Advancing the Story

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We need to look hard at the stories we create, and wrestle with them. Retell and retell them, and work with them like clay. It is in the retelling and returning that they give us their wisdom.Marni Gillard

Avila and wife MaribelLast week I sat down with author and playright Jorge Avila, a member of We Write Steamboat, to discuss the gigantic leap of success that he has just experienced. To read a short summary of his musical, please go to the blog from last Thursday.

(Photo left: Jorge Avila and his wife Maribel)

Jorge had just returned a week previously to his hometown of Steamboat Springs, Colorado from a very busy six months in California. His live theatre musical, adapted from his book Maricopa Men in Pink had a three day run at the Plaza de la Raza, Cultural Center for the Arts & Education on Mission Road in Los Angeles. Avila was ebullient as he answered the questions I had for him to learn more about his experience. Here is part of our discussion about going from local author to playright in a very short few years:

Sue: Jorge, when was Maricopa Men in Pink published? 

Jorge: In 2010 it was published. A short time afterward I sent it off to a friend who is a stage designer in L.A. to get his opinion. He reviewed it and gave me some feedback about adapting it for a play. I decided that my vision for the work was a live theatre musical production. So I rewrote it exactly 2 years, nine months ago in script format along with song lyrics. Caleb Encompos, a resident who helps with the music program at the Christian Center here in Steamboat, composed the music to accompany the lyrics. I approached the Chief Theatre here in town, but it didn’t seem to be the right venue. So,then we sent it off to three production companies in California. 

Sue:  So, what was the response? 

Jorge: I’d like to say that there have been few  Latino or controversial political musicals that I am aware of other than In the Heights and Hamilton and the Book of Mormon. So I was happy to even get a response and it was positive response from two of them. I chose one of the production companies that I felt best understood my vision. I was offered a small sum of money from the production company, but I took half of that because I wanted to be directly involved in the entire process, so that the final product would be what I envisioned.

So, I began over the next six months going to L.A. one week out of every month. For the next six months, Caleb Encompos and I chose vocalists and actors for the live musical production. Once we heard my lyrics put to music and saw it performed by the actors we had chosen, there were some tweeks that were made before the opening.

Sue: So, tell me about the three night run.

Jorge: The turnout was outstanding compared to what I had anticipated. I was told for an unknown author/playright, typical sales would be 60% of the seats. The first and third nights we had 95% of all tickets sold, and the middle evening 75%. Surprising, considering I read in a New York Times article that out of 318 million Americans, 58 million agreed with Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s handling of inmates in Tent City Jail in Arizona. Seventy eight million disagreed, and the whole rest of the population knew nothing about the news story.

Sue: How did that feel? To see your musical come before live audience like that?

Jorge: Surreal! I feel flattered and proud but it was very stressful. I even started up a bad habit – smoking. I hadn’t smoked in six years and I ate too much and gained a little weight.

The musical was even mentioned on National TV on Spanish stations. While we were waiting for the production to begin on opening night, I stepped outside and there were 120 people in line to get a ticket – to my show! I couldn’t believe it and I counted every one of them!

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The rest of this interview on All Things Fulfilling will be posted the week after Christmas. Do return because we will be talking about Avila’s rewards in terms of personal fulfillment which were a result of his determination, persistance and his belief that what he had was fitting for a quality live musical production that still has great potential for future audiences. We will be sharing more about his special award from the City of Los Angeles also!

This blog is brought to you by Sue Batton Leonard, EVVY award-winning author of Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected.

 

 

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Local Writer to Playright

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A culture is made –or destroyed –by it’s articulate voices. ~ Ayn Rand

Jorge Avila, a Mexican by birth, moved to the United States in 1995. Since then he has become an author of two books Suriana and the Sulphur Cave and Maricopa Men in Pink. The later is a controversial story about prisoners in Arizona and “Sheriff Joe” known in the media as “the toughest sheriff” around. He sentenced two thousand convicts to serve their sentences in pink underwear and handcuffs for better accountability. The macho men probably could not have been more insulted!

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Christmas came early to Avila, a member of We Write Steamboat our independent publishing network group, when his first publication Maricopa Men in Pink was  adapted as a musical and came to live theatre in Los Angeles. It had an extremely successful run with nearly booked houses each evening.

Stay tuned to All Things Fulfilling on Monday because we will be featuring an interview with him about what it has been like to go from local writer to a playwright within a very short few years. Avila was recently recognized as a person who has helped advance the arts in the LA area.

This blog is brought to you by author Sue Batton Leonard.

A New Musical: Allegiance

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Human spirit is the ability to face the uncertainty of the future with curiosity and optimism. It is the belief that problems can be solved and differences resolved. ~ Bernard Beckett

allegianceHave you heard about the  American story now being played out on Broadway? Allegiance is a real and important tale of the Kimura family who came to America after World War II and the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Similar tales of family bonds, duty and defiance, hope, loyalty and the power of the human spirit could be told by 120,000 other Japanese-American families who fled their country in search of a new tomorrow in the United States of America.

George Takei and Tony® winner Lea Salonga star in this live theatre production. To read more about this live musical production, visit the website.

See you tomorrow on All Things Fulfilling.

This blog is brought to you by Sue Batton Leonard, award-winning author of Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected and Lessons of Heart & Soul.

Good News for an Indie Bookstore

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“Once a year, go someplace you have never been before.” ~ Dali Lama

In a time when brick and mortar bookstores are struggling to stay in business, there is good news in the northeastern part of the country. Northshire Bookstore, in Manchester Center, Vermont, an independent bookstore that has won top honors from Publishers Weekly Magazine, just spread it’s wings and has opened in a second location, in a second state.

Saratoga, New York, the site of the new Northshire Bookstore, is a thriving community, the home of SkidmoreCollege. http://www.skidmore.edu/ The town has a vibrant performing arts center (SPAC), http://www.spac.org/ as well as many shops and galleries throughout town. The SaratogaArtCenter http://www.saratoga-arts.org/ teaches workshops and hosts artists in residence. It is also the summer home to many horse racing enthusiasts.

There are many reasons to visit this region. Saratoga is in the Adirondack Mountains region with sparkling lakes nearby for summer recreation. The town boasts of seventeen healing mineral springs, which were first found by the Mohawk and Iroquois Indians.

Next time you are in the area, stop by 424 Broadway and see the newly opened Northshire Bookstore. http://www.northshire.com/ If it is anything like the retail store in Manchester, Vermont, it will be stocked with all kinds of fulfilling reading and it will be well worth your visit.

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Photo Above: Pre-Opening of the Northshire Bookstore in Saratoga, NY

This blog brought to you by www.CornerstoneFulfillmentService.com. Tomorrow we will be sharing stories about art in a different part of the country. Do return to All Things Fulfilling.

Filmmaking in a Different Era

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If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.”
Rudyard Kipling, The Collected Works

What do movie mogul George Lucas and Norman Rockwell have in common? They are both visual storytellers, Lucas through film and Rockwell through iconic illustrations of of American people.

Lucas, producer and creator of the “Star Wars” empire, has sold his company, Lucasfilms, to Disney for a reported four billion dollars. As a top art collector, his retirement interests include opening a museum in San Francisco, to share with the public his vast private collection of Rockwell art, N.C. Wyeth and Maxfield Parrish paintings, comic art, along with comic art and children’s book illustrations. http://yhoo.it/1baeepf.  Lucas is also interested in highlighting fashion, the cinematic arts, and digital art in the museum exhibitions to inspire young people and to appeal to a broad spectrum of people in multiple generations.

Steven Spielberg, another huge collector of Rockwell art, also has interests in Lucas’ museum plans. A book, Telling Stories, was published in connection with a 2010 SmithsonianAmericanArt Museum exhibit comprising Spielberg and Lucas’ private collections of Norman Rockwell art. The connection of Norman Rockwell’s depictions of American life and the movies is evident in this book.

Telling Stories: Norman Rockwell from the Collections of George Lucas and Steven Spielberg is available through Amazon.com. Order this book, and enjoy seeing visual images of the American filmmaking way before the digital age.

This blog brought to you by www.CornerstoneFulfillmentService.com.  Please return to this site on Monday!

Film Friday: Comeback of an Era

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Any good comeback needs true believers.”  ~ Unknown

drive-in-movie-theaterDo you remember going to the drive-in movies? I love looking back at those nostalgic times of going to the movies with my parents in my pajamas, car packed with snacks, and watching the big screen outdoors, with excitement, till I finally fell asleep in the back seat of the station wagon.

Most drive-in theatres have been demolished. There are only 355 left nationwide according to Las Vegas-based Drive-ins.com, which tracks the industry. In the State of Michigan there has been a resurgence of drive-in theatres. Think about it – with jumbotron screens, like those you see in sports arenas, at concerts, and in Times Square, reviving outdoor movie viewing may make sense in more ways in one!

Reliving a bygone era makes for a fun bonding experience with family and friends. Using land that has been sitting vacant, for drive-in theatres, must be cheaper than building behemoth buildings to house cinemas. Downside is the short season for outdoor movie viewing in some climates.

Zhivago2Imagine watching Dr. Zhivago with snow falling all around you (the real thing) as you watch the ZhivagoDVDmovie!

Interested in rewatching an old classic, Dr. Zhivago? Click for info & ordering

That would be a unique experience. Perhaps there is an untapped niche of people, like the “polar bear club” who would find going to drive-in movies year round fulfilling. Social networking groups, enthusiasts who appreciate the art of the drive-in movie experience, in all conditions, might be the next big thing to spring up. You never know in this creative and interesting economy, perhaps we shouldn’t put drive-in movies in the museum of dying giants yet! http://bit.ly/12GKFTK .

When was the last time you went to a drive-in movie? In Michigan there are people who might answer that question, “very recently.” To read about the comeback of drive-in theatres in Michigan, visit this link. http://on.lsj.com/13QDldB.

Come back on Monday to All Things Fulfilling, the space for independent thoughts, words and views from CFS (www.CornerstoneFulfillmentService.com). For information on author Sue Batton Leonard, Click for info on her memoir

Film Friday: Time Travel Movies

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Once confined to fantasy and science fiction, time travel is now simply an engineering problem. ~ Kaku Michio, Wired Magazine, Aug. 2003

time-machinePeople who have lived 100 years or more have seen vast changes in culture over the course of their life times. I have witnessed, in merely a half  century, so many developments in technology. Over the course of about 125 years, moviemaking has gone through huge transformations from the silent movie era to a time when many visual effects are less often created by man-made stunts.

And imagine it, audio sounds are even created digitally through the use of computer technology. This has allowed for unbelievable creativity; providing the ability to pull things off visually that would be too unsafe, too expensive or not logistically possible otherwise.

Sometimes I feel as if I am living in a world that is alien. Because my livelihood depends upon it, I attempt as best as I can to keep up with new advancements in digital technology. Time travel movies help me realize that although sometimes this world seems to change at too rapid a pace and it is strangely different from the times of my youth, we have yet to go through truly apocalyptic times. That ‘s reassuring.

Feel like taking a trip this weekend to a different time and place? www.totalfilm.com has featured 50 of the best time travel movies on their website. http://bit.ly/12G7DKw .

Take in one of these movies. I’m warning you. Nostalgic feelings may set in when you read the titles of some of the films and you will probably see difference in the way visual effects are produced in this day and age, also. Remember Planet of the Apes from 1968? http://bit.ly/ViZw6F. To rewatch this old movie Click here for info and ordering

For more information on Michio Kaku, mentioned in the Wired Magazine quote, Click for info on his publications

Return on Monday to All Things Fulfilling, where sharing independent thoughts, words and views  are all part of the business. This blog is brought to you by www.CornerstoneFulfillmentService.com.