Friday, December 19, 2008

GreyZelda's Year in Review from a Mom's Bird Eye View

In attempting to lasso all my remembrances of 2008 I realized that, from January on, that this year has been all about Clara Virginia. She was born on August 23 and our world has been turned on its ear in the most wonderful ways. I'm going to write about GreyZelda from the only perspective I have these days, which is that of a new mom. I was pregnant during both of our shows this year so my outlook was quite a bit different. I warn you, dear readers, that the following might contain too much mom information for your liking and sensibilities, but ... that's the way I roll these days. I'm going to try to cajole Chris to write an entry about his reflections as well.

I found out I was 7 weeks pregnant with Clara at the beginning of January when we were moving A View from the Bridge into Stage Left Theatre. I had lunch with Rebekah at Pick Me Up Cafe, which is right across the street from Stage Left, while our respective husbands worked on getting the set up. She was the first person, other than Chris, that I told about the pregnancy and because we had had a wonderful day searching for last minute props at Target and Lost Eras, I was inspired to share the news. We talked about parents, theatre, babies and the future.

The play opened and we told a few more people that we were pregnant, but we had a scare during opening weekend which kept us mum from spilling the beans to everyone involved in the show. I had started bleeding heavily after helping out with the set and the load-in. One of our cast members was in the bathroom with me during intermission while I was silently freaking out and asked me what I thought of the acting that night ... the person, of course, was doing a wonderful job and I told the person so, but ... I had other concerns on my mind and was hoping that everything was ok...I probably sounded a little weird when I answered. I went to a fetal specialist the following day and discovered that the embryo had separated from the placenta but it was still fine and, with a few weeks of bed rest, it would most likely reattach itself to the uterine wall and would continue growing but there was still the chance of a miscarriage. Dear God. So, I had to excuse myself from helping out backstage and with box office. Thankfully, Melissa Kuhlmann filled that position almost every night and Lisa Wilson filled in when she couldn't. Holly Micelli rocked out as the Stage Manager and Chris did the lights, sound and video, so my help wasn't needed, to be quite honest. I just chilled at home, took reservations, managed Ovation Tix and attempted to produce the show as much as I could from behind the computer screen and on the phone. Clara, being the tenacious wonder that she is, reattached herself and the pregnancy continued as normal. I'm so thankful for the support of our friends and family during that time. It was pretty scary for me.

I was set to direct The Skriker in the spring but wondered if I would be able to do it. I had always wanted to be the type of pregnant woman who could do everything, but discovered that wasn't going to be the case. I really needed to take it easy and focus my energies on creating the healthiest baby I could. I wanted to keep myself cool as a cucumber and avoid the stresses that often accompany a production. I strengthened myself up mentally and, with the help of Chris and Lisa, I decided to go ahead and direct the show. We held auditions in February and selected an amazing group of ladies and one guy.

The rehearsal process went smoothly, the design staff was exceptional and my dear husband helped me keep my sanity during the whole process. I lost my cool a couple of times with folks not directly involved in the production and I could blame it on hormones being all over the place, but that seems too easy. I realized during my pregnancy that I didn't have much of a filter and I could say that I regret my actions but that would be lying. Would I do it again? Yes. Would I do it again to the extent I did it? Probably not. Do I feel like I should apologize for my actions? Not at this point. Would I like to move forward? Most definitely.

In June, we attended the Jeff Awards for the first time to celebrate Nicolle Van Dyke's nomination for Best Supporting Actress. Her portrayal of Beatrice in A View from the Bridge was so honest, so raw, so supportive and so touching. It was an honor to be with her that evening and I'm still elated that her first role in years garnered her a nomination from the Jeff committee. Melissa Kuhlmann and Tom Gordon also were there to support her, along with Gene, her husband, so we had a grand turnout from the GreyZelda peeps.

And, that, as they say was that in terms of mingling with the theatre community this year .... I did get a chance to see The Mammals'Clay Continent, Point of Contention's Radium Girls, Kat Daniels in a show at the Irish Heritage Center (can't think of the title right now ... I think my brain's still a little smaller from the pregnancy) and, of course, Our Town, which, like the rest of Chicago's audiences, I adored. I said to Chris before I left, "If I don't like this show and if it gives me the same 'meh' feeling I've gotten from so many other shows the last few years, than something's seriously wrong with me and I've lost my love of theatre." Our Town delivered, I was moved to tears and I couldn't stop gushing about it when I returned home. Thank you, David Cromer and The Hypocrites, for being that spark that reminded me why I am attracted to this art form.

Which leads me to the present and our future ...

Internally, we've shuttered the doors and windows for a spell. Lisa Wilson, a company member who was with us from One Flea Spare, moved to Seattle with dear Dave McCaul in August and that's created a pretty big void as she was a huge supporter and collaborator with the company as well as being a creative, driving, inspirational force of an artist and friend. We've got an incredible pool of actors, designers, etc who have helped keep our company strong, but we don't have the driving force to keep this going right now while I'm home rearin' our dear baby girl. Chris and I, in the meantime, are blowing off the dust from our Metamorphosis adaptation and our original play, The Thimbleberry Gallows. We're going to rework and take the editing knife to them. We might send the scripts out after we're finished to see if anyone would like to take a swing at producing them. Chris is also starting work on a play that's been rumbling around in his noggin for several years. There's been some very light talk of joining forces with another theatre company in town. Basically, it comes down to this: Chris and I have been a team and we've been able to to work and produce shows together. Now, we have a little girl on the scene that we want to devote the majority of our time to. In order to get things rolling theatrically again, we need another person who is willing to devote as much time and energy into the company as we have so that Chris and I can swap out responsibilities instead of doing the majority of the behind-the-scenes roles and responsibilities.

I'm not sure what 2009 holds for us at this point ... Chris lost his job in October and is still on the job hunt. I'm not quite ready to go back to work because I love being Clara's mom full time. We're going day to day, at this point, and hope that we have enough money from Chris's unemployment to pay our bills, rent, etc. So, thinking about what we're going to produce next is very far down on our list of priorities. I'm sure we'll figure out the balance and I hope that's sooner than later but, right now, we're just trying to survive and take care of Clara, who is a pure ray of happiness and fills our world with wonder and warmth.

In closing, I'd like to say that we hope that your Winter and Holiday Season proves to be merry and bright. Enjoy your family. Enjoy your friends. Enjoy your respective companies. Try to escape to the theatre when you get the chance. Support your local Storefront scene. Be there for each other and appreciate those that surround you. Give each other support, love and kind words.

It's been an incredible year and thanks for reading.

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