This week, for the first time, I made my way down to the Austin area for the UIL OAP State meet, courtesy of our Fine Arts Director. I drove down with some of the other middle school theatre teachers to check out what all the buzz is about, what that “we made it to state” thing really means.
It was a mixed bag, to say the least. There were a couple of shows that stuck out to me, both heavily ensemble based and using very little of the unit set to accomplish engaging and innovative stage pictures that didn’t rely on any one actor to carry the show. The interesting thing that I noticed as well was that my middle school program is the same size as many of the 4A and 5A schools and there is not any reason that we can’t create work at that level if the kids are up for it. Challenge laid, I guess.
There was also work that we saw that wasn’t really mind blowing and didn’t seem to rise to the level of what the expectation was for shows that have risen above what is being created around the state for this contest. A few director concepts that didn’t quite pan out and relied too heavily on overdone ideas, some blatantly stolen from other productions and rewarded for that theft of intellectual property. Sigh. Can’t expect everyone to play fair, especially when they win with it.
The highlight of the trip was a jaunt down to the Blanton Museum of Modern Art on the UT campus. I’ve made it to two museums in the past month and the Blanton, while smaller than the DMA, was still worth the trip. Thursdays are free so we got a chance to explore without the added cost of admission. I took a bunch of pictures and even started working on my piece for the DMA project on a typewriter at the Blanton, a nice piece of synchronicity. We also had the opportunity to tour the Scottish Rite Theatre, one of the oldest west o f the Mississippi River. It was so cool to see a space that had been in continuous operation since the 19th century and still had elements that were in place at that time, 80 backdrops with forced perspective legs that were last refurbished in the 1930s, old stage elements and even Masonic ceremonial weapons.
Yesterday, I took the kids down to the Arts and Jazz festival to check things out. Our MS jazz band was playing so we stopped by to support them. Sophie thought it was too loud and Sam entertained the kid sitting next to us by pantomiming along with the music. We saw Matty at his booth and brought him an ice cream and then went over to Oak Street Drafthouse for a cold root beer (I had a regular beer of course) before heading home for the day. I had done 8 miles with some club folks earlier in the day and forgot that I hadn’t really eaten enough during the day so I got pretty tired when we got home.
Today, I’m heading up for the annual pilgrimage to Muenster for the Germanfest 15K, one of my two road races for the year. I’m looking at maybe taking down my old PR but will just have to see how things go once we get out on the course.