What I Made This Week

It was a busy and yet not productive week for me, at least by some metrics. I’ve been very diligent about exercise and eating right, which is great–but it takes time from things that might show up here. Much of the rest of my productive time was spent trying to work my way through some video issues — I’ve been dealing with a few different aspect ratio issues. I haven’t resolved them necessarily, but I’ve at least got a plan of attack.

Other accomplishments:

* Week 6 of Unicorn City. AKA, closing night. This show that has been the focus of so much of my time for the past 15 months is done. It is, I think, my biggest single act of creation to date.

* “Bob” is a song that I wrote lyrics for quite a while ago, but it sort of languished because I didn’t have the wherewithal to write the music. I’ve done so and am working on being able to play it well enough to record.

Dreamland Day

Yesterday we closed Unicorn City, and today I am relaxed as I haven’t felt in a month.

This show has drained me, and the other producers, as none have before. There are a couple factors in this-the show was a more involved production than any we’ve done before, and there were a certain number of persistent issues (yes, that’s the most detail I plan to give) that enhanced the stress. We learned a lot from the show, and learning is often tough.

For me there’s another reason I’m tired, one concurrent rather than directly related to the show: today is the first day in more than a month that I’ve not had significant contact with other people.

I am decidedly not the prototypical extrovert that feeds on human contact. I can deal with people, and well even, under many circumstances, but there are limits. I need my non-other-people time, and it’s best if it’s more than once a month.

So today was it. And it’s been, well, dreamlike.

I woke late, but less late than ideal. (the post-show celebration went a decent way into the morning, after all.) So there’s sort of a haze of tiredness. But it’s not fatigue. It’s more like there’s a really
comfortable pillow that my head is sinking into, even as I’m moving around. I’m alert and can see and all, but if I choose not to, there’s not much wrong with that.

Other people. They’re around, generally, but there is no demand they can make of me.

My responsibilities, they are around generally too, but distant and hazy and gentle. They are perhaps the tiny currents in a still pond. A ball bobbing up and down in the middle will eventually reach the edge, but there will be no great thrust that causes it and you won’t even really see it happening.

Which isn’t to say that it’s been a lazy day. Since rising I’ve been productive almost constantly, with the exception of lunch and dinner, and I will be for at least another hour or so. The to-do list for today has 22 items on it. I might finish half of them, and that’s okay. There is no pressure; the rest will be waiting tomorrow.

It has been almost twelve hours. I am still on the edge of awareness; it is probably closer than it has been all day, but that’s okay. I will leave dreamland before long. I have, after all, a volunteer shift tomorrow, and then work, and so on. My stay here has done a lot, though. I feel more able to deal with people now than I have in a long, long time.

But that is tomorrow. Tonight, dreamland continues.

What I Made This Week

Week 2 of 3 on the relatively-little-creation front. I’ve got family in town this week and next, which means that a lot of time is consumed.

But some accomplishments were accomplished. Among them:

* Week 3 performance of Unicorn City.

* Beginning of the editing of “North Pond Nature.” Specifically, I’ve started generating the soundtrack, which will be made of the calls of some of the birds that can be found in and around the pond. I *think* I’m pleased with it.

* Drafted “Strange Things in the Photo Booth”, which is going to be a Three Legged Race video at some point. It’s a silent love story, with heartache, zombies, ghosts, and beer. Or something like that.

* Started writing “This is a Galaxy,” which is my planned sciencey follow-up to North Pond Nature. It’s about space. The final frontier, apart from nanotechnology.

Two Dermots

I’m not great at coming up with character names, but I do want to share the story of one of the names from Unicorn City.

Most of the names are just things that seemed vaguely fantasy-ish, but Dermot, one of the unicorns, has his name for a specific reason. He’s named after Dermot Morgan, star of Father Ted.

I used the name not because there’s any connection between Unicorn City and Father Ted, but because of Morgan’s story. For most of his career, he was kind of a journeyman actor and comic, making a career but never really gaining widespread acclaim or true stardom.

Then came Father Ted, which changed that. The show was and is considered to be amongst the best British shows ever made. (Well, Irish. But it was produced for Channel 4, which is British, so…) And with that acclaim, Dermot Morgan’s star rose.

And then, literally the day after finishing the recording for the last episode of the series, Morgan died.

So was Dermot Morgan the beloved Father Ted Crilly or just some comic who worked for a long time before having a big hit? Both and neither, I suspect. What I take from the story is that there’s a real limit to how much you can control what other people think of you—or, perhaps more accurately, how much you have the ability to get them to think of you at all.

That’s perhaps annoying—it would, after all, be terrific to have some easy, or at least, clearly labeled path to fame (or at least its benefits). But there’s also a certain freedom to it: You don’t worry too much about what other people think, because it’s a waste of energy and life. And you do get to genuinely enjoy what you’re doing.

Dermot Morgan didn’t magically develop the talent needed to have a big hit the day before he started on Father Ted, I’m sure. So anyone who ignored him before that, well… they really don’t matter much, do they? And in the face of indifference… it doesn’t matter much either. I’m glad to be doing what I’m doing, and I’m proud of it, and other people will recognize it or not.

What I Made This Week

As a way to keep myself accountable, Sundays will be when I record what I actually did that week.

My big accomplishment, obviously, is the opening of Unicorn City. I suppose that’s more a “What I made this year” than this week—writing began a bit over a year ago—but given that it actually got finished this week, it counts.

Most of my spare time this week was devoted to running lines, but I did also make one prop: A box of Lambalongs, those tasty chocolate, peanut butter, shortbread, and mutton cookies sold by the Aathenaar Maiden Scouts. Since I Photoshopped existing images together, I shudder to think what my search history currently says about me.

What’s in progress?

Weathered Adolescents, a Three Legged Race web series. I’m editing half of it and it’s mostly done; I need to incorporate some footage from re-shoots, and then work up things like titles and scene transitions.

1994 and not-yet-named unicorn thingy: Neither of these are past the idea stage, but one of these will be my next big solo project. Not sure which, but that will be decided sometime this week.

Why We Do It

After shows, I always feel like a thief who got away with something. The idea of making something and putting it in a place and then people coming to see it is still not natural to me.

It feels great when it happens though.

There’s the relaxation that can only happen after tension, and the sense of accomplishment, and the realization—that only set in sometime after the show when the three producers of Three Legged Race were alone in the theater finishing clean-up—that after all of the breaks both lucky and unlucky that happened, we made it.

Unicorn City was, by far, the biggest and hardest theater production I’ve been involved in. The learning that happened was correspondingly sizable. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Today happens to be a beautiful fall day in Chicago. I will enjoy it immensely: The lakefront beckons, and no doubt other parts of the city will as well.

And then… it all begins again.

The Glorious History of Aathenaar

In support of Unicorn City, one of the projects I’ve been working on is The Glorious History of Aathenaar. It technically falls under the marketing that we’ve been doing although really it’s more the equivalent of a DVD extra.

It tells the history of Aathenaar, the village where Unicorn City is set. Or at least, a sort of history. It was commissioned by the Baron, you see, so it’s more a mix of history and propaganda, with some mythology thrown in.

I’m pleased to report that it’s something I’m quite proud of. On one hand, I think it succeeds as a piece of entertainment in its own right—there are plenty of passages that made me giggle as I wrote them, at least, which is the best standard I currently have. Most of the characters from the play show up in the history as well, and I’m pleased with the insight that you get into them, despite the filter of propaganda.

It was also a big project, much bigger than I realized when I started (18 parts totaling almost 10,000 words) that came off pretty much as planned, which is nice. It has 18 parts because that’s how many rehearsals were originally planned; my thinking was that I would write and post a new section before each rehearsal. That’s reasonably close to what happened.

I started with a pretty clear outline of what era of history would be included in each section, which worked well. I only had to abandon a few at the last minute because they weren’t working, and for each of them I found another idea without too much problem.

I’m pleased enough with it that I’ve got it in my mind to use the background and mythology as a base for another project.

Of course, there is the small matter of finishing the current one first. Unicorn City opens tomorrow! Apollo Theater Studio, 2540 N. Lincoln, Chicago, 10:30 p.m. Fridays through November 19.  Hope you can come, and regardless, hope you find The Glorious History of Aathenaar entertaining.