Just Show Up

Feeling disconnected from blog world lately, but posting anyway. Reading “Improv Wisdom”, and today I learned that the Third Maxim is “Just Show Up.” Motivation is not a requirement. So here I am.

Boston Brass did more than just show up at our two school presentations today – they were absolutely terrific.

11:00am at Robinson Secondary School in Fairfax. Midday by high school standards, but pretty much the crack of dawn for performers whose professional day usually runs from mid-afternoon till about midnight. The gentlemen were energetic, focused, and committed to communicating with the roughly 130 teenage musicians in the room. Advice on practicing, sight-reading, stage fright, and making music with friends – all interspersed with spot-on playing that belied the “early” hour.

2:00pm at Bailey’s Elementary School in Falls Church. About 250 students in the gym, and the presentation shifted to raucous audience involvement (a couple hundred kids practicing a brass instrument “buzz” is an awesome sound) and giggle-inducing comedy (Bugs Bunny’s got nothing on these guys.)

Back to Opera

Absolutely terrific design presentations yesterday. I know I promised photos, but I’m waiting on some digital images from the designers. We’re always amazed at what designers are able to do with our quirky space at The Barns. No fly space (above the stage), no upstage space, no offstage left space (just enough for entrances and exits), very little offstage right space. No show curtain unless it’s part of the design. That means that scene shifts are often done “a vista” (in full sight of the audience), and they need to be done safely, elegantly, and quickly, all with people watching.

All by way of saying that if you’re the kind of person whose creativity is stoked by the challenge of limitations, well then, we have just the theatre for you. But again and again our directors and designers fall in love with The Barns and do magical things with it.

Our Comte Ory scenic designer just finished working on Spamalot. That, by itself, would be an interesting tidbit. Add the fact that the show he’s designing for us is a comedy set in the Middle Ages, and you can imagine what fun we had.

Rest assured, Ory will not be filtered through Monty Python. But it was tempting…

Put It On the Blog!

Talking about the blog on the way back to the train station. Costume designer asks that I remind all readers that, and I quote (I think), “Costume designers were not put on earth to make singers’ lives miserable.” (That’s not verbatim, but you get the point.)

Raw, Messy, Exhilarating… what was I thinking?

A reader comment on my somewhat incomprehensible rant from a few days ago: “Anonymous” says: “Whether you like it or not, or whether it is “right” or not, “raw, messy, exhilarating, gut-wrenching” experiences are not what mainstream consumers want for their classical music dollar.”

Actually, my series of less-than-attractive adjectives was meant to apply to the process of making music, not the consumer/patron experience. But I agree, somewhat reluctantly, that many “mainstream consumers” do seem to want their performances served up with a slightly claustrophobic sheen of decorum and detachment. And maybe that’s not something to be concerned about. But from where I sit, it seems, at the very least, to be a significant obstacle between us and the future of the classical music experience.

Then again, I could be blessedly and completely wrong.



“Quirky space” reminds me of spandex walls and a “tree” growing up to the top of the theatre. The Barns is (are?) a magical place, indeed.

Patricia Ryan Madson

Hooray! You clearly have the spirit of improv. Thanks for showing up for your own life and for giving a nice plug to “Improv Wisdom.” You have made my day. Life happens while we are searching for our motivation. You proved you can “just do it.”
Patricia Ryan Madson

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