How I Spent My Make a Difference Day

After spending the entire day doing all of the last minute gymnastics in the olympics of live theatre, I was pretty beat. Although I was excited about having more scripted performances, I didn’t quite feel like jumping into writer mode so I opted for hands-off director and presented opening night of Cemeterror to be an improvisational workshop. The majority of our cast was comprised of the Windmill Theatre Company of New College, and though I told them I’d walk through and discuss their performance, I pretty much just let them play and walked through every now and again to make sure they were having fun, and see if they needed a break or water.

As I was attempting to put the stantions up for the queue line, Don started commenting that a Southern Baptist minister once asked him why he enjoyed doing haunts. He said that he liked to hear people scream. The minister asked him if he didn’t think that was a bit strange, and Don remarked that people come to haunts because they want to scream. When he hears that sound, he knows he’s done a good job and it makes him happy. Although I may not be as stuck on screams as Don, I do like to see people happy, and as I watched people emerge from facing  their fears and subjecting themselves to the horrific, everyone emerged with a smile on their face. So I feel like I’ve done my job as well.

go-mad-and-stay-happyToday, I took some time off of Cemeterror production to take part in Make a Difference Day through Volunteer Community Connections. The project we’d designed was through the Garden Brigade of the Common Wealth Time Bank for the Sanctuary of Sarasota, a developing alternative housing community for the homeless spearheaded by Trinity Without Borders. The task was to move some of the bamboo reeds from the back of the property, where people have found refuge for years, and create a privacy wall along the front of the property.

When Misha, his son Devin, and I walked over there with our shovels and buckets this morning, I was joined by a youth worker from First Baptist Church and a handful of teens. The boys were as excited as any teenager can be to do manual labor, but with a bit of the right direction from the youth worker, we got started digging holes in the front of the property and digging up plants from the rear. As we went along, we were joined by a few other carloads of teens and youth workers, and after a few hours, we had not only created a beautiful new privacy barrier for the ministry, but the boys had also taken the shovels to the overgrown grass and washed in earth to clear out a big portion of the parking lot. One good thing about Baptists is that they do get shit done.

Vallerie, the tireless champion of the poor and downtrodden, and leader of the Trinity Without Borders ministry, was ecstatic about the results. And although she can sometimes be a handful to deal with, she’s now offered me a key to the trailer and carte blanche with whatever other crazy endeavor I want to partake in. So I guess today really did make a difference.

Before I get my makeup on and to go play Seymore Deadpeoples for the night, I also get to make one more difference and launch the Go Mad Storyteller Challenge campaign. This is a year long campaign to inspire people to tell stories about the differences people make in their communities. I’m much more excited about writing this script than the Cemeterror script, but I’m thankful that I have such grand opportunities for more live theatre.



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