the most time on and would probably decide the fate of my near future. I told him to hold on while I called the Dallas FedEx.

Speaking with an agent in a call center far far away, I was assured that if I could get someone to the location with my items, they could put it on a plane that night and guarantee delivery to the Westin in Chicago (where URTAs were being held) at 9:30am the next morning. While we technically only had from 8am to 9am to set up our station, I had no other choice and gave the go ahead. I would have to figure out the details upon arrival. Perfect. After speaking with my sister and sorting through the remaining issues with the package, we finally confirmed that it was going to be on it's way to Chicago and I would see it within the next 15 hours. 



I spent the next few hours at the airport hanging out at "La Gloria". It was some upscale, trendy mexican food place with a good selection of margaritas - so I took advantage of their relaxing qualities. I boarded the plane and ended up sitting with a county prosecutor from Chicago and a web designer from San Antonio. We spoke of different things, art, culture, bums, and other things like that. I gained two things from speaking with them: I became irrationally scared of having my phone exposed in public in Chicago and the knowledge that going to Texas Tech for a degree in engineering can somehow get you into the web design industry. 

Because of my newly acquired phobia, upon landing in Chicago I booked it to the nearest bathroom to use my phone. I needed to download the transit app and get my bearings on how to get to the condo to meet my friends who had already been there. Once I cleared the airport, made it back to the condo, and took a load off - I knew that everything was going to be okay.   - Ha.


--PART THREE: IT'S 106 MILES TO CHICAGO, WE'VE GOT A FULL TANK OF GAS, HALF A PACK OF CIGARETTES, IT'S DARK, AND WE'RE WEARING SUNGLASSES.......  HIT IT.--

At this point, reusing the same clothes I had on the day before was the least of my worries. Luckily the clothes I were wearing were halfway decent and nothing too ridiculous- so off to URTAs we went.

On the way, when I wasn't obsessing about the snow, I spent a good bit of time calling the security office at the hotel asking if my package had been delivered. Most every time I called, they had said no, but I wasn't worried. It was only 7:45am and the package was said to arrive at the latest 9:30am. We used the beautifully laid out Chicago "L" train system, which I can't spend enough time complimenting - it's so great. We need one in Texas. Arriving at the hotel, we were just in time for the orientation period of the day. All the candidates gathered in the second ballroom (known as the faculty room) and got our morning speech from our benevolent leader Sara. She was great and very understanding of all the contestants. Even me.

I approached the check-in table and before I could get a word out, she asked, "Table number?" I regrouped and proudly said, "33!" She looked over her sheet once and simply replied, "Nope!" I was in shock. I didn't know what to do and judging from the blank look on my face, she took sympathy on me and looked again. I was no where to be found on her role sheet. She asked if I showed up a day early, and I told her I knew I was there for the Saturday URTA. She looked once again and said, "Check your email, I'll be here." So I snuck off and SURE ENOUGH. My email, the one email with the day on it, the day I should have been there, the day I was assigned, had me scheduled for Sunday. Well. Clearly this day was already going to kick my ass. 

I walked back over, defeated. She explained that there were a large amount of no shows and that it would probably be very possible for me to get a table. A few minutes later, her partner Scott came over and said, "Matt? You're 68, come with me." Yay! Win! We marched into the exhibit room, pulled a random table from the side of the room, stripped it of its table cloth and skirt and slapped my table number on it. This was where my display would be. My URTA display. It was actually happening. 

I brought in my backpack and began pulling out my business cards and a legal pad. I knew it was only 8:15 and my package was still not going to arrive for another 45 minutes, so I set up a very temporary table display that, when transformed, would shock and awe anyone who happened to witness it. I was so ready.




9:29:01 to 9:29:59 am. The longest minute of my life. It was the Christmas morning of my adult life. The period of time between "MOM DAD WAKE UP" and "YAY STUFF!" The time between signing the paperwork on the new car and the minute you finally get to drive it home. It. was. excruciating. Right at the stroke of 9:30am, I dialed the security desk.

Still, nothing. I couldn't believe it. I had to find out what was going on. I'm sure he's just running a bit behind, it's snowing, weather, you know. I got FedEx on the phone in one hand while dialing the security desk in the other - the amount of time I spent on hold gave me another few minutes to bug them. Eventually, the representative from Fed Ex picked up and I explained to her what was going on. She was sincerely sorry, and promised to find out what was going on with my package.


M: "Diverted? What do you mean?"
FEx: "Well, sir, the plane your package was on was transferred to another airport because it ran out of fuel."
M: "Oh. Okay, well, thank you for letting me know."
FEx: "I'm terribly sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused."
M: "It's fine, what do we do now?"
FEx: "It will be in Chicago on Monday, will that be okay?"
M: "No, I won't be there Monday. Can we reroute it to Kansas?" 
FEx: "Of Course, sir, I'll just need the address."
M: "I'm expecting there will be a full refund?"
FEx: "Absolutely, no problem at all." 
M: "Thanks..."

Ran out of FUEL? I could understand how to read a fuel gauge when I was 4 years old - and you're telling me professionally experienced pilots could not judge how much they needed to get to Chicago? Fine. Fine. Forget it. (I may have a been a little rash in that, but I wasn't thinking straight and you know...anyway...) So, after hearing this news, you can imagine I was upset, but I couldn't let it get to me. There were very important people in the exhibit room that expected something to be set up - and I wasn't going to keep them waiting. I rushed in around 9:45am with my computer, threw some pictures into a folder, started a very crude slideshow, and left to see if I could find a printer. Luckily, my friend found a FedEx office down the hall, and it was time for them to finally get on my side. He threw my resumes and transcripts into the machines and had them printing while I was in the exhibit hall throwing my slide show together. We eventually got something together that sort of resembled a display and left it. I washed my hands of this matter, there was nothing more that could be done. 

The URTAs process is fairly simple. After you set up, the faculty looks at your stuff for a couple of hours. At 11am, you go back in and do your first round of interviews. These are called "Jumpstart" interviews. It's a two hour block of 15-minute slots in which schools may sign up to speak with you. Some people were booked solid, some weren't. I didn't hold out much hope. To my surprise, I had five interviews of the eights possible. What? No way. I was pretty excited, and honestly didn't mind having a couple of 15 minute breaks, these interview blocks could get pretty intense. 

After those were done, everyone was released to go to lunch and the faculty could take more time to look at the displays if they wished. They eventually turned in their final interview list and the URTA staff put together a computer generated list of schedules for each candidate. These interviews, also only 15 minutes long, were different in that it could be a solid three hour block rather than just two. Again, I wasn't holding my breath for a long list. 

Well, yet again, to my surprise I had nine more interviews with different schools. This was a pretty good feeling considering that some other candidates who actually arrived with their materials did not secure as many. Ok. I could do this. This could work out. 

All in all, the process couldn't have gone better. I met some great people and had a couple of surprise interviews from other folks who didn't get a chance to see my "completed" station. I really enjoyed it all, but, I highly, HIGHLY, recommend against going to the URTAs without a portfolio (if you can help it). It will save you tons of stress in the end. And you'll have to write a giant blog about it. Moving on.



--PART FOUR: COLOR BLIND--


After Chicago, and spending the next day getting a grasp on the transportation system and local foods, it was time to head back to Dallas. But for real this time. I really needed new clothes, that shirt probably wouldn't have made it another day, and just, you get the point. The clothes in my bag were meant for the exact amount of time I would be in San Antonio - and that's it. 

Making it back to Dallas in a timely manner was not supposed to be a challenge - but there was a slight hiccup. As I was heading to the train station with a good two and a half hours to my departure, I pulled up the train schedule on my phone and figured out where I would need to go. Red line: Fullerton to Roosevelt, transfer to Orange line: end up at the Midway airport. Perfect. Easy. Well, sort of. Getting on the red line, I did make a transfer at Roosevelt. Sadly, the orange and green lines shared a track. In the heat of the moment, I jumped on the first train that arrived. It was heading in the right direction, at first. Eventually I realized looking around the advertisements, the route map was not at ALL what I needed to be looking at. Green line. Great.

The next station approached and I got off. Now, 30 minutes into an unfamiliar train route, time began to crunch. I had to get on the green line again and head back to roosevelt to make the transfer back onto the Orange line. That's 30 minutes, making the total time wasted one hour. So much for being on time. On top of all this, I knew that the airport may be a hassle because earlier in the day I was unable to check into my flight over the phone. The representative with southwest assured me that the airport would be able to check me in like normal, but with how this week had already gone, I wasn't going to take any chances. 

On the orange line, finally, I was headed to the airport. Time was dwindling. Upon arrival I had about 50 minutes until departure. One long confusing corridor led to a disorientating hallway which led to a smaller, yet still as inconceivably baffling, passageway. This finally got me to the ticketing kiosk. 43 minutes. I could do this. Luckily, I don't usually check bags when I travel, so I didn't have to bother with that step. I punched in my confirmation number, got my positive flight status, and printed my boarding pass. YES! Finally. Something went smoothly. Ok. 40 minutes. Time to focus. Staying tightly with the person in front of me, the security line moved slower than my stress levels would have liked. My Bag, backpack, coat, cell phone, wallet, crumpled receipt, belt, watch, left shoe, right shoe, and the all important quart sized liquids bag: in the bin, through the X-ray, and out on the other side. I approached the full body scanner, entered, took the pose with militaristic precision, and exited. In my rush, I almost was forcefully stopped by the TSA officer telling me to wait a second while the scan processed. Whoops. Anyway, made it through security. Yes! While I was hurriedly putting on my watch, I checked the time. 23 minutes. Perfect. I had time to grab a small bite to eat before traveling for the next 6 hours with a connecting flight in St. Louis before landing in Dallas. 

Upon regathering and applying my effects, sliding my belt through the loops, engaging the buckle, and pulling to tighten, there was a sudden release of pressure. Something gave way. One of the joints in the buckle had cracked and broken. Useless. Because I really needed more excitement on this trip. Unfortunately, this wasn't one of my more recent pair of pants, and having lost about 30 pounds within the last few months, they needed a belt to stay on above my hips. Awkwardly tying the most unimpressive knot ever around my waist with what now was reduced to a strip of leather, I needed a belt! I picked up my backpack and prepared to trek to the ends of the earth, when suddenly, to my right, a wild Fossil store appeared! What? Okay then. I walked in, bought a belt in my size, which they had easily accessible, and was on my way. 20 minutes to departure. Finally - time to relax.


--PART FIVE: CAMPUS CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE--

I made it back to Dallas without a hitch. The flight from St. Louis was said to have a two hour delay, but it ended up arriving on time and with no trouble at all. The next morning, I would be up early, making it to the airport by 6:30am to catch my flight to the most up-to-date city in the world: Kansas City. 

The great thing is, there wasn't anything ridiculously eventful that happened on the way to Kansas City that I feel the need to detail out for you. So, in a way that's a good thing. But, you also know, since I'm still writing, and since your scroll bar hasn't reached the bottom of the window you're browsing in, there's more to come. Don't worry, all in due time. All you need to know now is that 1) the student that picked me up from the airport was fantastic. (If you don't remember, I'm visiting Kansas to check out their MFA program at KU since they weren't at URTAs) She was able to give me a lot of insider information before even setting foot on campus. We made it down to Lawrence, a lofty 45 minutes from the airport, and parked at the theatre building. I walked in, met some faculty and staff, took a tour, sat in on a class, and was taken to lunch by the two faculty members I had met earlier. It was a great first day on campus. I wish I had known it would be the last of this trip. 

My phone rang with the joyous sounds of the Chicago Westin hotel on the other end. They had received my package! This would have been awesome news a few paragraphs ago, but sadly, well, yeah. I asked what happened to the reroute into Kansas, and they said that there was a note, but the original destination hadn't been cancelled. Oh, good. Well, I said, can we maybe guarantee it for 9:30am Tuesday? Since I need it for my interview? Dammit, someone this weekend was going to see the portfolio I spent hours putting together. Well, they promised that it was guaranteed for Tuesday morning, so I hung up the phone and continued with the day.

07:58am. Tuesday morning. The sounds of something resembling a large mammal knocking at the apartment door occurred and I was greeted by a FedEx driver and a HUGE box slightly covered in snow. The volume of Peaches and Herb playing in my head overwhelmed anything else. "Reunited, and it feels so good." Luckily, the temperature was in the single-digits, so I didn't exactly feel like running outside to hug the guy, but it was a great moment. My portfolio and I were finally back in the same state. Together. Now, I just had to make it to the interview.

With my package, delivered to the city of Lawrence, came something else.  A certain scheduling conflict that pushed everyones' schedules back about 24 hours. Any hope of stepping foot on campus was thwarted when a hefty 12.9 inches of fresh, white powder was dumped onto the small Kansas town I had enjoyed the previous day. I mean, being from Texas, and never seeing this much snow in my entire life, I was okay with it. I felt like after my URTAs experience, nothing could get in my way. I made the best of it and spent the day catching up on schoolwork and emailing other graduate schools. My flight, which if you remember was scheduled for Tuesday night, was very very cancelled. So, I got to inhabit this city for another day. This gave way for the opportunity to go sledding with my friend that night near memorial stadium. It was fantastic. But then I remembered, my interview.

Wednesday came and there was still an insane amount of snow on the ground. Official reports said it was non-stop from 2am Tuesday morning to 4am Wednesday morning. I woke up around 10am to prepare for my interview which was rescheduled to Noon on Wednesday. I checked the KU website and under the adorable tiny snowy campus, there was an official notice. 



"CAMPUS WILL REMAIN CLOSED FOR WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 5"

I think I set a land speed record for how fast one can open an email client after I saw that message. I hurriedly asked about my interview status and what exactly was going on - luckily, unknown to me, this had already been discussed. Before I could hit send I had a message waiting in my inbox from the faculty explaining their back-up plan. I was to be picked up by a faculty member at the place where I was staying and taken to one of the other faculty member's houses to have my interview. I had my portfolio, a good set of clothes, and the determination to finally have an interview that would go somewhat according to plan. And that's exactly what happened.

After I made it to the gentleman's house, his wife offered cookies and coffee as I sat down in the dining room. The house felt like a museum: artwork and renderings from shows past filled every inch of wall space they could possibly reach. I really liked it there. The interview lasted for two hours and every second was something different. I definitely am keeping this school in my top contenders for graduate school. The faculty and the students were all such a tight knit group, it felt like I was observing someone else's extended family. When a different student arrived to take me back to the airport, I got a warm goodbye that included the phrase, "Hope to see you next fall!"

---

That entire trip, from San Antonio onto Kansas, was by far one of the most exciting and stressful experiences of my life. From getting to help open the first opera that I've ever worked on to getting to know more inner workings of how airlines and parcel services operate than the CIA, every step of the way was a completely different adventure and something I'll be able to look back on for many years to come. I did end up making it back to Dallas on Wednesday night, in case you were wondering, and was studying within an hour of landing for a test I had the next day. That's the thing with our industry, if you give up, even for one second, you miss an opportunity that may cost you your career. 

Peace,
-Matt



Saturday, July 27, 2013

Firm Decisions.

Where do I want to eat? There's literally a million different choices- especially driving 50 min to and from work everyday. It's tough to make the choice with so many influences; asking me where to eat can be talking to a brick wall or a broken toy that doesn't speak English. There's always been one person that can, despite every difficulty, always lead me to a choice of where to consume whatever I may be in the mood for. A while ago, approximately 3 months, I made a few horrible consecutive decisions that ended up with the eventual unraveling of something that was greater and more magnificent than I could lead my stress-oppressed brain to realize. During last semester, so many shows and tests began to hit hard- up to the very end- and when the smoke cleared, the storm of regret came on, and I was drowning. The worst part is, I didn't even know it. 

I had to tell you that story to tell you this one. The one decision I have ever made that I am 110% sure of is the one I made when i decided to be with that girl. I saw the flashing lights above the water and when I came up for air- the reality hit hard. I take my work very seriously, which is part of the reason I'm even in this mess in the first place, and there have only been two times I've ever shed tears in a professional situation. Once 2 years ago, on June 23, 2011, when I learned of my grandfather's passing, and once a few weeks ago, when I heard she was leaving. I had no idea I even still felt this way- I pushed so many of those thoughts of her under my proverbial rug, like anyone would trying to relieve themselves of an ending like that. I immediately wanted to see her, in anyway possible, even though I knew she couldn't stand me. Long story short, we made a meeting, I chickened out, and she invited me to a second one a week later. I couldn't pass up another opportunity- so I accepted. Shit. I was so nervous, I could barely drive. I could barely handle the 1.38 I needed to give the cashier to pay for my drink while I waited on her at the restaurant. Again, to shorten this all up, we did both meet and eat and talk about a few things- the way the conversation went, it seemed like there was no hope for us. I could feel the drowning feeling coming back, but I was fully conscious this time, and yet, I was smiling. Just getting to see her and hear her voice made me so happy. I wasn't expecting anything else- but if I had to describe this woman in one word, "predictable" wouldn't even be on the ballot. 

Later that night, that is, last night, I got a text from her. It was another surprise invitation. I was blown away- even more appropriately, the finale music of the musical I was working on was playing, which added greatly to the mood I developed. So then, we made our plans to meet for lunch. I had no clue what to expect, at all, which seems to be a theme here, so it continues. 

Well, I met her at a Mexican "sit-down" restaurant with her mom. She still was acting pretty mellow toward me, not smiling or giving off any sense of enjoyment, just like the day before. We started talking and normal conversation was had. When I said something humorous relating to a fourth chair and a text she had sent before- she started grinning and smiling. At that point I was so happy, I hadn't seen her smile in 3 months and it was a great thing to behold. A little while later her mom went to the bathroom, leaving us alone in the middle of the restaurant. I sat and watched her, and she sat and watched me. It was pretty awkward- I didn't really know what I was supposed to say or anything because she invited me and I figured that she would eventually say something. Well, out of NOWHERE she swiftly lunges across the table and kisses me with what was possibly the most romantic and confusing moment of my entire life. When we stop after what seemed like several minutes (which was really only a few seconds) she just said that she felt complete and ready with me. She felt like she was ready to move now that she saw me. It was such a good feeling- and I don't know why. Every fiber of my being wants her to stay- to be with me in what I do. But the truth is, I know this will make her happy. Even though she is still leaving, which was not something I planned on trying to stop, I hope she will save her heart for me. I want nothing more, I decided, than to spend the rest of my life with this wonderful, amazing, beautiful woman and I can't even think of any other way my life could go. 

I don't know what you would call us, but we've never really been a couple that could be labeled anyway. Being with her is what I want. I don't know what drives that feeling- but like she put, I just feel complete. It's as simple as that. And, then again, this is anything but simple.

-
My hope is that whatever you can pull from my experiences you may use to create your own unique journey. Learn from my success and failure- and no matter where this ends up, that's where it was meant to be. 

Matt
Friday, July 27, 2013

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

What Makes it Worth it?

Normally, people in my line of work will tell you how happy they were to make an impact on audience members' lives and how one moment of profound theatre makes all the difference for them. Actually, this is exactly how I feel. I love being able to manipulate human thought and emotion through a design. Everyone involved in the theatre knows that this is the only thing they could see themselves doing, anything else wouldn't even come close. Recently, after having a chat with a young actress about a show she was in that I lit, I couldn't have felt more at home.

So here I am, it's the middle of finals prep week (the week I spend doing all my projects and things that are due the following week) and rather than working on the research paper or drafting assignment, I'm in the theatre. Every year the theatre department has a few rounds of 10 minute scenes for the directing class, this counts as those students' final grades in the class- a performance in which they cast, analyze, and finally present, free of charge, at the end of the semester. Tech lasts two days and the performances last three days. THEN, also at the end of every semester, the Musical Theatre performance labs have a showcase in which the class divides up into several solo and ensemble numbers that they polish and perfect throughout the semester, they are presented usually a day or two after the directing projects have completed. For all of these performances and end of the year showcases, they need a few bodies to help run the lights and sound-and since I have been helping out with both of these performances since my freshman year, it's only natural I continue. This semester was a much smoother performance because I had two lovely technicians who are very passionate about the theatre, much like myself, help me run the shows this year. I stick to the light board, and the other two would either be running sound or helping with a myriad of other things backstage. Then, something else happened.

A supporter of the children's miracle network and musical theatre department student here at TCU asked if I would be able to help run lights for the showcase she was planning as well. At this point I was skeptical about being able to help with all these shows and be able to get my own finals work done too, but honestly, if it isn't stressful, it's not theatre- so why not? I would be running lights opposite of yet another brilliant technician and sound designer here within TCU and my two technicians operating followspots. Fast Forward->> we got through the dress rehearsal and performance with very little struggle and the benefit raised over a thousand dollars to help the kids involved. It's great to say I was apart of something like that--but what made it even better was what happened later that week.

A few days after the performance I went over to study with a few friends, one of which was involved in the benefit concert. We were talking about critical reasoning, theatre history, and some sort of science class when the subject of the concert came up. Constructively critical as we may have been regarding our comments and praises about the performance, the young lady who was involved in the show told me something I will never forget: "You know, that was the first time I had ever sang in a spotlight. It was really great." The genuine gratitude that was delivered with that statement made me absolutely ooze with warm gushy happiness. Call me cheesy, but any award or compliment I ever get on any design after that will probably never amount to the sheer excitement I felt after hearing her say that. I sometimes forget the magnitude of my art- the power a single light can have on a human soul can be a wonderful thing, and I must never forget that.

For those of you interested in seeing the performance, you may follow the link below!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GS_QqIRwB54

Monday, April 1, 2013

I want to do so much.

So much for this Day by Day thing. It's been 6 and a half years about since I've started this blog and I only have like 40 posts to show for it, if that. Unfortunately, life gets busy and we forget the simpler things, such as blogging. I used to do it a lot in my spare time, but it seems ever since I've gone to college I haven't had much time for it.

I'll try to keep this short, but you all know how I can be. So, since it's been a few years since I've shown my face on here, let me try to update you with some of the things that have gone on. My Freshman, Sophomore and first half of Junior year have gone pretty well here at TCU. If you don't know, I'm a theatre major going for a BFA in Theatre Design. Since I've been at TCU I've worked on over 30 shows (not only on campus, but professional off campus projects as well) and it's been quite a ride. I've done productions at Dallas Theatre Center, something I thought would only be achievable after several years of honing your theatrical skills, which was one of the first goals I had set for myself upon starting my career in the theatre. Another weird thing, the "girl in my english class" I mention in my very very first blog I am now quite pleased to call my girlfriend. At this point, we've been dating for just about a year (this month actually) and we've had our ups and downs, but we too are gaining experience and know how into what it takes to being a mature couple.

Currently, I'm working as one of the Master Electricians for TCU's big musical No No, Nanette! and so far its going well. Our big project for this show has to do with upwards of 50 different lights solely to be used in concert with the scenery, so that's getting there. I am also working as the lighting designer for a dance piece at TCU called L'dor V'dor which goes into tech tomorrow night. Well, technically they are in tech tonight as well, but my piece doesn't tech until tomorrow. Anyway, so tomorrow afternoon will consist of writing cues and fixing up the projections for that. I recently opened (and closed) Oliver! The Musical at a Colleyville school, which was one of my very first professional musical gigs (although, since it was with a school I'm not sure if I want that to be considered my first professional musical). That was actually a lot of fun getting to put everything (and much much more) I've learned at TCU to use and I had a lot of help from my friends putting that together, which was great fun as well.

Tonight, I also rode my bicycle for the first time from my apartment to TCU, and while it is only a two mile ride, the entire way is on an incline (because I have to go to a school on a mountain apparently) it put my biking muscles to the test, and when I arrived, I promptly sat and drank water for about an hour. This wasn't the best idea, because all my muscles had tightened up a lot a whole bunch when I sat and it was difficult getting them going again. Thankfully, one of my friends offered me a ride home and I was able to stuff my bike into this friend's tiny car and make it home.

I apologize if my writing seems choppy, it's been a while since I've done this and I would really like to get into the groove again. It's great therapy and helps me think through things a lot.

At this point in my life, I'm trying to figure out what's next. What should happen in the future? How will I find work? Should I go to grad school? I also am having this crazy feeling that I need to move on, or at least pick up a new hobby, and learn how to build and repair motorcycles. I've been interested in motorcycling ever since I was 10 or 11, I even rode a little bit on my father's old Honda XR-75, but I never continued it. It's one of those things where I think "what if I could have kept going?". As for that, who knows. I'm trying to get money together to buy a used bike and get back to it again, but it's so difficult choosing where my path should lie pertaining to theatre and future. I wish I could just throw my hands up and wait for it to happen, but I know doing something like that when the economy is in this state would maybe help my pride, but my bank account would suffer greatly.

I'll try to get back and talk this all through, but this may be the last time for another 3 years. Who knows. I hope you all are doing well in your life, have a great week!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Trinity Shakespeare Festival Log. DAY ONE (May 10, 2011)

So here I am. Back to this lovely blog page I seem to inherently bombard with my useless and silly rants about my day to day life in either exotic or crazy awesome places. Was that a wordy sentence or what? I know my posts from Europe were a bit lengthy, but I must keep these short in order to continue sleeping and therefore working in the insane environment I seemed to have gotten myself into.

When I woke up today, I was excited and nervous at the same time. I have heard absolute horror stories of the Trinity Shakespeare Festval (hereafter, TSF) but I have also heard of the rewarding experience it offers. So being daring, I interviewed for the job with several other TCU students, and got the job! I'm working as a scenic builder and lighting technician for the show. When we arrived at the theatre this morning, I'm not sure if any one of us knew what we were in for.

First of all, after the main company meeting, my roommate and I (since we were so prepared and were already checked in) were sent to wait on a huge shipment of lumber. The trouble with that is, no one really knew when it was to arrive. So we waited for about 2 and a half hours (while everyone else was "checking in") on this lumber shipment. When it finally arrived (at 11:00 or so) we loaded everything into the theatre and went on our break. The break only ended up lasting around 45 minutes.

We first ended up working in the theatre doing something called "rehanging". It's a form of torture that makes people who aren't used to lifting heavy amounts of weight, lift heavy amounts of weight across the loading gallery. And we aren't allowed to let them go or someone could be hurt. Bad. Ok, so I'm kidding, it's not THAT bad. But what it basically entails is relocating all the borders/legs/curtains on a theatre's fly system to their proper location for the show(s) being worked on. It's one of those things that everyone wishes they could hire some robots for.

Once the work resumed in the scenic studio, we were sent to build giant portals that would be used in one of our productions. BY THE WAY, if any one needs any information on the festival, visit http://trinityshakes.org/ for anything you might want to know. Anyway, these portals were about 32 feet long by 6 feet wide. They weren't a simple task to put together. We had about 8 or 9 people working on those until the end of the day when a good amount of work was completed on their main structure.

Tomorrow (at 9:00am) holds many surprises as to what exactly will be done for the continued building and producing of these Shakespearean works, but for now, off to slumber. Goodnight.