Monday, April 15, 2024

Thank you.


The Trine University Theatre Company on closing night of
The Matchmaker.

Friday, April 12, 2024

Dolly Levi and Horace Vandergelder!


It’s Monday morning, and I am sitting in the empty auditorium at the T. Furth Center for the Performing Arts. Or, should I say, my home away from home. So many thoughts occupy my mind right now and by the time you read this on Tuesday morning lots of events will have happened. Was the eclipse perfect? (I think it will be with this gorgeous weather!) Will Purdue win the championship tonight? Will another rehearsal for tech week be as scattered as last night? I hope not!

This eclipse has definitely taken over our lives. I love that we are so excited about this event, and for me, probably the last one I shall see. I have memories of watching the eclipse in school. Of course, school was not canceled nor was there all this hype! (Hello, social media!) We made our little boxes with the pinholes so we could watch during the school hours. The teachers were constantly saying, don’t look at the sun, don’t look at the sun. I still don’t know how those boxes worked, but indeed they did! A few years ago, I watched the eclipse at Pokagon with a group of folks. This year I am heading out to the new property of Aaron and Rachel. Yes, they bought a little farmette or something like that. They have been looking for land with a pond, and they found it. Last night was their first night in their new house. I sent a note wishing them a lovely, romantic evening! Rachel wrote back, laughingly, that it won’t be that romantic since both boys were there too. Jonah came home to spend the first night with the family. I love that they have found a dream, even though Cindy (Rachel’s mom) and I will miss them living just a few blocks away. They are now eleven minutes away.

Basketball has taken over this state as well. I think it all started with the Trine championship and we just keep moving forward. Now I am not a Purdue graduate, but I am a Hoosier through and through, so go Purdue. By the time you read this, we will have the answer to that also!

Now, back to the show. I always write a column in the quiet of the theatre. The lights are on, but no one is here by the stage except me. As I look around, I am a bit overwhelmed at the work still to do…more props brought in, more sets to work on, more costumes to complete. Yet, as I sit here, it is perfect, absolutely perfect.

Directing theatre at Trine has been a dream come true for me. I love the students. I love my job. This semester I have a new assistant director, Lydia Roop. Lydia is a senior at Trine and is definitely not new to the theatre, just to directing. She has not been able to participate in any of my shows, but before the semester started, she said she might audition. As I was looking for a new assistant, I approached her and within 24 hours, I had a new assistant by my side. She was a bit timid at first, but after a couple of weeks, she found her own voice and has been a tremendous help to me. I have a new stage manager this semester too so there has been a lot of changing of the guards!

What is the magic that is on this stage? As I sit here, I am thinking about the other three shows I have directed. All have been different, and all have showcased these marvelous Trine students. The stage echoes with their footsteps, their voices, their laughter. Sometimes in rehearsal, we all laugh so hard and long that I think we won’t get back to work, but we do. Theatre, like band or orchestra or any of the arts, brings young people together. I love watching the friendships take place within the theatre. The star of “The Matchmaker” is a young lady who transferred from Marquette University to Trine. When she arrived here, she didn’t know anyone and was not involved in anything. She decided it might be fun to audition for the show and to see what would happen! I will tell you what happened, she got the lead role. Wait til you see her!

Today the eclipse will be a memory, Purdue will have won or lost, and our show will go on this weekend. See you there!

Tuesday, April 02, 2024

Trine University presents community workshop!


In 1938, while Thornton Wilder’s Pulitzer Prize winning show, “Our Town,” was playing on Broadway, another one of his shows opened. That show was the “Merchant of Yonkers” which only ran for 39 performances and then was canceled. This was a bit of a blow for Wilder as “Our Town” was quickly becoming America’s favorite show on Broadway. (To this day, it is the most performed play in high schools around the country.)

Both shows were written when Wilder was 41 and they were very different plays. “Our Town” focuses on the fragility of life while the “Merchant of Yonkers” was more of a romantic comedy. After the show closed, he set it aside and went on to other plays, other essays and his teaching abilities. Wilder was a 1920 graduate of Yale University with a skill of the written word.

It was almost twenty years later he re-wrote the “Merchant of Venice” giving a larger voice to the matchmaker, Dolly Levi. He added her monologue and worked on the other dialogues for the other cast members. It opened back up on December 5, 1955. Later it was turned into the musical we all grew up with, “Hello Dolly,” starring Carol Channing. “The Matchmaker” is a completely delightful romantic comedy taking place in the 1880’s. It is still being performed in schools today.

The Trine University Theatre will be sharing this performance with the public April 11, 12, and 13. We can’t wait! In the meantime, the wonderful cast including our Drama Department is hosting a workshop for middle-school and high school students on Wednesday of this week.

Several weeks ago, one of my very favorite senior actors, Sean Carpenter, came to me with an idea. He had been mulling it around a bit and briefly mentioned it to me, but now he was serious and very interested about hosting this workshop. I love listening to my students, and I love listening to my cast members. Their ideas on the show and other events are something I do take seriously. I gave him the green light to put together this workshop, and he has done an outstanding job. We met with our dean, Darrin Wilcox, who loved the idea and gave us the go ahead to make this happen. Ryan Long put together a great flyer and we sent out packets to the local schools and other folks. Unfortunately, spring break hit in the middle of our recruiting campaign, so I thought another plug would help our local theatre kids.

Trine is not a university based on the arts, and yet, we have the most outstanding students in our photography, music and theatre programs. These kids work in all those departments because they absolutely love it! The workshop we have put together showcases many facets of theatre that would be of great interest to our local kids. On Wednesday, April 3rd, from 4:00 to 8:00, we are welcoming these students to the Furth Center. They will have the chance to tour the facility, spend time on the stage with our actors in workshops on character development, blocking, costume design, tech (sound and lighting) and Q and A with the actors. Supper is on us! Then they will get a bare bones rehearsal following the supper. When I say bare bones, I mean we are still not using many props and no staging or furniture has been added. That all comes during our tech week starting on Sunday.

There is absolutely no charge for this event. We want your kids, grandkids, and students to come and share their own love or curiosity of theatre, especially at the University level. Students do need to register to attend, however! If you send me an email, I will send you the form, and they can bring it on Wednesday. Maybe there are young people who might be interested in theatre but have never had much exposure to this art form. If that is the case, this is also for them!

I really applaud my theatre group for putting this all together. It is a lot of work, especially the week before we open, but they are absolutely delighted to offer this workshop! I know I would have loved doing this when I was in high school. Send me your questions, your interest and I will send the information so that your young person can explore this opportunity. Maybe someday, we will do this for all the curious grown-ups.

Until Wednesday, the stage awaits you!

Thursday, March 28, 2024

Mom's Last Full Moon...


I came out of rehearsal last night, and the full Worm Moon of March actually took my breath away. It was so gorgeous rising above us in a sphere of peach colored light. I stood in the Furth parking lot for the longest time just watching and thinking. Of course, you know how much I love the full moon and spend hours gazing and writing about the moon. This one was different though. As I stood watching, my thoughts went to my parents. First to my dad who loved the moon even more than I do. When he visited us on the farm, he would sit out on our porch swing and watch the sun go down over Doc’s fields and the moon rise in our own woods. He always sang, “I see the moon, and the moon sees me.” That song I sing over and over to my grandchildren.  Secondly, my thoughts went to my mom. My mom lies dying in hospice, and this will be her last full moon with us.

I guess we all know the time will come to say good-bye to our parents. My dad left us fourteen years ago and now my mom is ready to make her own journey. I sit with my sister, Jessie, and watch the changes. Since I didn’t grow up here, most of you never met my parents. My dad, as you do know from this column, was a theatre guy. We played the piano together, shared our love of theatre, watched the moon, and memorized poetry. My mom was the complete opposite. She was a glamorous mother. She had more beauty in her than in her four daughters combined. We marveled at the way she dressed, and in her beauty. I was a bit different from my mom. I am more of a jeans and t-shirt kind of girl. She was always hoping I would cut my hair or get married or get a normal job.

Most of you are familiar with her love stories. After my dad died, the six of us took turns taking her places, sharing our lives with her. I took her to Ocracoke with me. She had a great time visiting with Philip, helping out with his brother’s wedding. Kathy was along for the journey, and we all loved introducing her to the Ocracoke way of life. She loved it there She even participated in Hands Across the Sand with us. The rest of the brothers and sisters took her to different locations. My sister, Jessie, took her on a cruise for her Halloween birthday from Boston to Nova Scotia. It was there she met Dick, the new love of her life. Dick lost his wife several years earlier, and decided he needed to do something for himself, so he booked the same cruise. Of course, he fell in love with her at once. Who didn’t? After the cruise, he went to Houston to visit her and then she went to England to visit him. A year later they were married outside of London. I flew to her wedding to stand up with her. They were happy. They spent half of the year in England and then the winter months in North Palm Beach.

Two years ago, Dick became sick and one beautiful spring day, he died. My mom was just lost without him. Jessie drove down and picked her up even though she protested thinking she should be going back to England. It has been hard watching my mom mourn the loss of two lovely men who both loved her dearly. Now it is time to join them.

In hospice, my mom reaches for them…or so we think. The nurses think it is interesting that she reaches high even while sleeping. Does she see them? Or her parents? Or her lovely brother, my Uncle Dean? I guess we do not have answers for that. I do know this. My mom is strong and is a fighter. She has defied the laws of hospice until now. Jessie said to me, “She will not go quietly into the night.” My dad’s love of poetry still creeps into our lives as she quoted Dylan Thomas.

I watched the moon slide across the town last night. Over the courthouse, over the countryside, over sleeping babies, over those cozily watching basketball in their homes.

My mom’s last full moon.

“Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Dylan Thomas

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Congratulations Trine!!


My first glimpse of our monument decked in Trine blue took my breath away. I was coming home from the Thursday night game with Aaron and Rachel and the boys and there it was all in blue. Of all the colors we put on the monument, I do think this is my very favorite!

I don’t usually write much about sports unless it is about our boys, Jonah and Graham, but this is different. Basketball fever took hold of this town last weekend in a way no one thought possible. Not Trine. Not the community. Not the coliseum in Fort Wayne. Not even the sports commentators. What happened this weekend, and the weeks preceding, gave rise to the Cinderella story.

The success of Trine’s NCAA Division III win this weekend, if it were written on a playbill, would have a list of thank you’s so long you would need to add pages to complete the list! Of course, the players and the coaches were beyond terrific. These players and coaches forfeited spring break and every other activity that came along to prepare for the games. In all of that, the players still had to complete their course work while spending every other free moment practicing, perfecting, performing so the trophy could come home.

The list of thank you notes goes to bus drivers, and ticket takers, and the school administration who had to work out every detail as it was always changing as the status of the wins continued. A very big thank you goes out to the community who came together to support Trine’s team and the school in general. Folks who never attend sporting events were in the stands clapping and cheering their hearts out. A record attendance was set as 4,546 folks attended the championship game. We supported the team with their send off around the circle on Wednesday and again when they returned on Saturday night with all the bells and whistles from our local police department. Thank you, Mayor Martin, for making sure this happened! As I stood on the curb filming the return, I couldn’t help but notice how many folks dotted the circle waiting in the cold wind for our team to return. We sure made a lot of noise as they made their way around the circle three times before heading back to campus so the team could celebrate with their classmates. I stayed and chatted with the Witmer’s. We chatted about Trine and this place we call home. We said farewell as folks sauntered back to warm cars to meander home. I stood a few moments longer to just let the moment of the win and the night and the blue monument make a lasting impression.

I have been thinking a lot about what binds a community, especially one like ours. I am talking about our county as well with all the surrounding small towns. How did we get here to this little corner of the world. Some of my Airbnb guests actually call us Mayberry. I love it when they do that. Other comments include, “How did we miss this town? We never knew it existed.” Once when Mayor Hickman was in office, I asked him what we could do to promote our town. He didn’t miss a beat when he told me to just be friendly to the newcomers and, of course, participate in the town.

He was right. There are so many ways to participate in a community, but in a small community it is even more important. We all need to step up to volunteer for boards or obligations or run for office. We all need to make sure we shop local, attend movies, watch sporting events, and support our local theatre. We do this already. The world is a big place, but keeping our small towns afloat in love and generosity will keep up going day by day.

To the boys and the coaches of Trine University, we take off our hats and raise our glasses to congratulate you. Thank you for working so hard to bring the trophy home. Thank you for sharing that with our community and thank you for acknowledging the community in your win. We played right along beside you every step of the way.

T. C. Steele, plein air painter of the early 1900’s, took his hat off to the beauty of the world every morning. Let’s do the same.

I take my hat off to the Trine basketball team.


Monday, March 11, 2024

Spring break in St. Pete...


Adam and his pups!

The late-night flight is full. Everyone is heading out for spring break. Students and teachers, moms and dads, kids and pets fill the plane with lots of chatter and laughter even though it is the midnight hour. Flying through the dark is always a mystery to me. There is no full moon to follow, and the stars and planets are but dusty specs above us. Finally, we begin our descent and once through the parting clouds, we follow the beautiful pathway of the Tampa Bay Bridge still streaming with traffic on a late night. The city of St. Pete, Florida comes into view as a fairy land as the plane shifts to the left. I close my book to prepare for the landing. It was a quick trip of just two hours. Two hours and I leave the not-yet-spring of Indiana for the warmth of the sun. I always forget the jet bridge is not attached to the airport, and we step out on the bridge into the warm Florida air. I grab my purple bag and go on out to the curb to wait for Adam for the midnight pick up! Cell phone lots have become the new thing for airports, and are so nice as folks wait for arrivals.

Adam arrives in his Playin’ Hooky truck complete with all three pups all snuggled onto the front seat. He grabs my bag and comments on how heavy the bag is. “What did you bring, Mom?” I laugh and tell him it is full of books! It is after all my spring break, and nothing I love more than having time to read and just enjoy the books. Off we go to his sweet bungalow on the outskirts of St. Pete. We put the windows in the truck part way down to enjoy the warm, balmy St. Pete air. It feels so delightful after winter, even though our winter was so mild this year. We arrive home and go in the back gate through the backyard which is definitely a fairy land in itself with twinkle lights strung and lit through palm trees and the gazebo and pool lit up. The pups are happy to be home too but are not so sure about me!

Sleep comes easily. I sleep through my alarm and by the time I get up, Adam is already off to work. Adam spends his working hours between the law office and his charter business, Playin’ Hooky. It was always his dream as a young boy to be a charter captain, and a few years ago that dream came true. He is a well-known captain in the area with his stellar reputation as a great captain for fishing or cruising. Spring breakers fill his dance card! I knew he would have lots of work and obligations when I booked my flight for March, but alas, my books and I have the whole place to ourselves…along with the pups. After a quick coffee or two, I find myself outside in the backyard with my stack of books. I am not really a beach girl, I just love the warm weather and with no obligations of my own, I can just sit back and read the day away.

My days are spent reading except for the one day I take the SunRunner bus downtown. It is so convenient as it goes right by Adam’s house. For five dollars a day, you can ride all over St. Pete to all the museums, the beaches and to the flourishing downtown. Construction is everywhere as St. Pete is a city on the move attracting young folks with the coffee shops, art galleries, and, of course, the beautiful beaches. My day downtown is a day at the Dali Museum featuring the Dali collection paired with the impressionists: Renoir, Degas, Matisse, Cezanne, and Monet. The exhibit is outstanding, and I spend the entire day exploring the collection and the downtown. The SunRunner comes right on time, and I just enjoy a tour of the town and the beaches from my seat on the bus.

It is not often that I get time with my children one on one, but this time I did. We went to the movies and visited local dives for dinner in St. Pete. My favorite night was when we cooked in and sat outside watching the stars and planets fill the night sky. We talked well into the night.

Visits end. Planes take us back home. Until next time…

Monday, March 04, 2024

Hello March!


March arrives with a flurry of weather activity. Rain, snow, wind, and the occasional sun shining down upon us. Yes, March is as fickle as they come. March does not know if she should continue with the arrival of spring and a sprinkling of faeries in the garden or cover us with inches of snow. Yes, we are waiting for that one! Winter was just a bit too easy for us this year!

March is named for the god of war and yet it brings the promise of spring, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter (this year), and the rumblings underground of what is next to come. Searching through the leaves of Autumn yesterday, I cam across the arrival and blooming of my crocuses pushing their blooms through the leaves and garden debris to add color to my winter landscape. The forsythia bushes are next along with the daffodils. Daffodils are not just for beauty; they have great properties that are used in bioresearch these days. Daffodils are the flower of March and the national flower of Wales. According to Greek mythology Narcissus fell into a pool and drowned and the first daffodil appeared. Of course, this is mythology and fun for research although I think of my own daffodils as a cheery end of winter and a hello to spring. William Wordsworth wrote about daffodils in his beautiful poem, “Spring.” This lyric poem was written in 1804 after he and his sister, Dorothy, came across a field of daffodils in Grasmere, England. The poem was first published in 1807 and is a staple in my cache of spring poems. Once in England, during the spring, I went to Grasmere to see the daffodils, and oh, they fill the hillsides with outstanding beauty…just as Wordsworth said!

March does have its own wicked side as we think of Julius Caesar. Of course, the murder of Julius Caesar on the 15th of March gave us all the saying, “Beware the Ides of March.” We thank you William Shakespeare for that bit of knowledge! Do you remember acting that out in history class? At least for fun anyway as Caesar was stabbed 23 times. All I can say is that he was warned!

March brings the Oscars to those of us who really care about movies! Carolyn and I have been watching these award-winning movies for years and spend the winter knee deep in movies. We don’t even wait for the nominations! We start in the summer with the films we think will make the list. This year we scored high on those films. Once the nominations are in, we begin the frenzy of getting all of those films watched. It is not easy as we have to move around quite a bit to movie theatres and some on-line. We watch as many as we can at our local theatre, of course. The Brokaw is always our go-to, but we must be creative to get to all the films. On Sunday, a group of us went to The Tibbits to watch the animated shorts and documentaries. It is always fun to do this in a group. We carry our hankies in our pockets and pull them out for this film or that film. Some are so hard to watch, but all are important pieces of our own culture. The attendance is sparse for this four-hour event, but I thank The Tibbits for continually showing them. On Sunday night Carolyn and I, after marking our own cards, will host our own Oscar party. It is always a fun winter activity as we cross off movie after movie!

March brings St. Patrick’s Day and Easter which we will chat about in the future. It also brings the dreaded turn our clocks back (again!) on Sunday morning. I personally love the time right now, but alas, alas.

When I was younger, I did not have good thoughts of March. It was always a fickle time for snow or rain. How many times did we travel through snowstorms for the basketball sectionals? But over the years of paying attention to the land, to my gardens, I have learned to appreciate the beauty of March just the way it is. My dad used to say that in March the faeries begin their house cleaning, and if we are patient, with our ears to the ground, we can hear them working. You probably don’t want to go that far but do enjoy March for the hidden beauty which now springs forth.

Thank you.

  The Trine University Theatre Company on closing night of The Matchmaker.