You Can’t Add or Subtract Theatre

There actually is a lot of math involved in the Theatre: adding and subtracting actor salaries, ticket sales, lumber for scenic elements, electrical fuses for stage lighting, yards of material for costuming, etc. But adding and subtracting the story, dialogue, etc, is a different ballgame.  Many theatre-goers seem to be confused or unaware of theatrical licensing, and not that I’m an expert by any means, but I just wanted to share my knowledge of how you cannot add or subtract dialogue, words, songs, etc in a theatrical production, nor can you produce a show that has not been licensed to you.

When you go to see a production of THE WIZARD OF OZ, for example, the organization producing the show had to pay ‘royalties‘ and sign a licensing agreement in order to perform that copyrighted material. That means the writers who created the original show receive compensation for using their work on stage. Think of a play as a novel, the author of that novel always gets a cut of book sales because they wrote it, so does the playwright of each production.

There can be very strict rules to follow when producing, as the original creators of the show wish to keep the integrity of the piece. Imagine if you told your friend Larry a story, you made up and then you hear the same story from your friend Jimmy, but all of the facts are misconstrued and the point of what you said was completely missed. <– That is why there are strict copyright rules in regards to theatrical literature. It is the writer’s way of quality control once the show is being done all over the country. 

As a playwright myself, I would be very upset if certain lines of my scripts were changed or omitted without my permission. Those lines or sections of my play would not be present in the material if they had not been needed for the story, and organizations do not possess the right to change words, lines, or characters to fit their needs.

 

“Gosh, there was just so much foul language in this show, couldn’t they have just edited it out?” -Audience Member

^Actually no, the theatre would be breaking their copyright agreement and breaking the law. So no, they cannot edit parts of the script to adjust towards different audiences, they must do the script as written. 

In 2017, Pulitzer-Prize winning playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis discovered that Shelton Theater in San Francisco was producing his play THE LAST DAYS OF JUDAS ISCARIOT, but had cut several scenes and characters from the original script. Guirgis reached out to the theatre, giving them an opportunity to adjust their unsanctioned adaptation, but received heavy pushback from the organization which resulted in the shutdown of that production.

It seems a little extreme: shutting the production down, but actually, it was no longer the play Guirgis had written. The organization had not only chopped up his words, they also refused to comply with his plea asking them to reinstate the play as it is licensed as.

I also have known of several companies who have produced plays or musicals without paying licensing and royalties. Not only is that illegal, but extremely disrespectful to the creator(s) of the show. What gives you the right to just use someone else’s words and the story they spent hundreds of hours building?

In many regards, not paying for royalties is often done in an educational setting, where the producer claims that doing the show is for education. Whether you’re selling tickets or not, whether you’re only performing for parents or large crowds, it does not matter. You cannot subtract that fee from your budget: You must pay the author of the material to produce it. 

Many do not understand these facts, so my post is not to chide or shame, but to educate on these very important items of the theatre. We often are so excited about the glitter and the tap shoes or are so taken aback by some colorful language, that we don’t realize certain things cannot be added or omitted from productions. 

For other sources regarding Copyright or Theatrical Licensing see below:

College: A Working Performance

The opportunity of obtaining a higher education is one of the greatest gifts to receive, as I like to think of knowledge is synonymous with power. College can be a crazy time as you discover career options or even identifying what your core values and beliefs are. Between all of the soul-searching and study guides, I think one of the most pivotal components of my University experience was been dipping my toes into the workforce.

Let’s be real here: college costs a lot of money, being a full-time student is a full-time job, and you should always put your education before anything else. In my life, I found having a job while being in school was a great developmental experience.

I majored in Musical Theatre but worked in several office environments, call centers, even a farm (definitely a unique experience) and more throughout my Undergrad. Working in a plethora of different atmospheres taught me many skill sets that I wouldn’t have learned in my education, but also emphasized ideas and concepts that my professors have taught in the past.

“But I can’t find a job in my intended career field…Shouldn’t I just focus on learning and then worry about working about paying off my monumental student loans when I graduate?”
~Hypothetical College Student

Even if you are unable to be employed in a realm related to your major, I think it’s still beneficial to work in a professional atmosphere. That way you can discover a handful of abilities that a classroom only scrapes the surface of.

Whether it’s related to budgeting time or money, navigating professional relationships, or developing a further understanding of “value” there’s always something you can learn to further your personal progress.

My supervisor Carly, who I worked for at my University’s Office of Admissions

Thankfully, a University schedule is not as cramped as a high school timetable, giving you an opportunity to finesse your time management skills. Once you have a job and a class schedule it only amplifies your duty to prioritize tasks and obtain a better understanding of your time.

When working a job and being a full-time student you are given the opportunity to notice the rate at which you are able to accomplish certain duties. Limited free time helps teach you how to optimize your remaining time effectively.

Seeing that direct deposit drop into my account at midnight is definitely one of the universe’s greatest gifts…Being employed and making your own money teaches you the value of a dollar. “Am I really willing to spend thirty dollars on this sweater that looks just like my other one? Or should I save that money for another time?”

I studied theatre performance & employment in undergrad.

In life, we have to navigate relationships with people of many different categories. One of those sub-genres is a “Working relationship”. I like to think everyone wants to be a good boss one day, but the only way to know what that is is to have been on the other side of the table. Learning how to communicate effectively while still maintaining a position of authority is difficult, and from having worked under many supervisors, I have learned from their example.

College is a crazy, fun time, where you spend lots of time in the classroom and late nights at iHop with your friends. But also allow those years to be a time of professional growth in addition to educational and personal exploration.

Having many different jobs during my undergrad taught me how to be accountable, manage my time and money, and gave me time to learn about having working relationships. I greatly recommend all students have a part-time job while being in college.

 

 

Book Review: The Line

On to the next book! I discovered recently that if you have an Amazon Prime account, there is a Prime Reading catalog, that has hundreds of Kindle books you can download and read for free. My last book: Treasure of Saint-Lazare: A Novel of Paris, was from that catalog and didn’t exactly do it for me. But J.D. Horn’s The Line was an awesome read- full of magic, witches, and fast-paced drama. When I finished this, I immediately bought the second book of the series (The Source) which I am currently reading.

“Savannah is considered a Southern treasure, a city of beauty with a rich, colorful past. Some might even call it magical…”

“To the uninitiated, Savannah shows only her bright face and genteel manner. Those who know her well, though, can see beyond her colonial trappings and small-city charm to a world where witchcraft is respected, Hoodoo is feared, and spirits linger. Mercy Taylor is all too familiar with the supernatural side of Savannah, being a member of the most powerful family of witches in the South.”

I was torn between starting two books, and thankfully The Line is what my boyfriend convinced me to read first. (He hasn’t read either book, but thought this one sounded cool…He was right!)

Many GoodReads reviews were in agreement that this book was entertaining but mediocre, and I can see both sides of the argument. At the beginning of the story, there are many metaphors that are repeatedly used; as if the author’s editor wasn’t focused for the first twenty pages. This book is no means Pulitzer Prize-winning, but the narrative and flow of the novel rapidly increases in quality and speed as the book goes on. There are so many layers of this plot that I continued gasping and was excited/appalled when things did not go as I expected them to.

The Line is told in first-person, my favorite perspective in literature, I feel much more immersed when the character communicates to the reader as if we were them like ‘I could feel my heartbeat quicken’ (not a line from the book, I made it up, trust me his words are far more compelling.) 

Recently I have been reading a lot of realistic fiction, and I missed the fantasy genre. Fantasy fiction is what made me fall in love with reading when I was a child, and I believe that’s why I like this book so much; it’s revisiting my favorite kind of story. The Line discusses magic in the realm of energy: witches are able to use their energy and shape it into magic, where other characters (non-witches) can perform magic- but only if they take energy from others, often stealing it from witches. 

I greatly recommend this book! Super quick read- couldn’t put it down! Buy it now on Amazon.com

DETAILS

Title: The Line (Witching Savannah Book 1)
Author: J.D. Horn
Series(?): Witching Savannah Series

Publisher: 47North
Publication Date: February 1, 2014

Source & Format: Kindle, borrowed from Amazon
Page Count: 298
Genre: Mystery, Historical Fiction
Rating: ★★★★

Comment below if you’ve read The Line, let me know what you thought! 🙂

My ‘NO SPOLIERS’ Subscription at the Hartford Stage

Have you ever had season tickets at a regional theatre? During my senior year of high school, I was lucky enough to be subscribed to the Hartford Stage’s 2012-2013 season. (Thanks Mom & Dad!)

The Hartford Stage is a Tony-Award winning regional theatre in Hartford, Connecticut. I grew up seeing A Midsummer Night’s Dream, their annual production of A Christmas Carol, and more throughout my youth. My Dad had purchased a subscription for he and my mother that year, and after seeing the first production of the season: Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler, they felt compelled to include me in all the fun.

I’m a Theatre person and have been all my life. Never before had I entered a performance space without knowing what the story’s about, knowing who the characters are, what the set would look like. Since we had tickets to all the shows in the season, I went to all of them, and I went completely blind. I often had no idea what the play was about and had no expectation of what should happen.

It was exhilarating.

The best part of having a ticket subscription is going into each production with the mindset of ‘NO SPOILERS’. I refrained from looking up the plot, photos of set design, costume design, anything. It was all a surprise! Granted, there were some productions that I had prior knowledge of, I had seen Kiss Me Kate before, I knew the story of Twelfth Night, but that didn’t stop me from being open and excited to whatever happened on stage. 

The Hartford Stage also produces many world premieres of new plays, and so I got to see musicals like A Gentleman’s Guide To Love and Murder, and Anastasia before they made it to Broadway. I was so excited to see Gentleman’s Guide win the Tony-Award for Best Musical, I kept thinking ‘Whoa! I saw that in my own backyard before it even went to New York!’

My favorite production during the 2012-2013 season was a play called Abundance by Beth Henley (Pulitzer Prize-Winning playwright of Crimes of the Heart), directed by Jenn Thompson. Abundance follows Bess and Macon, two mail-order brides and their twenty-five-year journey across the American frontier in the late 19th century. I still think about this show and it has become one of my favorite plays. And you know what? I probably wouldn’t have even gone to see it if I did not have a season subscription because I had never heard of the play beforehand.

A season subscription can give you gifts you didn’t even know you wanted! My favorite way to go see a show is with the ‘NO SPOILERS- Season Subscription mindset!’ Try going to see a production with no prior knowledge of who it’s by, what the story’s about, or who’s in it. Let me know how it is! Or better yet- purchase a Season Subscription to a local regional theatre near you! Trust me, it’ll be worth it! 🙂

 

The Beginning

Welcome to my new blog! *Cue Cinderella’s trumpeters and a whole lotta glitter being thrown haphazardly into the wind*

“Wait, I thought you already had a blog?” – My Therapist (after I told her I made this)

During the last couple years, I’ve been lucky enough to dabble a bit in the blogging sphere. I’ve written a handful of articles for The HuffPost, BroadwayWorld.com, The Odyssey Online (where I first start writing on the interwebs!), and I’ve even guest authored posts on other sites. But I also wanted a place on the web that was completely and utterly my own.

Even though you (totes) probably know who I am, as my Mother undoubtedly shared this with you via her FaceBook page, let me give you a little background on who I am. My name is Christopher (nice to meet you), I’m 22 and currently have a full-time job at a professional theatre in Virginia. I graduated last May (I know I’m a baby!) with my Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Musical Theatre and was lucky enough to snag a wonderful job and meet the love of my life, all at once (crazy right?).

How’re ya likin’ it so far? Comfortable?

I titled this blog ‘A Silver Lining’, as that is one of my favorite talents: being able to find the positivity in every situation. I hope to populate this blog with my experiences, ideas and hope they entertain you!

There will be several posts on this page that I have published on other platforms, for the reason that some of my favorite or most important pieces (such as my coming out article, published via HuffPost) should live on this domain as well.

I plan to write about lots of subjects, featuring LGBTQ themes, books I’ve read, movies I’ve seen, personal experiences etc. Feel free to shoot me an email, comment on this post, or even send me a good ol’ tweet, etc on things you’d like me to talk about!

-Christopher

My Mindful Journey

Originally published on The Huffington Post on September 5th, 2017

My sophomore year of college I decided to attend a yoga class at a local studio and after sixty minutes of “Gentle Flow” my nineteen year old self was feeling rejuvenated, refreshed, and ready to take on the world. Soon I discovered, throughout my time at Dharma Studio, I didn’t particularly love the exercise, but loved the moment at the end: savasana. I learned that the purpose of savasana was to bring a deep meditative state of rest to conclude class. I much preferred the rest at the end, than the work in the middle, which made me think I would rather enjoy meditation.

 

When I used to hear the word meditation I would pair it with an extreme scenario like sitting a top a mountain at sunrise burning incense. But meditation can be as simple as sitting in a chair and focusing on your breath.

 

I had heard many things about a mediation practice, I knew my uncle meditated, my friends had taken a course on mindfulness in college, but I didn’t really understand how to get started. I started doing research on different techniques and tools I could use to start and found this app called “Calm” in the app store. I decided to download it onto my phone and the rest is history, I can say that it has absolutely changed my life.

As I am extremely fortunate to have been given opportunities in the writing world, theatre realm, and life in general, my anxiety can flare up sometimes; making it hard to walk through my day without feeling panicked about all the things I need to do. I had been searching for a way to ease my apprehension and was lucky enough to find meditation.

 

I am not sitting cross legged on a bare concrete floor, or breathing in incense at dawn. I am sitting comfortably on a pillow, which I specifically keep in my room for my practice, and focus on my breath. There is nothing religious in my practice; I know that some faiths like Buddhism have affiliation with such methods, but for me I am focusing on becoming the best “me” I can. Channeling into my breathing and allowing my worries to “pass like clouds in the sky” are my goals.

Meditation has made me a happier and more grounded person.

There are many different ways to meditate and tools you can use to help you center yourself. My favorite app to use is Calm.com, which provides soothing sounds like “Mountain Lake,” “Sunset Beach,” or my favorite, “Gently Flowing Stream,” to play in the background as you meditate.

There are several guided programs, and the “7 Days of Calm” gives you a taste of numerous types of focus techniques like “Body Scan” or a simple practice called “Calm” which has you relax specific parts of your body through your breathing. Calm is also really wonderful because you’re able to track when you meditate, for how long, and helps set personal goals to become more mindful in your practice.

Whenever I am irritated, sad, lonely, or overwhelmed I turn to my practice of meditation. I implore you to do more research on what meditation is and to try it yourself. I meditate for a 10-minute session every morning. I suggest starting at smaller increments of time, like two-five minutes with using an app like Calm or Headspace.

Meditation has changed my life.

Always remember that you are striving for the journey, not a destination. So do not be frustrated that it doesn’t provide mind-blowing results after the first couple sessions. Keep practicing. I am no expert on mindfulness or meditation, as I learn more and more about it every day, but it has changed my life in a wonderful way.

My Time In Therapy

Originally published on The Huffington Post, March 3rd, 2017

Becoming the Me I can be.

A subtle smile rests on my face as I walk down the sidewalk during a brisk and sunny February afternoon. I’m smirking because I feel as if a weight has been lifted off my chest; my mind feels clearer. What could have caused such a great sense of serenity? A session with my therapist, of course.

There tend to be a lot of misconceptions when you think of people going to therapy. “People who go to see a therapist are crazy. They don’t have support from their friends or family. Those people must be in a ‘bad place’.” I personally think that going to therapy is a smart and healthy decision. I have definitely benefitted from seeing a therapist, and I greatly recommend it. You should never be embarrassed for taking care of yourself mentally, people are always one to talk about how they’re improving their physical health. “Yeah, I’m on this new diet…”

You should never be embarrassed for taking care of yourself

Recently I have been feeling large amounts of anxiety as I am reaching a metaphorical crossroads in my life: I will be graduating college this May and though this excites me, it also stresses me out. Fears of my hopeful career, finances or lack thereof, and just the future in general have been plaguing my mind: robbing me of a good night’s rest. When asked the dreaded question “What are your plans after you graduate?” I respectfully reply “As soon as I find out, I’ll let you know.” And that’s the truth: I have no idea. The constant fear in the pit of my stomach was the catalyst for me to start going to therapy again.

 

I first saw a therapist during my freshman year of college; which was not successful because I didn’t connect with my counselor, making it difficult for me to open up about things that bothered me, disallowing me to talk about my true feelings and get to the root of the problem. I went back to counseling during my sophomore year of college because I had a strong will to “re-build myself”. I wanted to get a greater understanding of who I am and feel a better sense of balance in my life. It sounds all hippy-dippy, but it’s still something I strive for everyday. I went to therapy this (second) time because I wanted to be the best me I could be. I had a great connection with my therapist and was eager to learn more about bettering myself. It was a successful experience and I couldn’t be more grateful nineteen-year-old Christopher was able to make that choice.

“Our wounds are often the openings into the best and most beautiful part of us.” ― David Richo

I was tired of feeling mad, jealous, or scared and not knowing the reason why I was feeling that way. I wanted to further analyze and get a deeper understanding of my emotions in order to live my happiest life. Therapy is a great tool to understand my feelings, how I react to certain situations or people, and how to continually improve myself; using it as a looking glass to see my words and emotions from a different point of view. It’s my metaphorical backboard: I come in every week telling my counselor what has been bothering me and she will help me come to the conclusion why those issues are getting me so worked up.

 

For a while I would use the ominous or generic excuse “I have an appointment” in regards to meeting with my therapist, as I never felt the need to let others know I was going to see my counselor. But I think honesty and transparency are two things the world seems to be lacking at the current moment and I have no shame in receiving help to better myself. Therapy is a safe zone for you to analyze situations, maybe even come to the conclusion that you might be at fault, and how to not make the same mistake again.

Counseling is my time of self-reflection.

I started chuckling to myself a couple weeks ago because in my previous session that week I had finally gotten to the cause of why something was bothering me. “Therapy does work.” I thought while grinning.

Going in every week and talking over my frustrations and concerns with a therapist has benefitted me immensely. I regretfully admit that I tend to be somewhat of a perfectionist, which can be as detrimental as much as it is admirable, but I know that I will continue working, for the rest of my life, on being the best me I can be. I am so lucky to have such supportive, loving family and friends, and within the past year I have finally felt I can be fully honest and open with them. Living my best and authentic self.

 

“I am the one piece I hope to never call finished.” -Addison Peacock

I am proud of my time in therapy.

To Thine Own Self Be True

Originally published on The Huffington Post, October 10th, 2016

I’ve never felt the need to advertise my sexuality on the internet because when you meet me, I don’t say “Hi, I’m Christopher and this is my sexuality.” So why should that be your first impression of me behind your screen? There’s far more to me than who I’m attracted to. But today is a special day: National Coming Out Day. 29 years ago, half a million people marched on Washington in our nation’s capital for Gay & Lesbian Rights, and to honor their bravery and spirit, I am sharing my own personal story.

 

I am gay, but it’s not the only thing I think of when defining myself: I’m an optimist, hard worker, comedian (when people laugh at my jokes), honest, blonde, skinny (as my grandma reminds me far too often), a human being, the list goes on and on. I always think it’s interesting when people become so enveloped in labeling themselves. I’m Christopher, and that’s that.

 

***To those who are receiving this as new information: I’m still the same Christopher you knew before this article. I still love my family, am obsessed with Theatre, love to write, and will continue to crack jokes at the dinner table- pretending like the Buffalo Wild Wings waitress is hitting on me, even though she just asked me if I wanted a refill…I just want to get married to a man one day, and if that makes you think less of me, you can think so less of me: you don’t think of me at all.***

 

It’s taken me a long time to accept myself for who I am. I remember countless nights laying in bed and staring up at the ceiling: my brain and heart wrestling with the fact that I might be different… People always say that growing up and “finding yourself” can be a hard journey, but discovering that you’re gay can be a whole different level of difficulty. Throughout my adolescence, my stomach would hit the floor whenever I would even hear the word “gay” or “homosexual”. It made me upset, I didn’t want to think about how I could be “abnormal.” I just wanted to be cool and fit in, so this whole ‘liking boys’ thing was definitely putting a wrench in my “fitting in” plan.

 

I tried to convince myself I wasn’t this way. Telling myself it was a phase or labeling my feelings as other things that were easier for me to understand. I never really had any gay people to look up to when I was little, no gay family members or family friends. It was a foreign thing to me. Eventually, there came a time when I realized that I am a loving, smart, funny, and caring person, so why should it matter if I was attracted to men? Why can’t I still be a good person and be gay? Although those thoughts were summed up in a few sentences, coming to terms with myself took years.

I also think that the world has changed since I was young and people are far kinder and less harsh on the topic of sexuality, as it has become a more mainstream topic. More and more generations are accepting others for who they are. On the flip side, there are still a lot of sad and angry people, who like to focus their negative energy on things they don’t understand, and unfortunately homosexuality is a common target. For those who just do not know: gay people don’t possess a specific genetic disease, not all gay men like to wear dresses, and not all lesbians possess deep voices and are less effeminate than other women.

I am a happy, educated, intelligent, positive young man, who just happens to be attracted to the same gender.

 

I’m so very lucky to have the parents I have. My mother and father always made it clear to me that they would love me no matter what. Even with that kind of loving support, telling your parents you’re gay is something that can still terrify you. I remember making my bed one Saturday morning and wondering when I would tell them, and questioning if I even really needed to tell them. “I’ll get around to it sometime.” When I did finally tell them, it was as you’d expect from my first couple sentences: they will always love me, for which I am forever grateful.

 

I will never apologize for being myself because I love who I am. In the classic Shakespeare play “Hamlet”, Polonius is giving his son wisdom and advice before he embarks on his journey back to school. One of the lessons he tells his son is: “To thine own self be true.” I have always felt an immense attachment to that quote, because, throughout my twenty-one years of life, I have discovered that the only person you should ever be is yourself. Being comfortable and truthful of who you are can be the difficult thing to obtain, but keep trying, because it truly is all worth it in the end.

“To thine own self be true.” ~William Shakespeare

I can understand that if you do not have a lot of knowledge on this subject, it can make you uncomfortable, as we often get nervous or cramped when talking about things we know little about. But I implore you to do research, the internet is a marvelous tool to educate oneself on cultures you are not a part of. And just a reminder to Love One Another. Love is one of the most powerful things in this crazy world we live in, so love one another for who they are.

 

Whether you’re gay, bi, queer, lesbian, transgender, straight, or anything else, I hope that you find it in your heart to accept yourself and others for who they are. The fact that someone is different makes them unique, and we should celebrate that. After years of being open with my immediate family and friends, I’ve come to discover that:

Life is only the best if you live it in your truest form.