Drama: I do it for its transformative power.

My new show finished its limited two-show run last night

Before the show, one actor told me this: “Being here [doing drama], is the only place I can really be myself.”

After the show, one actor told me: “Thanks for helping me get over my stage fright.”

Another actor said “This was the highlight of the year for me.”

I’ve watched one actor develop from a stiff monotone to a vibrant authoritative voice on-stage.

I’ve watched one actor bloom from a reserved shy girl in public to a strong persona on-stage of whom the audience cannot remove their eyes from.

There were days leading up to the show that I questioned why I do this to myself – the insane hours – battling all the excuses of why an actor didn’t show up – dealing with all the peripherals which make it difficult for everyone to focus on the show.  Is it really worth it?

And then the show happens, and I, once again, begin to see the sheer power of raw drama.  How it is a tranformative force, not only for the audience, but in particularly in the young actor.

I am immensely proud of what this team has accomplished, and if the comments from the audience were any indication to which we are doing something substantive and meaningful, I have to admit that we are, and I’m not changing a thing.

Those mundane, bored, worried, stressed eyes I saw in my actors last weekend had vanished. Last night, they were vibrant, proud, happy, and completely at peace.

That’s why I do drama and why I’ll never quit.

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This Week My Brand New Show: STORIES Vol. 1

I’m excited and completely terrified as STORIES VOL 1 comes to life this week. It’s a combination of 21 actors, 1 short musical, and 9 dramatic sketches including my first ever devised theatre piece.

I get to do this all in our brand new auditorium. The inaugural show! I’m running ragged these days as any theatre director will know. I’m barely keeping up with everything on my to-do list. But I did have time to snap a couple shots of rehearsals which also shows off those beautiful Source 4 LED lights.

Opening night April 24.

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Waleed & Ahla reprising roles in the award-winning “No in Spite of Itself.”

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7 brand new stories and 2 older ones.

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Ahmed flying in a rehearsal of our devised piece “Second Chances.”

Album Review: Johnson & Keaggy’s Cappadocia

If one could wear out the ridges of a digital LP, “Cappadocia” might be reaching critical mass. Jeff Johnson and Phil Keaggy have created a lush, intriguing, and satisfying album that I can’t stop listening to.

“Cappadocia”, named after the semi-arid, beautiful region of Turkey, is really a stunning achievement. Johnson is a master of creating expansive moods and atmospheres on his magical keyboard and when coupled with Keaggy’s sweet melodies and amazingly textured guitar playing, you have an instrumental album that reveals new discoveries at every listen.

The title track is infectious with glimpses of Middle Eastern tones without being overwhelmed in the regional sounds.  Keaggy’s playing is always surprising.  There are times when a melancholic chord turns hopeful and surprisingly takes the music in a way I never would have thought of. I’m thankful that this duo are the ones writing the music and not me.

All of the tracks are outstanding, but I am literally hooked on Cappadocia and Quo Vadis. However, there’s this musical phrase at the end of Trinity which I can’t get out of my head – and that’s a good thing! It’s so beautiful.

If you love instrumental music by truly master musicians at the peak of their craft, you won’t want to miss this album. It’s a treasure.

Now let me delve back in and see what other gold nuggets I can find.

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LED Lights and Theatre

Most of my experience in doing lighting design for theatre was drawing a sketch of what I needed and handing it to a talented technician who actually knew what to do to make it happen.

The systems I worked with were good but old school. You know, strip lights, parcans, colored gels, fresnels, and ellipsoidals. All that stuff did the trick and I was, in conjunction with those talented technicians, able to create some pretty cool lighting landscapes for shows over the years.

I got my first taste of LEDs a few years back in a small venue. I was not impressed. These were obviously cheap LED lights. Some of the lighting nodules stopped working after a while. We had a terrible system for controlling them, and I kept thinking: give me a parcan any day over a LED. At least I can blast the stage with reliable light!

I have now switched my opinion about LED lights in theatre because of the brand new auditorium I’m now working in which installed the Source 4 LED. Wow! And double wow!

Our auditorium is equipped with 20 of the Source 4 Lustre units – 10 of them having the ellipsoidal zoom lens and 10 of the them having the Fresnel adapter. We also have 20 of the Source 4 LED Par lights and four of the magic dot.

Forty-four lights for theatre is not a lot. Probably will need another 20 at some point, BUT what these lights can do is impressive. I’ve been spending all of my free time learning the ETC Element console for controlling these bad boys. It’s a little overwhelming but also really fun.

Here’s what sticks out to me about the Source 4 LED. Brightness. These babies are bright and the zoom lens creates crisp outlines. The Fresnel lens creates beautiful soft light, which when coupled with the barn door attachment, can be directed in a myriad of ways.

Next. COLOR. Oh my goodness. The color that comes out of these LEDs is unparalleled. I wowed my students the other day but doing a color wash of the stage from a deep blue  to a vibrant green to a hot red to every combination in between. All with a click of a mouse. No more changing gels!

This is impressive stuff, and I feel fortunate to be able to work with this system into the future.

Source 4 LEDs give theatre so many new options never before available to lighting designers. Imagination is the limit, so I hope my imagination will take-off and do something really special in this venue.

I know I’m going to enjoy the ride.

First Jaunt to Egypt

I had a great time taking a few days to explore Cairo. I wasn’t sure what to expect except spectacular pyramids. They did not disappoint. The Giza pyramids sitting on the edge of the desert were indeed awe-inspiring trying to figure out and imagine what it looked like when they were being built.  The desert was beautiful and the requisite camel ride was thrilling if not a little nerve-wracking.  Those are tall animals. I felt small.

Cairo itself is a chaotic mish-mash of traffic, sounds, sites, smells, and endless people angling for a dollar or two. It’s understandable. They’ve been through a lot and ever one of the twenty-two million citizens of Cairo are competing for a limited economic pie.

Security remains tight and there was no place tighter than in Coptic Cairo – the old section with a myriad of beautiful Coptic churches.

We pre-booked our itinerary through WEKNOWEGYPT.com which I highly recommend if you are ever going. No haggle, fair prices. Dependable drivers and a terrific guide to the Egypt Antiquities Museum. We learned a lot without be overwhelmed and man-handled by an over-zealous guide.  Here are a few of my favorite shots from my trip.

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Night View from Our Balcony

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Coptic Cairo

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Approaching on foot

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The Desert

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Great Review of A PARTING IN THE SKY

Author Colleen Chesebro posted her review of book 3 of The Forgotten Child Trilogy.

She started her review by saying:

“The final book in The Forgotten Child series, “A Parting in the Sky,” wraps up this saga with everything I had hoped for and even more. This unusual series blends magical realism into a high octane adventure. I guarantee you’ve never read a similar series. I know I haven’t!”

Towards the end of the review, she had this to say:

“I’ve been a fan of Mark Sasse’s fiction for a few years now. The Forgotten Child Trilogy has captured my imagination and my heart.”

Please head on over to her website to read her thorough review of the book, which also links to her reviews for book 1 and book 2.  READ ENTIRE VIEW HERE!

So, if you sick of the same type of read. Try something different: READ THE COMPLETE SERIES HERE!

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A Blissful Week of Cooking

I got to take a break from my drama teaching, directing, and producing hats this weekend and cook!

I organized a Week Without Walls cooking experience called Hot, Spicy, & Sasse. Yeah, I like the name too. I had twelve students, most of which had never cooked before, and I helped them build their cooking skills and techniques over the course of the week. It was a blast, and we ate a ton of good food.

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Here’s a look at our set-up. We had four booths installed in our loading dock. They were wired for lots of small hot plates, an oven, refrigerator, and, of course, rice cooker. Then I started with a demonstration and let them go at it, walking around to give them guidance as needed.

It was fun to see students who had never cooked before gain some experience, and more importantly, confidence that they don’t have to rely on anyone else for delicious food. They have the power! And now the skills.

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Here are two students making our final dish of the week: garlic butter stuffed crust pizza. Yeah, it was phenomenal.

Here’s the menu boards of ingredients we used for the week. I hope to do it again next year.

 

 

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