Do Tell / Senior Year Wrap Up

Hi friends!

Do TellHappy Tuesday! How is your week coming along? I don’t often share personal posts here on Ciao Bella, but given the significance of senior year, I feel it’d be wrong not to mark down the memories I made in the month of May. And so, I’m taking a cue from my good friend, Paulina, and providing a recap of my end-of-the-year events  — there are quite a few! Fellow seniors, how were your final senior year festivities? To my other readers, how is your summer looking?

College Decision DayMay kicked off on a particularly stressful note with the college decision process. I was so fortunate to narrow down my list to two schools I absolutely adore {and I realize how lucky I am for these opportunities in the first place}, but my choice didn’t come as easy as I had hoped. After a long weekend of visiting both schools again and working through the pros and cons of each place with my close friends and my parents, I came to a decision: I’ll be attending Brown University next year! Since then, I’ve been sporting my Brown t-shirts with pride and filling out forms and paperwork galore. I have a few more months before I move in, but I can’t wait to see what is in store for me there {and to meet other Brunonians!}.

Ciao Bella PromCiao Bella Prom 2Ciao Bella Prom 3With the college decision out of the way, I moved to the next event: prom! I had such a lovely night last year that I feared this year wouldn’t live up to it, but I shouldn’t have worried; my friends and I all had a lovely time. {For anyone bookmarking dresses for next year, mine is from BHLDN}.

After prom, I then focused my attention to any last-minute preparations for my school’s Special Olympics pep rally. The kids and the program mean the world to me, and so, I’m a delighted the day went off without a hitch. I had to makeup my AP Calculus exam, so I myself could not attend the Special Olympics, but the athletes returned to tell me they brought home the gold :)

The Drowsy ChaperoneDuring that same week, I was in tech rehearsals for my school’s spring musical — and my last show — The Drowsy Chaperone. I had a blast stage managing the production, not in the least because so many of my friends participate in the cast and crew {they all rocked in their respective roles}. Over the past four years, the drama department has grown into what feels like my second home, and so, it was a bittersweet goodbye during closing night, filled with standing ovations, crying seniors, and a number of emotional messages. Thankfully, it won’t be long before we gather as a group once more, as I still have Tony Night, our end-of-the-year celebration, to look forward to.

Boat CruiseBoat Cruise 2Like many high schools, my own school sponsors an incredible week of senior activities, with everything from an all-night party at the local YMCA to Class Day, in which a number of seniors are honored with awards. One of my favorite activities was the senior boat cruise, a night on the water that includes an open buffet dinner and plenty of dancing. I had such a wonderful time {even if nostalgia hit hard at the end of the night}, and on a fashion note, I loved seeing everyone dressed up for the occasion.

GraduationFinally, my graduation was this past Sunday! After a busy few weeks, it was refreshing to simply relax during the ceremony and enjoy the moment. As the class president, I gave the welcome address, and though public speaking is far from being my favorite activity, I think it went well. The best part, however, was cheering on my classmates, all of whom helped to make my high school experience as wonderful as it was.

And with that, I’ve now entered into full summer mode. I’m grateful to have the next three months open, with the exception of work and rehearsals, for time with my friends and family. I’m hoping to make the most out of this summer, because I know my orientation will be here before I know it.

Have a lovely day!
B

Do Tell / Stage Managers’ Day

Hello!

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!
Bella

Do Tell / Bookish Buzzwords

Hi!

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!
Bella