Tuesday, September 27, 2011

First Month of Senior Year

We're almost at the end of September- it's so hard to believe! It feels like we just arrived, but the semester is well underway.

The Drama Club has had a few fun events already: the 24-hour play festival a few weeks ago was a blast! We had four great plays created by teams of writers and produced all in one day. I played 4 roles in one skit: a caveman, a crusader, an American Revolutionary soldier, and a futuristic Billy Mays robot-vending machine set in Russia....clearly a good time! The other big news was that our team led Burlington's Light the Night walk in support of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society this past Friday. It's so great being part of a club that not only does fun and crazy theater things, but also is a part of the community!
 Classes are going well. I spend 4 afternoons a week in the scene shop now, since I'm assistant scenic designing the fall mainstage, Crimes of the Heart, which involves pulling a lot of props and working on dressing the set to make it look more realistic. I find it really enjoyable to alternate working in the shop and then going to pick props from our storage area. It's fun to look for period pieces (Crimes has props that range from the '50s to the '70s) and to see the designer's choices on which pieces to use as well.

Other than that, I have Spanish Literature, which is extremely challenging but amazing. We've been reading short stories from various periods in Spanish and American history, all very dark times and atmospheres, but very informative about the time, not to mention great practice for my Spanish.

 One of my favorites is my Shakespeare class, taught by an expert, Professor Nick Clary. We've read 3 plays already this semester and analyzed them through discussion and worksheets. I'm starting to learn to appreciate reading a play, where you can make many interpretations, while when a play is performed it usually is presented to be seen in a certain way, even if it does make the dialogue easier to understand when performed live.

Early Christianity is a fairly interesting class as well. If I had a choice for my second religion class I would have chosen one I know less about, like Buddhism, but the Liberal Studies Requirements at St. Mike's include 2 Christianity classes. I find the history classes are the best because they still give you a healthy dose of the Bible, but it's also good to see how things started and how they have changed throughout history to get us where we are today.

Otherwise, not much news. I did not get accepted to the Aca Bellas, the a capella group. Since 30 people tried out and only 5 girls were accepted, I am not surprised. I did however join the liturgical choir, which sings at the Sunday evening mass. My house is doing well; we jumped our first hurdle together. We also made a successful vegetable soup with croutons from scratch this evening!

Thank you for reading! More soon!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Adventures in Cooking for the Townhouse

This year, as a senior at Saint Michael's College, I've discovered the joys and pains of townhouse living- specifically, in the kitchen. Most seniors have a limited meal plan, meaning we have to get out and go grocery shopping and start fending for ourselves. All part of a good plan to ready students for the future.

This summer, I got used to shopping for myself and labeling every piece of food in the Gateway staff kitchen, and doing a little cooking- mostly salads, pancakes, and the occasional soup or microwave meal. Now I live with 3 other people and we have a tiny kitchen, and have to do a lot more planning.
The biggest challenge for me is in the grocery store. There are so many options in each aisle, and you think about what you want for yourself and then how you'll be having group and individual dinners during the week, and it's pretty easy to go crazy and buy almost nothing, like I did the first time I went on my own. Then I realized not only did I not have much to eat during the week, but also that my housemates were planning group dinners and I had nothing to contribute. And let's not forget that we go through a gallon of milk and a carton of eggs a day.

Going home for a night last week gave me some ideas to remember in the grocery store: the basics. You can make a meal with meat, veggies, and bread, and that's a good place to start if you aren't ready for the complicated sauces and addendums that other people might have under control. Make a list with your roommates beforehand, and if you all go together you can split up the group stuff at the register (and that makes your personal purchases a little easier!) You can also have one person go and everyone else pay them back afterward, if they're comfortable with that. Laying out how things will work and communicating with your house is always helpful.

We've found so far that frozen stir-fry mixes work really well, as does stocking up on canned food and pancake mix and pasta for the rushed meals or when we don't feel like making other things. Becky and Molly are pretty good at making chicken and veggies or other meals more from scratch. Some of the other things we use a lot of are tea, hot chocolate, bread, any juice or drinkables, butter and cooking spray.
 A final note on cooking at SMC: the 200's and 300's townhouses probably have the smallest kitchens out of all of the options. The 100's and 400's have large kitchens, the suite buildings have a decent kitchen per floor, and there's a kitchen in the International Commons space as well. All good things for underclassmen to keep in mind for the future!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Upcoming Events at SMC

The year here at Saint Michael's has started off well! We are starting week 3 of classes, and already events are starting up. I'm planning on attending some cultural events around campus in the next few weeks, the first of which is auditions for the Aca Bellas, which is the ladies' a capella singing group on campus. Those will be Thursday night at 7pm. I'm not sure if I'll be able to make it Thursday but I'm hoping they will let me audition another day! There are 2 other a capella groups on campus as well: Sleepless Knights, which is our co-ed group (auditions tomorrow, Tuesday 9/13) and Mike Check, the guys (auditions Wednesday 9/14).

Also coming up this week is the 24-hour play festival hosted by the Drama Club. The play fest is one of my favorite events of the year! It's so great to see people who are somewhat interested in theater, but aren't always able to commit for long periods of time, come out and have fun. At 7pm on Friday all people interested in writing, acting, and directing will meet up at the McCarthy theater and sign in. Then the writers stay all night to hash out their skits in groups. The directors come in at 6am to cast everyone who signed up to act; the actors come in at 7am and start rehearsing all day! It's so fun. The performance at 7pm on Saturday is always a goofy blast. Come and have fun, bring some friends, the show is never more than an hour or so; we all can enjoy our Saturday night!

On Sunday the 18th there is an event in the recital hall at the McCarthy Arts Center called Join Hands Vermont: Irene Relief Benefit Performance. This starts at 2pm and accepts all donations, proceeds to go to the Vermont Response and all those who are still struggling in Hurricane Irene's aftermath. I know I'm very interested in this because 1) there is a great lineup of local performers and 2) my hometown and the surrounding areas were hit very hard by the storm and there is a lot of damage.

Later on this month, the Drama Club has its second annual team participating in Burlington's Light the Night Walk, a fundraiser for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. We have been working really hard to raise money this summer and fall to heighten awareness and help fight cancer in the name of the Devlin family. John Devlin is our adviser and in charge of all things technical in the theater, and his family lost their son Patrick just 2 years ago to a leukemia relapse. Recently their daughter Kat has been fighting a similar illness, and we are so relieved that she is back in school this year and well on the road to recovery. The walk will be September 23rd in Burlington, and we welcome all members of the SMC Community to join our team.

Thank you for reading as always!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Internship Reflections

This summer, I spent around 13 weeks working as an electrics (lighting) intern at the Gateway Playhouse on Long Island. I stepped off the plane from my study abroad in Spain straight into a changeover into their second show of the season, 'S Wonderful, a Gershwin tribute musical. My boyfriend and I broke up the week I got back into the States; I met a great friend while running spotlight, who got me through the summer.
all production photos taken from the Gateway Facebook page

Next, I was the light board operator for Legally Blonde: The Musical, a perky show based on the movie. I learned a lot and happily got a bit of time on the board and watching programming...and learning how to reset pesky movers. I also got a bacterial sinus infection, which is a common affliction at Gateway, and recovered in due time. I don't think I will ever recover from the sight of pink rope light, though.

We took Spamalot to the Patchogue theater, a town over. Loading the trucks, hauling equipment, and running fresh cables in that theater was a hell of an experience, but a good one. I will never forget the cast and crew of that show, nor the fact that I didn't get sick of it, even though I watched it over 20 times from behind my spotlight. Patchogue held some new tricks, like the focus track seat that moved with the front of house truss we hung lights on; and how we climbed up the booms to either side of the stage perched behind Juliet balconies to hang lights. Our electrics crew separated to work on the student production Tommy at that point as well.

Next came Sunset Boulevard....hauling Dora along with it. I enjoyed Sunset more and more as it went along, though my friend Ken left partway through the run, along with most of the other interns, and things started to change into fall mode at the Gateway: lots of new faces, overhire, prep for the final show and mentally gearing up for Halloween. We won't talk about the Dora load-ins and load-outs on crappy split ramps.

Finally, after living with 5 (or was it 7?) people in one room, I had the room to myself for my final week at the Gateway, finishing Sunset and moving into Sweeney Todd, an absolutely thrilling show. I am thinking about going back to visit and see it again this weekend. As rough as the tech was for it, the show blew me away.

All in all, a crazy, but good, summer. I learned a lot about troubleshooting and fixing stuff, and now have a huge appreciation for the theater here at St. Mike's (both the summer playhouse and the academic world) and beyond. Although I had worked in a hemp house before Gateway, and it had an even worse weight system, I found myself at a loss sometimes this summer about the conditions that we worked in and the terrible equipment we made work. I find myself missing it despite this, somehow.

I suffered almost no culture shock because of the intense work schedule; I grew to like many of the people I worked and lived with, especially as the summer wore on. The shows the Gateway produces are pretty high quality, and being just outside of the city means good names come through to act and direct and design. It's a step I'm glad I've taken, and makes me feel like I could survive anything. Thank you to the staff and various departments who taught me and took care of me this summer.
The house at Gateway

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Townhouse Living

So we've made it through week 1 of school here at St. Mike's, and my friends and I are sufficiently settled into our townhouse in the 200's to write a little bit about it.

The 200's is a little neighborhood of 4-person apartments on campus. There are 4 series of townhouse, the 100s through the 400s. I live in 220 with 3 friends, Jess, Becky, and Molly, and we are loving our house and the friends who stop by constantly. In fact it's a challenge to get work done with the independent living and enjoyment we get! I guess this is why townhouses are usually for seniors, to prepare us for real-world living, and to give us one last issue to overcome.

We have a limited meal plan and have to cook for ourselves a lot.

The 200's townhouses each have a large living area and kitchen in the downstairs. The living room comes with a couch and 2 chairs, a little table, and a larger dining room table with 4 chairs. The kitchen has an oven and fridge, sink, and cabinets. Upstairs we have 4 single bedrooms and a large bathroom. The bedrooms have large closets, a desk and chair, and a bed. Molly and I, having both studied abroad, decorated with pictures and maps from Europe, as well as posters. The 200's have actual plaster walls, unlike the concrete freshman dorms, which is nice. 
Classes have started up as well. I am taking Spanish Lit (which is extremely hard), Theater Lab (where I work in the shop and will be on stage crew for the show in November), Early Christianity, and Shakespeare. I thought about signing up for another class, but it would put me in credit overload with SMC's new credit system, and I'm glad at this point because Spanish Lit and Shakespeare are very challenging. 
Thanks for reading!

Thursday, September 1, 2011


It's been a while since my last post because things have been busy, busy, busy! I survived through the end of my contract as an intern at the Gateway Playhouse; I will write a post about Sweeney Todd, our last show of the season, after hopefully returning to visit and see it again; and I'll also post some reflections about the summer soon.

I drove home right in front of Hurricane Irene, and had a nice day with my parents and seeing my family before loading up the car for school. I'm glad I left a day early, given the devastating rain and flooding that Vermont is still recovering from. Luckily my family suffered no damage to homes and are all unhurt, myself included, but our hometown and surrounding areas were completely flooded and many people are left with ruined homes, no jobs, and dismal businesses. Another point of damage in Vermont includes its historical covered bridges, many of which were damaged or destroyed in the storm. Check out the NYTimes article for more information about that.

Moving back to Saint Mike's was and is a pretty big deal for me...I am now a senior and living in a townhouse with 3 good friends. It has been 8 months since I spent time at St Mike's! Unfortunately our happy reunion was marred by the death of a close friend of my friends, a young woman who was our age and closely related to the SMC community with Fire & Rescue and Common Ground. It's been a very stressful week for my friends, who spent a lot of time with her last semester while I was in Spain, and I'm doing my best to be there for them and take some stress away! It helps that I am not on the SMC Drama Club Executive Board this year, but have been for the past 3 years, so at least they can leave some of that stuff to myself and others for a while.

It's been a rough week in many ways, but I know VT and my friends will pull through. Thinking of the many people who have suffered losses this week. More updates to come soon- including on my wonderful townhouse and classes!