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STATING MY CLOSET CASE
"I don’t wanna be labeled. Bi is as close to (nervous laugh) an unlabeled label as I can get to. And you know some people say 'oh that’s just an excuse to be promiscuous'…"
by Guest Writer ReneeUnfortunately, we were only able to perform the show we had put together once. Due to an enormous amount of snow and ice, we were out of classes for a week. And as classes were cancelled by the University, so were any other events. Honestly, I was worried about the one performance that we did have. We hadn't rehearsed in a week, so I was worried that things wouldn't run very smoothly. We were able to get a rehearsal in just a bit before the show though, and things ran pretty smoothly. After the show, we had a talkback with the audience members. They asked questions or gave their commentary on the show, and I think we received a lot of pointers on what makes our scenes more interesting to the audience.
This process was so different from anything I have been involved in before, and I'm honestly kinda sad that it's over. Rehearsals were the highlight of my day. I knew no matter how horrible the day had been, I had an amazing group of people that would be surrounding me that evening, making me laugh and cry and realize how many things I have instead of seeing only what I lack. Honestly, even if it sounds kind of cliche, this was an eye opening experience. Many of the people in the cast were not those I would usually cross paths with, and I would have never guessed the struggles they have been through just by seeing them. I'm really glad that I had this opportunity, and I hope that we can all stay in touch.
by Guest Writer Alyssa
I think what has become the most challenging part about being an actor/actress in these scenes is that we don't want to let the true stories fade, we don't want to let the writers' visions become blurry, so we try harder to understand our roles. We have become much more than a cast and crew, we have become a safe haven for each other. It is remarkable how far everyone has come.
I will miss our Love Bucket, where we shared our thoughts and feelings toward what we learned each rehearsal. I will miss sitting In my bright yellow chair watching the scenes in front of me unfold, but most of all I will miss seeing the friends I have made here. Of course I will see them after the shows are done, but it was great to work on this beautiful project with everyone. We all stood up for something we felt so strongly about, something that our director Jonathan started. This project to share the
stories from the LGBT community also helped us create a bond together that can never be broken.
by Guest Writer Samuel
My experience with Cleaning Closets has truly been magical. I would not trade the memories and friendships I have made during this process for anything in the world. I just feel like there is something so special and so unique about people who are struggling with similar issues coming together and sharing their stories. I am truly amazed at the strength and the courage the cast members have shown throughout this process. I am so proud that we were all able to dig so deep inside ourselves and pull out things that may be a little painful.
Jonathan Mayo is truly a remarkable man. I have personally felt like I have learned so much from him in the short time he has been here. Not only is he an incredible mentor, but I am so proud to call him a friend. It was so easy to see how much he deeply cared for us and this project. Sadly, the weather put a little bit of a damper on our performance week, but we fortunately get to perform the show tonight and I am overjoyed that the public is going to see this awesome show we have created compiled of such interesting and moving stories. My heart is broken that Jonathan will not be here with us but I know we will all be putting everything we have learned from him to the test and our performance tonight is definitely dedicated to him. We could not have done it without him. I honestly hope to be half the man he is one day.
Cleaning Closets is a beautiful project. I look forward to watching this grow and grow in years to come. I hope that down the line I will get to sit in the audience at another university or wherever Jonathan decides to take it and watch other people's stories come to life the way we have brought our stories to life. I will carry Cleaning Closets in my heart for the rest of my life and hopefully can utilize what I have learned from this experience in my theatre career for years to come.
Remember to always Live, Laugh and Love!!!!
by Guest Writer Rikki
Now that it's time for the show, I'm really excited about how it turned out. I'm glad that it's turned into sketch instead of a stage reading, because I think it's a lot more fun this way. I hope the people who come to see the show feel the same.
It's been a great experience working with everyone, and I've learned so much. Not just new vocabulary either; I've learned more about myself. The process of Cleaning Closets has opened my eyes to a lot of new things. It's also been a very fun process. I'm grateful to have been a part of it. The things that I've learned during Cleaning Closets will be with me for the rest of my life.
by Guest Writer Pierce
It seems like no time at all has passed since my last blog, although it has been over a week. It’s a cliche, I know, but time flies when you’re having fun. Though it has been fun, we have been working devotedly to weave our stories together as comprehensively and entertainingly as possible. The final product is bound to be a true masterpiece.
Our show features the full gamut of emotion: fear, laughter, sorrow, love, anger, and self-realization. The audience will experience the joy of acceptance, the sting of rejection, and the triumph of self-realization. I, and the rest the amazing cast, can’t wait to present this one-of-a-kind production.
I am blown away by the progress these young people have made in a short time this week. This is a relief because I was starting to get nervous about the production. I wasn't worried that the students were going to let me down. I was nervous that I was going to let them down. They're depending on me to facilitate a process that will lead them to a successful show. Plus a third of them were away at a theatre conference this week!
Have I taken up too much time on discussion and terminology? No, I don't think so because we've been sharing stories since the start, and we had to build a safe zone as well as an ensemble before we could develop a new work.
Their stories are amazing, but can I provide them with the right feedback? I've always felt like I wasn't a deep enough thinker. Thank goodness this ensemble has the emotional depth to make up for where I lack. Maybe I should share this insecurity with the cast at the next rehearsal because they've been so brave and open with me. (Or now they could just read it in this blog.) I love that we've created a space where we can be honest. I wish I could give you more of an inside look at what happens between us, but once the therapeutic threshold is closed, what's Learned here Leaves here and what's Shared here Stays here. But in the same sense, I don't want to give you any more than what you're going to see in the show because I cherish my sacred time with these young people. Those moments are for us to hold onto.
The students have been asking me from the beginning what this show was going to be. You can read about their confusion in their blogs. But I didn't know exactly what it was going to be myself. I had an idea but nothing has ever been set in stone. For the longest time I was convinced it was going to be a staged reading, but now I'm seeing how uninhibited they are without journals and notes in their hands. We may end up having more of a workshopped piece with sketch and improv elements. I tell the students all the time that I am no expert at improv, but my industry knowledge, education from this university and passion for the art make me more than qualified to stand up there and guide them. This experience has really allowed us all to stretch ourselves. Not only do I have to think as an educator but as a director as well. It's a challenge that excites me and keeps me up late at night rambling in this blog.
How much input do I allow the students to have versus my own input? In the end, it's up to me to make the final and "best" call. But so much of the work we do depends on the ensemble. Tonight was the first night where we truly started to see the shape of something that made sense to us all. The amount of excitement we have for opening night has just sky-rocketed. Now we just have to focus that energy into the new work before the clock runs out.
So this project is really the first experience I’ve had conducting interviews, so there’s a lot to be learned. And interviewing people for the film documentary is even more difficult because you’re capturing everything on video. And when I say everything, I do mean everything—including yourself. This means I have to be careful not to talk over the storytellers so as to keep their stories clear on the audio tracks. But as an interview I want to be sure I’m personable and conversational so as to keep the storyteller at ease. You also want to be sure that you’re giving them enough time to react because a film is both audio and visual. Thank goodness my film partner has a lot of experience behind the camera because she gave me some great advice. Just give them more time in between questions to have reactions because sometimes they’ll even keep going and reveal some really candid moments. Looking back at some of the footage I collected on my own, I was afraid I wasn’t asking the right questions. My film partner said my questions are great, but I’m cutting into their honest moments. There was one time in particular we could see that I had a question and was no longer focusing on what the storyteller was saying. She advised me to keep a notebook and write those questions down and ask them once the storyteller finishes their anecdotes. The sad part is, I was keeping a notebook with me! However, it’s a difficult balance to stay engaged in their story without missing important information while also writing down a question and not be distracting. I guess I’m not as good at multitasking as I thought. Thank goodness I have a great film partner who’s already on the same page as me with the editing process!