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May 27, 2008

It seems really strange writing a “last entry,” to be honest. In a way, I don’t know that it’s really sunk in yet. I know I’ve sat through graduation, and I’ve already walked across the stage and I have my piece of paper that says ‘I made it.’ I’ve already said my goodbyes to my grandparents and my friends and my professors, and I’ve returned the gown and packed up my apartment. I’ve had my last senior pub night, my last dinner with the seniors at Steve Vineberg’s house, and my last breakfast in the senior apartments. My stuff is everywhere—in my car, in the costume shop, in my parents’ basements— and after my weekend in Boston, my bank account is a little lighter. In a vague way, I’m thinking about money, and jobs, and my future, and I’m wondering when the next time I’ll see so-and-so is, and I’m wishing I had spent more time in a million different ways last weekend.

But no, honestly. No, it hasn’t really quite hit me yet that Mikaele is going to Spain and Nell to Taiwan and I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye, or that even those who are only going so far as New York, DC, or Jersey are still much farther away than a walk to Caro Street or down an apartments hallway. It hasn’t settled in that the random people you smile at on your way out of Stein or the people you had class with freshman year—those people are going to live their lives and maybe I won’t see them again. And although I’m returning to HC for the summer, it will be as an alum, and not an undergrad, and I guess that’s a title that just takes some time to settle into.

Perhaps I’m the only one who feels like this—that transitioning out of college is perhaps almost as confusing and unsettling as transitioning into it. Maybe everyone else had their moment of accepting that their time here had come to an end well before I did, and I’m just alone in feeling a little turned around. But as one of six hundred and sixty-nine people who graduated on Friday, I would say that it’s probably safe to bet that I’m not alone here. That while the commencement ceremony was beautiful, it’s not the only memory of these four years that I’m going to take away with me. I would say it’s safe to bet that a lot of my classmates are already missing their college experiences and trying to figure out who they are now as alums of this college, and where they fit into the world now. But I would also say that with four years of questioning our identities—both inside the classroom and out of it—we’re leaving equipped with the tools to figure out where we belong after this.

I couldn’t leave this blog without posting pictures, obviously—so enjoy pictures of the girls at Baccalaureate Ball and then me with some professors at the reception after the ceremony. And I also couldn’t leave the blog without thanking the staff at Public Affairs for affording me the opportunity, especially Christian, Nick, and Ellen. And finally, I’d like to say hey to anybody who might be reading this. If you’re a prospective student, I can’t say for certain that Holy Cross is right for you—but I can tell you without a doubt that it was right for me. If you’re a member of the class of 2008, congratulations, and I hope to see you again soon. If you’re a professor, hey, Steve—dinner was fantastic last Monday night, and I really want your recipe for the pomegranate glaze on the chicken. And if you’re an alumnus, thanks for letting me into the club, and I can only hope your memories of your four years here are as great as mine.

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May 14, 2008

Hi, everybody!

So I'm writing this entry from the most beautiful house in Brewster, Cape Cod, on a deck overlooking the beach… and life is really, really good. I can't even remember the last time I went on vacation with my family, and I think this is my first real vacation with my friends, and for the first time in forever, I have absolutely nothing to do.

It's pretty great, actually. Couldn't do it forever, but right now, it's pretty great.  The girls are in the next room watching a movie, and they're hosting a barbeque in a few hours. The weather is traditionally terrible this week, but we seem to have lucked out so far—it's beautiful outside, and for the first day since I got here on Saturday, I don't need a big sweatshirt to step outside.

But at the same time, I'm really excited to get back to Worcester next week for senior week. Steve Vineberg is cooking dinner for all the senior theatre majors on Monday, and we have a whole week of events to attend (a luau, a boat cruise, etc) before graduation on Friday morning. I'm not sure if I'll be attending the boat cruise after all, because I was called this morning to interview in Philly next Wednesday with the Arden Theatre Company, but I'll definitely be around for all the other events.  And I have a lunch date with Ed Isser to talk about the costume concept for Midsummer, so I'm pretty jazzed for  that as well.

Off to cook some burgers.  I can't believe my next entry about graduation will be my last!

May 1, 2008

Anyone who tells you study week should give you time to study has never been a theatre major. I tried so hard to feel exuberant when my last class at Holy Cross ended on Tuesday afternoon, but I was so drained (a ten-page paper due that morning, an eight-pager due at two) that all I could feel was beat. It wasn’t until later when it sort of hit me that I wasn’t going to be walking to Stein with my big notebook and travel mug anymore, that I really don’t ever have to worry again about oversleeping and running across campus in my pjs. (Not that I’ve ever done that before…..Ed Isser has definitely never called my phone at 10 a.m. to tell me that I’m late for class….. never.  )

And while I feel like the rest of campus has locked themselves in the libraries and study rooms for the next week, the rest of us are hard at work. I went to the first round of Advanced Directing One-Acts today (Karl Hinze directed Federico Garcia Lorca’s Yerma, and Brielle Hart directed Thornton Wilder’s The Happy Journey). Both pieces contained some really excellent work, and it was nice to see them grow as directors. This was some mature stuff from Karl, whose previous work had included an adaptation of “The Ugly Duckling,” that I hadn’t seen before, and Brielle’s piece was something unlike any of her previous pieces, which tended towards the feminist and political. And while I know it’s draining on the actors to go from the department mainstage back into one-act rehearsals, the opportunities—particularly for underclassmen who can tackle larger roles than they might be allowed in a larger setting—are really pretty great. And after the one-acts, I went with Kristen and Matt to the Film Festival, where the three student film minors, who write, direct, edit, and produce their own short films, premiered their works as part of their thesis presentations. I had designed the costumes for Connor Meikle’s Rate Your Pain (a comedy involving a stolen phone, a love triangle between a thug, a nerd, and a mysterious student, and lots of dream sequences), and enjoyed seeing my friends perform in Matt Shea’s The Adaptor and Frank Kimball’s Bad Penny Blues.

To plug my own work once more: The next wave of one-acts continues today with Racine’s Phaedra, directed by Dan Libatique, and Hamletmachine, directed by Cooper Gardner, which I costumed. I’ve had the luxury of sitting in on Cooper’s rehearsals as his designer, and for my last piece of work as a college student, I have to say I’m really going out with a bang. Hamletmachine is a sort of postmodern deconstruction of Shakespeare’s play, and has really been an interesting stretch for me as a designer, and a chance to explore new ideas with a type of theatre that I’ve never really explored before. It’s also been incredible for me to watch actors like Emily and Mikaele, who play Ophelia and Hamlet, tackle the challenges of roles that are unlike they’ve ever attempted, and really rise to the occasion. It’s an extremely visual piece that I’m proud to have worked on. If anyone gets a chance, come see Hamletmachine in the pit at noon or seven p.m., followed by Phaedra at one or eight p.m.

P.S. I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention how much I enjoyed both dance concerts last week. The dance concert practically sold out both performances, and while I liked the up-tempo stuff that Margie’s class was doing, I thought Kaela’s modern dance tutorial that used the Phillip Glass piece was really extraordinary. (To say nothing of the Jeff Buckley “Hallelujah” piece—it’s one of my favorite songs ever, and I really loved what Kaela accomplished with it). And the Balinese dance concert—which did, as always, turn into standing-room-only very quickly—was again fantastic. I could never have predicted as a freshman that the Balinese dance program would turn into one of the most unexpectedly cool parts of the theatre major, but every semester I remember just how loud and powerful the gamelan sounds, or how I secretly find the Kecak chant stuck in my head for a week. And Kurt and the costume shop staff managed to pull it off again—there were sixty kids in orchestra and dance this year, and to get sixty kids into sarongs and saputs and headdresses and makeup takes a lot of effort. (Not to mention that between the dance concert’s hundred and thirty students, some with multiple costumes, and then the sixty-plus costumes from the gamelan—you can barely walk in the shop this week for all the piles of laundry!)

April 19, 2008

At last…the long-awaited (okay, at least for me, I’m not sure how many readers are truly waiting with baited breath) photos from Dinner at Eight!

In order: Danny Goodman ’11 and Savanah Shaughnessy ’09 as Oliver and Carlotta; Katie Lydic ’10 and Vasilios Asimakos ’09 as Dora and Gustave; Brielle Hart ’10 and Kristen Fleming ’08 as Tina (the blackmailing maid) and Kitty; Molly Haglund and Matthew Brown ’08 as Paula and Larry; Emily Rast ’09 as Hattie; Lauren Doucette ’08 as Millicent; Matthew Brown ’08 as Larry; and finally, a good portion of the cast during the final dinner party scene (with Benjamin the Dog as Benito Mussolini). You can’t really see it, but he had a lovely rhinestone-studded dog collar and big pink bow during the performance, and was very tired by the time this picture was taken.
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In other news—Worcester is breathtakingly beautiful right now. It’s been perfect 70ish degree weather, girls are walking around in skirts and sandals and everyone is outside, sprawling all over the campus and throwing footballs around and playing music and drinking iced tea and reading under trees and pitching hammocks outside of Hogan. It took Herculean effort today to do any sort of work whatsoever, but I drove to the Bean Counter on Highland Street and camped out there with my laptop and revisions from my creative writing workshop and stayed for hours until I just couldn’t stare at the screen any more. (Of course, I treated myself to a new episode of 30 Rock and by pre-ordering The Weepies’ new CD Hideaway from iTunes… consider that your Katherine Fritz pop-culture recommendation for the week). It’s supposed to be absolutely gorgeous for the Battle of the Bands tomorrow. Enjoy the weather and the weekend, everyone!

April 16, 2008

So I can finally breathe again. I have slept in, and eaten, and done work for other classes, and seen friends, and been just plain human again. It’s wonderful.

That said, I really miss the show already. It feels very strange not knowing what to do with myself after rehearsals; Rob Mack seems to think it’s a symptom of maybe being a little too busy, that it feels so strange to not be doing anything. (Of course, I’m not just doing nothing right now: I’m still working on the short film, directing project, and have started researching for Midsummer; plus my other three classes all have end-of-the-year papers to be dealt with… but it’s a very different work atmosphere from the constant hours necessary before the show actually opened). Dinner at Eight had a great run—the pit party last Saturday was wonderful. Both of my parents made it to see the show; half of the faculty of the English Department went last Thursday, and a ton of alumnus were on-hand to see it and congratulate their younger friends, some of whom I hadn’t seen in years. I was so proud of the work that I did, and even prouder of the cast and production staff as a whole—it really does nothing for me to tell myself ‘good job’ knowing that my work would be meaningless if it wasn’t for the people working alongside me.

I have so many other things I could write about right now (how great the cast party was, how hard I’m working on the next big thing, how great the writing reflection with Stephanie Reents that I just attended was… ) but I think the last thing before I sign off (and leave you with a few more behind-the-scenes shots, because I still have to go through the 350 photo call pictures to find my favorites!)—is this: congrats to both the new ACT chair, Savanah Shaughnessy—and congrats also to Emily Rast, Fenwick Scholar! I’ve watched both of these ladies – and good friends—stumble through their freshman years into these confident, poised women, ready to do really amazing things. As horribly cheesy as this sounds, I really put my heart and soul into ACT over the past four years, and I’m so proud that I can leave knowing that I can trust Savanah to take over and lead—even improve upon—an organization that has shaped who I am as a student here. And as for Emily’s Fenwick Scholarship (for those of you who might not know what this is, trust me, it’s a really really big deal), I am so proud of her, and so proud that a theatre major—and good friend—deserves an award and an opportunity like this. Congrats to both women.

And—to not end on a sappy sentimental post-graduation note—some backstage candids! (Photo call pictures to come, I promise!) In order: sophomores Bobby Pedalino and Brielle Hart take time to play guitar before getting ready; seniors Lauren Doucette and Kristen Fleming pose for a candid in the costume shop; Junior Vasilios Asimakos ’09 poses with sophomores Jimmy D’Amico and Katie Lydic, ’10, with my renderings in the background; an action shot of Molly Haglund and Kristen Fleming ’08 during ‘warm-ups’ in studio 481; and a full cast photo on the Fenwick Stage.

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April 5, 2008

Whew—Dinner at Eight finally opened!

I can’t tell you what a relief it was to finally get the show in front of an audience. It’s been such a long rehearsal process—and, for me, such a long time to think about it and almost over-think things—that when I saw audience members laughing and enjoying themselves, I could finally stop worrying and enjoy the show as well. I’m so proud of the entire cast and crew, who have put in so much time and effort, so to have the past two nights go off without a hitch has been really gratifying.

I don’t want to post pictures quite yet, because I don’t want to give anything away, but here are a few candids taken before Wednesday night’s dress rehearsal. (In order: junior Kate Hultgren at her dressing table; seniors Lauren Doucette, Molly Haglund, and Kristen Fleming sharing a laugh in their wig caps; and a very sleepy me pausing for a picture with sophomore Kaitlyn Lydic.) If you are on campus this weekend or next, please come see Dinner at Eight in the Fenwick Theatre!

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March 25, 2008

I’m typing this in the costume shop on a Tuesday night, looking around and realizing that a lot of things that have been really just ideas in my head for almost a year are now finally coming together. First dress rehearsal for Dinner at Eight is in six days, and it is still really unbelievable to me. I will never forget being called into the faculty department meeting the week after Coraline closed last year, and being asked if I would like to design the costumes for the spring department show—something that a student hasn’t done here in well over a decade. I remember reading the play in June on the banks of the Kennebec River outside my apartment in Maine, and starting to compile research as soon as I got back home to Queensbury in August. I don’t think I’ve ever had ideas bouncing around in my head for this length of time before, and it’s still a shock that dresses that I dreamed up are sitting on hangers, without me having to do any of the actual construction. I’m not trying to downplay the work I do for student theatre—that’s actually closer to how a lot of theatre companies work, with the designer doing the cutting, draping, and/or stitching, and I’m used to having to essentially be my own one-woman show. But having a staff of Paula and Chris, six work-study students, two practicum students, and Kurt to help and advise me throughout—I’m never going to get it this good again, at least not for a number of years.

And it’s strange to look at a physical object—a coat, a dress, a handbag—and be able to see all the research that I’ve put into it. I’ve never before had the luxury of a budget that allows me to actually build everything that I want to—normally, it’s a process of building some things and pulling from stock or shopping, and then altering, the rest. Here, my staff has assembled six evening gowns, three women’s suits, two day dresses, three dressing robes, several blouses and pants, and one extravagant, Erté-inspired, fur-trimmed cloak—in addition to altering dozens more pieces—and this is an ‘easy show’ for them. Kurt has been teaching me how a men’s suit and tuxedo should properly fit (something I had sorta known before this, but really know the ins and outs of now). And as much as I’d like to hold up my research binder and say ‘I’m done!’, I still have to check on things—I was frantically googling ‘metallic mesh evening bag’ to find out if it would have existed in 1931. (It did—the first mesh bag was made by Whiting and Davis in 1892, and they still make metal mesh today).

And as much as sometimes I whine and complain about giving up my spring break or shaving days from my Easter vacation, I know that I’m just being ridiculous and I couldn’t give this up if I wanted. (In fact, I can’t say no—I’ve already committed to designing the costumes for a student film and a student-directed one-act, as well as helping a local high school pull and fit costumes for their April production… there goes my lazy last month of college). I can see the finish line at this point—the show opens a week from Thursday, and then it’s slightly smoother sailing until graduation.


P.S. A happy birthday shout-out to Molly Haglund! Steve Vineberg, who is directing her in Dinner at Eight, called the cast together for a “discussion” last night—which turned out to be two surprise homemade birthday cakes—chocolate spice cake with chocolate almond frosting, and orange poppy-seed cake with citrus frosting. (A smaller group of us also went out to BABA tonight for some sushi to celebrate—it’s on Park Ave, across from Blue Jeans Pizza, and comes highly recommended!)

March 13, 2008

I just got back from a fantastic reading in the Levis Browsing Room by Kelly Link, who after tonight has completely won me over. I read her short story collection “Magic For Beginners” as part of my New Wave Fabulism course; initially, while I liked them, I wasn’t entirely sure what to make of them. Her stories cross genre boundaries and weave all sorts of unexpected things together: part ghost story, part science fiction, part fairy tale, and definitely part ‘literary fiction’—working within realism at points, but then with radical departures into the strange and unknown. At first read, they seemed equally disturbing and hilarious; after a class discussion led by Professor Reents, I went back and re-read, and found them much more complicated than I had initially thought. So to have Kelly Link on campus today was such a treat. She came to our New Wave Fabulism course in Stein this afternoon to answer any questions that we had, and was so down-to-earth and willing to answer any question, from questions about her creative process or how she would define her work, to the ins and outs of publishing, to just how she goes about choosing the cover art for her books. The story she read tonight was from her soon-to-be published collection of young adult stories, “Pretty Monsters,” and while she said she had set out to write a ‘traditional’ ghost story, it was anything but. (And I left with a signed copy of “Magic for Beginners,” inscribed to me with the tag “love! magic! zombies!”… so what more could a girl ask for?)

If interested: check out Kelly Link where—among other things—you can find her first collection “Stranger Things Happen” available for free download online (she posted it under a Creative Commons license, which—in addition to being a really wonderful marketing device—makes her work all the more accessible). The full text of her story “The Faery Handbag” is online at http://www.lcrw.net/fictionplus/link-handbag.htm... check this author out when you get a chance.

March 9, 2008

Spring Break ’08 was lovely—although maybe not as exciting as some people I know! My friends were in places like Aruba, Florida, Puerto Rico, or the Dominican Republic… alas, I was in scenic Worcester all week. Okay, which sounds a lot snarkier than I meant it to be—I actually had a really nice, relaxed week. There was plenty of work to do in the costume shop for Dinner at Eight, so I went in every day. I also got to discover two new fabric stores this week as well—the Osgood’s Textiles in Springfield is amazing, a huge warehouse full of every conceivable fabric you could want, and the Wright’s Outlet in Sturbridge will make you never want to pay retail prices for trims ever again. Ed Isser came in the other afternoon, so we had a little chat about Midsummer—have I mentioned that I’m definitely staying in Worcester for the summer to design A Midsummer Night’s Dream for the Redfeather Theatre Company? I’m so excited—it’s not only going to be a great opportunity for me to stretch as a designer, but also to live in Worcester during the summer, which I’m sure is very different from the rest of the year. It’s like the best of all worlds—many of my HC friends, both alums and undergrads, are going to be here, but also I get to work with Equity actors—and after talking to Ed, I think the show will be great.   

It was also kind of nice to be one of the only people on campus. Steve Vineberg, who is directing Dinner at Eight, invited my friend Cooper and me to his house for dinner last Saturday night. It was great—we did a little talking about the show, but mostly just sat around and swapped stories—and Steve’s cooking is always amazing (autumn vegetable stew in a cheddar-encrusted puff pastry; sautéed chicken, prosciutto, and roasted red peppers; and the most incredible pear pie you’ve ever tasted). We lost track of time and didn’t leave until after 1 am. It’s one of those things that I think prospective students hear and don’t really believe, but it’s true—these are the kind of relationships that I’ve come to find at Holy Cross.

And while I did get a lot of work done this week, I did decide to put off working for the weekend and take a drive back home (okay, mostly because my hairdresser could fit in an appointment on Saturday, but also because I hadn’t seen my family since January!) Other than the giant storm that almost blew my car off the road, it was a nice trip. I just missed my brother John by a day—his plane landed in Albany just as I was crossing the Mass border, so that stunk—but I got to see my parents and my brother Peter. It’s tough because the breaks are so close together (and close to the show!) but I’m hoping I can make it back for Easter as well.

I guess that’s all for now—time to go back to the real world and keep reading (p.s. how cute is my roommate Kate? She felt bad that I was stuck here all week while she went to Puerto Rico, so she left me a new Zadie Smith novel before she got on the plane… which makes it extra-tempting to ignore that Biology assignment, but I’m going to try and be good! 

February 27, 2008

I am so ready for this spring break. Dinner at Eight is in full swing—we’ve been having fittings all week, Paula and Kris (my cutter and first hand) are in 9-5 Monday thru Friday, and I’ve been driving to JoAnns or the Fabric Place at least two or three times a week. I’ve handed in two papers, a reading journal, and I’m studying for my bio exam tomorrow morning as I’m typing this right now. It’s going to be a nice break.

However, I still have had better weeks than some people. My friend Savanah, one of the most lovely people in the world, had a really crummy thing happen to her this week. Some creepy jerk stole her bag—with her laptop and iPod included. It couldn’t have happened to a nicer person, and everyone feels really, really awful about it. So my friend Kristen organized a little collection—from the students and the theatre professors—and guess what? We had enough to get her a brand new iPod classic. It’s not as good as hunting down the creep who took her stuff, but it’s the best we could do.

Speaking of Savanah, we actually gave it to her right after the first round of Advanced Directing Midterms tonight. If anybody gets a chance, the ones tonight were really nice. The assignment was create a 20-minute interpretation of a classic text—so The Trojan Women, directed by Brielle Hart, became about the rape and humiliation of women, with a lot of Brechtian devices and raunchy themes layered on top of the classic text. The Bacchae, directed by Cooper Gardner, was really excellent—he found a lot of ways to bring humor into a tragedy, and both the performances and aesthetic (particularly the choice of using mostly flashlight and candlelight to light the piece) worked well. Up tonight—Antigone and Medea, which I’m looking forward to quite a bit, directed by Karl Hinze and Daniel Libatique. The same four students are presenting one-hour pieces as their final grade in May, so if you miss this round, be sure to come back to the Pit during study week.

I also have been going a little nutty trying to re-do my resume in time for the job fair I’m attending on Saturday. The REPA (Regional Entertainment Production and Administrative Job Expo) in Boston is what got me my job at Monmouth last summer; although I already have my summer work lined up, I’m hoping that at least a few theatres are hiring the fall. If nothing else, I’d love just to go and get some face time in with some theatres I’d be interested in working for next year. The REPA fair is put on by StageSource, but you don’t need to be a member to attend, so if anyone reading this is interested, it’s on Saturday, March 1st at 88 Tremont Street in Boston. I’d recommend it to any young artist looking for seasonal or summer internships or employment, and I’ll definitely be there… as soon as I can stop by the copy center to print out my resume.

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