48 Crazy Hours and What I Learned

Working in theater is almost like having multiple lives in one lifetime. This concept likely makes sense to Actors, but it isn’t any less true for Creators. At Treasure Valley Children’s Theater (TVCT), we spend every day creating powerful, whimsical, delightful and challenging theater experiences. Sometimes it becomes so common place that we forget to reflect on and revel in the outcomes.

That is my fear with the memories I hold in my head and in my heart from last night’s 8 in 48 Idaho event. I’m desperate to pour all of the thoughts into this blog so I can revisit whenever I want. But the images and moments are spinning through my head more quickly than I can process a logical thought. And the “create tomorrow” creep is already weighing on me! I want to SCREAM!!!

Okay, now that is out of my system, let’s get down to business!

Photo Credit: Kim Carter Cram

8 in 48 Idaho 2017 was a roller coaster 48 hours of excitement, stress, a dose of panic, heroes, story telling magic and ultimately relief and gratitude… it makes me realize what can happen when a team of like-minded people – most of whom are strangers – set their eyes on the same goal, embrace a core set of values, and work hard. The result: life altering experience.

If you are reading this and you were a participant you understand exactly what I’m talking about – or maybe you don’t. Maybe it wasn’t that kind of experience for you. Maybe it was too much stress. Too much anxiety. Not enough control. I had those moments, too.

And that’s what I mean by a life-altering – or perhaps life-awakening – experience. Programs like 8 in 48 Idaho teach me a lot about myself, my strengths, my weaknesses and most definitely my areas for improvement. That can be some hard stuff to face – particularly in a public setting where everyone can see you fail. And I had a lot of “FAIL” moments in the 48 hours we raced to produce 9 new plays. I was crabby sometimes, I was too controlling sometimes, I didn’t delegate enough sometimes, I didn’t know where something was that someone needed and didn’t help them locate it because I was “too busy” doing my own 8 in 48 Idaho work, I didn’t order the pizza, I didn’t communicate a strong strike plan. So many things I didn’t do…

BUT – in a world where a team sets their eye on a goal, we pick each other up when one of us falls. We support with a kind word, an extra hand, or a “don’t worry, I got this” attitude. And, we produce an absolutely beautiful evening of world-premier theater for young audiences for nearly 300 people!

SO, here’s what happened:

7pm Welcome remarks, kick off with Sunny in the Park by Stacy Post – a playwright in residence from Danville, IN – Directed by Leta Harris Neustaedter of Metamorphosis Performing Arts Studio (Boise) and featuring: Joe Colletti, David Coney, and TVCT student Graycie Rechenmacher

The story: When Calvin the magician believes there’s no magic left in the world, Sunny comes to the rescue by helping him learn a new trick or two.

While the play clears the stage we raffle a gift basket and invite TVCT Artistic Director for Young Performers, Mary Jensen, to share a pretty awesome story about a TVCT student who suffered huge stage fright but overcame it! Mary introduces The Empty Space of Alexander Lump by Bryan J. Finnegan, San Diego, CA, Directed by Valerie Baugh Schlossberg of High Jump (Chicago, IL) and featuring: Makayla Campbell, April Fitzgerald, TVCT student Loren Jensen, Galen Louis, Francine McGrew, TVCT student Justin Ravago, TVCT student Dylan Reynolds, TVCT student Holland Stull, TVCT student, Kayla Vittoe, and TVCT student Kinsley Wardle.

The story: In the 142nd room of a tall dusty house on a corner, a boy named Alexander faces a mighty beast, his empty space and his past.

On to another raffle and a moment with Kathryn Wardle, our Board Chair, who shares the transformative power of the arts on her own TVCT kids! Then ***AUDIENCE HONORABLE MENTION*** Captain Courage by Tom Slot, Tuckahoe, NY , Directed by Liam Tain of Subtle Tales Studios (Boise, ID), featuring: Paul Kersey and Kerith Telestai

The story: Dr. Jackson and his evil henchmen are threatening Everytown – only Captain Courage can save the day!  Just one problem: Captain Courage is having a crisis of confidence.  Will his trusty sidekick Devin be able to convince him that he has nothing to be scared of?

Quick raffle break and a chance to hear from TVCT educator Noah Moody. Noah shares another amazing story about how theater changed his life and now he gets to participate in changing the lives of others. Into one of the most powerful and timely plays of the evening, Two Kinds of Tired by Lee Shackleford, Hickory, NC, Directed by Buffie Main of Alley Repertory Theater (Boise, ID) and featuring: Merry Marshall Davidson, TVCT student Lucy Johnson, Daniel Maggard, and TVCT student Maggie Schultz

From the playwright:  “[Two Kinds of Tired ] is sort of about Rosa Parks but doesn’t have to be. Her experience was, of course, not unique to her. At least not until the day she said, “I’m sitting here because I’m tired.”

Next up is Nothing by Philip Dawkins, Chicago, IL, but first I bring to the stage three TVCT theater kids to share! Darby talks about how making so many friends is her favorite part of participating in a TVCT program. Natalia shared that she has learned that making mistakes and coping with those challenges is part of life. Grace talked about earning respect and what that has come to mean to her as a TVCT student about to head off to college and change the world in her own way. Then – *** AUDIENCE CHOICE WINNING PLAY*** Nothing by Philip Dawkins, Directed by Jonathan Perry of Encore Theatre (Nampa, ID), featuring: Sam Anderson, TVCT student Julene Elias, Catie Hunt, TVCT student Kaylee Little, Bethany Matson, TVCT student Emma Miller, TVCT educator and actor Noah Moody, Glenda Talbutt, TVCT Education Director Allison Terenzio Ruiz, Ramiro Ruiz, TVCT Resident Actor Nichole Stull, and TVCT student Keya Zingade

The story: When Dad tries to get his ten-year-old son to open up and talk about his day at school, he quickly learns that “nothing” can be pretty special.

INTERMISSION!!!

Jumping into another raffle prize and inviting Board Member and 8 in 48 Idaho Presenting Sponsor, Scott Summerlin to the stage to talk about why, as a business person, he values the arts in the community. Then we enjoy Troll Bridge, by Boise’s own Becky Kimsey, Directed by TVCT Artistic Director for Young Performers Mary Jensen, featuring: Lily Giordanio, TVCT educator Manda Hardin, and Cameron McCown

The story: Barrow is in training to be the new bridge troll.  Just one problem: Corkin is up for the job too and he’s a shoe-in. Barrow may beat the competition, but only if he can convince Hocker he’s the right troll for the job.

Raffle prize time and a word from TVCT Education Director, Allison Terenzio-Ruiz as she shares about a student who recently lost a parent to cancer and how working with TVCT helped her find her “happy” again. A powerful story that led into an equally powerful play, Ways Not to Drown by another amazing BOISE playwright Heidi Kraay, Directed by Kim Bartling of Ephemeral Productions (Sioux Falls, SD), featuring: TVCT student Sydney Bergesen, TVCT student Arlie Bledsoe, frequent TVCT Guest Actor Eric D. Ellis, Janet Lo, Elizabeth Pearson, and Annagail Smith

The story: The first rain in years pelts down like ancient drums and does not stop.  Kern and Fan face an unusual choice that may help them survive the apocalypse of the flood … but will they survive together?

Final raffle prize drawing and then some voting instruction from TVCT Artistic Director for Young Audiences AND co-creator of the 8 in 48 short play festival model, Julia Pachoud Bennett.  On to the (almost) final show of the evening, ***SCREENERS CHOICE AWARD*** Beautiful by Jacqueline Wright, Los Angeles, CA, Directed by Kyle Daniel Barrow of FRINGE (Boise, ID), featuring: Sheila Ann, TVCT Resident Actor Stephanie Cooper, and TVCT student Alea Faddis

The story: Tasha’s grandmother, Beautiful, is dying.  Tasha must learn how to say goodbye, face the unknown and carry Beautiful inside her after she’s gone.

Then we are off to count ballots while the audience enjoys a final BONUS performance introduced by it’s 15 year old director, Michèle Carter-Cram. Michèle shared her story about how theater, and particularly TVCT programs, have transformed her life. Then the audience thoroughly enjoyed her directorial debut of Sox by 13 year old Spencer Opal-Levine of Sarasota, FL, featuring: Charise Mitson, TVCT “mom” Kimberli Reynolds, Judy Sanders, Brian Telestai, and Jessica Vulgamore

The story: Jim and Bobby are lost and abandoned in the laundry room. If they work together, stay hopeful and show bravery, will they be found or will Kona the Dog win the day?

Winning plays are announced, sponsors are thanked and the company takes a well deserved bow!

BEFORE WE GO…

There are so many amazing, talented, generous individuals who make this program possible and their souls are a direct reflection of the work that was created at the 2017 8 in 48 Idaho short play festival.

TO THE PLAYWRIGHTS: Thank you for sharing your imaginative, magical, breathtaking, heart stopping and hard stories with Treasure Valley Children’s Theater. We truly are honored to be trusted with your hearts.

TO THE DIRECTORS: We demand so much from you with very little recognition in exchange but you pour your soul into producing magic. I learned something from each of you. Lumps in my throat, tears in my eyes, laughter so deep it rolls up from my belly. Thank you for transporting me, teaching me and sharing with our theater.

TO THE ACTORS: ALL 50 OF YOU!!! What a blessing you are to our valley and to TVCT. Your courage and tenacity was evidenced by your relentless pursuit to help tell great stories.

TO THE TVCT KIDS: I’m a proud theater mom to see my kids not only hold their own on stage with experienced adult actors, but to see you happily embrace whatever role you are asked to play. I watched you roll up your sleeves, lend your own expertise, and make sure your show shined as brightly as you do. You truly are excellent young leaders who will change the world!

TO THE TECHIES: Such a thankless job and often the brunt of everyone’s stress falls on your shoulders. I’m so sorry for that. We, as a theater community, need to work on changing that model. I hope you realize how critical your contribution was and IS to helping us share stories that can change hearts, minds and the world. THANK YOU!

TO THE TVCT BOARD OF DIRECTORS: Thank you for believing in the vision and trusting me at the helm. We have a BIG journey ahead but I feel confident that we will accomplish our goal to raise the funds to build a building to headquarter our ambitious mission to change the world one theater kid at a time.

TO THE TVCT TEAM: And especially Julia Pachoud Bennett… there are no words. Each an every one of you has my heart. You have my back. You are patient with me when I need it. You cheer me on when I don’t often deserve it. And you work harder and with more heart than anyone should ever be asked or expected too.