Do Tell / Stage Managers’ Day


Do TellHow was your weekend, friends? Mine was all sorts of wonderful: New Girl marathons {I’m only a few years late}, a birthday breakfast for my sister, and a night in with friends all making my pile of homework easier to stomach. Today, nothing’s on my agenda save a yoga class in the afternoon, so I’m hoping to finish Jason Reynolds’ Ghost and wrap up spirit week preparations – as class president, the days leading up to the homecoming game keep me busy.

October might as well be the month of celebration, as today is a holiday of its own: International Stage Managers’ Day! As someone who has stage-managed numerous school and community productions, this day is, naturally, near and dear to my heart. In honor of the occasion, I wanted to share five reasons why I consider theater so important in a new edition of Do Tell. While they are not unique to the performing arts, together, I feel the reasons below capture why theater is such a meaningful part of my life – and those of many others! Are you a theater fan?

waitressWhen I first became involved in theater at my middle school, it was just another extracurricular activity; many of my friends had a role in either the cast or crew, the musical seemed like an easy way to transition into a new grade, and helping out with costumes satisfied my dream of working in fashion {clearly, I’ve since changed my mind}. However, with each show I’ve participated in since then, I’ve come to appreciate theater as an art form, something of both aesthetic and intellectual value. Even when I have a hand in bringing a performance together, I continue to be in utter disbelief when the play or musical finally moves from pages in a script to a fluid piece of art on stage, complete with costumes, props, and set pieces that all serve to bring the story – and message! – to life.

shuffle-alongMy love of shows and my love of books go hand in hand: both are forms of storytelling, allowing audience members and readers respectively a window into another time, place, or way of living – plays act as a “slice of life,” if you will. I hate to use the word “escape” in this sense, as that implies to see a show is to ignore reality, when it is often the exact opposite: I believe the best productions mirror the world outside, teaching us a lesson or two about ourselves and others, even if they’re set a few hundred years back from now. And if the characters sing and dance while doing it? All the better, in my humble opinion :)

she-loves-meWhether you are in the starring role or simply moving set backstage, if you’ve ever worked on a production, you know of the bond that often forms between cast and crew members. Late night rehearsals and tech week schedules lend themselves well to quickly formed friendships! But even within the audience, community can be found; whenever I’m calling a show, I love to anticipate the laugh that ripples through the auditorium with a funny scene, the intense hush that comes at the height of a drama, or even the snippets of conversation as people exit the theater. Those moments are hard to beat.

hamiltonBroadway and the theater world at large still have a long way to go in terms of diversity; like many other forms of entertainment, the representation of different races, genders, and disabilities leave much to be desired. That said, I’ve still found that with the assistance of social media, theater is more accessible than ever, and I think that only goes to show how much it has grown – and the potential it has in the future! I may never see Hamilton in person, for example, but the cast album is on Spotify, print and digital interviews are in abundance, and videos shared by the cast only spread the show’s influence. And, of course, one can’t discount the power of local theater. Quality can range, sure, but in many communities, an excellent production is only minutes away from your door at a far cheaper price than what you’ll find in NYC.

the-color-purpleFinally, it’s difficult to expand on the idea that theater is powerful, but it’s true: why else would so many people say that theater has changed their lives for the better? Hours of rehearsing can be draining, shows can seem repetitive by closing night, and nothing pains my stage manager heart more than a technical glitch, but nevertheless, I’ve found few things replicate the excitement I feel when the lights dim and the curtain opens, regardless if I’m on headset or in an auditorium seat. I can’t wait to see what future productions have in store.

Have a lovely Monday!

Do Tell / Bookish Buzzwords


Do TellLook through my Goodreads shelves, and you’ll see few negative reviews. Some may say that such a fact is merely a reflection of my positive personality, but I like to think that it’s because I know myself as a reader: the authors I adore, the genres I enjoy, and the stories I do or will love. With no shortage of books catching my eye and limited time to check them all out, I’ve learned that if there’s any hope of narrowing down my TBR list, it’s helpful have a strong sense of what I like to read about first, rather than go to the library shelves blind.

I haven’t done a Do Tell post in quite a while, but in thinking of discussion topics, I was reminded of Josephine’s wonderful post from the winter, in which she asks: What are your bookish buzzwords? If “buzzwords” brings bees instead of books to mind, never to fear: buzzwords are simply terms or phrases used to describe a novel that make it a personal must-have. Listing them, as I did below, is a fun exercise for any bookworm, even those who think they have their reading tastes set in stone :) What are your bookish buzzwords?

Boarding SchoolsBooks that take place in boarding schools always grab my attention, perhaps because the setting is so unlike my public school district – in other words, I’m on the lookout for an interesting change of scenery! Ivy-covered walls and preppy uniforms are staples of modern-set stories, such as E. Lockhart’s The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau Banks and Andrew Smith’s Winger, but novels set decades, or in The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place‘s case, a century before, share the same set of story elements: strict headmasters, numerous school policies, and long-lasting friendships. In addition, the boarding school stories I’ve read prompt a sense of rebellion in their characters, all the better for someone who likes a bit of mischief or revenge in their plots.

Choir and TheaterHaving participated in so many theatrical productions, I think it’s only natural that I search for mention of the performing arts in my literature too! Finding characters with a similar affection for the theater makes me giddy, and art school settings only add to my excitement. Unfortunately, theater is one of many topics that is underrepresented in YA, so for now, I’ll settle for happily re-reading the books that include it and write of it well: Elizabeth Eulberg’s Take a Bow, about four teens with different musical talents; Raina Telgemeier’s acclaimed graphic novel Drama, which tells of  one crew member’s role in a school production, and Amy Spalding’s The Reece Malcolm List, whose protagonist’s passion for singing is only one of many things I like about it.

Memorable FamiliesI have a soft spot for adorable family-centered stories, no doubt a result of my long-ago-formed love of Jeanne Birdsall’s classic, The Penderwicks. While they aren’t always the most realistic of books in comparison to more gritty contemporary novels, they emphasize the importance of family, no matter the structure, whereas many other middle grade genres resort to leaving parents out of the narrative altogether. Similar books I’ve enjoyed? The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher, Dana Alison Levy’s debut, and The Mother-Daughter Book Club, the first installment in Heather Vogel Frederick’s best-selling series. I’d move to any of the three book’s households in seconds.

Spies and SuchOne of my favorite television programs is Chuck, a show that follows self-proclaimed nerd Chuck Bartowski on missions as a CIA agent. Though Chuck is no longer on the air, my love of spy stories hasn’t seemed to disappear. I’m a sucker for any and all mysteries, but books with spies at the forefront are my favorite; they offer smarts, adventure, and humor all in one package. Ally Carter is one of the most popular authors in this genre for her Gallagher Girl series, but Robin Benway has proven her equal with the 2013 release of Also Known AsWhen it comes to MG novels {I flow between both shelves with pleasure}, Stuart Gibbs’ Spy School and the subsequent books in the series earn my full recommendation.

The 1950s and 60sFinally, set a book in these decades, and you can be certain I’ll want it in my hands come its release. With so much happening both at home and abroad, in society and foreign affairs, in politics and pop culture, the events of the time grab this history nut’s attention, as do the societal trends and consequences of the era. Furthermore, as with any historical fiction, authors must pay close attention to detail and character development – at the very least, then, I’m looking to be immersed in a good book. Among the best of this topic include Countdown by Deborah Wiles, The Notorious Pagan Jones by Nina Berry, and Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley.

Have a terrific Wednesday!

Do Tell / A Day in the Life

Hi!Do TellPerhaps it’s due to my obsession with organization or, maybe, it’s simply the science behind it, but I have a strange fascination with routine. What do we choose to do day after day? Why do we keep certain habits? How does one’s schedule change throughout the week? As someone who frequently makes use of to-do lists and makes an effort to “live in the moment,” I believe that finding a balanced routine for daily life is important – and I’m clearly not alone in my interest!

Day in the Life posts are incredibly popular among bloggers, in part because they fit any site and any occupation. For this month’s Do Tell post, I wanted to present my own edition, taking you through one of my typical school days. It’s not that I think you were particularly seeking my hour-by-hour schedule – trust me, you’ve done one math assignment, and you’ve done them all – but rather, I think these posts are interesting in the sense of taking a walk in another one’s shoes! How do our schedules compare?

Wake-UpI begin my day around 5:15. I’m an early riser, and though I don’t wake up with buckets of energy and a smile on my face, I do consider myself a morning person! Sunrise is where it’s at. I like to eat breakfast – my day doesn’t truly start without it – before I make my bed, get changed, and do my hair. If time allows, I’ll also use the morning to catch up on blog reading, reply to comments, read a chapter or two, or study for an upcoming quiz. I’m out the door with my dad and sister by 7:05 {I’m not a licensed driver yet!}.

Pre-CalcMy school runs on a five period, three-trimester schedule, with the classes reversing each week. The past few days, for example, I’ve had pre-calculus first period, whereas next week, I’ll have it during last block. The bell rings at 7:25, so I make sure I’m in my seat with my homework ready to go.

Math is where I differ with some of my friends; I actually enjoy working with numbers in the more difficult topics! We are currently discussing logarithms and exponential functions; it’s a nice “easy” unit, so to speak, before we move on to trigonometry.

EnglishMy next period is English. I’m taking AP Language and Composition this year, and I love the curriculum. As any regular reader of my book reviews knows, I’m have an analytical style of writing, which fits well with the class’ focus on rhetorical techniques. Discussing what is effective in a piece of fiction or nonfiction is right up my alley, and I hope the course will continue to challenge me as a writer. The debates are an added plus!

TeammateI’m lucky to have two electives this term {come talk to me in the spring, where I shift to an all-academic schedule}, one of which is a course called Project Teammate. This class partners up a peer mentor with a special needs student{s}, and they work together to develop vocation and physical skills. My teammates are the sweetest, and I’m convinced we couldn’t have a better job: organizing the shelves and assisting the school librarian. The first half of class, then, is spent in the library, while the second half is typically outside for a gym activity.

YearbookFollowing third period I have lunch, and then I head off to Yearbook, my second elective of the trimester. Any class that allows me to practice and talk graphic design is more than fine by me, so this art course and I were a natural fit :) The first deadline is in December, so we’ve recently been working on the fall sports pages and determining the layouts of our divider pages. Fun stuff, in my humble opinion.

HistoryTo finish my day of classes, I have AP United States History during last period. I think my countless historical fiction recommendations are indication enough; I really, really like learning about the past. I would be lying, though, if I didn’t admit how fast-paced this course is – we’re in our second month of school, and we’ve already made it to James Madison’s presidency! Much of the class is devoted to exam preparation, such as analyzing documents, developing thesis statements, and drawing conclusions with historical context.

ActivityThough the bell has rung at 1:50, my day is far from over! I almost always have some extracurricular to go to, whether it be math tutoring with middle school students or a student council meeting to discuss our junior-senior prom {?!}. Recently, I’ve been planning a bake sale with the other class officers, coordinating dates and rehearsals for the one-act play festival, and attending Common Connections meetings, an organization similar to Project Teammate, but held afterschool. It’s certainly busy, but I enjoy and am passionate about the activities I’m involved in – and I’m so grateful for the opportunities and my supportive parents.

HomeworkBy the time I get home, it’s usually around 4:00. At this time, I decompress a bit by grabbing a snack, checking my email, and doing some simple blog maintenance before staring on my homework. The time it takes to finish my assignments ranges anywhere from an hour and a half to five – it depends on the day! I think any student can agree: time management is crucial in high school.

WorkoutUnless we are all on the go, my family typically eats dinner together. Afterwards, I try to wrap up any of my lingering homework, and then I usually schedule in a workout. It’s nothing big – I lack the time and rides to go to the gym – but my yoga and strengthening routines are enough to keep stress to a minimum and me feeling healthy. Win-win all around!

RandomIf it’s a busy night of homework, I will continue to work on school assignments after I shower. Otherwise, it’s time to tackle everything else in my agenda: performing arts emails, student council reminders, Lit Up Review posts, Doll Mag articles, and anything on my running list of Ciao Bella-related tasks. My to-do lists are unrealistic, but I would rather have it all on paper than in my head, and I am much better about lessening personal pressure on myself – who needs that extra stress? I do what I can before 10:00-ish, at which time I prepare for the next day by packing my bag and laying out my clothes.

ReadFinally, I like to read anything I can before I fall asleep! This sometimes means only ten minutes on a tiring week, but other times, I can read for a good forty minutes before I shut off my lights at 11:00. It helps when I’m in the middle of an excellent book.

Whew! That was a typical day in my life. Now it’s your turn! What is your daily routine?

Have an excellent Wednesday!