Tag Archives: creative process

Meet Second Time Performer, Krista Knott

Krista Knott
Krista Knott

Southern California native, Krista Knott is putting her feet on the Expressing Motherhood stage for the second time in our next show, opening May 10th. Krista had heard about the show originally through a friend and decided to submit when the next round opened. She performed in Burbank, having only to walk down the street from her house to the theatre.

She is a free lance writer who works from home and says she is up late most nights. Her “day job” is mom. Her “paying job” is as the Managing Editor for The Bright Side Project, although if she could stay home and eat bon bons and watch soaps, it would actually be “a marathon of The Walking Dead and a bucket of high quality chocolate bars.”

When I asked her about her first time on the EM stage, she said “the first time I performed was a bit of a game changer for me. I spent years as a struggling actress/unpublished writer and to take these two aspects of myself (coupled with the inextricable role of mother) and mash them together helped me work from feeling like I somehow failed in my past life since I didn’t “accomplish” anything before having kids to reconciling that I am exactly where I need to be. And that I am worthy.”

Krista, Bryan, Finn & Dash
Krista, Bryan, Finn & Dash

Krista and her fiance Bryan have been together since 2006 and have two children, Finn (5) and Dash (1 1/2). She also has a 13 year old step-son who lives out of state but spends the summers with them here in SoCal. “His sister has full blown hero worship and his visits here even trump the excitement of Disneyland.”

Krista and Bryan have been engaged since 2010 and are pleased to announce they will be getting married on May 20th….the day after Expressing Motherhood closes in Los Angeles!

“We finally realized that, with two kids, we were never going to be able justify spending money on a wedding so we are taking our parents and heading to the courthouse on our 7 year anniversary. Our five year old daughter is, by far, the most excited about this. She is obsessed with brides and grooms and can’t wait to wear her own fancy dress.”

Krista says she walked away from her first performance in EM with confidence, friendship, camaraderie and validation. “I realized it was much easier to perform as an actress because I wasn’t having to completely be myself, you know? To stand up on a stage and tell my own stories, in my own words, was absolutely terrifying. And honestly the most liberating experience I’ve ever had.”

Handmade with Love
Handmade with Love

We’re so happy Krista is going to be back on stage at The Lillian in May.

She says “this time is a little scary for me because I’m sharing something personal, something with weight. And that’s exactly why I am doing it. I believe in sharing our scary truths. I’m just a little shaky about doing it while standing in front of a group of people and not from behind the safety of a keyboard…

…I’m looking forward to looking my fear in the eye and doing it anyway.”

The Burbank Fall 2012 Cast
The Burbank Fall 2012 Cast

Two Time Performer, Sarah Maizes, Has My Children Obsessed

Sarah and her children
Sarah and her children

Sarah Maizes is a two time performer in Expressing Motherhood. She’s the mother of three, a writer, performer and now children’s book author. Last year, Sarah offered to give us a copy of one of her recently published books for giveaway in Expressing Motherhood.

She sent me two copies….so, naturally, I kept one for myself. That’s natural, right?

On My Way To The Bath is a very fun book indeed. I would venture to say that the hilarious antics of the child in the book can hit close to home for most of us when attempting to give a child a bath or anything else, really.

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Sarah has had great success with this book, and I can see why. My children have been obsessed with it for weeks. We read it over and over and over, in the same night.

 

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What has been saving us (Or me) from the redundancy of reading the same book over and over again is my 5 year old son. First of all, he can read, so we take turns being the child and the mom in the book…and we get animated…we don’t just read the book, we perform the book for each other. It’s a lot of fun!

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My son’s obsession is performing this book for us.

 

 

 

Last night, however, my son read the entire book to us on his own before bed.

Those are truly spectacular moments.

OdysseyO And The Visionary Behind It

I love Burbank….most anyone who knows me, knows this fact about me.

I love The Valley…whew.. There, I said it out loud. I love The Valley.

Ok, now, that that’s out of the way, I want to tell you something about Burbank. The skyline of the city is changing this week. The show, Cavalia is back with a new performance called OdysseyO and by Monday afternoon, the 110 foot, 10 story White Big Top will be up and ready for their opening night, Wednesday February 27th.

logo_odysseo_couleurOdysseyO is a show…an amazing show, featuring the connection between horse and man, envisioned by one of the creators of Cirque Du Soleil, Normand Latourelle.

This week, Mr. Latourelle gave me 30 minutes of his time to ask him anything I wanted.

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Normand Latourelle

 

Anything.

So, I looked at all of the press materials for the show and decided I didn’t want to ask him about the details of the show that were all laid out before me. I could read that information anywhere.

I wanted to know about creativity. His inspiration and how it works for him.

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Grand Cavalia

Mr. Latourelle is from Montreal, Quebec and is a visionary leader in the performing arts world in Canada, wrangling up many accomplished accolades. As I mentioned before, he actually helped CREATE Cirque Du Soleil. Even if you’ve never seen a Cirque show, I’m just going to assume you know the awesomeness that I’m talking about.

I asked him where his inspiration comes from and he said “I don’t know. I just get an idea and I do it.” He explained that most of his ideas come while he’s sleeping, kind of like dreams, but somewhere between sleeping and waking.

He explained “When an idea comes back to me over and over, I know I have to do it.”

I get that. I suppose what makes the difference between staying a dreamer and becoming a visionary is acting on those ideas and not letting them stay dreams.

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Les voyageurs III

Let me tell you about OdysseyO for a minute and you can see where the dreamer becomes a visionary:

“OdysseyO will take the audience around the word as 67 horses and an international cast of 45 artists play and demonstrate their intimate bond. The 15,000 square foot stage features a real carousel and an 80,000 gallon lake in front of a stunning video

backdrop the size of 3 IMAX screens.”

“It’s an Odyssey—you’re going to travel throughout the world.” he stated as he explained all of the places you’ll travel in the duration of the show. “(You can have)..nice discussion with the kids after… Where have we been?”
Visionary indeed.

The last time Cavalia was in Los Angeles was in 2010 and he says, “This one is more accomplished. I had the experience of the first one. I’ve created a bigger stage and more sophisticated technical grid that allowed us to do more. We have gone as far as a touring show can go.”

A bigger stage indeed. The main tent is twice the size of the last one we saw here in the same location. The infrastructure is capable of supporting 80 tons, including that full sized merry-go-round as its lowered to the stage during the show.

Chevaux,
The Tribe

“We have a real forest…the stage gets filled with water. We’re not Universal Studios, but its pretty close.” he said chuckling.

When I was asking him about what he’s most proud of in his life, he immediately said his family. Nothing compares to that and as a matter of fact he left Cirque Du Soleil to stay home and help raise his two boys, fully “understanding how important that was.”

Another thing Mr. Latourelle said struck me, something else he’s proud of…
“(It makes me proud) to see how many people are making their life out of my idea…my small ideas and they get good life.”

I love it.

This quite brilliant man said one more thing to me before our conversation was over..quite possibly a new motto I may just have to remind myself of over and over,

“Nothing is more satisfying than bringing happiness to this planet, that’s what creation is all about. If you’ve got something to give…give it.”

Amen to that.

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Nomads

OdysseyO opens Wednesday, February 27th in Downtown Burbank. For all details and how to purchase tickets, visit www.Cavalia.net

Courageous Women

I am always personally drawn to the stories of tragedy and triumph in our Expressing Motherhood shows. I suppose I feel connected to them, in a way. We have had so many women share such deep, emotional and often times very raw pieces on stage, I’m left with them for weeks…with a literal feeling of exhaustion…experiencing them over and over through our many shows. I can hardly imagine how our performers feel when sharing these same stories night after night. (Look up Courage in the dictionary and you’ll find any of our performers listed there.)

Kim Hamer shared with us her experience of losing her husband to cancer while leading her three young children through it. She performed her piece perfectly on stage and lived the emotions all over again after stepping off stage.

Kim Hamer

Andrea Meyer read to us her experience through a somewhat late term miscarriage. Andrea is so gifted with her words, her pain felt like your pain…as if you were actually going through this yourself.

Andrea Meyer

Angela Alexander lost two children in a car accident…while she was out of the country on active duty in the military. She turned her tragedy into a ministry and is inspiring many, many other people to keep putting one foot in front of the other when all seems hopeless.

Angela Alexander

Mona King not only has sung about the craziness of driving a mini-van and leading a life of a marriage and three children, she sang a song during one run of our show about raising a child with severe disabilities. You would have to be inhuman to not feel the insane love she has for that child.

Mona King

Anissa Mayhew wrote a letter to two of her three children apologizing to them about the attention her third one got so often due to that child’s cancer. Anissa suffered a stroke shortly before our show and was unable to fly to Los Angeles to perform. I had the privilege of reading her letter onstage. Anissa is as strong as she is hilarious.

“Team Anissa.” They traveled to LA for the show.

And don’t forget Dana Bell….

Dana Bell

These mothers and so many more I’ve been blessed to meet through Expressing Motherhood, are amazing testimonies to strong, courageous, women.

There is one woman, however, that holds a story that I will truly never forget.

That story belongs to Beth Littleford.

Beth is a two time performer in EM. The first time she stood on our stage, she shared a little piece she called “Letter To My Son’s Future Therapist.” It was as funny as it sounds…but with a serious subject behind it…Postpartum Depression.

Beth and I after our closing night in her first EM show.

It was during that show Beth and I talked a lot back stage. We talked about grief, really. My own mothers death was not too far behind me at that point. She said she knew grief very well, but couldn’t talk about it…not because she didn’t want to but because she couldn’t.

When she came back to perform in the show again..she had found the courage, through healing, to talk about it. Beth lost her father and 12 year old younger brother in a terrible accident while the two of them were off to Alaska on an outdoors trip. Beth recalled detailed memories of the last few times she talked with her brother. At that point, her own son was approaching her brothers age when he died and the conflict of joy and sorrow was still overwhelming.

Beth was dealing with the grief as part a healing process. She was moving forward, sharing and indeed, healing. This is part of the reason why she decided to talk about it on our stage. And we are so glad she did.

I get it. The “sharing in order to heal” part of it.

There are so very many sides to all of the shows we’ve had to pleasure to put up. They are always filled with so many different women with hilarious stories of motherhood that have you rolling in the aisles to somber, humbling experiences like the ones above.

No matter which ones I’m identifying with at the time, I’m always glad we’re Expressing Motherhood.

Holly Hughes

Holly Hughes is a mom who left LA for a quieter life in NC. The day she was packing up to move I emailed her and said we’d like to have you be in our show. So she flew back to LA for two weeks after she moved to perform in our show, here in LA. She is a producer who left film and television production behind to pursue her own dream. She is currently working on my first Young Adult novel. She has one daughter and you can read more of Holly’s thoughts here. 

I’ve hit that point in the process of writing my first YA book where I’ve fallen out of love. Like any long term relationships it has ups and downs. This is normal. I checked in with Samantha Dunn to make sure. I didn’t trust myself. I would have asked Kimberely Griffiths Little to hold my hand through my neurotic moment, but she is very busy with her own revisions to her books that I didn’t want to bog her down with my shit.

I’ve had a disappointing week. I didn’t win the Pen Parentis Fellowship. I haven’t heard back from two different magazines about essays I submitted, I sent a short story out to Cricket and I check my mailbox every day for my SASE, and I ventured into WriteOncon and my stuff didn’t get the attention of any ninja agents, or much feedback in general and my ego is screaming HEY YOU! PAY ATTENTION TO ME! WHY AREN’T YOU NOTICING ME? PLEASE LOVE ME, I NEED YOU TO FALL IN LOVE WITH LIFE-LIKE!

Instead of accolades I’ve had to deal with the reality that writing is brutally hard often isolating work. This stack of paper represents the last four months of work. The pile depicts two binders containing drafts of LIFE-LIKE.As you can see, it’s four inches thick. And that doesn’t include all the paper I’ve recycled. At first this amount of writing felt like an accomplishment, however after putting my manuscript down for two weeks and letting an editor correct my grammatical errors I picked it up and read it through, as a book on the printed page, and the feelings of achievement were replaced with doubts. I looked at all those pages and the years of work they represent and thought, this stinks.

All I saw was a flaw. I always felt a lull in the writing at a certain point, I felt myself run out of steam, and as a reader with fresh eyes the lull screams at me, “Hey Holly, this sentence isn’t as good as the rest. It has to be. Get back to it.” Or in the ever brilliant words of Tod Goldberg, “This part of your story doesn’t suck. You must write it all on that level.” (he said that to me way back when in 2004 when I was working on a short story) I think it’s good that I can recognize weakness in my work but now I had to figure out how to make it better.

I paced, watched sad movies, then I watched action movies, did errands and even folded the laundry but nothing came to me. I read and reread the offending chapters. And I pinpointed where the changes would have to come in the book. I understood I must up the ante, increase tension and drama and that is difficult to write. I do know enough about my process to accept that I layer one thing(character development, plot, setting) in at a time per draft. I was happy to see the changes I made previously are consistent throughout the book. But they are too consistent. Who wants to read that?

My self-pity and the realization of how much work I have to do led me to self loathing.

And then I figured out one idea that can be turned into a scene that will change everything. Now I have to write it. And I have to write at least three to five chapters that carry that momentum forward before the emotional end. And I’m begging my imagination and my guides and God to help me do it now. I want all the ideas to flood in and I want my fingers to have difficulty keeping up with the story, but that isn’t happening.

That’s when doubt came along and sat next to my computer screen and stared at me. See him? He’s a crabby little bugger. Doubt is trying to convince me I can’t do it. I can’t fix the story or sell it. I think I’m going to have to show that crafty bugger he’s wrong. I’ve got to go. LIFE-LIKE is calling to me. We have unfinished business.