The Afterglow of Success

Leave a comment

Start by doing what’s necessary, then what’s possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” -Francis of Assisi

The last of a three part blog about author/playright Jorge Avila will be featured on All Things Fulfilling today. Before Christmas I interviewed Avila about his newfound sucess as a playright. To read the beginning of the interview, please go to from Local Author to Playright and Advancing the Story.

Sue: So what does it feel like now that you have stepped away from all the excitement of seeing your musical played out on stage?

Jorge: There is a little bit of sadness and a let down because it is easy to get carried  away with all that goes with on in the world of L.A.  But we aren’t done yet. My vision for this musical is even more than that.  I have been offered a huge opportunity at the end of September and the first two weeks in October. The production will return to California as part of at the Hispanic Heritage Festival. For four weeks, in four different districts, I am told that 3,000,000 to 4,000,000 people will attend the festival annually. Do you believe that?

Sue: And I understand you received special recognition during the three day run of the musical. What night was that?

Jorge: On the  middle night of the performance, I and the director and musical composer, Caleb Encampos, were each given certificates of award from the City of Los Angeles for work in advancing the arts. It was very exciting.

Avilas certificate from City of LA

Avia 3

Sue: What can you attribute to the success that you have had with Maricopa Men in Pink?

Jorge: It was a long five years but I never stopped believing that I had a quality product and it was a matter of getting it into the right venue or environment.

Sue: What’s on the docket for the future? 

Jorge: I have two more musicals I am working on and a book but, I would like to do something more with the local high school here in Steamboat. They did a Powerpoint presentation about my book’s storyline with the English as a Second Language (ESL) students. I’d like to put together some sort of workshop. We will see, I’ll have to put more thought into that. And I’d like to take the musical to Chicago. That’s where I’d  really like to see it.

Sue: You have been in a whirlwind for six months or more. Perhaps with a little time off, your visions will become more clear. Now that you have stepped away into a quieter environment, here in Steamboat, you can ponder it.

Before Jorge and I said our goodbyes  I told him how he is a shining example for other independent publishers to press on and not to give up. Although he mentioned feeling a little let down now that things were over, I saw a huge afterglow of success on his face and in his exuberant voice.

Do return to All Things Fulfilling tomorrow when we begin the countdown till the New Year! We will be fulfilling 2016 with new possibilities and opportunity!

Advancing the Story

Leave a comment

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!

Avia7

Avila5

Avila6

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.

 

 

Skits, Swaps and Songs

Leave a comment

We all have a place in the circle of life. Always remember who you are.” ~ Unknown

Who remembers singing rounds? I had forgotten all about that form of choral singing until I attended a Girl Scout Alumni Reunion the weekend before last. We sang many familiar campfire songs from my childhood. Skits were well done by some of the youth troops. They told stories about the G.S. founder Juliette Gordon Low and the history of the organization and cookie sales.


GS Sign in

I took SWAPS to trade with new friends who have found the same kind of meaningful connections through the Girl Scouts that I did many decades ago. If you have read my memoir, Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected, you probably already know from my chapter about the Girl Scouts what I took to trade with others.

I’d like to share a few pictures of the SWAPS I received from new acquaintances I acquired over the course of the evening. Each troop had their own swaps that they created to give to others.

GS Swaps

The swaps below were made by Sharon, a friend who is a beautician and hair stylist. She is an Alumni who enjoyed being a member of the youth organization during the same era as me. She made these swaps from emery boards, gauze and a little ribbon. The paper doll heads were made from clip art. Very creative and the girls who were lucky enough to receive them were so excited!

sharons swaps

The s’mores we ate around the campfire were gooey and yummy. I left the event singing a little ditty that baby boomers will remember if you were a member of the Girl Scouts.

I’ve got something in my pocket, it belongs across my face.
I keep it very close at hand, in a most convenient place.
I’m sure you couldn’t guess it if you guessed a long, long while.
So I’ll take it out and put it on, it’s a Great Big Brownie Smile!

A little trivia: The Brownie Smile Song was written by Harriet F. Heywood of Gloucester, MA in the late 1920’s when she was working as a Brownie Girl Scout troop leader.

See you tomorrow on All Things Fulfilling. If you have an Eagle Eye, you will see something in tomorrow’s blog that you’ve seen in some of my blogs and in my writings. I was pleased when I saw them hanging on the walls unexpectedly in an art space in Breckenridge Colorado when I recently visited.

 

 

Summer is Not Over Till It’s Over

Leave a comment

I am so happy you returned to All Things Fulfilling today. Perhaps you are like me, not quite ready yet to step into the third season.

Today’s multi-media look back at summer is brought to you through a video from Carl’s Old Record Club. Their You Tube channel has a number of other videos that you will enjoy viewing. They are nicely produced – syncing music with images.

Aren’t we fortunate to be living in the digital age whereby we can easily share all types of media, such as independently published films, music and e-books with others?

Enjoy the creative entertainment of others frequently because it will enhance your own personal fulfillment!

This blog is brought to you by Sue Batton Leonard. Check out her EVVY award-winning audio book! It is also available in paperback and e-book as well.

Pumped Up About Life

1 Comment

Today, I promise you happiness in your day if you take a couple of minutes to watch this awesome video. It is the very definition of a few people living life pumped up, spreading joy to others. It is what Thursdays, thirsty for good news is all about!

That’s all I’ve got for today. Something special is on my calendar for tomorrow. Return and I will tell you about it.

 

A smile is a curve

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

 

 

Stories in Music

Leave a comment

conducive-to-happiness[5]Every spring and fall the Yampa Valley Choral Society holds a community concert at the United Methodist Church in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. This past weekend a group of 41 men and women and 10 young girls presented “I’ve Been Everywhere: It‘s the Journey That Counts.”

This year, the sound of young choral voices added to the concert. Ten young girls sang a few songs taken from film scores and musical theatre productions. Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head (from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid) and two memorable selections from Annie – Tomorrow and It’s a Hard Knock Life (from Annie) were  included.

As usual, the arrangement of musical compositions sung by the forty-one adults were thoughtfully chosen and diverse. Spirituals included Set Me as A Seal which was paraphrased from the Song of Solomon in the Old Testament and How Lovely is Thy Dwelling Place by Johannes Brahms. Words from Psalm 84 of the King James Bible were incorporated in the verses of this composition.

Karl Jenkins composition Adiemus: Songs of Sanctuary was not familiar to me, however it was sweet sounding and harmonious.  Jenkins, is a Welsh composer whose album is unintended for words, rather the voices of the chorus made instrument-like noises.

Two songs had nautical backstories to them. Over the Sea to Skye tells of Charles Stuarts escape from Scotland in 1745 via ship, along with Flora MacDonald, who traveled incognito, posing as his maid. His exile took him to France where he spent the rest of his lifetime.

Dry Your Tears, Afrika,  one of my favorite tunes of the afternoon, was taken from the 1997 movie Armistad. The story is about 53 Africans who were transported by ship from Sierra Leone to be sold as slaves. They changed their destiny when they took hold of the ship and navigated it to Long Island. The events of their journey became the subject of a Supreme Court case. If you have not seen the movie, it’s powerful.

You haven’t been anywhere unless you’ve traveled across America. Songs from past Pop Hit Charts included Homeward Bound, Surfin’ USA, I’ve Been Everywhere, and I’ll Fly Away were incorporated into the concert, as well as America from West Side Story.

I never fail to learn something from the interesting backstories of the compositions that the Yampa Valley Choral Society choses to focus the themes of their concerts around. The program notes as well as the choir Director’s commentary help tell the story of each song’s rich history and their composers.

Thank you Yampa Valley Choral Society for yet another delightful hour of music. Look forward to your fall concert.

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

Grounded, Even at Sea

2 Comments

“Without great solitude, no serious work is possible.” ~ Pablo Picasso

Taylor Batton 1Something completely different was planned for today’s blog but I just got wind of some  developing news, so I’ve changed my story!

On February 14, 2013, two years ago, I posted a blog called Songs, Taylor Made. The first time I featured young musician, songwriter and vocal artist, Taylor Batton on All Things Fulfilling, he was a student at Maine Maritime Academy. He has since graduated and he’s now navigating waters in places around the world piloting tremendous seafaring vessels – tugboats and such.

Batton uses his times of solitude to come to understand himself better and the world around him. His thoughts are used to create narratives through his music. As he says of his nautical life “You get a really strong sense of loneliness. At the same time, you feel a really strong and strange power. All of that kind of ties into how I go about writing the music. I just try and capture that feeling. ” Listen In.

portland tug taylor

I’m so proud of this young man. Taylor Batton recently signed with Goldship Records of Bristol, TN and his first full length album will soon be released.

taylor Batton 2

His journey has not always been easy. Yet he’s stared down adversity  and has attained each one of his goals,  all the while keeping his eye on what he’s been passionate about (maritime life and music) and not given up.

I look forward to learning more about the release of your new record label and the company who has signed you, Taylor. Hearty Congratulations!

This blog is penned by the award-winning author of Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected and Short Stories: Lessons of Heart & Soul.