RETREAT!

We have a retreat planned.  My friend and I won’t just go on vacation… we’re retreating.

I could bite my tongue off for saying this, but I’ve actually had a lot of vacation thus far this year and I still felt like I need to get away.  The problem is that I want to get away AND accomplish something.  I want to accomplish the sort of personal work and planning that can only really be delved into when one is extracted from day-to-day happenings.

So… I contacted my partner in crime, Kathleen, and suggested that we retreat together.

Kathleen and I have taken many trips together over the years, but never with a goal other than to camp, hike, talk and drink to excess.  This time, I have some grand goals in mind for us.  I told K I wanted to combine healthy, spa cuisine with plenty of fresh air and exercise to fuel our bodies and minds.  The third leg of this spa tripod is work on personal goal discovery and action plan design.

Go big or go home, eh?

Here’s the plan:

Location – on my birthday (next Wednesday), we’ll drive about 3 hours to K’s husband’s hunting home – the family farm.  It’s a modest, rustic home in the quiet and beautiful Turkey Run portion of Indiana.  We’ll be near two state parks and a lovely river in early fall.  Hopefully, we’ll be able to get lots of fresh air and see some gorgeous scenery.

Exercise – as I’m a bit of an invalid at the moment (recently acquired one sprained ankle, one broken one), this part of the plan is sketchy.  I’m hoping to be much more mobile by the time we go… would love to take our bikes.  At the very least, I’ll be able to hobble around outside a little and do floor exercises.

Cuisine – we’ll purchase healthy ingredients and K will bring goodies from her husband’s organic garden.  I’ll prepare spa cuisine for us (my specialty).  We’ll have three days of a mostly plant-based diet, complete with lots of taste, color, texture and variety.

Goal Discovery and Action Plan Development – this gets a little more complicated.  I’m trying to find a good form to use to help us navigate through this.  First on the agenda is to do some writing individually.  Each of us will outline our perfect day, from waking to bedtime.  We’ll share those, then brainstorm on discovering what we really want, then what can be done to get there.  We’ll translate all of that into action plans with clear objectives and action steps.  This work should span the entire three days (coming back home on Saturday).

The idea of all of this is to put ourselves into a situation in which our minds and bodies are well nourished with fresh air, great food, exercise and friendship… and a little wine… so that we can achieve maximum enlightenment and clarity.

Addendum: there are a few books we’ve both read that will help us.  The Celestine Prophesy, Loving What Is and A New Earth.  I am also bringing the DVD, What the Bleep do We Know and a CD of Candace Pert’s Psychosomatic Wellness.  I read her book, Everything You Need to Know to Feel Go(o)d and was fascinated by this scientist’s explanation of magnetic resonance and the ability of certain tones to vibrate within our bodies in a balancing way.  I’m not expecting miracles, but am anxious to hear that CD in combination with the rest of the work we’re doing next week.

So… cheers to our retreat.  Will keep you posted!

(the family farm, which we’re calling a sanatorium for the retreat, has no internet service and isn’t likely to have the best cell service.  Going off the grid should also serve our purposes well!) 


Waiting for the Next Bar to Drop

Sometimes, everything goes so right, it seems like there must be something wrong.  Seriously, when life goes very well, I begin to wonder if I should be enjoying myself so much.  Perhaps I should be agonizing over something and preparing for the inevitable “bad times.”

Pragmatically, it is safe to assume that eventually, something sad, bad or really tragic will happen in my life.  It is nearly empirical fact that sad, bad and tragic are on their way… ‘cause this is life, after all.  People die, hearts get broken, money is spent and skin sags.

Optimistically and Zen-ally, nothing sad, bad or tragic ever happens.  We experience this life; that is all there is to it.  There really is no “good” or “bad,” there’s just “experiences.”  We are ethereal spirits having earthly experiences.

Well, I hate to stick it to the esoteric (and possibly correct) Eckart Tolle and Celestine Prophesy set, but I happen to like this experience better than most and I really want it to stick around.  This ethereal spirit gets a little reflux when she considers the really strong possibility that this here good feeling will pass and she tries very hard to squeeze the bar of soap without it popping out of her grip.

Oh, holy crap… that’s it, right?  The key is to just enjoy the lovely, figurative bar of soap – rub it all over your proverbial body, as it were – and trust that, if it does eventually melt away (from so much rubbing), you’ll find another… or maybe you’ll discover that shower gel is really more to your liking…

Wow, screw Wayne Dyer  (pardon me, sir – I really do like your books – am just making a point here), I’ve just discovered the key to relishing momentary happiness and experiential optimism:  you never know when you’re going to love the next bottle of shower gel to come along!

UN-EMPLOY-MENT

Welcome to time to do everything you’ve always wanted to do, and none of the money.

Well, that’s not necessarily the case, I’m not exactly in the poor house.  I’m reading this book called “Little Bee” by Chris Cleave.  Now that’s poverty – being excited about a slice of dried pineapple…  I’m not exactly there at the moment.

The time is what’s blowing my mind actually.  I should be able to accomplish everything I wanted to but couldn’t while I was working 10 hours and commuting 2 every day.  But somehow, I’m not able to accomplish nearly that much.  The days just zip by if you don’t have ways in which to mark them.

I have meetings here and there.  I talk, write, read, paint, shop and cook.  I watch Top Chef and Project Runway (thought I have to warn anyone thinking of becoming unemployed that looking forward to television shows is a pretty awful way to spend the day).

I’m working on a great big project (more about that in the Editorials section).  I’m working out regularly.  I have a work-out partner and several project partners and consultants with whom I collaborate…. That’s all good.

I’m working on the funding portion of all of this.  That’s going to come.  Until then, I’m pinching the ever-loving life out of every penny that comes my way (just the way I was raised… and not a habit I feel a need to break at the moment).

And I am still working on perfecting this state of being.

You see, I’m busy as hell.  I’m working a lot and accomplishing much, all while making sure dinner is on the table when my loving man is ready for dinner.

Un-employed, just means no one entity reserves the right to not less than 40 hours of me a week.  In fact, I am now the world’s bitch.

Hello, I’m unemployed at the moment.  What can I do for you?

Nailing It

Nailing It

April 30, 2010, 1:43 am
Filed under: Uncategorized
Chicago Street Theatre February 4, 2010

During intermission of the opening night performance of “The Pillowman,” a fellow walked up to me with money in his hand. He said “I want to give you this donation, but only if you promise to produce more shows like this one.”Yes sir, I can promise that – we have such great respect for important works such as “Letters Home,” “Coyote on a Fence,” “Doubt” and “The Pillowman” – it is both our honor and a certain artistic calling to bring them to you.

We had a full house on opening night and every single person I spoke with was buzzing with excited observations and conversation. Seriously, it is a thrill to witness a piece of art that brings you close to each of its characters and surprises you with new information and plot twists throughout your stay in our auditorium. To tell you not to miss this show seems too trite… so instead, I’ll suggest you not miss the experience currently playing on our stage.

AS I WAS TYPING THIS LETTER, I received an email from a patron who saw the show this weekend. I’m sharing a bit of it here (I kid you not, this just arrived):

To Whom It May Concern:

On Saturday January 30, 2010 , my wife and I had the privilege of seeing one of the FINEST performances we have ever seen.

…Timmy Gleason and Josh Eggleston were both exceptional in their performances; [they] brought life and a high standard of acting to their characters. With Timmy Gleason’s character being involved in every aspect of the play he had to hit his mark at every turn. Timmy not only hit the mark he absolutely nailed it.

Over the years we have seen many plays with local and/or national talents and this was truly one of the finest performances of acting that we have seen in many years!

There you go – I couldn’t have said it better.

See you soon!

Donna Blanchard
Managing Director
Sponsored by Bang Bang Beauty and Boutique
http://bangbang-boutique.com

P.S Director, Traci Brant continues her Director’s Blog on our “Pillowman” page and we’ve begun a new Teen Artist blog on the “Ascension Day” page. Enjoy the peak behind the forth wall.

P.P. S. I would love to have included links to those blogs in the above paragraph, but the email system we currently use won’t let me (it erases everything that comes after “.com, net and org”). The folks at Vendini tell me they’re working on this problem and should have it solved within the next couple of months. Until then, please don’t think I’m too lazy to insert hyperlinks! You can click on the show links below… those will take you to the specific show pages.

Ascension Day

Ascension Day

April 30, 2010, 1:51 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

February 24, 2010

We’re breaking new ground at Chicago Street Theatre once again.  Ascension Day is a teen drama, written by Timothy Mason.  It is hard to describe the excitement I feel when I talk about this show and what it means for CST – our artists and audiences.

First, let me say that if I had to give this show a rating, it would be PG-13.  It is set at a Bible camp in 1947… and teen exploration into adult behaviors had already been invented by then.  I wouldn’t describe this show as racey, but I want to make it clear that this isn’t Father Knows Best either.

And that is why this show is so exciting.  The “real” teen years are largely ignored by theatres, playwrights and publishing houses.  This is a rare opportunity to witness an honest glimpse into the rollercoaster ride that is burgeoning adulthood.

We’re not just giving audiences an intriguing production, we’re offering our teen artists something that doesn’t come along very often… the opportunity to explore the real issues of the script on stage and the tumult of running a show back stage.  Yep, the entire cast and most of the crew of Ascension Day is teenagers; teens who are given training and direction and expected to deliver professional results.  And they’re doing it – it’s amazing to watch!

This ground-breaking show is something we hope to include in our seasons for many years to come.  Our spring family show, will not only focus on and provide great roles for our talented teens, but will also include our Mentorship Program, developed by our Director of Education, Lisa Formosa-Parmigiano.  Interested young folk are given options such as lighting, sound, set design, decoration, costuming and marketing from which to choose.  In each of these categories, they’re not only given a hands-on education, but they are responsible for their arena of work.  They’re learning a whole new perspective on the phrase “the show must go on” ‘cause they’re the ones running it.

Please join me in supporting our teen artists by supporting this production.  Bring your friends and tell you neighbors.  We’re making something really great and necessary happen here – be a part of it and let us know what you think.

The show opens this Friday and runs through March 7th.  Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for students, seniors and US Veterans and you will receive one free ticket for a child 12 and under with each purchase of an adult ticket (please use your discretion for age appropriateness – see paragraph #2).

And two more things (now that the hyperlink function works on these emails, I’m going to use it!): Classes for kids and adults begin in March: http://chicagostreettheatre.art.officelive.com/Education.aspx and it’s time for our annual fundraiser, Encores!: http://chicagostreettheatre.art.officelive.com/Encores.aspx.

See you soon!

Donna Blanchard

Managing Director

Chicago Street Theatre

http://chicagostreettheatre.art.officelive.com/default.aspx

Sponsored by Bang Bang Salon and Boutique

http://bangbang-boutique.com/

Moved to Tears

I’d Better Stock Up on Tissue

April 30, 2010, 1:55 am
Filed under: Uncategorized
Chicago Street Theatre April 5, 2010

I have to tell you, I am nearly moved to tears at the outpouring of generous attention given to us in response to the donation request letter I sent out a little over a week ago.  Already, 71 of you have taken time out of your day and money out of your wallet to answer my request for “ten lousy bucks.”  Indeed, several of you have contributed more than ten dollars.  Thank you, thank you, thank you from the bottom of our hearts!

Please know that we understand and appreciate the value of every dollar and your ten dollars are no more “lousy” to us than they are to you.  I am so grateful that so many understand our need and appreciated a little levity in the donation request.

It is my job to concern myself with the bottom line of this organization, but I’m moved nearly to tears more by the sheer volume of envelopes found in our mailbox this morning.  71 envelopes is a wonderful thing to find in our mailbox!  71 people received our letter a few days ago and immediately wrote a check, filled in credit card information or put cash in the envelope.  71 people sealed that envelope, put a stamp on it and mailed it already.  What a fabulous start!

I look forward to going to the mailbox each day.  Please, feel free to make me cry in gratitude for many days and weeks to come!  J  (you can also make me weep with joy via PayPal if you prefer).

And again, without you… our donors, subscribers, sponsors, ticket holders and members, we wouldn’t be here.  Whatever your contribution, THANK YOU!

Please don’t forget, we will be holding our second round of auditions for The Heidi Chronicles tomorrow night (April 6th) at 7:00 pm.  We’re looking for three talented men and five talented women.  Come join us!

I hope you had a wonderful holiday and that you are taking time to enjoy the beautiful weather (Monty and I got our bicycles cleaned up and ready to go for the season; we haven’t actually hit the trail on them yet, but are looking forward to our first ride of the year).

See you soon!

Donna Blanchard

Managing Director

Chicago Street Theatre

Sponsored by Bang Bang Beauty and Boutique

Dawg!

Dawg!

April 30, 2010, 1:53 am
Filed under: Uncategorized
Chicago Street Theatre March 16, 2010

You know what I love?  I love it when we go to a great party with fabulous food, quality entertainment and spectacular people AND we get to come home with silent auction goodies.  Well, despite the fact that it looked like we’d gotten out-bid on all of our choice items at our fundraiser, Encores! last Saturday, Monty did manage to surprise me with a couple of silent auction treats.  What a great night!  If you’re looking for proof, just check out the photos.

We thank all the guests, volunteers, performers, sponsors, auction item donors and top-notch team at Strongbow for a lovely and successful evening.  And thank you to Donna Lind of Lind Digital for capturing it all in photos.  You all make supporting a great cause SO MUCH FUN!

Well, there’s no time to nurse my aching dancing feet around here – we keep moving on.  Classes just began last week for our youngest students and adult classes begin this Friday.  If you haven’t already, please check out the new line-up of Master Classes Lisa’s got planned for us.  I’m excited and anxious to participate.

We’re busily working on getting our 2011/12 season posted on the website with the full compliment of performance dates and times.  I’ll let you know as soon as we’re ready to go live with that.  And speaking of the website, Traci has found a fun little gizmo for us.  When you go to our auditions page, you’ll see a box in which you may insert your email address to receive alerts when that page is updated.  So now our website will let you know when it’s time for you to come back for more.  Dawg, that’s cool!

Remember 15 years ago when the internet was just a strange toy for geeks and cell phones weighed about 27 pounds and it cost $.35 a minute to use?  I’ll ponder how we ever got along without email notifications and texting as we get ready for the next class and rehearsals for And Then There Were None tonight.

Have a great week and I’ll see you soon!

Donna Blanchard

Managing Director

Chicago Street Theatre

Sponsored by Bang Bang Beauty and Boutique

Moved to Tears

I’d Better Stock Up on Tissue

April 30, 2010, 1:55 am
Filed under: Uncategorized
Chicago Street Theatre April 5, 2010

I have to tell you, I am nearly moved to tears at the outpouring of generous attention given to us in response to the donation request letter I sent out a little over a week ago.  Already, 71 of you have taken time out of your day and money out of your wallet to answer my request for “ten lousy bucks.”  Indeed, several of you have contributed more than ten dollars.  Thank you, thank you, thank you from the bottom of our hearts!

Please know that we understand and appreciate the value of every dollar and your ten dollars are no more “lousy” to us than they are to you.  I am so grateful that so many understand our need and appreciated a little levity in the donation request.

It is my job to concern myself with the bottom line of this organization, but I’m moved nearly to tears more by the sheer volume of envelopes found in our mailbox this morning.  71 envelopes is a wonderful thing to find in our mailbox!  71 people received our letter a few days ago and immediately wrote a check, filled in credit card information or put cash in the envelope.  71 people sealed that envelope, put a stamp on it and mailed it already.  What a fabulous start!

I look forward to going to the mailbox each day.  Please, feel free to make me cry in gratitude for many days and weeks to come!  J  (you can also make me weep with joy via PayPal if you prefer).

And again, without you… our donors, subscribers, sponsors, ticket holders and members, we wouldn’t be here.  Whatever your contribution, THANK YOU!

Please don’t forget, we will be holding our second round of auditions for The Heidi Chronicles tomorrow night (April 6th) at 7:00 pm.  We’re looking for three talented men and five talented women.  Come join us!

I hope you had a wonderful holiday and that you are taking time to enjoy the beautiful weather (Monty and I got our bicycles cleaned up and ready to go for the season; we haven’t actually hit the trail on them yet, but are looking forward to our first ride of the year).

See you soon!

Donna Blanchard

Managing Director

Chicago Street Theatre

Sponsored by Bang Bang Beauty and Boutique

Season Announcement

Don’t Get too Close…

April 30, 2010, 1:58 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

OUR 56th SEASON IS ANNOUNCED!

I hate to say this on such a gorgeous day, during such an exciting time of year, but I seem to have a black cloud hanging over me at the moment.  I’m just warning you – our coffee machine broke the other morning and I haven’t been the same since.  Things don’t work or fall over or manage to get stained in the washing machine (a very nice new top, by the way) around me.  I hope to be better soon, but for now, if I say “look out,” you ought to take me seriously… I’m just saying…

Bad luck aside, it is a gorgeous day and we’ve got some pretty marvelous things going on here, not the least of which is the opening of And Then There Were None on Friday.  Not only is this show truly a piece of history (it basically defined its genre), but it is also directed by JoBeth Cruz and Piper Bakrevski.  JoBeth and Piper are two of the most exacting directors with whom I’ve ever worked and they make the perfect teammates for Ms Christie.  God is in the details… and so are JoBeth, Piper, Agatha and the makings of a great murder mystery.  We’ve scheduled three matinees and seven evening performances of the show and all dates are selling rapidly.  So, if you haven’t gotten your tickets already, hurry up or risk never knowing whodunit.  (the play is different than the book – so no, you cannot cheat!)

Of course, you can order your tickets online or call or visit our box office.  Definitely go to our website and look at the really cool trailer on the production page.  Thanks again to Matt Pera and Benjamin Garcia for hooking us up with that awesome video.

Our opening night gala is at Dish, the 2nd Saturday after-show party is at Martini’s on the 24th (sponsored by Magic Hat #9 Ale) and the Thursdays Talk post-show discussion is on the 29th.  Tickets are still currently available for each of those, but I wouldn’t wait too long to make those reservations if I were you (we already got our couch tickets for the 24th).

Thank you so much to all of you who have sent in donations in answer to our “Ten Lousy Bucks” donation campaign.  Truly, we are so very grateful for your help!  Envelopes are still coming in every day, so please don’t think you’re too late to add your support to the drive.  You can also donate via PayPal online from here.  You all rock our world – thank you from the bottom of our hearts!

More?  Well, our fabulous Wine, Dine and Stay Shoreline raffle tickets are still on sale (you can purchase them from our box office), our summer of classes will be announced next week and subscriptions for our 56th season will be available soon.   Look out!

(ha – gotcha)

See you soon!

Donna Blanchard

Managing Director

Sponsored by Bang Bang Beauty and Boutique

Spring Anyone?

Spring, Anyone?

May 4, 2010, 3:07 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Now that we live in a condo, the one thing I miss about having a house – and I mean the ONE thing – is having my flower and vegetable gardens.  Now mind you, I have the sort of verdant foliage on our balcony that can only be achieved by an ex-avid-yard-gardener like myself.  That gives me my annual dose of “playing in the dirt,” on a smaller scale.

You may remember that we partnered with our friends at Yeager’s Greenhouses last spring and sold vibrant and gorgeous flowers, vegetables and herbs at the theatre.  Not only did that benefit the theatre and our local greenhouse, but the herbs I bought delighted on the balcony and in my recipes all summer long (until the mourning doves moved into my basil – which is an entirely different story altogether).

And so, it gives me great pleasure to announce to you that this spring we are partnering once again with Yeager’s Greenhouses AND our friends at Special Olympics to bring to you our:

Plant and Flower Sale

sponsored by Special Olympics and Chicago Street Theatre

Plants will be for sale on the following days:

Friday May 7  from 1 – 6 pm

Saturday May 8  from 8 am – 3 pm

Saturday May 15  from 8 am – 3 pm

Sunday May 16  from noon – 4 pm

Saturday May 29  from 8 am – 3 pm

Sunday May 30  from noon to 4 pm

at

Yeager’s Greenhouses

348 N 450 E, Valparaiso

From central Valparaiso, travel east on Hwy 2 to 450 E (about 1/4 mile east of Washington Township School), turn south on 450 E, greenhouses will be on the right side of the road

Huge variety to choose from including: flats, hanging baskets, pre-made pots, gerbera daisies, impatiens, geraniums, wave petunias and much more

(including basil that mourning doves love to nest in)

Your participation benefits Special Olympics, Chicago Street Theatre,  Yeager’s – a local grower, and YOU!

See you soon at Yeager’s!

Donna Blanchard

Managing Director

Sponsored by Bang Bang Beauty and Boutique