Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Do you ever have that dream? You know. The one where you’re out in public and your clothes are falling off? You keep grabbing for enough to cover the proper parts, but still, your clothes keep falling off.

Then there’s the “Actors’ Nightmare”. That’s the one where you walk out on stage and you can’t remember any of the lines. Or you learned the lines, but they are for the wrong play. Or you walk out on stage and, not only are there no lines, the scenery is gone, the rest of the cast forgot to show up. You are standing alone on stage, audience staring at you from the dark. But there is no show. Only you.

The latter actually happened to me. In real life. Worst dream come true. What happened was this. My play, Sixth Wife, premiered at the Edinburgh Festival, the world’s largest arts festival, in the year 2000. To good reviews, I might add. Maybe not raving, but good. At the time I was teaching at BYU and proposed to the Theatre and Media Arts Department that I take a group of students along with me to produce and perform original student work. A variety show of sorts. The budget allowed for 10 students. Unfortunately, several more students applied than we could take. It broke my heart having to choose and then to look into the faces of the students who couldn’t come, knowing I was denying them a life-changing opportunity, and say, “No. Not you. Not this time.”

At the same time, among my artistic pals and acquaintances, there was much oohing and aahing and wishing they could go too. “Okay,” I told all and sundry. “One day I will do this again. Then you will all have your chance.”

The chance came in 2004 when I decided to reprise Sixth Wife at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, held in August. I would mount 2 Variety Shows as well: Cowboy Shakespeare and Cowboy Shakespeare for kids. The titles seemed to encompass a wide range of talents.

A long-time friend of mine was to be co-producer. Putting our combined reputations on the line, we were able to secure a couple of the nicest venues at the Fringe: the C Venues, 5:30pm slot, main theatre on Chambers Street and 2 slots in one of their smaller theatres on North Bridge. The investment came to over $12,000 US, but you get what you pay for. I must take a moment to explain that, with over 1500 productions vying to be seen every August, companies and performers do not rent a theatre, they rent slots of time in a theatre. Bare bone sets are the norm when you have 5 or 10 minutes to get your show off the stage before the next show comes in. Plus there was the cost of the licenses, the listings and ads in the Fringe catalogue, the posters and fliers required by C Venues, transportation, props, equipment and techs. $20,000 easy to mount the shows. I’d moved to Hawaii after my marriage, the result being that through the winter, from Hawaii, I was trying to produce a show long distance in Utah, that was to be shipped over to Scotland. My computer and phone bill saw plenty of action as I negotiated air prices, tried to locate low cost housing and arranged for equipment, graphic designer, publicity, printing, shipping and technical services. The paperwork and emails seemed non-stop. Every major newspaper in Utah was contacted. The Deseret News and Tribune in Salt Lake gave the project a few paragraphs of coverage. BYU Theatre and Media Arts spread the news through their department. Hundreds of flyers were mailed to theatre groups, college arts departments and other organizations that might be interested. I think there was some hesitancy on the part of newspapers throughout the state to publicize the venture, possibly because we were asking for the talent to pay for their own airfare, low-cost housing, food and a $250 “donation” to help defray the costs. They possibly thought this was a profit-making venture, ha, ha. I’ve met dozens of U.S. troupes at the Edinburgh Festival whose members were coughing up $5,000 to $10,000 a piece for the opportunity to perform on an international stage and perhaps get the attention of a critic, talent agent, various producers, etc., but I digress. We did get a few dozen folks interested in doing the show, far less than anticipated.

Meanwhile, my co-producer was struggling with a divorce and personal issues and had to drop out of the project. That was the first big crack in the ice. My dear friend/writer/editor, Joy Robinson courageously stepped in and began handling things on the Utah side. Events combined to keep me from leaving Hawaii for Utah till June. I began pressuring those who’d showed interest to come up with the cash. Air fare and housing discounts depended on rapid payment. One by one the talent began to bow out. A “triple-threat” just off a Broadway tour decided she was too fatigued for another show just yet. A Disney dancer was expecting another job soon. A cruise ship entertainer couldn’t come up with the funds…

Over in Britain, the graphic designer hired to do the posters and design the programs had not received the package with the information and materials he needed. Printing presses in Edinburgh were running 24 hours for the over 1500 productions descending on them and the deadline for publicity materials set by my venue contract was fast approaching. Thanks to computers and phone calls and a few hundred dollars more, the graphic artist was able to improvise. (It turns out that the British Postal Service, bless their dedicated hearts, had intercepted the certified box containing the materials needed by the graphic artist, along with a number of props including a dozen cowboy hats. They finally decided the box contained, not show business goods, but wholesale goods meant for retail in Britain and that I was trying to evade the import duties. I was fined $60, which I had to pay before I could reclaim my box, two months behind delivery schedule, and a couple days before the Festival opened. *Note to the British Postal Service: as of this date I have yet to open a shop in Edinburgh which specializes in retailing Cowboy hats.)

Back on the home front, the “interested talent” continued to decline. An accomplished singer decided it was more important to go on vacation with her family. Others decided they could not afford a month, or even a week, in Scotland. A movie actor friend decided he really needed to get a regular job, even when I desperately offered to pay his airfare and costs in Edinburgh. At one point I was nearly rescued by a long-time friend who does a one-man, hour-long comedy show. In late July he also declined, citing the potential for a longer-term entertainment engagement. Even a comedian friend who actually lived in Edinburgh dropped out!

The most crushing blow came a couple weeks before I left Utah when my “Cowboy Poet”, who’d sworn for months that he would be there, dropped out of the show. He had a suddenly sick daughter he had to care for.

I couldn’t fathom it. Was there some sort of curse descending on this production? Had I suddenly been turned into one of those old-time lepers wandering through the streets wearing rags, ringing a bell and shouting for the crowds to “give way”?

Being a fan of the Boy Scout motto, I always try to “be prepared.” Since hitting Utah and noting the paucity of commitment, I’d been scrambling for a backup plan. I’d spent enough time round and about the Festival in former years that I’d picked up ways to “cheat”. I’d seen productions integrate more film and prerecorded music than perhaps they ought. I’d seen productions stretch out time using audience participation techniques. I rented a film screen through the venue itself. My friends in Theatre and Media Arts at BYU came up with student films and local films. The manager of the Avalon Theatre in Salt Lake City guided me through the world of copyright-expired and public domain films. I spent a hundred hours searching for film gems. A local cowboy band gave me permission and copies of their music as background for some of the silent films I selected. Another local company helped combine the films and music onto DVDs. If anything happened, if the worst came, I could still do the variety shows relying on multi media.

The worst happened. And it went down from there. I purchased two different brands of DVD players to make sure they were compatible with the DVDs and CDs I had. I purchased a $1,000 projection machine with the capability of projecting images on a screen the size of a stage. I went to Radio Shack and got the required electrical adapters and converters. Then, to be sure, I purchased a second set of adapters and converters. No longer trusting the British Postal Service, I hand-carried the electrical equipment in my carry-on luggage, from Salt Lake City to New York, from New York to Heathrow, from Heathrow into London where I met up with my goddaughter, Crystal, the prettiest little model you’ve ever seen. We rested for a night in London. The next day had us on the Highland Chieftain train heading from Kings’ Cross to Edinburgh’s Waverly Station.

The following days were hideously stressful as tech rehearsals got under way. I scanned the Festival websites looking for talent and a tech crew for the shows. I ended up having to hire venue techs. The venue techs were afraid to touch my equipment as it was American made and, even though they were the techs and I was paying them to know the theatre’s electrical specs, they were nervous and uninformed. Electrical wiring was jerry-rigged everywhere. Never fear. Summon the Head Electrician for the venue!

The next part of this story I wish to tell in the Third Person, Present Tense. Particularly since it seemed as weird as an “out of body” experience:

The Head Electrician finally arrives. “Right, let’s see what we have here,” he says while examining the foreign DVD player. “Let’s just plug her in.”

The electronic adapter is already in place, making the male plug compatible with the female outlet, but Joan, ever the silly worrier, quickly holds out the converter and the sheet printed with electrical specifications. “Don’t forget this!” she says. “It’s got to have a converter.” She dares to ask about the strength of the electrical current in the theatre, just as if she knew anything about such things. She doesn’t.

The Head Electrician looks at Joan as if she is an annoying mosquito, buzzing about his head with pesky questions. There is nothing for it but to put her in her place. The Head Electrician looks at her and snaps, “Don’t be tellin’ me my job.” This IS his job. It says so on his IN BOX in the main office. “I know what I’m doin’ and I know what it takes to work all these machines.” Joan has questioned his competency and that can’t be allowed. Order must be maintained in this theatre. His theatre. “Tell you what,” he says to the troublesome producer, “Why don’t you go stand up there at the back of the house and let me do my work.” He walks about the area, eyes scanning electrical lines. The other techs know, if just from his masterly bearing, that this in the man in charge.

Having been duly reprimanded, Joan has no choice but to set the converter next to the machine and to dutifully retreat to the last row, out of the way of the masterly Head Electrician. The Head Electrician, having looked over the wiring, plugs in the DVD player. There is a “Poof” heard throughout the theatre. The smell of ozone and burnt wiring fills the air. Tendrils of smoke rise from the DVD machine.

At the top of the aisle, Joan knows. The machine she has so lovingly hand-carried from half a world away, is no more. She longs to stroke its sleek metal and plastic once again. But alas. She knows. It has been fried.

“You’ve got bad equipment here,” the electrician says. He knows these things. He’s plugged in many electronics in his career. He’s plugged in everything from toasters to televisions. It’s sad to see electronics go bad, but there’s nothing to be done. “Bad equipment,” he pronounces, shaking his head. Yes, he is the master plugger-inner. He is the Head Electrician.

“What…how,” Joan is stammering. “How can it be bad? It’s brand new. And Radio Shack said that was the strongest current converter they had.”

“We didn’t use the converter,” one of the other techs says. Indeed, he is correct. The converter sits on the seat beside the fried DVD machine. “Here, you can have it back,” the tech helpfully offers.

The Head Electrician dutifully surveys the electrical wires leading to the site. Yes, there are many wires. Many, many wires. It is definitely the machine’s fault.

“But the machine is wired for alternating current, not direct current,” Joan nags. You need the converter.

The Head Electrician is getting a headache. Other techs are buzzing around, asking electrical questions. And now this pesky producer again. “Don’t go tellin’ me my job,” the Head Electrician snaps again. “This theatre is wired to handle any kind of electronics. All the electronics are wired into this same system. That proves you got bad equipment.”

After a minute Joan sighs and says, “At least we have the back-up DVD player.”

“Right then,” says the Head Electrician with renewed confidence, “Let’s get it going.”

“Just let me plug the converter into the adapter, all right?” Joan is saying. She unpacks the second DVD player, setting aside the previous one. She attaches the adapter and the converter. “There,” she tells herself. “This has to work.”

Since the wiring is jerry-rigged and the Head Electrician has instructed her not to touch it, she retires again to a safe distance again. She must learn, wayward child that she is, not interfere with a Head Electrician at work.

The Head Electrician masterfully looks over the new machine. He attempts to connect the plug to the outlet. There is an awkward box attached to the end of the plug. That certainly will not do. He removes the silly device and plugs in the machine and presses the ‘power’ button. There is a ‘Poof’ sound again. More ozone and burnt wiring fills the air. Tendrils of smoke rise from this new DVD machine now. The overly-excitable producer is again coming down the aisle. She’s looking at the machine. “Where’s the converter?” she’s asking as if there was something to panic about. “I put on the converter. It’s not there. What happened to it?”

“He tossed it over there,” a tech volunteers.

Now the Head Electrician is forced to explain to this dim-witted American that he could hardly plug the machine in with that heavy, awkward little box on the end of the plug. It’s defective equipment. That’s what it is. Doesn’t this woman have the sense to provide decent equipment?

Joan is not happy. She is thinking that she may not be Einstein, but that even she learned about the difference between AC and DC currents in high school. She is thinking about two machines that she gingerly carried across thousand of miles over the course of several days and how, in ten minutes time, a man who calls himself the Head Electrician has managed to destroy them both. Stress rises in her throat and nearly escapes. She takes a few Zen moments, breathing deeply, then says, “Where is the nearest electronics store?” She vows to herself that she will never, never allow the Head Electrician to touch her $1,000 projection machine. One of the lowly techs finds her discarded converter and returns it to her.

In the meantime, another one of the techs brings out the screen she has rented, the screen on which to project the stage-size film images. The tech spreads out the tripod aluminum base and unrolls the screen up to the pole hook. Joan stares, numb and stupefied. She does not think she has the capacity to be any more astonished. She has been assured by emails that she has rented a “stage size” screen. She is now informed that other theatre companies have rented screens as well, that this is the only one left and that “it will do.” Joan ungratefully asks, “Where is the nearest department store? I think I’ll buy a sheet to pin to the back curtain.” There is no pleasing some people.

When Joan procures her next DVD machines and has them delivered, one to each theatre, she is supplicated by two other performing companies wondering if they might share her equipment. It seems that their electronics have malfunctioned during tech rehearsals.

End of out-of-body experience.

A couple days after the disastrous tech rehearsal, I had lunch with David Barras and Juliet Rees, a couple friends from my days doing reviews for Festival Radio. They were there for moral support. The graphic designer I hired, also named David, was with us. We lunched on Chambers Street in a little restaurant a couple doors down from the theatre. As we lunched, the electricity flickered and the lights went out. Patrons coming in were saying that electricity on the whole block was out. My companions wondered what had caused the outage. “It’s the Head Electrician at CVenues,” I had to explain. “He’s blowing up more equipment.”

As I say, two new DVD machines were purchased for opening day/night, one for each theatre. There were no more allowances for tech rehearsal, so opening day/night we were performing technically “cold”. Opening Day started with a 10:10 am, 45-minute-slot showing of Cowboy Shakespeare for Kids in the small theatre on North Bridge. Since there really was no actual show, Crystal and I had turned our slot into a party for kids. We purchased a few hundred dollars worth of party prizes and cowboy hats for kids. The party started off with a western tale involving a creature of the desert and the first child to guess the animal got a prize. Next we had prizes for those who could answer such intriguing questions as: “Why does a cowboy wear suspenders?” (To hold up his pants.) “Why did the cowboy throw the clock out the window?” (He wanted to see time fly.) and “Why did the chicken cross the road?” (It didn’t really matter what answer the kids gave, if they answered they got a prize.) Most of the prizes were noise makers. There were tweeters, clappers, kazoos. This was because we next showed a movie, projected onto two king-sized bed sheets pinned to the back curtains of the theatre. The movie was a public domain gem about a cowgirl called Rowdy Ann. It was a slap-stick, silent film, condensed and edited with background music courtesy of the Utah band. The children were engaged to add sound effects, everything from horses galloping and actors taking prat falls to railroad whistles and cars screeching. After the film I sometimes sang “Home on the Range” with silly lyrics, then the kids were treated to a BYU-produced film, usually “CinderEdna”, based on the book, which if anyone has read, is drop-dead cute. I had some problem with the tech running the DVDs who thought the credits should be cut off the end of the show, but when the source is kind enough to let you use their product, the least you can do is give them credit and plug the book.

The morning show passed. Exhausting but passable.

5:30pm was to start the 50-minute slot (or 60-minutes if you include the set ‘turn around’ at each end) at the main theatre in the main venue on Chambers Street. Already utterly exhausted I wondered how we could possibly pull off a variety show that did not exist. I’d failed to find more talent. Crystal was working valiantly but could not be persuaded to stand before an audience on such an intimidating stage. People on the Edinburgh Festival Fringe do one-person shows all the time. But they are always listed as such. You don’t advertise a variety show with a single performer, unless you are spectacularly talented. Again we thought of engaging the audience with party games, but the theatre, with its proscenium, did not have the requisite intimacy of the smaller theatre. Unfortunately, the stage was also so deep that the bed sheets disappeared into the back of the stage and we were forced to use the small movie screen pulled up close to the front row for films. But then the projector was too powerful for the small screen and had to be run, with extension cords duct-taped to the floor, from the third row (and, yes, I plugged in the projector—with converter—myself). The fire marshals would have a fit. It was past time for starting and the audience wasn’t yet in.

Now, I know people will hardly believe this, but when you take a DVD from one country to another country, there is no guarantee that the DVD will work on a machine manufactured in that other country. DVD machines in the United Kingdom, it was later explained to me, were manufactured in four different parts of the country, each area having its own exclusive compatibility specifications. I’d been lucky with the DVD player installed at the small theatre. Those DVDs had been compatible. But on the machine we installed in the larger theatre, we did not have that luck. We quickly went through the stack of DVDs to find which ones were compatible with the machine. Those were the ones we played. The sparse audience was finally admitted. I thought there would never come a time in my career when I would be grateful for a sparse audience, but this was it. I plastered on the happiest smile I could muster. I told every cowboy joke I could think of and introduced various film pieces. Take home noise-makers, passed out at the door, were encouraged for use with a copyright-free Charlie Chaplin piece backed by the cowboy music. The adult audience was not so enthusiastic about making noise as the kids had been. It was pathetic, but it was a show. It ended with a whimper and a groan.

At 7:30pm, my 45-minute slot for Sixth Wife started, again at the small theatre on North Bridge. We had about 5 minutes to change sets with the show that was playing before us and get the audience in before the music cued my entrance. The long version of the play is about an hour and twenty minutes in duration (*and may be purchased on DVD from Covenant Recordings). The short version is approximately 45 minutes long, so even the short version had to be tightened. The show went down fairly pat.

It was the second night when Cowboy Shakespeare hit bottom. The doors were opened for the audience and I stood in the wings waiting to go on when I was informed by one of the techs that the DVD equipment and the sound equipment could not be made to work. No film. No Music. No show.

The stage lights came up. I walked on stage in silence, my cowboy boots clicking on the boards, all the while thinking, “This is it. This is an actor’s worst nightmare. All the night sweats, the remembered feelings of terror and helplessness. This is it. It’s happening. And it’s real. I don’t know the lines. I don’t have a script. Where is the cast that was supposed to be here? How did I get here, I’m not even supposed to be in this show. I already have a show, this show was supposed to be for other people. What happened? I’m standing here on a huge, empty stage (with a useless home-movie screen stuck in front of it). There’s a sparse audience sitting out there in the dark staring at me and wondering what I will do to entertain them. Waves of horror are rolling over me. I can’t swallow. My mouth is dry. I need to pee. I don’t know if my knees will hold me up.”

I wished that time would stop or go backwards or give me a chance to make things right. But time marches on, one painful second at a time.

I stopped center stage and started to talk, wondering as I went along, what I could possibly say. I talked about growing up on the Mojave Desert, about how we had one television station, channel 10 from Bakersfield. I told about how the town council brought a series of performing artists to town: a pianist, a couple of tango dancers, a ballerina who moved so beautifully it could make you cry. I told about the one movie theatre in town where we kids went on Saturdays, about how, sitting there in the dark and looking at the screen, I could go places, be different people, experience worlds I’d never known. I told about how I’d confessed one day to my Grandmother Olsen, a strict Scandinavian Mormon, that I wanted to be an actress when I grew up and how she’d told me that if I became an actress I would go to hell. I told how she explained that actresses have to kiss men they are not married to and that’s a sin and I would go to hell for it. I told how my Grandpa Oviatt, a conservative Mormon patriarch, was of a differing opinion. Visiting in the summer times my Grandma Oviatt would run and get paper so we grandchildren could write our own plays. We grandkids would have boxes of old clothes for costumes and a basement of household goods for props. When time came to perform the play, Grandpa would set up the folding chairs and kitchen chairs in the backyard. He’d invite the uncles and aunts and neighbors to come see our play. There was never a sense of condescending indulgence. The creative process was treated with reverence. In hindsight, as childish as our efforts were, for Grandpa it was as if we had done something remarkable, something worthy.

I told how, years later, I was cast in my first major college play. People were actually paying money to come see me act. I felt so proud the night my Aunt Carmen brought my Grandpa to see the play. It was one of those rare plays where the cast was encouraged to go out front afterwards and get feedback from the audience. After the show I’d gone out and chatted with people, losing track of the time. Then my Aunt Carmen pulled me aside and said, “Your Grandfather is still in the theatre.”

I walked back inside the theatre. It was dark, except for the emergency lights. And it was empty, except for one person. It was my grandfather, my big, strong grandfather, suddenly looking older and vulnerable in the dim lights. I walked to him and put my arms around him. He said, “I thought you forgot about me.”

I answered, “I could never forget you, Grandpa,” and hugged him.

I told how, since then, whenever I do a show, when the audience is gone, when the lights are dimmed, when the dressing rooms are emptied, I always take one last look in the theatre house to make sure no one is left behind.

I went on to tell all the western jokes I know, the ones about how the desert is so hot that the chickens lay hard-boiled eggs, how the water gets so hard that you have to cut it with scissors, how the air is so hot and dry that people spit on each other out of courtesy.

I told a few western stories, like the one about how the Indian woman, Sally Harelip, saved the Virgin Ditch, and the one about the miracle of the buckskin pants. And, of course, the one about the chicken who prophesied. I rounded out the show with MacBeth’s “Brief Candle” soliloquy, done in what cowboy lingo I could conjure.

One way or another, I survived the nightmare.

Luckily, the next night the DVD and sound equipment were working again. I never had to replay the full nightmare again, but it was still a nightmare.

A couple days after that living nightmare, I was walking near the Meadows area of Edinburgh when what to my wondering ears should I hear but western folk music. I found two buskers, street entertainers, who had talent but no venue. I had a venue, but no talent. Match made in heaven. Rory and Euan joined the show. They were from the West (of Scotland) which was close enough. With singing and joke-telling they anchored the show. Then poet Paul Holliday joined the cast. He’d never written cowboy poetry but applied his talents to composing and performing a whimsical mix of western-flavored Shakespearean puns. Other performers drifted through as well, but those three performers were steady as clockwork. I remained the general hostess of the show.

The disasters did not end, of course. Technical glitches continued to haunt us. Then there was the booking fiasco. All three of our shows were booked for the full month, while many other performing companies could only afford shorter runs. At the small theatre on North Bridge, when the show following Sixth Wife changed mid-month, we found ourselves colliding with the cast of the next show. I believed they were stepping on our time slot and they thought I was trespassing on theirs. A comparison of contracts and venue listings showed that the venue management had mistakenly overlapped our time slots. I was asked to cut another ten minutes from Sixth Wife. It was already bare bones. I cried as I sacrificed precious sentences from the script. I upped the speed of the performance. In the play I portrayed a 90-year-old woman. I ultimately came off playing a 90-year-old-woman on amphetamines.

A third of our expensive posters and flyers never came into our possession. The printers swore they were delivered to the venue. The venue personnel persisted in claiming they didn’t receive them. Another couple hundred dollars was spent to print additional flyers and posters to cover the deficit. The wealth of missing publicity material was finally located, after the Festival was all over and the buildings nearly cleaned out. It was at the back of a storage room at CVenues.

One reviewer took exception to some of the film clips in the variety shows because they were produced by Brigham Young University. He seemed to think the Mormons were using subliminal messages to diabolically lure in the general population. I must explain here that, when there are 1500 plus productions in town, anyone who can write may apply to be a volunteer critic for the numerous papers carrying revues. The situation was discussed with venue management. They suggested that if I cut the closing credits, the audience need not know who produced the pieces. We discussed copyright ethics and the right of a performer, such as myself, to define who we are. I certainly did not preach in the shows. Nothing will lose an audience faster than preaching. I learned years ago, before Caller I.D. If an obscene caller rings your number, ”Pant…pant…ho, baby, tell me what you’re wearing…pant…pant,” all you have to do is answer, “Have you found Jesus? I want you to know how much God loves you…” Click.

Or if a troublesome salesperson will not take “no” for an answer, “…you cannot afford to go without this valuable service contract…”

“Do you have your ETERNAL service contract? Jesus offers you salvation on easy terms. His burden is light…” Click. You’re on the “Do not call” list.

It would not have mattered if I did decide to preach, after all, I’d paid the theatre rental, but I’m not crazy enough to send people running for the exits.

Surprisingly, very few people walked out of the shows.

You will notice in my accounts of what happened that I often refer to “we”. The truth is I was not alone in this Valley of the Shadow of Death. Spiritual implications aside, there were people, mainly strangers, who came to my aid. That, in itself, is a worthy story to tell. I’d gained my goddaughter, Crystal, through marriage. She was an invaluable trooper at the Festival and through these trials I was able to develop a wonderful relationship with her. Unfortunately, because of her job back home, she had to go back to the States half way through August. A beautiful Scottish friend, Tracey B. Singer, a professional singer, allowed me use of her flat, though she could not perform with us. That first week, eating breakfast at the University of Edinburgh dining hall, I met a lovely Spanish student who wanted to join the Fringe experience and volunteered her free services for a week. The same with a young French woman who stepped in to help for a week. Three women came from the local LDS Relief Society: Mo, Frances and Heather. That these women, who did not know me, were willing to dedicate their spare time and days off was an incredible act of sacrifice. They took tickets, welcomed the audience, helped with the audience games, passed out prizes, set and removed the sparse sets and props and film screens, shuttled DVDs and CDs, helped with costumes, and stood outside in both clear and rainy weather handing out fliers. To say they were an inspiration to me is an understatement.

Lastly, a kind film producer filmed a segment on us for Sky TV telling how a doomed show reinvented itself. Serendipity turns life into an adventure.

Do you ever have one of those dreams? You know, the one where you are standing on stage, only you have no lines, you have no cast, you have no show? I had that dream and it was real. It really happened. Here’s the most amazing thing: I lived! A horrible ordeal, yes, it was, and I hope I never have to face a nightmare like that again, but I survived! It puts things in perspective. Face your fears and survive.


Anonymous said...

I don't know if you know this, but your husband Russell is an ex-con who tried to murder one of his wives:

Published: Saturday, Oct. 15, 1988 12:00 a.m. MDT

A retired United Airlines pilot who sped down the San Diego Freeway at 80 mph while his estranged wife clung to the hood of his car was sentenced to six years in state prison.

Russell A. Jobst, 44, who pleaded guilty last month to child endangerment and two counts of assault with a deadly weapon, was sentenced by Torrance Superior Court Judge William C. Beverly Jr.Jobst drove off with his 19-month-old son on Aug. 17, 1987, as his wife, Madonna Kennedy-Jobst, clung to the car's hood.

Jobst said he was remorseful and wouldn't hurt Mrs. Kennedy-Jobst in any way if he was spared a prison term.

But the judge said Thursday the circumstances outweighed the defendant's good behavior in jail, his solid record as a Navy helicopter pilot and his apparent belief that he had received custody of the boy during a divorce and custody dispute in a Hawaiian court.

Anonymous said...

Thank you to Anonymous for the posted comment. It is hard to know whether or not to warn someone of something they may not know. It takes courage, effort and time to make that decision. Thank you for that courage and effort on my behalf. I wish more people were so involved.
I do know of the incident involved and it would have been a disqualifying factor to my union if he was not on his meds and in therapy. That he was doing his best to address the causes that resulted in the incident caused me to be supportive. I myself have suffered from Depression most of my life. At the time of my marriage I had heart problems and was, literally, on my deathbed. I needed drastic surgery. One of the reasons we married was so that he could be my nurse and see me through the surgeries needed to save my life. And by getting me through the medical system one step ahead of demise, he saved my life.
Currently we are both devoting much time, talent and energy to our church and trying to live lives that, hopefully, make the world a better place. We have our ups and downs, good times and bad times, but we're trying.
Again, thank you for your caring.
Joan Oviatt-Jobst

Anonymous said...

Your husband as you must know by now has mental issues. I knew him well and I warn you as others have... This is a DANGEROUS man.