Acceptance

I meditate with Calm every morning (and sometimes in the afternoon as of late) and a couple of days ago my practice was focused on acceptance. I welcomed that topic, as I have been pondering on how to feel surrounding what’s currently going on in the world.

I don’t think that any of us could have predicted we’d be where we are today. The surge of panic, uncertainty, and cancelations have caused many of us to suddenly plummet into a deep sadness. I’ve read a lot of articles about how the world is grieving, not just for those lost to the illness, but grieving what our life has become, grieving for our life before. The time before all of the “shelter in place”, school cancelations, and toilet paper shortages.

Throughout all the strangeness, it’s been comforting for me to know that every single person on this planet is going through this. You are not the only one who has lost a sense of normalcy, lost the freedom to go wherever you’d like. Some have even lost loved ones. We are ALL going through it in our own way.

Recently, I have been sitting with some acceptance of what’s going on in the world right now. Acceptance that we are in a world-wide pandemic, that we have never dealt with a health crisis of this magnitude before. Acceptance that I have been furloughed from my job and am unemployed for the foreseeable future.

The meditation I was practicing was written and guided by teacher Jeff Warren as part of his series for Calm. The following quote includes some pearls of wisdom he shared:

Acceptance does not mean approval. It does not mean collapse or indifference. Acceptance is realism. It means: this is what’s going on in the present moment and I’m going to acknowledge that it exists. We then have the space to make an appropriate response.

Jeff Warren

It means: this is what’s going on in the present moment and I’m going to acknowledge that it exists. Wow. So funny how a simple phrase can really put your world into perspective.

I have jokingly shared that I’m wired differently, that my brain defaults to the positive, which has prompted me in my adult life to check in with myself and give myself allowance for negative feelings. And though I am still grieving, I am also accepting. I am staying home, only going out to retrieve things I need, social distancing from others when I am outside getting exercise, limiting my media intake, reading lots of books, playing lots of Animal Crossing, and seeking support when I need it.

I don’t approve of this new world we live in, but I am accepting that it is the world we are living in today. This is the present moment and I am living in it. Sending all of you good energy and love during this time. Please reach out if you need someone to talk to, we are all here together.

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

Due to the coronavirus crisis, I have been furloughed from my job, which has actually given me the much needed time to recharge.

Last year I purchased a fancy shmancy camera (DSLR Camera) that I’ve used for work: photographing productions, doing promotional photoshoots, but I’ve yet to just use it for fun.

Here are the images that I took today!

What words come to mind when you see the follow images?

Comment below!

I’m Writing A BOOK!

This past year I vowed to become a more dedicated reader, establishing a routine to pick up my kindle every night before bed. After reaching ‘my reading goal of 35 books’ I read 39 novels in 2018! Woohoo!

Whilst reading each book I would observe how they were successful and why. In books I loved, I realized:

  • There was never a dull moment: the plot progressed on every page.
  • I could personally connect to one, if not all of the characters on some level.
  • Each chapter left me wanting to turn the page and find out what happens next, thus reading later and later into the night.

Since I was little I have always wanted to be a writer. I have been fortunate to have several of my plays produced professionally, written a couple short stories, but in my adult life- I have never attempted to write a novel.

I had tried writing ‘books’ when I was growing up but always threw in the towel after trying endlessly to write the first chapter. “This is too hard. I don’t know what’s going to happen.” After writing several plays, I learned that planning out my story helps my writing immensely. I don’t have to think about what should happen next, I already know- I just have to focus on fleshing out the current moment.

After reading so many books this year, I have decided: I’m going to write my own novel. This is what I want to do next, be an author of my favorite genre of book: a young adult fantasy novel.

Since September I have been creating my own world: Midon, crafting characters like Morgan, Leon, Tabitha, and developing an epic story full of villains, magical quests, and fantastical powers. I have successfully outlined the first two books in the series and am currently working on the third (out of my expected four).

“The fantasy world of Midon is divided into four parts: Nexton, Corton, Susston, and Eracton. Each realm’s citizens possess supernatural abilities of sight: Nexus seers can touch an object and see that item’s past or future, Sussurus seers can communicate with spirits, Eractus can speak to one another silently in their thoughts, while Cortus seers can project their visions to people all over the continent. All four types of seers protect their own sacred relic that keeps the universe in balance.

On the millennium anniversary of the relics’ creation, Morgan discovers that she is part of an epic prophecy to protect the relics from falling into the hands of The Elice: a resurrected Darke cult. Join Morgan as she sharpens her sight, joins forces to protect the relics, and discovers more about her family history than she could’ve ever imagined.”

I know that writing a novel is going to be ten times harder than I already imagine it to be, and I know that I have not received a formal education in writing fiction, but this is something that I really want to do, and I’m going to do it! My goal for completing my first draft: approx 60,000 words, will be due on December 23rd, 2019.

Wish me luck!

2018: A Year In Review

This year could not have gone by faster. What the even heck! I swear that we just rang in the new year a month ago! I had so many wonderful moments in 2018, getting to continue stretching myself as an artist and a person.

I am so grateful for all of my friends and family for their continuous love and support. Below I have compiled my top 18 moments of 2018! 🙂

Top 18 Events in 2018

  1. Celebrated my 23rd birthday in rehearsal for Frog & Toad, Spring Awakening, and then going out to dinner with Travis & the amazing MMT Apprentice Company
  2. Raised $280 on my birthday for The Trevor Project
  3. Boyfriend Travis & I celebrated one year together in June.
  4. Traveled to Europe for the first time: family vacation in Portugal- see the video blog here
  5. Saw 22 movies #RequiemMoviePass (Mary Poppins Returns, Crimes of Grindlewald, First Man, Mister Rogers, Ant-Man, Jurassic World, Incredibles II, Solo, Isle of Dogs, Tully, Avengers, Quiet Place, Ready Player One, Jumanji, Wrinkle In Time, Love Simon, Lady Bird, Winchester, Black Panther, Call Me By Your Name, Insidious, and The Post)
  6. Read 39 novels- see the list here
  7. Saw 17 theatrical productions, the majority at Mill Mountain Theatre and two on Broadway (Waitress & Once on This Island)! AND HAMILTON!
  8. Taught 256 students in the spring & fall semester, and in summer camps.
  9. Travis & I traveled Emerald Isle, North Carolina to our friend Sammy’s beach house
  10. Performed on stage in Spring Awakening (Otto) and A Simple Gift (Sam Cameron) at Mill Mountain Theatre
  11. Traveled to Los Angeles to see Travis’s production of Spring Awakening
  12. I was Pikachu along with my boyfriend Travis (Ash) and friend Michelle (Jessie- Team Rocket) for Halloween
  13. I voted in the midterm elections
  14. I directed ‘Shakespeare’s The Tempest’, ‘Auditions’ (Write Stuff!), and ‘A Year With Frog and Toad TYA’.
  15. I wrote Mother Goose Tales, a short play for young audiences, that also had its premiere in May at Mill Mountain Theatre in May of this year.
  16. I wrote 18 articles for BroadwayWorld, my blog, and The Ensemblist
  17. I went back to Shenandoah to speak on an Alumni Panel
  18. I continued meditating every day currently, my streak is on day 595

Thank you if you were involved in my 2018– I am so appreciative of you making this year wonderful!

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.