Showing posts with label Career. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Career. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Latest on Lanikai

Lanikai Elementary School has a stage!

When last we spoke about the Lanikai Elementary School stage project (in this post), I was daydreaming about little kids performing the hula on that stage, under that beautiful banyan tree, a short walk away from the picturesque beaches of Lanikai and Kailua.

But, I needed to get my head out of the clouds. We had work to do! Kat managed to hook up with Shawn McKay. He's another parent at the school, a husband to one of the school's teachers, AND an actual contractor! With this video fly-through that Kat made of my sketchup model, and what I am sure was a kick-ass speech she gave at the fundraiser, the school got enough in donations to fund the project.

I'd given them the overall design of the stage, but the school couldn't start building until everything was approved by professional engineers. Enter our new friend Jon, the structural engineer, working pro-bono (on occasion) for the school system. He was immeasurably helpful. I gave Jon this layout plan:

and he turned that into engineered construction drawings:

I took Jon's construction drawings, which indicated but didn't show how the framing would work, and I made this plan to help visualize the framing. That's a lot of lumber!

And I made this model to indicate how the Trex decking should be laid out:

We had some fits and starts with scheduling the construction. We thought for a minute that we'd be able to do the work during the school's Spring break (back in April)- a slender window of time that would have allowed me to fly out to Hawaii to participate in the construction before flying back to NYC and then down to Barbados with Cindy, our friend Kendra, and the Castro's (Bernadette, Arsenio, and Axel) for our dear friends' the Spangler's wedding. But that didn't work out. There were a number of complications, not the least of which was the fact that Shawn-the-Contractor's wife was 9 months pregnant and due to give birth.

Then, one day during the Spangler wedding trip, this picture popped up on my Facebook feed. It documents the arrival of the first pile of lumber. I don't believe I've ever been so delighted by a pile of lumber in my life.

A few days later, Kat posted a time-lapse video of the initial framing of the stage. I was elated to see things coming together! But I'll save that video for later; it's now included in a time-lapse video of the entire build process.

In the meanwhile, here are a few still-shots of the stage framing. I understand that the construction was done both by Shawn McKay's construction team as well as parent volunteers.

I wonder if they bought the stair stringers pre-cut or if some poor soul had to cut them all out individually with a circular saw...

And here's the decking, staged to go on the stage. (You see what I did there? You like?)

And now for the complete construction in under 3 minutes (apologies for the abrupt ending of the music):

Here's Kat's rig for her GoPro camera. I'm thrilled she took the trouble to make that video, because not being able to participate and help really bothered me. Getting to watch the process (even after the fact) helped me not feel so terribly far away.

And here's the best part! Blessing the stage and the kids dancing the hula on it!!

And another best part: everyone uses the stage during recess. Some kids use it to sit and chat, some are dancing, some adults are supervising the kids, and a couple of girls had plunked themselves in the middle to color and draw. That's Kat in the pink dress on the left.

By the way, if I forgot to mention it earlier, I chose to wrap the stairs all the way around the stage this way so that the sides could be used as a small stage or lecture podium if any teachers wanted to bring their classes outside and stay in the shade.

The school is currently working on arrangements to make the hand rails and a safety railing that will go along the back of the stage where the wooden barricades (leftover from the May Day Celebration) are currently standing. I provided the school with 3 hand-drawn sketches when the rest of the drawings were submitted, and we chatted about it a bit today.  The project is down to punch-list items.  I'll post again when they get the railings and stuff up, but other than that, Lanikai Elementary has a stage, and we're all thrilled!!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

PHL: Cindy Keiter's Upcoming Show

Life is moving pretty quickly these days.  Here's the first in a series of short posts to catch you up on some of the things we've got going on around here.

First and foremost, Cindy is in rehearsals for her next show: The Ballad of Rodrigo.  Cindy is reprising her role as "Sally the Muffin Lady," a character she played in the first of this modern film-noir style play series, Doubles Crossed, which was produced in June of 2012.  The Ballad of Rodrigo is the first time Cindy has ever done a sequel on stage, and she loves it.  Jason Grossman, the playwright, has shifted the tone of this current play away from the full-on farcical comedy of the previous edition and towards something a little darker, without losing its heart.  Cindy reports that it is working really well.

I won't read the full script; I prefer to know as little as possible about shows before I see them.  But we're now in the phase of rehearsals where I employ my old stage management skills from my pre-Blue Man days to help Cindy run her lines.  That makes spoiling some surprises unavoidable, but I can tell the script is good, because I can't wait to see how it ends.  Besides, I don't even need to see rehearsals to know that Keiter is bringing it in a Lucille-Ball-meets-Estelle-Getty sort of way!

Opening night is May 24th, and the show goes through June 22nd.

If you want to come see a great "neo-noir" thriller, this is where you make your arrangements:

Fun factoid:
I fell in love with theatre in 1975.  Cindy fell in love with theatre in 1977.  In the spirit of competition, I won.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Struggling at the intersection of Happiness and Careers

Cindy and I call our project and this blog "Project Happy Life."  But this project has no deadline.  We have no schedule.  We have no specific picture of a happy life that we aren't already living; thus, no end goal.

We treat it like we treat yoga: willful determination with non-concern for results.

That's nice, but that's not entirely true.  It's only partly true.  It's a fact that we're generally happy, and we love our life.  We love our family and friends, and many of our friends are family enough.

But Cindy wants to be a full-time, paid actress (the difficulty there being that your ability to work is almost always in someone else's hands).  And I want to work for myself.

There, I've said it: I want to work for myself.

I just don't know what that means yet.  I think I could make furniture... sometimes.  I really love working on my green roof, and I would be happy to help with other green roofs.  I like teaching.  I am surprised by how much I like writing this blog.  Sometimes I like directing plays.  I like designing (the Lanikai Elementary School stage I designed is being built right now - I'll write a post about that when it's finished).  I would love to collaborate with someone on a book about native plant gardening for New York City.  (Any takers?)  The list goes on...

So many things to like.  So many possibilities.

The other thing is, as I said, I'm happy.  I have a great full-time job as the production stage manager for Blue Man Group in New York.  I work with people I genuinely love, and we have a lot of fun.  Sometimes the work can be tedious, and sometimes it can be hard, but I usually feel like I'm being helpful and productive, and that feels nice.

It's difficult to imagine changing your life when you're generally happy.

But, as I like to say, I carry the burden of too many ideas for projects I'd like to do and not enough time to do them.  I keep thinking, "If only I didn't need my 40-hour/week job!"  I do, though - I'm not asking Fate (or my boss, Colin) to fire me because I write this.  There is a growing tension between the stuff that I'm working on at home, and the stuff that I'm working on at work.

The tension increases because I'm not getting any younger.  I'm 43.  I can see how long it takes me to do my personal projects on weekends, and I can see quite clearly that my body will give out long before I've done and built a fraction of what I'd like to do.  Life is short.  Weekends are even shorter.

And then there's money.  That's always a thing, isn't it?  My first profession, theatre, isn't something one does if one is terribly focused on earning a steady paycheck.  But, I clutzed into a job at Blue Man Group when I was in Boston for college, and I've stuck with the company for 18 years now.  I've never experienced a prolonged period of freelance work in my life.  I was thinking about transitioning to the film industry back in 2008, but then the economy collapsed, and I decided it was too risky to switch careers at that time.  So, as I like to say, I've gratefully clung to my job and thought of our show as a little life raft in the big, blue sea of this economic storm.

This brings me back to Project Happy Life.  Cindy and I are in this project together - working to guide our lives in the direction we want them to go.  On the issue of our careers, there seem to be no easy answers.  I only know that writing about things as we make our way forward is helpful for me.  And I hope it's helpful for you to read.