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Things I felt compelled to say…with love.

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Have you ever been so mad at someone you wanted to hurt them? I’m not only speaking about physical hurt, but emotional hurt as well. Retaliation is “to do something bad to someone who has hurt you or treated you badly.” Perhaps you’ve been jilted in a relationship and you can think of nothing but making the person that hurt you pay for how they treated you. I remember feeling that way several times over the years. My heart raced at the thought of getting revenge. And a false sense of gratification filled my senses when I achieved my goal of hurting the other person. But did it do anything positive? I was taught to treat others as I want to be treated. So, would I want someone to hurt me if I hurt them intentionally or otherwise? No, I wouldn’t want anyone to hurt me.

My heart hurts for everyone affected by the terrorist attacks across the globe. The senseless violence that killed and wounded so many and left individuals fatherless, motherless, sisterless, brotherless and friendless. But is the answer retaliation? Violence begets violence I was always taught. If a man strikes you on your left cheek do you strike him? Or do you offer him your right cheek as well? So many mixed messages race through my mind when I struggle to find a way to deal with the violent, hateful acts that continue to hurt so many. Like, why do these terrorists hate? What could have happened to cause them to want to hurt people? We say, for no reason, but they seem to have rationalized a reason haven’t they? Or they wouldn’t have done it in the first place. That’s where I scratch my head over terrorism in general. My mom would say, “they need God in their lives.” But they kill senselessly in the name of God. Historically speaking, zealots have been doing that for thousands of years. Why?

Psychologically speaking there seems to be a feeding of the id, ego and superego. Plus, a sincere lack of empathy. As an older man I can’t even fathom the thought of hurting someone, let alone killing someone for any reason. I tend to feel for everyone involved in a certain way. My heart hurts for the victims and their families and my soul aches for the misdirected, lost, hateful individuals who don’t seem to feel at all. Please, don’t try to twist my words and ask, “How can you feel for these horrible, hateful people who kill others for no reason?” Spiritually speaking it’s the only way I CAN look at it. Is the answer simply to kill those who kill us? Is killing acceptable as long we have a good reason? The legal systems have a entire list of these “good reasons” but does it make it right to take another life?

I know what many of you are thinking. Who is this tree-hugging, life is beautiful, peace, love and flowers whack-job who’s spewing this love is stronger than hate rhetoric. Doesn’t he live in the real world? Of course I do! And like many of you I have thoughts of revenge, feelings of retaliation, even bouts of internal frustration and anger. But, I do my best to emulate the actions of peaceful mentors who taught me by example that love IS the answer. I too can be hypocritical sometimes but I really do my best to love first and foremost. And in my “pie in the sky” outlook, we CAN change others and the world if we all try a little harder to love each other.

In the short-term I know it seems unfathomable NOT to retaliate with killing all the zealots who perform these heinous acts and somewhere in my mind I think about hurting them too. I just really hate myself for having those thoughts. Because somewhere in my soul it just doesn’t seem right. Perhaps there is a solution to not only bring these people to justice but also change their opinion of we “infidels”. And maybe it starts with changing they way we behave in our daily lives. Perhaps we can be more understanding of our neighbors, our co-workers, our acquaintances. If we’re less judgmental. If we don’t expect everyone to believe as we do. Perhaps we can begin a global shift that can begin healing the world, one person at a time…with unconditional love.

Ancestry (I added a new fact)

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I love working on my ancestry. I’ve been doing it for years now. It’s always so exciting when I find out something new about one of my relatives. Well, it’s exciting when it isn’t a living relative who just passed away. Recently my Aunt Marsha (my dad’s sister) passed away and I entered that date into my family tree. And now this morning, My Great Aunt Myrtle left this earth after nearly 100 years.  We were all really wishing she would make to her 100th birthday but she was 2 days short.  She was born August 3rd 1015, the third child to Samuel Kemp Jr. and Elva Weiss. Somewhere in my genealogy records I have a recording of a phone interview I did with Aunt Myrtle many years ago. I believe it was in 2006 when she was a mere 91 years of age. I had questions about her father and her grandfather Samuel Kemp Sr. who came to this country from England in 1882.  She was incredibly forthright and told me all she could remember about her childhood and being raised in the little town of Lime Ridge, Pennsylvania.  It was a wonderful addition to all the factual information I’d compiled. And I was very thankful.

Now I sit here having just entered the date of her passing in my family tree and I’m a little sad. I hadn’t seen her since a big 95th birthday celebration back in Pennsylvania in 2010 but I’ve been able to follow all her family visits via social media. I’d like to thank all my cousins who were able to spend time with her over the past few years. I know you made her last years on this earth very special!

Almost 100 years! Can you even imagine living that long? Aunt Myrtle, way to go on living such a vibrant long life! I was hoping to see you on your 100th, but I know you did the best you could! 🙂 Thanks for being a part of my life! I’ll cherish your memories forever.

Your great nephew,

Paul

Cecil, the dentist and the mob

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Cecil the Lion was needlessly killed for sport by a dentist whose life many people now seek to destroy. That headline in one form or another has dominated my Facebook newsfeed for the past 36 hours. And yes, I did indeed read many of the comments regarding the lion’s murder. In addition to the many calls to ruin the dentist’s life by boycotting his practice, there were comparisons made to other horrific events of the past several weeks. Some complained that there was more outrage at the killing of a lion then there was at the killing of innocent people. I don’t believe they were saying they agreed with the death of the lion but that more folks seem to want to comment on it. I even noticed Cecil’s death trending more than the recent Louisiana theatre tragedy. But then I thought, “Why am I even comparing?”

I’m not sure I can say what I feel about either incident. Actually, I’m not sure my commenting on either will really do any good. I’m incredibly disheartened at the needless killing of beautiful animals. I’m also deeply saddened by heartless killing of innocent people. But am I outraged? I honestly try not to let anything get me that angry. In my experience anger never really served a useful purpose in my life. And venting anger in a social forum just attracts more people who are angry. It creates a flurry of negative energy I always try to separate myself from. When I do read some of the comments, and I don’t know why I do, I find my heart racing and my mind trying to make sense out of why some folks are always looking for a reason to be mad at something. That’s what it seems like to me. It’s a sort of mob mentality that takes over when one says, “That really pisses me off”, and another replies, “We should make sure that person never have another customer”, or “I know what you mean! He’s an asshole.” If I was in a crowd of people and these things were being shouted in my vicinity I’d remove myself from that situation as quickly as possible.

I’d like to see everyone make a conscious choice not fuel the fire when someone we know makes a negative comment on a social networking site. Debating issues is a good thing but when it turns into to hateful, useless name calling and threats then I think it loses its’ usefulness. For the record, I’m extremely saddened that someone uselessly killed Cecil the lion and in no way does it compare to the killing of a human being. My heart weeps for those families who ever lost anyone in a hateful, meaningless murder. I just don’t think ‘more hate’ is going to anything to keep these things from happening. Hate breeds more hate. But love does breed more love. Let’s all stay above the fray. Let’s have our feelings. Let’s feel our feelings. And then let’s let them go. And when those negative things are gone, we can fill that empty space with love and compassion.

Passionate education

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A theatre friend of mine recently asked the question, “Is it reasonable to compare performing with a Community Theatre, for a student, to sports or band activities?” My initial reaction was, “Of course!” And yes, it is certainly reasonable to compare the two. That lead me to read numerous journals and articles written on the positives and negatives of extracurricular activities for our children. And I realized what I was doing was looking for information that would support my argument that theatre is better. And I don’t want to be ‘that guy’ that disses sports.

I was a sports kid. Yep, even though I’m a professional actor I played a lot of sports in my childhood. Even when I wasn’t playing little league baseball, I was involved in ‘sandlot’ kick ball, football, and basketball. I was never very good any of them but I enjoyed spending time with other kids. In my organized sports activities I loved being part of ‘the team’. I will admit there were times I felt bad because I wasn’t as good as the other kids but I realize now I probably could have been better if I enjoyed it more. I find as an adult I tend to put more time into learning things I’m interested in. If I loved sports, like so many wonderful children do, I know I’d have put more time into getting better. But I didn’t, and that’s okay!

Did I learn anything from sports? Well, being part of a team was wonderful. I felt included and it definitely helped me improve my interpersonal communication skills. But I always felt like an outsider there. And it’s because I think deep down I never really wanted to be there. I was doing it because my parents felt it was good for me. They wanted be to follow in the footsteps of my siblings who played sports and were good at it. But it just wasn’t me. When I hit college I started playing volleyball and had a blast. Finally a sport I enjoyed and didn’t feel like I couldn’t do adequately. I worked hard at improving my skills and felt a sense of pride at my accomplishments. But I know now it was because I enjoyed it so much! That reinforces my belief if you want to learn something you will. And I did. It also didn’t hurt that most of my team mates were actors and singers like me. There was no pressure to fit in or play any kind of needless social game. And even though we liked to win our matches, it wasn’t necessarily the reason we played. We played because we enjoyed it. We played because it was fun. It was also quite a great workout! I realized as I re-read what I wrote I haven’t really answered the question of whether or not I learned anything from sports. I did learn things from sports. I learned how to work as a team. I learned how some people are athletically gifted and others are not. I learned it’s okay not to be good at some things. And unfortunately, I learned how too much competitiveness can be a very bad thing. I watched parents, mine included, get so emotionally involved with winning that they shouted, jeered and ridiculed other players and coaches. I learned in life, there are winners and there are losers. Now, I’m not saying this is true for all parents and their children, I’m just noting my experience. There are incredible parents and coaches out there and do sports because of the joy it brings to the kids. They are taught, just because your team loses, doesn’t mean you are a loser. If your team wins doesn’t give you latitude to boast about your accomplishments to demean the other team. They are taught to be better individually both on and off the field. And as a teaching tool, there’s where having your kids involved in sports really shines. And it’s also where having your kids involved in theatre really shines too.

Competition can be so detrimental to society. Yes, it can be a driving force for advancement in many walks of life but it can also breed so much negativity. As a professional actor I compete for roles every day of my life. And even in school, children compete for roles in productions. Some get in, others do not. But what I really like about theatre is the number of areas children can get involved. Like sports, some children have innate skills that make it easier for them to excel. Other children must work at it to get better. But unlike children’s sports, theatre offers many other options. Perhaps a children really wants to be involved in theatre but doesn’t sing. Well then, they may be able to dance well. If they don’t dance well perhaps they have the natural ability to act. If a child wants to be involved in theatre but doesn’t act, sing or dance well they can be involved in the technical side. They can learn, costuming, set building, lighting, sound, and if they have incredible organizational capabilities they may be able to stage manage or even co-direct a show. That way they can do what they love, and be involved in putting together a great show. That is the one thing I love about getting children involved in theatre. Everyone can be included and work toward a common goal because in theatre no one is more important than the other. Without the “whole” there is no end result.

I have friends who loved both sports and theatre. Even in school some of them attacked both with equal fervor. I was always impressed with that passion. I love watching sports but I never really had the passion for it. I did my first play when I was in first grade and it was such a wonderful experience. But my performing in my first 14 or so years was playing my guitar and singing with my family’s bands and in church. It wasn’t until I finally gave up sports that I started really working toward something I love; theatre.

For the past week or so I’ve had the privilege of working with a young boy who was in our ensemble of my current production “Footloose”. I was behind the theatre one night and I met his mother and she said, “Oh, you’re Paul? He talks about you all the time and says you’re real nice.” Now, realize that this boy has done eight performances of this show and it’s quite a commitment for a child. She went on to say, “He can’t wait to come sing and dance every night! He really loves it”. I left the theatre feeling blessed to have been even a small part of his experience. I know there are stories like that in sports too. That just wasn’t my experience.

I know kids can learn a lot from both sports and theatre but we have to be careful not to pressure them in either direction. Perhaps children won’t like either. And in my experience, if they don’t really like it, if that really isn’t what their passion is, then they won’t work very hard at getting better. Now, if someone is better than you and that inspires you to work hard and improve yourself than that’s a good thing. But with competition, children have to be taught that winning or losing doesn’t define them. So is it fair to compare children in sports and children in theatre? Well, I guess we’d have to ask the children themselves. In my experience there are positives and negatives of both. But I really think it depends on where the child’s passion lies.

Be Nice

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My heart hurts sometimes. I will never truly understand why some human beings feel the need to say horrible things about other human beings. I’m sure the right person could find psychological reasons why it happens. But all I can think of is, “can’t we just be nice to each other despite our differences?”

“Be Nice”, my mother would say as she caught me arguing with a friend over a toy. “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all”, she’d calmly exclaim as she overheard me saying negative things about others. And of course my Mom could always be heard saying, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” I was sitting here today, thinking about being nice, what I say, and how I treat others and I’ve been reflecting on those things Mom told me. When she said ‘be nice’ I’m not always sure she meant, BE nice. Usually it was a reprimand whose intent was to stop me from acting up. When she talked about ‘not having anything nice to say’, that comment too was intended to stop me from spouting negative comments about a person. I’m not saying she didn’t say those things out of love but her words were said more as punishment than teaching. Or was it? We have to be very careful not only with the words we say but how we say them. I’m not sure I really heard her when she repeated those words to me over and over. They were usually accompanied by a stern look, a wagging of the finger, and possibly a crossing of the arms. That meant I was in trouble. Did those words have a positive effect on me or a negative one? Well the fact that some 40+ years later I’m still thinking about them certainly lends credence to the fact they had an impact on me. I’m sure when she said ‘be nice’ she was feeling ‘why is he acting like that? I didn’t raise him to be mean. Oh, isn’t that disappointing.’ When she said, ‘if you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all’ she was probably thinking, ‘now why would he say such a thing? Why is he being that way? I didn’t raise him like that.’ At least that’s what I think she might have been feeling and thinking. That’s the way I interpreted it anyway. So in my mind, I disappointed her over and over again. Every time she said those words to me I felt like I couldn’t do anything right. I think it was a situation where her words didn’t necessarily match her behavior or emotions at the time. It took many years to understand my Mom just wanted me to be good, kind, humble, giving and thoughtful. And what I learned is no amount of meaningful reprimands from her could teach me that. But she did with her own actions. The one sentence that truly hit home with me was, ‘do unto others as you would have them do unto you.’ That one made sense to my 10 year old mind and it still does today because it involves our “selves”. We do not want to be treated badly so why would we do that to other people. We know how we feel when someone says bad things to us why would we want to make others feel bad. But my Mom didn’t need to say those words, she lived them every day. Oh, there is another lesson mom repeated over the years, ‘actions speak louder than words’. And her actions taught me everything I needed to know about kindness, humility, charity and thoughtfulness.

So what is the moral of this story? Well, to use another one of my Mom’s sayings, “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” Those words never really made me feel better when I heard them but I know she meant well. I’m sure she was hurt when I was hurt and sometimes we don’t know how to help the ones we love. The truth is words can’t hurt us. But the intent, the actions, the emotions and the behavior accompanying them can. Sometimes even when we think we’re saying something nice our mannerisms can be perceived as something completely different. It’s a lot to think about when we are having a conversation with someone. Occasionally it’s best not to say anything at all. Especially if what you are planning on saying doesn’t match what’s in your heart. People can tell.

I think all of this is coming up now because I’m playing a troubled a Reverend in my current production whose actions do not match his words. My character doesn’t even believe what he is saying even though he expects others to do so. And I think that’s true for a lot us sometimes. Which is why now I’m making a concerted effort to try to match my behavior with my words. And never, ever do I want to say anything to purposefully hurt someone else. I want to make all my words positive and never negative. I truly think that’s what it means to ‘be nice’, to hear the words ‘if you don’t have don’t anything nice to say don’t say anything at all’, and putting into practice ‘treating others as you want to be treated.  Which is why now I truly understand another thing Mom used to say.  When I’d ask her she was doing or feeling she’d sometimes laugh and say, “I’m a work in progress.”  Me too Mom…me too.

My Dad

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I had a good dad. He may have not had a high school diploma but he was smart. He didn’t play sports but he loved athletics. He didn’t read books but he could read a blueprint. He was a self-made man, forced to leave school early, work and help out his family. He learned a trade and he stuck with it most of his life. And he never really backed down from a challenge. I respect that. He loved his family, his kids, me. I never doubted that for a minute. He punished me, sometimes with a belt, but I never saw him angry when he did. He taught me things; lots of things. One of those things came in handy just yesterday. My dad was a fine electrician and he used to take me with him on jobs. Mostly, I did a lot of the grunt work but I picked up so much along the way. Like the simple technique of how to change a light switch on your wall. Unfortunately I’m currently doing a job 7 hours from home so I had to walk my wife Carolyn through the process over the phone. And as she texted me pictures of her progress as we talked on the phone, I thought of my dad. He taught me that and so much more. Most importantly he taught me unconditional love. Really he did. My dad’s brother fought a battle with alcoholism all his life. And when so many others turned my uncle away, dad didn’t. He wasn’t soft on him but he loved him. I talked to my uncle before he died and he said, “I never doubted your dad loved me, even though I didn’t think I deserved it.” That was my dad. I remember one time when I was in my late 20’s I was wound up tighter than a swiss watch. We were in Canada on our family fishing trip and we were in the boat. I couldn’t relax, kept talking about problems at work, and other issues and dad had enough. He looked at me and said, “You have to relax! Look where we are! All life’s problems will be there when you get back but for now you have let them go.” And he was right.

I never think of my dad without a smile coming to my face and that’s a good thing. Miss you pop. Happy Father’s Day.

Why perform?

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A particular attitude or way of regarding something is known as perspective. It’s also referred to as point of view. I’m famous for doling out the advice, “when we change the way we look at things, the things we look at change”, and when I take my own advice it’s beautiful. But it isn’t always easy. As an actor I’ve had the privilege to be able to perform in front of very large audiences. It’s a question many audience members have asked me over the years; “what’s the largest amount of people you’ve ever performed for?” And I have a few stock answers I usually give. What I should say is, “the size of the audience has nothing to do with it.”

I think some people measure the success of a particular performer by the number of years they’ve been doing it, what theatre’s they’ve worked at, who they’ve worked with, even what roles and shows they’ve done. They as an audience want to be able to impress friends and neighbors by telling them they saw an actor last  night who once performed on Broadway or was in a movie with Tom Hanks! As an actor I get caught up in that too. And when asked about our ‘biggest audiences’ my ego want to give them an answer they’d be proud of. I have to stop doing that.

I do not act because of an audience, big or small. Yes it’s true I love acting in front of a receptive audience who pay attention and are moved by what I’m doing, but it can’t be the only reason. And my level of enthusiasm for performing should not and cannot be ruled by the number of audience members attending.  It is all a matter of perspective.

This acting career more or less chose me. The fact that I make a living doing it is such a privilege. I’m making a concerted choice to change the way I look at things. I’m going to look at audience size from the the theatre’s perspective. I want the different venues to succeed so therefore I want them to sell more tickets. But that in no way will effect how I perform. I strive to give the same performance whether there are 30 people in the audience or 300. And if someone asks me what the biggest audience I’ve ever performed for I’m going to respond, “I try not to think of those things because they don’t have any bearing on what I do.” Yes, I love the symbiotic relationship of actor and audience. It’s why I do what I do. But the truth is, all it takes is one audience member to make that relationship happen. I’m going to meditate on that for awhile. 🙂

No Response Needed

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I read a blog yesterday that dealt with the feeling of rejection one feels after submitting an application/resume for a new job and never receiving a response. That feeling can be even worse when we actually interview for a position and we don’t hear anything back. “What did I do wrong”, are the words our subconscious repeats. That feeling can go from self doubt all the way to “Well, they’re all a bunch of jerks at that company anyway! It’s great that I didn’t get the job!” But those are only conditioned responses our ego uses to mask the feeling of rejection. The blog I’m referring to tried to put a positive spin on being rejected. But I’m going to try to go further by saying even the word ‘rejection’ should be abolished.

I don’t interview for jobs any longer but I do submit headshots and resumes in the hopes of securing auditions for upcoming shows. And to say I’ve received only a few responses would be an understatement. Occasionally a thoughtful casting agent or artistic producer will write back thanking me for my submission but for the most part I send in my information and never hear a word. But does that mean I’m being rejected? Not necessarily. I like to say I’m a working actor. And yes, there is definitely a little bravado attached to that monicker. I think I should change that to simply, actor. “Working” says, “Unlike a lot of performers out there people are actually hiring me.” Even reading that puts a sour taste in my mouth. And if I’m soured by it I can only imagine what folks think when I say it. Because the truth is we are ALL working actors. Because most of the actors work isn’t on the stage it’s trying to find our next job!  And yes, it is a lot of work. But that is what we signed up for! But how do we handle it when of all work seems to go unnoticed? I for one try to never think it goes unnoticed. I fight that part of my subconscious that wants me to pine, fret, worry, analyze, and get angry because I’ve never received a response. And boy, sometimes it is difficult. It’s easier when you HAVE a job and you don’t get a response, but when you’re looking for a job and receive no responses that’s when our egos want us to suffer and question. But that is when we should be the most assured of our self-worth. The truth is there are many, many reasons why we may have not received a response. And as the blog-writer accurately pointed out, if we never heard from anyone, chances are others didn’t. We are most likely in the majority and not in the minority. That’s a great way to look at it. That’s not to say we don’t continue to strive for excellence in our attempts to land our next gig, it’s just to say that if it doesn’t work out, there will be other opportunities. I know it isn’t easy, but rejection is kind of a fallacy. It simply means that for what ever reason the people who are hiring aren’t interested. But the next people might be. Yes we all want to get positive responses to all our submissions, and we will get some. But we should never ‘need’ a response to validate our choice of profession. I submitted quite a few headshots and resumes over the past couple of weeks and whether I hear anything or not, I’m still thinking, “When the right persons gets my information, I’ll get a response.” 🙂

Try It You’ll Like It

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You auditioned for the 3rd time and you are finally cast.  You pack, you travel to the theatre and are greeted by the staff and fellow actors.  After a nervous nights’ sleep  you arrive at the rehearsal and do a read-through.  This is really happening.  You spend hours rehearsing and even your nights are filled with learning your lines, blocking and choreography.

You walk into rehearsal on the 6th day and hear,  “I’m sorry, but the theatre is closing.  You all have to go home.”  What??!!

What do you say to something like that?  Once again, a landmark theatre, The Wayside in Virginia is closing its doors.  And that’s sort of the way it all happened.  Something very similar happened to me once, a few yeas ago.

After spending three seasons with a rep company,  I returned to work after the Christmas break to be told, we can’t afford to pay you any longer so you’ll have to leave.  A few years later, that theatre too closed it’s doors.

What is happening here?

“It’s the economy!”, some people say.  “It’s because arts funding is getting cut!”, others shout.  “It’s the electronic age!”, still others pontificate.  And in all probability, some of that may be true.  But is it the whole story?

I remember doing a report, many years ago, that calculated the amount of revenue a theatre I was working for would increase, if every single adult in a 3 county region would purchase just ONE ticket to an upcoming show.  And I’m talking about one show in an entire season.  It was unbelievable!  The theatre could have survived on that alone!  So it begs the question, why don’t we do it?  That’s the million dollar question isn’t it?

People plan for major purchases, save for vacations, and are o.k. with spending money on lunch and dinner.  But when it comes to going to see a play or musical there seems to be a tendency to say, “It’s so expensive.”  Well, it can be.  But I know from years of marketing people WILL spend money on things they want and are interested in.  So is that it?

I don’t have any statistics to prove what I’m about to say, but I feel in my bones it’s true to a point.  The younger generation, in general, does not have as much interest in live theatre as the older generation.  Everything is quicker.  Instant gratification is key.  Attention spans are getting shorter and shorter.  But what is it about live theatre that doesn’t interest the 20-something generation?  Are we too boring?  Is there too much thought involved?  Is sitting in a theatre for 2 1/2 hours too much to ask?  Are the stories outdated?  Wish I knew.

I do know that there are a lot extremely talented people both on and off stage that make their livings creating and performing astounding live theatre across this great nation of ours.  And I know in my heart that will never stop.  Even though fewer, and fewer people seem to support live theatre by attending performances, we will still be there doing what it is we were put on this planet to do.  Perform.

To all the young people out there…if you haven’t seen a live play or musical.  Give it a shot.  You might really enjoy it.  To all the folks of my generation and older, go see a live show, there really is nothing like it.  I’ve had the distinct honor of working with some of the finest actors and singers I’ve ever seen or  heard.  And yes, that out trumps many of the known actors we see on television and movies.  I’m telling all of you, one of the best actors you never heard of is probably a few miles away at that local, professional theatre in your city or town just waiting to blow you away.  No, they’re not plastered all over magazines, the Today show or TMZ but they’re there, giving all they have 5 or 6 days a week.  And they’re really good!

Maybe that’s how it all starts.  Just go.  Buy ONE ticket.  Experience live, professional theatre.  If you like music, go see a musical.  If you like drama, go see a drama.  If you like to laugh, go see a comedy.  They’re there.  And if we all turn off Netflix, our T’V’s, and our computers for just 3 hours, and attend a live play or musical, they perhaps theatre’s won’t have to close their doors any more.

Occupations

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A couple of months agoI saw a report that unemployment is below 8 percent here in the United States.  According to experts that is still too high but the good news is the percentage keeps dropping.  And as often happens with me, that started a morning of researching employment in history.  Why do people do what they do?  Were there always jobs that people were paid to do?

The internet is full of scholarly articles on ancient occupations.  Since the beginning of time a person would discover an innate talent and they would use that talent to their benefit.  Some people were hunters.  Others were gatherers.  As issues arose in a tribe or group of people, solutions were created by the thinkers; problem solvers.  There were the artisans that created clothes, useful household items, even art.  And even though times were tough it seemed that people were using their talents to survive.  And yes, there were entertainers back then too!  It seems there were always those danced, sang and made people laugh.

No, this isn’t one of those posts about me loving what I do.  But it does contain my thoughts on how our society has changed.  I watch my news feed on Facebook and for the most part I see my friends and acquaintances dissatisfied with what they do for a living.  I had a boss tell me a long time ago, “If you wake up in the morning with a huge pit in your stomach caused by the thought of going into work, them maybe this isn’t what you are supposed to be doing.”  I’ve carried that with me over the years and I believe it still rings true.  I’ve been there, doing jobs that weren’t fulfilling just to make a paycheck.  And I agree, it’s not fun.  But what can we do?

Often over the years I’ve seen work doing by friends who have great talent.  A miserable businessman who makes incredible carpentry work on the side, a salesman who paints incredible pictures, even a computer guy who is a wonderful musician.  Well, the list goes on.  And I often say, “Wow, why don’t you do “that” for a living?”  The reply often sounds like, “Well, I certainly love to do “that” but how will I make enough money to live?”  Maybe I’m incredibly naive but I can’t see just doing something for a living because we need money to live.  We spend the majority of our 24 hours in a day working.  Doesn’t it make sense to doing something we love doing so it doesn’t feel like work?  Yes, there are hobbies that people enjoy on the side but wouldn’t it be cool if we could somehow turn that into a profession?

I’m not saying it’s easy but I know it can be done.  It makes my heart sink to see so many unhappy friends and family members doing things that don’t make them happy.  Yes, there are times we all have to do things we don’t necessarily like to do.  I’m sure even the basket weavers had to do things they didn’t want to do back in the day, but they were still basket weavers.

Did you ever get lost in something?  Did you ever get so caught up in writing, building, drawing, sewing, singing, or playing that time sped by so quickly you didn’t even realize it?  Whatever causes you to do that is a good sign that is something you love.  It’s a wonderful way to live doing what one loves.  I was just talking to a cast mate last night about a family I know who travel the country selling tie dyed clothing at music festivals.  And they love doing it.  What do you love doing?  🙂

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