Caterpillar Contemplations

"What the caterpillar calls the end, the rest of the world calls a butterfly." Lao Tzu


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GPS to the Great Cookie Caper

Actors movements for 1/3 of a scene in The Great Cookie Caper

Week 1 of rehearsals and all is well.

I didn’t follow my own advice and the second piece, The Great Cookie Caper, wasn’t finished until … 1pm yesterday – leaving me with enough time to: print, drive to work, photocopy (very excited to find out photocopier could punch holes) and prong (my technical term for binding the scripts together with fancy steel prong things) the scripts before the students arrived.

However I didn’t bother with a read-through for the Juniors and Intermediates as it would, quite frankly, be a nightmare.  Instead I got them on their feet and, with a little bit of shouting and clanging (literally) of cymbals, marched them through the first scene.*

The picture shows the movement plan for some of the actors for 1/3 of a scene.  Complex?  A little.  Hence why I did the pretty picture.  I was actually using that pretty picture as a procrastination tool to not write the script, thinking it would make the writing of the script easier – which it would have, had I had more time to write.

The second half of last night went exceptionally well.  Three scenes blocked out.  If only I had more time.  I feel light years ahead of where I was this time last year (for last year’s “end of year production”) but I’m still regretting not starting sooner. Oh well – I’ll do better next year!!  Hmmm. What to write for next years shows.

As I fell into bed last night I gave myself a little pat on the back.  I’ve written 5 plays now (of varying lengths) – being a playwright was one of the (many) things I wanted to be when I grew up.  Looks like I’m making steps in that direction …

* BTW, the clanging of cymbals is not part of the scene, just an ingenious way to get them to *&%^ up.


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Productive Procrastination

Play related writing snacks

I’m a pro at procrastination.  I make my procrastination so productive that I am often misguided into believing I’m accomplishing truly important things – I don’t even realise I’m procrastinating until an impending deadline slaps me in the face.

Lets call the deadline – tomorrow.

Lets call the project The Great Cookie Caper.

And then let us reflect on all the productive tasks I completed in lieu of writing.  I swam (great for my health) and took my son swimming (good Mum), threw the ball with the dog (responsible pet owner), I replied to emails (responsible employee), I wrote show related emails (once again responsible employee), I communicated with a student (developing self esteem and rapport), wrote more work related emails (proactive AND responsible employee), changed the sheets on the bed (hygienic), photographed my play related snack break (fuelling the brain cells with sugar) and spent a small amount of time developing my in game civilization (Civ V) which has absolutely no effect on the actual world (de-stress).

To be fair, I did actually write today.  I’ve produced 13 pages of a … hmmm … 22 page script ( I want the show to be approx. 45mins) – but I marvel at the fact that I am now a wee bit stressed about the pressing deadline and am still finding time to procrastinate by writing this blog. Which IS productive as I committed to 35 days of blogging.

And now … as this blog draws to a close … I find myself looking around for other productive non essential tasks. Surely there is more?  Please.


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Burst My Bubble!

I learnt a very important lesson last Tuesday.

Savour your work.

I enjoy having my writing edited, analysed and combed through – I enjoy knowing that the final polished product is that much better than the rough cut I first chip out.  But I think there is something to be said for savouring that moment of completion. To hold a finished manuscript in your hands, to waft its pages, to breath in the heady scent of accomplishment and to ride high on the hysterical notion of success.

Last Tuesday I finished writing Have You Met Larry? – the final production for the Senior and Advanced drama students at Performing Arts Headquarters.  As the last page rolled off the printer I danced around the study, I threw the ball to the dog in an overly enthusiastic way and I went to work extra early to press the photocopier into divine labour multiplying the work of art.

I wove through the first classes, diligently creating scenes for the Junior / Intermediate show The Great Cookie Caper, whilst secretly obsessing over the fact that the first play was written, copied and being bound as I taught …

So … I wasn’t ready … when it came time to read through the script – for the helpful, insightful and accurate feedback that I received.  After all – I was still up here (“Woooo! It’s finished … I’m awesome … See the front cover … It’s done … Aren’t I clever? … Woooo – yeah yeah yeah”) and they were down here (“Oh, so that’s meant to be this character, not that character – so it’s a mistake. Right. Okay. Oh this bit doesn’t work very well.”)

I drove home quite deflated.

I couldn’t work out why I reacted so badly to the feedback.  After all – as I’ve mentioned – I like feedback.  And, I believe performance writing – of every kind – needs to be workshopped, tweaked and rearranged in order for it not only to make sense, but to be the best communication of an idea.  Then it struck me.  I needed time to feel good and that time wasn’t finished yet. I wasn’t ready for feedback.  Unfortunately I hadn’t allowed myself enough space to get over the euphoria and  prepare myself for the real work.

So, please, heed my advice.  When you complete a major project – not just a written piece but any project. Rejoice!  Allow the fact that you got to the end, you put in the effort and rode that creative pony to the finish line.  Perhaps open a bottle of bubbly or dance around for a bit, or just sit there stroking it with a slightly manic expression on your face.  Whatever you need to do to allow yourself those little bubbles of awesomeness to pop in your brain and send shivers down your spine.

I was determined that I would get the next piece finished before Tuesday for all those reasons.  But here I am, Sunday evening, having only glanced at the opening scene before closing it again.  *sighs*  Why does it take me so long to learn from my mistakes?


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Puppet Pride

Earlier this year, for Performing Arts Headquarters mid-year concert, my drama students performed various puppet shows.  We dabbled in stick puppets, shadow puppets, black light puppets, hand puppets (sock puppets, finger puppets and mouth puppets) and parade puppets.

Due to time restraints (to develop voice and learn lines) and the confidence of some performers (having never performed before) I chose to pre-record their stories so that on the day, all they had to worry about was what their puppet was doing.

It would have been great to have some good quality video of the puppet shows but due to space restrictions and audio capture on my camera – the video I did get was pretty ordinary so I’ve decided to share a whole bunch of pictures instead.

Most of the puppets were made by myself, some were purchased when I was in Vietnam and the shadow puppets were made by two talented students, Brittany and Kristee – unfortunately I don’t have any pictures of them.

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The King of the Light – pictured starring as the King from The Golden Phoenix ( a very talented puppet ).

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The Witch of the Dark and her Son

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Difficult to photograph because it wasn’t dark enough – these are two of the monsters in Three Monsters, our black light story

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Doug – a character that was sewn together from old body parts – as the story goes.

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The inside of the rainbow serpent

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The Rainbow Serpent – a bit scrunched up in the front room as it’s 10 metres long.

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The Rainbow Serpent’s head and tongue.

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