Friday, December 18, 2009

Oops! My last entry was in October....

I know I have been ridiculously bad at updating this blog. In fact by now (December 18) the tour has been over for a week. I guess I'm just not a blogger type person. BUT I still have lots of fun stuff to tell about. And I am going to get it all on this Blog at some time or another, so keep tuned!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

HILO (September 25- Oct 2)

One 45 minute plane ride, and we have gone from the big city of Oahu to the remote Hawaiian rainforest jungle of the Big Island. We are staying on the Hilo side of the Big Island, which is known in Hawaii for it’s rainy weather. It rains everyday here (Many of you know I love the rain, so of course I'm thrilled by this weather). The air and nature is so unpolluted; it’s the best rain I’ve ever felt or smelled.

Our rental house is about 10 miles past Hilo in a little town called Pepe’ekeo. I use the word “town” loosely, for as far as I can tell, the town consists of houses, a community center/church, an outdoor basketball court, and a mom and pop style convenience store.

The store (pictured above) is owned by the same family we are renting from, and is conveniently located on the corner right next to our house. The family has owned it since 1925. It’s a small store, less than the size of a tennis court, but has everything from fresh fruit, to laundry detergent. It even has a deli that serves local foods such as plate lunches, chili and rice, and shave ice. I found it really neat and refreshing to see such a small independent business thriving, un-threatened by the big supermarkets and Walmarts of larger towns. The store is integral part of the local community; everyone in Pepe’ekeo goes there.

This is our house for the next week:

This is the view of the sunset from our house:

We literally are staying on a jungle farm. It’s a jungle, because our backyard is filled with orange trees, avocado trees, tropical flowers, even sugar cane. And it’s a farm because there are chickens running everywhere (the rooster likes to crow at 5am….), AND because we have a goat.

Look at our very male goat!!!

It’s a really cute goat. It stays in the yard, eating grass, but it likes to bleet at us whenever we come home, much like how a dog would greet us. Sadly, whenever I go to pet it, it tries to butt me with its horns. It likes an Daryl though. I think it’s because he gave it guavas and I only tried to give it grass.

Adding to the ambience of our jungle abode are the incessant night noises of the koki frogs (also known as Caribbean tree frogs). As soon as the sun starts setting, these tiny frogs start to sing. To me they sound like something in between a cricket and a bird. This is what it sounds like: from about 5pm to 5am. Believe me, it’s way loud, and can get kind of annoying. Some people like them; I’m ambivalent. I’m just glad it hasn’t interfered with my ability to fall asleep at night.

This is our house from the inside:

The Kitchen

The Dinning Room

The Living Room

The Hallway

A Spare Room (The ones we used had Queen beds)

The Sun room - with a foozeball table!

It’s a bit creaky, and much to our dismay it does not have a wireless Internet connection, (we have to share the one cable connection outlet), but overall our jungle abode is a lovely place to stay for a week.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Oahu: WEEK TWO (Sept 21-25)

In order to get back on track with my blog and not be a week behind anymore, I’ve decided to combine all of my second week on Oahu into one entry. Sad, but I just don’t see myself having the patience to sit in front of my computer long enough to write so many past day entries. Also, my second week on Oahu, in retrospect went very fast and I don’t have all that much to report about it (especially since I forgot my camera at home for two of the five days. Oops.)

For our second week on Oahu we went to 12 schools, and performed for about 1,780 students. (Wow! It didn’t feel like that many kids.)

MONDAY (three show day….. and a day I forgot my camera)

First Show: Waikiki School for 140 kids grades k-5.
- The morning traffic to get into Honolulu was terrible! I haven't been in car to car traffic like that maybe ever. What is this place, LA? (That's why Oahu has a bad reputation as the least special Hawaiian Island).

Second Show: Rosary pre school for 55 kids.
- At this school, the teachers wore full nun habits! I’d never seen that before. They also gave us fresh baked brownies after the show.

Third Show: Kalei’opu’u Elementary (pronounced kah-lay-ee ohpoo oo) for 135 kids all in 2nd grade.

We spent the rest of the day at home, a much needed respite for me after the crazy weekend I’d had. I did go on a very long walk to the ocean though. The closest public beach access I could find from my house was 3 miles away. I can't drive the rental car because I'm not old enough, so I decided to walk it. By the time I got to the (very small, not very nice) beach, it was surrounded by creepy guys, so I immediately left, and walked/ran the 3 miles home. It was a pretty uneventful adventure, but it was good to get out of the house.

TUESDAY (two shows)

First Show: Pu’ohala Elementary (pron. Poo oh holla) a huge show with 223 kids grades prek-6
– This school was in Kaneohe again. We didn’t have to leave our house till 7:20!

Second Show: Mililani Presbyterian preschool for 65 kids)
- This was a very small preschool. Once again we performed in a church. This is our set pretty much exactly half assembled.

These shows were so different from each other because the audiences varied so much in size and age.

After the shows, we spent much of the afternoon at Kailua beach. Then I went out to dinner with Sean King, an old friend of mine from the crazy days of high school theater. Beautiful sunset!

WEDNESDAY (two shows again!)

First show: Windward Nazarene Academy for 92 kids grades K-4.
- this one was walking distance from our place. (I knew exactly where it was because I’d gone past it a few times during runs.) Again we got to sleep in late :-)
- This is the only show so far where my Servant character has been fully appreciated and laughed at by the audience. One kid told me the servant was his favorite part of the play! Now if I can only figure out what I did so I can make the audience love him that much every time…

Second Show: Hongwanji Mission School for 242 kids grades preschool-4th.
- This was our first show in a Buddist temple. As you can see, it was a beautiful white building.
- The performance room was hard to get to. Lot's of stairs! We had to go up half of the front stairs, and then down more stairs at the back to get to the performance room. (At least the place we performed was air conditioned!)
- When the ogre puppets came out, we had a crying kid out break. Even though I’d introduced pink the puppet ogre before the show, one kid cried, which led to a chain reaction of five kids crying…. It was uncomfortable to be performing over a bunch of crying kids. But we had to keep going.

We went on a lovely adventure Wednesday afternoon through a muddy, mosquito-riden jungle to some beautiful waterfalls and pools that were deep enough to jump into (There were some Marine guys there doing back flips off the 30 ft. cliffs) I got very very muddy during this hike, so I decided to give in to my inner mud warrior.

After the hike, we went back to Kailua bay for a kid mud rinse off, and then back to the house to enjoy some delicious Italian food.

THURSDAY: (another three show day. Whew)

First show: Kanoelani Elementary for 112 third graders who thoroughly enjoyed it.
- One boy said it was the best show he had ever seen, and asked for the website.
- Ah yes, and right before this show, our ipod dock decided not to work, so we had to redo some blocking on the fly because we could no longer use the remote for the ipod.

Second Show: KCAA Laura Morgan Preschool for 70 children ages 18 months to 5 years
- Honestly, this was the worst show we’ve had yet. The audience was just too young and talked and cried the whole time, ruining the concentration of the kids that were old enough.

The space was too cramped (we couldn’t even set up the black curtains)

Also, it was friggen hot, and outside, and we had to load our set pieces a long way from the car (through many gates) to get to the performance area.

Although the people who ran the place were nice, they were the first place to not have water for us. AND our ipod dock was still broken. We were pretty glad when that show was over.

After this show, luckily we had about a thirty minute break. We went to a near by mall, got a new ipod dock, and got some jamba juice. Thank goodness too, because our third show required a lot of energy.

Third Show: Wilson Elementary for 270 kids grades kindergarten, first, and third.
- a delightfully very energetic, giving audience. AND since our first show the next day was at the same school, same stage, we got to leave the set pieces up for the night. (Especialy easy breakdown!) Sorry I didn’t take a picture of this one because we were going to go back the next day....

FRIDAY (two show day – and last day on Oahu… again, I forgot my camera. Sorry!)

First Show: Wilson Elementary (again) for 270 kids grades 2, 4, and 5.
- Not quite as energetic as the previous audience, but still very cute.

Second Show: KCAA Mother Rice Preschool for 100 preschool kids
- this was a sister school to the difficult preschool from the day before. Luckily, this one wasn’t as bad. The performance space was still a long ways from the car, and the performance space was still small (we didn’t use the black curtains again), but they had water for us, and at least the audience seemed older and was more able to pay attention…. Despite the construction noises from next door going on throughout the play….

That was it! We went home, packed our stuff, brought it to the airport, somehow got a porter to check in our TWELVE bags, waited two hours at the gate, boarded a plane, got off the plane at Hilo Airport (on the Big Island), found our new home in the Hilo jungle, and went to bed.

A few KID QUOTES of the week:

“Did you bring us tea? Why not?”

“Are there going to be Dinosaurs in the play?”

“I know what Ogres look like!” me: “yeah? What do they look like” “They look like slugs, but are bigger and have fur on them…..”

Sunday, October 4, 2009

OAHU: Day Five (September 18)

Today we went to two schools, which felt pretty short for the three school big day we had yesterday. After a week of this, I think I’m finally getting used to the routine of it; waking up early and performing this show multiple times is becoming more normal of a thing. I haven’t talked about the load in and load out process of our show on this blog yet. Let me explain:

This is our equipment

We have nine pieces of of equipment and set that we carry around with us on every show. (The picture only has seven pieces of equipment because the other two pieces we only use when we have to use full audio and are using microphones) Some of them are wrapped in BRIGHT green carrying cases. (Such a fun, off-beat color, isn’t it?) These pieces fit into our van, and then we load them in and out of every space that we perform. So if it’s three shows, then we load it in and out of the van 3 times – 6 moving processes total (three load in’s, three load outs). Some pieces, such as the big blue bins where we keep our puppets, are pretty light. Others, such as the rectangular pieces wrapped in BRIGHT green are around 40-60 pounds.

Once the set is in the theater, we build it. Then we perform on it, then we break it down, load it back into the car, and the cycle restarts for our next show. So far building and breaking down the set is the part of the tour that I least enjoy because it can be really tiring and repetitive. I shall have to keep thinking of ways to keep it new… if you have any suggestions, let me know.

Our first school was at Kapolei Elementary for 90 kindergarteners.

In between the shows, we went to Pearlridge Mall which was nostalgic because I hadn’t been there since I was 12. (The boys sat at starbucks while I shopped a little).

Our second show was at Manana Elementary School for 165 kids grades k,3, and 4th

Both shows were fun and had pretty good energy – public school kids are just so much more energetic to perform too. They are less likely to “be polite” and unsure of how to respond.

At Manana Elementary, Kai gave a mentally disabled kid hanging around after the show with his helper a one on one puppet show for a little bit

Spending the weekend on Oahu was a lot of fun. It fantastic to have a few show free days after such a busy week. I certainly made use of the time. Pictures from the weekend:

Bachelorette Party fun on Friday night for a friend of mine from high school

On Saturday, some cute Navy boys invited some of the bachelorette party girls to their sweet beach house to BBQ and hang out. This was their backyard. The beach was about 10 feet beyond the hedge. The inside of the house was really nice too.

On Sunday, my new awesome friend Michelle and I went on a mountain ridge hike

Just one of the amazing views on the hike

It's good to be on Oahu ;-)

OAHU: Day four (September 17)

Thursday – our first 3 show day. This means that today we went to three different schools, loaded in the set three times, performed the show three times to three very different audiences, and then broke down the set and loaded it back into the car three times. Whew!

This was our schedule:

7:30: arrive at first school
8:30 perform first show
9:00 Break down and get out of first school as soon as we can because we need to get to the next school (25 minute drive) and set up for our second show
10:30 perform second show
11:00 break down and leave second school and drive the 50 minute drive to our third school and set up as quickly as possible
12:50 Perform third show
1:30 Break down, go to beach/go home.

Everyday until now, the most we’ve had is two shows a day. It’s daunting to know that three show days are really the norm for this tour. On Kauai we are even going to have four show days! But I don’t want to get ahead of myself. I’ve been getting the feeling I should take this tour one day at a time. If I think about how I’m going to be doing this for the next two months…. It’s too much to think about.

Anyway, we started this long day at St Ann’s Model School performing for 124 kids ranging in grade levels 1-4. What was nice about this school was that it was in Kaheohe, which is where our vacation rental is, meaning it was a 10 minute drive instead of a 40 minute drive, meaning we got to sleep in an extra half hour! This might not sound like much, but it definitely started this long day off on a sweet sleepful note.

Our next show was at a preschool called The Children’s Center for 50 kids.

It was in a gymnasium, which was an unusual space for us. When I first saw the audience at this school, I thought they were the shyest audience we’d had. They were all looking at me with a “dear in the headlights” sort of stare. Luckily, no sooner had Daryl come out as his Goofy grandpa character, and the audience started laughing at was put at ease. They ended up coming after the show and giving me hugs! Also, after the show, they gave us “peace pin wheels” the children had been making for International Peace day the following Monday. This was also the first school to give us lei’s! They were adorably hand made, hodge-podge things that had different kinds of beads, and colors, and fake flowers, and they jingled like bells as we walked.

MOMENT of the DAY: We were in a huge rush to get from our first show in Kaneohe to our second show in Honolulu (a 25 minute drive). As we are driving along, congratulating ourselves for being 5 minutes ahead of schedule, the driver in the car next to us starts making strange, serious warning gestures at us and at our trunk. Sure enough, we look at our trunk and find that we had been driving down the highway with the damn thing completely open! We have about $7,000 in puppets, and another $5,000 in audio equipment that travels around with us and lives in the back of our trunk! We pulled over as soon as we could, I jumped out, slammed that trunk closed, and we drove along our merry way, thanking our lucky stars that a fellow driver had been nice enough to tell us, and that we had not lost anything.

The back of our van-
It would have been so easy for important things to fall out!

Our last and final show of the day had been at Ka’a’awa Elementary school for 150 kids grades k-6, basically the entire school. This was probably my most favorite show we’ve done so far. The school is awesomely out in Hawaii no-man’s land with green fields and mountains directly at it’s back, and the Pacific ocean right across the street.

It was made up of white portable buildings, and it was in one of the largest of these portable buildings that we set up the stage and performed to the 150+ audience that had somehow had jammed itself to fit into this not very big space. It was hot. It was crowded. It was one of the best energy shows we’ve had. The kids were so excited to see us, their energy and excitement was infectious. Despite being tired, despite having already done this same show twice this morning, I could not help but want to perform the best show I could possibly put on for them. And they loved it. A number of kids even asked for our autographs as we left the school, which is where our best kid quotes of the day came from too:

Kid Quote: It’s an underwear two parter: “NICE UNDERWEAR!!!!” – said repeatedly by a 3rd grade boy while he hugged me good bye (it’s one of my puppet’s lines in the play, and consequently his FAVORITE part)


“Why did grandpa keep pulling up his underwear?” asked by a second grade girl who had never heard of suspenders (grandpa likes to hold onto his suspenders while he talks sometimes)

As an added plus, the drive to this last school of the day was absolutely beautiful. Before this drive, I thought Maui was hands down more beautiful than Oahu (and Maui is still my favorite island) But I have to admit, even Maui doesn’t have roads that can top this. CHECK THESE PHOTOS OUT!

After our last show, we immediately hit the beach. A great beach called Kahana Beach Park conveniently happened to be a mile down the road from the school. It was a beautiful beach, but kind of odd because the water was yellowish (um yikes?) and it was surrounded by trees. I’d never been to a beach like it in Hawaii. Nevertheless, it was peaceful, and a great place to unwind before heading home after a long full day of shows.

Pictures Kahana Beach Park

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Hey Blog readers! I know I haven't posted for a while, but that's because I'm staying at a house on the Big Island that doesn't have a very good internet connection - and we have to take turns using the connection (no wireless!) It's definitely made me realize just how spoiled I've become when it comes to having instant internet action.

Anyway, I've been writing and taking pictures for the blog, I just haven't been posting them. Next week I'm not touring, and therefore it shall be my catch up week for getting all this info on there!

PS. The Big Island is pretty amazing and magical!


Thursday, September 24, 2009

OAHU: Day Three (September 16)

Wednesday - another two show day. Getting up so early is beginning to be a bit less hard, but not by much. Kai made eggs this morning, which was a nice change from the grab and go breakfasts of toast or granola that I've been having.

We went to two pre-schools today. Pre school audiences, I am learning, require a much different type of performance than older students. I have to be extra careful to not make the Ogres scary, because these young ones can and will cry at most any surprises. Today I jumped onto the stage and roared for her first entrance.... and consequently made many kids scream, and one little girl cry. Oops! from then on, Pink became a lot less menacing. She didn't laugh her evil laugh as much, and her voice changed into a more girly, cute, less threatening one.

Today was the first day I introduce Pink to the preschool audience before the show during my preshow introduction; the children had a visceral reaction the moment I brought the puppet out - they most always gasped, followed by laughter that started off timid and got more brave by the time I had put pink on and had her introduce herself. I wish I could see her through their 3 year old eyes. She must seem so real to them! I know she would have to me when I was three.
Our first show was at Rainbow School for about 60 young ones.

Rainbow School from the outside

We walk into the performance space, which ended up being a church, complete with a glowing cross, and an alter we had to move to the side to make space for our stage.

Daryl and Kai moving the alter

Then we set up our stage in it's place...

Other than the few tears I mentioned, the performance went very well, and no kids were crying by the end of the show.

Something funny did happen today though. When we got to Rainbow School, I went to take my perfromance shoes (black slip on shoes) out of my bag, and I had forgotten one! Woops! But as in all live theater, the show had to go on... so I did my shows today barefoot....

two feet, two socks, two slippers..... one shoe. Ooops

Our second show was at Kama'aina Kids in Mililani Town for about 100 kids ranging from 8 months to 4 years old.

The outside of Kama'aina kids
(Kama'aina means "of the land," which basically means, you're local to Hawaii - not a tourist)

Our set up at Kama'aina Kids - the audience sat on the mats.

This was probably our strangest audience yet. For one thing, as they came in to the space to sit down for the show, already at least 4 kids were crying, and no one seemed to be doing much of anything about it. They quieted down (less tears) once the show started, but mostly, they were still a very loud, talkative audience while we were performing. It think it was just because very young kids don't have the attention span for a live show yet, especially since our show is geared for kindergarten - fifth grade. The 4 year olds in the audience did fine and told me they LOVED it, but any child younger than 3 was pretty squirmy. It was pretty distracting, and kind of unnerving to be performing to an audience that was not very attentive. Nevertheless, we got through it.

KID Quote of the Day: “Woah! Woah! Calm down. Calm down!” –said boldly and loudly by a 3 year old boy in the audience to me while I was playing Devin. During the scene, Devin was sharing with his grandfather how upset he was about being pushed around and bullied at school.

After our shows were done. Once again we hit THE BEACH!!!! This time we went to Lanikai beach in Kailua. According to the travel network, Lanikai is the most beautiful beach in the world. I can't say for sure if that is true, but it was most definitely a beautiful beach. To get there, we had to park on a neighborhood street, and find a public access path to the beach.

This was the first public access path we found...

Didn't lead to the right sized beach. Curious. Why was there a sign for this small thing?

The second path we found led to Lanikai.

The travel channel is right about this though, Lanikai is a seriously GORGEOUS BEACH:

check these pictures out:

I tried to get creative with my camera:

There were these girls who were humorously trying to carry their dog into the ocean to wash it. Kai went and helped them (unlike Daryl and I, who just laughed and took a video of the situation - which sadly wouldn't load!)

We went home, ate pasta, and that was the end of DAY THREE.