Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. said towards the end of his life, when asked by an interviewer if he had any advice for other people, “Please notice when you are happy.”
I am happy today, Kurt. I have had a wonderful day. I feel like recording the theatre-and-storytelling-related parts of it here on my blog.
This morning, I had the day off from my day job so I drove downtown to the Indiana History Center to meet Barbara Quigley, the archivist (librarian) in charge of the photos and other two-dimensional pieces in the IHC’s Abraham Lincoln collections.
We had emailed back and forth a few times, but I was still surprised and touched when she showed me the research materials that she had prepared especially for me. Not only did she give me a thick sheaf of notes to help me with the 90-minute Lincoln storytelling piece that I am working on, she gave me more than two hours of her time, sharing her expertise with me about the items now on display in the IHC and other items in storage.
Digital images of all of the items are available to anyone to view via the IHC’s website. However, it is more thrilling than I even expected to see them “in person,” especially when accompanied by commentary from someone who has worked with the items. I hope my presentation is even half as interesting to my audience on January 18 as Barbara’s explanations were to me today.
Barbara let me in to see the vast, climate-controlled, staff-only room where items are stored when they are not on display or on loan to other institutions. That was exciting, too.
Icing was meeting several other IHC employees by chance. They all made me feel very welcome and appreciated! I didn’t catch Doris’ last name at the welcome desk, but she gave me good directions for finding the library. Through Barbara’s kind introductions, I met Amy Lamb, the Media Relations Manager, and Steve Haller, Senior Director, Collections and Library.
Barbara also introduced me to Erin Kelley, the Public Programs Coordinator and my main contact at the IHC. We have been emailing and talking by phone since last July, but I had not met her in person until today.
Someone else greeted me from an office as Barbara and I were waiting for an elevator. The person said she recognized me from my photo in the advertising for my Lincoln program. Barbara told me later that that had been Linda Pratt, Vice President for Development and Membership.
I also had a very satisfying impromptu but detailed conversation with Dan Shockley, the Coordinator of Interpretation. That had very little to do with my Lincoln project but I thought it would interest you, my blog readers. I will write about that in the next day or so. I really appreciate him taking the time to answer my questions, and Barbara’s patience with me, too.
I had a lot of questions for Dan because before I left, Barbara encouraged me to visit the “You Are There” and “Destination Indiana” spaces off the main floor. Dan develops the staff and stories for both. Both of these special areas will be expanded during the IHC’s upcoming renovation in 2009.
First Barbara and I stuck our heads in at the “Destination Indiana” space. It had unusual audio-visual components for 50+ historical aspects of Marion County. What intrigued me most about it, though, is that the IHC staff is working on developing an historical “journey” for each of Indiana’s counties. I didn’t catch the facilitator’s name, but she seemed good at her job. A group of teens on a school field trip and a group of elementary school kids on field trip came through while I was visiting the IHC.
Then Barbara and I turned to visit the “You Are There” space. That live, interactive theatre space was so very cool that I am going to devote a whole separate post to it. (That is what I talked to Dan about.)
When I finally left the Indiana Historical Center I was high on Abraham Lincoln and history and life in general.
I drove to my bank to deposit my first paycheck for my Lincoln storytelling gig. I had been carrying that check around in my purse since October, perhaps because subconsciously I didn’t feel confident that I could actually pull off what I had been commissioned to do. This assignment is a stretch for me in more ways than one.
Now I am in trust mode. Mind you, I still have a TON of work to do before the piece premieres at the IHC at 4:00 on Sunday, January 18, 2009, but I am beginning to feel hopeful rather than terrified. Maybe I really can develop a program of Lincoln stories that a) helps people remember what they already know about our beloved 16th president and b) gives them a good new story or two to tell their friends and family when they get home.
I am still top bidder for a few items; for others I have been out-bid and that’s okay. However, I upped my bid on two items. I guess I will find out how badly someone named Kathy Cook wants the 16-piece Christmas village set, and how badly someone named Andy Burnette wants the set of Santa ornaments. Will they visit the Phoenix lobby during the day as I did to bid again?
I also saw that someone had out-bid my brother on the beer-making kit, so I added my own, higher bid on that, too.
While I was scribbling down my bids, Phoenix production assistant Dani Norberg and lighting intern John Ronk came into the lobby to chat a bit. They had been labeling the wires in the “e-room.” (I think that’s what Dani called it.) I enjoyed talking with them about their career plans and upcoming shows.
Phoenix producing director Bryan Fonseca came through, too, and then a whole bunch of beautiful people breezed through on their way to an acting class with Donna. I’m sorry: I don’t know Donna’s last name, but if someone tells me, I will add it here. Bryan told me he had just finished teaching an acting class.
I went downstairs to the office to buy one ticket for the Mexican Fiesta Raffle from Phoenix Development Director Tom Robertson. I hope I win the one-week stay at the Royal Islander Resort in Cancun! Tom asked if I would spend the week lying on the beach or exploring the nearby Mayan ruins. Why not do both?!
Phoenix Marketing Director Lori Raffel was in the office, too, and in between selling show tickets to customers, she and I chatted carefully. I said, “I heard you’re directing an Encore show for the Carmel Community Players.”
“Yes,” she said.
“Ah,” I said.
Being an Encore judge really stifles my conversations sometimes, but that’s the way it goes. I am having a lot of fun being a judge.
Then I came home and called my father. Thank you again, everyone who has asked me about him these past several days. He is doing very well, thank goodness. He feels great and has been able to resume many of his former activities.
In fact, today while we were talking on the phone, his agent called him on his cell and offered him a commercial! Yay!
Then I called my godson’s mother (and my friend) to confirm our plans for Christmas Eve. I didn’t tell her that I have bought him a deluxe Mr. Potato Head as a present. Oh, of course I have some books for him, too. I wouldn’t be doing my job as librarian-godmother if I didn’t give books as presents at every holiday. But the Mr. Potato Head just called out to me in the store. I loved Mr. Potato Head when I was a child. The package says that it is appropriate for ages 2+. My godson is almost three. I hope he doesn’t already have a Mr. Potato Head.
The package also says that it is my duty as the grown-up to play with… I mean, open and remove the connecting bits from the Mr. Potato Head set before giving it to children.
I include Mr. Potato Head in my happy blog post today in order to pay homage to theatrical costumers and prop managers. Also I just really love saying, “Mr. Potato Head.”
By this time it was around 6:00. I had the whole night free in which to write! I started in… and the phone rang.
“Hi, this is C.J. Walker calling from the Indiana Repertory Theatre. We are calling all of our season subscribers to let them know about a special offer…Have you seen any of this season’s shows yet?”
“Yes, as a matter of fact. I write a theatre reviews blog called IndyTheatreHabit.com. I wrote about the Sherlock Holmes show, and ‘Macbeth,’ and just recently I wrote about ‘This Wonderful Life.’ I loved all of them.”
“You write a what? What’s the name of your blog?”
“Indy Theatre Habit. So I’m not really a season subscriber. They just set up my comps that way.”
“Well, you’re in the database as a season subscriber, so you could take advantage of our special offer. Gift certificates are usually $40, but for a limited time you may purchase four for $120, which makes them four for the price of three.”
C.J. Walker (like the first female millionaire, but no relation) and I chatted for a bit. He did a good job of presenting the offer and I enjoyed talking with him. When I hung up the phone, though, I had to laugh: I hadn’t spent any money but I might have gained a new reader. How’s that for reverse telemarketing!
I went back to working on my review of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra’s “Yuletide Celebration.” I saw and loved it last Thursday night, but in the days since, unfortunately, my review of it has kept getting pushed aside.
The phone rang again.
“Hello?” I said.
“Hello! This is Diana from the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra…”
“Hey! I was just thinking about you guys.”
“We are calling people who have been to our shows this year to let them know that they can get 20% off on our flexible ticket packages, which are good for both the classical or pops series now through June. You get six tickets for as low as $182.40 and they can be used in any combination. Would you like to take advantage of this special offer?”
“Well, I write a theatre reviews blog called IndyTheatreHabit.com, so I usually get comps for the shows that I see. In fact, I’m working on a review of ‘Yuletide Celebration” right this minute!'”
“Oh! What did you think of it?”
“I loved it! So I don’t want to buy any tickets today, but I’ve been taking notes as you talk. Do you want me to include the information about the special offer in my blog post? In other words, is this offer available to anyone or only people who have already bought tickets this season?”
“Could you hold on a minute?”
(After a moment…) “You would have to ask Tim Northcutt. His number is…”
“Actually, I know Tim Northcutt. Well, I don’t know him, but I have his email address. He has been very helpful to me already.”
I haven’t had a free moment in which to email Tim, so I still don’t know if you can call the ISO and ask for the flexible ticket deal or not. But I’m beginning to think that if I didn’t write a theatre reviews blog I would definitely want to have season tickets everywhere. You never know what bargains you might be eligible for!
Diana and I hung up and I decided to go out to get the mail. There was an interesting letter from Ben Tebbe, Company Manager of the Heartland Actors’ Repertory Theatre. Here is an excerpt:
“As we stand on the threshold of 2009, we envision more great theatre for Indianapolis and central Indiana. HART will continue to bring new works to the city with a production this spring (Hope: I wonder what it will be?) in addition to featuring one of our own company members’ creation in the Indianapolis Fringe Festival. (Hope: Hey! How cool is that!) Additionally, Shakespeare on the Canal will return (Hope: Yay! I loved HART’s “A Merchant of Venice“), bigger and better than in 2008! We will be adding performances in WRSP (Hope: WRSP? What does WRSP mean…Oh! White River State Park) to accomodate the crowds and touring the production in Columbus, IN. (Hope: Go, HART!)
By then it was time for supper. And after supper I decided to quickly (hah!) record my happiness.
But TOMORROW I am going to finish writing my ISO review come hell or high water.
Kurt, I notice that I’m still happy. Sleepy, but happy. It’s a great life.
Hope Baugh – www.IndyTheatreHabit.com