Finding Purpose

I love theater. I have always loved the arts, but particularly music and theater. They have always played a prominent role in my life; for example, I am in my 15th year of dance at Footlights Christian Dance Studio. My dad loves music and, while I may not have known much of celebrities like Justin Bieber or Katy Perry, I definitely knew of the people who my dad liked to listen to: The Beatles, Styx, The Rolling Stones, etc.. I have always been around music and knew how I could use music, and dance, to bring praise to God. That was a very important lesson that I was taught in church choirs, dancing at Footlights, and also through my family. However, one lesson I struggled with was serving God through theater (not biblical theater). 

Serving through music seemed so clear because I really only did that with either Christian groups or Christian songs. However, when I got into technical theater I was in Flower Mound High School, a public school. We do shows that are not necessarily Christian based and sometimes not Christian appropriate, while they may be appropriate for high school students. I had a very hard time trying to find how I could do Tech at FMHS and still serve God. 

A few years ago, I got the beginnings of an answer. Over the summer, I went to Student Life Camp. There, they give us free time and also some options to do during our free time. One of the days, you could “Hang with the Techies” to get to know the people who run the lights and sound during the worship services. I, still wanting an answer, chose to do just that. I wanted to find an answer. The Techies went over how they ran all of the equipment, told us about themselves, etc. and then opened the conversation to questions. So I asked how they say tech as a way to bring praise to God. What I expected was a straight forward answer. What I got was a starting point to go on my own journey of finding an answer and therefore, a purpose. 

Now, I don’t quite remember exactly what she said, but I do remember leaving thinking that tech isn’t just about me. It’s about me and my audience. Thus, I have continually reflected about my purpose. I knew that God gave me a love of music and theater, but what is a love for something if you don’t know what to do with that love? I have been adding to my answer ever since then and my answer now is this: The show is not what conveys God’s message. I am. In Proverbs, it says that you must give what you do to God. I convey to the audience my love of God by giving them hard work, effort, and a result of a beautiful show. In other words, I work hard to give people joy when they come to the theater. I use the gifts that God has given me to bring joy to people. 

We all have different opinions, and I hope that if you don’t agree with mine, go on your own journey and find what yours is.

Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and he will establish your plans. Proverbs 16:3

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the LORD, not for human masters. Colossians 3:23

- Zoe

Who's the Grinch here?

Think of your warmest childhood memory. Or more specifically, your happiest Christmas. Everything is sparkly pretty, colorful and fun, and there are new joys to have. The thrill of accepting someone’s gift and in return giving one as well.

But as a child, when and why does the warm and fuzzy feeling of Christmas time die down? Has it become just childish and no longer beautiful? Or as you get older more things weigh down the innocence and simple things in life? Or perhaps I’m just a moody teenager speaking nonsense.

Don’t get me wrong, the holidays are a great time and I enjoy when they are here. Just remembering running down to our tree early in the morning, skipping breakfast because I was just too darn excited to see what everyone got. But like everything, I got older and things changed. The excitement in me was going away and didn’t have an urge to wake up early.

And the only character I could relate this to is none other than Mr. Grinch.

As we get older, greed and selfishness can start to grow. The wants of things that twinkle in your eyes, things that in your opinion you truly deserve. We’re all kinda slowly turning away from being a Who, so cheerful about gifts and joys in life and everything Christmas, to being a Grinch. Though there’s one thing he wants the most but can’t figure out how to get, is joy. And coincidentally the Who’s have lots of joy. The joy of just receiving a gift from a loved one. And an even better feeling is giving loved ones the best present ever cause they know they’ll love it and make them smile.

Cool new gadgets, clothing, accessories, room decor, techie stuff, and more all on your wish list. Hoping that at least one thing you want makes it under a tree. But really what feeling of getting what you want can comprehend to giving someone a gift and seeing a smile on their face. Ah yes. The good ol’ cliche phrase “Christmas is really the time for giving. Not receiving.” But truly, imagine how delightful that feeling is when you give someone you care for a gift in hope of bringing them joy. That is after all what makes Grinch have a change of heart and what made him and Cindy Lou Who discover the real reason behind Christmas, is enjoying others presence.

Consider this as your next Christmas wish list: 1 thing you want, 2 things you need, 3 things to wear, 4 things to share, and 5 things to give. Could be simple or very thought out, what matters most is to give more than receive. I’ll even bet that this year will be a little brighter by all the cheer you brought to others.

You should each give what you have decided in your heart to give. You shouldn’t give because you are forced to. God loves a cheerful giver.  - 2 Corinthians 9:7

- Briee

ITS, Teaching a High School Class, and Crawling Underneath a Stage in Front of 750 People

TEXAS THESPIANS FESTIVAL WAS TWO WEEKS AGO AND BOY WAS IT A DOOZY THIS YEAR. To those who don’t know what I’m talking about, ITS is the International Thespians Society, a society across the nation that brings high schools from every state together to form a sort of bond with everyone in both your state, and the country. Every year, each state has their own convention for the troupes and high schools where they all bring events to compete with each other to make it to Nationals. November 16-18, Texas had their statewide festival, and it was the most fun I’ve ever had. 

First let’s start with when Mitch, Jeff, and I were put in charge of teaching a class because the teacher had no idea what he was doing. So the first day, we all decided to go to an improv class to get our energy up, to start with an exciting burst of fun at 8:00 in the morning. However, when 8:00 hits, the teacher is nowhere to be found, which is very concerning since the class should’ve started by then. 8:05 hits and I turn to Mitch and say “we should probably get these kids under control,” judging that there were probably 40 kids in a small room without a director. So we hop up there and we start teaching and playing freeze with the kids. At around 8:15, the director finally rushes in and disbands our game of freeze. He starts teaching his class and it was a very enjoyable class. However, near the end of class, he ran out of things to do and pointed at Mitch and I to start our game of freeze again. So for about 15 minutes, me and two other boys taught 40 high school kids how to play an improv game.

With that first day experience, you think that my festival experience can’t match that peak, however one thing surpassed it. Before I get to that amazing peak of festival, let’s hit some more highlights! Our group musical IE got a perfect score, I got to meet my favorite comedic playwright and get his autograph, I bought eight plays, I met a nice gal, I wrote a musical in 50 minutes, and I passed out over three hundred Becky’s flyers.

With that we get to the best part of festival this year. Becky’s New Car, Flower Mound’s marathon play. A marathon play is a play done in under an hour, strike and set up included. This year I was blessed to be in our marathon play as Chris, the main character’s son. The show revolves around a woman who has an almost accidental affair on her husband, and it’s one of the funniest and twist filled shows I’ve ever seen or been in. So we’re about to start the show and go onstage and my heart is pounding out of my chest as I am furiously praying over every person, set piece, and prop in the show. Then the lights go down and it hits me that we’re actually doing this for real this time, not only for real, but for a packed audience, complete with standing room. Fifteen minutes go by, I nail my first two scenes, in fact, everyone is nailing their scenes today. We are (as Matt Blom would say) “on fire for choir.” Then it happens, I remember that I have to be on the other side of the stage for my next entrance. Normally that wouldn’t be an issue, just cross behind the stage backstage, however on this stage, there was no cross back, just a stage left and a stage right, no way to cross to the other side. Then I get the genius(?) idea to crawl all the way to the other side by going UNDERNEATH the stage. And I do it, I crossed under the stage in the middle of a performance without anyone noticing. The audience reacted, the audience screamed, laughed, gasped, and even cried at one part. That show was truly electric, it could not have gone any better. 

If you are at a public high school, or about to enter one, I beg of you to join your school’s ITS troupe. And if you go to a school that doesn’t have a troupe, talk to your theatre teacher about it. ITS is a magical experience and hope that every single one of you can experience it the same way that I have.

Your VP Membership and Understage Worm,

Matthew

Life and 1984

A decent amount of stuff’s happened in my life recently. One: I learned I’m not nearly as good a person as I thought I was. Two: I’m terrible with anything rhyming with rag of clean. Three, I received the glorious nickname of Ostrich. Among other smaller things, I had the pleasure of listening to the audio book of 1984 and yeah I’m going to talk about that for a bit.

Wow. Just wow. I can’t recall a single book in recent memory, possibly ever, to have such an all-consuming atmosphere, a plot that drew me into its self with such interest, and to paint such a good picture of the past and the human mind. Written in 1949, the author painted a future where the nation of Oceania (basically composed of America, Great Britain, and Australia) is ruled by a totalitarian government called the Party which is constantly at war. Society is composed of proletarians (the working class), Outer Party (Middle class) and Inner Party (Ruling class) which is all under the authority of the god-like figure of Big Brother. Citizens of the Outer and Inner Party are kept under near constant surveillance, and to break the Party’s rules or even disagree with them could result in forced labor, torture, or death. What makes 1984 great among other dystopian novels is the morbidly fascinating philosophy of Big Brother and the Party. By utilizing absolute control of the records of the past, slowly changing the language from English to Newspeak, and the rather ingenious idea of Doublethink (willing manipulating one’s perception of reality and then forgetting you did, and repeat.), it raises good questions about the mind and reality and how they interact. All of this is met in the dialogue:

Does the past exist concretely, in space? Is there somewhere or other a place, a world of solid objects, where the past is still happening?"

"No."

"Then where does the past exist, if at all?"

"In records. It is written down."

"In records. And- ?"

"In the mind. In human memories."

"In memory. Very well, then. We, the Party, control all records, and we control all memories. Then we control the past, do we not?"

Highly recommend it if you have some time to spare.

COOL & COLLECTIVE

Very often, I get asked by my friends “BRIEE! How in the world do you do it!?!? You always have SOOO much on your plate, yet you get it done with a breeze and STILL manage to stay calm!!”

And while I believe they’re being a bit exaggerated saying I do a lot, and somewhat stay calm in the process, I do have a few techniques up my sleeve on tackling lots of task and staying focus, calm, and not letting the stress of some get to me.

Task breakdown, Lists, and Decluttering. As much as I try to convince myself that I’m organized, I’m actually very very scatterbrained at heart. But I am very obsessed with making check lists. List for goals, achievements, tasks, breakdown a task, To-do lists, etc. etc. I like to think that my scatterbrain self is thinking of too many tasks and agendas to get done that an organized list is an everyday must have.

So I write everything. Yes I mean everything. I do this because if you only have multiple big agendas on your check list, and you don’t get through everything, you’re probably gonna feel defeated. But a mixture of both big tasks and little will make you proud and show yourself you did a lot today. Whether it was learning a new tap routine, or made lunch. You came, you saw, you conquered

Workout/Yoga stretching. Believe it or not, it’s actually really relaxing exercising in a way. It really helps me to workout if I’m frustrated with something (often with myself on an assignment but I’m getting better at that and this certainly helps), if I’m majorly stressed, or if I just need to clear my head. Yoga and stretching helps me to clear my head, be in tune with myself, make sure I breathe, and kinda to think of a game plan for task tackling.

Me time, Tea time. I like to have a nice little routine on Sunday nights to unwind after a long week and have some relaxation as another week approaches. After church and whatever other activities I have on Sunday, I put some calming music (My go-to is ukulele music like Dodie Clark and Grace VanderWaal), wash and pamper my face with masks and rubs, treat my hair for keeping it healthy, prepare a bubble bath with bath bombs and such, comfy jammies, make some sleepy time tea and curl up with a book.

Might sound very tedious, but it’s so relaxing and stress relieving. Especially with long weeks of work and assignments to do, it’s ok to at least have one night to you so pick a Me Time and treat yo self!

Calm. I recently downloaded this app called Calm and I really recommend it if you have trouble finding some time in your busy day to take a few breaths so you can stay sane. It has quick meditating sessions you can choose from, some soothing music and nature sounds, calming stories if you can’t sleep, and you can keep track of your stress levels and how much you’ve done a session per day. I’m really liking it and often use it while I do my stretching to help me be one with my mind and body.

And lastly, but I consider this the most important one

Praying. Especially praying for others. I often go up to my friends or post on my social media that I take private prayer requests, and many people whether I know them or not respond with such gratitude that I do this.

Praying for others actually helps me as well. It helps me with listening skills, being thankful for all the things and people in my life, and mainly to stay grounded and be mindful of others. Yes I have struggles in my life, but there are many others that are struggling way more than I am. So why would I waste my energy contemplating over mine, when I can help and be a light for others. Not saying that your own struggles mean nothing and should just be buried away, But not to fret about it. It’s not the end of the world.

I encourage you to do the same. Reach out to somebody. Ask if you can pray for them and if they need help with anything. It can be as simple as praying that they have good health and strength for days to come. Both of you will be grateful that you did.

Now although these methods and techniques help, there are plenty of times I have my meltdowns behind closed doors because of stress. I’d just like to add that it’s ok to have those meltdowns. Doesn’t mean you’re weak or not capable of doing any kind of task, It just shows that you are human and can handle as much as you get.

I leave my peace with you. I give my peace to you. I do not give it to you as the world does. Do not let your hearts be troubled. And do not be afraid.  John 14:27

He made the storm as quiet as a whisper. The waves of the ocean calmed down. The people were glad when the ocean became calm. Then he guided them to the harbor they were looking for.  Psalm 107:29-30

- Briee

PROPS ANYONE?

Props can come from all sorts of places. You can buy them, rent them, and even make them. Sometimes, there are those props that are so specific that they are impossible to find. In these situations, you have a couple of options and one of the main ones is to make it yourself. The way you can make props depends on so many things. Examples include budget, availability of materials, experience, and, most importantly, time. If you can’t make a prop, adapt the script or come up with something similar to what you need.

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Props can be made out of regular materials. What I mean by that is things that are usually made out of a certain material, like a pillow made of fabric, can be made of that certain material by you. However, what I find really interesting is the props that look professionally made and they are made out of completely bizarre materials. An example would be a knife that was made from cardboard and aluminum foil or an Indian chest plate made from yarn, beads, and straws from fast food places. Yes, these were actual props that we used in actual shows.

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You can’t really do a how to on making props in general because they all have different needs. However, the advice I can give is this:

  1.  Know that you need to make the prop: meaning you couldn’t find it in a store or something.
  2. Know what it needs to look like: so that when you are finding/buying materials, you have a plan instead of buying random stuff and THEN trying to make it look right. Trust me, it won’t work. 
  3. Know what you need to buy and what your budget is: This kind of goes with the last one, but just know what you will need and how much you can spend.

Here is a project I recently worked on for the FMHS Varsity Theater show, Lend Me a Tenor. The show takes place in the 1930’s, and involves a camera. First things first, I researched what cameras were in the 30’s. They were called brownie cameras and here is a picture of an actual one:

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On a budget, there was no way I could buy one of these because all of the old things that don’t work anymore are now much more valuable than when they still worked and were much more common. So, I could rent one, but still money… so I decided to make one from scrap wood and garbage instead. I used scrap pieces of luan to make a box and then I drilled holes in it for the lens and flash. The lens is a cut up piece of water bottle (which I pulled out of the garbage) hot glued into the hole. The handle is made of the plastic-like material that holds large shipments of wood together (Which I saved before it got thrown away). Then, the last thing you need to check for is what the director wants. The director wanted the camera to hang around the actors’ neck, like a modern-day camera, but brownie cameras did not have neck straps. So, I told the director and he said to do it anyway. This would be a special case where you might ignore time period in order to do what the director says. For the neck strap, I used a broken belt that I hot glued and stapled together. Here is my finished product:

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I really hope this helped in making props and when you watch your next show, think about where the props came from and if they are really what you think. 

Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.      John 1:3

...and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills— 4 to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, 5 to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of crafts.     Exodus 31: 3-5

 

- Zoe