Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

I Love A Parade

August 25, 2016

I love a parade. It’s theatre on the move. Music, costumes and lighting by God.

Not considering myself particularly patriotic, it never ceases to amaze me each time that familiar lump in my throat arises; choking me with what I can only describe as pride. My heart beats a little faster to the beat of a marching band and strains of Sousa spring memories of my marching in parades and performing in concert with my Junior and Senior High School Bands.

I learned my roots in music there and I guess all those marching feet share the cadence of each note I heard and sing today. I march to first their drums and, ultimately, my own.

I love a parade.

I am a parade.

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Threads In Theatre Tapestry

October 20, 2014

by Florence Ondré

 

My friend, talented actor, Ashley Grantham, posted on facebook, these profound and grace-filled words of newly passed actress, Marian Seldes, from one of her interviews with James Grissom for his book, “Follies Of God:”

“The theatre keeps presenting to me the wonderful experiences of learning to tell time and falling in love for the first time.   I get these experiences-these feelings- every time I work on a play.  I get to start all over and relearn things, and I get to meet new friends– family, really– to whom I can give and receive love.  And this rejuvenates me, and it keeps me strong to serve the writer, to serve the play.  I guess I’m saying that I am always loving and I am always bending  time, and that’s as good a description as I can manage of a life in the theatre.”

Reading this perfect description of work and purpose in the theatre, simply stunned me with the accuracy of what it is all about and how fortunate we are, both those of us who do this work and those who experience the soul and life touching in the witnessing.

Over the years, I’ve struggled with the my own high respect for all aspects of theatre and, as time moves on, feeling a bit like performing has slipped into more a personality contest; worth minutes of limelight and too light an affair of single dimension, than a craft with depth in the endeavor.

I think to myself as I read Ms. Seldes words of wisdom, garnered from years of experience and well-earned success, ‘Who speaks like this anymore?

Who waxes multi-levelly on ever-expanding understanding of the depths and heights of their work with such careful and honest thought?

Who shares, with such kindness and generosity of heart, the inner workings to inspire and give how-to-gifts to co-worker-family with regards to spending well the coin of their realm of time upon this stage of life?

Who ‘gets it’ on so many layers of understanding lessons come to fruition by humble work ethic and love of profession?’

To be able to ‘start all over,’  ‘relearn things’ and know family of choice shows up in family of work for the claiming, if one is lucky enough to be awake and aware; to go beyond what one can see and touch to ‘always being loving’ and ‘time bending,’ both of which we are all capable of if only we would be open to that inner viewing, knowing and relishing.  How fabulous is that?!  How fantastic is the possible zest and willingness to see our own lives and work and days filled with this kind of love, service to chosen craft and be in awe of the time-bending we do in our mortal moments?

For me, I have to go back to my roots to see how far I’ve come on my journey and what light of clean scrubbed-faced-wonder still lives and breathes in me and whatever work I do.  What integrity, such as the above, was in me at the beginning and what wisps of wonder waft through my being today?  What nugget of motivation fuels my creativity and how have my perceptions changed or remained the same?

Surprised by  MS. Seldes beautiful, oh-so-acurate description of acting as ‘bending time,’ the breath of complete understanding and new realization hit me like Cupid’s arrow to the heart. These wonder full words, cobbled together, describe the indescribable; the intangible.  The very reading of the words is an ‘aha’ moment.

This is what work in theatre always felt like to me….working in wonder.

In my early, tenderling, formative theatre years, I fairly glowed with this shining light and thirst for learning and giving; for exploring one’s nugget of skill to be willing to be of service to the skills and talents of others in cooperative creation.

In a world of so much great talent, it is easy to be have humility and keep practicing; working while still searching for one’s own best defining talent.  One can be told by respected teachers what they see before their wise eyes and yet have depth of understanding dawn down the road.

It is only later , I learned what my team of master teachers in my first summer stock, at Dorothy Shay’s Duke’s Oak Theatre, where I was a most grateful apprentice, meant in their end of season review and assessment of skills learned and strengths discovered.

As I stood along on the bare stage, with only a work light for company, I heard their individual report cards.

“You are not the best of the dancers.”  “You may not be the greatest of the actors.” “You do not have the best voice of all.”

Time stopped.  My young heart sank because I was the last of the apprentices to be reviewed and the others, with family lines tracing back to theatre royalty of Lunt and Fontanne, Windust and Ritter had received high marks for at least one of these areas of performance.

It seemed forever in moments, standing statued still in my leotard and tights, waiting for their collective summation.

My mind raced hurdles with fear.  Did I have a career ahead?  Would I be good enough in this life of endeavor which I’d always known since childhood was my passion and lifeblood; a part of me like breathing; a place in the world to contribute and make a difference with my own gifts; to be of service?

Or had it all been in my own head; a fantasy land from which they would flunk me?

Breathe and smile, breath and smile your tremulous teen smile.

“…but you have ‘it,’ ” I heard  director, Mary Ann Dentler, of Broadway’s “Peg O My Heart,”  say.

“It?”

After politely thanking the board of theatre owners and master teachers,  I exited stage right in confusion and disappointment.

What was ‘it’?  Could I put that on a head shot and resumé?  How could this be an attribute when ‘it’ sounded like the plague?

“How did you do?”  my enormously and validated, talented singer, dancer and actor apprentices, excitedly asked as I stumbled into the wings.  “What did they tell you is your best attribute or strong suit?”  “What did they say?”

In a soft, quiet, uncomprehending, green voice, I replied, “They said, I had ‘it.’ ”

They hugged me.

I never knew if they understood anymore than I, what this invisible gift from the gods was, they were simply my first family in the theatre. It was these dear ones I loved; who loved me back in that special energy of unconditional acceptance which I came to know as extended family with each show and cast I’ve been privileged to join.

A life in the theatre is endless learning and growing; transcending all barriers; ascending and plummeting the roller coaster of emotions.

And, when you can touch an audience, even when you are not the best singer, dancer or actor; yet reach into hearts in the dark and move  people to tears and laughter and give them pause for thoughtful looking within, there beyond all wishes otherwise, is the best gift one can bring and give in the theatre, “it!”

You can study til you’re blue in the face, but this odd nugget is what you are either born with or not.

…The incandescent warmth of connection; tender, always loving, time bending, in the ever-expanding family and leaps of learning…. honest to goodness, ‘it!’

 

 

 

 

 

The Power Of Music and Friends

November 3, 2006

Remember the phrase, “been down so long it looks like up to me?”
Well, on that long elevator ride up from the depth of the doldrums, there are several tools for uplifting which rival the rising contrivance Otis made available to us dwellers of many levels.
Consumed with whatever present challenge currently puts our lights out; makes us feel like there’s not much bright in tomorrow, feeds the mistaken, gerbil-cage-spinning thoughts that there will never be any way to rise through to some distant above.
Life after chemical contamination, added to physical and daily life challenges has constructed a new basement in the house of me.
It’s no view from a bridge, I can tell you. Waist level looks like the Himalayas and a knee high breeze is enough to fell me.
Bed and couch grab me; suck me in with a siren call as the energy of coping flails and flags.
This is coming from a person who can find the proverbial pony in a room full of horse pocky or a ray of sunshine in a gunmetal grey overhead.
The season of change has lingered long and life’s menu is crowded with less than palate pleasing entrees of passings, crises, catastrophes, calamities, leaderless leadership, hell for health and weird weather.
A new book of grief is being written in the Akashic records like acid etchings on our hearts.
And yet when I can move myself off flattened to floor to peek in my toolkit, the lamp of hope glimmers, however dimming, enough to shed light on the bottom of the bag for me to see a friend or two, hear music, or glimpse an Angel waiting patiently for its moment to be of service.
Last night was one of those rare eves of enlightened moments, strung together like sparkling precious gems in moonlight of a black velvet sky.
My partner and I pushed past pain and frustration to get out the door to go meet our friend, Heide, in the city for dinner before seeing out of town friends perform a recital of classical music for piano and violin.
We were like trains converging from different tracks; she coming from work in Manhattan and us schlepping in hours of traffic from the suburbs to the city, yet all of us thinking a sigh, unbeknownst to the others, “I can get through it all. At least at the end of this day there will be lovely, soothing music.”
Concerned with the pain of sitting too long with a spinal disc out of alignment, Tom was thinking an added, “At least there will be Thai food.”
He dropped me off at the restaurant, a pleasant, simple aromatic space. Good sign. If you can smell the cooking pulling you in, disembodied on the waves of fragrant spices, you generally have a good inkling that there will be some pleasure, however fleeting, ameliorating the hammer on the anvil.
Heide was waiting, already at a table laid out with menus, water and welcoming energy.
Tom drove off to find his precious on-street parking to which his Angels guide him, mostly with a few turns around the block to whet his appetite for the reward of perfect space for patience.
It didn’t take long for us to dive into hugs, catching up, in depth conversation that only comes with the deep connection of ageless family-of-choice; and Lemongrass Chicken, Tamarind Duck, Massaman Curry, fresh Basil Rolls and Curry Puff Pastry. Over aromatic tea, spirits lifted out of a seemingly bottomless basement of depression to the first and second floors of rays of relief.
Then off we cabbed to the concert.
My excitement at seeing and hearing the dear friends, who years ago came into my life through another mutual friend to accompany my singing at her San Francisco wedding, mounted as we entered the hall.
Added to that was my child-like delight at finally introducing them to my beloved, Tom, and sister in light, Heide, who only knew the pianist, Nancy, through G-Mail, our years-old, online circle of gratitude.
They’d come to know one another in the unique focus on expressing thanks each day and yet had not met face to face. I was giggly with glee at the prospect of connecting the dots of these Angels in my life.
Up the cubicle-with-floor-indicators rose another level.
Next there was meeting concert pianist, Gila Goldstein, President of the New York chapter of the American Liszt Society, who was bringing us all together in the completion of her task of arranging this concert.
Warm in e-mail and welcoming in person, she shone with a lilting light of her own as she introduced the evening’s program.
Another half floor fell away with a glide.
In the next moment, there were my friends, suited and soft velvet, glammed up, sharing center stage only feet in front of me after so many years.
I could barely contain my elation.
“How could she be more glamorous or he sweeter faced with the passage of time?” I thought as she adjusted her seat, poised her hands over the ebony and ivory keys and he lifted bow to string for their opening volley of an earfest of magical proportions.
It took me practically the entire first selection to get through the joy and awe radiating through me on the round robin of musical notes and words spinning round my head, “These are my friends making this magnificent music!”
Glancing at Heide and Tom gave me smiling confirmation that they were well on the enjoyment elevator.
I gave myself over completely to the sensuous sounds of the rhythms, chords and melodious march of the music.
Jose Cueto, making a single, shaped box of wood sound like several sets of sensational strings and Nancy Roldan, flying across keys tinkling soft light and roaring waves to carry us to heights we’d forgotten possible; ascended our glass elevator to the Heavens. The César Franck Sonata in A major, allegretto ben moderato, brought us to heart overflowing, eye-brimming tears.
I breathed in the music like air.
Playing together and each taking solo turns, they wound an evening of joyous healing; uplifting energy to float us out of our seats, bodies and earthly cares; transporting us on the alae of the magic of music beyond dreaming.
Ground fell away, roof disappeared and a stunning recognition of profound gifts put to use obscured daily denseness and debilitation.
Aha! I realized in the afterglow of crescendo into echoes and applause to silence; in the hugs and hellos and later gathering at a nearby restaurant, sharing fellowship, food and fun; not only was I not out of tools, the ones in the bottom of the bag were far beyond fine.
I looked around the long table at the happy faces of old friends and new; each haloed in a pool of soft, golden light; 12 of us joined later by 1 to make a brilliant baker’s dozen; trading funny tales; exchanging enjoyment of work; talking music, art, life- and saw Angels on Earth.
Friendship, music, good conversation shared over robust bread dipped in rich olive oil, sparkling water and wine, laughter and the warm energy of being together; gifts shared. With the recognition of these, it is possible to lift out of down in the dark; to be balanced by light which constructs our escalator elite; our stairway to Heaven and metamorphoses a lift into a transcendevator.
With these illuminating implements, in the tiers of the skyscraper of us, it’s not that far from the basement to the penthouse.
On the power of music and the feathers of love of our Earth Angels whom we call friends, it is possible to soar with new wings.

For cds and further information on the concert piano and violin talents of Nancy Roldan and José Miguel Cuerto, please visit www.nancyroldan.com

For further information on the American Liszt Society, please visit http://www.americanlisztsociety.org

For further information on Gila Goldstein, please visit www.gilagoldstein.com

Day In Haiku

November 3, 2006

Angelic sharing
Piano and violin
Music of the soul

Here It Goes Again-in the real world

September 29, 2006

Here It Goes Again-Leggo Style

September 29, 2006

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